0 In Minimalist Livin'

February Numbers, Birthdays, Balloons and Our No Spend Year

February Numbers are in! So much information to share with you this month and I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe with Stefano’s mega meltdown? He attended a birthday party where he was given a balloon. Said balloon popped and he was devastated. He proceeded to have a meltdown over the fact that we can’t go buy or replace the new balloon because we are on a no spend year. It was the loudest, longest tantrum I’ve had to endure in a long time. I may have cried with him, no joke. Anyway, dad gave in and stopped into a loonie store and bought him a new balloon. I have never in my life seen anybody so happy about a balloon. Kids are amazing. The new balloon is still doing well.

OK, moving on! So, I think our biggest challenge in all of this is going to be our groceries and staying within our twelve-hundred dollar budget. That might seem like a lot of money for food, but I am raising 3 boys who eat A LOT. Domenic alone stands six foot three and every meal for him is equivalent to 2 normal meals for the average human. My two younger boys aren’t far behind. The other struggle is trying to eat healthy, clean and organic on this budget and with their appetites this is difficult. I am trying my best to follow things like the clean fifteen etc…


let’s get into the nitty-gritty and numbers. I think Hello Fresh is off the table for us. At a hundred and seventy dollars a week for four dinners, it barely fills five of us up and it isn’t worth it. That’s been canceled. The concept is great and it’s a time saver but it isn’t cost effective. The cost eats into half our weekly budget and I still have three other dinners to buy for plus our breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.

Meat. Meat is so expensive. For those who didn’t know, I grew up as THE butcher’s daughter. My dad owns a family business in Montreal that has been around since 1939, BTW he makes the BEST Italian sausage! FYI – for those of you ever visiting MTL, GO TO TRANZO!

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Growing up my dad would call every night before heading home and ask if I wanted something for the grill for dinner to eat, I always said filet mignon. Hold on, before you get all judgy on me, I was a kid and had no idea what the cost of red meat was. I loved tenderloin and clearly took that for granted. Fast forward to moving out and becoming a big girl, OMG, no regular filet mignon or tenderloin in my house. THAT for my boys is a treat.

I have since converted to eating mostly vegetarian, and less meat, if any meat at all in my diet, but my hubby and boys still eat meat and enjoy it. We have compromised and do two or three meatless days a week in our home, and I have been purchasing more chicken and pork which is more affordable. I have found creative ways to incorporate less meat into meals like creating “bowls”. Our bowl meals are such a great and easy dinner. The boys choose a base like rice or quinoa and choose from a variety of fresh and roasted vegetables along with sliced roasted chicken or pork to add on top. Super inexpensive, easy to make, healthy and filling! also, a great way to use up veggies that are ready to go soon AND because the boys get to build and add what they like, they end up eating everything without complaining. win-win for everyone!

What I have taken away most this month when it comes to grocery spending is fruits and vegetables that are in season are typically much cheaper or on sale. I couldn’t believe how many navel oranges, pears, and bananas I got this last week for super cheap. I have already cut, peeled and cleaned a bunch for easy access and easy snacking for the kids. I also found the same with vegetables like carrots, celery, and broccoli. Clean, cut and in Tupperware ready to grab and eat. I am hoping this makes a difference in our march numbers next month. Time will tell…

Nails, Brows, Facials, Lashes Etc..

For those of you who follow my Instagram, you would know that this month I got a chemical peel and treatment done at my favorite facialists, Nubare Skin, in Calgary. Some of you are wondering how I paid for that on a no spend year. Well, In 2018 I had purchased a package of laser hair removal but my Nubare decided to sell the machine and focus solely on healthy skin. That meant I got my a credit to spend and have decided to use it slowly over the year of 2019. Once my credit runs out, I am not going to return till after our no spend year.


Well, I said I was going to go brown in order to save on the no spend year. I did it. I don’t want to get into the details but It was a mistake. Moral of the story, I won’t ever dye my hair brown again. EVER. I have officially learned my lesson.

For those of you who have been following me for a long time, you know that I suffer from a specific type of Alopecia. You can look it up under my style and beauty tab, I got lot’s of posts about it there. Anyway, going brown only amplified the very obvious loss with the contrast between my scalp and dark hair. I literally didn’t want to leave my house. I know that sounds lame, but it’s true. Everyone has their thing, my insecurity is my hair. I will leave that there and move on. Want to read more about my hair loss story, Start here, Hair Loss, The Start of My Story


In my last post, I spoke about how hard this journey has been emotionally and how I realized I had been pacifying my feelings with mindless spending prior. I also spoke about how I wanted to be more aware and appreciative when we did spend moving forward. During the past couple of months, I have missed out on coffee dates and weekly brunch. It became so frustrating emotionally that I was missing out and I gave in, in a moment of weakness and missing my girls, I met them for brunch. I got myself a coffee. one coffee. A $3 coffee. It was worth it. You can go back to that post by clicking here, The Reality Behind Our No Spend Year.


We wanted to keep as much consistency with special events and traditions as possible with the boys. The first valentines I spent with Domenic, he was only 3 at the time. I asked him to pick what he wanted to eat for Valentine’s dinner and he chose Chinese. Since then we have ordered Chinese food from the same takeout place for the last 14 years. It’s a tradition I didn’t want to break. We still came in way below budget and didn’t cheat once. This is huge considering last February we spent just under six hundred dollars in take-out and eating out.


We came well under budget. We spent a ton of time outdoors even in the frigid cold weather, we took advantage of our passes to the local recreation center to go swimming, skate and play basketball with the boys. We went for walks. We played games at home. We made up at home tournaments! We had fun! We got out to see a movie and used some passes the boys received over the holidays and bought some popcorn and waters.

Did you know there are tons of fun free things happening around your community? In February there was a free lego workshop at all toys r us. Saturdays at Home Depot, the kids can learn and build and create using tools! There are always things going on, you just need to dig a little to look for them, but they are out there!



We officially dipped into our vacation budget. Our older brother who lives in Phoenix offered us an opportunity we could not refuse. They are going to be putting their home on the rental market in April and over March they are moving into their new build. Before it goes on the Market we get the house to ourselves! They have an awesome place, with a great heated pool, in a cute community. Of course, we said yes! So we used points we had and found strategic days to fly down cheaper over spring break. We also rented a van for the 8 days and booked 2 nights at the Arizona Grand Hotel using points to make the trip a little extra special. How will we manage our spending on holidays? We are going to use the same rules for spending, the same budgets etc. We will see how we do! I am excited about the Arizona Grand Hotel because they are super family friendly and have a killer outdoor water park. I will review our stay once we return!


March is always my fav month and I start it off just right by celebrating my Birthday, March 2! This year I am heading into my last trip around the sun in my thirties! OMG! Is that for real?


Gifts have been rolling in from family members and I am really loving how their thoughts and opinions about my no spend year are coming through strong and clear haha. My mom insisted on gifting me cash so that I could grab a coffee or two and maybe pick up something I wanted for myself. Well, the truth is I didn’t need any more things, that was the point of this year. So I decided to gift myself TIME.

One thing that is due this weekend is a huge house cleaning and I was not looking forward to it. It’s my birthday and the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is clean. So mom, THANK YOU, you gave me back a Saturday morning. I booked in my old cleaning lady and I couldn’t be more excited and appreciative for the time.


I also spent $8.50 of my gift money on one thing I have been eyeing up for a while, the Polestar 2019 Famly Calendar journal. Why? Well if you haven’t’ seen them, they are legit the best way to stay organized, especially on a no spend year. There is a section weekly for meals! YES! so we stay consistent with meal planning that week and weeks ahead. Such a handy tool, I leave it in the kitchen and Ben and the boys can look to see what is coming up in the week, they can add in their appointments, my teen can schedule in his work days, babysitting gigs and outings so I know where he is…Such a great family tool. I picked mine up at Chapters, Indigo and you can get it online here, POLESTAR FAMILY CALENDAR.


My Lil bro and his wife also gifted me something they felt I needed and was missing out on this no spend year. A gift to get my nails done for my trip. Typically we always gift each other experiences, which I love and appreciate so much. This one is even more appreciated because my “dusty” feet, as my kids like to refer to them as, are in desperate need of a pedicure before I get into any flip flops in a couple of weeks.

Alright, so February wasn’t so easy but I am learning so much, so thank you February and goodbye thirty-eight! Looking forward to starting March off strong and celebrating hard!

till the next post,



1 In Minimalist Livin'/ No Spend Year

The Reality Behind Our No Spend Year, Unexpected​ Goals.

I can’t believe we are already heading into March in just a few days. The reality behind our no spend year has finally set in and it’s been a lot harder than I imagined. Truth is, I didn’t know how I would be feeling getting into this or did I?? Ok, maybe I did a little? In my mind though, I honestly thought this would be a pretty easy year, I didn’t think it was going to be this hard. I was wrong. it’s hard.

Sure we have our rules and they seem pretty easy to follow?? WRONG!! I had no idea just how difficult this would be. The emotions! whoa. I really underestimated my own ability to take control of my emotions, and just how often my emotions played into a lot of our spending. Something as little as going out weekly for brunch with my girls has been incredibly hard to give up.  I feel like I am letting them down, I feel like I am not there connecting, I feel like I am being ridiculous and should be doing life with them…BUT this was part of the journey I was secretly anticipating and if you read on you will understand why.


Oh, and I know some of you might be judging us and wondering to yourselves why I am on this path, to begin with? I am on this journey for a few reasons, I want to be more mindful of our spending, I want to be more appreciative and responsible with our money. I want to reach my mid-forties and hopefully be mortgage free. I want to always be able to travel at any time without feeling financially guilty or paying with credit. I want to learn to value where my money goes. I want to live a life that might seem simple but is so full of joy and happiness because of our experiences and not our things. I want to value every single thing own and new things I bring into my life.

So if you find this fascinating, read on and If you don’t you can always move on.

I didn’t realize how I often underestimated or underappreciated the value that some small things, certain people and moments bring to our lives. This made me sad, because moving forward, I really want to be thankful and more thoughtful of each situation and reflect on how it brings me happiness.

Ok, let’s back up here for a second to the start of February.

Let me tell you…there have been moments this month that have sucked!  (This is me being honest) I never realized how often I had been pacifying myself, the kids, the hard moments and the busy moments with things, food, and small stuff. If the boys were tired, cranky and hungry I would grab takeout food on the go. If I was cold, bored and craving a coffee, I’d stop at Starbucks (did you know I have an increadibly amazing coffee machine at home, like literally, the best). After school surprise treats when the kids were bored or if they were whiny (yes, guilty). If I was having a difficult day at work or home, coffee at Starbucks. A bad day, I would buy myself flowers while getting groceries. Feeling unpretty, I would pick up a new lipstick or eye-liner or facial cream. Perusing the books at Indigo turned into, you got it! leaving with a Starbucks in hand and a new magazine.


I never was fully aware of my spending until it had been taken away. Never, NOT ONCE was I truly reflecting and appreciating these moments instead it almost felt deserving or felt good and satisfying to spend. I was doing the retail therapy thing my way and didn’t notice. That was the excuse to feeling better or fixing something quick. Eventually, all those unaware moments were being cued to happen out of habit. Something I am determined to change moving forward. Curious about habits, Read up on it, “The Power Of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, an eye-opener.

I knew we were sometimes overspending especially after breaking down the numbers for 2018. I knew I was sometimes still frivolous, even as a minimalist. My thing was that I just spent on smaller or more consumable products and I never realized how often that spending was actually tied to emotions, moments, feelings and…wait for it…LAZINESS!! GASP! Me, Lazy! NO WAY!

I am not here to share this with you because I am judging you. THIS IS ABOUT ME. I am here reflecting on my own journey these first couples of months trying to be honest with myself. I truly never thought I was lazy because I just made things work at the moment with money rather than actually doing the work on the front end. For example, buying my kids food rather than packing snacks to go. That crazy, almost $10,000 spent on take-out food and Eating out in 2018 is starting to make sense.


This past month I had to be smart, mindful and aware of every step I took. If we left the house with the boys, making sure I packed snacks and water bottles. If I was heading to work, making sure I packed a water bottle, lunch and a coffee (maybe two). If I was doing groceries with the kids, saying no, A LOT, and dealing with the frustrations that followed.

It sucked. It sucked saying no to my girlfriends and not meeting up with them for weekly brunch.  It sucked not being able to just stop at A&W when my kids were screaming in the car after school when I had to run an errand and they were starving. In moments of weakness I struggled, and I even gave in, oh yes, I CHEATED! After weeks and weeks of missing out on the girl’s brunch dates, I surprised them and popped in. All I ordered was a coffee, black. They insisted on paying for it so that I wouldn’t be misleading my followers, but I WOULD, I would be, because I went…so I told the girls, NO and I chose to come forward here and not to be dishonest with my readers or more importantly, myself. I paid $3.68 for my coffee.


Slowly as the month of February progressed we became more savvy and aware and better at this. The boys stopped asking for stuff when we grocery shopped (MAJOR WIN!). They started to pack extra food in case they got hungry after school.


I started prepping and packing my lunch every night. My girlfriends decided to come over to my place to visit instead of going out for breakfast, one of my girlfriends even suggested brunch at her place next month. The thing I am realizing now is that it wasn’t the big things or big purchases that were going to be hard for me. Those things I can do without but rather it’s been the small, day to day, mindless spending that has been a huge challenge. Finding a new way to deal with the emotions has been a whole other part of this I didn’t expect.

Before we started, if we wanted something in the moment…we just did it, we got it. Which I know is part of living a happy life, don’t get me wrong, but was I really happy? or just pacifying emotions and taking things for granted?

What I am learning through this process is that we can eventually find balance once we live through this extreme and come out the other end. Once we get to the other side, we will hopefully learn to appreciate those brunch moments, the friends, the warm coffees, the special purchases, the dinners out. We will hopefully learn some great habits so that we aren’t being so careless about our purchases and spending.

I guess we can add a couple of new goals to our list? One is to learn how to respect and treasure moments and not take them for granted, like meeting up with friends and getting a $3 coffee.  The second is to not pacify our emotions with stuff, find different strategies to cope with moments and to be smart and plan ahead.

Wrapping up the first couple of months have been interesting. It’s amazing how much we have already learned about ourselves.

Coming up next, end of this week, I will be posting our February spending numbers. In the meantime, comment below, if you are OR if you were to take on a no spend year, what do think would be the hardest part of the journey?

till the next post,





2 In Minimalist Livin'/ No Spend Year

January Numbers? No Spend Year

January isn’t the first month of the no spend year challenge, technically we decided as a family to start in February. However, I thought it would be good to look back on my numbers this month and see how we did.

Throughout the month we had been working towards ironing out the rules and setting some limits here and there. We were taking inventory of things we had and decided on purchasing things we might need. I have been wanting so bad to sit down and crunch the numbers as I have been so curious.

I thought I did a pretty good job, especially cause I figured I was quite aware and in tune with spending because, well, it was fresh on the brain. So let’s take a look at January numbers in the categories we are working on:


So, typically last year we were spending on average about $1948 a month. This January 2019 we spent $1702 (keeping in mind that January also has an extra week when it aligns with my monthly/weekly budget) Our hope going forward is to only spend $1200 a month which breaks down to $300 a week in our budget for a family of 3 adults and 2 older children. If you take the $1702 and divide that into 5 weeks that’s $340. OH WAIT…I have to buy milk today so maybe $343 a week.

Technically we did go over this month by forty-three dollars each week. However, we technically kick off the challenge Friday. Moving forward I plan to be more creative and vigilant with food and goods (cleaning products and toiletries) spending.


Ugh, this was not good guys. Ben is really bad in this department and this might just be the hardest one for him. He hit Tim Horton’s quite a few times, a couple of Macdonald coffees and a few Seven Elevens right by one of his job sites. I did go to Starbucks twice in January but have been making and taking coffee with me almost every day, I think I got this…

Average a month in 2018 was $149.83 and this month we spent, $113.45


So we only ate out twice in January. Well, we ate in once and ordered the kids Pizza. We also went out for Stefano’s birthday for Sushi, the five of us and 2 of his buddies. This was his gift. We wanted to share an experience together, he chose a fun restaurant and so this one is kinds of a wash. So Pizza once time, for $42, I think we would call this a huge win. Let me remind you that in 2018 the average a month was $721!


In our inventory list, we made, we noted that Anthony, our middle guy who is 10 and growing, needed some new undies and a winter jacket. The total purchase came to $161.49 and that is all we spent on any clothing.


Ya. I did none of those things, no I mean I did…myself. OMG. haha. I literally did my own manicure today and wish me luck in this department cause I suck! lol hoping to follow some good YouTube Tutorials on this one. Waxing and Brows…terrifies me.


Well, our cleaners typically would come twice a month and they only came once and I am getting myself ready for our break up. We have had them for four years and it’s killing me. I LOVE THEM. I wrote a whole post once, talking about how if it adds value and gives you time back, then do it, and having a cleaner was like that for us. This might sound pathetic to you, but for me, it was a huge help. The boys are going to get schooled in cleaning fast.


We haven’t traveled anyplace. We had been in talks about a possible holiday in February or March but that’s been put on hold and we will discuss more once we map out what works in our budget. We really didn’t make any miscellaneous purchases this month. We did get a family friend a gift card for a birthday and attended another bday where we did a monetary donation that they had decided to put towards a charity of their choice.

No need to calculate savings yet. We are going to start February off strong and really work towards our goals. I look forward to giving you a full update! In the meantime we are working on some fun collaborations to help us as we move forward on this journey. Hoping to lock down a bathroom cleaning tutorial for my boys. More to come! so follow along!

Have any of you been inspired to try even a no spend week or month? comment below!

till the next post,