Monthly Archives

July 2012

July #PFWorkout Update

July 31, 2012

For anyone new to Blonde on a Budget, #pfworkout is a hashtag personal finance bloggers use on Twitter to share exercise, weight loss and healthy living accomplishments. Each month, I set personal goals and post updates on my progress.

My goal for this month was to workout 5 days/week and, for once, I actually made this happen! While one week I only worked out 4 times, all the other weeks had 5 or 6 workouts pencilled on the calendar. And I have definitely seen some results.

This month, I:

  • worked out 22 times in 19 days (including today)
  • ate an average of 1415.7 calories each day (tracked on LoseIt!)
  • lost 3.2 lbs.
  • lost 2″ (including an entire inch off my waist)

Adding my previous numbers, I’m down a total of 18.2 lbs. and 12 inches. And do you know what that means? I’m officially in the 180’s! I had to retire my first workout shirt, because it’s way too big now, and am close to throwing in the towel on my one and only pair of Lululemon capris. If I have to pull them up during one more run, my workout buddy might witness a mini freakout.

So, what’s in store for August? I’m just going to stay on track with what I was doing this month and hopefully I will see my total loss reach 20 lbs. August 28th marks 6 months of #pfworkouts and I’d love to celebrate with a 21 lb. loss.

What #pfworkout updates are you most proud from this month? Haven’t used the hashtag yet? Join in anytime!

Paying it Forward: A Final Bold Update

July 24, 2012

How is there only a week left of this month? And then only another month of summer, after that? Time has passed by so quickly this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up tomorrow and it was 2013. Something time hasn’t let me forget in this seemingly short month, however, is the fact that I am here in Victoria and not in Colorado. I am reminded of it with every update on the Bold Academy’s Facebook and Twitter profiles and, naturally, whenever anyone asks why I’m here and not there.

If I were there, I would be gearing down and getting ready to come back home in a few days. From what I’ve seen online, it looks like it’s been an interesting trip, but I am still confident in my decision to stay. And one of the most unexpected gifts to come from my decision not go to the Bold Academy this summer was the financial support friends and total strangers gave me after the fact.

Yes, a number of people who donated money to my trip told me to keep it for my next adventure*. With each offer to keep the money, I wanted to reply with a “no way!” or “but I’m not going!” But if I’ve learned anything this year it’s that the best way to accept a compliment or gift is with gratitude. And the feeling that comes with a gift of this nature is, well… the most sobering motivation I’ve ever felt.

In total, 6 people left me with a lump sum $290. One friend told me to go somewhere even bolder; a few others told me to do the same or asked that I donate it to my favourite cause; and a complete stranger left me with a donation for my future: whether that included paying off debt, paying it forward, using it to go somewhere, etc., he said the decision was mine and wished me well.

I’ve been struggling with the concept of accepting money I don’t feel I have earned. But I have this overwhelming feeling that each dollar is worth so much more than 100 cents. It could help me move forward. It could help me move someone else forward. It could change a life or at least a circumstance. I can’t say I know exactly what I am going to do with it yet, mostly because I don’t know what I want the next few months of my life to look like… but I can say this: I want it to be meaningful. And that’s exactly how I spent the first $50…

A couple of weeks ago, one of my oldest friends posted a story on Facebook about her friend’s new rescue dog and how it needed emergency surgery but they couldn’t afford the $5,000+ vet bill. My friend was collecting bottles from all over the city, to try and raise as much money for her friends as she could. As a dog lover, my reaction was automatic and immediate: I sent her a message and told her a lot of people had helped me this past year and it was my turn to help someone else. We met the next day and I gave her a $50 cash donation.

But I’m still left with $240, for whatever is next… I’ve considered taking a financial management class at my local college, this fall. I am open to any other cause that touches my heart, over the next few months. And I’ve also looked at how I could turn it into a volunteer opportunity or even buy a business license so I can start some public speaking. I’ll post an update, whenever I decide which direction I’m going to take… but I’d like to finish this post by thanking you all for giving me the opportunity to take a new direction at all.

Have you ever been in a position where you could pay it forward? Or received the gift of self improvement? I’d love to read about your experiences.

*Note: Many of my co-workers also pitched in some of their cash donations and, with it, we made a $130 donation to the Victoria BC SPCA. I’ve walked dozens of dogs there and spent more time volunteering for that cause than any other… and if that’s all this fundraising experience had given me, I would’ve been more than satisfied. What the rest of you have given me is just an incredible bonus.

Expect the Unexpected and Other Financial Advice from Inside the Big Brother House

July 19, 2012

I have a confession to make: I am a huge Big Brother fan. I’ve watched every episode since Season 8, get the live feeds every year, and would consider myself somewhat of a superfan. I am constantly strategizing along with the HouseGuests, trying to imagine what they are going to do next, and coming up with possible big moves that could take players to the end of the game. (And you know this means I’m applying to Big Brother Canada!)

It takes all of my willpower to not tweet about it 24/7, especially with spoilers from the live feeds. And admitting all of this makes me feel like a huge dork! But I know that a) the personal finance community probably doesn’t want to hear about it, and b) I don’t like spoiling what’s happening live. What I can do, just this one time, is turn some of the most popular catchphrases and key terms into financial lessons from inside the Big Brother House.

You Have to work for what you want.

Every week, the HouseGuests compete in a Have/Have Not competition. While the Have’s get “luxuries” like hot showers, food, etc. the Have Not’s must sleep on awkward beds (usually with the lights on), take cold showers, and eat nothing but slop (what looks like tasteless oatmeal). The best lesson taught by any competition, in both the Big Brother house and in life, is not that there are winners and losers but that you must work for what you want. We often take for granted how our own basic needs are met by hot showers and cooked meals, but these are things we need to survive and, therefore, we prioritize and budget for them. And luxuries, such as the ability to purchase something new for ourselves, must also be earned through the process of budgeting and saving.

Don’t open Pandora’s Box.

In the Big Brother house, Pandora’s Box is an opportunity presented once or twice each season. What’s inside could be good or bad for both the opener and/or the rest of the house. The moral decision to open or not open Pandora’s Box reminds me of shopping; more specifically, justifying purchases. We are constantly bombarded with the “need” to have the newest of this or that, or feel we deserve some sort of “want” but, more often than not, it comes at a price. If you’re buying what you want with a credit card you can’t pay off, or blowing savings on something you think might maybe will be worth it, the better option is to walk away from it altogether. Your credit and reputation are worth more than what an impulsive decision can get you.

Embrace your inner Chen-bot.

Since the first season of Big Brother U.S., host Julie Chen has been known for being slightly robotic. She spits out her lines like she’s reading from a cue card and, as so, has rightfully been nicknamed Chen-bot. What I see in Julie is that she knows this game so well that she can say every scripted line when it needs to be said. When the camera light goes red, she does what she has to do. Much like the mentality I needed to payoff $17,000 of debt in 1 year, I can now see that Julie is simply staying on-track. By keeping the end goal in mind, she does what she needs to do, says what needs to be said, and manages to do so with a smile on her (slightly robotic) face.

Don’t be a floater. Form an alliance.

Ok… I might be slightly biased on this one, as I would consider the personal finance community, as well as readers and the people I connect with through various social media, my alliance. But before I had all of you, I was floating through life. I was racking up debt left and right and no one knew how bad my situation was. It wasn’t until I knew I had to “play the (budget) game” that I could see I needed a support system. I started by writing here anonymously and found many others who were also trying to win the same game as I was. By teaming up with people (anonymous or not) who will keep you accountable, as well as have your back when you need them most, you’re that much more likely to get ahead.

Expect the unexpected.

The most popular catchphrase, and this season’s theme, is the best financial advice of all. Why do we build up savings, Emergency Funds, etc.? To cover the costs of the unexpected. In the Big Brother House, this catchphrase is used to keep HouseGuests on the edge of their seats. Knowing anyone or anything could enter the house, or change the rules of the game, they have to strategize every move they make and conversation they have. In real life, car repairs, hospital visits, vet bills, etc. are just a few of the things you can’t always plan for. And if you can’t make it to the end of the week, you’re out of the game.