Holy cow, where did the month of October go, friends? I’ve basically been travelling since the 14th, so it shouldn’t surprise me that time flew by… but I honestly can’t believe it’s already November 4th. Everywhere I look, Christmas decorations are going up, music is playing, and people are talking about how many weekends there are left between now and December 25th. I’m grateful my family has decided to do another low-key Christmas, so I don’t have to spend the next 7 weekends shopping… but I’m guessing the final few weeks of the year will still come and go quickly.
Before I jump ahead and start thinking about the holidays, though, I still need to review my October budget. If you remember, September was a great month for me, financially-speaking. I worked a lot and brought in a good amount of money, but I also wasn’t particularly happy about working that much. My goal for October was to work less – way less while I travelled – and essentially earn the minimum amount of money I needed to cover all my living expenses, taxes and travel. In total, I earned $4,502 – $1,575 (35%) of which I set aside for taxes. Here’s what I did with the leftover $2,927.
Life Expenses – $2,240 (77%)
When I mapped out my budget for October, I thought it was going to be a fairly frugal month, but it ended up being a bit more “spendy” than I originally expected – and for reasons of my choosing. The biggest expense came when I decided to go to the dentist. Paying $170 to have your teeth cleaned and x-rayed isn’t fun, per se, but I’m happy to pay that once/year to keep my smile bright. While I was there, my hygienist told me so many horror stories about people who don’t go in for 3-5 years, some simply because they think/assume the bill is going to be astronomical. As a self-employed individual, I have no health insurance/company benefits and the bill was just $170. Take note. :)
Travel – $522 (18%)
I originally set my travel budget at $600 again, this month, and ended up spending less – a huge win, considering that I went on two trips for a total of 9 days. First, I flew out to Toronto for the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. I redeemed WestJet dollars for the flight and, while I was there, saved money by staying with my old roommate and eating many of the free meals provided. The weekend after I got back, I took the ferry over to Vancouver for 3 nights. Again, I stayed with friends, did a lot of free activities (walking, hiking, free PechaKucha event, etc.) and only went out for a couple of meals. All-in-all, I’m extremely happy with how little I managed to spend on travel this month.
Savings – $165 (5%)
Finally, if you’ve added up the other numbers already, you know I didn’t have much leftover to save this month – and, of course, I’m not thrilled with that. However, my intention for October was to earn enough to cover all my expenses, and I did exactly that. I didn’t actually put this $165 into a savings account; it’s simply sitting in my chequing account, along with the buffer I like to keep in there at all times. The one savings-related move I did make earlier this month, though, was finally putting some of my cash savings into my TFSA index fund. I use my TFSA to save for retirement, so bought while the market was down and it has since gone up. Of course, none of this matters, as I’m in it for the long haul… but that’s what I did in October!
Shopping Ban Update
Now, let’s get to the good stuff: the shopping ban! This Friday, I’m crossing the 16-month mark of my 24-month shopping ban, which means I have just 8 months left to go. As you know, the rules state that I’m allowed to buy things whenever I run out of them (like basic cosmetics, toiletries, etc.). My goal for October, however, was to buy nothing new – and I’m happy to say I didn’t buy a single thing in those 31 days! I was tempted by a few small items, and knew I would need to buy some things on November 1st, but it was still a successful month.
Items I purchased in October 2015: 0!
In that time, I was also reminded of how many items we all own that we could simply swap or pass onto friends and family. For example, I was running out of eyeshadow and my friend Amanda told me she had a bunch of unused palettes she wanted to get rid of. Rather than throw them out, she gave them to me! And I gave her a book in the spring, which means we’ve made an official swap. Those are a few less things in the landfill that are now being used rather than wasted. (Have you ever swapped items with friends? I’d love to hear what you got rid of/were given!)
There is one number I need to correct, in this big experiment, and that’s the number of things I bought in September. When I track my spending, I check all my bank and credit card accounts to see where my money went. What I forgot to check in September was the receipt I had for a purchase I made with a Visa gift card a client gave me, which I used to finally buy myself a piece of carry-on luggage (on the approved shopping list!). Finding that receipt was a good reminder of how easy it can be to forget about money you’ve spent and things you’ve bought… (I didn’t remember until I started packing!)
I think that sums up October 2015. My budget for November should look different, as I believe I’ll earn closer to $6,000 and be able to save some money again. I’m still travelling a bit, though. I flew back to Toronto on Monday, for a two-day Financial Literacy Month event with Tangerine Bank. And this afternoon, I’m flying to Winnipeg, where I’ll be for the rest of the week (and fortunately, the cold weather hasn’t come out yet!). I’m flying back to Victoria on Saturday and should be home for the rest of the month, which I know my budget will thank me for. :)
How did your month finish up!?