Our Family Budget

7 CBB Readers Battle The 12 Month Budget Challenge : January 2019 Budget Update

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Ah, welcome to a new year which is refreshing when you are starting a new budget or revamping an old one.

Without fail Mrs. CBB and I both sit down at the end of each year to review our budget numbers to see if we need to make any adjustments.

It turns out that almost always that answer is a resounding YES.


Well, we can’t predict every expense down to the last dollar nor can we expect to always stay on track 100%. Life happens, which is another reason we always incorporate projected expenses in our monthly budget.

Last year for example we had a death in the family which greatly increased the amount of money we spent in a few of our budget categories such as petrol, eating out and miscellaneous.

It was also the year we buckled down and paid $1000 to get our will done by one of the best lawyers in town. We got spooked after swimming through all of the red tape after my father-in-law passed away earlier in the year.

Although those are one time expenses and we don’t expect to spend that kind of money this year we always have in the back of our minds that anything could happen.

This is why it’s important to always have a financial cushion available or as we like to say, emergency savings.

Monthly Budget Reporting on CBB

If you are new to our budget reports on Canadian Budget Binder we post our actual budget every month so you can see how much money we earned (net) and where our money went.

Trust me, we’re FAR from perfect, learn from our mistakes and invite suggestions from our fans. Often it’s easier for others to see areas you can improve in rather than yourself.

Our 2019 Budget Challenge also starts this month which we are super excited about. Since we did away with the Grocery Game Challenge after 6 years we thought a Budget Challenge was in order.

I didn’t know if I’d have any readers interested in participating and was overwhelmed with the response after I put the call out for participants.

As you will see from the amount of budget reports that were submitted below not everyone was able to join in as planned. I was not surprised at all and expected this to happen.

What I find exciting is that I’ll be the little budget dude on their shoulders every month pushing them to report. One of the easiest things for anyone to do in the personal financial world is to give up on reporting their money.

I like to compare budgeting to dieting where not everyone succeeds because it’s easy to come up with excuses. The moment you stop is the moment you fail. However, it’s never too late to start up again, ever.

With this budget challenge I expect 12 months of budget reports from all of the challengers so they are being held accountable. If they drop out so be it but I’ll be there any time they need me for support.

What you can expect as a reader of this amazing blog (tooting my own horn, haha) is to read their budget challenge reports after our monthly budget update every month.

So, welcome if you are new to our monthly budget reports and to all of you reading and following our 7 Canadian Budget Binder fans challenging their budgeting skills for 2019 please leave them comments to help support them.

Show them you were here and read about their journey.


Money earned in January 2019

January 2019 Month Income and Expenses





Where our money went:

We had a relatively quiet January which is typical for us after the Christmas holidays and the cold weather settles in. I’m starting to do renovations on our bathroom shortly and have been collecting materials here and there while they are on sale.

This year Mrs. CBB decided to give herself an allowance of $50 because she found that she’d be spending money on herself and it would fall under miscellaneous last year.

We will continue to have a Christmas Reserve fund and a stockpiling budget for our grocery budget although we’ve increased that to $400. That’s a $100 increase over last year for a couple of reasons, our son and building a bigger pantry of Keto ingredients.

Now that our son is in school we have to make a lunch for him 5 days a week which means more money spent on groceries. He also has pizza day once a week and we pay for milk for his lunch in class.

Our 2019 TFSA contributions have increased to $500 each so we’ve changed that figure in our investments category.

That’s all for now. Enjoy the read.


Budget percentages January 2019

January 2019 Household Percentages










Our savings of 63.01% includes investments as well as any savings for this month based on the income of $8893.44.

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

All of the categories took more than 100% of our income which shows that we had to pull money from the emergency savings account to pay for it.

Our monthly expenses

Below is a breakdown of our expenses which helps us to understand where all of our money goes.

Since May 2014 we’ve 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. It may be different for you.

  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: $4792.05
  5. Monthly Net Income Total$8893.44
  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 = $213.01
  8. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out$4968.66
  9. Total Expenses Actually Paid Out: Calculated is $8893.44 (total net monthly income) – $213.01 (projected expenses) –$ 3711.77(savings from emergency fund) = $4968.66
  10. Actual Cash Savings going into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $8893.44(total monthly net income) – $4968.66 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $213.01 (projected expenses) = $3711.77

Our 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 2019.

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

Budget colour chart: If highlighted in blue that means it is a projected expenses      

Note: I noticed that our grocery budget says $410 in one and $400 in the other which I will change for Feb.

January 2019 Monthly Budgeted Amounts

January 2019 Actual Monthly Budget

Our FREE simple budgeting series

Do you want to learn to budget like 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.

Our Ultimate Budgeting Guide from A to Z has everything you need to know about budgeting in one blog post.

  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 updates month by month

Just 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.

2019 Budget Challenge- 7 Monthly Budget Reports

2019 Canadian Budget Binder Budget Challenge

When I was looking for people to join the CBB 2019 Budget Challenge back in December I had over 20 people interested in joining.

I’m thrilled to say we have 7 CBB fans who reported and are 100% in the Budget Challenge.

As they go along you may see their budget reports increase in data which I expect especially because it’s a learning experience for all of us.

The budget reports below will remain anonymous unless the writer chooses to use their name.

Here we GO!!!

P.S- Don’t forget to leave them a comment about their budget challenge report.

Budget Report #1

January was motoring right along nicely and I had held our grocery spending to about $50 for the month out of the $190 budgeted by shopping the pantry and freezer and then wammo…our cordless phone system died.

Thank goodness for our New Purchases savings account! It allowed us to get back up and running again as soon as hubby found a sale price that he was happy with. He shopped around online & got a sale price was $40 off the regular price.

But, as I had almost enough excess grocery money on hand, I am re-stocking the savings account for the next time there’s a “life happens”little oopsie. I had hoped to build my grocery buffer but February is another opportunity for me to try again.

In February, we have a meal out with a friend planned but the entertainment and gifts account pays for that outing.

I also have a romantic get-away planned but breakfasts are included so the vacation account will just pick up the take on a couple of dinners since the room is paid with points. Think I can save $140-$150 of the grocery money in February? I’ll let you know.

Budget Report #2

Hello…here is my January budget report.

We brought in $6551.14 and put out $5534.43 difference of $1016.71 (remaining going straight to my husbands Visa as we bought a hot tub last month).

The tub will be paid of by end of year if not sooner. We would have brought in more but I had a week layoff and hubby was sick for 5 days. Success was going to Costco and using cash instead of debit.

Grocery shopping for items that are needed to go with what we already have. Not using credit card as it was something I relied on before. I don’t know what else to say so I will end it here.

Budget Report #3

budget challenge january reportOur First budget report and JANUARY sucked.

We knew January would be tight as it was an overlap of both of us on parental leave. Employment Insurance (EI) is definitely not something you could live on forever!

Add in an emergency basement flood during a crazy storm. That being said for once in our lives we finally have felt prepared. We knew how much money we had to categorize with EI so we knew we couldn’t over spend.

We have been following a Dave Ramsey plan for a few months now so not only did we not use a credit card for our emergencies we had a cash saving that helped us get through our flood.

I went back to work yesterday so February will be completely different.

Budget Report #4

So I was going to do this more list style of what goals I have and what I met and didn’t but this month presented me a huge expense I could never have expected, so this is going to be more paragraph style.

My goals Exercise more – I’ve paid for a gym and pool membership but never use them enough that it feels worth while Eat better foods but watch for sales, and cut back on fast foods.

Try to save $100 a month between these things So here’s where my story comes in. On January 13th our water stopped working. We did all the normal stuff, open the taps, heat the house more, run a blow dryer on potentially frozen pipes, and nothing.

So we finally called in a plumber.

After 2 days all the stuff they tried wouldn’t work. They’re sure it’s in the well, or the pipe between the house and the well.

Neither they can reach at this time. Why? Because we need a contractor to come in and build a new well cover because they said ours is too dangerous to set up the safety equipment on – fair enough.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it was easy to find a contractor around here. I’ve played this game. They say they’ll come and they don’t. They show up tell you they’ll email you later and they don’t.

They tell you they can do the repairs when they’re not so busy, like 6 months. I’m too busy right now with work (we are down half our staff and I’m overworked and stressed as it is), so I’ve gone into avoidance mode.

What does avoidance mode look like when it comes to my finances?

Well, we have no water (still) so it impacts us a big way. – eating out more – can’t do dishes easily, so we use paper plates when we do eat here, but we eat out a lot more – Not being able to shower at home – bingo, I have gym and pool memberships and they have a shower there, so I’m exercising a lot more before work right now, so there’s a plus – MENTAL HEALTH – I can’t function when I start seriously thinking about how much this could cost.

I’ve been told if its something little it will probably be another $500 bucks (once I get the well cap built which I have no idea the price on)

 I’ve also been quoted around $12,000. So every time I do think about this, I stress eat and cry…hence the avoidance mode I’m in now.

This wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been for the last few months (purchased an expensive vacation in September, paid extra on my house $8000, had car cost me $600 to get inspected when I assumed $200, then the chimney fell off my house 2 days before Christmas which cost me $600).

I’m a saver, so I’m normally okay, but where everything was looking up in my life I made a huge payment towards the house and my vacation, thinking I had time to build my savings back up. HA!

So what does this month look like:

  • $500 to plumbers
  • $200 extra on food and restaurant

I guess the reason for putting so much more into this than I had to, if you want a ‘life lesson’ for folks reading is its really easy to let finances fall apart when your depressed and anxious.

It’s easier to be happy in the moment than have the stress of everything falling down around you. I know I hear clients I work with always say I know I don’t have the money to waste on this, but it’s the only thing that makes me happy.

I got a good taste of that this month. My second ‘food for thought’ – there’s never enough savings! Sure I can re-morgage the house if need be to get this fixed, but I’m so close to paying it off that it hurts to think about.

No one can plan for a huge emergency but the more cushion you have for when things go wrong, the more in control you’ll feel.

So while I’m on vacation in February, my boyfriend will continue to deal with no water. Hopefully March I’ll feel like I’ve got my sanity in tact and can deal with this. Enjoy your water in all it’s many forms, we definitely realize what we’ve taken for granted!

Budget Report #5

January 2019: Budget Challenge

Background information: 2-person household + 4 pets (3 cats and 1 dog).

We use a jar system for discretionary spending. We have 6 jars- food, entertainment, household goods, medicine, pets, and clothing/gifts.

We also have a $300 gas budget (2 vehicles which are necessary due to where we live and our life circumstances).  Both vehicles are paid for.

We have savings accounts as well: medical expenses, vehicle expenses, and house maintenance (we also add a monthly budget amount for our water and sewer costs).

Our house taxes are paid monthly in our mortgage amount. Our water bill is quarterly. Our sewer bill comes once a year in April.

We have some credit card debt we are currently working to pay off. No student loan debt.

My husband is currently taking his master’s program online part-time. We are paying for this out-of-pocket. So savings goal #1 is pay for his next course in the spring.

We never had a honeymoon so that is savings goal #2 and I am going away for a girl’s trip this summer as well so that is savings goal #3.


  • We both ended up sick so extra money spent on cold medications and difficulties keeping up with our meal plan –we had planned sick friendly meals. (overspent on medicine and food)


  • All bills were paid on time.
  • Larger than anticipated debt repayment made.
  • $200 saved for each of the 3 savings goals.

Improvements needed:

Food is a major place we want to work on saving $. Stop relying on fast food as the quick answer when we don’t plan properly. Meal plan is key and to simplify it. Cook more batch meals on the weekend when we have more time off to do it. Shop our pantry

Budget Report #6

Income Budget Actual Difference
Income #1  $    4,500.00  $    5,115.00  $      (615.00)
Income #2  $    2,000.00  $    2,119.00  $      (119.00)
Child Tax Benefit  $       275.00  $       276.00  $          (1.00)
Other  $       100.00  $       100.00  $              –
 $    6,875.00  $    7,610.00  $      (735.00)
Expenses Budget Actual Difference
Auto: Insurance  $       180.00  $       184.00  $          (4.00)
Auto: Payments  $       560.00  $       700.00  $      (140.00)
Auto: Maintenance  $              –  $         70.00
Auto: Service & Parts  $              –  $         22.00
Auto: Fuel  $       450.00  $       319.00  $       131.00
Bills & Utilities  $       500.00  $       444.00  $         56.00
Entertainment  $       300.00  $       177.00  $       123.00
Financial: Life Insurance  $       128.00  $       127.00  $           1.00
Food & Dining: Alcohol  $         50.00  $         26.00  $         24.00
Food & Dining: Coffee Shops  $         50.00  $         56.00  $          (6.00)
Food & Dining: Groceries  $    1,200.00  $    1,077.00  $       123.00
Food & Dining: Take Out  $       200.00  $       128.00  $         72.00
Home: Home Insurance  $         55.00  $         70.00  $        (15.00)
Home: Mortgage  $    1,050.00  $    1,030.00  $         20.00
Kids: Kids Activities  $       100.00  $       146.00  $        (46.00)
Kids: Music Lessons  $       320.00  $       345.00  $        (25.00)
Pets  $       120.00  $      (492.00)  $       612.00
Taxes: Property Taxes  $       250.00  $       200.00  $         50.00
Transfer: Loan Payments  $       625.00  $       625.00  $              –
Everything Else  $              –  $    2,873.00  $   (2,873.00)
 $    6,138.00  $    8,127.00  $   (1,897.00)

We earned more income this month because we both worked overtime.  The expense items above are what we budget for and track. I use Mint.com, so ALL my expenses are tracked regularly, but I don’t budget monthly for items that happen sporadically.

I still keep a close eye on them to make sure we aren’t going crazy or anything.

I have been using Mint for over 5 years now and it definitely woke us up to some out of control spending habits.  I am still working on getting our grocery budget down, but that is proving to be a challenge.

In the coming months I plan to include more items in our budget that have become regular monthly expenses – it’s always a work in process.  I think being aware of where every penny goes has really helped us to stay on track and cut back when necessary.

Having a budget and sticking to it takes discipline and lots of planning, but it’s worth it when I see us staying in the black!

Budget Report #7

Hi my name is Brenna and I live in BC Canada. I started my budgeting journey with CBB in 2014 after the birth of my son, when I realized my husband and I couldn’t wing it any more with our cash flow.

Having a kid definitely makes things more difficult in the finances world but I don’t think I’d trade any of these years for anything. I think some of you might agree. My husband is also a construction worker and there were many winter seasons when he was laid off, and we found ourselves scraping by.

Many things happened over the last few years, the worst of which we moved out of one of our suites (it was draining our account) into the main house with family members. It was the best financial decision as we were able to save a lot, and increase our salaries, but worst living decision we’ve ever made.

Here’s my current situation, I own 1/3 of a house with 2 suites for a total of $166,000 mortgage. I have a Husband and Son, and one more on the way! We’re fed up living with other family members so we’re moving back into our suite in Feb this year.

I’ve drawn up a new budget for us this year which sees us spending about $6,200 monthly. There’s room for improvement here (eat out less, etc). We’ll get a big boost in this budget once my older son goes to kindergarten in September and his daycare cost is eliminated.

I’ll be able to take care of him after school while I’m on Mat leave from work. But with that comes a pay cut which I’ll need to readjust our budget for.

So January, its true what people say about this time of year, you get your credit card bills back from December shopping and buying presents. I keep up with my credit card purchases weekly, but I don’t realize how fast things add up.

Current Status: 110% to budget

We were over this month, we had several birthday parties for my son’s friends this month and my own son’s birthday party that contributed to this. I’ve added my % breakdown, it’s a bit eye opening since I didn’t realize I was spending so much on our cars!

Not much success in this month, our goal for next month is to make sure we’re breaking down our purchases more, between Grocery, household, Misc, and personal care. We do our shopping at one store usually and put it all on one receipt.

The other thing we do on a weekly basis is plan our meals, it has helped us cut down on waste and saves us money. Also, see if we can cut down on eating out and making our lunches on the weekend more often.

I’d like to get even better with meal planning so we can stretch our budget a bit more, we rely on a lot of prepackaged food. The good thing about our health spending is that we get a lot of that back from our health insurances.

We’re looking forward to next month where we’ll be living in our own space, and working on our grocery spending.

B's Actual vs. Budget Budget Challenge 2019 Report

Welcome to our Budget Challengers for 2019 above.

That’s all for this month check back at the beginning of March 2019 (sometimes in the middle) to see how we made out with our February 2019 budget.

Happy Budgeting CBB’ers!

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  1. I don’t see many with a specific, thought out budget. there is some whining here about “need to reduce this BUT” ….. well that’s not going to work. live well within your means, no Buts, Ands or Ifs. otherwise you fail.

    1. I personally have no interest in disclosing a detailed $ by $ breakdown of our finances to the world. Perhaps you need to adjust your assumptions. I have a well thought out, specific plan that works for us and just because I choose to believe the actual dollar figures are none of anyone’s business does not mean I don’t have goals that I am always trying to reach and then exceed. I update hubby quarterly on the increase in our net assets and f.y.i. there has never been a quarter in the last 30 years despite market crashes and recessions that we have not stayed right on track with our gains.

      Let us just say, I calculate all of our bills and divide by 12 then set that amount aside every month. Any funds that are not specifically earmarked for upcoming payments or emergencies/ updates/ replacements are gathered up in a high interest savings account and forwarded annually to our stock brokers for investment. Hubby is paid bi-weekly which gives us an extra 2 pay periods that I do not budget. Those automatically go to cover his RRSP contribution, which is not as large as some folks, but he also contributes to a pension plan.

      I save for everything…and we never spend what we do not already have. Our rule #1. That includes everything. For example, in 2019 I am saving for the 2020 RRSP/TFSA/non-registered account contributions. As at Dec 31st, I had the money ready for this year’s contribution. Rule #2 is that no matter what…marital break-down, illness, job loss or whatever…the RRSP contributions MUST be maxed out every year and under no circumstances will any of those fund be withdrawn before age 71.

      Perhaps you might learn a thing or two if you kept an open mind on exactly how to get ahead in this life. It’s not in the numbers since everyone’s numbers are different. It’s all about what you do with what you have, how you wiggle and jiggle the funds to achieve short, medium and long term goals of various sizes. For example, one of our goals is to have 100% of our current incomes in retirement with no debt. We are working on the retirement income stream and expect to achieve our goal and we are already debt free…our house is paid for, 5 weeks of timeshare vacationing annually is paid for and Rule #3 of paying off credit card debt in full every month is in progress because we never spend what we do not already have. The only reason we use credit cards at all is to earn travel rewards. I very seldom pay for a vacation…I get hotels, cars, airfares, 2 meals a day all with my rewards points. It’s basically like traveling for free. Do you do that?

  2. These are great reports! I love how real they are & not perfect!
    I would love to know what app #3 used to make that graph!

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