Best social media ever

November 18, 2013

So, Contigo coffee mugs are awesome. Want to know why I think that?

Well, it all started one day when I was sad that my Starbucks to-go mug wasn't doing its job. I start work at 8:30am at by 9:15am my coffee cold…

So, with me being such a big Twitter lover, I decided to ask my lovely followers what they thought would be the best to-go mug. Guess what? Contigo was the overall winner.  So, I knew that a Costco trip would be in my future as that's the only place you can get it I've seen it. With that, I thought it would be funny to tweet @GoContigo and say that they should send me one since everyone recommended it.  Now, I never expect companies to pay attention when I jokingly tweet that they should send me free stuff. Yet, last week Contigo tweeted me back asking for my address wanting to send me one of their travel mugs! I am truly impressed with their social media. I'm just an average girl from Canada suggesting they should send me a to-go mug and they did!

So, 4 days later, they sent me a green one.  How did they know that was one of my favourite colours?

Anyway, props to Contigo for having awesome social media people and policies. Because they went out of their way to send me a mug via twitter, I will forever be a supporter. So, thank you for being awesome, Contigo. 

PS. Used the to-go mug for the first time yesterday, was still sipping my coffee at 11:30am and it was still warm. YES!

My favourite photo

November 9, 2013

I'll be the first to say I'm not a professional photographer by any means.  As much as I love trying to capture the perfect moment, my skill and creative instint just isn't there.  But, I figured I'd show you my favourite photo to date.

I love this image for its angle, its intensity and its dominance. To me, it projects exactly what New York is and all that it involves. 

This photo was taken by me, sitting on a double decker tour bus with a good friend of mine. We took a short trip to New York and were determined to see all the typical tourist sites.  New York is one of those places that can't be described in words. It has to be seen and felt.  The amount of excitement, emotion and history in that city is something that must be experienced by all.  It's an incredible place, and I'd love to go back one day.  Here's hoping it's soon!

I don't feel like writing

November 6, 2013

It's 6:19pm and I have my laptop ready to go, a big fuzzy comforter, a nice glass of red wine and calming music playing.  That's my usual set up when I've decided I want to write.  Now, normally I can pound out words like nobody business, however, today motivation hasn't graced me with its presence.  I can't figure out a topic, my opening sentence is boring and I'm sleepy.  But with all that, I'm still going to write.  I have always remembered a quote that my Grade 6 teacher once told us:

"If you can't think of anything to write, don't quit.  Just put words on paper and they will always come together." 

Unfortunately, I can't remember my teachers name. I'm sure I could dig it up, but that's not the point. That quote has always stuck with me.  As you might know, I have always loved writing. It's been an escape when I've needed it, it's been a way to me to express feelings that I can't quite say and it's been a way for me to grow and learn.  

In the end, even though I have been quite distracted tonight with other things around my apartment, like: Baking cookies, staring at my dirty dishes, trying to find a place for my broken microwave and trying to figure out where I should put my avocado plant (which I grew myself, heck yes!).  I have still managed to write and I'm darn proud of that.  However, it's now 6:49pm. Definitely not doing well in the word count/minute category, but whatever!

Hope you enjoyed your hump day! :)

I love winter and I'm not afraid to admit it

November 3, 2013

Why does everyone around me despise winter so much?! Over the last 48 hours we went from above zero temperatures to below zero and 20cm. It's funny because Edmonton is known for tons of snow and cold temperatures, so why the swearing and sad faces? I love summer as well, but I just don't do well in heat, so bring on the snow Mother Nature!

When I woke up this morning, I did a little happy dance while lying in bed. I started day dreaming of hot chocolate, fuzzy boots, fires, and snowboarding! SNOWBOARDING! I can't tell you how excited I am to get out there and shred fall down a mountain! That another reason why I love Edmonton as well. We are only a few hours away from lots mountain ranges and can take advantage of their awesomeness pretty easily.

I look like quite the pro don't I?

Ohhhh wait. Even standing on a snowboard is harder than it looks… haha
Okay, so I'm not the greatest snowboarder out there, but that doesn't mean I don't have fun. At the end of the day, there is nothing better than living in a place with 4 seasons we can enjoy. I embrace winter as much as I can, because we really do live in a beautiful city.

So to all you grumpy pants out there hating life right now, go out at have a snowball fight! I promise you will be smiling after :) Having a grass fight in the summer just isn't quite the same… haha

A minimalism game - Update

October 26, 2013

Turns out this game way a lot harder than I thought... duh Keens. I always tend to think I'm awesome think challenges like this will be a piece of cake. I was going into it thinking "how hard can it be to get rid of some junk around my house?" Welllll the boy and I didn't even make it halfway through the month. Turns out we made it to day 13. That means we each threw away 91 items.

This is a look at day 8 + 9 for me. 
The hardest thing to throw away from this pile? The Cosmo magazine haha

Overall, I'm pretty proud of us. We got rid of some random junk that was lying around, and it got us to actively ask ourselves what we were keeping and why. I definitely feel like I'd do this challenge again. It might even be an annual event for us. Because honestly, do I really need 20 bottles of almost empty perfume? Or a box of ripped old clothes that I'm going to "make a pinterest project with"? Not even a little bit.

 So after giving myself a high five, I'm pretty proud to say I even tried this challenge.

 Do you think you could make it through all 30 days?

A minimalism game

October 8, 2013

Have you ever had the feeling that your home is less like a home and more like a old storage facility? Well, that is what I've felt like over the last little while. In the last few months I've been awful in the area of collecting more junk around my apartment. Life has gotten busy again, and not that I'm using that as an excuse, BUT I'm going to anyways.  I've noticed that I have a lot of extra boxes, bags, tags, trinkets and everything in between pilling up on my shelves and storage room.

Good thing for my man finding this cool challenge that the Minimalists put on their site. See it below:

Essentially, the game is simple. You throw away a certain amount of things depending on the day. For example, on the first day of a given month you throw away one item, the second day you throw away two, the third day you would throw away three, etc.  The challenge is to see how far in the month you can get, and even more fun if you play the game with someone else and see who gets farther.  If you end up making it a whole month (lets say a 30 day month) you will end up getting rid of 465 things!

While I'm not getting my hopes up that I'll reach day 30 this month, I am already on a pretty good roll of 36 items. I am challenging my boyfriend to this and I will let you know who ends up winning! *cough* me. Haha

Who else would be willing to do this?

Change is good

October 2, 2013

I have made yet again another change to this blog. The whole online writing thing is a learning process and to be honest I have having a hard time sticking to the financial subject of this blog.  It didn't give me the freedom to talk about what I wanted.  Thus, this is now my lifestyle blog, which it was at the beginning.

Am I still trying to be a millionaire before I'm 30? Yes.
Will I still write financial posts? Yes.

But now, I will be adding posts about a wide variety of topics, such as:

- Organization
- Cooking (or lack there of)
- Being frugal
- DIY's 
- The challenge of being a 20 something these days
- Etc...

This is what I have wanted this site to be all along.  A way to write creativly as well as about my life and how I am making my way through it.

Let me know your thoughts. New look coming soon as well!

Congratulations to me!

September 12, 2013

Today was like any average day.  I got home from work, checked my mail and guess what? I received some great news! Especially for a personal finance blogger!

The letter opened with this line:

Congratulations! Your student loan is now fully paid!

Heck YES I did a little happy dance in the elevator to my apartment!  Anyone that has had to pay for school with a student loan can understand the feeling of that substantial debt being lifted off your shoulders. Of course, in that moment my mind then starts running with new figures and how my monthly budget is going to change.  That much more that I can add to my savings!

happy dance animated gif photo: NPH and Elmo dance happy GIF_003.gif

Adult life win! That's all I have to say!

The Automatic Millionaire

September 8, 2013

So, remember that time I was trying to be a millionaire? Oh right, I don't either.

Lately, life has been a bit rough, BUT no complaining.  I have just gotten off track a bit, I suppose that happens from time to time, but I have to get right back on the horse.  September is always the busiest time for me, so I have to buckle down and get back to my regular habits.

Just this past weekend, the boy and I had to go on a last minute road trip to see some family.  On the way home we listened to an audiobook in the car.  It was called the Automatic Millionaire by David Bach.  It was quite the wake up call and can I just say that I LOVE audiobooks while driving. I never thought I would, but it's a great way to pass time and you learn so much.

Basically, he teaches you how to think and act like a millionaire instead of thinking and acting 'like a poor person'. Definitely puts things into perspective and allows you to understand that your attitude and way of thinking is actually a big part in how you live your life and how you perceive money.

I suggest everyone give it a listen or read.  We didn't get through all of it, but the next run I go on, that will be my music.

Has anyone else heard of this book before?

The red eye

July 30, 2013

You know when something seems like a great idea at first, then doesn't work out? Yup, happens to me all  the time. 

As we speak, I am sitting on a plane headed for a wonderful vacation. It is 4:10am and I am surrounded by snoring men, crying babies, and annoying flight attendants. My entire life I have loved flying and everything it involves.  It's such an adventure and I have always secretly wanted to fly myself.  So, while planning this trip, my partner in crime and I thought taking a red eye would be an awesome idea. The main reason for that was the surprising amount we saved doing it. Plus sleeping on a plane is easy, right?

Nope. Not even a little bit. Wait, let me rephrase that.  Sleeping on a plane seems to be easy for everyone BUT me.  I've always been a picky sleeper, but good luck me ever sleeping on a plane. First off, I have the bladder of a 90 year old, which sucks for the lady sitting on the aisle beside me haha. The air is stuffy, my legs get restless and sitting on a rock would be more comfortable then these seats. Lastly, being awake for 22 hours straight makes you start to think you are going crazy. 

With all of this, I have decided the money I saved taking this flight is definitely not worth it. My wallet saved about $175.00, but my emotional, mental and physical state took a big hit. Not cool.

Do you think sacrificing sleep is worth the money?

The attraction to new technology

July 8, 2013

There is something about me that isn't a secret; I have a love for new technology.  The just off the shelf phones, the iPads, Mac's, and about anything else you can think of.  I am one of those typical people (yes, I know... judge if you must) that always need to have the newest thing. 

Colour Machine Modern Technology

Now, with my love for new technology, also comes my extreme clumsiness with said products. I've had.... 6 iPhones in the last 4 years? Yup, sounds about right. Even the current iPhone I'm using looks like a dog chewed it and threw it down a cliff.

This becomes a horrible expense after a while.  Just think, the new iPhone's cost $600 I believe? Goodness that's a lot of hard earned money. 

Lately, I've been wanting the new iPhone SO bad. It's a constant battle in my head between me, myself and I.  The personal finance blogger side says "No way, Jose" of course the other side wants it because it's pretty and my current phone is definitely not.

As much as I love new technology, I normally take some time and talk myself out of it. I'm even using a 3 year old Mac Book as my computer right now. That means a lot considering I've been looking at the fancy new MacBook Pro's for a while now.

*Sigh*, what to do, what to do!

Is there something you absolutely love but can't afford? Do you love new technology as well?

Taking advantage of nature

June 28, 2013

Yet again I've had a lapse in posting on here. I swear I need to figure out a better way to work it into my routine. Summer is always so busy that writing seems to be the last thing I want to do after a long day.

Nevertheless, I took advantage of the gorgeous day we had in Edmonton today.  It reached +29 and nothing but sun all day.  I tend to forget the beautiful river valley we have in this city. I get so caught up in work and life that I don't take time to appreciate what is around me. Plus, it is free! Woot! 

Well, tonight I decided to go on a solo bike ride. Enjoy the sun, de-stress from my day and get some fresh air.  It was definitely worth it and I got a great workout in to boot!

Time management skills

June 11, 2013

AH! I can't believe I haven't written a post in a few weeks! That is not like me at all. Life has been so insane the last few weeks that unfortunately the blog suffered.

Here are a list of excuses I have (but shouldn't) for not blogging lately:

- Busiest time of year for me at work
- Got a nasty cold that knocked me on my butt for a solid week and a half
- Planned a massive summer trip
- Had to work more hours at part time job
- Just flat out wanted to be outside on my free time then inside on the computer

I have not been the greatest at managing my time lately and it definitely shows.

SO, you forgive me right?!

I'm back to the grind this week and have lots of money related posts to write. Tons to be happy and excited about right now :)


Stinky sports clothes

May 28, 2013

Let me guess, the title disgusts you before you have even read the post! Well fear not my friends, it will be worth a read, I hope!  Here is a little background info.  In my spare time, I play soccer and long distance run.  I have for most of my life and both are big passions of mine as well as keeping fit and healthy, which sometimes with my busy life in a binge habit. However, there is one aspect of it lately though that has caused me way more stress then should be allowed.  Finding the space/time to air out all my gear.

Obviously, sports clothes do not smell good when you are done with them and for me at least they are covered in sweat. Now I live in a small 1 bedroom apartment as well as share laundry.  So, you can imagine the elephant sized stress I feel whenever I come home from a run or game. Trying to go with my minimalism journey, sprawling all my gross clothes around my living room for the night until I can wash them is not my idea of a great place to be.

It's actually a hilarity at the same time, because I've started using my balcony too now that it's summer. (Sorry neighbours, I honestly feel bad for you).  But it makes me laugh every time I see a soccer sock flailing in the wind out my highrise apartment window!

The reason for this post though is to see what you guys do with your sports gear? Do you have a special way to store it or to let it air out? am I seriously the only one that finds it stressful? I wouldn't doubt that haha.

The troubles of traveling

May 24, 2013

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

Throughout my life, I have traveled to a few typical places in relation to where I live. Such as Mexico, a few states in the US and other parts of Canada. Other than that, I haven't really explored the world, which I would love to do one day.  

Currently the BF and I are planning a small-ish trip to the other side of Canada, and as simple as it should be, planning trips is a lot of work.  Not only cost wise, but just the time it takes to get everything together. Now, maybe others out there are just better and more efficient than I, which could be totally possible but there are so many things you have to take care of.

First is flights.  I personally LOVE flying.  It's on my bucket list to actually have pilots license, but that's a story for another day. Booking flights are so frustrating to me, because the price can vary so much depending on where you are going, the day of the week you book, and the airline you book with.  It's just so tough to try and find a good deal. In my experience, I have always booked through Expedia which considers every airline and provides you with the cheapest options. But I do hate the feeling of booking a flight, checking the same flight a week later, and finding out that the price dropped. Not cool bro. 

Next is hotels.  I have had pretty good luck with hotels, but I'm not a fan of trying to find a hotel that a) is around the location you want to be in and b) in the price range you want.  I'm always scared to show up to the hotel and it look nothing like it did online. I have heard horror stories of that. But I suppose you can't go wrong with the big chain hotels.  Those are usually my go to anyways.

Trips are normally expensive regardless, but trying to make it as cost efficient as possible is definitely a challenge. Should be interesting over the next few days to see how much I can actually save compared to what I would normally spend on a trip like this.

Do any of you have tips on trying to be cost effective while traveling?


May 22, 2013

As I'm sitting here, watching How to Deal on Netflix, I noticed that I have a lot of books sitting on my shelf across the room. Fictional novels, personal finance books, even some books on how to train in the world of soccer.  Then I realized that I have an issue with buying books brand new.

There is nothing better than a crisp, brand new book. I swear I can spend hours at a time in a Chapters book store reading and exploring wide varieties of the unknown.  At the same time, I can spend a ton of money while I'm there.  Books can range from $15.00-$45.00 per book, which as amazing as they are, is a little much, especially if you buy books all the time.

One thing I've learned on this journey is that I need to shake the need to have new and untouched.  There is nothing wrong with amazon, the used/new online bookstore, as well as local libraries.  We can actually get library cards for free in my city right now, so I really should be taking advantage of it.

Just another way I can learn to save just a little bit more. Old or new, books are such a calm and relaxing thing for me. Definitely have to make that a priority.

Do you take advantage of used or borrowed books?

Wandering off the beaten track

May 19, 2013

With every kind of habit or task you are trying to conquer, there are always ways that it can get thrown out of whack.  This comes to be expected with every kind of journey you try to take, whether that be mental, emotional or physical.  This has been very true for me over this past long weekend.  The weekend isn't even over and I already feel guilty enough that I had to write.

With the journey of personal finance, or specifically trying to be a millionaire in my case (just a tiny goal.. haha),  it is very tough to remember the long term result sometimes.  I get caught up in the drama of life that I forgot where I'm supposed to be headed, but that is the challenge of anything isn't it; staying focused. 

Already this long weekend, I have gone out to eat on 4 separate occasions. Now that's only out of 7 meals so far this weekend. To me that's horrible. But as I was saying, I got caught up in visiting friends, going out for drinks, and picking up a quick meal as I'm headed out somewhere.  All which lead me to spend about $100 on just those 4 meals alone. Which is crazy in my mind when I normally spend less than that for a week and a half worth of food when I go grocery shopping. Just today I sat back and reflected on everything I've done so far this weekend. All the laughter that was had, the great times with cherished friends and the gorgeous weather was well worth it, but expensive.  I could have easily had the exact same experience all weekend, but paying attention to my spending at the same time.

I definitely went off track this weekend and I'm upset about it, but it's okay.  It's not easy to live on a budget all the time. Although, I'm not on an extremely tight budget and I have a bit of flexibility, that doesn't mean ruin all the success I've already had.  It just reminds me to tighten up again, remember what I'm trying to achieve, and get back on track.

Do you find yourself getting off track sometimes?

Minimizing my jewelry

May 17, 2013

Today as I was getting ready to take over the world, I came across my usual frustration in dealing with my jewelry.  Every day when it comes time to put on some sparkle, I cringe inside at the state of my jewelry 'area'.  It is clumps of silver and gold, with rings, earrings, and necklaces all intertwined, making the task of finding anything impossible!  Now I'm definitely no girly girl, I have very little jewelry compared to some women I know, yet I can't manage to keep it organized.  Going with my strive for minimalism, that was todays task.

As you can see, this area is messier than a 1 year old eating their first cake! I can't even handle it anymore.  I have learned a few things after doing some jewelry organization research (I'm a loser I know). So after 2 hours of throwing out, cleaning and organizing, my jewelry masterpiece was born! I normally only really wear about a quarter of the jewelry I own, so I organized it to get to my favourite things easiest.

I can now put my jewelry on in the mornings with ease, and I don't have a panic attack just looking at it.  I also got ride of quite a few things, because frankly, how much jewelry does one person REALLY need? (Don't answer that ladies...) Haha

To go along with my jewelry organization, I even picked up this very nice 3 drawer chest from Target for about $18.00.  I scored a sweet opening week deal or something, I definitely didn't complain. With that, I was able to have a place for all my rings, earrings and bracelets.

Do any of you have trouble organizing jewelry?


The downside of budgeting

May 15, 2013

Well did the title strike your attention? You definitely read it correctly; I am positive there is a downside to budgeting. I know I sound like a crazy person right now but hear me out! Throughout this whole process, I have changed a lot about my spending habits and learned to cut certain things out, which hasn't been a problem. However, if you take budgeting to an extreme, it can actually have a negative impact on your life.

I read something recently that talked about how budgeting can put a damper on your life in ways that you might not realize.  The things it talked about I actually resonated with me as I've experienced a lot of them.. When you first start out budgeting, or just trying to save money, some people take things to extremes. You NEVER go out to eat, you NEVER go to a movie, you NEVER buy that shirt that your desperately need, and you never see your friends.  Because as we all know, friends = money! So, where is the line? When do you start sacrificing your happiness and personal life for money?  Some people learn the hard way, as I have in the past.  

Budgeting to such an extreme can lead to binge shopping, binge eating, as well as ruining relationships in your life. Sounds harsh I know, but I've seen it happen.  Don't get mad quite yet, I definitely understand you can see friends without spending money. There are just a lot more triggers to spend money when other people are around, understandably.

Once you start budgeting and it actually makes you unhappy, or makes you miss important people and events in your life, then it's gone to far.  You have to just start small and work from there.  Create a realistic budget that doesn't fully stop you from doing things you enjoy, it will just be an adjusted version. Don't stop going to see movies with friends, just go less often and maybe suggest going for a walk or a bike ride one day instead.  You get a lot more quality time walking or biking then you do in a movie theater anyways. 

Do you think budgeting can be taken too far?

I choose to bike!

May 11, 2013

Does everyone remember that time I was on the fence about purchasing a bike? If you don't you can give that a read here.  Well my friends, I choose to buy a bike! I know for me, the expense had a lot to do with it.  But wouldn't you know, I got a bike at Costco for a steal and I'm so glad I did!

With us having such gorgeous summers here, why not spend my weekends checking out the beautiful river valley and getting some exercise at the same time.  I'm taking it out for the first time today and it's going to be fun yet entertaining at the same time; for the person going with me at least.  I haven't ridden a bike for years, so I imagine I'm going to look like a 3 year old on a tricycle. Bring on the bandaids!!

Living below the line - The finish line

May 5, 2013

After all is said and done, I lived below the poverty line for 5 straight days. Monday to Friday night, and I must say, it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do!  I had to live off of $8.75 over 5 days, or $1.75 a day for food, which means anything I was ingesting.  I wasn't able to accept anything from anyone, and believe me that wasn't easy.  If I were to do it again, there are definitely things I would do differently.

Some may think it's crazy that only 5 days affected me so much, but it was two fold. The first was emotionally.  It is such a weird feeling knowing that others in the world were starving like I was, but for their whole lives, not just 5 days.  There are millions of people out there without the basic needs of a human being, yet most of us can spend more than $8.00 on one meal alone.  I don't think we really put that into perspective too often.  It definitely helped me change my spending habits and how much food I buy.  I really don't need as much as I thought I did.

The second was physically.  Turns out I don't do well on only 600 calories a day without my basic nutrients.  The first night alone I was a few minutes from passing out running half a field.  Through the 5 days, I definitely learned a ton about my body, in terms of what I can and cannot handle.  Taking in so few calories, I wasn't able to do much of anything. I had very little energy and sleeping seemed to be my only option in terms of activity.  By day 2 I was going home every lunch hour to nap/rest and it did wonders, when before I started this project, I never napped at home even once on my lunch hour.  I also noticed how moody I was.  I'd say I wasn't the nicest person to be around last week.  It's amazing how much your mood and attitude is related to the food you eat. I noticed I was snapping at people more than normal, and little things tended to bug me which normally wouldn't.  The third thing I noticed with my body was my brain function.  As funny as it sounds, I felt dumber.  Brain food really is a thing you guys! Along with a co-worker of mine, I noticed that I was stumbling over my feet more, I was forgetting what I was saying, and I had a harder time thinking in general.

All in all, I'm very glad I did it.  I raised over $250 and my team raised over $2000 in total towards poverty.  I had amazing support from all those around me, and I can't thank them enough for being there for me.  It also makes me feel proud that I was able to make even the slightest impact for others that are less fortunate.  We all need that sometimes; to step back from our daily lives and think about others in the world and things we are doing in our daily lives that would be easily be changing. 

Would any of you be willing to do something like this?

Live below the line - Meal prep

April 28, 2013

Well, the time has come! Starting now, I will be living below the line for the next 5 days. If you'd like to know what living below the line is, check out my last post!

Turns out it's extremely difficult to purchase 5 days worth of food for only $8.75. I actually got all my food for $8.12. But that is the point of this whole campaign; to bring awareness and fundraising towards extreme poverty. To eat like someone in that situation would, and believe me, it has already been extremely eye opening.

I tried to get as many food groups as possible in order to get at least some of the nutrients I need. I honestly failed in the vegetable area, but I hate vegetables to begin with haha. Therefore, I went more to the fruit. I definitely have enough carbs, which so hopefully not leave me too hungry.  There is actually a ton of rice there, as well as macaroni.  For my protein, I bought some pinto beans, but couldn't buy a ton of those. I was torn between the beans or eggs, but eggs were just too expensive.

I just finished all my food prep, so here it goes! I'll definitely be writing another post after this week is over. I'm sure I'll have plenty to talk about!

Could you live below the line?!

Live below the line

April 24, 2013

Today was a great day for me! I learned about a fantastic new campaign called Live Below the Line. This is an innovative awareness and fundraising campaign that started in order to make a huge difference in the fight against extreme poverty.  The minute I heard about it I knew I had to support it.  It is shocking to find out what people have to live on and how much people have to spend in a day in other countries, especially third world.

The challenge is to live off of $1.75 per day for food and drink for 5 days straight totalling $8.75.  By doing this, you will bring to life what 1.4 billion people currently have to spend on a daily basis just to survive.

This really hit home for me. Just the fact that in Canada, you can spend $8.75 on ONE meal alone and it's no big deal at all.  I have never really though about that but it's true.  We are so lucky here, and others don't have that luxury.

So there you have it. It will take a ton of planning as well as self control to get this done, but I think I can do it and I'm helping a fantastic cause along the way by raising money.  In a way, it will also help me with my grocery bills and controlling my spending that I have talked about in a previous post. It will no doubt me hard, but I am up for the challenge. Luckily, I have the support of everyone around me and even a great friend doing it along with me!

I will definitely post about my results and how the whole experience went. The 5 days is starting Monday, April 29th. Lets do this!

Making extra income

April 22, 2013

Turns out I have two jobs. Both of them happen to be income that allows me to make more some weeks and less on others.  Turns out summer is normally a bit slower for me, which allows time to go on vacation, etc. But I also like to try and find unique ways to make extra income in the summer.

That being said I've been thinking hard about different things I can do in the summer. So, I was curious, what ways (if applicable) do you make a little extra income?

My frugal hair

April 19, 2013

One thing that I have learned through my life so far, is that hair is the best way to give yourself a fresh, new look. Although, that comes with a price, am I right ladies?! It's the cuts, colours, the deep conditioning treatments and anything else you can think of.  It's extremely expense now to go to a salon and get your hair done. It's not like a $30 cut a man can get!

I actually just booked a hair appointment for myself earlier today.  Now before you get mad at me, I've gotten my hair done at a salon maybe 3 times in the last 6 years, and I've gotten it coloured maybe once in those 6 years.  To be honest, I'm totally against salons.  Its crazy expensive, and for the most part, I can maintain my hair by myself and still be happy with how it looks. Which is what matters right?

I started to do the math and was blown away with my results.  I averaged out 5 salons in Edmonton and wanted to see how much the typical women spends on their hair in a year.

Just to get your hair cut, it's about $65.  Most women like to get their hair cut (trimmed) about every 3 months or so.  Then you add dying your hair which is about $75.  So plus tip, the average salon visit is about $160, if you are lucky!  Then times that by 4 visits a year = $640. Just for hair?!  I just can't rationalize that for myself. 

That being said, what I've done since junior high, is box dye and trim my hair myself. It is definitely a daunting task, and obviously it isn't even in the same ballpark as salon treatments.  But you know what? I did a pretty darn good job with the box dyes and it didn't ruin my hair at all.  A box of hair dye costs about $13 give or take a few dollars. I normally dyed my hair about twice a year which equals $26.

Now $640 - $26 = $614 a year that I save by doing my hair myself.  That is also the amount I spend in gas on my car in a year!

It all seems like a pretty easy decision to me.  I have also been growing my hair out, which means I don't really need to get it cut. I have been trimming it on my own which is surprisingly easy. I have bangs as well, and I learned an awesome way to trim them and keep them looking Hollywood.  Check out the YouTube video below which I followed to learn how to do it.

How to cut perfect side swept bangs at home
Props to Rosebud143 on YouTube. She has a ton of great hair videos and this video is very easy to follow along with.

That being said, I know it is important to some women to get their hair done regularly. Just for me, it's an expense I am totally okay with cutting back on... Haha sweet pun Keens.  So, it was about time for a hair cut and colour at a salon as a treat to myself.  The next one will happen a few years from now. 

What do you think? Would you ever considering taking your hair into your own hands? Is it worth it for you?

Excessive unplugging disorder

April 15, 2013

Since this journey started, I have found so many ways to save money.  Although lately, I have found that I have a new money saving habit that is going a bit overboard; or maybe not.

In the place that I live right now, I am lucky because 2 of my 3 utilities are covered by my rent.  The only one that isn't is electricity. Now, this is not a huge bill for me every month, but every nickel counts right?  My bill used to be $35- $45 ish a month, which might be a lot for some people, I'm not sure though because I don't have any other place to compare it too.  So, I did what any almost normal person would do, I tried to stop using so much electricity to cut down my bill.  Little did I know, it would be a little more excessive than I thought!

Since then, I literally unplug every possible thing in my apartment before I leave for my day. I unplug my microwave, which is a hassle because I to have to reset the clock every time I want to use it, but long term benefit outweighs convenience for me. I also unplug my toaster, my apple wall plugin, my lamps, my hair tools, and my other misc chargers. But lately, I have been unplugging my entertainment system as well! Which has made a big difference. If you think about it, that system has 8 different things plugged into it! To me that is crazy. Even though things aren't on, there is a bit of electricity that flows through the device, thus costing you more money.

Just to compare, I got my last month electrical bill the other day, and it was $30.96. Saving even $4 ish a month is a win to me.  Now will making this little change in my daily habits be the reason I become a millionaire? Probably not, but it is part of the road to get there. It is also another step for me to be more financially aware and continue to find areas to save money.

What do you think, is unplugging worth it?

5 money mistakes I've made in the past

April 10, 2013

I know that everyone has to go through the stage of learning about money. For some, it is when you are young, for others they don't learn that till much later in life unfortunately. Now I would say I learned about money very early in my life, and I have always had pride in myself that I had a good handle on it. Yet you don't learn to appreciate it fully until you are older and on your own I'd say.

But everyone makes mistakes right? I have definitely made my fair share of financial mistakes on my journey to becoming financially stable.  In the last few year,s I have done very well for myself and am on the road to become a millionaire. That being said, I've made some mistakes along the way that got to me where I am. Most of these were made in my late teens, I should have known better...

1) Buying expensive presents for people when I couldn't afford it.  Your friends are still going to love you regardless, and if they don't, they aren't true friends. Try and make something yourself or get something in the price range you can afford. It's the effort and thought that people care about.

2) Only making the minimum payment on my credit card.  This mistake didn't last very long, but when you just get your credit card at 18, you don't really understand the full concept of borrowing money from the bank. I mean, it's your money on there right? Nope. Now, I don't rarely use my credit card at all, and when I do, I pay it off in full before the payment is due. That's also a great way to keep your credit rating up.

3) Living paycheck to paycheck and relying on credit. I spent money that I didn't have, yet the stress of waiting for the next paycheck is the worst feeling in the world.

4) Saving very little money. This is a big one that I have definitely corrected since then, especially starting this millionaire journey. My savings have doubled since then in only a few months.

5) I never paid attention to my credit rating. Who would have though, your credit rating is pretty important... haha the other day was actually the first time I checked to see what my credit rating was, and to be honest, it was really great for someone my age! I was so impressed with myself, the last few years of being very financially aware and stable have helped that immensely.

Moral of the story, we all learn about finances either early or late, but at the same time, better late than never. I'm on the road to success, and I couldn't be happier.

What are the mistakes you've made if any?

5 reasons to be excited about summer

April 4, 2013

With the spring weather lately, I am getting excited for summer to roll around. There are so many reasons why I prefer summer, and now that I'm starting on this money journey, I love even more.

1) Allows you to clean house -  In the summer, for me at least, it allows me to go through my apartment, my stuff, my work and organize and throw things out. Everything needs to be lighter in the summer including your possessions. With the warm weather, it's the perfect opportunity to reorganize and simplify things. I have a lot more motivation to throw stuff away when I'm nice and warm instead of when I freeze being outside for one minute.

2) More cost effective activities - In the summer, there are so many more things to do outside.  I actually save a ton of money in the summer, because instead of snowboarding, going for dinner and going to movies;  I go for walks, enjoy festivals, go biking and pretty much all outdoor activities that cost little to nothing. One of my favourite things to do is get a camera and go for a walk. Photography is a little passion of mine, and you'd be surprised what you can catch on film while enjoying the outdoors and fresh air.

3) Less energy - If you own a house or rent a place, you know that especially in Canada, your power bills sky rocket in the winter. Obviously because we have to deal with -30 degree weather.  Power and gas bills go down a ton in the summer, and I love it!

4) Gardening - There are so many great herbs and vegetables that you can grow, that will cut down your groceries bill in half! I currently live in an apartment, SO I'm not really taking my own advice. But one thing I'm so excited for when I own a house, is my garden.  I can't stand plants indoors, but love plants outdoors! Bring on the healthy veggies!

5) Air travel - It's well known, especially in Canada, that flights are more expensive in winter because that is when everyone is trying to go away on a tropical vacation. Yes, winter is when people want to go away more, but in you choose to go in the summer, you will get more bang for your buck in terms of air flights and accommodations.

Summer brings so many wonderful things, and I can't wait for summer 2013! It's not long for us, so we have to enjoy it while we can!


To bike, or not to bike: that is the question

March 31, 2013

Since spring has finally sprung here in my hometown, I have been itching to get outside. I already love running, and I can't wait to do that and prep for my 2nd half marathon in September. But lately, I have been wanting to bike.  I live very close to trails and within biking distance of all major shopping areas. Yet, I'm unsure if this will be a worth while expense for me. Bikes can definitely be expensive depending on what you get.

Because of my job(s), I have to drive. That is something that I can't change, but I'm still struggling with the pros and cons of this expense, should I decide to purchase a bike.

Luckily, there are some cheap bikes out there. I could probably get a decent one that will get the job done for $300-$400 without any bells or whistles. I have also seen many very expensive bikes ranging from $2000+ which is just ridiculous in my mind, unless that is your primary mode of transportation or you are a professional rider or something.

The 2nd issue I am faced with is if I will even use it that much to make it worth while. I know I SAY I will, but things always change and I'm worried that it will just go to waste. I mean, we don't have a very long summer as it is.

We will have to see. I'll definitely have to budget for one, and If I end up scoring a great deal, I will let you all know!

Monthly Expenses

March 23, 2013

To continue on with the fact that I want to budget out every cent I am spending in April, I decided to see exactly where my money went the last 30 days.  Again, to see if there is any category that I can cut down on.

I have always found it interesting to see how people allocate money. I understand everyone has a different situation, but that is what makes it interesting.  This did make me realize I have to spend less on random shopping such as new clothes and little trinkets. As well, I bought way more fast food than I wanted too this past month.  On the bright side though, I still spent way less on coffee than normal.   March is also a huge birthday month for me.  It seems that a lot of people close to me have their birthday in or around this time, causing a major hit to my bank account.

Lets hope I can increase my savings and cut down the fast food and shopping categories for next month.  Yet, I think I am doing pretty well cutting down my disposable expenses,  which makes me realize I need to start finding ways to increase my income. Hum....

Where in the world did my money go?

March 16, 2013

You know that time when you put your mind to something, then you take a few steps back? Yeah, that has been March for me.  Can't say this has been the best month for putting my frugal ways to the test. But I suppose you need to fail to learn right?

Definitely made some bigger purchases this month that were wants and not needs. I've noticed that my  perception of those two extremes is still flawed. I suppose I didn't need that pair of heels, that picture frame... and mind draws a blank. Clearly, there's my problem. I don't even remember everything that I have purchased this month. Because of that depressing revelation, I decided that for the month of April, I am writing down every single purchase that I make, no matter how small.

I'm hoping that this tracking system will allow me to see where my money is going, and the areas I need to cut down. I already corrected my coffee problem, and you'd be happy to know I have only purchased a coffee once over the last two weeks. I'm darn proud of myself for that, definitely a step in the right direction.

So, starting April 1st, lets find out where all my money is going, because I evidently can't be trusted to keep mental notes.  Fingers crossed!... Maybe I should start practicing in March.

Spending cash instead of plastic

March 11, 2013

Today I had someone bring up to me the idea of using cash over plastic. I've seen tons of articles on both of these opposite ideas.  Different ways work for different people I'm sure, but lately I've been going with the cash option.

Starting in march, I want to take out $150 cash every payday (every 2 weeks) and have that be my entertainment and more fund. Now, this doesn't include major bills such as rent, credit cards, phone etc. This is strictly entertainment, groceries, coffees, and meals out.

I have done this before and it's worked really well in the past. Because for me personally, if I can see the physical cash dwindling down in my wallet, I'm much less inclined to spend it.  With plastic, it's easy to swipe and just forgot you ever spent money, which is a very bad habit.

With this system, I'm hoping I'm able to survive. I should be able to considering I've already cut my grocery and morning coffee costs.

Anyone else have luck with the cash over plastic system?

The coffee expense

March 3, 2013

Ever since college, I have been an avid coffee drinker.  Having at least one cup a day, give or take. Now I know there are millions of other people out there who have the same addiction that I do. We are surrounded cafes, coffee shops and even Starbucks in our local grocery stores, which I have definitely been a customer at.

Because of my love for coffee, I decided to see how this expense is affecting my budget and how much I'm losing from my goal of being a millionaire.

During college, I definitely was a Starbucks girl. I rationalized in my head everyday that a $5 latte is totally normal and that I could afford it. Well, nothing like a cup of coffee slapping you in the face to realize that is ridiculous. Since then, I have pretty much broken up with Starbucks and am now an avid Tim Hortons fan. Which my wallet is happy with, but I tend to go overboard.

I'd say I go to Tims and get a medium double double about 3 times a week, having coffee at work the other days.  So...

$1.64 (which I think is what I pay every time) x 156 coffees in a year = $255.84

I'm actually shocked with that number.  For some reason I thought it would be more.  Regardless, that is $255.84 that could be going into savings.  So, because I own a Keurig coffee machine, I wanted to price out what it would cost per year if I used strictly that and never bought coffee at Tims again.

The kind of Keurig K Cups I normally get are $13 for a box of 18 on average, which means each cup of coffee costs me $0.72.

$0.72 x 156 coffees in a year = $112.32

That is much more reasonable. Telling me that obviously I don't need to waste time going to Tim Hortons, as much as I LOVE roll up the rim right now... haha! Not to mention the gas that I'm using to get there, when I can just make coffee in the comfort of my own home.

I could be saving $143.52 a year from cutting out Tim Hortons! Now don't shake your head, I know that doesn't seem like a lot, but any bit counts. Especially with the goal that I have!

So coffee from home it is! I really hope I can stick to this actually, it will be tough, but if anyone see's me with a Tims in my hand, feel free to get mad at me! I'm sure there will be a few exceptions from the rule, but cutting the majority out will definitely help in my journey. Seems like a positive to me :)

Becoming minimalist

February 27, 2013

Becoming minimalist is a fairly new concept to me.  I have always heard it, but I never fully understood what it meant, which may sound silly, but judge not my fellow readers! To me that just meant being organized and not having a lot of stuff.  Now although that is correct, I always considered myself to have those qualities. Yet, who am I kidding?! I'm far from minimalist, but I would slowly like to get there.

The topic of minimalism definitely relates to my drive to me a millionaire before I'm 30.  Cutting down on useless products and stuff will help keep me organized as well as keep my life on track in terms of my spending. I don't want to buy things that I don't use or that just take up pointless space in my apartment.

I read somewhere that 80% of our activities are completed with only 20% of our things! Now I'm sure those numbers aren't set in stone, it depends on the person, but I feel like that statement has definite validity.  

Let's back track a little though on how my life is now.  I've always considered myself to be average or above average in the 'clean & tidy' category.  My apartment is pretty much always clean and organized, but I have little areas that are cluttered and I am running out of room for my stuff.  Which in my mind, isn't a reason to get a bigger place, it means I have some major spring cleaning and organizing to do.  

Do I really need 22 bottles of lotion? no.
Do I need 136 different pens and pencils? no. (I do have an obsession with office supplies though, specifically pens! But that's a post for another day!)
Do I need old magazines and old text books? no.
Do I need a closet full of drawer organizers and boxes when they aren't being used? no.

These are all areas that I need to work on, and hopefully start to organize and whittle down to only what I need, not what I want or what's on sale on large quantities, *cough* body lotion.  That way I can efficiently function in daily life without getting lost in a clutter abyss.

Is anyone else working towards becoming minimalist?

The gym - The place we love to hate

February 25, 2013

We all have a love/hate relationship with the gym, am I right? I don't think there is a single person out there that doesn't want to be healthy.  But, the gym can be a scary place and not to mention expensive!

Tonight I decided to go for a late night run and workout in the gym in my building.  I like to consider myself semi-fit, and I try to get to the gym as often as I can.  Lately, that has been less that I would like, but that is besides the point. I started to think how lucky I am to have a gym in my place of residence.  If I didn't, the cost of a gym membership elsewhere would definitely hinder my drive to workout, in an official gym at least.

Now, I realize I am paying for the gym in my rent, so it really is a cost to me.  What that cost is, I guess I will never be able to figure that out. Depends on how often I use it I suppose.  That intrigued me to take a quick look and what gym memberships cost these days.  Lets take an annual membership for example:

City of Edmonton - $524.00 (Average of 3 levels of facility you go to)
YMCA: $718.25 (This one blew my mind!)

Okay to be honest, I looked up a bunch of other gyms as well (Gold's Gym, Spa Lady, World Health, Goodlife Fitness) and none of those places had their prices anywhere online. So, that doesn't help me at all! Shesh!

Regardless, no matter what gym you go to, it can be very expensive. Unfortunately, from experience, I have seen a lot of people commit to a gym membership, give their all for 3 weeks, then quit or get busy and let their money go unused.  So one tip, just make sure you are dedicated and planning ahead so you don't have this expense become a waste.  Even better, just go for a run outside, create a workout group with your friends in someones basement, or even do yoga by DVD at home.

It's expenses like a gym membership going unused that can help hinder people from becoming financially stable and one step closer to being debt free.  I know it seems small, but expenses like this make a difference in the big picture.

Can anyone else think of an expense that is often overlooked like this one?


February 22, 2013

Well, as promised, I went grocery shopping trying to take all my new rules into account.  I must say, I am very proud of myself, finally feeling like I had a successful adult shopping trip! Woot!

My average grocery bill was $110, and it went down to $70. I got all very healthy and gluten free things, and I followed the advice of my commenters and stayed on the perimeter aisles of the store for the most part.

Although, I did go hungry.  It was right after work, but that's my own fault. Yet, I resisted the chocolate monster as much as I could and came out the victor.

Now, if I keep this trend of cutting down my shopping and being more organized with my grocery money, lets see how much I'll be saving in one year.

$40 x 32 shopping trips in a year = $1280

Easy as that, I just saved myself $1280 a year.  Every penn... nickel counts right?!

The evil grocery store

February 18, 2013

Since living on my own, I have had a brutal war with grocery shopping.  Without a doubt, I always seem to be on the losing end of that war.  Grocery stores across Edmonton are laughing at me the minute I walk through the door.  Am I the only one that feels grocery shopping takes way more effort and work than it actually should? I'm assuming so, because I am 23 and still haven't mastered it.

It's funny; every week I walk into Save-On Foods with a smile on my face and a feeling of hope that I will finally get enough food to last me, plus throw nothing away. So finally, in my journey to become a millionaire, I said enough is enough. Time to buckle down and finally see exactly how much money I am wasting every shopping trip.

On average, I spend about $110.00 every week and a half on groceries. So, let's break that down:

$110 x 32 shopping trips per year approx = $3520.00

You don't even have to say it; that number is WAY higher than it should be for a 20 something female living on her own with no roommates. I was astonished when I saw that.  But, that being said, it is completely my fault it's that high.  I tend to buy gluten free/healthy/organic foods for the most part, which are without a doubt more expensive then most other foods. At the same time, I am hugely unorganized when it comes to grocery shopping and I have nobody else to blame.  I am not changing my eating habits though, I just need to re-adjust my spending and be way more organized when it comes to giving my local grocery store money.

With that number in hand, I then calculated a rough estimate of what I throw away in that same time period, which I already know is hard for me to write.  I throw away about $30.00 of food before my next shopping trip, just due to the fact that it goes bad in that week and a half.

$30 x 32 shopping trips per year approx = $960.00

I can't even believe that number! I might as well throw that money from my balcony, which essentially is what I'm doing.  That's horrible and I need to kick that habit ASAP.  No wonder I'm not a millionaire yet...

While wallowing in my sadness, I came up with a few ways to help curb this trend, for me at least, hopefully they help others as well.

1) Never go to the grocery store hungry - I know everyone always says this, I just need to follow the advice. I normally always go after work, before I've had a chance to eat dinner.  When you're hungry, the whole store looks like a giant chocolate bar, which I can't resist.

2) Plan out your meals for the week - I have never done this, which tops my list of reasons why I'm throwing away so much money. Buying random food items isn't going to help you during the week when you are making meals. You are without a doubt going to miss something or not use something.

3) Make a list and stick to it - This is in the same family as number 2. Again, I never go with a list, which means I end up either buying way to much food, or I miss many things that I thought I've made a mental note of.  It also made me discover my memory isn't the greatest. Gotta love teaching yourself a lesson.

4) Designate one day a week to cook and prep your weeks meals - Now because of my 60+ hour work weeks (I wish I was exaggerating that number) I always get caught not having meals made. Thus, I eat out and don't use the food I have in my fridge.  From now on, Sunday is my cooking day. Doesn't matter what other plans I have that day, I need to dedicate the time to prep my meals, so I not only eat healthier but am able to use up all my food. With this, I will be in my kitchen, drinking wine, blasting music and cooking up a storm every sunday. No questions!

5) Coupons, coupons, coupons - I was hesitant to put this recommendation in.  Because coupons can hurt you in they aren't dealt with properly.  I used to be the person that picked up a flyer of coupons and said "OH I could use this, this, this and this." But that is wrong on so many levels. That prompts you to buy things you might not actually need and you can end up spending more money without creating any savings.  My advice is, make your grocery list, plan all your meals, then once that is done, consult your coupon flyer and see if any of the items you are getting have a coupon. If they do, bonus! If not, don't buy something you really don't need just for a deal. My boyfriend was the one that brought this to my attention. How right he is!

I plan on going grocery shopping tomorrow since my fridge is bare right now, I'll blog about my first organized and planned shopping trip.  Fingers crossed I don't have to throw anything away for once. Although, my fingers don't need to be crossed if I'm prepared.  Time to finally win the grocery shopping war.

20 something wannabe millionaire

February 13, 2013

Yes, you read the title right. This isn't a joke, I swear!  I have decided to try and become a millionaire before I hit the old age of 30.  Now I know exactly what you are thinking.  Yes, this sounds like a crazy idea.  Yes, the chances of achieving this goal are slim. Yes, I understand what I'm getting myself into.

I know this wasn't the topic of my blog before, so I am shortly going to do a whole reconstruction of it. I may throw in a random unrelated story now and then, who knows!

Continuing on, let me explain my reasoning behind my decision to do this.  I have always considered myself fairly money savvy; my mom taught me right from the beginning.  I have always had an interest in money and the idea or potential it could bring.  To add to that, I have also had a passion for writing since I was a wee one. I am by no means a Charles Dickens, and my grammar could without a doubt use some work.   That being said, my love for sharing words and thoughts doesn't change.  Thus, the idea to share my journey to become a millionaire before I'm 30 is born.

Now, let me give you some background on myself.  I am a 23 year old living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  I have been living on my own since I was 20 and pretty much started my life after college with student debt and zero savings.  Between the age of 20 and 23 I have tackled a majority of my debt and have started creating savings for myself to one day buy my own house. I live in an apartment by myself and I am completely independent, not getting outside help which is what I prefer.  I have a full-time job as well as a part-time job, and I would consider myself a workaholic, which I'm okay with, because I love what I do!

With all that being said, I'm not going to consider my full net worth part of my journey to become a millionaire.  My car, my future house, and all my other belongings will not go towards the total. This is strictly just savings.

I realize this is an insane goal and I only have 8 years to achieve it.  I going to do everything I can to reach this target. I am also looking at this as an opportunity to learn more about personal finance, organize my life and create a comfortable future for myself, whether I reach my goal or not. Plus, writing about my experience along the way might help someone else achieve their personal and financial goals and that in itself is all the reasoning I need to start this challenge.

Lastly, critics of my journey are welcome. I will never be one to turn away advice, second opinions or negative feedback.  I use that as motivation and I want to create a means of discussion on the whole idea of personal finance.

Wish me luck everyone...