Archive | February 2012

Dear debt-ary

Dear debt-ary,

It has been a fun ride. We’ve spent an enjoyable few several years together. You helped me get through university and even funded a drink (or ten). You waited patiently while I traveled far and wide. In fact, you encouraged me because you knew it meant you could stick around longer and grow. If only I were as smart as you, debt-ary.

You saw me through good times and bad. You waited and waited while I looked for my first job out of university. In fact, you even agreed not to grow for a few months. You waited once again while I went back to school. Now you’re back. This time I’m ready for this relationship to end.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, and my early 20s would not have been the same without you. You afforded me luxuries that I wouldn’t have been able to indulge in without you. More importantly, you afforded me an education. For that I thank you. But now it’s time to go. In two short months, I am wiping you out forever. I’ll be replacing you with a new friend named savings and I have a feeling this relationship will be a lot less toxic.

Once again, thank you and goodbye.

LF

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Sorry sorry, I know this song is sad but I just have to post it. I heard this band on the Grammys for half a second (not nearly long enough) and had to find out more. This is the most heartbreakingly gorgeous song I’ve heard in a long long time.

Do you love it? Well now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you, let me add in my favourite sappy song for good measure 🙂

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my single and attached friends!

LF

Boo to holiday spending!

theoatmeal.com

Is Valentine’s Day just a commercial holiday that brings awareness to singles and forces couples to overspend on yet another holiday (read: anniversary, birthday, Christmas, Kwanzaa…)? The short answer is yes.Valentine’s Day is lame so my advice to you is to ignore all the commercials, cards and fluffy bears and just get drunk. Or…spend time together or something. Or spend time together getting drunk!

A day together

When I first started dating the bf, I got excited about silly holidays and decided that we had to do gifts for anything that was remotely celebratrate-able. We had to do fancy dinners and buy each other cutesy gifts. Lame. Never again! This year we aren’t doing very much at all for V-day and definitely aren’t doing gifts. In fact, I don’t even want anything for my birthday this year (gasp). For bf’s bday last year, he asked me not to get him anything because he wanted me to focus on my debt. I appreciated that but still wanted to celebrate, so on his birthday, I took him out for a day downtown and we did all sorts of fun stuff including brunch and a brewery tour. It was a bit freezing that day but had it been summer, the options would have been endless! I’m hoping to do something similar for my bday, sans gifts, plus warm weather.

A joint fund

We were out with some friends yesterday and I asked another couple about their gift giving policy. They explained that instead of getting each other random gifts that they may or may not like/need, they would rather pool some money into a joint fund that can be used for fun things like trips. I loved this idea and have been thinking that this might be a welcome alternative to traditional gift-giving.

Baked goods!

For occasions, I usually bake the bf his favourite pastries. Baked goods tend to go over well with men (and ladies too, gents!). Plus they require a little more time and effort than just picking up some cologne at the store 🙂

Of course I haven’t forgotten the single ladies. Having spent the majority of my life as a sole wanderer, I understand how absurdly irritating this one day can be so why not spend it with some gal pals? Dinner. Martinis. Baking. Yes please! Leslie Knope would agree.

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

Travel: The best and worst thing I’ve ever done

The other day I was ruminating over the best and worst ways in which I’ve spent my dough. I was surprised to find that travel ranked pretty high on each of those lists.

Best ways I’ve spent my money: Travel. Education. My laptop. My Repetto booties.

Worst ways I’ve spent my money: Travel. Eating out. Buying more clothing than I’ll ever need.

Repetto. Charming ballet/shoe store in Paris.

So, how does the same item end up topping both lists you ask? 

Travel is something that has played a major part in my recent life, and has been sprinkled throughout my early 20s. A dash of Italy here. A hint of Paris there. Some of it I wouldn’t change for the world – I had always wanted to visit Italy, France, and Greece to name a few. I was happy to have been able to save the money and go while I was as young as I was. Carpe diem, right?

I said yes to everything. Friend needs a roommate for her Cuba grad trip? Yes! Friend has always wanted to visit British Columbia, want to come? Yes! Hey, wanna go to the Dominican? Yes! I felt like I was always entitled to trips because I worked hard and made money. Oh wait, that’s not even true because I had no income when I took those three trips. I never budgeted so I never knew what I could and could not afford and didn’t even think about how much I was spending on each trip. Since I never did it back then, let’s guesstimate and tabulate my costs now…you know, just for some PF fun.

Costa Rica. Spot the alligator?

Trips I loved

  1. Italy/France – $2,000
  2. Greece/England – $2,000
  3. Costa Rica- $1,500

Grand Total: $5,500

Trips I could have done without

  1. Vancouver – $1,000
  2. Spain – $2,000
  3. Cuba – $1,300
  4. Dominican Republic – $1,300
  5. Alberta – $1,000

Grand Total: $6,600

(Note: None of this includes my month in Paris that cost well in excess of $7k. Not even sure which category it  falls under.)

Uh, what? My absolutely unnecessary, sometimes spur of the moment trips probably cost more than the ones I really value? And as much as I like to tell myself I earned and paid for my major European trips, the fact that I didn’t go further into debt to travel does not discount the fact that I stalled my debt repayment to travel. *Guilty feelings*

That, my friends, is the reason that traveling is the best and worst thing I’ve ever done. I love the idea of getting to know a new city and culture. I love meeting the people, trying the food, visiting the sites. The lesson for me though, is to use some financial sense while doing the things you love. Budget, figure out what is really important to you and make the time and money for it.

And that’s that!

LF

Do you ever regret traveling?

Restaurant ban?

Last week I am proud to say I did not go out to eat once. This week was on track to sharing the same fate. I’ve been going home and relaxing every single night, old lady that I am. I enjoy the downtime and more importantly, going home is free. An empty social calendar means I can safely say my discretionary costs for the week will be low and that gives me some peace of mind.

I was almost free and clear until yesterday. My good friend – we’ll call her Tinkerbell – texted me and asked if I wanted to go for cheap martinis at a really yummy restaurant downtown. Tinkerbell is always tempting me with offers like this and quite honestly I don’t understand where she has the funds to go out to eat all the time considering she isn’t currently working AND pays rent for a condo downtown.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame my friend for inviting me out. It’s more like I blame myself for not being able to resist.

Does anyone ever have this problem when trying to live frugally? I find eating out the toughest thing to overcome because it’s social and it’s hard to say no to catching up with a good friend and eating yummy food just because you don’t want to spend money. I have in fact rejected dinner plans in the past for this reason but it can be difficult to do all the time.

At the end of the day I managed to be frugal with my dinner tab by deciding to opt out of martinis (cheap martinis still rack up a hefty bill!) and shared a pizza with Tinkerbell. My bill was a whopping $10 with tax and tip, which is really nothing to stress over. But I can’t help but think that I could have also just as easily gone home with the $10 in my pocket.

I know that Fabulously Broke has decided to cut out restaurant spending and I don’t blame her. Eating out is a complete indulgence and one that I find unnecessary. The bf feels the same way and we’ve just about completely cut it out. Friends are another story. I find random friends coming out of the woodwork suggesting dinner plans.When it’s someone I like and haven’t seen in ages, I usually oblige.

I’m sure some of you will suggest coffee dates and I do have a few fellow-frugalista-friends (say that 10 times fast!) that will always suggest coffee and it’s great. When it’s a bigger group, however, it somehow automatically becomes dinner.

What do you think? How do you manage to stay social while cutting spending?

LF

Happy Groundhog Day!

Can I just say that this here bloggy is getting all sorts of hits from people searching terms related to groundhog day? I swear folks, it’s just sheer coincidence that I’ve found several hilarious pictures of groundhogs in the past few days.

So incase anyone has stopped by my little site by accident, I suppose I should make it worth your while and let you know that the groundhog has predicted six more weeks of winter.

Watching the news this morning, not only do I find it hilarious that there is a ceremony regarding said groundhog, but that a massive crowd of people was booing the poor guy! Here in Toronto, we’ve been having a pretty mild winter to begin with so I can definitely deal with another six weeks. Thanks for the update, Phil!

LF