Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Day Before My Birthday

It's the day before my birthday and I am so happy to announce that I have only got $1,086.62 to go until I am at the 1/3 mark of having my debt paid off! That's right, I am ahead of schedule on getting my debt eliminated! How awesome is that?!

Not to mention my savings account is getting close to an all-time high! Wowsa! I am sure one lucky guy!

Happy Birthday to me! 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What's in the Cards?

If I could sell $hit to pigs, I'd be a millionaire! 

Everyone, I must admit, I am really not bringing my ‘A’ game these days - in both my debt repayment and my blogging skills (and the $hitty readership on my blog is indicative of this). Things keep popping up that I am not prepared for which are preventing me from putting more money into my debt repayment than I would have wanted this month and since I am in intensive French training it’s quickly killing my ambition to write anything these days, well that and that fact that I don’t have much good news to share in the debt repayment situation. Ok, that’s not the only reason that I am effing this up, it’s because I am spending like pig at a $hit sale. Just like the last time that I had a month with 3 paychecks, I used the third check to have fun and pi$$ my money away on crap. I think a big part of me wants to spend because I really need to do take breaks from my debt repayment plan, but I do acknowledge that this way of thinking is completely counterproductive to how I will get ahead and pay off the big bills.

Drunk Penguin!
This week I didn’t stick to the plan at all! I took a day off to go to a water park which involved renting a car, paying for gas, park admission, and food, so the total came to about $100 for one *SUPER AWESOME FUN* day (kind of killed my budget there). The second big purchase I made were some repairs on my bike. The old beast was in desperate need of repairs. The back tire was so bent out of shape and my gears and chain were shot, causing my bike to wobble like an alcoholic penguin and my chain to slip like a cow wearing roller skates on ice every time that I pedaled – it was frustrating and hazardous, but kind of cute and hilarious (just picture that drunken penguin)! The bike problems had been going on for weeks so I decided it was about time to get it tuned up, which is usually $35 but it turns out that my chain, gears, and tire had to be replaced so I ended up with $95 worth of repair work to be done. I understand that this is all a part of bicycle ownership, and I should be happy that this isn’t car repairs, because that would cost me a lot more money! Heck, you can barely buy gas for a few weeks with $95! So just like that, almost $200 was gone. And while I’m on the subject of spending, I want to say that I behaved in bringing a lunch to work, but I really didn’t. I did manage for one day though, so I guess that’s kind of an improvement, right?

This month has really not been terrible for killing off the debt though to be honest, and I think that overall I have put more money toward debt this month than I have ever before. I am proud of that accomplishment and everyone I talk to is incredibly impressed with my conviction to get this paid down so quickly, but I am really starting to miss spending money on myself. The trip to the water park reminded me of all the fun things that I used to do with my money. It’s really hard to keep this up sometimes, but I know that I can keep this up if I buckle down and focus.

For example, recently I was walking through the mall and saw all the awesome sales on, I wanted so bad to buy myself some new clothes, but I was able to use some restraint and avoided the situation by telling myself I had not 1, but 2 wardrobes FULL of clothes at home. So instead of going out and buying more clothes, I went back home and tossed all of the clothes that I never wear into a gigantic pile on my floor to give away to charity, and it felt really good! There in front of me was a stack of coats, shirts, pants, and all sorts of stuff that I never wore and I had to really say to myself, how badly do I really need to go out shopping? Why did I have this desire to live with so much excess? For those of you who are struggling with a need to spend, try doing this exercise and make a pile of all the things that you don’t use to motivate you to stop adding to the pile of excess. Once you realize how much you have that goes unused, you have an easier time deciding to buy things that are truly going to beneficial in you life which wont just be added to the pile!

Crazy lady.
Now on a side note/tangent, I was at the local Pride festival today and they had free tarot card readings at one of these booths so I thought, what the heck, this could be worth a laugh, and it was in some ways as the cracked-out gypsy-looking lady started both me and my friend’s reading with some sort of line about our mothers, which must have been her “thing”, especially when she thought that my mother was dead! Some fortune… Anyway, she said that I seemed to have a good life going for me, but I was going to go through a fundamental change, that either I was going to change careers completely, or move away from here. The ‘reading’ was super vague and it could apply to any of us really, but her little BS story did get me thinking that I really feel like I am already going through that fundamental change in my life with this process. Never in my life have I felt that I am getting so ahead and goal oriented, it really feels pretty incredible!

I have a milestone birthday coming up this week and I will turn the coveted age of 29, so it really has me looking back at the past 28 years and thinking about what I’ve accomplished and where I am going to go next. Overall, I have to say that my 20s are going amazingly and I know that I will finish off this debt repayment very soon and be proud to one day soon say, I, John, have NO Debt! Thanks for reading all you diehard fans! I promise to get this blog and my spending back on track and continue to blow your minds! 

p.s. RIP Jack, you inspired me more than you know. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Man Overboard!! 

Where do I begin? Lately I feel like I’m springing off of a diving board and while I’m midair realizing that my head is going right into the shallow end, and the pool isn’t filled with water, but rather a huge pile of $hit. On the other hand, I feel like I am the first one sprinting out of the heat and right on track to having the new record for getting all of my debt paid off on time. Part of me keeps hoping that Gail is going to pop up and surprise me to either tell me that I am doing really well and give me a cheque for $5,000 or that she is going to tell me to get my $hit together and stop spending like an idiot. I think it’s going to be the latter in this case. Either way, I would get to meet Gail Vaz-Oxlade!

Now Gail would be on my case because starting out the week, I took out my $140 that I was going to use for spending money on life (food mainly), and I ended up spending $110 in a matter of 2 days! This is why carrying cash is so important, because you see right away that you’ve spent all the money you have and get a harsh wake-up call that you don’t have as much control of your cash as you think you do. The mistakes I made were beyond obvious to me, but yet I still went out and effed it all up! The first thing I did when I got my cheque was go out to a goodbye lunch for a colleague who I worked with for maybe 3 weeks. I’d see her around the office, but I didn’t really know her and quite frankly I don’t think she would have given 2 $hits if I were there or not, but yet I still went – and ORGANIZED the freaking lunch. It kind of goes with the territory for my new job, but still, it seems so pointless to spend money on a lunch out with someone who I don’t really know. That lunch cost me $29; that doesn’t seem like much at all doesn’t it? But look at my budget after one lunch, now I only have $101 to get me through the week for food and any other random expense that comes up.

We all make mstakes
My new job is going well, but it’s making me recognize challenges that I forgot that I faced in a busy office environment – spending! When you have little time for yourself to take breaks, you go for what is convenient; whether it’s the $1.40 that I spend on a coffee every afternoon or the $8.00 I spend on lunch pretty much every day or even the $5.00 I spend on breakfast every morning, it all adds up! If I were able to stick to my guns and only spend money like that at lunch time, then I would still be on budget, but when I get home, I order a pizza, or something like that instead of just going to the grocery store and making myself something to eat from scratch I end up going overboard. I increased my spending limit for the week and yet every week for the past month, I have been going well over the limit for spending. It’s not just the weekly stuff that I am spending too much on either, my phone bill has been over $100 for the last couple months and as much as I love my iPhone, I really feel like Rogers has me bent over the counter each and every month with this extravagant expense.

The key for me and anyone else on a budget is that when you overboard, you need to identify why you are making the mistakes that you are making and figure out you’re going to get back on the boat and sailing toward your goal again. When I am off track, I can’t help but notice where I am making mistakes in my life. The number one thing that has got me concerned lately is my health. When I am stressed out, I eat garbage foods that don’t benefit me in the least and my waistline reflects that. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to go out and buy new clothes with my budget, and there’s nothing more stupid to me than having to buy new clothes because you’ve been eating nothing but unhealthy foods. For me, my expanding waistline is a sign that something is not going well right now. Some of you are thinking, “Oh shut up John, you’re the last person who should be thinking about your weight” but it’s not about my weight, it’s about the fact that I am not doing enough lately to manage my stress and take care of my health.

Stress also influences my spending – if I want something to make me feel better, I go for something that makes me feel better about myself, but it’s always only temporary. Take yesterday for example, I was dropped off at a bus station next to a mall for me to get home after a day with friends, but I ended up going to buy a pot at Winners, and then walking out with the pot and two yoga towels instead of just getting on the bus and going home. I don’t need any of this stuff, but it’s been on the “want” list for a while. I felt good about the purchases because they were really cheap (the pot was only $7 and the towels were $20 each and they normally cost $40-50) but then later I felt like a$$ because that’s $50 toward my debt that I could have paid off.

Danielle For the Win!!
A key problem to my financial failure in the past couple weeks has been my demanding schedule. I’m putting in 12 hours of French classes every week on top of a 40 hour work week and then add in my 4 hour yoga volunteering and my time is stretched pretty thin. It’s not necessarily that I am finding this to be impossible to do, but I have found that I have not been in the mood to come home and cook something when I put in 11 hour days. I would rather just sit back and turn my brain off while watching Big Brother – seriously, I am in love with that show, it’s a guilty pleasure for sure – go Dani! My schedule has gotten to the point where it is taking away time from doing yoga. I used to do yoga 4 times a week and now I am lucky if I can get in more than 2 times. Yoga has been instrumental in helping me stay focused on my goals because it gives me the time where I can take a pause from my busy day, relax, and reflect on all the good work that I have been doing for the past 10½ months. I really am not taking advantage of the free yoga deal I have and I really think that that has been a major influence in why I am losing my focus.

August has added further complications to my spending because I am receiving three paychecks. Yes, it is wonderful that I have all this income coming in, but it has enabled me to keep in the back of my mind that little voice telling me “don’t worry John, you have 1.5 times more money than usual, so go ahead and indulge in some extra spending this month.” That attitude does not get my debt paid off any faster. It’s funny that when you have more, you want to spend more! It’s no wonder that you hear about all these lottery winners who end up broke after a year. That would be the ultimate fail for me. If I won the lottery I would like to think that I wouldn’t be broke for the rest of my life!

Alright now, I am being pretty harsh on myself though considering the excellent progress I have made on my debt repayment. I have now hit the 30% mark ($11,390.56 – OMG) and my goal of paying off 33% in 12 months is definitely going to happen if I can keep this pace up – and that is so exciting! Now I am going to buckle down and focus, focus, focus. This can continue to be possible as long as I remember that I am the one who got me into this mess, and no one else. Thanks for still following my blog, even if it has been pretty lackluster lately. I’m getting so close to getting my MasterCard paid off and when I do, there will be quite the party!!  

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Back from Saskatoon!

I'm cah-razy!!
Oh geez, Saskatoon had its way with my wallet! After the whole 4 hours of waiting in the airport ordeal, I finally got my meal voucher and get this – it can’t be used on beers! Honestly, I know how much of an alcoholic I must come across as in my blog, especially since alcohol was one of my biggest expenses before I started this whole rebudgeting thing, but when you’re at the end of a long week and stuck in a boring airport, you want a drink letmetellya! Anyway, I made the big mistake of bringing my credit card with me on the trip and since I was going into my Saskacation without any money in my bank account, I was stuck using my MasterCard to pay for a lot of stuff, I think it was something to the tune of $400!

There is a very good reason for why I leave my credit card at home and why Gail cuts them up on her show, they’re just so goshdarn sexy, you can’t say no to them! You just can’t wait to whip it out and swipe it and get whatever you want. I am all about balance though, so as soon as I got my paycheck, I threw $900 onto my MasterCard. Happily, I can say that I have paid off more money than I owe on my MasterCard! How cool is that!? There are still two more paychecks coming my way this month and then I have my birthday coming up right after this month ends, so I am really psyched about that too! I’ll be turning the coveted age of 29 and I know that I’ll be stepping into my 30s looking good and right on track to getting rid of all my debt!
Saskatchewan - so flat, but so beautiful!

My trip to Saskatoon did cost me a lot more than I usually spend in a week, but you know, when you’re on vacation, it’s pretty lame to tell everyone that you’re just going to sit around and do nothing because you’re on a super tight budget. Sometimes you just need to loosen up the purse strings and get wild and crazy, which is what I did. What was really awesome though was that my friends and family really helped me out in paying for a lot of my expenses and I think that this trip to Saskatoon was one of my favorite in a long time. There are things about s’toon that I forgot how much I miss; like how inexpensive going out can be! I think the one night that I went out I might have spent $20 and I definitely got my party on. I was drinking champagne and dancing on stripper poles (clothes on surprisingly) and just having a blast. I can’t remember when I was able to let loose like that. It helps that I have a pretty awesome group of friends back home and not to mention that my family is just a wild and crazy as I am. Really though, it’s remarkable that 5 kids can all get along with each other so well! I sure am lucky to have such wonderful permanent fixtures in my life.

Beautiful day and beautiful couple! xoxo
Now, speaking of permanent fixtures, I have a new sister in law! Yes, my littlest brother is now married and they’re wedding was a blast! They reminded me that there are ways to still have lots of fun and not overspend your money. They kept the wedding small and adorable! My sister in law made a lot of her own decorations and they looked so amazing! She used simple cute flower pots and put some dried baby’s breath in them and used pieces of odds and ends from fabric to make simple and adorable decorations for the wedding. My brother even used his carpentry skills to make them a beautiful arbor to get married under and now it’s something they can keep forever and put into their yard as a memory of the most beautiful day of they’re lives together! It’s true that some of the simplest weddings seem to become some of the most memorable because what we all really focus on and remember is the couple themselves and how happy they are. It was the same for my other brother and his wife’s wedding, I remember how happy they were more than anything so if you’re planning on doing a big event like a wedding, think about ways that you can keep it simple, and have an amazing time.

Anyway, this post is going to be short and sweet because I have been on the go so much since I came back from my vacation, but I owe you guys and extra post soon since I totally missed out on last week’s post entirely! All in all, things are going really well, I’m happy, I’m healthy, and the debt is getting under control. I learned a lot from my vacation though; leave the credit card at home; take the time to get to a bank machine so you spend cash, not credit, and plan your events with simplicity and remember that you don’t have to spend a fortune to have a great time as long as you’re surrounded by people you love!