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Spending Recap: July 22-28, 2013

Monday 22nd
No Spend Day!

Tuesday 23rd
+ $155.99 freelance income
$5.78 dinner
$9.81 groceries
$66 Field Hockey BC (insurance)

Wednesday 24th
No Spend Day!

Thursday 25th
$50 gas
$3 parking

Friday 26th
$17.72 groceries

Saturday 27th
$19.50 brunch

Sunday 28th
$5.90 Booster Juice

Freelance Income: + $155.99
Expenses- $177.71

TOTAL: - $21.72

It was a pretty good week. I kept my expenses down, and I was finally allowed to exercise again! I ran four times this week, which also included a beautiful trail run to Garibaldi Lake.

This was also a social week. I went out for dinner with a friend on Wednesday, helped Nic with a presentation on Thursday, and got to hang out with Cassie and Cait most of Saturday – brunch at one of my favourite restaurants in Vancouver (Cafe Medina), and Pecha Kucha that evening. Sunday evening, my neighbour treated me to dinner at Earls – which was nice because I was nursing some serious wounds from the 18km trail run earlier that day. :)

Also, over the weekend, you may have read an article I wrote for the Toronto Star. Some people were asking if I’ll be writing for them again regularly. The answer is no. I’m still glad I made the decision to stop writing. I have a lot less stress in my life, and the free time has been really nice. But that being said, this opportunity made me realize that I really do miss writing for an outlet other than this blog. Plus, the pay cheques are nice. :) I’ve got another feature article assignment from my editor, so I’ll be plugging away at that over the next few weeks.

Speaking of outlets other than this blog, a few weeks ago, I started a running/fitness blog. I’m still not sure if I’m going to let my worlds collide, but it sure is fun to write about something other than personal finance. Don’t get me wrong, PF will always be my one true love… but running? That’s a fun one. :)

Anyway, that was my week of spending. How was yours?

How do you fight debt fatigue?

There are many different ways to get yourself out of debt – like creating multiple income streams, selling possessions, living below your means, and going without a lot of comforts you were used to. But when you change your life so drastically, at a certain point, you might start to get tired of concentrating so hard on your debt. This is called debt fatigue.

Debt fatigue is a mental state that can happen when you’ve been in debt for so long that you think you’ll never dig yourself out of the hole you’ve created for yourself. Financial expert Gail Vaz-Oxlade often tells people on her television shows to try and make a plan to get out of debt in 36 months or less – because anything more than three years, and you’ll likely suffer from some form of debt fatigue.

I was in debt for years – from age 19 to 24, but I only actively cared about eliminating my debt for 12 months. Near the end, I could feel myself slipping (and that was after less than a year!). I remember I was just a few thousand dollars away from being debt-free, and then I bought a $3,000 iMac computer. What? Yeah. I was sick of living such a limiting, frugal lifestyle, and it took a lot to remind myself of the path I was on, and how much better my life would be once I got out of debt.

Related: Can lifestyle inflation be avoided?

Being extremely money conscious all of the time can really put a strain on your quality of life. Because I never had a great relationship with money, once I got myself out of debt, I really struggled to find a balance between spending and saving. It took me a very long time to come up with a budget I could live with, and I still find it hard today – which is why I track my spending on a weekly and monthly basis here at GMBMFB.

So if getting out of debt seems impossible, and it seems like it’s too hard for you to deal with, don’t give up and revert back to your old spending habits. Here are some suggestions on how you can fight debt fatigue:

Keep in mind the big picture

It can be really, really easy to fall into the habit of feeling sorry for yourself when you’re on a strict budget. Especially when you find yourself working a part-time job on Friday and Saturday evenings, when you could be out with your friends instead – trust me, I’ve been there. I worked minimum wage jobs for years – it helped me get out of debt, and save for a down payment on my first home.

When you’re trying to get out of debt, holding onto the impression that you are depriving yourself will only bring you down and make it harder to stay on track. It helps to create a list of both short-term and long-term goals for your debt-free life. Then, whenever you start to feel yourself slipping, you can remind yourself of your goals, and how amazing it will feel once you achieve them.

Think of your debt-free life

Take a few minutes to think about what being debt-free will mean to you. Whenever I started to feel tired during my journey out of debt, I kept in mind all of the positives that were waiting for me once I got there – like sleeping better at night, being able to afford a vacation, owning a home in the future, starting a life with someone, and most importantly – freedom. Not having to stress out about where the rent money was going to come from, or how I was going to pay for groceries? That was something I was really looking forward to, and unfortunately, it’s something I sometimes take for granted now. It wasn’t that long ago where I had to shuffle money around just to make ends meet, and it’s good to be reminded of that.

Related: Would you ever date someone who had debt?

Reward yourself

It’s okay to celebrate financial milestones when you’re getting out of debt. Whether it’s paying off a credit card, or getting your total debt down to a certain threshold, make sure you give yourself a little bit of wiggle room to treat yourself – within your means, of course. I used to treat myself with ice cream cones. :)

Create visuals

What are your goals once you become debt-free? Many people are visually motivated, so creating a collage of photos or a vision board is a great way to stay on track. Social media websites like Pinterest and Trippy make it easy to save and share photos with friends. So whether you’re looking forward to a trip to Europe, owning a home, or starting a family once you get out of debt, start cutting out photos or pinning images of your goals.

Don’t beat yourself up

Nobody is perfect. So if you slip or make a mistake, the worst thing you can do is give up. Don’t wait until the following month to get back on track (I’m super guilty of waiting for a milestone to “start fresh” with my goals if I haven’t been doing well). Just pick yourself up, learn from your mistake, and keep going as quickly as possible.

Have you ever suffered from debt fatigue before?

Spending Recap: July 15-21, 2013

Monday 15th
No Spend Day!

Tuesday 16th
$10.65 breakfast
$61.60 baseball jersey
$15 event parking
$13 lunch
$44.34 dinner (for 2, including drinks)

Wednesday 17th
$33 book (Scrambles in Southwest BC)
$6.97 London Drugs (prescription refill)

Thursday 18th
+ $900 freelance income
$11.81 dinner
$304 AirBnB (4 nights in Toronto)

Friday 19th
No Spend Day!

Saturday 20th
$37.69 gas
$17.85 liquor store

Sunday 21st
$50.45 Wild Rice (lunch for 2)
$50.96 groceries

Freelance Income: + $900
Expenses- $657.32

TOTAL: + $242.68

Finally got some freelance income in – which I’m pleased about. But at the same time, I spent a lot this week. :)

The majority of my spending came with my $304 AirBnB reservation for CPFC13 in September. I’m really happy that I’ve gotten my accommodation and flight taken care of – now I can just focus on making sure this conference is better than last year. :)

Tuesday my sister was in town for the Postal Service concert. We spent the day downtown, and she bought me my birthday present (a baseball jersey). I paid extra to get my favourite player’s name/number on the back of it. Now? My mission is to meet him again – either in August for the Mariners game, or September for the Yankees game in Toronto.

Thursday I had dinner with my pal over at Young and Thrifty. It was nice to catch up (haven’t seen her in almost 2 years), and chat about geeky PF stuff.

Saturday I went over to a friend’s house for a BBQ (hence the liquor store purchase). Sunday I took Nic out for his birthday. We hung out at the beach and drove around for a few hours, and then I treated him to lunch at a local restaurant.

That was my week of spending! How was yours?

Contemplating a gym membership (again)

Yesterday, as I contemplated signing up for a corporate gym membership, I got to thinking how much money I spend on fitness each year.

I haven’t paid for a gym membership before (when I was younger up until I was 22 or 23, I was a PacificSport athlete, so my gym fees were always taken care of). Once my sponsorship expired, I could never bring myself to pay for something I used to get for free.

Related: The cost of what you love to do

These days, I run, play field hockey, and go to the occasional spin or yoga class.

Field hockey
$70 annual insurance (mandatory)
$240 club fees
$80 club fees
$50 annual tournament
$100 miscellaneous (equipment, uniforms, etc)

Running
$150 registration fees
$150 running shoes
$100 miscellaneous (clothing, accessories, etc)

With just field hockey and running alone, I’m spending approximately $940/year on fitness – that’s $78/month!

If I add in a gym membership ($51.85/month), I would be spending $130/month on fitness (maybe 2% of my gross monthly income). That seems a bit excessive, but at the same time, it’s what I love doing on a regular basis.

Related: a half marathon training update

Definitely something to think about – especially because the facility has everything that I love. There’s an indoor track, ice rinks, tennis & badminton courts, as well as a paddling centre! Drop-in sessions at a climbing gym are usually $18. To have unlimited access to a climbing wall would be a dream come true. Plus fitness classes at other facilities can range from $6-20 each (the ones at this facility are $16 each), and they’re included in my membership. AND if I could have access to an indoor field hockey (soccer) turf? That would be amazing.

There are ways I could cut back on other fitness expenses – like not playing on a second field hockey team (admittedly, being on 2 teams is a bit much). But everything else is pretty standard, and there’s not much more I can trim. There’s no time commitment to joining the gym, unless I want to pay for 12 months in advance, and get an additional 10% off. So I might just try it monthly and see how it goes.

How much do you spend on keeping fit each year?

Do you belong to a gym?

2013 Canadian Personal Finance Conference!

I haven’t mentioned it much on this blog, but this September will mark the 3rd Annual Canadian Personal Finance Conference – a conference I co-founded and organize with Preet Banerjee. This year’s speaker line-up includes some of the best writers in Canada – including Rob Carrick (Globe and Mail), Ellen Roseman (Toronto Star), and Dan Bortolotti (Canadian Couch Potato)… and over the weekend the conference sold out! Click here to put your name on the wait list. :)

Anyway the reason why I’m mentioning this is because this past week, I realized there’s only two months left until the conference. I didn’t have my flight booked, and had no idea where I was going to stay.

Last year, I stayed close to Kensington Market, and really liked the area. I snagged a great deal: an entire apartment for $70/night. The owner was new to AirBnB, so I think he was just trying to figure out how much he should be charging… because when I went to look at his listing again over the weekend, I realized his rates had risen to $125/night! Yikes. I liked him and his apartment, but not for that amount of money.

Related: My review of AirBnB (via FrugalWanderer.com)

I finally found a listing near Kensington Market that was going for $79/night. It was free for the days I looking for, so I e-mailed her right away. She was friendly, and pre-approved me to book the room. The only problem was when I went to go book online, she had increased the daily rate to $88/night. I was annoyed, because while it’s still a good price (and still the cheapest in the area), I felt like it was pretty sneaky. So I e-mailed her back and told her that I noticed that her rates had increased, and if she wouldn’t mind giving me the lower price – since that’s what made me want to book her room in the first place. She was very apologetic, and agreed to the lower rate. Great!

Related: Truth – If you don’t ask, you won’t get

So I ended up paying $304 for 4 nights in Toronto. Much cheaper than a hotel, and cheaper than any private room in a hostel as well. Sure, I could have stayed in a hostel dorm room (and I would have, if this was a vacation trip), but because it’s a business trip, I like having the extra space and privacy to get work done when needed.

As for my flight? Thanks to my new Capital One Aspire World Travel Mastercard, my flight was free. :) I’m pleased that a card I’ve only been using since February has already earned me enough points to get me a $600 flight.

Now all I have to do is worry about my spending money. Because I’ll be pretty busy with the conference (and can only take a few days off from my full-time job), there’s not much time for socializing. I think I’ll budget $250 or $300, and that’s being pretty generous.

Toronto is a great city, and I’m so excited to be back. There are plenty of people I can’t wait to meet, and old friends I’m excited to see again. :) Two months to go!