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Doubled the debt today, and still smiling!

Well, there goes my dream of getting a free computer. The transaction finally posted to my Visa, which is making me pretty depressed. Just when I was less than $3k in debt, I had to go and double it. I don’t regret the purchase, because I know I’m going to love it, but still. At least on a positive note, by May 25th at the latest, I should be completely 100% out of consumer and student loan debt. So the computer basically added on 6 weeks more of living with debt, and when I think about it that way, it’s not so bad after all! :)

I met some really important deadlines at work today, which I’ve been stressing out about for the past few weeks. To congratulate myself, I went shopping online. Well, not really. I didn’t buy anything, I just lusted after things. Clothes, mostly … but also funky accessories, and home items I’ll never be able to afford. Browsing online was probably the worst thing in the world I could have done for myself, because I love shopping. So to calm myself down, you know what I did? I logged onto my city’s public library site, and put Shopaholic & Baby and Save Karyn on hold. Normally, I would have just popped down to Chapters and bought myself both books, but I saved myself a ton of money and will borrow them instead. Even though I’m hold number 196 of 196 for the Shopaholic book, and they haven’t even gotten any in circulation yet since it just got released. Sigh.

After I finished torturing myself by pretend-shopping online, I went pretend house-hunting online instead, and hit up my favourite real estate sites, MLS.ca and comfree.com. Most of the homes in my price range are ugly and dated, or super small and cramped. But there are some gems out there. I am really looking for a chic loft in the city, or a condo/townhouse in the suburbs that isn’t completed dated. At this point in my life (while I’m young and just starting out), I think the city loft sounds more appealing, but most of them are so small (500 sq. ft or less). I guess you have to sacrifice space to get city living.

Frugal vs. Cheap

I hate it that some of my friends have taken to calling me cheap or stingy. It actually makes me feel really bad about myself, because I’ve always thought of myself as frugal. But I guess there’s a very fine line when it comes down to comparing the two.

For example, my boyfriend and I rarely eat out, and when we do we almost always use a buy-one-get-one-free coupon, or some equivalent discount. (Helloooo Entertainment Book!) I always feel cheap when I hand a coupon to a waitress, but I have to keep telling myself that by saving 50% of the bill, we are actually being frugal because we’re being smart with our money. Being cheap would be basing our tip on the discounted price. We always tip as if we had paid for the entire meal without a coupon (even though I don’t necessarily believe in tiping in the first place).

I have a set monthly and yearly budget, and I try as hard as I can to stick to it. For example, I have a $30/month budget for dining out – that also includes going out for coffee, or any sort of snack that I buy. I brown-bag my lunch every single day, and in the 4 months I’ve been at this job, I’ve only eaten out once with a co-worker. It takes a lot of discipline to stick to a budget like this, because I love dining out.

When I want something badly enough, I buy it, and I buy quality. Ever since I started changing my spending habits, I’ve discovered a lot about myself when it comes to want vs. need. I want to buy a fancy $4 coffee from Starbucks, but do I need it (and the calories)? No, so I’ll buy a tea instead for $1.70. I choose my battles when it comes to buying things, and I feel so much better about myself when I can afford to buy an amazing pair of shoes that’ll last me years (or a ridiculously expensive computer), because I’ve stopped wasting money on the small things that I like, but don’t necessarily need.

I’m not cheap because I never deprive myself of anything I really want. If I go out for drinks with friends after work, I’ll get a beer, but I won’t order any food. Or I’ll order a “daily special” and drink water. That way, I can enjoy “going out” with friends without having to break the bank.

Some of my friends just don’t understand where I’m coming from and continue to rag on me everytime I see them, and that’s fine by me. I’ll shut my mouth, and go along saving thousands of dollars, while they’ll stay perpetually in debt. :) Real friends should understand, and I shouldn’t have to go into debt just to maintain their friendship.

Scooters: not just for old, balding men

In September 2006, I sold my beautiful car (1989 Mazda 323). Okay, fine. She was a piece of crap, but she was my piece of crap, and I loved her. But I needed to sell her. She was one of my biggest expenses, and I wasn’t driving her enough to justify paying $80/month for car insurance. I worked downtown, so most mornings, I got a ride into town with my Mom, who worked in the building next to me.

I bought my lovely car in 2003 for $1800, and sold her 3 1/2 years later for $1600. Not too shabby, eh?

So what was I going to use to get around the city? I purchased a scooter! Better fuel economy, and way cheaper insurance – I couldn’t go wrong! So I ended up buying a 2005 Yamaha Vino 50cc scooter for $2200, which only had 34km on it so it was practically brand new.

A month later, I got a new job in a different municipality – which translated into a 45km roundtrip commute every day. If I still had my car, I’d have to either 1) drive to work every day, or 2) buy a bus pass for $60/month. 4 months into my job, and I can’t say that I love riding my scooter in every day, but for the money I’m saving, it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Let’s do some math, shall we?

  • Price difference between car and scooter: $600
  • Price difference between annual insurance: $540 (from $80/mo to $35/mo)
  • Price difference for gas if I had to drive my car to my new job: $180
  • TOTAL SAVINGS: $120

So even though my scooter was more expensive than my car, it’s already paid for itself in just 4 months. A big bonus is that because my scooter is new, I haven’t had to do any repair work on it. With my car, I could count on spending at least $800 annually to fix something.

I do plan on buying a car again in about a year, but I’m definitely going to buy new, and drive it until it falls apart. My dream car is a Mini Cooper. The price tag is quite steep, and I may not be able to afford it if I end up having a mortgage to pay for, but I’d rather drive a car that I’m in love with for the next 20 years, rather than an ugly Yaris that I hate. However, that’s a long time away, so we’ll see!

Countdown to pay day: 3 days. Hoorah!

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