6 Eye-Opening Strategies To Help Transition You Into A Budget Master : Our December 2016 Budget Update

become a budget master in 6 eye opening steps



Every January social media lights up with posts about debt, money, savings, retirement, divorce, marriage and spending habits. Magically I see an influx of traffic to the blog that is out of the ordinary with searches always leading to budgeting, debt reduction and how to make money fast.

Mrs. CBB had her friend over this afternoon and while she was making a tea in the kitchen the budget discussion came up. My wife lifted up a large Ziploc bag filled with our monthly receipts and said that she was working on adding the last few into the budget spreadsheet.

When Mrs. CBB dropped the bag her friend said that she just finished writing out her family budget the other day.  With a second baby on the way and price hikes hitting Canadians hard at the start of 2017 she wants to make sure that they can continue to afford living where they do.

Keep in mind this is the first time they’ve used a budget before so writing it out is sometimes an easier way to transition into a budget master. Baby steps are fine but eventually you need to climb the mountain a bit. We used to do the same thing until we realized how much time we could save by using the budget spreadsheet that we developed years ago and still use today.


If you don’t understand always ask for answers


She started to ask Mrs. CBB about our budget and why we kept our receipts and then I knew she’d be here for a while once my wife gets talking about money. I made myself a tea too and started to bake some homemade oatmeal chocolate chip muffins for our son.

As Mrs. CBB explained to her our 10 step budgeting process to her via the condensed version you could see her smile go from happy to confused. Clearly what Mrs. CBB was telling her was eye-opening as it would be to anyone who’s learning how to budget for the first time. She’s not alone. Some budget newbies believe that all you need to do is design a budget that covers categories for their monthly bills according to how much money they net every month.

This is what I call the basic budgeting which is great provided you are given all the financial numbers you need every month. Personally, I would use it as a stepping stone towards better financial management such as using a spreadsheet or app to track expenses. I’m almost certain my parents who be using pen and paper budgets because they are old-school and computers are just too advanced for them right now. That and they don’t really want to learn even though they finally bought a tablet.

Understanding as much as possible about your money is critical to the success of your budget. Don’t be afraid of a budget either, it doesn’t bite back unless you are spending too much. Then you’ll really feel the crunch.

Below are 6 eye-opening strategies that Mrs. CBB talked to her friend about and the things she can do to ensure that their transition with the new budget runs smooth. If you’re new to budgeting and you’re reading this right now just know that you are not alone and understanding the budget process takes time.

The good part is that if you stick with your budget then eventually it will become second-nature and the budget master in you will rise to the top. The way you spend and save your money will change and any stress that used to weigh on your shoulders will disappear or at least diminish to a comfortable level.


Budgets work


I’m not trying to sell you a budget or on the idea of budgets I’m simply saying I believe that they work and a budget has and continues to work for our family. Right after the holidays we go into dead-time with nothing special happening until Valentine’s Day. Even then that’s not a big deal to some people. During these dark months finance is the top of the list for just about everyone.

You might be that person is sets the bar too high wanting to get your finances sorted but after a while you forget about it. Why? The reason budgets fail is because people give up too easy, want a quick fix. blame others, compare and then find a million and one reasons why a budget is or won’t work for them.

That’s fine but remember giving up is only a sign that you aren’t willing to explore fully the potential of success. Give it a try, stick with it and after 6 months or even a year you don’t think a budget is helping you then at least you have more than a month of a half-assed attempt to base your decision on.


Your budget is your company


Forget about the crap you read and own your debt, own your finances and take back your life. You may owe money to collectors but you owe yourself the chance to make it right. I know you might read this list and say that it’s not easy but it really is. Life is about decisions and you might have to make some that you don’t want to but must do in order to stop fooling yourself into thinking everything will work out.

Your finances might work for a month, two months even six months but eventually you’ll have more debt than you have money to cover your bills if you think budgeting is a waste of time. The only time you might not struggle as much in this area is when you continue to be frugal yet have a healthy bank account or savings you could draw from when needed. Even then it’s not a good idea to always spend more than you should ever month. Lots of rich people go broke. It’s not a misprint when you read about it.

If you’re worried about your money because you have irregular pay periods or get paid monthly then plan your budget accordingly. I haven’t written a specific post about irregular pay but the idea is to look back on the past 6 months of pay stubs and use your lowest net income to create you budget. If you make more than that you can save the money or pay off more debt. The choice is yours however it’s best to make sure you always save for a rainy day.


Become a budget master


Money comes, money goes but you always need money in your corner as a belt to hold your pants up. Without savings you’re buckle won’t tighten and your pants will fall off leaving you naked and vulnerable. This also happens when someone is stripped of every penny they pocket month after month wanting to get ahead but not sure how to turn their finances around.

Here’s a few starter tips however you’ll want to read our 10 Step Budgeting Process to gain a better understanding how a budget has helped us and it can help you. Stick with it, you’ve got this.

  1. You need to know your numbers, all of them.
  2. You MUST keep all of your receipts together
  3. You need to know all the debts you owe, interest rate, to who, how much and due dates
  4. You must keep organized by using folders, budget binder, envelopes, online word doc, google doc etc.
  5. You must not make excuses for money that is not budgeted and learn to say NO.
  6. You must understand that if you can’t balance a budget that you either have to earn more money or slash budget categories. There is no way around it. If you can’t afford it then it sure as hell won’t get paid with excuses. You won’t miss cable or your cell phone unless it’s your home phone ( I haven’t owned one in 10 years).

Designate some time every week to your budget to keep organized and from falling behind. Stop saying you will do it later, the next day or the next week. That won’t happen. Most people give up and quit. Don’t be this person. Find the time, make the time and do the time.

This is the beginning of a new year 2017 may all of your budget experiences be filled with lessons that you can build on to become a budget master.

Discussion Questions:

What is one thing about using a budget that worries you the most?


Where our money went in December


December 2016 Month Income and Expenses

December is one of the most expensive months for our family simply because it’s Christmas and all those deals. We spent more on Gas travelling around, more on entertainment because we had the time off together. The wife and I don’t buy each other Christmas gifts (although I bought her something small this year to make up for something I missed twice this past year).

When Boxing Day starts Dec 26 we’re online doing a bit of shopping mainly for shoes and boots at Sears Canada. This year we bought 2 pairs each for $160 which was an excellent price considering they were more than 50% off.  I also managed to find some great deals on items I could use for work which need replacing out of my own pocket every so often. I can live with that considering I love what I do.

I’m hoping to put together a final tally of our expenses for 2016 to share with you for the January budget update in February since we will have adjusted our budget figures by then.


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 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.

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 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 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 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. 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


Our Budgeting Series

Do you want to learn to budget like 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 December 2016


December 2016 Household Percentages

Our savings of 60.35% includes savings and investments and emergency savings for this month. If you include the projected expenses savings, we actually saved 75.77% of our income. That’s $9423.98 going into savings or investments of some description or another.

The monthly totals 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 15.42%.


Budget percentages month by month


December 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 10 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$12437.62
  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$3713.91
  9. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out: Calculated is $12437.62 (total net monthly income) – $1,917.68 (projected expenses) – $6806.03 (emergency savings) = $3713.91
  10. Actual Cash Savings going into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $12437.62 (total monthly net income) – $3713.91 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $1917.68 (projected expenses) = $6806.03


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 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 2016.

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 $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. My plan is to create a projected expenses spreadsheet to track the expenses all year-long otherwise you need to do it manually which we currently do in order 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 essentially becoming 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 when I find some time I can incorporate that into our budget 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.


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 the month of December 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 December 2016


December 2016 Monthly Budgeted Amounts


Actual budget expenses for December 2016


December 2016 Actual Monthly Budget


January 2017 Goals


Here are our January 2017 goals along with whether we completed tasks from December 2016.

  • Call around to lawyers to talk about getting a Will written up- Yes, Booked Appointment but we were stunned to find out how much they were charging compared to everyone else.  We’ve now talked another lawyer who sent us paperwork and once that’s completed we will book to meet with him.
  • Start revamping old blog posts (2 a month)- I completed 1 in December.
    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- We’ve made progress here as we’ve sold and given away tonnes of baby stuff this past week. The new bed is now in his room and all we have left to do now is add a bookcase, sell a change table and change the wall decor.
  • Start researching vacation spots for 2017- From the looks of it we may be heading to the UK in and around May or June possibly July. The prices in the summer are too much for my liking.
  • Hang paintings and wrought iron decor on the walls- Not Yet but it’s on the list.
  • Purge our clothes little by little– I went through all of my clothes and donated them. Done. The wife hasn’t touched hers yet.
  • Get the van undercoated- Fail as December was chaotic. I will have to do that in January.
  • Take down the Christmas Tree and decorations– Done
  • Budget prep for 2017– The next Budget update will be for January and we will do a year in review to see where all of our money went.


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 February 2017 to see how we made out with our January 2017 budget.

Happy Budgeting CBB’ers!

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