Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ongoing conditioning is the path to success!

From excellent webcomic The Awkward Yeti

This one especially resonnated with me since my HEART was making all those impulse purchases that was ruining my wallet. My heart. I control my heart, to some extend, with my brain. Each time the urge to buy something popped up, I had to say to myself, often out loud!, "I don't NEED this", and walk away.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

3 things I wish I knew before I started college

money college budget

Budgets. I'm great at making them. But recent experience forced me to realize I suck at following them. Sure I can balance out my income on paper towards my bills, and I feel I need to brag that I NEVER pay my bills late by the way, but I have a hard time restricting myself in some columns, like entertainment, dining out and transportation.

So when I started college and I needed to have a different relationship with money, I realized 3 important things.

You probably have things at home you can use already, don't buy new ones.

Starting college is exciting. Especially when you haven't been in school for so long. You go shopping at your local superstore and you buy stuff. Lots of stuff.  Book bags / backpacks, pens, pencils, spiral notebooks, the list goes on and on. If I stop for a moment and do some maths, I'm guestimating that I must have spent close to $100 on school supplies.  Sure, you NEED school supplies.  But do I really need scented gel multicolored pens here, or will the normal black and blue Bic I have at home do the job?

I ended up buying 2 backpacks - cause they were on sale! - and surprise, surprise, the school provided me with a super nice quality book bag. Despite those, I ended up using an oversized purse that I already owned. After buying a few notebooks I got home and it dawned on me that I already have quite a few, brand new never used, that would do the job nicely.

Next time you are about to go out and spend some money on supplies, do an inventory of what you do have instead. If I had done that, I would have needed to spend the sum of ONE DOLLAR on my school supplies: all I was missing was an eraser!

You do spend a lot of money on coffee and fast food.

Slave to the Joe should be my nickname. I need my coffee. Daily and beyond. I thought I was thrifty cause I don't buy into the Starbucks hype. Heck I don't even like Tim Hortons! (Don't go around telling that to people here in Canada, you will be lynched).  But a quick $1,75 coffee every day does add up. Shall we do the maths?

$1.75 times 30 days equals = $52.50

Fifty. Two. Dollars.  And then some.  That's more than my share of the internet bill at home!  If I had a budget of $50 monthly for coffee at home I probably would drink only super fancy expensive coffee in a Limoges porcelain cup, with my pinky up in the air, thank-you-very-much.

If that wasn't absolutely insane enough, I realized I am actually WORSE when it comes to fast food and take-outs. When I allowed myself $100 a certain month on take-outs, I realized that I actually spent close to $600 in that category.

Six. Hundred. Dollars.

I could have buy a new stove! Not that there was anything wrong with my stove. At all. I'm just lazy and I don't cook at home often. I just needed to visualized that I could have purchased a big appliance, one thing, one tangible object that is meant to last 10-15 years for a few quick dinners each week over the period of a month. And it goes fast.

Sushi restaurant with a good friend and I picked up the bill $103,76
Dont feel like cooking so order food in for myself and roommates $56,80
Cooking is for suckers and I had a sucky day so let's treat myself  $59,00
Korean BBQ with my fiancé 67,78 $
Running too late to school to make lunch, stop at McDonalds $23,26
Too tired to cook (see a pattern here?) $34,39
A quick sandwich at the café at school $5,64
Breakfast at the school's café $6,98
Delivery of some crappy food cause I didn't do the grocery and have nothing to eat at home $35,44
Didn't bring a lunch, see reason above, so quick sandwich at school $7,79
I should really do the groceries instead of buying take outs and eating left overs for a few days $65,73
Okay I'm just starting to get used to buy sandwiches at school instead of making a lunch $8,15
Oh man there is a burrito place here! Nice $19,26
Another sandwich at the school's café $5,64
I ended up a good hour too early at school and had lunch at a restaurant nearby 25,76 $
Rotisserie chicken sounds good 29,19 $
The chicken was awesome. Now I want fried chicken today, $43,48

For those of you keeping track, all those fast food and take-outs expenses are on top of my daily Java allowances too!  That's just insane. No wonder I am in debt.

Even with grants and loans, life is expensive.

While I am tremendously lucky to be getting a free ride to college, I still have bills to pay. Both bills of past indulgences, like credit cards, and bills of current lifestyle such as my cell phone and Internet access.

My school schedule, study and homework as well as personal abilities makes it hard for me to find employment while I'm pursuing my courses if I want to keep my good grades up. So very little money is coming in.

So what can I control? The money that comes out.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

7 days on a fiscal fast - the updates!

You can see the original post at this location!


Wednesday January 18th 2017
So the challenge started! I stayed home from class today cause I had too much stuff to do.  I ate stuff I had at home and I made sure I didn't had any bids going on on eBay. Zero spending means no online window shopping either: that's pre-spending money!

Thursday January 19th 2017
Woke up to a bunch of emails in my inbox about awesome deals i couldn't possibly want to pass on!  Well I did. Starting to notice how much everywhere there is an attempt to make us part with money. On my way to school I realized I needed to cross Square One Mall. It seems like a dangerous game!  I just kept my attention to my iPhone and caught Pokémon and fought at some PokéGyms as I was crossing the mall.  Noticing all the ads, banners, flyers, pricetags on shelves.  There is no mistake, I am in a money spending temple and people are worshiping left and right. I keep my resolve.  I brought a lunch and snacks to have 0 incentive to spend money on food.

Friday January 20th 2017
Took a juicebox with me to the bloodwork appointment as I tend to get fainty and weak after those.  It's my fear of needles.  Ended up going back home and not go to class as I wasn't feeling well at all. Napped.  Ate a frozen dinner, some Goldfish and made myself a cream of celery.  I found the can while going through the pantry.  I absolutely love cream of celery and I don't think about making it often.  Felt like a treat! Starting to delete all the marketing emails without reading them.  Now I decided to just unsubscribe. Less electronic clutter!

Saturday January 21st 2017
Noticed I had the dates wrong ahahah corrected that.
I am noticing how much we are bombarded with spending money EVERYWHERE. Facebook especially. Is it really worth it to "like" pages of companies?  I will start unfollowing everything and just keep my Facebook as a social media to keep up with my friends.
Decided to do a clean up and sell some random things that are gathering dust in the closet.  Made $20 so far!

Sunday January 22nd 2017
I made $70 over the weekend selling some stuff I could part with. And I have a lot of stuff I can part with.  I'm extra motivated cause
a) I want to reduce clutter.
b) I'm moving in a couple of months and I don't want to spend money to haul boxes of dust around.
c) I realized I can turn my dusty stuff into cash.
Oh and yes, I am still on my fiscal fast! Haven't spend a penny!

Monday January 23rd 2017
I set up a reminder in the morning to bring a lunch to school. Because the other option is to go all day without food and when my brain's working overtime, it is something I am unable to do. I realized that not only I was successful in not spending money in the past few days, I am actually coming ahead by $90! I had to go to the industrial park to pick up a package whose delivery I missed (everyone loves doing that, right?!). I usually would have taken an Uber back and forth there, may be spending 20-25 bucks on that package fetching venture.  Well I took the bus: I was on my way home from school anyway. Sure it was out of my way and I spent about an hour total on this errand, but at least it didn't cost me a penny.  Not even a bus ticket actually: there is a flaw in the transfer system in the bus here and they count your trip back as a transfer when it's done under a certain amount of time. So I ended up using the same "trip" as my going home from college trip.  This pleased me greatly.

Tuesday January 24th 2017
There we go. Last stretch before homerun.  I'm slowly starting to thing about what I am going to buy when this challenge is over.  However, I'm not approaching this as "oh my god I need to buy ALL THE THINGS!".  At all.
Quite the opposite.  I'm budgeting.  What do I really need at this stage?  Let's plan for food so I don't get tempted into ordering in.

Wednesday January 25th 2017
I made it.  I made it people.  7 full days without spending a single dime.  And you know what?  Even by feeding only from my pantry and freezer what I had stashed there, I manage to still have so much food I could go another 2 weeks into this challenge. Easily.  I'm going to reward myself tomorrow morning with a nice breakfast at one of my favourite restaurant. I'll restock on eggs, milk, bread AKA staples in the kitchen.  But that's pretty much it.  I don't "need" anything else at the moment.  I'm definitely not going to resume my budget destructive habits now that my challenge is over.  I won't buy a million things on eBay "just cause it's a dollar with free shipping".  My brother jokingly threatened to block ebay off the router when he saw all those packages coming in every day.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

7 days on a fiscal fast

fiscal fast

As a plus size girl, I'll admit I always hated the word diet.  And what's there to love about this word?  It rhymes with starvation, despair, deprivation and unhappiness.  All things I don't want nor need in my life.

So when a lot of personal finance blogs suggested to go on a budget diet, I immediately cringed at the word.

I prefer using fiscal fast myself. After all, a diet sounds like restriction while going at it anyway.  I'm doing an actual fast. A temporary full stop in order to keep going at a later date.

In my twisted mind, this is less restrictive than a diet.

I am stopping all spending for a week, starting Wednesday January 17th at noon.

And I do mean ALL spending.

"Well what if you need an ambulance?!". Last time I checked this was Canada and ambulance don't charge you up front, they send you a bill.  And let's be realistic for a minute, I won't put myself in danger to keep up with this challenge, let's be realistic.

Not buying anything absolutely include not buying food, either.  I am entirely convinced that I have enough food in my pantry and freezer to last me well beyond a week, so that part of the challenge doesn't feel too restrictive.  Sure, it means if I'm out of butter I can't go and buy more, and I may not have very fresh veggies and fruits but that absolutely won't kill me.

And it may start to make a dent in the crazy stockpile of canned goods I own.

While pre-shopping in order to start this challenge is completely against it's intended purpose, do make sure you won't go without something you need to live - medication and hygiene items should be in proper stock!

Luckily I'm all set up when it comes to toilet paper and lady toiletteries items, so that won't be an issue.

Follow my updates as I got 7 days without spending money!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Gotta start somewhere!

money college

So I'm 36 and I'm going back to college.  Or going TO college, period.  See, I was an high school drop out.

Sure, I went back as a young adult and got my "equivalent" high school diploma.  I even did something like a month of accounting diploma in my early 20s before I realized working full time and going to school full time wasn't working out for me.

Life had its ups and downs since.  And I found myself with a good job for over 5 years at a reputable banking institution here in Canada. I even got a promotion through hard work and got transferred to the HR department. So awesome. So great. When suddenly, POOF, my position was eliminated.

I received a kick ass severance package. Absolute golden. I even had the option to get my pension in cash or transferring it.  I took the cash.

I took the cash and I spent it all. Foolishly. I went on a fun trip, bought expensive furniture, an iPad, a new laptop, I was using UBER to go everywhere and anywhere, I was having takeout and food delivery 3 - 4 times a week...

And while I was receiving my severance package, I wasn't putting any money aside.  Big fat 0. Barely made a dent in my debts too: while they didn't increase, that's a good thing I guess, it didn't get any smaller.

Okay I lied.  I did close one credit card that had a balance of $1,000 so I guess I have that to show for.

So come along the awesome Ontario government and their Second Career program. For those of you not familiar, if you find yourself in a similar position without a job through no fault of your own, her gracious majesty the Queen might, through the powers she invested in the Ontario education system, pay for you to go to college and get a diploma.

I had lots of hoops to jump through and the application process was almost a full time job on it's own but it was worth it as I got accepted. I'm studying web development at a private college.

My tuition is entirely paid for by the Second Career program, except the tiny bity sum of $79,50 that the college was charging for books that went above what the maximum the government was allowing.

I'm even getting a living allowance and they pay for my bus pass!

But sadly that allowance, as awesome as it is cause it's FREE MONEY that I don't have to pay back, is far from enough to cover all my living expenses.

So I applied to OSAP.  And long story short, I'm not eligible for OSAP.  This gutted me, as I was really counting on that money to bridge the gap between my expenses and the money coming in.

I was sitting in the financial assistance lady of my school when she told me that news.  I was holding back tears.  I went to class and I was having a hard time focusing.

Can I even afford to stay in school at this rate?  I'm missing somewhere between $750 and $1000 each month to be able to balance my budget.

I went too far to give up now.  I mean I'm getting a FREE RIDE TO COLLEGE.  There is no way I am turning this down. I'm fed up with call center work.  It's a soul sucking career and I've been there, I've done that, I want out.

And here comes the Adult Student Guide to being Poor.  In hindsight, it's a bit of a misnomer as I'm more blogging about my experience as a poor adult student than writing an How To Be a Poor Student And Succeed in Live Anyway Guide. But that's the title and I'm sticking to it!

So stay along for the ride as I try to live more frugally, try to get a bit of money wherever I can and try to balance it all out with good grades!  I have a 94% average so far so I work hard to keep that up!