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Question answered: old friends

I was asked another question to my Formspring account:

So do you still keep in touch with friends from your high-spending days?

The answer is yes and no. I do stay in touch with my old friends, but there are two distinct differences: 1) we don’t talk about money unless they specifically bring it up, and 2) I’m not around as often anymore. This is partially because I don’t live in the same city, but also because I can’t justify spending money on the things that they like to do. Good for them if they can work it into their budget and can afford it, but going to the mall, grabbing beers, or heading to the bars/clubs are not priorities in my life anymore.

Whenever I go home, I will grab a coffee with a friend, go for a walk or a hike, or do something relatively low-cost. That’s not to say that I don’t do anything that costs money – a few months ago I did a high ropes course with a friend for $40 + tax. And I usually go out for lunch with a few friends when I’m home as well. I just make sure that it’s worth it for me, and that I can justify the cost. Over the past few years, I’ve really gravitated towards friends who live the same sort of lifestyle as me – and that’s only natural.

I’ve talked about it before, but I try extremely hard not to judge my friends who don’t have the same personal finance goals as me. Everybody is different, and everybody has different priorities in life. If someone chooses to spend their 20’s and 30’s living it up and will work (extremely) hard later in life to make up for it – then all the power to them. But at the same time, it’s hard for me to relate.

I’m at a point in my life where struggling with debt is behind me, so I don’t feel like I am at risk to fall back into a spending pattern. While I was getting out of debt and my immediate goals didn’t align with the lifestyle my friends were leading, I had to distance myself from them. Yes it was hard, but it was what I wanted and it was what was best for me. Thankfully I had close friends who understood how much it meant for me to get out of debt, and those people are still closest in my life.

Hearts to everyone in the PF community.

Living paycheque to paycheque

I just read an article on that says in a recent poll, 59% of Canadians live pay cheque to pay cheque. The article also stated that almost half of respondents are saving 5% or less of their income. And 40% of respondents weren’t even attempting to save money at all.

Now, okay. I cannot criticize anyone who spends all of their money and doesn’t save anything, because I was once there too. But that isn’t the way to live. It’s stressful and it’s hard. So you either have to cut down on your expenses or work harder and make more money. I love shows like Till Debt Do Us Part, because Gail shows every single person on that show that no matter what their situation is, there IS a way out. And there IS a way to change their lives and start getting out of debt/saving money. Even if they don’t like it (which they usually don’t). She solves money problems for everyone from the minimum wage worker to the 6-figure executive.

Right now, BF and I have a household (combined) income of $50,000 because I am the only one working. That’s like each of us making $25k/year. And while we do pay a minimal amount of rent, I do have a $540 car payment every month (roughly $270 bi-weekly), plus car insurance on both vehicles which, in total, is equivalent to “real world” rent. Not including cell phones, internet/cable, gas money, food, etc. All of this and I’m still able to save a minimum of $300 from every $1,400 bi-weekly pay cheque.

For a lot of people, I’m sure they can relate to making $25k/year. And that’s not to say that my way is the right way to go about dealing with money. All I’m saying is that even with a single income coming in, we can still find ways to save money. Although we are lucky that I’m making the income that I’m making right now. It could be a lot worse.

There are definitely those who are in tough financial situations where saving money just isn’t going to happen for them. Those are rare cases, because most people could save money if they wanted to. And most people could make more money if they wanted to. Unfortunately, they don’t. And that’s their choice. But it really bothers me when they complain that the reason they can’t save money is because internet & cell phones are too expensive, hockey ice times have gone up in price, cable TV is $70!, student loans are too expensive, the government does this, corporations do that, HST, blah blah blah. All excuses. Just look at the comments in that CBC article. Everyone is blaming someone. Anybody but themselves.

People love blaming other people for their misfortune, and I’m certainly guilty of that from time to time as well. Sometimes the situation really is out of our hands, but for the majority of us, we create our own path. Felt like you were dealt a bad hand? Life is what you make it, and your future is dependent on the choices that  you personally make. So if you have the ability to save money, but you choose to spend instead, that’s fine. Likewise if you have the opportunity to work hard and make more money. Just don’t blame anyone but yourself when you’re close to retirement without a penny in the bank. Or when you lose your job and you don’t have any money to fall back onto.

Goodbye LASIK eye debt

Well, earlier today I sent in my first and only payment for my LASIK eye surgery. I was very lucky to have gotten approved for a 12-month 0% interest loan. Although, if I had to do it differently, I would have saved up the money and paid for it in cash. As most of you remember, I decided to get it done with the 0% interest loan because I thought we were going traveling, and if any complications were to occur, I wanted ample time to get corrective surgery before we left for our trip. But how was I to know that we would end up putting our trip on hold …

Still, the LASIK surgery changed my life. I can’t imagine going back to wearing glasses. My quality of life has improved so much, and I’m so happy that I got it done. In fact, I wish I had gotten it done a long time ago.

Next task is to build up my Savings Fund again …

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