Monday, May 18, 2009

Pictures and saving...

So it approaced summer like qualities in Athabasca this last week, though it has now dipped back to sub artic temperatures with an expectation of snow. Thankfully that's pretty much it and when it gets hot it gets hot.

Here's a picture of the other day. It was 20 degrees. Though most trees are still dormant, you can see little tinges of green if you look close enough.

Anyway, it was a beautiful day and I took four good pictures that I will endeavour to make a long enough post for them all the be present.

So, in my saving-for-the-trip efforts I've been following, almost religiously Get Rich Slowly. It is possibly the best collection of practical advice about money management on the web. It's also been growing in popularity so now they're benefitting from guest posts from a plethora of other knowledgable staff.

So I've adopted many of the practices outlined on the website. It should be noted that I didn't blindly decided I'd follow these. I already had the raw ideas in my head, and this website just helped solidify them.

Anyway, here are somethings I've done to increase my savings, because my girlfriend and I are planning on a world trip.

- I have drastically reduced general spending. This includes trying to eat out as little as possible and thereby buying more raw ingredients and cooking them. It should be noted that it is not a equal substitute to go from restaurants to portioned, frozen food. You need to buy the raw vegetables, meats and grains and make cool things out of them. I just made like 200 meatballs and it cost me $26. 200 meatballs is like 12 meals for me and girlfriend and we just do whatever to make it different for every meal: curries, stirfries, pastas – it works for everything.

I've also reduced how much I use my car, and therefore gas by purchasing a bike. I've outline this before. The bike cost me $100. If i manage to use if for a month or so, I will have paid itself off in gas savings, and from there on, now that it's summer will save me an extra $600 or so for the trip. Sweet.

- I've gone to things that cost nothing. I moved from my CIBC chequing account to a PC Financial Chequing account. The former cost me between 5 and 20 dollars a month with all the service chargs, the latter is free, always for everything, forever. Sure, that's not a lot of money, but, why should I pay for my own money? And as an added bonus, I get PC points, which is essentially just free groceries once it adds it.

More importantly, I've paid off my credit card. That was probably the biggest drain on my money. Even though I have a small limit, I was often just carrying a balance because I didn't have enough money to just pay it off in one go.

Sure that's fine, but I was paying about $20/month just to do that and I've had that card for 3 years. You do the math.

- I've automated everything. Right now when I get a paycheque, it gets directly deposited into my accounted, is automatically directed so savings and RRSPs and all my bills, including my phone and my credit card are paid off, in full automatically. It saves time and though. No all I have to do is monitor my accounts, watch my money stack up and sit back and do my job.

- I've moved in with my girlfriend. Of course, this wasn't directly associated with money, though it was a big factor for both of us. My moving in cut her rent in half, and I no longer have to pay utilities, which means I save another $100 dollars a month. Plus we can split on food, cook larger meals and reap the benefits of our pooled resources (she has a costco card). Also I love her so hey, it's win-win.

- I've quit smoking. It's not rocket science. I was essentially paying money to get cancer, lose teeth be addicted and have no lung capacity. It's probably healthier (and in some ways cooler) to just burn a ten dollar bill every couple of days.

- I've used my work's benefits. This may seem obvious to adults out there, but I'm young. I didn't know how these things work. I've got my wisdom teeth removed and had associated perscriptions that would have otherwise cost me more than $2200. Now I get 80 per cent of that back, because I mailed some forms in. Sweet.

- I did my own taxes. I don't think this has as much to do with my doing them as it did having things to claim. I claimed, moving expenses (which was a hell of a lot moving to alberta), education costs ( I was still a student last year) bus passes from living toronto and RRSP contributions. I received more than $2000 back! Sweet. Because of that I've been putting more in RRSPs and applied to Athabasca University. That may cost money upfront, but at the end of the day I'll make more money from having a degree, and in the immediate (read: next year) future, I'll get more money back on taxes.

- I got a library card. Since I got hard into libraries, I've taken out 20 or so books and some movies. It cost me nothing, I have more friends (librarians) and I have access to knowledge, arguably worth more than money anyway. Plus I never have to buy books again essentially.

All these things have helped me attain a huge savings milestone of 60 per cent of total earnings. A full 60 per cent, into savings, piling up earning interest, while at the same time, I eat, read, exercise, and am generally happy. It's sweet.

And, the most important part is that I plan on taking a world trip! That will make it all worth it, and the attitudes and practices I'm developing will make me able to travel longer and, when I come back, live just as easy. I mean, I've already saved $2000 for when I get back. That means when I'm tired of travelling the world, I've got a few months before I have to care again. And really, at the end of the day, I'm not cutting out anything important. I can miss a few meals, skip out on a couple of bar nights and take slightly longer to get places all for that if you ask me.

Once again, I'm sorry to bore you with this, but hey, I'm just given'r. I promise to sooner or later have more interesting things.

Anyway that's it. About the pictures. That's a bridge that goes over the Athabasca River in town. It's sort of the landmark structure in the area.

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