How I saved $336 by being my own mechanic : March 2015 Budget Update

Canadian Budget Binder Monthly Budget Update Logo 2 compressed mechanicFIXING YOUR OWN STUFF


We all know that car maintenance costs can rip a chunk from the budget but what’s worse is waiting until something falls apart.

There is a reason that vehicles especially a new vehicle will come with a car maintenance schedule.

Not everything on a vehicle has to be replaced but it should certainly be serviced and inspected for any wear and tear and potential problems.

Vehicle Maintenance costs are what most people dread but if you are handy you might even get away with some mechanical DIY.

If you are not handy please don’t attempt any work on your vehicle. You will only cost yourself more money in car repairs over the long-term. You may even repair something incorrectly if you just “guess” and it could cause an accident.

Plenty of people play the mechanic role and do repairs or even their own oil change so they don’t have to fork out big bucks to a shop charging $100 an hour for their mechanic. Keep in mind there is a reason why they are in a trade and it takes many years to become Red Seal Certified.

You can’t do everything a mechanic does unless you’ve been working on cars since you were a kid and are amazing at what you do. It has to do with experience, education and more experience to become a good mechanic.

When it comes to simple repairs if you have the skills it will save you money as you are your own mechanic and no mechanic shop fees are paid out.


This Is Mr.CBB Being a Mechanic


This month one of our vehicles needed a little love and attention in the form of a water pump and an idler pulley. I had previously asked around at local mechanic shops for an estimate to fix the leaking pump.

Mechanic Shop Costs

  • Mechanic shop rate $100/hr plus tax min 2 hours work to repair issues
  • Idler and Water Pump $197.00 plus tax $222.67 + Labour $226.00
  • Total Cost $448.61

My Mechanic Costs

  • Idler and Water Pump and 12 litres of coolant  $112.06 taxes in.
  • Mechanic Shop Fees: None
  • Total Cost: $112.06

After a little more research and reading my much-loved Haynes manual I completed the task myself. Taking a little time to read and understand the steps along with watching a You Tube video I found online helped no end.

As a maintenance item on the vehicle, I decided to replace the coolant in the engine with new. A friend of mine used his influences and offered me discounted car parts, which is a great example of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know“.

Even if you don’t have a friend with inside pricing influences in the form of discounts you can be sure that what you pay for your parts will most often cost you less to do the repair yourself. It certainly makes it easier if you can use basic tools too, rather than buying specific special tools.

So, I manged to save our budget a total of $336.35. I agree that time is money but I would have had to sit around waiting for the mechanic to fix my vehicle anyways so no time is really lost here. So a win for me and it was so easy to do.


Where The Money Went


March 2015 Budget totals c

Aside from the vehicle repair above.. this is how it all went down in our neck of the woods!

My part-time contract work has decreased but only for the moment. I am hoping that the contract will return to full steam ahead sometime soon. This was most definitely a case of take the opportunity while it’s available.

In the meantime there are plenty of other jobs around the CBB estate that need to be addressed as the snow has pretty much disappeared and revealed a lovely brown mess called our lawn. If you lived around here (and I’m not boasting) you would know that we have the greenest lawn in the neighbourhood.

I take such good care of it and there is no weeds in site. You might even think it’s one of those green fake lawns that are gaining popularity in Ontario but super popular in California. They are maintenance free and always green so I can see the desire to own one.

Our domestic gas bill was the biggest it’s ever been this month which is a direct result of the nasty winter conditions that we’ve had this year. I will be glad when the cold has left us, it sure has out-stayed it’s welcome this winter.

Thanks to relatively low gas prices at the pumps, our transportation costs have stayed fairly moderate even with the extra commuting to my part-time work.

That’s how our month went.

How was your budget month?


Unexpected expenses


Besides the vehicle repairs we decided to start our son swimming at the local pool. Although the cost is not expensive $3.75 plus $0.25 for the locker it still adds up. Since he likes it so much we will see how the next few swims go and then we will get him some swimming lessons.

The crappy part this month is the first swim we went to I forgot my swimming trunks so I had to run over to the Loblaws to buy a pair which ran me $16.o0 plus tax.

I would have went back home but we were already running late for the open swim and it would have taken too long. Ah well, now I have a good pair that I can use in the pool rather than my shorts.

Other than that I bought some jeans this month that came in just under $200. I know it sounds like lots of money BUT I wear out my jeans. In fact I wore the crotch out of one of my last pairs that my wife made me go shopping for jeans.

I have 2 sets of jeans.. a good set for going out and a not so nice set for dirty jobs around the house and garden. I like to buy quality jeans that will last me a while. I’m not one of those guys who needs 15 pairs of designer jeans in the closet but a couple good pairs taken care of go a long way.

My wife went to Old Navy shopping while we were in Burlington and managed to score a t-shirt and sweater for under $3.00 total. What a bargain!


About our Free budget


I’m currently offering 2 versions of our budget and the reason behind it is simple. Firstly, read the CBB blog 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 you asked me for in your emails. (See I do listen and read your comments and emails)

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.


Our Free Budget Spreadsheet


cbb budget screen shot compressed

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 where 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 :) Test it out for a month and see how it goes. There is never any harm in trying something new.


Our budget plan


How we budget our monthly expenses?

I often have fans ask me how to budget money on a low-income or they simply a high debt load and want to kill it like my friend Tony who got rid of over $100,000 worth of debt by using a budget.

CBB fans want to know what we do in order to save so much money and the reply I give is simple>> It’s not about the money it’s about the process involved.

We are both money managers of our finances and with our relationship compatibility we have been able to get to where we are in 2015, debt free.

It doesn’t matter if you are using a cash only budget or you use your debit and credit cards, if your budget doesn’t balance you have budget issues you should review it pronto.

Learning how to be your own money manager is important because no one else will care about your money more than YOU!.

We don’t always save as much money as we would like every month but most importantly we are not going into debt but only because we are budgeting our money. In fact we are currently debt-free including the mortgage which means all we pay for is our monthly bills and expenses.

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’ve made up for it or we learned from our mistakes just like we should. Budget failure only occurs when you give up on your budget which should not happen as long as you truly want to reach your goals.

We didn’t always earn the income we do today but made do with what we were earning so we didn’t go into debt. That my friends is called “living below your means”. The only science to becoming rich!

Sometimes fans email and ask me if living on a budget in Canada is any different from living and budgeting 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 spreadsheet to meet all of my needs however the budget needs to be reviewed monthly.

Below are links to the budgeting series which I wrote while designing our excel budget spreadsheet which will give you an idea just how we designed our budget.

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 our numbers. I’m just a regular guy just like everyone else; some might call me a budget or numbers nerd.


Our budgeting series


Do you want to learn to budget like we do? We explain everything we do and more in this mini-series all about budgeting.

Please take the time to read through our budgeting series plus read Budgeting in the New Year. I hope the information will help stop you from making common budgeting mistakes that I hear of often and that you take something away from the information and apply it to your financial situation.

If you have any questions about what we do with our money tracker ie: The budget than feel free to email me. I may expand more on the topics as we go along and add some mini-series in 2015 detailing how we budget to break it down even further for you.

  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


Budget percentages March


March 2015 Monthly breakdown percentages c

Our savings of 49.59% includes savings and investments and emergency savings for this month.

The monthly total spend comes to 100% which shows that we spent our income this month and used the rest as emergency savings.

Our Life Ratio which for this month was 21% which was getting close to the target percentage of 25%. Our projected expenses this month is at  22.05%.


Budget percentages month by month


March Budget 2015 Yearly Graph c

Expenses breakdown


This is simply a breakdown of our expenses which has helped us to understand where all of our money goes. As of May 2014 we are mortgage free so much of our money will be directed at savings, investments and renovations.

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 our situations are all unique.

Almost 7 years ago I started working in Canada making a bit over minimum wage and have since moved up the ladder. I’m now working very hard to secure my dream job with one foot in the door. We aren’t all lucky but if you do the best you can at least you can look back and say you gave it a shot.

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 Budgeted Total: $4,916.82
  5. Monthly Net Income Total$8,011.77
  6. (Check out our Ultimate Grocery Guide to see where our grocery money goes)
  7. Projected Expenses: These are expenses we know we will pay for throughout the year = $1,766.35
  8. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out$3,413.83
  9. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out: Calculated is $8,011.77 (total net monthly income) – $1,766.35 (projected expenses) – $2,831.59 (emergency savings) = $3,413.83
  10. Actual Cash Savings going into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $8,011.77 (total monthly net income) – $3,413.83 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $1,766.35 (projected expenses) = $2,831.59


Saving money


What are Projected Expenses? – We project expenses throughout the year so we have the money saved. PE= A projected expense is money 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. So this means the numbers go up and down in the projected expenses account based on what we need to pay for that we saved for in the account over time.

The only thing you need to do is track your projected expenses each month manually as I can’t customize that for you in the excel budget spreadsheet as I don’t know what you will use for projected expenses.

For now we will have to manually track which means month after month we add up what we save in each projected expense category and minus what we spend so we know how much we have and what is left in each category. I have updated our personal excel budget spreadsheet for 2015.

We pay money into the projected expenses account continually throughout the year even when bills come due as its revolving so as one bill gets paid the money continues to come in from the other categories all year-long. This ensures that money is always available. It may not always be enough but having something ready is better than having nothing at all and having to use credit.

So the $1766.35 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 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 2015 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.

(Note: I am working on this but slowly as I wasn’t anticipating all of the extra hours with my second job)


Budget for March 2015


March 2015 Budgeted amount for the month c

Below you will see two tables, one is our monthly budget and the other is our actual budget for the month of March 2015.

This budget represents 2 adults and baby plus all of our investments.

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 March 2015


March 2015 Actual Spent for the month c

March 2015 Goals Reviewed


  • Reach 4150 Twitter Followers- FAIL… Optimistic I was but I will try again.
  • Reach 6610 Facebook Followers- FAIL… At one point we near did but I lost a few along the way when Facebook did a major clean up of fake accounts. Many people create fake accounts for various reasons and FB doesn’t care for this.
  • Reach 1910 Pinterest Followers- PASS even now that I have 36 boards rather than over 100.
  • Reach  2850 Followers The Free Recipe Depot Facebook- PASS Huge increase due to sharing of recipe. Good stuff!
  • Reach 168 Followers Bloglovin- Yay, 2 new Followers.
  • Finish the budget projected expenses- FAIL  No I have to get this done
  • Read a chapter in my personal finance book- (I was given a new book called “Save with Jamie Oliver” which I can’t wait to read. I hope I can get through it since I still have the other to finish up. Food and grocery savings is fun to read about though. – Didn’t even open the book this month.
  • Help a new blogger with a task or question- PASS Setting up Twitterfeed
  • Connect with a new blogger- PASS Goodness I’ve chatted to so many and connected with them on social media.
  • Finish the bathroom shower- FAIL I will be starting that in the next month.
  • Pick out new tiles for bathroom and accessories (mirror, towel bar holder etc. )- FAIL I am going to work on this as soon as the renos start up again soon.
  • Buy remainder of bathroom renovation materials- Not even close
  • Buy a new blind for the garage-Fail I didn’t accomplish the small stuff either this month
  • Finish the walls in the baby room-  Fail Not even close
  • Hire a house cleaner/Babysitter- Fail Not yet but we have interviewed potential candidates.
  • Purchase a new garage door opener- Fail BUT they are calling me as soon as they come in as they are ordered.
  • Bring the plants out if the weather is warm enough- It’s not warm enough yet but soon.
  • Stain the deck- Not even close but likely in May
  • Research and get quotes for a new fence and gulp… talk to the neighbours about pitching in some cash- FAIL but soon
  • Spring cleaning around the house- We’ve started doing bits but nothing major yet as it’s just starting to warm up. I’m guessing in the next two weeks or so we should be good to go.


April 2015 Goals


  • Finish our 2014 Income Tax Return-
  • Find Flights to the UK and a Hot Getaway-
  • Reach  4150 Twitter Followers-
  • Reach  6612 Facebook Followers-
  • Reach  1960 Pinterest Followers-
  • Reach  3060 Followers The Free Recipe Depot Facebook-
  • Reach 170 Followers Bloglovin-
  • Finish the budget projected expenses-
  • Read a chapter in my personal finance book- (I was given a new book called “Save with Jamie Oliver” which I can’t wait to read. I hope I can get through it since I still have the other to finish up. Food and grocery savings is fun to read about though.
  • Help a new blogger with a task or question-
  • Connect with a new blogger-
  • Finish the bathroom shower-
  • Pick out new tiles for bathroom and accessories (mirror, towel bar holder etc. )
  • Buy remainder of bathroom renovation materials- Not even close
  • Buy a new blind for the garage-
  • Finish the walls in the baby room-
  • Hire a house cleaner/Babysitter-
  • Purchase a new garage door opener-
  • Bring the plants out if the weather is warm enough
  • Stain the deck
  • Research and get quotes for a new fence and gulp… talk to the neighbours about pitching in some cash-
  • Spring cleaning around the house-


Budget updates month by month


In case you missed our budget updates and want to do a quick search I’ve compiled them all on one handy page: monthly budgets.

For the 2015 Year I will also keep track of each month just below. Since it’s the first budget post for 2015 I will start the list off with our end of year budget update from 2014 just in case you missed it.

That’s all for this month check back at the beginning of May 2015 to see how we made out with our April 2015 budget!

Happy Budgeting CBB’ers!


ts not about how much money you make its how you save it  compressed

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  1. With cars becoming more computerized, it’s getting harder to do repairs yourself. If the car is under warranty, then you need to get repairs done by a certified mechanic to avoid potential future problems.

    However, there are several basic “repair” items that everyone should know how to do.
    1. Check the fluids once a week and top up where necessary. I was in someone’s car and I kept hearing this grinding noise every time the car shifted. I checked her transmission fluid (she didn’t know what it was) and she had nothing! I paid for her towing fee (since paid back) to avoid damaging her car further!

    2. Fill your own washing fluid. It’s amazing how many people don’t know this!

    3. Replace own wipers. People look at me dumbfounded when I do it for them. Ummm, that’s basic stuff?? This must be why so many people can’t see out the windows. They don’t know how to replace them!

    4. Headlights on older vehicles. Most of the time, it’s a simple unscrew, pull light out, replace bulb and insert back in. Note that I said “older vehicles”. I used to do it on my ’99. I can’t do it on my ’12 as it involves replacing the entire housing assembly which requires a mechanic. *grumbles*

    5. Fill air in tires. They complain about poor mileage due to flat tires but don’t know how to put air in.

    6. Know where the fuse box is and study the manual. If there’s an issue with electrical, often times, it’s a simple fuse change.

    Anything else depends on how handy you are. While I consider myself to be pretty handy, I will never replace my own brakes as I am petrified of doing it wrong and not being able to stop to avoid an accident.

    • Very good points and I agree that if your vehicle is under warranty get it done by the right people and by all means if you aren’t comfortable doing something, don’t do it. Your life is worth more! You are right. I’m perfectly fine doing brakes myself but I know I had to get taught how to do them myself. thanks for sharing those tips for the fans. Mr.CBB

  2. Congrats on the auto repair success. I always get a really warm, tingly feeling whenever attempt to so some reapair job and I am successful.

    Along the lines of your inspirational car repair, last week I removed a garbage disposal from beneath the sink and replaced it with tubing. I have an “anti-garbage disposal” attitutude because I think they are more trouble (and money) then they are worth.

    With no previous experience I was able to accomplish the job by watching YouTube videos and talking to hardware store sales people.

  3. I hate car repairs and go out of my way to keep up with maintenance so I don’t have to deal with it. Your lucky to have a handy hubby. Good luck with your April goals.

    • What did you mean by “Your Lucky to have a handy Hubby”? I am the hubby lol.. married to my wife! You mean she’s a lucky woman!! lol.

  4. I am just lucky to have gotten skills in mechanic so I don’t have to hire one and can save money like what you just did CBB.

  5. I love fixing my own cars when I can. My hands and back are not as good as they used to be so I have to pace myself but its rewarding beyond the financial to me. YouTube has become a very handy reference and training guide, I recently had a headlight on my old Corvette that wouldn’t pop up and needed the motor that raises it rebuilt or replaced. After the instructions that came with the rebuild part hit a dead-end where I could barely touch the bolts needing removal but no way would I ever get them back in if I did get them out I found a YouTube video that showed an alternative method to remove the headlight motor. I was then finished a couple of hours later with what would have been an expensive mechanic bill. There are things I won’t attempt and have to pay to have done but it is nice to do repairs when I can.

  6. I am a little nervous when it comes to fixing things.

  7. I loved having my dad as my own personal mechanic. And if he wasn’t able to fix it, he always knew someone.

  8. These days more vehicles are becoming computerized so it becomes harder for the “average joe” to work on their own vehicle. I currently have my oil changes as part of my warranty and will for about another year as I up’d all my warranties to 5 years from the original 3 years. It definitely made it easier to remember about keeping the the vehicle maintenance current when i’m not having to dish out that money every 3 months.

    • That’s true but there are still many things a vehicle owner who is handy can do that will save $$$. If you have a warranty I would never attempt to do it on my own.

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