March Budget and Goals

Friday, February 29, 2008

Well, as my last budget was really only the second month I had made a budget, some tweaking is in order. Here is a side-by-side comparison of my Feb budget vs. my March budget:The $900 in the "extra funds for savings" is a conservative estimate on my tax-refund. It is supposed to be $928.93, but if there is a chance that I have made a mistake, I don't want to have to take it back out of my savings.

Since I didn't spend any money on transportation and don't plan to in March either, I have lowered the amount to $10 from $20. I have a semester-long bus pass, and don't own a vehicle.

I upped my clothing budget, as I can forsee some purchases I'll have to make in the spring. I'll most likely need a couple new pairs of jeans, and some more 'summer-appropriate' clothes for work. Given that I have crappy luck buying clothes, this is probably all I'll get to spend.

As I haven't bought a book or a magazine since January, I dropped this amount to $0. I can't think of any books I need, nor any magazines that I want. I used to buy several celebrity gossip mags, but now I get all the gossip I need from Perez and Egotastic.

The miscellaneous category is left the same. I have $70 I owe my mom for my sister's birthday present, so most of that fund is gone this month.

March Goals:

I will continue to:

  • Spend $0 on food from March 1 until March 31 during work hours.
  • Tidy my room and keep it clean.
  • Keep track of my daily spending.
I will start to:
  • Spend less than $100 on groceries.
  • Use my VISA less than 5 times this month.
  • Add $1,000 to the London Fund.
  • Pack away items from room in anticipation of move
  • Start a box for donations/garage sale.

Well, those are some lofty goals, but I think I'm up to the challenge!


Thursday, February 28, 2008

I've been using Statcounter to track activity at this site, and I just wanted to show some love for all of those who have send one (or dozens!) of readers this way this month:

Thanks go out to:

All together you 8 sent over 70 hits my way!

If you haven't read these blogs yet, I would urge you to check them out - they are some of my favs!

February in Review!

Okay, I know I haven't actually yet seen the end of February, but I figured it's time to do my month in review!

I have updated my progress bars on the right hand side. I added $1,400 to my London Savings fund, bringing it up to $3,805. I am now only $6,195 short of my $10,000 goal. I am well above my monthly savings goal. ING Direct suggests that I should save just over $1,100 to get to $10, 000 for August 1st, but I upped that as you can see:
I also added both the regular contribution of $200 plus an extra contribution of another $200 to my Plane/VISA fund, bringing that total up to $801.41. I am doing well with that goal, too:
I added $795 to my London-Fun Fund this month. This wasn't as high as I would've liked, but it was still close to my previous contribution of $990. Even though, my total is now sitting confortably at $1,785.00 or £727 British Pounds. It's a little sad when I look at it that way, but hey, it's £727 that I have set aside for "fun"!.

I blew through a couple areas of my budget as you can see:

I have to thank Krystal and her challange for keeping my food budget in check here. I was under my $300 budget by $67.

As you can see, my food consumption dropped dramatically once I joined the challenge.

Due to an unexpected pant-ripping situation, I went over my clothing budget by around $27. It wasn't much help that the only pants I could find that fit property were over $60 - more than I usually spend on jeans!

I went waaaay over budget on my techonologies. I would attribute this to some bad decisions on my part and my lack of control.

I really only bought three technology-related items, but all three were large scale. I bought a new camera bag, a new tripod, and some polaroid film, since the company is stopping production on polaroids this year and I am just starting to get back into them!

I also just slightly jumped over my limit for toiletries. I would have been damn fine if I hadn't gotten sick. But that last $25 I spent on medication put me over the edge. At least I have an active supply now.

My miscellaneous section also went over budget. Most of these items are what I like to call "extra" purchases. Most of these I could do without. Most of them are my primary weakness: purses, bags and wallets. Also included was the purchase of a new chair and the fees for filing my taxes today!

Overall, though, I am pleased to report that my Networth has increased from $5070 in January to over $7,300 in February!

At this time, I haven't yet gotten the interest back from my ING Direct savings accounts, but when I do, I will post it.

In other exciting news, I did my taxes today! Looks like I will be getting a return of $928.93 this year! If all goes according to plans, I will be putting the entirety of that refund towards my Plane/VISA fund, maxing that out! After that, i'll be snowballing my savings payments towards my Savings Fund, hopefully maxing that out with time to spare.

March goals and other things to follow...


Oh dear. I blew today's challenge. I spent money for lunch. Well, not for lunch, but rather for dessert. K and I walked over to a camera store on our lunch break and on the way back she asked that we stop at a dessert house. I wasn't going to buy anything, but my tastebuds got the best of me and I bought a dessert for $2.75. I don't know what the name of it was, but I call it the lemon smoosh. So, I did feel guilty, even though it was delicious.

But, no falling off the bandwagon for me! I've already got lunch planned tomorrow. The best part about working at a Subway is the abundance of freshly cut veggies, meats and sauces that I am free to take with me. So I still get a fast-food fix by taking in a leftover sandwich to lunch. Plus I got some red onion slices (yum yum!) to add to my tuna wrap tomorrow.

In other news, I've managed to catch a cold. I had a bit of a sore throat last night, and when I work up this morning, it was full-blown cold! Last time I was sick I was in NYC and I got hit just as fast. So, after work I promptly hurried over to Zeller's and bought some cold medication - you don't want the person making your sandwich to be all snotty-ish. I also picked up some ColdFX on a whim - some people I know seem to swear by the stuff, I personally am sceptical of it - but I figured i'd give it a try.

I bought a three day supply, costing me approximately $12. The first day (today) I am to take three pills two times a day. Tomorrow I take two pills twice a day, and then the third day I'm down to one pill twice a day. Supposedly these things are supposed to build my immune system - so we'll see how it works out. It'd be great if it did, I have plans to meet with some hilarious friends on friday and I don't want to make them (or their children!) sick.

I am also now only waiting on one final paycheque. The last office-job cheque got cleared today, and it was off to the savings account. I am looking forward to doing (my first!) month summary!

As well, I had 28 people visit this site today (well, yesterday's 12:12 a.m. here)! I am getting visitors from all sorts of blogs. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who stops and comments and reads - you guys are awesome and I'm so glad to be with your on this blogging adventure! I've had some new people link to me, and I'll have to do some updating on my blogroll! If by chance I forget you, leave me a comment!

Take it easy!

Fifteen things you didn't know about me...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

  1. I am a purse-aholic. Remind me sometime to show you just how many purses I have.
  2. I own 1 dog and 2 birds, but i'd really like a snake.
  3. I've been working at two different Subways for a total of 7 years, and I still love their sandwiches.
  4. The largest purchase I regret is a $400 guitar I bought in grade 11 to impress a boy. Didn't work. Still have the guitar. Can't play.
  5. I'm a sucker for accents of the europeean variety.
  6. I'm a video game nerd.
  7. I've never had a long-term relationship.
  8. I don't want children.
  9. I love peanut butter & jelly sandwiches.
  10. I will go on a road trip anywhere, anytime. Just ask me.
  11. I have a phobia of confrontations. I will actively avoid them. And being forced into one makes me shake and/or cry.
  12. I love working at a Police Station because it makes me feel important to know things others can't.
  13. I think I would be a good contestant on The Amazing Race.
  14. I've committed a crime.
  15. I love watching reruns of Friends.

Who did you learn your financial skills from?

I agree that most of who I am is made from influences of those around me. I am here today to share with you who some of those people are what I learned from them.

My grandfather on my dad's side: I learned to save money. No, more like hoard money. Even after my grandfather died we still found jars of coin and bills tucked all over his house. My grandfather wasn't just frugal, he was extreme frugal. He'd build things instead of buy new - he drove his cars into the ground. He saved bacon grease to use for cooking later (I know, it's gross!). He never went out and spent money unless he absolutely needed to. He lived in a house that he built from the ground up. Whether that was all as a result of living through the great depression and several wars or something else I'll never know.

My mother: My parents struggled a lot when we were growing up. I never noticed as kids, but now looking back I know it was rough sometimes. Things like sharing bath-water, I thought was normal for kids. As i've gotten older, my mother has always frowned upon my periods of excessive spending, but at the same time, encouraged us to take risks and 'see the world' now, because we may not be able to do it later. My mother was a stay-at-home mom for most of my formative years, and would cook dinner, pack our lunches, bake bread from scratch and sweets rather than eat out. In fact, I don't remember eating out at all until I hit junior-high.

At the same time, my mother is very brand-loyal. She doesn't buy generic, and is probably one of the reasons why I feel that generic stuff is low-quality (which it isn't always!). She was very concerned with how we 'looked' to others - discouraging my teenage habit of wearing ratty clothes (they were the most comfortable!).

My dad: My dad is the biggest influence on my adoration of technological gagdets and cameras. He gave me my first SLR camera, my first laptop, my first calculator, my first webcam, and many other gadgets. He is a sucker for the latest 'it' thing and isn't always responsible with money. As a kid I thought he was the 'cooler' parent since he bought us all the stuff, but as I got older, I realized how his irresponsibility still stresses my mom out to this day.

My sister: As a kid, my sister was a spender - I was a saver. My sister would get her $20 allowance money and promptly spend it, begging for more from my parents. They would usually give in, to my dismay. My mother used to praise me for my spending habits and scorn my sister, even though she never really discouraged her spending since she would cave and give her more money. I'm glad to say that my sister has changed her habits a lot, saving over $14,000 for college in only 1 short year (she is two years younger than me).

My elementary-friends (most of whom I still see): I am lucky - only one of my elementary school friends made some bad life choices and is now living with some guy, her 1 kid, his 3 kids, she's preggo with another one of his, and no savings to speak of - oh, and a drug habit. All the others have ended up good people. Most watch their savings and have little to no debt. During most of my junior high and high school years, we spent our weekends having 'parties' (pretty tame parties - most involved LAN games, other computer games, or chilling in my rich-friends fancy house and hot-tub!). They were a good influence on my saving habits.

My high-school friends (some of whom I still see): These really were the group of people that affected my desiere to spend. Many of my friends had started to drive, so leaving without parental help was possible. Most of us started getting jobs, and with our parents still paying for most things, had a huge amount of disposible income. I'm pleased that I never got into alcohol or drugs (still don't!), but my purse collection sure grew in size during those years. The desire to keep up with everything cool, along with the desire to please boys was hard on the finances. Some of my friends, including H, still seem to live in this phase.

My college friends (I still see quite frequently): Most of my college friends (save for S) are married with husbands and/or children. In their cases, money was tight. They would rarely buy lunch, and we'd spend our time hanging out having potlucks at each other's homes or simply visiting and playing (already owned) video games.

All in all most of the influences in my life regarding money have been positive. Overall, I'm a big hoarded, although, I have had (and still do!) moments of wanted to have something 'nice' or something to 'show off' and come close to spending as much (or more!) than I've earned.

Today I'm getting the most pleasure from knowing that my savings is sitting at $5,000 more than most people I know and that I have a plan for the future. So they can go buy those 'it-bags' and eat their fancy food for lunch, I'll stay right here and eat my tuna wrap, because I think I'm getting more satisfaction in life.


Some Thoughts

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I've been thinking recently, what with the (what K likes to call) "quarter-life crisis" edging on me, and with a lot of my friends having babies and husbands and wives and homes and such - the biggest question I have floating over my head is the following:

What happens if I fall in love/marry someone who has mounds of debt and/or no idea how to manage the finances?

I take great pride in the fact that I have never gone into debt to acheive anything (yet) in my life. Of course, I've never owned a car or a home, and don't pay rent. Yes I know I've got it easier than some. But I also think that I have been able to manage my money well. I rely (and always have) on a 90% cash-only spending option. I enjoy spending cash more than credit or even debit.

But, what happens down the road, should I meet and marry a man who has, lets say, $50,000 in student loans. His debt becomes our debt. I don't like that thought at all. It actually makes me not want to get married! Hah.

My friend H (yes, the camera one)'s parents recently got divorced. H said that when they got married, her mom had no debt, and her dad carried about $50,000 worth of various debt - a debt that they (as a couple) carried with them until they got divorced and split the assets. H speculates that her mom felt bitter about having debt, blaming H's dad for bringing the debt into the family.

I would imagine that it's tough, for the debt-free spouse to accept (all of a sudden!) a huge debt load into their lives. I agree when people say that you must, must must must! talk about money before getting married. What do they say? That most marriages break up because of money problems.

The scary thing is, that I forsee many of my friends (some married, some unmarried, all my age range - around 23) having money problems in their marriages. I base this purely on how they handle money now - most of them think that their money problems will go away when they make more money...

What I'd really like to do is pick them up and shake them around a bit. But here in Canada we call that "aggravated assault" and given my line of work, I don't think a Criminal Record will help me at all. Hah.

Things I learned Today.

Monday, February 25, 2008

1) I had 22 people visit this site yesterday. You guys rock! It's nice either way to get my thoughts out on digital-paper, it's nicer to know that there is someone out there that actually wants to listen! I absolutely love reading all your blogs, and I hope you enjoy your time here!

2) I will be getting a refund in the vicinity of $800 this year for taxes. This is just an estimate, as I haven't received all my forms yet.

3) My other indebted friend (aside from K), H, is over $15,000 in debt and is considering buying a $1,000 camera tomorrow. In fact, she probably will buy said camera. K thinks I should've talked her out of it, but I don't think it was my place. (More on that later...)

4) I am horribly impatient. I can't wait until I can do my month-end summary, get my last two paycheques this month, transfer money to my savings, get my tax return, and update my spreadsheet! Ack!

5) I love canned mandarines in light fruit juice. I've eaten them daily for about 5 days now and still find them as tasty as ever - cheap too!

The template stays! (for now...)

Well, looking at some of the poll results, look like you folk either like the new layout or don't mind it. At least no one (so far) hates it. Thanks to the 6 of you who replied (or the 1 of you who answered 6 times!) So, I think i'll be keeping it for a while. I have a feeling that I'll get bored of it after a month or so. Maybe I'll change templates each month to correspond to a new monthly challenge!

Today was a rather un-frugal day. I managed to break the old, crappy desk chair that I have in my room and had to go out and buy a new one. My progress ended at IKEA where I found a lovely little desk chair, sitting comfortably under budget at $99.99. My budget was $120. Usually I wouldn't spend this much on a chair, but I can spend upwards of 4 hours a day in this chair, and need something with support and such. Wheels are handy, too. While I was there with my mum, she bought me a new duvet and cover as she believes that I need a new one. I'm perfectly happy with the old one, but she says that she can see the grunge. I think it's a mother thing. Either way, the new set is lovely and matches a lot of things nicely. It looks more, ahem, grown up than the last one, which was a print of Vincent Van Gohg's Starry Night painting.

Are you watching the oscars tonight? I was, for a while, but I got bored and returned to surfing the web/playing grand theft auto III. I haven't seen any of the movies that were nominated for an oscar and nothing exciting was happening so I gave it up.

I found out an interessting thing about K the other day. Her grandparents gave her around $30,000 for her education. $30,000. And somehow, she's still $10,000 in debt?! I just don't understand! I didn't ask if she'd used it all up, but something tells me she has. It was an investment, and I know she said that she borrowed against it for both of her cars at one point. Silly girl. When will she see that it's her money-management skills, not the size of her paycheque, that'll help her out of debt.

I'm not sure if I mentionned this either, but I might be getting a raise at office job! We've been unable to secure a person to take over for K's job, so they are looking at raising the rent. Currently I'm making $12 an hour, but there's talk of bumping it up to $14, $16, or even $18! When they said that, my mind started spinning at once - but this time, it was with thoughts of saving and investing and reaching goals! Hah. I must be crazy. At least i'll have $$$.

Saving Money by using samples.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I was at Sephora on Friday with K, mindlessly wandering around, smelling thing and covering my hands with all sorts of eye-shadow colors when we came across a little tiny jar of cuticle oil.

K uses cuticle oil all the time, and I thought, hey, why not try it out? So I grab the bottle labelled "tester" and slap some oil on all my cuticles, rub in it, and continue to wander through the store. Well, the oil worked! I have very soft cuticles. Immediately, the voice of my previous self rang loud: Well, what are you waiting for? Go buy it!

My new-self voice kicked in automatically and it got me thinking: If I bought this little jar of oil (a $25 value, by the way), how often would I actually use it? And how long would it take me to use up the whole bottle? I'm guessing, since my cuticles are still soft and supple after two days of intense fast-food job (including washing dishes in sandpaper-like industrial-strength dishwashing solution), I would probably only use it once or twice a week - tops.

My thinking is, since this Sephora is located in the same mall where I work, why couldn't I just stop in every week or so on the way to work and oil the cuticles up real nice with their sample?

Now, of course, this won't work with everything, but, here's a list of products that I could see using the testers instead of purchasing it myself:

  • Perfume
  • Eyeshadow
  • Lotions
  • Some lip-glosses

Now, of course, you'd have to be careful to ensure that you are using clean applicators and/or a reputable store to ensure that you don't contact any strange germs. I would stay away from things like mascara or eyeliner - anything that comes in contact with a mucus membrane (ie. noses, eyes, etc).

I always tried to get haircuts on the same day that I had an evening planned, since my hairstylist always styles my hair as well as cutting it, and he's got waaay more skill than I do when it comes to my hair.

But, for those looking for makeup - most makeup counters (I usually frequent MAC) will do both eyes for free, usually when there is a promise of buying a product. Although, on many occasions, I have gone in with some questions regarding colors or matching an outfit and have left the counter, not only with no money spent, but with two completely done up eyes!

Do you use any in-store shortcuts for aquiring samples and/or using products for little or no cost?