Update: February 2015 Budget & Goals

March 2, 2015


I know February is always a short month, but the last four weeks flew by especially fast. It’s hard to believe I was roaming around NYC just two weeks ago… and that the cold I caught after stole 10 days of my life. Still, I have nothing to complain about, these days. Life is good. I’m finally feeling better and getting my energy back, have been working more on a new project with a friend, and just spent the weekend in the sun with family/friends in Victoria. On top of all that, I’m really happy with last month’s numbers. Take a look.

Life Expenses – Goal: 52% / Actual: 44% / Difference: -8%

Despite the fact that I was able to live off just 44% of my income this month, there was still a lot of red in my budget. Some categories saw minor overages (groceries were exactly $0.30 over budget) but one was huge: charitable donations. There were two instances where friends had the courage to ask for help from family/friends – one was fundraising for their brother’s neurosurgery – and so I donated what I could. Without donations, I technically lived off 40% of my income this month.

Travel – Goal: 0% / Actual: 3% / Difference: +3%

I thought the amount of money in my Travel account would pay for my trip to NYC, but I ended up going over by ~$80, mostly because I forgot to factor in my airport parking… and the worst exchange rate ever! I also decided to go home to Victoria this past weekend, so needed a little more for the ferry, etc.

Planned Spending – Goal: 11% / Actual: 11% / Difference: 0%

I put the regular amounts I’d budgeted for into both my Shopping Ban and Wedding accounts, but then topped up the Shopping Ban account with leftover amounts that were sitting in my chequing account on the nights before my two paydays. It’s sitting at a random $1,411.

Long-Term Savings  Goal: 37% / Actual: 42% / Difference: +5%

Finally, my goal for the year is to put at least 32% of my take home pay in long-term savings, and this month’s budget had room for 37%. Thanks to my freelance income, I was able to save 42%, instead. I won’t see a number close to this in March, though, so I’m grateful I was able to save a lot in February.

Goals for this month:

  • Consolidate my two RRSPs into one – PASS!
  • Invest more of my Emergency Fund – PASS!
  • Get all my tax stuff ready, so I can file as soon as I get my T4 – PASS! And I filed my taxes, too!
  • Read 2 books – PASS! I read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (loved it) and Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham (wouldn’t recommend it).
  • Workout 15x – FAIL! I worked out 9x; maybe 12x, if you add the few days I walked 15-20K in NYC. But that cold wiped me out for almost 10 days after…

How did your month finish up?

PS – I’ve decided to stop writing two posts about my budget each month. Instead, I’m just going to write one post at the end of each month, to tell you how I did. I’ve always shared a before/after, so this feels a bit weird but is still something I want to experiment with. We’ll see how it goes, at the end of March!

  • Rob March 2, 2015 at 6:12 am

    Happy to see that you’re feeling better, Cait, and that you had a good financial February.

    As for moi, other than the record bone-chilling February that we had here in TO, my past month went well (and I even won some $ at bingo with my MIL the other day – lol).

    As per usual, we stayed within our retirement budget and even had some savings left over after expenses. The best thing though was that our overall investments continued to rise in value, matching the rise achieved in January (another 2.3% increase). Now, like yourself, I’m getting ready for tax preparation (which our daughter submits for us), gathering all our slips together. I guess though, what with dividend income received, capital gains achieved, interest earned, etc. that I’ll have to start putting some loot aside for income tax owing when the time comes to submit our taxes. However, unlike yourself, we no longer can get any RSP breaks since we are now both retired and our RSP / TFSA plans are all at max. Overall, no complaints. Enjoy your (warm) day. :-)

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      Ahh yes, even with my RRSP contributions + some freelance write-offs, I ended up owing for the first time ever – but just $435, so I’m not too worried about it. Since last year was my first year doing a good amount of freelance work, it was a good test for me to see how much I should save/contribute to RRSPs, to try and counter it!

      Hope the weather warms up for you guys! The forecast looks better than what I saw a few weeks ago. Still, it would be rude for me to tell you I was outside in a t-shirt today… right?

      • Rob March 3, 2015 at 4:47 am

        Oh so right, smarty pants – but you did anyway! :-)

  • Trista March 2, 2015 at 7:50 am

    My month was ok. I saw a drop in savings as I finally had my brakes done. I also went a little (a lot) overboard in some new spring clothing/accessories/footwear. However, I stayed under budget on groceries, entertainment and gas and got some money in to my vacation account. I found out this past weekend there is a good chance I could be travelling to Disney in December. Since I’m already planning and saving for a cruise I am going to have to be creative to get the money from Disney. So this month I’ll be looking for savings in other areas of my budget in order to fund Disney.

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      Why Disney? :)

      • Trista March 3, 2015 at 4:17 am

        I was a Disney fanatic when I was young and I’ve always wanted to go. Dad is taking my nephew and said I could tag along (if I paid for myself).

        • Cait Flanders March 3, 2015 at 7:49 am

          Awesome! We went to Disneyland when I was 19, and my brother and sister were 9 and 11. It was really fun :)

  • Bridget March 2, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Nice job.

    My month was hectic but I got my taxes filed so that’s the most important thing ;)

    I increased my net worth by $9,000 in the first 2 months on 2015 so I am feeling REALLY good about my $100/day net-worth-increase goal for the year. We’re ahead of schedule and I AM THRILLED.

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:06 pm

      Giiirl, is that real life!? You are killing it. :)

      Also, how’d taxes work out for you this year? I guess you’re a student, so you’ll get a good return…?

  • Sara Hamil @ They Call it Gumption March 2, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Nice work! Also, glad to hear you’re feeling better. I got a really nasty cold last week. I haven’t been that sick in a long time. Finally getting back into the swing of things now.

    Reading this remind me that I should start pulling together my tax docs… I managed to beat the RRSP deadline though! Small victories!

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:07 pm

      My boss had it too! That freaking cold is sweeping the nation. Glad to hear you’re feeling better! And yes yes yes, file your taxes ASAP! The sooner it’s done, the sooner you can get your money back… or just get your payment over and done with, like I did, haha.

  • Aleksandra Sagan March 2, 2015 at 8:13 am

    Nice work in February!

    I travelled to the states too in February to California, and was hit hard by the horrible exchange rate. I ended up just a few dollars over my California travel budget, likely because of the awful exchange rate. So it goes.

    I haven’t read Dunhma’s Not That Kind of Girl yet… Why wouldn’t you recommend it?

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      I don’t know. It was just a bunch of random essays pieced together, and it didn’t leave me with any lessons… just the knowledge that I now knew way too much about how weird/unique she thinks her life has been. I’m really bored with Girls right now, so maybe I’m slightly biased. I just found myself skimming through parts, not caring if I read it all.

      • Aleksandra Sagan March 3, 2015 at 6:44 am

        Fair enough. I’ve never cared much for Girls – stopped watching it after getting partway through the first season. But, a lot of people have said great things about the book to me, so I was curious why you didn’t like it.

  • Mrs. Marriage & Money March 2, 2015 at 8:32 am

    You’re killing it! I’m impressed by your ability to mostly stick with a budget while traveling, that’s really hard for me to do because all I want to do is eat out when I go to a new city. The one time per month update sounds like a good plan, and it seems like a lot of bloggers follow that same formula.
    This month we finally started saving and were able to put another $580 towards our massive student loans so I’m pretty happy about that. Hopefully our tax return will make March a great month for us!

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      Savings and debt repayment!? That’s awesome! And yes, hopefully a tax return will help change some numbers in March. :)

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach March 2, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Thank you so much for allocating some of your budget for my crowdfunding campaign! You have no idea how much I appreciate it! Sorry to hear you were sick in Feb but glad to hear you’re feeling better. It seemed a lot of people got their butt kicked by some kind of sickness this year. I’m still knocking on wood! :) Hope you have a great March!

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      You are most welcome, friend! What’s weird is I actually didn’t include that amount here yet – so that means you’re the third friend I tried to help out this month. I’m excited to see more videos from you in the future. :)

  • C@thesingledollar March 2, 2015 at 9:37 am

    Congrats! Those are some great numbers. And if you’re going to go over somewhere, do it by being generous.

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:19 pm

      That’s very true. Thanks, C. :)

  • Danielle March 2, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    How did you already file your taxes?! Do you just have one T4??
    I wish mine were so simple. I think I have 3 T4s and like, over 5 T5s plus self-employment income/expenses. Such a mess. Going to block of 3 days just to file.

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      Just the one T4, yep. Then self-employment income/expenses, which I’d already added up, and my RRSP contributions and charitable donations. I stay pretty organized all year, so I can file as soon as I get my T4 from work.

  • ARBM March 2, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Your budget reports are always so inspiring! I can only hope to work towards something like you do. And as others have commented, giving when you can afford it doesn’t really count as going over budget. :)
    My February was not as successful budget-wise, and I also got a nasty bug that took me out for a good week or so. Glad you are feeling better.

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      Ouch, this cold has made some serious rounds. Are you feeling better now? Here’s to a good March!

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods March 2, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I love that you were over on groceries by $0.30–I’d say you pretty much nailed it! And, I think charitable donations are a wonderful way to “over” spend. Glad to hear you’re feeling better too :)

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      I actually thought I was going to come in under budget for groceries, but then bought a few extra things when I was sick (tea, honey, etc.) and didn’t have the energy to go to a cheaper store, haha. Ahh well. It was necessary. :)

  • diane @smartmoneysimplelife March 2, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    A February postmortem is on my list for today. I think it was OK but I didn’t set particularly specific goals so this month I’m working on a zero sum budget so I can be stricter and more precise. I’ve been ‘winging it’ a bit too much lately!

    Great effort on the savings percentage!

    • Cait Flanders March 2, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      Funny, I’ve actually been thinking of “winging it” for a month, to see what happens… My savings is automated now, so should be ok. Guess we will see!

  • Kristen March 3, 2015 at 5:08 am

    Hope you are feeling better Cait. Knock on wood the cold has missed me this year, but it has gotten a lot of my friends and co-workers. I hear it is nasty!

    This month we were slightly over due to some unplanned dental work my hubby needed. While we went over in that category a little, we are lucky his insurance covered 90% of it so it was a small overage (and we did have the money to cover it). Overall, I was pleased with how the coldest month on record went (although not as pleased with the energy bill, but there is only so much you can do about it – we only keep the house at 17 or 18 degrees).

    • Cait Flanders March 3, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Sorry to hear about the unexpected dental work (well, sorry for his poor teeth!) but good you had the money for it. I’m trying to decide if I want to spend $750 to see my surgeon in his private clinic, because it’s taking forever to hear when my consultation at his public clinic will be… and I want to get on the surgery waitlist ASAP. Ugh. Anyway, that’s what March may hold for me…

  • Dayle March 3, 2015 at 7:21 am

    You had a great month!

    For myself, I had been sick at the end of January as a result of the Mexico trip, and I found I had a really hard time getting back to the swing of things with my workouts last month. I was also busy with working some extra hours and starting to get my house ready to sell! Plus, hello FREEZING, it was SO COLD in February. Makes you want to hibernate!! I only got 17 workouts done and had 11 days off… not like me!

    So as I mentioned above, started getting the house ready. It is being listed March 18th! We are still in the “hard work” phase but I am looking forward to the selling phase once the work is done and doing the negotiations, etc.

    I managed to grow my net worth by 1.6% which was an average month for me. The selling price of the house may change my net worth, hopefully for the better!

    • Cait Flanders March 3, 2015 at 1:43 pm

      Ahhh, it’s going up so soon! What kind of work are you guys doing, before you list?

      • Dayle March 8, 2015 at 3:37 am

        Mostly painting, and a few minor fixes to things like floors, trim, window sill, faucets, etc. Painted the kitchen, one spare bedroom, and the rec room in the basement. Also scrubbed my ancient stove/oven and it looks brand new. Changed a bunch of light bulbs, stuff like that!

  • Leanne March 4, 2015 at 6:51 am

    I’m glad you’re feeling better! I’ve still got the damn cough I woke up with in NYC :( good luck not having a budget this month x

    • Cait Flanders March 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      Oh no! I’m coughing a bit too, here and there, but it’s gone for the most part. Hope yours clears soon, hun!