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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?

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. :)

Trimming those monthly expenses

krystal2Every few months I like to go over my budget line by line. I take a look to see if there’s anything that needs tweaking, or if I can save money somehow by lowering my expenses. May was one of those months.

Cell Phone: Rogers Wireless

The first up was my cell phone bill. I’m with Rogers and currently pay $60 for the standard unlimited minutes/texts/nationwide long distance, as well as 1GB data. Checking on the website though, it seems that my plan isn’t even offered anymore, and that prices have gone up. There’s a $55 plan that gives you 150 minutes/unlimited evenings at 200MB data. And then there’s a $65 plan with 1000 minutes/unlimited evenings, and 500MB data. Yikes.

Cell coverage with the smaller carriers doesn’t work for me, and where I live you can’t get Telus reception, so my options were limited. So thankfully my employer has a corporate rate plan for employees, and I’ve switched onto that plan. :)

I’m still with Rogers, but now I’ll be paying $55 for unlimited minutes/texts/nationwide long distance. That’s already a $5/month savings. But the bonus is now I have 1 GB data that’s available for all of North America. This is huge! I don’t travel a ton to the USA (maybe 4-5x/year), but the times that I do go, I usually wish I had data for looking up directions, restaurants, iMessaging someone, etc. Now I’m covered, and I don’t have to worry about buying data packages or SIM cards.

Internet: Shaw Cable

Next up was my internet package. I’ve moaned about Shaw Cable’s ridiculous prices for years. Right now I’m paying $60, and the cheapest plan is $55. They advertise the $55 plan for browsing the web and sending e-mails. The $60 plan is faster, and they say it’s appropriate for streaming videos, etc. Since I only have Netflix at home, I chose that one.

But then I decided to take a look at the posted download speeds to see if I could get away with the $55 “web browsing” plan instead.

Netflix recommended download speeds:

netflix

Shaw Cable $55 High Speed 10 package:

shaw

Netflix recommends 5 mbps download speed, and Shaw’s package offers up to 10 mbps. So that’s a no-brainer, and I feel a bit dumb having paid $5 per month for the past year for something that I’m not even fully utilizing.

Entertainment: Netflix

Ever since Netflix rolled out the option to have users on every account, I’ve been wondering why everyone in my family has separate accounts. It kind of just makes sense to share one. Especially for me, since I’m not at my house that often to utilize my account. So that’s what we’re doing. I canceled my account, and am now sharing an account with my dad and sister. :)

These three moves save me $18/month ($216/year). It’s not a lot. But it’s something, and it’s certainly better than paying $18 for services I don’t need. :) Next up is examining my car and home insurance packages to make sure I’m fully covered.

How often do you do examine your monthly expenses?

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