Saturday, February 28, 2015
Tidbits -The Financial Edition
1. We had the highest electricity bill (BC Hydro) of the year. We only have one government owned option for electricity so have to swallow the rates they give us which went up this year. They bill us every other month and the bill was $381 for two months useage. Yikes. I knew it was going to be high as check our usage regularly online, something that in this electronic age is pretty cool. That included the month of January when we had three adults living here fulltime so I expect the next bill to be lower. We heat by electric heat pump except for the living room fireplace which is natural gas. Natural gas also heats our hot water tank which is a relief as natural gas prices have decreased slightly.
2. The puppy expenses were high for February as included a very large bag of puppy food, some toys (hubby is the culprit on expensive toy category) and vet bills which I also prepaid the last round of March shots. I expect those to be much lower for the rest of the year excluding when he gets "fixed" in the summer. He got his first free of charge grooming yesterday. His previous human mom (a professional dog groomer) threw in a year of free grooming which is a great deal and one we will be taking her up on although we have to drive an hour away to get it - still much cheaper than paying for local grooming. Plus, we had him clipped shorter as it is getting warmer outside and hopefully we can stretch his grooming visits that way. I did tip her so there is a tiny bit of money involved there but she is so nice and did such a great job. He was extremely happy to see her and also got to play with his dog parents as they are her pets - he had a blast and slept all the way home exhausted.
3. We paid our first installment of money to Stepdaughter. She is now settled back in Alberta and "mostly" attending school which is good news. She does not check in with us as frequently as we asked and has not gotten a job - but that is her business as when her savings run out our monthly stipend will only barely cover her room and board and pay as you go phone. We are not bailing her out. Poverty may give her the push she needs to actually work for a living. It sounds harsh but she had two perfectly good parental homes that she thought the rules were too tough (they weren't, just ask my other three stepkids). That money is voluntary on our part and ends when she is 18 or when she completes highschool. If she drops out she is on her own. We are hoping she does finish high school but you never know with kids who think they know everything and choose to move out when they are 17 and a half. We continue to pay her healthcare bill as she is a minor attending school we can do so cheaply and it is almost impossible for her to get that on her own until she is 18. Alberta has free healthcare so we can remove her from BC healthcare at that time and she can get good free healthcare easily (they pay for it hidden in their taxes instead of paying for it upfront like we do in BC).
4. We bought kayaks and paid cash - nice to know our entertainment bill for the summer is paid upfront. Except there is now talk of camping. We actually rid ourselves of all our camping stuff when we left Alberta - it would not fit on the truck and we only did it about once a year it just didn't make sense. We shall see - hopefully we can find some good used items at garage sales, most importantly being a tent. I can't wait for garage sale season to start, there are some early ones here in April and the main season is May and early June.
5. Groceries - a decent month. The budget was $550 for two for all food/over the counter medicines/cleaning and nonfood supplies. I ended up at $507.48. I used to keep track of groceries in a little book, now I do it with an excel spreadsheet. So much easier except the time it took to initially set it up. I save the receipts and just add them in each week. I thought we were going to end up much lower but then we ended up paying $70 for over the counter meds earlier this week. Oh well, we self insure medically and anything to keep us away from even higher costing prescriptions is worth it. Based on all our preexisting conditions (none of which will kill us I might add so I tend not to complain too much about them) we don't qualify for a decent drug plan that doesn't have umpteen exclusions so it is cheaper this way. I managed to clean out the freezer so know exactly what is in there and used up some old things in the pantry. A major stockup is due in March so I expect to use our full $550 allotment this month. I used $10 in coupons. For those who don't like coupons - keep in mind that if a $10 bill was blown across your path you would likely bend down and pick it up. I use them only on products we use and need. That $10 amounted to using only four high valued coupons on contact lens solution, icecream (Chapmans which we don't need but is our favorite) and over the counter medication. We get free papers that sometimes have coupons in them plus Mom collects them for me as well. I am not a coupon queen and I doubt we have too many of those in Canada as they won't double them here and it is not nearly as easy to use them here as in the USA but I will take what I can get. I look at it as $10 I can spend somewhere else - like travel which I am addicted to.
6. Some categories we are doing really well in. I spent zero on clothing and accessories for January and February. Hubby spent a little on some shorts and tshirts at Costco and ended the month by finding an amazing $19.99 deal on Rockport waterproof shoes which are his favorite brand for someone with bad feet - found at the local Value Village. These retail new for $120. My, how his life has changed - before me he wouldn't be caught dead in a thrift store. Now he goes in on his own without me! I washed and he ironed(*my most hated job and one I refuse to do) all his dress shirts with unknown savings there but I love having zero dry cleaning bills. He is scheduled for a week away in late March and will need his suits drycleaned when he returns - nothing we can do about that though as we cannot clean those ourselves and he has a lot of money invested in them. Fortunately he wears them less and less so we can stretch their value over a few years. In his previous corporate life he used to wear a suit every day - now his favorite suit is cargo shorts and a tshirt. We do a lot of telephone/video conferencing so often he wears a dress shirt for that for the part people can see and will wear shorts on the bottom. The second it is over he changes back into a tshirt thus we do laundry less. I need some underwear and only buy that new versus the rest of my wardrobe which comes from the thrift store so I expect costs to be a little higher in March due to that.
How was your financial month? Did you manage to live within your means?