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  1. How I slashed $250+ from my monthly spending

    Wednesday, February 11, 2015

    As I alluded to in my previous post, Ian and I have made some financial changes to pay off our debt sooner while at the same time trying to make decisions that will work for us not just now, but several years in the future.

    So we did something that, on the surface, totally looks like we violated the shopping ban: We bought an SUV, and will soon be a single-car household (once Ian sells his Civic). It's a pre-owned (but barely!) 2015 Subaru Forester. It has great cargo space, great reliability ratings while at the same time has been an easy transition for me - someone who has been used to driving small vehicles - to get used to.

    So how does this not violate my shopping ban?
    • Since Ian and I are splitting the payments, I am actually saving $113 a month on car payments. We decided that since Ian will do the bulk of the driving, and can claim the payments (and 90% of the gas) for work, he will pay 2/3 of the payments, while I pay 1/3 since I won’t be driving it as much as him, and I have to pay for a transit pass.
    • In the same vein, we will now be splitting insurance payments, which will slightly lower than what I was paying by myself for my old car. That’s $100 in savings for the both of us! Ian was actually worried that his insurance would go up, since he’s splitting with someone under 25, but it turns out that his insurance company gave him a great rate (another rant for another is the fact that we even have to shop around for insurance instead of having publicly-funded insurance, but I digress...)

    Old Budget New Budget
    $155 - Student Loan
    $50 - TFSA
    $200 - Sears Card
    $0 - House fund
    $90 - Transit
    $550 - Rent
    $250 - Groceries
    $150 - Utilities
    $300  - MC
    $41 - Union Dues
    $180 - Insurance
    $280 - Car
    $90 - Cell phone
    $2,321 (93%)
    $155 - Student Loan
    $50 - TFSA
    $0 - Sears Card
    $150 - House fund
    $90 - Transit
    $550 - Rent
    $250 - Groceries
    $150 - Utilities
    $300 - MC
    $41 - Union Dues
    $165 - Car
    $80 - Insurance
    $40 - Cell phone
    $2,021 (78%)

    My monthly budget is down $300

    Originally, the plan was to wait until April 2016, when my car was paid off, to privately sell both our cars (Ian’s has been paid off for a while) and buy one new-to-us SUV. However, having two cars that are too small for our lifestyle - big dog, camera gear, road trips to Calgary and Saskatchewan and eventually kids - were becoming more and more a pain in the ass.

    We briefly toyed with the idea of Ian taking over my car, it just wasn’t ideal. My Pontiac G5 Coupe was a great little car when I was 19 and fresh out of journalism school. It was not, however, that great once I married someone who was 6’3” with a German Shepard and tons of camera gear (fact - Ian’s gear can’t even fit in my car thanks to a small trunk opening).

    I am excited about being a single-car household, because not being able to dash out whenever I please to the mall or grocery store will really help rein in my spending.

    It will take a lot more effort (but less money) for me to go somewhere, meaning I will be making more conscious decisions about where and how I’m spending my money. It will also mean that I will explore my neighbourhood a little bit more, and will be walking (and, once summer comes, riding my bike) around Edmonton more and more, since it's easier for me to walk or catch a bus to Whyte Ave, but it's more work to get one to West Edmonton Mall.  I think it's kind of funny that my mom is worried that I'll be totally housebound now - clearly she forgets that when I first moved to Edmonton for university I didn't have a car!

    I also changed my personal cell phone plan, seeing as I have a work phone that I use most of the time. I would cancel it completely, but 1) I am locked into a plan and it would cost $200 and 2) I don't really want to lose loyalty and/or having a phone in case I leave my job (which I don't plan on doing any time soon, but, you know.)

  2. Shopping Ban - Month One

    Sunday, February 1, 2015

    I can’t believe it’s already been a month of my shopping ban, and so far I am feeling really good about my challenge!

    So far, these are the items I have purchased on my approved shopping list:
    • Sugar scrub: $10
    • Sleeping Cap, nail foils, among other allowed cosmetics: $29.57
    • Buttons & extra yarn for my cardigan: $18.85*
    • Yarn for Baby Brolund’s Blanket (I’m going to be an auntieeeee!): $20.15*
    • Home/Office stuff (mainly little containers to hold baking ingredients and a microwave cover for the office): $13*
    • Shoe Repair (I forgot to put this one on my approved shopping list, but I had 3 pairs of shoes, including my winter boots, I needed to get fixed): $59.85
    Approved shopping this month: $151.42

    A lot of my approved shopping I wanted to get out of the way early, mostly because I had run out of what I needed. That $10 sugar scrub is going to last me a whole year, so no love lost. I also picked up a few other allowed cosmetics at the beginning of the year, because they all seem to run out at the same time.

    One of the other things I want to share is what I’m putting on my credit card versus what I’m paying cash for, because I need to stop the habit of using my credit card for everyday things and not being able to pay it off, or only paying off what is “new” that month and not working on the rest of the lump.

    Credit card total:  -$5,899.56  (this is the highest it has ever been)

    So what did I put on it this month?

    Total spent: -$442.31

    Interest Fee: -$74.37

    Public Transport: - $26.71
    Groceries: -$15.85
    Public Transport: -$114.00
    Groceries: -$4.99

    Allowed Spending
    Date Night Dinner: -$21.42
    Parking: -$20.00
    Make-up/Skin care: -$39.57

    Reimbursement: $746.44

    Unusual Spending
    Pharmacy: -$13.05
    Shoe Repair: -$59.85 
    Dentist: -$746.45

    (This isn’t all I spent this month, just what I put on my credit card)

    I had a pretty big expense on my card: $746 for my part of my wisdom tooth surgery. Luckily I have an HSA at work, so it was reimbursed, as you can see. The $13.05 pharmacy cost was for the five different drugs I was on. I am so thankful that I waited until this year to do my surgery, otherwise I would have had to spend $1,500+ on my teeth. Yuck.

    My transportation fee is high this month because I bought multiple bus ticket booklets instead of a January bus pass *and* I bought February’s bus pass, for some odd reason. I think I was on T3s at the time because now looking back I am unsure why I felt the need to put February’s bus pass on my January expense list. Anyway, dumb move, but it means a bit of movement in my February budget, I guess.

    That printing fee of $52.49 was for our wedding thank you cards, and I’m splitting the cost with Ian. Everything else is pretty self explanatory.

    What this means, however, is that when I make my $300 payment at the beginning of February, I’m not really making any real progress on paying off my debt, which is really frustrating. But next month I know that at the very least I won’t be putting my $90 buss pass on my card (because I already have it), so that’s encouraging. My goal for all of this, of course, it to go every month without putting ANYTHING on my card.

    I should explain quickly how Ian and I do out bills since we don’t have joint accounts yet. He pays for most of our groceries, utilities, rent, etc and I reimburse him bi-weekly, when we get paid. It’s nice for me because I am only spending on groceries and utilities bi-monthly, and in cash. It probably seems like a weird system, but for us it works! I might do a full post on it later, but that’s the gist. So when I say groceries above, what I really mean is ice cream, soup and yogurt for me and my toothless mouth.

    So, that’s about a wrap for this month. I thought I did pretty good, but I spent more than I wanted to on getting approved shopping out of the way, which I suppose is the nature of the beast. Ian and I are eyeing a few moves that will help bring our expenses down, so stay tuned!