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Where did you live during university?

Where did you live while you were going to school, and if you had to do it over again, would you do it any differently?

This post was inspired by the Globe’s recent article: Want to save $45,000 in university costs? Live with Mom and Dad

When I was 17, I received a scholarship to study (and play field hockey) at a university in Michigan. The total value of that scholarship was approximately $20,600 per academic year ($11,000 tuition, $8,600 on-campus housing, $1,000 books). And that was when $1 CAN was the equivalent of $0.67 US.

Had I not gotten a full scholarship, there was no way I could have gone. Even if just my tuition was covered, coming up with $8,600 per year for housing (that’s $34,400 for a 4-year program)? Not possible unless I took out massive student loans.

When I was 22, I decided to go back to school in my hometown. I was living in a downtown apartment at the time, paying $625/month rent. As soon as I knew I was going back to school, I moved home and into my parents’ basement. In the two years I was in college, that saved me $15,000.

Sure, I missed out on some things. Bonding with my classmates (who were also roommates), and having the independence of living on my own. I really liked living on-campus when I was in Michigan. I didn’t have a commute (which meant I could roll out of bed at 10:45 for my 11am class), and all my meals were made for me at the cafeteria. But it just didn’t make financial sense to keep my apartment – or even live closer to campus. Even if I really wanted to. Living in the same town as my parents, they were happy (but maybe a little reluctant) to let me live with them again. I had moved out twice before, after all. :)

The $15,000 I saved while living with my parents likely would have been a lot more if I had lived somewhere else. It’s pretty easy to get tempted with dinners out, drinks, parties, etc. when you’re surrounded by friends … or living on campus, where there are always temptations to help you spend your money. And since I graduated over $20,000 in debt, it’s obvious I already had problems keeping my spending in check.

So, where did you live while you were going to school? Did you live with your parents, and regret not having the freedom? Or did you move out on your own (or to a different city), only to have accumulated more student loans than you thought you would?

Spending Recap: August 19-25, 2013

Monday 19th
$24 dentist
$46.93 gas

Tuesday 20th
$12.35 dinner

Wednesday 21st
No Spend Day!

Thursday 22nd
$20.78 groceries

Friday 23rd
$12.02 lunch
$58.18 BC Liquor Store

Saturday 24th
$20 PNE/Playland

Sunday 25th
$23.25 dinner

Freelance Income: $0
Expenses- $217.51

TOTAL: - $217.51

Here’s a short personal update: I apologize for the lack of posting over the last month. It’s been a fun, yet challenging summer for me. I haven’t had the motivation to do much of anything except run, hike, and be with friends. Maybe I could blame it on wanting to enjoy the great weather, but it could also be trying navigate the single life, or that after 6.5 years of writing about personal finance, I got a little bit burnt out. That being said, writing a few articles for the Star over the past month has gotten me inspired to write about money again. And now that I’m just finishing up my current article, I can find the time to write here again. :)

It’s really hard to get motivated to cook for just myself – which is why I find myself going out with friends for meals more often. That is a budget killer, and something I’m going to need to control. It also doesn’t help that after work I’m running a lot, so when I get home, I’m so exhausted that I don’t want to cook anything. But I’ve already made more of an effort to control this by meal planning. Look for these dining out expenses to go down significantly as we move into September.

The only ridiculous expense this week was spending $58.18 on two bottles of wine. Granted, the wine was very good, and I rarely ever buy alcohol. I bought one bottle to bring over to a friend’s house for dinner, and the other one I’m keeping at home for when I have company. In case you’re wondering, I purchased Miraval – which I found out is the winery owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. :) The packaging is absolutely beautiful, and the wine is a gorgeous colour.

How was your week of spending?

Spending Recap: August 12-18, 2013

Monday 12th
$16.90 dinner

Tuesday 13th
$13.05 dinner
$10 parking

Wednesday 14th
No Spend Day!

Thursday 15th
No Spend Day!

Friday 16th
$12.59 lunch
$42.47 gas
$9.55 shipping

Saturday 17th
$11.31 Pinkberry

Sunday 18th
$22.58 Britannia Mine Museum
$64.35 groceries

Freelance Income: $0
Expenses- $202.80

TOTAL: - $202.80

This was an extremely social week for me, but I’m happy that I was able to keep my expenses down to a reasonable level. Between going to the pub, watching an outdoor movie, coffee dates, patio drinks, and running errands, I’m surprised my weekly spending wasn’t at least $100 more. But the weekend was a little bit more relaxed. I spent Saturday running errands, then Sunday was my first 10km race ever. After that, Nic and I were planning on hiking Seymour with some of my work friends, but once we got up there, it was so foggy that we bailed and went to the Britannia Mine Museum instead. I’ve been wanting to check that place out for years! It was a lot of fun, although it just got me more curious to go exploring in the mountains. :)

As for the 10km race, my previous fastest time was 52:39 – and I haven’t been able to run that fast since May (instead focusing on longer, slower runs during the summer). My long-shot goal was to run at around 52-minutes. But as it turns out, running in races really makes you push yourself. I ended up with an official time of 50:43 – good enough to place first in my age category (30-34), and 15th female overall. Yep, it was a very small race (141 participants). But I’m pretty happy with my race time, and my new goal for next month’s race is to run it in under 50 minutes.

How was your week of spending?

Do you talk openly about money with friends?

I asked this question last week, and it’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past few days. To me, it seems like 20 or 30-somethings are more open to talking about finances than older generations – like our parents or grandparents. Why is that? Why have we all of a sudden gone from shying away from a taboo subject, to talking so openly about it? How come in the 6.5 years I’ve been blogging, the personal finance blogosphere has exploded?

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I think it has a lot to do with the internet. Your voice has more reach online, and it’s way less intimidating to talk about things that might otherwise be awkward. Take me, for example. When I was getting out of debt, I was too embarrassed to go to my parents, friends, or boyfriend for advice. Instead, I turned to the internet. And soon after I discovered personal finance sites, I became a blogger myself. It’s difficult talking about failures – especially when it came to money – and I really wanted people to hear my story: a normal person, with a normal salary, dealing with student and credit card debt. I’m not unique, but maybe think that’s the point. I know I personally don’t want to hear about exceptional stories all the time, because they’re hard (if not impossible) to duplicate. I want to hear about normal people succeeding; digging out of debt, saving money, and living a comfortable life – that’s what I can relate to. I cannot relate to someone who makes my entire annual salary in a month, and spends thousands of dollars a month of clothing, dining out, and other luxuries. :)

For 20 and 30-somethings, most of us have been in debt before, and most of us have struggled with our money at some point in our lives. And I feel like maybe it’s that commonality that brings this generation closer together and more willing to talk openly about how we can improve our situations. Since money is so closely tied to success in our society (whether that’s right or wrong is another topic), it seems easier and less intimidating to talk about it when it seems like everyone is going through the same sorts of problems.

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All of this information we are sharing is great, but being so open can have a negative impact as well. It’s extremely hard not to compare yourself with your peers, or those success stories. And if you’re online looking at someone’s financials, or talking about them over a cup of coffee, it can be easy to get discouraged.

Even now, I can get caught up in feeling down about my situation. While my blogging friends are making $10,000 in advertising, or climbing up to a $1 million net worth, or earning $250,000/year, I should be inspired by their success! I remember once dating someone who was so put together and so successful, that I felt completely useless in comparison. He willingly shared details about his mortgage, his job, and his investing strategies – not to brag, but just in normal conversation. Yet, in all of these cases – whether it’s blogger friends or real life friends – I find I’m often left feeling a little inadequate because I’m not doing what they’re doing.

But, we can’t compare ourselves to others. There will always be someone more successful, richer, better looking, etc. than you, and if you keep focusing on what you lack (instead of what you have) you’ll be a pretty unhappy person. The only comparison that’s fair is you, and we all know that, right?

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However, I do think all of this openness with our finances has changed us for the better. I know that had I not found the online personal finance community, I doubt I’d be where I am today. Sharing ideas is always better than hoarding them, right? But will we become so open that nothing is off limits? Will so much information just confuse and overwhelm us? It’s really hard to say how all this will affect our generation in the long run.

Do you think being more open about our finances is helping us change for the better?

How open are you with friends and loved ones with your money?

Spending Recap: August 5-11, 2013

It’s been a hectic week – with a wedding to attend back home, and a trip to Seattle. Not to mention being without internet for over a week! :| I’ve got a few freelance assignments on the go which are taking up the majority of my time, so give me another week, and I’ll be back on track with this blog. :)

Now, onto last week’s spending…

Monday 5th
No Spend Day!

Tuesday 6th – Seattle
$104.56 Target

Wednesday 7th – Seattle
$8.01 Starbucks
$35.56 gas
$8.76 dinner

Thursday 8th
+ $450 freelance income
$7.67 lunch
$66.75 ferry

Friday 9th – Victoria
$11 parking

Saturday 10th – Victoria
$4.62 coffee
$126.79 hair & make-up
$11 parking

Sunday 11th – Victoria
$20.23 brunch
$36.03 gas
$66.75 ferry
$14.02 dinner

Freelance Income: + $450
Expenses- $521.75

TOTAL: - $71.75

Good week. Fun week. Expensive week. :)  Good thing I got paid out for a freelance contract. The majority of the last 7 days were spent out of town. On Tuesday, I headed down to Seattle with my family for a Blue Jays game. It was my dad’s retirement present (we’re both huge baseball fans). We had an amazing seafood dinner, I managed to snag awesome seats just 7 rows from the Blue Jays dugout, and got to meet my all-time favourite player (Pat Hentgen). It was seriously good times. Loaded up on stuff at Target, since I’m not sure when I’ll get across the border again.

Thursday evening, I headed home for a wedding. I took my car across because I thought it would be easier to get around, and ended up not really needing it at all. But I’m glad that I had it just in case. The wedding was beautiful, and it was fun getting pictures taken, hanging out with old friends, eating delicious food.

That’s it for me! How was your week of spending?