Update: August 2014 Budget & Goals

When I first decided to switch from sharing my exact numbers to percentages, I was a little worried about how I would format these posts. I think this month was a great first test, though, as it’s fairly safe to say my expenses will always go under three categories: living expenses, savings and travel.

My goal is to try and live off 55% of my income or less, and I’m happy to report I accomplished that this month. However, my travel expenses were crazy high and, as a result, I did not reach my savings goals. But it’s not all bad news… here’s how August finished up for me:

Living Expenses – Budget: 58% / Actual: 51% / Difference: -7%

Talk about a win: I lived off just 51% of my income this month; 48%, if we remove my charitable donations from the equation. I still went over in a couple categories, but I love looking at the numbers this way!

The overages were somewhat minimal. First, I knew I was going to pitch in for Dad’s birthday gift, but totally forgot about my “nieces” birthday gift. All her “aunties” and “uncles” pitched in and bought her a trampoline. Her reaction was priceless – and worth every penny. The second category I went over budget was charitable donations. Tangerine’s CMO Andrew Zimakas nominated me to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge when I was on the road, and I failed to do it within 24 hours, so I donated to the ALS Society of Canada instead. Sorry, Andrew! I still appreciate the nomination and was happy to participate in some way.

To support those overages, I came in under budget in a couple categories. The most surprising category was my restaurant budget, which included a week in Vancouver and a week in Victoria. I didn’t have any takeout coffee in Victoria, but I had boosted my budget with the assumption that I’d go out for more meals… and that just didn’t happen. Instead, I went on a lot more walks/hikes with friends. It was awesome. I also came in way under budget with personal care. I thought I’d buy a few items on my approved shopping list in Edmonton, where I could pay just 5% tax vs. 12% in BC but, again, that just didn’t happen! No complaints here, and the shopping ban goes on.

As a whole, I only went over budget on living expenses by $5.63. But I earned some freelance income this month, which is why I was able to live off just 51% of my income versus the 58% I had planned.

Savings – Budget: 23% / Actual: 19% / Difference: -4%

While the difference above for living expenses is great (under budget by 7%), it’s not such a good thing on the savings side of things – but, again, my freelance income is (somewhat) to blame. See, I actually put $475 into my Emergency Fund, versus the $320 I had planned to – so that’s a nice win! I also put the usual amount into my RRSPs. But then I didn’t save anything for my upcoming trips in September/October. Instead, I used freelance income to start booking things! So, I only saved 19% of my income this month, but I still met all my goals to some degree.

Travel – Budget: 19% / Actual: 30% / Difference: +11%

Oh, travel. I should’ve known it would get the best of my budget! The overages started in Edmonton, where I spent a million dollars at restaurants. (Ok, I went over budget by $105.68, but in that I treated Baby Sis to one lunch and then just didn’t hold back on all the amazing food that was there.) I actually came in under budget in my first week in Toronto, which was a nice surprise. But then I used a good chunk of my freelance income to book my hotel in Denver for Clare’s wedding in October. I am so, so, so excited about that trip.

All in all, August was a great month for my finances. Not only did this new budgeting strategy allow me to include my freelance income and, therefore, show you a crystal clear picture of where all my money is going, but I also finally saw my old pension get transferred into my RRSPs. As of Friday, my net worth is now $41,444; that’s a $14,944 increase from June, and it should only go up from here!

Goals for this month:

  • Read 1 book – PASS! This month, I read Fire Starter Sessions by Danielle LaPorte. Thank goodness I downloaded it for free from the library, because it was… less than inspiring.
  • Workout 10x (less than usual, because I’m travelling so much) – PASS! I managed to workout 10x before leaving for Edmonton on the 19th, then also went for a couple long walks there too.
  • Remove 15+ items from home – PASS! I ended up removing another 17 items. I also grabbed a bag full of books, etc. that were at my parents’ house and am going to donate those when I get back.
  • Road trip / move Baby Bro to Edmonton – PASS! Such a fun trip!
  • Do some extra freelance to help pay for September trips – PASS! I wrote one article for Tangerine, which definitely helped the budget.

How did your month finish up?