Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Scooters: not just for old, balding men

In September 2006, I sold my beautiful car (1989 Mazda 323). Okay, fine. She was a piece of crap, but she was my piece of crap, and I loved her. But I needed to sell her. She was one of my biggest expenses, and I wasn’t driving her enough to justify paying $80/month for car insurance. I worked downtown, so most mornings, I got a ride into town with my Mom, who worked in the building next to me.

I bought my lovely car in 2003 for $1800, and sold her 3 1/2 years later for $1600. Not too shabby, eh?

So what was I going to use to get around the city? I purchased a scooter! Better fuel economy, and way cheaper insurance – I couldn’t go wrong! So I ended up buying a 2005 Yamaha Vino 50cc scooter for $2200, which only had 34km on it so it was practically brand new.

A month later, I got a new job in a different municipality – which translated into a 45km roundtrip commute every day. If I still had my car, I’d have to either 1) drive to work every day, or 2) buy a bus pass for $60/month. 4 months into my job, and I can’t say that I love riding my scooter in every day, but for the money I’m saving, it’ll be worth it in the long run.

Let’s do some math, shall we?

  • Price difference between car and scooter: $600
  • Price difference between annual insurance: $540 (from $80/mo to $35/mo)
  • Price difference for gas if I had to drive my car to my new job: $180
  • TOTAL SAVINGS: $120

So even though my scooter was more expensive than my car, it’s already paid for itself in just 4 months. A big bonus is that because my scooter is new, I haven’t had to do any repair work on it. With my car, I could count on spending at least $800 annually to fix something.

I do plan on buying a car again in about a year, but I’m definitely going to buy new, and drive it until it falls apart. My dream car is a Mini Cooper. The price tag is quite steep, and I may not be able to afford it if I end up having a mortgage to pay for, but I’d rather drive a car that I’m in love with for the next 20 years, rather than an ugly Yaris that I hate. However, that’s a long time away, so we’ll see!

Countdown to pay day: 3 days. Hoorah!

Investments give me headaches

I’ve been wondering if I’m making sound choices with my investments. I want the most “bang for my buck,” but with limited investment knowledge, it’s hard for me to grasp exactly what I should be doing.

My emergency fund is currently in a PC Financial Interest First account that’s earning 3% interest. Once I have over $1000, I will transfer the balance into the Interest Plus account, which will earn me 4%, plus an anniversary bonus each year I keep a minimum of $1000 in the account. The reason why I chose this account is because it’s highly liquid. I’ll have access to my funds in 24 hours, and as high interest savings accounts go, PC Financial beats practically everyone.

My mortgage down payment fund is being held in a non-registered mutual fund with TD Canada Trust. This is where I don’t think I’m making the right move. The MER on this MF is quite high (I believe it was at 2.39%). I want to earn more than a 4% return, but since I plan on spending the money within 2 years, I don’t really know where to park it. I’m getting a 7.5% return right now, which is practically nothing. I’d like to be earning at least 10% … but how?

My RRSP is being held in a registered Balance Growth mutual fund with TD Canada Trust. It’s the same fund that my mortgage down payment fund is in, with the difference being this one is tax sheltered. This is earning 7.5%, and I’m okay with that for now. Once I’ve gotten more investment knowledge, I’d like to try TD’s eFunds, and manage my own financial portfolio (goodbye, ridiculously high MER!).

One step forward, two steps back

Well, not quite. Yesterday, an hour before I launched this website I dropped just over $3,000 on a new 24″ iMac computer. Let me be the first to admit that 1) I did not need to get an iMac, and 2) I did not need to load it up with a ton of add-ons. That being said, I’m considering it an investment in my graphic design business. Let’s face it, working on a crappy Seanix PC laptop just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Plus, if it’s any consoloation, it’s tax deductible. I know I shouldn’t have to justify splurging a little lot. What’s done is done, and I’m very happy with my purchase. I should get it in the next week or so, and I’l be sure to post pictures. :)

Let me start off by saying that I am by no means a financial expert. In fact, I hardly know anything about investing. Up until a year ago, I was living paycheque to paycheque, up to my eyeballs in debt. Some months, I could barely make ends meet. It was horrifying and embarrassing. I made some dumb mistakes when I was younger (including lending money to a significant other, who obviously never paid me back), and I am determined to make up for lost time. Just thinking about all the money I’ve wasted over the years makes me sick to my stomach. I think a lot of my friends think I’m “money-obsessed” these days, and think I’m too wound up in it all. Maybe I am, but maybe I’m okay with that. I want to have the financial freedom to do anything I want to do, and that is my ultimate goal.

My job. I currently have one full-time job @ 35hrs/week, and one part-time job that gives me approximately 20-35 hrs/month. Combined, I gross about $4000/month, and actually net around $3000/month. That’s a decent salary for someone my age, and with my education. That’s also not including any graphic design contract work I receive.

After fixed expenses such as my cell phone bill, rent, groceries, RRSP contributions, and Mutual Fund contributions, I am able to put $2000 towards my debt. Any money left over at the end of the month gets put into my emergency fund. As I write this, I’m carrying about $6,500 worth of debt. Because March is a 3-paycheque month, I’ll be able to put away a little more. Hopefully.

March 2007 Goals:

  • Sit down with a potential client for my graphic design business, and get a contract signed
  • Take on a 3rd job that will yield 10-15 hrs/month or less
  • $2,000 towards my line of credit
  • $1,000 towards my student loans
  • $150 towards RRSP
  • $75 towards Condo Down Payment
  • $300 into my Emergency Fund
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