Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Weekly Work Recap (Nov. 21 - Nov. 27)

So I am officially on maternity leave now.  Just waiting for my record of employment to come in so I can actually apply for my mat leave paycheck.  Last week was my last week at work at being so, as well as having a huge list of things to do to prepare for baby, all enthusiasm for work went out the door.

MondayScheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 4:50 - 9:40  4.33 hours

Scheduled: 5:30 Dinner
Worked: 5:30 - 8:00  2.5 hours

Scheduled: 5:30 Dinner
Worked: 5:30 - 9:30  4 hours

Scheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 5:00 - 9:30  4.5 hours

Scheduled: 5:30 Dinner
Worked: 5:30 - 8:30  3 hours

Saturday - Sunday
Officially on maternity leave!
Estimated Hours:  16.5 Hours
Hours Worked:  18.33 Hours
I feel like a bum.  Oh well, I am done now, and considering I have been off for 5 days now I have been very busy!  Still lots to do before baby's arrival, and at our appointment yesterday the doctor said she will definately be early, if not right on time.  Any day now!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Weekly Work Recap (Nov. 14 - Nov. 20)

This week was exhausting!  Including last SUnday I worked 6 Late shifts in a row, not necessarily long shifts, just a lot of work involved.  Then my 7th shift in a row was just a dinner shift but we got slammed and it ended up being my ongest shift of the week. Go figure.

Anyways, finally a day off today, Baby Shower!  5 more shifts then as of Friday evening I am officially done work :)

MondayScheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 4:30 - 9:00  4.5 hours

Scheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 4:30 - 9:10  4.66 hours

Scheduled: 5:30 Dinner
Worked: 4:40 - 10:00  5.33 hoursPicked up the Late shift
ThursdayScheduled: Day Off
Worked: 5:30 - 8:40  3.17 hoursPicked up a 5:30 Dinner shift.  Kyle was the actual late but I did it for him, then he stayed late, which was really only 20 minutes longer than I was there.
FridayScheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 5:00 - 10:40  5.66 hours

Scheduled: 5:00 Dinner
Worked: 5:00 - 10:50  5.83 hours

Scheduled: Day Off
Baby Shower!
Estimated Hours:  19 Hours
Actual Hours:  29.15

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekly Work Recap (Nov. 7 - Nov. 13)

Shifts are officially sucking at work, but I only have 2 weeks left.

MondayScheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 4:30 - 9:40  5.17 hours

Scheduled: Day Off

WednesdayScheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 4:50 - 10:10  5.33 hours

Scheduled: Day Off
Worked: 5:10 - 9:12  4.03 hoursSwitched my Saturday shift for Thursday.

FridayScheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 4:50 - 10:15  5.42 hours

Scheduled: 5:30 Dinner
Worked: Day Off
Switched this shift for Thursday's because the family baby shower was today.
SundayScheduled: 5:30 Dinner
Worked: 5:30 - 9:10  3.17 hoursPicked up the late shift, however it was extremely dead and didn't add much time to my shift.
Estimated Hours:  20 hours
Actual Hours:  23.12 hours
All I have to say about that is 'boo'!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mini Update

So I haven't posted much lately due to busyness and lack of inspiration. I'm still here though!  I've almost finished the work for my financial accounting class so I can schedule an early exam, as it's supposed to be right around my due date.

I have several plans for posts but can't post them yet since they're not quite done.  Just finished most of our Christmas shopping the other day, but still a couple things to get so I will wait until it's all done to post a summary.  Also had our pre baby shower yesterday with my family, the big one is next Sunday, then we will know what we still need to buy.  Based on what we already got yesterday, it won't be much. :)

Kyle and I will be discussing our 5 year plan soon, I already have a spreadsheet made up to organize it (of course).  We are also thinking of visiting my parents and step brother in Vancouver in January/February, since now they can't come until May.

So I have a lot of budgeting coming up, just need to organize it all then I will have more posts.  I apologize for how boring I've been!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Weekly Work Recap (Oct. 31 - Nov. 6)

This week was okay, I was scheduled 6 shifts and picked up a shift on the day I was off.  I was excited when my manager told me last week he scheduled for for 6 days, until he added 'they're not long shifts though since your maternity leave depends on what you work before you leave'.  How does this make sense?  Giving me crappy short shifts benefits me in no way, especially stretching them out over 6 days instead of 5, that's a day I could have just enjoyed at home.  Oh well, I made the most of it.

MondayScheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 4:40 - 9:00  4.33 hours

Scheduled: 12:00 Lunch
Worked: 11:30 - 2:00  2.5 hours

Scheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 4:45 - 10:50  6.08 hours

Scheduled: 5:30 Dinner
Worked: 5:30 - 8:30  3 hours

Scheduled: 5 Late
Worked: 5:00 - 10:40  5.66 hours

Scheduled: 5:30 Dinner
Worked: 5:30 - 10:00  4.5 hours

Scheduled: Day Off
Worked: 4:30 - 9:40  5.17 hoursPicked up the 5:00 Late
Estimated Hours: 21 Hours
Hours Worked: 31.24 Hours
Wow, that's very dissapointing to add up 7 straight days of work and only have worked 31 hours.  That's only one hour more than the bare minimum I have to work in a week.  I'm really getting a lot of crappy shifts where I can barely get 3 hours in.  It almost makes me wonder if I'd be better off going on maternity leave early.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Dollar Challenge: Where I Spend My Dollar

(I know, the formatting is all off, blogger keeps glitching, just bear with me)

I have decided to participate in The Dollar Challenge organized by 20s Finance.  Personal Finance bloggers are invited to compare where they spend their money each month to see how we decide to split up our finances.

Although our budget will be changing drastically next month to make room for baby, this is based on our current budget.

1. Housing  42.2%
Rent  36.9%
A little more than it should be, but really the chances of finding a 2 bedroom apartment/house for less is slim to none.  We were pretty happy that we did manage to find a place this cheap that met our standards.

Utilities  5.3%
We got a very good deal from Roger's thanks to the guy on the phone that set up our account.  One of my most pleasant experiences on the phone with a company:)  However it will go up a bit in March.  Our hydro and water tank rental charges were also much lower than we expected which is great!  We'll see how great it is though once we turn on the electric heating.
2. Transportation  0%I love that we pay nothing for transportation.  We don't have a car, and I boycotted our crappy bus system over a year ago.  It's the most expensive in Canada, and has the worst service in Canada.  Who wouldn't boycott that?  We either walk or bike to work as it's not that far, and if we ever need to do errands that require a car we borrow one from our parents.  (We fill it up, but that money will come out of our 'other' money)

3. Food  9%I just boosted our grocery money, because $220 a month isn't enough when you drink as much milk as we do and I'm trying to eat for two.  For November I've set our milk budget aside from the rest of the food just so we remember to go out and buy a bunch of groceries with 10 days left and leave nothing for milk.

4. Insurance  2%This is for our renter's insurance.  I had the option to pay the annual premium upfront but decided to go monthly to work it into our budget, and also in case we do make a claim and it changes I won't have to worry about already having paid for the upcoming months.  We just got our medical and life insurance though work, which we don't pay for (not 100% sure about this yet, we'll see next month I guess) and I also have extra medical coverage under my mom until I'm 25.

5. Personal Care  0%I'm setting this category to 0% because any personal care items we buy we either get with our groceries or with our spending money, which I've put in the entertainment category.

6. Entertainment  3.6%We each have $50 in spending money each month for us to buy whatever we want.  This includes clothes, personal care items, shopping, etc.

7. Savings  36.8%My RRSP  1.8%I put $50 aside each month to my RRSP.  Not much, but I'm only 20 and right now I have bigger things to save for coming up like a down payment and school.  Once we have enough money set aside for these items (or we come into more income) I will boost my RRSP contributions.  However I did put about $2,000 into it when I started it.

Kyle's RRSP  2.9%
Kyle puts aside $20 a week to his RRSP, which averages to $80 a month, however two months a year will have a $100 contribution.

Extra Savings  32.1 %
Technically this isn't a budgeted account in our budget, it's all the money that's leftover each month after all our other budgeted expenses.  So there's a lot of room to expand our other categories like spending money, but we keep it tight (but liveable) so that we can grow our savings faster.  It's roughly $890 each month, but usually higher than that because we tend to bring in more income that what we have budgeted for.

8. Other  6.4%
My cell phone  1.6%I recently switched to a better plan that greatly decreased my bill, although I'm extremely upset with Solo and their super crappy customer service (not to mention their money snatching loop holes, which one call center guy fessed up to).  And as much as I love my phone, it's starting to crap out, so once it dies I think I'll be switching to an iPhone.  Yes, I'm giving in. Sigh.

Kyle's call phone  2.9%Kyle has an iPhone, so of course his bills are much larger than mine, although I've been bugging him to call them to try to negotiate a slightly cheaper plan.  Damn data!

Other  1.8%
We use this account for any random but necessary purchases that come up like repairs, medicine, or household objects (plugs, cleaning supplies, etc).

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

November 1st Net Worth

Since I first got accepted into the fashion design program in Vancouver in Sept 2010, I started tracking our net worth.  We needed a lot of money, between my tuition, the cost of moving, and wanting to have enough money leftover to not be broke, and we had just under a year to get it.  I needed to make sure that we were setting aside enough money each month to meet our goal of $20,000 on time.  Of course now school has been postponed for another year, but I still keep track of our net worth.  Why not?  It's nice to see how much your money grows each month :)  Here's our net worth as of November 1st compared to our net worth at October 1st.

The green highlighted column is the total of each category.  The white column to its right is how much that category increased from the previous month.  Our cash is generally our tip out money.  But my cash went up a lot more because Kyle's brother paid me back for ordering something online for him when I ordered Kyle's Christmas gift.  At this point I've maxed my Tax Free Savings account for this year, so for now it's just bringing in interest.  Plus I got my anniversary bonus this month, only $1.65, but still, that's a $1.65 I didn't have before!

Our vacation pay we've been saving up for when the baby comes.  Mine will automatically be paid because I will technically have to be terminated to get my maternity leave.  Kyle is saving his for the two weeks he'll have off when she's born, that way we won't be broke.  By the time she comes he'll have enough that after taxes it will be the same as a regular paycheck.  How's that for planning ahead? :)

However, unlike most net worth statements, I don't include our RRSP savings.  This is because I'm keeping track of all spendable cash so we know we have enough for school and the move, as well as what we have left over for emergencies or other savings like a car or down payment.  Since our RRSPs are locked in and for retirement, we don't have access to that money, therefor I keep track of it separately.

The best part is that we have no liabilities.  The few times I actually use my credit card to buy something I pay it off as soon as it shows up on my account.  It's a nice feeling to have no liabilities :)  Of course, I'm still excited to get a car and buy a house in a few years.

All in all it was a pretty successful month especially considering how much we over spent.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

October Budget Review

Finally get to post my first monthly budget review.  I wish I had been able to post September's, as it was much more impressive.  This month we went over budget in almost all of our variable spending.  However, I don't consider this to be a bad month because on top of all our extra spending and the fact that I ordered Kyle's Christmas gift (which I set myself a budget of $100, it came to $101.11 yay!) we still ended up setting aside an extra $200 than we were supposed to.  Meaning we set aside $1,027.78 from our regular income, woo! 

Our tip outs have been bigger than what they show in the budget because it's paid in cash and we take any of the change and put it in our big change jar for our Christmas fund.  So we still made plenty in tip outs and set at least $15 in change towards Christmas shopping :)  It was also nice to get our first Hydro/water tank bill and find that it was much lower than what I was expecting, and that included set up fees!  However with our place already freezing I'm not looking forward to turning on the electric heating, that's gonna be expensive.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekly Work Recap

I always keep track of my hours in a day planner, both to give me an idea of whether or not I'm working enough each pay period and to verify that my hours were entered correctly on my paychecks.  I figure if I'm posting updates of my budget I may as well post updates about my work hours.  Since I work in a kitchen I'm only scheduled a start time, no end time. (Dinner rushes can be unpredictable and you're done whenever all of your duties are done)

In the kitchen there are several types of shifts, each one varies in average hours and each one has different duties.  Since I generally just work nights, there are 3 shifts I can be scheduled for: a regular dinner shift, the late, or the close.  On a regular dinner shift you come in, work the rush, clean your section and do your side duties.  These shifts don't last very long.  The late works the rush and has the same regular duties, but they are also responsible for the late duties.  They also stay later (duh) to help the close with any orders that might come in.  The close is the only shift that really has a scheduled end time, which is whatever time we close that night.

Despite the fact that hours are not guaranteed, it's easy to pick up shifts, or add the late or close to a regular dinner shift you are already working.  My goal is to pick up as many shifts/hours as possible before I go on maternity leave.

I need to work about 54 hours/paycheck (27 hours/week) to make the income I've entered for myself in our budget.  However with taxes being different on every paycheck I consider a 60 hour paycheck (30 hours/week) to be my minimum goal.

Here's a look at this past week:

Scheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 5:00 - 9:50  4.83 hours


Scheduled: Day Off
I had the opportunity to pick up a 5:00 Late but had already made plans with my mom for dinner, as much as I would have liked to pick up this shift, I had a much better time seeing my mom :)

Scheduled: 5:30 Dinner
Worked: 5:30 - 10:10  4.66 hoursPicked up the Late.

Scheduled: 5:30 Dinner
Worked: 5:20 - 9:10  3.83 hours

Scheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 5:00 - 11:10  6.17 hours

Scheduled: Day Off
Not picking up shifts today as it is our Halloween party :)

Scheduled: 5:00 Late
Worked: 5:00 - 9:50  5.83 hours

Approx. Hours Scheduled:  20.5
Total Hours Worked:  25.32
Not a good week at all!  Luckily I'm scheduled 6 days this week and already picked up a shift for the day I was off.  Hopefully I can make these shifts worth it.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Do You Have A Back-Up Plan?

If you've already finished school and working in your career of choice, then you probably don't need a back-up plan.  Well, Always know other places to loo in the same line of work, but for those of us whose career choices still aren't set in stone, we need a back-up plan.

My plan is to go to an exclusive fashion design school in Vancouver, then work in retail until I can get the money to open my own shop.  But in such an unreliable and unpredictable market, I have no idea how successful this shop will be.  That's why I take comfort in knowing that I have several small back-up plans.

Think of other hobbies, skills, or education you have that could provide possible income.  I'm currently taking a small business accounting program until I go to my fashion school.  This in part will help me when I open my own shop, but I could also use it for a small side income doing basic accounting work.

On top of my schooling, I love cake decorating.  I jumped into last year for Kyle's birthday with absolutely no skills other than spreading icing and sprinkles on cupcakes, and did a very impressive job of making a playboy logo fondant cake.  Fondant is quite difficult, and there's a lot more to learn, and a lot of tools required to learn good cake decorating.  Rather than go and spend a bunch of money on baking and decorating supplies for something that's purely a hobby at the moment, I ask for stuff for christmas.  With some practice I don't see why it couldn't become an easy and enjoyable side income.

I don't like not being sure of plans I make, so it makes me feel better and more secure knowing that in case things don't go as planned, I have options prepared.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Managing Your Groceries Better

A big problem for most people spending too much money is food!  Eating out alone is a huge expense, when after dinner and drinks and tip you're out almost $50 for one meal.  But aside from that, people aren't very good at managing their groceries.  They spend to much, most likely throw out half the food they buy anyways, and they can look into a packed fridge and say "There's nothing to eat".  Here's some tips on cutting your grocery bills and your trips to the grocery store.

1. Budget
If you don't already have a monthly budget, make one! At the very least make a food budget.  Figure out what you SHOULD spend on food each month (not what you DO spend).  Keep a tracking list for all your purchases.  You should be writing down the date, a quick description of the purchase/where you shopped (groceries, milk, staple items, etc), how much you spent, and then calculate what you have left to spend for the rest of the month.  This will not only help you stay on your budget, but it will show you where your money is going.

2. Make a list
Before you do groceries, make a list.  Go through your fridge and cupboards to see what you need.  Try to focus on the things you already have.  What can you make with each item?  Do you really need to do groceries?  If so, what can you get that you can use with the things you already have to make a meal.  Our fridge is mostly milk and juice, with a couple staple items like eggs and cheese.  Cheese can make anything into a meal!  As for dessert, you don't need to go out and buy ice cream, cookies, pie and a bunch of treats.  Take a closer look in your cupboards.  See that bag of flour?  And sugar?  You've already paid for cookies and cake, you just need to make them.

3. Thou shalt not covet what is not on the list
Is your list done?  This trip should last you at least a week!  Some items should last you two, but obviously produce and other perishables will need to be restocked more often.  Okay, you have your list, time to stick to it.  For us the easiest thing to put in the cart that we don't need is chips and cookies, snack stuff.  Kyle is the worst when it comes to cookies.  If we do get them, I try to make them last more than a day.  If there's an isle that doesn't have anything on your list, don't go down it!  Stick to your list.

Now that you have your food, you should try to stick to a FIFO rule; First In, First Out.  I'm not saying you have to eat everything in the order that you bought it, you need to have a little choice in your dinner, but when planning a meal always look to see what's going to expire soon.  Try to use some of the veggies as a side on most meals, they will go bad the quickest.  Also watch your bread.  Moldy bread just makes me sad.  Picture your perishables as money.  If you end up having to throw it out, you just threw out physical money.  Which is a stupid thing to do right?  Right.

How did you do?
At the end of the month, take a look at your budget list and see where you were spending your money and how much of it you spent each time.  Were you over or under budget?  If you're over budget, see where you could have spent less, maybe you didn't really need some of the things on your list.  If you try really hard and continue to find yourself over budget, then maybe you need to add a little bit extra to your food budget.  Only if absolutely necessary!  If you were under budget, challenge yourself to stay under budget the next month.  Or, if you were really strict with your food, use the little money left over to treat yourself.  Kyle and I did well this month and treated ourselves to Dairy Queen, since we don't eat out anymore.  They had a great deal going on, and it's pumpkin pie blizzard season.  That boosted our spirits. :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Favourite TV Show

Before I go on with this post I wanted to point out a few updates and changes I made to the blog yesterday.  I was fooling around with the gadgets and added a blog counter, top 5 articles, and a list of all the labels for my posts.  I also added tracking bars for financial goals, html courtesy of The Asian Pear.  I am also (very) slowly working on customizing my blog banner.

On with the post!

So without a doubt my favourite TV show is Till Debt Do Us Part with financial guru Gail Vaz-Oxlade.  I have seen every episode at least 3 times but will still watch them.  I love hearing her talk about their numbers and where the interest is going to leave them in 5 years.  There's a lot of people out there who are just totally clueless!  Not to mention careless.  But Gail is tough and says it like it is; she's not afraid to tell you you're a dummy.  Most people quickly turn around and get their act together.

This show also has a baby edition, for expecting/new parents who spend a ton of money on their babies and nothing on their debt.  We like watching this one because it makes us feel much more prepared than half the couples with solid careers.

She also has a show called Princess, exact same concept, except instead of families and mature couples, she's dealing with spoiled brats who leech off their parents and friends and spend all their money on their hair. *Sigh*

Regardless of which show we're talking about, Gail is brilliant when it comes to helping people with their finances.  She makes it easy to understand and gives them the push they need to stay on track.  She has her own blog with many resources to get your own finances in order.  She also gives good tips for setting up an area to manage your bills and finances.

But for those who think they need a little extra help can apply to be on the show through Slice.  I'm pretty sure you have to be in the Southern Ontario area.  Her butt-kicking is worth it; if you do a good job she'll give you up to $5,000 to pay off your debt.  That's much better than paying your financial advisor to tell you what to do.

Check out Gail's blog here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

How To Build A Budget

The best way to keep track of your money and make sure you're saving your money properly is to build a budget. You can write it out on a piece of paper or make a spreadsheet in Excel. I'll help take you through the steps in building your own budget.

A budget is broken into 3 sections; income, fixed expenses and variable expenses. Each section has 2 - 3 columns. The first column will be the budgeted amount and the second column will be what you actually earned/spent. It's optional to add the 3rd column, which you can use to figure out how much you were over/under budget.

The first section of your budget should be your income. Figure out all reliable sources of income. For most people this is just your regular paycheck, but if you receive regular cheques from the government for disability or child support they should be included. Things like bonuses and tax returns are not guaranteed, so they should not be included in your budget. IF you don't work on a fixed salary, try to under estimate your monthly income. It's better to end up with a little bit of extra income then miss a shift or two and not have enough. After you have all your income accounts, calculate your total monthly income at the bottom.

The second section is you fixed expenses. These are expenses that you have to pay, like rent, utilities and insurance. Unlike your income, you should slightly overestimate you expenses. If you don't leave enough room you might get a bill that's slightly larger than usual, but you will still have to pay it. You don't need to double what it usually is, just give yourself a little wiggle room. Once you have all of your fixed expenses, enter the total at the bottom.

The third section is your variable expenses. These are expenses that exist based on your personal lifestyle. These totals are easily adjustable because they are not bills that you owe. It's more like your spending money. Examples include entertainment, food, sports/activities, savings and 'other'. If you're paying off debt, include that as an expense. (Try to pay MORE than the minimum payment!) Look at previous bank statements to get an idea on what you spend on each category each month. Don't forget to look at how much cash you spend! It's easy to think you don't spend as much as you do when half of it is cash transactions. Once you have all your variable expenses, enter the total at the bottom. Right below that enter the total of your fixed expenses + your variable expenses.

Now that your have listed all of your income and expenses, it's time to balance your budget. Calculate the difference between your monthly income and your monthly expenses. If your expenses are greater than your income, you need to trim. Your fixed expenses generally can't be trimmed, however some of your utilities like internet and cable can be cut back. Do you really need 300 channels? Probably not. Internet and cable are also utilities that you can get deals on if you bundle them together with the same company. With Rogers you can combine your internet, cable, land line, and cell phone, the more the cheaper.

Variable expenses are really where the trimming takes place.  Eating out at restaurants a lot is a huge unecessary expense.  You can greatly trim your food budget by cooking at home.  Even if you can't cook, a box of about 30 frozen chicken strips is about the same price of one order of chicken strips at a restaurant.  Then there's still drinks, tax and tip!  Clothing is another big one, it really isn't necessary to spend $300 a month shopping, especially if you're someone who is paying off debt!  Keep trimming back these variable expenses until your expenses are equal or less than your income.  If you have any leftover money, put it in your savings!  If you have debt, pay the debt!

So now you have your budget.  But that's not the end.  Now you have to stick to your budget!  Record your bills as soon as you pay them, and keep track of your variable spending.  It's a good idea to keep a notebook for you to enter all your spending.  Include the date, what you bought/where and how much it cost.  It's best to get receipts, expecially if you're using cash.  At the end of the month go through your bank statements to make sure you didn't miss anything.

If you came in under budget, congratulations!  If you continue to come in under budget the next few months, it's probably safe to boost your variable expenses a little bit, but if you're surviving, watch your savings grow.  If you came in over budget, take a look at each category.  Did you not make enough or did you spend too much?  Where did you spend too much and why?  The first few months will always take a bit of tweaking.  But if you're just shopping too much, then don't tweak your budget, give yourself a good smack and get your butt in line!

If you need more help building your budget try the interactive budget worksheet on Gail Vaz-Oxlade's blog.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Comparing Interest Rates for Savings Accounts (Continued)

This is a continuation of the last post, as my spreadsheets were to large to properly fit into one post. :)

CIBC (They own PC Financial and I have my credit card with them)


ING Direct

Comparing Interest Rates for Savings Accounts

I've been taking the time for the last week to compare the interest rates on savings accounts and GICs at 5 Canadian Banks. My Tax-Free savings account is at it's limit for the year, and I hate to see a bunch of money sitting in our bank accounts that we are not aloud to spend, but it's not making interest while sitting there. Also, we will need to set up an RESP for baby once she arrives. I figured I would include GICs as I expect a lot to happen in the next 5 years financially. Our main focus right now is Vancouver and school next year, but what happens after that? We both want to buy a house and get married. Although I'm not sure when these events will happen, I'd rather have the money to do it when we're ready rather than have to wait several more years to save for it.

I love making spreadsheets and organizing numbers and plans, so of course I recorded all the rates and balances in Excel. I figured since most people probably don't find the silly enjoyment of tedious spreadsheets, here's what I put together:

PC FinancialThis is my bank, I love PC because it's free (I think it's stupid to pay to use your money) and they have some of the best interest rates.

TD Canada Trust (Kyle's Bank)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Needing Some Other Goals in my Life

Okay, so lately I've been noticing I'm saying a or thinking of a lot of things I need to get done or should do, but then never do them.  Between working 6 shifts a week plus almost 15 hours of homework each week, I find myself doing nothing in my spare time.  Although I'm very productive when it comes to Spider Solitaire.  With baby on the way and our place still needing some final adjustments since the move, I need to make the most of my free time.  So I've decided to write down some of my non-financial goals to keep track of what needs to get done and make sure I actually do them!  I don't think I'll have specific deadlines for them, but I'll probably update once a week to see if I'm making any progress.  Here are my current goals:

Make Curtains for Baby's Room - I haven't been to Fabricland in a while, so I'm going to indulge myself, but with a purpose!  We'll see what cute fabric I can find :)

Make Curtains for Living Room - We went out and bought curtains for the balcony door in the living room and the balcony door in our bedroom, but my god curtains are expensive!  So I' going to rummage through my large collection of fabrics and see what I can find for some basic curtains.  Plus with the cold weather coming I'd like a little extra insulation, this place is freezing and electric heat is going to be expensive.

Organize Sewing Area - I have a set of plastic drawers I'd like to use to store my sewing stuff, since the large shelves I already have are looking very cramped and messy.  Still have to remove all the nail polish that I had painted it with years ago.  It's been bugging Kyle anyways.

Strip and Paint Mirror - I have a wooden mirror that I've been meaning to paint (it's currently black) but I haven't done that yet.  I finally got a nice Sage colored craft paint yesterday for it, so now I just need to strip and sand it then I can paint it :)

Cross-Stitch Stockings for Daddy and Baby -  I realized the other day that our little girl will need a stocking for Christmas!  When I was little my mom made us all stockings that she cross stitched with Christmas images and our names.  I still have mine, it's always been the one I use, so I figure I'll make one for baby too :)  And we can't let Kyle feel left out.  So this project has a for sure deadline, preferably a week before Christmas so when can hang them on our first fireplace :)

Organize our Incredibly Cramped Apartment - Our place is quite big considering it's an apartment (we still have two levels) but we had so much stuff in our basement for storage that we still have but we can't find places to put it.  A lot of it is boxes for things that need to be packed properly for moving, like our flat screen and computers and such, plus seasonal decorations and other knick knacks that we like to hang on to.  A lot of it's taking up our walk in closet space.  So I need to take my organizational skills away from the computer and use them on our apartment.  This needs to be done before baby arrives!

I think that's a decent to do list for now.  I'm sure I'll be adding to it quicker than I'm crossing things off though.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Your Baby Doesn't Have To Break the Bank

I am officially 32 weeks pregnant today!  It feels like forever when I'm faced with something I love but can't have because it's not good for baby, but when I look back on it, it's flown by!  I don't want to stop feeling her kick and wiggle around :( (Or lose the 'yes I'm eating again, I'm pregnant' excuse)

But it's definitely getting my ass in gear trying to pick up as many shifts as I can.  Whatever I make now will affect what I earn for maternity leave, plus once the baby comes and my income is cut in half there will be very little wiggle room, and not much extra being set aside each month.

One of the first things I did after I found out I was pregnant was go online and search for a baby cost calculator.  I knew babies were expensive!  Although we were already sitting on a large chunk of money we had saved to move and pay for school, I didn't want to have to start all over in saving for it.  I found a great calculator on Baby Center.  It breaks down all the different categories of supplies you will need, as long as give you the average prices for each item.  You can check off items you will or won't be getting (for example, if you're going to breastfeed, you won't need to worry about formulas).  It then adds up all the numbers, based on whether it's a one time purchase (stroller) or monthly purchase (diapers) and then gives you a total for your baby's first year.

I was actually surprised.  When I filled it out, saying I was going to breastfeed and I believe I said I would be using cloth diapers, my total for the year was around $6,000.  I was expecting it to be much more!  Maybe with everyone's dramatization of how expensive babies are, I had this huge unbelievable number in my head.  So it was definitely a relief, especially since I was still in shock.

That being said, have we spent $6,400 on the baby?  Not even close!  I believe as it stands I have spent a total of roughly $20 on baby stuff.  An adorable fancy dress covered in cherries which was just too cute to pass up, and two button pins that say 'my daddy dressed me' and 'daddy did my hair'.  Oh, and about $47 and paint and supplies to paint her room, which looks wonderful.

So what about all the necessities? Furniture, clothes, baby toys, where's the $6,000 worth of stuff?

The very happy answer: FREE!

Yep, and it's not like we entered some baby contest and won everything.  What people don't tell you about having a baby is how much STUFF people will just give you.  It's almost as if you're the one doing them a favor!  As far as clothes go I'd say we have too many!  Of course who knows how big she's going to be or how fast she will grow, so we will see what fits her.

So far we got a leather highchair (which was imported from Italy, fancy eh?), a baby swing, a playmat (which can go for almost $100, can you believe that!?), a baby walker,  vibrating baby chair, baby books, shoes, tons of blankets, breast pump, and we still have a crib coming from Kyle's parents and I believe a stroller and car seat (that has 3 years before it expires) on the way.  That's a TON of money we saved.  And the baby shower's not till next month!

Also, if you're planning on using formulas, or disposable diapers, both have much cheaper alternatives!  You can still get a breast pump so that you can actually go out on your own and someone else can feed the baby, it will pay for itself very quickly when you compare it to the cost of formula.  And people think cloth diapers or gross, but you'll be changing a dirty diaper regardless, it's still going to be smelly and gross!  It may as well not cost you an arm and a limb every time you do it.

So if you're expecting a baby, and also a huge chunk of your money gone, ask around. Anyone you know that has kids but aren't having any more, a lot of them might have basements with baby stuff just sitting around collecting dust. More than half our stuff came from people we work with.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Almost Blew the Grocery Budget

So we just got back from doing our first big grocery trip in a while.  Borrowed the truck to go to Sobeys, and lucky for us they extended the members' event to today :)  Which was good and bad.  We did get a BUNCH of stuff, a couple things here or there were added to our list when we saw them but I was very good at saying no to things I've been craving.  It's hard!  But Halloween is coming up and we're having a party so I'll save my indulging for then.

I just boosted our grocery budget this month to $250 compared to the $220 it was last month, cause although we were very strict, we go through lots of milk and I found myself not eating as much trying to save money, but that's not good when you're trying to grow a baby!

Either way, we had $181.77 left in the budget when we left this morning.  Our bill came to $126.47.  We saved $16.45 cash from members' discounts, plus several things were buy this many, get this much off.  We also got 656 Sobeys points because half the store had bonus points :)  We now have $15 worth of points!  That will come in handy come Christmas time.

So we still have $55.30 left in the food budget, which should be enough to get milk for the rest of the month, plus stuff for the Halloween party.

Enchiladas this week! Mmmm!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cards You Should Get (That Won't Rack Up Debt)

My wallets are always breaking.  Not from money, but from all of my cards.  My current wallet has two ripped seams but I still use it :)  No, it's not full of credit cards or debit cards, it's full of membership cards and discount cards.  The good kind, that instead of swiping and owing a bunch of money on them, I swipe and save a bunch of money :)  Here's a list of cards that you should get to make the most of the money you DO spend:

Air MilesWhile it's 1 point for ever $20 you spend, it still adds up.  Most of my Air Miles points were coming from the liquor store, but I also get 20 Air Miles for my annual magazine subscription :)  It will be a nice small discount on the next trip I take.  And the card is FREE!

HBC Rewards
This card is handy, you get points when shopping at any HBC store, which adds up quickly with all of the small purchases at Zellers, or those occaisonal larger purchases at Home Outfitters.  Again, this card is FREE!

Club SobeysI love club Sobeys points!  I save them up through the year to put a dent in my large Christmas baking bill each year :)  You get points every time you shop at Sobeys, and there's always items that are marked with bonus points.  Once or twice a year they hold a membership event where people with Club Sobeys cards receive discounts on their purchases on top of their points.  This was on last time we did groceries there, most successful groceries trip ever :)  Also, FREE.

Shoppers Optimum
I've had this card for a while, but didn't often shop there.  However, since we moved across the street from Shoppers, we go there on a regular basis.  We get our milk and a few staple items from there, and whenever I feel the need to buy more perfume or makeup, I will definately be going there! Ahem...Free :)

Any store you shop at that offers some kind of membership/discount card, get it!  (As long as it's free, or a very small price)

I also have a La Senza membership (this is my therapy, any personal spending money I have can be guaranteed to be spent here!), irewards (I looove books, especially when they come with a discount), Fabricland Sewing Club (getting a discount on fabrics and supplies for my future profession? Definately a good deal), Sephora and Sirens.

La Senza's membership isn't free, but considering how much I shop there it pays for itself within my first purchase, and if you're already a member, each year you get a discount on your membership renewal.  Same goes for irewards and my Fabricland membership.  These are my only exceptions to paying for membership cards, as they pay for themselves almost instantly!

Now, while we're on the topic of free cards I may as well add that if you DO get a credit card, get one that doesn't come with an annual fee.  Why pay $150 a year for a service that only charges you MORE money for using it?  Free is always good.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

October Budget

So here's our budget for October. Usually I'd post this on the first day of the month, but it's too late for that so it's got some number already plugged in.

Quick breakdown of our budget:
It shows what our budget for each category is, and then it has a space to record what we actually spend/made.  The 'Difference' column shows how much we over/underspent.  A red difference in the income is bad, as it means we made less than we were supossed to, but a red difference in the expenses means that we came in under budget. yay :)

Our balance at the bottom is what money was left over after all of our expenses.  This is the amount we profited for the month.  I also make notes to explain any unusual numbers.  For example, last month had three paydays instead of two, so our income was much higher than usual.  It was also the first month of bills for our new apartment, so the bills were higher than usual because we were paying activation fees on them.

Below the budget I have a 'Miscellaneous' budget.  Every once in a while a larger expense may come up that doesn't fit in our regular budget.  This may sound like it totally defeats the purpose of the budget, but these are things we pay for with all the extra money we've been setting asside each month.  For example, while I've put my Fashion Design schooling off for a year, I've decided to take a part-time online Small Business Accounting program.  This definately would not have fit into my $50 monthly spending money, so last month when I paid for two classes and my textbooks, I listed the $900 expense in the Miscellaneous budget.  I keep track of these expenses so that when I calculate our net worth each month I'm not wondering why we're missing $900.

So there's the first budget for the blog, we'll see how we did at the end of the month :)  Soon that income won't be so high, and our expenses will be bigger once baby comes along!

Why I Started This Blog

At 20 years old I have never been in debt and I plan to keep it that way.  I have always had a good work ethic and started working as soon as I was old enough to get a job.  However, I didn't save my money like I should have.  I always new when I was 14 that several years down the road I would think back to all of the disposable income I had and how I should have saved it for when I had real expenses, like rent and school.  But did I save it? Of course not. I was spending my money on junk food and useless crap that I definately don't have any use for now.  The closest I got to saving it was opening a long term investment account with Edward Jones, as that was where my mom had her investments.  Unfortunately that wasn't much of an investment, even at $50 a month.  Then every year when I would get my T4 I would see all of the money that I let slip through my fingers.

It was exactly 2 years ago that I opened my first real savings account.  I was 18, finally done high school, and wanting to travel AND do post secondary.  I opened a Tax-Free Interest Plus Savings account, which has been filled and emptied on a few occaisions, but always worth it.

But saving my money really became a priority when I got accepted to an exclusive fashion design school in Vancouver.  Compared to the part time fashion classes I had been taking, which were about $300 each, the one year tuition was $13,000!  On top of that I had to think about the cost of moving across the country and paying the huge Vancouver rent.  I was already living on my own with my boyfriend, although rent was extremely cheap for the full town house we lived in thanks to my mom being the landlord.  But I needed to save! I did not want to have to take out a bank loan or borrow from my parents to pay for school.  So I started keeping track of bank accounts and cash on a monthly basis to make sure we were putting enough asside each month to meet the $20,000 we needed.

In April of this year, between packing boxes and trying to find a decently affordable Vancouver apartment, we got quite the surprise.  I was pregnant!  Now we REALLY needed to save!  So plans have changed and school has been put off for a year.  I am 31 weeks pregnant and have exactly 2 months to go before our little girl is expected to arrive.  With just a few more paychecks left and a greatly reduced income looming over my head for mat leave, we are on a tight budget.  I have always loved finances and keeping track of things, so I've decided to start this blog as motivation to stay on track and hopefully motivate other young adults to start saving their money.  I would rather be on a tight budget and have all the money to pay for a large expense than have to get a loan and go into debt paying interest.  In the personal finance world, interest is your enemy!