Ask Me Anything!

February 19, 2014

If you read my last post, you know that I’m going to be pretty busy over the next month or so… and not to use that as a cop out, but I’m feeling a little lost for blog post material (and time) these days. So, I’m going to steal an idea from my friends Bridget and Wendy, and give you guys a chance to ask me anything you want!

I’d love to hear from all of you, but I’m especially hoping to receive questions from readers who haven’t commented before. All you have to do is leave your question in a comment here, or send it to me in an email. I’ll either answer all of your questions in one post next week, or if some require longer answers they may get posts of their own. No topic of conversation is off limits in my house, so be polite but ask away!

  • Alyssa February 19, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Hi Cait! I’ve been reading & loving your blog for a while — you got me to start budgeting! — and I figured this was as good a post to leave my first comment on as any!

    How do you deal with the knowledge that you’re going to blow your budget for the month, or for a certain category, if that ever comes up? I’ve had a couple months where an unexpected expense early on derails me pretty badly, and it’s so hard not to beat myself up over it — or worse, turn to retail therapy to make myself feel better! Does this happen to you/how do you deal?

  • Ashley February 19, 2014 at 10:48 am

    I’m a lurker, so I’ve been reading for a while but don’t think I’ve ever commented! :)

    I know one of your passions is financial literacy, and believe that you are working with some organizations with this as their focus (or are looking for opportunities? I can’t recall what your current situation is!). Where did you find these organizations and how did you get involved? This is something I would love to get involved with, but I’m in Washington State (and realize you are in Canada), so am just wondering if you have any resources for someone looking for opportunities!

  • Shannon February 19, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Hi Cait!

    Did you ever suffer from debt fatigue? If so, how did you cope? It’s going to take me about 3.5 years to pay off my student debt (5.5 years total), and I feel like I have to say no to things all the time.

  • Leigh February 19, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    How do you handle the hard stuff? I’ll make a pretty good budget (maybe a bit too strict, but I’m over 40,000 in debt which will take forever to pay off) then some life event will happen and I’ll feel like it doesn’t matter to keep going, and I end up blowing a ton of money, usually shopping, which destroys my last couple months of work. My latest was finding out my house has continued to drop in value and if I sold last year, I would owe $20,000 and this year it will be listed for almost $25,000 under the value still owing on the mortgage. I had to relocate cities for work, and I was renting the property but even that was at a loss so I’m trying to sell to “start fresh”. Bigger debt, but hopefully more predictable budgets each month to pay it all off.
    How did you stay positive and focused while you scrimped and saved? How do you handle the hard blows … without taking it out on your budget?

  • Leigh February 19, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I just noticed the theme of my comment is very similar to the posts already up! I’m sorry for duplicating!

  • Dawn February 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    I have been putting money into an RSP since I was 19 (20 years ago!) and I feel like I’ve gotten no where with it. Because of the world economic ups and downs (mostly downs it seems) I am no further ahead than if I had buried all that money a coffee-can in the backyard. Do you think I should keep at it, or should I look elsewhere to put my hard-earned money!?? Right now, the tax savings are not really beneficial to me.

  • Kel Daroe February 19, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I would like to know how to approach getting out in the dating pool in a meaningful way without spending a buttload of cash I don’t have.

    • Dayle February 20, 2014 at 7:37 am

      This is a good question … I’d like to add my $0.02

      Dating can definitely be expensive. I’ve experienced the expense of dating itself, as well as some of the “spin-off” costs that may or may not go along with it – hair appts, mani/pedis, maybe new clothes, etc…

      There have been several times where I’ve spent awhile dating someone, going out constantly to eat, various activities, movies, shows, etc… and I ended up breaking it off because it was breaking my budget!

      I think the key is to find balance. I recognize that in the beginning you’re not going to hang out at one of your houses. There is going to be some cost in going out to eat, or for coffee, etc. early on. You can mitigate this by not ordering alcohol, not going to super-expensive restaurants, or going to breakfast/lunch instead of dinner.

      With the person I am currently seeing, we came to the conclusion pretty early that neither of us wants to eat out several times per week, for financial reasons as well as healthy eating. Once we spent some time getting to know each other and realized that we have very similar values, we started planning meals to cook together, and found some shows on Netfliex we enjoy watching together rather than going out and spending money. We’ve been able to spend time getting to know each other and it’s been good for both of our bank accounts :) …That being said we do go out maybe once or twice a month for a nice meal and maybe a sports game, or a movie.

      This may sound boring or not what some people look for in “dating” but it has to be whatever works for you. Some other ideas, look for free/cheap activities in your area. Go for walks, hikes, jogs. Pack a picnic. Check out street festivals or shows, I know in my area there is always something going on in the spring/summer/fall months.

      As far as approaching dating in a meaningful way, like I said you will probably need to spend a bit of money on initial dates, but once you meet someone, if you’re not feeling it, then don’t waste any more of your time (or money) on dates with them… I think being a little choosey about who you choose to send your time with can save some cash as well.

      Sorry for the rambling post!


  • Elizabeth February 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Would love your thoughts on practical/frugal ways to keep up w/ technology — phones, computers, ebook readers, etc. Do you use these? Upgrade periodically? Do without? Borrow? Shop for plans?

    Thanks for any insights — I find these gadgets huge budget busters, but rarely meet anyone who chooses to do without.

    • Dayle February 20, 2014 at 7:38 am

      Oh, this is a good question too! I’m looking forward to reading Cait’s thoughts on this one :)

      Myself I have a laptop that is over 6 years old, a blackberry for a phone, and a TV that cost only $500 7 years ago. I feel everything is going crap out on me all at once! (but I do want an iphone so maybe that’d be ok!)


  • Dan February 19, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Cait! As a new blogger I have a question about your blog. It looks great and it always has great content. How do you find ideas for topics to write about?

    • Tahnee February 28, 2014 at 6:29 pm

      I’m a frequent Ghost reader if you will :)

      Did you go to Post Secondary School and if so what for? If you could go back what would you take instead?

      I’m at a bit of a cross roads in my life and like finding out what others have done or would do now :)


  • Abby February 19, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    Do you wish you took a gap year? Did you?
    How did you choose your major?
    How busy were you in college?

    I enjoyed reading some of your other posts about college!

  • Dear Debt February 19, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Cait. How do you see the intersection with your personal and professional self? I love how open you are with your blog, and see that it has led to other work opportunities for you. Do you ever feel vulnerable about some of the things you reveal? Or how do you deal with that?

    • SOfia February 21, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Good question Dear Debt. I am interested in what Cait has to say to your question too!

  • Kate Witwicki February 20, 2014 at 4:32 am

    Hi Cait,

    I’m a long time reader and first time commenter. I’m curious about your retirement savings. What kind of RRSP investment do you have? Which bank do you hold it in? I’m about two months away from being debt free (all student loans in my case) and I’m trying to adjust my budget and put more away for retirement, I’m leaning more towards saving in my TFSA but I don’t want to ignore my RRSP all together.

    Kate :-)

  • Shoeaholicnomore February 20, 2014 at 6:49 am

    Hi Cait. I am new to PF blogging. My blog is PF and also some de-cluttering/life simplifying content. I was wondering if you could tell us what prompted you to finally “come out” of the debt closet to your friends and family? Why did you decide to quite writing anonymously? Thanks!

  • Julie February 20, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Have you ever negotiated yourself an increase in salary? Any tips as a young, female professional? All the tips I’ve read out there for women are written by people in a later stage of their career (Gail, The Smart Cookies, etc.). Not only that, but the tips are always generic, and avoid the issue of gender and age bias.

    As a young (20s) female, it’s common to be short changed and not taken seriously. At least in my company. Any tips would be great.


  • Katherine February 20, 2014 at 4:22 pm


    First time commenter, but have read for a while now! I know you are single so may not be able to answer me fully but wondering if you have any advice for me to help my husband understand why having a budget is important? We have always kept our finances separate, it has just worked for us. We both have certain bills we pay, and we split a few expenses down the middle (groceries etc). He pays the mortgage but I pay the property taxes each year (I put away $200/month to have enough by July). I am on maternity leave and for the past 5 months I have made my own budget and tracked all my spending. I know where my money goes! I have tried to make a budget for him, and after all his expenses and savings and even alloting him $300/month to do whatever he wants with, he has over $600/month that is extra and I don’t know where it goes! He doesn’t track his spending. I ask him and he says he always likes to keep a little extra in his acct “just in case” but it never accumulates. I think he just thinks of it as “free” money to do what he sees fit. I’d love to show him if we put it into a separate acct we could save for vacation or etc. without breaking the bank. His style is if we are going to do something, to pay for it in a big chunk and then be broke for other things that month instead of saving over time which is what I like to do. We are late 20s/early 30’s, two children, no debt besides our mortgage and we both have rrsps. We pay our credit cards off in full every month. We are lucky to have grandparents that have RESPs for our boys. I love your blog, you have inspired me to take better care of my money and also start an emergency fund (which my husband doesn’t have. His thought process is we would put the expense on the line of credit and then pay it off) Help! Thanks!

    Second very small question (first was a big one sorry!) – Do you have a favourite rewards credit card? Thanks!

  • Kate February 23, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    Has blogging changed for you going from anonymous to identified? Has it changed what you are comfortable blogging about?

    Do you have trouble prioritizing all of your obligations (work, blog, side work)? How do you handle when your brain wants to work on one thing, but deadlines etc require you to work on something else?

    You’ve made great progress paying off your debt and now working toward a fully funded emergency fund. What goals do you plan to tackle next on the blog?

    Thanks! Kate

  • Isabel February 24, 2014 at 10:08 am

    How do you deal with friends that want to always do something that costs money? Even if you offer to have them over for a drink/dinner/board games/something? I’m wary of being that annoying person who can’t come out simply because I just cannot afford it/cannot trust myself not to overspend on drinks because I drunkenly convince myself that I “deserve” it?

  • prosperousnotforprofit February 24, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Hi !
    I know a while ago you mentioned you were taking the securities course. How is it going/how do you find it? Do you have any connections or feedback from people who have done the whole CIFP financial planning course because I’m very curious.
    Thank you!

  • Bridget February 25, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    holla homegirl,

    Tell me how do you separate “work time” from “free time” when you’re working from home? (sorry if someone already asked this; I didn’t read the other comments).

    do you have a schedule or a stopping point or do you overdo it every day like me? ;)

  • Melissa February 27, 2014 at 8:08 am

    Cait! I find your blog so inspiring. When I feel stressed about my repayment schedule I refer back to some of your posts!!!