Give Me Back My Five Bucks

August 2014 Goals

We’re into August, which means the summer is almost over. I’ve tried to calculate my expenses the best I can, so here’s hoping for a good month. :)

I anticipate the major expensive of the month to be paying my field hockey fees for the upcoming season, as well as registration for the GoodLife Half Marathon in Victoria.

Another big expense is the 3-night trip to Seattle with BF and my family. Two nights of our hotel are covered, so we only need to worry about one night of accommodation, gas, and food. Hotels seem to be around $80/night where we want to stay, and I can get to Seattle and back on almost one tank of gas… so if BF and I split those expenses, $200 for the trip seems reasonable.


August 2014 Goals:

  • Eat healthy. I eat relatively healthy most of the time, but sometimes I slip up… and when I do, my body feels so awful afterwards. Sometimes I even skip runs/workouts because I’m not feeling good, or if I haven’t eaten enough during the day. This month will be about eating nutritious meals at home, limiting restaurant food, and cutting back on sugar, coffee, and alcohol.
  • Sign up for the half marathon. In hindsight, I should have registered for this race a few months ago when the race fee was $20 less, but I wasn’t confident I would be in town for the race, so decided to hold off.
  • Clean out my storage area. There’s a lot of stuff I can toss or give away.
  • Save $850 towards retirement. My usual monthly contribution is $750.

July 2014 Goals: Recap

Well, this month’s summary is pretty much what I expected it to be. Entertainment expenses were pretty much through the roof, and the only reason my monthly budget was saved is because I purposely spent significantly less on travel to make up for it.

Other than that, it was a typical month in almost every other category…


Over Budget

  • Cell Phone – My plan took longer than expected to switch over to the new, cheaper one.
  • Internet – Same with the internet. I still payed the higher price for this month before I get dropped down to the cheaper plan.
  • Entertainment – Yikes. This was a combination of spending too much time at the beach and not cooking meals at home, as well as patio drinks, the Richmond Night Market, and general summer fun.
  • Fitness – Just a little bit over in this category. I paid field hockey tournament fees ($20), plus picked up a couple of running accessories.
  • Miscellaneous – $120 of this was the Ryan Adams concert tickets I bought last week.

Net Worth Change: + $1,298 (1.32%)

I bought more ETFs this month, and my RRSP/TFSA accounts keep on chugging along.

July 2014 Goals:

  • Save $800 towards retirement. CHECK! $600 towards RRSPs and $200 towards TFSA.
  • Earn an additional $800. CHECK! I’m still waiting on some cheques to come in, but I’ve made just over $1,000 this month. :)
  • Work out 5-6x/week. FAIL. I worked out 3x/week on average. But, on days that I didn’t exercise, I still walked 10,000 to 15,000 steps (8-10km).
  • Get rid of my old television. FAIL. I’m clearly not a very attentive homeowner. Plus I don’t have visitors over very often, so I don’t feel too badly about having an old TV in my dining room area.
  • Fix my sink. FAIL. I have a double sink, so it’s not dire. But yeah, this needs to get done.
  • No coffeeCHECK! The only coffee drink I had this month was a free rewards drink from Starbucks.
  • Limit dairy intake. CHECK! The only dairy I had this month was some cheese and crackers during the fireworks parties, as well as two or three cups of tea (with milk) at work – and that was only because we were out of almond milk. I’m pleased with this, and it’s a lot easier since BF has pretty much cut out dairy from his diet as well.

How I started investing: Part 1

Often I’m asked to write posts about investing. I haven’t wanted to write about investing on this blog because I’m afraid of giving wrong advice. I’m obviously not a professional, but at the same time I think a lot of you have been in my position before: in your twenties, wanting to start investing, but not really sure where to start. Right? So I’m more than happy to share my story about how I started investing, the problems I ran into along the way, and how I taught myself to manage my own portfolio (it’s an ongoing process). :)

So here’s Part 1 of a 3 Part series.

Part 1: The Beginning

When I graduated college in 2006 I was 23. I owed over $20k to student loans and credit cards. Debt was my first priority, but I knew I wanted to start saving as well – even if it was just a little bit. I was making about $30k/year so I was only able to put aside $50/month ($25 into an Emergency Fund, and $25 into an RRSP) – but it really helped me establish a pattern of saving. And in the future, when I was finally out of debt, saving was already something I was used to doing. It made the transition from making payments on my debt, to making payments into my savings account pretty seamless.

When I first decided I wanted to save for retirement, I was really clueless. There wasn’t a lot of information out there on the internet that I could understand, and there were only about 4 or 5 Canadian PF blogs out there. All I knew was I wanted to start saving for my future, but I didn’t know how to start. So I went to TD Canada Trust (my only bank at the time), and spoke to someone about opening up an RRSP mutual fund account.

I remember sitting in her office, feeling very intimidated. I wondered what she thought of me, and the fact that I could only afford to save $25/month. But everyone has to start somewhere, and she was helpful in answering any questions I had. We went through a questionnaire to determine my risk-tolerance level, and eventually she signed me up for the TD Balanced Growth Fund (MER of 2.24%).

After that meeting, I was really pleased with myself because it seemed like this was the first step to becoming financially savvy. It made me feel grown-up to be investing in my future, and I became obsessed with tracking my little mutual fund’s progress. I set up a spreadsheet and tracked its performance on a daily basis. Seriously.

I understood that I wasn’t going to need the money for at least another 35 years, but I didn’t really get what 35 years meant. I wanted to see my money start to grow immediately. So I continued to check on my mutual fund on a daily basis. My stomach would drop every time my fund wasn’t doing well, and I’d cheer whenever it was doing well. This went on for about 6 months before the stress became too much and I told myself that 35 years = 13,000 days, and there was no way I could continue on like this. I needed to chill out. So I did. :)

It was about a year later that I first heard about the TD e-series Funds. I remember reading about it on a blog, and the big discussion was around Management Expense Ratios (MER) and how bad they were. I remember a few people referencing the TD e-series Funds in the comments and acknowledging how low their MERs were, and how they were likely the best mutual funds around.

When I went to check the MER on my Balanced Growth Fund, I was horrified and a bit embarrassed. How dare TD take so much from me! I felt like they were stealing profits from me, and the more I looked into the TD e-series Funds, the more I wanted to give it a try. Not just because I wanted to get away from funds with high MERs, but because I really wanted to learn how to manage my finances on my own. I wanted to know where my money was going, and I wanted to be doing it myself. The idea of DIY investing was really starting to appeal to me.

Part 2 coming soon…

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