Life has been busy! I’ve been working a lot of extra hours at my full-time job, planning the Canadian Personal Finance Conference, working on some freelance stuff, have done a bit of volunteering, and have been trying to declutter my place – which has been put on hold for the past week or so.
Over the last few hectic months, I’ve been thinking about my home and how functional it is for me. I love the neighbourhood I’m in, and my home is really cute. But I’m beginning to realize that my life is pulling me further into Vancouver, and I’m still stuck out here in the suburbs. Most company head offices (including my own) are located in the city, my boyfriend lives downtown, and all of the fun activities I like doing are in the city, or more easily accessible from Vancouver. The commutes are killing my productivity (2-3 hours round-trip), and if I could have that time back, I feel like I could be doing a lot more with my days.
My place has rental restrictions, so unless a family member moves in, I’m not allowed to rent it out. So the only thing I can do, aside from staying, is to sell my place and move closer into town.
It’s a tough decision to make, and I’m not quite there yet. I’ve been a home owner for 4 years, and while I don’t think I’m in a position to sell this year, I’m thinking hard about putting my place on the market to sell next year. That eliminates having to pay a hefty mortgage cancelation fee, and it gives me time to figure out what my next move is going to be.
So until that time comes, I’ll just keep on getting rid of my stuff. It’ll mean less packing once I do eventually decide to move. :)
I’ve been experimenting with different ways of blogging about my monthly budgets. I’ve been showing you my Excel spreadsheet for so long that I wanted to change it up. I even thought about not posting my budgets anymore, but I think I still need them for me. :)
So here’s what I’m experimenting with this month – my budget based on percentages:
The above chart just shows averages. When I recap my budget at the end of every month, it’ll show the percentage of what I actually spent that month.
I also considering cutting back on the number of categories, and it would look like this:
Overall, I like showing percentages better because:
- It eliminates the dollar value so that we are really only focusing on what percentage of my income is going to each category.
- I based my previous budgets on my full-time income, and did not include what I did with my freelance income.
- You can see my savings rate in comparison to the rest of my monthly spending.
Switching to percentages means you can now see where all of my money is going, and even though I’d no longer be sharing dollar figures, I think this is a more transparant way to show my spending and savings.
What do you think?
It’s tax season – my favourite time of the year. :)
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ve come to really like doing my own taxes. Seven years ago, I used one of those pop-up tax shops to do my paperwork, and it cost me almost $300 for what I deemed to be a pretty simple task. So from that point on, I decided to take my tax return into my own hands. Even when my freelance income rose, and I bought my home, I found that doing my own taxes was pretty straightforward.
Here are 4 reasons why I like doing my own taxes:
- It costs you time, but you save your money. I’ve paid anywhere from $30 to $300 for someone else to do my tax return. Now, I pay between $30-50 to use online tax software.
- It forces you to be organized. Knowing you’re going to be doing your own taxes means that you have to keep track of business receipts, charitable donations, medical expenses, and any other write-offs you might have. A tax preparer will only work off the paperwork you give them – they won’t know if you’re missing that receipt for a $100 donation – but you will.
- It gives you an in depth look at your finances. When you do your own taxes, youbecome more knowledgable about your financial situation. You get to understand how much tax you’ve paid versus your annual income, how much you’ve saved towrads retirement, and where you stand going forward. You can also play around with the numbers to see how things ilke charitable donations or a bigger contribution to your RRSP can change your refund amount. Even though I make budgets and track my net worth on a monthly basis, I still like getting a closer look at my finances once a year, and doing my taxes is the perfect excuse. :)
- You can do it whenever you want. Maybe I’m a bit lazy, but I like having the freedom to do my taxes whenever I want to do them. I can organize my receipts on my own time, enter in my information and stop half way through if I get caught up in something else, and do my taxes at 2am if I feel like it.
I did use an accountant a few years ago to help me file my taxes for the year I lived in Germany. I did my own calculations using TurboTax, and wanted to see how far off I was from her calculations. In the end, the accountant found a few more deductions that I hadn’t realized I was able to claim, so I’m glad I went to a professional for that kind of situation.
Do you do file your own taxes, or do you take it to an accountant?
Note: this post is sponsored by TurboTax Canada, but was written and edited by me.