Monday, August 15, 2016

The Challenge of Savings

I'm getting my hands into our money again in a serious way. I'm tired of seeing month after month go by with no savings and a huge number of stupid expenditures. Stupid, but not unusual or extraordinary, as the unpredictable happens every month. 

I always focus my energy on our Big Bad Offenders, which means our top three or four costly items. 

Our mortgage tops the list at $1500 with an additional $363 in monthly home owners dues and then a bit more for home insurance. We plan on selling our condo this January for approximately $350,000 USD. While we could turn around and buy another now in the $350,000 range, we are both much more keen on getting a condo with a smaller mortgage. This would lower our monthly payments, create an emergency savings, and be a huge weight off my mind. It also seems like a real possibility, as are looking to move to the border of the city. 

So, fixed, known costs for now with possible improvements in the near future. In the past six months we have spent $10,401 on our home.

Our next biggest category is food. This is a category I've been biting at for months now with no improvement. Trying to get a handle on it hasn't worked, so I've gone back to basics: a full and comprehensive accounting of every food expenditure I make. Here's what I've come up with so far: 

The list on the right is what I eat in a month and the cost of each item. It allows for protein at every meal and the calories I need to keep from losing weight. It also takes into consideration my preference for organic, humane meat. 

I'm trying this list for the next 32 days to see how it affects our budget. At least my food will be fully accountable, and G has said he will try to do the same. We will see where we end up. I've spent the last two hours making burgers (16 beef, 32 turkey) and am about to cook chicken breasts (16 meals worth). In our food and dining budget we've thrown $7308 into our bellies in the last six months. 

Our next biggest category is gross but should shock no one seeing as we live in a country that thinks sick care is a privilege only the wealthy should be able to afford. We have about $900/ month in medical payments. No medical debt, but payments for services both of us require. And keep in mind that I reached my out of pocket maximum in January. 

Ugh. Disgusting. I really don't know what to do about that short of stopping necessary care to save money now and paying for it in declining health instead. In the last six months we have spent $3891 on human health. With our "great" "health" insurance and everything. 

After that our wee furry animals pick up a big chunk of our monthly expenses. In the last six months alone we have spent $3633 on them. 

Obviously our gremlins are worth every penny -- they're one area where spending aligns with my values -- but I'm taking at look at just how and why and when we take them to the vet. Aaaaand how many treats they really need. 

Finally, travel takes a chunk of our money, whether running home to Canada, hosting guests, or planning larger trips. In this area I feel we really do try our best to ensure we a) have a great time and b) spend only the money we need to accommodate our experience. That said, maybe we can do better here. Our upcoming trip to Anaheim will give us a good chance to try out this leg of our financial planning. 

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