Archive | January 2012

April

It’s quickly approaching.

Do you ever get that so-excited-you-can-hardly-stand-it feeling? It’s the feeling I used to get before a big trip but now it’s the feeling I get when I think of April. No, not because it’s Will and Kate’s first anniversary. Not even because April showers bring May flowers. Although that is a nice bonus. April is the month that my financial situation takes a huge turn for the better.

  • As I’ve mentioned before, I plan to have my debt paid off by May 1, 2012. At just over $6,000, this is very attainable. It will mean paying down an aggressive $2,000/month until then, but my impending tax return will give me a little wiggle room.
  • My job contract ends at the beginning of April. I’ve been working very hard at my job and am hoping that this resonates with my boss and that I will be kept on full-time. Historically, most interns have transitioned into full-time roles so I am hoping that I’m no exception. Of course I have to be ready for anything but right now I am cautiously optimistic. I love the company already and I think it will be a great long-term fit.
  • Assuming I do get hired on, I can expect a significant raise (anything is significant when minimum wage is my basis for comparison!). No debt and a nice raise? Hello!

These are the reasons I can hardly contain my excitement. I know that after April, I will feel much more….free. For instance, I will be able to afford to take some Saturdays and/or Sundays off serving to enjoy the summer. This is a far cry from last summer where I worked almost every single weekend. It was a huge sacrifice when every time I went into work, the sun was shining and I wanted nothing more than to go to the beach or sit on a patio with the bf…instead, I was serving on a patio!

So there you have it! April, April, April. I assure you nothing will top it except maybe meeting a real live panda. As February approaches, the countdown is definitely on! Three months! Three months! Stay posted on this here blog and as always, thanks for reading.

LF

P.S. I’m sure you will notice that the blog has undergone a much-needed makeover. It’s still a work in progress but I changed the WordPress design plus finally made my own banner. The background is from Monet’s waterlilies – actually, from a photo I took from the real waterlilies in Giverny, France! Cool eh?

‘Tell me something interesting about yourself’

As some of you may know, I just started a new job at the beginning of January. Next week, we have a town hall meeting and as a new staff member I’ve been asked to write a short bio. Of course this bio should include ‘something interesting about yourself that other staff members may want to know.’ I’ve always hated this question because I automatically think that there is nothing interesting about me. I got to thinking and actually, yes! There are lots of interesting things about me. Since I’m generally pretty enigmatic, I thought I would  share some of them on this here bloggy:

  • I once hiked a 100km trail in 32 hours to raise money for charity.
  • I sky dived for the first time in Victoria B.C. and it was exhilarating. I would do it again!
  • I spent a month in Paris last summer on a whim. It was incredible but lonely at the same time.
  • I discovered I suffer from sea sickness when I puked in the Pacific Ocean years ago. On the plus side, I saw a small shark in that very ocean while scuba diving!
  • I once had a shot of Ouzo lit on fire…in my mouth.

As I reflect on some of my cool experiences, I notice that the bulk of them occurred while on my various travels. As much as I despise my debt, I don’t regret funnelling my money into travelling in my early 20s. It was (is) a passion and besides the whole not having money thing, my early 20s were the perfect time to do it. Now that I’m in a committed relationship, I probably wouldn’t pick up and leave on a moment’s notice.

As I get closer to the debt finish line, I realize that it could have come a lot sooner. But so what? I would have been a few bucks richer and a lifetime of experiences poorer. Although I may not be a saucy vixen like Madonna, we definitely agree on one thing: Absolutely no regrets.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve done?

The one about gift giving

I love gifts as much as the next girl. I especially love them when they come in a nice…turquoise…little box!

Hello, lover

I digress. I love gifts but since this Little Frugalista became, well, a Little Frugalista, she was more than happy to learn that a good friend did not want to do gifts this year. Basically my friend (let’s call her La Fawnduh) thought it would be a better idea for us girls to just have a nice dinner together sans gifts.

La Fawnduh, you are so wise

I probably sound like a cheap #$#(% for not wanting to get my childhood friend a gift, but hear me out! For as long as I can remember, five of us girls have been rotating gifts to each other. And when I say rotating, I mean just that. All of our birthdays fall within the first half of the year and what ends up happening is we pool our money and get the birthday girl a gift card because apparently we can’t think of anything more creative than…a gift card. I feel like over the years, it has just become a ritual and we’ve just sort of kept it up for the sake of keeping it up. I used to love getting the gift cards because they gave me an excuse to shop. Now I despise them. Why? That question can easily be answered by going through my wallet. And since none of you will have the pleasure of going through my wallet, let me just tell you. I have a Banana Republic gift card that dates back to a year ago. I have an Apple gift card that dates back to two years ago. I have a Sephora gift card that’s also about a year old. I sometimes go into these stores but immediately become discouraged when I realize nothing at Banana can be purchased with my measly $25 card. And I’ll take 1% of a computer at Apple with my $30 card, please! Gift cards make me spend more money. 

So thank you La Fawnduh for nipping that in the bud. Well, I suppose more like nipping that in very full bloom? Weeeird but awesome.

Now insert friend two. I assume upon fear of a similar predicament as La Fawnduh, when mentioning friend two’s upcoming birthday, classy broad that she is exclaimed, “Presents please.” Wtf?! Asking for presents may go down in history as the tackiest thing of life. She requested a specific book so that will be easy enough, but I sure am dumbfounded. It’s funny how my various friends approach gift giving.

I’m all for giving gifts when they mean something to you and person you are giving them to, but when it becomes a rush job because everyone’s birthday falls within two to three months of each other and ends up being The Great Big Gift Card Exchange, what’s the point?

My birthday is creeping up on me as well (not for another four months) and I’m sure you can all guess what I’m going to do. No presents please. And I mean that.

Debt update

I’m very excited because between getting a government GST cheque of $96 and selling an old textbook for $60, I have a bit of extra cash and didn’t have to do very much to get it! This week I’m going to put another big payment into my loan and this will bring my total down to about $6800!

Update: Just did it this morning. It’s always such a rush to pay down my loan in huge chunks. Funny that the rush I used to feel from buying a cute dress has evolved into a rush from paying down debt. Oh how times have changed.

My payoff schedule is not very forgiving for the next 3 months so I’m trying to figure out new ways to make a bit of extra cash. It looks like this month I will fall a bit short of paying off $2000. I really, really don’t want to serve anymore than I already do (this would mean picking up weeknight shifts, yuck) so I have a few things up my sleeve.

– Secret shopping. I recently read about Bestmark on another blog as a decent secret shopping service. Unfortunately I think they pay better in the States than they do here in Canada because the shops that are up right now are for the Estee Lauder counter (yay, makeup!) and only reimburse you up to $15 for your purchase and pay you $7 for the shop. Yay, I’ll have 1/2 a lipstick please! Ugh. Basically I’m just hoping that I can do some restaurant shops and eat for free and make a few bucks. In terms of money goals? FAIL. 

– Focus groups. I’ve always thought back to the one focus group I did back in university. All I had to do was sit around and talk about my bank for an hour or two and came out with $60. Easiest money I ever made! I had been thinking about it the other day and as luck would have it, a friend of mine mentioned she had started doing them! She said she’d refer me to the person sending her to them so I was happy about that. Then yesterday, I spoke with my cousin who apparently has also been doing them too! He said he’d refer me to his person too. Now all I have to do is harass my friend and/or cousin to give me the names of their contacts so that I can be sent over to a few focus groups. A few of these a month would definitely put a good dent in my loan. Besides, my opinions rock so who wouldn’t want me in their focus group. Money goals? PASS.

– Freelance writing. This probably won’t happen in the next three months but as an ongoing goal, I would like to secure a few writing projects. To do so, I first started by calling up an old teacher from my communications program who made a career out of freelance writing. He referred me to a few books and gave me some helpful hints so I’m hoping I will actually be proactive about this and sell myself well enough to secure some projects. My ultimate goal for the year would be to transition myself out of waitressing as a side gig and into freelance writing. Money goals? PENDING. 

Those are just a few things I have up my sleeve. Am I looking for a get-rich-quick scheme? Nahhh. Am I looking to hustle some cash fast in order to make my loan payoff deadline of May 1? Heck yes!

 

Press the panic button please

Two years ago it was 2010.

Two years ago I had a job. I mean, a real full-time job that paid me more than minimum wage.

Two years ago my life was pretty stable. And I left it all to start over again with a new career. I never regretted this decision…until a few days ago. All that I sacrificed suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks. The money. The time. The…money. I got to thinking about it and it hit me that I had sacrificed a year of my life to go back to school, meaning tuition money and the opportunity cost ($40,000+ for the year). On top of that, when I finally did finish I made $500/month for four months and $1200/month thereafter (Is this even legal?). And now I make minimum wage. Not only would I have been out of debt but I would have saved a fair bit in the past 1.5 years had I stayed at my old job. Instead, I’m scraping by working two jobs trying desperately to pay off my loan and finally start saving some money.

Isn’t it funny when you’re completely certain about something and all of a sudden you’re…not? Careers are interesting. Some people will settle for the status quo because it pays the bills. They believe that as long as they find fulfillment outside of work, the sheer mundaneness of work is negligible. Some people simply cannot tolerate it and take a leap of faith. I guess I fall into the latter category.

So, what now? That’s easy: I can only move forward, not back. In fact, I had a small window of opportunity to move back in time a few weeks ago. I (almost) got offered a job that was very similar to the job I had pre-school, only it was for a better company that paid fairly well. It took every ounce of my being to withdraw my application and accept my current minimum-wage-paying internship instead. Talk about a leap of faith. I must sound crazy but let me explain. This job is for a great company in my chosen field, but with a few remnants from my prior work experience. In short, it perfectly harmonizes all of my experience and schooling. It’s a dream come true. Oh, and it pays minimum wage. I’m really just banking on the fact that I get hired on come April and I’m really really hoping my starting salary is decent. I think if that happens, I will finally be happy with the path I took.

I guess my recent journey can be described best by the Robert Frost poem entiteld The Road Not Taken:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I hope it makes all the difference.

LF

A few great things happened today

So I’ve been super busy the past little while…okay, that isn’t entirely true. I’ve been lounging around for the past two weeks taking a break from the hustle and bustle of this past year. I became a professional lady of leisure and spent my time taking in some hot yoga classes (put to use a promotional package I bought ages ago so I was happy about that!), seeing friends and just generally being lazy before real life kicked in again. As for serving, I did not work above and beyond my regular weekend hours even though I essentially had two weeks off from my weekday grind. This was a conscious decision and I’m definitely glad I did it even though I was itching to make a bit more last-minute, year-end cash.

Right now, I’m sitting on the couch watching Seinfeld and thinking about all the really awesome things that happened today. Some money-related, some not, all awesome.

  • I started my new job. Everyone seems really great and I have a feeling I’m really going to enjoy working there. Initially I am on a three month contract but it looks like the company has a great track record for keeping interns on full time. My boss seems like the nicest man alive and he’s even going to take me for lunch on Friday! I will definitely express my interest in staying on during that time.
  • I managed to exchange a Secret Santa gift. I ended up having two SS parties and put the exact same wishlist up for each of these. Duhhh me. The list consisted of all the Seinfeld DVDs that I did not yet own and I guess I was hoping my friends would magically know which ones to get me. But alas, one of the seasons overlapped and I ended up with two shiny copies of season 6! Neither of my Santas had a receipt for me so I decided to take my chances at HMV and see if they would exchange it for me. Sure enough, not only did they exchange it, but they gave me back a $5 credit because of the price decrease. Yay!
  • I got a big payday from my part time job! As it happens, although I barely worked during my holiday, I did end up working long hours on BOTH statutory holidays. Hellooooo time and a half! In addition, I got paid for Christmas and I asked for my vacation pay to be paid out. With this fat paycheck I think my end of December (well, beginning of January but close enough) loan balance will be even lower than my goal of $8000! Happy new year indeed!
  • I will be in my third wedding party this year, and this time as the Maid of Honour! I’m honoured and ecstatic that my dear friend asked me and I can’t wait for all the wedding hooplah to begin!

Apologies for the over-usage of exclamation points. Can you tell I’m excited? Overall,  this is shaping up to be a fantastic year and I can’t wait to see what it has in store! Happy new year to everyone and I hope this year brings you everything you hoped for.

LF