Friday, 27 February 2015

Keeping Up The Savings Game!

Hope everyone had a good week and keeping warm during these freezing times! I've been wearing long johns every day to the office to stay warm. Clothes have been a bit more snug but it beats having to go outside unprepared. I can't wait for summer!

Just wanted to give you all an update of what's been going on:

I've been pretty good at cutting out most of my miscellaneous expenses. It's brutal to walk down the aisles of a grocery store and want to buy everything you feel like eating but instead just walk away. It takes a lot of will power to keep moving on. It's horrible! I've refrained from online shopping, buying things I know I'll need eventually and just holding off until I actually need them. I've been better this week saying no to friends and functions, it's very hard when you want to be there for birthdays and to see people you haven't seen in ages but it's what has to be done until I get out of this rut. Winter months are usually the worst times for me financially and I do my best to plan accordingly. But man, when crap happens it's hard to predict exactly what you'll need to take care of it. The last two months I've had plumbing problems, unexpected health care costs, and computer issues. The one thing they don't tell you about having health care benefits from our insurance is that they make it incredibly tedious to make your claims. My doctor can print copies of his invoice for me or email them. I offered to have my doctor submit them directly to my insurance for me but unfortunately they want a physical copy mailed to them, two weeks for processing and then time to mail it back. I mailed my first bill on January 15th and I just received the first of many cheques yesterday. So, I'm out the dough until the cheques come in and its hurts my wallet so very much. I have my emergency fund to cover expenses but that's not what I want it for. It's my "I'm very sick and can't work" and absolute last resort money. Stupid stuff like this I notice will always happen and I don't want to keep dipping into other funds to cover it. My solution is building a slush fund, a buffer for unexpected expenses that aren't real emergencies. Starting one is honestly one of the smartest decisions I made and gives me a nice buffer for my budget.

Re-organizing My Saving Accounts

Did you know you can have as many saving accounts as you'd like for free? I certainly did not! I have a PC Financial Account and Tangerine Account. PC is great for daily banking and has lots of machines available in Toronto, thanks to their partnership with CIBC. I am obsessed with getting PC points for free groceries and getting a free cheque books for the odd cheques I have to write for work. I don't have a Tangerine chequing account, but it has a feature where you can take a photo of a cheque to make a deposit. With a partnership with Scotiabank it's a bit more inconvenient for me since there are not many locations around my neighbourhood. Transferring funds from PC to Tangerine takes a couple days, which at first was sort of a hassle but I like that I can't easily dip into it. I only use the Tangerine TFSA account and regular savings account. The main thing when I was figuring out how to better organize my moolah was convenience. I currently have one account and via a detailed excel sheet, I kept track of all the money in the account and which fund it belonged. I wanted to simplify everything! I want to open my account and see exactly how much money was in each fund. I believe when you make budgeting simple and easily accessible, you are more likely to keep up with it and stay on track. It's hard at first, but it gets easier and builds up the habit over time. Sometimes, I feel like throwing out my budget but it's constantly evolving and updating to fit my lifestyle. I find reading articles everyday about personal finance helps keep me motivated, educated and on track to reach my goals.

Ideally, I would have liked to go with PC for all my funds but when I spoke to them they told me the accounts could not be named and I would have to remember the account by numbers. That is really crazy when you think I'm planning to open like 10 accounts! I can't even remember phone numbers, how will I remember bank account numbers? So, when I called up Tangerine all you have to do is open up to the 5 account limit online, and they will have a manager to override the system and give you the additional number of accounts you'd like. And you can easily name them and name them in order to your preference! I had to rename some of the accounts so the important funds are near the top. Small stuff like this may seem kind of OCD, but you'll thank yourself for doing it right the first time.

Hope this helped get you a bit closer to your financial freedom!

Eros And Pookie

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Another Day, Another Diaper Cake!

Hi Everyone,

As Winton said it before on FaceBook, "It's Baby Month!" Truer words could not have been said.

Baby Carriage
 Here's one of the hardest diaper cakes I've made in awhile. I bought a bunch of baby outfits from Children's Place that I wanted to incorporate to this cake and they are just so oddly shaped. It took some time figuring out how and where things would go but I'm happy to say I'm proud of the results. It took a lot more safety pins to hold all the tiny baby clothes together in place but I think it's adorable.

Star Wars Owl
Here's a new owl creation I tried! I had some instructions I found online but I avoided on giving baby #2 more receiving blankets as per the instructions. Being a middle child, I was very familiar with getting everything second hand from my brother. It sucked big time! So, I thought it'd be nice to get new bibs and burp clothes made just for him. Plus, I found out that babies go through bibs like nothing and are constantly bought and tossed out from wear and tear. The only thing I would of changed with this is finding nice fake flowers for the eyes. This is a cute design but practically not very good. I love making cakes that can balance on their own. It makes transport 1000x easier!

Eros And Pookie

Friday, 13 February 2015

Changing Our Lifestyle While Upping Our Savings Game

As I try to stay warm on this blistering cold day sitting in our office dressed in my thermal everything! I reflect back on what's been new and happening with us the last couple months. And I wanted to give you all an update!

I hate making New Year's Resolutions. I think they never work. If you want to change something, do it now and not wait until the new year. Winton thinks different and enjoys making resolutions, so I jumped on his bandwagon, hoping I'll encourage him and we can keep the momentum going. We both decided this will be the year where we both lose weight, eat healthier/eat at home and save money. I was pretty sure this will be the hardest decision I make in my life. I love eating convenience foods! I love picking up a pizza on the way home and going out for dinner with my friends. I love not working out and instead sitting at home binging on the next popular tv show. I love picking up a package of cookies and other junk foods to snack on when I'm sitting in front of a screen. I'm also a notorious hot chocolate drinker, it's my version of everyone's coffee. It was a brutal decision! I'm lazy and I like clipping coupons and save money on everything I can, but if some dessert went on sale then I'd cave. It's a pretty bad addiction.

In our second month, I have to say we are doing a really good job. Better than we both expected. We are spending more on groceries, getting more food and more quality food as well. We save so much by not eating out anywhere near as much as we use to. We did indulge and went out a few times but even so I've noticed that everything at a restaurant is so incredibly salty and I hate it. It actually turns me off from going out to eat.

I've also been getting up earlier and practicing some yoga in the mornings before work. I'm far from buff or anything but I'm working on building the habit of getting up early more than working on killing myself with exercise in the mornings. Hopefully and slowly, I can increase the intensity but it's pretty hard as it is to wake up while it's still dark and cold out and you are freezing doing some planks on a mat. I'm happy to say I've lost a few pounds right off the bat but have since kind of been stuck for the last couple weeks. I'm trying not to deprive myself as much as I try to substitute my cravings. I've been spending a lot of time chopping and filling tupperware of ready to eat fruits like cantaloupes, grapefruits and oranges. I like to leave them at the top level of the fridge in plain site. I'm taking a note out of grocery store logic, those at eye level are purchased the most. So, if I see a box of oranges and not the slice of chocolate cake in the back bottom shelf, I'll be more likely to eat the oranges and forget the cake is even there. By no means, never not reach and eat that cake in the back. Eat it and enjoy it, maybe try to just eat half? I'm trying to portion control, so I will eat until I'm satisfied and not stuffed. Makes a huge difference, since it's so easy to overeat all the time! If I don't satisfy my cravings after a long time and force myself to go without, it doesn't end up well and I end up binging on a tons of junk foods and I just can't stop.

It's sort of an oxymoron when I say we are spending more on groceries while we want to save money, but it's not. Because we eat at home we save a ton more money as opposed to going out to eat. It all adds up! The amount we spend buying better groceries is only a fraction of what we would have spent at a restaurant. Not to mention, the gas, parking, and tips we'd also have to pay for on top of our meals. We also love making our own pizza's at home instead of getting delivery. We can throw on all the topping we love and substitute the dough for pita bread. Less carbs but we also can make it in a few short mins. It's so simple! Cooking food at home means you get way better lunches! Leftovers are the best! I hate eating boring cold sandwiches at work, but with left overs I can bring in and nuke some curry from the night before or toast up my own pre-made pizza. I make a point to never buy lunch at work. It's not really feasible where I work and we have a microwave, a toaster oven, and a hot plate. I even leave a small pot and my own cleaning sponge at the office. Personally, there really isn't any good reason I'd need to leave work and buy lunch unless it's a special occasion, which is probably once or twice a year. If I'm every desperate for food, which happens sometimes when I can't get to the grocery store I can easily make instant noodles or heat up a canned of something. Even without doing groceries we always have a of various canned food, dry pasta and sauces, and even frozen food.

It's never too late to start a budget, lay out a financial plan and start saving. This article comes at a perfect time as a day ago our kitchen sink trap rotted through. Attempting to replace it ourselves we discover the damage is bigger than we thought and might have to replace more of the piping. I'm not worried, I'm happy to say I'm not losing sleep over it as the old Julie would have. We have a home maintenance fund and it'll easily take care of the cost of a plumber. I'm not particularly happy about spending the money but I know it's the cost of living and has to be done. Impossible to avoid stuff breaking down and having to be repaired or replaced, but at least we are ready for it.

Stay Warm!

Eros and Pookie

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Finished Crafts This Week

Hi Everyone, 

This week I finally finished my baby projects and are all ready to go for three pregnant friends. Crazy timing huh? What are the odds of all three due in the same month? I'm also trying something new and typing this blog on my phone instead of my computer. It's pretty strange! The draft saved on my blogger app is no where to be found when I log in on my computer. First world problems! Haha

The Projects
I made my usual baby bibs but spruced them up a bit by using some pleather. I was terrified about using such a non-forgiving material but it was much easier than I thought. Once you poke a hole in pleather, it's pretty much there permanently. Scary thought!

I was so happy to have found pleather from a clearance sale hosted by a designer closing up shop in my neighbourhood. It was $2 for a roll of scraps, which perfectly fits for one Bapron. 

Here is the other scrap piece of pleather I used to make one standard sized bib. It just makes my bibs look so fancy and as if you bought them from a store, and I'm just in love with it. 

I also worked on a special request for a baby carrier arm handle cushion. I Pinterest and googled around for ideas and patterns to no such luck. I also wasn't willing to pay for a pattern that was so easy and pretty much wasn't tested on a large scale. So, I made up my own, which I think was a pretty simple and practical design. I must say however stressful it can be, I love figuring out how to design and make things up on the spot that works for me. I love problem solving! 

Arm cushion without the foam

This is meant to be wrapped around the baby carrier handle and held together with velcro. Once on, there is an opening that allows you to still grab the handle if needed when locking and unlocking the carrier into a car seat or stroller. The opening pretty much gives you a study grip on the baby carrier when you need it without taking off the cushion. 

The cushion is two inches of high grade sponge and springs right back into shape. Is high grade sponge even what it's called? I don't know but it's dense and feels to be made of really good quality. I made sure to buy sponge that was thick enough that you felt comfortable but not too thick that it was bulky. I guess only time will tell when the mom's give me feedback of how well it worked out. 

I also had a request after I posted my numbered flash cards for alphabet ones. So, here it is! It's time consuming to get all the letters and cards traced and cut out but it's pretty cool. This is great when you are teaching kids to spell simple words that doesn't incorporate double letters. I made two sets hoping it's would be a time saver but now I have so many extra cards and am going to make a third and possibly fourth set. 

Colour coordinating the letters and cards all while ensuring to not repeat colours. It was actually much harder than I thought it would be. 

Finished product! 

Eros And Pookie