Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I thought I had deleted this blog...

but apparently my blog-fu skills are even worse than I thought and I simply let it go inactive. *sigh* I'm in a transition period of my life right now and although I'm still frugal, I feel like I'm in a rut. I have no fantastic tips or methods to share with anyone online and the people I know IRL aren't much interested in my "crazy frugal ways". I haven't done much shopping lately simply because I don't really need much and a busy schedule filled with 2 jobs and a correspondence course (which I should actually be working on right now!!) leaves little time for recreational shopping. So yes, I've been frugal but because its been a passive frugality, I feel like I'm not doing enough.

The house is...house-y. The roof was replaced in the fall and most of the windows had their trim repainted (there were a few windows I was unable to reach before the winter came). I'm holding off on painting inside until warmer weather so I can open the windows for fresh air instead of breathing in VOC's. For a brief period I had 2 tenants, "The Chef" and "LilGirl". The Chef remains, living in my finished basement and sharing the main floor with me. Although we have little in common, we get along and in exchange for a reduced rent rate, he helps with maintenance tasks and keeps the cats alive when I'm off flying. LilGirl was a young friend of mine (not literally a little girl!!) who needed a temporary place to stay and ended up renting out my guest bedroom. Although she and I get along really well, this living arrangement definitely caused me some stress...mostly because of her puppy (who had a habit of peeing in my bedroom and "stealing" some of my things). She has since found another place to stay, closer to her university, which is a much better arrangement for her anyway (she had a NASTY commute from my place to school).

Financially, I'm doing well (although my friends would shudder if they compared my income to theirs). I'm rebuilding my emergency fund (which was partially used to re-roof my house), I still spend very little and I've put money aside for a vacation when I find the time. I haven't been able to make any major attacks on my mortgage amount but I am planning to make a "double up" payment sometime soon. Besides, I think I need to work on actually SPENDING more instead of constantly denying myself experiences in order to save money.

My personal challenges for 2012 were to join The Compact (I feel like I'm failing but I suspect that not needing to buy anything actually means I'm ahead of the game), to try and produce less waste and, once again, to try and live a little more.

Why am I posting all this?? I guess I'm just thinking aloud...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

No time to breathe

June has been an incredibly busy month so far. I managed to mess up my flying schedule so I'm working more days with the airline than I usually do. My coworkers at the bar have booked off more days than expected so my boss is turning to me to try and ensure there's coverage. I'm volunteering at a 5K race this upcoming weekend. I'm spending hours online and on the phone taking care of items related to the house I bought.

I could really use a break!! Luckily, I have a few days off coming up that I will refuse to schedule anything on. I'll probably end up spending the days sleeping but at least I won't be running around!

As far as my June goals, I'm doing pretty well on most of them. I've done a good job of sticking to my budget but it hasn't really been a challenge...I've been either flying or working at the bar almost every day so there really hasn't been the option of going out and spending money. I've found some boxes and have started packing up my possessions. (The biggest issue there is that one of my cats likes to chew cardboard...he's in kitty heaven with all these boxes sitting around!!) I've continued to put things aside for my garage sale.

My biggest failing has been on the final goal, to make sure I take time for myself and physical activity. It's not as if I'm sitting around all the time being a slug, but the only "running around" I've been doing has been at work, I haven't really worked out or done any yoga lately. I'm disappointed with this but I also feel like I need to take advantage of the shifts offered to me now as I'll appreciate the extra money in savings when I have mortgage payments to worry about. I don't think I'll be working as much in July and August since I'll need time off to deal with house stuff so I just have to get through this over-scheduled month. I can do it, I'm already at the half-way point and I have days off coming up!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I bought a house!!

It was so funny to sign into my blogger account and see that on May 16th I had posted about starting the house shopping process after meeting with a mortgage broker. I hadn't seen much that was worthwhile in my price range the first time out and while looking at listings until a new property popped up and I swooped in. As of July 8th I will be the happy occupant of a cute little townhouse in a small town about 30 mins away from Bolton, where I currently live. I'm thrilled but its bizarre to think that I had mentally prepared myself for a long drawn out search due to the quality issues found in most homes in my price range (many of the homes were older, with aluminum wiring and extremely worn out floors, kitchens and bathrooms) and then, on May 27 was sitting in my realtor's car, negotiating the purchase of a house. The entire process just raced by!

My life has become very busy and just a little stressful lately as I scheduled meetings with my broker, the home inspection and finding a lawyer around my flying schedule (which, this month, is unfortunately busy due to some mistakes I made on my schedule request form). I'm trying to otherwise take it easy so as to not wear myself out.

The spending challenge has started and although I wish I could pat myself on the back for a job well done thus far...I'm really only 5 days in and most of those days I was off flying. Worse yet, I did manage to spend half of this week's $20 "entertainment/recreation" budget when I ate at the bar...and the meal and time spent there chatting with my friend (who was working) wasn't really worth it. It would have been wiser to eat at home, wait for the lunch rush to subside and then pop in for a drink.

To keep myself accountable and hopefully keep myself on track, I'm listing my goals for June.

  1. Keep track of spending and adhere to spending challenge rules. I want to say this will be easy but now that I have a house, any and all house-related items I see are tempting my wallet.
  2. Pack out of season and lesser-used items in preparation for July's move. This one shouldn't be too bad as it will also help me decide what items are "excess" and can be sold in my upcoming garage sale. I just need to start by finding boxes!!
  3. Continue accumulating and preparing items for the garage sale. I feel like I have tons of stuff I don't need but the stuff I've put aside doesn't seem like its quite enough for a garage sale.
  4. Create a list (with timeline and cost estimates) of home repairs/upgrades that need to be done after taking possession of my townhouse. There are important fixes (fixing roof, refinishing window frames) as well as cosmetic ones (paint walls, replace dining area light fixture) and I need to prioritize them according to my skill and budget.
  5. Fit physical activities and "me time" into my schedule. It's a very busy month and I don't want to become stressed out or have my health suffer. I need to remember to take care of myself!
I'm so excited!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blogger Failure

Wow, so it's *only* been 5 months??? Sorry, a lot has happened. Romeo and I broke up...in the hellfire and brimstone way. There was nothing amicable about it and I was left in pretty bad emotional shape. I spent a lot of time trying to make things work with him and due to the stuff he's going through in his own life, he spent no time trying to make things work between us. Everyone is telling me that's its great I finally have him out of my life but, deep down inside, I miss him terribly even though its been over for a couple of months now. He's one of those good people who just has a lot to work through before he's ready to be in a relationship...I only wish I had seen that when we first met.

I've been seeing a therapist since January (starting seeing her when Romeo and I were still together) and will probably continue seeing her for awhile, until I really feel like I'm getting to where I want to be in my own life. That's had an impact on my budget since, although I do get some money back from my benefits provider, they don't cover the full cost of visits. Its completely worth it though!!

Some exciting and positive news is that, on a whim, I met with a mortgage broker to find out how far I was from qualifying for a mortgage and discovered I could actually get a big enough loan to buy a place!!! Now, since it's just me (as opposed to me and Romeo, which had been the plan at one time) the budget does not allow for the purchase of a McMansion or a glamorous Toronto condo but it WOULD definitely get me something modest to call home. I've interviewed some real estate agents, made my decision and will be meeting with him soon to start figuring out how to focus our search. It's pretty overwhelming but in a good way (at least for now!).

I'm still tracking my monthly spending although I kinda lost track in April and May, although its been tracked has been filled with a lot of extra spending. I've had a lot of days off and that has turned into meeting up with a lot of different friends for drinks and meals out. I'm not tapping my down payment savings fund but I'm definitely spending more than I should be. I haven't been spending much on material goods but that's not going to save me if I eat out every day. Since I'm officially at the half-way point for the month and I've already used up my monthly "entertainment" allotment, I'm in trouble. Luckily, I have my "roll-over" account which had some savings accumulated in that category...that just means that money won't be available for more interesting entertainment, like a trip.

Since boredom has probably played a role in the loosening of my purse strings, I'm going to kick things up a notch. I'm initiating a no-spend challenge (well..."very limited spend challenge") that will hopefully last until August 31st. That's only 3 months but I'm actually worried I won't last that long. That being said, I can't really think of anything that I would need to buy in that time period. I should be fine for summer clothes unless I end up losing dramatic amounts of weight and I have a generous stash of health and beauty supplies (I *might* need to get toothpaste, it hasn't been going on sale lately so my stash has been used up). Groceries are allowed so that's not an issue. My major concern is the amount of "recreation/entertainment" spending that will happen. My friends seem to spend a lot of time eating out and drinking on patios so I'll have a bit of a challenge on my hands to encourage them to do other things. I'm also going to keep my eyes open for special promotions/coupons that would allow me to eat out and stick to my budget.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

...only a little late.

I haven't really written most of my goals in the SMART format but I still want to get them posted so that I'll feel accountable. While trying to come up with some goals, I realized that I feel as if my life is a bit lacking. I think I had become so focused on being frugal to work towards my goal of saving to buy a home, I was depriving myself of worthwhile experiences. I don't want to be a miser or a hermit. I'm not quite sure how to phrase it but for 2011, I'd like to "live more" by spending more time with my friends, trying new things and devoting more time to non-work activities (ex. classes, volunteering, yoga, etc).

My other goals for the new year include:
  • Re-committing myself to fitness and yoga (this has been a big goal of mine that I, unfortunately, keep putting off)
  • Move-out/buy a home (I've marked "by the end of summer" as a preferred time but will have to evaluate if that will be realistic)
  • Avoid lifestyle inflation as my income increases.
  • Continue making conscious decisions regarding the consumption of goods and attempt to tread lightly on the planet.
  • Create an investment plan.
  • Have a retirement portfolio of $15,500 by year end.
  • Earn $7000 above and beyond my flying pay (so doing extra flights won't count towards this!!)
I have a little monthly agenda that I will be using to try and keep myself on task. I've always been a list-maker and in the past have found that having a central spot where I track my progress has helped me. For January, I have the following things written down on the To Do list:
  1. go on a winter hike/snowshoe
  2. visit a friend out west
  3. visit a spa or do a "spa day" at home
  4. go on an actual date with Romeo (between our schedules we spend a lot of time "hanging out" at his place or mine, or spending time doing whatever his son feels like doing...not exactly exciting stuff when it comes to maintaining a relationship)
  5. meet up with a friend
  6. get an investment strategy in place
  7. take my daily vitamins (a variety of supplements/vitamins that have been recommended by various health professionals in my life as helpful but not require...I tend to be lax on taking them)
  8. try something new (I'm not sure how "new" this something has to be...if I managed to do something I haven't done in AGES, I'd probably go ahead and check this item off)
  9. read a book (this seems lame goal-wise but I used to LOVE reading and more or less fell out of the habit)
  10. spend some time thinking some positive thoughts each and every day (I'm trying to retrain my brain to see the more positive things in life instead of focusing on negatives or problems).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Not spending money is easy...

when you're either too depressed or too sick to get out of bed!! *rolls eyes* My moods are getting better and more under control now that I'm having fewer problems sleeping. I'm still spending too much time alone in my apartment but part of that is because the weather has gotten really cold (duh, it's winter) and I'd rather just stay in my cozy little home. Also, Romeo has recently gotten sick and although things haven't been smooth for us in the past little while, I'm not about to abandon him when he's not well (I told him I was merely keeping him alive so I could continue yelling at him later). I'm not sure if I was already sick with whatever he has and it just took longer to hit me but upon waking this morning, I thought "Yes, my throat is definitely sore" and I will probably be stuck in bed myself as of tomorrow.

On the bright side, all this staying close to home means I haven't really spent much money so far this month (and most of the money I did spend was on meds/supplies for Romeo!!).

I'll be working an extra flight this evening, which wasn't a wise choice on my part. If you're having problems with your sleeping patterns volunteering to work a red-eye is pretty much the dumbest thing you can do...I REALLY didn't think that one through!

The rest of the month will be busy as I'll be doing most of my month's flying from the 23rd onwards. I also have some social visits, my own family's Christmas dinner to help out with and some baking to do to give to friends. It shouldn't be too stressful though as I've finished most of my gift shopping so I can avoid the craziness at the malls. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I've been having some mood issues recently (I've had depression problems in the past) and this has contributed to the complete loss of any sort of sleep pattern and an emotional disposition that makes thinking things through logically and calmly almost impossible.

I've seen my doctor and I've started seeing a therapist (first appointment was this past Friday) who specializes in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, which worked miracles for me last time. At the moment, I'm focusing on the tasks they have given me to help me get well and I'm not so worried about paperwork, no-spend days and hosting social gatherings (although it would still be really nice to have some people over for coffee...). I do have to get working on that physical activity but that is one of the assignments I've been given. I know that lying in bed all day and avoiding the world doesn't really make me feel better but when I'm depressed, that's often all I feel capable of doing. I've been told I have to force myself out of bed and do something active each day to try and get back to my normal self. I don't actually know if I *have* any readers but if anyone is wondering what's going on (and why I haven't been posting regularly for quite some time now), that's the situation and I appreciate your understand and patience with me while I battle this out.

All that being said, one of the things that makes me an oddball is that I actually ENJOY the personal finance tasks I do. I've still been tracking my spending and my no-spend days. My spending this month has been pretty limited. I've bought gas, food while away on layover, underwear, multi-vitamins (recommended by my doctor since my eating habits are a bit shameful right now), cat food and I had to pay for parking at my doctors office (they now have pay parking?!?!). These items have only contributed to my having 3 spend days and if I had properly organized my errands, it would have been 2 spend days. Remember, I don't count the layover expenditures in my spend day quota because there's little choice, I either eat restaurant food/food from the grocer's or I don't eat at all. I'm hoping to work on improving that by bidding more layovers in hotels that provide fridges so I can pack more food instead of just snacks.