December 2013 Budget & Goals

December 2013 Budget & Goals

It’s the last month of 2013! Just for fun, I looked at my January 2013 Budget & Goals and was blown away at the realization of how much my life and finances have changed since the beginning of the year. Only 11 months ago, I was living in Toronto with Roomie, thinking about getting my own place, worrying about how I was going to pay to travel back and forth to BC for so many weddings, etc. Now I’m debt-free and happily settled in Port Moody, working remotely for the same company. In January, I never would have guessed this is where I would be at the end of 2013; it’s crazy, but I love it.

One thing I did know in January is that 2013 was going to be the year I would pay off the last of my debt. The first number in my January budget was $850 for debt repayment. Well, the first two lines of my December budget add up to $930 – that I’m putting into¬†savings. As for the rest of this budget, it looks pretty standard. I’m obviously in Toronto this week, so I have a little spending budget there. I’m also going home to Victoria for Christmas. And I want to avoid eating takeout as much as possible, since I’m sure there will be enough chocolate (and calories) in my system already this month from travelling and the holidays.

In total, I’m saving 29% of my income (in long-term savings), spending 35.5% on housing, 8% on food, 10% on transportation, 10% on travel, and the last 7.5% on my health and myself! (Oh, and disability insurance is a new one. We’ll discuss that later this month.)

Goals for this month:

  • Read 2 books
  • Workout 2x/week
  • Relax and enjoy a week off work between Christmas and New Years
  • Create a realistic list of goals for next year!

What do you have planned for this month?

  • I really need to start doing a chart like yours every month. I have a similar one I use for my long term planning but I never seem to fill in the actuals column. I’ve been running a deficit for the last couple of months by dipping in to savings to pay for the overages while putting huge portions of my check towards debt. This month is all about putting that money back in to my savings. The extra hours at my retail job will ensure I’m back on track by the end of the year.

    I was due a raise on November 28 so I should have seen some changes in my paycheck this week. But it didn’t come through so I have a little retro pay in my future. Also we recently signed a new collective agreement so I’m also expecting a signing bonus before the end of the year. I haven’t decided exactly what to do with it yet. I’m expecting approximately $1000. I figure it will either be a good start to my new emergency fund or a huge chunk of the income tax I’ll have to pay in next year. I haven’t decided which yet. I may split it between both.

    All my holiday/birthday outings are next weekend. I think it’s gonna be an expensive weekend. I’m going home for Christmas for four days. But that’s a really cheap trip $30 for gas and my family will feed me while I’m there. New Years I’m probably staying in and watching movies with a friend.

    • Sounds like lots is happening this month! My plans for NYE sound similar – although, I’ll likely just hang by myself, lol.

  • This is fantastic! I’ve been following you since last year and have kept track of your progress. I’ve adapted your “chart” and used it for myself. WHAT is your biggest piece of advice with regard to paying down debt? Stop shopping altogether? Budget for treats? No treats at all? I’m just curious. I admire your commitment to this and have been taking huge steps myself to move toward achieving more financial freedom.:)

    • Hmm, I’d say there’s two things: 1) Before payday, determine how much you can put towards debt. Then on payday, move that money FIRST before you can risk spending it. And 2) Know what your vice is (i.e. mine are coffee and books) and make sure there’s room for it in your budget. Whenever I felt like money was tight, I could still always count on being able to meet a friend for coffee. Good luck, Suzanne!

      • I always made my debt payment on payday before I could get my greedy little hands on the money. I knew if I waited all the money would be spent. So I think that’s great advice Cait.

  • Congrats on the huge transformation in your finances and life :) It’s so hard to see the progress until you have something to compare it to. And you’ve done amazingly well!

    Wow, your disability insurance isn’t too bad per month. I was meaning to ask you about because I saw you mention you bought it.

    Also, are you one of those anti-cell phones people? I never noticed before, but I don’t see it listed in your budget. Or does your work pay for it?

    • Thanks, Alicia!

      I have a post drafted about the insurance that I’ll publish mid-month. I also purchased health/dental coverage that’ll kick in January 1st.

      And no, I would die w/out my phone! Work pays for it.

  • gahh I really need to get more organized like this – your budget & goals always look so nice. As a general rule I only look at my spending at the END of the month but maybe it’s time to start planning at the beginning?

  • Reading all your monthly goals and updates definitely has given me a nudge of motivation to do a big financial goal brainstorm for 2014 and maybe even monthly ones.

    And it is pretty amazing what a year has in store ahead. I couldn’t even imagined having planned doing all the things I’ve done in the past 5 years. Life just throws pleasant little surprises along the way!

  • Great progress!

    I’ve been following you for a while – and your progress has been awesome.

    I adapted your budget chart and find it much more useful than the old way I had mine organized.

    @ Suzanne – while I’m no expert, I have been seriously paying off my debt for the past year. I cut it more than in half, and will be debt free by May. While you have to cut down as much as possible, I don’t suggest denying yourself everything. You will likely lose your will to pay down debt! While it’s not a lot of money, I do budget for restaurants, clothing, and I save consistent amounts of money for the fun stuff I like to do (e.g. skiing in the winter). I also have a “Miscellaneous” pot, which I can use for everything from health co-pays and haircuts to more fun stuff like movies, books, gifts etc. But there is only so much money there, so I have to think long and hard before I buy something! And, of course, whatever money doesn’t get spent at the end of the month, goes right on my debt.

  • I have hardly any wiggle room this month just due to Christmas!!! So this will be a tight month for me but everything will straighten out next month. Makes it easier that most of my Christmas presents are wrapped already and everything!

    • Thanks! I don’t usually look back at old budgets, but I know 2013 has been a crazy year, so it was really interesting to see where I was at the beginning compared to where I am now.

  • “Create a realistic list of goals for next year”

    Yep Cait, it’s been quite a year for you, I see – a number of highs but (unfortunately) a few lows as well. Oh well, but that’s how life is for us all, eh? All we can do is to keep forging ahead, living wisely, learning new things, and the breaks will surely come our way hopefully in the new year fast approaching.

    Every year end, I too try to set up a realistic list of goals for the new year. On the financial front, I sum up all my monthly budgets for the year just passed and compare them to the sum up of all my past year monthly actuals. This tends to smooth out the month to month, up and down, variances between the two. From this I then decide where to make any changes to my budget items, if required, as well as any required changes to our lifestyle spending activities.
    This then usually affects somewhat what I choose as my other non-financial goals to strive for in the new year. Anyway, that’s my approach and over the years it seems to have worked pretty well for me.

    • There were definitely a few lows this year, but I know I’m in a good place right now and that’s what counts. :)

      I don’t know that I’ll publish it here, but I’m also going to take my 12 budgets and add up what I spent on everything this year. Next year, I need to budget for new car tires, a new bed and hopefully a vacation… so we’ll see what I can move around, to make that all happen!

  • We’re planning on saving as much as we can, to better start 2014, since that year will come with some added expenses.

    Great job on the year goals, being debt free is clearly an amazing achievement ;)

    • Thanks, lady! 2014 will be an expensive year for me too, unfortunately… but the better we plan now, the more prepared we’ll be!

  • well first of all..GOOD FOR YOU on your savings goals!!
    I been following your posts for awhile..don’t comment often but i FINALLY pulled off your budget template last month and started to budget…spending has been slowing going out of control and i KNOW i needed to start reining in the family and our costs…its tough because of the holidays..but I HAVE to do this…we were a family in HUGE financial/medical debt in 2009 and I don’t want to go back to that. So, with a little help from you…THANK YOU…and writing it down on paper maybe I get everyone else on board and we will be better than OK.

  • Awesome job. I love reading about other’s budgets, and yours is very nicely laid out. Way to go on paying off that debt, and seriously way to go on saving 29% of your income. I really think a lot of people just want the money to appear in their account one day, without thinking that they have to spend less and save more. My wife and I save about 60% of our income between long term (31%) and short term 28(%) goals. It’s nice to see we aren’t the only ones! But again, way to be!

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