November 2015 Budget & Shopping Ban Update


Care to go on a trip down memory lane with me, friends? As I was working on this post, I remembered that the first budget I ever wrote was in November 2011. Sometimes I hate going back to old posts, because they remind me of different life stages I was in (some not always pleasant to revisit) and the writing was so bad. But the budgets… I love looking at old budgets! My very first one shows you how serious I was about paying off my debt, in the early days. In November 2011, I brought home approx. $2,775 and anticipated that I’d put $1,632 towards debt repayment – that was 59% of my income!

This month, I earned $4,590 through freelance client work, set aside $1,377 (30%) for taxes and another $1,029 (22%) for retirement; that’s not quite 59%, but it’s pretty close – and I’d never know this stuff, if I hadn’t documented it all here! As I said in my interview with Mark for his guest post on Rockstar Finance this week, I don’t share numbers so we can all compare them against one another – I do it to stay accountable and to track my progress. If you want to be able to analyze your numbers and find trends, I’d suggest you save copies of your budgets somewhere, too. 🙂

Now, to this month’s budget – the final one in my fourth year of doing this!

November Budget

Life Expenses – $1,845 (57%)

November ended up being one of the cheapest months I’ve had all year, probably largely due to the fact that I was working at home for most of it. In fact, my gas budget proves that more than anything else – I spent just $39.40 on it all month (and still have half a tank)! I had anticipated spending approx. $1,700 this month, but ended up buying Christmas cards and stamps, sending a couple gifts in the mail, and then buying a few things for myself which we’ll talk about below. All-in-all, I’m grateful to have had such an inexpensive month right before the holidays. I don’t anticipate Christmas costing more than $300, but it’s still nice to know my budget won’t be stretched for it.

Travel – $339 (11%)

One of the other reasons my living expenses were so low this month is because I was away for the first week. November marked the end of what has been a crazy year of travel. My final trip was to Toronto for a Financial Literacy Month event with Tangerine Bank, which was both exciting to be part of, and also fun because it gave me a chance to hangout with all the Toronto personal finance geeks I love! On the way back, I had a stopover in Winnipeg for three nights, where I stayed with David and got to do some sightseeing in between visits. I’m so grateful I was able to take that last trip, before the year was up… even more so, because of the crazy thing that happened at the end.

On the night I was flying home from Winnipeg, I had a two-hour layover in Vancouver. As soon as I walked up to my gate, Air Canada announced that the flight had been oversold and they needed someone to give up their seat. In exchange for missing the 10:30pm flight home, they were offering a free night at the Fairmont in the airport, room service and a seat on any flight home the next day – plus an $800 travel voucher valid for one year. It was Saturday night and I had nothing important to do on Sunday, so I jumped up from my seat and nearly ran to the counter. After a good night’s sleep, I flew home at 9am the next day with an $800 voucher in my pocket – and I have big things planned for it!

Savings – $1,029 (32%)

And finally, thanks to a super frugal month, I managed to set aside a good chunk of my freelance income for retirement. After barely saving anything last month, I’m grateful I could invest more in November. In looking back at my budgets from the past five months, this seems to be a trend: I don’t save much one month, then save a lot the next month. It’s working out so I’m saving approx. $679/month, which isn’t nearly as much as I was saving when I was working at a day job, but it’s not bad considering I’m still so new to this full-time freelance thing! I’m not entirely sure what December will hold, as I’ve heard it’s a quiet month for freelancers… but I’ll do what I can!

Shopping Ban Update

Now, onto my favourite topic these days: the shopping ban! Last month, I managed to get through an entire 31 days without buying a single thing, other than food. It was a feat worth celebrating, I suppose… however, by the end of it, I had a small list of toiletries I needed to buy – and I basically ran to the store and bought them all on November 1st.

Items I purchased in November 2015: 

  1. 1 bottle of shampoo (I gave up on the baking soda / apple cider vinegar thing – will talk about this more soon)
  2. 1 bottle of conditioner
  3. 1 travel size toothpaste (Are there refillable travel size toothpaste containers? Is that a thing?)
  4. 1 x 1L jug of oil for my car
  5. Adele’s new album* (iTunes)
  6. 2 boxes of Christmas cards (30 total)

*I feel fine about all of my purchases, except I can’t quite figure out if buying Adele’s album broke the ban or not. Technically, I’ve never put downloadable items on the list of things I can’t buy… but it still felt like shopping, all the same. Nonetheless, I listen to it every single day, so I’m getting my money’s worth. And making sure I buy things I use/get good value out of is what this is all about now.

I’m hoping December will be another fairly inexpensive month. I do have to go over to Vancouver for two days, to see my doctors before I have surgery in the spring, but otherwise I’ll just be at home… relaxing, reading and writing. I know I’m going to have to buy one thing in December, so far, and that’s a new pair of pyjama pants. The one pair I owned managed to get a 12″ rip in it that I’ve fixed once before and just can’t continue to salvage – so I tossed those and still need to replace them. Besides that, I doubt I’ll need anything! But I still have to think about Christmas shopping…

How did your month finish up!? What do you have planned for December?