CA$H – Building a Budget – aka My New Economic Plan

In the past few years, my money management skills have improved greatly.  I have managed to finally get to a point where I am saving more than I generally spend, have targeted savings accounts and have even amassed some money towards a down payment on a home (though I just bought a new car, so some of that money will go to paying for it).

The one thing I have never, ever done, however, is set myself up on a proper budget and actually track where my money ends up. That is over now, as of October 1st.

I wrote up a budget and I’m going to do my best to stick with it.  I followed the following budget ratios:

35% Housing (admittedly I’m doing more as I wish to put in as much as I can and cutting down my living expenses a tad)

10% Savings (this includes my retirement savings and some money into an emergency savings account).

15% Debt Repayment (I am very lucky that I have no debts to repay, so I’m putting it toward travel as I LOVE traveling and have two (maybe three) trips planned for 2016)

20% Living Expenses (this is going to be HARD…like crazy hard for me as this is less about living expenses right now–more like fun spending account!)

20% Transportation (this will be interesting given my new car which I just bought on Saturday).

I am now tracking everything I spend because I want to see just how bad my mindless spending is (ie the odd coffee at Starbucks, dinner out, fun new cosmetic to try out, etc).  It’s been an eye opener already–I am only 7 days into October and I’ve already spent 70% of my “living expenses” due to circumstance (ie needed to refill pretty much all of my daily use cosmetics, haircare and skin care, etc), pick up dry cleaning…sorta the works.  Needless to say, it is going to be a very quiet rest of the month, I feel…esp. with Christmas coming up soon.  Yes, I did say the C-word.  Oh and my car insurance is due the day before Christmas Eve…like Christmas isn’t expensive enough! Hah!

I don’t expect to be perfect this first month either.  In fact, based on what I mentioned above and the social commitments I have (made long before I decided that I was going to make October the start of a new, more economic lifestyle), I know I will be over my living budget, but I am going to do my best to make an overages as tiny as possible.  But in time, I will get the hang of this and find some economies (skin care, you are first to be “adjusted” in my new economic plan).

I am happy to admit, however, that I’m already starting to change my behaviour.  I opted to skip Starbucks this past Saturday and made myself a coffee at home instead. It’s all about those baby steps.  I also acquired a free, second hand curling broom for my curling lessons that start this Friday.

Got any budget tips to share? I’d love to hear them. :)

Happy Saving,

~Princess Lisa

#Chewsday Check-in

Howdy folks!

Yummy and gluten and dairy free to boot

Yummy and gluten and dairy free to boot

My attempts to log my calories have died a very rapid death.  I just can’t get into it.  I was successful at one point, monitoring every morsel that came across my lips, trying to weight or size up each item to their appropriate calories.  Coincidently, this was at the height of my disordered eating. Not so surprisingly, I don’t have the patience for that anymore.

What I have been doing instead is focusing on mindful eating.  I know….sounds hokey as heck, but it seems to be working a bit.  I’m down to 166 on the scale (and was 165.5 yesterday morning), for a total of three pounds.  I have eaten only when I am hungry.  I have left food on my plate.  I have also eaten treats, like sugar cookies on Friday that I made with my adopt-a-niece or birthday cake with my grams yesterday.

This also means not eating breakfast or eating less for breakfast.  I will be honest, I don’t feel any worse for wear and arguably, feel better.  I end up feeling hungry around 10 a.m. and then I grab some yogurt and some fruit and maybe a few almonds…and then I don’t eat lunch until maybe 1:30 and then it is usually a salad with protein.   Then, finally, usually a dinner with veg and protein and that is all I will eat until the next morning.

I know that people will be losing their $%@#* because I’m not always eating breakfast, but I think it is more important for me to eat when I’m hungry rather than simply eating because it is time to eat or, even worse, I feel like eating (vs actually being hungry).  It may be a controversial approach, but I’m ok with pursuing it right now as it seems to be working for me at the moment.

I’m also taking a different approach to my running.  After having a few good weeks, my running has taken a nose dive and is not feeling so good.  So I’m opting to cut down on my running and focus more on cross-training as well as weight training.  I am going to only run 3 times a week, and run what feels good on the day, be it intervals, slow, fast, long or short.  As for my cross training, well, that will likely be cycling, skipping, maybe rowing if my injury will allow (it’s been a bit ouchy the last few days), swimming and curling. Yes, I said curling.  Lessons start Friday. Eek!


~Princess Lisa

Feeling Souper!

So my friend C and I attended a “Knife Skills and Soup” class at the local college’s culinary centre the other night.  This is the first of three cooking seminars I have registered for–and judging by how awesome it was, there will likely be more.

Best. Time. Ever.

You think I am joking, but I am not.  The instructor was a former chef, restaurant owner and now works for the local legislative building as the chef in that building….lucky people.

Chef Justin taught us how to hold knives, how to chop oddly shaped things like a chef, how to chop mushrooms super fast.  It was super impressive.

Chop Chop!

Chop Chop!

The group of 16 were then brought into the test kitchen and given a variety of things to chop: garlic, thyme, onion, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, celery, red pepper, parsley, broccoli and cauliflower.

Some fun tips Chef Justin gave us:

  • keep those knives sharp, sharp, sharp.  You want to slice your veggies, not tear them
  • the stems of broccoli are actually better than broccoli itself–just give it a quick peel to get rid of the little nubbins and tough skin.  Very tender and very, very tasty–yes, broccoli stems are flipping tasty!
  • do not drag you knife across your cutting board–it is a recipe for a dull knife
  • cutting onions is a dream, with this root holder way–perfectly shown in the you tube video below

  • slice off the tiniest slice of round veggies like carrots or potatoes–provides a stable surface to cut from and saves your fingers
  • anchor the tip of the knife to the board and rock the knife up and down
  • smashing garlic is the best way to both peel and mince it.  Oh and that green germ inside, you don’t HAVE to remove it–it doesn’t do anything except make your garlic a little green
  • curl those fingers and use your middle knuckle as a barrier to the knife
  • don’t rush
  • soy sauce is an excellent source of flavour in soups of all kinds
  • wine is good in everything, especially soups…and no more expensive doesn’t mean better

Doing all of this prep work also made me see the real benefit of doing this mise en place (prep everything before you start to cook).  I always do it sorta halfway, but now I think I will have to adhere to doing it full throttle.

This experienced has also really inspired me to work on some soups.  I want to try and re-create the mushroom soup that we made (sadly he didn’t give us the recipe like he promised), and I want to try a chicken noodle and veg, mulligatawny and a good black bean soup.

I have signed up for–one on pies and pastries and another on creating a “Halloween Feast.”  Can’t wait!  I think this is one of the best “education” experiences I have had since university–such fun!

~Princess Lisa