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Category Archives: Budget Roundups
I (surprisingly or not), worked a lot this month and made a lot more than I expected to, going into February.
I suppose that’s rather easy to do, when your goals are set very low at $500 of income a month.
None of my income will turn into a full-time job even on the side, because this seemed to be the month that everyone needed help, and I was happy to pitch in my time for some money.
I also spent a lot this month (the bulk of it happening on the first day of February), which may or may not have motivated me to hustle a bit harder than usual this month.
INCOME = $1371.96
$1346.96 of it was actual cash-in-hand
I surpassed my casual PF goal of making an additional $500/month (outside of regular contracting income) goal so easily (happened in the first week of February) that I decided to make it $1000 for this month.
Then I hit that $1000/month goal by about mid-month, February 16th, so I revised it to $1500, but alas, fell short.
(Aim for the moon to land among the stars, right?)
I actually made more than part-time minimum wage this month!
Yes. You should be just as surprised as I am.
Canada’s minimum wage is $820 for 20 hours a week at $10.25 per hour, and I was only about $250 away from a “full-time minimum wage” job.
Maybe I should really aim for full-time minimum wage….
Sounds like too much pressure for no reason.
Anyway, this extra cash would also compensate last month’s barely-$500 income as well.
Ranked in order of amount earned:
- $600 – Took on a short work assistant job (referred to by a family member, not a regular gig)
- $320 – Freelanced on the side, writing articles for sites; semi-regular thing, not my actual job
- $262.45 – I sold the rest of my stuff on consignment; New batch already dropped off for March
- $47.35 – Complained (nicely) about my delivery not making it, was compensated ($31 profit)
- $43.31 – Got my money back from Ebates Canada from my little shopping spree of December
- $42.25 – Google Adsense mostly because of my ranting and raving (should do that more..)
- $30 – Sold my physical books as I now have e-copies of them; considering selling my manga
- $25 – Swagbucks turned into Amazon gift cards; Will be using this $$ to buy a sweater shaver
- $1.60 – Found this on the ground in random coins this month
(POSSIBLE) UPCOMING CONTRACT INCOME = $100,000
I also got a whiff of a contract that sounded pretty steady and would give me about $100K for a few months of work, but the client changed their minds (ARGH!!!) and won’t be ready to start the project for a few more months.
So I’m back in waiting mode to see if something better comes along in the meantime. I hate people who put me through the ringer of interviews and grilling. Don’t put me through that stress unless you’re serious.
That’s the thing about freelancing – it’s a waiting game.
Anyway, I need to give my brain a workout so you’ll see more posts from me because my brain is getting flabbier than a beer belly.
EXPENSES = $1794.98
Note: Without those pots and pans, I’d have only spent $1078.35.
Just putting it out there that I’d have been totally under my Income of $1346.96 this month.
Note: I am posting this on the last day of February, but I’ve taken into account in my expenses what I will spend today.
The biggest expense was in the household equipment section.
New pots and pans (story on why we had to buy them coming up in my What I Bought spending post), along with repairing what I own, and some new wardrobe things*.
(*Look, you just can’t say “NO” to perfect red ballet flats on sale, in your elusive size 7, that’s just crazy talk.)
OTHER BUDGET NOTES:
I WON A ZINIO GIVEAWAY!
I didn’t mark this as “income” (it’d be silly.. right?), but I won the Zinio e-magazine giveaway on Geek in Heels (Jenny is a fabulous blogger, I’ve been a fan since back in the day).
Woo hoo! $25 CAD saved for a magazine renewal.
As you may or may not know, I read e-books, e-manga and e-magazines on my iPad, so this is fantastic.
Thanks again, Jenny!
TOP 5 SPENDING CATEGORIES FOR THIS MONTH
Yeah. I knew all of this.
My Repairs budget will be big for next month too, I’m bringing in more pairs of old shoes and heels to be fixed and grippy-soled.
(An enduring motto for me is: Take care of what you own, rather than to toss it and buy it new!)
NET WORTH = $209,709.86 or a decrease of - $395.20 or - 0.19%
Small decrease. Not significant enough to make me weep in the corner like in previous months, but I definitely need to keep up my resolve.
I think a lot of it had to do with my rather decent income this month to cover a good chunk of my bills,
Without those pots and pans, I would have been $268.61 UNDER budget.
I spent $448.02 over my income for this month mostly for those pots/pans, but my net worth only dropped $395.20 because the markets slightly made up for that.
MY NET WORTH FROM THE PAST 12 MONTHS
From February 2012, I was just under the $200,000 mark by about $20,000.
A nice fat jump happened in March (I wish I could tell you it was because of my brilliance but alas, it was not), but it sure helped cushion all the taxes I had to pay in April.
Had a nice growth over the rest of the months that peaked around July and then had a slow decline up until where I am today.
Not too shabby for not having worked much, but I am basically only about $30,000 above where I was a year ago.
*puts game face on*
My goal will be to try and keep my net worth line steady, rather than go through another spike and drop, although March / April will be where I’ll need to pay my taxes (about a $3500 difference to Canada, versus U.S. taxes).
MY FAVOURITE BLOG FEATURE THIS MONTH: ECCENTRICITY
This is one of the nicest compliments I’ve received in a long time, with Jacq me an low-profile eccentric, and I couldn’t be more pleased that it came from one of my all-time favourite PF bloggers..
I’ve been reading Jacq since… gosh, since I found her blog which must have been a few years ago.
Then I proceeded to devour every blog post in all the archives.
She doesn’t write much (I like that, because each post she does write is eagerly anticipated by yours truly), and keeps a rather low-profile herself, but if you just take a look through her blog Single Mom, Rich Mom, you’ll soon understand that she is a pretty incredible person.
She doesn’t toot her own horn, keeps to herself for the most part, but her writing has always been of top-notch quality.
(For the record, I’m not just saying all of that just because she paid me a compliment.)
A FANTASTIC READ FOR THE MONTH
THE best story I’ve read so far this year; it’s riveting, and Curtis (a former gang member) is now a writer at the American Debt Project:
It’s so interesting to read about how other people on the fringe of society life, and the struggles that he had with budgeting as well, after getting out of prison.
(I say fringe not to be dismissive or rude, but to highlight that it truly is another world.)
I’d gush about it some more but you’d be better off just reading it for yourself to get the full effect.
OTHER ARTICLES I ENJOYED AROUND THE WEB
Photograph I took of a Fendi Box
- NY Magazine:What Thirteen People Wore to interview with Anna Wintour
- Panodo Daily: Sandberg versus Slaughter ..and then there’s reality – on women & kids
- The Guardian: The £1500 Pippa handbag craze *
Best sentence of the entire story about that Pippa handbag craze:
“God forbid the woman [Pippa Middleton] should buy her own stuff, having been paid a mere £400,000 for a book revealing that the secret of turning raw sausages into cooked ones is to switch the oven on.”
- Putting me together: Building a wardrobe from scratch, starting with colours
- James Altucher: Lots of naked people – Inspiring, and not what you think!
- Financial Uproar: Interview with a phone sex operator — Enlightening and funny.
- Europe & Me: Foie Gras – Is it really as bad as we’re making it out to be? What about the rest of our food? (Hat tip to Christiane, my lovely reader who wrote this excellent article)
- The Asian Pear: Hacking a new nailpolish — Brilliant. Clear nailpolish & crushed eyeshadow.
- The Monevator: Can I afford to live like a millionaire? – In-depth, technical article on savings
- DQYDJ: When will you become a millionaire [Calculator]? — My requested calculator from PK!
- Harvard Business Review: The best investment you can make — On what matters to humans
- 2 Ringgits: Setting my priorities right — A wonderful, introspective post that made me nod along
- Thomas Stanley: Not gifted? Represent those who are — Become the agent, not the author.
- CBB: Making the best of what’s available — Guatemalan grocery shopping guest posted by one of my favourite bloggers Pauline of Reach Financial Independence (her nomadic life is great!)
As an atheist, I tend to stay away from getting into petty “my religion is better than you not even having a heaven to look forward to, you heathen” arguments but I feel like this has to be a joke.
They’re trolling us, right?
- The banana is held the wrong way to be eaten in the video. Even monkeys know this. They hold the handle of the banana and peel the other end, so that it’s easier to hold and to eat.
- Modern bananas as we know them today, were cultivated and bred from a cousin of the plantain (Source)
- What about all the other fruits? I’d like them to explain the durian, a seriously spiky, smelly, and dangerous fruit banned on Singaporean subways, among others (coconut, pineapple).
Explain this as part of natural design, please!
Literally, forbidden fruit in Singapore. Photograph on the left is my own photo from being in Singapore, and Via
Honestly, I really don’t care to get into a he-said, she-said, religious debate, because you can believe what you want to believe in as long as you don’t try and change my beliefs.
I’m just mildly amused by the whole act of bringing up the modern, yellow, cultivated banana as proof.
I am not expecting to repeat the income of February, but if I can, I’d like to.
(Listen to that hesitation in my voice… )
I can expect $500 a month in side income (I am not taking on any minimum-wage part-time jobs soon), so that’s my goal for March, to try and keep up the average for the year.
Will do better. Will do better. Will do better.
Not much happening on my end.
Just chillin’ out, trying not to spend money, looking at pictures of cute Japanese flying squirrels.
YES THEY EXIST!!!!
INCOME = $500.19 — NOT A $0!
Only $463.86 was actual cash
- $75 — Freelancing; there seems to be a lack in writing opps which I didn’t foresee happening
- $33.44 — Google Adsense
- $323.10 — More of my consignment stuff sold; I have another batch ready to go for Spring
- $22.32 — Found money on the ground; Found a $20 bill!! Best find ever.
- $10 — Lottery ticket winnings (don’t ask, it was a whim spurred on by nagging)
This “income” was in the form of gift cards.
Technically it isn’t “income”, but I feel like I should note it here:
- $11.33 — Amazon Associates referrals (thank you!)
- $25 — Swagbucks (Didn’t buy any e-books though, am building up a credit on Amazon)
DIDN’T 100% HIT MY (CASUAL) $500 EXTRA-ON-THE-SIDE GOAL
My original grand plan this year was to try and make $500 (on average) a month and I was about $75 short because there seems to be a lack in writing opportunities.
It wasn’t from lack of trying, I can tell you that.
I was pestering people who were surely sick of me by January, because they never replied.
I know, you’re thinking:
“Do I need to call you a WAH-mbulance!?”
That’s really no excuse because I could have picked up some fast food job and pulled in $1600 this month working full-time, but I didn’t because I didn’t want to.
(You wanted the truth, right?)
In my defense, I didn’t book about $140 in income this month to (falsely) boost my earnings above $500 to make this rather dubious, already-quite-fake goal, because I won’t be actually getting that money until February 2013.
The good news, is that my expenses were pretty low this month.
The lowest I think I’ve ever seen them!
Also, I heard back from my real career and I am looking at something that might be coming up in the next month or so.
Trying not to get my hopes up.
*Taken from Modern Family‘s Claire and Lily act during the baptism of Fulgencio Joseph Tucker episode. I love that show!
EXPENSES = $551.01 — LOWEST, EVER!!!!
I almost wept for joy when I saw these numbers.
Of course, it’s partly deflated because of the massive returns I made ($250-ish dollars), so I’m spending around $800 a month.
My original budget is a generous $2500. I’m really under by about $1700, in terms of the average for this year.
ALMOST PAID FOR MY EXPENSES THIS MONTH
I was about $87.15 off from actually covering my entire living expenses with extra income (cold hard cash only) on the side this month.
This is doable.
Maybe selling all my stuff all the time on consignment is not as sustainable (nor returning things I already bought), but it’s really uplifting to know that I can reach these levels if I try.
I think my general living expenses can be around $800 a month, or so.
$300 for rent, $300 for food, $200 for the rest (v. generous).
Wardrobe looks like a massive chunk in here, but it’s - 23%. Don’t miss that very significant, important ” - ”
Even though my Don’t Break the Chain app that I’ve been using to help stay away from stores and buy anything is a full red-X checked month… LOOKY LOOKY!
I didn’t buy a SINGLE Wardrobe-related thing this month.
It absolutely felt difficult and slightly painful for me to stay in this month.
Don’t let anyone lie to you and tell you it’s SOOOO easy to stay in and be entertained.
It isn’t and they’re liars. Or hermits.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m really more of a homebody and I’d rather stay in than go out and party until 3 a.m. in the morning, but I literally didn’t leave the house more than 7 times this month.
REASONS WHY I STAYED IN
- snow and below-0 freezing cold temperatures suck
- rain sucks
- saves me money on spending any TTC tokens (they’re $2.65 per single trip now!)
- ..and as Revanche points out, I am self-punishing for various reasons
Can’t help it. Sorry.
I know I shouldn’t think like that, but I am.
All of this gave me a bit of cabin-fever, which made me go into overdrive for writing and scheduling posts, and researching more into possible investments.
OTHER THINGS I GOT ACCOMPLISHED VIA CABIN FEVER
- I did my U.S. taxes — Took about a week of reading to acclimatize to the U.S. tax jargon
- Set up my Money To Do List such as move TD E-Series index funds to Vanguard ETFs**
- Stayed well, WELL under my given, average monthly budget of $2500 a month
- Realized I didn’t die from staying inside for 24 out of the 31 days
- Am resolved to repeat this self-punishing cabin fever behaviour for February 2013
**I promise I will cover and explain what I just said in my Investing Series over the next month.
NET WORTH = $210,105.06 or an increase of + $9959.43 or + 4.98%
TOP 5 SPENDING CATEGORIES
This might actually be the first time I’ve spent on necessities for all 5 of my categories of spending.
NET WORTH FROM THE PAST 12 MONTHS
ARTICLES/POSTS I REALLY LIKED THIS MONTH
- Smithsonian: For 40 years, this Russian family was cut off from civilization, unaware of WWII
- Objective Wealth: Are you materialistic enough? – Excellent summation of prioritizing money
- Rick Ferri: Naïve Investors Taken to the Cleaners
- Globe & Mail: Can’t save? Forget about the lattes - Houses & Cars make a bigger impact
- Australian Tourism Answers — True or not, they’re hilarious
MY TOP 5 BLOG POSTS FOR JANUARY 2013
- Switching to buying used or consigned (thrift) clothing completely: Could I do it?
- Save like a developing country
- Investing Series: What fees and things look for when you’re investing
- How to name your files, folders and photographs
- BBC Documentary: Why are thin people not fat?
CARNIVALS I ENTERED (& WHO ACTUALLY ACCEPTED)
- Carnival of Personal Finance with this post: Could having too much money make you suicidal?.
- Carnival of Wealth with this post: Single women are paying more versus their married counterparts over a lifetime.
Another month of staying in and learning how to deal with cabin fever, especially now that I’ve discovered Hola Media Unblocker and I can surf major country-restricted sites like Hulu to watch videos.
Can I beat my record for not leaving the house for more than 7 times this month?
Only time will tell.
(Probably won’t happen. I’ll go out at least 7 times, I think. Plus I have some lunches/dinners I’m planning for next month.)
Oh, and waiting for a contract. Yep. Still doing that.
All of the following was tracked on a daily basis for the entire year of 2012 with my budgeting and expense tracking tool.
When I finish a year, I prepare for the new one, and copy the old values over so I keep building a nice archive of all my expenses. I especially like seeing my history dating back from 2006. I wish I had started this sooner!
On to the numbers!
(You can click on any image to biggify.)
2012 INCOME = $130,210.69 for 10 actual weeks worked
I made more as a gross income, but as I’ve prepaid my income taxes, that’s pretty much my net income not counting any taxes that might arise from my investments (dividends for instance).
I’m rather surprised at this number, because I always had it fixed in my head that I didn’t work much…then I realized it was because I was thinking of actual HOURS I worked (you know, 40 a week?)
See, I only worked 10 actual weeks this year, which is why I felt unusually (usually?) lazy this year, because it was only 400 hours of brain power spent, versus the 2000 in a typical full-time job for a year.
If we average that, I made about $13,000 a week for actual weeks worked although $45,000 of that was not related to actual hours of work in 2012, so if we take that out of the equation, I made about $8500 a week in 2012 for actual weeks worked.
2012 EXPENSES = $52,043 or about 39.97%
I spent $52,043 which does not include savings or charitable donations. I took those out as “expenses” because they’re not actual lifestyle expenses.
I had a pretty eventful year if I say so myself.
I went for about 4 weeks to Hong Kong and Macau for ~$3000.
I moved to New York City about a block from Times Square, and a few blocks from Central Park for most of this year.
I am not too upset about this being over my projected “ideal household budget” which is in the $30,000 – $40,000 range because I spent a lot of money moving from one country to another, about $15,000 at a minimum by my estimates.
Note: Around $15,000 were all put into categories like “Rent“, “Transportation“, “Travel“, “Fees“, etc, because I didn’t make a separate Moving category..
Also, I let myself be a little too liberal with the Wardrobe spending this year especially near the end, with spending in December 2012 because of all the deals, the sales and discovering Ebates Canada, but I’ve mentally re-adjusted myself.
I am going to clamp down on this in another way for 2013, rather than trying my stale old methods of banning or restricting myself which never work.
(Funny how a fresh fiscal year will make you say all these wonderful things and feel like you mean it!)
2012 SAVINGS = $62,167.69 savings or 47.74%
I saved a solid amount this year, considering I didn’t work much and felt like the whole year was a vacation….. which it kind of was, if I’m being honest.
I don’t think that’s too shabby for net savings, even though my net worth begs to differ (glad the market jumped a little, however!).
I have also recently completed the rest of my donations to various charities this year which will help offset any investment taxes. So that has lowered my net worth as well, but in a good fuzzy way.
2012 END OF YEAR NET WORTH = $200,145.63
I prefer looking at net worth to see how I did, over actual dollar amount savings, because even though I save money, I am more interested if that savings stuck and my net worth increased or not.
Otherwise, I can say that I saved a ton of money, but if my net worth didn’t go up, it isn’t good enough for me. It means that I am not putting my money to grow in the right places if I am always saving a lot, but not getting ahead.
My net worth stands at: $200,145.63 for the end of 2012.
Here are the past 12 months of only looking at 2012 from January to December.
COMPARING FROM 2011 TO 2012
To know whether or not I’ve done well this year by my standards (versus last year), I always ask myself 3 major things as a personal benchmark:
Did I save at least 25% of my income?
Did I save at least $36,000 this year?
Has my net worth gone up this year? By how much?
As long as I am going in the right direction (up!) by at least $36,000 net a year (the minimum reasonable amount calculated at $3000 saved per month), I have at least met my goals.
Then it’s a question of meeting my other secret goals, like saving 50% of my net income and trying to stay within $30,000 – $40,000 for life spending.
I should try much harder for 2013 and I have a plan to do just that.
What’s that you say?
I could have actually made my $40,000 net expenses goal, and I could been more in the black if I had just not bought any clothes or wardrobe-related things this year to the tune of about $9000?
Yeah you’re right… but be quiet you.
I’m not a miser.
There’s nothing wrong with a little shopping, especially having met my goals. I’m mildly disappointed but not angry at it, and I wouldn’t return anything I bought that I haven’t already.
No point in not wanting to live for the sake of reaching some mythical $1M savings goal before I even want to retire.
2011-2012 YEAR FOR MY NET WORTH CHANGE
Increase +$44,928.58 or a +29% increase
I started at $155,217.05 at the end of December 2011, and I finished at $200,145.63.
I saved $62,167.69, but my net worth only went up $45,000 or so due to the following:
- charitable donations
- investments going south then going north, then going south
- investments held in USD, waiting for a rise, which is making me very frustrated
These are all numbers that look just about right to me.
Almost all of my funds are currently a BIT below market value, and on top of that, the bulk of my assets are held in USD, so it doesn’t look so hot at the moment.
As for the currency exchange: I don’t want to convert my balance of USD to CAD and lose money, quite yet.
I’m holding out and hoping for 2013 and I will make a call either in June on what to do. I mean, c’mon! The rate is currently 0.97 CAD to 1.00 USD? I can’t stomach that loss.
If the stock market does better in 2013, it’d be great, but I’ll just focus on net savings and staying in one country.
2011-2012 MONTHLY BUDGETING EXPENSES AVERAGED OUT
That looks about right, all things considered.
Everything went up except for:
- Groceries — went down by $472.51 (surprisingly!)
- Grooming/Spa — went down by $72.66
- Electronics — went down by $1686.96 (didn’t buy a new laptop this year)
- Books & Gifts — went down by $2363.49 (didn’t buy my parents expensive gifts)
- Entertainment — went down by $294.40 (was absorbed into other areas like Eating Out)
- Website — went down by $108.50
Rent really went up because I stayed in hotels when I moved, and paid 100% of it, rather than sharing the cost (50%) with BF.
Groceries – I’m kind of surprised Groceries went DOWN this year, by about $472, we’re buying smarter I think, and it helps rather than just eating mindlessly.
Cellphone went up because I got a smartphone (iPhone 4) and then I got rid of my smartphone because I saw no value in it. My cellphone bill will be about $13 a month going forward (my half of the bill).
Car/Gas went up because when I moved, I had to rent cars to get around (no one can really walk in the U.S., as everything is so far apart) and that was not cheap.
Household was nasty this year, moving to another country and back. We re-bought all the stuff for the kitchen, but then the Boxing Day sales hit in December for Boxing Day… yadda yadda. Laundry also got lumped into this category.
Toiletries/Makeup will not be this high next year. I have most of my stock for 2013 bought during sale days, and I don’t need anything else. I have all of my favourite beauty items for 2012 which I will continue to use for 2013. No more experimenting!!!!
Eating Out still looks reasonable to me, but I should probably scale back.
Wardrobe/Jewellery is still not reasonable, but I have a new way to stay in line rather than overspending.
Electronics is an area I’m quite proud of. I didn’t buy much this year because I have everything I need! I’m eying the Kobo Glo, but I don’t want to pay too much for it. I’m willing to wait, to get it at a good price.
Books/Gifts stayed nice and low because I’ve been using Swagbucks to get them for free, and I didn’t buy my parents any fancy $1000-gifts this year.
Entertainment is now a defunct category that I am removing for 2013. My entertainment is eating, traveling or buying cute things. I don’t go to the movies, or do “entertainment” (vague) things.
Travel & Accessories stands to reason to be lower than last year. I took off most of last year to travel around Europe, Asia and the U.S., and I only went to NYC and Hong Kong and Macau this year for a month. Next year, I want to go back to France, and visit other regions of France.
Website – it costs money to maintain a blog, which I am hoping will be covered by Google Adsense for 2013. Still, it is a very low amount for a time-consuming hobby, which is exactly what blogging is to me.
Work/Office – Buying office supplies, mailing things, or anything related to WORK as an expense got thrown in here.
Miscellaneous — Stuff that crops up. Legal bills are here, as are bank fees (currency exchange or wire fees for instance). I’m creating a new category for this.
2011 VERSUS 2012 CHART
NET WORTH TO DATE
MY NET WORTH SINCE NOVEMBER 2006
Hey, as long as the trajectory goes up, I’m happy.
So pretty, even with all the bumps.
I am hoping to have a nice big spike in 2013 from working (more).
MY 2012 MONEY GOAL = Stay @ $200K net worth
It was originally to save $250,000, and then a lot of changes happened, and at the end of the year, I just wanted to stay above $200,000 for my net worth.. WHICH I ACCOMPLISHED!
I ACCOMPLISHED IT!
(Yes, I had to dig through my purses for each country and count money like Euros and my emergency $20 bills, but I MADE IT!!!!)
REVIEW OF BLOG FOR 2012
I started this blog literally in the first days of January 2012 after I decided that I missed it too much, but I needed to be more realistic by scaling back on my expectations and to just relax about it.
It’ll now be permanent, I promise.
As I am sure you certainly find this as boring as I do, I will spare you the pain and just do a blog update once a year for the sake of my records.
BLOG INCOME FOR 2012
I started Google Adsense literally on November 1st 2012, and it’s my only real steady blog income which I keep and use to cover the cost of the blog (web hosting, domain name registration), and gives me a little back for the time I put into it (even though it’s really a hobby…!)
November 2012 Blog Earnings: $317.10
- Google Adsense Earnings: $17.10 with 17,095 page views
- Sponsored Link: $300 (one-time)
December 2012 Blog Earnings: $70.07
- Google Adsense Earnings: $70.07 with 21,848 page views (WOO HOO!)
It almost covered this year’s website costs.
I hope next year will be more fruitful.
RSS FEED SUBSCRIBERS = Went from 0 to 244
Started the blog around the early days of January with 0 RSS Feed subscribers.
Ended 2012 with 244 RSS Feed subscribers.
TWITTER FOLLOWERS = Went from 0 to 253
Started the blog with 0 Twitter followers.
Ended 2012 with 253 followers.
Thank you again!
MY 5 BEST POSTS OF 2012
- What should my net worth be?
- How much money should you have saved for retirement so far?
- Almost Rich: Earning $160,000 – $200,000 a year and barely making it
- How do fashion bloggers afford all their spending?
- Are single women too successful to find love?
MY 5 TOP REFERRERS OF 2012
- The Star (because of David Graham’s: Meet Generation M – Minimalists Article)
- Fabulously Fru-Girl
- Financial Uproar
- Shopping Detox
- The Asian Pear
MY 5 TOP SEARCH TERMS OF 2012
- household budget spending ideal = 828
- monet water lilies = 697
- mochi and macarons = 438
- the budgeting tool = 319
- shopping = 244
Budget + Shop + Eat.
Yep, that sounds like it describes my blog perfectly.
NOTABLE 2012 BLOG FEATURE:
- Meet Generation M — minimalists trying to live better by cutting clutter, consumption (David Graham, The Star, December 4th 2012)
MY NEW 2013 TRICK TO SPEND LESS ON CLOTHES
I’d like to do the same things as 2011 and 2012, and I always re-iterate that I should change:
- Stop spending so much money on clothes, toiletries and makeup
- Work more than 2 months of a year..
- Save more money to reach a higher net worth
- Bla bla bla….
In reality, I do want to do those things (the working and saving is a given)…. but as I don’t spend in other big-ticket areas (like having a car, furniture or a home), I feel like clothing is something I should allow myself, and to set a more REALISTIC-for-me budget in that area and/or change those stale limitations.
I don’t want to keep setting the same old stale goals that I keep breaking every year.
It just isn’t working for me.
I have gotten rid of so much stuff that didn’t add value or look great in my wardrobe, that it started to look a little bare so I’ve been carefully replacing items with higher-quality things that are cut better and flatter more…. but also cost more (as evidenced by last month’s December 2012 Shopping Spree).
I’ve noticed that I have been thrifting a lot more, and enjoying the hunt, so my changes for 2012 will be:
- Do more thrifting/consignment shopping than new retail shopping – at least 50% of my purchases?
- 100% avoid being tempted by cheap stores like Zara, H&M, Mango, Forever 21 and so on (easy..)
- Being pickier — I’m getting so much better at this!
- Total, and utter ban on new makeup purchases — I really have every beauty/toiletry thing I need
- Only allowed to buy refills
The above will make more of a difference in my budget than putting a ban or a vague “stop spending..” limitations on myself.
Have to get creative if I want to embrace and internalize the change!
OVERALL SUMMARY OF 2012
Overall, I think I did better-than-I-had-expected this year.
- Made $130,210.69 net (taxes prepaid already) for 2012, working 10 weeks this year
- Saved $62,167.69 net or 47.74% of my income
- Spent $52,043 (lifestyle only; net of prepaid taxes and savings), or 39.97% of my income
- Net worth went up $44,928.58 or 29% from 2011
- Met my 2012 goal of staying above $200,000 net worth
- Met my general money goal of saving a minimum of $36,000 a year
- Met my general money goal of saving at least 25% of my income
Could I have done better?
Well, I didn’t do as well as I had hoped but I know exactly why and where I didn’t push myself to save more, and 2013 will not be a repeat of this (it’ll be better).
Luckily the financial start to my year was great and it cushioned all the things I had to pay for.
I did all right for myself.
Not fantastic, but all right.
LOOKING TOWARDS 2013
MUST-READ BLOG TO START THE NEW YEAR: GREY CAVALIER
I have sort of a soft spot for seniors, especially really kind, subsitute-for-Grandpa-or-Grandma types. You just can’t refuse them anything, they’re so adorable and full of interesting tidbits!
I love that they remind me to take life less seriously (it isn’t a race to the end), to enjoy it, and have lots of rich, full experiences.
So I was especially pleased to find this blog: Grey Cavalier (quite aptly named), written by George White, a 92-year old man who just lost his wife Mima of 67 years. (Okay, so I teared up…)
He started the blog to feel better at the end of it by sharing how the world looks through his eyes.
Photo via Grey Cavalier
“I intend to make the best of things, try to forget my pains (at least for a while), and visit some of the lovely scenery and mountains in that country [Switzerland]. I’ve seen many photographs, now that I received my first ever passport a few weeks ago I can now experience it for myself.
I would like to share my adventures with you, and at the end of it I hope to feel a lot better. I hope you enjoy what follows.”
I don’t know if I ever recounted this, but I met a lovely French couple (seniors) from Burgundy, and they were so full of stories and life, after 15 minutes, I almost invited them to visit us in Canada.
I’ve considered volunteering for those retirement homes where you go and chat with them on a regular basis, and I may do that in 2013 if I can find a place to settle down and stay for more than a few months.
2013 PERSONAL GOALS
- Avoid buying so much plastic — or at least, if I buy it, be able to recycle it in the Blue Bin
- Avoid buying things Made in China — the plastic fumes make me nauseous & the quality is low
- Read more books, or rather, read ALL the books I’ve been getting for free with Swagbucks money
2013 MONEY GOALS
- Reach at least $250,000 in my net worth by the end of 2013
- Spend no more than $30,000 net on living expenses this year (including travel) — budget coming up!
- Do freelancing for some side income of at least $300 a month on average (separate from my career)
2013 CAREER GOALS
- Work more than 10 weeks in 2013 — har har…
- Continue learning French — the worst for me are all the le and la ‘s in front of words… GAH!
- Think about getting a very expensive certification that may be helpful (have to do the ROI on this)
I hate doing too many goals I’ll never reach, but these are things I’d like to get done this year or at least think more about as I go about 2013.
Only a few are concrete and measurable like the money ones.
That does it for my 2012 year in review! I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you had a fruitful 2012 as well.
THANKS FOR ALL THE SUPPORT!
This aptly named “Time to Prioritize” shirt pretty much says everything about my life post-college so far:
INCOME = $492.11
Not a pathetic $0!!!!! Hahaha. Okay, I know. I have to work in 2013, but I need contracts first.
- $17.10 — November 2012 Google Adsense Income (sorry, I didn’t even realize I made any money)
- $70.01 — December 2012 Google Adsense Income (whoa… that escalated quickly! )
- $300 — Did 3 hours of freelancing on the side
- $105 — Sold a few things
EXPENSES = $5058.67 (Eeep!)
- I spent a lot. A lot.
- Savers will have to avert their eyes when I post what I bought this month.
PIE CHART FOR THE EXPENSES
TOP 5 CATEGORIES OF SPENDING
NET WORTH = $200,145.63 or a -($3206.63) decrease or a -1.58% drop
I MADE IT!
I MADE MY 2012 NET WORTH GOAL TO TREAD ABOVE $200,000 WATER FOR MY NET WORTH!
Of course, this would have been better if I didn’t shop so much, but you say tomayto, I say tomahto…
My investing however, not so hot because this market is making me #$*&!#&@$^@$.
Overall the year has been decent.
My net worth went up and I met all my minimum goals, so that’s what matters.
NET WORTH FROM THE PAST 12 MONTHS
Taxes. Finding a contract. Taxes.
That about sums it up.
Hope you had a great December.
I’ve always wondered what the benchmarks were for saving, net worth and retirement numbers by age.
It can be so hard to judge all of that, seeing as our income varies over our lifetime, and we don’t know how long we’ll live or how much we will really need.
According to Fidelity, here are some numbers they tried to pony up for us:
By age 35, your goal is to save an amount equal to your annual pay.
By 45, you will want to have saved about three times your salary, rising to five times your salary by 55.
Typical wage earners should aim to save at least eight times their final annual pay to be sure they can afford basic living expenses in retirement.
Naturally, this is assuming that you will eventually get promotions and climb that proverbial ladder to earn $75,000 by the time you’re 55 or so.
Let’s say you get a 3% raise per year as an average, and you started working at 24 for about $30,000 a year.
Here are your numbers:
35: Saved $41,527 as your net worth (1 time)
45: Saved $167,426.51 as your net worth (3 times)
55: Saved $375,012.05 as your net worth (5 times)
65: Saved $806,375.74 as your net worth (8 times)
These numbers are not terribly realistic, as not many people at 65 will reach $100,000 as their annual income, but they’re a start for people to see where they’re at.
So if I made a chart for myself, it’d look like this:
- 35: Saved $221,377
- 45: Saved $750,000
- 55: Saved $1,250,000
- 65: Saved $2,000,000
(Adjusting for: 1) I’d DEFINITELY max out at around $250,000 a year for an income, and 2) my average income has actually been around $75,000, accounting for the fact that I’ve been working 2 out of the 5 years.)
I’m on track then.
I am also aiming to save $1,000,000.
I don’t think I need $2M, and it’d be nice to have, but I’m not going to kill myself for it.
What about you? What do you want to have saved by the time you retire? Are you as freakily obsessed about having enough money at retirement as I am?
Apparently low blood pressure was the only cause of my health problems this month (nausea, dizziness, fatigue), and otherwise I am in tip top, perfect shape.
Got my free checkup and free blood test (thank you universal Canadian healthcare!), and a Post-It prescription from my doc to take omega-3 pills and folic acid.
Will be back to see him for another blood test in 3 months.
I also went in to see a massage therapist for my slightly pinched nerve who told me to heat my right shoulder and side, because it’s stiffening and could use something to help the muscles loosen.
She told me to heat pack it and stretch that side more during yoga (cheaper than weekly massages).
NOT WINTERIZING ANY MORE
I just realized that the less I work, the cheaper I become with my expenses.
There’s no need for me to do this because I am beyond financially comfortable for my age, but I’ve noticed a pattern in myself: every time I stop working for more than 2-3 months, my mind starts ticking and slowing down on the spending.
BRING IT ON GRANDPA WINTER!!!!!!
I get cheaper, I don’t want to buy or pay for anything that is not absolutely 100% amazing or tasty, and I don’t even want to hear the word “vacation” come out of BF’s mouth.
It’s kind of awesome in a ridiculous way.
Even for 2012, I wanted to buy:
- a hat ($200)
- boots ($400)
- gloves ($200)
- a super warm coat ($700) for -35 Celsius degrees days
But I’ve decided against all that.
I went from giving myself a budget of $1500 for everything in total to $100 because I’m still considering a non-cloth/fabric hat of some kind, and I want to replace the insoles on my old winter boots to sexy Birkenstock ones.
(Note: The big fat budget is because I like to buy things once and not buy them any more.)
- Boots: Returned UGG boots because of price; Will keep old ones & wear 2 layers of socks
- Gloves: On hold for now and will just put my hands in my pockets all winter if I get cold
- Coat: Keep my old coat, wear THREE layers of cashmere and deal with it
Purse & Bank Account = Happier.
FEELING THE BURN OF CASH?
Our insula (associated with pain) is activated by prices that seem too high.
…and she also notes that if you spend in CASH rather than on credit, you don’t feel any pain, hence why if you want to find money to save, you have to buy everything in cash so you’re in pain every time you fork over a penny.
That doesn’t seem to apply to me. (See above: Not Winterizing Any More)
I buy everything on my credit card, but I still feel the pain when I see the receipt and the amount, because I treat my credit card like a cash card.
INCOME = $729.95
Surprisingly (or not), I made a little bit of money this month!!!
- Advertising: $300 (1 advertiser, one-off deal)
- Consigning/Selling stuff: $429.95 (still have some stuff out on consignment)
It doesn’t cover my expenses by a long shot, but at least it wasn’t a pathetic $0 this month.
I also can’t really call consigning/selling stuff “income” as it is really lost income in the form of a previous frivolous expense, but it does make my wallet feel better.
Note: I can’t realistically make any money until 2013, as there are no contracts because most of the company budgets have been used up, and they have no money left for freelancers.
Nice excuse right?
Too bad it’s true. *sigh*
EXPENSES = $3000.16
Almost right on the nose..
Aside from rent, I was partly in Hong Kong for this month, so I put my Hong Kong spending here, which inflates it slightly by about $264.81.
We also went for a little Montreal jaunt to tie up loose ends (I owed $11 from my driver’s license payment, what’s up with that!?), got my license changed to QC, and picked up macarons, which ended up costing me about $400 for the whole time there.
I also paid a few $*#&#*@ bank fees because I always forget that when I write a cheque that I shouldn’t be paying off my credit card as I spend money on it — it’s my habit to make sure I keep my credit card at $0 balance and I can watch out for any fraud.
I should WAIT UNTIL THE CHEQUE CLEARS before paying off my card!!
I never learn my lesson, on the rare 4 times a year I write a cheque to someone. Out $15.
TOP 5 EXPENSES THIS MONTH
NET WORTH = $203,252.26 or an increase of $1336.56 or +0.66%
NOT IN THE NEGATIVE!!!!!!!!
- The stock market gained a bit.. THANK ALL THINGS FINANCIALLY HOLY…
- I think I’mma make it after all with staying above $200,000 in my net worth for 2012 *fist pump*
NET WORTH FROM THE PAST 12 MONTHS
Not much happening.
I’ll spend December looking for a winter hat, and hassling Nelson to give me those Amazon.com or Future Shop gift cards he has in his current giveaway, and the new $20 bills he has lying around and has no idea what to do with.
(Hey Nelson, make sure you mark this post down as 2 entries in that contest! I need to stay above $200,000 so I can’t spend like crazy…)
I have a few dinners coming up, which I am budgeting for, but otherwise, I don’t expect to really be spending much.. but you know. I’m an impulse shopper.
Gotta stay out of those stores and focus on thrifting instead of buying retail.
As promised in an awesome infographic that I spent a lot of time on.
(Gawrsh those things take a long time!!)
Update: It is actually 24 days, because in addition, 4 days were spent traveling (time zones) which makes it 28 days, or 4 weeks.
It isn’t exactly 5 weeks (as in 35 days), but it was the tail end of one week, and the beginning of another, so I thought of it as 5 calendar weeks in my head, when the actual weeks by numbers is really 4.
I am making this long-winded note because I don’t want to redo the infographic. *sigh*
Update 2: Damn it. DAMN my OCD self. I updated it to say 4 weeks.
Here’s what the budget looks like in terms of percentages:
As you can see, flights and hotels obviously cost a lot more than everything else.
SAVING MONEY ON FLIGHTS = $800 SAVED
We took flights that had a stopover and that was about $400/ticket in savings.
Actually, this is probably better than a direct flight because it gives you a break from the plane.
Our flights were basically 2 legs: 15 hours, 3 hour stopover, 1 hour flight from somewhere in the U.S. back to Canada.
It gave us a nice break from the airplane, a chance to stretch, and either the first or the last leg was very short.
SAVING MONEY ON HOTELS = $720 SAVED
As mentioned, we stay in cheap hotels like Ibis.
There were two of them in Hong Kong — Ibis North Point and Ibis Sheung Wan, with the Sheung Wan location costing about $30 more per day.
We didn’t stay there because it was new and we didn’t know how big it would be (almost double the size of the Ibis North Point, and the size of an American-normal-sized budget hotel room).
As a result, we saved a lot by sleeping in a 120 square foot closet, also known as the Ibis North Point hotel.
SAVING MONEY ON FOOD = $935 SAVED
Food is the third biggest cost, and it could have easily been double if we had not been avoiding restaurants, and eating pre-made meals and buying fruit from a grocery store instead.
The hotels we stayed in also had mini fridges, so we bought milk for the morning and were able to keep small things in there.
A typical breakfast would be about $10 per person, and lunches and dinners are $20 per person, so had we been going out to eat every day for 24 days, it would have been $50/day per person on average.
24 days x $100 (for 2 people) = $2400 which is a reasonable budget for what we consider good food
(Also, we don’t like cheap or junk food when we go to restaurants because it’s crap, and if I’m going to a restaurant, it had better serve real food.)
Instead, we bought everything we wanted to eat (fancy yoghurts and sushi), and spent only $30.51 per person, or a little over half.
24 days x $61.02 (for 2 people) = $1464.48 is what we really spent
We saved about $935 doing that, although BF was getting antsy about the food costs near the end and wanted me to stop stuffing my trap so much.
SAVING MONEY ON TAXIS = $1000+?
We used the handy Octopus card, and spent $252.39 for the two of us to travel pretty much anywhere we liked in Hong Kong.
In contrast, taking a taxi would have probably tripled that budget, to about $1000. Or more.
$1000 / 24 days = $41.66 per day for transportation.
(We have no clue what it costs, as we don’t take taxis even in our daily lives, but if the prices are anything like in Toronto, it’s an expensive luxury.)
Cabbing to and from the airport, to and from sights and back and forth from the hotel adds up.
Anyway, the tram was way more fun and a great, cheap way to tour the city for the low price of $2.30 HKD or $0.29 USD!!!!!
TOTAL SAVINGS = ~$3455
Not too shabby.
Every little bit and every little sacrifice adds up to significant savings when you travel. That amount that we saved above, is enough for another week or two weeks somewhere.
This update is late because I spent most of it in Hong Kong, and whenever you’re overseas, it is a huge PAIN in the butt to access your online financial accounts without them thinking you’re some spammer or hacker.
Hong Kong Wet Market Vegetable Stall (2011 Photograph)
The good news is I got a lot of photos, and we can say we’ve seen everything in Hong Kong, and I bought all I wanted to buy.
The bad news is that Hong Kong Airport, and my flight back home was delayed for an additional 6 hours, which added a little sourness to the trip.
Not to worry, I’ve been complaining left and right today.
INCOME = $0
- Need. To. Work.
- Need. To. Work.
EXPENSES = $635.08
IF ONLY I could stay like this for November and December, I would be DAMN HAPPY.
I don’t have many Hong Kong expenses here, because I did most of my spending in November, the week before I left.
I don’t like to buy things ahead of time, because I ALWAYS run out of money (*ahem*) and I always end up seeing something I want to buy at the last minute.
I ended up spending about $267 on various gifts and things, which I will post about later.
My original Hong Kong spending budget was $0.
Then I decided $100 was a good idea.
So my budget went up to $300.
YARRRRRRGH! *pirate face*
TOP 5 EXPENSES
Hey not bad. Rent was $300 to my parents, even though I spend 3/4 of October away from home.
NET WORTH = $202,015.70, a decrease of $(5019.16) or -2.42%
- &^#$@* stock market. That’s all I can say right now.
- I really didn’t spend $5000+ worth, but my net worth took a huge dive this month because of the economy
- At least this is an opportunity to pick up funds for cheap. I won’t be selling until I retire anyway, which is a long ways off (35+ years)
The main thing on my mind is working, tying up loose ends and getting organized.
Oh and this beauty:
No, I don’t need an Apple iPad Mini (who does?), but I’m seriously considering it, because the iPad is really too heavy to carry around on a daily basis, but the size is awesome for magazines, books and sheet music.
I’m considering it for reading on the train (I have books in no less than 4 apps — Kobo, Kindle, PDF Expert and iBooks), and using it like an effing, massive iPod Touch.
First things first — Need. To. Work.
How amazing would this be?
It’s a piece of art by Benoit Vieubled entitled: “Monde à l’endroit, Monde à l’envers”, which translates to “World inside out” in English.
INCOME = $0
- Expect to see that $0 last for the next few months or so while I get things settled
- Hello belt-tightening for daily expenses!
EXPENSES = $4795.71
- About 55% of my budget went to fees this month
- Decided to cancel my expensive smartphone even though it would cost $300, but I saved $2100
Boo hiss to the $3670 BANK FEE I had to pay— Turned out to be around $863, and I learned an expensive currency exchange lesson
- Also, I am gearing up for a month in HONG KONG because I foresee less fun and more work
- With these amounts, I am spending about $1650 a month, but I should be able to drop that
TOP 5 EXPENSES
I feel like this is the first time I’ve had ‘normal’ expenses that are proper budget items rather than “Wardrobe”, “Jewellery” and so on.
NET WORTH = $207,034.86 or a decrease of $4371.01 or -2.07%
NET WORTH FOR THE MOST RECENT 12 MONTHS
(Updated the chart, May 2012 was some wonky number)
A slow decline isn’t so bad.
I am going to try my darndest to stay above $200,000 until the end of 2012.
Should be pretty easy if I lower my current $1600 spend to about $1000 or less.
Should be doable. Just have to eat less macarons.
I’ve also pre-paid my Hong Kong trip, so I don’t have any outstanding debts there.
I have a budget coming up for until the end of 2012 when I should have everything set up and ready to go for a heavy duty 2013.
For the short-term, I just need to really crack down on daily expenses.
You know, I find that in times of NO INCOME, I tend to spend a lot less on buying junk.
I’m a lot pickier, a lot cheaper and always thinking of my net worth slowly draining away with each purchase.
With me, it’s feast or famine, it seems.
Maybe I could just pretend I don’t make any money at all and I’d be a millionaire in no time.
Of course, I could just NOT travel and stay at home while I settle back into Canada and basically shift my whole life, but as I can afford it, I’m going.
Onto other, shinier things this is a lovely story about Grandma Lou even if it’s heartbreakingly sad.
In China, she has saved helpless, defenseless babies (mostly girls, of course) left to die in dumpsters China.
“She and her husband later on adopted three other abandoned girls as their daughters. Additional babies that they found were given to other families to care for. “I realized if we had strength enough to collect garbage, how could we not recycle something as important as human lives,” Lou says.”
I’m flogging a dead horse here, but this worldwide bias where girls are not as valued as boys, is total, utter CRAP.
I could go on a long rant about that right now but I’ll just hold it in for a later post.
I’ve had a lot of great comments (
one two dissenting so far, although I am sure there are plenty more who are silent but fuming, and I’d like to hear their great comments too) on my post ranting about the U.S. and their practices.
I just want to point out that I don’t hate Americans, I just hate the way the country functions, acts, and works. I KNOW there are good Americans who are trying to help and change things, but I am looking at the country as a whole and the system that has been put in place. If you want to change it, then fight for it. Silence and inaction is just as good as saying you agree with what’s going on.
Also, I understand completely that I have said hurtful comments (who the hell wants to have their country called out like that or to defend it? NO ONE!) but this is because no one wants to hear anything but the good stuff.
Perhaps my comments hurt and hit deep because they’re partly true to some extent, especially seen from an outsider’s point of view. I know when people say what I think is very hurtful to me, if I come out of my red haze of anger and look at it objectively, they’re partly right. I may not think that they see the whole picture, but their opinion is just as valid and rational as mine.
The great thing about Americans is that they are full of hope and want to see the good side of things, as well as change for the better…. but that’s also the somewhat bad thing about Americans — sometimes they’re so patriotic, they’re blind to what is going on around them.
Lastly, I am not a sugar-coater at heart. I never was, never have been.
I am not sure if you have noticed, but I tend to come right out and say what I think. I don’t think that I quite reach the point of utter bluntness that borders on the way French salesgirls are honest with how something looks on you in the store, but I know I can’t help but tell the truth. It’s what I’ve been told is a good quality in me, but also a very bad one.
Side note: As I am watching American Presidential debates, I am reminded that pregnancy is considered a ‘pre-existing condition’ under their healthcare; pregnant women on maternity leave have to apply for ‘short-term disability’ because they have just given birth. Yes, it’s just semantics as “short-term disability” may just mean you can’t work for a short period of time, but it’s just insulting to mothers everywhere.
As a result of such semantics, I always get the distinct feeling that it is women’s faults for having been born ..well, as women. It’s my fault I was born a girl, with a pre-existing pregnancy condition and all this other stuff that having different body parts entails.
September was a hard month financially.
A lot of fees to cancel things like my smartphone, to move back, to exchange currency and so on.
Here’s my idea for the rest of 2012.
October 2012 = Going to Hong Kong = $3600
This one is already prepaid for the flights and hotel. I just need to cover the eating, transportation and entertainment.
Photograph I took while on the Hong Kong trams in 2011
In total (flights included) I’m looking at spending about $4500 for this month for my half, which is about $900/week.
I’ll post those actual numbers later, but that’s my estimation.
NOVEMBER 2012: Macau for a week, then coming home = $1650
The first week of November will be spent in Macau which will be about $900/week which again, includes the averaged cost of a flight and hotel.
Photograph I took of Macau in 2011
Then I’m in Canada for the rest of the 3 weeks.
Assuming $1000 a month as a budget (what? it’s a nice round number), I have $250 a week, or $750 in total.
I see it playing out like this for those 3 weeks:
I think it’s tight but doable.
DECEMBER 2012: Canada only = $1000
Going to spend this time prepping for my stay in Canada, which includes finding an apartment and getting organized. I will be moving to a new place by January 2013.
I will spend about $6000 – $6500 for the rest of 2012, which includes my month overseas.
That should bring my net worth to JUST above $200,000, which will mean that I am hitting my goal of staying above $200,000 for 2012, which frankly, was my original goal before I revised it 3 times.
If I can live on less, I will. Perhaps no Fun at all. No Miscellaneous! (Yeah right.)
The good news is that Canadian winters make me want to hibernate, not go out and shop.
I have books and magazines to read, and I have a family piano I can practice on for the rest of the year to brush up on my super rusty piano playing skills.