Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The New Budget

I'm not an extravagant spender.  My home is furnished with thrifted items, furniture that is now 10 years old and the occasional item that was purchased new, either on sale or from the clearance section, at Ikea when I simply couldn't find a secondhand item that would work.  The majority of my clothing was purchased secondhand and most of the knickknacks that you'd find in my home have either been given to me or were souvenirs from my global travels.  I'm not really known for "throwing money away" but in order to make my new goal a reality, I have to adjust my budget in a major way.  As mentioned in my last post, I'm anxious about this because for so long, I haven't had to watch my spending.  I made enough money that my minimal spending wasn't about to break the budget.  My new situation involves paying down some debt, saving up for a down payment on a car, paying to have some renovations done AND getting used to what could become a lower monthly income.  Doesn't that sound like *fun*?

Being brutally honest, I don't know if I can make this work.  The budget I'm going to attempt to live on doesn't accurately reflect the breakdown amounts that will be used if I make the crazy life changes I'm contemplating but the $3000 *does* represent the reduced income I'll likely be forced to accept.  I need to prove to myself that I can manage on that amount in order to make the other changes required.  Below is the first version of the reduced budget I'll be living on as of August.  Any income above the $3000 will go to paying off my debt, saving for a new car and all the other major expenses I have lined up.  *shakes head*  There are so many other major expenses coming up...

August 2014 - $3000
Mortgage/property taxes/buffer $1405.00
Electricity $45.00
Gas $88.00
Water $35.00
Cell $90.00
House insurance $58.00
Car insurance $99.00
Fuel $220.00
Car Repair $0
Groceries $180.00
Layover expenses $82.00
Internet $60.00
Cats $60.00
RSP $300.00
EF $0
Life insurance $30.00
Netflix $8.00
Clothing $0
Personal/Recreation/Misc $240.00
Gifts $0
Long Distance $0
Health $0
Travel $0
Reno/House Fund $0

You see all those categories with zero amounts???  They all have to be covered from the Personal/Recreation/Misc amount of $240.  Ugh.  Fortunately, some of these amounts will accumulate and roll into other months (roll over amounts will be kept in a separate account to help keep all the figures clear) and some of these amounts are really just estimates since I haven't kept a budget in so long, I'm not sure how much some of these categories need.  I'll have to become obsessive about tracking everything again but I think after the first few months, I'll get back into my old budgeting groove.  Wish me luck and I'll keep you updated on how things are going.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Adapting to new priorities

So as I hinted at in my last post, my priorities have shifted since May.  There are some big changes coming in my life, basically related to the fact that I really need to achieve a better work-life balance.  In the past, when I had major life goals in mind, I could become an excellent saver and would stick to a very strict budget in order to save money to achieve my goal.  It was that focused mindset that allowed me to save up a down payment for the townhouse I currently live in and, before that, to pay off a car loan in an exceptionally short period of time.  So what is this new goal???  Although I can't elaborate too much, there are a few big financial roadblocks. 

First off, my car (Betty, the rusted out Mazda3) is dying and not in a minor way.  My brother is my mechanic and when I had him investigate some rattles, I was told that there were a multitude of mechanical issues that will be occurring soon.  In short, I was told the condition of the vehicle didn't warrant the thousands of dollars of repairs that will be needed to keep Betty on the road.  His advice was to drive this car until it died and, in the meantime, save up as much money as possible to purchase my next vehicle.  I was excited at the prospect of a new car but had hoped Betty would last until next year so this is a *major* purchase that I'll have to incorporate into my budget sooner than anticipated.

Secondly, the past few months of half-time flying at my primary employer have completely drained my savings and put me in a tiny bit of debt.  I should have this debt cleared up in a month or two but that means money that would otherwise go towards savings or a new car is being diverted for awhile.  I'm frustrated with this because I hate debt so much but, as much as I regret my financial situation, I actually really needed to take a step back from flying for those six months and most of what I spent my savings on (snowboarding equipment and lessons, lift tickets, travelling) was actually money I consider well-spent.  Its a crappy situation but considering some of the alternatives, was actually the best choice.

Finally, I need to adjust my budget and get back to living *well* below my means if I want to make the proposed changes and not put myself in another bad situation.  I'll also need to save up a significant amount  I'm basically going to have to pretend to have a low income, in preparation for some changes that might cause a low income.  It's really hard to think about that at my age when I feel like my income should just be steadily rising!!

For the next few months, I'm going to have to pay off my debt, save up money for a down payment on a car and restrict my budget (I'm going to aim to live below $3000 each month which is less than what I make now but any extra will go to the two previously mentioned goals).  I used to relish these types of challenges but I'm actually dreading this one.  There's been some significant lifestyle inflation in the past few years and I'll have to drastically change the way I live in order to make this do-able.  It's hard but really, if I'm hoping to honour my new priorities, it's simply the way it has to be.  I'm currently trying to crunch the numbers to see how a $3000/month budget will look for me and will post one here soon as well as updates on how well I'm able to follow it.  Wish me luck!

Happily (ok, maybe with a tiny bit of stress!),

Thursday, July 17, 2014

I've been away but with good reason :(

So a few days after my last post I received news that my grandmother passed away.  Working for an airline usually means that when people have to travel, I'm the one delegated the responsibility of arranging tickets, hotels and rental cars.  Once I got back, between things being hectic at work and taking some time to process her passing as well as some other family issues meant I certainly wasn't in the mood to be blogging.  I didn't hate my life but my priorities dramatically shifted away from screen time.

Most recently, I've been working on getting through my To Do list.  I was able to strike the following items off the list (which is constantly being added to):
  • I redecorated the guest room.
  • My powder room reno is finished.
  • I've painted the foyer and hung up most of its decor items.
  • I had the giant tree growing in my backyard that kept hitting my house *finally* cut down.
  • I have started the kitchen "refresh" so I'm about halfway done painting the cabinets, have installed the new range hood, have installed new lighting fixtures and will hopefully be able to get going on the backsplash soon.
  • I replaced the broken light fixtures in my basement.
Not bad, right?  So yes, I've been away but I have at least been using that time productively!!

Due to all the personal issues that happened shortly after my last post there have been some shifts in my priorities and I'm trying to align my choices/decisions with those new priorities.  I've only discussed these changes with a few very close friends but as things develop further, I'll be sure to keep you informed.

Anyways, I'm off to go and slap another coat of paint on some cabinets!!