Finances In The New Year + New Budget = Success Formula



Today is officially the start of a New Year and for most people that means the beginning of new goals but for us a new budget. For most debt and tackling personal finances will and should be their top priority when it comes to financial health.

Nothing is getting cheaper and the average Canadian debt load is still at any all-time high. People are always emailing me asking “help me with my budget” and really it can be as easy or as difficult as you make it.

We have been using our family budget for the past 2 years and this year will be no different. The budget has taken us both by storm and helped us develop a lifestyle mindset that we hope others will grasp. Looking over our budget this year we realized that we would not have been able to save enough money to help us pay off our mortgage or accomplish some of the short-term goals without it.

What we did not do is accumulate debt something that is so hard for many people to do. I know when we quit smoking at the beginning of 2012 most of our family and friends were pessimistic about us succeeding. They thought we were set in our ways and in some part we almost believed that. The good news is we were not a bad sitcom on how to set yourself up to fail and we came out ahead.

The point is that even if you don’t have enough money to pay all your bills every month there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you are negative before you start to budget or set any goals you will never and I repeat never succeed.

Earlier in 2012 I shared with you our budgeting series detailing how we designed our budget planner. We initially developed our budget on paper then transferred it to what we call the Canadian Budget Binder Spreadsheet which is an easy to use excel online budget. If you want a copy you can email me and tell me why you want to budget.

Related: Free Downloadable Money Saving Tools 

Our Canadian budget binder template includes projected expenses (PE) which means we save every single month for items we know we will have to pay for at some point in the year. For this reason unless you save money for upcoming expenses you might not like our budget. So many people forget about these expenses and it may shock you but our monthly projected expenses  as of Dec 2012 is a whopping $1257.39 up from Jan 2012 where we were saving $592.59.

What happened was as the year went on we started to realize more expenses that we pay for each year which we didn’t factor into the initial January PE. So for 2013 we will save in a separate account over the course of the year $16,386.36 to pay for items in our budget categories. This is one way we budget proof our finances making sure the money we need is waiting and ready when the bill comes in otherwise we have to pull from our savings account.

Our savings are not recognized each month until everything including projected expenses is paid and/or put aside. After we pay off the mortgage this year we will continue to grow our emergency savings back up to around 6-12  months of expenses. We also want to start major renovation projects on the house which will eat into those savings as we go along and are different from our home maintenance category.

We also noticed a decline in the use of coupons this year from $7428.81 in 2011 to $2727.94 in 2012. There comes a point where there are products that you have enough of so you move on. Our coupon binder was (we just emptied the binder of 2012 expired coupons) overflowing with coupons and we do use them when we find a great deal. Learning how to budget for groceries has been a learning curve but with the grocery game challenge we have been able to keep the budget at a steady pace.

Per month we will save $1365.53 in projected expenses x 12 = $16,386.36/yr


Canadian Budget Binder Spreadsheet Screen shot
Canadian Budget Binder Spreadsheet Screen shot

Our Budgeting Series


  1. How We Designed Our Budget Step 1– Gathering All the information
  2. How We Designed Our Budget Step 2– Categories
  3. How We Designed Our Budget Step 3– Tracking Receipts
  4. How We Designed Our Budget Step 4- Note-taking
  5. How We Designed Our Budget Step 5– 5S Organization
  6. How We Designed Our Budget Step 6– Who Does What and When?
  7. How We Designed Our Budget Step 7– Balancing Our Budget
  8. How We Designed Our Budget Step 8– Knowing our Coupon Savings
  9. How We Designed Our Budget Step 9– Reading Our Bills
  10. How We Designed Our Budget Step 10– Projected Expenses
2013 budget adjustments
2013 budget adjustments

Additions or Adjustments to Our Family Budget


  1. We forgot to input some receipts- How do we fix that problem? We will initial every receipt so we know it was actually put into the spreadsheet. We will then put the receipts in baggies then into our household binder.
  2. We need to label our receipt bags better so we will use a permanent marker.
  3. We needed to add a blog category.
  4. We wanted to add a stockpiling category for great deals so we weren’t blowing the grocery budget to bits. This will help us stock up on items that are an amazing deal and budgeting for groceries. If we don’t spend the $20 a month in this category it goes right to savings. We will not carry the money over.
  5. Many utility bills are going up and some will go up at some point in the year so what we knew was adjusted.
  6. We needed to adjust our grocery budget for 2  due to inflation and the proposed 3-5% increase in the cost of food. We also considered the average amount spent in 2012 which was more than the $190 per month. We ended at an avg of $223.76 per month. Keep in mind the grocery game did not start until early 2012. It has helped us stick to the budget especially when we know we are being held accountable for our spending.
  7. Birthdays increased as we added in a new addition to the family as well as buying cards and stamps for everyone.
  8. Christmas was updated to included Holiday Drinks, the new addition, cards and stamps.
  9. Vehicle Stickers– These are going up again in 2013 but we realized we were putting too much away so we lowered that by $1.00 a month
  10. Pet- Includes potential vet bills, food, licences as well as bird seed in the summer.
  11. Allowance– That went up because, well, I was spending a bit more than I thought I was. Time to cut back on the beer which I’ll admit has tasted mighty good this past year. Hopefully this will keep me in check but I’m hoping to lower it back down to $15 with some perseverance.
  12. Water– Good ol water bill is going up again in our city for 2013. They say water is the new oil so tap into all the water saving ideas that you can so you aren’t paying out the nose.
  13. E-test- with a new year brings higher prices so that was adjusted.
  14. Mortgage– Will be paid at some point in full this year but until then we will keep paying monthly. We do have the cash it’s just not all in one spot so it will take time to get it all out.
  15. Gas (vehicle)- One category that has a new budget cut. We budgeted more than we needed so we lowered this expense.
  16. Investments–  Our investments will go up and I also will be looking at RRSP and other contributions with my advisor in early 2013. We are also hoping to drop our life insurance now that we will be one year smoke-free as of the end of January 2013.
  17. Property Taxes– We don’t know what our  new taxes for 2013 will be yet but we will adjust as we need to.

Whether this will be the first time you use a budget or if you are a seasoned veteran then you know budgets can change from month to month. Make sure you return to your budget and check to see if any updates are needed.

Taking control of your finances in the new year with a budget can equal your success formula but it’s up to you how you you want to walk the path to debt freedom.

Discussion: What is your success going to look like this year?

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Photo Credit: Success Formula : RF123

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  1. Thanks for explaining it to me. I’ve just never heard of it here in the US. Guess that’s on your to change list one day. 🙂

    1. Our water heater runs the furnace. It’s actually a very expensive system that was in the house when we purchased it and we’ve left it that way. It’s apparently the bees knees to most tradesman that have been in the house and have seen it.

  2. I like the idea of initially your receipts so that you know you’ve entered them on the spreadsheet, too many times I’ve tossed my grocery receipts only to discover that I hadn’t entered them on my Excel spreadsheet. I’m going to implement this idea right away.

  3. I have to admit you 2 are excellent in your budgeting! I do 1,2 & 7, as of last year, i still have alot of work to do. I will get on it as I am very interested to see my spending in a budget sheet, as this will probably be the only way to prove and curb what I am spending on home etc. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Good for you Angelene and I’m sure like us you WILL see the benefits of knowing where your money is going and how you can best distribute it to pay off debt and save for whatever you need or want to save for. Happy Budgeting.

  4. Great Tips

    This year we are trying to save a little more each month for emergencies and thinks like Birthdays and extra money for summer activities!!

  5. I will be focusing on saving more! Last year my husband changed jobs twice after 18 years at 1 job so we didn’t put much in savings! It was a tough year.

  6. Working on a small savings plan that goes along with my couponing. I am preparing a small budget to start the year and hoping february bring hubby a stable job (keeping our fingers crossed) with a more regular income. cheers to 2013 and TY Mr. CBB

    1. Hi Gail!! I’ll be crossing my fingers that he finds a job that he enjoys and pays well. Keep the faith and keep on budgeting and managing your money.. it was the best decision we ever made. Happy New Year! Mr.CBB

  7. I do not know yet about changes to my finances. We are on disability so I just don’t know. Maybe save a bit more.

  8. Happy New Year Mr. CBB. I landed a job as an Supply Teacher starting in January. I am now reworking the numbers for the the budget as the income will be going up. 🙂 Thanks for all the support and knowledge that you share. Looking forward to working out a grocery budget that I can get in on the grocery game. (This is one of my financial changes for 2013. Looking forward to all that you will be sharing over the year.

  9. I love how tangible your improvement list is. Having a list of things you can actually do is so important in making change and reaching your goals. So many of us make unrealistic lists and we just set ourselves up for failure. Best of luck with the new budget. I am sure you are going to rock it in 2013.

  10. Happy New Year Mr. CBB. Sounds like you’ve put a lot of work and effort into your budget, but it’s really paid off!

  11. looking forward to new things this year 🙂
    our budget being one of them! Going to try new ways or oraganize everything and hope that it will help to see everything that we are planning and not just talk about it and hope we remember that we did it.

  12. Our budget is not changing too much from the budget we made when I started working at my current job. We may make some tweaks to our TFSA versus RRSP allocations but that’s about it. We usually do a new budget when one of us has a raise or a new job, so the next one should come mid 2013.

  13. I’m looking to get a list of expenses so I can figure things out. The biggest problem might be having the peace and quiet to actually run the numbers with out someone telling me what I’m doing wrong and why he knows better what to do with the finances. I liked the looks of your charts so I will try to get what I can printed off. Maybe when that certain some one goes for a walk or some such. I am going to try my hardest to come up with a budget to deal with things here…..I know I can work something out but the big question will be having it work when hubby thinks he knows so much more than me about budgets…..Given that there is a very real probability that I will have to do things on my own I need to figure it out….How much time I will have to figure things out with him still around is the big question. That part may depend on the skill of the doctors and the Good Lord…..

  14. Hi There, dropping by to let you know I do “Appreciate your stopping by and liking my Christmas blogs. This blog of yours took some work I am sure, you have done the work for them let’s see if they take NOTE. Happy New Year 😉

    1. Cheers mate! Yes it’s been a lot of work on the blog this year. I’m moving to self hosted soon so hopefully you will come visit me at my new site. I’ll let everyone know when I’m moving though. Happy New Year to you! Mr.CBB

  15. I haven’t completely looked at the budget yet but the changes for next year…..hmmm….I know I will need to increase a few categories, I definitely need to reduce a bunch lol. I will try to save for things this year that I hadn’t in the past. For example, my father in law is paying for us to fly to Florida and visit him on March Break and we are trying to save cash for our spending money and expenses while there rather than putting everything on credit. I still have much work to do but have made great strides since April 2012.

    1. Good for you Jen. Like I mentioned earlier you have all the tools now and you know what you need to do. You and I worked hard in 2012 and we will continue to do so in 2013. Keep up the good work and stay positive, never give up. Make SMART goals.. and you will have your success formula. Mr.CBB

    1. Hey Kyle,
      Yes over time we broke it all down so we could see exactly where the money is going. It’s been super helpful when looking back to see where we need to improve and where we are on track. Steal away! Happy New Year! Mr.CBB

  16. I like the spreadsheets! I hope to make something a bit more detailed one day when I find the time to sit down and go through it. Until then, I will have to use my simpler and less comprehensive spreadsheets 😉

    1. The update spreadsheet did take some time but that is expected at the end of the year. The budget took about a year to put together as we were constantly updating and changing it. We are comfortable with our budget spreadsheet now. Happy New Year!! Mr.CBB

  17. You are certainly being very thorough with your categories, and I have found (myself) that the more granular I can be, the easier it is to identify areas where cuts can be made.

    And major kudos to you for quitting smoking! Huge costs savings and health bump there!

    1. Cheers mate! Yes the more we break it down the bigger the picture we get and the easier to make changes. It’s been a process the past couple of years but it has helped us every step of the way!!! Happy New Years mate! Mr.CBB

    1. happy New Year .. I just posted our 2013 budget changes which were alot. Come post your grocery shops in the grocery game.. it will help you stick to your budget when you are held accountable. That’s how we stuck to our grocery budget the best we could in 2012~ Mr.CBB

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