Using Pivot Tables to Analyze Expenses

Back in February, I bought Caitlin Flander’s Mindful Budgeting planner. I hadn’t done any analysis or looked at how much I was spending yet.  I spent the first 3 months, simply collecting data, but decided to use my long weekend to do some analysis as Q1 comes to a close. This afternoon, I punch all the data points into an Excel spreadsheet and tried my hand at pivot tables and charts.

I actually have no experience with pivot charts or pivot tables, so I worked my way through a tutorial by Excel Campus off of YouTube. I found it fairly straightforward and produced two bar graphs.

Graph 1 – Personal Expenses by Category: This chart summarizes my total spending, including shared expenses for both J. and I. The Daily category includes mainly day-to-day expenses, but is comprised mainly of groceries. The Fun category includes shopping, alcohol and eating out. Transportation covers car expenses, including my financing and car insurance, but also travel. Unfortunately, I did not split the shared expenses, so the total value is slightly inflated. Here are a few observations:

  • Transport was high in Feburary as I paid for some tune-ups at the Honda service centre ($709), as well as a plane ticket to go to the job interview ($1077).
  • Health expenses are mainly Cody app plans that I purchase. There is a negative value from a refund that I received.
  • The professional category was higher in February because I had to pay my annual membership to the Ontario College of Teachers ($130) and I bought a lot of food from my own pocket to cover a few classroom parties.


Graph 2 – Shared Expenses by Subcategory: The data source is actually the same as the first graph, but the information is filtered to show only the expenses that I share with my boyfriend. Unfortunately, there are still some discrepancies from the numbers we calculated on Sunday, specifically under groceries, but ultimately, it`s not about the details, it`s seeing the trends that is most important. Some more observations about this data:

  • We had a party in March and went out a few times, therefore spending more. We also wandered in and out of the grocery store out of boredom after work.
  • We don`t eat out very often, but I know there is at least one meal out that I forgot to mark down because J. paid in cash … I shall be more diligent next time.
  • J. pushed me to walk more to work, so we use a lot less gas now. Mind you, we only use one tank of gas in a month. It`s about $65 for a full tank up north, and you only have one gas station to go to, so you can`t be fussy about prices!



All in all, this was a fun exercise. I still don’t really care to create a budget, but like observing my data. The only area that really might need to be reeled in a bit are groceries, but we cut back in the other areas that I feel like we need a bit of give there.

Anyway, I’m happy to have done this. It’ll be interesting to see how my spending will change when I go south in a couple of months!

Handstand Progress: Single Knee Tuck

I haven’t worked on handstands much, even after having completed a half-day workshop with Kathryn Bruni-Young last summer. I have a better understanding of what is required, and if one wants to be effective and efficient, that means about 45-60 min of warm-up before you even go upside down.

It’s tempting to skip the warm-up though. But after completing a couple of online classes with Carling Harps, I felt that my bandhas were on and willing to take on the challenge.

I just did some single knee tucks, a good precursor to full handstand, since it’s an easy way to maintain core and pelvic alignment. I was pleasantly surprised I was able to get some great balance for 7-8 seconds. I know one of my bad habits is to kick up too hard, so I’m really kicking myself that I have to undo the urge to do so. Pretty happy with this small amount of progress. Once the weather warms up, I will have to practice in the yard without Paul the Wall!

Handstand Training – Single Knee Tuck #8 from Min Min on Vimeo.

Shared Household Expenses

This morning, J. and I went through the mindful budgeting planner and noted down all the shared expenses.

Since having read Katy Bowman’s books and deciding that we would walk more frequently, we don’t need more than a tank of gas each month.

However, the shock came from our groceries in March. When I first got the planner, I it a point not to go to the supermarket frequently and did well with 3 or 4-day no-buy streaks. After a while though, I had forgotten about it. J. and I wandered in and out of the grocery store, as you can see.There are no malls to go here, in this tiny town for 2300 people, so the only place you can spend money out of boredom is the supermarket! As I reflect on the past month, I recall that we bought a lot of junk food after work and also picked up items for potlucks and birthday parties.*

We never made a budget the past four years that we’ve lived together up north, but we are going to discuss some possibilities for May and June. I’ll also be moving south, while J. stays north, so I’ll have to monitor my own spending when I move. I’m looking forward to some life changes, but I hate cooking for one. It’s so much easier when you share food, plus J. makes a great garbage can when I can’t finish my portions!

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*Since food is so expensive in the north, it’s expected that everyone contributes at parties.

Thoughts about Lifting

Lifting can be a lonely workout, as there is quite a lot of set up and take down. Also, between sets, you pretty much have to have breaks and it’s nice to have chatter in between. I feel that loneliness may be one of the reasons I’ve not been lifting this year.

Last year, I was lucky to have a solid 6 months of work with K. and H. While K. is like me, and enjoys doing a lot of reading and research, H. was just happy to try something new and take coaching tips with an open mind. Both of them were a great balance to my own learning curve; I loved being able to discuss with K. about mobility and posture, while H., being someone with a variety of physical restrictions, offered opportunities for me to be challenged when coaching. We were a pretty solid trio and were very consistent in our attendance.

Last week, I finally deadlifted after months without. It’s funny; I have no mental barriers to deadlifting. It’s something I’ve enjoyed considerably and I naturally gravitate towards. I can walk up cold, sans warm-up, set up in conventional within a few seconds, barefooted, inappropriately dressed and pull without hesitation. My back stays flat, turn my hammies on*, keep my weight centered throughout my feet. No problemo!

Squatting is a bigger head game for me. My restrictions are much more obvious. My leg strength isn’t as good as my back strength. My long femurs also make it much harder to keep my stance in. I’m more likely to lose my core stability, go into anterior pelvic tilt and struggle with coming “out of the hole” because I’m disconnecting the torso and the legs. I could also bring my shoulder blades in tighter together and stack my wrists in a safer position.

Watching this Juggernaut video reminded that it’s tough, even for the experts that spend their time professional weightlifting. Not to say that I am still more than a beginner, but it’s a good way to adjust your perspective and remember that, like teaching, you are always, always, always a work in progress. It’s also nice that I actually understand all the concepts mentioned and like listening to the critique that’s being given by Chad Wesley and Max Aita.

I have considered returning to a lifting routine but never took action this winter. With yoga, I feel I can work on anything any time, but I just have much higher expectations with lifting. Honestly though, I shouldn’t think this way, since I’m not an athlete in training. My idea of fitness currently is just to enjoy and have fun.

*Likely hamstrings aren’t an issue for me as I use them so frequently in yoga.

Fave Podcast: Jessica Moorhouse

One of the podcasts I find myself going back to regularly is Jessica Moorhouse’s Mo’ Money. My long-time childhood friend, Sarah Li Cain, of High Fiving Dollars, recommended it to me several months ago and I got hooked after listening to the interview with Gail Vaz-Oxlade.

Listened to this interview with Andrew Kirkland of JustWealth this morning. Super interesting introduction to roboadvisors, how the name started and what are differences between index funds and ETFs.

If you don’t have a podcast player, you can use the embedded Soundcloud app:

What are some podcasts that you enjoy? 

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Submitted My Taxes!

Got a nice break earlier this week; Monday and Tuesday for professional development days at work with no meetings. I had two days to myself, so I spent Monday morning listening to an interview with Rob Carrick on CIC and the afternoon finalizing and submitting my taxes.

Last year was the first time I had filed on my own. And this year, being the second time, I did feel frustrated initially. I mainly used the forms method, and as I slowly started connecting the dots, it felt better. When I got stuck, I called my reliable and loving mom. So although I started over a week ago, I am happy to say that it is finally done! I submitted to both federal and the Quebec government; the projected return from Turbo Tax is $4875, which I am pretty happy with.

Also logged into CRA My Account tonight and saw that the Notice of Assessment should come back by April 18th. Now to sit back and wait!

Net Worth: March

I have switched over to calculating net worth every other month.

In March, I took three days off unpaid to try to an interview in Ontario. I also had to spend about a thousand dollar on a plane ticket to help me fly between Val D’Or and Toronto. I got a job offer from the Waterloo Regional District School Board at the end of the month and may have to take unpaid time off for an orientation in May. At this time, I’m still hoping that Ottawa could be my future destination, but no job posting for OCDSB has been posted yet. I will have to accept the position in Waterloo for now as I cannot guarantee work in Ottawa yet.

Overall, between two months though, there wasn’t much more spending. There was an increase of $3228.06 since January, so I’m still pretty happy with that.

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House Cleaning: Bathroom Edition

One of the habits I never really learned at home was how to clean. I never did any cleaning – other than vacuuming – until I went to university. When I shared a house with other people, we had a schedule of when we’d clean the bathroom and take out the trash, but even then, I don’t remember cleaning consistently or thoroughly.
Since moving up north, I’ve been using YouTube tutorials to learn tips and tricks. One of my favourite YouTube channels is Clean My Space with Melissa Maker. Since feeling a bit more confident now, I thought I’d share the process in which I use to clean the bathroom. I took these photos last Saturday. Since J. and I decided to invite people over for board games, we did a big clean in the afternoon before our guests arrived.
  1. Go high to low. This is the first step, as J. taught me. You always start with the dust in high corners, so that it can fall to the ground. I take a broom and just sweep through all the corners. Any cobwebs or dust will fall down, to be wiped up or vacuumed later on. It is also a good way just to check the ceiling for mold, in case it needs to be addressed.IMG_20170325_124743559
  2. Wipe down high frequency areas. I use a general eco-friendly foam cleaner and wipe down all the handles and the light switch, as these are areas that are touched frequently and might accumulate dirt and bacteria. My only issue is that I often forget the door handle on the outside of the bathroom.IMG_20170325_125741656
  3. Make it shine! I love cleaning the mirror. It just makes the whole room look nicer. We currently are trying to use up our Windex and will be replacing it with a more environmentally option from Method.Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 10.32.08 PM
  4. Wipe down the counters. With the general cleaner, I wipe down the entire counter, after having removed everything from the surface. I let the cleaner sit for a few minutes so that any dirt can be broken down. This is called “dwell time”, which I learned about from Melissa Maker, of her YouTube channel, Clean My Space.IMG_20170325_125300537
  5. Toilet time. I continue using the general cleaner with the toilet. Then I use a bit of Clorox for a serious scrub around the bowl. You can dangle the toilet brush between the seat and the bowl so that the brush can drip dry. Now go back to the counters and wipe off that foam!IMG_20170325_130050971
  6. Scrub the walls and windows. I don’t wash all the walls, but I definitely clean the wall next to the toilet, because splashback really does happens, as much as we like to pretend it doesn’t. For the windows, I like to clean the fine corners with a toothbrush. If you don’t have one on hand, then use a Q-tip (but that becomes an costly habit if you’re constantly throwing them away).IMG_20170325_131029501 (1)
  7. Scrub the shower and bathtub. Again, starting from top to bottom. I use an eco-friendly store-bought tile spray, let it sit for 5-10 minutes and then wipe it off. For the tub, I use a bit of Clorox, as there is often buildup from the bath bombs and bubble baths I take. And if there’s pink mold? Have no fear! Using a quick mix of 1/2 cup of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid (it’ll turn into a paste) works amazingly well, like magic!
  8. Mop the floor. Do a quick vacuum or sweep first, then time to finish and mop it up!


  9. Freshen up. As you can see in a couple of the pictures, I also like to have scented candles to make it smell nicer. I often get large blocks of candles from Ikea as the scents are fairly pleasant and the cost per candle is decent.

Those are the main steps that I take. As I learn more from YouTube tutorials or blogs, I become more and more efficient at cleaning each time.

If you have any tips, please share in the comments!