Our Family Budget

How living life on a budget didn’t deter us

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If you truly knuckle down and want to succeed, living life on a budget doesn’t necessarily mean you have to miss out, be unfit and eat unhealthy.

It just means you have to adjust your brains wants and needs by thinking of alternative and creative ways to live the good life.

We’re going to go back to the basics.


Back to budget basics


The other days post took everything back to basics so I thought going back to the basics would be a theme for this post too.

I’ve always talked about how to budget, research ideas and products, pay for things with cash, avoid debt, invest your money and save for the future.
You’ve probably taken some things away with you and applied them to your life. Not all people can live on a budget for a long time, the problem is, they assume you have to go without and that’s boring.

You may not be able to do absolutely everything you want but you don’t have to live in a cardboard box either, just be prepared to combine all the budgeting techniques and financial tools you’ve learned and apply them on a regular basis.
Sure, we’d all like the best of everything, but that lifestyle is simply unsustainable on most people’s income. I certainly don’t think it helps these days when you get those glossy house and home magazines printing images of luxurious interiors in large houses and then promptly telling you they did it all on a budget. The problem is one persons monthly budget is probably going to be very different for the next person, due to income and spending habits.
After we purchased our house and moved in with a minimal amount of boxes and basically zero furniture, decorating and furnishing our house was a priority. We didn’t buy all the stuff at once, just trolled second-hand favourites like www.Kijiji.ca for pieces that were our taste.
Sure, we saw some real bad examples of furniture, chests of drawers that would make you cry and beds that would make you itch. We eventually outfitted our home with some very expensive items, with no damage on them and at minimal damage to the budget.
Those air brushed images of sleek-looking models that are completely flawless, no matter if they’re female or male. It would take a lot of gym time and careful dedication towards your diet to even come close.
Take time out of day for an hour and set a target for yourself. Exercising is free after all, it’s also beneficial to your general health and well-being.
You can find perfectly good home gym equipment for free or at ridiculously low prices online or sat on the front of someone’s lawn with a “FREE” notice attached to it.

Increased heart rate and burning of calories won’t instantly turn you into a super model but looking good helps you feel better personally.

Changing your thoughts change your life


What I’m getting at is you can still have a charming well decorated home and be healthy and fit even on a budget. In fact you can have most things in life just on a scaled down version.

Living life on a budget doesn’t mean you have to go without, it just means you have to prioritize what’s important to you and how you go about achieving those goals.

You, my audience, can see my budget on a regular basis and you can see where things went wrong for the month and where things were better than expected. I’m not perfect with the budget as even things I didn’t foresee can crop up from time to time.

Living life on budgeting constraints doesn’t mean you have to be plain cheap either. There’s a big difference between being cheap and being sensible with your money and spending it wisely.

Always research products or services before you had over the cash. Just because it’s the cheapest to buy doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be the cheapest in the long run. Is the product going to last as long as the medium quality? There is a saying that covers most products; “You get what you pay for“.


Learning the hard way

Don’t enter into contracts you may regret. There’s a couple of people close to where we live that get their driveways plowed during the winter months. They are not big drives and the people who live there are not old. Usually a snow removal contract is entered into for “x” amount of time in which you pay “x” amount per month.

The problem is, if it doesn’t snow enough to meet the minimum amount required they don’t plow your drive. Now your shoveling it yourself, which you could have done in the first place for free. But your actually paying someone else so you can shovel your own drive. Call me strange but that just seems a bit bonkers.
Maintaining items like my father and grandfather did seems to be a long lost art form which would explain the reason as to why I can find a perfectly good lawn mower for free at the end of someone’s property. I got the mower running by spending less than $15 but it will cost the person who got rid of it $350 to replace it.

Learn to do without, not everything in life is a need, so prioritize your wants and needs. For the longest time we had an old (CRT) Cathode Ray Tube TV that we picked up for free until I had saved up enough cash to purchase a large flat screen that I also got at a bargain price by combining price matching during Cyber Monday deals.
Think where you money is going, looking after your possessions and maintaining what you have is a key part of your budgeting life style. Paying someone else to come and do it for you is always the easy option. Why not take the time to learn and do it yourself?

A simple job like re-sealing the drive way (if it’s asphalt), you can do it yourself and save money compared to getting someone in to do it for you. Living on a budget means you find yourself doing a lot more jobs yourself even if you have to learn about it beforehand.
There are still plenty of things I have yet to encounter and learn from and being part of an online community with you gives me more insight into things I haven’t yet thought about or come across. Learning new things is an ongoing process, never give up learning.

Eating healthy cheap


Be proactive and creative by producing your own fruits and vegetables in whatever available space you have, even get the kids involved. I was always outside when I was a child getting covered in muck.

Don’t eat that TV dinner full of salt, sugars, fats and carbohydrates, take time out to eat healthy. I can remember a survey from years ago in the UK about how food affects kids behaviour.

The eventual findings were that kids who had a healthier diet were calmer and more studious as opposed to kids who ate hotdogs, sweets and pop. I’m not saying don’t treat the kids, just that you can all eat healthy even on a budget. You can even treat the kids to healthy snacks.

Start using natures flavours more like garlic, ginger, cumin etc. They’re far healthier for you than chemicals and preservatives. Not only can natural herbs and spices give you fantastic flavours, they also have health benefits.

Such spices include, turmeric which is good for joint health, garlic is supposedly good for the heart and thins out the blood. The rhubarb plant is high in Iron and is expensive to buy in the supermarket, however we grow it in our own garden.

What things do you currently do to stay on budget and what should you change to continue on your path of frugality?


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Photo credit: suphakit73 freedigitalphotos. net

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  1. “In fact you can have most things in life just on a scaled down version.”- That sentence really stood out to me. I believe that it is true, people just have to prioritize, track their spending and be careful about their spending. But I know it is easier said than done for some people. Our current monthly grocery budget for two people is just over $300. I’m trying to get that down to $250. Lately, I’ve been trying to make meals of what we already have in the freezer and pantry vs. going out and buying ingredients specifically for that meal.

    I lucked out in that my common law partner is a jack of all trades. He’s amazing at doing renos, is somewhat of a car mechanic (free oil changes and fluid top ups!), and is my personal IT guy. 🙂

  2. I think like 99% of people who buy expensive home gym equipment like a treadmill never use it. I like using free apps and the great outdoors as my main form of exercise. I used to think I couldn’t live without a gym but it’s not that hard. But I think what’s easy for one person isn’t for the next. As you know my grocery budget is always high, and I don’t have a green thumb and barely lack the ability to cook, so the food category is always difficult for me.

  3. Great post! Lots of good stuff in here. I agree, learning to do some things on your own definitely pays off and living on a budget doesn’t mean your missing out. Being proactive in your finances actually makes you more proactive in other areas of life as you mention: health, adopting new skills/personal growth, and learning to enjoy what you have and what’s really important.

  4. Being from Kenya , I love turmeric, garlic and cumin. We use that a lot. To stay on budget, we have started shopping in bulk, shopping at the farmer’s market for nuts,fruits and vegetables instead of the supermarket.

  5. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, living well on a budget can be done. It just takes a little creativity, and work. My mom-in-law was just saying the other day how very proud of Rick she is that, instead of hiring out, he takes the time to learn how to fix, repair, replace things. It’s not always easy and fun, but it saves us a ton of cash, and Rick earns a whole bunch of new skills too that are useful for future projects.

  6. Great advice. I have found youtube and ifixit absolutely invaluable tools in doing home repairs for much less than hiring professionals.

    I also completely agree with the many virtues of eating “healthy cheap”.

  7. Some top advice there. My wife is from a devleoping country and she couldn’t believe it when we moved to the UK and she saw people throwing out so much useful stuff. Where she is from they maintain their possessions and repair them rather than throwing them when they go wrong

    1. Thanks!! I was wondering where you were… I miss your GGC posts… I hope to see them soon. Keep smiling!! Mr.CBB

  8. Eating healthy for cheap has always been my big thing. I love cooking though, so it’s not a chore for me at all. Recently, a friend gave me his pasta maker, so I’m super excited to give that a try!

  9. I get a kick out of those magazines….they decorated on a budget did they??? Champagne budget!!!! I work on a beer budget thanks… I have a few books on refinishing things like furniture and have done a few things. My downstairs bathroom, I wanted it to look like tile. So I did a faux finish that looks like tile, biggest expense was the 1/4 inch painters tape as I needed a few rolls to do the ‘grout’, already had the sea sponge and the craft paint. Once the tape was up I sponged over with the craft paint and then pulled the tape. My sister-in-law still has to touch it to believe it’s not tile…..
    We got our sofa at a sale at the furniture plant where hubby was working at the time. Near as we could tell it was a floor model from somewhere the plant sold to that didn’t sell. There is no way we could replace it for anywhere near what we paid!!! We have had it recovered once already and it is due for another recovering. Even then I figure we are ahead of the game as we have had it now 37 years. Hubby talks about getting a new one and I tell him to stuff it, I’m not parting with what we have. I’ll pay to have it redone before I’ll pay to replace….It would be worth the money. We have picked up things over the years that just needed a little TLC…
    We all have our own definition of what a budget means to us, we need to figure out what we want or need to accomplish with a budget and work from there…..

  10. I was on vacation recently and I really wanted to work out so I stopped by a 24-Hour Fitness. They wanted a $20 drop in fee which I didn’t really want to pay. Armed with my Fitbit I decided to walk and run up and down the stairs leading right beside the gym and I ended up having a great workout! I did this a few more times then one night I paid the $20 drop in fee only to find out that I enjoyed getting my workout in outside so much better than inside!

  11. It’s funny that you mention TV’s!! My husband and I have been together for 30 years and we have never bought a TV. We have had several of them over the years but a free one has always turned up at the right time!!! Two years ago was the first time we bought new furniture we have always had used. I think a lot of things are a matter of priority. We choose to spend our money where it is important to us. We have invested in some expensive toys but to do that we have fixed things around the house ourselves and gone without in other areas. As you said in your post:

    “Living life on budgeting constraints doesn’t mean you have to be plain cheap either. There’s a big difference between being cheap and being sensible with your money and spending it wisely”

    In addition to this we save before we buy. It might take a little longer to have what you want but, to get what you want without debt is a great feeling of accomplishment.

  12. This isn’t news but I am on a soup bender at this time of year. It’s cheap, filling and healthy. What more could I ask for to serve my family? I love trying new recipes and I create my own based on what’s in the pantry and the fridge. Tonight we’ll be trying an easy peasy Black Bean and Salsa Soup that I can whiz up in the blender lickety split and heat up almost as fast. This is my idea of fast food! LOL Want to knock down the price even further… cook up your own black beans and freeze in the desired portions for future use. You can make your own salsa in the summer and have that on hand for those winter months when tomatoes in the store cost and arm and a leg but taste like cardboard. I should have been a boy scout because my motto is always be prepared. This morning at 6:30 in the morning I was boiling a dozen eggs to have on hand for quick meal preparation. I peeled half a dozen we had left in the fridge and made egg salad for today’s sandwich fixings. Fast, cheap, easy… love all those words! 😀

  13. Being handy can really save a ton of money! Thankfully for those of us who aren’t as handy as you, youtube has made a lot of repairs a LOT easier! I am also lucky to live in an area that is totally full of tradespeople, so friends are often willing to at least give you a few ideas when you describe a problem to them.

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