Monday, January 31, 2011

Weekly Spending: Jan. 24 - 30, 2011

Jan. 24: No Spend Day

Jan. 25:
$17.23 - Shoppers Drug Mart (paid with gift card)

Jan. 25: No Spend Day

Jan. 26:
$2.41 - Tim Hortons

Jan. 27:
$67.01 - No Frills

Jan. 28:
$8.75 - Lunch out to celebrate condo purchase

Jan. 29: No Spend Day

Jan. 30:
$102.78 - Kitchen Stuff Plus

Overall: $180.95 out-of-pocket spending.  Hadn't I purchased things for the new condo (eg. curtains, bathroom supplies, veggie steamer, zester) the week would have been a success.  I have listed about 7 items over the weekend on Craigslist and Kijiji, so next week I anticipate bringing in some extra money.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Selling Pet Peeves

In anticipation of my downsize to the condo I've listed appliances, furniture, and general household items on Craigslist and Kijiji.

My biggest pet peeve is arranging for a pick-up, making a 1-2 hour window of time free, and waiting for the buyer only for them not to show.  I have learned one thing in the process: not to remove the listing until someone has actually picked the product up.  I've made the mistake of deleting the posting after a meeting time was confirmed only to write the ad and upload photos later that day.

I more optimistic news I have 4 viewings of my apartment scheduled for tonight and tomorrow.  I'm hoping to find a new tenant for March 1st, making February my last month's rent, which I've paid already.  That extra $800+ in my account would come in handy for the couch and wardrobe I have my eye on.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zero Closets Here I Come!

If all goes well, in 27 days I will be the proud owner of a very cute loft in Toronto!  After only 30 minutes of negotiations by my fantastic realtor she got the price down to exactly what she said it should be. 

I paid less than the list price (by just under $5,000) which was 97% of the list price. Financially, I was comfortable with paying the asking price, but that's just not what it was worth, so my budget will be happy to "save" that extra money per month.  When I put together the first draft of my new budget I had guestimated hydro costs to be $100/month.  I was happy to look over the bills last night and see an average of about $38/month.  Since hydro bills are expected to rise by 45% or so over the next few years I'm glad that I overestimated.

According to various Mortgage Affordability calculators online I could afford anywhere from $207,115 (ING) to $214,362 (TD) to $218,737 (BMO) based on a $20,000 down payment (I like round numbers when calculating!).  There is NO WAY I'd be comfortable spending that much on my beer budget -- in fact, I paid $43,000 under that amount.

Lets say I was crazy enough to purchase a home for $218,000 with a downpayment of $22,000.  Factoring in mortgage (@ 3.99% for 5yrs), CMHC fees, insurance, condo fees, and taxes I'd be looking at approximately $1,356/month OR 45% of my take home monthly income.   

As it stands right now I'm looking at all costs related to owning this condo to be between 36-37% depending on the final mortage interest rate negotiated - a bit over Gail's recommended amount, but I have no debt and transportation is only 1-2% of my budget.

Over the next month I see a lot of home buying-related posts, so hopefully any first timers like me will learn something along the way!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tonight's the Night

Tonight I am meeting with my realtor to put in an offer on the condo I've fallen in love with.  We've looked over the comparibles, so I know what the condo is worth, and I will not pay more than that amount.  I've calculated what I need as far as closing costs go, how much a moving truck will cost, and have found a new tenant to take over my lease with the current place.  Since she's interested in signing the lease for March 1st, this means that I don't have to pay rent any longer since February's rent would have been my last month's rent I put down when I signed my extra $870 would come in handy right now!

I still have some outstanding questions - e.g. average hydro bill over the past year, does the condo use green bins, what state is the reserve fund in, is the dryer electric vs. gas etc., so I'm happy to be seeing it again before making an offer.

If the offer is accepted tonight I'll be putting down a $4,000 deposit (money is en route from ING to my chequing account).  While renting an apartment I was quite happy aiming for a $5,000 emergency fund, but I know that I'd be more comfortable with a $10,000 efund if I'm owning, so that would be another element to consider.

Hopefully I'll have some great news to post about tomorrow! 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I am in LOVE!

With a condo!

Each morning I check out what's come on the MLS in Toronto the day prior.  I read real estate blogs, I love going to open houses, I watch all the home buying/selling/staging/renovating shows on HGTV.  For as long as I can remember I've been waiting for the day when I become a home owner myself.

A couple of days ago I was going through my normal routine of checking out what's available, when I saw her.  She's a quaint (read: very small) studio loft in an old mattress factory with exposed duct work and all.  Despite her flaws (no closets, no bathtub, only a shower) I'm in love.

I got out my calculator, pencil, and eraser and got to work.  I currently pay $870/month in rent for a similar-size studio apartment.  My dream condo would cost me approx. $200/month more than what I'm paying now including mortgage, taxes, and condo fees (after having put a $22,000 downpayment).  Seriously, $200/month more to OWN!?? 

So, I've applied for a mortgage ( - Marcy is great!) and contacted a realtor.  Just to be sure I checked that the condo was still available.  The day that I saw it 2 other prospective buyers did as well.  I'm cautiously optimistic that I may become a home owner soon. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Weekly Spending: Jan. 17 - 23, 2011

Jan. 17 - No Spend

Jan. 18 - No Spend

Jan. 19
- $2.43 - bath bomb from Lush

Jan. 20 - No Spend

Jan. 21
- $8.75 - lunch out with colleagues

Jan. 22
- $63.17 - Walmart for groceries, workout top (paid with gift card)
- $13.33 - Bra from LaSenza (paid with gift card)

Jan. 23 - No Spend

Overall, a fabulous week.  I spent in cash only $11.18.  I spent $76.50 from my gift card.  During my trip to Ottawa for work I spent on meals, hotel, cabs, coffees, but that will all be reimbursed within a couple of weeks, so it didn't affect my budget, so I haven't included it in this week's tally.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Great Work Trip

I returned late last night from a fantastic couple of days in Ottawa.  During my trip to the Capital I attended some fantastic presentations, enjoyed a nice dinner out with colleagues, a great dinner out with old friends, and enjoyed just getting out of Toronto for awhile.

Financially the trip didn't put a dent in my wallet at all.  The only item purchased that won't be reimbursed was a bath bomb - at the airport I realised that I'd have a bathtub for the next two days.  I purchased a Christmas-themed bomb, which was 50% off and made it last two days.  Total cost: $2.43.

Non-finance related, I couldn't believe how long it took me to get home from the trip.
7:00 - Flight was supposed to depart
7:25 - Flight departed - no inflight entertainment (grr)
8:20 - Flight taxis into the gate at Pearson
9:15 - Bags finally make it to the luggage carrousel
10:00 - After waiting outside for what seemed like hours I finally got into a taxi to take me home.
10:44 - Finally arrived home.
10:46 - Hit the sheets!

Back to regular postings on Monday after I catch up on sleep over the weekend.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Leaving on a Jet Plane

I leave this afternoon for a quick trip to Ottawa for work to attend a workshop.  It's nice to get out of the office for a couple of days, attend some (hopefully great) presentations, and catch up with a few friends.

My airplane and evening agenda is to read The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live Better by Chris Farrell.  I picked it up from the library last week and have been itching to read it.  From what I can see it is an American-based book, but I'm sure that many tips will apply in Canada.

Hope your Blue Monday wasn't too blue!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Weekly Spending: Jan. 10 - 16, 2011

January 10th: No Spend Day

January 11th:
- $1.20 - tea

January 12th:
- $110.87 - GoodLife cancellation fee
- $90.34 - New gym registration fee

January 13th: No Spend Day

January 14th:
- $60.93 - No Frills ($$43.16 gift card, $17.77 cash)

January 15th: No Spend Day

January 16th:
+ $250.00 - Gift card
+ $20.00 - Kijiji Sale (old artificial Christmas tree)

Overview: $200.18 spent, $250.00 gift card
Aside from my gym costs I think that I did quite well this week.  The $250.00 gift card (AMEX) doesn't have a plan yet, but I'm thinking it will go towards future clothing purchases.  I've been hitting the gym and eating well, so I'm anticipating needing to replace a few items of clothing when they start getting loose.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What to do when you have conflicting goals?

As part of my new gym orientation today I was provided with 3 sample personal training packages to mull over.  One of my complaints at GoodLife was that the personal training was all or the tune of about $6,000/year.  The new gym is giving me options.

I know that during sessions with a trainer I'd work myself harder than on my own. 

I know that I'd reach my fitness goals earlier with a personal trainer.

The most economic package would cost me approximately $60+tax per month.  If I chose that, I'd get 2 trainer sessions per month for the first 6 months, then 1 trainer session per month for the last 6 months.

I'm not willing to sacrifice my entertainment budget and cut my gift fund for those sessions.  I don't want to decrease my savings to free up this cash each month. 

What happens when my fitness and house fund goals don't mesh? 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I did it!

I switched gyms!!

I went into GoodLife after work and cancelled my membership (fee of $111.87) and signed up at the new gym (registration fee of $90.34).  I have my first assessment with a trainer tonight to get my base weight, body composition, measurements, and fitness level.  As part of my work contract I get to claim $200 worth of gym dues at the end of the year, so this initial cost was covered.

My new gym has an amazing contest starting at the end of the month.  New members get a card to have stamped for every visit to the gym, appointment with the massage therapist, class attended, guest brought to the gym, etc. in order to get points towards amazing prizes. Depending on how many points new members get, they can win their membership dues for either three, two, or one month(s).  Contests always get me excited and motivated to get to the gym more often, and since this one involves money I'm all over it!

All in all, I think that I've found the perfect gym-fit for me!  And the fact that I'm spending hundreds of dollars less per year than what I'm currently paying doesn't hurt either!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To quit or not to quit.....

Shortly after my move to Toronto I marched up to the closest gym to my house and work and signed up. That gym happened to be a GoodLife club.

While there are some things I like about my gym (an abundance of showers, massage chairs, the hours, proximity to work and home) there are more ticks under the dislike column (gym/equipment is old, it's always packed, it has a funny smell, I can only go to this one GoodLife club, the classes seem to be geared towards more advanced gym goers).  Above all my biggest complaint is that once I signed up for my membership the contact with staff ceased.  Back home I went to the YMCA where every staff members knew every members' names, we met with a trainer whenever our program needed to be altered, the gym was brand new with nice equipment, etc.

Using one of my Groupon fitness class passes this week I went to a new-to-me gym downtown and fell in love.  The gym has no membership cards because staff know all members (their cap is 450 for that particular club), the machines all had individual tvs - I need to be occupied during a workout, I can go to any of their other Toronto clubs, the classes welcome all abilities, there are unique options from pilates to a Fit 4 Fight class, AND to top it all off the monthly membership fee is cheaper than what I'm currently paying at GoodLife.

Currently: $33.34 bi-weekly or $866.84 yearly (WOW!)
Potential new gym: $45 monthly or $540.00 yearly (double WOW!)

In order to cancel at GoodLife I will incur a $99+tax charge.  I have emailed the Manager at the potential new club to see what sort of package they could put together so that I'm not paying so much out of pocket at first (they normally have a $79 registration fee).  So long as it makes sense financially, it looks like I'll be switching gyms.

Do you belong to any clubs or pay for services that could be reduced by switching providers?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Groupon Purchase

Back in September I made my one and only purchase on Groupon - $20 for 20 boot camp sessions.  The regular price online was $420, so it looked like I was getting a fantastic deal.  I was, unless you factored in the fact that I attended only one session.  Bad me.  My sessions don't expire until the end of March, so I logged back in this morning and checked out the schedule.

In order to get my money's worth my purchase I KNOW that I need to actually use the passes, so I've signed up for:
- Jan. 10 - Full body burn
- Jan. 12 - Lower body blast
- Jan. 17 - Full body burn
- Jan. 22 - Hatha yoga

Mid-month I'll have a look at my calendar again and sign up for more classes.  At $1/class that will prove that it was a useful purchase!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekly Spending: Jan. 3 - 9, 2010

January 3
+ $90 - Cardswap
+ $15 - Coffee Table sold on Kijiji
- $31.78 - No Frills (paid with gift card)

January 4
- $4.15 - Starbucks, and no, I didn't really need it

January 5 - No Spend Day

January 6
- $6.78 - Work Expense
- $19.00 - Train tickets to/from Hamilton

January 7 - No Spend Day

January 8
- $4.15 - Starbucks
+ $80.00 - money a friend owed me

January 9
- $36.63 - No Frills (paid with gift card)

Overall:  $82.51

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 Net Worth - January

I've decided every few months I'll do a post regarding my current net worth.

The schedule will be as follows:
Dec. 31, 2010 - $25,746
March 31, 2011 -
June 30, 2011 -
Sept. 31, 2011 -
Dec. 31, 2011 -

I wish that there were updated figures for more recent years, but I'm currently above the median net worth of the family head younger than 35 according to these Stats Canada findings:

How do you feel that your current net worth compares to where you'd like to be?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

My Frivolous Purchase of 2010

In an earlier Post I mentioned that I went Boxing Day shopping in 2010 after a hiatus from both Boxing Day and Black Friday Shopping.

My only non-sale purchase of the day was a beautiful chair that I fell in love with at Home Sense.

Here she is:

If you haven't already figured it out from my goals and previous posts, I have an absolute love of travel - in 2009 and 2010 I went on two big trips hitting 15 countries....both trips paid for without incurring any interest on my credit card of course.  So, when I found this chair with cities around the world and old stamps featured I was sold!

Did you make any big "want" purchases in 2010?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010 Taxes

With 2010 now under our belts I've started thinking about tax time - I love filing my own taxes and researching ways of reducing said taxes.

Here's a list of my favourite websites to visit over the next couple of months in preparation for Efiling:
- Canada Revenue Agency: (for Ontario 2010 info isn't up yet)
- Tax Tips:

Around this time I also start thinking about what I actually need to file my taxes.  Here's what I've come up with so far:
- Income slips - Previous job, current job, EI
- Expenses from moving from home town to Toronto - moving van, gas, meals
- TTC pass information
- RRSP contributions
- TFSA contributions
- Health Insurance Payments/Payments for services before I got health insurance
- Last year's Assessment
- Donation receipts

If I've done my calculations correctly, I think that I'll be getting a refund between $600 and $1,200 for 2010 - I need to do a bit more research around the Health Insurance claim (I paid $1,400 for yearly premiums plus $350 before I got coverage), but I'll do that closer to filing time.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Top All Time Referral Sites

Since I began my blog in October until the last day of 2010, here are my top referring blog sites:

I've had a great time reading your blogs and thank you for your support by adding me to your blogrolls!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Update: December Goals

With 2010 now wrapped up, here's my December update:
  • Save $1,500 (divided between RRSP, House Fund, Emergency Fund, and Trip Fund) - FAIL - only saved $1,000.
  • Spend no more than $75 in entertainment/eating out while at home over the holidays - PASS - I spent less than $30
  • Read 1 personal finance and 1 book for fun - PASS - I read 4 books over the holiday
  • Donate to food bank (in food or money) - PASS - Donated both food and money
  • Exercise on 12 days - FAIL - I wasn't able to use my Goodlife membership at the gym at home
  • Limit eating lunch out to 1 time per paycheque (2 pays/month) - PASS
  • Attend 1 free event - PASS - I walked through the Celebration of Lights display at home.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Hope you all enjoyed the New Years Eve festivities last night.  I had a low-key evening, going to a friend's parents house for a big dinner with their family and watching the ball drop.  Just a half glass of champagne at midnight, then going home to sleep in my own house was just perfect.

All the best to you in 2011.