Archive for ‘saving’

March 27, 2012

10,000 things to do before I die

by Robyn

In a few days, I will have $13,000 saved towards my upcoming RTW trip, 65% of the way to my final goal of $20,000! I’ve been keeping up with my “inspirational readings” and have been scouring the internet daily for new travel blogs to follow. Some recent posts have inspired me to start making note. When I’m FINALLY gone on my trip, what do I want to do?

A few months ago, Kieron from donteverlookback.com spent a week doing Muay Thai Kickboxing Training at Rawai Muay Thai. Roy from roymarvelous.com is just completed his 3rd week at the same camp. Jennifer, Holly and Amanda from lostgirlsworld.com documented their time in an Ashram on their round-the-world trip, just like Elizabeth Gilbert did in her best-seller, Eat, Pray, Love. These are things that I really want to do! I would love to do something like this in the city now, but working two jobs with conflicting hours just makes it extremely hard to commit to something so intense.

I probably read at least 10-15 different blog posts every day, if not more. This makes for a lot of day dreaming, wanderlust, and moments of “I want to do that!” So I’ve borrowed an idea from Caroline, from the Caroline in the City blog.  She has a Bucket List, or as she’s termed it, a Life List. I decided to add another TAB to my blog, with my bucket list. My ‘to do’s’ before I die, or at least my to do’s while I’m traveling the world.

What have you crossed off on your bucket list?

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December 1, 2011

Going from Flab to Fit

by Robyn

I have officially been a member of SNAP Fitness for a solid month now. In the last 30 days, I went to the gym over 13 times, and worked out a minimum of 30 minutes each time. I am extremely proud of my commitment so far, and I can without-a-doubt say I would not have gone nearly as often if it weren’t for them being open 24hrs. 

Over the weekends the past two weeks I’ve hit the gym after midnight. Not only is it quiet that late at night, but you are completely alone so you don’t have to feel self-conscious about trying new things. I have also joined a twice weekly fitness bootcamp with one of the personal trainers, so I’ve been doing intense cardio and strength training for an hour on Monday’s and Wednesday’s. I’m not expecting to see results right away, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to feel a difference by the end of my class on my 25th birthday later this month.

My savings in the past month has pretty much come to a standstill. Getting a $241.00 speeding ticket really put a dent in things. I’m also holding out right now for a seat sale from Winnipeg to Ottawa in February for the wedding of a family friend. I was tossing around the idea of taking a full week off work and flying to Vegas for a few days after the wedding but have decided against it. I’m hoping I can get a round-trip ticket to Ottawa for around $500. I could have re-routed my flights Winnipeg to Ottawa to Vegas to Winnipeg for an extra $400, but decided I can’t justify spending the extra money just for 2 days in Vegas, and another two days in transit.

So instead I’ll be taking two vacation days to attend the wedding then use my remaining vacation days for sometime next year. I recently helped a friend pack up his entire apartment to move back to B.C. so I’ve got an open invitation to spend time with him there in the future. So perhaps a summer vacation in the mountains is in order for 2012.

November 4, 2011

Hashing out my SNAP contract

by Robyn

At the beginning of the week I went into SNAP fitness and spoke to the manager about the contract I signed. He told me that the pre-paid amount for the 6 month contract was based off the “month-to-month” rate. So “technically” it gives you a free month, but not really. I told him the way they sell their memberships is deceptive and misleading. Looking at the membership rate breakdown that they use as a tool to sell membership plans to people I clearly pointed out to him that it was disceptive, misleading and in some ways, false advertising as it fails to state that the pre-paid amount is based off the month-to-month rate. He didn’t really offer me anything. He just said that those were the rates as determined by corporate.

I knew I wasn’t really going to be able to get much out of him, but it was worth a try. In the end I opted for a full refund on my initial $285.29 pre-paid membership and resigned on a 6-month contract, where I’ll pay monthly at the rate of $35.96. Instead of being locked into a 7-month contract, I’m only locked into 6 months and free to end my membership in May 2012.

I’m a little less bitter now and really just happy to get on with it and start working out on a regular basis. I need to tighten up my jiggly thighs and work on getting rid of my little gut.

In other news I made a quick visit to the bank today to deposit $2769.67 worth of Canada Savings Bonds that had matured. I’ll be contacting my bank branch next week to arrange an appointment to speak to someone to decide on how to reinvest that money.

I also took out $200USD ($208.36CAD). I’m heading down to Grand Forks, ND tomorrow to spend the day shopping for some new clothes. Excited to get out of the city for a day. I haven’t been to Grand Forks for over a year.

August 30, 2011

Extreme couponing is an extreme waste

by Robyn

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’ve watched Extreme Couponing a few times on TLC. I can’t help myself. I am drawn to nearly every form of your stereotypical bad tv. Wedding shows, design shows, having abnormal quantities of babies shows, weird jobs, hoarding,  addictions, you name it, I probably watch it. I don’t follow these shows regularly but if I can’t find anything else to watch, it’s almost a given I’ll end up watching the newest episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive, or Intervention or what have you.

When is comes to watching Extreme Couponing, I can’t help but be in total awe and disbelief. What these people are able to achieve is without a doubt, impressive. Although these people clearly have compulsion issues (see image below), at least they are channeling these urges into something positive. I guess? Sort of?

Seeing the insane stock piles amassed by these individuals just leaves me stunned. Does any single family household really need hundreds of tooth brushes? Or boxes of deodorant, body lotion, soap, etc? Who needs 40 bottles of relish? 100 cans of soup? 50 bags of chocolate chips?

Beyond bursting at the seams, how much of these massive collection will still be good 5 years?

On a cleaning kick last night I started going through my fridge and pantry, throwing out everything that’s expired. I moved into my apartment in February of 2008, so anything in my apartment, food wise, is no more than 4 years old. Until recently I never knew how quickly, even canned goods went bad.

This is a short list of what I threw out:
butter (I didn’t even know butter could go bad)
4 cans of soup (2 years expired)
3 bottles of salad dressing (1 unopened)
an almost-full bottle of corn syrup
hot sauce
plum sauce
molasses
lime juice
bbq sauce
baking powder

What on earth are these extreme couponers doing hoarding these ridiculous quantities of food products? Is your family of four really going to eat ALL of that food before it expires. Not likely, unless you are going to eat a bowl of soup with instant mr. noodle on the side every day for a year. For a kick of flavour, add some relish? You’ve got 40 bottles. Why not have a bag of chocolate chips for dessert? And just throw your toothbrush away after using it. You’ve got another 1000 to last you for the next 3 years.

I get it, these people “buy” these items in mass quantity because they can. The high. The thrill. The rush they must get knowing their walking out of a store, legally, with hundreds of dollars worth of product that they didn’t pay a cent for. But seriously? Why are you spending 40 hours a week searching for coupon deals so you can stock up on food that will likely expire before you can consume all of it?

I’m feeling pretty bummed knowing that I just threw out probably $50 worth of expired food. I don’t have the patience to coupon. Plus it’s a lot harder to coupon to the extreme in Canada because our stores don’t “double up” deals like they do in the states. I will admit since watching this show I have learned some really important things that I can apply to my personal spending habits. Such as, as good of a deal as it may be, don’t stock up on unnecessary quantities of items that have an expiry date. And a LOT of things have expiry dates. Even if it’s free, it always makes me sad knowing something is going to waste.

From now on, I’m going to be more selective when buying items to stock my fridge and pantry. I’ll ask myself  “If I buy this will I use 10% of the product before it goes bad and I have to throw it out?” If the answer is yes, I’ll spend the money to drive out to my parents place to “borrow” some from them. Or I’ll be a little less anti-social and introduce myself to my neighbours to borrow a cup of _______.

Since the debut of this series, these “extreme couponers” have been getting quite a bit of media coverage . You can find a few amusing, and kind of ironic news stories here and here.

August 10, 2011

Surpassing a savings milestone

by Robyn

As soon as my 2006 Pontiac G6 was paid off in mid-May (2 weeks earlier than I expected) I concentrated putting my extra cash into my “RTW TRIP” savings account.

My savings account, an RBC High Interest eSavings account was first opened in March 2010. My starting balance was $4103.49. Apparently I’m really good at pulling money out of thin air, because I don’t know where this money came from. The account number associated with the deposit transfer doesn’t actually match any of my existing bank account numbers. Weird?!

My goal, at the time was to save $10,000 by Christmas, quit my job and travel the world. However, at the time I was already $2300 in debt, with an upcoming 10-day trip 2 months down the line, and I desperately wanted to purchase a new car. My Nissan, to say the least, was a “piece.” Random things would literally fall off of my beloved first car.

In May 2010, I started a new job and went on my 10-day trip to New Jersey. Over the course of the summer and fall, I paid off $2600 worth of debt, and put $2168.06 into a separate savings account for a down payment on a new car.

To say the least, my goal of saving $10,000 by Christmas didn’t happen. By December of 2010, I had saved an additional total of $745.89 towards my big trip.

But with my new car miraculously being paid off in the time frame that it was, I have been able to focus my attention back to saving, rather than paying off debt. Between my two jobs and just being cheap in general, I’ve been able to put away minimum, $500 a month.

Yesterday, I surpassed $7500 in my savings account.

At the present time, I have no official savings goal, other than to save. At first I thought that $10,000 was reasonable. But since I’ve been able to save $2500 in an exceptionally short amount of time, I know I’ll be able to far exceed that amount by this time next year.

I’m taking the summer off from excessive saving (and working). Instead I’ll be enjoying life, taking advantage of summers free festivals, my boyfriends pool, and escaping to the family cottage. I need the practice for when I’m on the road.

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May 19, 2011

Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6, like a G6

by Robyn

Ok, yes, I’m lame. The title is lame, but I am extremely excited. With 2 weeks remaining until the end of May, I have achieved my goal of having my car paid off before the end of the month. I puchased my 2006 Pontiac G6 just days before Halloween to the tune of $13604.64, and now, less than 7 months later, I am debt free. I’m still blown away at how quickly I was able to pay everything off. Here is a rough break-down of how I did it:

Personal Savings: $2168.06

Donation made by my parents: $2000

Sale of previous car: $3300

Income Tax cheque: $1600

MPI Cheque: $471.00

GST Cheque: $95.25

Total: $9634.31

13604.64 – 9634.31 = $3970.33

I was laid off from my summer resort job on November 15th. I then applied for unemployment insurance while I worked part-time at the pizza place I have been working at for several years. I was collecting unemployment insurance cheques from December until approximately the 2nd week of February after I started my current job. 90%, if not more of my income from my unemployment insurance went directly towards paying off my car. The money I was earning from my hourly wage and tips at my part-time job went towards my rent, groceries, etc, etc.

When my umployment cheques stopped in early February, all pay cheques from my part-time serving job went directly towards paying off my car. On average, I was putting between $500 – $700 a month towards paying off my car. One month I managed to deposit just over $900.

In total, I only paid $279.64 in interest, bring the total cost of my car to $13884.28.

April 30, 2011

Income Tax Return

by Robyn

I received my income tax return in the mail the other day. It was $1000 less than what I was expecting. I’m upset but I am very very close to having my car paid off in full, so I really couldn’t be happier. I have $1201.51 remaining to be paid off on my Pontiac G6 that I bought in Nov 2010.

I have been letting my last few pay cheques sit in my bank account until my credit card statements come in the mail in a few days. Once I pay those off the remaining will go towards my car. It will be tight but I’m still predicting that I have the car paid off by the end of May, then I can put everything towards savings for my big trip.

April 25, 2011

8 Unique Ways to Save

by Robyn

1.Grocery Shop Frequently – especially when looking for fresh produce. Some people (like my boyfriend) get grossed out by it, but buy fruits and veggies off the sale rack. The last 2 weeks I’ve picked up a 1lb box of strawberries for 50% off. I went through them, picked out the odd one that was mushy and froze the rest to make smoothies. If you pick up veggies, use what you bought that day to make dinner that night.

2.Join Group Buying Websites – such as groupon.com, or teambuy.ca. These websites are free to join and are great places for deals over a vast array of products and services. Although I haven’t used it that much, for the times that I have it’s been for a great savings. I paid $25 for $50 worth of prime cuts of beef, pork and poultry. I ended up getting so much food I had to store half of it at my parents house. Other great deals to look out for are restaurant deals. That way you can still dine out from time to time without breaking the bank.

3.Avoid Malls and Thrift Shop Instead– Sometimes you really need to clothes shop, especially if your a girl. Aside from a few sample items I picked up off the sale racks at the mall a few months ago for cheap cheap cheap, I always buy my clothes second hand. I take pride in being able to say that out of any outfit I can put together, each piece likely cost me less than $10-20. I think it would be safe to say that at least 75% of my wardrobe is either a thrift find or was bought on sale. Bottom line, never pay full price for your clothes, because it’s going to be out of style in 6 months anyways. Buy it off the sale rack, or better yet, when thrift shopping, wait until they have 50% sale days like Value Village does in Canada. It’s like a sale on top of a sale. If you can, sign up to be on email lists so you know when stores have promotions and sales coming up.

4. Hide your Clothes – this one may seem weird but it works. After wearing the same few outfits day in and day out, you start to get bored and want to shop for some new outfits. Or at least I do. So hide some pieces for a few months, then trade them up for different outfits down the road. I was living with my boyfriend on weekends over this past summer while I was working at a remote resort the rest of the time. Gradually a good portion of my clothes made it’s way over to his house and never came home with me when I moved back to the city. Now, months later, I’ve finally brought that clothes back to my house and it’s like I have a whole new wardrobe to work with. I haven’t worn these clothes in forever. My desire to shop, for the time being at least, is gone. In my opinion, that’s money in the bank.

5.Stash your Plastic Bags – jackets and purses are usually full of little pockets that never really get used. Take some of your plastic bags, smoothe them out, fold them up and tuck them away into those pockets. Now every time your in line at the grocery store and they ask you if you need a bag, you can say “nope, I’ve got my own.”  This will save you the 2 cents they would have charged you for a plastic bag, and might even make you money because sometimes store will give you a rebate when you bring your own bags. And you don’t have to spend money either now on reusable cloth bags.

6.The Dollar Store is Your Friend – you can buy so many things at the dollar store for a fraction of the price that you will pay at a grocery store. Toothpaste and toothbrushes for example. $1 each at the dollar store, compared to $3+ at the grocery store for the same thing. I bought a lot of my kitchen utensils from the dollar store when I moved out on my own and over three years later, I don’t think anything has broken or been replaced yet.

7.Make it a Game Night – this is something my friends and I did all winter and had a blast. It was never really a money issue, but we did it more just because we were getting bored of the weekly bar scene. We played a lot of board games and would usually switch it up with a different game each week. If you or friends don’t have a lot of board games, go out and buy some or  play card games. Avoid buying board games brand new, as the prices for board games are insane, ranging from $25 to over $100. Rather keep an eye out for finds at local thrift stores and garage sales. You can usually pick them up for a fraction of the retail sale price, and sometimes you can find some really cool classic, vintage, or just plain weird games. Always make sure to peek inside the box to ensure the instructions and all the playing pieces are there.

8.Swap your cash for foreign currency – living a 3 hour drive from the US/Canadian Border, I encounter American currency from time to time, either from serving or through friends and co-workers. Since American and Canadian currency is pretty much on par with one another, I always swap out my Canadian funds with American when the opportunity arises. That way I’m never going to spend that $5 or $20 and I can put it towards future savings, or avoid paying high exchange rates when I make a trip down south.

April 21, 2011

A little goes a long way

by Robyn

As documented in my last few posts, in the last week and a half I have made a few trips to the bank to deposit my tip money that has been gradually accumulating in my tip jars since  late November, early December of last year. Without even trying to save (I was just stashing my tips because I didn’t want to carry large quantities of cash on me) I now have the grand total of my savings.

Dollar bills stuffed into my Coca-Cola mug = $740.00

Loose change collected in my coin jar = $386.00 (not including the remaining change that cannot be rolled)

In total I managed to save $1126.00 in tips from serving WITHOUT EVEN TRYING!

In that last 30 days, without depositing any additional money that I have earned from pay cheques, I have been able to deposit $1221.25 into my travel savings account (I got a GST cheque for $95.25 that I deposited last week).

How does that even happen? Over $1000!!!

Having not realized that I had this much money just sitting my bedroom waiting to be counted and banked is such a weight lifted off me. The loose change that I just deposited is enough to cover the cost of my round trip ticket to Toronto in the next few weeks. A cost I was rather upset about because I had never originally planned to pay out of pocket for, instead I was going to use credit card loyalty points. From saving my tips last year (my tip jar then having been dubbed the tattoo fund), the cost of my tattoo is already covered. The only expenditures now that I have to concern myself  with is setting a realistic budget for food and accommodations while in the city.

Next week will mark less than 3 weeks until I’m in Toronto so it’ll be the perfect time to start making phone calls to find out where I’ll be staying.

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April 16, 2011

A servers tip jar

by Robyn

My original plan was to take my tip jar to the bank and get them to do the work of sorting my change. However, I’m impatient and the banks hours suck. I work 9 – 5:30, so getting to the bank when they are open is difficult. Especially when the bank that has one of those change counting machines is a 20 minute drive. And the one day they were open late this week, I had to get to my part-time job by 6.  So that didn’t really leave time for a cash count detour. So since I did absolutely nothing last night except for sleep on the couch, I’m well rested, got up early this morning and was anxious to keep my hands busy. So I poured out the change jar in the middle of the floor and started rolling.

Less than a half hour later, I’ve sorted and rolled about 90% of the jars contents. I need 2 more loonie rollers to complete all that can be rolled. I’ve done a rough count and I have just over $380.00!!!! That’s $80 more than I had guessed a few days ago. I’m going to be really happy taking this to the bank and depositing it into my savings.

Do you put your spare change into a “change jar”?

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