December 2014 Budget & Goals

December 3, 2014


I know a lot of people are in shock that December is already here, and a new year is just around the corner, but I am freaking ecstatic about it! Over the last few days, I’ve been reviewing my budgets from the past year and am blown away by how different they are compared to this one. I feel like everything I’ve been trying to do has actually worked, so I’m now able to live on less, spend money on what I value (travel) and still save; this month is a perfect example. Check it out…

Life Expenses – Goal: 48%

For the first time, I’m planning to “live” on less than half of my regular income (with no help from extra freelance). Of course, this is partially a result of the fact that I’m travelling so much in December, but the only cost that really goes down when doing so is groceries. If I spent my regular amount on groceries this month, I’d be at 50% – and I am pretty darn happy about that.

There are a few other reasons I was able to get this down to 48%. First, after months of dealing with shoddy internet, I finally cut the cord and switched providers. My new bill should be $35-40/month (6 month promo), versus the $73 my old bill had gone up to – and hopefully it’ll be a lot faster. Second, I paid the annual premium on my tenant insurance, so I don’t have to think about that cost each month. And finally, I only have a few small things left to buy for Christmas!

Travel – Goal: 29%

I mentioned on Monday that I booked a flight to see a good friend in one of my favourite cities. Well, that friend is Shannon from ReadyForZero, and I’m going to visit her in New York City… tonight! I’m taking a red-eye to Toronto, where I’m catching a connecting flight, and will be arriving in NYC tomorrow morning. To say I’m excited would be an understatement. I’ve only been to NYC once, at Christmas time two years ago, and have wanted to go back ever since. It truly is as magical as you’d imagine – especially in December.

I’ll be in NYC for 5 nights, then I’m flying back up to Toronto for 5 more nights. I’m going for work/our Christmas party, and am also going to try to squeeze in visits with a few friends. I fly back to Vancouver on the 14th, then I’m heading home to Victoria for the holidays on the 18th. I’m likely going to stay there until the 28th or so, because I don’t know when I’ll go back after that… maybe in March!? Anyway, this means I’m basically “travelling” for the entire month. It’ll only take up 29% of my budget, though, because I have free accommodation in all of these cities.

Savings – Goal: 23%

Savings is something I’ve been thinking about a lot – especially since I topped up my Emergency Fund. I’m happy I’ll be able to save a good chunk of money this month, but I haven’t decided what my next goal will be. As you’ll see below, one of my goals for this month is to think about what I want to accomplish in 2015 – and my savings goals are part of that. There are a few things that are up in the air right now, which will hopefully be dealt with in December, so I can decide what to do after. For now, I think I’ll split my savings evenly between retirement and future travel.

Goals for this month:

  • Read 2 books
  • Workout 12x
  • Finish a personal writing project
  • Map out goals for 2015
  • Soak up all my time in NYC/Toronto/Victoria

What do you have planned for this month?

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods December 3, 2014 at 4:34 am

    Nicely done! I’m impressed with your savings and expenses goals–both sound fabulous! NYC in December is simply beautiful. When I lived there, Mr. FW and I would just walk up and down the blocks in Manhattan ogling all the Christmas displays. Of course we were too cheap to buy anything, but, it’s a wonderful place to window shop. Hope you have a fantastic trip!

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Yes, I can’t imagine I’ll shop at all (at least not for myself) but am so excited to stroll up and down the streets, and to see all the lights again. This time tomorrow! Thanks, lady. :)

  • L December 3, 2014 at 4:50 am

    Have a great time in NYC! I can’t believe it is December but like you am I excited to see what 2015 will hold :)I have a few fun trips in the works as well as saving for a big trip in 2016!!

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      Ooo, what’s the big trip? Where are you going?

      • L December 4, 2014 at 4:58 am

        The BF and I are planning to head to the land down under in 2016 :)

  • Michelle December 3, 2014 at 5:03 am

    I’m working hard to reduce my life expenses too, great job on working to get it under 50%. Can’t wait to see the results. You’re going to love NYC with all the decorations for Christmas. 5th Ave is amazing and you have to check out Saks, they have this video/music show on the side of the building at night. it’s awesome!
    My big plans this month are getting my career and the blog back on track. Press the reset button, LOL!

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      I’ve been at Christmas once before, and it was oh so beautiful. I will absolutely take a stroll down 5th Ave. again. Good luck with your plans this month!

  • moneystepper December 3, 2014 at 5:05 am

    That’s pretty impressive that you can travel for almost an entire month and only have it cost 29% of your budget. This is certainly an indicator that you’re moving towards financial freedom – which is pretty darn cool!!

    Pretty jealous that you are heading to NYC – a pretty cool place to be in December. I hope you guys have a great time there!

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 6:44 pm


  • Rob December 3, 2014 at 5:45 am

    Hi Cait. I too am very impressed with your savings and expense goals for this month. Here’s my little suggestion for you to consider in 2015. This year you’ve passed on to your readers many tips on savings, budgeting, minimalizing (is that a word? lol). One topic that you have not touched on yet are any thoughts on various investing strategies. I’m sure from your contacts at your work, contacts with Gail, and other professional contacts that there are a lot of opinions out there. And as another blogger that I read would say, don’t just deal with TNL@TB (the nice lady at the bank) since banks primarily want to just push their products more than provide appropriate customized solutions for their customers. Investing is not a “one approach fits all” strategy since many people are in different situations requiring different considerations. To my way of thing, investing is the next step in supplementing savings, budgeting, earning activities all complementing each other on the way to generating weath in one’s life. And there is so much to cover in discussing investing because things are constantly changing in our lives and in the economic personal and global economy around us. Just a suggestion to consider …

    As to my plans for this month:
    With no projects planned, just take it easy, reading my 100’s of PF blogs (yours and Jess’s being up there), finishing our Christmas shopping, taking in a movie or two, visiting the kids and grand kids, cheating on my diet, the usual year end mischief! :-)

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 6:59 pm

      I definitely plan to talk about investing a bit more next year! It’ll still very much be a “beginner’s guide” on what to do, haha… but I’m learning all the time, which is important. And, since I’ve shared all kinds of mistakes/failures made in other areas of my life, I should do the same re: investing, right!? :P

      Sounds like a really nice month, Rob!

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach December 3, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Have fun in NY! I’ve never been there at Christmas but I’m sure it’s really festive! Your travel schedule exhausts me. lol! I hate packing so I don’t know how you do it so much! My goal is the opposite this month: lay really low and relax! :)

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Haha, I’m sure I’ll be tired by the end of the month. Just remember that Victoria doesn’t feel much like travel. I have my own room at my parents’ house and am surrounded by family. :)

  • Dayle December 3, 2014 at 6:50 am

    That’s exciting! Never been to NYC but hope to go sometime soon :)

    My goals for December: Work out every day from the 1st to the 24th then take Christmas off. And then probably try to work out every day until New Years. If I work out 28 days in December I will hit 312 for the year which is 6 days/week sustained for the entire year. I’m pretty proud of that!

    I will be standing for my friend as her maid of honour when she gets married on New Years Eve.

    I have an exam next week to study for, I’m hosting a bridal shower and a Christmas lunch/Secret Santa exchange with my girlfriends.

    And most importantly, I want to spend time with friends and family, especially my new baby nephew!

    I will see you on the 13th! :)

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      6 days/week all year!? You’re a machine, Dayle! And you should definitely be proud of that! Also, I’ve always wanted to go to a NYE wedding. Hope to see some pics from that on IG. See you soon!

  • Trista December 3, 2014 at 7:40 am

    I hope you have a safe and happy holiday especially with all the travel. My plans for this month are to stay on budget (only a couple gifts left to buy), make a plan for a single income for the new year and to celebrate my 30th birthday! I’m also taking a little time off for the holidays so that will be spend with family.

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Single income, as in you’re quitting your second job?

      • Trista December 4, 2014 at 7:35 am

        Very likely. It’s too hard on my back.

  • Kayla @ Shoeaholicnomore December 3, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Have fun with all your travelling this month Cait. Your budget looks great too and I love the new site design!

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks, Kayla!

  • Christine @ The Wallet Diet December 3, 2014 at 9:29 am

    If you have time, definitely try to visit Toronto’s Distillery District for their Christmas Market. It’s my favourite holiday attraction in the whole city :)

    Also recommend Kalendar in Little Italy – cozy little Christmasy restaurant with the best mulled wine!

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 6:50 pm

      I’ve been before, and my office is right by there… will absolutely go again, though. Thanks!

  • Bailey December 3, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Awesome! My plans for December are to visit my alma mater for my friends’ graduation– it should cost less than $50 for gasoline. I’ve also bought all my presents (back in October!) The good news about December is I got a bonus from work AND we get an extra paycheck since we’re on a biweekly schedule.

    • Cait Flanders December 3, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Wow, sounds like it’ll be a good month for your finances, for sure! Enjoy your visit :)

  • Leigh December 3, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Perhaps it’s because I grew up while ‘Friends’ was in its prime, but I’ve always wanted to see New York at Christmas. Enjoy!!

    • Cait Flanders December 4, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      NYC is always beautiful, but Christmas makes it extra special. :)

  • Travis @Debtchronicles December 4, 2014 at 5:52 am

    My goals for December are to get our Christmas gift shopping done to avoid me running around on December 24th picking up last minute items before everything shuts down, to actually start running again (come on, leg!), and to gracefully tack one on to my age number. :)

    • Cait Flanders December 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Ohhh, I didn’t know your birthday was in December! That’s exciting. And yes, I hope you can get back into running too!

  • Kris December 4, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Hi Cait! Just wanted to say that you’re a huge inspiration to me and I really enjoy reading your blog. You’ve inspired me (along with Gail!) to finally start kicking my debt to the curb. Enjoy your travels!

    • Cait Flanders December 4, 2014 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks, Kris! And congrats on starting your blog/debt repayment journey! Cheering you on from here :)

  • Aleksandra Sagan December 4, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Hope you have a lovely trip to NYC. I’m sure it’s lovely in the Winter – I’ve only been in the summer.

    Can’t wait to read about what you want to accomplish in 2015!

  • Giulia December 11, 2014 at 12:59 am

    GReat goals!!!