December 2013 Net Worth Update (+1.01%): Yearly outcome on target



We weren’t too sure if we were going to be on target to reach our yearly 2013 net worth goals but after running the numbers we were pleasantly surprised that we made it through as planned.


Should you celebrate success if the money is not in the bank?

What I mean by that it is should you celebrate when you are merely seeing numbers on paper or on your computer screen not cash in the bank? After all it could change depending on how you have your money invested and/or what it is invested in.

Have you met your targets?

Sure, go ahead and celebrate you’ve reached a milestone and there is no reason why you shouldn’t be proud of the accomplishments you’ve made over the course of the year. Nothing is for certain but what you do know is that you’ve worked hard to make sure your numbers are on target and continue to meet or exceed the goals you set forth at the beginning of the year. It’s not an easy road to walk but with optimism and perseverance anything is possible.

I think when we understand that our numbers will fluctuate and especially investments we will learn to appreciate how our money works for us and we will work even harder to make it a positive factor with-in our financial health.

For some that means learning more about how their money is invested or even learning to invest on their own or simply using a budget to get control of their money. I’ve been learning as much as I can about investing, but slowly because my time is fragile these days but I have many personal finance bloggers to thank for sharing their wisdom and motivating me especially Mark over at My Own Advisor who has been an inspiration to me for a while now.

We are only bound by the limits we put on ourselves but it’s always important to look before you leap because you can lose everything in an instant if you don’t know what you are doing. Be smart with your money and it will keep you smiling.

For this month only I’ve added in an extra table showing the summary of net worth increases month by month. As you’ll notice I couldn’t generate an average figure for the early portion of 2013 purely from lack of data in the preceding 12 months.

There have been many ups and downs over the course of the year, but mainly positive changes. The mortgage was paid down with 2 lump sum payments, which probably didn’t make the mortgage company happy but we got a big smile out of it.

Another positive change happened only in the last three months of 2013 and that was the increase in the value of the British Pound and the slide of the Canadian Dollar, which took our money in the UK up in value from the doldrums it was suffering from for so long. The current exchange rate for this months figure was $1.7587 dollars to the pound, which is about as high as it’s been in the last 3 years.




As you can see from the table above the average yearly increase stayed fairly stable throughout the year even with the highs and lows of the investments, pensions and TFSA’s. So after all the downs that took our finances on a bit of a ride this year we finally ended the year on a positive note with a sense of accomplishment and right on target.

From the figures generated I also managed to forecast our Million Dollar point and that will be in exactly six years time on New Years again. That will be a celebration.


Understanding net worth


What Does Individual Net Worth Mean?

Net Worth is a snap shot of your financial health sort of like a picture or debt to net assets. In simple terms it’s a total of the value of your assets minus your liabilities.


Determining net worth


How To Determine Net Worth?

Net Worth = Assets – Liabilities 

Figuring out net worth is fairly easy as long as you know your personal numbers or monthly finances. Net Worth is simply adding up all your assets (what you own) then taking away your liabilities (what you owe) which will give you a net worth number. Understanding your net worth will help you determine if you are on track to meeting or beating your personal financial goals. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Do you know how to calculate your own Net Worth?

Now you can stop asking yourself, how do you find out your net worth because it’s easy to determine.

Why not go ahead and calculate your own using our Free Money saving Tool Net worth Calculator (Canadian Budget Binder 2012)




Below are our 2013 target goals and I left remarks in bold to share how I/we made out with them and what the plan is moving forward. When I post the January 2014 Net Worth Update I will include my/our long-term and short-term goals for the 2014 year.

I hope by posting them each month it motivates me like it has this past year to get stuff done and reach our target goals with some form of ease although nothing in life is that simple. I find it’s much easier to be held accountable when I share what I need to do with all of you.

Do you set goals for your year?


Our short-term goals 2013


  • To pay off our mortgage with-in the 5 yr term ending in April 2014- Update: We’ve decided to hold off paying in full until the mortgage comes due in April 2014.
  • Focus on our tax-free savings accounts (TFSA) and other investing- will look at this once the mortgage is paid in full.
  • To Save money for smaller renovations- trying little by little
  • Continue to meal plan, create new homemade meals- I’m always whipping up something new in the kitchen (check out all my new recipe index on the blog)
  • To  sow and grow more vegetables/herbs in the garden to save money- garden is done for the season but we are growing radicchio in the house which we eat all winter long in our salads.
  • To take vacation somewhere in Ontario for summer 2014-This is on hold for the moment.
  • Learn more about Passive Income-I’ve been learning as much as I can from some of my favourite personal finance bloggers which has helped me to get a better idea of where I want to go with this blog.
  • To Read a new Personal Finance Book- I’m the worst reader around I think. When I start reading it’s hard to put a good book down but my life has been side-tracked since July but it’s slowly back on track so I hope to get more reading in if I can.
  • Learn more about SEO and Blogging- I’m always learning something new but it’s all beneficial and has helped Canadian Budget Binder grow the way that it has.


Our long-term goals 2013


Did we meet our 2013 long-term goals?

Well we worked hard to reach our target goals in 2013 but sometimes it’s hard to achieve everything you set out to do. For this reason we try to set realistic goals and keep them relatively simple so we don’t get so overwhelmed during the year.

  • Continuing to educate ourselves on personal finance and investments- Always learning and educating
  • Continue to network with other like-minded individuals- I am networking as much as I can and have chatted to many personal finance bloggers and non-bloggers in 2013.
  • To finish renovating our home- Landscaping is pretty much completed as of the end of September. Next is bathrooms.
  • To continue with educational training to further careers- I did so much training in 2013 that it is now paying off for me in the form of a new career but also continuing with my other career. There is never a reason not to learn, train and educate because somewhere down the line you will use that information and you never know what organization will find you valuable for knowing that information.
  • To save money for big renovations- Saving for renovations will be on-going since there are many things I need to renovate in our house.
  • Start thinking about saving for a second-hand vehicle in the next 5-7 years- I was thinking about selling my vehicle to buy a larger version of my vehicle however I may just keep what I’ve got as it’s in excellent condition and go from there.
  • Save up for a European Adventure in the next couple of years-This may have to be put on hold right now.
  • Potentially save for a second home to rent out or build/move to our dream home- We’re not sure where we will go with this idea as things have changed.


Our financial numbers


When budgeting anything is possible, we are proof of that although we still have a long way to go in our journey. These are our numbers and our goals, not a means of comparison towards your own goals to others target goals.

We don’t care how much money others make or if their net worth is lower or higher as it’s not a competition.

I hope our experiences perhaps will help guide you along your financial path working towards debt freedom.


Different paths


Not everyone has the same path in life. Some of  you may have had to start over like I did or go to school a second time and now have OSAP loans to pay back. Others may have divorced, lost money in the stock market or other investments, lost a job, fell ill and so on but you can’t let that stop you, I didn’t.

Some of you may have been given trust funds, paid-for homes, paid educations or perks in life that give you a financial kick-start and that’s OK too. Remember what I said, “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s how you save it”.

Focus on you and don’t let the evil eye of money jealousy or keeping up with the Joneses cloud your vision. No one cares about your money as much as you do so don’t waste your energy trying. The only reason people accumulate wealth is because they know how to save or invest it wisely even if they did inherit money or win the lottery.

The smallest improvements should mean big strides in working towards reaching your goals.

Sometimes we have to fail in order to learn and we’ve all been there. Money can be an evil force for some people especially those who are negative towards their own situation. I urge you to be optimistic and little by little with determination you too should see improvements, that is if you want that to happen.


Our net worth


We are always looking for ways how to increase our savings and by tracking our net worth these numbers below show us how well we are doing in terms of meeting our target numbers or what areas we should put a bit more focus in.




Net worth updates 2012-2013


Below you can click the links to read past net worth updates to see if we were on target or if we struggled with some of our numbers.


Overall: As you can read we were very happy that we were on target to reach our financial goals for 2013 and hope that 2014 brings us the same achievement if not surpass what we set out to meet over the course of the year.


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Budget Update December 2013: Our year in review

bust-our-budget-budget-updateANOTHER YEAR HAS COME AND GONE


If you want to start using a budget there is no better time than now.

Stop procrastinating because no one is perfect and almost everyone has some form of debt they’d like to get rid of.

There’s no shame in taking the first step towards living a debt-free life if that is your goal.

December came in like lightning and went out just as fast because we are now 6 days into 2014 and I’m excited to share our budget update with all of you. As you will see below we ran all of the numbers for 2013 to see just how we made out using our budgeted numbers and whether we needed to make any changes.

We’ve never professed to be perfect, gosh we are far from it and our yearly budget numbers will show you that although we did budget we spent more than we anticipated. Although we had the money for the overage it still wasn’t good enough for us because if we didn’t, that money would have to come from somewhere.


Unexpected expenses


Most people have to turn to a credit card, line of credit or like us the money would have likely come from our emergency savings account. This year we were faced with many challenges from our dog getting ill to renovations around the house to other personal issues which we don’t care to discuss but the money all adds up especially when you don’t have it budgeted.


Where the money went


A chunk of the money we spent went to buying new computers for our house which we did not anticipate. We were faced with that option because of a silly error of spilling a liquid on a computer and then the problems just got worse so we decided to buy new once and for all. Let’s just hope we don’t have to visit Future Shop for a long while.

We also decided to take a last-minute trip in December which cost us some money out-of-pocket even though we had over a 50% savings for the trip.

There’s no denying lots of clothes shopping happened in 2013, the numbers don’t lie. We did purchase items that will last us a long time such as many pairs of boots for the wife (deeply discounted), lingerie, clothes, leather jacket, winter jacket and a few other odds and ends but mainly items that will last more than a year. For this reason you will see an increase in our clothing budget but not as much as we used up this year.

We also decided to update our entertainment and travel budget to allow for more eating out and saving for future trips in the event we want to take one so we aren’t pulling money from the emergency savings account.

We added the health and beauty section to our budget to allow for make-up and fragrance purchases and other odds and ends at the pharmacy that we found we used in 2013.

Our Christmas budget needed to be increased to allow for boxing day sales and other gifts that pop up but weren’t in the budget like this year but were essential purchases. You don’t always know who you will meet and who you will be buying for but this year gave us a better indication as to what to expect for the upcoming year.

Our grocery budget and stockpile budget will remain the same for 2014 since we didn’t do too bad with it in 2013. It may be a challenging year if grocery prices continue to rise and less coupons are used in our budget which seems to have been the trend for us in 2013. We simply aren’t using the vast amount of coupons as we did in 2010-2012 but we do have a stockpile that will last us many years, hence why we rarely have to stock up on household and personal items.

If you don’t already know we post our grocery shops every week in our Grocery Game Challenge which has become widely popular and many fans have joined us in the pursuit to cut-back while sticking to their grocery budget. Join Today, it’s FREE!

You will notice a huge spike in our home maintenance budget simply because we are renovating the bathrooms and that will take a big chunk of money that we don’t want to have to take from our emergency savings if we don’t have to.

We really want to try to save the money first before renovating although once the mortgage is paid in full in April there will be an extra $1300 a month we can use for further renovations such as the kitchen which will be a complete gut. We will also use some of the mortgage money to increase our personal investments such as our TFSA and RRSP’s and potentially look into other investment avenues.

We added in a hobbies category where we allowed for $120 a year since we are very active people and tend to spend money here and there on our passion for keeping fit and our health. The end of January will be 2 years smoke-free for us and spending a bit of money on keeping healthy is a no-brainer for us. Hopefully when we visit our insurance agent we will see a further drop in our insurance premium for achieving the 2 year mark.

If you don’t already know by now we are passionate about second-hand or new to us items so we love to go to garage sales in the summer. In 2013 we didn’t spend too much but we put that under the miscellaneous category but for 2014 we have budgeted in some money for garage sales so we no longer have to do that.

My work expenses weren’t as much as I had anticipated over the course of the year so I went ahead and chopped that budget leaving less than half just so I have some money waiting for any work expenses that might creep up on me.

In hopes of not putting all of our extras into the miscellaneous category you can see we’ve made many changes and that includes adding a bit more to the budgeted amount for miscellaneous each month. Even though we save for those projected expenses you know as well as I that you can’t forecast everything.

I’d rather make sure I have some money saved than nothing at all so then I don’t have to scramble to pay for bills by taking money from emergency savings when it’s not an emergency. This is where many people forget to budget money and it comes back to bite them if they don’t. We know, it’s happened to us.

I don’t spend much money on the blog because I’m not really making any money yet so I have to keep my expenses low. In the event Canadian Budget Binder does start to make some money you may see the budget increase but for now I’m happy with the $200 a year to pay for blog expenses as well as what I do make from affiliates to help pay for other expenses.

The rest of the categories may have gone up a tiny bit but mainly to reflect the increases over the course of the 2013 and future 2014 increases that may pop up on us.


Final thoughts


Overall, we learned that we spend more in December than any other month of the year. The holidays seem to take a big chunk of our money mainly because we are away at the relatives and shopping seems to be a fun time out of the house.

We also tend to go looking for after Christmas and Boxing Day deals as long it’s something we need. This year we also found that we did more traveling than we thought we would have done. Another surprise was our clothing budget but it’s not really since we hardly spend money on ourselves.

Not that we don’t want to but we like to keep what we buy in good condition for as long as we can but it just so happened in 2013 there were items that needed replacing. We hope that our new 2014 budget will see us through the year but we know that no budget is ever final and that visiting the numbers often will only help us to grow in terms of learning about our spending habits and how we can reach our goals in the time that we want without incurring debt along the way.


Get your free budget


I’m currently offering 2 versions of my budget and the reason behind it is simple. Firstly, read the disclaimer because what you do with it is your own business so if you mess it up you need to sort that out.

I have not closed off any cells so you can make all the changes you like to the budget to reflect your lifestyle which is what the fans wanted.

Although I would love to help every single fan with their budget I am unable to do so but I am always willing to answer any emails you send me so don’t be shy.

This was after all meant to be our personal budget and although I would love to customize it for every fan that wants to use it but, I’m afraid I cannot.

I’m not selling this budget or hope to make any money from it so enjoy this free budget and I hope that it works for you as much as it does for us.


Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet


Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet

You can download the free budget spreadsheets here.

  • Budget 1- You can use the pre-existing categories or you can use your own if you wish and you have the option to use projected expenses or not. Please read all notes left around the budget for tips.
  • Budget 2-Everything is pre-set so you have to use the pre-defined categories but this budget will generate year-end budget figures whereas the other one won’t but you must use the categories already in this budget. If you change anything you will mess up the formulas and year-end figures. Please read all notes left around the budget for tips.

I’m always open to feedback but be polite as you don’t want to hurt my feelings :)

Get started and don’t procrastinate. Test it out for a month and see how it goes.

There is never any harm in trying something new in life. You either love it or hate it, that is a fact with anything.

What type of budget do you use?


Our  budget plan


How we budget our monthly expenses

I often have fans ask me how to budget money and what we do in order to save so much money but the reply is that it’s not about the money it’s about the process involved. We don’t always save as much money as we would like every month but most importantly we are not going into debt because we are budgeting our money.

One of the most important things we did for our personal finances was that we never let the budget deter us from reaching our goals. Sure we’ve had crap months but we made up for it or we learned from our mistakes just like anyone else would.

Budget failure only occurs when you give up on the budget which should not happen as long as you give 100% into making sure you reach your goals. Sometimes fans email and ask me if living on a budget in Canada is any different from living in other countries. To be honest I’m going to say, probably not. If I still lived in the UK I could use this exact budget to meet all of my needs. Below are links to the budgeting series which I wrote while designing our spreadsheet.

I’m not a financial planner/advisor so I can’t tell you how you should budget but I can show you how we budget. I’m just a regular guy just like everyone else; some might call me a budget nerd. Please take the time to read through the budgeting series and I hope you take something away from the information.

  1. How We Designed Our Budget Step 1- Gathering All the information
  2. How We Designed Our Budget Step 2Categories
  3. How We Designed Our Budget Step 3Tracking Receipts
  4. How We Designed Our Budget Step 4- Note-taking
  5. How We Designed Our Budget Step 55S Organization
  6. How We Designed Our Budget Step 6Who Does What and When?
  7. How We Designed Our Budget Step 7Balancing Our Budget
  8. How We Designed Our Budget Step 8Knowing our Coupon Savings
  9. How We Designed Our Budget Step 9Reading Our Bills
  10. How We Designed Our Budget Step 10- Projected Expenses


Budget changes 2014



The total of $6088.00 is our basic monthly Net Income based on there being 4 weeks per month. The total of $6594.00 is our basic Average monthly Net Income based on the fact that there are 26 pay periods throughout the year divided up into 12 months. None of the above figures factor in any over-time, training, or any other money received each month.

Any remaining money left over will be placed into the Emergency Savings Fund. To keep on “Paying ourselves first” based on a figure of 20% our predicted minimum savings figure will be, $1543.82 which is approximately 25.35%.


Budget percentages December




Our savings of 10.32% includes savings and investments. I’ve also went ahead and added in our projected expenses this month at 15.19% which brings the total December 2013 Household Budget Percentages to 109.5%. This reflects the overspend for the month. Although we did not go into debt because of this overspend, it does reflect the fact that we were over our pre-defined budgeted amount.


Budget Percentages 2013 Year




Budget percentages month by month




Expenses breakdown


This is simply a breakdown of our expenses which has helped us to understand where all of our money goes. I appreciate that you enjoy this budget update each month but I do hope you view this as an educational tool rather than comparing your own financial numbers as we are all unique.

Sometimes we wish we had more money to budget with but understand that we only have what we earn and if we want more, we need to earn more. Spending less than we earn and budgeting our money has been the easiest way for us to pay down debt and save money.

  1. Chequing- This is the bank account where all of our debt gets paid from.
  2. Emergency Savings Account- This is a high-interest savings account.
  3. Regular Savings Account- This is a savings account that holds our projected expenses.
  4. Monthly Budget Total: $4396.41
  5. Monthly Net Income Total$7829.82
  6. Total Coupons Used: includes every discount attained during the month = $127.49
  7. Projected Expenses: These are expenses we know we will pay for throughout the year = $1189.14
  8. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out$7384.49
  9. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out: Calculated is $7829.82 (total net monthly income) + $743.81 (overspend) – Projected expenses $1189.14 $7384.49
  10. Actual Cash Savings Going Into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $7829.82 (total monthly net income) – $7384.49 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $1189.14 (projected expenses) = -$743.81


Saving money


What are Projected Expenses? - We project expenses throughout the year so we have the money saved.

PE= A projected expense is money which is automatically saved each month so it is ready when the bill comes in or when you need it as in the example below. We review our projected expenses at the beginning of the year to set up our yearly budget and adjust as we go along if a new projected expense arises and needs to be added to the budget. Sometimes we remove a projected expense as well so it’s very important to keep an eye on your expenses.

This has happened on many occasions but it’s bound to happen as we can’t predict everything we have to pay for over the course of the year. The important part for us is that we are saving for these expenses and we no longer have to stress about taking money from our savings to pay for them. To learn more about projected expenses read Step 10 in my budgeting series.

When we spend the money in a projected expense category we move that money to our chequing account in order to pay for that incoming expense. We pay money into the projected expenses account continually throughout the year even when bills come due as it’s revolving so as one bill gets paid the money continues to come in from the other categories all year-long. So the $1189.14 gets paid into the projected expense account every month no matter what. It seems to be easier to track our money this way but you can do what works best for you.


Projected expense example


If for example our clothing category was a projected expense we have a budget of $50 per month for the two of us. If we spend $30 on clothes for the month that means we need to pull $30 from the projected expenses account to pay for this expense or we move only $20 to projected expenses for the month and leave the $30 in your chequing account.

It’s up to you how you do it as I mentioned above. I’m hoping to put together a projected expenses spreadsheet to track the expenses all year-long otherwise you need to do that to make sure you don’t overspend what you haven’t saved or will save over the course of the year.

It’s a fairly easy process and becomes a lifestyle change for your finances but the most important part is that the money is available and saved, which means potentially less stress. This means we should have $600.00 per year for clothing to spend.

We have to track that expense as we spend it manually but hopefully for our 2014 budget I can incorporate that into our spreadsheet so it tallies the numbers up as we go along. That way we will be able to know exactly what we’ve spent as an ongoing total.


Budget for December 2013


If it is highlighted in blue that means it is a projected expense of ours. You will also see our budget does not include the emergency savings as this is factored in at the end.


Actual budget expenses for December 2013

 actual budget-december-2013

December 2013 goals


  • NEW! Update 2014 Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet- This will stay the same-Done
  • NEW! Reach 1350 Pinterest Followers- PASS (1429)
  • Get organized with blog activities- Working on this
  • Learn more about affiliate marketing and blog advertising- Working on this but did accomplish some bits with the help of another blogger
  • Complete and search out more freelance work – Will be working more on this in the upcoming months
  • Read more in my personal finance book- FAIL It’s been collecting dust I’ll be honest
  • Sort out and pay mortgage in full- This will be completed in full by April 2014
  • Move my money to Canada (watching exchange rate)- This will be completed by April 2014 to pay off the mortgage
  • Reach 6300 Facebook Fans- PASS (6350)
  • Reach 2200 Twitter Followers- PASS (2379)
  • Reach 1275 Blog Followers- (PASS)
  • NEW! Make a pin for my universal weight machine- PASS


January 2014 goals


  • NEW! Reach 1400 Pinterest Followers
  • Get organized with blog activities
  • Learn more about affiliate marketing and blog advertising
  • Complete and search out more freelance work
  • Read more in my personal finance book
  • Reach 6375 Facebook Fans
  • Reach 2400 Twitter Followers
  • Reach 1240 Blog Followers
  • NEW! Make a pin for my universal weight machine- PASS
  • Continue with bathroom renovations
  • Start laying flooring in living room and dining room


 Budget updates month by month


In case you missed our budget updates from the start of the year I will list them all here each month.

That’s all for this month check back at the beginning of February 2014 to review our January 2014 budget to see how we made out with the new figures and if any changes were made.




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How to survive a winter storm with no power

broken-tree-branchesMAKING IT THROUGH THE STORM


While the ice storm that we had this week in Ontario created quite a sight to see, sparkling trees covered in glistening ice and an ice covering over everything, this Winter Wonderland also came with a lot of destruction, inconveniences for many and sadly a couple of deaths.

With hundreds of thousands of people losing their power there are still a number of people who are waiting for theirs to come back on, 48 hours or more after the storm while others enjoyed Christmas Day in the warmth of their homes.

Being prepared for an extended power outage can make getting through those long, cold days less of a struggle. The recent cold snap hasn’t helped the situation.


Staying Warm


Having no power means no heat in your home. Staying warm will be a challenge if you are not prepared. We had a little notice that this storm was coming and I have to admit I was not as prepared as I could have been.

Beyond having lots of blankets and warm sweaters to put on, seeking out warming stations that many cities provided would have been an option if our power had stayed off for more than the 3 hours it was off.

These warming stations provide you with not only a place to escape the cold but most also offered some hot beverages to warm you up.




If you own a generator or choose to purchase one remember that anything that burns fuel should have adequate ventilation.

Using a barbecue indoors to stay warm, whether it is a propane barbecue or charcoal is not a good idea.

When you are trying to keep your house warm you are unlikely to open any windows and therefore your home is likely sealed air tight.

Burning propane or a gas-powered generator inside your home or even your garage will give off carbon monoxide and being in an air sealed home it will eat up all the oxygen in your home.

Remember carbon monoxide is a silent killer, being odourless unless you have a carbon monoxide detector you will not know it is in your home.

Carbon monoxide detectors also will not work if the power is out unless they have a back up battery which will only work as long the battery has a charge.




In preparation for a storm where the power may go off, having a full tank of gas in your car may be of great benefit to you. It may not be the most economical approach but sitting in your car (not inside a garage) may be an option to seek out some warmth.

Your car can also be used to charge a cell phone if you own a car charger. Being able to get updates as to the progression of the storm or when your power is expected to be back on is valuable information to have.

Having little or no gas in your vehicle won’t get you very far as if the power is out gas stations will likely have no power either.




A major concern for people when their power goes out is how are they going to keep all the food in their fridge and freezer from going bad.

Keeping your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible will help to keep your food cold but also know that the contents in a full freezer will stay frozen for approximately 48 hours and a half full freezer for approximately 24 hours.

During a winter storm moving your food to your garage or on a balcony in baskets, boxes or whatever you chose to put it in is an option.

There was no shortage of ice around during this latest storm so collecting some ice from outside and packing it in your freezer and fridge would also help to keep your food from spoiling.




The elderly may not be able to deal with a power outage very well so do your elderly neighbours a favour and check in to make sure that they are okay. 2013 brought on two major power outages and from both I learned that even though I live next door to my neighbours we are on separate power grids.

I lost power for 3 hours this past week where as both my neighbours lost power for well over 24 hours.

This may happen in your area as well so check in with your neighbours to see if they have power or if you have power and they don’t, offer them into your home for warmth or to use your outlets to charge a cell phone.

Though it may not feel like you are in Florida, having more people in a room will help to keep a room slightly warmer so get to know your neighbours and help each other out.




In the winter it is always a good idea to make sure that all outdoor plumbing lines are drained and that the water is turned off.

During a power outage in the winter pipes freezing may be a concern. If you have chosen to leave your home and either stay with a friend, book a hotel room or visit a local warming station consider turning your water off completely to avoid pipes freezing and bursting within your home.

Wrapping any exposed pipes with insulation sleeves may help as well.


Damage to your property



The weight of ice building up on tree branches can cause many branches to break and fall on your home, fence or your car.

Having a good homeowners insurance policy, damage to your home or property caused by a weather event will most likely be covered.

The removal of a tree or branch that has fallen without causing damage will likely be at your expense to have removed.

One thing I experienced myself this past week was large chunks of ice falling off overhead power lines. Luckily the massive piece of ice that fell on my car did not cause any damage but if it had, having a comprehensive car insurance policy my insurance company would have paid to have any damages repaired.

Know what your insurance policy covers and possibly seek out a new one if you feel your current policy is inadequate in these situations.

Surviving and staying warm during a power outage, especially one that may go on for days on end will be a challenge but can be a little easier to manage if you are prepared ahead of time.

Remember you are not alone and working as a team with others around you will make getting through these long, cold days more bearable.

What other tips can you suggest for surviving a power outage?



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The Grocery Game Challenge Dec 23-29, 2013 #4- Final grocery budget yearly analysis

grocery-game-challenge-year-in-review-2013GROCERY BUDGET YEAR-END REVIEW


Where has the 2013 year gone because it certainly seems like it’s flown by since we posted the first Grocery Game Challenge post in January.

This year has certainly proven that we can get over any hurdles we create with our grocery budget but not without turbulence.

There were a few months that we spent more than the grocery budget of $235.00 per month and it took a while to get back on track.

Some of the items either purchased on the stockpile budget or just included in the main shop were bought to accumulate so it will become cheaper for certain items throughout this coming year.

A prime example of this is the “Clear Shampoo” which was at an unbelievable bargain of $0.99, which has led to acquiring approximately a year’s supply.

To be honest it didn’t feel so good having to spend less and less each month so we hope that next year we can try our hardest to stay out of the stores when we don’t need to be in them and to stick to the grocery budget.

In 2014 we will likely start using the Checkout 51 program so we can start saving more money on groceries every month. Now that we have the IPOD we have loaded the free Checkout 51 app and are ready to go.

I’m not sure what our grocery budget will be starting in January 2014 but from the numbers below I don’t imagine in will change too much. However, we are always open to new opportunities to save money in the grocery budget which will stretch the budget further.

The grand total spent on grocery shopping this year was $2626.03 which was $193.35 under budget but if you include the stockpile budget of $195.88 we were actually $2.53 over budget. That’s a pretty astonishing figure considering we set the budget for groceries way back in December last year.

You can see how budgeting your money for each month and then maintaining your spending habits can give results down the line.

We spent less than the amount we projected and budgeted for groceries in 2013 although we did introduce the stockpile budget which was a new category in our budget.

The stockpile budget allowed us to spend up to $20 per month on food that went on sale for an amazing deal that we wanted to stockpile. This has helped us out quite a bit and will likely continue to be part of our budget.

The rendezvous account is something we think we will not continue with rather we will budget more in our entertainment budget each month to make sure we are saving enough for holidays and any day trips we want to go on.

  • Did you stick to your grocery budget all year?
  • How did your year-end numbers look like and what changes will you make in 2014 to your grocery budget?


Final grocery budget numbers 2013


  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 or $78.33 week with one no-shop week per month or $58.75 for 4 weeks per month. (During the months with 5 weeks we just make it work)
  • Total Discounts Used 2013: $99.70
  • Total Gift Cards Given Used 2013: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used 2013: $50.00
  • Stockpile Budget Used 2013: $195.88
  • Total Coupons in 2013:$402.52
  • Total Spent To Date 2013:$2626.03 Under budget by $193.35
  • Rendezvous Account: $65.38+$17.24 =$82.62<> This is money saved if there is any leftover at the end of a month of grocery shopping for a date night for the wife and I.

December grocery game challenge posts


If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up for the month each week here in this section for you. I will announce the December grocery game winner in the first Grocery Game Challenge 2014 for January.


Grocery saving tips


Click, Save and Print. It’s that easy!

Free Money Saving Downloads are awesome lists that were created to get us on track to work towards reaching our budgeting goals and now we are sharing them with you.

I hope you take the time to get back on track and start the saving process in your grocery budget today.

Get organized with a freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.

NEW!! You can now download the Canadian Budget Binder Budget Spreadsheet in Excel…… Grab it while you can… It’s FREE! We use it to budget.. check it out!


Ultimate grocery shopping guide


download symbol

Everything you want to know about grocery shopping in Canada is below with new information added monthly. If you missed a Grocery Game Challenge post some of the most popular posts are listed below. If you know a topic that should be discussed, speak up. I want to know. Happy reading.


Food food and more food




  • 1 x Egg Nog $2.49
  • Nabob coffee Sake $4.50
  • Sardo Olives Sale $1.79
  • Selection Olives Sale $1.49
  • Bicks Pickles $2.99
  • 7x Clear Shampoo Sale $3.99-$3.00 peelie coupons
  • Pedigree Marrow Bone dog treats $4.99

Total out-of-pocket $33.92

Yearly grocery budget for two: $2819.38


  • Total Grocery Budget for the Month: $235.00 or $78.33 week with one no-shop week per month or $58.75 for 4 weeks per month. (During the months with 5 weeks we just make it work)
  • Total Budget For December $235.00-$10.28 overspend= $224.72
  • Total Coupons Used this Week : $18.00
  • Total Discounts this Week: $0
  • Total Gift Cards Given Used this Week: $0
  • Total Rewards Points Used: $0
  • Stockpile Budget: $20.00 Used $20.00 chicken
  • Total Spent This Week: $33.92
  • Total Spent So Far for December $59.14+$3.97+$33.92=$203.47
  • Total Over/Under spend this shop: $0
  • Total Over/Under spend for the month: Under $21.25
  • Total Left to Spend for the Month: $21.25
  • Total Coupons Used This Month: $50.00
  • Total to Carry Over Next Month: $0 New year starting 2014
  • Total Spent To Date This Year: $206.95 (Jan)+ $160.77 (Feb) + (March)$169.62 + (April) $397.74+(May) $155.68 + (June) $216.01+ (July) $235.83 + (August) $182.35 + (September) $255.69 + (October) $196.64 + $245.28 (November)+ (December) $203.47=  $2626.03 (does not include stockpile budget) Year to date -193.35 under budget
  • Rendezvous Account: $65.38+$17.24 =$82.62<> This is money saved if there is any leftover at the end of a month of grocery shopping for a date night for the wife and I.
  • Weekly Overview: We are home at the relatives for the Christmas and New Years festivities so we didn’t need to spend too much this month.


Canadian Coupons Found


No coupons found this week as we did not go grocery shopping. Check back next week to see what we find. Post your finds as well in the comment section if you like.


Frequently Asked Questions



Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible.


  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?


No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops only to win a monthly prize. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.


  • When does the Grocery Game close each month?


The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month. You can post your shops all month-long.


  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?


Yes our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap etc. We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food any more. It’s just one way to help cut your budget to save money.



Here are your latest Coupon Match-ups of the week and your weekly Checkout 51 offers from 25 Newspaper Inserts around Canada compliments of Save Big Live Better that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge.


  • What is an FPC?


An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.



You can find all your store coupon policies here. If you are not sure it’s always best to call the store and ask.



I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices. Over time you will gradually learn where you should and shouldn’t go in the grocery store or at least how to say no, I’m on a budget I need to buy this or that.

You may also substitute items in order to stick to your budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this t of our budget like many people do and this is why the grocery game challenge was created.

If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge get ready to dive deep into your grocery budget and learn just where you are spending, how much you are spending and what you are saving.

You’ve made a wise decision.

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge Canada!




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Black Friday: Not just a one day sale anymore



No more crossing the border for Black Friday as the sales are set to begin on our home turf, many starting today or at the stroke of midnight.

If you are not sure what to expect for Black Friday 2013 which falls on Friday, November 29 this year get ready to save some serious cash if you know what you are looking for.

Black Friday is just about here and in some places the lines of people camping out in some cases for days at a time have already begun.

There are lots of great deals to be found on Black Friday, many of which are in limited quantities meaning a lot of people are hoping to get their hands on one and many who have been unable to in the past.

With Black Friday planned around the American Thanksgiving and originally being only an American sale day, Canadian retailers are trying their best to keep Canadians shopping for some exclusive Black Friday deals in Canada.

red-thursday-canadian-tireAs part of an attempt to keep more Canadians shopping at home instead of crossing over the border into the United States, many retailers are now offering, Pre-Black Friday sales.

Canadian Tire is advertising their first Red Thursday this year which some also call Black Thursday.

Though many people will still cross the border for what most would agree are still the better cheaper deals, Canadian retailers are certainly putting in a lot more effort this year with a lot more deals being offered and many having longer store hours.


Getting the heads up


Many retailers, big and small, send emails to customers who have signed up for their email subscription with the latest offers and promotions. If you have your favourite stores that you visit often going to their website and subscribing to their emails can be of great benefit to you.

With Black Friday coming up various companies offered a sneak preview of their flyer to their email subscribers. These emails regularly often include exclusive coupons and promo codes.

Personalized email offers are also becoming more common among retailers where they will track your purchases by your email address and offer deals exclusively to you based on your past purchases.

I do recommend that if you are going to subscribe to multiple companies that you make a separate email for this purpose as you may find your inbox will fill up quickly with these emails.

I am signed up with many retailers, do I read every single email? No, but if I am planning a shopping trip or need something in particular it is nice to be able to take a quick look at what deals are currently being offered.


Price Matching



Knowing a retailers price matching policy ahead of time and whether it applies to Black Friday will be something good to know. You can find an full list of store policies at Coupon Christine.

Certain stores such as Best Buy have advertised that their price matching policy will be taking a hiatus during their Black Friday sale, allowing no price matching to local competitors for any limited quantity Black Friday deal.

Walmart’s price matching policy hasn’t changed for Black Friday, though you may find some stores at their own discretion may choose not to allow price matching that day so don’t be surprised if you are refused. Having a copy of the policy in your hand though may help your case in getting them on your side.


Flyers App


In this day and age there is an app for everything it seems, including your weekly flyers. Reebee is a great app that is free to download and it loads current and upcoming flyers to your smart phone or tablet for easy and convenient viewing of multiple flyers available.

You are able to set what city you live in to obtain local flyers and can also change the city if you are shopping out-of-town and hoping to score some good sales.

Not only can this help in finding the best possible deals for Black Friday but can also be used in most stores to price match, given that the store offers price matching.

I often use Reebee to price match, it is a very handy app to have and a great paper saver with all your flyers being right at your fingertips.

A few things to remember when price matching

  • With the rare exception, price matching applies only to local competitors so even if you are using an app such as Reebee, a flyer from a store that is nowhere near the store you are shopping at it will not be accepted so don’t get your hopes up on price matching a sale offered in Toronto if you live in Niagara Falls.
  • Price matching applies only to identical products advertised that are in stock in the store, no substitutions allowed for a similar product. There is the exception with produce (product of USA versus product of Canada) sometimes though I’m sure bananas aren’t a big Black Friday item.
  • Some stores may want to confirm with the store that you are price matching to that they are out of stock, if the store advertising the sale has the item in stock you may be refused the price match as – technically you can just go there and buy it.

Walmart’s one hour in-stock guarantee will have a big part in a lot more people getting their hands on an awesome deal this year.

Creating a positive customer experience is something that is important to all retail stores, an unhappy customer who walks out that door may never come back and who knows how many other people will be told about their negative experience.

Stores want happy customers and we are starting to see more of these efforts applied to Black Friday sales.


The early bird gets the worm


The majority of stores will open earlier than normal so if you are hoping to score some good deals, shop early, plan ahead and if you are really eager to get a great deal camping out or lining up really early may be an option for you.

If you wait too long you may be out of luck, going into a store even a few hours after opening you risk the chance of the stores being sold out.


Resist the impulse buys


Black Friday is a great opportunity for retailers to get a lot of foot traffic through their doors and they will try to get you to make impulse purchases while you are in the store.

Sometimes the great deals will be stocked at the back of the store requiring you to walk through the store and past all the other products, sometimes clearance items or items that have not sold as well in the past will be displayed with a significant price drop, resist these items if you are hoping to stick to your budget for that shopping day.

Impulse buying is a great way for them to get you to spend more money than you had originally intended especially on one of the best days of the year to snag a bargain aside from boxing day.

Are you shopping in Canada, crossing the border or just staying home this Black Friday?

Check out the full 2013 Black Friday guide at Bargain Moose Canada for up to the minute flyers and deals… so you don’t miss one!



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