February 2012 Canadian Budget Binder Budget Update

How much did you spend this month?

Well here we are again folks at the end of another challenging month for us. We have worked hard at making changes to our budget as we had found some flaws in our 2011 budget.

We also went ahead and simplified the budget so we are putting away money each month for purchases we KNOW will happen this year. That way the money is saved bit by bit monthly and no surprises when it comes time to pay it. We also don’t want to use our emergency savings for bills that are not an emergency.

So here are our last figures for February 2012.  I thought we would be over budget after the 20x points event at SDM but we are on track. These darn events are amazing but can put a dent in our grocery budget. The good thing though is we only buy items we WILL need and WILL use so our future grocery bill will be less. You can’t deny that  Shoppers Optimum Points is the best loyalty program out there.

One reader asked about our grocery budget and what it includes. My answer was all household cleaning products, pet food, health and beauty not including prescriptions. Thanks for the questions fans keep them coming in. :)

I also had a bonus for 2k this month so our monthly income has been inflated. My salary has gone up as I was given a raise as of end of February but I am waiting for actual figures.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to ask. This is a new budget for us. We are working through it in March to fix any glitches we find and to get used to it.  So if it seems a bit wonky to you, have no fear the spreadsheet on our end is much more detailed. This is just a snapshot.

We now have 3 accounts now so our January Net Worth and Budget figures have all changed. We realized we shouldn’t be saving money for items we know we will have to pay for in our emergency fund so we separated it. This way we have  a true figure for savings.

  1. Chequing- This is where all the money comes and goes
  2. Emergency Savings- This is where we keep our spare money for the time being
  3. Savings- This is where we put all the money for items we know we will have to pay for at some point in the year ie: Christmas, Income Tax, Vehicle Sticker. That way the money is ready to pay for the bill.


Mr. CBB :)


Monthly Budget Total $5000.00

Total Coupons Used: $164.61

Needs To Go To Savings For Budgeted Expenses: $528.83- These are expenses we know we will pay for throughout year and save monthly for.

Total Expenses Actually Paid Out= $3498.68  Calculated is $4027.51-$528.83= $3498.68

Total Needed to Cover  Expenses Actually Paid Out and Budgeted Expenses: $4027.51- Calculated is $3498.68+$528.83=$4027.51

Actual Cash Savings Going Into Emergency Savings Funds:$3275.62 This is what is left after paying all the above $7303.13- $4027.51=$3275.62

Total Net Income: $7303.13

Explanation of Numbers in Budget Below:

  • First number is :Total Budgeted Cost
  • Second Number is: Actual Spent
  • Remarks- Saved in Account for Future-means it will be put in a Savings account to accumulate to pay bill  or future expense when/if due.
  • If no remark then the money just stays in chequing account to cover  future overage so we don’t need to pull from emergency savings. 


  • Allowance $15-Spent $0
  • Car Repair/Maintenance $11-  Saved $11-Saved in account for future.
  • Christmas $25  Spent $25- Saved in account for future
  • Clothing $10 Spent $21.92-overspent this month
  • Dentist/Prescriptions $5-  Spent $51.15- overspent this month
  • Electricity/Water $153.05-  Saved $153.05- Saved in account for future
  • Entertainment-$7-Spent $0
  • E-test-$4- Saved $4-Saved in account for future
  • Furnace/Hot Water Rental-$37.46-Spent $112.38
  • Union Gas (domestic) -$59.19-Spent $76.64 This is averaged out based on past 2 years bills.
  • Gasoline/Diesel (vehicle)-$192-Spent $178.93
  • Grocery- $190- Spent $181.49
  • Home Maintenance-$50-Spent $19.75-Saved $30.25 -Saved in account for future.
  • Car/Home Insurance-$189.46-Spent $189.46
  • Income Tax Filing-$6-Saved $6 for when we pay for our 2011 filing- Saved in account for future.
  • Investment-$767-Spent $767
  • Licence Renewal Fees-$11.84-Saved $11.84 in account for future.
  • Life Insurance-$135.05-Spent $135.05
  • Lottery-$12 -Spent-$12
  • Membership/Club/Sports-$6-Saved $6 in account for future.
  • Miscellaneous-$294.50-Spent $199.61
  • Mortgage-$1470.30 -Spent $1389.12-Saved $81.01 in account for future- extra payments 2 months of the year-5 week mortgage payments. This also includes an extra payment of $417 a month towards the principal.
  • Parking-$5 -Spent $4.50
  • Pet-$2.08-Saved $2.08 in account for future.
  • Property Tax-$287.45-Saved $287.45 in account for future.
  • Emergency Savings-$829.11-Saved $3804.45-$528.83 budgeted costs we put away each month= $3275.62
  • Vehicle Sticker-$16-Saved $16 in account for future.
  • Cable/Internet/Cell/Home Phone-$159.68 -Spent $159.68
  • Work Tools-$50 Saved $50 in account for future.
Keep an eye out as I will be posting out Monthly Net Worth Update as well for February shortly.
How well did you make out with your budget this month?
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Buying Clothes from Second Hand Shops..Is it worth it?

Do you shop at Thrift Stores? Many of these second-hand shops offer new or gently used clothing, accessories and household items for a fraction of the cost at a retail store. Who wouldn’t shop there first, right? Wrong!

Some people take a look around them when they attempt to walk in a second-hand shop to make sure no one they know is around.  Myself I waltz right in as I just love second-hand shops.

Tip: If you are worried what your neighbour or mate might say because they see you in the store ask yourself this “If they see you then you must see them” so what? Who cares?

The stigma put on second-hand shops that they are for the poor or for starving students is WRONG. These stores such as Value Village, The Salvation Army Thrift Store ( Sally Ann)  have grown in popularity in exponential rates over the past decade. Why?

The answer is easy many people now see the value in second-hand items. They also see the savings and understand  the cost to the environment and the re-use value.  Most clothing if not donated ends up in clear bags ending up in our landfills. We need to cut down on landfill waste and recycle.

Come Halloween or during 50% off sales these stores are bustling with people who line up hours in advance just to get their hands on some super sales!

If you want to find a book or a piece of furniture check these shops first or you can try your local Kijiji or Freecycle as you just might find what you are looking for.

I started shopping at second-hand stores a long time ago, actually me mum and dad were avid thrift shoppers and still are today. Although I only buy jackets, t-shirts and work clothes the pay off has been huge for me.

I go through t-shirts at work like nobody’s business and they are trash by the time I am through with them. Why on earth would I want to go and buy a new one?

I sometimes ask my freecycle mates if they have any t-shirts so I can simply mess them up at work. The people in the freecycle community are very welcoming with open arms.

Yesterday I picked up a couple deals while attending the Value Village 50% off sale which I was told happens every 3 months or so.  I love surfing, skating and snowboarding so naturally when I noticed a REEF T-shirt I grabbed it. The t-shirt looks like it was hardly ever worn and only cost me a mere $2.00 plus tax. Check it out below, what do you think? These t-shirts can range in price close to $50 Canadian unless you snag a good on-line deal.

I also picked up a couple of tank top t-shirts for work and the wife picked up a new blouse ( never worn) for $2.50. I’m sure the regular price was far more than that.  All these items fit nicely into our monthly clothing budget.

At the end of the day, thrift stores are great if you know what you are looking for. Even if you don’t know what you are looking for it’s worth popping in to see if you can snag a bargain and in some cases a rare antique worth a lot of money. Ever watch Storage Wars on A&E, some of the finds would blow you away!

You never know what people throw away, donate  or give you for free! It could be worth nothing to them but worth millions to you even if it is a t-shirt! So to answer my question, Is it worth it?

You bet it is! If you know your prices!


What have been your best second-hand purchases?

It's Not About How Much Money You Make It's How You Spend It

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How We Designed Our Budget Step 4-Notetaking

Hi there Folks~ Mr.CBB here…

If we’ve learned anything about budgets over the past year it’s that you need to learn how they work before you carry out one.  I admit we jumped in feet first and have learned along the way. This tactic hasn’t been so bad but it can get frustrating, especially if budgeting is a new world for you.  Learning first then proceeding step by step is what we should have done.

What we’ve learned over the past couple months is that there were ways to simplify our budget. We found errors in our budget and now realize that we need to have a completely separate Emergency Savings account. You will see all the changes when I post our February 2012 Budget Update.

The one thing that has helped us to make these changes is that we kept such detailed notes. This is why I am taking you to this topic in Step 4 Notetaking.

Notetaking is an essential part of budgeting. Why you ask? Let’s take a look together here:


When you were in high school and the teacher taught you a subject did you take notes? Probably, right?


  • So you could take the notes  home and study them to answer questions on a test and to educate yourself for further development.

Then why do you take notes when you budget?

  • Simply because you can’t rely on just your memory when doing your budget!  It’s also to educate and for further developing  knowledge of your finances. You will and I repeat, you will forget!
If it’s been a long while since you were in school you can read Ten Steps to Good Note Taking. They even touch on abbreviations which will help shorten your notes in your budget spreadsheet.

Notetaking with-in your budget is exactly the same as taking notes in class.  So if you found that easy this will be a breeze for you. The end mark reflects either a plus or minus in your budget.  Essentially a fail or pass. A fail only means you need to make improvements. Trust me when I say no one ever has a perfect month. That’s why emergency savings are imperative.

Notetaking with-in your budget is important for 3 reasons:

Reason 1

You can make reference to certain receipts- When you input data into your spreadsheet and make notes you can easily pull the receipt if/when needed.

An example would be;

  • February 19,2012- Wal-mart Spent $42.00 Used $4.00 coupons Paid $38.00
  • Notes: Bought vegetables, dog food,DVD-Twilight. Pd with Cash, Credit Card ( which one and who’s), Date of  receipt- You now can easily reference what you purchased or at least have an idea.
  •  We typically would put in high ticket items one’s that we could return. That way if you need to return it, open your spreadsheet and find what month of receipts you need to pull out.

Con- If you fail to track this data you might have to go looking for a receipt which you have packed away in a file folder and have no idea what month to look in. This will waste unnecessary time.

Reason 2

To track extra income or important dates that may have occurred throughout the month- When you sit down to do your month end budget you won’t need to think back x amount of days to what may have happened. Entering important notes such as -sold item on kijiji made x amount of dollars you have that information readily available to you.

Con- If you decide not to keep up to date with important notes you run the risk of your budget not balancing or being incorrect. If you want your budget to truthfully show your finances you must be dedicated to this task.

Reason 3

Simply to educate yourself on your spending habits and where and what you are spending it on.

Recap: In this step we learned-

When designing our budget we felt it was imperative to have a note section to document any key notes for easy reference. This task has saved us lots of time and headache. Budgeting helps to control our expenses to help us become financially debt free.

Next Step: How to keep all your bills organized? This is important because if you aren’t organized it may lead to frustration and failure when budgeting. Keep an eye out for this up and coming post! If your desk looks like this it will be a MUST read for you!

Until then if you are new here at Canadian Budget Binder get caught up on earlier and related posts below!

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Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>

Kick the Smoking Habit, Save Your Health and Budget Update Week 4

Here we are at week 4 already, can you believe this! We certainly are in awe over our accomplishments. If you would have told us 4 weeks ago that we would be smoke-free by the end of February 2012 we likely would have thought you were nutty.

The reality is you have to want it so bad that you can taste victory. You need not wait until you or a loved one has a health scare to make this decision. This was one of the main factors of participants in that Quit Smoking Program we participated in at the start of our journey.

For us it was Health first, money last and it should be that way for everyone who wants to quit. You only live once and you can’t put any amount of money on your own life.  I have to admit though that this quit smoking process has been so easy it’s ridiculous.  We certainly thought I’d be sleeping in a separate room by now.

As we end this week with a bang we are now coming up for full swing “Driven To Quit Challenge”  beginning March 1, 2012. If we have inspired you or yo are contemplating quitting you have until February 29,2012 to register. We are so excited to be included in this challenge and know with the support of our friends, family and Canadian Budget Binder Fans will continue to be smoke-free for LIFE!

I will follow-up with all of you for the duration of the contest which is one month. At the end of the contest I will only update you on how much Moola $$$$ we have approximately saved as this number is never correct!

Keep Rooting us on Folks.. would love to drive away in a New Ford Fusion or Ford Edge or a dream vacation!!!

The best part is…drumroll!!!!

Here are the statistics thus far:

Since Monday, January 30, 2012, I’ve been smoke-free for:
27 Days, 10 Hours, 7 Minutes, 56 Seconds.

I have saved $87.68 by not smoking 274 cigarettes.
By not smoking I have added
4 Days, 13 Minutes, 5 seconds.
to my life expectancy.

We did notice however that we were spending more than the $120 a month on cigarettes not noticing because of the overlap in purchase. It also depends on how many days in a month, price of a pack, how many we smoke per day as it’s just estimate. Looks as if we were spending aprox $196 per month. Wow! Not going to miss this expenditure!


Photo Credit:123RF

Eating In Vs Eating Out- The Comparison

I had to write this post after eating out as I was just shocked at the cost of our meal at a well-known chain Restaurant. I used some gift cards I had received from Christmas to pay for the order. It wasn’t on my dime but I had to use them before they expired.

So it’s my birthday and the wife and I decide to order some take out and enjoy the evening watching a movie. We don’t normally eat-in at restaurants  for 3 reasons:

  • High priced food
  •  15-25% Tips to the staff
  • We like to eat home cooked meals

We are frugal that’s no secret but eating out has never been big on our agenda unless we were travelling. Yes I know you are saying we need to “live a little” and you are right we should, but at what cost.

Cost of Eating Out vs Eating In

Here is the run down from last nights meal.. out of 5 stars we gave it a 3.5

We thought we had $15.00 on one gift card and $13.00 on the other. We wanted to go over that price so we didn’t have a balance on the cards. The likelihood of us eating there for a while was slim.

  • 1 order Bacon Cheeseburger with home cut fries- $13.49
  • 1 order Turkey Burger with home cut fries $12.99
  • Total with tax $27.97
  • If we tipped at 20%-$5.60
  • Total would have been -$33.56 but we didn’t eat in it was take-out so final cost $27.97 for us.

Keep in mind here folks it took us a while to order as it was difficult to justify spending $16.99 on a salad with chicken, oh the outrageous costs we all pay for convenience.

So I said to myself, “self…. what could I buy at the grocery store that was comparable  to what I ate at the restaurant”. Keep in mind we pay for those nifty take out trays as well.

Grocery Store Products

What I could have purchased at the grocery store: These are approximate prices and may differ where you live.

  • 5lb bag of potatoes for $1.99
  • Jar of  dill pickles $2.79
  • 1 Tomato – $0.25
  • 1 Head of Lettuce $1.00
  • 1lb of bacon $2.99
  • 1 bag of  burger buns $1.99
  • 1x jug of vegetable oil $4.77
  • 1 box of salt $0.59
  • 1 lb  beef- $3.99
  • 1x 500 g brick of Black Diamond Cheese $6.99
  • dozen eggs- $2.29
  • 1 container  bread crumbs $1.29
  • Pkg of ground pepper $1.99

Total for all of this would cost $32.92 

Keep in mind the quantity is much more and you could make at least 4 burgers and tonnes of french fries with a 5lb bag with leftover spices,pickles, bacon, lettuce etc. You also need to factor in time, hydro, water, tools.  Is the cost of this still making you shy away from eating at home? After all being the chef means you know what you are eating.

If you were to pay a gratuity the cost we figured above was estimated at $33.56- 32.92= .64. So you would spend .64 more eating in at a restaurant eating this food on a cost per food basis.

Keep in mind we didn’t even order a drink with this food. So you could order water or buy a litre bottle of pop for .99 at the grocery store for take home.

My point here is not that you shouldn’t eat out at restaurants, rather be realistic with your budget.

Money Saving Budget Tips For Eating Out!
  • Stop eating out so much:  Once you set up a budget you will know how much you have to spend on entertainment or eating out
  • If you want to eat out get take out it’s cheaper
  • Don’t be lazy, cook. If you don’t know how to cook, learn, unless you don’t mind making others rich.
  • Have friends over and have a pot-luck or vice versa if you like to have company while eating a meal, it’s cheaper.
  • Be realistic with the numbers, think about what you could have purchased and how many people you could have fed on that $200 restaurant bill.

So go ahead enjoy your $16.00 hamburger and fries while eating out, but be mindful of how you are spending the money in your budget. If you don’t spend your entertainment money one month save it for another so you can spend a bit more on the next.

Happy Eating Folks.

P.S- The gift cards had $15.00 and $18.47 on them and the bloke offered to give me the change $5.50. I wasn’t going to argue it was $5.50 I didn’t have before I walked into the establishment!

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