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?

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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

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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Maybe Things Don’t Suck, Afterall

I know, I know, another Personal Finance post? I promise, I will start blogging about other things (or perhaps stop blogging so much), but I’m still hung up on figuring out how to quit my second job and still make it work.  I keep reading other blogs hoping that I will find the magic answer, but alas, I know that it isn’t going to be that easy.  At this point in my life, my spending is a little out of control, my debt is a little too big, and my paycheck is a little too small.

I’ve been rather negative and stressed out about this whole thing.  Debt isn’t fun; I don’t imagine it’s a whole lot of fun to read about either.  But a comment made by my old roomie Debbie helped remind me that while my situation isn’t ideal, I’m still in a really good place.  (Thanks Debbie! Miss you!)

I HAVE A JOB CAREER

As Debbie pointed out, I’m extremely lucky to have found a job in my career field, which actually puts my years of education to use.  Too many of my friends and former classmates are either still in school, or are underemployed (working in retail, fast food, etc.), and here I am, 3+ years into it, and still complaining?

I HAVE BENEFITS

Yes, my not-for-profit job doesn’t pay all that well, but it does have Health Benefits – something I never thought I would get until I got married.  80% of my dental and prescriptions are paid for.  I get $400 a year, each for things like the chiropractor, massage therapy, naturopath, physiotherapy, etc.  And, in addition to those benefits, I of course get to see free, live professional theatre, as well.

I CAN AFFORD THINGS

There’s food in my cupboards, beer in my fridge, clothes in my closet, and a car in my driveway.   Sure money’s tight, but if I could afford to visit two of the most expensive places on the planet in the last 2 years (London, England and New York City), I can’t really be doing that bad.

I AM EDUCATED

For me, it was never a question of IF I’d be going to college/university, but where and for what.  A lot of people don’t have that luxury.  Sure it was all funded by student loans, but that unfortunately, seems to be the norm.

I AM EXPERIENCED

During my Undergrad, I was fortunate enough to have a pretty sweet job that helped me figure out what I want to do, and helped me develop many skills that I use every day.  And I got paid really well, too.   Both Arts Management programs that I completed included (unpaid) internships; it sucked I had to work for free, but the experiences were well worth it.  I would have never got to where I am without them.

I ONLY HAVE 2 DEBTS

There’s my car loan, and my student loan.  That’s it.  No “bad” credit card or consumer debt raking up 20% interest each month for me!  My car loan has a low interest rate and is approximately 25% paid off. Thanks to OSAP’s Repayment Assistance, the payments I am making towards my student loan are going right to the principle – the government is currently “forgiving” my interest charges.  (Without it, my monthly payments wouldn’t even cover the interest charges, and my debt would actually be getting bigger each month.)

I’M NOT ALONE

Ok, maybe this isn’t really a good thing, but:

  • The average university student leaves school with close to $28,000 in debt [Source]
  • 58% of college and university students who take out loans to pay for their studies expect to graduate with more than $20,000 of debt;  21%, expect to graduate with more than $40,000 in debt [Source]
  • It takes the average student 14 years to pay back their student loans. [Source]
  • In Canada, the age groups most likely to hold debt were 25-34 year olds (84%) and 35-44 year olds (83%). [Source]
  • The average Canada Student Loan debt alone has increased 18% over the last five
    years. [Source]
  • Nearly two million Canadians have student loans totaling $20-billion. [Source]
  • Federal student loan debt alone is $14.8 billion – this does not include provincial or private loans. [Source]
  • Tuition fees keep going up.  In 2012, the average cost of a 4-year program is $42,000.  By 2030, it will nearly double to $73.700.  [Source]
(Please note: my research skills are pretty limited.  Many of the figures I came across were conflicting, so please take the above for example purposes only.)
 
But most importantly,

I’M (FINALLY) DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT

Up until about 6 weeks ago, I thought I had a fairly clear understanding of my finances. There was enough money coming in/in my bank account to pay my bills and feed myself, and I had even began paying down my student loan debt, so I assumed things were alright.  Then I started crunching the numbers, and tracking the pennies, and was shocked to learn that my money management skills actually kind of suck.  This year I spent a lot of money between moving to a more expensive apartment, buying a new bed, buying winter tires, joining a gym, screwing up my neck, going out of town – twice – for friends weddings, and going to New York City for a week – and  I didn’t budget for any of these things.  I’ve only been doing this personal finance thing for less than 2 months and I can already see a huge difference.  Imagine where I will be a year from now?

… But This Post Might (Part II)

Last time I wrote a very Negative Nancy post, This Post is Not Going to Help Me Save Money… (Part I), about the money saving tips that are of no use to me.  Today I’m going to be a Positive Patty and write about the ones that have been working for me, or that I think will work if only I could get around to trying them.

THINGS THAT I’M ALREADY DOING TO SAVE MONEY

Avoid ATM & Bank Fees

My RBC bank account charges me $4/month, and my PC Financial account is free.  I initially set up the account with PC Financial with the intention of closing my RBC account, but I have yet to phase it out.  In the meantime, I only use my PC account’s debit card so that I don’t get charged those extra fees.

Buy Generic

Most brand names mean very little to me.  I’m loyal to Lush for my personal care needs, but I’m not really loyal to brand names beyond that.  Sure there are certain brands I prefer (tastes better, works better, etc.) but I’m not above trying the alternatives to find the best one for me.

Buy Off-Season

Maybe not the best advice when it comes to food, but for all other things I think it holds true.  You can save a lot of money by buying clothes at the end of the season, or stocking up on Xmas cards in January.

Buy Things on Sale

The only time I actively wait for sales is when it comes to booking flights.  Otherwise, if I’m at the store and see something I like/use that’s on sale I usually stock up (within reason).

Cancel your Cable / Landline

Done and done.  I initially had cable, Internet, a landline and a cell phone when I moved out on my own for the first time, but once the promo period ended, I cancelled my landline, and the cable followed shortly thereafter.  I still watch a fair amount of tv/movies, but thanks to the Internet, I can do so according to my own schedule (and for “free”).

Don’t Buy Anything Unless You Can Pay for It Right Now

Whether this means saving up for a little while, or just waiting until pay-day, I generally follow this advice.  I would have to be in a pretty desperate situation to carry something on my credit card and pay 19.99% interest.

Get a Second Job

This is what set off this whole Personal Finance exploration of mine… I’ve been working this second job for almost 2 years now.  Since I started my career, I only spent the first 6 months working only one job.  No wonder I’m tired!  I need to find a better balance.

Hang My Clothes to Dry

The dryer in my building costs $1.75 per load, and each cycle is 80 minutes (!!).  Rather than hanging my clothes to dry, I’ve started start splitting the dryer time between 2-3 loans of laundry.  Saves time, money, and energy.

Insurance

Every year before renewing my car and tenant’s insurance, I shop around to see if there’s a better rate.  There usually isn’t, but what if there was?

Pay Bills on Time

Ok. I don’t want to be charged late fees or interest on a bill that I already think is too high.  My cell phone provider is pretty crappy and they are NOT getting even one extra penny from me.

Pay Off Your Debt with the Highest Interest First

I only have two debts (my car and my student loan).  The interest rate on my car loan is 2.9% and I’m over half-way through my loan period.  Thanks to OSAP’s Repayment Assistance program, I don’t have to worry about the interest accumulating on my student loan because my payments go right towards the principle, and the interest is “forgiven”.  (I’m trying to take full advantage of this program while I’m eligible.)

Stop Shopping / Stop Buying Crap

I could be wrong (and hopefully tracking my spending will verify this), but I’m pretty sure I don’t buy crap.  Actually, I’m hoping to get rid of more of my crap, and not accumulate more.

Talk About Money

Now for those of you paying attention, you’ll notice that I listed this item in my last post too, and it is fitting in both lists.  All of this reading, writing, and talking about money has been helping me figure out my finances.  I’ve never really been shy to talk about money, but I’m now talking about it in a better, more productive “grown-up” way.

Talk Less

I guess people often talk too much on their phones and get charged overages?  That’s never happened to me.  In the not-quite 2 months that I’ve had my new phone, I’ve talked for less than 7 hours on it.  So I guess I’m following this advice.  (Not that it matters, I have unlimited calling.)

THINGS THAT I SHOULD DO TO SAVE MONEY

Buy Secondhand

I don’t really buy a whole lot as it is, but it couldn’t hurt for me to check out the second-hand stores before going to the mall when there is something I need.

Cook More

Ugh… I know, I know…

Drink Water

I have a not-so-secret love affair with orange juice.  And smoothies.  And fountain pop.  And beer.  And the costs slowly add up.  I’ve been doing better at making my own smoothies at home, and ordering water in restaurants, but I still could improve.

Establish an Emergency Fund

Apparently you need anywhere from 2-12 months’ worth of living expenses saved up in case of emergencies (and of course, only use this money for emergencies).  Better get on this.

Find a Better Interest Rate

I should call my bank and see if I can negotiate a lower interest rate for my credit card.  Or, for my daily banking and TFSA accounts, see if I can find a higher interest rate.

Follow the 3-Day Rule

In order to curb impulse buying, it is suggested that you wait 3 days before making that purchase.  If you still want it in 3 days, you’ll likely use said item.  If you don’t still want it, or better yet forgot about it, you don’t need it.

Get a Better Paying Job

Overall, I like my job, but I would definitely like it more if it could pay me what I’m worth. This isn’t likely to ever happen with my current employer.  I have been keeping an eye on the job market (and will continue to look), but the only thing worth applying to so far would require me to move across the province and likely pays less then I’m making now.

Go Out for Breakfast/Lunch/Coffee Instead of Dinner

The concept is that going out for dinner is more expensive than going out for breakfast/lunch/coffee.  I can try to implement this, but it’s hard to do with my schedule (as are most things).

Go Vegetarian / Eat Less Meat

Meat can be expensive.  Veggies are generally cheap.  It makes sense, both finance-wise and health-wise, to eat more veggies.

Invest

This is a little scary to me, and something I have to research more before taking the plunge.  I will revisit this idea once I’m a little more comfortable with my financial situation.

Make it Automatic

I’m not really comfortable paying my bills automatically, but automatic contributions to my TFSA is another story, and something I really need to start doing again.  It’s much better to have my money sitting in a TFSA earning 2% interest opposed to sitting in my chequing account accumulating 4¢ a month.

Pay More than the Minimum / Make an Extra Payment

If I can swing it, it will reduce (or avoid) interest charges, and will help pay off the debt sooner. Again, if I can swing it.

Pay Myself First

It’s suggested that 10% of your income should go directly towards savings.  Currently I am saving 0%.  So basically, I can never retire unless I start paying myself.

Plan More

Shopping lists. Goals. A financial plan.  For someone that likes to plan you’d think this would already be done, but it’s not.  Money can be depressing.

Reward Programs

Yes, it’s annoying to have a wallet full of loyalty cards, but if it earns you free stuff, why not? For example, I have $200 with of “points” on my credit card, and $75 on my Shoppers Optimum card.  Why am I not redeeming them?? (Side note, I really miss the days of the Subway stamp cards…)

Start Early

The sooner you put money into a savings account, the longer it will accumulate interest for (and you can earn interest on that interest).  Or on the flip side, the sooner you pay down a debt, the less interest you’ll have to pay.  I need to keep this in mind so that maybe I can retire one day.

Stay Healthy

Even though I live in the land of free health care, and have health benefits, my issues with my neck/back are going to cost me over $700 (out of pocket) before the end of the year.  And really, I’m pretty healthy; I can’t imagine how much it would cost to not be.

Stop Comparing My Situation to Others

Usually comparing my situations to others makes me feel worse – “Why do I work 50-65 hours a week and make less money than that guy who works 35 hours?” Comparing doesn’t change the numbers, so just stop it, and deal with the cards I’ve been dealt.

Stop Making Excuses

Let’s be honest – my debt isn’t going anywhere, and chances are it’s going to get worse as I “grow-up” and get myself a husband, a house, and maybe some kids (but I’ll deal with that as it comes).  For now, I’m going to take my own advice and “Suck it up, buttercup”.  The sooner I get real about this, the sooner I can get it under control.

Stop Being Wasteful

I throw out more food then I’m comfortable admitting.  I have a bad habit of only grocery shopping 2-3 times a month, buying too much, and then the food goes bad before I get around to eating it.  Hopefully meal planning will help eradicate this.

Think Positive

Being negative isn’t going to help anyone, and is going to make budgeting seem like this awful, horrible thing where I have to sacrifice everything.  I need to think of it in terms of what this will open up for my future.

Use a Piggy Bank

The loose change in my car, and the extra weight in my wallet could easily add up and only takes a few moments to throw into a change jar or piggy bank.  I can easily sit down every now and then, roll it all while watching tv, and suddenly have more money.  (I need to either glue my – accidentally- smashed piggy bank back together or find me a new, equally adorable, one.)

Walk to Work

It takes me 10 minutes to walk to work, or 2 minutes to drive.  Short trips are horrible for wasting gas, and with winter right around the corner, chances are it’ll take me longer to scrape my windows in the morning then it would to just walk.  It’s cold, it’s boring, it sucks – but it’s good for my health too.

Quite the information overload between the two posts, right?  I do apologize for contributing to the personal finance blog posts that repeat the same generic crap (paraphrased from this funny/insightful post I read). [Not to say that they are all crap.  I’ve found some really good ones, and will be linking them from this site in the near future.] I know most of you don’t care about my finances, and really, I’m doing this for me (but thanks for humoring me anyways).  Maybe something here will be helpful to you?

This Post is Not Going to Help Me Save Money… (Part I)

Almost every Personal Finance blog I’ve browsed and/or started following recently includes multiple posts entitled “HOWEVER MANY TIPS TO SAVE HOWEVER MUCH MONEY IN WHATEVER AMOUNT OF TIME AND/OR ON WHATEVER OBJECT OR EVENT” – clearly, because it’s what people (especially those of us new to the PF world) want to know.

However, the thing with Personal Finance is just that – it’s personal.  My financial situation may be similar to others, but it’s uniquely mine, meaning there is a lot of information out there that simply does not apply to me.  Now, I’m pretty good at coming up with excuses for pretty much anything and everything, but every once and a while, my “excuses” are actually valid.  Like right now.

WAYS TO SAVE MONEY THAT I CANNOT DO / DO NOT APPLY TO MY SITUATION

Ask for a Raise / Ask for a Promotion / Work Over-Time

None of these are options with my current employer. My bosses know they can’t pay us what we’re worth, but that’s the reality of a not-for-profit job.  I’ve received (small) raises and bonuses before, but significant raises do not exist.  I can’t ask for a promotion because there is nowhere to promote me to – I am my entire department.  As for over-time, we get lieu time instead of extra income – which is great for my sanity, but not my bank account.  My part time job is paid by the hour, and I could potentially work more (sometimes all) shifts, but it’s exhausting and I end up miserable and sick and it’s probably not worth it.

Brew Your Own Coffee

I’m not one of those people that have to hit the drive-thru every morning on my way to work, but I did have a brief love-affair with Tim Horton’s upon discovering their Carmel Apple bagels (toasted with butter).  I would get up 10 minutes early and hit the drive-thru 2, or 3, or 4 times a week.  But I made myself stop before it got out of hand – all that money, all that gas, all that waste on disposable cups and wrappers, AND sacrificing 10 minutes of sleep?!?  NUTS!

Bundle Your Services

My cell phone and Internet are with two separate companies.  (I got rid of my cable and land line over 2 years ago.)  I have looked into cheaper plans for my cell and Internet, but there aren’t a lot of options in a city with only 2-3 companies to choose from.  And sadly, the prices keep going up.

Cancel / Cut-Up Credit Cards

I only have one credit card, and I can count on my thumbs how many times I’ve had a balance on it at the end of the month.  I only use it when traveling, or to pay for reimbursable medical expenses.

Coupons

Most coupons I come across are for products that I don’t need but I think that I do because I’m saving 50¢. For me, it’s more a trap to buy crap then it is to save.  I just look for things on sale instead, and save myself some time too.

DYI Maintenance

As a renter, the maintenance of my apartment is the landlord’s issues, not mine.  As for my car, I have a “freedom maintenance” plan for the first 4 years; they do all the oil changes, tire rotations, etc. at no extra cost to me.

Freelance

One, I’m looking to work LESS, not more. And two, I could get fired if I was to go off and teach drama on my own (conflict of interest) and I don’t know what else I would offer as a freelancer…

Get a Better Education

This could theoretically work if I was to change career paths, but for now, more schooling would only equal more debt for me.  I tried taking a few online college classes on “Effective Teacher Training”, but found the material far too simple and largely non-applicable as I do not teach within the school system.  As well, I cannot use more education as leverage to ask for a raise; I am already one of the most educated people working this office.

Make Your Own (Insert Item Here)

With a handful of exceptions, I suck at making all things.  It would be a waste of my time and resources and I would likely have to go out and buy the damn thing anyways.

Mortgages, Real Estate and Utilities

No real estate or mortgages for me – I rent a one bedroom apartment.  My rent includes utilities, so turning off the lights or taking shorter showers isn’t going to change my expenses at all – not that I’m purposely wasteful.

Sell My Stuff

I don’t have “stuff” to sell.  Even if I did, it wouldn’t generate enough money to be worth my time to hold a yard sale or post things on Kijiji.

Shop at Costco / Buy in Bulk

The closest Costco is over 400km away, and the one similar store here in town costs the same as the regular sized items.  There are the few things that make sense for me to buy in bulk, and I do, but it’s not significant to my budget/spending.

Take Advantage of Employer Discounts and Opportunities

Things like 401K matching, pension plans, and group rates for cell phone plans do not exist in my working world.

Talk About Money

Most PF bloggers are living with their partner and/or kids, so talking about money within the household are obviously important.  But it’s just me.

Travel Off-Season

I really, really wish I could!  But my job doesn’t allow for any lengthy time off except for Xmas and summer.  (I do my best and try to travel in early June.)

There are also things that are suggested that do apply to me, but aren’t things I’m willing to sacrifice or change at this point in my life.

THINGS THAT I DON’T WANT TO DO TO SAVE MONEY

Cancel your Credit Card

Again, I only have one card, and I pay it off each month.  How else am I going book flights online?

Cancel your Gym Membership

I debated this; I even looked into other gyms to see if I could find one that closer to my house and/or cheaper, but did not.  I like going to the gym, and as long as I get back into a habit of going at least twice a week, it’s well worth my $45 a month.

Cut Your Own Hair / DIY Spa Treatments

It costs me about $35-$40 per haircut, and I only get it cut 2-3 times a year.  I don’t go the spa, get my nails done, or take mud baths.   At the most, this would save me $100 a year, and it would probably be disastrous.

Give Up on Your Indulgences

I have no issue wearing second-hand clothes, or buying generic brands when it comes to most things, but I will not give up on my Lush addiction.  Sure I can buy shampoo from the dollar store, or wash my face with a bar of soap, but it’s just not worth it.  I will gladly pay $30 for a bottle of Cynthia Sylvia Stout shampoo and $20 for 9 to 5 face wash – because they work and make me feel pretty!

Homemade Gifts

I am not crafty, can barely sew, and I can’t bake.  I don’t think anyone would appreciate any thing homemade by me.

Make $$ Off This Blog

Ads!?!?!  Blerg!!!

Quit Drinking

I really don’t drink that often, and when I do it’s for social purposes.  (And the boyf usually pays.)

Sell Your Car

No way! My car is less than 3 years old, with just over 15,000km on it.  I’m still paying it off, and selling it now would likely result in a loss.  Also, public transportation in this city is horrible.

To reiterate what I said at the top of this post, these are the things that do not work for me in my current situation, but that doesn’t make it bad advice (at least I hope not, because they showed up on pretty much every blog I’ve seen).  Remember, it’s PERSONAL finance, so maybe these things apply to you?

[In Part II of this post, I will explore the advice that I have found useful.]

October Recap

Armed with the free version of the Money Wise app on my phone, I carefully tracked my spending throughout October, hoping to determine if I can finically quit my second job or not.  (Okay, so I wasn’t so great at tracking for the first few days, but I did really well the rest of the month.)  Ladies and gentlemen, this is how my month went:

[Note: I’ve purposely left out the dollar amounts for privacy reasons.]

Now I know why tracking is so important.  My spending is so much worse then I though. This SUCKS!

  • I have $0 going towards savings.  ZERO.
  • I am spending the same amount on fast food/restaurants as I am paying my student loan (which is the large, dark rain cloud constantly hanging over my head).
  • I spent more on fast food/restaurants then I did on groceries.
  • My utilities are actually double this, because this does not include my cell phone costs.  (I somehow pre-paid for 2 months, and was given a $20 promo when I upgraded my phone.)
  • My total debt repayment is approximately 17% of my spending – 7% for my student loan, and 10% for my car.  (My car expenses shown in the pie chart above include the loan, insurance, and gas.)
  • My medical expenses are really high, but this will decrease as my health improves.  I went to the chiropractor 10 times in October, but will now only be going 4 times a month, thus cutting this expense at least in half.
  • Travel was really high this month, too.  I spent a weekend out of town for a friend’s wedding (hotel, cabs, and airport parking fees).  As well, I booked my flight home for Xmas (on sale).  I’m expecting this to be 0% for November.
  • I only went to the gym twice, meaning each visit cost me $22.50.
  • I had 7 no-spend days this month (or perhaps days that I forgot to track), or 23% of the month.

But the pie chart doesn’t show the whole picture.  Factoring in my income, it gets worse – much worse…

  • I unexpectedly received $95 from the Government. (Yay!)
  • I didn’t track all my tips; I know I’m missing at least 5 shifts worth (which could be anywhere from $30-$75 that’s unaccounted for).
  • I was paid for 61 hours for my part time job (some hours were worked in September, but due to the pay schedule I was paid for them in October).
  • I still spent $385 more this month then I made

I thought I was doing alright, but without the second income (and that extra $95), I would have overspent by over $1,000!! That’s so depressing.  Not what I wanted to hear… Looks like I’ll be keeping that part time job after all.

Sigh.

So, here are my Financial Goals for November:

  • Make more money then I spend (this may be easy as it’s a 3 paycheck month, but on the other hand I’ll only be working 30 hours at my PT job).
  • Track every penny.
  • Have 10 no-spend days (or 33%).
  • Set and stick to a budget of only $100 on fast food (this would, sadly, cut that expense in half).
  • Contribute all the income made from my second job into my TFSA.  (I may redistribute this money later, but until I figure that out, it’s going to collect interest tax free.)
  • Go to the gym at least 12 times (thus costing me only $3.75 per visit).
  • Plan. Grocery shop.  Cook.  Even if it’s simple, and consists of cereal for dinner, this has to start happening. Yesterday.
  • For Christmas, figure out what gifts I want to buy, how much I want to spend, and start looking for deals.  (Also, figure out smart gifts to ask for.)
  • Do not use my RBC debit card (I was charged $4 in fees in October for going over my “free” limit).

Hopefully this is the kick in the ass I need to tighten my purse strings, and get things under control.