Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Spending Recap: Feb 18-24, 2013

Monday 18th
No Spend Day!

Tuesday 19th
$33.67 Stitch-It (3 pairs of pants hemmed)
$39.60 gas

Wednesday 20th
$52.41 Silk Road Tea

Thursday 21st
No Spend Day!

Friday 22nd
+ $197.70 freelance income
$50 oil change & maintenance
$7.46 lunch
$17.09 liquor store (wine for dinner party)

Saturday 23rd
$5.80 Cloud 9 Gluten Free Bakery
$13.51 liquor store
$721.49 Allegiant Air

Sunday 24th
$10 field hockey fees
$35.90 groceries

Freelance Income: + $197.70
Expenses– $986.93

TOTAL: – $789.23

Okay well this was an expensive week, BUT I finally booked my first trip of 2013. :) Nic and I are headed to sunny Las Vegas in May – it’s my graduation present to him, since he will have just finished his Masters at that point. It works out to $360.75 per person for our flight, luggage fees (unfortunately they charge $26 per person for carry-on luggage), and 5 nights accommodation. It was a pretty amazing deal if you ask me! I’m really excited to finally see the Grand Canyon, do a little hiking, and of course – enjoy the city! :)

Happy 6th Birthday to GMBMFB!

Did you know that I’ve been blogging about personal finance for six years? Yep, that’s right. Today marks the 6th Blogoversary of GMBMFB. Crazy, eh? I can’t imagine the number of Starbucks lattes I’ve consumed while blogging over those last 6 years. :)

Whenever I meet new people, or I talk with friends about my career for the first time, they always seem so surprised that I write about personal finance. “Finance! That’s random – how did you get into that?” or “Wow, that seems, um… interesting.”

I usually give them a short answer about how I started blogging to keep myself accountable while I was getting out of debt. It was a really fun way to exchange ideas with other people. I was happily blogging for years before I had the amazing opportunity to write for the Toronto Star. This little website started getting recognized a bit more, and I’ve been mentioned in major media outlets. Oh, and I have also appeared on television (CTV) and have done a bunch of radio interviews too.

But anyway, when I saw that my pal Cait from Blonde on a Budget responded to a questionnaire about blogging (and included me as someone who inspired her to start blogging), I decided to do the same. It seems fitting to do on my blogoversary. :)


1) How did you come up with your blog name?

It was a random conversation with my sister. I think she said the phrase, “give me back my five bucks!” and it kind of stuck with me.

2) Which bloggers inspired you when you first started writing?

To be honest, when I first started blogging about money in February 2007 (nearly 6 years ago!), there weren’t many personal finance blogs out there to read. Especially in Canada. The community was really, really small. I remember reading one blog by a 30-something Canadian woman that I just adored. I thought she was amazing, and when she commented on my blog I nearly died. Then, she stopped blogging suddenly, and I can’t even recall the name of that blog to look it up online. In fact, all of my early PF friends have stopped blogging. :|

So when I discovered blogs like Squawk Fox, Money Smarts Blog, and Canadian Capitalist, I really became motivated to keep on writing. And since then, the PF community has absolutely exploded. I once used to be able to name most of the Canadian PF blogs on the internet, and now new ones are popping up every single day. It’s amazing and overwhelming and inspiring.

3) Why write about finance?

I love writing about finance because whether we like admitting it or not, money influences most of what we do in life. It affects everything from where we work, to what we eat, to how we spend our free time. The relationship we have with our money is for life, so the better (and less turbulent) we can make it, the better. :)

My passion with personal finance is in making things uncomplicated. I started this blog to show other people that if I can get out of debt, you can do. I’m just an average person with an average salary and an average education. But determination goes a long way. I’m not the best writer out there (just ask some of the Toronto Star readers – ha!), and I’m not the smartest either… but I truly care about the financial well-being of others, and I want others to be able to learn something from my mistakes (as well as and my achievements).

4a) What do you enjoy most about blogging?

Being able to express myself is something that I really love. I’m a bit shy in real life, and I’m not a great public speaker… but give me a keyboard and I can happily type away for hours. That being said, what I love most about blogging is the friendships I’ve formed with readers and fellow bloggers. I’ve been e-mailing with some readers for years! I’ve met many readers/bloggers offline, and have created great friendships with some of them that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

4b) What do you enjoy least about blogging?

I feel like most people would think that the thing I enjoy least is the criticism. I don’t know what it is, but people love to hate me. But that’s fine. The first few times I read mean things about me online or comments on my blog, I was really upset. Now? I just don’t care. During the 2.5 years I wrote for the Toronto Star’s, I would say 95% of the comments were mean. When I was anonymous, readers would go out of their way to threaten me or send me mean e-mails. Even today, I’ve read mean things about me in forums, and someone even created a meme about me (!).

But, the thing I enjoy the least about blogging is the anxiety I get when I post something that I’ve taken a lot of time to write. It’s the same feeling you might get when going to a big job interview, or when you have to speak in front of a large audience. Sometimes I delay posts by weeks or months just because I’m scared. I need to remember that usually, those end up being the best posts on the blog.

5) What’s the most helpful piece of advice you have learned from reading other PF blogs?

  • Pay yourself first through automated savings.
  • Aggressively pay down debt.
  • Spend on what matters in life, and cut the fat everywhere else.

6) In terms of finance, what is your main focus at the moment?

It’s a bit of a toss up right now. I really want to pay down my mortgage, but at the same time I want to make sure I’m on track with my retirement goals.

7) If you could give your younger self financial advice, what would it be?

Don’t compare yourself to others – you’ll eventually achieve everything you want in life. It’s just that everyone takes a different path to get there.

8) Who in your real life knows about your blog?

I don’t openly tell people about my blog unless we get into a conversation and I’m asked specifically what kind of writing/blogging I do. That being said, most of my friends are pretty aware of my blog, and it’s on my LinkedIn profile, as well as my own personal website.

9) Does your real job have anything to do with finance or money?

No, I work in a completely different industry. But I do have to manage a budget, so that counts a little bit, right?

10) What’s the first thing you would do if you won a million dollars?

I asked myself that question back in 2007, and revisited my answers in 2011. So now that it’s 2013, would I do anything different with $1 million? Well, maybe. I would pay off my mortgage ($227,000). Put some money into my Emergency Fund ($50,000). I’d likely take time off to go travel the world for a while ($50,000). I would give some money to my sister and my parents ($100,000). Give some money to charity ($50,000). Then I would invest the rest ($523,000) into my Retirement Portfolio.

Why I dislike the term #YOLO

I know a lot of you love it, but I think the hashtag #YOLO is kinda stupid. Okay, it’s not that it’s stupid, I just dislike how it’s being used. Especially because people seem to be using it as an excuse to justify their excessive or unnecessary spending. Whoops, look what I’ve done! Oh well, I’ll worry about it later! It drives me nuts.

And what was once a simple message about taking chances and overcoming fear in order to better our lives, has been completely lost.

I love the original concept behind the phrase. In my life, taking chances has led to the best things in life – like deciding to move to the USA for university to pursue NCAA sports, quitting my job and becoming a freelancer, or breaking up with a long-term boyfriend. But there’s a big difference between living life in the moment and making completely irresponsible decisions.

Despite what you see when you search Twitter, #YOLO shouldn’t be about whipping out your credit card for a last-minute vacation to Mexico. It’s not about spending your student loans on beer, going on a weekend shopping spree, buying a home you cannot afford, or doing things you’ll end up regretting (like thinking it’s ok to have credit cad debt when you’re young because “every student has debt!”). And it is absolutely NOT about justifying your spending. #YOLO is about living your life to the fullest, and seizing opportunities when they come up – but only if they’re worth it. And only if they make your present (and future) life better.

Sure, life is short. But at the same time, life is actually kinda long. We could all die tomorrow, but we could also live to be 100. And I don’t know about you, but since I’m only going to live once, I want to lead the most fun and exciting life I can make for myself – without the stress of dealing with poor financial and life decisions.

But, the phrase #YOLO will likely be around for a while. So instead of using it to justify questionable decisions, let’s all start using it to promote positive life changes. Maybe then we can bring the original meaning back to the phrase.

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