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January 2014 Goals: Review

Yikes.Not a super good start to the year, eh? I mean, sure I was under budget this month – but only because I decreased my mortgage payments. Otherwise I would have been over by about $22.

I’m going to give myself a pass for this month because a lot of expenses were out of the ordinary: my sister came to town two weekends in a row, I had no idea how much I would be spending for gas/parking, and I spent a lot more time at BF’s house than I anticipated, resulting in buying my lunches more often because I was unprepared. The majority of these issues have been fixed for next month.

Here’s how I did:

01 - January Recap

Over Budget:

  • Internet – I’m still in a complaining mood about my internet service. Every time I get my bill, I’m shocked and think to myself “this is so expensive; there must be a cheaper plan I can move to.” And every month I go onto the Shaw website, and am incredibly disappointed to realize that no, there isn’t a cheaper plan to move to. :| My only consolation is that I can write this off as a business expense.
  • Food – This is me being unprepared for work, and not packing lunches like I had intended.
  • Entertainment – My sister visited the city, and also one of my best friends and her husband have temporarily relocated just blocks away from where BF lives for a few months… so we did go out a lot. I’m thankful that most of the time, we stay in, cook dinner, and watch Netflix.
  • Car & Transportation – Wow. This category took me by surprise. The majority of the overage was for parking, as well as a trip out to the ferries and to Point Roberts. Since parking is kind of a shared expense, BF offered to pay for half of my parking fees going forward. I’ve adjusted this category for February.

Net Worth Change+ $2,015 (2.16%)

Even though I’m paying less towards my mortgage, I actually feel really good putting more money into my RRSP/TFSA accounts. My RRSPs gained nicely this month, which is why my net worth increased by more than usual.

January 2014 Goals:

  • Read 2 books. FAIL. I only read one book, a reread of Catcher in the Rye. Are we friends yet on Goodreads?
  • Save $750 into my RRSP/TFSA. CHECK! This was split at a ratio of $600/$150.
  • Run the Chilly Chase half marathon in under 1:53:30. FAIL. Fail, fail, fail, a million times fail. You can read my Chilly Chase half marathon recap for more information.
  • Sell 3 items. FAIL. I have two things listed right now on eBay, but didn’t actually sell anything during the month.
  • Go out for lunch only once per week. FAIL. The month started out well, but it got complicated trying to remember to bring so many things with me as I shuttled between work, my house, his house, and the field hockey field.

Wednesday Miscellaneous

I have a lot of lofty goals this year, and I’m already struggling with keeping myself on track. Not because the goals are too far out of reach, but because I’ve been a bit scattered with my thoughts lately (which is also probably why I haven’t been writing as often as usual on this blog).

So far, January has been booked solid with work, social plans, and field hockey/running. I haven’t had a free evening since before Christmas, and from the looks of my Google calendar, I won’t have one for at least another 3 weeks. I need to scale things back. Breathe. Spend time at home. I need balance, and I don’t have that right now.

Here’s been what’s on my mind lately:

  • What I thought would stress me out the most (saving at least $750/month into RRSP/TFSA) seems to be the easiest goal so far. Everything is automated, and I don’t even have to think about it. The same goes for my $50 bi-weekly contribution to a long-term savings account earmarked for travel.
  • Speaking of travel, BF and I have made tentative travel plans this year: a trip over the 4 day Easter long weekend (so far we have discussed Portland or Kansas City), and he’s thinking of joining me for my vacation to Europe in the fall. Since I’ll be in Sweden for work, we would travel to Copenhagen, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Normandy, and potentially end up in Paris. If that trip falls through, I’ll likely do a solo trip to Finland and Russia.
  • I’ve been toying with the idea of becoming vegetarian. I’ve been a pescetarian (no meat or poultry) for almost a full year, and that has actually been really good. But I really feel like going vegetarian will be super restricting in social situations. Especially coming from a meat-eating, seafood-loving family. Of course, there are millions of vegetarians out there, so it’s not like my issues are unique. It’ll just take some time to adjust.
  • There is a ski day planned in a few weeks, and it will be the first time I’ve gone in years. So, that’ll probably be fun, but embarrassing. Mostly embarrassing. :) There has been zero snow that has fallen in the last week, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that conditions on the mountains will improve by the time I go.
  • A few weeks ago, I had a wine and movie night at my house with my oldest friend of 19 years. After a recent falling out with someone I thought was my friend, I was reminded of how important long lasting relationships are, and what true friends mean to each other. :)
  • I’m going to have to buy tires for my car sometime this year. This is a major stress for me, because I know nothing about tires and I’m always afraid of getting ripped off with any car-related things. I know people who have saved a ton of money buying tires in the USA, but with the dollar being the way it is, I wonder if it’s even worth it.
  • After reading and re-reading my Chilly Chase Half Marathon recap, I created a running schedule for the next 3 months. I think it will be hard to simultaneously train for a 10km and a half marathon (the races are just 1 week apart), but once field hockey season ends, I should be okay. And I’ve decided that if I don’t PR in the BMO Half Marathon, I’ll scrap the idea of running a marathon in the fall, and focus on my half marathon time instead.

Anyway, that’s it from me over here. If you have any questions, please leave a comment. :)

Spending Recap: January 20-26, 2014

Monday 20th
$10 dinner

Tuesday 21st
No Spend Day!

Wednesday 22nd
No Spend Day!

Thursday 23rd
$8.67 lunch

Friday 24th
+ $178.54 freelance income
$10.25 lunch
$41.56 gas
$5.30 parking

Saturday 25th
$30 hockey game
$5.30 parking

Sunday 26th
$17.53 brunch

Freelance Income: + $178.54
Expenses- $128.61

TOTAL: + $49.93

This was a fun week. On Monday, BF and I went for ramen at my favourite place downtown, Motomachi. Then over the weekend, I went out for lunch with Nic, and also went to a few open houses in downtown Vancouver just for fun. I’m not planning on selling my place any time soon, but it’s nice to see what my money can buy in the downtown core. I was actually surprised at how affordable some of the condos were. For example, a 675 sq. ft. (1 bed + den) was less than $340k. Sure, it wasn’t the fanciest building around, but the location was perfect, and the unit was bright and relatively spacious.

My sister and her boyfriend were also in town. We went to my first Vancouver Giants (WHL) game with a few friends on Saturday night, and then on Sunday I ran in the Chilly Chase Half Marathon with a friend from work. The rest of Sunday was a bit of a write-off. BF worked a bit, while I curled up on the couch, exhausted after the race. I then helped him proofread a couple of documents that he had created for work, and then he treated me to sushi at my favourite place downtown. :)

I also think I found a way to deal with the parking issue that I’ve been having. I’ve complained a few times before on this blog about how it costs me $5.30 each time I park downtown to visit BF (if I don’t get 1 of the 3 visitor spots in his apartment building). All of the street parking is permit-only, and my only option is a parking lot. Well, I did a bit of reading on the internet and found out that an annual pass for that particular parking lot is only $250/year, which works out to just over $20/month. This is an incredible deal, and definitely worth considering since we definitely pay more than $20/month for my car to be parked there.

How was your week of spending?

Chilly Chase Half Marathon Recap

1014375_10152187538777128_344463816_nThis past weekend I ran in the Chilly Chase Half Marathon, and it was by far my toughest (and most disappointing) race so far. I knew as I kept going with running, I wouldn’t be able to PR in every race, and that day was yesterday. :)

I had trained more for this race than any of the previous races, yet I ran slower than I ever have before, my pace varied wildly, and my legs felt like lead. After the 12km mark, it was a complete struggle and I contemplated quitting more than a few times.

There were a few reasons why I think I didn’t run as well as I could have:

I had tired legs. In the first two half marathons I ran last year, I did one or two short, slow runs in the week leading up to the race, and zero intense physical activity. During the 6 days leading up to this race, I played field hockey 4 times. This included a pretty tough game less than 24 hours before the race. My foot was bothering me, and my legs were not fresh at all… and I think this was the main reason why I ran poorly.

I didn’t have anyone to pace with. The problem with these smaller races is that the runners are so spread out. This was the first year the Chilly Chase event had a half marathon option (all other years it had been a 5km, 10km, 15km event). I ran by myself most of the time, and judging from my ridiculous range in pace (5’02” to 6’04”), I don’t know how to pace myself properly when I’m tired. During the Vancouver Historic Half Marathon, I ran with someone nearly the entire way, and I think that had a major impact.

I started out too fast. I don’t think this had too much of an impact on the overall race result, but it’s still something to note. During the first 12km of the run, I was averaging a 5’14” pace, which was faster than I had ever paced in a half marathon before. I actually felt pretty good! Then, around the 12-13km mark, I basically just imploded and my legs felt awful. I guess this also ties in with not being able to pace properly. :| But I also think that if I had been running on fresh legs, I would have been able to keep up that pace, or at least close to that pace.

So I ended up with an official time of 1:58:03 (11/24 in my age group). Now, it’s not a horrible time, but it’s a far cry from the 1:53:51 I ran in November. A few weeks ago, I ran my last long training run at a pace not much slower than my race pace, and I felt fantastic. So it was really disheartening that nearly the same pace was such a struggle for me during the actual race. For the rest of the day, I was feeling pretty down. It’s tough when you know what you have to do to athletically, but your body just won’t cooperate. It was just one of those days, I guess.

Still, there are positives from this race: 1) I finished and didn’t quit, and 2) I’m fired up to become better.

The next races will be the Vancouver Sun Run 10km (April) and the BMO Half Marathon (May).

Have you ever had a disappointing race? How did you bounce back from that?

Sunday Link Love (January 27, 2014)

1330924_49558663-853x1024Somebody commented on my Facebook page that they wanted me to bring back my Sunday Link Love blog post… I was surprised because I didn’t think anybody cared or even remembered that I had them. I can’t promise that I’ll do them every week, but they’re pretty fun to write. :)

The environmental impact of electric cars

I found this CBC article interesting because I’m really interested in electric cars, and I’m hopeful that my next car will be some sort of electric or hybrid vehicle. The article states that even though you would save a significant amount of money by using electricity instead of gas to power your car, it actually takes about twice as much energy to make an electric car compared to a traditional gasoline model. And with a single charge, electric cars like the Nissan Leaf only have a maximum range of about 150km – making road trips nearly impossible. Still. It would be pretty cool not to have to put $45 in my gas tank every week. Do you have, or would you consider owning an electric car?

Why Canada’s cult of home ownership is in trouble

A university professor asked his students to imagine they have a job offer as a new graduate. They would have to move to a different city, and the job would require a 5-year commitment. At the same time, a generous aunt was willing to give them enough cash to cover a 20% down payment on a home. Would they buy a house, or rent instead?

Last year, a clear majority of his students said they would buy. But this year, only 5 of 23 said they would buy, and 18 chose to rent.

For me, I would rent. The first 5 years out of university are serious transition years. You don’t know exactly what you want, and you might find out that after you finish that contract, you want to move somewhere else. Or you want to move in with a significant other. Or you can’t find another job, and are finding it difficult to pay the mortgage. There are too many instabilities to make such a huge financial commitment like that. Buying a home is no joke, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Even if your generous aunt is offering up a huge wad of cash. Thoughts?

Around the blogosphere

  • My gal Amber has posted her goals for 2014. I’m really excited for her because she’ll be having her first baby this year! Even though we’ve only met once (at FINCON11), we text pretty much every day. PF friends forever. :)
  • Young and Thrifty also posted her 2014 goals. I’m always amazed at how much she can save, and how much wealth she has amassed in such a short period of time. Definitely inspiring.
  • Well-Heeled went to Iceland, and I got all nostalgic for my trip there in 2012. Makes me want to go back there again… hopefully in the summer. Actually, I might be headed to Europe twice this year, and it would be awesome to be able to tack on a (free) stopover to Iceland on my way back.
  • Emily over at Sweat Once a Day is preparing for the Rim2Rim2Rim ultra marathon (which is running from one rim of the Grand Canyon, and back again). I think this is amazing, and maybe one day I’ll get to do something like that too. But for now, I’ll stick with my half marathons. :)
  • Meanwhile, Nelson at Financial Uproar made 10% on his money by being lazy.

Not quite PF-related

My good pal Colin has started up something really cool – it’s called The Stranger Project. Every day for 2014, he will approach a complete stranger and try to connect with that person. He’ll find out about their hopes and dreams, along with taking their photo. This was inspired by the Humans of NYC project. I think this is really amazing, inspirational, and it has already received huge media attention on CTV News, Huffington Post, and Global News just to name a few. :)

So if you’re interested, please follow along: