Saturday, December 31, 2011

Personal vs Financial

In many cases including mine debt is a symptom - not the problem.

There is an interesting article written by Financial Mentor. He writes that our real problems are within us. With a few exceptions (ie: a medical emergency), our financial issues are due to our habits or attitudes.

Out of the eight characteristics that he listed, I chose three that defifinitely apply to me.

Misplaced Priorities:- choosing consumption and current lifestyle over investments and freedom

No Plan:- there is no budget, no plan for growing assets, no tracking of spending, no discipline

So... How do I get out of debt?

"Live on less than what you make"
My Debt will not be paid off if I spend more than I make.  The Financial Mentor states that in truth we need far less than we think we do.

"Track your spending"
I will write down where my money is being spent to raise awareness.  Is it spent on unplanned purchases or is it on fees or interest due to debt?

"Tell the ones closest to you about your debt free goal"
Actually this really works.  I have told two of my closest friends and my mother. They rally around me, ask for feedback, and pump me up when they hear of my progress.  "Accountability is a powerful force for shaping human behaviour."

"Have a good attitude"

I am not thinking of the sacrifices being made. While I am in debt currently, I treat some parts of my journey as a success.  For example, we have never missed a mortgage payment and I got my interest rate decreased on my credit card.  I can't help but to feel positive of the financial security headed our way.

So which of the common characteristics are getting in the way of financial goals? 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nail Polish Challenge Colour Las Vegas Perle $16.00

51 Bottles Continues on.  Today's colour:  L'oreal - Las Vegas Perle.

This one is $6 because all I had was three toonies for my jar.  I have now saved a total of $16 for a plane ticket to somewhere!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nail Polish Challenge Colour Warm Black $10.00

51 Bottles Continues on.  Today's colour is Avon # N228 - Warm Black.

It is a great colour for the holiday season, and I now have $10 towards a vacation to anywhere.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Canadians and Debt

It was on the news tonight that Canadians have set a new record for household debt. 

If an expensive emergency were to occur, many households would experience major financial hardships.  A study has shown that Canadians are paying out more than 40% of their income towards debt.  It is at this point that it becomes difficult to keep up with their payments.

Our household has incurred some additional debt this year.  I have already decided though that we must get our financial house in order.  Our mortgage is up for renewal in 2 years. The goal is to pay off 90% of our debt before the renewal. 

It is easy to say that we will pay off our debt, but not so easy to maintain that pledge.  One can achieve this feat if goals as well as a plan are put into place. I am still formulating a plan for the Hubby and I, but I already have some important points to ignite the plan:

Make a Budget
Every month I ceate a budget listing all of our fixed expenses.  Recently, I have thrown in savings as well.  We have our separate accounts, but share a joint account  for expenses and one with ING for our savings as well.  All we have to do is deposit the dollars for the expenses and savings listed, and I make sure the bills are paid.  I then transfer savings into our joint ING accout.

Do Not Shop With a Credit Card
Enough said!  The only extracurricular thing I do with my card is apply payments to it.  It is my first time using a spread sheet to track my spending.  I hope to have money left over to apply to my credit card debt.  I do make payments to my VISA bi-weekly, but the only way I will make a dent in the balance is if I delibrately strive to throw extra money towards it.

For Goodness Sake! Save Something
Something will always come up.  That is is reason one to have money put away for a rainy day.  For once, I would like to be somewhat prepared for an emergency.  I hate having to use my credit card toget out of a jam.  Or how about going on a vacation, paying for it in cash, and not paying it off with interest?

Include a Reward
There is nothing wrong with rewarding your self for displaying good financial management.  I am doing this with my Nail Polish Challenge.

What are the few financial steps you used to kick start your way to a debt free life?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Nail Polish Challenge Colour Seductive $5.00

As you remember in my post 51 Bottles, I mentioned that I was going to place $5.00 a jar every time I painted my nails.  I found a jar.  Well actually a small flower pot and placed my first bill into it.  It is in an inconspicuous place, where no one will find it.

The colour tonight is Sally Hansen #40 - Seductive. You can get your mind out of the gutter.  There will be no seducing this evening.  Hubby's got the flu. 

But I digress.  I have $5 towards my vacation!

Friday, December 9, 2011

I could have saved $12.75

I could have had a no spend day if I had avoided seeing The Muppet Movie today.  My Mom is over for a few days, and we thought it would be nice to check out a movie.  While there are not many movies out right now that we would both enjoy, there are quite a few light movies.

Light meaning animated or with fuzzy creatures.  The movies up for discussion were The Muppet Movie and Puss In Boots.  I wanted to see Puss In Boots a spin off from the Shrek movies.  I always thought Shrek was incredibly comical.  Well 1 and 2 anyway…. Not 3.  Puss In Boots received awesome reviews.  Like 4.5 stars out of 5.  It is supposed to be fall off your seat funny.  Like Shrek, it would have humour that would not only appeal to children but definitely to adults as well.

Mom wanted to see The Muppet Movie. It received a lower rating of 3.5 out of 5.  Not a bad review.  I just knew it wasn’t going to be crazy funny.  Since she was a guest in my home, we went with her choice.

Once we arrived in the lobby of the theatre I got a little antsy.  It was early Friday afternoon and the place was packed with crazy line-ups!  It was obvious that they were under staffed. We waited 20 minutes in line to buy our tickets and confections. Strike one.

When we got to the candy bar, Mom ordered a medium coffee.  She watched as the employee poured her coffee.  Have you ever had a Tim Horton’s small coffee?  Well the cashier rung up that size for $2.75!  You could see Mom start to percolate.  The cashier began to look for a lid, and could not find one. She still brought the uncovered coffee back to the counter and informed Mom that she could not find any lids.  Really?  Let’s just say that my Mother made it clear to her that the coffee sale was now cancelled.  Strike two.

We went to have our tickets ripped, and the usher gave us incorrect directions theatre 3 where the movie was being shown. Strike three.

The movie began 10 minutes late. Strike four.  We were inundated with a gazillion commercials.  Strike five. And then we sat through 2 film shorts and five trailers.  All geared towards very young children.  I really wanted for us to leave and get our money back, but Mom was not having it.  As soon as the movie began, my intuition told me that we were heading towards strike 10.. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  If you have young kids, The Muppet Movie is the perfect film.  If you are my age or my Mother’s… you may consider this movie “painful to watch”. A direct quote from Mom.

So how could I have saved $12.75? 
- $6.75 was the cost of the movie
- $6.00 was the cost of my Peanut M&Ms.

As we drove away from the movie theatre, Mom turned to me and said. “You were right.  We should have seen Puss In Boots.”

Really?  Strike eleven for you Mother.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sick Savings

Sigh... I am taking a week off of work due to sick leave. It's nothing serious. The doctor just told me to lay low for a bit. So I have decided to use this time off as an opportunity to save. 

Biweekly on payday I set aside:
- $120 for gas for the car  (yep... 1that is 122 km per day folks)
- $90 for miscellaneous spending (toiletries, coffee, entertainment, etc)
- $100 for groceries

I return to work next week. So with this pay, I spent:
- only $55 for gas. Nice! That's a savings of $65!
- only $70 miscellaneous spending. (I treated the Hubby to breakfast and dessert this past weekend). I will save $20
- I will save about $45 from the grocery bill since I did not have to pack a lunch, and I eat considerably less when I am not at work.

My savings amounts to $130!

Ideally, I should use this total towards debt repayment.  Instead I will put this towards my Christmas gift spending.  I have a short list of one. The Hubby.  I am looking forward to purchasing his present by using cash only.
I was able to come up with this plan once I created my first Budget Spreadsheet in Excel.  In a notebook, I write down what I spent and on what. Every couple of days I take the total spent and apply it into my spreadsheet.  These amounts are subtracted from my monthly net income. I will let you know the final tally of what was (hopefully) left over this month.

This will be the first time that I have kept such detailed notes about my finances, but I am really liking this process.  If anything, it will definitely keep me out of overdraft.

Most importantly, Hubby will not be sporting a new jacket that has VISA as the true owner.

So, what are you doing to ensure that you are shopping with cash only this Christmas?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

51 bottles Of Polish On The Bed

Yes that is my lame interpretation of "99 Bottles Of Beer On The Wall". You see what is here are 50 bottles of nail polish. There is one additional bottle in the car.

I obviously have a love of the enamel. My little sister would scoff at this count. She probably has double the amount.... but she does not have a debt problem. So let's get into why I brought up the subject. I have decided to not buy any new nail polish until I have applied each of these colours to my nails on two different occasions. On top of that, every time I switch to a new colour I will collect $5.00 into a jar.

Why $5.00? I figure that is the average price I paid for each bottle. Can you imagine? Look at that picture. Folks you are looking at approximately $255.00 worth of polish! I figure if I stick to this plan, then that pays for plane fare for one and a half persons. HELLO!!!

I will be placing the jar in a secret place. I would love to show the Hubby what I collected. It would be an amazing surprise.

Another reason why I'm doing this? It's a heck of a reminder that I should stop purchasing items I really don't need. As I repaint my nails, I will be sure to update you on the amount of dollars collected. My own little Nail Polish Challenge.

So. Have what have you done to curb your spending on some of your favourite things?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why The Blog

Let's take a step back. I would like to tell you why I have decided to write this blog. 

It all began with watching a couple of shows on T.V.  Til Debt Do Us Part, and Maxed Out (the latter now cancelled).
It is inspiring seeing people just like me turn their lives around financially.  These programs allow me to learn the value of the money I earn and appreciate what it can truly do for me.

No... not by purchasing a designer bag. I mean things of true value.  A home, a comfortable (not frivolous) life, and a well planned retirement.

I am not a financial professional, but I hope that blogging my way through my journey will in turn inspire others that they too can become debt free

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Just Look At It Already

I emailed a Budget Chart to the Hubby. He pissed me off. He didn't even look at it. One day he told me how at lunchtime he downloaded a bunch of cool apps on his phone. Really? Are you kidding me? I was in tears (of anger). Seeing my reaction, he promised me that he would look at the budget and savings I had created for him. No go. I know he didn't view the file I had sent to him.

This past weekend though, he joined me on the couch as I worked on out December budget. I was also watching a Til' Debt Do Us Part marathon. There was a couple that was spending more than what they brought in by over $2400 per month. According to Gail Vaz-Oxlade's Budget Worksheet, 25% of your income should be spent on life (incl misc. spending). The husband spent 34%.

Hubby started talking about what he probably spent on life. I took this as an opportunity. I had the laptop out, so I pulled up his Budget Chart and showed him what he. Spent on Life. I then showed him that he could save an Emergency Fund AND Savings Fund. Also, what he should pay towards his debt.

He bought into it.

My goal is to add his Emergency and Savings to the monthly budget. That way when he drops his share of the payments into our joint account, I will be able to direct his personal funds into his ING Direct account.

The journey continues....

The Budget Chart

The Life Pie
Life - 25
Debt - 15
Housing - 35
Saving - 10
Transportation - 15

What do those numbers mean? This is a 100 % breakdown of how your net income should be spent.

The percentages are:
  • 35% for housing (mortgage/taxes, rent, utilities, insurance, maintenance),
  • 15% for transportation (car payments, gas, repairs, insurance, parking, transit),
  • 10% for saving (long-term saving),
  • 15% for debt repayment, and
  • 25% for life (everything from groceries to entertainment, medical to childcare… In fact, everything that’s not in the other four categories.)
I have just completely revised my budget using
Gail Vaz-Oxlade's Budget Chart.  It really helped me to put things into perspective.

Check it and fool around with it.  You will find as you input numbers, the percentages to the right of the graph begin to move.  At the end you will have a true picture of where your money is ending up.

If you find that the percentages add up to more than 100%, then you are over spending, and your bank account is in the red.

Here is my chart worked out:

Life - 21.44%
Debt - 20.52%
Housing -   28.36%
Transportation -  24.22%
Savings - 5.46%

My transportation category is high.  Sigh.... My route to and from work adds up to 121 km. I am in a car lease, and I have to shop around for lower car insurance.

My debt category is high, but it is my goal to be debt free within 30 months.

My savings is low, but the above explains that.  Thankfully I pay 5% of my pre-tax dollars to RRSPs.  Each year when I have hit my CPP and EI max in October, I increased my contributions to 7.5%.

What I loved about Gail's chart was that it enabled me to find a little of income for savings. It showed me that when I see exactly where my funds are going, overdraft is no longer required.

I have worked out a chart for the hubby and forwarded it to him.  I am hoping that he will buy into it. We have never had a late payment, but quite honestly we can do so much better at hammering away at our debt.

Stay tuned...