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January Spending Update: No Good, All Bad

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I’ve been responding to comments from my post yesterday addressing the wild spending. As I wrote in that comment, I behaved in January like a dieter who has recently had success losing weight. They decide to celebrate their achievements by heading to an all-you-can-eat buffet or they go on a vacation and gorge themselves. I don’t really have a good explanation for how and why I justified my spending. Sometimes progress isn’t linear, and I slipped up.

It’s a bit crappy for me that the first month I successfully tracked every spent dollar, I went so off the rails. But data is data, and I will use this to help me going forward.

Let’s jump right in.

January: The Big Numbers

Net income (after tax) $ 7,319.91 My largest pay month ever, excluding bonus months
Amount spent $ 6,668.33 An astonishing amount
Amount saved (not including payroll deductions)$75To my fun investment account which is still returning 11.5%
Loan and line of credit payments$733.33This is the bare minimum I promised myself I'd pay each month

Upon review, it would appear there was money left over. Not (really) so. I paid my credit card bill from December for my flight out east, the extra luggage fees (my mother sent me home with family heirlooms), and Ubers to and from the airport. After that, I only had a couple hundred leftover.

Breaking Down Spending Categories

Rent/Utilities: $1673.00

Food (including groceries) and going out with friends: $1488.37 Lumping these together as there were a lot of dinner parties at my house and friends’ houses and I’m having trouble separating all the grocery bills between what I needed and what I spent on entertainment. This also includes restaurants.

Fitness-related expenses: $179.11. My $23 gym payment comes out bi-weekly, and it came out three times this month. I also paid for Noom @ $92.50 and a session on yoga for sore feet @ $15.

Transportation: $981.23. I had three car payments this month (all my bi-weeklies came out three times). There were $156.86 of Ubers that were not part of vacation spending (I tracked vacation expenses separately). I spent $60 on gas, $55 on parking, $80 on public transit (adding money to my metro card), and $152 on car insurance. Insurance is extremely expensive where I live.

Material items: $451.48. Includes the aforementioned $225 used espresso machine, an orthopedic dog bed ($56), some clothing, cleaning supplies, and plants.

Subscriptions and events: $280.29 – $210 of which was for the Blue Jays Home Opener in March. I’m so excited!

Gifts: I have $154 of stuff in here that I bought for people, between when I was in Nova Scotia and for a friend here in Toronto.

Amazon purchases: $233.29. This kills me… I don’t like what Amazon stands for and even though I try to be very environmentally-conscious and avoid same-day delivery, I still give this corporation money. These purchases include a yogurt strainer, a viral hairdryer (no regrets, it’s life-changing for me getting ready for work), some pet supplies, a veggie peeler – a whole bunch of small purchases.

Personal care/bathroom stuff: $58

Spending on vacation: 332.60

Misc: $121 – this includes pet insurance, rental insurance for my house, and a charitable donation

What Happened?

I’m not trying to make excuses. I wish I could convey the guilt I’m feeling. In fact, I had a therapy session that mostly covered finance because the behavior was so wildly outside of what I want for myself. It scared me. I don’t want to fall back into old habits.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I budget with a budget calendar. It works really well for getting me used to not spending more than I have. The problem is this process hasn’t scaled with my income. As I’ve increased my income over the past year, I have spent a lot of that extra income. But I have a good idea of what my income will be this year each month, and I need to be significantly more strategic about how I save if I ever want to be financially independent. So, I think I will continue to use my budget calendar, but I will give every dollar a job (to borrow from YNAB lingo) for the month in the calendar.

Leaving a Legacy

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Sara posted last week about losing her grandmother. As I read the post, tears sprung immediately to my eyes. My grandmother passed away late last summer and it’s still fresh. It wasn’t unexpected, she was nearly 100, but we all hoped we’d get to sing her happy birthday and welcome in her 100th year. She was amazing. We were crushed.

Similar to Sara, I was fortunate to have a little buffer in my budget and dropped everything to drive 7 hours to her funeral. All 6 of my siblings came from across the country to remember her legacy. My siblings and I struggled with the tone of the funeral. It was formal and stuffy, very un-grandma. In one of the quiet moments, the woman in front of us farted long and loudly. My brother leaned over to whisper, “Leave it to grandma. She’s making fart jokes from heaven” and we giggled the rest of the funeral.

I returned home and the following months were sad. We had spent the previous Christmas together and I couldn’t help but feel down about the upcoming holidays. Out of the blue, I received a letter from her in the mail. Her shaky writing had carefully printed my name and address, her perfect little return address sticker in the corner. It’s a weird feeling to receive mail from someone after they die. For a moment, you forget they died and feel excitement. You want to run to call them to say thanks for the letter and then remember you can’t and feel sadness all over again.

The letter was sweet. It shared her love for me and told me to never forget it. It also had a check for $1,000. ‘Waste this money sweetheart. Spend it on something stupid.’

I fell apart.

For the last 6 or so years (3 paying off the debt and 3 working on staying debt free), my grandmother was a huge cheerleader. She was frugal and was a wiz at finances. She loved that I was making a better future for myself. Every Christmas and birthday, she’d send me a little check and a card. I always sent her long handwritten thank you cards and would tell her exactly how I spent the money. For the first few years it was ‘Thank you so much for the check! I made an extra payment on my student loan! Yay! Getting so close!’ and the last few years, ‘Added to the emergency fund! Thanks to that fund, I can take risks at work! I took on a huge project because I’m less afraid of failure.’ She knew I never wasted a dime of the money she gave me.

I read her words and knew immediately what I would buy. I have a degree in film (shocking… I don’t use it professionally despite the fact it cost me $104K. I need to write a post about college choice and majors. What a racket!) and I create little movies for my kids of our camping adventures. I have wanted a drone to film them while we hiked but drones with tracking features and good film quality are expensive. It was a dream, but I could never justify that purchase.

I ordered a $900 drone the same day I got her check. I spent the other $100 on a ring that I wear daily.

I love her legacy. I love that in the end, she was still able to have the last laugh. She was able to bless others even after she was gone. She knew exactly what to say to set me free with that money.

When I grow up… I want to be her.

I love you grandma. Thank you for the pictures.

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