11 Habits To Help You Budget Better In The New Year


Ramp Up Your Budget Plan Today Before The New Year Begins

If you want to budget better and stop stressing over your money issues accept that you must give up something to get something.

With the new year approaching many of you might not be thinking about budgeting but waiting until the bills start coming due is probably not a smart way to get a fresh start.

Household expenses are expected to rise in 2017 and we’ve been warned in part about a few coming our way.

With the average Canadian debt load up 3.6% or $22,081 (excluding mortgage) compared to last year, we must continue to budget better than ever.

We will definitely see grocery expenses escalating up to $420 per family, carbon tax introduction, and other developments that will work their way into our budget.

The great news is that budgeting has become a household name and not as frowned upon as it once was considered for people who couldn’t manage their money. 

No, No a budget is for everyone even the rich who have proven it’s easy to lose it all when they should have been comfy for the rest of their lives.

How to budget better than last year

Managing your debt sensibly means paying off your credit card bill in full or at least tackling your debt so you are making headway not just bobbing above the waves.

There’s a difference between wanting to budget your money effectively and only putting in a portion of the effort involved.

What I frequently hear about are people who are excited to start a budget or want to budget better but continue to bully themselves into debt.

By this, I mean you have the evil money spender on one shoulder and the angel money saver on the other manipulating your mind.

Choices are difficult to make when you want to feel free from financial worry but aren’t sure how to ask for budget help and stick to the plan.

That plan isn’t for a week, a month, or even a year. In most cases, it’s forever because your money isn’t going to manage itself.

You are the money planner of your financial future.

If you’ve identified that you need to budget better in 2017 or want to save more, spend less, and rid yourself of debt read over each of my tips below and make notes.

Support Each Other

If you’re partnered up with someone for the budgeting process you both must support each other equally.

This means that both of you must participate in the budgeting process for it to be successful.

Not everyone is inclined to play around with numbers so if all you can do is motivate or offer help by reviewing receipts it will all help to cut down on the processing time.

If you’re in charge of your budget then you’ve got yourself to worry about and that’s all. Simple, especially if you set up a budget guide to follow every month.

Visualize Your Financial Dreams

I wasn’t sure what to put first on the list but I realized without support it’s hard to visualize your dreams.

A budget will become far easier to stick to when you remind yourself of what the outcome will be.

If paying off your student loan or a line of credit is tops on your debt load write what would happen once that’s paid off.

How much extra money will you have to save or move to another debt? How much further will you be towards debt-free?

Make a list now.

Simplify Your Budget

Please don’t complicate your budget if you’re already struggling to budget from the get-go.

Once budgeting becomes a household name and you’re comfortable then you can ramp it up with new stuff.

You might want to add new formulas to find out how much you are spending on a certain category, make more notes, or add more categories.

Jump one hurdle before you get to the next otherwise, you’re trying to leap over a mountain.

Start by reading my How to budget mini-series and perhaps start with a basic budget printable month by month.

Budget Better With A Plan

If you tell yourself that you will set aside every Sunday at 9 am one hour to work on your budget after your breakfast, workout, visit a church, or whatever you do, then do it.

Have a back-up plan just in case 9 am won’t work for you that day.

You can’t just say that you’ll do it on Monday because that will become Tuesday until you convince yourself that you’ll catch up.

That often doesn’t happen and the budget falls to pieces.

Gather Financial Information

Don’t be lazy and guess how much you spent eating out, get your receipts, and file them.

When you are finishing up your budget for the month and input data find the exact numbers you need.

There’s no point in fudging the budget because it becomes a waste of time and mentally you start to give up on it.

Examine Budget Examples

I’ve been told it’s a struggle to find actual budgets online in Canada but look no further because at CBB we post our budget every month.

We also, look at budget examples from other bloggers to see how they budget their money compared to the way we choose to.

Sometimes this may alert you to a better way to work the money that you might not have thought of.

Uncover A Budget Format

If a budget spreadsheet did not work for you then find another budget that will.

You don’t have to use the computer if you’re not comfortable with Excel or other online budgets.

Use a budget binder or a notebook and create a paper and pen budget that fits your style.

You might also prefer a budget app such as mint.ca or YNAB although this style might not be for everyone it might be for you.

Terminate Unnecessary Expenses

You told yourself that you would stop going to Tim Horton’s every morning before work but that didn’t last.

After analyzing the numbers you realize that you spent over $1000 for the year for your java fix.

Now you need to fix the fix by making it at home. Put that $1000 to work by investing it or paying down your debt.

Identify Areas To Improve

If you didn’t reach your targets during the year look back at your budget spreadsheets and locate the budget categories you struggled with.

If you made any notes review them and work them into your new budget for the new year.

For example: If you noticed that you were spending too much on groceries every month either adjust your budget to accommodate the increase in expense or find ways to contain your spending so you don’t go over budget.

Solicit Help To Budget Better

Don’t go it alone if you run into a problem with your budget especially if you have a financial advisor on your side managing your investments.

Our investment advisor has no issue discussing budgeting to help us keep on track financially so we can continue contributing to our retirement.

Measure And Celebrate Success

There is no fun if you soldier your budget without any celebration of reaching your target goals.

Plan for small wins and take time to pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

This might mean a splurge on something small that you might have axed off your budget list when you began.

Mrs. CBB and I like to enjoy specialty coffee at Starbucks or another coffee shop which we typically wouldn’t visit for our reward.

Discussion Question:

What are your plans for budgeting in the new year?

Leave me your questions below and I’ll be sure to answer you back.


November Budget Update

November 2016 Month Income and Expenses

Where our money went in November

Our money not only paid the bills that were due it also made a substantial increase in our savings. We had a relatively low month for bills which enabled us to save more.

There doesn’t seem to be much time to go out and spend the money anyway. Working 2 jobs doesn’t give you much time to go and spend frivolously.

Every morning I leave for work I take a homemade coffee with me and my homemade lunch.

Is it because I’m cheap? Partly, but why would I waste my hard-earned money on paying a premium for a convenience product I can do myself?

Surely the point of going to work is to earn money, not spend it.

It’s not the fact that one cup of coffee is going to upset the budget, but a cup of coffee every day adds up.

One coffee a day at $1.89 is $689.85 for the year.

Do you know how much homemade coffee you could buy for that same money?

The small things add up.

Chat to you all at the end of the month!

Bring on 2017.

Pick a budget that’s right for you

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, 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.

Free Budget Spreadsheet To Help Your Budget Better

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 the 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.

Test the budget for a few months and see how it goes. Trial and error, remember that.

Our Family 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 have 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 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 2016, 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 check 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 are 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 of 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. I’m just a regular guy just like everyone else; some might call me a budget or numbers nerd.

Learn how to budget with Mr.CBB

Free Budget Education

Our 10 step mini-budgeting series

Do you want to learn to budget as we do?

We explain everything we do and more in this mini-series below 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 budget money tracker feel free to email me.

  1. How We Designed Our Budget Step 1 Gathering All the information
  2. How We Designed Our Budget Step 2Budget 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 November 2016

November 2016 Household Percentages

Our savings of 53.34% include savings and investments and emergency savings for this month.

If you include the projected expenses savings, we actually saved 72.77% of our income.

That’s $7180.40 going into savings or investments of some description or another.

The monthly totals come 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 19.43%.

Budget percentages month by month

November 2016 Month by Month

Breaking down expenses

This is simply a breakdown of our expenses which has helped us to understand where all of our money goes.

Since May 2014 we have been 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.

Although I encourage your comments and love to hear what you have to say about our budget categories and expenses please don’t tell us to donate our money to charities because we have too much or are fortunate.

We are hardly out of the clear with finances for the rest of our lives and have worked and sacrificed to get where we are.

We do plan to enjoy the money we’ve saved now since we haven’t over the years with our son.

What we do with our “extra cash” is our business and although we do donate to a charity we won’t be putting it on display for the world to see as it defeats the purpose in my eyes.

It is part of the budget as you see it.

I hope that clears that up for those of you who had concerns about our extra money.

Just 9 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: $5093.64
  5. Monthly Net Income Total$9867.25
  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 = $1917.68
  8. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out$3469.62
  9. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out: Calculated is $9867.25 (total net monthly income) – $1,917.68 (projected expenses) – $4479.95 (emergency savings) = $3469.62
  10. Actual Cash Savings going into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $9867.25 (total monthly net income) – $3469.62 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $1917.68 (projected expenses) = $4479.95

How to save for future expenses

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 using 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 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 2016.

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.

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 $1917.68 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.

Sample Projected Expense

If our clothing category was a projected expense we would 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 plan to create a projected expenses spreadsheet to track the expenses all year-long.

 Without one, you need to do it manually which we currently do to make sure we don’t overspend what we 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 the extra hours with my second job)

Budget Results

Time for the juicy category numbers and to see how we made out with our monthly budget.

Below you will see two tables, one is our monthly budget and the other is our actual budget for November 2016.

This budget represents 2 adults and a toddler plus our investments.

If it is highlighted in blue that means it is a projected expense.

You will also see our budget does not include the emergency savings as this is factored in at the end.

Budget for November 2016


Actual budget expenses for November 2016

November 2016 Actual Monthly Budget

December 2016 Goals

Here are our December 2016 goals along with whether we completed tasks from November.

  • Call around to lawyers to talk about getting a Will written up- Yes, Booked Appointment.
  • Start revamping old blog posts (2 a month)- I completed 2 in November.
    Finish the master bathroom shower- I was hoping to start this in January however I’ve been asked to work more than I thought now. This may be on hold again.
  • Buy a new blind for the garage- Fail It’s just not a huge priority but it’s hanging on. I’ll get there.
  • Finish the walls in the baby room- I finished re-spraying his new bed so now I need to put it together.
  • Start looking at pricing for a new insulated garage door- Not a priority but on the list
  • Start researching vacation spots for 2017- We were going away in December for a week but have decided to stick with the 2017 travel plans. We may do a quick trip to Niagara Falls but that’s about it.
  • Hang paintings and wrought iron decor on the walls- Not Yet but it’s on the list.
  • Sand and protect the deck for the year- FAIL to-do for next Spring
  • Purge our clothes little by little– We went through lots of his clothes and have buyers coming today to take some away.
  • Get the van undercoated- Fail but I will get it done in December
  • Take a look at the Christmas lights– Done, removed, and new lights up outside
  • Put up the Christmas Tree and decorations– Done
  • Christmas shopping- Almost Done
  • Budget prep for 2017– Kind of sort of. Likely in the next week or two, we will do a major review of our year.
  • Christmas Cards– We have a few done and will likely get them out as soon as we buy stamps.
  • I’m not projecting any other duties for my list in December since the holidays are upon us.

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 2016 Year, I will also keep track of each month below and update the monthly budgets page.

That’s all for this month check back at the beginning of December 2016 to see how we made out with our November 2016 budget.

Happy Budgeting CBB’ers!

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