Update: January 2015 Budget & Goals

February 2, 2015


Hi, friends! Can you believe it’s February!? How has the first month of 2015 already come and gone? Before I look at how January finished up, I need to tell you that it was a really unusual month for me and my finances. I was offered a surprising amount of freelance work, which threw my numbers way off – in a good way, of course. I had planned to spend 60% of my regular income and save the other 40%, but my freelance income helped me do almost the exact opposite. Take a look.

Life Expenses – Goal: 52% / Actual: 40% / Difference: -12%

I lived on just 40% of my income this month. I don’t say stuff like this often, but I’m really proud of that number. Yes, I know freelance work helped bring down the percentage of my total income required to make it happen, but January was also a month of almost no travel (just a quick trip to Toronto for work) and I managed to come in under budget in most categories. My only major overage was for Personal Care, which largely stemmed from the spontaneous haircut I got a few weeks ago. It hadn’t been cut since August and felt out of control, so I walked in and asked her to cut 6″ off. Three weeks and $60 later, I can tell you it was worth every penny. Bye hair!

Travel – Goal: 8% / Actual: 4% / Difference: -4%

As I said, the only trip I went on this month was to Toronto for work. I was there for 5 days/4 nights, and only had to pay for food during that time. I actually came in under my original budget and freelance brought the percentage down even further. Win win.

Planned Spending – Goal: 14% / Actual: 16% / Difference: +2%

Onto the new category: the money I’m saving now, so I can spend it later! As I mentioned last week, I upped the amount I’m putting in the Shopping Ban account from $100 to $200/month. I put some money aside for my best friend’s wedding this summer. I also took one entire freelance cheque and put it into my Travel account, for my trip to NYC next week.

Long-Term Savings Goal: 26% / Actual: 40% / Difference: +14%

Finally, the biggest win of all: I dropped 40% of this month’s income into long-term savings (divided evenly between retirement + my new Question Mark account). Tack on the 16% I put into all my planned spending accounts, and I saved a total of 56% of what I earned in January. I don’t foresee this becoming the norm, of course, but it was an awesome way to start the new year!

Goals for this month:

  • Complete my first 31-day challenge – FAIL! It was still a good challenge, though.
  • Read 5 books – PASS! Well, I’m at 4.5 books, but I’m rounding up.
  • Workout 20x – FAIL! I worked out 15x. That’s still a workout every 2 days, which I’m happy about!

How did your month finish up?

  • Giulia February 2, 2015 at 4:16 am

    Also if you didn’t pass your 31 day challege I think you are doing a great work, keep it and congrats for your success, small steps big results:D

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Thanks, Giulia!

  • Rob February 2, 2015 at 4:35 am

    Congrats Cait on a good January – great results! I would have graded you an “almost PASS”, rather than a “FAIL”, on that last goal though – a workout every 2 days is pretty good in anyone’s books, if ya ask me.

    My January also finished up rather good financially. Our investments (RSPs, RIFs, TSFAs, and non-reg. ) grew in total by over 2% and our cash holdings increased modestly as well – which is pretty good considering that in January we also paid off all our previous year end holiday expenses and gave in our annual charity donations.

    Word to the wise – don’t plan on any travel to Toronto this week. It’s cold as hell (lol) and has been snowing hard here since yesterday afternoon, nonstop. I see a bit of snow blower work ahead of me today! :-)

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 5:17 pm

      Yea, I’m starting to think all of my goals were “almost passes” really, haha. Sounds like you had a good month! And I’m not coming to Toronto, but I am connecting at Pearson next week… hopefully the runways are clear then! *fingers crossed*

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods February 2, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Way to go on saving so much, Cait! That’s absolutely awesome! Our January was pretty good and in line with what we expected. Our non-mortgage spending was below $1,000, which is ideal for us.

    I feel like there should be an option other than “fail” for your 31-day challenge. Maybe “good effort” or “learned a lot about myself” ;)?

    • Elizabeth February 2, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      What annoys me about most challenges is that a lot of people live by an artificial set of rules for a given period of time and then go back to their old lifestyle shortly after they’re done.

      I consider Cait’s challenge a success because she learned things that lead to longer-lasting change. :)

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks, ladies! I’ll tack an “almost pass” and “learned a lot” to it, then. :)

  • Rene February 2, 2015 at 6:47 am

    That’s amazing Cait!! :) Are you hoping to have working 20x as a monthly goal of yours?? I’ve been trying to get myself to slowly start working out again but its been hard! Snow isn’t making it any better.. all this cold just makes you want to drive home right after work and watch some TV shows in your comfy bed.

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Hmm, no. I’d say 15-18 will probably always be my goal. I just wanted to try for 20, because it was a long month and I was going to be home for most of it! I can’t use the cold weather as an excuse here, hehe. We’ve had an unusually warm winter… plus, the gym is in my condo building! But you’ll never regret working out. Keep that in mind. :)

  • KristiCase February 2, 2015 at 7:31 am

    love this! It’s so hard to live I. A budget sometimes! I try to save $200 from each paycheck, but I wish I could save more. Worrying out every two days sounds like success to me!Great post!

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 5:21 pm

      Thanks, Kristi. :)

  • C@thesingledollar February 2, 2015 at 7:58 am

    That’s wonderful! How I did depends on what number you’re looking at. I technically spent 53% of my income in January and saved 47%. But if you delete the plane ticket I paid for out of a savings account, I only spent 33% of my actual December paychecks (which I used for January’s expenses.) I was super pleased, too. Yay for frugal Januarys all around.

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      It’s funny you say that, because I was trying to think of how to share my February budget. Technically, I’m spending 0% on travel, because my freelance income from January was thrown into savings and will more than cover my trip. I think I’ll show it that way, and just explain it… so your numbers make sense to me!

  • Trista February 2, 2015 at 8:12 am

    You had a great month! My month was good. I only had 6 hours at the store all month and my pension contributions are up so my income was down significantly. However, I stayed under budget and managed to add some “found” money to my vacation savings account. I’m looking forward to having more money this month to pump in to my savings goals above what I have budgeted out of my main income.

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      Love “found” money! That’s great, Trista. Good luck boosting your savings this month.

  • Suzanne February 2, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Wow! Great job with January!! Perfect start to the year, congratulations!! You should be very pleased with yourself…. January can be a bit of a dud month so to end it as you did is fantastic!! I didn’t fair out too bad myself, I had a small balance on my credit card which I’ve cleared with savings (good idea/bad idea??!) but in my head I’m happy, it makes me calm to see a zero balance!! Roll on February :-)

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      If you plan to keep the card at $0, then it was worth using your savings – and now you can add money back to it. Here’s to another good month for us both. :)

  • Kristen February 2, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Looks like a great start to the year! Hope the rest of the year goes as well!

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 6:01 pm

      Thanks, Kristen – same to you!

  • Nadia February 2, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Nice going Cait!

    My month was pretty good. Got the spending down a bunch. Taking a lunch everyday to work really helped with that! And I only had 3 Coca-Colas which is a huge win (normally I’m a can a day girl) so that feels really good. February is looking to be pricey but that’s because I need to go to the dentist and get a check up & cleaning (which insurance will cover) and get my crowns done (which insurance will only cover half). I have to have 2 done (so I’m going to be out $1000). Good thing I have most of that saved. I’ve been putting it off but I can afford it now so I’m going and getting it done.

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      Ouch, those expenses take a bite out of your fun, eh? Glad to hear you have savings to cover it. Good luck with the rest of your finances, this month!

  • Alicia February 2, 2015 at 10:20 am

    My January was really good on the books. My retirement account increased by nearly $1,100, and my debt went down by close to $950. So it’s my first $2k+ month without help from a tax refund or some other found money.

    Looks like you’re doing very well :)

    • Cait Flanders February 2, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      Yes yes yes, I read your update this morning! Way to go! :D

  • Aleksandra Sagan February 2, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    Congrats on doing so well in January! That is an awesome way to start the year, saving 56% of your income!

    When do we get to see the new, short hair?

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2015 at 9:36 am

      You did in Toronto! My hair used to be super long…

      • Aleksandra Sagan February 3, 2015 at 6:19 pm

        Ha! Well it looked great! I just didn’t realize it was new (Facepalm)

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach February 3, 2015 at 7:55 am

    Damn you had a great month! Nice job…especially with the savings!

    • Cait Flanders February 3, 2015 at 9:36 am

      Thanks, Tonya!