Sunday morning musings

Good morning everyone – hope you are all safe, healthy, and free of COVID-19 related anxiety.

I know, I know….

It is hard not to feel anxiety about the situation; about ourselves, our and other loved ones’ well-being, and the current and future financial outlook.

….

Like any of you, I am getting more and more aware of the global and national situation, issues, and future predictions on a daily basis. The fact that I have been stocking up essential items and food in the last 3 weeks or so states this very well. I sometimes think quite drastically and assume that we will be only dependent on the food that we can grow in our yard and homes. Funny I know, but I cannot help but think about this. We will not have that panic-situation, will we?

I am quite aware of the importance of the cash right now and keeping my job. Goodness…

I wished somebody deferred the mortgage payments for 6 months or so – without interest – so that we all could save some cash and feel more secure…

I do not know what to do with my RRSP and TFSA contributions, either. I keep going as before. Since the market is down, it seems like the perfect time to invest. Yet, I cannot think about yet another blow to the market and the value of the investments getting even smaller. Since I used a portion of my RRSP to pay my down payment, I must continue with my RRSP contributions, but what about TFSA? Shall I rather stop my contributions and keep the cash in my chequing account?

I took so many things granted…Like many of us I guess.

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It is a beautiful, shinny, and peaceful morning out there. Perfect time to walk without even thinking about where to go.

I checked on a couple of people who I worked with in the past. I hope they are doing well. It will be awesome to hear from them. It also feels great to reach out to people I care about.

These being said, it is sad that I am away from my family and who knows when I will be able to visit them. I had purchased a ticket for this summer, which I am sure will have to be canceled. Next year? Will this be over next year? if so, how expensive will be the tickets? Will I be able to make it home then? I must confessed that this year I did not want to go visit my family – I have posts about it. I never thought that it would become a necessity like this. Life is so strange.

Over and over, I come to realize that while my mind is busy getting stuck at little pains of the past, it misses the chance of living what is important.

Here is to a painless past and vivid present:

holidays diary – day 7

Today it felt more like a break and better – I am grateful! 🙂

I am going to bed late and I am getting up after 7 am – this has been one of the blessing of this break – thank you!

I am cooking and eating relatively healthy – this feels very energizing and I am kind of proud of myself 🙂

I worked nice and easy at the office (the last two days), which is amazing. It is quiet and beautiful. Not getting 50 emails a day, not having anyone calling or waltzing in my office regularly, and not rushing from one meeting to other have been feeling amazing. On top of that, the clean and organized office has been a blessing – it feels energetic, spacious, and just lovely. I am in love with my office nowadays 🙂

My home is clean, decluttered, and well organized as well. Little re-arrangements here and there have made a positive impact. It feels really lovely  🙂

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Today was very cold, with possibly -10/15 C. Waiting for the bus was not fun, but it was well worth it. I have not taken the cab in the last while and my purse feels quite rich. On top of this, I limited, significantly limited, my junk food consumption, which makes me save lots of money 🙂 I feel very abundant, now that I have tons of extra money (well, not tons of it, but you know what I mean). Shopping hence does not feel like a way to further spend money, but to treat (with healthy food) and nourish myself. Overall, these two (taking the bus and limiting the junk food) always make the most impact on my financial well-being. I hope to be able to keep going.

This being said, I always have a great frugal life in the first 6 months of the year, and then with summer I seem to open the purse. Can I make it an exception this year? We shall see 🙂 Honestly I do not have much of an alternative; my chequing account is very low and my mortgage is due renewal this year, which means I am looking at a mortgage with a higher interest. I must be keeping my money as much as I can in order to keep up with these…. This is my plan. Wish me luck!

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This year I have not posted an yearly financial well-being/net-worth post. The main reason is that I have accidentally deleted around 6 months of my recordings. Oh, well. That is alright. My net-worth has increased around 25K, mostly thanks to home equity, but my investments (RRSP and TFSA) have lost around 10-15K…… Go figure…. I am taking it easy, however. Now I may have lost money, but I have faith that over time it will increase again. I have time.

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Tomorrow, I plan to visit the thrift stores again. A pot that I bought yesterday find its plant, a beautiful prayer plant I have at the office 🙂 Together, they are the most elegant  and elite decoration I have ever had in my possession. I feel so lucky and happy about them. Long live the thrift stores and all the people who donate there 🙂

I will visit 2 stores tomorrow. I shop at both of them; one being more affordable than the other, but the other one is bigger. I have no ambitions whatsoever and will just take my time to explore every inch of both of them. Who knows, maybe I will find some unexpectedly interesting stuff. Tomorrow will be my first “for my enjoyment only” day of the holidays.

Let’s remember that the new year is the year of Ease, Comfort, and Appreciation 🙂

 

 

 

it is time to have some plans

Now that I do not get any more (strong) anxiety, I have decided it was time that I come back to my regular routine by re-introducing my small daily life goals.

They literally make me feel like I am in control of my life, I am capable of taking care of my life and myself, and I am capable of making positive changes in my life.

They may be small, but mighty! 🙂

Here they are:

Working at the office, not at home, during the weekdays: Working mostly at home in the last 7 months made me socially isolated. I now feel better if I am in the office and do the work there. I can and will continue to work at home after hours/weekends, but at least my social health will be better. I will also enjoy being at home – lately I went through too many of stressful times while trying to do work at home. It is time that I experience what “home” means.

Taking the bus and walking: Last week was good in terms of taking the bus in the morning and walking in the afternoons (back to home). I do not want to waste anymore dimes on the cab (although I love it – so easy and comfy. Also the cabbies are always nice and very talkative). BUT I want to keep my money for more important things. I must keep my money for more important things.

Eating better: I have done well in the last two weeks by eating a variety and healthy food. I still sometime munch on candy or chocolate, but I cook more and eat more salad. The lettuce seems to be doing the magic 🙂

Stretching and elbow exercises: My physiotherapy continues and my elbow has been feeling better but not quite healed. I was given a new exercise last Friday that aims to smooth the muscles around my elbow (they are very tight). The effect was instantaneous and I cannot think about not doing these exercises! I feel so lucky and hopeful that my elbow will be like new quite soon 🙂

Budget and frugal life-style:  This is a long one.

I have been struggling with keeping up with my budget and that makes me feel bad. Literally bad. I have had a very successful history of highly effective budget and saving as much as I can. Last year was hugely successful.

However, I have not started this year well and I am way above my weekly budget and cannot save much from my pay check. This is ridiculous – I have some payments coming up; one soon for a plane ticket to Europe and another one for an investment account (an annual sum that challenges me each year, but I keep making it knowing that in the future it will be so useful). According to my calculations, unless I save around a good sum of money each month, it looks like I will not be able to make pre-payments and I will have to tap into my line of credit account.

WHAT??

An additional debt? Was mortgage not good enough??

By the way; why did Bank of Canada increased its interest rate? Argh.. Now the major Canadian banks are increasing their mortgage rates and they predict further increases in the future. My term ends in 2 years and with increased tax and no salary increase, how the hey am I supposed to pay my mortgage, invest for my retirement, and have a comfortable life all at the same time ??

……..

Going back to my frugality plan; all I have to do is to start being responsible and motivated about savings again. Which is hard. I meant to do this almost everyday lately. I know that it will happen one day, but when is that day? Tomorrow? Monday? Next week? 

I chose Monday – wish me luck 🙂

 

 

 

year end finances – 2018

Today is the end of my fiscal year. Time to see where I spent my money and how I saved it.

Money Cash GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

EXPENSES

Weekly regular/daily expenses (allowance for eligible expenses=$120/week)

  • grocery: $2,796
  • eating out (alone): $166
  • cab: $1,018 (ouch!)
  • junk/unnecessary expenses: $1,621 (ouch!)

when compared to last year, all of these expenses, except eating out, have increased significantly.

Other expenses

  • Expenses related to cleaning and other household and personal care products: $1,494
  • Clothes: $620
  • Socialization-hosting-clothes-health-care-hair cut/dye-gifts-donations-hobbies=$5,268 (around $1,800 is hosting/socials-related expenses)

it looks like this year my social-life related expenses have increased compared to last year.

  • Europe vacation: $1,500

My total expenses not including mortgage, bills, bus fare, house tax,  insurance and other fixed expenses=around $15,000.

Looks like too much for a single person?

SAVINGS, INVESTMENTS, and OTHER GOOD NEWS

Retirement investments and HBP payment:

  • TFSA+RRSP+HBP (home buyer’s plan payment)=$19,000.  I feel good about these 🙂

Fun funds

  • fun funds (aka remaining funds from weekly allowance): $639
  • fun funds expenses: $270 (anything I wish as extra was an eligible expense)
  • remaining fun funds: $369 (yay! 🙂 )

Mortgage pre-payments=$7,790 (my tax return as well as weekly savings). This was the first year that I have made pre-payments to mortgage. It is amazing to see how little savings can make such a huge difference. I am not sure how much I have saved from the interests, but anything helps really.

Some of the savings this year were because of discounts, coupons, loyalty points, and other lucky encounters. For example, by just following the sales I saved more than $1,100 this past year. I am not into coupons and that shows; only $24 was gained by using coupons. Loyalty points were useful with around $200 worth of discounts. Every bits counts.

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Overall: I have done well and increased my net worth quite a bit.

I could do better, but I will let it go. I have done what can be done.

My spending habits changed, but surprisingly I spent more on daily expenses and at socials. Something to think about.

Now, it is time to move on and plan for the next year. 

I cannot wait 🙂

Retirement GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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gifs by:https://giphy.com/gifs/loop-brown-jackie-lZd4oyt1EzC3C;https://giphy.com/gifs/retirement-deIChhcsO8iIM

towards the end of year financial calculations

I have 8 more days till the end of my fiscal year (next Thursday) when I will add up all the savings, expenses, and the net worth together to see how well I have done. 

I could not wait and did some preliminary calculations. I have room for improvement and also room for enjoyment. 

Overall, I spent more than I budgeted for for unnecessary items (like junk food). 

I also made significant expenses related to a trip/vacation and socials.

I am not sorry for any of these right now, but one thing is clear; if I want to save money, I must be consistent. The first half of the year I have done extremely well, and then started to spend unnecessarily.

And another thing clear to me is that if I want it, I can make it 🙂

I am on the right track, but I need a new strategy, better mechanisms to not make unnecessary silly expenses.

Cannot wait to plan these next week 🙂

 

 

weekly budget check

I have not posted in this category lately mostly because I have been spending a lot of money lately.

I am saddened somehow (but not fully) by the fact that I over-spent my weekly allowance ($120) in the last two weeks for the first time since the new year. The total for two weeks is around $400….In addition, I have had my hair done for over 200 bucks and made some expenses for a social gathering. I am not sorry for the social’s expenses, somehow pissed about the hair dresser’s fee but I am ready to forget this for now, and it is my own careless expenses that bother me most.

I made these expenses to feel better about myself the last two weeks, which was a rough time. They helped at that time, but it is time that I go back to my regular responsible, waste-free, and frugal self. Noting this here gives me hope and determinism to do this transition. I hope I will not fail in this.

Next week I am officially off and will keep working at home (my “work staycations” are becoming an interesting yet effective habit now…). But I am going to host friends this and the next weekend at home. I am looking forward to these events because I have seen nothing but support and friendship from most of the invitees. The expenses I will make for these dinner parties should not exceed 100 bucks each with some luck.

On the good side, within the last two weeks I have saved $70 from some expenses I was supposed to do, but did not. Also, my “fun funds” accumulation are around $1,230 as of today. These funds are critical for the short Europe visit I will make in October. I am so looking forward to this trip, which will give me some time to focus on my own enjoyment and relaxation. And it could not be possible without the fun funds 🙂 As a reminder, fun funds are those money that I saved from my weekly allowance since the new year. This is at least a successful product of my overall spending and saving adventure 🙂

Party GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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gifs by:https://giphy.com/gifs/party-warning-davin-MOTkF7sT8u2Z2;

complete frugality

Is it possible for me to be frugal 100% of the time?

I have been thinking about this since yesterday. You know I take the cab sometime and then usually (not always – sometimes I like pampering myself) I resent it the rest of the day.

It is one of these activities that works against my frugal and effective budgeting activities; a ride to office costs around 10 buck – considering how much effort I put to save 10 bucks each week, it is understandable that taking the cab is quite counter-intuitive and counter-productive for me. 

I thought about it and I know there are three other areas in my expenses that are against my frugal life-style;

  • social treats to cheap friends/colleagues (these are the ones that would let me pay for everything, rather than putting their hands in their purses!),
  • gifting (new year gifts, kids, house-warmer gifts, etc.), and,
  • social treats/donations that I must do because of my work place seniority. 

Some of these I can handle better I guess.

First thing first, those friends/colleagues who take advantage of my generosity: obviously I am pissed off by them! Next time I can try to be assertive with them!

Gifting: when I bought my sewing machine I thought I could sew gifts, but now I can see that this is not gonna happen anytime soon. So, I better start shopping for the new year gifts while there are sales. There will be other gifts that I will have to get along the way, like a birthday gift I probably will need in two days  – these I guess can be purchased when they are needed. I am afraid I have nothing additional to do about these expenses.

And social treats/donations that I must do at work: This is also an area of expense that I can hardly limit…. We have annual contributions for recognizing some of the employees’ work with us, which is perfectly fine and I am happy to do these (they so well deserve these). I am often asked to donate to causes that we all care, which I am again very happy to contribute to. And I usually take my team out for lunch several times a year, which is also great because we usually do that to celebrate a significant achievement or a life-event such as a wedding. It is also a great team-building activity. So other than choosing affordable places for lunch, I cannot see much of a thing to change here, either.

Alright. And the rest of my expenses seem to okay (not including the trips I pay to visit my family).

When I look for an opportunity to see whether I can further reduce my spending, I see that this may be possible.

But things that I can do are really small; like making my own detergent (which I do not want to), cutting my hair (which I do not want to), stop dyeing my hair (which I do not want to), buying grains and beans in bulk (like 10 kg bulk) and making them my primary staple (which I do not want to – I like grains and beans a lot but I want to eat fresh produce more), reducing the heating really low (which I do not want to), canceling my cable and risking the good price of internet-cable-phone plan (which I do not want to), not buying occasional awards such as a bar of chocolate or a drink/meal/breakfast for myself (which I do not want not to), and occasional waste like a bad apple here and there.

So, looks like for now, I am at a good shape and have a plan to tackle some of the the unnecessary expense areas. And who knows, once I reach the next level of frugality I may come up with new ways to cut my expenses and become more self-sustaining and resourceful 🙂

After all, there is always a chance of surprising ourselves – just like this bird/crow(?) in the gif below! What a smart animal! 🙂

Food GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

gif by:https://giphy.com/gifs/closer-level-3O5ihx3odCq76

 

 

 

 

Saturday morning musing

Saturday! Yay! 🙂

This week passed so fast that it is one of those times when I am kind of stressed that it is weekend. Go figure! 🙂 

I got up later than usual today, even though I was woken up a number of times. I should get up as soon as I wake up – otherwise there is a period of half sleep-half awake state where many thoughts, memories, or emotions go through my mind and I kind of find their strength is increasing this way. Naturally many of these are negative, so it makes me feel bad after a while. I must focus more on the positive. Yes….. Yes….. Yes…..

So when I finally pushed myself out of the bed and saw how bright and shinny outside was, I felt great immediately. Spring is beautiful 🙂

We have a social to attend this afternoon and I am looking forward to that. There are kids involved (our friends have two kids), which means we (I and two of my friends, who do not have kids) are excited to see them and play with them. Kids, like animals, are so innocent, so loving that they make me feel grateful and protective again. Like mother nature. It is like returning back to beginning. The original. Where we are all loving, supportive, and happy. Interesting thoughts for a morning friends! 🙂

Nature GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Soon it is gonna be two years that I have had a budget, monitored my spending and identified where my money was going, what I could save by cutting expenses, and how I could help myself with all of these. It was a struggle at the beginning, it still is sometime, but I m reaping the benefits now; my chequing account is above $0, I keep doing investments for my future (RRSP and TFSA contributions), I started to make mortgage pre-payments this year (however little they may be), my spending is significantly leaner, and I am feeling great about all of these.

I just want more.

I want to save more and invest more or pay mortgage earlier. Since the most significant expenses are already curbed (like transportation and being overall less enthusiastic to shop and waste), I keep wondering what areas I can work on? I must realize somehow that whatever I will be doing from this point on will not be a significant saving, but rather modest. Like maybe 10 bucks a week. Is it worth it?

It is an exciting activity to do so if it does work without anything negative is attached to it (like feeling depriving myself, feeling cheap, or reducing the quality of food I consume). Otherwise, no, it is not worth it. 

I think the reason I would like save more is because I do see the benefits of it and the debt (aka mortgage) getting smaller. I sure feel able and prosperous. I am not a victim of my expenses and circumstance, but rather am in charge of my of financial world. That is very empowering.

I just need to figure out how to save more.  An exciting new game plan is needed 🙂

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gifs by:https://giphy.com/gifs/eaMySYBD7Gq0o;https://giphy.com/gifs/see-heavy-aQYR1p8saOQla

weekly budget check

One day belated, but here is my weekly spendings 🙂

Overall, I am keeping with #TheLeanSpendingMonth plan and as of Feb 1st, I also am recording my daily spendings.

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Weekly allowance: $120

Expenses related to the weekly allowance (grocery, breakfast/coffee at the cafe, cab rides- if ever, and other little miscellaneous expenses): $55.5

Fun funds saved this week: $120 – $55.5 = $74.5

Total fun funds accumulated so far in 2017: $432  (yay! wow! so much saving – thanks me! 🙂 )

Other expenses: $0 for the third week -A miracle! 🙂

Savings from would-be-expenses: $37 (these are the expenses I would normally do, but decided not to – I am proud of these 🙂 They may be small, but you know what I plan to do with them? Make a mortgage pre-payment!)

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*Pantry/freezer treasures enjoyed: I have been consistently using the food in my freezer and pantry in the last few weeks 🙂 This week I have enjoyed the followings: canned bean, canned soup, cracked wheat, dry red kidney beans, dehydrated pepper and eggplant from the pantry and frozen carrots and frozen chicken soup from the freezer! Yaaaay!! 🙂

*I am noting this because a while ago I decided that I needed to use the food I stocked up in my pantry as well as the freezer (this will hopefully help with my savings as well as limiting my food waste). By recording this activity here I hope to keep doing so.

 

Happy budgeting and happy savings 🙂

if I had 172,800 bucks..

I would maximize my TFSA, pay back my HBP (Home Buyers’ Plan), make an annual mortgage pre-payment, double my mortgage payments, give a portion of it to my family members, invest the rest, and have a nice Chinese meal somewhere to celebrate.

There.

My dream for today 🙂

They say the more money you have, the more you get. Sometimes I believe in it. I also believe that the more I think I do not have money, the more I find myself spending… What an interesting dilemma….

Years ago when my finances was really low (I was kind of like a student), I had read somewhere that we must set our subconscious mind right. Upon a suggestion I read in a book, I put a number of coins in a glass container and placed it in my kitchen window. Each time I pass there, I made it habit to say “I have money“. It felt good and I can say that year I saved the most money I have ever did until then even though the money I made was quite tight 🙂

Since it is new year and my budget is more or less in check, nowadays I am feeling in control of my finances. Yet, we have got some extra taxes implemented in the new year and also our pension plan contributions have been increased by our workplace, so my salary as of new year is  less than last year. I am determined not to lose track or my saving momentum, but considering how already and significantly I have cut my expenses in the last 1.5 years, I for a moment lost my hope and started to feel like I was financially restrained again.

Then, I thought about the people who have survived the war times or the great depression and I knew that I could still cut out expenses should I wish so. I can cut my coffee in half (currently having 5 cups on the average every day), refrain from buying clothes/shoes/boots for many years (I have plenty), change my diet (not necessarily into an unhealthy one, but a more frugal one), use regular flour rather than bread flour for my bread, stop treating/gifting my coworkers and friends, learn to grow veggies in my yard, stop dying my hair, sew better, stop miscellaneous gifting, stop socializing at expensive restaurants, stop wasting food and every other item in my possession and find ways to re-use them, find alternative ways to enjoy rather than writing on notebooks with fine pens, and so on and on….

Come to think about it, some of them are not bad idea (like cutting my coffee consumption – too much of anything is not good anyhow). I am quite bothered by waste, especially the food waste and still have some fresh produce stalling in my fridge… argh… (I should go back to shopping as required rather than weekly store visits). I can also switch to regular flour (which is cheaper than the bread flour) in my sourdough loaves. I can pay more attention to sewing techniques and start sewing myself blouses (which is my primary aim now).

The point is that there seems to be multiple levels of saving. The life circumstances can challenge us, but there is usually more to change and more to save. Hopefully without reducing the quality of life and hurting our health.

Hey, maybe I should thank those extra taxes and pension contributions. They stretch my mind and imagination 🙂

financial challenges I assign to myself this year

I love assigning financial challenges to me and then seeing how I am doing 🙂

In the recent years, my first such joyful challenge was shopping freeze – I first applied it to books and then to shoes/clothes. I still did purchase a few of these items during the year, but hey, I had assigned these freezes for only a short time and they were needed when I purchased them. It is interesting that these freezes become habits quite soon after I first started them. Human attitude is quite plastic – it does change easier than we would like to think.

Anyways; the two things that I would like to try this year are the followings:

1. super-duper lean spending month. A fellow blogger suggested a no spend month, who I unfortunately cannot remember (raise your hand if you read this! 🙂 ).

Honestly I have no idea what no spend month means. I only think that the grocery, medication, transportation, and other essentials are excluded from this challenge.

Knowing my budget and daily life and requirements, I am pretty sure I cannot keep up with this – there will be at least work-place or socialization-related expenses; somebody will require some sort of gifts/donations, or I will find myself needing something all of a sudden. So, I do not have an interest in no spend month challenge.

So, why the hey am I talking about it here?

I want to give it a try and see whether I can rather aim for a “super-duper lean spending month“. That would mean finding alternative ways to contribute/donate/gift people; refuse or deflect social encounters (this is a challenge, but doable); and think really, really hard before I open my purse for anything other than essential grocery, cleaning and personal care products, transportation, medication and so on.

Certainly doable! 🙂

I am thinking February is a great time to do this challenge. And, no, not because it has less days than a regular month 🙂 I chose it because right now I have a good momentum in terms of spending (i.e. I shopped and stocked up quite a bit in Nov-Dec; that means in January I project to spend quite low anyhow).

I am curious how it will fold up 🙂

2. Pantry/freezer challenge: I have many food stored in my pantry and freezer. I have been meaning to consume them during the holidays, but time flied and things/socials happened. But I have not stopped thinking about it. My plan is to eat at least one meal per week prepared by the food already stocked up at my home. I also plan not to stock up any further until I consume half of the entire stock (then I can start stocking up them when they are on sale).

I kind of started it today when I baked a bean dish with the dry beans and frozen carrots 🙂

I know if I can put it in my to-do-list, I will make an effort to work on this challenge.  That is why I plan to record my pantry/freezer challenge activities within my weekly budget check posts.

If you have other challenges, please feel free to comment 🙂

 

weekly budget check

The minimal spending plan till the holidays is continuing. This was a great week in terms of spending my weekly allowance frugally (covering grocery, transportation, weekend breakfast, and other little daily expenses).

The additional shopping and taking advantage of the deals are also continuing, meaning money is spent now to save money over the long run (what an interesting thing to say….).

My fun funds are nowhere near being positive, which is bothering me. Hope to lift it up above $0 before the new year 🙂

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Expenses within the weekly allowance: $48.5

Fun funds (left-over from the weekly allowance): $120 – $48.5 = $71.5

Fun funds expenses (my discretionary spending): $80

Total fun funds accumulated to date: -$53 (yes, yes… it is a negative balance. no, no…. this is not great…)

Other expenses: a hefty $238.5, $100 of which is made for sewing supplies and notions

Savings from sales, transportation, and other expenses that I would normally do but have chosen not to this week : $222.5 (at least that is a good number; i could as well spend all of these. I am glad I have not..)

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Overall, I am benefiting from the “minimal spending plan” – it helps me to consume what I already have, which is awesome (also helping with limiting waste and food hoarding). Since I still have lots of fresh and dry/canned/frozen food to be consumed, I think I will be fine with continuing with this plan for some time.

I will slow down with my other expenses and am not planning to make any stocking up or additional shopping for personal care or cleaning products (other than for sewing-related needs) .

Let’s see how the next few weeks will go ahead 🙂

weekly budget check – July 28, 2016

I have not recorded my weekly spendings and savings since mid-June because of the vacation I have had.

This week too I will not record it (will start next Thursday again), but I want to write down my overall experience with money right before, during, and right after the vacation.

Right before the vacation:

I relaxed my spending a little bit by buying last-minute gifts and requests by my family members and their friends. That sounds about right to me and I have no regrets. Things I have bought were useful and needed, and I am happy to provide them.

I also stopped doing grocery shopping for myself maybe 10 days prior to my vacation so that I would not need to dump out unconsumed food before I left. That felt right, too. I rather consumed what I had already had at the fridge, the frozen meals I had prepared earlier, or prepared meals using the food in my pantry. That also felt good, as I have a tendency to not consume the dry staples. Win-win situation 🙂

During the trips/at the airport:

Considering the expense, but more than that, the lack of variety of the airport food, I prepared sandwiches and veggie snacks for myself and happily devoured them during my airport/plane times.

I was happy to treat myself, too. Coffee was always welcome while waiting for the connections. So was the book that I purchased at one airport. I have had a 9-hour wait between connections at one point and that book helped me to spend time without getting bored or agitated; dollars well spent 🙂

As per water; I have had a plastic water bottle with me and whenever I found a filtered water fountain, I filled it. In some cases, this was not possible, which necessitated purchasing bottled water. Oh, well 🙂 That too was required and as such I have no regret.

During the vacation:

I have had budgeted for this vacation at the beginning of the year. So I did not care about spending my money within some limits. That, as you may be familiar with, feels good after a kind of strict budget that I have had :))) It is great to relax the rules and lift the “I should not buy this/make this purchase” thought. Freedom is needed in every aspect of our lives, I guess, however transient it may be.

Yet, at one point I thought if I continue like that I would over-spend my vacation money, so I needed to limit my shopping (especially for clothes). This did not negatively affect me, as I have clothes at home, some of them never worn, and it is time that I make use of them.

I was also moderately generous with friends and family and contributed to the food, transportation, and other expenses we have had together. I could have done more I guess, but it was still at an acceptable level. That feels okay.

After the vacation:

I am back to my regular budget. I have no regret or sadness about that. In contrast, it feels good. It is interesting that saving and becoming a conscious spender/saver becomes a delightful part of your life….

My checking account is still above $0, yet if I am not careful enough, it may rapidly drop below that level, which would not be good…. I am looking forward to making it stronger in the coming weeks/months.

It is interesting, overall, that we all have different types of relationships and beliefs about money. Often times, it does change over time, too. I have always been frugal I guess, but the “conscious spending journey” I have had in the last 1 year or so, has showed me that I can be better.

I am glad that I am not interested in extreme frugality/being a cheapskate, or being an over-spender. I am glad that I am interested in saving, limiting unnecessary purchases/expenses, and investing for my future and retirement. I still have my short-term and long-term financial goals, and more or less I keep up with them. I know there may be unexpected expenses in the future, which may derail me a little bit. But I hope I will find the courage to accept them as necessary and not dwell in the loss of money.

While lack of money is a negative experience that produces very negative feelings in me (anxiety, anger, sadness, and hopelessness sometime), I must remind myself that money is not everything; experiences and well-being of my loved ones are way more important. And my health and well-being, too.

It feels good to feel this way 🙂

just another rant about the economy

My province’s finances are not great and this is well reflected on the annual provincial budget.

The end results? People are furious, scared, and reacting.

Even I found myself perplexed by some of the new impositions on our lives and finances. Did I create this mess? Why should I be taxed and forced to pay more on many stuff and services? What will happen in future – will this turn around or will it continue like this, or even get worse?

I have no answers to these questions. I just feel the hardship coming and hope is lost. I wonder sometime whether we will ever be able to retire in such an economic climate? Even today there are many people who cannot afford to retire, as their retirement income would be much less than what they are getting today through their salaries. Ironically, the longer these individuals stay at work, the lesser the chances for the young people to have jobs.

With increased jobless rate and decreased financial ability comes, inevitably, less spending and more public discontent & stalled economy. I think economist call it something like  “consumer confidence”; when the economy is not good, people spend less. So how is this new budget, new fees and taxes, and weakened ability to consume helping anyone?

I hope the government has some great economists who can understand, designed, and approved of their plan. Maybe there is a benefit in this budget folks like myself cannot see.

I sure will be spending less, now that I have extra fees and costs associated with being a resident of my province. Do not get me wrong; I am a collective person, I would be happy to help out the less fortunate. But I am not happy with a depressive future outlook. If I knew that this was only temporary and things would be eventually better, then I would have a better feeling about these. But I do not.

I do not think that things will get better after a few years. There are many talks about extensive lay offs. There are many people who are talking about leaving this province for another one, or worse yet, sending their kids away for better opportunities. I think everyone is entitled to their own decisions and by all means I respect their wishes, but again my problem is the loss of hope for the future. It looks dark. It looks not healthy. It looks uncertain (well… future is always uncertain, but when you face a financial situation like this and realize how serious the situation is, it just becomes more palpable than I would like).

So I must spend much less to pay off the extra taxes and fees imposed by the provincial budget while I also want to keep going with my financial plans (e.g. maximizing my RRSP and TFSA contributions each year; contributing to my retirement plan; keeping an emergency fund to help especially home repairs; keeping my chequing account at the positive side; and increasing my mortgage payments in September).

OK…. How the hey am I supposed to do this???

I already have a minimum spending plan that also buffers the costs associated with limited social activities and having a comfortable life.

I have not shopped for clothes for some time.

I cannot cut my cable because I have a cable-internet-phone package and if I delete the cable, then the remaining two cost essentially the same amount.

I am not into extreme couponing (though I love reading about it).

I cannot possibly drop anything related my health and well being, like medications, fresh produce, or hygiene.

So what am I supposed to do?

I do not know. But something will give up I guess.

This being said, I am nevertheless grateful that I am one of those fortunate ones who can still keep a home above their heads and food on their tables. If things get worse, I can further reduce my spending (I hope this will not happen, though), but for families and single people out there who are making much less than me, this would mean a disaster.

Hoping the economy will get better. If not, then at least, not get worse.

re-assessing my financial decisions

I have been re-assessing my financial priorities and decisions lately.

There is an incredible satisfaction coming out of achieving a financial goal; now I have a great budget that works for me; my chequeing account is on the positive side; my emergency fund (aka TFSA) has a good sum of funds accumulated; and I have increased my biweekly RRSP contributions (to take advantage of the low market and to pay off the HBP faster) as I am getting a little salary increase in April.

I have another little increase coming up in September. My plan is to put the extra amount into my mortgage. So I will increase the biweekly payment beginning of September. I am feeling good about this, too.

I have been trying to project my next year and what I would do with the money I would save over the year. Would I increase my mortgage payments? My RRSP? Or my TFSA?

I am not sure what would be the best for me; they all have cons and pros. A balanced act would be desired I guess. Here are the cons and pros I can think of:

RRSP (registered retirement saving plan):

How would I would like to make the extra contributions: Lump sum contributions to directly pay off the HBP (home buyers plan withdrawal that I have had as a part of my down payment).

Cons: Once the contributions are done, I may not have access to these funds unless I take the risk of penalty of early withdrawal.

Pros: The market is down and it is the best time to make investments for long term. Plus, I gotta pay back my HBP anyhow (i.e. I consider it debt), so early payments are better.

 

TFSA (tax free saving account): 

How would I like to make the extra contributions: Lump sum contributions. I have still contribution room, which I believe will take me another 3-4 years to maximize with the amount of contributions I make now.

Cons: none that I can think of. I am just not sure which one is better; to contribute to TFSA or to RRSP/mortgage? I am inclined towards RRSP or mortgage payments more than contributing to TFSA at the time being. But, this is likely to change over time.

Pros: TFSA is liquid and I can have access to it anytime I want. This gives a huge peace of mind as I may need money for emergencies or important things, like serious home repairs. So, if I have a surplus of funds and nothing better to do, why not to invest them in TFSA? My current TFSA plan is extra safe; it does not earn much but it does not lose much, either. I am opening a new one next week which I would like to be a little bit more aggressive (high risk category). It will be small at the beginning but I am planning to contribute to it from now on so that it may have a chance to grow over time. This TFSA will be hopefully for long term investment.

 

Mortgage payments:

How would I like to make the extra contributions: I would like increase my mortgage payments over time. I am thinking from September on, if things go ahead as projected, every time I get a salary increase, it would be nice to increase my biweekly payments. One thing I am scared of is whether or not in case something happens I am allowed to reduce it. If that is not possible, then the lump sum payments seem to be the best option.

Cons: Once the funds are paid, I may not have access to them in case I need liquid funds. That is why my TFSA accounts are so important to keep healthy.

Pros: Knowing that the debt is reduced and there will be a better motivation for me to pay it off in a shorter time. There is a psychological part that works for me; if the debt is small, I can get more excited and committed to pay. I am not sure when I can fully pay it off, but I hope it will not take longer than another 10 years.

 

And how am I going to find out whether I have extra funds to supplement my RRSP, TFSA, or mortgage payments (if lump sum)?

That is where the chequeing account becomes important. I would like to ideally keep around $5K in it to be able to handle the fluctuations in budget and extra/unexpected needs. But, whenever it is bigger than that I can decide to make the lump sum payments. The best time to decide is the fall; between September and December. I have some lump sum payments in summer and then in December (for insurance and others). That means after these expenses if I still have a surplus in this account, then I will have an opportunity to make lump sum payments to my choice among RRSP, TFSA, or mortgage. Then in winter, I can start saving and accumulating for the coming lump sum payments for insurance in summer and December.

I guess that is a good plan for now. I hope things will move on as I project them. If not, I am ready to re-assess and adjust.

All is well for now.

 

weekly budget check

Today is the end of my weekly budget, and here is my spending and savings:

From last week on I reduced my weekly allowance from $200 to $150; this allowance includes my grocery shopping, dining out/coffee as well as transportation expenses.

I could not stay below my limit this week, but it is lower than $200 (yay!): my total weekly spending in this category was $164. I took the cab every morning this week, which was the main inflator of the expenses.

The savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I would usually do or I was tempted to do, but did not) are $43.5. This amount is low but nevertheless I am grateful.

Overall, as I expected my plan to further reduce my expenses seems more or less functional, but certainly I need to follow this new budget ceiling for sometime to see whether it is stable.

In the meantime, since tomorrow is the beginning of my new budget week, I immediately started feeling rich 🙂

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