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November Financial Slip Up – Spending and Saving

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Before I jump into the unexpected expenses, some updates on me personally. I’m sorry I’ve been posting a bit irregularly. I’ve been really sick. My bad cold for the past few weeks is acute bronchitis and I’m using a bronchodilator now. Trying to sleep has been hell. I woke up every hour last night coughing. The stress of the past month is catching up to me and I’m not in my 20s any longer. I can’t get by on a few hours of sleep with stress hormones raging all day. I seem to be regaining energy. Let’s hope this is passing…

This is a snapshot from an app that collects data from my Apple Watch. The grey spaces on the circle are where I was awake, coughing. My sleeping heart rate is usually 58-62 BPM and the past week it has gone up into the 80s. My doctor said the sickness is causing obstructive apnea which results in a lack of oxygen and a higher heart rate. So, yes, still struggling to get my life back on track. October was so hard.

“Unexpected” Expenses

Last week, I was feeling pretty high after checking some boxes on my goals for the year. I had set goals to eliminate my high interest debt and cancel my expensive banking products, which I did. But then…

Some expenses came up. And if there is one thing I’ve learned in 2019, these things shouldn’t be unexpected.

  • My mum’s house sold, and then she had to be in Nova Scotia in a day. 24 hours. She packed up her SUV and stopped by my house at 9pm on her way out east, and we ended up at a nice steakhouse (The Keg). We were in jeans and sneakers, looking for chicken wings or something casual, but decided to have a fancy dinner. We won’t see each other at Christmas. I picked up the check for $153.24 and didn’t think about the money. We were both crying. She drove through the night to go sign her paperwork.
  • Bestie Dan visited from Ottawa. I mentioned in August he visits about once a year. This is an auspicious year, I suppose. Two visits! He had some business in Toronto and asked to spend the night last week. We met his mother for dinner ($40.03 for my portion) and then the next day, met my coworkers (he worked with us doing a co-op for his PhD at one point). We had layoffs at work that morning, and Dan’s Reunion Lunch became a liquid lunch for some laid off people. There was a very convoluted billing process and I ended up with $70 on my tab. So, $110 for Dan’s visit.
  • Mike’s birthday is today. I spent $70 on some warm work clothes on sale and lucky red panda socks (he loves red pandas!) and $20 for wine. On top of that, we are meeting his sister for dinner tonight (I’m not drinking, obviously. I’m sick).
  • One of my mentors at work is moving away and we are seeing him off Wednesday. I’ll go for an hour to say farewell, but that’s it. $10 budget, plus taking the subway home.

The Aftermath

I’m crushed. Can I afford this? Sure. I won’t go hungry. But I had worked hard for a couple of months to not be this spendy, and it feels like it’s all undone. Coming up on Christmas, there will be money needed for extra things. It’s imperative that I am thrifty this month. And I need to be aggressive with paying off my consolidation loan. I don’t want to be lazy and say I can put my bonus towards the loan.

So this is a bit of a financial reckoning for me. I need to be wise with my money this month, in order to both be aggressive with debt repayment and to avoid dipping into savings. I want to stress, I’m not in debt over this. It’s just that I blew all my disposable income in a few days.

The Plan

I’m making a meal plan for the rest of the week now. My chest freezer has lots of protein in it, so I can spend very minimally on food. This weekend, I’m planning on seeing my grandparents as they pack up their house, so that will be an inexpensive weekend. Next week, there is nothing planned socially or professionally to cost me money and I’m going to keep it that way.

Time to smarten up. There are no such things as unexpected expenses. And back to revisiting how I can track my money. Mint.com sent me an email this morning that they have new integrations available, so I’m going to take a look and see if they’ve fixed my accounts.


6 Comments

  • Reply jj |

    I hope your bronchitis clears up! I feel you on the slip ups, I have been shopping like crazy and I am going out to eat Friday – you will get back on track, and so will I (hopefully LOL)

    I find when I go out, if I am not splitting the bill with anyone, I really try and stick to an appetizer or a main that is huge and a pop for a drink. Like when I go to Jack Astors, I get their creamy dip and a drink and I am in heaven! Maybe keep that in mind as you eat out from time to time. Christmas is around the corner and I am going to be spending a lot, not much we can do sometimes! You’ve got this!

  • Reply Joe |

    $40+ at restaurants should be avoidable.

    My advice:
    1. Only water, no alcohol at restaurants. The markup is insane.
    2. Pre-eat at home and order just an appetizer or sandwich as suggested above.

    I practice #1 most of the time out of force of habit, and I practice #2 before going out for sushi (otherwise I’d go bankrupt).

    Feel better!

  • Reply Margann34 |

    It seems like you could use some strategies to check your spending during social situations. I have a few suggestions:
    — Don’t buy alcohol! Or limit it to one drink then have water. Drinks are SO expensive!
    — Request a separate ticket up front and don’t feel bad about it.
    — Do NOT feel obligated to pay for other people’s meals and drinks. And don’t apologize or offer an explanation about it.
    — Pick cheaper restaurants. It is more about the company and conversation than the food. Go for coffee and share a dessert, get pizza, pick a mid grade restaurant.
    — Order the cheapest thing on the menu and water.

    I know you may feel like there is a social expectation that you pitch in, buy rounds, have several drinks etc. But most people will not remember after the fact that you only had one drink, or ordered an appetizer, or got a separate ticket. They will remember that you were there with them and the conversation you had. And if anyone mentions it. Simply say “I have other priorities for my money right now”. You don’t have to quite going out for social occasions. You also don’t have to spend $100 each time you do. There is a happy medium and you need to find it.

  • Reply Den |

    Social stuff is hard! Don’t beat yourself up, but do think ahead:
    – Water to drink
    – bowl of soup for your meal (especially when you are sick)
    – no dessert, or at least split dessert
    – if I really have to get something off the main menu, I’ll eat half and take the other half home for my lunch the next day
    – sometimes you can do the social stuff at lunch time, which is cheaper than dinner

    These strategies help me be social without breaking the bank and no one has ever commented on them! My friends and I also get take out occasionally and eat at a park on a nice day.

    Hope you keep feeling better!

  • Reply Emily N. |

    So this obviously isn’t great, debt reduction-wise, but I don’t think it’s fair to think that you’ve undone all your progress. Each of these things would have happened regardless of whether you’ve been budgeting and saving, so you were actually in a better position to cushion the blow of the extra spending. So chin up, and keep going–you’ve got this!

  • Reply susan |

    You are spending a huge amount of money “unexpectedly” at restaurants. Unlike some of the posters above, I find that unless you can get a separate check at a restaurant (which seems to be regional), you should expect to split the tab evenly among people in attendance. Having said that, here are some strategies:

    1. Don’t go if you cannot (or do not want) to pay your percentage of the bill (note, I did not say “share” – there is always someone that orders steak and top shelf drinks which screws everyone else).
    2. If you do go – eat/drink NOTHING. That way when the bill comes you can honestly say
    “I did not have anything”. This is hard.
    3. If you are at a bar where people are sitting at tables ordering. Go to the bar to order your drinks and bay the bartender. Again, this allows you to say when the bill comes that you did not order anything. Again, this means you cannot eat/drink anything that was ordered at the table.

    My last thought is that you are using food as a means of emotional support. While this is not uncommon (I do it too) it is not helpful in dealing with real issues and is hurting your debt journey.

    Good luck – I love your honesty and willingness to keep trying. I think once you can see patterns, it will help to work on strategies to avoid pitfalls.

So, what do you think ?