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Building up my savings

Now that summer is over, I really want to focus on building up my non-retirement savings. Next year will likely be an expensive year for me, because I’d like to travel (already have a few places in mind), and I’d also like to put some money into my townhouse.

I haven’t created a budget yet because I don’t know where I want to go, and I don’t know exactly what I want to buy, but I do know I’ll need money for it. And since I’ve gotten into the habit of freely spending my money lately, I want to reign it in for the rest of the year.

The truth is, I don’t really need anything anyway. Whenever my family asks me what I want for my birthday or for Christmas this year, I can never come up with anything. Well, I want an iPhone 6, so I guess what I mean is I can never come up with anything realistic. :)

So here are my goals for the rest of the year:

  • No new clothes. I have enough to get me by. In fact, I should probably get rid of some of the stuff I don’t wear anymore!
  • No Starbucks. I’ve already been doing this one, and it will continue to the end of the year.
  • Pack my lunches more often. It’s about time management. I spend half my time at BF’s, and he’s not much of a lunch packer. So I need to figure this out for myself. Maybe it’s making an extra trip to the grocery store, or batch cooking and leaving a big tupperware of food in the fridge at work. Whatever it is, I need to figure it out.
  • No buying Kindle books. This is hard because I’m a fast reader, and I’m too impatient to wait for books to become available at the library. But I have a bunch of ebooks I haven’t read yet, and a few on my bookshelf as well. They should last me a few months at least.
  • Cook food at home. BF and I got into a habit during the summer of going to restaurants or grabbing take-out just so we could spend less time at home, and more time outside enjoying the summer. Now that the weather is coolling, I’m excited to roast vegetables, use my slow-cooker, and eat healthy meals at home.
  • Say no to things. If a friend suggests a restaurant that’s too expensive for me, or if there’s an activity I’m on the fence about, I’m going to say no and suggest something different.

Aside from these everyday ways to save money, I’m also thinking bigger. I’m going to try really hard to save 75% of my freelance income from now on, as well as all bonuses or raises I receive through work. Even though it’s going to be really tempting to upgrade my iPhone or get a new laptop, I know the money is better spent elsewhere. :)

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?

Setting priorities and putting travel on hold

photoThis year has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Everything in my life seems to have been up in the air at some point over the last six months – whether it’s my career, friendships/relationships, health, and travel. I want (and am trying to work towards) a lot of goals, but sometimes plans don’t work out the way you want them to.

That being said, our travel plans to Europe for September have been officially axed. I’m disappointed, because ever since I got back from Germany, I had envisioned going on one international trip each year. Last year was France/Morocco. This year, well I didn’t know where we were going to go, but I was excited that it was going to be somewhere that involved crossing an ocean. :)

But it’s really for the best. Among other reasons, I lost about 6 weeks worth of pay when I was laid off earlier this year. And while I didn’t have to use my Emergency Fund to get by, I still hurt my savings rate and my RRSP contributions for the year. Plus, I have some upcoming medical expenses (not covered under my extended health) that could end up costing me thousands. That alone scares me when I think about planning a trip that will also likely set me back thousands. Straining my budget like that would be too much, and I’m not comfortable with it. Making sure I’m saving enough for retirement is, and likely always will be, my number one financial goal.

Even though I’m disappointed, there’s still a lot to look forward to this year. In the past few months, I’ve been to Portland and Las Vegas. And BF and I just planned a road trip to the Oregon Coast for the Canada Day long weekend. There’s Seattle in August, and as a consolation trip for not going to Europe, we are tossing around the idea of going somewhere else for a week in the fall. New Orleans, perhaps.

You can have anything you want, just not everything. I think about that statement a lot. I can’t just buy whatever I want – nobody can. Even millionaires can’t afford everything on their wish list. :) But my personal health (and the medical expenses that come with it) as well as my financial health are more important than a trip, so that’s what I’m choosing. For me, getting to make decisions about where my money goes remains the most empowering thing about being out of debt. Not owing money to anyone opens up so many doors. It gives you choices, and freedom. It’s something I never want to give up, or take for granted.

As for next year… well, I’m going to have a ton of vacation time available. So that will give us even more time off (and time to save) for a bigger, better trip. :)

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