It feels funny to be writing this at 34 years of age. Long ago, I thought that by 34 I would have my life “together.” Our family would be financially stable, with money to spend on small luxuries, vacations and home improvement.
But here we are, still struggling. Not near the poverty line, but certainly not able to afford the luxuries we dreamed of. Like many 30-somethings, we’re working on paying off a student loan. We’re WAY ahead than we used to be, but not quite there yet. Luckily, we’ve managed to stay consumer debt-free (phew!)
I had heard of the TV show “Til Debt Do Us Part,” but recently discovered the comprehensive blog and website run by the show’s host, Gail Vaz-Oxlade. I decided our family would try the “cash budget” – when you use cash to pay for variable expenses (all of our fixed expenses still get paid online or by credit card).
We use envelopes, as I find the jar method takes up a lot of space on the counter We have separate envelopes for our allocated weekly budget (the numbers are spit out by the program, based on your income and fixed expenses). If we run out of cash, we just don’t spend anymore. However, we’ve been cheating occasionally by borrowing money from “entertainment” if our “transportation” envelope is empty. That just forces me to go back and re-evaluate the budget, as it needs constant tweaking. You will often overestimate certain expenses, and underestimate others.
We’re almost 6 weeks in, and this budget has been a game changer. We’re much more careful in our spending, and I no longer make last-minute grocery shops on the way home from work (when I’m hungry, and more apt to throw expensive/yummy food in my cart). We try to drive less to cut down on gas costs, and we’re finding innovative ways to purchase the things we need. Later this week, I’ll share all of our tips for living on a tight budget.
Go check out the website and the budget, and tell me - have you put the credit cards away? Do you live on cash?
July 20th was National Ice Cream day, and the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum celebrated appropriately with the Ice Cream Festival!
We arrived early, and thank goodness, because the parking lot was jammed by the time we left at 11:30 am. As museum members, we got to bypass the HUGE lineup, and headed inside to see the cows and horses. My daughters were worried about all the noise the animals were making, so we made our way over to a demonstration of ice cream making with an old manual ice cream maker. Nearby the girls could play with hoola hoops and make giant bubbles.
Of course, the highlight of the day was free ice cream, which the girls gobbled up (and I do have to comment that normally our family tries to avoid Nestle products for these reasons, but I made an exception in the interest of toddler meltdowns). There were also ice cream sandwiches being made in the kitchen, and the girls enjoyed watching the bees working away in the beehive.
A visit to the Canadian Agriculture museum never disappoints, and you definitely want to add this event to you calendar for next summer!