GET OUT OF DEBT TODAY!
THE BUDGETING TOOL - $50 USD
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Tag Archives: Saving
I’ve been requested several times to write a post on how to do this, so here it is. I will be posting on how to cut your budget later.
FIND OUT YOUR NET INCOME
Gross income is what they tell you that you make when you’re negotiating a job offer.
Net income, is what you actually get in the bank account after everyone dips their paws into your honey pot and takes out their cut, and this would include:
- Prepaid taxes (also known as ‘tax withholdings’ in the U.S.
- Health insurance
- Social Security (also known as CPP or Canadian Pension Plan)
- Employment Insurance (EI in Canada)
- ..and whatever else you have to pay for out of your cheque
If you don’t know your net income, you should at least know how often you get paid*, so look at the NET amount that gets put into your bank account or is printed on your cheque, then figure out what it should be monthly.
So if you get $2000 in your bank account bi-weekly (every 2 weeks), you earn $4000 net a month.
THAT is what you should budget with.
*Because everyone loves payday. It’s my favourite day of the week.
You also do not have to break it down the way I have with categories.
Pick and choose what works for you.
FIND OUT WHAT YOU SPEND AS FIXED EXPENSES
Now you’re wondering WTF a “fixed” expense is. It’s basically anything you MUST pay each month that doesn’t change as an amount.
This is stuff like Rent, or even your Cellphone if you don’t go over your minutes or data plan.
If you want a general idea of what fixed expenses are, here’s it is.
A GENERAL LIST OF FIXED EXPENSES
Just make a list of all the categories.
- Mortgage Payments
- Car Payment
- Debt Repayment (your minimums, assuming you aren’t incurring more debt)
- Cellphone (assuming you don’t go over your minutes and/or have an unlimited plan)
- Health Insurance
- Car Insurance
- Home Insurance
- Transportation — This can be a fixed expenses if you buy a metropass for instance
FIND OUT WHAT CATEGORIES YOU HAVE LEFT THAT ARE VARIABLE EXPENSES
Just like fixed expenses, you have variable ones that are under your control each month.
For the second part of your budget, figure out what your NECESSARY variable expenses are. This does not include eating out or entertainment.
I’m even debating putting Cellphone/Telephone/Internet on there as “necessary”, but for the sake of normalcy, let’s call them necessary.
Those are UNNECESSARY variable expenses for the purposes of setting budget priorities.
A GENERAL LIST OF NECESSARY VARIABLE EXPENSES
- Utilities to run the home — Electricity, Gas, Water, Heat
- Office — Postage, Delivery, Paper, Pens, Pencils and so on
- Household Supplies — Toilet paper, Cleaning supplies
- Toiletries — Toothpaste, Soap, Toothbrush, Floss, Shampoo, Conditioner
- Medicine — Vitamins, prescriptions, pills
- Parking/Gas — If you have a car
- Pet Food
- Basic Clothing
- Grooming — For a haircut twice a year
- Home maintenance
- Furniture purchases
Now that you have fixed expenses, you should list all the rest that is technically “fun” and unnecessary.
A GENERAL LIST OF UNNECESSARY VARIABLE EXPENSES
- Eating Out
- Alcohol — Drinking
- Clothing — Beyond Wardrobe Essentials (even my list is a bit over the top..)
- Starbucks/Teavana — Buying coffee outside, or other drinks
- Spa — Facials, Massages
- Grooming — Beyond just a haircut, includes Manicures, Pedicures
- Books/Magazines — There is a library for a reason
- Fees — They’re generally unnecessary if you avoid ATMs and incurring fees
THE CATEGORIES ARE FINISHED, NOW ESTIMATE ALLOCATING MONEY TO THEM
You will notice that you have separated your budget categories out by Fixed, Necessary Variable and Unnecessary Variable.
Those are your PRIORITIES of where you should think about adding or cutting money as required.
The actual budgeting comes in, when you apply percentages to them — here’s an ideal household budget with its percentages.
So if for instance, you’re spending more than 35% on Shelter, and more than 25% on Life (going out, eating, having fun), you need to either cut back in one or the other.
I’d actually try and cut back on ALL the expenses, including fixed ones (get a roommate, move to a cheaper apartment that’s a studio not a 1-bedroom), and see what you end up with.
You can’t have everything if you don’t have the net income to pay for it and save money.
Remember to use your net income against those percentages.
You probably haven’t been tracking your expenses at all, so in the meantime just estimate what you THINK it costs, track your expenses, and see what the actual cost per month turns out to be.
At the end of the first month, you will probably notice (as I did), that what I THOUGHT I spent, was way off from what I actually spent. In a bad way.
Once you continue to diligently track your expenses, and learn where you make mistakes, adjust your budget accordingly.
SOME BASIC BUDGETING NUMBERS TO START WITH
Here are some basic personal amounts to start with, and you can adjust as you go along your budgeting path:
(Real numbers are better, especially for fixed expenses like rent or mortgage or your debt.)
Note: These numbers are for a single person renting an apartment in Canada without a car and no debt.
- Rent: $700
- Apartment Insurance: $15
- Cellphone: $50
- Transportation: $130
- Groceries: $200
- Utilities: $50
- Household Supplies: $25
- Toiletries/Medicine: $25
- Parking/Gas: $250
- Internet: $50
- Clothing & Gifts: $50
- Eating Out: $50
Total = $1595 a month
As you run through the list, you may be thinking: Hey I pay more/less than that!
That’s where you have to adjust for yourself, and add in or remove categories that don’t apply to you.
Do you ever wonder what the point of all this is? What the purpose of our lives are?
Personally, I believe we all have a purpose in life, and that’s to live.
Breathing in one breath and out, sleeping, eating, waking, and other bodily functions.
That’s living at its core if you think about it from a purely physical standpoint.
Ah but there’s more! The emotional.
Our purpose as human beings is really not to hoard money like some Scrooge, but end up all alone (perhaps divorced) and regretting all the moments you missed out in life because you were sitting on your great big pile of money.
I know, it sounds so strange with a PF blogger saying this, but it really isn’t the whole point or motivation of why I save money.
Our only purpose is to live in the Today, and in the Now.
I’ve already long accepted that I set my own little human-sized goals to reach $250,000 in net worth, and eventually a million before I retire, but ultimately, it is actually an insignificant accomplishment if I were to drop dead the day before I go to use that money.
But wait — it’s also not an excuse I can use to say:
Hey living in the Now means I get to go on a big shopping spree like the world is about to end tomorrow.
I still have to consider and plan carefully for the other very real possibility — that I will live beyond my retirement age, and perhaps well into my 90s.
IT’S NOT DEPRESSING IF YOU ALREADY DO WHAT YOU WANT
So is this depressing that you would have to save your whole life, but then imagine you die before you get to use that money?
It isn’t to me, because I’m already doing what I want to do today, and that includes saving enough for my (high) probability of living well into my 90s.
I couldn’t imagine a happier overall existence for myself, all things considered.
Sure, some days really suck and I wish things didn’t happen, but it’s just one day in the grand scheme of my life.
It’s like saying you’re angry for 3 seconds because you didn’t have any milk for your tea this morning, and it ruined your entire WEEK.
Now doesn’t that sound ridiculous?
PEOPLE SPEND THEIR WHOLE LIVES WAITING FOR THEIR LIVES TO BEGIN
The other day BF and I sat around talking about what happens after people win the lottery.
I won’t bore you with the details, but we came to the conclusion that many people probably spend their whole lives:
- going into debt
- dreaming of hitting it big in the lottery
…all so that they can finally start living their dream life.
Reality Check: You won’t get another life.
This is already YOUR DREAM LIFE that you have been dealt with, and the longer you put it off, the longer your Older Self will regret it.
The writing is on the wall. Photograph I took in the Beijing Museum of old Chinese characters.
Seeing as the odds of winning the lottery are extremely slim (it’s so slim, I can’t even see it), it’s sad to imagine that we’re all putting what we want to do on hold before we can start doing what we want.
All because of money? How ridiculous is that?
You can change your situation, because it’s YOUR life and you are in control.
Start budgeting, track your expenses, and get your ass into gear to do what it takes.
Or if you tell yourself: I’d love more free time so I can travel, and read books which is why I work so hard, so that I can have a secure financial future to do those things.
Are you kidding me right now? Go read a book NOW.
You’re probably wasting time reading this blog when you could be immersed in your dream activity, instead of waiting for the right or the best time to do it.
WHAT WOULD MORE MONEY CHANGE FOR ANYONE?
Then we turned it back onto ourselves as a self-reflection after we thought about people who win the lottery:
What would we do if we won the lottery?
BF said he’d have grand plans for that cash, and it would involve…… wait for it…. putting it into the bank and waiting for the best day to use it.
Not only is it extremely boring as a grand plan, but I realized that I would do exactly the same thing.
So then we asked:
What’s the best day then, to use the money?
For that, we had no answer.
Most people would quit, and find that to be the “dream of a lifetime”, but I can tell you that from my past 3 years, there’s no way I’d go back to just sitting around all day long, doing jack squat, and being bored out of my skull.
Quitting your job or having a job where you don’t need to work a lot, and doing NOTHING ALL DAY is not all it’s cracked up to be.
It really isn’t.
I for one, am extremely excited to go back to work, no matter how politically-incorrect that may sound.
I am excited to challenge my brain again, make money (yes, it gives me great satisfaction to make a lot of money), and to have something to fill the empty hours of the day of what I have as a life.
So then we talked about perhaps opening a business.
Or doing something that would occupy our time and our empty hours that we’d enjoy.
Open a restaurant. No, too much work, and it’s hot in there.
Okay, open a store.
A business. But selling what? What could we sell??
We sat that racking our brains for a good half hour of ideas before I said:
But if we wanted to do something other than what we’re doing now…
… shouldn’t we go and do it today so that we’re happy NOW?
And that ended the discussion because we realized that we are already doing what we want to do with our lives.
I ONLY HAVE ONE THING I WANT TO DO: VISIT JAPAN
I only have ONE thing on my list for the rest of my life, and it’s to visit Japan.
I know everyone tells me that the radiation is not a problem, and I even agree with reading the studies (rationally speaking). I KNOW I just have to stick to Tokyo and other areas far away from the radiation…
….but I’m a very young Worrying Wendy, I don’t want to screw my chances of living to a long ripe age just because I can’t wait 20 years or so to go see a country.
Nor do I want to screw my chances of not being able to have kids.
Or worse, passing anything toxic on to them.
In addition, I’ll be closer to death (theoretically speaking), and radiation won’t be that much of an issue for me by that time.
But it is something I get to look forward to when I get older. I almost can’t wait for 20 years to pass!
SO ASK YOURSELF:
ARE YOU LIVING THE LIFE YOU WANT TO LIVE, TODAY?
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
I am here to give a friendly message about SPAVING which is really just the act of “SPENDING TO SAVE”.
(You heard it here first.)
Spaving is when you tell yourself:
OMG it’s 50% off!
I don’t want or need it, but what if I do sometime!??
I’m saving 50% on this, it’s like I’m saving 50% of my money!
I HAVE TO GET IT!
WHEN YOU SPEND YOU AREN’T SAVING
Whenever you spend money, you are not saving it.
Technically, you’re actually just spending 100% of your money and saving 0%.
So spaving? It’s an excuse to spend your money, even if it’s a good deal.
WE ALL SPAVE
That said, we all spave.
For instance, I spaved a lot this month (actually, make that the whole year), which will you see coming up in my December 2012 What I spent post, but I’m very happy with my smart spaving.
This month was excellent because of all the Boxing Day sales and push to get people to spend more of their money and boost the bottom line before 2012 closes; so when you encounter 50% signs, or 15% off what you’ve been eying for a while, it’s hard to imagine that kind of sale will come around soon, let alone on what you want.
I’m starting to get into the mindset of waiting until I can find it secondhand, or if it’s on at least a 20% discount, or more.
(Even just thinking about buying things that are easily depreciated at full retail price is starting to irk me.)
Other pitfalls of spaving, are when you encounter programs like Ebates Canada, and they give you back cash for things you’d otherwise buy anyway.
It makes you think: Wow I’m saving another 4% on what I was going to buy! Let’s see what else there is….
Or even for us Canadians who head down south to the U.S. to do a little cross border shopping, and see how much lower the prices are now that the CAD is almost at par with the USD, and you save on not only the currency, but the lower taxes and the lower prices!
..JUST BE CAREFUL TO SPAVE ON WHAT YOU WANT OR NEED
Don’t go around buying useless knickknacks if you aren’t planning on using it.
When I spave, it’s on kitchen equipment that BF needs to keep making great meals, or when I see things that I want and otherwise would not pay full retail price for.
Or perhaps, to stock up on things I use a lot of such as contact lens solution, or my favourite cleanser.
I log all of my purchases, expenses and my general financial life into my handy budgeting tool, and when I see something I THINK is a good deal, I sometimes go back and check to see what I paid for it before.
Oftentimes, I realize I had gotten a better price for it elsewhere even with a sale of 20% off, and I don’t buy it just because it says 20% off (but the price was already inflated by 25% for instance).
Enjoy your spaving!
Use this superpower of finding great deals in good financial health.
An extremely elusive answer to find on the web, so I spent a few minutes on the phone grilling a TD Mutual Funds representative today.
Information is valid as of January 2nd 2013.
They are NO-LOAD Mutual Funds which means they do not charge you a fee to either BUY or SELL mutual funds.
I was incorrectly informed on the phone that they would NOT take the MER of your portfolio each day if you didn’t make a profit.
Then I emailed to clarify and got the following:
Update: IN TD FINANCIAL SPEAK-EASE (as of 2012 Dec 29th)
Management fees are charges to the mutual fund for the services provided by the manager of the fund.
All mutual funds charge management fees.
The fee generally ranges from 0.3% to 3%. This is how mutual fund companies earn their revenues.
Management fees are quoted as “up to X%” per annum of the net assets of the fund. This means that the fund company has the ability to charge up to X% but it may choose not to do so.
The fees are deducted from the value of the portfolio on daily basis before the NAV (unit price) is calculated.
The management expense ratio (MER) is the ratio between the sum of the management fee plus all other fund operating expenses incurred by the fund, versus the portfolio value.
The MER is calculated as of December 31 of each year therefore, the MER is an historical value.
“Other fund operating expenses” may include legal fees, custodial fees and auditing fees.
Update 2: Another update said plainly… (as of 2013 January 2nd)
We apologize for the incorrect information you received from the phone agent.
(This is why I hate talking on the phone to these people or seeing them in person. They’ll tell you anything because it isn’t their money, and they’re partly idiots. Having things IN WRITING is much better.)
The MER is deducted on a daily basis regardless of whether the fund increases or decreases in value.
You are charged your MER daily by TD Canada Trust on the value of your portfolio.
It is taken out of your account before they re-calculate the unit price.
The MER that is taken out, is based on the Dec 31 of the previous year’s set percentage, and is taken out of the entire bank’s portfolio at once, not from your individual, specific portfolio each day.
0.35% MER means that they take 0.35% of the entire assets of the portfolio, or out of the $422.78 million as of December 31st 2012.
0.35% x $422.78 million = $147.973 million a year, or $405,405.48 a day
You only pay a portion of that $147.973 million, based on how many units you own.
With TD Canada Trust in particular, they take the MER out on a daily basis, or out of the $405,405.48 that is charged to all investors, daily.
The exact amount, is still a mystery for each individual investor because they just take their $405,405.48 a a day out of the entire portfolio and then re-calculate how many units you have left as a result also known as the NAV (unit price).
DONE. END OF STORY.
It only took a phone call and 2 emails to get a clear answer.
This is the reason why looking at MERs in Mutual Funds and keeping them fairly low, are a good idea, or you will pay through the nose.
This is only in regards to TD Canada Trust (not TD Waterhouse because I haven’t talked to them nor do I ever want to ever again, although I daresay they probably operate the same way).
- The list of TD Canada Trust Regular Mutual Funds
- The list for TD Canada Trust Mutual Fund Cheaper E-Series (lower MERs, mostly index funds)
If you want to sign up for their cheap e-series TD Canada Trust Mutual Fund, I suggest you do the following for a no-hassle experience:
- You do not need to be a TD Waterhouse customer to buy e-series mutual funds!!
- Become a customer of TD Canada Trust (EasyWeb)
- Get a FREE no-fee savings account with them (no minimum balance required)
- Deposit money in there from your external bank account with a cheque & link the two accounts
- Open a TD Mutual Funds account (RRSP, TFSA, or Non-Registered)
- Ignore their pleas to buy their high MER, low return Mutual Funds
- Put all your money into your no-fee savings account with them so you’re ready to buy…
- ..or alternatively, you can also put that money into a Mutual Fund Bond Index or something you can sell easily without any additional fees (some funds, will charge you a 2% penalty fee if you sell within 30 days, e-series charges you a 2% penalty fee if you sell within 90 days)
- Convert that TD Mutual Funds account into an e-series Mutual Funds account with this form
- Note: Here’s a link that has all the TD Canada Trust forms in one shot
- Print and bring in the form(s) you’ve filled out and signed to your local TD Canada Trust Customer Rep
- Go to the Service Desk; you do NOT need an appointment with a Mutual Funds Advisor!
- Ask them to forward (internally) those forms to the address listed in the upper right-hand corner
- Repeat that it really is all they have to do, and nothing more than forward those forms
- You will need to fill out ONE form per Mutual Fund Account
- You can use the above form for all Mutual Funds (I did it for RRSPs and Non-Registered)
- Wait for the confirmation e-mail that welcomes you to the world of TD Mutual Funds E-Series
Normally, I LOVE ordinary millionaire/rags-to-riches, stories on Dr. Stanley’s blog, but this entitled “Big House only after Big Wealth” made absolutely no sense to me.
….We paid off our first home ($165,000) within the first three years of our marriage…. Our goal? To be financially secure, have the home of our dreams and never have to worry about money again.
Each week our grocery shopping began at the 50% off rack and we basically learned to eat and appreciate what was on sale.
Should we even admit that one of us even keeps a teabag on a trivet to be used for exactly one week?
….[We[ live in a 1.8 million dollar home which we paid cash for. We have no credit card debt and have enviable cars also paid for in cash.
I think you get the idea of how frugal they are.
These people basically ate food that was almost rotten, and drank weak tea for 6 days to be able to save to buy a fancy mansion in a fancy neighbourhood, and to have the pleasure of driving a fancy car.
Sorry (okay I’m not really THAT sorry), but this doesn’t really make any sense to me.
Look, I applaud the whole saving bit — I think it’s fantastic that they’ve ‘made it’ and paid it all off in cash.
But why would you want to live like a pauper by cutting back on something as essential as food, or the simple pleasures of having a good strong cup of tea daily (it’s not even that expensive!!), just so you can live in some fancy million-dollar mansion and drive fancy cars?
Yes, I know. I love eating, and I especially have an affinity for delectable teas (loose leaf only, none of this teabag Red Rose junk), but STILL!
How is this life any different from someone doing it on credit? They too, eat junk and crap food, but look like they’re a million bucks.
Nice home, nice cars. What’s the point of all that? It’s just stuff.
I’d rather eat good (real) fresh food, have a real cup of tea that isn’t diluted 6 times over, and live in a modest home, driving a modest car, than to be that kind of millionaire who is showing off in the most conventional way possible, only having achieved it at the sacrifice of eating and drinking cheap crap for 20 years (or for 7300 days, if anyone is counting).
To me, they’ve lived a poor life, not a rich one.
(Although even poor people in countries like Portugal eat better than they do.)
BF pointed out last night that the taxes must kill them too.
2% (estimate) of $1.8M = $36,000 a YEAR in property taxes.
Not to mention the higher cost of utilities, maintenance to keep it looking pristine… it’s just a money suck that they may not be able to reasonably afford considering their jobs, and the fact that they really don’t have millions sitting around in the bank — it’s all in the house and cars.
Normally those ordinary millionaires on Dr. Stanley’s blog, are reasonable folk to me.
This one threw me for a loop.
Zooey Deschanel, star of ‘New Girl’ (love!) who has also appeared on ‘Top Chef Masters’, and is the younger sister of Emily Deschanel, the star of ‘Bones’ (another love!) is simply fantastic.
- Makes $95,000 a month which is $1.14 million a year
- 3 credit cards: Amex, Visa, Mastercard — all rocking out a $0 balance!
- $1.578 million in the bank
- $1.645 million in stocks and bonds
- $693,300 in real and personal property
Tell me that isn’t the face of a budgeter!
Girl may not have a need to really track her expenses, but she obviously doesn’t go overboard, especially if you consider how modest her expenses are in relation to her income.
She’s my personal finance idol, and I am aiming to save 75% of my net income.
We could be PF BFFs, I swear.