Give Me Back My Five Bucks

March 2011 Goals: Recap

March has been a weird month for me. We are slowly starting our property search, so I’m really excited about that. Physically, I haven’t been able to work out as much as I wanted because I’ve been trying to rest a suspected fractured foot (injured it in January, but it’s getting better now that field hockey is done for the season). I went over budget (as you can see), and while I did reach my freelancing goal for the month AND I managed to save around $2,500, I feel like I’m slacking a little bit. There is more I could be doing, and it makes me wonder if I’ll ever be satisfied with my progress, or if I will always want to achieve more. But anyway, that’s a post for another day. :)

Here are my monthly numbers:

OVER BUDGET:
Cell Phone – I texted a few times and used a small amount of data while I was in New Orleans.
Internet/Cable – We rented 2 movies from Shaw on Demand.
Travel – This was my Nexus application fee
Car & Transportation – Gas prices are just getting higher and higher.
Miscellaneous – This was for a field hockey uniform, iStock credits, and the Financial Blogger Conference fee.

NETWORTH CHANGE: + 5.30%

March 2011 Goals (link):

  • $650 into Retirement Portfolio. CHECK! I saved $700 into my RRSP and TFSA.
  • $200 into Travel Fund. CHECK! I saved $345. I need to start piling more money into this fund.
  • $100 into Emergency Fund. CHECK! I saved $450. I’m so close to maxing out my EF for the first time EVER.
  • $555 into savings towards $1,180 initial payment towards braces (due April 4, 2011). CHECK! I saved $1,075. I now have more than enough to cover my down payment, and going forward I will have to make quarterly payments of $725.
  • Make an additional $1,500 above and beyond my FT job. CHECK! I am happy to report that I destroyed this goal by making $3,444.68. :)
  • Sell at least 1 thing on eBay or Craigslist. FAIL! I have a list going of things I want to sell, I just haven’t gotten around to posting them anywhere yet.

Ongoing 2011 Annual Goals:

  • No buying lunch, snacks or coffee during the work week. CHECK! I was tempted a few times this month, but held strong.
  • No buying clothing, shoes or accessories until May 19, 2011. CHECK! I am currently creating a master ‘wish list’ of things I would like to buy while I’m in NYC. The list is surprisingly small, and I’ll post it on here within the next few weeks.
  • Work out at least 3x/week. FAIL! I worked out a total of 5 times this month. But in all fairness, I’ve been trying really hard to rest my foot.

A follow-up post about searching for our first home

So we are progressing on our property search.

I have contacted a Mortgage Broker that I used about 4 years ago during my first (unsuccessful) property search when I lived in my hometown. I liked working with him, so have asked him to help us with our pre-approval. We also are meeting with a Realtor today who, funny enough, I connected with on Twitter. I like that he specializes in condos in the area that we’re looking in, enjoys working with first time buyers, and is young so he can relate. I’m hoping he works out, but I have a good feeling about him. BF and I want to check out some open houses this weekend.

One major goal of the condo I neglected to mention was the fact that we’re hoping to keep it as a rental property once we decide to move onto a bigger home. The rental market in this particular area is strong: on a SkyTrain line, popular college within walking distance, up-and-coming neighbourhood with lots of shops and restaurants, and it’s affordable. I lived and worked in this area before I moved in with BF, so I have a good feel for the neighbourhood.

For those that were wondering, BF has a ton of DIY skills. He renovated his friend’s entire house last year, built most of the furniture and did major renovation on almost every room in the place we currently live in, and has a workshop full of tools. I feel fully confident that he will be able to do any renovation or repair we want to do to whatever future place we live in.

Another comment asked a few times was about getting a lawyer involved because BF and I are not married. While we are considered common-law now, we both fully understand the need to get everything put into writing. So yes, that will be happening.

Also, I want to thank everyone for their comments. I was especially interested in the comments that some people left about buying a bigger home if we could afford it. Here are my thoughts: getting ourselves into a townhouse that would be appropriate for the next 10+ years of our lives would cost around $500k. Maybe more. The Vancouver area is expensive! And while we could afford the payments now, I don’t see why we would pay for more home than we need for the next 4-5 years of our lives. Especially when our goal is to keep the condo and rent it out in the future. Not only will buying a larger home result in a much larger mortgage payment, but it will come with more expenses as well – like higher taxes, maintenance, heating, etc. Owning a home for us is a huge goal that we have been working towards for years, but it’s not the only goal we have. And I would hate for us to take on a larger mortgage payment and miss out on everything else. All of the extra money we will be saving by taking on a condo and a smaller mortgage will go towards traveling before we have kids, paying for a wedding, saving for early retirement, and stashing money away for a down payment on our next place.

Like I said before, we aren’t in a rush. I want to enjoy the process, because the idea that I could one day become a homeowner has been one of my biggest motivating factors to getting myself out of debt. And now that we’re finally ready, I’m so excited.

Q1 Review: 2011 Goals

The first quarter of 2011 is almost over, so I’ve decided to review my goals for the year. As usual, the goals I made for myself late last year might be changing altogether with the idea of becoming a homeowner AND deciding to get braces ($7,000). I think that I will still be able to achieve all of the goals I want to achieve, it just means I will need to work that much harder!

ON PACE! means that I’m on track to achieve the goal this year
PENDING means that I haven’t done anything with the goal yet
CHECK obviously means that I’ve already achieved the goal :)

Financial

  • $45,000 Retirement Portfolio. ON PACE! I have increased my contributions to $350 bi-weekly. I think this is a good spot to be at. When I first moved to Vancouver about 3 years ago, my contributions were $150 bi-weekly. So I’ve more than doubled my savings rate. I’m happy with that, and I don’t think I need to increase my contribution rate again this year.
  • $5,000 Emergency FundON PACE! I currently have $4,300 in my EF, and will have $5,000 once I get my tax refund.
  • $1,000-3,000 Savings Fund. ON PACE! The money in this account is always revolving, so I want to make sure I have some sort of cushion. I’ve had over $1,000 in this account for most of the year so far, but will have to empty it out to pay for the down payment on my braces. After that, the money will be flowing in and out as I pay for a variety of expenses throughout the year.
  • Pay all travel expenses in cash. ON PACE! So far, I’ve paid for my trip to New Orleans, Toronto and New York City trips by saving up cash. Now I need to focus on saving for my trip to Chicago in the fall, a potential trip to San Francisco with my family (approx. $500), and my trip to Thailand with BF (approx. $2,750). Whew!
  • Open up a joint chequing account. ON PACE! A few nights ago, we sat down and discussed how we will merge our finances. Our initial plan is to have a joint chequing account to go with our current joint savings account. Rent, internet/cable, utilities and groceries will come out of this account. Our joint savings will house our Travel Fund and House Fund. Everything else we will keep separately.
  • Make an additional $25,000. ON PACE! So far this year, I’ve made $6,934.89. In order to be on track to earn $25,000 in freelancing, I needed to be at $6,249.99 by March 31st. So I’m on track and hoping to gain some momentum into the summer months.
  • Make 3 extra payments to my car loan. PENDING. I haven’t made a single extra payment. I suck.
  • Shopping ban (clothing/shoes/accessories). ON PACE! Since the beginning of the year, I’ve ripped a huge hole in my tights, and also ripped my only pair of casual jeans beyond repair. My black flats that I wear every day to work are developing a hole in the leather. I try to replace work shoes every 2 years, so I’m coming due. I still haven’t done any shopping, but I’m limping along.
  • The Lunch Challenge. ON PACE! I’ve avoided all temptation and haven’t purchased a single snack, coffee or lunch so far this year. :D

Personal

  • Go on 3 hiking trips. PENDING. We have so many ideas, but have yet to turn those ideas into actual trips.
  • Go on a trip with BF. ON PACE! Right now our plan is to go to Thailand over the Christmas holiday. We’ve planned out a budget, decided where we want to go, and now my next step is to figure out vaccines and figure out how to approach getting the time off at work.
  • Go on a trip with my sisterCHECK! New Orleans in February.
  • Go on a trip by myselfCHECK! I went to Toronto in January.
  • Go kayaking or paddling. ON PACE! My mom and I have tentative plans to do this in the summer, thanks to a Groupon my sister and I bought her for Christmas.
  • Read at least 1 novel per month. PENDING. So far, I’ve read one book. Where to find the time!?
  • Finish my cross stitching project. ON PACE! I’m doing very well and I’m probably about 50% done the stitching. After the rest of the stitching is done (which I think will take me into the summer months), I’ll have to do a lot of outlining which is really time consuming.
  • Work out at least 3 times/week. PENDING. This is already a straight-up fail. Of course, I can make it up so that I average 3x/week, but I already haven’t kept pace. I want to blame this on my suspected fractured foot that I’ve had since mid-January, and being so super busy with my freelancing work. But in the end, it’s me that isn’t getting motivated enough to exercise. I need to be fit once field hockey tryouts come around in June.
  • Lose 10 lbs. PENDING. I’ve only maintained my weight.
  • Run in a 10km race. PENDING. I’m finding it difficult to commit to signing up for a race. Because I work so much, I just don’t have the time to train properly. I can run 10km right now, I just want to run it well during a race. And if I can’t run it well, then I really don’t want to pay the money to run it at all.

Professional

  • Maintain an updated resume. CHECK! It is updated and ready to go.
  • Maintain LinkedIn profile. CHECK! I’m keeping it updated and adding new contacts every month.
  • Take 3 seminars. ON PACE! I originally felt like this would be strictly marketing and to do with my full-time job. But now that I’m going to FINCON in Chicago, I will be taking many seminars during that weekend and feel like that satisfies this goal of mine.
  • Print business cards for side business. ON PACE! I have finally designed my cards, and am in the process of getting quotes from a few different print shops.
  • Put side business website back online. ON PACE! Well, technically I’m on pace. Because my side business seems to be 90% writing at the moment, I’m thinking of just linking my side business to my LinkedIn profile and focusing my efforts into revamping this blog. I’ve already purchased the template and just need to take 3 or 4 days to implement it. I have yet to create a plan for that part.
  • Try to be at least one week ahead of my blogging with scheduled posts. ON PACE! I’ve downloaded an awesome calendar app for WordPress, and am trying to stay 2-3 posts ahead of the game. Now my goal is to implement that for my Moneyville blog.

How are you doing with your goals for 2011?

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