Give Me Back My Five Bucks

It’s been a while, let’s catch up!

pizzaThis past weekend, I went home for the first time since February. It was really nice to catch up with friends and spend time with family. On the Saturday night a group of us went out for dinner and drinks. We’ve been friends for about 12 years, and were reminiscing about how different our lives are now. It was so interesting to hear my friends openly talk about personal finance – mortgages, savings accounts, and credit card rewards. These were things we would have never talked about even just a few years ago. And when we were in school? Even though they were my closest friends, I remember trying very hard to cover up my debt and what a financial disaster I was.

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since we graduated from college – that means it’s been 10 years since I actively started taking care of my finances, and 9 years since I got myself out of debt. Looking back at who I was 10 years ago, I can barely recognize myself. I was a self-serving, arrogant, entitled brat who spent her way into $20k worth of debt. I’m proud of who I’ve become and how much I’ve matured, but I know there’s a lot more growing and learning to do on my part.

A couple weeks ago I went hiking with my blogger friend Cait. We were talking about (of course) blogging, and I mentioned that I don’t write on this blog as often as I used to. It’s not from lack of things to write about (my content calendar is full of blog ideas) – it’s the decision to prioritize my time doing other things instead. I’m also not as engaged on social media, but I try to be present and post things at least once every couple days. I’ve also been struggling with how much information to share on this blog. I know I shouldn’t have been surprised by this, but it recently came to my attention that a lot of my friends and family in real life do actually read this blog. I even know of vague acquaintances reading here, and while that’s amazing and I appreciate their support, I’m also very aware that my partner has no social media or blogging presence (and values his privacy). So I guess you could say I’m struggling with how much to share while I respect him and his desire for privacy.

Anyway, those are a few things that I’ve been thinking about lately. As for my finances? Things are running smoothly for the most part. Here are a few notables that have happened in the past month or so:

  • Thanks to an increase in my RRSP contributions last year (and a decrease in my freelance income), my tax refund for 2015 comes out to around $520. I’m going to have to do some calculations for this year, but since I’ve already more than doubled my freelance income from last year, I’ll likely have to pay taxes when it comes to filing for 2016.
  • We’ve been living together for over 6 months now, and things are going really well. We have really made this little place into a cozy little home, and I don’t think either of us want to leave once our 1-year lease is up. That being said, I am keeping a very close eye on the rental market in the neighbourhood. I’d love to live in a laneway with a balcony or some sort of private outdoor space, but for the price we’re paying compared to how much those cost, I think we’re okay for now (a 2-bedroom laneway with a balcony a few streets over is renting for $2,600 – that’s $950 more than our place!).
  • Speaking of living together, we’ve come up with an okay system for splitting shared expenses. We take turns paying for groceries, and reconcile at the end of each month right before one person sends an Interac money transfer to the other person when rent is due. It works for now, but I’m slowly moving towards the idea of having a joined chequing account to streamline this process a bit more. Neither of us has had a joint account with a partner before, so it will take some talking to figure out if it’s the right move for us.
  • My goal of only spending $500 on clothing/shoes for the year is dead. :( I had already bought new rock climbing shoes this year, so I ended up going over my $500 budget on the weekend when I bought a hoodie to replace one I bought 5 years ago (the cuffs were all frayed), as well as new workout tights (because I split the inner thigh seam on the ones I currently own – don’t ask). I’m actually okay spending the money because these are items I wear multiple times each week, so I wanted to make sure I was buying good quality items that were going to last me years to come.
  • I’ve mentioned before, but freelancing has been going quite well this year. I’ve made over $20,000 in freelance income so far this year, and have saved most of what I’ve actually received in payments. This means my savings rate has gone through the roof, and I think I’m hovering at about a 65% net income savings rate. I’m extremely happy with this, but I’m going to have to take a really hard look at my short term vs. long term goals. Right now I don’t think I’m saving enough outside of my Retirement Portfolio. RD has a much larger down payment at his disposal, and if I toned down my retirement savings, I could save at a faster rate to try and match that (for when we do eventually buy – likely years from now). But since early retirement is my number one financial goal, I’m not sure I want to do that. Some thinking has to be done.

Anyway, that’s it from me over the past couple weeks. :) I’m making it my goal for this week to wrap up a few unfinished blog posts that I’ve been working on over the last month, so be sure to look for those. In the meantime, it’s a short 3-day work week for me, as I’ll be headed to the Sunshine Coast on Friday morning for a camping adventure with Cait. :)

Author: Krystal Yee

I’m a personal finance blogger and marketing professional based in Vancouver. I’m a former Toronto Star (Moneyville) columnist, author of The Beginner’s Guide to Saving and Investing, and co-founder of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference. When I’m not working, you can usually find me running, climbing, playing field hockey, or plotting my next adventure.


  1. Leigh says:

    I started counting things like climbing/hiking/running shoes in my “Recreation:Equipment” category rather than my “Clothing:Shoes” category, which makes me feel much better about my shoes spending. I go through maybe 3 pairs of running shoes per year and that was inflating my shoes spending!

    We started out with your current grocery system and that worked okay so long as we were consistent in our grocery spending. Once we actually moved in together, we switched to a joint checking account to which we each auto-deposited half of the budget on the 1st of the month. It worked great until we realized we’d rather split things a different way since I own the place we live in. One thing I would have done differently though would have been to start the account out with one month’s grocery spending as a buffer since I hate drawing accounts down to zero!

  2. Peter says:

    Paying for groceries is a tough one to talk about with people you live with. What type of person are they? Buy sale items only? Go free lance and buy anything? Do they have a favourite brand? To many questions to learn when starting to share groceries with someone. Sounds like you got it down tho. Good luck on that

  3. Thanks for the update Krystal! I totally agree with the struggle on privacy; it is a hard one to deal with when you are trying to be respectful of your partner’s wishes. On the living together and sharing expenses I think you guys have the money thing down. You seem to be communicating which is the most important part of joint finances. Good luck and you will continue to figure it out!
    @Leigh – that’s a great idea! It makes sense since it’s sport related clothing vs something you would need for work.

  4. ARBM says:

    As a vague acquaintance / friend from your past who reads your blog… And who is now attempting to blog anonymously, I totally get where you are coming from with the privacy thing. I don’t think many of my real-life friends read my blog, but I’m never sure how much is too much to share, and I also don’t want my husband to feel like I am disclosing his own private information online. In any case, thanks for the update!

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