I really want to get my finances in order. I’m tired of living paycheque to paycheque and have half my money go to paying off loans or credit cards every month. I want to buy furniture and travel and have savings so that I can do those things in the future.
But I also get really annoyed by minimalism and finance bloggers and writers who don’t actually talk numbers. I think that’s why I like Refinery 29’s Money Diaries, although most of the submissions there are annoying. They either make so much money and they have no student debt and got a ton of money from their parents, or they’re married and their spouse makes 6-figures and bought their house. Which is great for them! I am glad that there are people out there who don’t have to worry about money. People who don’t have stress about money or body image, or whatever, must have so much space in their brain to do other things.
The Current State of Things
So let’s talk money.
I have 2 degrees, a Bachelors and a Masters. During my Bachelors I went on exchange to Spain, did a study abroad program in Cuba, and was in a sorority (to be clear though my dues were quite cheap compared to what I see at American schools and chapters with housing about $300ish a semester). I clearly did not spare expense during my Bachelors. I also worked and had a lot of scholarships. I was also extremely fortunate, my parents paid any tuition and student fees not covered by my scholarships and bursaries. I then paid for my master’s entirely on my own.
However, even with all of that I finished both of my degrees with $48, 891.15, I currently owe $42,221.51. All of this is government loans, provincial and federal, mostly federal I just noticed looking up these numbers and I accrue 66 cents in interest every day.
I also have credit card debt. I currently have $3417.03 owing to the bank. That’s a lot for me, I know that some people have 10s of thousands of dollars of credit card debt, but this is a lot for me.
When I moved I only had about $850 to my name, my rent deposit was $1900, plus the cost of setting up utilities, renting a U-Haul, getting across the province, etc. that was clearly not enough money. Some of those things contributed to the above credit card balance, but I also borrowed $1500 from my parents and my dad paid for the U-Haul which was $560 plus a $30 deposit (which he got back). So I owe my parents $2060.
Now let’s get into monthly expenses:
Rent: $950/ month
Home internet: $107.35/month
Cell phone: $90.41
Water: ? (the deposit to set up my account was $275 so I’m nervous)
Electricity: ? (the deposit here was $30.61, which seems very random. I’m also very nervous about this because my heat is electric via baseboard heaters and it is still cold here. The warmest day was the day I moved in, which was a tease).
And then my slightly more than minimum student loan payment is $350
So I’m estimating about $1700 in monthly expenses.
Income: so post-deductions my monthly income is about $3600.
And I would like to pay my parents back at $500 a month, but that will not be happening this month as I have to go to the eye doctors and get new contacts and new glasses and my benefits haven’t kicked in yet.
That leaves me with $1900.
Which feels like a lot; but given how fast my most recent paycheque *poofed* into the aether it doesn’t seem like all that much.
So let’s break it down:
My chequing account was in overdraft by about $330
So that left about $1500; I put $750 onto my credit card. That left about $780 (I am rounding. It feels weird to put exact numbers out publicly).
I then paid my cell phone bill of $90.41.
That evening I went to the LCBO and bought alcohol for the first time in months, I wanted wine to accompany my Fearless (Taylor’s Version) listening, and the grocery store to get some weekend snacks and garbage tags. Garbage pick up is not included in property taxes here, the tags were $26 for 10. It really threw me at the grocery store cash register because my total was $55 and I couldn’t believe I had spent that much on a frozen pizza, bag of chips, ginger ale, and carton of eggs. So I was annoyed and relieved when I got home and looked at my receipt and saw how expensive the garbage tags are. But I haven’t been able to put out garbage since I got here almost a month ago and I am very relieved to finally be able to do so. Friday total (927.41).
Then Saturday was a spendy day. I went to NorthWest Goods, it’s a local business in Dryden that has home goods and a bulk refill station. I got toilet cleaning tabs, a big jar of all-purpose cleaner, a big jar of dish soap, and two taper candles (72.46). The jars of cleaner and dish soap were huge, they came to $55 alone.
I then went grocery shopping. This was an expensive one, I had used up a lot of spices when I moved home and wanted to stock back up on the ones I used most commonly. The spices alone were $64.23, I then got some cat treats and cat litter (43.91). I also stocked up on on canned goods and meats because I have noticed that they are more expensive at my local grocery store, the total I spent at both grocery stores was $327.10. Which is a lot, a lot, but I’m hoping that next week I’ll only need to get a few bits of produce as I am well stocked up on cat litter, meat, and spices, vinegars, and such. But it was a lot more than I expected. This was my first really big stock up since I moved and I am still under my April food budget for the month so that is fine. I also spent $30 on gas. And to be honest that’s it for money I plan to spend this week. I have everything I need. Saturday total: (429.56).
When you look at that it is no wonder that my paycheque went *poof*.
Now the anticipated rest of April includes: more groceries in a week, a visit to the eye doctor and 6 months of contacts, a bag of dry cat food, and my student loan payment at the end of the month.
I would really like to start having a sinking fund; basically it is where you think of everything that isn’t a monthly expense but is a recurring expense over the year and have a fund that it can be paid for out of. So things that I have thought of for mine so far are seasonal tire changes, oil changes, car insurance, eye doctors, contacts, sneakers when they wear out, new license plate tags. Those kind of things were it’s not monthly so its hard to fit it in a normal monthly budget but you know it will happen throughout the year. And then a proper emergency fund and travel fund for if Ontario ever leaves lock down or I act on my desire to escape forever.
My plan is to roughly use the debt snowball method. I’m starting mostly with my credit card, to get it down away from being maxed out to have some wiggle room. Then I want to switch to paying back my parents aggressively. Then pay off my credit card.
Technically, the debt snowball method has you look at all your debts and figure out which has the smallest balance and what the minimum payments are on the others. Then you pay your minimum payment on all but the very smallest debt and then you throw everything you possibly can at the smallest debt. Then once you’ve paid that off you take what you were throwing at the smallest debt and your minimum payment for the next smallest debt and combine them to pay off that debt. And you keep going until you have everything left except your mortgage, which I don’t have. Because I want to have some wiggle room on my credit card first and my parents aren’t charging me interest (bless them) I want to focus on my credit card for a couple months and then switch to the proper debt snowball method.
I guess eventually I would like to be in the position where I am debt-free, constantly 1 month ahead (i.e. have enough money in my account for the next month’s expenses – rent, utilities), have an 8-month emergency fund, and a moving fund (it cost about $3000 to move including things like rent deposit, hotel, utilities deposits, grocery stock ups, u-haul rental and gas).
I don’t know how often I will do these updates. Honestly at this point I’m not even sure I’m going to hit publish on this! But I do want to talk about money, I understand why it is so private, but at the same time I’m not sure it should be. I think that if we all knew how much money and debt each other truly had, maybe then influencer and social media society wouldn’t get to us quite as much.
Also, I don’t really want advice. I think I have a plan, this is more for accountability? Because I wish I had this kind of information earlier? I don’t really know.
Maybe that’s naïve?