February Recap

subheader_monthlyrecap

It’s my 5th month of tracking, and overall I’m doing alright.  I spent less than I did in October and December, but more than I did in November and January – February’s right in the middle.

Feb13

THE GOOD

Savings. Guys! I finally put money towards my TFSA!  It wasn’t much… less than $100, but it was money I was not anticipating, so rather than blowing it on something I don’t need, I put it right in the bank.

 

THE BAD

Clothing & Misc. I went to the mall and bought pretty things that I probably don’t need.

Fees. I got charged $5 extra for using my debit card too much.  I blame the government of Canada’s phasing out of the penny for this one.

Food. I thought this would be a cheap month food-wise for me, considering I couldn’t really eat (still can’t) after getting my wisdom teeth out, but somehow I (over)spent the same amount I always (over)spend.  In the days leading up to the surgery I went a little nuts on the fast food “because I won’t be able to eat for a week!” and then afterwards when I could eat (some) solid foods again, I went a little nuts again “because I haven’t eaten in a week!

Medical.  The wisdom teeth maxed out my dental coverage for the year in one fell swoop, and still cost me a few hundred bucks out of pocket.

 

THE IN-BETWEEN

No Spend Days.  I had 10 no-spend days in February, but that’s a bit of a cheat.  February is the shortest month, but I was also pretty much on bed-rest for a week there and didn’t leave my apartment.  So while it’s good to have so many no spend days, it wasn’t really by choice.

 

MARCH GOALS

Welp, it’s pretty clear that I suck at making monthly goals, so I’m going to go ahead and not do that this month and see how it goes.

My $2000 Valentine’s Day “Trip”

Provided the scheduling feature on WordPress is working correctly, as you read this, I am on a Valentine’s Day trip that is costing me about $2000.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ok that’s a lie because I’ll be reimbursed $1500.
 
 
 
 
 
 

And because I’m probably at home lying on my couch.
 
 
 
 
 
 

So what’s with all the lies and deception??!?!?

I’m on drugs.

Really.

Or at least I will be when this post goes live.

I hope.

Why, you ask?  Because Liz Lemon, that’s why.
 
 

Yes, I scheduled to have my wisdom teeth removed on Valentine’s Day. My boyfriend is currently on the other side of the planet, so I figured I’d be lying on my couch watching movies all alone anyways, I might as well be heavily sedated too.

The dentist guy told me that I’m going to need at least 5 days to recover as one tooth is growing into a nerve (FUN!).  In Ontario, it’s a long weekend (Monday is Family Day), so I only had to burn 2 vacation days to get 5 days off.  It’s pretty sad that I have to have minor surgery just to get more than Sunday off of work.

Also, I have health benefits at my current job, but as you know, I’m looking for a new job.  Who knows if/when I’ll have benefits again, so I wanted to get these suckers out of my face while I’m still covered (and hope there’s not going to be issues if I end up resigning shortly thereafter).

So if I disappear from the Internet for a few days, there is no need to send help (unless it’s in the form of Ryan Gosling).  More likely, though, if I post, comment, and/or Tweet things that just don’t make any sense, just pretend it does ok?

It’s Not You, It’s Me: A PF Love(?) Story

For the last 3 months or so, I’ve spent hours in front of a computer screen reading PF (personal finance) blog after PF blog, following PF bloggers on Twitter, and as you can see, writing my own PF related blog posts.  But I think my little PF crush is over…

That’s not to say PF and I won’t still be friends. My Twitter and RSS feeds will both still be dominated by PF bloggers. I will still do my monthly recaps (which I know some of you don’t care about, but it’s helping to keep me accountable).  I will, however, no longer be trying to break into the PF Blogging World.

I’m not even sure why I was trying (if I was trying?) in the first place. I don’t have any new, brilliant insights into finance.  I have two bank accounts, a TFSA, and zero investments. I haven’t taken so much as a math class since grade 11 (which was, er, geez… 13 years ago?). I don’t want to “compete” with the bloggers that have been on my radar – I want to learn from them. And I have – to the point where I think I need to stop consuming so much of it and focus on something else. At the moment, that’s finding a new job. Overall, it’s getting this 101 Things list updated and back on track.

My personal finance situation is still, well, not great. (Student loan debt the size of a mortgage, a low-paying dead-end job, a negative net worth, practically living pay-cheque to pay-cheque, etc.) But, I’m so much better off before this little PF crush of mine began.  Maybe if/when my financial situation changes I’ll start crushing again, but I’m sorry, PF.  Based on psychologists this internet meme, it just wasn’t meant to be.

4monthcrush

January Recap

After falling off the wagon in December, I seem to be getting back on track, but still not nearly as good I did overall in November.  The app I use to track my spending recently did an upgrade and it now automatically gives me the sum of my expenses each month (I wish they did that for income, too).  So now it’s blatantly obvious that I’m spending more then I’m making each month…  Yikes.  But enough of that, let’s get down to it.

 Jan13

THE GOOD

Tracking. I’ve gotten SO GOOD at this! When I don’t get the chance to track something right away, I still remember the exact amount even if it’s days before I get around to punching it in.

Medical.  All of my benefits are based on the calendar year, so a new year means I don’t have to pay for my chiropractor out of pocket until I max them out.  I’m now going once every 10 days instead of once a week, so it’ll be almost 2 months before I have to pay again.

Car Insurance. Starting in March, my car insurance will be about $10 a month cheaper. Yay!

Gym. I quit the gym! And my timing couldn’t be better, because I managed to snag a 3 month membership to boot camp for… (wait for it…) only $35. Yes. $35 for 3 months.

THE BAD

Food. Ugh… this is ALWAYS the problem. 16% of my expenses are on food? I don’t even like food, so how could this be?? Well… to be fair, part of it was replacing some of the things I lost when my fridge died.  But most of it was me being too lazy to cook. I got off track with keeping my fast-food budget under $100 about 2 weeks in, and it just got worse from there.

Rent. I lied in my last recap. Starting in April, my rent will be about $20 a month more…

Spending. In January, my overall spending was about the same as it was in November.  Problem is, in November I spent $150 on the chiropractor (out of pocket) which I did NOT spend in January… so where did this $150 go?

Savings. I still have not contributed anything to my savings (TFSA).  So $0 compounded weekly at 2.5% over 4 months equals… $0.

Fees. $8 this month.  But the credit card balance is sitting at $0 and I don’t owe any one any money.

THE IN-BETWEEN

Personal Care. Usually, this isn’t a significant expense for me, but I had to buy more fish oil supplements (and that’s not cheap) and a few things to prep for my wisdom teeth removal in 2 weeks.

Gifts & Travel. These were both carried over from Christmas.  I doubt there will be any travel expenses appearing again any time soon.

No Spend Days. Fell 3 days short of my goal, with only 7 no spend days this month… I think maybe the novelty of it has worn off?

On my 4th month of tracking, it’s becoming pretty clear that fast food and eating in restaurants is my spending vice. And this tracking doesn’t even really paint the full picture, as my boyfriend usually (generously) takes care of the bill when we’re out together.

I know I need to get this better under control, I just really hate cooking! And doing dishes.  And grocery shopping.  I don’t understand you people that enjoy cooking… but would like to invite you all over to my house any time!

FEBRUARY GOALS

MyMonthlyGoals

February will be an interesting month, as on the 14th (yes Valentine’s Day) I will be getting my wisdom teeth out.  I’ll be off for at least 4 days, but could be as much as 7 days before I’m back to normal.  It’s a long weekend here in Ontario (Family Day on the following Monday), so I get 5 days off work but only use up 2 vacation days.  I imagine a good chunk of my food budget for the month will consist of smoothies and meal-replacement drinks. I also have no idea if I’ll be with it enough to leave my house (or even blog) or not during that week. Here’s hoping it’s a fun little “stay-cation” consisting of pain-killers, sleep, and movie-marathons, because I need it!

  • Reduce overall spending by $100 (compared to January)
  • Stick to my food budget!
  • Cook/prepare meal at home at least 3 times a week.  (Frozen dinners, KD, and cereal do not count for this goal.)
  • Do not drink all the smoothies/meal-replacement drinks before my surgery.
  • Take the time to recoup post wisdom-teeth-removal.
  • Collect ALL THE MOVIES so I have something to do during said recuperation. (Recommendations welcome!)
  • Do yoga or some sort of “at home” workout at lest 3 times a week.
  • Start Boot-Camp (post-surgery).
  • Keep applying for new jobs/find a new job.
  • Update my 101 List.
  • Update my blogroll.

DECEMBER RECAP

This month’s recap is pretty depressing.  Despite having paid for my flight home at Christmas back in October, December has been the most expensive month since I started tracking (which I realize has only been 3 months), but also the month with the least income.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t even show the whole picture as my sisters and I still have to settle up on on who owes who how much for our share of the parental gifts.  Anyways… here’s the damage:

December12

THE GOOD

Tracking. Tracking has almost become second nature to me. I was very tempted to cheat on a lot of things this month by allocating it differently, or by not tracking money that came in and almost immediately went out, but I didn’t. This is as honest as it gets.

Christmas/Gifts. Although the exact dollar figure is still to be determined, I managed to stay within my budget, and still get gifts for everyone on my list that I think they liked.  This also includes a wedding gift for a co-worker who got married on New Years Eve!

Prizes/Miscellaneous. Ok, so, this one isn’t actually good money wise, but it’s fantastic for my sanity. I decided to “Treat Yo Self” and used the $200 I won from the radio towards a brand new set of cross country skis! I’ve been considering buying skis for a while, and finally took the plunge (with a lot of help from the boyf). I cannot wait to use them!

skis

Rent. When I returned home after Christmas, there was a notice of rent increase in my mailbox – but it was addressed to my neighbor and mistakenly placed in my mailbox. So far, I have not received one. (*Knock on wood*)

Entertainment. I spent $2.96 upgrading my DrawSomething app. Living the high life, folks!

THE BAD

Food. So yah, my fridge died. In addition to throwing out $100? $200? worth of food, I ate a lot of fast-food and/or pre-made meals from the grocery store while waiting for the repairman to come (which was paid by the landlord).  I went over my fast food budget by 75%, and will have to replace many of the staple items that ended up in the trash. (On the bright side, having a “clean slate” is somewhat exciting!)

Spending. Remember how I cut my spending by over $900 between October and November? Well, I undid all of that in December.

Income. My income in December was the lowest of the last 3 months, even factoring in the $200 cash I received in gifts. This is because I “only” worked 40 hours at my PT job, opposed to the 76 hours I worked last month.

Savings. Despite it being a goal last month, I did not contribute anything to my savings (TFSA) before the end of the year. My only excuse is that I wasn’t able to deposit my last pay-check of the month until the 31st (as I was out of town on pay-day), and it didn’t clear in time.  (I do not have direct deposit, or the option to get it.)

Fitness. I made it the gym… once. And it was not a good workout. Sadly, I think it’s time for me to cut this expense.

Fees. Stupid, stupid fees! I’m not sure how this slipped past me, but I ended up being charged $10 in interest on my credit card. While it’s not a significant amount, I thought I was on top of making payments to keep a $0 balance. Guess not…

THE IN-BETWEEN

No Spend Days. I did okay with this, and had 9 no-spend days this month.  I will aim for at least 10 next month.

Medical. This went up a little, because in addition to my weekly chiropractor visits, I had to see an oral surgeon regarding removal of my wisdom teeth. (Only 80% of my dental is covered by my insurance.)  A small out-of-pocket expense now; much worse in February (Valentine’s Day to be exact!) when it actually happens.

Travel. It’s Christmastime and I live some 1500 km from my parents/sisters, so obviously there was some traveling to be had. I somewhat last minute decided to take the bus from my sister’s to my mom’s early; add that to the airport parking fee (which is still significantly cheaper then taking a cab!), and those are my travel expenses – thus far.  I still have to chip in for the rental car for the return drive.

Clothing. I did a little boxing day shopping, and ended up with 2 very budget-friendly dresses (one of which I wore out for the NYE wedding I attended). Both dresses can be dressed up, or dressed down, so I could potentially wear them to work with a sweater and leggings. This was the first time I spent money on clothes since I began tracking.

THE SUMMARY

So I didn’t end the year on the best note, financially speaking, but I’m not going to let that deter me. I’ve got 12 months now to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

JANUARY GOALS

  • Keep going!
  • Have at least 10 No-Spend Days
  • Pay off the credit card. Pay back the sisters. Pay myself.
  • Quit the gym.
  • BUT still exercise regularly (a.k.a. put those new skis to use!).
  • Plan my meals and trips to the grocery store. Replace items lost in the great fridge failure of 2012 with things I will actually use/consume.
  • Declutter. (A purposefully vague goal, as I imagine it will on-going.)
  • Update my progress with my “101” list.
  • Update my blogroll to include some of my favourite PF Bloggers (goal carried-over from last month)
  • Spend some serious time figuring out what I’m going to do with my life, more specifically, my career. (I’ll be picking up a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute from the library, but welcome any other suggestions/resources!)
  • Start getting my resume/cover letter/LinkedIn profile/etc. updated and in order – just in case.

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A BAD CASE OF THE MONDAYS

I’m not normally one to complain about Mondays, but this past Monday was definitely Garfield worthy:

Within the first hour at work, I got yelled at by a parent, and then we had an entire school cancel their tickets to a performance due to the teacher strike.  A lot of the funding for my department is based on attendance so this will not help my chances of getting a raise anytime soon.

On Sunday, I woke to find a puddle of water in front of my fridge, and everything thawing in my freezer.  Called the landlord, turned up the temperature, and started to cook what I could because the fridge was fine.  (In theory having nearly a pound of bacon to myself was a great idea! But trust me, the novelty wore off quickly.)  By lunch when my landlord came by, things were the same – freezer dying, fridge fine. I didn’t get home from work until 9:30pm, and upon checking it, a wave of heat came out of both the freezer and the fridge.  So all that food I spent Sunday cooking was garbage.  Fortunately, I don’t cook; my fridge contained mostly beer and condiments and I ate most of what was in my freezer last month when I vowed to spend less on fast-food. I still threw out at least $100 worth of food though, and will have to replace a lot of it.  Now I’m back to relying on the fast-food and the few groceries I can leave at work, as it’ll be at least another day before my fridge is fixed/replaced.  (Thankfully this expense falls on the landlord!) But this is still going to cost me.

Amongst all this, I also discovered that someone keyed my car in the parking lot at work. There is a scratch all the way down the passenger side. Thankfully it’s just a scratch and not a swastika or something offensive, but still, it made me cry.  Although it’s not a priority at this point, I do plan to talk to dealership about fixing it next time I bring my car in. So this too will cost me.

car_scratch

And lastly, my wisdom teeth. I gotta get those suckers pulled out of my face. Although I have benefits at work, I found out on Monday that they won’t cover the whole $1900, and I’m going to have to pay $400-$500 out of pocket. Because one tooth is growing into a nerve, I’m going to need at least 4 days to recover, meaning I have to burn a few vacation days (because we don’t get sick days here).  Another thing that’s going to cost me.

All in all, I estimate this Monday is going to unexpectedly cost me $600-$850 (or more?).  I guess this is why all the PF bloggers stress the importance of an emergency fund, huh?

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November Recap

Usually I give up on things after about 2 weeks, so I’m really proud of myself for keeping up with this (and more so, for doing a decent job managing the spending).  And you want to know a secret?  It’s not really that hard.  I feel silly for not doing this sooner.

I did run into a bit of trouble because I’m currently living dangerously close to a paycheck-to-paycheck situation, and have to make sure I deposit my paychecks into the right account, until I can accumulate more of a buffer.  (PC Financial, I love your free banking, but this 5 business day wait to clear a paycheck just might kill me.)  I spent hours trying to figure out when the automatic payments were coming off, making sure there was enough money in that account, and that it would clear on time, etc. But now that my pretty excel sheet is made, all I have to do is follow it.  (Or move everything into one account.)

Anywho, here’s how things went down this month:

November

THE GOOD

Spending. I cut my spending by over $900 in November, compared to October.

Income.  November is a 3 pay-check month for me, but even without this extra check, I made more money then I spent this month – probably because I was paid for 76 hours from my second job. (Don’t ask me why I thought I’d only work 30 hours this month… I clearly can’t do math.)

Tracking. I tracked Every. Penny.  Even the dime I found on the ground.

No Spend Days. I achieved my goal, and had 10 No Spend Days this month.  I know some people think this is a gimmicky way to save money (because you usually end up buying whatever the next day anyways), but it worked really well for deterring those trips to the drive-thru for me.

Health. As predicted, my medical expenses went down by nearly $300.  (Too bad the chiropractor’s fees are going up in the New Year.)

Travel. My travel expenses are ZERO!

Fees. No stupid bank fees for using my debit card too much.

Food.  Overall, I spent about $70 less this month on food; about $50* more on groceries, but over $100 less on fast food (and only went 64¢ over my budget of $100). I discovered that cooking isn’t so bad, it’s the dishes that I hate.  (*This may not be entirely accurate, as many grocery trips included cough medicine and household items that I didn’t separate – I’ll try to be more accurate going forward.)

No Cash.  Although not intentional, having an empty wallet stopped me from many impulse purchases, and drive-thru runs.  I’m going to incorporate this into my future goals and budgets.

Prizes. I won $200 from a local radio station!  But the catch is it can only be spent in certain places – one of which is a car wash. (Who gets there car washed in November in Ontario?)  I was hoping to use this money to do some of my Christmas shopping, but I may end up buying something for me instead.

THE BAD

Savings. Because my finances were not quite where I thought they were, I did not contribute my second job’s income into my TFSA as planned.  In fact, I didn’t contribute ANYTHING to my savings, again… I know this is bad, but I promise, I have a plan, and will deposit as much as I can by the end of the year.

Health.  Once again, working 60+ hours a week has lead me to getting sick (or is keeping me sick?).  I was able to give away one of my part-time shifts, but have had to suck it up and go to work the rest of the time, as I don’t get sick days.

THE IN-BETWEEN

Fitness. I only made it to the gym 6 times (or $7.50 per visit), but I worked my ass off each time.  Quality over quantity, right? I really only “skipped” 2 days with no good reason, but missed 4 days because of the second job, and another 3 due to sickness.

Christmas. The sisters (and their men) and I came up with a budget-friendly gift-giving solution this year (which I won’t write about in case it give something away?), but I still don’t know what’s on my own wish-list, and still have 1 or 2 people to shop for.

The Second Job.  Although I was hoping that this would be my last month working two jobs, that’s clearly not the case.  But, we have finally hired a second bartender, so I’ll “only” be working 5 shifts a week instead of 7.

DECEMBER GOALS

This is going to be a little bit harder because of Christmas and traveling and spending a week out of town with the family and all… But in addition to keeping most of last month’s goals, I’m going to add a few.

  • Follow a tweaked version of the envelope/cash only system.
  • Actually deposit something (anything!) into my savings account.
  • Clean/organize my kitchen so that maybe, just maybe, cooking won’t suck as much.
  • Re-purpose or get rid of all that crap that’s accumulated in my storage closet this past year.
  • Update this blog, and link some of the great PF Bloggers out there.
  • Avoid the mall at all costs.
  • Go to the gym at least 8 times; remember – it’s going to be NUTS in there come January…