Learning about money$

Here’s some awesome resources I have found. Some are articles, some are websites, and so on, but this is my list of things I have found to be helpful about getting a grip on my personal finances:
The Billfold
LearnVest
Lifehacker
My brother (he’s studying to be an accountant)
Mint blog

Here are some books he borrowed that he and my mom insist will change my entire life and outlook on money:
Anything written by Michael Lewis
Biographies on Donald Trump and Richard Branson

I haven’t read a physical book in almost a year. I should probably do that.

Oh yeah, I hate looking through all those damned circulars to figure out what’s on sale. If you aren’t already using it, dammit get over here*:
SOSCuisine

*OK they are almost perfect. You still need to compare those sale prices to your friendly neighbourhood local independent grocer’s. For Montreal, I like Marché PA & Akhavan. They are close to me and usually have yogurt on sale for like a buck. I can’t really justify heading out to the Jean-Talon market, cause I don’t drive and it’s not necessarily worth the time and effort to head out there by public transit or bike.

Things that I have not found to be helpful while learning more about money:
Those random slideshows that show you the same 7-20 tricks to reduce your cost of living. Honestly, I find that I’ve been reading a variation on the same article for the last three years.
Sites and articles geared toward women: the vast majority of them have a really condescending tone. As if I should find it difficult to sort out the difference between my savings and chequing accounts!
This bloody thing

The best damned money-tracker you don’t have to buy:
Mint.com
I have the app, and I check it about every other day. It’s pretty slick, I can see where every cent went, and while I should also write up my cash purchases, at least I know when the money was taken out and how long I should make it last. It also tells me how much money I can spend for the rest of the month on stuff like coffee, clothes, restaurants, and at the bars. It also tells me when it’s shocked at my spending. For example, if I normally only spend $35 on my phone bill per month but this month went over and spent $50, it will bring up an alert.

Also, it tells you when you incur bank charges, which I now need to investigate 😦

And finally something I should have done a while ago:
Stopped bringing cash to work. This is bad for my wallet and my diet. Like who the hell is buying an oversized oatmeal-chocolate-chip cookie for $2.50?! I am. Myself and my awful PMS-ing brain have taken me down five flights of stairs to get that stupid cookie. This has happened on more than one occasion.

Now, I am vowing to only bring money to work to pay my monthly coffee tab. At 35 cents a cup, I can justify the daily expense cause there’s no where else I’m gonna get such a cheap (and halfway decent) cup for such a price. I think I spend less than $10 a month on coffee. Unheard of anymore!

Also, due to my awesome acid-reflux issues, I’ve recently had to switch to drinking tea. I have a box of teabags (whatever, a massive box of black tea bags retail for less than $5) in my desk and hot water is free. I’ve been averaging one bag per day because I don’t like it too strong. As long as I have a spoon to fish out the bag, I’m sorted.

Frankly, if I forget to bring a lunch one day, I have a debit card. But it’s almost stupid to buy small snack with a debit card so I just don’t do that. Usually there’s a minimum on the amount of money you need to spend to use your card, and I don’t want to do that if I’m just buying a terrible snack.

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Actually Running

Actually running for longer than a minute has never been a forte of mine. I can sprint for the bus like nobody’s business (in heels!), but frankly, I have no stamina.

The whole purpose of this goal is to be able to improve and be able to measure it. That’s why I chose to run faster rather than longer. Since I cannot successfully run a mile (yet), the going is rough. The idea is to increase my cardio levels a lot and keep it that way. Besides, six minutes isn’t that long, and I do pretty well for myself within 4 minutes. It’s just getting past that and keeping on running is the toughest part right now. People who say they run X number of km astound me. Because I think they actually run it, and that’s what makes me nervous — I’m unable to keep running that fast for long enough.

So far though, I am biking 5km each way in the mornings and evenings to and from work. This only halves the metro stops to get there, but is just under 1/3 of the way. This is part of improving and increasing my abilities. I also run two to three times a week, but lately am only averaging once per week. It’s disappointing. All of this is, actually. It freaks me out that I might not be able to accomplish this in time.

Frankly, it’s a balancing act. I’m a person who needs her own time, in addition to working, commuting, family time and keeping a social life. It all adds up, and me time doesn’t count as sleeping or doing anything I am obligated to do. And while I feel like running is a great place to do some serious thinking, it’s not exactly a pen-and-paper-accessible activity. I’d like to accumulate me time spent running, but the time I need to spend by myself disagrees. I mean, talk about first-world problems, but I’d like to know if you think this is spoiled? Personally, I find I come up with more interesting ideas when left to my own devices. It’s a lot more than that, but I require both conscious and unconscious (sleep) time for reflection.

Stay Classy

Been two weeks since my last post and I’ve tried to make the best out of my goals.

I ended up cooking the fifth dish when a friend came over for dinner. It was roasted chicken with a spinach sauce. Turned out very well! The whole cooking goal has turned out so well that I’ve been trying out other recipes as well. The latest one was a quiche, which really isn’t that hard to make. It’s a great way to get rid of all the vegetables in the fridge as well!

The dance class the other day turned out very well! My legs were killing the next day though! So with that, I can take #3 off of my list! I’m trying to get into a routine with working out more, finding it a little hard, but at least I am trying!

I wanted to give blood this past Saturday (#12 on my list) but when I ended up calling in they said that I needed an appointment. Which bummed me out a little bit because I was entirely free that day to do it. I have to sit down and figure out a date for that.

Yesterday Brian’s Mom and friend, George, came over to help us with the blinds and hanging up some pictures. All of the blinds are up, and 3/6 of the pictures are up as well. It’s starting to feel more like home. I can’t wait for it to finally be done, and to post some pictures to show everyone who didn’t come to the party.

Marketing my business is slowly coming along, I’ve inquired about Ad space in Missy Ink Magazine (which is fairly cheap I just need to find the money and someone to design my ad!) and I’ve added it to google places. Once it’s up on google I am fairly certain more people will be calling. I just want that to be now! I am so impatient. Not a lot has been going on with that in the past month, which is good and bad. Good because I actually had some time off to just relax. Bad because I could have used the extra money! BUT, I know things will turn around.

My script is ALMOST done. It’s all written down in note form, I just need to make it presentable. I might actually put it into production next year, so stay tuned!

Hopefully in my next post I’ll have more to report! Until then, Stay classy.

Slave-driver

Hey, remember how I was freaking out a bit? Like I lost my mojo and so on? Well, apparently for me, the solution was to make a list (!) And you’re not surprised at all…

So I wrote down the things I need to do on a weekly basis, the things I need to accomplish on a monthly basis, and the things I wanted to do for the rest of the month. Sometimes a really long list can be too daunting, especially if you have a terrible attention span like me. So I broke this up into a few more manageable pieces.

Honestly, until this past month, many of the things I wanted to do were falling into my lap. So I felt lucky and took it as it came and didn’t push much harder. But that’s not the point, and it’s certainly no way to get it all done. So here is my plan of action for the rest of the month of May:

  • Create a volunteer agreement with the ladies I am supposed to report to for my volunteering. I haven’t done much, and it’s definitely my fault. I need to renew the agreement and set some deadlines.
  • Accomplish a set number of hours of volunteering by the end of the month.
  • Edit and publish those short stories I have left languishing on the back burner for the last three months.
  • Attend one bicycle maintenance workshop
  • Research driving schools and sign up for lessons.
  • I guess I will need to post some goals for June soon too! Stay tuned.

    Bicycle maintenance — a beginning

    Oh yeah, remember how a couple of months ago I said I was taking my bike out of storage? Ha!

    It finally happened on Sunday. I figured out the code on my lock was not what I initially remembered, and promptly freaked right out. Then I thought carefully, and figured it out.

    After this, I found a rag and wiped down my bike. It was filthy! Normally it is bright blue and gorgeous, but it was pretty dull and grey. I almost couldn’t tell that it had once been blue! Also, my building stores all of the bikes for the winter in one storage room, which is very nice of them. However, instead of using painters tape or tying tags to the bikes, they used duct tape to write down the units and then placed the tape on the seats for the last six months! I am kind of upset about this as I don’t know how to get the adhesive residue off without ruining the seat. (Sidenote: if you know an excellent way to get rid of this, my ass thanks you profusely!) In the meantime, I’ve been riding around with a sticky seat, and trying not to ruin my clothes too badly.

    Also, I finally learned how to pump my tires, which is truly pathetic. My brother helped me out with this, as he is the one who has the pump. Initially he just showed me hypothetically how to use it, and then he thought I was going to break the tool, so he came down to the garage to help me out. He’s a pretty patient guy, and a good teacher, even if he had a lot of disdain for my lack of knowledge. I have had a bike for most of my life (I learned when I was around 7 years old), and biked around until I got my drivers’ license (age 19). I never consistently had access to a car, and it was my only method of transportation for about six months while I lived in Holland (age 21). So the fact that I didn’t know how to pump my own freakin’ tires is kind of pathetic.

    But now I know how! And I will learn more!

    Yesterday, my bike was making a funny sound so I only biked to the closest metro, as opposed to biking a halfway to work. On my way back it was still making that noise and I realized: crap! I have a flat! Good thing it was locked near a sports shop where they do repairs. I went in and the guy had it sorted out in no time. I was feeling like a sucker ($10 for parts and labour to repair it), so the bike shop guy has offered to show me how to fix a flat myself.

    I suppose I’ll need to update my purse essentials soon!

    Knife-throwing

    This is actually one of the scarier things on the list, and here is why:

    I am hopelessly uncoordinated. Did you have a kid in your school gym class who just sucked at it? Who tried hard, and whose body didn’t get it? I was that kid. And part of me still is.

    Yes, years of babysitting has helped me become better at catching random objects flung in my direction. And yes, I can kind of throw a football. But I still trip over my own two feet a lot of the time, and I have terrible aim. So when I broached the topic of learning this skill with friends and family, many of them scoffed and hoped I wasn’t serious.

    However, the friend who initially offered to teach me is awesome. He’s a total DIY guy, who makes his own pickles (the best ever, btw) who lives in my building. He offered to teach me a couple of years ago and we just never did. But I made a time and a date, and went upstairs and had my first lesson. It was amazing. And terrifying.

    So I went over, and the first smart thing I did was keep my shoes on. See, if I accidentally dropped the knife, I would be less likely to sustain an injury.

    And I was so scared of scuffing up the walls, but he set it up right! He had a massive wooden board against the wall, a clear space, and we used cardboard boxes as targets. So far I just aim for the box (and often hit it!), but I still freak out when I throw it. It’s a weird reaction that I’m working on overcoming. This has been an excellent start though. My next lesson will happen when he gets back to town.

    Hey there — your help would be awesome!

    Hey there,

    Welcome back: I am writing again. And practicing typing again, which means the pace of this piece might not be at the speed you are comfortable with.

    Anyway, I need some help. I am pretty damned overwhelmed. And unmotivated. And lacking ideas how to take this whole thing on. Plus I find my priorities have changed significantly since I started this endeavour. I kind of want to re-evaluate these goals and get rid of the irrelevant ones. But I feel like that’s cheating. And yet, what kind of life am I living if I am so inflexible?

    I love this writing, but I want to get back into the freelance game.
    I wanted that specific tattoo, but apparently the design and that location are incongruous. And so I am no longer particularly devoted to that goal.
    I want to increase my use of Twitter, since I enjoy that medium, but I am really not online as often as I would need to be. It’s really a spur-of-the-moment thing, and I am rarely online during spur-of-the-moment happenings.
    I desperately need to move out, but I still find it unaffordable.
    I have not painted in years and am still daunted by the concept of getting back into it.

    Ultimately, this requires a whole lot of reorganization. Which I love doing, but may not have the stamina to maintain. I’ll keep you posted, and in the meantime, I am asking you — politely — to send in some tips on how I can keep this up.

    Thanks!
    Leila

    Food Coma

    Well, the stress has finally passed! I can now sit back and just enjoy my new place, surroundings and a huge amount of leftovers!

    As most of you know (since most of you came!) I had a party over the weekend to celebrate my new place with Brian. The turnout was huge! I didn’t expect so many people to come (not to mention FIT in the new place).

    I cooked from 12-6, and although I tried to manage my time well, I was not able to cook all 5 dishes.  In the end I ended up with these dishes:

    Shaved Asparagus Mimosa Salad
    Guatemalan Seviche
    Spicy Caesar Risotto
    Bang Bang Chicken Noodle Salad

    4/5 isn’t that bad. I’ll be doing the 5th dish sometime this week, most probably when all of the leftovers are consumed. The food was a BIG hit, I was a little nervous since this was my first time attempting everything. As soon as people started going back for seconds (and in some cases thirds!) I started to calm down. Thanks to everyone who came out and enjoyed the food, wine and company.

    So, with that, I will gladly cross #9 off of my list.

    Tonight, I’ll be attempting #3 (Take dance lessons). It’s a bootcamp with a ballet (ish) style. Fairly excited. I tried to do a pirouette the other day to see if I “still have it” and my hip cracked in 2 places. I don’t know if I need a better indicator to let me know that I have to get into better shape! I’ve started an agreement with my friend Mitzi to work out three days a week, and if I don’t I have to pay her (and vice versa). Let’s hope that this actually works out!

    For those interested in a fun work out, look at this: http://bdxstudio.com/

    Spring has sprung, Sprung has Spring

    Well. This is long overdue.

     

    My last post was in April, stating to the world how happy I was. That definitely has not changed in the slightest.

     

    The reason I haven’t been communicating with all of you is because I have been under a lot of stress recently. I needed to deal with things myself, and for the most part it is all over.

     

    My biggest stress was moving out, and it’s done! I am finally in Toronto. My place is not fully put together yet, and if you know me at all, you would know that this is bugging me! I’m getting things done as much as I can, little by little. BUT. Cross #10 off of my list! Leila will be coming down this weekend, and I have complete faith that it’ll be done by the end of the week.

     

    #7 was “Spring Cleaning” which I did before the move. I got rid of a TON of stuff. I like purging, makes me feel good that I’m giving others something that I don’t need anymore.

     

    My housewarming will be coming up soon and with that I can cross #9 (Cook 5 new dishes) off of my list!

     

    I am feeling very accomplished that I have knocked so many things off of my list! Once Leila is down we will be going to get our Tattoo consultations with George from Seven Crowns Tattoo (Which is #13 on my list!) George has been doing all of my tattoos since I’ve been in Toronto, and in all honesty, I don’t think I would let anyone else touch me. I love his work, I love his co-workers, and I love his little shop. http://sevencrownstattoo.com/sevenCrownsTattoo.html

     

    Hopefully now that things are settled I’ll be updating this more, and going after more of my goals. I will be sure to update you all after the party to tell you how awesome or terribad my food was!