Category Archives: money

Update your Credit Card Number

In a very timely post, J. Money of Budgets Are Sexy just wrote about all the things you need to consider when you change your credit card number or receive a new main card.

Like J. Money, I use my credit card for everything, and have several automatic payments set up with it.

I recently wrote about how I got a new PC Financial Mastercard which I am now going to use as my main card so I can accumulate free groceries :) This means I need to make a list of all the places those automatic payments go to and start switching them over!

I started doing that last night when I was checking the balance on my “old” MC. A small charge for a charity I support monthly was on there which reminded me that I need to switch everything over. I think the best thing to do is keep all your automatic transactions on one main card so that you don’t lose track.

I would hate to have a small, regular transaction cause me to pay a ridiculous amount of interest if I happened to forget about it one month!

Here’s my list of transactions to switch so far:

  • Phone/internet bill
  • Gym membership
  • Cat Rescue Charity
  • Animal Shelter Charity

I guess I had better get started!

No Spend Days!

There is a PF blogger that I really admire, Canadian Saver over at Saving4Later. She’s really good at keeping track of her daily expenses, budgeting and instituting No Spend and No Driving days.

I’ve been trying to incorporate a few of her methods into my own life recently, especially as I try to frantically save up for my trip to Las Vegas in April (Short timing, I know!).

I can’t be as vigilant as she is, but I’ve given it a shot and have been able to track most of my expenditures over the past couple of weeks and have even succeeded at having a few No Spend days!

I’m a spender, plain and simple. Yes I save and have no debt, but I still am surprised to see all my extra money slowly bleed away every month, and I wondered where it was all going. Turns out I’ve been spending over $100 per week on food. That is a simply ridiculous number for a single girl!

But I did the math and the tracking… I had been spending around $10 every weekday for lunch, and sometimes more if I bought dinner or went out with people as well. With occasional grocery shops (my mis-guided attempts to “save money” by “cooking my own food”) that were $30+ I can see now how the number got so high.

Some weeks were even higher when I included the recent clothing purchases I had made (like a super-cute custom-made cherry sundress). I can’t return the dress but I might return some other tops I just bought to free up some more cash for my trip. I can’t touch the money in my EF or my Wedding Fund because that would just be weak of me.

Anyway, long story short: By doing this tracking I was able to see where my money was going, and then start to see where and if I could cut back. My lifestyle is just not conducive to having many No Spend days every week, so I am focusing instead on simply trying to reduce spending through packing occasional lunches, forcing myself to eat dinner at home, and trying not to buy frivolous things in the meantime. It helps to have the Vegas goal in mind.

I am happy to report that for the past two weeks I have been able to do a total of 3 No Spend days! It doesn’t seem like much but for me it’s great!

I think I may try and buckle down a little more in the coming weeks and see how many No Spend days I can accumulate because frankly, I just can’t afford not to at this point. I want to make sure all my credit cards are at a $0 balance before I leave on my trip but it’s going to be tough to clear my PC card of $400 in the time left to me. I’ve got rent and my TTC pass coming out of my account with this next paycheque and that leaves me with very little left over for the credit card, and general living expenses.

I do get paid once more before I leave on my trip, but it is literally the day before I leave. Hmm, I guess I’ll just have to see how this all plays out. I really just want to travel the right way with nothing on my credit cards and a generous mad money cushion so I can have a good time in Vegas.

Woo! Las Vegas!

I know I’ve been complaining about the money situation lately and this seems a little counterintuitive, but

I’m going to Las Vegas!!! 😀

My friend C and I had originally planned to travel somewhere warm together in February, but our schedules and budgets and stuff never really synched up so we didn’t go at that time.

We still wanted to travel together though (she lives in Ottawa and we don’t see each other much), and now that the economy in the States is so poor, we thought we’d check out the deals for Las Vegas. Everyone should go to Vegas when they’re young, right?

So last night we took the plunge and booked our trip!

We spent all day yesterday online scouring the online deals and found lots of good hotel ones, but the flights were insanely expensive! Originally we were going to go at the end of April, but it would just cost too much, so we opted for the week following Easter to head over. We saved a bundle and found a bunch of great deals.

Our budget was $1000 CAD and had to cover flight, hotel and two major activities. We decided we wanted to take a daytrip to the Grand Canyon and also take in the Cirque du Soleil show O. My entertainment fund plus my tax return and any additional savings I can keep will fund this trip for me.

So how did we net out?

Thanks to Expedia.ca, we found a great deal that included all of the above! We’ll be staying at Treasure Island (OMG pirate love!) for 5 nights and scooped airfare, shuttle from the airport, the Grand Canyon trip and the best seats in the house for O for $955.55 each after taxes!!!

I think that’s a pretty great deal, all things considered! (btw, don’t tell me if it’s not! I don’t wanna hear it!)

Of course there will still be other expenses involved in this trip, mainly food, transportation and incidentals, but they’re a little easier to scale back on versus the hotel costs, etc. We will just have to moderate ourselves while we’re there. I think food will be easy– the American portions are huge so we’ve decided to share entrees if possible.

I’m good at the food budgeting while travelling; when I was in Europe it could get really expensive eating out so I learned the best ways to do it, including picking things up at a grocery store and eating lots of samples!

So I’m pretty excited about this trip, can you tell??? I’ve travelled all over Europe and parts of Canada, but haven’t done much travelling in the US on my own, so this should be fun and easy! I love that I will speak the language, understand the money and fit in by all appearances 😀

So, let me ask anyone who has been to Las Vegas to share any fun and cheap activities that they enjoyed! Since we’re on a budget we can’t afford to do much of the fancy schmancy stuff, but I’m sure there’s lots of other things we can do…right?

Bad News At Work

I found out recently that we’re not getting raises this year.

My boss said that it is due to the economy however they hope that this freeze will only be temporary.

It doesn’t really make me feel any better.

I was supposed to have a salary review back in July; I even did all the little “projects” they gave me in my 3 month review so that I could get the raise, but we never even did my review. Same thing at the year mark, which was November for me.

I knew that March was when raises would be released to everyone in the company and was banking on getting something good, but that has been effectively dashed against the rocks.

I know you’re probably thinking “Well, at least it’s better than a paycut or losing your job!”

Fine, it is, but it still stinks.

Yes, I can still get by on this salary right now, but I’m really not comfortable. It’s still difficult to save or do some of the fun things I want to do. I really just need more money.

I don’t know whether I should look for a part time job to make some extra cash. I like the idea but then I’d have to work all the time. I don’t know if I have the flexibility in my schedule, or even the energy for a second job; and would the exhaustion be worth it for minimum wage?

I’m just really bummed.

Financial Update

Updated all my bars and stuff again. Things are looking better, but just barely. Everything went up a couple of points, but it really only equates to a few hundred extra.

What a bummer.

I can tell that the banks changed their interest rates without having to look them up. I can tell because the interest payment this month was less than last month even though I had more money in the account. Asshats. It’s great for people with debt, but what about those of us who are trying to get ahead??

Hopefully I’ll get a decent tax return this year (hoping for around $1000) so I think I’ll put half of it to the EF and half to the entertainment fund. My friend C and I are planning a trip to Las Vegas at the end of April, so I’ll need the money!

How cheap do you think we could do Vegas for? I hear they’re hurtin’ something fierce down there, so I’m banking on some good deals. Whaddaya think?

Frugal Tip: Repair and Maintain

With the US recession monster casting a shadow even on the Canadian economy, I think it’s even more important than normal to find ways to prolong the use of things that you already have.

What do I mean by this? Repairing and maintaining things instead of running out and buying something cheap and new!

We currently live in a disposable society; purchasing things that are cheaply made and replacing them as they get worn or break with no thought as to how this effects our pocketbooks or the environment. (My roommate is a prime example of disposable society; she buys cheaply made crap and it breaks a week after she gets it, or it doesn’t do as good a job as something of better quality would. Now we’re stuck with irreparable furniture, etc. that we can’t even use but don’t want to get rid of since she just bought it. I’d rather just save up and get a good quality item.)

This topic has been breached before by blogs such as WiseBread and Get Rich Slowly, but I wanted to talk about how I do this for myself in a real-world example.

I’ve slowly begun buying higher-quality items for myself and my home in an effort to reduce costs in the longterm. Yes, buying higher-quality stuff costs more (sometimes a lot more) in the short term, but one of the benefits is that almost all of the things I’ve purchased can be easily maintained or repaired when the time comes due to superior materials and construction.

For example, I spent this morning focusing on my clothing. I folded everything I had lying around so it wouldn’t get dirty (every time you wash your clothes they break down a little bit more) and put it away. I also paid some attention to things that needed some sprucing up.

I used a fabric shaver to remove the pills on some pants and shirts which made them look instantly better. I also checked all the hems and seams for wear, sewing anything that I came across. Same thing for buttons. They’re easy to sew back on, so I checked my garments for loose ones and fixed them before they fell off.

As you can see I put my moderate skill in sewing to work. If you don’t know how to sew on a button or fix a hemline, you should find someone who can and get them to teach you–it’s ridiculously easy to do and saves the life of the garment as well as money since you don’t have to pay someone to fix it for you.

Now all the clothes that I worked on are refreshed and guaranteed to last me longer than if I had just let them fall apart.

This morning I also paid some attention to my footwear. I have a wonderful pair of black leather ankle boots that I simply adore. They cost me a pretty penny but are easy to maintain. When I first got them I made sure to use a protective spray on them to repel the elements. Now that it’s winter and gross and salty outside, I used a soft cloth to wipe them down, then applied a cheap shoe polishing cream to restore the beautiful black shine of the leather. So easy!

Once they were dry I sprayed them with the protectant and BAM! They look like new again! The beauty of leather is that it CAN be repaired and shined up again. If you had fake Payless shoes you definitely couldn’t do that to them.

How did this save me money? Easy. I didn’t have to buy another pair of boots, or a cheap replacement pair that wouldn’t be nearly as nice or comfortable as my high-quality boots. And I have the peace of mind knowing that I won’t need to buy new boots for a long, long time :)

These were just examples from today, but I’ve also taken to buying nicer furniture that is built to last. Some furniture polish and elbow grease can keep a nice piece beautiful for years, much better than the 2-year average lifespan of Ikea-grade stuff (I love Ikea stuff, but at some point you have to upgrade!)

Can you think of any other ideas where it pays to pay more for something? What kinds of things do you do to keep your belongings in good condition?

President’s Choice MasterCard?

Hey folks,

I’ve become a little unhappy with my current BMO Mosaik MasterCard lately. Right now I have the freebie option where I get 0.5% of my spending in cash back. The only problem is that I’m spending loads on this card, but only got around $30 back for 2008.

I’ve been shopping around for a new MasterCard to see if there’s anything better for me out there. I liked the idea of cash back so I wouldn’t be tied up with points programs and redemption problems and stuff, but the reward is just not enough.

If I have to be part of a points program, I want something that is easy to redeem, and definitely something I will use within a reasonable amount of time.

I’ve applied for the President’s Choice MC since I have a No Frills & Loblaws near me and use PC points on my debit card already. I figure at least this way I’ll get free groceries out of the deal, right? I think the math works out to something like for every $2000 I spend on the card I get the equivalent of $20 in free groceries.

I’m going to keep my old MC account open since I’ve had it for a long time (Would it hurt my credit to close this down?), but I’ll start using the new PC card as my main one once I get it.

Just wondering if any other bloggers use this card and what they think of it? Is it worth it to you, or would I be better with my Airmiles one? Any other tips or tricks? And yes, I already have a Visa. :)

Thanks!