Monthly Archives: January 2012

Link Love (powered by Revlon Plumalicious Super Lustrous Lipstick)

I can’t believe that we have come to the end of January 2012, already. I feel like I sneaked my 2012 goals in just in the nick of time ;).

I LOVE reading about new year goals and recaps.  And even though we can all start to make goals, anytime of the year, I love the potential of an empty calender.  So a lot of the posts below have to do with goals, but not all.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

Money

Fashion and Beauty

  • Sydney shares her list of “mama beauty” items. Since Sydney always looks so put together, I loved taking a peek into her favourite make-up items.
  • G. does a review on these beautiful Royal and Langnickel make-up brushes.  Even at $9/brush, it’s not too bad.  The more I delve into beauty, the more I realize how the right tools are essentials.
  • Don’t you love this beautiful lace blazer?  I feel it’s just such a great mix of feminine and professional polish to it.

Life & Home

  • My Money My Life shares her thoughts on a toxic friendship.  I wrote a long-letter comment and couldn’t get passed the word verification.  Basically, I’ve had to also let friendships die out because at the end of the day, you only have so much time, money and energy.
  • I LOVE the look of these canopy around the bed from This is Glamorous.  Wow!
  • Check out this recipe from Eating and Living for one of my all-time favourite foods – Kimchi.  My sister made me 2 jars of kimchi and I have been finding a reason to eat kimchi for every. single. meal.
  • Shannon is such a strong woman and I love reading her blog Loved You More.  Recently, she has been writing a series on how Bear came to be a part of her family.  From the very first time she met Bear to fighting to keep her little Bear safe.  It is a heart breaking and heart warming read and I encourage everyone to find out more about this extraordinary young woman.

Hope everyone has a good week :)

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PF Confession: My Make-up Stash

Readers, I have a confession to make.  I have been hooked on buying make-up.

In the last several months, I grown my stash of make-up brushes, lipsticks and eye shadows by… a lot.  I now know the difference between shimmering and matte eye shadows, matte and cream lipsticks, an eyebrow brush and an eye liner brush.

Beauty Bloggers

I have discovered the world of beauty bloggers.  And I have been avidly reading their reviews on pigmentation of different eye shadows and lipsticks and have even ran out to grab some items from my local drugstore.  Because if it’s a holy grail item for a beauty blogger, it must be pretty darn amazing!!

These beauty bloggers are serious about beauty.  When they review a product, they do a thorough job.  Reviews usually include (but are not limited to) texture, usability, staying power, scents, pigmentation, allergic reaction(s) and even cost (sometimes).  When I read a good review, I feel like I really get to know a product… and then I want it.  Bad.

Even though I am still a PF blogger at heart, I still want to join in on the fun.  So, even though I can’t get my paws on Yves Saint Laurent, I can still have fun with Revlon and other drugstore (and more wallet friendly) brands. And maybe my expectations were set too low, but I have found a lot of great stuff at my local drugstore!  My current favourite make-up brands include MAC, Revlon, Wet n Wild, Joe Fresh, Marcelle and Maybelline.

My Stash

I won’t bore you with too many details, but I’ve had some great hauls recently with all the holiday sales going on.

My favourite purchases so far have been my L’Oreal HiP Metallic Eye shadow in Gun Metal (306), Wet n Wild Comfort Zone palette (738), Revlon Matte Lipstick in Fabulous Fig (009), Marcelle tinted moisturizer and Revlon Colorstay Liquid Liner.

Moving Forward

I also must delete the Shoppers Drugmart app from my iPod.  It has been a huge enabler for me.  It just makes it so  too easy to view their flyer.  The latest damage occurred on January 15th, as I saw my favourite Revlon lippies were on sale for $3.99 (reg. price $10.49).  I made an executive decision that Berry Rich & Plumalicious were good candidates (who knew that I would love plum lip colours so much?), and that I indeed needed a red lip liner so that I can actually wear my red lipstick without looking like Chuck.

So I am all stocked up and there is no reason to buy any more make-up (after January – oops!).

Readers, have you discovered the awesome world that of beauty bloggers??  If so, have you been able to resist temptation?

Cheers,

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2012 Goals

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I know that January is practically over, but I wanted to still post up my goals. I have been a pretty good goal setter and a pretty bad mediocre goal-tracker. I will be working on this in 2012! I’ve been so inspired seeing bloggers like Krystal set her annual goals and monthly goals, and then does regular check ins to see how she is doing.

I am a huge believer in setting ambitious goals. Who cares if sometimes they are a bit crazy, right? Being the over-achiever that I am, it’s sometimes hard to accept that I (gasp!) fail, too. But, I also realize that it is only by failing a few times that I learn.

Besides, isn’t it better to aim for the moon and land on a star, than to aim for the trees and land on the ground? That’s what my grade 10 math teacher told me.

This year, I am going to set my annual goals here. Then, I am going to set monthly goals. My monthly goals will usually be baby steps to get me on track to meeting my annual goals, but they can also be something different.

Here we go! ;)

Life

Sometimes, I really struggle with balancing work with my personal life. I have been doing a better job of this in 2011, but there is always room for improvement.

Even though my job is important, the people in my life are more important. They are who I call when I have great news to share, and they are the ones I count on for support when things mess up. So, it only make sense to make time for them and prioritize them into my life.

  • Friends: See my girlfriends once a month for dinner or spa date to catch up and unwind. I really tried to do this in 2011, and I really enjoyed it. Will also put it on the list for this year.
  • Family: See my parents every other weekend. Call my parents at least once a week. This is also a carry over from last year.

Finance

I see money as a tool to reaching my life goals. Money does not happiness, but it can be a tool to reach my goals and find happiness. For me, spending time with loved ones, good health, lifelong learning, traveling, and owning a home are long term goals I want to achieve by using money as a tool.

This year, I want to be realistic and set goals that are simple and measurable.

  • Net worth of $115,000
    This goal assumes a 7% growth in my assets and how much I hope to save in 2012.
  • Make more money – 10% raise and find a side hustle
    Last year, I got a 6.75% raise and I was aiming for a 10% raise. I learned a powerful lesson in negotiation, standing up for myself and knowing my worth.  I’m going to put that lesson into practice this year, again.
  • Streamline my RRSPs: Move to TD E-series
    I have my RRSPs in mutual funds (mostly index funds) in Manulife and ING. Since both these companies charge a higher fee than TD e-series, I will be moving my funds to save on fees.
  • Investing money: 3 Dividend Paying Stocks in my TFSA
    This is carried over from last year. I have most of my investments in Index Funds, and few stocks. I’d like to start investing in dividend paying stocks. I’d also like to learn how the tax benefits work for dividend income, since I may also be investing outside my TFSA and RRSP.
  • Saving money: Save >60% of my net income
    Last year, I saved 53% of my net income, so I think this is totally do-able.
  • Make a Shopping List and Sticking to It
    Although I have come a long way from my impulse buying days, I want to take my planned purchases to the next level. I will only save and buy things from my Shopping List.
  • Budget: $0 Budget and Track Monthly Expenses
    Last year, I tracked all my expenses and it was a pretty exhilarating feeling. However, I only looked at the “savings” portion at the end of the year, since I automated most of my savings.  This year, I am going to make it a $0 goal. Which means that I also must account for all savings and any “left over” money at the end of the month.

Career and Personal Development

Most of these were on my list last year and the year prior (how embarrassing). But they were good goals, so I am going to keep them.

  • Professional Engineer License: I need to contact my previous employers regarding proof of previous work experience towards my license. I need to register by January so that I can write the exam in April. My friends have the study materials and I need to at least 3 weekends worth of studying to this. Must find out schedule of test and arrange accordingly.
  • Update my Resume: I have not even touched my resume since I graduated more than 3 years ago! It’s time to un-bury my head and smarten up.
  • Research the Job Market: I need to be aware of the job market and make sure that I am compensated fairly. I also want to know what opportunities are out there.
  • Canadian Securities Course (maybe): This course covers basics that will help me in my understanding of personal finance on a larger scale, and help in graduate school program applications where a business background is an asset. My BF has the study materials. Must find out schedule of the tests and arrange accordingly.
  • GMAT Test (maybe): Many schools and programs require GMAT scores for applications and entrance. I haven’t decided that I want to pursue graduate studies, at the moment. I first want to explore other jobs in my field before making such a drastic change.

Health:

I am not a huge exercise fanatic, although I do really enjoy playing volleyball and swimming. However, I really love the rush that exercising brings, so I want more of that! :)

I set a huge goal in 2010 to fun in a half marathon (that’s 21.1km or 13 miles), and then in May 2009, I accomplished it in 2h 30 minutes. I haven’t ran since. I learned that I didn’t really like running all that much. 10km is enjoyable but 21km is torture no fun for me. So, the key to staying on any exercise regime is to do something I enjoy.

I have also been eating much better in 2011 by cutting out processed foods and making almost all my meals from scratch. Simple things like soaking my own beans really puts me in control of how much sodium goes into my food. I’d like to continue this in 2012.

  • Fitness: Exercise 2-3 times a week in the mornings. I find exercise most efficient in the mornings, and gives me more energy all day. This was carried over from last year.
  • Food- Fruits: Incorporate fruit at least once a day in my meals. I find that if it’s there, I eat it. If I wonder if it’s too old, I won’t eat it. The key is to make sure I see it and eat it :)
  • Offline Time: Must be off the computer by 9:30pm to 10:00pm. This is so that I can unwind a bit before bed, read a bit and get up early for exercise!

Just for FUN:

I set a lot of serious goals above, but it’s also important for me to just have fun goals. Goals that will make me laugh and bring out the creative side of me. :)

  • Travel: I want to take a 2-week long trip with BF somewhere this year. I also want to go camping (I really missed it last year!), and visit my friend in Montreal.
  • Read one book a month: I have forgotten how great it feels to finish a book which is pretty sad. I was quite the book worm back in the day! This should be pretty achievable.
  • More Volleyball: Organize a volleyball weekend once a month with friends. Every time I do one of these, I always feel so good about it afterwards! Great friends just hanging out and having fun.
  • Remix my wardrobe: I have been having so much fun mixing up my wardrobe with accessories. And I have so many stylish and beautiful ladies to draw my inspiration from!
  • Play with Make-up: I’ve been a pretty basic make-up girl most of my life, but lately, I’ve been discovering how fun (and addicting) make-up can be.
  • Wear bold red lipstick AND own it. Arianne, this one was inspired by you!  I think this goal is a combination of being confident in my own skin and not afraid to show it. Which is pretty huge, being the shy person I am.

How are you goals for 2012 coming along? Am I the last one to write them down?

Cheers,

11 Comments

Filed under Finance, Goals, Personal, Shopping Ban

2012 Annual Budget

Ever since I started to track my expenses, I really see value in budgeting based on an annal basis.  I also enjoy looking back and seeing a snapshot of where my money goes.  By looking at my expenses on an annual basis, I can also more clearly see the impacts of non-monthly expenses – such as car insurance.

I find that by working backwards from an annual budget to a monthly budgets works pretty well for me.  The exception would be for one-off items, such as car insurance, car repairs, hair cuts, or stocking up on moisturizers/make-up (during annual sales).

I also find that looking at my spending in the previous year (2011), really helps me gauge how much I need to budget for the following year (2012), or figure out what expenses I can trim down.

2011 Actual Expenses vs 2012 Annual Budget

Expenses

Rent
I’m likely going to stay at the same place for another year so I’ve budgeted the same rent ($345) and also included a $800 budget for some “renovations”.  I’ve lived here for 3 years so far, and I really like it.  It’s close to work, and relatively close to public transportation.

I’m not uber close to a subway line (about a 20 minute walk away), and not super close to downtown.  I also live in a basement apartment and share it with a room mate.

Of course, my apartment is not perfect – far from it.  I’ve got spotty walls where the previous tenant ripped tape off the wall, 2′ of counter space in my kitchen :(, and my vinyl tiled floors are scraped and cracked.  But I’ve got a really big closet – which almost balances out ;).

I use the term “renovations” in a very loose way (i.e., moving around furniture counts, right?).  Since I do not own this place, I want to make changes that will make my apartment more functional and beautify it at the same time without spending a lot of money.  Ideally, I’d also like to take the changes with me.

I’ve given myself a “reno” budget of $800 to make this happen, and I have already spent some of it in 2011.

Groceries
I like to eat lots of fresh veggies and one of my new year goals is to eat more fruits.  My favourite place to shop is the Asian grocery store.  Everything is well priced – although quality is inconsistent.

I’ve been keeping my pantry well stocked, and also batch cooking items that can be frozen for last-minute meals.  I have cut out almost all heavily processed foods from my diet (except Campbell’s mushroom cream soup and Restaurante frozen mushroom pizza).  I am also cooking dried beans, and make most of my meals from scratch. Not only does this save me money, I’ve also trimmed my waistline with little exercise in 2011.

Transportation
My car insurance has been paid up to May 2012.  I’m not sure what will happen after that.  Likely, I will give back the family car to my parents and it will be passed down to my little sister when she starts her full-time job.

I would like to go car-free after that.  I don’t want to buy a car at the moment.  It costs waaaay too much to drive in Ontario, and I live close enough to the city that I shouldn’t have to.

Telephone
My 1-year contract with Rogers expires in July 2012. If I can get a better plan, I will likely stay with them and re-new for another year.

I just got a new phone since my >3 year old Nokia died, so this one should last me at least another 3 years.

Entertainment/Recreation
I will likely play 2 – 3 seasons of volleyball.

I really enjoy playing beach volleyball in the summers and getting together with friends on a weekend to play.  It’s not exactly the best workout for me, but when I get a few hours in, I feel really good.  And it’s super fun!! :)

I’m also using my Entertainment Book for cheap(er) movie tickets and attractions.

Medical
Since my benefits cover 80% of my costs, and includes all prescription medicines and some massage therapy – I don’t have to pay much out-of-pocket.  My daily prescription medicines are topical potions lotions for my acne, and I try to use up my massage therapy benefits.

I will also not be doing another facial for a long time.  They are too expensive and are truly an indulgence.

Eating Out
I am going to try really, really hard to stick to this budget.

Growing up, my family rarely went out for dinner.  I feel so guilty when I see how much I spend on eating out.

It is nice to go out and eat with friends once in a while, but it is an indulgence and should be treated as such.  This should be easier as BF is no longer living downtown.  It was way too easy to meet up with friends for brunch/lunch/dinner/drinks/etc., and I am so easily tempted.

Bank Fee’s
I don’t want to pay any bank fee’s for checking or credit cards.

However, this would have to exclude the commission fee’s to process buying stocks for my TFSA.

Toiletries/Grooming
I have budgeted for 4 haircuts, an annual stock-up of toiletries (shampoo, facial cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreens, etc), and I gave myself $25 a month for make-up.

Clothing/Shoes
I am going to make a Shopping List of items that I want and hunt for them.

I will NOT settle for something that I kinda, sorta like.  New rule: if I don’t love it, I don’t buy it.

Electronics
I have been lusting after the Canon S95 for a while now, but haven’t bitten the bullet since I have a perfectly functioning Canon ELPH SD1100 IS.   They are coming out with the Canon S100, soon, and I am hoping to score the S95 for a good deal.  Or the Olympus XZ-1 is also a great candidate.

I love taking nice photographs, but right now, I don’t have the time or patience (mostly the latter) to learn how to use a DSLR.

Gifts
I’m not a huge gift giver, I prefer to take someone out for a great meal and chat.  I’m lazy that way:).

I think my friends and I are old enough to buy what we really want.  I’m also a really hard person to buy gifts for, and I hate to put my friends and family through that.

Travel
I would love to take a 2-3 week trip somewhere (far), go camping and visit a friend in Montreal.

Misc.
Stuff always comes up.

Savings

Emergency Fund
I have finally topped up my E-fund at a nice and pretty number -$10,000.  I love round numbers.

That should last me 6 – 10 months of living expenses.

Travel Fund
I keep putting money in here and it keeps disappearing! ;)

I had about $1,000 left over from 2011, so I think this should be enough.  Sometimes, I add a bit more to the fund, the closer I get to a trip.

General Savings
I’d like to keep this topped up at $15,000.

I don’t plan on going back to school right away, or buying a house.  But this money is there if I want to do something, or if a great opportunity came up.

RRSPs
I’d like to keep this maxed out in 2012.

I know my dad tells me to save some contribution room for the future when I make a higher salary, but I like to take advantage of the savings now and have my money grow.

TFSA
Last year, I didn’t contribute, so I need to make up for it this year.

I really wanted to invest in some dividend paying stocks and then never got around to doing my research.  So,this year, the least I need to do is to put half of it into the TD E-series fund and start making some money!

Other (Long Term) Savings
Since my E-fund and General Savings are mostly topped up, I will likely have some left over money to invest.

Monthly Budget

If I take out my travel costs, I am left with an average monthly budget of $1,285.33.

This brings my annual budget to $18,923.96.  I really want to hit this one on the nail and meet an ambitious 2012 net worth goal! :)

Coming up… 2012 Goals – including my networth goal.

Readers, do you like to budget on an annual basis and work back to monthly?  Or vice versa?

Cheers,

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Filed under Budget

2011 Goals Recap

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This will be the second that I wrote down my goals and was able to find them at the end of the year to review how I did.  Thank you, internet. :)

Even though I set goals in 2011, I haven’t been checking in and making sure that I am on track to achieving them.  In fact, I set my goals in January 2011, kinda checked in half-way through and then searched for my goals to see how I did (today).  This is sure way of setting up my goals for failure.

Having seen so many bloggers set goals and then do monthly check-ins, has really inspired me to do the same.  I find that I set great goals at the beginning of the new year because it is full of possibilities.  Sometimes, I can get carried away with this sense of potential that I set too many ambitious goals – which is okay.  I love being ambitious.

The problem is that I don’t check if I am on track throughout the year, then I kinda avoid it after a few months have passed when I know that I’ve missed a few things.  I had “failing” so I kinda ignore it and I hope for the best when I get to the end of the year.  Pretty silly.

What I need to do is re-visit my goals on a regular basis (Krystal does an amazing job at this!) and make sure I am on track, or if there is something I need to change/adjust my goal to make it more realistic.

As mentioned in my 2011 Goal post, I really liked the S-M-A-R-T acronym for goals I read from Young and Thrifty’s blog.  Simplify.  Measurable.  Attainable.  Realistic.  Timely.

Now onto my embarrassing 2011 goal recap.

Personal Finance

I see money as a tool to reaching my life goals.  Money does not bring me happiness, but it is a tool to find happiness.  For me, traveling, lifelong education, owning a home and financial freedom are long term goals I want to achieve by using money.  But this year, I’d like to accomplish the following.

  • Making more money: I am aiming to get a 10% raise this year, and would like to boost my annual income to gross $60,000.  So far, I do not have any side income.  I’d like to explore possibilities and opportunities for a side hustle.
    PASS- I got a 6.75% raise including RRSP matching from my employer.  Last year, I got a 6.75% raise and I was aiming for a 10% raise.  When I discussed this with my manager, I expressed that I thought a 7-9% raise was fair, based on my contribution to the team and my research.

    It didn’t change my salary, but now he knows that I value myself more than he does.  I think the more important lesson here I learned was that I can and need to stand up for myself.I have not looked into any side hustle gigs.

  • Investing money: I have most of my investments in Index Funds, and few stocks.  I’d like to start investing in dividend paying stocks.  I’d also like to learn how the tax benefits work for dividend income.
    FAIL – I have not invested in any new stocks this year.  This will have to move to 2012 goals.
  • Saving money: I am still aiming to save at least 50% of my income.  Savings include contribution to my RRSP’s, TFSA, Emergency Fund, Travel, General Savings, and Investments.
    CHECK!! – My expenses totaled ~$26,278 (eeks!) but my savings totaled $29,950 (53%). Yippee!
  • Shopping ban 2011: In short, no shopping for clothes, jewelery or new make-up this year.  I have allowed myself 3 freebies of planned purchases.  More details to follow in a separate post.
    FAIL – I broke my ban in September after going strong for 9 straight months.  I think something like a Shopping Detox (a la Annabelle) would work better for me. More on this in 2012 goals.
  • $1,000 monthly budget: I will track my expenses every month and aim to stick to my monthly budget of $1,000.
    FAIL - I think I reached my $1,000 budget once in 2011. It’s not super realistic.

Personal Development

This may seem lengthy, but they were on my list last year, and I haven’t accomplished them.  I really think this is doable, I just need to be organized.  Will be sharing my schedule once I get this all written down on a calender.

  • Professional Engineer License: I need to contact my previous employers regarding proof of previous work experience towards my license.  I also need to study and write the test.  My friends have the study materials and I need to devote 1 week worth of studying to this. Must find out schedule of test and arrange accordingly.
    FAIL – Applying in January 2012 and writing test in April 2012.
  • Canadian Securities Course: This course covers basics that will help me in my understanding of personal finance on a larger scale, and help in graduate school program applications where a business background is an asset.  My BF has the study materials.  Must find out schedule of the tests and arrange accordingly.
    FAIL – Have not done this.  Might still want to… I kinda forgot about this goal.  Oops.
  • GMAT Test: I want to apply to a  Masters in Public Administration or Public Policy.   Many schools and programs require GMAT scores for applications and entrance.  I need to write the GMAT this year before the test format changes.  I have study materials from friends, as well as practice tests.
    FAIL – I haven’t really decided on going back to school yet, and so I haven’t written the test.
  • Graduate School Application: I want to apply to programs in the 2012 school year.  Must check deadlines and pre-requisites and start preparing.
    FAIL – I’ve decided to that going back to school might be more than I want to commit to right now.  I may just try looking for another job in the industry, first.

Minimalism

Minimalism is about more than just de-cluttering, it’s about adopting the mindset that I have enough.  In fact, I have way more than enough.  I am not aiming to get to a certain number of items, but I am aiming to rid myself of excess stuff I do not need.

  • 500 Things Challenge: I was inspired by this challenge from Fabulissime.  I aim to de-clutter 500 things from my home and donate them to charity.  Depending on how this challenge goes, it may become the 1,000 Things Challenge.  More details to follow in  a separate post.
    PASS? – I have been decluttering all year, but I gave up trying to keep track of everything. I am always adding to my “donation” pile.
  • Document de-clutter: I want to de-clutter every room in my apartment and document what is in each room.  Explaining why I must keep something usually gives me a good idea of whether I really need it or not.
    FAIL – I have decluttered every room so far.  It is still a work in progress, but I completely forgot about wanting to document this.  Not sure if I want to… I am not a 100-item kinda gal! ;)
  • Remixing my Wardrobe: I want to re-discover my wardrobe and re-mix all my items.  Of course, this is an extension of my shopping ban.
    CHECK!! – I have cleaned out my closet and all my jewelry in organized it all.  I am putting together new outfits and am really looking forward to more remixing in 2012.

Life and Health:

  • Fitness: Exercise 2-3 times a week in the mornings.  I find exercise most efficient in the mornings, and gives me more energy all day.
    FAIL!!! I have only been playing volleyball once – twice a week.
  • Fruits: Incorporate fruit at least once a day in my meals.  I’m really bad with eating my fruits, so I’m getting a Magic Bullet to help me with it.  I’ve tried just bringing fruit to work.  It just sits on my desk.  Yummy smoothies scream  “drink me!”
    FAIL – I was good at this, end then fell off the bandwagon in halfway through the year.
  • Friends: See my girlfriends at least once a month for dinner or spa date to catch up and unwind.  Too often I get caught up with work that my personal life takes a back seat.  Here’s to making plans and keeping them!
    CHECK!! Of course, I would love to see my girls more, but I have made an effort to see them at least every 1 – 2 months.
  • Family: See my parents every other weekend.  Call my parents at least once a week.  Too often I take for granted that my parents know that I care and love them.  Just checking in with them once a week to see how they are doing is nice.  It also let’s me know how I can help them and what they need.
    PASS – I was very good with this until November (before our vacation together).  This will have to stay in my 2012 goals.
  • Travel: I want to take a 2-week long trip somewhere this year.  I’m not sure where, yet.  Possibilities are: Peru (Machi Piccu) & Chili or Greece.  I’ve taken several shorter trips in 2010 to Vancouver, Boston and Venezuela, but I miss the unwinding of a long trip.
    CHECK!! – I took 2 long trips this year. A 10-day trip to the East Coast of Canada and a 2-week trip with my family to Hong Kong.

Summary

I see a lot of reds and it is a bit of a bummer since I am usually an over achiever.  le sigh.

I think that I made these goals and kinda stuck my head in the ground, hoping they would transpire somehow.  Silly, right?  So, in 2012, I am taking a new approach.  I will be checking in every month, as well as making smaller monthly goals to help me stay on track.

Stay tuned for my 2012 Goals!

How did you do for your 2011 goals?

Cheers,

10 Comments

Filed under Finance, Goals, Personal, Shopping Ban

2011 Annual Financial Recap

I really enjoy the power of knowing exactly where all my money goes.  And I really enjoy gathering data on my spending habits so that I can analyze them and make changes where necessary to keep improving.   If you don’t already track your spending, I highly recommend it.  And don’t worry if you fall off the band wagon a few times.  Just get right back into it.

Looking back on my 2010 recap post, I remember that I completely fell off my expense tracking band wagon the summer of 2010 and had to make “best guesses” based on credit card statements, debit transactions and cash.   But the ever so kind Fabulously Broke encouraged me to not keep at it, and sometimes, kind words from a stranger is all it takes to help you over those humps.

2011 vs 2010 Expenses

More $$$ in 2011

Transportation
I knew there would be a big increase here since I paid for all of the car insurance in my family ($3000/annually).  I figured it was my way of paying my parents for letting me use the car full-time.  I also paid for all the maintenance of the car, including some major repairs in September.

The family car will likely be passed down to my little sister when she graduates, so I’m hoping to be car-free after May 2012. 

Medical
I have written about my struggle with acne several times.

These facials for a last resort for me and more than $700 later, I learned that that’s not what my skin wanted (thank goodness!).  I do have my acne under control now, so all is well that ends well. :)

Toiletries/Grooming
I went a little crazy and bought many, many products, trying to heal my acne while also trying to cover it up.

Then, after my acne healed, I kinda let myself go and went out and bought all sorts of make-up after reading about them from some awesome enablers beauty bloggers.  I am happy to report that my make-up stash has since more than quadrupled in size.

I had 3 eye shadows, 1 eye liner, 2 blushes, 2 lipsticks and foundation at the beginning of the year, so I didn’t start with much. :)

Electronics
I got a lovely used net book.  Her name is Mini Mimi and she is lovely and I wrote most of my 2011 posts with her.

My cell phone also died.  My little Nokia started to turn off sporadically and refused to turn back on.  Then after a few hours/days, everything would be fine.  Then, after it would turn off again. Since my cell phone is my primary phone (no land line), I needed a replacement.

Enter my Nokia C3.  His name is C3P0 :) and I am quite happy with him.

Travel
I took two big trips this year – one was with my family for two weeks in Hong Kong, and the other was ten days on the Canadian east coast.  I really enjoyed them both and am thankful I had the opportunity to do so.

Less $$$ in 2011

Groceries
I didn’t do this on purpose.  In fact, I was really surprised since I have been cooking more at home.  This is probably because I batch grocery shop, instead of shopping for one meal only (I did that a lot when BF and I cooked together on weekends).

Clothing/Shoes
Well, ideally this number would be closer to $0 since I was supposed to be on a shopping ban! :P

But, I did do a closet clean-out and I think I did a fairly good job only mostly buying items that would fill the voids in my closet.  I still bought some items because they were on sale, but much less impulse buying. :)

For 2012, I am putting together a shopping list of clothes that I want to buy.  Planned purchases only.

Bank fee’s
I had a month in July where I partially paid a credit card, but thought that I had paid it off entirely, and so I got dinged with interest fee’s.  I was really upset when this happened because I had been so good.

2012 will be the year of no bank fees.

Gifts
I guess I got cheaper! :)  And no weddings, also help!

Readers, do you enjoy analyzing where and how you spend your money?  

Coming up, my 2011 Goals recap & 2012 Goals!

Cheers,

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December 2011 Recap (finally!)

I am embarrassed that it has taken me this long to finally get my act together and put together my December and annual spending recap.

The holidays were waaaay too short, and I finally got to see family and friends – some of whom I haven’t seen in a while!  I spent a good week or two away from my computer (gasp!) and I didn’t even bring my netbook home with me (gasp!).  My other excuses are also that I had piles of projects in my room that just needed to be done, and I couldn’t stand the sight of them unfinished anymore.  A little peak at said projects…

My jewelry holder.  Thanks to the Amrita Singh sale and generous donations from friends ;), my jewelry collection no longer fit on the candle stick holder and chocolate box I used to store them in.  I was inspired to make my own cork board jewelry holder.

Anyway, enough with my excuses – onto my recaps! :)

Income: $5,649.70

Expenses: $2005.46

My December was a really awesome paycheck month!  Not only was it a 3 paycheck month, I also had a modest bonus to boot!   Money cannot buy happiness, but money can make me happy.

I was trying to be realistic for December, but I still came in $500 over budget.  See below for where my money went.

Clothing/Shoes

I caved and ordered a sweater and 2 t-shirts from Old Navy during their holiday sale.

I also bought a really nice that I’ve had my eye on for the past couple months.  It’s “The It” bag!!  It’s actually a camera bag, but I’m going to use it as a purse.  It was on sale over the holiday for 25% off, and I paid about $147 including all taxes and shipping.

I don’t have very many bags, and my last favourite bag kinda “died”, so I took the opportunity to get these darling bag.  She is SO pretty.  Review coming up!

Eating Out

I tried to be realistic, but I met up with so many friends over the holiday.

It was totally worth it, but this eating out budget must be tamed in 2012.

Entertainment

We spent new years at a friend’s place – it was potluck styled, so we still saved a lot more money than if we had gone out for dinner.

I realized now that the over spending was not due entirely to new year celebration.  I also bought $40 of books from Chapters: InStyle: The New Secrets of Style ($12.99), Jean Cretien: My Years as Prime Minister ($7.99), 10 Minute Relaxation for Mind & Body ($2), Get Positively Beautiful by Carmindy ($5.99) and The Wealther Barber Returns ($10).

Gifts

Meh :)

I’m not a huge gift giver, but there a few people who I really wanted to make them feel special.

Rent/Mortgage

I didn’t account for “reno” costs.  Most of this is storage containers for my growing stash of make-up (see below).  I also bought stuff to make my jewelry board, and returned any unused/extra stuff.

Toiletries/Grooming

I have a love-hate relationship with beauty blogs (more on this later).  But in short, I’m stocked up on make-up and brushes!!!  I may have also increased my lipstick collection ten fold within the span of 4 months – I used to only have 2!

Transportation

I drove around more during the holiday.  I also have been driving my car for work.

Please note that I do get reimbursed for mileage, but I choose to just include that as “income” instead of trying to figure out the work portion and the personal portion.

Travel

Ever since my Hong Kong trip, I’ve been lusting after my sister’s Hey’s luggage.  I love that it splits the storage space perfectly in half with a zippered lining. It is such an efficient use of space!  The 4-wheel drive also doesn’t hurt.

I was going to put the Heys luggage on my 2012 shopping list, but Costco had a special.  The 26″ luggage and 21.5″ carry-on came in a 2-peice set for only $99.99.  For reference, my sister has the 26″ luggage which she got for half price, and it still cost $150+tax.

I can’t wait to use it!

Wheeew! :)  That was a lot of explaining, but now I am ready to move onto the exciting part – my net worth update!

December 2011 Networth

I was really hoping for a big gain this month and I am really happy with my 5% gain. Yes, I am grinning from ear-to-ear as I type this.

Can you believe how close I was to ending off the year with $80,000 to my name?!  So close!

Summary

I am really proud of myself for tracking my expenses ALL year!!! *pats self on the back* *then high-fives herself*

Maybe it’s the engineer in me, but I LOVE analyzing my spending/saving data at the end of the year and then compare it to last year.  And this year, I collected good data, which makes it even more exciting :)

Stay tuned for my 2011 Spending recap!

Cheers,

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1000 Awesome Things: #1 Making the Bus Connection

This series is inspired by the 1000 Awesome Things website and books.  I want to be more positive in 2012 (and going forward), so I thought that I’d make my own version of documenting the awesome little (or big) things in my own life.  I hope you enjoy them!

(Image via)

If you take public transportation in a rural or non-downtown location, you know what I mean. In the sub-urbs where I am from, sometimes, buses run every 30 – 40 minutes during non-peak times!  Yowzers.

So, it’s a really great feeling when you get off the subway, run up the stairs to find your bus waiting right there for you.  You get on the bus, and then with half a minute to spare, the bus driver comes on and off you go homeward bound.

Not only did you not miss the bus, you didn’t even have to waste your precious 10 minutes waiting for it.  This is public transportation at its best.

Awesome!

 

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Happy (late) New Year

(Image via)

Hello dear readers!

I hope that everyone had a very safe and happy new year.

I have been MIA from my computer for most of the break, spending time with family, friends and my dear boyfriend.  Even though I felt a bit of internet/blogging withdrawal (I kept thinking about how practically everything would make a great post!), I really enjoyed my time away.

Thank you to everyone who entered my Grown up Christmas Wish Giveaway.  Your support and generosity was very much appreciated and blew me away.   You contributions to a holiday charity totaled $480 and a few days ago, I made a donation of $250 to Sick Kids Hospital.   I hope that we will be able to help the children, in any small way :)

I will chose a winner really soon.  I want to do with BF since this is my first time, and I want to make sure it’s fair and I don’t mess up.

I know that some of you filled out the form without writing a comment sharing your grown up Christmas wish (which was mandatory).  I blame this on my lack of clarity in the directions and hope that I can make the entry directions more clear in my next giveaway.  In keeping with the holiday spirit, I will still include those entries.

I will be posting my December 2011 recap, 2011 recap, 2011 resolution recap and 2012 resolutions goals and habits, soon.  I’ve been spending most of today organizing/moving around furniture/building furniture in my room.  Can’t wait to share my “reno” photographs and perhaps a tutorial on making my first jewelry holder.

Stay tuned and here’s to a great 2012!

Cheers,

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