I used to start my budget updates with a note about how our monthly budget doesn’t change much.
And for a long time, that was the truth! Then, in 2021, we had a kid and bought a house.
What can I say? We apparently thrive on chaos. As a result, like got a lot more expensive. Our budget had to change — so, too, did my method of sharing updates on this blog.
In January 2022, I debuted a new look for budget updates and I quite like how it came together so I’m keeping it! These updates will now focus more on the wins coming into the month, any noteworthy expectations and areas I want to focus on in the month ahead. I know I like reading about how people budget their money so hopefully this will be at least a little interesting.
With all that being said, here’s my February budget forecast.
When we rented, about 95 per cent of our expenses were fixed. The biggest expense was related to our housing, but our rent included everything: heat and lights, water, internet, laundry, snow removal…we just moved the $1K at the end of each month and called it good.
This changed when we bought our house in summer 2021. Now, our budget has more variety. Here’s a snapshot of what it looks like:
- Fixed: Mortgage, Internet , phones (Tara and Jeff), insurance (home and car), fees and subscriptions (bank, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Netflix and Huckleberry)
- Variable: Power, water (quarterly), groceries and gas, giving, personal spending
- Temporary: taxes (until end of mat leave), formula (until mid-March)
- Debt: Student loan
- Investments: RESP and RRSP (using Roundup feature from Wealthsimple)
- Savings and sinking funds: Emergency, household, new car, car maintenance, pets medical and food
Best budget move in January 2022
- Built and maintained a buffer for our power bill
Last month, I noted I expected our power bill would be huge in January. And…well, I was right.
While seeing the $528 total was a shock, it wasn’t shocking. It’s been very cold, we don’t have a lot of insulation in our attic (yet) and our house is baseboard heated. This was anticipated.
Still, I was very glad to have stashed away some extra money to cover it off. I’m even more grateful to be coming into February with buffer cash for the next bill.
While the big power bills suck, it is worth noting they won’t always be so high. Our bills in the summer and fall weren’t terrible and I suspect spring won’t be too bad, either. Unfortunately, winter here requires the use of heat and that’s what’s driving the cost. One of our big goals for 2022 is to do some work to make our house more efficient and hopefully bring down the power bills in the future.
Food spending in January 2022 – how did we do?
My focus area for January 2022 was to work on getting our food budget under control.
What went well: I am pleased to report I did meal plan every week in January…and for the most part, we stuck to it! When it comes to takeout, we only bought dinner on the nights we planned to (typically Friday) and ordered something for lunch once at the end of the month. Breakfast continues to be a strange area — some days, you just want a Tim Horton’s breakfast sandwich, you know?
What didn’t go well: I mean, while we got better with the meal planning and buying things we need to implement those plans, we still spent a lot of money. Way more than we wanted or planned. I’m not really sure how to solve this. We’re not buying luxury items here, just…basic groceries. Is it time to accept that groceries are just expensive?
Budget expectations for February 2022
- Another big power bill
I’m hoping it won’t be as big as the last one but honestly, it could be bigger.
We had a few VERY cold days in January. Like, cold enough that the power company sent out emails and booked ad space on the radio to encourage people to use less power during peak hours due to aforementioned cold snap. Have I mentioned I’m ready for winter to be over? I really, really am.
- Will we receive a tax refund? Or will we be paying taxes this year?
For the first time in my income-tax-filing life, I don’t know!
Usually, we receive a refund. And look, I know a refund shouldn’t be something you want because it’s an interest-free loan to the government, it’s money you should have had all along, etc.
But I’m still Team Big Refund Please. The lump sum in the spring has always served us well.
Since I was on maternity leave for a chunk of this year, things are kind of up in the air. We did some things that might balance it out (like, uh, buying a house) but it’s not uncommon to end up paying in when you’re on leave.
If we do manage to get a refund, there’s a good chance it will be used to pay our property tax. Is this adulting? This feels like adulting.
- The final full month with formula in our budget!
And you know what? I have mixed feelings about removing this from our budget.
From a purely budget perspective, I can’t wait. Regardless of what option you choose (powder, concentrate, or — if you’re like me — ready to feed), formula feeding is expensive compared to breastfeeding.
But while I’m looking forward to removing the formula line from our budget in March, it’s also a bittersweet reminder that our baby isn’t a baby anymore. And while deciding to move to formula was hard, I’m so grateful it was an option. Deciding to formula feed allowed me to be the mom my kid needed and deserved. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner.
One budget-area I’d like to focus on in February 2022
In February 2022, I want to put $100 in our emergency fund.
That’s it. That’s the thing I want to focus on.
In the past, I would have looked at this as an easy win. But good grief, the last few months have been expensive. Our emergency fund has taken a beating. And every time I set out to refill it, we get hit with something else (I’m looking at you, cracked windshield!). As a planner and budgeter, it’s been hard for me to set out a plan each month only to have it decimated time and time again.
So…$100. That’s it. That’s the goal. If I can put $100 into our emergency fund, I’ll feel good about February.
I’ll be honest: as much as I find it a little sad to be so near the end of my maternity leave, I am looking forward to heading back to work in March. Losing so much of my pay cheque over the last year has not always been easy. While the return to work will come with some new expenses (daycare!), it will be nice to have a bit more breathing room in our budget.
Tell me, friends: what was your best budget move from January 202? What budget area do you plan to focus on for February 2022?