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Browsing posts in: Spending Money

Little Victories with Side Gigs


Side gigs are looking good!

I’m flying high on recent good news regarding side gigs. I booked the dogsitting gig from Rover, and it will be for $160. In other exciting news, the boarder I mentioned is coming to stay with me tomorrow for $150 per week. I will need help with my pets while I am staying at the Rover gig, so I will kick some of that first week money to a friend for help with my pets. He will stay at my house for next to nothing as it’s a break from his current housing situation.

Obviously, this isn’t a tenable long-term solution. I can’t be paid to watch other peoples’ animals while paying someone to watch my own, but in this case, I can make a tidy profit and hopefully get a good review in order to book more gigs. I’m actually not interested in dogsitting at all – I signed up for Rover for dog walking and medicine administration, since I can give injections and IVs (and I am particularly good at giving cats pills. Happy to share the very strange technique I use should anyone be interested).

If things go well with the boarder, he can stay up to a month, which would mean an extra $600. He takes possession of his new place on September 15th. We decided to reassess after each week so that we are both comfortable with the arrangement.

Spending mindfully

I’m continuing to track spending each day. I spent last weekend at the cottage with my family. I contributed some wine and brought nice thick pork chops from the butcher for one meal. They were an absolute steal at $3.99 a pound, and I was able to pick up five of them for less than $16. I picked up two small bottles of craft beer (I can’t resist a good sour!) and a t-shirt from the brewery on my way out of cottage country. The brewery has the same name as the lake my dad lives on and we love to represent the lake wherever we go. That was a $30 purchase I could have avoided but don’t regret. I take my credit card debt seriously, but I am not in dire financial straits. My last two lake t-shirts have holes in them from being worn so often!

Cottage views

Cottage views

On the way home from the cottage on Sunday, I stopped for groceries at a nicer grocery store (rather than a discount grocery store like I normally do). I spent $27 on house-made sausages, some butternut squash, kale, sardines, potatoes, cheese, and kefir. I haven’t spent any money since Sunday (woo!!). I’ve enjoyed homemade meals since. This morning, I will be ordering coffee and canned cat food from Amazon as I’m going to be out of the house from 8am to about 10pm. That’s another $32 to be divided out of the grocery and pet food buckets ($15 and $17 respectively).

Unplanned social expenses

Tonight will be a bit of a challenge, as one of my mentors from work is leaving. We have worked closely together for years, and she is a friend to me. There’s a going away event at a restaurant, and I didn’t budget or plan for this. I am so happy to acknowledge that I can attend guilt-free without touching savings or my credit card thanks to the extra cash I am bringing in from side gigs. If I have to find extra cash to fund my social life, I will happily do that rather than miss out. Could I be out of debt sooner if I directed every spare penny to debt? Of course, as one commenter pointed out yesterday (click if you would like to see me a bit defensive about my spending – oops). But that was never my intention.

My objective

My goal is to pay down debt while building savings and continuing to enjoy my life. I do want to be mindful of the fact these “surprises” keep happening, and they really shouldn’t be considered surprises. I hope readers recognize I’ve never tracked spending or had a budget that I’ve honored before, and I intend to take this first month as a bit of a temperature reading. It would be grossly premature to set firm goals right now. I am someone who chases goals like a dog with a bone, and I want to assess this situation thoughtfully before making decisions. So, for now, I’m not making any earth-shattering changes. I’m collecting data, being mindful, and making sure I don’t add to my debt or take from my meagre savings.

I am crazy proud of myself for finding some extra money with side gigs, because I didn’t think it was possible with the kind of hours I keep. I’m going to end today’s post on that happy note, and promise an update at the end of the week. Friday is payday, and I will share how I spent my last paycheck. Expect screenshots, some grocery receipts, and accountability.

Spending and Budget Surprises


Editorial note: This post was supposed to be published August 6th but was lost in the digital ether. I will catch you up today and tomorrow and then we will be back on track with a real-time update Wednesday! 

A lot has happened since I last wrote, in both life and spending. 

Budgeting success thanks to a reader comment

Firstly, thank you to Margann34 for recommending the EveryDollar app. It’s exactly what I need! With the Mint app, my student loan and investments wouldn’t sync, and YNAB is having issues with almost all of my financial institutions (they worked in the past – what a pain!). Well, I set up EveryDollar and spent the last six days tracking each transaction in there. It was eye-opening, to say the least. I went to the grocery store every single day since Friday, including on a statutory holiday Monday (laws surrounding holiday store closures have loosened recently, and most grocery stores are now open). 

EveryDollar spending

Visit from an old friend

My best friend from Ottawa visits about once a year, and he came over Friday. We had planned to go out that evening, and prior to that, I made us steaks and served wine. We ended up heading out with mutual friends and dancing the night away. Between groceries for dinner, my Uber contributions, a couple of rounds of drinks, and dim sum brunch the next morning, seeing Dan cost me $210.

Downtown with friends

On the one hand, that is staggering, but on the other, that’s a really inexpensive 16 hours in downtown Toronto. We ate at home, went to a bar with no cover and $3 drinks (drinks are usually $10+ at any places people in their 30s go), and then went for cheap dim sum in Chinatown the next morning. I need to be more up front with my friends about my financial goals, certainly. This isn’t a hit to my budget (yet). I have some room for this spending if I am “good” the rest of the month!

A worrying turn for my dog

Rosie has an auto-immune condition that has been under control with diet for the past 20 months. Swimming used to cause her terrible rashes due to allergies, but she’s been fine for a couple of years. After being in the water for three days straight at the cottage, Rosie had a reaction from head to toe. On a related note, she had a few lumps removed in December 2017 and one ended up being malignant. She always has a few lumps, and the vet said to keep an eye on them and only bring her in if the lumps are bothering her. The swim caused her to go after one of her bad-looking lumps. I woke up at 4AM last week to her crying. There was blood all over her bed and the floor. She had gotten to two of her lumps and they were nasty, hard ones (the ones the vet doesn’t like).

In a terrifying coincidence, she also got in to the garbage over the weekend and ate THREE old cobs of corn(!!!). I found out when she fainted from lethargy and her stomach was almost bursting, it was so taut. This has never happened in her life because I am militant about keeping the garbage locked up. Labs and garbage = moth to a flame. We had a double whammy emergency vet visit and I am so glad she survived without surgery. She puked up the cobs on her own.

What does this mean for the August budget?

I don’t know yet how this will look for the budget. Rosie has insurance, but the one thing the insurance doesn’t cover is lump removal as it was a pre-existing condition. Insurance should cover the visit over the weekend and the subsequent steroid prescription, but I won’t know for a few days how much my co-pay is. If she needs surgery, it cost about $700 all-in last time (tests beforehand, surgery, and follow up care) and that would eat up my entire savings account. It might be more responsible to put that on a credit card and continue building emergency savings so I don’t end up homeless. I’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. Today is the vet visit to check out what is in the lumps and determine if they need to be removed. I’ll keep you posted.

(This airline pillow-looking thing keeps her from biting her skin)