Update: January 2014 Budget & Goals

February 3, 2014

january 2014 budget

REMEMBER: You can download this budget template!

I know we’re a few days into February now, but I can’t leave January behind without looking at its final numbers, can I? Let’s see how things finished up…

Last week, I mentioned that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my original savings goals for February, March or April, but apparently I meant January too. Truthfully, I could’ve tossed another $42 into my Emergency Fund on my last payday, but I decided to set a little money aside for upcoming wedding expenses instead.

January was the first month where I was at home for an entire month – with absolutely no travel – since… well, since I moved to Vancouver back in May. And you know what happens when you don’t travel? Apparently, you buy more groceries! I also stocked up on items like olive oil, coconut oil, vinegars for salad dressings, etc. And as for the restaurant budget, what can I say? I love brunch and dinner dates with friends.

Housing costs were normal, as were my health care costs. And the very little amount I spent on gas this month is actually blowing my mind. I lasted the first 29 days of the month on just $42 of gas! It’s true that I didn’t travel much, but I still drove to my office and back at least 15 times and made a couple trips into Vancouver. Hmm. I guess I can’t complain about owning a compact car…

As for my money, the overages would’ve been minimal, had I not taken the gift cards I received for Christmas and gone on a little shopping spree. I also picked up a small birthday present for Baby Sis, a Vancouver Firefighter’s Calendar for a friend (and maybe one for myself), and my very first pair of glasses!

In the end, I saved 31% of my income in long-term savings, spent 36% on housing, 10% on food, 9% on transportation, 6.5% on health care, 5.5% on myself/gifts for others and 2% on charity.

Goals for this month:

  • Map out a strategy to finish CSC by September 30th – FAIL! But I did purchase a CSC Fast-Track Study Guide. Does that count? lol
  • Get a library card from the Port Moody Public Library – PASS!
  • Track how many times I go to the gym – PASS! I worked out 10 times this month.
  • Meet with my mentee at least once – PASS!
  • Give blood for the first time – PASS!

How did your month finish up?

Also, in case you missed them, you can still read this month’s guest posts on Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s blog:

2014, Jan 26 – The Gift Card Spending Trap
2014, Jan 19 – What Are Your Go-To Meals?
2014, Jan 12 – The Urge to Swipe
2014, Jan 05 – 24 Books in 2014

  • Michelle @fitisthenewpoor February 3, 2014 at 4:43 am

    Even though you didn’t make your budget, you came pretty damn close! And you rocked the rest of your goals! Great month!

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      Thanks, Michelle!

  • Alicia February 3, 2014 at 5:11 am

    Nice job Cait. 31% of your take-home is a great savings rate! And it matches Jordann’s this moth (I’m doing the Canadian financial update rounds this am).

    Man, I hate when I have to stock up on my expensive grocery items (like coconut oil, etc). It always busts my grocery budget. Oh well, it lasts quite awhile for me at least.

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Thanks! And I got some great deals: 2 litres of EVOO for $10, organic coconut oil for $8, balsamic for $5, etc. But it certainly took a bite out of my budget!

  • Dayle February 3, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Hey Cait!

    I always love your updates! The other girls are right, you didn’t miss the mark by much and you rocked the majority of your goals!

    I had a pretty good month as well…

    – I worked out 26/31 days, of the 5 I did not, 3 were rest days and 2 were spent playing baseball. (goal is 6 per week)

    – I tried 5 new recipes this month. (goal is 1 per month)

    – I saved $243.24 more than planned…overtime helped, my grand total of all savings was 39% of my take-home pay split between RRSP, planned-spending, and extra mortgage principal payments (does this even count?).

    – I read 2 books vs. my goal of 1.5 month

    That’s just a little snapshot… the only goal I missed was I want to incorporate yoga into my routine at least 2x per month and I went a grand total of zero times. But I am going tomorow :)

    Have a great Monday & rest of the week, don’t work too hard! ;)


    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2014 at 5:11 pm

      Sounds like you had a great January, Dayle! I did yoga at home a few mornings… let that serve as motivation. :P

  • Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions February 3, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Great progress on your E Fund!

    I’m going to sit down and evaluate my January progress tonight, but I’m dreading it. We did really well on lowering our grocery spending, but I didn’t bring in any income because I didn’t send any invoices last month. Oops! On the plus side, that means that I’ve already broke even on income for February as soon as I get paid on the invoices I sent out this morning.

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      Thanks, Rebecca! And good luck reviewing your progress for the month. Don’t disregard all the work you are doing, such as lowering your grocery bill. :)

  • Trista February 3, 2014 at 6:09 am

    Hi Cait!

    Sorry I haven’t been around lately. It’s been a bit crazy for me. I had sudden job change last week and I’m still trying to get in to the new routine.

    I must admit that January was a complete financial failure for me. I spent more than I made at my second job (I got a lot of beautiful clothing though). Also I have a couple concert tickets I haven’t paid for yet (one a friend is paying for). All in all I failed in having a credit card with a higher limit. It’s near the max right now. So I have removed it from my wallet and have established a plan to pay it off… again. So I managed to stay debt free for one month. I have set up pre authorized credit card payments on my Rogers and Telus accounts. I think for now that’s all I’m going to use it for. That way there is still usage on my account but I won’t be tempted to run it up again.

    I’m in awe of your commitment to savings. That was another failure last month. I’m really hoping to get back on track sooner rather than later.

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Sounds like a spendy month, Trista! I’ll admit, I really WANTED to have one of those… it seems like everything I look at these days I want, want, want. Anyway, good on you for creating a plan to get rid of the debt you accumulated. Before I swipe for anything, I always try to remember how crappy it felt to be maxed out… maybe that’ll help you stay on track? Good luck :) oh, and I’m curious about the job change!

      • Trista February 6, 2014 at 8:36 am

        It may have been a spendy month but luckily my current credit card has less than one tenth the limit of what I used to have. So it won’t take me long to get it under control. Still need to see my savings go up though. My pig is getting fed but my savings accounts are still almost empty.

  • Rob February 3, 2014 at 6:26 am

    How’re ya doin Cait!

    Looks like you’ve got your budgeting process down pat these days, with very little variance, which is great. Keep up the good work and steady as she goes!

    My January actuals vs budget came in fine as well, with more saved than I had budgeted for. This was mainly due to two factors: (1) I had planned on having to prepay on my annual lawn care expenses but this bill did not arrive so it gets deferred into Feb’s budget, and (2) I received a nice (and long overdue) $250 rebate cheque from the government for the new furnace that I had installed last fall (the timing of which was fortunate, given our cold winter so far this year). So, all in all, not a bad January, finance-wise. All Christmas bills paid, our annual TFSA contributions topped up and invested in high growth (but conservative) funds and, other than a sore arm/shoulder from all the snow shoveling, health issues currently all good.

    Have a great week!

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Hey Rob,

      Yep, just keepin’ on over here. Although February is full of “what ifs” so that budget may only serve as a guide… we’ll see.

      Nice to hear January was a good month for you, and that you’re feeling well these days. Have a great week, as well. :)

  • Bet Crooks February 3, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Giving blood for the first time was way more important than you are crediting yourself for:
    a) you may have saved someone’s life or improved the quality of it
    b) by writing about it here, you may have inspired others to do the same, multiplying (a)’s benefit, and you may continue to inspire others for years to come

    Give yourself a big hug for doing something altruistically good!

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks, Bet. I definitely plan on contributing on a regular basis now (i.e. every 56 days!).

  • Bridget February 3, 2014 at 9:17 am

    We’ll have to chat a bit about the CSC since I”m considering doing it myself.. one of my classmates completed it a few years ago and said it wasn’t bad.

    Nice work even though you were slightly over budget! You’re doing great!

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      Let’s chat! Anytime, friend. :)

  • Anne @ Unique Gifter February 3, 2014 at 9:45 am

    The first time you’ve stayed put since May?! Wowzers… you’re like my opposite, I am bored stiff of being here all the time!
    Well done on getting so many Passes on your goals :-)

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Seriously! I’ve been in Victoria and/or Toronto every single month since I moved here. January felt… weird, haha.

  • A February 3, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    Hi-C! My question is – HOW the HECK are your groceries so cheap? Do you only eat once a day or what?! Our grocery budget has been completely crazy recently. I used to budget $400/month a few years ago, and then it started going up to about $600/month. In January, we ate extra-healthy (I do an annual “cleanse”) and it cost us $850 in groceries! I have no idea how you stay around $200/month. I am going to bump our budget up to $700 because we’ve been steadily hitting $700 over the last 6 months. It’s insane.

    We cook a lot and do eat meat and dairy, but we don’t buy a lot of alcohol or fancy prepared items or anything like that. We really shop the perimeter and just a little bit of the aisles (beans, broth). The coupons we find are usually for junk food, not stuff we buy. It’s so frustrating because we have to eat, but we are eating a huge chunk of our paychecks!

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      A! I’ve missed you! Now, let me see if I can answer your question…

      1) I DO eat 3 meals a day, haha, but I DON’T snack much (other than when I get a sweet tooth).
      2) I eat a pretty light breakfast. Yogurt/granola, toast/P&J, egg/toast, etc.
      3) I do a lot of batch cooking. On Sunday. I’ll typically make things so I can pack lunches / prep a bunch of dinners for the week. This means I often eat the same meal multiple times in a week, which is probably boring for some people, but it saves money.
      4) I only buy as much food as I need. It’s very rare I have to throw anything in the garbage.

  • Lindsey @ Cents & Sensibility February 3, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Was it nice to stay home all month? Or did you find yourself getting restless? Sometimes I find I don’t know what to do with myself after I’ve been super busy and on the go. That’s awesome you were able to put so much money towards your long term savings!

    • Cait Flanders February 4, 2014 at 6:49 am


  • prosperousnotforprofit February 4, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Hey Cait!
    That is great about gas! I know you’ve had some issues with repairs in the past but what make of car do you own?
    It’s way off in the ‘dream budget’ for me, but I’m starting to think more about getting a car and not walking in the -30 weather of the Canadian West!

    • Cait Flanders February 4, 2014 at 11:51 am

      Hey! Never had an issue with my car before. I was in an accident in the summer, so it needed to be fixed – that’s it. It’s a 2009 Kia Rio5.

  • Cassie February 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    “In the end, I saved 31% of my income in long-term savings, spent 36% on housing, 10% on food, 9% on transportation, 6.5% on health care, 5.5% on myself/gifts for others and 2% on charity.”

    That’s pretty amazing Cait :)

  • Marie-Helene Berube February 4, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    I am thinking of tracking my expenses, my exercises and how often I meditate. What program do you use to do your tracking? I have an iPad. I am assuming that some apps are better than other.
    Any advice?