Frugal Living | Our Family Budget

The Ultimate Guide Of Frugal Living Ideas To Increase Savings : January 2018 Budget Update

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The Ultimate Guide Frugal Living Ideas we use to increase our savings plan


There are tonnes of frugal living ideas saturating the online market so today we wanted to create an Ultimate Guide of Frugal Living Tips that we successfully use.

The importance of this guide is to highlight what has worked for us to help us become debt-free so young.

Well, if you consider 40 young then we’re young. If you consider it old then we’re old.

The verbal savings plan Mrs. CBB and I created back in 2012 was simple, “It’s not about how much money you make it’s how you save it” and from there we took off.

I know you are thinking that it’s easier said than done, trust me I know especially when there are so many goals you’d like to tackle at once.

Don’t stress yourself out – One step at a time will help keep you motivated

I’m not going to list a million ways you can apply frugal living ideas to your life but rather keep it simple by discussing ideas that work for us.

We didn’t go overboard like some frugal fanatics because that wasn’t the route we wanted or needed to take. On the other hand, if your debt load is very high and your net income is just paying the bills consider tighter savings measures.

It may seem tough now but in the long-term, you’ll be jumping for joy!

Frugal Living Ideas That Helped Increase Our Savings Plan

frugal living ideas we use to help increase our savings PINT

Creating a savings plan has to be practical otherwise you probably won’t stick to it and fail at reaching your goals.

One of the most important things to consider when trying to increase savings is to think long-term.

You won’t see a spike in your savings account right away but with time and more forced savings, you’ll be happy you started this journey.

These frugal living ideas are meant to offer you a source of information that we use to continue living debt-free.

Affordable living (housing)

Always spend less than you can afford whether it be renting or purchasing a home.

The last thing you want to become is house poor because it’s a cycle that can burn through any savings you might have and introduce you to lots of debt. Be wary.

Budget and Organization

Don’t pay to use or purchase a budget, for real you don’t need to when there are freebies online.

A simple budget or excel spreadsheet that we offer for free will do the trick.

Most importantly becoming an organized financial expert means you do less work sorting through piles and piles of receipts.

My computer is in my office and this is where we keep our budget binder.

Quality over Quantity

Over the years we’ve learned that just because something is cheaper than a more expensive product it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a smart purchase.

Keep in mind that quality products may last longer, taste better or work better for you in the long-term financially.

Consider your options before making purchases that will impact your monthly budget.

No Fee Banking/ Credit Card fees

Frugal living ideas include little expenses like bank fees that sneak in under your nose.

No one likes to pay fees although for some people the cost of fees outweighs the personalized services they get at a bank.

We’ve been with PF Financial over 10 years which has since changed to Simplii banking where we’ve been happy thus far.

Own and use a Library Card

You probably don’t need to pay money to get that brand new book that was just released, so save your money.

Get a library card and take home books, music and DVDs for FREE!

We’ve been doing this for years now and don’t ever purchase new books, only second-hand IF they are cheap.

Free is good too.

Pack a lunch/Beverages

Just like it says, pack a lunch and bring your own beverages to work or anywhere you are going including road trips and excursions.

Once you start adding up all those cups of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, flavoured water, sports drinks you’ll see costs mount.

It’s better to buy a case at the grocery store than buying drinks from vending machines or the shops. We buy coffee grounds and instant coffee when on sale so we always have it in the house.

The only beverages I splurge on is Beer but I use my adult allowance for that.

Related: 10 Foods and Drinks To Pack For A Theme Park Visit


You don’t have to have a huge garden to see savings in your grocery budget. Even a simple herb garden will do the trick.

We plant loads of basil each year and turn it into pesto and seasoning cubes to use throughout the Fall and Winter months.

In the past, we’ve grown tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, beans and raspberries in our back garden.

We do plan to get back to that in the future but for now, our in-laws garden has SO MUCH that we just grocery shop there in the summer.

Rewards Cards

If you can use a reward card or credit card to earn points or rewards and you’re not you’re losing money that could fund your savings plan.

Consider the shops you go to and use a rewards card even if you don’t go often.

Over time your points will increase and you will see a reward that can you redeem for products or money.

We’ve saved lots of money by using our credit card to pay for just about everything.

Of course, you should only use your credit card in this manner if you can pay it in full each month.

Related: How We’ve Saved Over 4 Million PC Optimum Points

Workout at home

I’ve created a home gym in our basement over the years buy purchasing second-hand work-out equipment including dumbbells, benches and various machines.

We also have a treadmill, a rowing machine, and a step machine. Only buy what you will use and get rid of your gym membership.

The costs are too high and I bet you probably don’t go as often as you should.

Although it depends on the person most people would rather work-out at home but on the other hand, you might hate staying at home and prefer the company of others in a gym.

Consider your options and what works for you.

Minimize Housing Costs

So far I’ve minimized costs by changing out the light-bulbs for LED, weather-stripping the windows, adding insulation, sealing up any cracks or holes, low-flow toilets, and showerheads.

Anything that I can think of or have researched on my DIY savings plight I consider.

Shop Second-hand/Sales first

Almost always you will find us hitting the second-hand shops, garage sales and buying used or new with tags by visiting various online websites such as eBay, Kijiji, LetGo, Varage Sale and even Facebook Marketplace.

You’d be amazed at how much money you can save.

Give it a try, you’ll see.

Related: Is Buying Second-Hand Clothing Worth The Money?

Sell our Stuff

We bought a product and paid taxes for it and now we are done using it. Instead of giving it away, donating or throwing away our stuff, we sell it just to make our money back.

There are plenty of occasions we do donate items but that’s only because the item is not a hot item to sell or it is a needed item at the church such as baby clothes for parents in need.

The idea is to consider what you already own as money in the bank. Sell it for fast cash.

Think and prepare ahead

Whether you are shopping for the house consider seasonal shopping ahead of time.

Most often we find the best deals to be off-season because the demand for such products is lower especially at second-hand shops or online selling apps.

Negotiate when possible

I never assume that I can’t negotiate for something unless it’s obvious you can’t, such as a ticket from a police officer for speeding.

Whether it be near expiry food products, utilities, vehicles or items I want to buy in bulk I always ask for a discount.

There’s no harm in making an offer on something you want even if it is second-hand.

Own one vehicle

Although I’d love to ride a bike to work or take the city bus that’s not possible given the time-frame and distance to my employer.

What we have done this past year was to sell one vehicle and bought a truck that was used as a test-drive vehicle at the dealership.

Huge Savings!! $40,000 off the price tag.

With one vehicle we only need to have insurance for one as opposed to two like we’ve had over the past 8 years.

DIY Projects instead of hiring

I’m a DIY kind of guy but only for things I know I can do or attempt to do.

When it comes to skilled trades I don’t pretend I’m skilled although I do know the basics of some trades.

In the past, I’ve changed my oil however my new truck is under warranty and must be brought to a dealer. Once that is over I’ll be back at doing it myself again.

Time of Use

We typically unplug appliances we don’t use and run the washer during the cheaper time of use rates.

Most of our clothes hang to dry and those that do go in the dryer are monitored.

The worst thing you can do is over-dry clothes costing you money and let’s be real, clothes don’t like the dryer.

Our thermostat is pre-set at 21 during the day and down to 18 overnight during the winter months which has helped us keep our electricity costs stable.

During the summer we do use the central-air but only as needed to help reduce costs.

We used to watch when we cooked but it’s not practical for those parents or individuals who don’t want to start cooking at 7 pm.

Using small kitchen appliances such as the crock-pot, counter-top oven, griddle, and toaster are cheaper alternatives for us rather than running the big stove and oven off-peak.

Buy Sale Only

This one is simple-buy what you need only when it is on sale unless you MUST get it and pay full-price.

Source Price/Price Matching

Before you do buy at full-price or even sale price make sure you know your prices by checking other shops and services that offer what you need. If you can price-match then don’t miss out on those savings too.

Adult Allowance

Yep, I get an allowance which I’ve used every month and if there is anything left I just chuck it in our savings account.

I also use my allowance to pay-it-forward if I do go for a coffee at the shop or treat myself.

It’s really to spend on whatever I want.

Having an allowance has allowed me to control my urge to shop.

Limit Upgrading

You don’t need to upgrade everything you own or don’t own just because there’s a new, cool version on the market.

Cell phones are the biggest upgrade that most people jump into. Unless you sell your new phone you’re not really getting ahead.

Upgrading to the latest video game systems, televisions, tablets, computers, new vehicle every year are not necessary parts of saving money.

Limit Health And Beauty treatments

We both get our haircut from an in-home stylist who also threads Mrs. CBB’s eyebrows for very cheap.

There is no need for us to go to expensive salons for these services.

Although I have benefits from work that fully cover massages and other health services for those that don’t either project your expenses for the year and save for them.

Mrs. CBB is also not a fan of fake nails, professional hair colour and styling and all those fancy treatments that help keep women looking young.

She likes to age gracefully.

Do you know to get Botox filler in your lips is over $800 and it’s not even permanent.

We do splurge on the occasional pedicure for Mrs. CBB as she tends to have dry feet.

Grocery Shopping/Eating In

Anything and everything to do with our grocery savings you’ll find in our Ultimate Grocery Savings Guide from couponing, stockpiling, price-matching, sales, rewards cards, meal plans and so on.

Have a read of what applies to you in order to understand the concepts better which will help arm you with grocery shopping ammunition.

We limit our eating out to simple things such as the occasional muffin, pizza because we often pack snacks when we are on the go for ourselves.

For example on our recent trips to London to see my father-in-law in the hospital we packed a big bag of fruits, veggies, cheese and proteins including hard-boiled eggs, pepperoni sticks and salami.

Simple Appliances

It’s true that the more gadgets and the latest technology you stuff your home with the bigger your bills will become especially if appliances need repair.

To cut down on the excess amount of money spent on technological blips we have an older electric stove and a 15-year-old bottom-freezer refrigerator that is rated Energy Star.

Although it’s nice to have all the latest kitchen gadgets try to keep it simple and only own what you will use.

I understand how easy it is to get kitchen happy when shopping especially second-hand as there are tonnes of items on the shelves and online for sale.

Limit the number of pots, pans, bakeware, containers, water bottles and so on to what you will use.

I know many of you reading this right now can think of kitchen stuff you haven’t used in ages that are collecting dust. Don’t waste money.

Your Savings Plan Begins Now

At the end of the day, it’s important to consider each budget category to see where you can cut costs to help improve your savings plan.

It’s better to save something than nothing at all and I hope you are able to adopt some of our Frugal Living Ideas.

  1. Train Your Brain To Save
  2. Explore Your Options
  3. Apply Self-Control
  4. Fight The Urge To Compare

Discussion: What are some frugal living ideas that aren’t on our list but you use that helps you with your savings plan?

Leave me your comment below after reading our January 2018 Budget Update!

Where our money went in January

January 2018 Month Income and Expenses

January wasn’t the best month we’ve had by all means. Mrs. CBB took advantage of the clothing sales after Christmas so the clothing category was higher than normal.

We’ve made some changes to our investments too.

Jr CBB also goes to daycare once a week now to get ready for school so we’ve added that category to the budget.

Gasoline was a lot higher than normal due to unforeseen travel, although the gas prices have also been higher lately too.

The parking fees were from our various trips to the hospital which was less than we expected compared to hospital parking in Toronto or even Hamilton.

You’ll also notice we have a Christmas Reserve Fund category in our budget to help us save up for Christmas food.

We also had to jump in and spend money to help my mother-in-law and father-in-law.

Our grocery budget was increased this year because our son is starting school and he’s eating a bit more.

Mrs. CBB is also living the keto lifestyle and has experimented more with different low-carb products.

That’s all from us!

Have you made any changes to your budget for 2018?


Our FREE Simple Budgeting Series

Do you want to learn to budget as we do?

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.

  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 January 2018

January 2018 Household Percentages

Our savings of 26.94% includes investments as well as any savings for this month based on the income of $7765.83.

We put money away for the projected expenses for things that need to be paid for in the coming months.

The other categories were fairly normal this month, except the Life Ratio.

All of the categories took 100% of our income which shows that all the money we earned for the month is accounted for.

Budget percentages month by month

January 2018 Month by Month

Breaking down expenses

Below 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. 

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: $5,307.39
  5. Monthly Net Income Total$7,765.83
  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 = $1967.68
  8. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out$5,305.85
  9. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out: Calculated is $7,776.83 (total net monthly income) – $1,967.68 (projected expenses) – $492.30 (savings in to emergency fund) = $5,305.85
  10. Actual Cash Savings going into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $7,776.83 (total monthly net income) – $5,305.85 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $1967.68 (projected expenses) = $492.30

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 January 2018.

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

Budget colour chart

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

You will also see our budget does not include the emergency savings as it’s factored in at the end.

Budget for January 2018

January 2018 Monthly Budgeted Amounts

Actual budget expenses for January 2018

January 2018 Actual Monthly BudgetYes, I know I spelled Christmas incorrectly and I will sort it out for the next budget update. 🙂

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 2018 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 March 2018 to see how we made out with our February budget.

Happy Budgeting CBB’ers!

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  1. Makes so much sense – I just want to relate how second-hand can have a huge impact. I and my family have been helping a young family with 2 small boys. The Grandma is a friend from our church and when she told us that her soin & family had lost everything I just had to help. BUT – how to do so? I don’t have adequate finances to allow me to go out and buy needed items, so I got to work online – on Kijiji and on several giveaway groups in our area. here’s what I have been able to amass for them, with my only eexpense being gas for pickup. Clothing for all 4 family members, a race-car toddler bed, lamps, sofa, entertainment centre, TV, an oval solid wood kitchen table plus 4 chairs from another offer. Then there are the kitchen items, china, glass, pots and pans, toaster oven, toys & books for the boys and a potty!! The list goes on – my point is, one does not need to spend a fortune. When you literally have nothing, items can be found to get you back on your feet, through the generosity of neighbours, friends and strangers. All the items (except clothing which we have already delivered) will be delivered once they find an apartment. They – and Grandma – have been living in a hotel room for the past month, Grandma helping with the kids and making meals on a hotplate while both parents work. This has had quite an impact on me, I thought I was pretty frugal, but my eyes have been opened to 1) how much excess stuff we have stored in our homes, 2) how one can do a lot more with very little expense and 3) how much caring still exists in our world.

    1. Hi Mary,
      This is wonderful and thanks for helping this family out. I agree that if you need something it can always be found for free or very cheap. Last night we picked up a free tv for the inlaws since their TV is no longer working. Turns out I knew the guy and we had a great chat.

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