November in Review

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Okay, a couple days late, but here is November for you:

Before I present the numbers, I have some thoughts. This was my first month of actually living within budget. I tried in October and gave up keeping records - plus I had several friends take me away to Paris for a week which was an expensive trip. I am impressed that I kept records of everything I purchased, despite some unflattering results.

So, here we go!

So here's the bad news. Budget was blown. Mainly in the food department. The 'fun money' department, too. The good news is that I was under in my other areas, which eventually led to a minus £81.88 in the budget. It is always an interessting time - the first budget. Granted I have done many a budget in my... well, life. But this is the first in a new currency, new city, and new bills.

I've determined that my weaknesses are mainly snack food, as illustrated here:

Not to mention that many of those supermarket visits were partially fuelled by snack food. My bad.

Now the 'Fun Money' category is meant for fun, and in this case it was a fair amount of randomness.Some random household stuff, little things here and there, as well as some food. Now it was 100% junk food and snack purchases that went into this category.

On the plus side, this was the first month where I actually got to use my all-important 'Income' square!!

Yay! My first paycheque! This was only for 4 days work, so it wasn't very impressive, but still, it's money I am earning!!! Yay!! While I get paid £6.84 on paper, I am in reality taking in £5.47. And, because this is my first paycheque, I didn't get taxed NI (National Insurance), which everyone seems to say will come out on my next cheque. So far my tax rate is 20%, and will probably go up to 30%. Ew. Bonus is that I will get some (most?) of my Income Tax back come tax time, and the NI I can transfer back home to an RRSP when I leave.

Here's more good news! This is what I have in my accounts right now to start December with:

Not sure if you can see that, but I have a grand total of £7,808.17 in all my accounts. I have adjusted December's budget slightly, as you can see:

I think that this new budget will be difficult, especially as I have friends visiting for christmas and new years, but also good. If I can stick to a budget like this, I can make my money last for 10 months, not including any money I will make over the next 5 weeks. Especially since I have so so so many people visiting in the spring - I want to make sure I have lots of money saved for doing fun things with them!!

Hope you enjoyed my budget breakdown.

In all honestly I would like to post more. Really, I would. But this past week has been exceptionally rough for me. So many things are stressing me out. I'm homesick and bored and emotional and lonely all at the same time. 3 of my roommates and our local couch-dosser are moving out, and the search for new roommates has been stressful. We've found our single guy, but are still looking for a couple to take the double room. We need to have the room filled by December 19th, or they don't get their damage deposit back. The landlady will use their damage deposit to cover their portion of rent (up to 1 month) while we find people. If we can't find people during that month, the rest of us will be responsible for covering their share until we do. This is because we sign the tennancy agreement as a group. I would've rather preferred that I'm NOT responsible for other people, but 99% of all shared flats seems to run under this kind of rent.

Its stressing me out because I DON'T WANT TO PAY MORE FOR RENT. BahhhH!!!!!!!! Sorry. had to get that out. I hate the search of new people, but that is mainly because I hate change. Really. I do.

The roommates have posted several ads on GumTree but haven't had any response. We're in a good area (Wimbledon/Southfields/Wandsworth) and the rent is pretty cheap I think (£576 per month), especially for a couple. It's a great house with great people. I understand that this is probably a shitty time to be looking, but seriously. Is no one in London looking??? Can someone please give me some advice?? Its driving me nuts.

And I guess just the holiday season is bearing down to me. I'm stressed and homesick. All I really want to do is curl up and sleep everything away. Blah. That's how I feel. Blah.

Anyways enough ranting. Any help or suggestions on the flat-mate search are greatly appreciated. I think I would feel 10 million times better if we just found a couple to move in!!

Hours

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So, as a 'full-time', seasonal 'colleague' at my local music store, I am entitled to a 30 hour workweek. My contract expires on January 3rd, and when I leave I am entitled to 4 days paid vacation.

This afternoon, my manager man has a little meeting with me and states that due to the economic 'situation', the big-wigs have decided that full-time, seasonal 'colleagues' are getting their hours cut down to 25. Ouch.

Fortunately, because our store is such a sucessful store, my manger man has been able to dip into our bank of 'overtime' hours to ensure that all of us seasonal staff get our regularly scheduled 30 hours a week. Yikes.

I'm glad that I will still be getting my 30 hours a week, because otherwise, I would've had to seriously reconsider my job. The thing is, with the Visa, I'm only entitled to 52 weeks working, and because of that, I must take advantage and work as much as possible. So far I've been able to pick up extra hours here and there, as well as one shift when someone else called in sick. Its been good.

Amazing, though, how fast a contract can change due to an economic situation. Yeeeesh.

I've been tagged!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hklover86 over at My Money Diary has tagged me for a meme! I have to post 6 random facts about myself, so here we go!

1. I don't drink coffee or any other coffee-flavored beverages. This isn't a religious issue or caffeine issue or anything, I just don't like coffee. Plus I'm proud of the fact that I don't need coffee to wake up in the morning.

2. I can't live without Vaseline. It's my lip gloss and seriously, I panic if I leave the house without it and will either return to get it or buy a new one while I'm out. Seriously. It's like an addiction. I really need to cut down.

3. I could stare at the night sky forever. For ever. I do my best thinking, best conversations and best relaxing under the night sky. I miss seeing the stars now that I'm in London, and back home it was often way to cold to be outside for long periods of time. I need to go somewhere closer to the equator.

4. Change that is beyond my control makes me very uncomfortable. I like to feel in control of my life and I get horrible feelings of anxiety when things happen beyond my control (for example, like my roommates moving in and out, job searches, etc).

5. I flirt more with guys I don't like and have no feelings for than guys I actually like. There is less risk involved with guys I don't like, less to lose, so I feel more comfortable. Odd.

6. I sometimes worry that I'll never be financially independant, even though I am debt free. Will I ever buy a house? Have a car? Take (more) vacations? Who knows.

Hope those were random enough for you - if you'd like to do one, leave a comment and consider yourself tagged!

Blogging Daily...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

... doesn't seem to be something that I am capable of. Hmm.

That's probably because for the last week or so, up until the day before yesterday, I was feeling pretty down and miserable. I go through these spells once in a while, where I get depressed and sad - usually its a mix of feeling alone, and the grey weather, and feeling like I'm not in control (mainly when it comes to roommates moving in and out, etc - I don't usually welcome change).

This is my 2nd week now at my job, and I'm still liking it, which is good. I feel more and more like I can do (almost) everything without asking everyone what I am doing. Plus it changes enough to keep me interessted, and the fact that I only work 6 hours (and one hour break for lunch), keeps the days short.

I've been able to pick up extra hours, too. Most of the time when I work a 12-7 p.m. (we close at 7 p.m.), I've been able to stay an extra hour to help with stocking. And I took an extra shift on my last Monday, which is nice. I didn't tally it up, but I got almost 40 hours last week.

On the budget side I'm doing alright. I've gone over in my food category considerably, however I'm still under budget in my other categories, so overall I'm still way under. I will go into my budget analysis a bit more at the end of the month. And I'm looking forward to getting my paycheque, too!

And off to work I go...

Blogroll

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hello again everyone! I have added my blog roll lists up again to the side. I changed it up and did some editing. Most of these blogs I recalled from memory and from my 'came from' link list for my visitor tracking. However, if you link to me or would like me to link to you, please send me an e-mail or comment and I will do just that!

As a side note, I think I'd like to start trying to do daily updates. I just need to get back into the habit. So here goes!

I worked again today. Work is starting to get better - I feel like I know more and I got to mix it up and do some cash register and some floor walking. I went home feeling accomplished and satisfied. I helped my saffa roommate fix up his resume and sat here watching Family Guy until just now. However, I was too tempted when my roommates said they were ordering pizza (I actually felt kind of bad since they waited for me to get home before they ordered), so I got a medium pizza from Domino's at the cost of £13.99. I only had £9.34 left in my food budget for this month. So I have gone over. (And don't worry about the food budget expired mid-month - I've got plenty of groceries to last!). What I will end up doing is taking a bit from another area - rent or transportation - to balance it out. But either way, it was a decision I could've avoided. It was yummy, though.

Tomorrow I work again, 11-6. Monday and Tuesday are my days off. The weather is supposed to be a bit miserable on Monday, so I'll probably end up just staying in and doing laundry/cleaning/sleeping and I'll head into London on Tuesday for a full day of sightseeing!

That is the best part - the fact that the things I enjoy the most in London - wandering around and taking pictures - are free. It's just the getting there. Although I did determine that it would be a 2.5 hour walk from my apartment to Trafalgar Square - so that might be something to try one of these days - assuming I don't get lost!

THANKS

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I seriously need to give some big THANKS to Canadian Finance Guy. Seriously. He's given me SO much good information - so thanks!!

I still have a lot to learn about taxes and stuff... I need to get in touch with people and figure everything out. Sometimes I wish I was earning tons and tons of money... other times I wish I wasn't working. Haha. But this will definitely be a steep learning curve.

Thanks to everyone who has given me advice. :)

Budget!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Okay, as promised, here is my budget. Here is the overall look (it looks just the same as a bunch of other budgets I have). Most of the numbers at the top aren't that exciting - they just keep track of my current bank account balances... hopefully they will be easier eventually when everything is in my Barclay's Account (rate go down...rate go down... rate go down).


This is the more important part. This is my budget. Rent is actually £412 a month, but I'm a bit obsessive and added £12 a month to make the total £1,000. Yes I'm weird like that.

Bills I have budgeted at £75 a month. Council tax is the bill I pay and it averages between £70 and £80 a month. I have a pay-as-you go phone with Virgin Wireless and I don't use it much, as incomming calls are free and I don't call many people.

I give myself £80 a month for transportation, although that is very exaggerated since the most I would spend getting to and from work is £36 a month on Pay as you go Oyster card. Of course, when I want to go into Central London it costs me £2.50 each way.

My budget for food is £120 a month. This is just a tester budget, as November is my first month to be on my own completely (I didn't do a budget for October, and spent 2 weeks with friends). So far £120 seems very reasonable, and as I learn more about food and prices and such I think that I should be able to cut it down even more.

My budget for 'Fun Money' is £300 currently. This is the money I leave myself for everything else. Clothes, Toilettries, Shoes, Trips, Tours, Mailing things, decorations, whatever. Yes, £300 is a lot of money, but I'm here to be a tourist and enjoy myself. I don't think that I'll spend nearly that much, even this month. I plan on being able to 'compound' this unused money for future vacations, like visiting friends in Amsterdam or hosting my mom! Again, this may or may not change depending on how things go.

With these statistics and the current state of my bank accounts, my savings should last me between 8 and 10 months. Not too bad.

My seasonal work should net me between £1100 and £1300, which gives me about 2 months of 'bare essentials' living - ie. no fun money. That was basically the plan, that every month I work equals a month of living expenses. Ideally it would be great if I could work for 40 hours a week, which will net me £1600 during my working time, but we'll see how it goes.

As well, it would probably be nice to work through January, but it's not an essential. I will again start looking for work come July and hopefully work through the fall. And then again, I can count on my Canadian tax return come April and a UK one come the fall again, so that should net a little extra cash. It's all up in the air but for now I'm pleased.

Well, that's enough incoherent mumbling for me. I work tomorrow at 9 a.m. and I should get to bed.

Changes

I decided it was time for some changes in this blog. I was getting tired of the old layout and old progress bars. I removed pretty much everything and will be adding things back over the next week or so. So if I linked to you previously, don't worry, it'll be back! I fear that I've stopped reading many blogs, so the list might change a little bit, but by all means, if you link to me or read my blog or anything, simply post and I will definitely put your link back up!

I'm trying to think of new things to put in progress bars... but I'm not sure of any goals I have... any ideas?

Job

I have a job! It's at an big-chain music store here in London. The first one I interviewed for.... actually, the only one I interviewed for... and the only one that called me back. Granted, I only sent out two resumes - and was going to send out more on Monday if the new job hadn't called me in for an interview.

Funnily enough, I seriously bombed the interview. Like, hard. At least, I think I did. As part of the interview, I had to fill out a product knowledge questionairre (which I basically left the song area blank.... the movies and computer games were a bit better), then put into a room with two managers that didn't seem that thrilled to be interviewing me. I stumbled over my answers and didn't really have good ones. I was super nervous and it probably showed.

Obviously I didn't do too bad at it since they called me back, but it makes me feel like I'm at a disadvantage since I did so poorly on the interview - kind of like they think I'm incompetent - which I'm not... so its weird. At the same time, I have to admit I haven't been 'the new girl' in... well... forever, really. My first Subway job we were all new since the store was new, the second Subway job I was knew but I still knew the work, and at Crime Stoppers office job, I had already been volunteering 2 years so I knew everyong. This is new job and new people.

Admittedly I love the people so far - everyone is very friendly and lots of fun. The job itself seems reasonably easy, but at the same time, I don't really care about music... or movies... really. It'll be a big of a struggle to get on top of what's hot and new now. Yikes.

So, here's the stats, since I'm sure that's what you came for!

The wage is £6.82 an hour. After 22% taxes (what they said I should expect) it comes down to £5.32 - a less impressive, but more realistic number. I am guaranteed 30 hours a week, which nets me £160 a week. There is opportunity to pick up extra shifts, which I probably will do if I find I want the extra money. (As well, since I'll be earning, well, not a whole lot, I should be able to recoup some/most of what I pay in taxes... I hope.)

It's 90p each way on the bus, or a 20 minute walk. I will probably try walking home tomorrow just to see how long it takes, as I haven't actually done the walk, yet. Bonus is that the store is in a mall with a Sainsbury's and a Waitrose and an Iceland and a Poundland (my new fav store - everything is just £1!) which means that I can pick up groceries and other goods on the way, rather than making special trips.

So yes... I work 9-4 again tomorrow (6 hour working, 1 hour unpaid lunch), and will hopefully get the rest of my schedule for the rest of my time there. I am contractually employed from today until January 3rd. There is opportunity to stay on... but we'll cross that bridge when/if the time comes.

For now... I am knackered. And I've GOT to remember to pay my rent... due on the 16th.

LONDON!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Okay, so LONDON! Yes. I am here. I am settled into my (new) life and things are so far going smoothly. However, I have been a terrible blogger! I have been keeping a budget for the month of November (good pf blogger!) and so far have been learning all sorts of new ways to be frugal... and new ways to spend money in a new town!

I am now settled into a 4 bedroom house in Wimbledon. I am staying in a small room on the main floor, while all of the other people (2 single guys, 1 couple) all sleep upstairs. Currently I pay £412 pounds a month in rent (approx. £95 a week), which was slightly over my budget of £100 a week (not including bills). How our bills work is each person pays one bill (in my case council tax), and we tally them up and settle it all every couple of months. One of my roommates is an accountant and he keeps a spreadsheet to tally all our bills and any additionals we buy (such as loo paper and washing up soap) and we balance it out everytime someone moves out or moves in. So far it seems to work.

I really like the people that I am living with. One guy, we'll call him A - the accountant. Is from South Africa. He is, I think, 30, and is here on a similar VISA to what I have, although he plans to apply for a highly-skilled VISA next spring. He is generally friendly and was really the first of the roommates to offer to help me - he showed me where the local Sainsbury's was and offers advice whenever he can. The advice isn't always warranted but I know he means well.

Another guy, called T, is also South African. He is very quiet, and we haven't spoken much. Although he does open up around some of the other saffa roommates, and I think that it is just a level of comfort with the others. He seems very sweet, though. He is moving out on December 8th, first to the USA then home.

The couple, R and AJ (I'll call them RAJ), are also very friendly. R is from Australia and she's my age. She's super sweet and talkative and we get along quite well. It is nice to have another girl around. AJ is from Namibia and is very friendly. Him, along with the other saffa roomies have some very strong opinions, most of which I don't necessarily agree with, but they are a lot of fun and also very friendly. He is the youngest roomie at 21. RAJ are going to their respective homes in December, which I know will be rough on them.

AJ's brother, B, is also living with us at the moment on the couch. He is very sweet and friendly. He will be taking T's room when he moves out in December. He was very quiet in the beginning and I didn't really know what to do with him, but now that's he's a little more comfortable I find him very funny. I am glad that he's staying around when his brother leaves, although I'm sure that will be hard on him.

We seem to be a good match. We're good about cleaning up, and generally we just take informal turns at cleaning and doing the dishes. No one seems to be slacking, and no one seems to have hard feelings, which is nice.

So far adjusting to life outside my family home has been relatively easy. ish. I find it difficult cooking for myself, mainly. I can cook the basics, like chicken... and steak. And grilled onions and garlic bread. But really, that's about it. Oh, and Pasta! So it's taken some getting used to to make some unique or slightly different meals. At the same time, I found out very quickly that eating in is MUCH MUCH cheaper than eating out. Although, at the same time, vegetables are quite expensive.

Originally I had planned on living with a family - I thought that it would be nice to have a family around, and I had more security if I was the only 'renter'. However, I'm glad it ended up this way. I like having people around my own age, I can talk and swear freely without worrying what people will think - or what influence I would have over their children!!

I am really liking London so far. Sometimes I look out over the grey skies and smoggy street and wish for the fresh air and cool winds of the praries, but when I take a walk through the old streets, or wander through another castle with celtic music playing in my headphones, I remember why I came here. It's like I said to some of my roommates: "I found shit on the Thames that was older than my country!". I love the history here, and I can't wait to explore more.

However, for the time being, I am looking for seasonal work. That was always the plan, to have fun for a couple months then work seasonally before having fun again. So, it's off for seasonal work I go. I had originally hoped to work right in the middle of London, where all the Christmas excitement was, but when I realized that it would cost me £5 a day (on pay-as-you-go Oyster) to get from here (zone 3) to there (zone 1) and back, that wasn't worth it - especially when wages here are around the £6 to £7 mark. That basically shaves an hour of work a day, just to commute. Southfields mall is a quick bus ride away (90p each day) and there is plenty of work there to be had. I will be e-mailing out resumes tomorrow morning and hopefully by the end of next week I will have a job! It will be sad to lose my tourist freedom, but at the same time, it will be nice to see some deposits into my account rather than withdrawls.

Anyways, that's enough rambling for now. I will talk more of my budget and such in the morning. Plus I've got to figure out how to apply for an NI number - something that seems to baffle everyone.. Hmmm...

And the Adventure begins

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tomorrow is the big flight. I'm totally ready and getting super excited about it. I've got until October 1st to find a flat - wish me luck! I promise WAY more posting when I finally get settled into a flat. I've been itching to do my budget (among other things!!)

Catch you on the flip-side (of the ocean!)

Leanna

Another month passes by....

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

... and what a horrible blogger I am!

I appologize yet again for the lack of posting. My world has been turned into nothing but boxes, packing tape and endless lists.

I'm less than a week away from leaving, and it hasn't really hit me yet. I had one mini-meltdown that ended in tears and cold feet, but I'm over that now. It was a bad mix of feeling like things were being forced on me and PMS. Damn those hormones!

My finances are in tip-top shape, however. I've got about $20,100 in savings, along with my £1000 in cash for the trip. This £1,000 will cover me for my first week in London, along with a downpayment on an apartment. I wanted to take out £1,500, which would've covered me for the first week, a damage deposit and the first month's rent, but I wanted to do it without taking money out of savings and I hadn't been paid yet.

I haven't been paying attention to this blog, because really, this hasn't been where my mind is set. I still am reading all of your blogs daily.

Either way, stay tuned, as I get settled in London I plan to get back on track. I am working on a budget right now, as we 'speak'.

Cheers.

July: The Good and The Bad

Thursday, July 31, 2008

July, for me, was a mixed month. I have some exciting news to report, some mundane news, as well as the bad.

Let's start with the exciting, shall we?!
I've accomplished ALL MY GOALS for my trip!!!!



I also re-filled my "VISA Fund Account" to $2,000 and smooshed it together with my fully-funded "Pre Trip Cash" fund. I re-named my formerly "VISA Fund" to "DEBIT", as this is the account that my ING Direct Debit card withdraws from.

As well, in other good news, I have booked one of my flights! I have booked a flight with British Airways (via Flight Centre) from Toronto to London on September 23rd, 2008, for the Grand total of just under $650. It's not the best price, but the best I could find with no stopovers and with a carrier I recognized.

I feel very happy indeed that my trip is fully funded, but I still have the same drive to add more to it. I am hoping that in the next 4 weeks I can add another $2,000 to my Savings fund.

I am also really proud of the fact that while I saved money for both my VISA, plane ticket and pre-trip spending, I have yet to drain any of those accounts. I will probably put the $4,000 into my savings account if I don't use them by the time I leave.

In more mundane news, I am feeling a stange mix of panic and exhileration regarding the trip. Packing is moving along slowly, at about the rate of 1 or 2 boxes a day. I have come to the realization that I own a large amount of fragile items. All of the bubble-wraping, newspaper-stuffing and itemizing is very exhausting.

I am rather proud of all of the work that I am doing regarding the packing. For each box, I am photographing and listing all of the items inside. I am keeping these in a file on my external hard-drive, as well as on a sheet of paper both inside and taped to the outside of the box. Each box is labelled with its name and a number, such as "KITCHEN BOX 1" or "PICTURE FRAMES 3" so that I can clearly know what is inside.


I wouldn't have bothered to do all this if I was just moving from one place directly to another. But given that these boxes may stay sealed for 2 years, I want to know what is inside. That way, if I decide that I need/want something, I'll be able to ask someone back home to get XX item from XX box.


Either way, the packing is plugging along, and I'm looking forward to having next week off and finishing the packing.


I also have still yet to book my flight from Calgary to Toronto, but I'm not as concerned about this one. There are many carriers that fly this route multiple times a day and within the same price range. This will probably be booked within the week.


And.... for the bad news. My attempts at riding my computer of Vista has failed. My Dad and I managed to take Vista off and put Windows XP on, but once we loaded XP on, we found out that none of the drivers for my laptop were capable of functioning with XP. Which basically means, that while I could put XP on the computer, my speakers, video, webcam and INTERNET did not work. So... alas, I had to put Vista back on. This time, though, I've done (so many...) backups over the past 2 days. Hopefully this time it won't freak out on me.


However, I'm now in the process of loading all my CD's and other stored music back onto Itunes... It's a very long process and I'm only about 3/4 of the way through it.


So that's the news from this front. I'll still be here, packing and loading, until the first week of September.

Some thoughts from fast-food job...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Im standing here, in my Subway uniform, in a rather pissy/exhausted mood, thinking of all my little money-related pet peeves that I experience from behind the counter....

1) Don't make awkward jokes when your debit comes back insufficient funds. Even though I don't tell you, the machine tells me the difference between incorrect PIN and insuf funds. Don't try it over and over and over again and make awkward jokes about being poor. It's not really that funny...

(1A - Don't make more jokes when your VISA comes back declined right after your debit did. Maybe it's time to go home and make your own sandwich!!)

2) Don't keep your money in your bra. At least, don't hand it to me directly from your bra. I don't want your boob money. It's usually gross and sweaty. I don't need that.

3) Don't pull out a wad of cash (think over $700) and flip through it slowly just to prove to me how rich you are. I don't care. Plus, it makes me think one of two things (depending on your image), that you are either a drug dealer, or Daddy is giving you that cash.

4) Don't wait until you get down to the register to complain about the prices. The prices of everything is on the menu. Look it up. I don't make the prices, it's not my fault Subway is so expensive!

5) On top of that, don't complain about the prices when you are wearing your Hollister shirt, your Puma shoes, your D&G hat and your Chanel purse. Are you kidding me?!

6) Please don't hand bills to me all scrunched up. I'd rather not have to unfold them. If I could hand your change back to you all scrunched up, too, I would. (Note to self: Develop Magneto-like powers).

7) When the total comes to $9.77, don't have $10 to me and ask if you could "just get a quarter back." Um, no. You can't. Your change comes to $.22. Do I look like a penny-making machine??

8) When the total again comes to $9.77, please don't spend 2 minutes looking through your wallet, your purse, your pockets and you shoes for $.77, only to dump the dollar in change into our 'take-a-penny' jar. If you weren't going to keep the change, I could've gotten the $.23 change much much faster.

9) If you are part of a couple (or other type of pair) where both people want to pay for the couple's order, please decide ahead of time. I can't stand it when both people shove $20s in my face and expect me to pick one of them. I will take the one closest to me or I will just stand there until you decide. Seriously.

That really rounds them out. And, surprisingly enough, in the last two hours of my four-hour shift this evening, I've encountered all of them *sigh*.

Bad Blogger!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I have been very disrespectful of my duties as a blogger it seems. So sorry for that.

Of course, that doesn't mean that I haven't been reading all of your blogs, I just can't seem to keep caught up on my own.

I still haven't booked either of my flights (Calg - Hamilton and Toronto - London), as I'm still hoping for some sort of sale. However, as I do know myself, I have come up with a list of minimum requirements for me to buy a plane ticket. As I check places like Flight Centre and Expedia constantly, I know that prices change daily, if not hourly. When I do see a good deal, I tend to sit back and think "Well, what happens if there is a BETTER one tomorrow!" and pass on it, when really, I should've just purchased it.

So, here are my three minimum requirements for me to jump on a good deal:
1) The flight is under $600 for one-way
2) The seat width on the airplane is a minimum of 18" (and I'm not just trying to be a brat about this one.... I just can't fit comfortably in a smaller seat!)
3) No stopovers! (I don't want anyone losing my luggage again!)

I'm still checking daily, and hopefully will see a good one pop up soon!

I have some exciting news to share regarding those red progess bars on the right, but I will save that news until everyting clears. Hee hee.

My grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle, and their two children, ages 4 and 8, are staying at my house for the summer. It's very hectic, but my youngest cousin drew me a picture today, and while I may be skipping rope with my hair and wearing a very ugly bright pink dress, it does make up for all the times they scream and yell.

I have a lot of things on my to-do list, and with summer quickly running away, I fear that the lasat couple weeks before I leave are going to be hectic. Very hectic, indeed.

Sorry for such a quick post, I just feel so bad everytime I look at this blog sitting all sad and empty!

Oh, and I'll also do the breakdown of the Seattle trip, in case anyone is hanging on the edge of their seat for that one. Hah.

I'm Ba-Ack!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Hello everyone! I'm back from Seattle/Vancouver! It was a great trip, and a lot of fun - not to mention horribly exhausting! Usually when I travel, I'm up at the crack of dawn... but at least I'm in bed by dinnertime! With these people, we were up around 9 or 10, but not in bed until 2 a.m.! Yikes!

Either way, it was a good time. Draining on the bank account, but still good. It was good for my mental health to get out of the city and away from my ever-longer to-do list.

We left Calgary around 8 p.m. and drove straight through to Seattle. We crossed the border just south of Cranbrook. Here is the route that we took:

We added about another 45 minutes of driving by not taking the northern route, but we opted for this route for a number of reasons. First of all, given that it was the long weekend, I imagined that the Trans Canada would have been packed solid. We barely hit another car heading south until we hi the I90. And second, none of us had really seen southern Alberta before. I vaguely remember driving through it, but the countryside was really beautiful.

And of course, lots of local wildlife... Hah. But really, come dusk, the countryside was beautiful: rolling hills and just lots of empty road. It was perfect.

We actually rented a PT Cruiser to get us there. We had originally reserved a Dodge something... but the guy at the auto place said that he was 'upgrading' us to the PT Cruiser. I still hold that they are very, very ugly cars, but it was brand new and worked just fine. It was good on gas, too.
However, it was NOT comfortable to sleep in. I've slept in my fair share of cars, and the back seat of the PT Cruiser was so stiff - good for sitting in, but SO bad for sleeping. I managed to find a couple semi-comfortable spots, but I probably only got about 3 hours of semi-sleep the whole night.

It didn't really matter, though, since the moment we got into Seattle I was full of adrenaline!

Really, Seattle was a beautiful city. I loved the contrast of the ocean, the city line and the mountains in the background. And the mountains were much closer than those from Calgary, so they looked more impressive.

The first day we headed to our hotel and attempted to check-in. Unfortunately they didn't allow check-in until 3 p.m. and it was around 7 a.m. Hah. So my travel buddy did a little flirting and the clerk man said that if we came back at noon he'd find us a room. Silly silly girl.

So we drove around and found a breakfast place, at there, then headed into Seattle. We visited the Aquarium and got to touch some fish! (Yes, we were allowed to touch the fish...)

No, that's not my hand and yes, that's an anemone and a starfish! The anemones felt sticky, but that was really them spiking you with poison! Not very nice, I'll admit. The fish man said that we only feel sticky because the poison doesn't really affect us - we've got something like 7 layers of skin so the poison can't get through. Fish, on the other hand, only have 1 or 2, so the poison stuns them.

After that everyone (except me!) was feeling pretty beat, so we returned to the hotel. We checked in and the three of them promptly fell asleep. I, on the other hand, had an awesomely long, hot shower, sent people e-mails and surfed the web. I work them up about 3 hours later and we all got dressed and headed out to the outlet mall. This was probably the best shopping that I did - I seriously love outlet malls! Had I known that I wasn't going to come back to one I may have bought more crap. All in all I only bought two scarves from Coach. Either way, I love them and I'll take pictures of them later!

We came back to the hotel only to do some research on a good dinner restaurant. We ended up at a fancy little sushi place downtown. It was good sushi... but it was very "white-people" sushi. Things like odd meat and mayonaise sushi, very 'hip'. Some of it was good, but I think I would've preferred good ol' unagi and salmon skin rolls. Mmmmmmm.

After that we got back to the hotel around midnight. This is when we decided to stay the extra day in Seattle. Originally we were supposed to fly out Monday night around 6:15 p.m. from Vancouver. This would've meant that we would've been rushed all day Monday before arriving in Vancouver only to fly right now. We spent the next hour or so on the phone to WestJet changing our flight from Monday to Tuesday morning. They were really good about it, and the change only cost us $30.

The next morning (Sunday), the two other girls wanted to go (back) to Hollister (barf!), so me and one of the girls' bf went to the Pike Place Market.

I love markets. The energy was amazing. It was very crowded, but any market would be on a Sunday. We saw the guys who throw the fish (just look it up), and all sorts of neat shops. We munched on mini-donuts (so good!), beef jerky, the best peaches ever!, and garlic jelly. Yum. I would've loved to buy some bouquets of the flowers that they had there, because they were so beautiful and cheap, but what would I do with flowers? I bought a scarf instead.

I also saw the original Starbucks - which was pretty cool! Note that the logo is different. I could've boughten a unique cup with this logo on it, but then I thought - what am I going to do with yet another travel mug when I don't even drink hot beverages! So I didn't....

We met up with the girls for lunch at this place called the Crab Pot. They do something there called the "Feast" which is what we did. Basically they cover the table with paper, give you all plastic bibs, and dump a giant bowlful of assorted, seasoned fish, sausage and veggies directly onto the table. They then give you a little wooden plank and hammer and a little fork and let you have at it. The prices of the thing were dependent on what kind of fish you had - ours had oysters and scallops and king crab legs. Then we also had corn and potatos and spicy sausage. It was very good and very dripping-with-butter, but it's probably one of the reasons that I now feel ill just thinking about all that damn fish.

After our very filling meal, the gals bf and I wandered over to Pioneer Square and Chinatown to check it out. Pioneer Square was very beautiful - leafy and funky. Chinatown was sketch. Sketch sketch sketch. But that probably has something to do with the fact that we were there on a Sunday night.

After that we returned to the hotel and napped again. We got up about 10:30 or so and headed out in search of food. We didn't really want to do all the way into Seattle again, so instead we drove to the Tulalip Casino. The casino was beautiful on the inside - it'd never really been in a casino that big before! I bought a $10 voucher for the penny slots and left with just that - ten bucks. At one point I was up about $3, but I gambled it away. My friend S won about $20 bucks, though, although her bf lost about $60 on craps (A game I still don't understand). We ate at the 24 restaurant in the casino, and I had an awesome salad (I couldn't bear the thought of eating something heavy again... bleh).

Monday morning was a lot more relaxed. We slept in (a little), got ready, and headed out to do some shopping in Seattle. We visited another mall where the girls went to Hollister... again. (Double barf!), and I went to the Container Store. Seriously, it was like my heaven. If I could have a shopping spree there, I totally would!!

It actually worked out rather well, since they were having a travel sale, and I managed to stock up on lots of Eagle Creek packing cubes for my trip to London. I had bought some at a store here before I left and I just loved them on the trip. It was so great at staying organized! I had one cube for jeans, one for shirts, another for undies and socks, one for toiletries... I could go on and on! But yeah, the container store was marking them down to about 50% of what I was paying here, so I bought about 10 of them. I'm so very excited about using them in the fall.

I also saw a shopping basket there that I had been eyeing online. I love the idea of bringing my own basket to a market, and while it was a good price at the container store, I hesitated because it would be bulky to bring with me. Since the company is dutch/german??, I will probably just buy one there. Either way, I got to play with them and I really like them.

Either way, after we were done at the mall we headed over to a Target store to find out what all the hype was about. The GPS machine got us horribly lost along the way (somehow the GPS thinks that Target was a ranch in rural Seattle...), I wasn't really that impressed with Target. It looks like a Walmart or a Zellers. Yep, don't really know what to make of that.

We packed up at the hotel and I took one last picture out the hotel window before we drove off.

After that we took off for Vancouver. It was a nice drive up, and we only waited about 30 minutes in the customs line, which was way better than what I was dreading!

We arrived in Vancouver and dropped our bags off at a friend's place (they were at work), before we headed to what the friend's bf said was the best Chinese food place in Coquitlam. We ended up there (Now, of course, I can't remember what the name of it is!), and the food was very good. It wasn't westernized Chinese food, it was the original stuff. Think dumplings and noodles and strange meats and steamed veggies. It was very tasty, and a nice experience. As much as I hate to admit it, I really do enjoy the white people deep fried junk. Still good, though.

We drove back to Vancouver and wandered up and down Robson St doing some shopping, but not before our trusty GPS machine drove us right now East Hastings. Yep. That's great. I can't believe it's gotten to such a level! I was in Vancouver about 3 years ago, and maybe I wasn't looking properly - but hasn't it gotten worse? I'd be terrified to walk down that street - hell, it was nerve-wracking driving down it!

Robson St. was okay - nothing really of interest for me. We met up with the friends and drove back to the apartment where we got to sleep around 1:30 a.m. only to wake back up at 4 a.m. to drop the car off and catch our flight. It wasn't the most comfortable of sleep, seeing that I slept on a yoga mat on the floor but still, it was very nice of them to open their house to us.

We caught our flight to Calgary and we arrived, luggage intact, exausted, but very pleased. I promptly went home and slept for about 4 hours.

I'm really glad I went on the trip. I always say that you never really know someone until you travel with them and boy, that is the case. My friend S and I never really had any problems. Her bf started to get on my nerves after a while. He mumbles a lot and is so indecisive it's annoying. And S's friend A and I had some fun, but we're still not super close. I think by the end of the trip I was itching to spend time alone, but I didn't really hate any of them, which is good.

I haven't put together all the expenses for the trip yet, as A put all the gas, the hotel, and the car on her Credit Card and will divy it up and 'bill' me. I have some rough estimates which I will talk about later.

All in all, I enjoyed Seattle. I would probably go back again, but not right now. And I think i'd do it alone, at least for a while. Or with someone who enjoyed the same kind of shopping that I do. Because waiting outside Hollister or Forever 21 for an hour isn't really my idea of shopping. Hah.

Seattle

Friday, June 27, 2008

Okay, so I promised the financial side of my spontaneous Seattle trip, and so here you have it!

Here is what I am budgetting for the trip:

One way flight from Vancouver to Seattle: $165 after taxes and fees
Hotel (2 nights in Seattle): $80
Rental Car: $100
Gas: $80
Food: $150
Shopping: $150

Total: $725

Now, the $300 of shopping and food is completely dependant on how much I want to eat, where we eat, and what kind of stuff I want to buy. The fact that I am moving to London in t-minus 3 months still lingers in the back of my mind, so I tend to disregard most shopping because I wouldn't be able to bring everything that I want to buy with me.

I took out $300 USD today, which cost me just over $310 CAD. Which kind of hurt, since the exchange rate is pretty close to 1:1.

Either way, now it's time to pack!

Seattle... AGAIN

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Okay, so now we ARE going to Seattle. OMFG. Make up your minds!!!!!

They called, gave me some $$ stats, asked if I still wanted to come. Wanted to say a big, fat NO initially (just to spite them) ... but said yes. First out of guilt, but now I am glad I said yes, because I am excited.

(And, as a small, midly 'too much information' thought, I am halfway through my 'time o' the month', so all that will be cleared up by weekend, YAY!)

My financial thoughts and budget for this trip will come in the morning. For now, I am tired.

My Pre-Trip spending...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

So... seeing as I'm close to reaching my goals.... I thought about the many ways I'll get to spend my pre-trip cash! I'm looking forward to going on a mini-shopping spree, as long as I know exactly what I'm going to buy. There will be no impulse shopping here!

So, some of things that I had planned on using this fund for that I have already purchased (and don't include in the fund).

  • Point and Shoot Camera
  • Spare battery for DSLR Camera
  • Major item of luggage
  • External Hard-Drive
  • 2 Plug Adapters

So, really, when I think about it, most of the stuff that I had planned to buy I have already purchased. I'm sure as time goes on I will find more things, but for now, these are the things that I'm thinking about:

  • Spare battery for Toshiba laptop (assuming that I can get the damn thing fixed)
  • Spare battery for new Nikon Coolpix D52 (Point and Shoot that I just bought)
  • Packing cubes, Ziplock bags and other small packing accessories.
  • Burnable DVD's (storage!)
  • Smaller, carry-on luggage
  • Rick Steves' travel DVDs and guidebooks (love him!)

At the moment I can't think of anything else, but again, I'm sure I'll find more.

I'm also thinking about what I want to do with the leftover money. I'm debating between putting it into different savings accounts, buying another large-scale item (camera lens or the sort), or use the money for whatever needs I'll have while out in Toronto visiting family.

Is there anything that I've forgotten on this list?? I can't think of anything right now...

Now that I'm really thinking about it, I'm glad I didn't end up going to Seattle... I would've had a lot of fun there for sure, but now, I'm so close to my goals that I can taste it. It's on the tip of my tongue and I can't (freaking!) wait!!!

As well, I'm a bit OCD with trip-planning. I make timetables and shedules and do probably between 80 to 100 hours of planning for every 3 weeks of trip or so. That sounds like a crazy thing to do, but trust me, it'll save you not only cash, but headaches as well. Either way, there wouldn't have been the time to plan enough for Seattle, and I would've ended up following people around, most likely to places and things I didn't care for. $1,000 is a lot to spend on a whim.

I can't wait to do my "Goals Accomplished!" post - and I'm already thinking of more for summer!

I still need to get my computer working again. It's stressing me out and all I want is for it to work reliably and properly. My father said that it should take less than an afternoon for him to walk me through downgrading to XP. (If you can call it downgrading, I'm happily calling it 'being rid of the monster!'). Now all I have to do is pin him down for an afternoon.

I also spent the better half of this evening photographing the items that I'm packing away for my kitchen box(es). I plan to itemize these things into folders and label the boxes appropriately, so that if I ever need an item, I won't have to sort through multiple boxes, I can simply look for a photo (which will eventually be in my Creative Memories photo-database software) and immediately know which box it is in. Yay for neerdy organization!!

Things feel a little more organized, and I'm pleased.

OMG

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My laptop just died again..... So now I am updating via my iPod. WTF. Seriously. Punch me in the face. Stupid Vista.

I would hate to have to buy a new laptop because i've barely had this one a year but man, this is just killing me.

Hopefully this will get sorted out soon. I don't care if I lose compatibility with all my fancy crap (webcam, etc), i'm putting XP back on this computer.

I'm also thinking of writing a very strongly-worded letter to Microsoft about all this. Although I'm sure it is all old news to them.

Time to crawl into bed now.

So much for Seattle...

Friday, June 20, 2008

So my friends cancelled our proposed trip to Seattle without any warning or really (in my opinion) any cause. Apparently onw of the girls from the trip had to use up the vacation time that she had earmarked for this trip to visit her fiance who had gotten into a car accident in LA. That's totally fair to me - I would've done the same.

However, now the other girls don't want to go anymore - apparently it's not worthwhile to go with only three people instead of four. I think it is a lame excuse, but it is not my decision. I just wish that they could make up their bleeding minds. I hate this wishy - washy thing! I can't stand it whwn people make serious plans and back out at the drop of a hat.

Needless to say that I'm feeling a mix of anger, frustration, and dissapointment. I'm also feeling relieved since now I don't have to spend upwards of $1000 on some whimsical trip. At the same time, I really wanted to go. Boo.

Seattle

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Well, I now have a bit of dilemna... some friends and I had originally planned a trip to Seattle for the Canada Day long weekend, but the plans kind of fell through recently. I had moved on and was planning other things for this weekend, when lo and behold the plans came back into being!

So... I'm going to go to Seattle with them, and it's going to be a blast... but I just haven't budgetted for this trip... yet.

So, here's my dilemna... currently my goals are sitting as follows:
Savings account: $8,193 (still need $1,807)
Pre-Trip Cash: $1,545 (still need $455)

So.... I will be bringing in around another $600 from fast-food job which will cover my Pre-Trip cash and give me about $145 to spare. I currently have $822 in my chequing account and will be getting another $1,100 or so from office-job. This will barely cover my savings account goal.

This is how I planned my month. This way, I would be basically at even at the end of the month and could start new goals next month. So... there's my problem. I'll either have to wait to accomplish a goal and use the cash for Seattle instead, or put everything for Seattle on my credit card, and pay it off next month when I get paid, which I would rather not do.

So far, the plan for Seattle is that we will drive from Calgary to Seattle (12hrs approx) on Friday, June 27th. We will arrive in Seattle Saturday morning sometime, and spend Saturday, Sunday and Monday night in Seattle. One of the gals has to be back in Calgary for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, and so we will fly (Air Canada most likely) back Tuesday morning.

Here's the proposed budget:
Flight: $260
Hotel: $200 (most likely 4-5 of us will share a 1-bed, king size hotel suite and some will sleep on the floor)
Gas for driving there and rental: $120
Transportation while in Seattle: $20
Food while in Seattle: $200 (most likely at least one fancy dinner.)

None of this includes any shopping I'll do, which probably won't be tons. Either way, that adds up to $600. In my opinion, that's a pretty expensive trip, but the airfare makes it much more expensive.

So..... I'm not sure what to do. I'll wait another couple of days to see if any plans get finalized (which they probably won't), but more likely than not I'll be winging it.

So.... now comes the decision. Do I wait to put my money into my savings account and continue to add to my Pre-Trip cash, or other way around??? Ahhh!

And again, I'm lucky since the Canadian dollar is doing so good against the US, that at least I'm not getting nailed in terms of the exchange, but again, I've never been to Seattle. Those of you who live in (or have visited) Seattle, what do you think about the Budget? Too much, too little??

Garage Sale!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Well, the garage sale I had yesterday was a success! I actually grossed about $120 for the whole day, which, funny enough, is more than I would've made working at Subway for the 8 hours that I usually do. But better than that, I actually got rid of a lot of stuff, and a lot of the big stuff. In a way that's actually more satisfying than donating it, as this way, I know someone wanted it and will enjoy it.

The only downside, is comming back into the house after the garage sale and realizing that I still have so. much. crap. So much. I'm still looking at between 5 and 15 boxes of my stuff to pack up, which is so much!

I always wished that I was one of those people that could sell all their stuff and just live out of a backpack forever, and in a way, I will be forcing myself to do that this fall. I won't be giving away my stuff, but I will be leaving it behind. But, the truth is, I love my stuff. I really do. It seems wrong, but it's the truth. My stuff is a big part of who I am. Hmmm..

On the computer front, I seem to have done nothing more than slap a bandaid on a missing limb. Hah. My computer is functionning better, but it's still not up to par. I will still try loading XP onto it later in the summer, but for now, I still have access.

Nothing new to report on the money front, I'm excited to see how close I am to my goals, and my brain is running around thinking of new things to save for once I've accomplished these!!

All quiet on the update front...

Friday, June 13, 2008

It's been a couple of days since I've posted, and I've got the following updates for you!:

  • I seem to have temporarily (permanently??) fixed the computer. This was a long, drawn-out process that involved a 6 hour back up to DVD, 4 system restores, 3 attempts to turn that bloody Windows Update function off, and a lot of finger crossing. So far the computer is back up and running, which does bode well. I still think I will try putting XP on it, since XP runs better, but at least now, I know how to use Vista.
  • I have finally updated the sidebars to reflect my new savings levels. I'm so close to reaching my goals, and I can't wait!!
  • I've done the math, and it looks like I will be able to reach all my goals by the end of this month. This is very exciting! I will be drawing out a plan for the money that I will make for the rest of the summer.
  • The end of the month trip I was hoping to do to Seattle with some friends looks like it probably won't happen, which is too bad. The good side is that I will be saving some money, and I will probably still take those 5 days off and just relax at home.
  • I'm having a garage sale this Saturday, rain or shine! I'm surprised at the amount of stuff that we will be selling. It'll be interessting to see how well we do. Right now I'd be happy if people just take the stuff off my hands, since it saves me a trip to the Thrift Store.
  • I'm still keeping an eye on airfare from Toronto to London, as well as Calgary to Toronto. So far most airlines are staying pretty much the same (actually, airfare seems to drop price while the fuel surcharge keeps rising).

That's all so far, if I think of anything else I'll keep you posted!

Hi, I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC....

Monday, June 9, 2008

Okay, not all of you will get that reference, since I'm not sure where those ads run, but seriously, I love them. And right now, I want to beat that little PC man to a pulp. Seriously. I hate Vista. SO MUCH. It's not even funny.

I haven't completely managed to fix the problem, since I don't really know what the problem is with my computer. I know it's not a virus, since I've run extensive virus-scans and haven't downloaded anything really that could've contained a virus. My dad thinks that one of those nagging "Windows Updates" has changed something in the registry and now the computer can't function. Go figure. The computer itself manages to be the downfall of the computer. Bah.

Most likely in the next couple of weeks my dad and I will blow this computer off and load Windows XP on it, which is much, much better.

I'm starting to understand why people chose Macs. If they don't have any of these problems, they'd be worth the extra money.

However, either way, I am super glad that I did copy all my important files onto external Hard drive and DVD. That way, I wasn't nearly as panicked as I could've been when the computer refused to turn on without giving me a crypic "F&#k You" and shutting off again.

On the monetary side of things...

Again, I haven't been keeping track of my spending. I'm trying, I really am, and haven't spent that much. Tomorrow morning at work I'm going to add as much as I can into the spreadsheet.

I have a paycheque and a $100 cheque from my parents (for graduating college!!) as a gift to deposit. Yay!

I am also busy prepping for my garage sale this saturday. I'm gathering (what I think) some good quality stuff to sell. I hope that it stops raining before Saturday (the weather here seems to be giving me a glimpse of London.... with the rain and all...). It's been a while since I've had a garage sale, so we'll see how profitable it is, given that I'll be losing a day of work at Subway (approx $80). Either way I'll be glad to be giving me stuff away for a small price rather than donating it all.

Alas, it is 12:32 a.m. and I must get my beauty sleep. Hee hee. Farewell from my poor, broken computer...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

I hate Windows Vista.

And for the love of everything, go back up your important files. NOW.

I'm glad I did.

Boo on Windows. They have kept me up until 2 a.m. messing around with my computer. I'm not even sure I fixed the problem. We'll see.

Omg. So. Tired.

May in Review

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Okay, so, it's a couple days late, but I thought I'd post my May in Review for everyone to read!


Now, this month was a little bit different, mainly because I didn't keep track of my spending. I know. It's bad. It was actually a lot more painful than I thought - I was frustrated that I didn't know where my money had gone. It really reminded me how useful my budget has been.
However, for not keeping track of my spending, I still did an okay job at saving and boosting my networth. So, for all your viewing pleasure:

May's Total Income:
So, the income was pretty standard for May. I just realized now that I didn't update my Subway paycheque. I leave it at $300 until I get it, as it's usually just slightly over. Of course I've deposited that cheque and can't find the paystub. Oh well. But it's pretty accurate none the less.
These are my current Savings accounts balances. I don't include my Pre-Trip Cash savings, which I did open a 4th account with ING. This will show in June's month-end.

I have started a new fund called "Pre-Trip Savings", which ultimately has a goal of $2,000. This is a dynamic goal, so I might never reach $2,000, as I'm currently buying things that I require for my trip. To date, these purchases include some random stationary, a map, and some burnable DVD's (for storage). Hopefully I will have this fund either fully stored or fully shopped by the end of June.

Here is a breakdown showing some daily contributions as well as daily spending for this fund:

Other than that, I've included both May's and April's (late payment) in this month's contribution to my savings account. I still need just under $2,000 in this fund, and this will be accomplished by the end of June.

This chart shows my payments into this fund since it started:

You can see the little dip where I missed a month's payment, however I have put all the money I owe it back. I've been pretty good about staying on time with this fund, and while I hope to have it funded by June 30th, it may spill over into July. The original goal was to have it funded by August 1, 2008, so I'll still be a little ahead of schedule.

I didn't contribute anything to the London Fun Fund, as it is fully stocked. I guess I could take out the extra $147 that is in there and put it in savings, but we'll see how close I cut it.

And here, courtesy of ING Direct, is the nice little chart they provide me with showing me how I accomplished my goal. I'm very pleased that I was able to accomplish it ahead of time. That paved the way for other fun during the summer.

And now, finally, here is my Networth as of May!

This Bothers me...

Thursday, May 29, 2008



Ugh. I overpaid my VISA by $.02 cents. Bah. Now it has a positive balance. Too bad I can't buy anything worth that little anymore. Yeesh.

New Links!

Just so you all know, I have also added a couple new (to me) blogs that I have been reading for a while but never got around to adding. Most are found under the (PF) section to your right, but I have also added some of my favorite UK bloggers on the left, as well as some non-PF blogs and some gossip and deal sites at the bottom right.

Do just what the heading says, and check 'em out!

We finally got our raise!

... Sadly, I won't be here really long enough to take advantage of it. Poop.

Currently, at office job, we make a measly $12/hour. They've been pushing to get it upped for quite a while, and, this morning, have finally suceeded. They actually increased it to a whopping $18/hour - a huge jump. The downside is that it doesn't take effect until July 1, 2008, and I am only paid until July 18th. Siiigh.

I technically stop working on July 11, 2008, and am paid out the extra week since I didn't take a vacation again this term. So it's a nice extra $720 that I won't have to work for that week, it just sucks soooooo hard that they didn't get this raise together when I started.

If they had, I would've been able to pocket (spend/save/drink away) an extra $12,480 before taxes. That's immense. So. Much. Money. Of course, I would've just spent it, I'm sure, as I really didn't get my act together and start saving until January. Bah. Hum-fakin-bug.

That still would've been an extra $5,760 dollars I'd have made since January 2008. Most likely about $4,000 after tax. I could've had a goal of $14,000 saved instead of $10,000.

Argh! #$%^&*(&^%$%^&*&^%$%^&*(*$#$%&**&$##%%$^&()($%.

They asked if I wanted to stay over the summer, and I did think about it. But I decided against it. The reason I'm leaving this job as soon as I am has nothing to do with the pay. I'm tired of the job. And now my supervisor is leaving this unit for a different district in the city, and as much as I do enjoy working with J, she's not enough to keep me there. I'm tired of talking to people, with their stupid problems.

Plus, I have family comming for the summer, and I'd like to have a lot more freedom to spend time with them. Not to mention the mountain of crap I still have to sort through before I haul my tushie over to the UK.

Looking at it this way, it would be an extra $4,000-ish to work the rest of July and August. I would be working up until the moment I leave. Given the amount of crap I have yet to do, I'd probably have to quit working at Subway.

If I leave on July 11th like I've planned, I will work the July weekend ($168), and will take the week of the 18th off. The week after I will work full-time ($420), and for the month of August I will work 2-4 shifts a week ($672 - $1,344). So, I could easily pull in around $2,000 before tax (or more, if I wanted to).

So I guess the way I have to think about it is that I'm not earning $2,000 to have spare time to spend with my family, friends, and myself before I leave. I like that.

That makes me feel much better. I still wish that I could've been making $18/hour since I started, but I suppose that there's nothing I can do about it. I am getting tired of the job, and with everyone I love working with leaving, there's not much left for me there except crabby callers and goofy policemen. I do enjoy the goofiness, though.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oh my, it has been quite a while since I've posted, hasn't it? I blame the new girl at the office-job, J. Hah. It's not totally her fault, it's just that I post mainly from the office, and with her being there with me every hour of every day, I don't get much privacy. Yikes. This week is her last week of training, and I cannot wait until June.

See, J is a morning gal, I, however, am not. So, she's going to work the 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. shift, while I get to work the 12-8 shift. Yay! That does mess up the Subway job, since I won't get to work as much there, but seeing as I'll be there on and off all summer, I'll be able to make up the hours I'll be missing. As well, I just can't wait to sleep in. Can't. Wait.

It's like Christmas.

On the $$$ front, things are still chugging along. I just want to see those goals accomplished. I can taste it, I'm so close, and yet, so far. It's very frustrating, and in the meantime, all I've been wanting to do is shop. Shop shop shop.

I did buy a couple travel-related things, but they were things I'd need anyways. I've also been steadily contributing to the Pre-trip fund, and spending from it at the same time. It may never reach $2,000, because I just might spend it before that.

As well, my friend S asked if I wanted to road trip from Calgary to Seattle with her over the Canada Day long weekend. I know it'll be a stupid crazy-busy weekend, but I think it'd be a lot of fun. I've never been to Seattle, I think i'd like it. I just don't know what to budget for it. We'll see how the plans come together.

Oops!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Whoops! Somehow I've managed to spend my $200 limit for this month already. That sucks, and since I wasn't working with a budget, I don't know where all of it went. It will be tough to outlast the month without spending more cash, but I'm sure I can.

Meanwhile, I booked my London hotel!! Yay!! Fortunately it won't cost me anything until I get there, which is nice. The hotel I booked is the Luna and Simone hotel in London. It's near Victoria station, which is a very central station - nice, even though I'll most likely be taking a cab from the airport to the hotel. Much more expensive, yes, but the idea of hauling all my worldly possessions around the London Underground aren't that appealing. Hah.

Either way, I'm pleased that all this is starting to come together. I still have yet to book my flights, but I'm hoping the Airlines will have a sale or something. We'll see. I'v,e budgeted just over $1,300 for both my flight to Toronto, and the flight from Toronto to London. I should be able to do that. I might end up comming $100 or so overbudget, but I'm going to try not to.

I have also decided that for now, I'm going to keep the pre-trip savings in a cash format. That way, when I need them, they will be there. I won't have to worry about transferring funds or anything. It'll just be cash. As well, that helps me spend as I see things I need, rather than wait to acheive the $2,000 goal before buying anything. I'm keeping this money seperate from my other money in my wallet by putting it in a little paper enveloppe. I think it's cute.

So, for any of you who would like to know, I'll be in London at the hotel from the 24th of September to the 1 of October. I'll be looking for an apartment to rent as of the 1st of October, so if anyone has any suggestions, then please feel free to share! I've been mainly looking through facebook as well as Gumtree.com, which was recommended to me many many times.

I gotta run - gotta get my nice shirts out of the washer before they wrinkle!!

Savings Goal Accomplished!

Friday, May 16, 2008

So, more than 2 months ahead of shedule, I have accomplished yet another savings goal. It's very exciting! This time it's the $5,000 London 'Fun Fund'!. Yesterday my final payment went through, and the account is now happily sitting at $5,157.91, $157.91 over my goal. This translates to £2652.82. Yay!

So, for all of you visual people, here's the chart ING Direct provides me with:
So, as you can see, this is way ahead of shedule, which is totally cool. I'd rather have extra time to accomplish something than not enough time.

So, now what I think I'll do, is I'll start contributing towards my pre-trip cash. I don't know if I will open yet another savings account, which I'm hesitant to do. Maybe for now, I'll just keep it as a cash fund for now.

Actually, hold that. I think I'll add it to my 'Plane Fund' account. I'll be buying a place ticket soon enough, and it suits the whole concept of the fund, anyways.

Either way, YAY!!!

*exhasperated exhale*

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Oh. Em. Gee. What a week. I still haven't made a budget, and I just spend the last half an hour figuring out what exactly I'm doing with my money. Yikes.

Okay, let's recap. It's been a while since I last posted. Okay, so, I picked up my VISA (yay!), everything is correct (yay!), and it's really pretty looking (double yay!). In fact, I will upload the scan I took of it yesterday to show you just how pretty it is. It's like British money - it's so colorful and antique-looking.

See? This is what it looks like: Not too bad, hey? It's a pretty good picture, too. Hah. Too funny. But seriously, it is very pretty. And it's just in there, as a sticker in my passport. Good times.

In other news, I packed many of my worldly goods into my newly-purchased luggage and carted it around the living room for a while. It's damn heavy (around 44 lbs), but it all fits. I would prefer to have a little more wiggle room in the luggage, but again, I don't think i'll be packing as much as I put in there. Plus I had added my tripod, which takes up a lot of space. Unfortunately my umbrella doesn't fit in the suitcase, although it was close! I am thinking about leaving it behind, now. I did give some thought to bringing it in a seperate box or something, but I think it's just becomming more of a pain than it's worth. So I think I'll leave it here and just suck it up and buy another one there.

The new girl started here at the office on Monday, too. She's not here right now, since she had a doctor's appointment today. She's working out good. I enjoy her company, which is nice. I can come off as bitchy when people first meet me, and that's really because I don't want to make a fool of myself, so I tend to shut down. Either way, she's very sweet, and very eager to learn. The only problem I'm having is that given that she's so eager to learn, every 15 minutes I hear "Okay, what can I do now??", which is both nice and annoying. Sometimes, there's really nothing to do here. Sometimes all I want to say is "Okay, now you can sit down and be quiet while I relax for 30 minutes". But again, I'd rather have someone too eager to learn than someone who didn't care. Hopefully in the next 3 weeks I can get her all trained up.

Speaking of that, I'm thinking that I will give my notice here at office job for July 15th, 2008. This will give me all of June to earn more money, as well as July. But then I will have accomplished my $10,000 savings goal. That will also give me 6 weeks or so to get ready and relax before I leave in September. I also have my aunt, uncle, their 2 kids, and my grandparents comming out from Ontario to visit, so it will be a very full household. Either way it'll be fun to take day trips and be a tourist with them. Working through the beginning of July will also give me a break from Stampede. It gets pretty crazy here during Stampede, so it's better to be in an office rather than navigating the streets.

After that I'll continue to work at Subway, but probably only 2 shifts a week or so. That'll give me about $600 a month for wiggle room, as well as the chance to keep midly busy and keep in touch with people there.

So, when my boss comes in this morning I'm going to chat with her about it and see how she feels about it. I'm pretty sure the new girl should be able to handle the office by herself with 2 months of working. We'll see.

I'm busy moving some money around right now, so when that gets settled I will update some figures!!

No Budget?!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

So, so far this month, I'm running blind. I haven't written down a budget, I haven't checked my bank balances, and I haven't even deposited a cheque that I've had in my possession for a week now!


You would think it would give me freedom to buy and spend spen spend... but actually...


It sucks.

A lot. I'm actually a bit surprised. I didn't think it would stress me out as much as it is. I really need to sit down tonight and make one, so here goes.

Currently in my TD Bank Account I have a balance of $2,114.43. This seems like a big number, but I'll explain why it isn't in a minute.

Currently in my ING Accounts I have a grand total of $10,012.20. This is, of course, seperated into several categories:


Some of these values are a litlle lower than usual. Technically, I owe $1,400 to Savings from last month as well as $1375 to the fun fund. I have $400 in cash that I need to deposit, as well as a $70 cheque from my mom. This still doesn't include the $1,400 I need to deposit for this month. So, thinking about the deposits from last month alone, I am sitting at a deficit of -$260. Yeeesh.

The good news is, is that I am making $2,356 this month, so I will have more than enough money to pay for all my, "bills". After I pay everything, I will still have $695 left this month. But no, I'm not going to spend it!


I've set myself a budget for $200 this month. The $400 I'll have left over is either going to act as a cushion for my future budgets, or to put towards my pre-trip savings. Yay!

The good news is, is that, if all goes well, I should have all my goals accomplished by the end of June!! Yay!!


Now, something I have pondered for a while, is, do I lessen the hours I'm working at my jobs to give myself a breather and take some extra time off to relax, or should I push through and continue to work my ass off to save all the extra dollah for London. I'm not sure...

We'll see. We will be hiring a new girl here at the office this comming Monday, so i've got to spend 2 weeks training her. We'll see how she turns out. If we don't get super-along, then I might consider leaving this job a little earlier than August 1st.


I'll be spending some time thinking about that.


The good news is, is that I get to go pick up my PASSPORT and VISA today at the Post Office!!

Wheee!!

So. Much. Planning.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I seriously cannot believe that everything is comming together. omg. omgomgomgomg. It's a little bit surreal.

Either way, I finally feel like I can go ahead and start planning! Everything was kind of on hold for a while because I didn't want to go and pack everything up and book a flight before I heard back, but now, I can do just that!

It's probably good timing, too, since Air Canada and some of the other jets have started increasing their prices because of the rediculous cost of fuel. So, hopefully by the end of next week I will have a flight booked.

I just have something I want to think over, first. My original thought was to fly or take a greyhound bus to Toronto, spend a couple weeks visiting extended family there, then fly to London from Toronto, which would be cheaper. On the other hand, that does mean that I have to get everything packed and sorted before I go, then cart it around while I'm in Ontario - something I'm not so keen about anymore. I'm thinking I will book a ticket from Calgary, and then decide later if i'd like to visit family for a week or so before I leave.

Now the question is, when do I want to fly out? Ideally I'd like to have an apartment and be settled by October... but how much time should I give myself to find an apartment? That I'm not sure. I doubt i'd need more than 2 weeks to find an apartment - but i'd hate to book a hotel for 2 weeks only to find something the first day. Maybe I'll book something for 5 days or a week and see what happens.

I'll also need either a place with Wi-Fi or be in proximity to a cafe or something that gets Wi-Fi. This will be important in my search for an apartment.

The only problem I can forsee is a phone. I'm not sure if places like Virgin Mobile allow you to buy prepaid cell phones if you are a tourist. If they did, this will be ideal. That way people can contact me as well.

Omg. I am so happy. And overwhelmed, but mainly with happiness. Here we go!

I GOT MY VISA!!!

(omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomg).

Ahhhhhh!!!!!

Sleep

Monday, May 5, 2008

I currently have a much better outlook on life than I did 3 days ago. And it turns out sleep was all I needed! I've been a big ball of stress these last few weeks, and as such, everything has kind of fallen apart. I wasn't eating properly, wasn't sleeping properly, wasn't keeping on top of anything (work, money, relationships), and all I wanted to do was sleep.

Well, I did sleep. And it was awesome. In fact, I'm actually working nights this week (usually I work 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., which, while it's nice to leave so early, I hate mornings), and the nights are from noon to 8 p.m. Muuuuuch better.

I also got the e-notice from Canada Post and the VISA people saying that they have received my application. Yay! We'll see what the decision is.

Yesterday we went out as a family to celebrate my mother's birthday. It was Chinese food. Yum yum. It was actually nice to spend some time as a family, seeing as generally we are all so busy that we can't get a night out together to save our lives.

Mother's Day is Sunday and I have to find something nice to buy my mom. I can't think of anything, so we'll see what I come up with.

Today's Goals include:

  • Staying on top of of workload.
  • Making a new budget for this month.
  • Take a full 1 hour lunch and spend at least 15 minutes out on the balcony enjoying the weather and the view.
  • Do laundry tonight and make room at least 'walkable'.
  • Wrap S's bday gift.
I am feeling 100% better, and it feels awesome. I hate what stress does to me. I need to learn better ways of dealing with it.

Looking back on April

Friday, May 2, 2008

Alright, here it is, my glorious monthly summary. Now, usually I would show you all my budget categories and how much I went over/under each. But I can't do that. Mainly beacuse I stopped keeping track sometime last week. I don't think I could put it all together, even if I wanted too.
However, I do have a networth increase:
My networth is now $12,570. It was previously $10,407. Not too shabby. I accomplished all my savings goals, sort of. I haven't actually depositied the cash from my chequing account over to my ING Direct accounts, because I had previously used up all my free debits for the month. I will be doing that today, and therefore the charts will be a bit more realistic. But, in the meantime, here they are:
This it the balance of my savings account. I still owe that account $1,400 from my chequing account, so it really should be on part with the chart. But, it looks like I'm well on my way to acheiving this goal. This is the balance of my "Fun Fund". I'm actually progressing faster than expected on this one. I still owe this account $785 from last month. So, by the end of this month, I should have accomplished my goal! I'll most likely be extending this goal, I'm thinking to around $7,000. We'll see how it comes together.

And finally, my Plane/VISA Fund:

The little dip is, of course, the $446 I had to take out to pay for my VISA. I should've taken out some more money to cover a couple other costs, like the costs of getting to Edmonton, as well as the passport photos I took, but I had the money to cover them, so I didn't.

Overall, while it wasn't the best end to the month, what with me being so stressed and all, I'm impressed that I accomplished all my savings goals, even if I did overspend.

I'm tweaking my budget for May. I'm planning on spending $200, and that's it. This is for food, stuff, toiletries (which I don't need and am not going to buy unless it's toothpaste or something), and clothing. I don't need more things. I have a lot of things.

Some of my goals for May include:
  • To not spend more than $200 on non-essentials.
  • To pack up 5 boxes worth of goods that are staying here.
  • To get 75% of the stuff I need together for the garage sale.
  • Don't stress myself over the VISA.

Whoof. Sounds possible. I gotta get some sleep first. Thank god I'm working nights at office job next week so I can at least sleep in. Yes.

Catch up!

Oh. My. God. What a week. Yikes. This week has got to be one of the most stressful weeks I've had. Ever. Okay, maybe not while I was in college, but that's a different stress. Research paper deadline stress is one thing, but this week has been anxiety attack, panic-ridden life stress. Thank god I'm not a high-strung person (usually), because I sure as hell can't do this all the time.

Okay, so, when was the last time I updated? Looks like the last time I really wrote was Sunday. Sunday was a nice day. I think. I can't really remember what I did. Monday I was at work, looking at the pile of shat I had to do. I've been leaving things in the office because I've been so focused on getting my VISA paperwork ready for Edmonton on Tuesday. I checked and checked and re-checked all night and all morning to make sure I had all my paperwork with me. I'm a little neurotic it seems. We got into Edmonton with about an hour to spare (I like being super early for things like this) and found the building and got me into the office about 1/2 before my appointment.

Turns out that appointments really aren't necesary, since I was let in pretty much right away. Whatever, worked for me. The guy wasn't very helpful, but he wasn't allowed to be, which sucked. They are basically the middle men. They are there to take your photo, your fingerprints, all your paperwork, and put them into a 'tamper proof' envelope and give it back to you. Yep, give it back to me. Sigh. I was then responsible to mailing it to Ottawa. I didn't really want it back, since having it with me made me just as anxious. I was worried I was going to lose it or bend the 'tamper proof' envelope and then I'd be in trouble.

The rest of the day in Edmonton was kinda fun. I ate and shopped with my sister and dad. Good times. The ride home was fun, too. I should've brought my camera, but I didn't necesarily want to worry about it and all my paperwork.

Wednesday I went back to work here in the office and just sat. I was tired and emotional and exhausted. I pretty much sat most of yesterday, too. Didn't help that I had this asshole call yesterday and I had to argue with him for, like, 1/2 an hour. Guys like him make me hate an ordinarily good job. (He called back again today... douchebag).

Overall, it's been a bad week. I want so bad for this VISA to happen, and I just worry deep down that it won't. I know it probably will, but I still worry. I also found out that when I'm this stressed, I shop. A lot. Well, not a lot, but more than I have been. I bought a couple things while in Edmonton, as well as some things on Wednesday when I was out with K. Stuff I really didn't need, but I wanted. It's been a rough end-of-the-month, budget-wise. I can't even tell you how good/bad I did, since I stopped keeping track. Yep, that's bad.

On a good note, I did buy an external hard-drive last night. It's 320 gigs and I think it should be plenty for storing photos and movies and music. Nothing too impressive. It's nice and tiny, and it doesn't require being plugged into an outlet, which will help when I am in London.

I wish I didn't work every day this weekend, because all I really need is one day off to sit in my jammies and recoup. And sleep. And eat.

My monthly summary and goals for May to follow.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm so sorry. It's been an absolutely crazy-stressful couple of days and I want so bad to update you all, but all I want to do is sleep my life away. I need to go to bed and get some crap sorted out. I promise I will update soon. Right now, though, I need to get sleep before work tomorrow.

ZZZZzzZzzzzzZZzzzzZZzzZZZzzzZZ...

Operation: Deep Clean!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Man, do I ever have a lot of junk. And not just physical junk, digital junk!! I've been slowly going through my computer and deleting old programs and files I don't use anymore. Right now my 100 gig hard drive is pretty much full. Yep. Full. Of crap. A lot of that is music, but much much more is photos. 28 gigs of photos to be exact. Yep, I'm "that guy" who takes tons and tons of photos.

Well, I have found one (okay, two) solutions! I was at a scrapbooking party last night (sounds so.... momish of me haha), which was hosted by a woman working for a company called Creative Memories, and while right now I'm not big on the actual process of scrapbooking, I am big on some of the software that they offer. While I was tempted to buy many (soooo many) things, I ended up buying software called "Memory Manager 2.0" from the company. It works basically like a database where you can store, tag, search for and basically sort your pictures. It does some other fun things as well, like add stories to pictures and make mock-scrapbook pages, but it was the database part that really interessted me.

The thing for me, is that I have all my photos into folders. They are named things like "Camping trip 2006" or "Europe 2007" or even "Nikon Testing Photos April 12, 2008". But, for example, I'll have photos of the Eiffel Tower in "Europe Trip 07" as well as "Europe Trip 08", so if I wanted to look at all my Eiffel Tower Photos, I would have to manually sort through all the pictures. With this software, I can digitally put photos in several different "drop-boxes", so for example, all the photos of the Eiffel Tower would be in a box called Eiffel Tower, but most likely, also in boxes labelled "Paris", "France", and "Vacations". I am very much looking forward to this.

Right now, I just have one obstacle in my way: the massive amount of photos I have.

So, for right now, I'm sorting photos. So. Many. Photos. I tend to keep every photo I take, which isn't neccesary. For example, I was hanging out in my room on Tuesday and I saw a bunch of robins outside my window on the front lawn. I pushed open my window, grabbed my camera and shot some pictures. 98 pictures later.... and I still have them all. There is probably only 5 - 10 worth keeping, and that's my bad for not sorting them out.

So, ladies and gentlement, it's sorting time!

So much cleaning!

Friday, April 25, 2008

So this afternoon, after much lounging about, I went down to the basement and organized 6 boxes of my junk. After much deliberation I only kept 2 boxes worth of stuff. Go me!

I am really proud of all the decisions I've been making. I need to keep on a roll!