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May goals

Hope everyone is having a great start to their weekend! I sure am. I just attended a fantastic Red Hot Chili Peppers concert here in Toronto. If anyone is able to see them on their tour this year, you’re in for a real treat! This concert actually got me thinking about a few things I would like to do over the next few weeks.

Rediscover the music I love

This one stems directly from the concert. As the band played songs I knew and loved, I realized just how little I actually take the time to listen to music. Even on the subway I usually opt for a book or the Economist. Growing up I loved listening to Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Fleetwood Mac and of course RHCP to name a few. Under the Bridge still moves me every time. Led Zeppelin IV is still my favourite album and it’s sadly collecting dust in my room.

Tweet more

When I say tweet more, I mean from my blog account. I’ve noticed that tweeting is a great way to engage with other bloggers/readers and it still isn’t something I’ve put into practice. With that I urge you, kind readers, to take a look at that Twitter sidebar riiight to the right of your screen and please follow me 🙂 I’m attempting to tweet more but with all of two followers (thanks Modest Money!) I’m doing the equivalent of having a conversation with myself. Please follow me before I become that crazy lady babbling to herself on the street!

Set a real budget

I have a blog-fession to make. I haven’t been following any sort of real budget this year *gasp*. It has worked out okay and I’ve (almost) reached my target debt payoff date but now that all my money will be mine again, it is more crucial than ever that I keep on track with new savings goals.

Sidenote: YAY I finally get to start saving!

Read more

Right now I’m reading the second Hunger Games book and I’m sorry Hunger Games lovers who may love all the book, but I kind of despise this one. Why has Katniss become so tortured and annoying? When did this become Twilight? I’m only about a third of the way through so I am hoping it gets better. I would like to read two more novels this month as well.

There you have it. Simple and perfectly attainable goals, no?

What are your goals for May? What are your thoughts on the second Hunger Games book? What are you doing this weekend? Share share share!

Wedding are expensive

I love weddings. I love ALMOST everything about weddings. I love dressing up, I love the food, I love the open bar (!), and of course the whole wedded bliss thing. What I don’t love? The cost associate with weddings. This year I have three weddings to attend, one in which I am part of the wedding party. Here are a few things I’ve been contemplating lately when it comes to these weddings.

Placeholders/favours at a friend's wedding

How much should a bridal shower gift cost? 

The reason I ask this is that I’ve normally spent around $30, but for a wedding coming up in June, my friends wanted to go splitsies on a gift (as we often do) but they wanted to spend $50 on a gift. I had to politely decline my inclusion as I am just not comfortable spending that much. I felt like the ‘cheap friend’ doing this but I knew I would end up a Bitter Betty if I simply complied. Now, the thing that bugged me about this was that my friend’s reasoning for spending so much was the fact that the bride often spends a lot on our gifts for different occasions. Although I agree she may spend more than some people, she is fairly wealthy while I’m in a place where I need to frantically pinch my pennies. I don’t think that it is a fair comparison.

Now that I’m very obviously not a part of this ‘group gift’, I feel like I need to make my gift count. I need it to be thoughtful, tasteful, and yes cost effective. I don’t want to be the girl that got the spatula because it was the cheapest thing on the registry. I’ve decided to put together a scrapbook with wedding advice from friends, quotes, articles, recipes, and basically anything else I can think of. I think it will be great and I think I can do this for under $30. Will keep you guys posted on this project and eventually write a second post with specifics in case you want to try this as a gift too.

Cake please!

Wedding gifts + 1

The bf will be accompanying me to all three weddings. Last year we attended a few weddings, with about half being his friends and half being mine. As such, I paid the full gift for my friends and he paid the full gift for his. This year, all three weddings are my friends. Bf has more money than me (read: bf has money) but I don’t feel right forcing him to pay up for each wedding. As a result, I may be dropping a good chunk of cash myself. Does this make sense? Or should I make him pay up? As an alternative, I do owe him about $100 from various trips (yes, we split trips exactly down the middle!) so I’m thinking I will request debt-forgiveness due to all my wedding-gifting. Brilliant, I know.

S'mores table at a wedding last summer

Parties, parties, parties

As a maid of honour, I will be hosting a few parties. I know from past experience that this can get expensive. In order to mitigate the worry, I really have to start putting aside a bit of money for this each month. Since my debt is almost completely abolished, this is feasible. Yay! I don’t have long to do this but I can certainly start in May.

So, do you have a lot of weddings to attend this summer? Do you have general rules for amounts to gift for showers/engagement parties/weddings?

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 🙂

 

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?

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

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?