2019 Spending re-cap

Well I'm a day early but our numbers shouldn't dramatically change by tomorrow so I'm just going to get this post off.

The first half of the year we didn't make nearly as much progress as I'd hoped as the job I was counting on fell through. Lesson learned, don't blindly trust people, it can backfire. Fortunately as I've mentioned previously, a really great opportunity came along and I've been loving it. Bonus is we can really make some headway on our savings goals.

I'm not going to go into detail on actual spending numbers, but more give a general overview of how this last year has gone and where we hope to go in 2020.

I'll save you pulling out the calculator, the percents shown add up to 94% as we've been replenishing our deferred spending accounts. Basically the accounts we use to fund our travel and car purchases.

It is an ongoing debate between my husband and I; I would like to save a little less for our next car, but I still want to pay cash. He wants to spend a bit more than I do so the compromise to this point has been to put $1000 a month into a car savings account. His argument is that we keep our cars for a long time and therefore we should buy a newer used one, generally around $25-30k. I would like to buy something around $8-10k like another corolla and just use it for commuting. Hopefully we still have a lot of time before we need to make a new purchase but we do need to be prepared as a small accident could push up that timeline. Fingers crossed it doesn't.

I think in 2020, when the car savings account gets to $10k I'm going to suggest we slow down and move that money into topping out our TFSA where we still have room. It is my goal to play catch up on filling up that room in the next year or two. We put it off to pay off our landscaping and basement finishing we did in 2017. I also want to get the kid's RESPs maxed out, but believe it's more important to fill all of our buckets are first.

We'll still need to keep adding to our travel accounts, but hope to do a bit more travel hacking. We did pretty well recently and got tickets for the five of us to Montreal for this summer for $1600 using our companion fares and accumulated WestJet Dollars. We've also already pre-paid for our car rental as it was a reasonable amount and prices were already rising when we booked in November. Don't forget to use Rakuten when using expedia.ca or many other online retailers to get cash back. (If you sign up using my link you'll get $5 bonus and I'll get a little bit as well. I've gotten $165 back since I started a couple years ago.)

Official savings rate hit 37% for this year which isn't bad considering I was on EI until June. Since September our savings rates has been between 40-60% so I think we should definitely be able to aim for 50% for at least the next 6 months. My contract is technically up in July but there is good potential for it to continue. I do believe it will, but at the same time will continue to protect ourselves by ensuring that we are able to save more than my whole salary so only our saving goals are impacted if I'm out of work.

I had made a goal of cutting back our food costs this last year and we did pretty good averaging out at $700 per month. I was hoping it would be less than that but I did give up a bit of control on that front and let PapaBird do a lot of the groceries over the last 4 months as I've been busier. Some of the increase is because a few more impulse items tend to make into the cart but mostly, I think I lost track of some of the non-food items that we tend to buy at costco so they may be inflating the spending a bit. I did get a good harvest from my garden, but because of failing with that tracking I didn't notice any decrease in our spending. Oh well, food is a big part of our life enjoyment so we never want to feel deprived in that department.

I just wish I hadn't wasted my entire beet harvest by forgetting it on the counter overnight after cooking it!

Our Enjoyment spending was a bit high as we spent $7000 buying a trailer with my brother's family. I'm still not sure that was a great move. We did enjoy our time out there and hopefully we'll enjoy it more this year. I'm hoping as baby bird get's older it'll get easier. It also felt like a lot of pressure to use it when sometimes we just wanted to be home for the weekend. I loved it each time we were actually out there, but getting ready to go out always felt like so much work. If we do decide it was a mistake it'll have been a good lesson that I don't really want to own a vacation property. At one time I thought I did, but I'd rather be able to use our vacation budget to explore new places. 

Family costs will continue to drop a bit this year as we only have 1 kid in full time care. It is so nice spending $700 less a month on childcare!

Best purchase of the year has been a combination of a new to me upgraded iPhone 7 with some bluetooth bone conducting headphones and a free trial of a music subscription service. I've been trying to get back into running and having good music for my runs is the motivator I needed. It is also nice not having my phone bug up all the time! Like my husband teases me, I've joined 2017!

Overall our spending was on target for our FIRE savings at this point, spending about $200 more per month than our current number. We're also pretty consistent compared to last year. We actually spent about $1200 less last year. Another year's spending will confirm it, but I definitely feel that we are living our best life for that amount. It does not feel that we are depriving ourselves in anyway and feels sustainable in the long run. That's what FIRE is all about, cutting out what is not important and focusing in on what you love and makes you happy without allowing in lifestyle creep.

Ok, I'll be honest I do feel our house is a bit of lifestyle creep, but that was one thing that was extremely important for PapaBird. Something worth working a couple extra years for. And we always have the option to downsize if we wanted to stop working sooner. It's just being conscious of all of the implications of your decisions. And I totally acknowledge that we live a life of extreme privilege and have higher salaries than I ever dreamed. Yes there really is an Alberta advantage. Our current take home is more than double what we made in Quebec and we made pretty decent salaries for that province. I do feel that this can't last forever, and will be prepared in case it doesn't.

Goals for 2020:


  • Continuing maxing out RRSPs
  • Catch up on TFSA. I'd like contribute 30-50% of our space
  • Maintain our current spending levels, ideally see if we can decrease it a little.
  • 50-60% savings rate.
  • Continue paying down the mortgage. We are now at our max payment option and as motivating as it would be to put some lump sum payments towards it, I am trying to let math win and get all our tax advantaged buckets filled up first. 


  • Continue running 3 x a week
  • Shave some time off my 5 km time. I'm currently running at a 7:00/km pace, taking 35 minutes for 5 km
  • Keep getting outside this winter. I joined a group to try to exercise 31 minutes all 31 days of December. I've missed a few days, but it really does feel fabulous to get outside and enjoy the (cold) sunshine! Fortunately this has been a warn month and rarely dipping below -10C. 
  • Sign up for a 10 km race this summer. I've done one after each child and haven't done the one for babybird yet and he'll be 3 this year!
  • Lose the 10 lbs I've gained since starting my job and not being able to bike commute anymore. I won't actually put too much emphasis on this one and hope it'll simply take care of it's self by increasing my exercise. 
  • Eat more vegan meals

Personal Projects

  • Don't buy any ready made clothes. I did have a couple slips buying some leggings recently as well as a winter coat after the zipper on my old one broke. Anything else I want to add to my wardrobe should come from my fabric stash! It's currently sitting at 132 m of fabric so I have more than enough options!
  • Finish some photobooks this year. I've gotten way behind and need to do our annual books for 2017, 2018 and now 2019. 
  • Try to blog a bit more. I'm not sure where this blog will go, but hopefully me jotting down my random thoughts helps someone else. If nothing else it's a good journal of what we've done and will keep me on track towards accomplishing the above goals. 
  • Work through clearing out the clutter. 
  • Create and deepen a sense of community here. We've been in Alberta for 3.5 years now. I want it to start to feel like home again. 

So this post has gotten long enough. I'll end it here and write another post later on how I did with last year's goals. Spoiler... a lot are repeated this year, not because I failed but because they are ongoing to find our best lives. Well some we could have done more towards, but that's life. I'm in a demanding stage of life with 3 young kids and working full time, so I've learnt to be gentle on myself and just keep trying to re-focus and move forward rather than dwell on past misses.


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