Extra time, but no extra money!

One of things that I have a love-hate relationship is the energy I have during a taper week. I sleep like a log, my body starts to recover and feel great, and I have an increasing amount of energy that has no purpose….yet.

That extra energy means that I turn to other outlets. To-do list items  that I put aside in previous weeks, where mileage was climbing, now start to get addressed. Truth be told, I’d rather be running, but instead I’ve been working on the to-do list which I’ve purposely made to be full of cost-free activities:

  • meal prep and build up some slow-cooker freezer meals after that are now depleted
  • de-clutter the spare bedroom
  • take said clutter to the Goodwill
  • put in some extra hours at work to afford some down-time after the race
  • spend time with family members, just sitting , talking and laughing
  • spring clean the t.v. room
  • take down the Christmas lights on the tree outside…that were there before the house was purchased…13 years ago!
  • take down the Christmas lights on the outside of the house (stop judging me!)
  • Catch up on my blog reading

Today is also my last day of having a glass of wine with dinner. Having the next few days without will help me rest, hydrate and mentally prepare for the distance on Sunday. 

The happy side effect of both my extra energy for to-do items and going out the door. It’s not purposeful, but I’ll take the win.
 

 

Pay Day [ep 2)

Yay! Celebrations and happiness! As of today my emergency fund balance is:

$1000.01

I am actually really excited about this achievement, this is my money, my cash, my hard work that is acting as a really soft, worn-in blanket for comforts sake. It wouldn’t keep me warm for long, and isn’t a fool proof solution for a down comforter, but it’ll keep me warm in an emergency until I figure out how to get out of that emergency.

So for the official update:

Emergency Fund:      $1000.01

Line of Credit:            $14,369.62

Car loan:                      $16,424.01

Some progress here, mainly on the creation of the ‘short-term’ emergency fund and slight reduction in the car loan thanks to the regular payments.

Sadly, despite minimum payments, the Line of Credit balance (which is now LOC and the old m/c combined), has crept up by $152.94. If this doesn’t prove that borrowing money keeps you in debt, I don’t know what does.

The Line of Credit should be feeling nervous – next pay cheque it starts getting hammered, hard. It should take a lesson from the master card:

MC Cut Up

 

Stop budgeting for debt!

After Monday’s post, I was feeling a little Debbie-downer. I’m only 2 months into this journey, so it was pretty disheartening to feel that way so soon.

So, just like I do when I’m on a long run and struggling, I went back to analyse my progress so far and what I need to do to make my goals happen. Detail, detail, detail.

Turns out, my consumer debt (minus the car) will be paid off by September 23rd. Of this year! That’s only 6 months away! All sorts of (educated) assumptions are made, obviously. But 6 months is visible, and if it took a month or two longer because life happens along the way, I can live with that.

I can play around with the future picture thanks to a budget spread sheet I’ve been working with for years. It’s not pretty, a true financial mind might call it simple, but it works for me. It allows me to adjust my income, my expenses and – most importantly – the rate in which I pay back debt.

I also use  Mint to watch for any unscheduled expenses (hello bank fees!) and generally keep tabs on where I’m spending my money and if it matches the budget in the spread sheet.  The spread sheet has evolved over the last 3 years – yep, 3 years of budgeting with a spread sheet and I still managed debt. How, you ask?

Because I actually budgeted for debt.

Can I tell you how absurd it is to write that sentence? That sentence is exactly what is wrong with how we educate (or don’t, in my opinion) on personal finance.

And we might feel ok if we don’t have credit card debt, or a line of credit, or a store credit card.

But if you bought a car on finance, you budgeted for debt.

If you bought a mattress on ‘buy now pay later”, you budgeted for debt.

If you planned ahead to pay for your education with student loans, you budgeted for debt.

Who wants to spend their adult life paying for a lifestyle they once wanted? I don’t, but I AM.

2016 = the year I start buying the life I want.

And it starts with wiping the slate clean of debt to buy me more options.

I need new running shoes!

And a hair cut, and an oil change, and my club dues are, well, due. I think I’m having spending withdrawal symptoms. Is this what it feels like when you quit cold turkey?

Is there a cosmic reason that everything on my ‘want’ list is about $150 dollars? A total of $600 which I KNOW would be better placed against the debt ($14,306.19, still). I want to see the debt  GONE.

And I need a side gig – one that I can do from home. I need to see more progress and struggling with how to do that in my already busy schedule. I work 50+ hours per week, spend about 5-7 hours running, and of course have all the domestic duties of regular adult-hood. If I’m going to carve out time to improve my situation and work for myself an hour a day, I’ll need to be able to see a return.

What sort of side gig can I do from home? Can I find one that is running related? Because that would be the best. Even better if I could grow it into a full-time gig.

But let’s start with just a side gig. What’s your side-hustle? How long have you been doing it? Is it location independent?

It’s not you..actually, it is.

It’s not like I expected closing a credit to be a super easy process. After all, the credit card company had been making some super nice passive income on behalf of my interest payments. I can get how that might be hard to let go. But I’m not here to make them feel more comfortable.

So, when I called to break up with my Presidents Choice Mastercard I was totally honest – ” It IS you, not me. You’re too expensive and holding me back”- and didn’t expect them to take the news lightly. And they didn’t. They sucker punched me by telling me that I had over 180,000+ PC Plus points attached to the card. That’s $180 dollars of ‘FREE’ groceries, clothing, electronics “Anything you want, baby, just give me another chance!”.

If I canceled the card, the points would disappear. Is that fair? I spent the money and paid the interest in order to earn the points. Shouldn’t I get to keep the super comfy, oh-so-soft, and smells-like-him t-shirt points?

Like any too-trusting teenager, I’ve given them 5-7 days to transfer the points to my regular PC Plus card. THEN I can cancel. I should probably cancel it even if the points don’t show up.

The lure of ‘free’ goods (that I’ve already paid for in a TON of interest fees, service fees and bank fees) is stronger than I am at this point. And I could really do with some new pants for spring.

Would you let the credit card hang around just a little longer for a few free points. Are free points free if they are attached to a 19% interest rate credit card?

Pay day!

I’ve never been so excited to have a pay day. Last week I spent more time that I should have planning and thinking about where my money was headed on Friday. Every dime, every dollar, had a ticket to a pre-determined destination.

If you remember, I’ve back-tracked to baby step #1 and am working on building the $1000 emergency fund. With this pay cheque, that emergency fund is now up to…drum roll…

$649.51!

One more pay cheque and I’ll be there. AND I’ll be able to start attacking the consumer debt. And then the snowball will really begin 🙂

The balance I need to is both achieving the savings and debt-repayment goals while continuing regular life. I can’t put a pause button on birthday presents, medical appointments, new running shoes. Even if that means the repayment is not as aggressive as I would like. Right?

Am I allowed new running shoes, a $150 expense, if the goal is to repay debt? Running makes me happy, and that’s important right? It’s not as hardcore as Dave Ramsey followers appear to be, but the goal isn’t worth if I’m not happy. Right?

RIGHT?

When to adjust the plan

In a recent conversation with my massage therapist, who also happens to be a Boston qualifier, we were chatting about training plans. Here’s a surprise: she doesn’t have one. Yep, BQ and no plan. That being said, she has a general idea on the distance she wants to cover in a week, but is flexible on how much she gets done each day based on how she feels. She also runs 6-7 days per week. From her perspective, she just doesn’t feel balanced or prepared for a day if she doesn’t run. So her rest day might be a 5k run only.

Cut to me: No BQ, and a definite plan. I run 4 days per week and strength train 1. I take a definite 2 days of rest, because that’s what I believe I needed. I have a training plan that is strategically designed to increase speed, strength and distance over a 14 week period in preparation for a 30km race next month. I’m no Boston qualifier, and likely won’t ever be. Boston isn’t my plan, isn’t my goal. But running faster is.

This week, I thought I’d try to take a note out of my RMT’s book and decided to add a 3km run to just one of my rest days. Easy, right? Tops 18 minutes and would start my day by doing what I love. This one little more pushed my weekly mileage into the 60KM+ mark, and that’s a significant move for me.

How is this related to personal finance? Because sometimes you can have a plan, be ticking along just fine, and on track for your goals. And then you meet someone who is doing just a little bit more and achieving WAY more.

You realize that if you took just one little step more per week you could also achieve way more, way faster.

Not unrelated: I recently dumped my relationship with Tim Hortons auto-reload prepaid card because a 3 month review showed that I spent $340 at Tim Hortons!! WHAT?!! That’s an extra $28 dollars per week that I am now putting towards the almighty emergency fund.

Yay me!

Do you have an ‘extra step’ that you take to get closer to your goal? Share it with me! If it improves my running time or savings balance, I’m in!

How a 2-hour run clarifies the mind

If you haven’t noticed yet, I run. Right now, I’m training for a 30km race in April which means long weekend runs. I was lucky with the weather during my latest long run, managed to swindle a ride to my start point to ensure that I had the wind at my back, and ran 22km home in sunshine and increasingly warm temperatures.

Just before my long run, I had opened the Mint app on my phone to double check my cash flow situation. It’s becoming a daily habit, partly because I’m obsessed with moving forward and partly to see whether I’ve been dinged for charges I didn’t expect. Yesterday, I got hit with a $131 finance charge for the stupid Mastercard debt. $131!! That’s like TWO race entry fees! OUCH. That made me mad and frustrated. I was dollars away from that balance hitting $6k purely because I was carrying a balance and paying the ridiculous interest rate.

I started the run, frustrated at myself for letting that balance grow, for getting hit by another finance charge, and not having control over the situation. I thought about it for over an hour while listening to podcasts (I listen to Budget and Cents, Dave Ramsey, M.O.N.E.Y., Tim Ferris. Pretty much anything that will inspire me to think, learn and perhaps act a little differently.) And then I hit a wall…but not the runners wall. The wall of OBVIOUSNESS.

Here’s the thing, my line of credit has a 3.7% interest rate. My credit card has a 19.99% interest rate. I have $12k of room in my line of credit. And $5,900 of credit card debt.

HOW DID I NOT SEE THIS?

Another hour later (an hour of lamenting my lack of vision) I got home. Before I even untied my shoes, I transferred the Mastercard balance to my line of credit.

Did I pay the Mastercard off? NO. But I did save myself a little bit of interest payment for the next 30 days, while I work on building that emergency fund.

What’s your opinion on short-term moves to save cash while you work on a bigger goal? Have you done that? Did it work out for you?