february finances

2013 seems to be the year of finance.

Today, January 31, 2013, Hubby and I are starting a month long financial challenge.  We're cutting my income down by almost half (53% to be exact) and putting the remaing 47% into savings/paying off credit (we don't have much debt, so most will go into savings).

I know, we're nuts - but in a good way.

We're challenging ourselves to see how little we can really live on.

Can we really go with only eating at home, and not spending money on entertainment?

Can we really be disciplined enough to stick to our budget and not over spend?

We'll see, I'll let you know how it goes...


tofu tuesday

One of the things that I hate THE MOST about being a gown up is figuring out what to have for dinner.  Don't get me wrong, I love cooking and find it fun (for the most part), however, trying to decide what we're going to eat every week drives me bonkers.

We meal plan and grocery shop once a week, usually Sundays.  So Sunday morning/early afternoon usually consists of us sitting down and deciding on our meals for the week and writing out a grocery list.  Ugh.  What should be a five or ten minute chore turns into a hour long conversation of "what should we have for dinner", which always gets the response of "I don't know" or "homemade macaroni and cheese".  Sorry Hubby, I'm not feeding us macaroni and cheese once a week.  It's never going to happen.

What we really should do is make a list of dinner ideas and then just consult the list every week and pick out what we want to eat and shop for.  But that just makes too much sense.  Why would we make things easier on ourselves?

This dinner, however, is one that I made up and tried out a little while ago, and Hubby really enjoyed.  So it's now one of our staple "go to" dinners.  Not to mention, the fact that I can get Hubby to eat tofu and acutally enjoy it just blows my mind. 


This is a great weeknight dinner as it leaves you with a lot of leftovers, but not so much that you'll have to eat it for the rest of the week.  It makes enough for Hubby and I to each have a bowl for dinner (and for Hubby to have seconds) and for both of us to take it for lunch the next day.

2 handfuls of frozen shelled edamame beans
1 package extra-firm tofu
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup soya sauce
About 2 cups of carrots and broccoli stems, julienned (I just used a half package of broccoli slaw that I bought at Superstore - basically just add in any veggies you want)
Vermicelli noodles (about 1/2 package)

Start by cutting the tofu into chunks. Not too small, not too big. Heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan (or wok) over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook until golden on all sides.

Once golden, remove the tofu from the frying pan and set aside. Add the broccoli and carrots to the frying pan with the soya sauce. Cook for a couple minutes and then add in the edamame (no need to thaw first). Cook for another couple minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

While you're waiting for your veggies to get nice and tender, cook the vermicelli according to the package directions (the ones I use just need to sit in a bowl of boiling hot water for a minute or two).

Add the noodles (make sure to drain all the water first) and the cooked tofu to the vegetables. Give everything a good toss to mix everything together.  Feel free to add a tad more sesame oil and/or soya sauce, as needed.  I also like to give a generous grind of pepper and maybe a little garlic powder.  Whatever you're in the mood for.

Serve warm, but is also great eaten cold at your desk the next day while you're working through your lunch.


2013 budget tips

Welcome to 2013!

Yes, I do know that 2013 started 13 days ago, however, it seems that I'm just now getting back into a healthy, regular routine again.

Back to the gym.  Back to eating healthy dinners.  Back to not drinking every day.  Back to not spending money like we're millionaires.

I never really make New Year resolutions.  I find that they too often get broken before we even hit February.  So, I usually just mentally list out my goals for the year.  

In 2013 I want to:

keep living a healthy, active lifestyle
lose the last 15 lbs (always the hardest, see above)
save money so that when then time for a baby comes, we'll have a little bit tucked away

Pretty standard goals, right?

Hubby and I have had a budget for a number of years now, and, as with all good budgets, it's constantly evolving.  I mean, what's the point in having a budget if you don't actually follow it?

We were notorious for spending hours perfecting our budget in our Excel spreadsheet, however, we still always seemed to be living paycheque-to-paycheque.

Just recently, Hubby and I  recognized that the majority of our over spending was happening in the restaurant and entertainment categories in our budget.  It would start with us going out for sushi on a weeknight when we didn't want to cook, or had nothing in the fridge for dinner.  Then we'd go out and have dinner and drinks with friends over the weekend.  Before you knew it we were regularly spending three times our budget each month.  Not very productive in saving money.

In order to keep our spending in check, we implemented a system that goes something like this:

  • we created three envelopes (labelled groceries, entertainment, and restaurants) 
  • each time Amanda gets paid (twice a month) we put $100 into each of our restaurant and entertainment envelopes
  • each time Amanda AND Trevor get paid (works out to once a week) we put $100 into our grocery envelope
  • ANY spending we do on restaurants, entertainment, or groceries has to come out of our envelopes - period.  We're not allowed to use our debit/credit cards for spending in the categories
  • we are allowed, however, to use money from one envelope for another category (example: we can use the money from our entertainment envelope to pay for groceries that we're buying to host a dinner party
  • any money left over in the envelopes stays in the applicable envelope and we can take it out and use it for whatever we want

I cannot even begin to tell you how well this system in working for us.  We usually end up with money left over in the envelopes before we replenish them.  Plus, it's actually become a little bit for a challenge for us.  Do we really want to go out for dinner and spend they money, or can we just whip something up at home and save the money?  More often than not we end up just saving the money.  Plus, eating at home usually means that we eat healthier (which will also help with my first two goals).  

Do you think this might work for your budget?  Maybe give it a try!