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Trouble with Tracking

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Hello again!

I’m working on what I referred to as “The Reckoning” but struggling, so I decided to be honest about what is going on.

Hitting my Goals

My goals are moving along beautifully. It’s Friday and I’ve been to the gym three times! I signed up for a trial of the weight loss app Noom, which uses the principals of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help form lifelong habits. This isn’t a fitness blog, so I won’t get in to the specifics (but feel free to ask about it in the comments). Going to the gym, I weighed myself, and while I actually haven’t put on pounds since last year, I’ve lost muscle and I am obese. Yep, I’m apparently obese based on my BMI! I am fairly heart-healthy thanks to a lifetime of endurance sports, but heart disease runs in my family. Being tall with a large frame, I can hide weight gain pretty well… but, it’s time for changes.

Gym + planned meals = within budget for spending, my dear readers. I am having a hard time tracking money (more on that below), but I’ve had very few transactions since last week, so things are ok.

Real Life

I’ve been hemming and hawing about how honest to be about my personal life. The reality is, since around when I wrote about my ex in my first post, we’ve been together. Yes, the whole dang time! It’s messy but beautiful, like it has been since we were teenagers. Two people can love each other but also be going in (profoundly) different directions. He has a construction job for a couple of months, and we’ve decided to try and figure out for the last time if there is some way to make this work. It’s always fine while he is working, but when his restless gypsy heart stirs, he moves on to the next thing (a self-imposed employment sabbatical or an impromptu months-long trip to BC) . In the past, that has left me scrambling to pay bills for shared leases and utilities. He always gets the money, but it’s rarely on time, and that gives me tremendous anxiety. Worry not, though – I am not joining myself to him legally or financially.

We are going to go to therapy to talk about finances and life goals, and respecting each other’s dreams and boundaries. There are some affordable options, and he can pay since I’m watching his dog during his long work hours.

Existential Questions

I always thought I would be married with children by 25. My parents had me very young, and I’m the eldest of five siblings who are all further along in life than I am. Granted, they live in very small places with extremely low cost-of-living. I have a sister who bought a house and had a baby at 22 (in a place called Pictou County – the house cost as much as a mid-range car)! Another sister was married at 22. And my brother, the next eldest after me, has a baby, a defined and profitable career trajectory, a fiancee, and … *drumroll*, he is mortgage shopping. The homeowner sister was given a mortgage while she was a student and her husband worked at the Apple Store. Yes, a retail job. Readers in large cities will understand how mind-bogging being approved for a mortgage with a retail income is. And here in Toronto, friends in their mid-30s talk about not being ready to settle down yet. City vs. Rural – the divide is real!

Me? I make more than 2.5 siblings combined. My friendships are rich, long, beautiful relationships that have been nourished since childhood. My rented house is spacious and affordable (unheard of in Toronto), and my pets bring me so much joy. But I can’t figure out my purpose, my passion. There’s this niggling thought that time is passing me by and I’m stuck. Does anyone ever feel that way?

I can’t seem to think about anything else this week. I wonder what I should be doing in life. Why do I feel so uneasy?

Oh yeah, I’m a finance blogger

I haven’t tracked spending since the paycheck on August 30th, and it seems insurmountable now. It’s not the former ex (awkward title, ha!). We both work crazy long hours – he only gets weekend time with me. It could be that it’s September and I haven’t had any time off since last Christmas. I’ve become basket case, worried and exhausted. Is it crazy that I’m daydreaming about being called for my finger tumor surgery just so I can have another few days off work? Yikes. Next week, I’m taking at least a few days off for staycation and catching up. I’ll definitely have some visuals (I’m working on some Excel charts) for my spending in August by then, if not sooner.

Tracking Help?

I loved EveryDollar at first, but it seems like a terrible amount of work right now. I don’t have a September budget finished, and I don’t have any interest in spending two hours doing that. And why is biweekly pay so frustrating to track monthly?! There has to be a better way. I took physics and math in university but when I look at a budget, I see stars. I can’t figure out a clean way to allocate bi-weekly paychecks in to monthly budgets. Is there a way to budget every two weeks?

However(!!!), I am still trying to improve my situation. TD owns my car loan, and I received an email from them about a pretty good deal (I think?) on a line of credit.

The catch appears to be that, after the first year, it switches to a variable rate which is Prime (today that is 3.99%) + 8.49%. I’ve only done a few minutes of Googling, but that rate would be higher than the average fixed rate. I’ve got a bit more research to do on this. I don’t want to apply and have my credit dinged with a hard inquiry if it’s not the best offer. Seeking advice on this from readers!

My savings are up, but debt isn’t really down, and I feel adrift. I’ll pull it together and get you the hard numbers, I promise. Monday seems like a good day for that.


A Huge Oversight In My New Budget

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This is a religious, christian-faith post about my personal decision to start tithing. As this concept may not be understood by those outside of the faith, please note that I am journaling my personal decisions and walk.

In my journey to be debt free, I have been almost exclusively focused on saving money. I didn’t tithe because at its simplest theoretical level, I considered tithing as giving away money that I could allocate toward debt-reduction or saving. And this was counteractive to my goals. But theological principles explains that tithing is returning a portion of income that belonged to God to start with.  

Here’s the thing- none of this information was new to me. I simply disregarded tithing because I thought that it did not directly contribute to my financial goals. To be completely honest, I will admit that it has been months, years even, since I have tithed. Perhaps this was because I had let my relationship with God become less and less of a priority until it wasn’t one at all.

But at the beginning of this year I made the decision to return to God fully, giving my heart and actions. Two Sundays ago, I went to church for the first time in the city that I live in and I made a small offering of under $20.

I’ve also realized that despite my financial situation, I can still afford to be charitable and to have a giving spirit. I know that there are some people that would gladly trade me for my debt. So I strive to be more generous, which I’ll also admit that, as a tight budgeter, does not come naturally or easily to me.

But God reminded me of the power of giving without strings attached. I have been looking for a quality part time job for months and instead did odd things like substitute teach when it was convenient in the meantime. Last Friday, I was offered a part-time job for about $30 an hour. I got the offer out of the blue and I know that this was not circumstance. I will start this job in a few weeks and should have my credit card paid off even faster than my original plan.

Not only did this happen, but I just found out that I will also be receiving additional pay this month. I have been putting in many extra hours after the workday to work on a project. (That’s right! The day hardly ever ends after the students go home for the many people that think educators leave work around 3 p.m.) This is simply the culture of schools and no one expects to get paid overtime. In my years of being an educator, I don’t know if I ever have. However, I was informed this week that I would be getting paid for the extra hours that I recently put in. I already have that money earmarked. With the combination of this surplus money and the income from my part time job, I will have my Bank of America balance paid in full with my March paycheck and April at the latest. I will keep you updated on this payoff date.

I’m sure that none of this was by coincidence. After only planting a small seed, I have been given a great part time job and also received extra pay. I will give my full tithe ($300 or 10% of my $3,000 income) to the church this month. A key factor in monthly tithing is being intentional about it in my budget as I would any other priority so that it does not become forgotten. I will have to modify my March budget and will do so with a grateful spirit.


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