Give Me Back My Five Bucks

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Spending money on clothes

IMG_2761One of my goals for the year was to spend less than $1,000 on clothing. This may seem like a lot of money, but when you consider the need to replace shoes (specifically athletic shoes), that doesn’t leave me with a lot left over for the rest of the year!

Of course I’d love to spend my money on cute dresses from Anthropologie, or great work clothes from J.Crew or Banana Republic… but filling my closet with stuff doesn’t get me to my financial goals any faster. And while I do think I need to refresh my wardrobe somewhat this year, I don’t think I need much. My work wardrobe is definitely lacking some staples – namely pants. I don’t own any that fit. I’ve been getting by with skirts/dresses, black jeans, and dark blue jeans (which I technically shouldn’t be wearing) … but actual dress pants? Not one single pair. And worst of all, the suit that I bought early last year? It doesn’t fit anymore. So I’m going to have to significantly alter the pants and suit that I currently own (and hope I don’t gain any weight), or buy new ones.

Anyway, half way through the year, I’ve spent a total of $250.18 on clothes:

  1. $100.80 – new bathing suit (June)
  2. $111.16 – clothes from Value Village & new jeans (April)
  3. $38.22 – nylons (March)

Not bad. I actually thought it would be more than that! But I know big expenses are coming up. I want to buy new field hockey turf boots for the upcoming season ($125). I’ve had mine for at least 5 or 6 seasons now, and they’re not holding up very well. I might need a new pair of running shoes this fall ($150), as well as work shoes ($100). I wear the same pair of work shoes almost single day, and after 2 years, they’re looking a bit rough. But because I know the size, style, and brand of the shoes that I wear, I’ll try to buy them all online in order to save some extra money. Still. For someone that only owns about 8 pairs of shoes, that’s quite a lot of money to be shelling out this year. :)

This time last year, I had already spent $1,226 on clothes, which represented 14% of my discretionary spending, or 3.5% of my gross annual income (mid-way through 2013). Yikes. So the $250.18 I’ve spent this year is a significant improvement for sure!

Do you give yourself a budget for clothing/shoes?

The cost of going home more often

photoLately I’ve been thinking a lot about family, and I realize that I don’t make the effort to go home often enough. This past weekend was great, but I find I’m only coming home for specific reasons – like a field hockey tournament, or a running race. I should be coming home just to visit sometimes.

When I first moved to Vancouver, I went home nearly every weekend (because I still had a PT job there, but also because all my friends were still in Victoria). Then when I quit that job, I started going back once a month. And now, nearly 7 years later? I end up going home once every 2-3 months.

There are excuses, of course. During field hockey season (Sept-March), it’s incredibly difficult to get away because games are on the weekend and I play on a competitive team where you are expected to go to most (if not all) games and practices. I have friends here on the mainland, a boyfriend, work commitments, and travel plans. Then there’s the cost of actually getting home.

When I was in high school, I paid less than $8 to ride the ferry one-way. Now? It’s $16.25 one-way. Add in the $53.25 one-way cost to bring a vehicle over, and a trip home becomes a major expense! Parking my car and walking onto the ferry is an option. I do that quite often, but sometimes a car is necessary. Plus parking is expensive as well (at the terminal it’s $16/24 hours, and at the Park-n-Go I believe it’s $14/24 hours).

Still. I want to see my family more often, and with the health problems of certain family members, I don’t want to miss out. I want to spend more time in my hometown, and if that costs more money and more weekends traveling, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m extremely lucky that the job I have right now offers flexible work hours, so I can take time off it needed to catch an early ferry on the weekends.

I don’t think going home once a month is realistic right now, but I will try to go every 6-8 weeks. This starts in a couple of weeks, when BF and I will head over on the May long weekend. I’d like to go back again in June or July, and then my family and I will be spending a few days in August to watch the Blue Jays take on the Mariners. :)

How often do you see your family? Does cost factor into that decision?

Having a car is expensive

carBack in the fall, I wrote a post called How much is your car costing you?, where I calculated that I was spending around $300/month for gas and insurance (11% of my net monthly income). And that didn’t even include maintenance like oil changes, repairs, or the actual cost of buying the car.

Even though I concluded that having a car was a clear “want” and not a “need,” I still depend on my car to lead the lifestyle I want for myself. Deciding to live in the suburbs, that’s the choice I made. And it’s the right choice for me now, but I’m not sure if it’s the right choice for me in the future.

When I start my new job later this month, I’ll be commuting from the suburbs to just outside of the downtown core. In the 6+ years I’ve lived here in Vancouver, I’ve never actually worked in Vancouver before… so I’m not sure what my commute will be like. Based on where I’m located, I think it will be similar to my old job (35-40 mins.). But the big difference is that when I’m over at BF’s house, he lives just 5 minutes away. AND since I’m working in such a populated area, most offices don’t have designated parking – so I had to rent a parking spot for $65/month.

Now that $65 parking stall is almost 50% less than any other stalls I’ve found in the area. That’s because I’m renting a space in an apartment building about 3 blocks from my office, and not in a regular parking lot. But if you combine that expense with having to rent a parking stall near BF’s house, my car costs have immediately risen by 25% to approximately $375/month.

I ran the numbers again, comparing my car costs with buying a transit pass, and my car still wins out even with this added cost. But just barely. If expenses go up again, I’m going to have to make some serious decisions. Even though I love where I live and I love my home, I’ve been spending the majority of my time in the city, and that’s only going to increase with this new job.

So maybe it will mean moving to a more central location down the road. Or maybe it will be as simple as letting go of some of my hobbies and buying a bus pass instead.

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