Monthly Archives

February 2013

Update: February 2013 Budget & Goals

February 28, 2013

February 2013 Actual

Well, let’s get this one over with…

I knew pretty early on in the month that my budget was going to be way, way over this month. After a mini incident at home, I had to find a dentist who could make me a new retainer ASAP. I’m still happy to say I saved what I wanted to save, and paid off the amount of debt I wanted to (plus an extra $25, woo woo!), but pulling from my savings for the new retainer wasn’t fun. Ahh well, guess that’s what it’s there for.

Aside from that, I guess I only went over budget by $172.10 – and almost $50 of that was for an unexpected prescription – so maybe it wasn’t a bad month, after all. I put 23% of my spending towards debt, 23% into savings, and the leftover 54% went towards my daily living expenses. Considering I started 2013 with $6,500 of debt and I’m now sitting at $4,800, I’d say the year is off to a good start!

As for my goals, I passed a couple, failed a couple, and didn’t really pay attention to another. But, you know what? I think I had a pretty good month, overall. So… let’s ignore the fails.

Goals for this month:

  • Attempt a No Spend February (Essentials only!) – PASS!? I think a new retainer and a prescription are essentials… right? Hmm.
  • Explore Toronto (Walk around, eat a couple meals out, finally go to ROM, etc.) – FAIL! I was scared to spend money this month. And it was really freaking cold in Toronto, this month!
  • Track my weekly spending – PASS! I may not have posted them all here but I still tracked my spending.
  • Workout at home 3x per week (Because this is a priority for me, this month!) – HA!
  • Read 3 books – PASS! This month, I read Blog Inc., Money Rules and Quitter.

How did your month finish up?

Income Tax Season + Winners of the File Your Taxes Free with TurboTax Giveaway

February 25, 2013
TurboTax Logo

Income tax season, and what people should do with their returns, is a hot topic on personal finance blogs right now. Most people say you should put your return right back into your investments, such as your RRSPs. While I can safely say that will be my plan next year, I don’t think it’s fair to say people who have debt should be forced into feeling like they should do the same. I’m only one T4 away from filing my taxes for 2012 and, so far, it looks like I’m going to get a decent return. And I don’t think anyone could convince me not to put $2,000+ towards debt repayment, when I’m this close to being debt-free!

Anyway, one of the best (and sometimes worst) parts of writing a blog is having companies reach out to you about promoting their products or services. I say “sometimes worst” because, unfortunately, most of the time these products or services are ones that I would never, ever, ever tell my readers about. (No, I’m not selling my readers on any of your accounts, credit cards or shopping discounts. They are getting their finances in order, thank you very much!) With that being said, the best is when companies not only explain their products to me, but then they give my readers things…for free!

That’s what happened last month, when I wrote a post about the best personal finance software available. In an email I received just a few days later, TurboTax Canada offered me not one but two coupon codes for you all to try and win. After commenting, tweeting and following me on Twitter, I’m excited to say the contest is now over and two people will now get to file their 2012 income taxes online for free. Congratulations Kelly L. and MissAmanda! I’ll send you each an email with your free coupon codes, by the end of the day.

To everyone who entered, thank you for participating in my first contest of 2013! I’m sorry you didn’t win a free coupon code here but if you want to be entered for a chance to win $10,000, go answer some questions in TurboTax Canada’s Tax Trivia Challenge on Facebook! (Now that you could put back into your RRSPs!)

Are you expecting a tax return this year? If so, what are you going to do with it?

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Getting to Know the “Person” Behind the Personal Finance Blog

February 22, 2013
Toronto Star Interview

Another quiet week on the blog, I’m afraid, but a busy one in real life. On Monday, I finished piecing together my next blog. After I write all of the pages and move, it’ll be ready to launch… and I’m so excited to make it public! Also that day, my interview with the Toronto Star finally made it’s way into the paper (along with a picture of a Starbucks cup, go figure), so I picked up a couple copies for the fam.

While it was a short work week, it was still a busy one. It’s crazy to think I’m only in the office for 4.5 more weeks before moving and starting to work remotely… eek! Finally, for the last two days I’ve been suffering from the craziest spat of vertigo. Have any of you ever experienced it!? Simply sitting and feeling like the room is spinning around you is totally bizarre. I’m heading to the clinic this morning, to see if anything can be done to make it go away quickly, but I’ve been told not to get my hopes up.

Anyway, I’m sorry I haven’t updated the blog all week – there just hasn’t been much to say. But I thought I’d finish the week with a fun little questionnaire. Last week, Tonya filled it out on her blog, and she was prompted by a couple other girls who did it before her. So, since she so kindly referenced Blonde on a Budget as one of the blogs that inspired her to start writing, I thought I’d respond by answering the same questions for all of you.

Hope you all have a great weekend!

1) How did you come up with your blog name?

To be honest, I can’t remember. I could say that I was simply stating the obvious but I think I just thought it sounded catchy and, fortunately, no other bloggers were using the name already.

2) Which bloggers inspired you when you first started writing?

The first personal finance blog I ever came across ended up being anonymously written by a friend of mine from college (and from a program that only accepted 27 students each year – talk about a small world). I’ll never forget going through her blog and recognizing that the picture the author used was the same one my friend had on her Facebook profile. “Krystal, is this your blog!?” I had outed her. Aside from Krystal’s debt repayment story, the two bloggers who inspired me the most were Katie for her incredible commitment to staying frugal while paying down debt and Money Maus for her ability to save tens of thousands of dollars. Today, I am honoured to call these women my friends.

3) Why write about finance?

I hate answering a question with a question but… why not write about finance!? Debt repayment has been the #1 priority in my life since June 2011. Writing about this journey not only helped me stay accountable for my actions, it also gave me a support network and lit a passion inside of me that I never knew existed.

4a) What do you enjoy most about blogging?

I’ve been blogging in some form, for as long as I can remember. While some communicators are excellent speakers, I think writing is the best tool I have, when it comes to presenting myself and my ideas. I love brainstorming new blog post topics, writing, rewriting and moving all of my words around. That might sound painful to some people but writing and editing a post so it tells a story from beginning to end is totally satisfying. (Seriously, I will re-read posts 20x to make sure it feels “complete”.)

4b) What do you enjoy least about blogging?

I guess I shouldn’t say “nothing” but, to be honest, there isn’t any part of blogging that I don’t enjoy. Sure, I’ve lost hours of sleep to get posts up, or to reply to comments and emails, but writing is something I love to do. I guess the only part I don’t like is when I don’t know what to write about but I feel obligated to post something. I think I’m slowly starting to get over that though…

5) What’s the most helpful piece of advice you have learned from reading other PF blogs?

That’s a tough question to answer, because there is a lot of great advice out there. I’m going to go back to the three women who have inspired me most and say the biggest lessons I’ve learned are: do whatever it takes to pay off your debt, build up an Emergency Fund when you’re done, and aggressively save for your retirement after that.

6) In terms of finance, what is your main focus at the moment?

Obviously, paying off the remainder of my debt. (As of next week, I’ll be in the $4,000’s!)

7) If you could give your younger self financial advice, what would it be?

A credit card is not a second bank account. Plain and simple.

8) Who in your real life knows about your blog?

Everyone! I “came out” and told my family and friends about my blog in April 2012. Telling my parents (especially my dad) was absolutely terrifying… but writing anonymously was so freaking stressful! It’s incredible being able to share my life and my story with anyone I know who may want to read about it.

9) Does your real job have anything to do with finance or money?

Oh, it certainly does! The only reason I have my job is because my boss read Blonde on a Budget. Now I’m the managing editor of one (soon to be two) websites that help Canadians understand the home buying (and mortgage-getting) process in the simplest terms possible. (And you won’t believe how much the new site has to do with personal finance… will explain more, when it launches!)

10) What’s the first thing you would do if you won a million dollars?

Pay off my debt. Second, I’d pay off the last of my parents’ mortgage. Third, I’d put a little bit in two separate savings accounts for Baby Bro and Baby Sis. Finally, I’d pay for a house with cash. (Can you imagine!?)