January 2014 Budget & Goals

January 2014 Budget & Goals

A new year, new month, new budget, new goals – and new colours, to boot. A fresh start deserves something bright and optimistic, don’t you think? Well, my first budget of the year feels like just that.

Three weeks ago, I told you about my plans to get serious about saving money in 2014, and this budget includes the exact amounts I mentioned. Do I think I’ll be able to hit these targets each and every month? Not likely. But I hope to keep this up for January and February, then put my entire tax return into savings and readjustment my monthly savings budgets accordingly.

Housing looks the same, but now includes my new category for tenant insurance. Food also looks the same, except that I’d like to dine out a little less (and my new milk frother + hazelnut syrup should help me avoid Starbucks!). Transportation is also par for the course.

As for health care, I spoke too soon about a category I thought I’d be adding to my budget this year. When I told you I applied for health/prescription/dental coverage through Pacific Blue Cross (PBC), I mentioned the premium would be $41/month – and I was barely comfortable paying that amount. Last week, PBC sent me a letter saying that my car accident has left me with pre-existing conditions that would require a much higher monthly premium. With that news, I cancelled my application and cursed my stupid car accident once again.

However, that doesn’t mean I’ll be holding off on my plans to take control of my health this year. I scheduled an appointment to get my eyes checked this weekend, which I’ve budgeted for, so we’ll soon find out if I need glasses or not! I also upgraded my disability insurance policy to include sickness coverage, which I am sad to say was sparked by the news that a close friend who is my age was recently diagnosed with cancer. For that, my premium went up from $17.00 to $24.10.

Finally, the new “My Money” section of this budget includes my discretionary spending, as well as my new monthly charitable donations. I stocked up on toiletries in December and received new makeup for Christmas, so I should be able to stick to the tight budgets you see here.

In total, this month I’ll be saving 33% of my income (in long-term savings), spending 36.5% on housing, 8.5% on food, 11% on transportation, 6.5% on health care, 2.2% on myself and 2.3% on charity.

Aside from adding new categories to my budget, I’m also changing the way I write my monthly goals this year. You’ll understand more about why, when you read Wednesday’s post, but this year I don’t want to put any unrealistic expectations on myself. For example, it’s not realistic to say I’ll workout 3x/week; some weeks I will, others I’ll go 5x and others I won’t go at all. That is life, and I don’t want to recap my goals and feel guilty about the constant fluctuations. Instead, my monthly goals will be task-related; things I want to get done. Have a look at what I want to do in January.

Goals for this month:

  • Get a library card from the Port Moody Public Library
  • Track how many times I go to the gym
  • Meet with my mentee at least once
  • Give blood for the first time (I’m scheduled to do this on Thursday!)

What do you have planned for this month?

  • That sucks about the health insurance coverage! One of my goals this month is also healthcare related. I need to find a new dr. because we switched insurances and the dr. I was seeing (and I really liked!) doesn’t take the new coverage :(

  • Hi Cait!

    I like your new fresh budget :)

    My January:
    1. Read two books – Eleanor & Park for bookclub and A Homemade Life (as recommended by you)
    2. Work-out at least 5 times/week
    3. sign-up for course that starts Jan 14th
    4. 2 yoga classes
    5. stay-in more, go out less

    Have a great week!

    • I love all of your goals, and I can’t wait to hear what you think of A Homemade Life. Can you let me know how Eleanor & Park is? I think I’ll add it to Goodreads now, anyway :)

  • That looks like a good start to the year! That sucks about the health insurance though. I’m planning on getting some this year and I’m hoping it’s not too expensive, I also have some pre-existing health stuff. We’ll see!

  • Hi Cait –

    I really like the simplicity of your budget template, it’s very easy to read.

    Per your goals for January:

    1. I haven’t entered a library since college but that’s a great idea! I always read the books I buy on Amazon and then they sit on the shelf indefinitely. Not the best option I guess…

    2. How did you get a mentee? Was this through a formal program? I’m interested in learning more about how to get involved in some kind of mentoring program.


    • Thanks, Justin! In Vancouver, the YWCA has a High School Mentorship Program that another blogger suggested I look into. Through that, I was matched with a girl who is just finishing up high school, getting ready to go to post-secondary. I love hanging out with her!

  • So are you not getting health insurance at all then? Or are you going to shop around to other providers?

    Your budget looks great – I enjoy the new colour scheme. I think I really like your new approach to monthly goals because it’s always annoying when I say “X times per week” and although I did 75% of it, I didn’t get there. And 75% is still good!

    • I’m not going to worry about it right now. Might look into it again later this year, but I’ve lived without benefits for nearly 18 months now and having them wouldn’t have helped me much.

  • I love that one of your goals is to get a library card!

    My library (EPL) offers so much with their card beyond books and movies.

    You get access to e-books, all of their databases, magazines, Mango (which is language learning service) and that’s just off the top of my head.

    Later in the year I hope to avail myself of Mango to refresh my French and perhaps to learn Ukrainian (my Dad’s side of the family is Ukrainian). I’ve always wanted to learn Ukrainian so this seems like a good way to do so.

    • I’ll admit, the main reason I want a card is so I can borrow e-books for free, but the other benefits are always good to have! Since I’m finally done travelling for a while, I want to start enjoying my new little city and all it offers.

      Good luck with the new language!

  • Be proud of me, Cait: Inspired by you I’ve slowly started getting a bit more specific about how much I allocate to specific things in my budget and with regards to savings. I’M LEARNING!

    That really sucks to hear about your health insurance but you made a smart choice about adding sickness coverage to your disability insurance. Working in health care has made me paranoid so I made sure t find a comprehensive critical illness plan. The peace of mind is worth it!

    • WOO HOO! Proud of you :)

      And it feels so weird to purchase insurance like that, but it definitely offers a little peace of mind, eh?

  • How bad was the second estimate? I pay $75 a month for my work benefits (which are pretty mediocre) and it eats away at my budget but after a few random illnesses and issues this year, it’s been worth it. Maybe there is another provider you can speak with? I only encourage it because I’ve seen the benefits between having and not having it, with the few hospitalizations that I’ve had.

    And I’m supporting the library card idea! I liiiive for the library. Toronto uses Overdrive Media for all e-books and although I do still read hardcovers and paperbacks, at least 50% of all books I read are digital from the library.

    • It wasn’t far off from what you’re paying, but I’m just not comfortable forking that out each month for something I will barely use. If I were hospitalized, that’s where my Emergency Fund would come into play.

  • Goals January 2014:

    -Establish a routine for work/school.
    -Create an emergency food/water reserve.
    -Stock up on de-icing salt, candles and batteries.
    -Ensure my car does not drop below a half tank of gas.
    -Keep some emergency cash in wallet and at home.

    My goals this month are centered mainly around emergency preparedness. We are on day 5 of rolling power outages as well as some island wide outages. I have lost power 13 times since Thursday. It has been hard to get to stores and a lot haven’t been open and our gas stations have started to run out of fuel. So I want to make sure I’m prepared for what comes our way as it is only early winter yet. We are expecting a lot of rain/freezing rain in to tomorrow so that could cause some more problems to our already unstable power situation.

    • I’ve seen some crazy pics from out your way, Trista – stay warm and safe!

      And wouldn’t you know it but the emergency food/water reserve is on my list of goals for 2014 too – as is a proper first aid kit.

  • Hello :) How good are libraries! The BF and I have been in Toronto for nearly 9 weeks now and we’ve been going to the library once a week. I get excited at a stack of new books waiting to be read, and the best bit is that it’s totally free! I also love that any book I want to read can be ordered online and delivered to my local library :)

    I’ve been working on our budget for the next couple of months. We found out last week that the BF was paid a redundancy payment from last June. He had a new job within the week, but submitted the paper work just incase then we forgot about it. Next minute, check for $6,150 woo. Needless to say we’re pretty happy about it!

    • That’s wonderful! And I’m sure that’s helping with your trip, also. When I’m in Toronto next, we should grab a coffee. I’d love to hear how the city is treating you. (PS – Have you picked up some winter jackets yet? I imagine so…)

      • Yeah we should for sure, just let me know when you’re around (I assume you can see my email address when I post a comment?) too bad we’re not in the same city all the time :(
        Yep we have winter jackets – I went out earlier today and it was -23 and I decided the coffee run just wasn’t worth my toes freezing in my boots lol. Next time I’ll send the BF ;)

  • I admire how much you are setting aside each month to give to charity Cait! I also just noticed that you always put your savings category first. Way to pay yourself first! :)

    • Thanks, hun! I’m just trying to strike some balance across all areas of my life right now – finances (and charitable donations) included. :)

  • Hey Cait! I love that you`re giving yourself permission to vary your visits to the gym. I think that`s really important to remember, that it`s ok for life to get in the way sometimes, and it`s also okay to have an off-day so long as you don`t quit the gym forever. I just found out that our library is offering free courses online, and in general is an underused resource!

    I`m so sorry to hear about your friend, that must be devastating. I hope they get the treatment they need and that they make a full recovery.

    • If the last few weeks have taught me anything it’s that I love how I feel after a workout… so I know I’ll never quit the gym forever! But life just gets in the way sometimes, and that’s ok. So, no more “workout 3x/week” goals for me. I’ll go when I need/want to go!

      And thanks, hun. She’s waiting to hear what her next course of action will be. She seems positive, which means I’ll be positive too. <3

  • Hi Cait,

    A suggestion: check with your employer to see if you can purchase any type of health/prescription/dental as group coverage as a company employee. It may result in you at least getting some amount of coverage at a reasonable cost.

    Speaking of health, as luck would have it, I came down with a bout of stomach flu today and so am just “running on fumes” in a manner of speaking. Oh well, ’tis the season when we all come down with some sort of health issues, eh?

    So stay healthy and remember that cancer isn’t a given as always being final. With the level of medical science these days many people beat it so here’s all the best to your friend to achieve a complete state of remission. Remain positive.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Rob! And sorry to hear you haven’t been feeling well. My friend seems very positive about her diagnosis, but the big “C” word is always scary to hear. Her husband beat cancer at 22, so I’m very hopeful she’ll do the same.

  • I really love the budget template you use! I’ve been using it to figure out my own budget. I think it’s really going to help me be organized with my money and budget better overall.

  • Sorry to hear about your friend Cait, that really sucks :(

    On the brighter side, I like the new colour scheme :) Your background, budget colours and avatar all work together nicely!

    You’re reminding me that I really need to revamp my goals and budgets (toooootally procrastinating here)…

  • cait, thanks for the reminder about downloading your budget template–mine is in place but i’m helping my parents and brother BOTH try to start budgeting so just being able to input values makes it about a million times easier!

    my goals for the month: get a library card from our local library, read 10 books (trying to read 120 this year), start the ease into 5k app (this cold snap is definitely NOT HELPING ME OUT–i just can’t make myself run outside when it’s below freezing), put $2k into the cash cushion linked to our checking account AND pay off 1 (out of 4) of my student loans (it’s a fairly low amount)…that’s all i can think of right now!

    • You’re welcome, Kat! I’m glad it’s helping.

      And good luck with all of your goals this month! I’m already almost done 2 books this month, which feels like a big deal; mostly because it shows I was coming up with a lot of excuses not to read before. (As it turns out, I do have the time.)

      • i know exactly what you mean! i’ve finished 4 books already and i’m starting the 5th which clearly means that netflix is a MUCH bigger time suck that i previously admitted or imagined.

  • ok..well for some reason i cant seem to receive your more recent blog/post emails..so I am glad I had saved some old budget templates blog/emails…anyhoo I am going to re-do Jan budgets..I’ve already messed up some how and not doing so hot this month…and we are only into the 8th day..I have also started to read again…use to do that all the time…until i started reading blogs online…and recipes…and YouTube…BUT this is a NEW year..and I am planning on changing things around now!

  • Hey Cait!

    Great goals, I’m sure you’ll be able to accomplish all of them!

    One of my January goals that I already accomplished was signing up to do the CSC course as a first step towards getting my CFP designation. I’ve set a goal of finishing it by the end of June, do you think that is too agressive? How far into it are you?

    Have a great weekend!

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