Sunday, 31 March 2013

FP – Not Buying

It is extremely hard to calculate how much money you save by not buying something.  That is probably why it is so often that we don’t notice it’s effect on our wallets.  It is so much easier to remember that you saved $5 on a $50 dollar sweater that was 10% off than to remember that you saved $50 by no buying it in the first place. 
Of course you can also go wild calculating how many things you could have bought and didn’t.  Kudos to me for not buying that book shelf I wanted or that car I was considering.  I’m sure you could find a hundred thousand dollars worth of stuff that you want that you haven’t bought.  I sure can. 
Often financial advisors tell us not to buy stuff, but the action of not buying is inherently abstract.  So I’ve come up with a small exercise to make the idea more concrete.  When I’m at home I will really look at the things that I own, and then making a list of all the things that I won’t replace when they wear out.  These are things that either I won’t miss since I rarely use or perform a function that could be done by something else.  While I could sell some of these things they have very low resale value and quite honestly aren’t worth the effort it would take to sell them. 
They are:

-My kettle – It was a need-to-have in my university dorm, but I rarely use it now and I can just as easily heat water in a pan. 
-My nick-nacks – Read my musing here.  
-About half of my kitchen utensils – I have a good number of duplicates.  I only really need one set of measuring cups, one ladle, one lifter . . .
-My microwave – I’m still musing about this one since it is pretty new still, but I’m thinking most things that I put in it can be done in the microwave oven or on the stovetop. 
-Desks – I own three, I really only need one. 

I’m sure as I continue to go along this list will keep growing.  Paying attention to what I don’t use often, or that can be replaced by another object I own prevents me from running out to replace something when it starts to wear out.  Try it.  The excess of stuff that you’ve got in your life might just surprise you.  

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Goal Review End March

It’s Goal Time!  (For the hockey fans out there I’m sorry to disappoint you.  I’m not talking about that kind of goal.) 


- Set up RRSP investments with my return of value pension from the military and contribute $359 a month for the year, along with any tax refunds. CHECK [Savings are happening as planned.  The return of value is coming in about three weeks since they now have my paperwork.  However they have to snail mail it to another province that will actually cut the paper check and then snail mails that to my bank.  At which point I get my money.  Though my tax refund has been repurposed for another reason, but that’s a post by itself.] 

- Pay off house in 5 years.  I should be able to accomplish this by doubling up every payment and paying a 10% lump sum every year.  CHECK [Made my double up for the month.  Also managed to pay my first 10% lump sum, which was very exciting.  I am continuing to explore alternate income sources to make up the shortfall.]


-Start Masters of Science / Masters of Science in Nursing in the fall.  KIND OF [Ok, I’ve just been sitting pretty waiting for the acceptance letter.  But it should come any day now and I’m going to start speaking to supervisors in April, which I’ve been avoiding.]


-Join two new clubs in the local area.  CHECK [I’ve paid been to the quilting club group twice a month and have just started going to a local writing group which has been a lot of fun.  I’ll probably drop the newcomers in favour of the writers.] 


-Have my novel accepted to be published.  I plan to have it ready by the end of the month (January), so I can start sending it out. CHECK [I went to a writing seminar in March and have been working on the changes they suggested.  I plan to start sending out queries this month.]

-Become a respite foster parent. CHECK [I’ve submitted my application and spoke with a worker.  I will likely be loaded on the May course.  I’ve found a family doctor so it shouldn’t be too hard to get the medical forms filled out.]

-Take a big backpacking trip solo. CHECK [Saving is going as planned and I haven’t touched my vacation days yet.] 

-Finish my current crafting projects.  CHECK [I’ve been breezing through the gift I’m making, it will be done in time and my quilt has seen some progress as well.] 

Seven goals have seen good progress and one has been on the back burner so I’ll give my self 7.5 out of 8 or 93.8%.  Not bad.  Big things to concentrate on in April are 1. Get my investing done once my return of value arrives 2. Send out query letters 3. Keep up the good progress on my embroidery. 

Friday, 29 March 2013

Gotta Love no Waste

I am very pleased to announce to all of my lovely readers that this week has been a no waste week.  I’ll give you all a moment while you stand up and cheer with me. 

            Done now?  Great!  While I am extremely pleased that nothing made it to my compost there is an unfortunately large amount of food in my fridge (see the third shelf of my fridge).  Most of this food comes in the form of leftovers (though there is one partially prepped meal that never made it to the oven.)  The problem with this is that most of my leftovers generally get eaten as lunches over the weekend, and not only do I have more leftovers than usual I am also away for the weekend meaning that nothing is going to get eaten until Monday. 
            So the next week’s challenge will be to get though:
-       A container of refried beans
-       A large container of Spaghetti
-       The makings of four servings of stuffed peppers
-       Two eggs
-       A large bag of spinach
-       That misc container that is probably at the back that I’ve forgotten about

Anybody with teenage boys want to send them to my place next week?  

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Paying Taxes

            Before I was born people paid taxes.  As a result, when I was born the doctors didn’t care about the state of my mother's finances.  They only worried about keeping us alive.  As I grew up I attended school.  Learning math, science, art and two languages cost my parents no more than their property taxes and some minor school supplies.  When I joined the military I began paying taxes myself, yet the money I paid taxes on first came from the other taxpayers in my country.  Now I research human movement with the tax dollars that come from all over my country (and some from other countries too.)  
            Because of taxes I never needed to worry about my health, there are hospitals and their staff to care for me.  I never had to worry about my safety because the police, prison officers, and military are paid with our taxes.  I’ve always had the choice to vote because my tax dollars fund a democratic society. 
            Yes my government sometimes does stupid things with the money I give them.  I make a fuss from time to time about how we are paying way too much for projects or politicians; and yes, I do take advantage of all the tax savings and rebates I can.  At the end of the day though, I’ll pay my taxes with a smile because I know that I have benefited far more from the taxes of others then I will ever pay in my lifetime. 
            Even if I do end up paying more in taxes then I use (I suppose that’s possible) then nothing could express my sentiment better than the answer of a Canadian when asked by an American interviewer.  “Why should someone else have to pay for your surgery?”  The answer being “Because I would help pay for his if the situation were reversed.  That's just how we do it here.”  Paying my taxes is not a chore, it is a  civic duty, and so is keeping an eye on the people who spend it.  

PS. The government just returned the $415.32 that I over paid in taxes.  Can you say shopping spree?  (Ok, you got me.  It's going against the mortgage.)  

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Monthly Spending Recap

            A lot of the blogs I read, especially the ones focused on debt repayment, post weekly spending summaries.  I toyed with the idea of doing this for a bit and ultimately decided against it.  (Hence why you have yet to read a post on what I spent in the last week.)  The major reason behind this decision is quite simple.  I like all of you lovely readers and would hate to lose you to boredom.  Aren’t convinced my weekly spending is boring?  Here’s my spending for all of March: 

01 March – Health Insurance – $23.52
01 March – Bus Pass - $68.25
02 March – Food - $45.36
05 March – Writing Seminar - $44.00
05 March – Interact Fee – $1.00
06 March – Stamps - $0.63
08 March – Mortgage Payment - $1,422.56
09 March – Food - $20.94
12 March – Present for my sister - $11.27
16 March – Food – $17.65
23 March – Food - $31.71
23 March – Utilities - $347.80
23 March – Internet - $49.66
23 March – Cell - $28.25

I spent a total of $2,112.60 in March.  Of that $2,006.67 or 95% was on needs and $105.93 or 5% was on wants.  Six of the fourteen payments are regular bills that are either the same every month, or fluctuate predictably (utilities, based on heating requirements.) 

So now you know what you’re not missing each week.  I pay my monthly bills, I buy food on Saturdays and once every four months or so I splurge on a really fun big event. 

PS.  The only reason I paid the bank fee (read why I hate bank fees here) was because it was cheaper to pre-pay the seminar instead of paying at the door ($44 vs. $48) and the other prepayment option was mailing a check which would have cost me about a dollar worth of envelops, stamps and cheques.  

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


            While I spoke yesterday of how great it can be to give your time when you cannot give money there is always need for charitable donations of monetary value.  There is a million worthy causes under the sun and how you spend your charity money should always be in line with your own values. 
            I would however, like to draw your attention to the organization that I have been supporting for number of years.  Kiva is a web-based charity that links entrepreneurs from around the world with people who are willing to help fund their small business.  In the traditional charitable format is that of giving a family a goat so that they can make and sell cheese.  Through Kiva you lend the family the money, which they use to buy a goat.  With the money they make selling cheese they pay you back. 
            Once your loan is fully reimbursed you can either withdraw the sum or you can either withdraw the sum or you can loan it again and help another family.  Loans can be as little as $25 and are administered on the ground by microfinance institutions, which are vetted by the Kiva team.  One of the big questions is how do I know that my money will come back?  Overall Kiva’s repayment rate currently sits at about 99%.  Personally I’ve lent over $20,000 dollars (which is possible because I lend out the money again once it comes back) and to date have only lost $75 (or a repayment rate of almost 99.6%).  In my mind I would rather chance losing $25 on a loan which I will be able to relend then give away $25.
The entire idea behind microfinance fascinates me.  Instead of giving people a hand out you are giving them a hand up.  The people taking the loans are accountable for what they do with the money lent and use it to build a business, which will improve their standard of living over the long term. 
The one draw back I can see associated with loans is that it is not considered a taxable donation, since you get your money back.  However, donations that are made directly to Kiva in order to support their infrastructure are eligible for tax receipts.  I invite you to take a look at what Kiva has to offer the world, and be a worthwhile venture.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Other ways to give back

Giving back was always a part of my finances as a kid.  The rule was 10% of everything that we earned went to charity.  You could save it up as long as you wanted and could give it to any cause you wanted.  But the reality was that that 10% didn’t belong to you.  It belonged to the rest of the world; you were just managing it. 

            I carried this habit over when I started working full time for the military.  As soon as my pay hit my account 10% was put aside.  Which is why when I was faced with losing my job one of the things that I struggled with most was giving up my charity money.  I knew that I had one maybe two years left with the military and then I would be on my own with dismal job prospects.  I might even need to pay for another degree.  My head told me that it made sense to hoard as much money I could put aside to help me weather the oncoming storm. 

            At the same time my heart told me that however bad my financial prospects might get I am much better off than most of the people on this planet.  That in cutting off my giving I was shirking in my duty to the rest of the world. 

            Eventually my head won out and I discontinued my charitable giving.  I felt awful and started looking for a way to continue making a difference.  I had no money to give so I started giving away my time.  I volunteered for a local community house and tutoring a couple girls in foster care.  It was one of the best things I have ever done.  Though the impact that my actions may have made were more localized they were no less important.  I didn’t know until about six months later, but my bi-weekly visits to tutor one of my students was a turning point not only in her academics but for her socially as well. 

            Showing up regularly and taking an interest in her life made a difference that could not be made with money.  It showed her that someone cared and that someone was willing to be there even on the tough days.  Though it may sound like I worked this miraculous change on the girl I tutored, the reality is she also changed me. 

            She is one of the strongest people whom I have ever met.  She taught me a lot about endurance and humor.  Watching her persevere in the hard times made it easier to face my own.  Nothing has given me greater joy then to watch her catch on to a topic that had been eluding her, or get caught up after years of not going to school regularly.  Working with her gave me so much more than mailing a check to a charity half way around the world. 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

FP – Cranberry Juice

            I’m a bit finicky when it comes to what I drink, which has caused some problems for me in the past.  So recently I started looking at my own ways to make a tasty drink, that is both healthy and doesn’t force my to spend a fortune in the stores. 

            Recently I have been making home made cranberry juice as it is my all time favorite juice.  The process is quite simple.  Throw a cup of fresh or frozen cranberries into some water (I start with 1 L).  Boil it until the berries have all broken open and flattened and then add a 15 ml of lemon juice and 30 ml of honey.  You need the lemon to get rid of the bitterness and you should honey to taste, 30 ml is my preferred amount. 
Once all the ingredients have combined you have some options.  First you need to choose the strength of your juice.  The 1L I start with boils down to half a liter of very concentrated juice.  I mix the concentrated juice with a liter of cold water to bring it to my preferred concentration but you can use less or more depending on taste.  You can also choose to leave the pulp in.  (Like I do because I like to chew my juice.)  Or you can take it out and save it for the next time you make cranberry sauce or do some baking.  Here’s the price breakdown. 

600g (6 cups) Cranberries for $3.88 or 1 cup for $0.65
946ml Lemon Juice for $1.99 or 15 ml for $0.03
375ml Honey for $4.57 or 30 ml for $0.37
2L Water FREE

Total cost for 1.5L is $1.05 ($0.70/L)

The cost for Cranberry Juice in stores is $2.99 for 1.89L ($1.58/L)

Amount saved = $0.88 or 56% off

Since 1.5L will last me a week and I make this every other week it should save me $24.64 a year.  Not to mention that I don’t have to wonder what someone else has put in my drink in terms of preservatives and artificial sweetening.  No plastic jug needing to be recycled either!  

Friday, 22 March 2013

Solution . . . Hummus Popsicles

As you may have guessed from the rather witty title above my food waste woes for this week was the tail end of a container of home made hummus.  It doesn’t look bad in the picture but I can tell you it’s gone quite bitter.  On the bright side I had a quick save this week in the vegetable department.  One green pepper, half a cucumber and two tomatoes were (mostly) salvaged and made a delicious Greek salad two nights ago. 
It’s been several months since I’ve wasted hummus but it is a reoccurring problem.  I am a terrible estimator of how much hummus I’m going to eat before it goes.  I’ve gotten better and am making less to begin with, however the problem with the home made stuff is that you need to make a certain amount or the food processor won’t be able to turn it into a proper paste. 
The solution I believe will be not only simple (which is good) but pretty nifty.  Hummus freezes quite well as I have done this in the past.  So my plan for the next batch of hummus is to freeze it in serving size portions.  Since most of my hummus is eaten at work as part of my mid-afternoon snack a serving’s worth it quite simple to dish out.  If all goes well I’ll make a huge batch of hummus and freeze in individual balls (if I had an ice cube tray I’d use that) and store them in the freezer.  Every Sunday, when I fix my snacks for the week, I’ll pull out five to thaw and take one a day for lunch.  In the process I will hopefully insure that I never, ever waste another mouthful of tasty and healthy homemade hummus = ).  

Thursday, 21 March 2013

A Great Leap Forward

I've updated the line on my wall!
            As mentioned yesterday I made a huge dent this week in my mortgage jumping from 22.5% owned to 30.4% owned.  This is courtesy of the fact that my bank allows me to pay up to 10% of my mortgage amount once every 12-month period.  As a result my mortgage dropped from $148,044.79 to $132,844.79.  Which is 3 and a half years gone from my mortgage.  (Only 255 months left if I stick to the regular repayment schedule, like that’s going to happen!) 
            I love the option that my mortgage has.  In fact I would council anyone who is shopping for a mortgage, especially if it’s a closed one, to look for extra pay off features.  It was a huge selling point for me when I was looking for a mortgage and I ended up going with the bank that offered three separate pay off options that I use. 
1.     I am allowed once every 12 months to pay a lump sum, up to 10% of my initial mortgage, directly against the principle. 
2.     Once a year I am allowed to increase how much I pay monthly by 10%.  So I went from an initial mortgage payment of $646.62 to $711.28 every month.  Next November I can increase it by another 10% to $782.41 a month. 
3.     I can double up my payments every month.  So at the moment every month I am paying $1,422.56 ($711.28*2), the second half of the payment goes entirely towards principle. 
The other feature offered at my bank, which I do not use, is an accelerated payment schedule, allowing you to make mortgage payments weekly, or bi-weekly, which results in a couple more payments a year than if you pay monthly.  I have stuck with monthly payments since I am paid monthly and it makes the record keeping a lot easier.  Add to that the fact that I am making loads of extra payments so I can afford to go monthly. 
Going with a bank that offers all, or a number of these options will allow you to pay off your mortgage a good deal faster, and result in a lot less interest.  That said I would not recommend that you put money towards your mortgage that you may need later.  I do have access to part of the equity in my home; at the moment my line of credit that is secured by my house has $19,955.21 available.  However, the interest rate on any money that I borrow from this line of credit is higher than the interest on my mortgage.  There is no point paying off a debt that costs you 3.09% only to borrow that money at prime plus 0.5 (currently 3.5%).  You will be paying more in interest and will be vulnerable to changes in the interest rate.  Before I make an extra payment against my mortgage I make sure that I have a solid emergency fund, that I have enough set aside to cover my expenses for a month, and that I have saved something for my retirement.  

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


I’m not sure if current events constitute a windfall precisely.  According to my dictionary a windfall is an unexpected good fortune, typically one that involves money.  The payment that I received was not entirely unexpected.  I’ve known it was coming for at least a year, and though I had $44,788.20 deposited on into my account Friday I’m not sure I’m I’d count myself lucky.  I didn’t win the lottery if you’re wondering that payment was the I’m-so-sorry-we-broke-your-knee-have-some-cash-to-help-deal-with-the-fact-you’ll-be-in-chronic-pain-for-the-rest-of-your-life money.  To be entirely honest I’d rather have a working knee back again, unfortunately that’s not an option. 
The big question now is what to do with this rather large influx of cash.  When my office mate found out that I’d received my payment (she’s gotten to hear many, many frustrated calls to sort the issue out so she knew it was coming, though not how much) her first reaction was “that’s great you could go shopping!”  To which I replied “or I could pay off part of my mortgage.”  Her second reaction was “you could take a trip!”  To which I replied “or I could pay off part of my mortgage.”  Guess what I did with some of the money? 

So my “windfall” is at the moment broken out like this:
-$20,000 set aside to pay for my Master’s degree
-$8,800 moved to my “pay off the mortgage” account, and $15,200 used to make my yearly 10% payment right away (which is why my lovely side bar jumped from 22.5% of house owned to 30.4%)
-$788.20 set aside to have fun with. 

You’ll notice that only 1.8% of the money I received will be going towards fun stuff.  While I briefly considered putting a large portion of my money in investments for retirement I decided not to for a couple of reasons.  Foremost is that my retirement fund will be well plumped up as soon as I see my return of value from the military.  Besides that, I am using most of this money for investing, just in a less traditional sense. 
Funding my Master’s degree will provide me much more job security, and allow me to progress in my career.  Without it I would either be stuck at an entry-level position or I would have to change career paths, which would be difficult.  Paying off my mortgage faster means I will pay significantly less interest on my mortgage and free up a good deal of my take home pay a lot sooner.  Add to that I am just a little bit closer to having a home that cannot be taken away from me. 
As for the fun money I haven’t decided exactly where it is going yet.  While I did consider throwing it against my mortgage I though I owed myself a little break.  That said there is a good chance that the fun things I decide to do with my money will also be of long-term benefit.  Perhaps it’ll pay for language classes that will open more opportunities, or a canner so that I can eat my own food all year long, or maybe I’ll buy some crafting materials for projects I can eventually sell. 
Either way I know that the way I’ve divided up my money is precisely right for me.  

Monday, 18 March 2013

Getting to know your food

             Do you know what you ate today?  More specifically do you know what went into it?  If it came from a fast food place or out of a box from your freezer I’ll bet the answer is no.  I’m not a foodie in the traditional sense, I’m not interested in spending hours in the kitchen in search of that perfect sauce and I don’t particularly care what wine goes with which meat.  I am more then happy with a handful of simple but well cooked meals on my weekly menu. 
            That said I have been pushing myself more and more over the past couple years to cook from scratch.  There are a number of reasons for this. 
            It’s (mostly) healthier for you.  You get rid of preservatives and artificial coulours.  It doesn’t have to survive for a couple weeks on the shelf before it makes it to your kitchen to be eaten a week latter.  Plus you know that there hasn’t been any extra sugar or salt added to make it “taste better.”  True you can make triple fudge brownies from scratch that aren’t particularly healthy.  But the point is it is entirely under your control. 
            It’s cheaper.  You’re not paying for things to be individually wrapped.  You’re not paying for some one else to do the cooking or processing.  More often then not you can buy your ingredients in bulk and save again. 
            You’ll learn to appreciate what is going into your body.  When you can name every ingredient in every dish that you’ve eaten that day you’ll appreciate the work that went into making it and will be less inclined to waste it.  In a world where people starve to death every day our corner of the world has come to view food as a luxury that can be wasted. 
            So I invite you to take one day this week and make a meal from scratch.  Sure it’ll take a bit longer but as you cook, and perhaps nibble along the way, you’ll get to know your food.  When you sit down to eat it, there will be much more satisfaction then if you had just heated something in the microwave and it’ll taste much better then what’s been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long.  

Sunday, 17 March 2013

FP – Crackers

             I’ve had some goat’s cheese hanging around my fridge since the last time I made lasagna and had been wondering what to do with it before it went off.  Some ended up on salads but I really enjoy eating it with crackers and thai hot sauce (may sound strange but trust me, it’s to die for!)  Problem is I really didn’t want to have to go out and buy crackers (way too expensive for a box that is really only half full) so I started wondering how hard they would be to make. 
            Turns out they’re pretty easy.  After surfing recipe site for a while I found a good recipe on Mother Nature Network.  So simple to do it took me all of 5 min to put together, and the crackers themselves are quite tasty.  That said who eats crackers plain?  The whole point of a cracker is to eat the stuff on top of it without getting your hands dirty. 
            I did make a couple of alterations to the recipe.  For my first batch the dough was quite crumbly and the crackers disintegrated when I tried to take them out of the pan.  So I added more water to the second until all the dough stuck together in a ball.  Second the thinner they are the better they bake.  I would recommend a rolling pin. 
The crackers that broke made their way into
my soup.  Yumm!

            So I decide to price out the cost of my homemade cracker. 

2 cups (280 grams) whole wheat flour – $0.15 per 100 g = $0.42 for 280 g
1 teaspoon (5 ml) of salt – $0.01 (Ok, I rounded up for simplicity’s sake.) 
2/3 cup (166 ml) of warm water – FREE (Yes I pay for my water with utilities, but no not even for you am I going to try and figure out how much 166 ml of water costs)
1/3 cup (83 ml) olive oil – $0.50 per 100 ml = $0.41 for 83 ml

Total = $0.84 (for about the same amount as a store bought box)
Cost for bought crackers = $2.67

Amount saved = $1.83 or 69% off

            With a little more salt the crackers would also make pretty good nacho chips.  Over all I pretty sure that this recipe will trim almost $33 a year off my grocery spending.  That’s almost a weeks worth of groceries.  Add to that the fact that these crackers have no food colouring or preservatives and that there was no packaging that needed to be thrown out.  I’d say this recipe is definitely a keeper! 
            Now I just need to find a cheap yet tasty topping for my crackers.  Suggestions any one?  

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Book Review: Tumbleweed DIY Book of Backyard Sheds & Tiny Houses

Given my fascination with tiny houses it is only natural that I review a book by Jay Shafer, creator of Tumbleweed Tiny Homes, called Tumbleweed DIY Book of Backyard Sheds & Tiny Houses.  Let’s just say that I wasn’t disappointed. 
To start off with the pictures in this book are absolutely stunning.  Yes, this is helping him to sell more houses, but to someone who thinks that smaller housing is a small yet significant step in helping with our multitude of ecological problems, I say sell away.  Yes, these houses are roughly the size of some people’s garages (or smaller) yet the pictures make them seem cozy and home like instead of squashed or cramped.  Add to that the fact that the exterior looks nothing like a shed and you have the complete and very appealing package. 
The second half of the book provides instructions on how a layman can build their own tiny house.  It covers the entire outer structure, from foundation to walls to roof.  All the steps are laid out clearly and with an ample supply of pictures to help with comprehension.  The book provides a general overview of the different types of materials that can be used and in some places instructions on how to calculate the amount of materials required.  That said the book does not provide information on interior finishes, or plumbing and electrical work.  While understandably the last two should be completed by a qualified tradesman it would have been nice to know what one should look for in terms of types of materials being used and suggested setups. 
I would recommend this book to any one who wants to know more about building houses or sheds.  The instructions provided by this book make building small structures accessible to those with little prior knowledge.  For the small house enthusiast it provides an enjoyable read and a multitude of beautiful pictures to kindle the ambition of being a small house owner.  

Friday, 15 March 2013

March Mid Month Check-Up

Here comes the mid-month review.  You may have noticed the slight increase in my Emergency fund.  (Actually it jumped from 21.1% to 83.3%.)  That would be the happy result of my moving claim being finalized.  At this rate my fund should be fully funded by July freeing up some money in my monthly budget = )

Mortgage - Successfully doubled-up
Retirement/Emergency Savings - On Track/See above
House Maintenance - Savings are up to $706.49. I'm feeling good about this area and have no plans for spending it at the moment. 
Housing Taxes/Insurance – Taxes savings are at $238.63 with the bill (about $1,200 due by the end of June.  I’ll need to move some of the excess “life” money to this account.  Insurance is on Track
Big Ticket Items - $129.82 in savings, those unanticipated big expenses keep rolling in. 
Travel - On Track
Health Insurance - Spent
Bus Pass - Spent
Cell Phone/Internet - Bills have not yet arrived.  As long as I don’t go over my minutes this month (it’ll be close) I’ll have an extra $15 in this account. 
Car Savings - Going well, and I am so not in a rush to get a car. 
Train - $104 still there.  Might use half of this to go home over Easter.  That said my brother and his fiancĂ© might be coming by my place to get to my parents . . .
Other Transportation - $90.70 left, I’m not getting cab rides as much as I expected.  I’ll have to reduce the amount I budget for this.  
Utilities - Bill has not yet arrived, but I’ve got $476.20 tucked away.  Should be enough for 2 months now that it’s getting warmer. 
Food - $116.39 left.  Though there are 3 more Saturdays (shopping day) in this month. 
Miscellaneous - $0 left.  Little early in the month to have nothing there, but I do have some cash in my wallet to cover miscellaneous. 
Entertainment - $0 left.  I paid for my writing seminar.  Can’t wait!
Social/Sports - $5, funny how this account goes down when you pay your dues.  
Clothes - $30, hmmm, wonder how long I can avoid shopping for clothe (ewwwwwww!)
Gifts - $8.73 just bought my sister’s birthday gift.  
Financial Planning - $15 I have an appointment made and will begin monthly payments then. 

I’m in a comfy place.  Nothing to do for the moment but to keep on going.