Archive | March 2012

A life (and spending) update

Sorry it has been so long since I’ve updated you guys on life. I’ve been working, volunteering and generally fretting about my finances as usual 🙂 Here are a few ‘one time’ expenditures I’ve made lately that are eating away at my budget!

My Photoshop class – $162 

This is something I’ve wanted to do for awhile as graphic design skills are definitely a bonus in my field. I’m hoping this is a sound investment in my future! My only issue now is actually getting Photoshop (for Mac) on my computer. Not sure how I will swing that as it costs an arm and a leg!

RW&Co shopping spree – $165

I went into RW on Sunday, their 30% off (!!) event looking to check out a dress I had been eyeing for a wedding. Ummm yeah. That didn’t happen (they didn’t have my size) but several other items did. I’ve also learned that my mother is the biggest enabler of them all, encouraging me to get new tank tops to replace my old tattered ones, telling me I need tops to go with my new pants, etc. I rarely shop so this was a welcome treat and I got some really cute stuff for work! My credit card is not happy but I am.

Between these two items, I am getting behind track on paying off my debt ($3k left!) by early May. I also have to pay for a wedding gift for bf and I for a friend’s wedding at the end of April. Normally each of us pays the full gift amount depend whose friend is getting married but since all the weddings this year are my friends, I’m hoping he’ll pitch in! Unfortunately I’m not yet full time at my internship so I’m getting anxious about that but I am being extended through to the end of May so I have until then to secure full time employment either there or elsewhere. I have been doing up my resume and sending it out like crazy!

In other news, I started reading the Hunger Games yesterday and should be done tonight or tomorrow on the train. I’m officially obsessed and can’t wait to see the movie this weekend! Has anyone seen it?

Hope everyone is doing well this week! Talk soon 🙂

 

I guess I won’t make my deadline

Sooo if I thought the measly $66 spent last weekend was bad, missing work both Saturday and Sunday was catastrophic! This was the second time I missed a weekend of work due to illness and it has ticked me off yet again! It also reminds me that no matter how much I try to control my budget, some things are out of my control. I know that it’s crunch time in terms of reaching my goal date of May 1 but considering it is a completely arbitrary date I set for myself ages ago, if it gets delayed a bit, that’s okay. So right now I’m thinking that it will be pushed to mid May.

I was going to wait until my last payment went through, but since OSAP takes forever to post them, I’ve decided to just post it anyways:

My last payment was $1175 which pushes my balance to almost the $3k mark! I can’t believe it’s so near the end and I’m not even sure what I’m going to do with myself once it’s over. Oh right, save money for once in my life.

Update: I missed Monday at my 9-5 too due to my wretched ailment. Because it’s contract, I don’t know if I’ll take a pay hit because of it. Ohhhh how I long to be a full-time employee again!

Enough gloom and doom from me. How is your week going?

Say no to shoes

I said no to shoes. Are you proud of me? Well you should be because I’d be proud of you if you said no to shoes.

Just do it!

I love shoes as much as the next girl so when I walked into the Bay, I think this was a sign from heaven:

CLEARANCE SALE

I walked towards the light shoe racks and perused for a good hour. A lot of the stuff was picked over, as I think they’ve been marking their winter stuff down since January, but I still managed to find some really cute stuff in size 6. The one pair that I really liked was a pair of kitten-heeled, slingback Anne Klein shoes in gold alligator print. They were marked down to $70 with an additional 50% off!

Found them! Cute right?

I stared at them on my feet for several minutes and finally said NO. Luckily this was a mental NO or the outburst would have surely warranted a few stares.

So why did I say no besides the obvious frugalista reasons? I’ve been inspired by a few bloggers to adopt a more minimalist approach to my wardrobe. The reason I have so much stuff is not because I go shopping all the time now but because in the past, I said YES to anything and everything that was on sale. This has led to a very full wardrobe and a very empty wallet. I really think I was more excited by the sense of accomplishment of finding a great deal than owning the product itself.

And that, my friends, is how I’ve accumulated so much random crap. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure all the random crap can be pieced together to make a lovely quilt one day…I would name it the Quilt of Crap and it would most definitely keep me warm at night.

Here are the questions I ask myself when contemplating a sale purchase:

Is this something I would buy if it weren’t on sale?

Is this something I will get a lot of wear out of?

Will this go with many items in my wardrobe?

Is this similar to anything else I own?

Will this do my taxes and keep me warm at night like my Quilt of Crap?

(Correct answers: heck yes, you betcha, ohhh ya, gosh no, and a resounding YESSS!)

The moral of this story is not to stop buying clothing or shoes – because come on, we may be frugal but we’re not hobos – but to shop for classic yet modern quality pieces, not just cheap thrills. Now if something happens to be all of the above, then congrats – you’ve struck shopping gold!

So tell me, are you a sucker for bargains? Do you have a closet filled with random crap you bought on sale?

My pricy and awesome weekend

Ever since catching the case of the frugals about a year ago, I’ve really cut back on fun spending. I still try to see friends and do fun things but in moderation. This kind of bites but it has definitely paid off! Now that I’m almost out of debt (yay!) I’ve been trying to focus on making as much and saving as much until May when I am set to pay off my school loan. So you can all imagine how guilty I was feeling when I went out Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Not only did I spend money each time but I had some super long days because I also worked each day. Tiring, bank-breaking, but glorious.

I know it may be ridiculous for someone that claims to blog about personal finance, but I am horrible at tracking all my purchases. I monitor everything I’ve spent via my credit card statement throughout the month and also how much cash on hand and adjust my spending accordingly but I don’t categorize each purchase and evaluate. There is a reason I don’t do weekly spending reports like so many other bloggers.

I’ve decided to make an exception for this weekend because I am curious to see how much it cost me and also want to tell you about my weekend!

Friday
Went to work (day job) and met a really good friend whom I haven’t seen in ages. We went for Thai food and then over to her place for tea. I actually suggested a Starbucks and she suggested her nearby condo for a frugal option. Sweet!

Spending:

Thai food: $16

Saturday
I had an opening shift at the restaurant, which would normally last until after the lunch rush at 2-3pm but it got incredibly busy and I wasn’t out until 4:30! This wasn’t fun as the bf and I were going to a birthday party and expected to be at laser tag (yup, you heard me) for 4. I rushed out of work, went home and changed and raced out the door. Laser tag was absolutely hilarious with a few of us grown ups battling it out with little kids. These kids meant business and I found myself being ganged up on by groups of kids that couldn’t have been more than 3 feet tall 🙂 I won’t count the cost of this as the bf paid but at $9 per person per 20 minute game, this could add up very fast! Luckily we were only there for one round so it didn’t get overly costly. Afterwards, we all went to an Indian restaurant to eat. They didn’t do separate checks so another girl and I worked through the bill and figured out each person’s total. It went very smoothly!

Spending:

Indian food – $20

Note: BF and I had a joint total of $40 and normally one of us would just pay but because we both had some cash, we each paid our portion. I have yet to write a post about how we handle finances but I will, I promise!

Other note: Figuring out tabs with large groups can be difficult but this time around, the girl helping me had a really good idea for simplifying just a tad. Instead of figuring out each person’s subtotal, tax and tip, we figured out the overall tip, then added the tip and the tax together and divided by the number of people. Then we took each person’s subtotal and added in that fixed amount. I know this isn’t completely accurate but because each person’s total didn’t vary by a huge amount, the difference would have been miniscule anyway.

Sunday

I went to a bridal shower! This was fun and I got to see a bunch of my high school girlfriends. There was a great spread of food (hello, sushi!) and even though I find shower games super lame, they were actually fun. Afterwards, I went to work. It was super busy yet again!
Spending:

Shower gift – $30 (A few of us chipped in for a teapot and grater off the registry. I completely forgot to give my friend this cash to pay her back but I’ve set it aside for her.)
Grand total: $66

I can breathe again. This is not nearly as horrible as I thought it would be! I normally spend next to nothing on the weekends because I try not to make plans due to work but this was a rare exception where I had plans each day. I’m learning to feel less guilty about spending money slowly but surely. I’m also grateful that I have a part-time job that not only supplements my income but is flexible enough that I can make plans around it. This is the main reason I’ve stuck around for as long as I have. My managers like me and are very flexible in terms of days off and almost always give me the shifts that I want!
How was your weekend?

I’m the last person on Earth with a not-so-smart-phone

Yup, I said it. And it isn’t just me that’s saying it. The other day I was in line with a friend and showed her my “ghetto” phone. The person behind us in line just had to chime in with “Wow, that is ghetto!”. Really, random guy in line? Really? I’ve never been an early adopterwhen it comes to new technology and this here is a prime example. When did people start getting smart with their phones, like 1993? I’ve been in denial about my need for a smart phone (just like I was with DVDs, mp3 players, and just about everything else) but I’ve finally accepted that I can’t live without one. I think my moment of ultimate realization came a few months ago after I had interviewed for a job. I was out with the bf all day afterwards but since it was Friday, I was dying to write my interviewers a thank you email that day as opposed to waiting until Monday. I borrowed the bf’s smartphone to write the email. Half an hour later I checked for a response. Sure enough, I had gotten the job! This turned into a day of celebration that would not have happened without the help of a nifty smartphone. Here are a few more reasons I need a smartphone:

  • I love me some mobile uploads. Ever since the bf got his smartphone, every time we do something fun I ask him to take a pic and put it on my Facebook. Shouldn’t I be able to do this while I’m by myself too?
  • I have not reached my full Twitter potential. I need to be able to Tweet on the go and Twitpic every hilarious thing I see!
  • Desperate situations. When I’m meeting someone and don’t have their number on hand, being able to email comes in very handy.
  • Boredom-killer. Doctor’s office? Bus? Waiting in line? Nothing would beat my boredom blues like internet hilarity. (Example: I could be staring at this Barbie wedding while in line at the grocery store!)

The thing is, this little non-smart-puppy costs me about $35 a month with my Rogers contract. I know that I’ll be paying a bunch more once I get a phone with data. Plus my contract lasts until October ish. I’m thinking I can wait till next summer when the new iPhone 5 comes out. By then I’ll be in a good place to renegotiate my contract and get a good deal. From what I’ve seen online on nerd tech forums, I think the very lowest I can pay is $50-$60 per month. If I’m going to be locked into a contract in order to get a good price for my new phone, I better be getting the best deal out there! Any advice regarding this is more than welcome!

Do you have a smartphone? Is it ridiculous that I’m even asking?

LF

The price of time

I’ve recently been grappling with a really awesome problem: to quit or not to quit my part time job?

I say this is an awesome problem because I love the fact that it’s finally an option. For the past year I’ve forced myself to stick with it, working almost every single weekend. It hasn’t been horrible and it has helped me a little lot in paying down my debt. As my debt deadline of May 1 quickly approaches, I’ve started thinking about what comes next. Do I continue to work weekends and increase my savings? Do I quit and just not save as quickly? The natural answer to me is the former. I have the potential to save a significant amount of money if I keep my serving job. This got me thinking about time. I could easily keep my job and work every weekend and save money, but so what? What do I sacrifice?

Time with the bf

It becomes very difficult to spend time together when we have to work around my very limited weekends. Sometimes it’s just downright miserable working all weekend and not being able to do anything together. This past weekend we took a short overnight trip to see a hockey game and even though it wasn’t to anywhere exciting, spending time together and not having to work was a fantastic feeling.

Time with friends

Last summer I had to miss a weekend away with friends because I forced myself to work. I knew I could have booked the weekend off if I wanted to but I also knew that the opportunity cost of not working/spending money on the trip was simply not justifiable.

Time outdoors

Speaking of summer, missing an entire summer of fun weekends was just excruciating! Every Saturday night I had to go into work, I just thought of how much I wanted to sit out on a patio – not serve on one!

Time with family

I just love hanging out with my 9 year old cousin and there have been several times where she has come over and I have to rush out to work. The poor thing is always so disappointed!

Saving money is great, but so is spending time doing the things you love with the people you love. Right now the plan is to work a crapload in May and then think about leaving. One thing is certain: when I finally get my weekends back, I will never take them for granted again.

LF

Why I dislike all-inclusive resorts

I’m sure many of you will disagree with me on this one but hear me out! Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit two all-inclusive resorts. One was in Cuba and the other was in the Dominican Republic. I had a lovely time on each of these trips but in both cases I was left with the feeling that I could have done without them. Here are a few reasons.

Pool, beach, eat, sleep, repeat

For some people this might sound like the perfect week. For me, it is quite the snoozer when it repeats itself for 7 whole days. Perhaps I’d be okay with the shorter 3-4 day trips, but the two I have been on have been 7 whole days! Trust me, by day 3 it gets old.

Anything fun costs extra money

People love these trips because they’re ‘cheap.’ And okay, I guess they are cheap compared to a grandiose trip to Europe. But that grandiose trip to Europe is probably way more memorable and unique than lying on a beach all day everyday. Anything remotely fun (i.e. scuba diving, catamaran tours) cost an arm and leg. So congrats, you’re stuck on a resort or you pay a few extra hundred to have fun. Orrr I could just go somewhere else and have an entirely fun trip.

I’m not an alcoholic or a binge eater

People also love these trips because of the unlimited supplies of food and alcohol. First off, the drinks are sugary and watered down…yuck. Secondly, the food can be good but how much do I want to binge on? I’m a small person!

I love planning adventures

I guess it all boils down to what type of traveler you are. I recently took a trip to Costa Rica that was not an all-inclusive. Planning all of our locations and activities was half the fun! We did such a wide array of activities and saw tons of places. I crave the adventure and experience that come with planning your own unique trip.

This is just my little opinion and I can name you several people that will vehemently disagree with me. I love to travel and when I do it, I want to do just that: travel. I want to experience, explore and discover. And to me that just isn’t spending 7 days doing the same things, seeing the same things, and eating the same food.

What kind of traveler are you? Do you disagree with me? Do you hate me for saying such things about paradise?  

LF