How a To-Do List Stopped me from Playing Superhero with my Life : April 2015 Budget Update

Canadian Budget Binder Monthly Budget Update Logo 2 compressed- to-do listORGANIZE YOUR LIFE AND WATCH IT GROW


Life would be great if I could remember everything I needed to do in my head without having to consult a to-do list but that will never happen for me.

When you decide to get organized with something in your life you almost feel like weight is lifted off your shoulders.

I’ve made the mistake once in my life when I let work get the best of me where I then let things slip at home.

My life was a bit of a chaotic mess during this time period because I was young and working as many hours as I could fit in while I could.

I wasn’t a money hoarder or work-a-holic I just didn’t mind working for money and having the ability to save so I could afford holidays while paying down my mortgage faster.

In the meantime I wasn’t completing all the tasks in a home I bought in my early 20’s because balance was hard for me. As a young guy I didn’t know everything. Who’s perfect after all? Nobody. Life is all about experimenting and learning from our mistakes and I did just that.

My mind was so busy when I was at home that I was running around every day trying to get things done plus take care of my dog.

It wasn’t until I realized that things needed to change after I forgot to lock the front door of my house before I went to work for a 12 hour shift. You might laugh and think it’s no big deal because people leave their doors open all the time. Not this guy.

I don’t know if an insurance company will cover anything that is stolen in a house if any of the entrances are left open but it’s something I’d like to find out now that I live in Canada.

Had someone broken into my UK house and my insurance told me to take a hike I would have potentially been out money for any theft or damage to the home.

I’ve never forgotten to lock the door since but what I learned from that mistake which could have ended badly had someone found their way into my home was that I needed to make a to-do list. I also learned that I needed to take time for myself.

If you have been a follower of CBB you may have noticed my passion for to-do lists and organization and now you know the secret as to why I am this way.

No, “Lock your front door” was not on my to-do list but the plan was to make sure that the important things in my life were documented for me.

When you can take some of the load from your mind it makes things so much easier.

I can’t remember everything I need to do on a daily basis so having what I call my “Life Organizer” or the to-do list really puts life into perspective for me. Some of you may have a daily planner or monthly calendar which does gives you the same results.


Take back control


I went from a guy who hardly had any time to himself and easily frustrated to a guy that was in control of his life. You see, the more you have on your mind the less you think of the small things around you.

You may forget to lock a door, leave your wallet in an open vehicle, forget to put your groceries in the car after you pay for them, run a red light or get distracted very easily because your mind is always on full-speed ahead.

Unless you are a multi-tasker who has their life under control you should take some time to create a to-do list. I can’t say I know anyone like this.

Your brain being cluttered is just as bad or comparable to having a house that is busy or full of stuff you simply don’t need.

Trust me when I say a to-do list has made a world of difference to my daily schedule and I don’t make silly mistakes like forgetting to lock the front door.


Creating my weekly to-do list


When do I make my to-do list?

It depends really on how my days are going each week. Although I create a monthly goals list for this budget update I will use that and break it down into weekly chores for my to-do list along with other things you probably don’t care about reading.

I might review an upcoming week on a Sunday evening and plan my week the best I can in my book. Yes, I write everything out in an organization chart that I pencil in my book and put a line through it when the task is completed.

Some people would rather create a list on their smartphone or computer but not me unless it’s for the blog or other home related tasks like our freezer inventory, pantry list etc.

As long as I can find 20 minutes a week of quiet time where I can just think about my life and what I need to accomplish I’m happy. How many of you take time for yourselves to reflect on what you need to make your life easier?

If the answer is never, you should take time to evaluate your daily life and see if there are ways to improve the efficiency in which you achieve your goals.

As a blogger you should be organized although when I started blogging I had no idea what an editorial calendar was and why it was important. I’m not a super-blogger but I do keep a calendar and a t0-do list is always on-going.

The problem with trying to handle life like you are some sort of superhero is that when you fail at something you might put too much pressure on yourself.

Failure is not an option for some where others don’t care if they do something or not. I lean more towards the ‘failure is not an option‘ but if I do then I find out why and try not to make the same mistakes twice.

Give yourself the ability to plan and take some stress off your shoulders by unloading the tasks you need to accomplish where you can see them.

Do you keep a to-do list or do you fly by the seat of your pants? How is that working for you?


Where The Money Went


March 2015 Budget totals c

There was nothing particularly wayward that took more money than it should this month. The housing ratio is higher than normal due to the house taxes and the purchase of the long awaited new garage door opener.

I declined the option of getting the garage door opener fitted for me and took the challenge on myself. The costs to have someone come out to install a garage door opener is a bit high but if you don’t know what you are doing it’s worth the expense.

It took me a couple of hours one afternoon, some basic tools, a mug of tea and the garage door opener is up and operational.

Although this month was quiet, the forth coming month will not be. I’ve already started on the garden but there will be many purchases to come in May.

How was your budget month?


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 April

 April 2015 Monthly breakdown percentages


Our savings of 36.54% 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.

The other categories were well within the defined percentage limits. Our projected expenses this month is at 22.60%.


Budget percentages month by month


April Budget 2015 Yearly Graph


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 April 2015


April 2015 Budgeted amount for the month


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


  April 2015 Actual Spent for the month


April 2015 Reviewed


  • Finish our 2014 Income Tax Return- I finished the last day May 5,2015~
  • Find Flights to the UK and a Hot Getaway- I’ve located some flights but now we are looking at times and when I can fit a few weeks off from work into the mix.
  • Reach  4150 Twitter Followers- Pass
  • Reach  6612 Facebook Followers- Looks like I took a bit of a nose dive when FB went in and cleared out the fake accounts like they did on my pages.
  • Reach  1960 Pinterest Followers- PASS… this has been doing better lately
  • Reach  3060 Followers The Free Recipe Depot Facebook- FAIL but close.
  • Reach 170 Followers Bloglovin- FAIL lost 1 …. come back fan, come back!! Ha!
  • Finish the budget projected expenses-  FAIL but now that I have a bit of time from work I can start looking at it again.
  • Help a new blogger with a task or question- PASS
  • Connect with a new blogger- PASS
  • Finish the bathroom shower- Starting this next week
  • Pick out new tiles for bathroom and accessories (mirror, towel bar holder etc. ) I haven’t had a chance to do this yet but I will soon.
  • Buy remainder of bathroom renovation materials- Not even close
  • Buy a new blind for the garage- Nope, not done yet.
  • Finish the walls in the baby room- Haven’t even had time to think about it.
  • Hire a house cleaner/Babysitter- We’ve interviewed and considered it but are not 100% committed to the idea as of yet.
  • Purchase a new garage door opener- Done, Done and Installed.
  • Bring the plants out if the weather is warm enough- I’ve watered them all and will take them out as soon as I finish the deck maintenance.
  • Stain the deck- I’m going to buy a sander instead of rent and sand the entire deck so I can stain it again.
  • Research and get quotes for a new fence and gulp… talk to the neighbours about pitching in some cash- I haven’t done any of this yet.
  • Spring cleaning around the house- We’ve been doing odds around the house. If anything it was mostly to get rid of any dust.


May 2015 Goals


  • Install garden lighting
  • Plant herbs-
  • Plant and hang the hanging baskets around the house-
  • Install garage door opener signal inside the house-
  • Get the vehicle cleaned inside and out professionally-
  • Bring up all the summer furniture-
  • Use the BBQ-
  • Reach  4200 Twitter Followers-
  • Reach  6550 Facebook Followers-
  • Reach  2000 Pinterest Followers-
  • Reach  3100 Followers The Free Recipe Depot Facebook-
  • Reach 170 Followers Bloglovin-
  • Finish the budget projected expenses-
  • 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-
  • Buy a new blind for the garage-
  • Finish the walls in the baby room-
  • Bring the plants out if the weather is warm enough-
  • Sand and stain the deck-
  • Research and get quotes for a new fence and gulp… talk to the neighbours about pitching in some cash-
  • Spring gardening and clean-up-


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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