Changes

I decided this weekend that posting 5 times a week when I’m experiencing blogger burnout or writers block (take your pick really) is getting too hard. I really don’t want to be posting something I’m trying to pass off as good writing when really it’s just me posting to post. Complete waste of my and your time. So I’m moving to an M, W, F schedule for the mean time. Hopefully this will leave me more time to comment on other people’s blogs too-I haven’t been doing the greatest at this so I’m hoping to fix that now. Just so you know though, I’m at least reading what other people are writing and enjoying the posts!
I’ll be taking out the spending recap as that really isn’t quality writing either. Don’t get me wrong-it was extremely helpful in helping me see where my money went so instead, once a month, I’ll be doing the same thing but on a larger scale. I’m hoping with that, and my going grocery shopping every week, extra money spending will be cut down. I’ll try it out for two months or three months. That should really show me how my changes are working and if I need to go back to the old way or if I can stay doing that.
I will still be doing my goals posts as that is also a once a month type thing and has been helping me out a lot. You know, provided that my situation doesn’t change in the middle of the month (more on that Wednesday) and I pay attention to them.
Link love? I might change this to a once a month thing or stick with what I’ve been doing but limit it down to 5-10. And for my Insanity updates? You’ll be getting those on Monday’s same as usual.
Speaking of…Insanity Update
Finally officially completed week 1 of month 2. It’s been a different pace entirely or so I feel. I know that, logically speaking, the workouts only increased by 10-15 minutes but try telling that to my body! I still love it though. And really 10-15 minutes as an increase in working out at max interval training? Feels like a life time 
How was your weekend?


Top Tips for Apartment Hunters

Editors note: A big thank you to Jordann! I’m extremely greatful for the chance to take a break from blogging! Plus, this post relates really closely to my current life as even though I’m not actively looking, I will be soon enough!

Apartment hunting is a pain in the ass. Checking the classifieds daily, weeding out the undesirables, and when I finally find a place that’s in my target neighbourhood at my target price – the place turns out to be a dump. As fun as it is searching for an apartment, the inevitable let down upon viewing ruins everything.

Apartment hunting doesn’t have to be that bad. I’ve learned over the past few years that the main reason I was having a hard time apartment hunting is because I wasn’t going about it in the right way. I was making key mistakes that not only made the whole project more difficult, it made it take longer to execute.

Here are my top tips for apartment hunting:

Check the Season

If you’re a young person living in a university town, looking for a one or two bedroom place, a lot of one year leases are going to end in May or September. This protects the landlords, who don’t want to get caught with an empty apartment for the summer. While the leases may end in May or September, they will be advertised as available long before that. In one particular city that I lived in, May leases started to be advertised in January. To make the best of your options, start looking early.

Make a Short Wish List

Another mistake I was making was that my wish list was way too long and specific. I needed good lighting, an open kitchen, laundry that wasn’t too far away, good sized bedrooms, my own thermostat, etc, etc. How could I possibly expect an apartment to hold up to that? These days, with two pets, my wish list is pretty simple: Good location, access to green space, pet friendly, good landlord, quiet neighbours This is a pretty basic list, because these are things I can’t live without. Everything else is pretty much doable, at least for a short period of time.

Figure Out the Landlord

Probably the single most important thing that will define your renting experience is your landlord. I’ve had bad ones (entering the apartment without notice, without even knocking) and awesome ones (actively helped me hide the fact that I had a cat from the building owners for two years) and I’ve gotta say, I’m a lot more willing to put up with the weird quirks a place has, if the landlord is good. The easiest way to get the truth about a landlord (because he/she will seem awesome while showing the place, the true personality not emerging until the lease is signed) is to interview the tenants.

Interview the Current Tenants

I’m not saying you need to sit down and have an hour long conversation with them, but if they happen to be in the apartment, ask for their email or phone number so that you can start up a dialogue without the land lord present. If they say no, oh well. But if they say yes, they’ll be able to give you the little known facts that may make or break your renting experience. Plus, since they’re leaving, they’ll probably be candid. Are the neighbours super scary or loud in the middle of the night? Does the garbage truck come at six in the morning on Sundays? Is the land lord really evil incarnate? The current tenants will know.

Know Your Rights

Every province has a Tenants Act or some equivalent, detailing the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants. Read yours. Knowledge is power after all, and by knowing the ins and outs of your rights as a tenant will help you make sure that you get what you want with minimal fuss. Think the place needs some repairs or a fresh coat of paint before you move in? Your Tenant’s Act will probably stipulate that things like that need to be included in writing, on the lease, before it’s signed.

Following tips like these has allowed me to vastly improve my renting experience over the past few years, to the point where I have no interest in buying a house for awhile. Renting can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, if you go about it properly.

Everyone has their renting horror stories. I want to hear yours!

Jordann is a part time runner, yogi, local foodie and personal finance aficionado, and a full time marketing professional living and working in Atlantic Canada. She writes about her life at her blog, My Alternate Life.


How learning to manage my finances has helped my health out

First, let me be honest.  I’m a worrier by nature (read about wedding worries and baby showers issues) and will stress myself out over the oddest of things.  I’ve woken up in the middle of the night because I’ve panicked about random worries (which could be something as weird as not remembering if I sent out a bill or as crucial as something like I don’t know how I’m going to eat.  Thankfully the latter worries have not come back for a while!)  and have suffered insomnia due to this.  (The insomnia is one of the reasons I have set schedules that I try not to change a lot-I do better sleeping on schedules)

A little over a year ago, this led to some issues with my health and thankfully it was nothing major-only an ulcer.  First, I was doing a workout program on top of riding a bike to work (no car at the time) and making a quarter above minimum wage at a place with no regular hours-both in shifts and in the amount of hours per week.  Second, we had no real budget or plan-we paid bills to our roommate and made sure we had some food but that was pretty much it, the rest was gone.  So there I am, getting up early to do a workout with poor nutrition and very little sleep and wondering why instead of feeling stronger, I’m getting weaker.  But I’m also a stubborn person and persevered through it, plus the workouts helped relieve the stress of being broke. Not my brightest decision.

Due to the way my body was aching and me skipping lunches at work (I needed as much time as possible and would rather not eat if it meant getting an extra half hour.  These added up as this place would start to send people home if it wasn’t busy so I needed all the hours I could get.), I started to take ibuprofen to counteract the headaches and soreness.  Funny thing-I couldn’t take them with milk as my stomach would get upset.  So I took them with water on an empty stomach and kept it up for a few weeks.  Woops.

Sure enough, I started to have really bad stomach pains-these blinding, ripping, stabbing pains.  I went to the ER and finally to a clinic (they worked with people with no medical insurance) where they finally got me on medicine and calmed down the raging stomach issue.  The bad part? It took 2 and a half weeks to get this figured out so I ended up missing a lot of work-or rather, was sent home from work a lot and add the small paychecks to the medical bills and my normal bills? Ugh.  That did not help my stomach issues out as the more stressed I became, the worse the pain ended up being. I did get financial assistance for those medical bills though so that’s a plus.

That was one of the reasons I wanted to be out of debt and wanted to have a budget.  I didn’t want the stress of “OH MY GOD!  The electricity is due…but we have no money! How could we forget!?!?!” that I’d been having.  Instead, I like it much better when I get an outrageous bill and can say “hmm, I think that is a mistake and I’ll be calling but if not? It’s budgeted for.”  It’s partially why I tend to overestimate things.   Now that I have that budget and my plan, my ulcer has stopped flaring up and I sleep a lot better.  Oh, I still worry but I can open my computer and look at the pretty budget.  My insomnia, while not going away, is much better than it was previously.

What did having an ulcer due in the long-term? I can’t take anything with an NSAID in it without my stomach cramping in pain, I cannot eat as much of the spicy food that I love as I used to or have it as hot as I liked and I have to make sure that I have medicine on hand in case it flares up.  Not fun at all.  But it was also that nice kick to the butt to get a budget in place.  While I would never wish an ulcer on someone, at least *some* good came out of it. And thankfully, I didn’t need surgery!


Learning to say no

Remember my wedding worries? Well just this weekend I heard a very good friend of mine is having a baby (yay!!!) and after the initial excitement, I had to do something important.  I had to tell myself “no”.  I love babies and I love being able to do nice things for friends, so what I really wanted to do was throw her a baby shower.   But honestly, right now, that would be just too much.   I can only stretch my money so thin-plus my sanity.  Part of what makes it so hard to tell myself no is that she’s my bridesmaid and will be throwing me my shower.

So it’s a partial “she’s throwing my shower and I want to throw hers” and a partial “I love my friend and want to make sure she has an awesome shower” mix of thoughts that was going through my head.  (Not going to lie, it’s still going through my head) I kicked around trying to squeeze more money out of my budget but realistically?  I know short of getting a second job, I can’t.  And trust me, I’m keeping an eye out for a second job or a side gig but in my small town, choices are limited and the money I would earn, I’d want to put towards debt or my wedding.  Yes, it’s a choice I’m making to not work at a fast food place and I’m okay with that.  I know that if I really needed to, I would but….I just don’t want to.  My time is worth more to me than that.

Instead, I’m trying to tell myself to just be an awesome friend-talk more on the phone (no lie, I’m horrible at this), make sure to see her when I can and, well, by her some awesome baby shower gifts.  Okay, I don’t have to do that last part but I’m claiming her baby as my future niece or nephew so I’m going to try.  It might come out of my personal money but I’m okay with that! (And wow, I have a lot of “pretend” nieces/nephews)

I did tell her that I didn’t think I could host her shower-I’m not sure if that was rude or tactless.  I’m horrible with social niceties sometimes so I just came out and said “I’d love to host your shower but I’m not going to be able to at this point. But let me know who is going to throw it.”  See, it seems rude now that I see that written out but at the time…well, I can’t and I wanted to see if she knew who was going to throw her shower.  My thought process on this is that while I can’t host, maybe I can do something-buy balloons, help decorate, bake a cake, etc.

I will say this: telling myself that I cannot host was hard.  But I also know that I can’t hurt my budget and not be able to pay my bills because I want to help out a friend.  So, yay for growing up?

 


How To Turn Losing into Winning With Your Money

Average Joe blogs about topics he finds entertaining at the cleverly named “Average Joe’s Money Blog.” He’s also the co-host of the relaxed money podcast Two Guys & Your Money.
I remember as a kid I was fascinated by these huge domino chains:

I’ve come to realize that part of my fascination might be what the simple act of dominos falling means to me. I love watching one positive result lead to another. Even when all doesn’t go exactly according to plan (they had to roll the marble twice AND there was a break in the chain at one point).

One positive result has a tendency to create another one. In fact, I tell my son all the time when he becomes frustrated that 90% of the time, it’s his actions that ultimately created the frustration.

He doesn’t want to clean his room. If he’d take ten minutes in the morning to make his bed and pick up his clothes (or even hang up clothes the moment he takes them off), he wouldn’t have to do it on my schedule.
The computer isn’t working right, and it’s eleven o’clock the night before the paper is due. Why does he wait until 11 o’clock to finish the project? If he’d finished earlier, he wouldn’t have to worry about last minute tech malfunctions.

Likewise, we all have this with our financial situations, don’t we?

– Donald Trump began investing in houses with his father at a young age. He learned the ground rules for real estate early on, which led to bigger projects and ultimately, a real estate empire.

– Warren Buffet invested in stocks as a kid. He paid attention to the numbers behind public companies. Today he can quickly evaluate a company’s business prospects and make investment decisions which beat those of nearly any other investor.

– Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class. Many people say this attention to lines and shapes helped fuel his love of style and character, which made Apple the sexiest tech company of all.

On a smaller level, I saw this with clients:

– A client began max funding his 401k starting at 22 years old. He could barely do anything else, but he socked money away. At age 28, he already had $160,000 saved toward retirement. Using the rule of 72, if that money grows at 8%, it’ll be roughly $2.56 million dollars at retirement. …better yet, that’s if he doesn’t save another dime.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only domino chain that can happen. Momentum can be your best friend or a total bitch. How about this:

How’d your stomach feeling watching that train-wreck-in-slow-motion? While this may not be familiar, the feel of negative momentum might be:

– Credit card payments become so high that just paying the interest is a chore. No matter how much you pay, it seems like you aren’t touching the principle…and when you do, something comes up that forces you to spend more money on the card.

– Student loans force you to take a second job. The second job is so exhausting you to fall asleep at your real job, and the boss decides you aren’t working as hard as others. At best you’re denied promotions and raises. At worst, you’re fired.

– You don’t have money for car repairs. Your car breaks down on the way to an important meeting. You lose out on income you would have had, if things had gone right.

Do any of these sound familiar? Does it sometimes seem like you’re rolling a boulder uphill?

Whether life is going well or poorly, you have to remember two concepts:

1) Momentum itself is neither good nor bad, but it exists. It’s just Newton’s Law: a body in motion tends to stay in motion. It’s going to be hard to create the friction to stop momentum. You’re going to have to exert a ton of effort to turn negative events around, but once you do, this momentum will work in your favor. Remember this on the days that you’re ready to give up: it’s going to be difficult to stop negative momentum. But once you do, life is going to be much, much easier….

Because…..

2) Once you have positive momentum, you can then work equally as hard to continue it. Now, every good result is amplified. As your momentum increases, it creates a widening array of opportunities you never would have imagined. One good domino fuels many, many more. Have you ever wondered how Donald Trump can execute so many transactions a day? Why Warren Buffet can have a hand in so many companies? Their secret is simple, and it’s the same one in front of you now:

They started building momentum by toppling one domino.

***Editor’s comments: Thanks Joe-this is definitely helping me with my blogger burnout! And yes, I can see how I got into debt by a domino effect. Better yet, I’m getting out of it by doing the same thing–one thing at a time but in the right direction this time 🙂 Oh, and I *never* waited until the last minute to do a report and have the computer crash…..***


Hello…

I decided I’m at least going to introduce myself to the rest of you.  Some of my readers/fellow bloggers know part of my first name (and yes, it’s only part) but not all.  I’ve chosen to let the rest of you in on the “secret”.

So here  goes: my name is Bobbie. Cue epic fireworks and maybe some dancing monkeys. Whew, I feel better.  And honestly, I’ve written “Boggie” on a few comments and thankfully caught it before publishing.  Maybe this will help 🙂

Now….

Monday no spend day

Tuesday no spend day

Wednesday $4 milk

Thursday no spend day

Friday $42 date night (b), $1 book (p)

Saturday $52 gas (b)

Sunday $122 groceries (b)

Not too shabby.  The spending a whole dollar on a book was kind of funny.  I had almost enough to buy one of the books on my list but was missing one whole dollar off of the gift card.  I can’t wait until I get it-it’s part of a series I am reading and has one of my favorite characters in it.  Anyone ever read Anne Bishop’s the Black Jewels series?

Oh and something absolutely yummy? Apple cider is back in season.  It’s one of my all time favorites.  It is part of the reason I love fall so much!  And speaking of groceries-we are doing a new thing where I go grocery shopping every week.  Not really the highlight of my life but I’ll stick to the budget and list and we’re hoping that doing it weekly will help with fridge space and help our fridge’s cooling system out (currently it gets too cold when we overstock it by buying the groceries bi weekly).   My fiance is under orders that he isn’t allowed to complain about what I buy if I do the shopping and he doesn’t specify exactly what he wants on the list.  (For instance no just saying snacks-he has to be specific.)

No updates on Insanity-missed 2 days of this week so we’re going to restart the week.  Can’t really complain because we had networking opportunities at work along with free meals.


Updates

Thank you to everyone for the encouraging words yesterday. I do feel pretty nifty about getting to start paying on that loan for real.  And sadly, we have basically made up our minds to stay where we are for a year (read about the dilemma here).  There’s a bunch of stuff that’s going on (that I don’t want to get into on a blog where some people *may* find it) that sort of made this choice for us.  But we’re going into it knowing what’s up.  We’re continuously looking at our ceiling for any spots that look like they might fall and thankfully, none have turned up.

In the long run, another year and 2 months won’t hurt here and might actually help us out by being able to save more money.  I do think that we will try to ask for a 6 month lease instead of a year lease though.  This way we can slowly save up the money rather than stretching ourselves pretty thin when it comes to money.  It doesn’t change the fact that we are going to be living paycheck to paycheck for a while but it does change the fact on where our money is going to go.   But a 6 month (if the landlord goes for it) will help with my sanity (knowing that if we can save up money we can leave) with the small exception of the wedding planning.  If we found something in June (which is when a lot of rentals become available around here) it would mean moving a few weeks before the wedding.   I am pretty sure I can handle it as we moved into this house in one day (packed the night before and that was it).

We’ve come to terms with it like I said and I’m sure it will only make us stronger and more committed to better managing our finances.