Financial Lessons from Brooklyn Nine-Nine

When Brooklyn Nine-Nine won not one, but two Golden Globes this year, many people were surprised. How did this Andy Samberg-led comedy, still in its inaugural season, win over the likes of Modern Family and Parks & Recreation?

The answer is puppies. And excellent financial advice.

Last night’s episode featured a glimpse into the financial life of Jake Peralta. He’s looking for a loan to buy his place, since the rent-controlled apartment he currently lives in (formerly owned by his now-deceased Nana) is going co-op. He petitions the Captain for a loan of $430,000 and is promptly turned down, at which point Gina steps in an attempt to help him (read: school him) manage his finances and afford to buy the apartment, all while dispensing some amazing advice.

1. Stop burying your head in the sand.

Jake stores his unopened bills and statements in a beautiful clawfoot bathtub. How is he supposed to have a clear picture of his finances if he hasn’t opened a bill in years?

Gina fix: open your damn bills – the anxiety of not knowing what your financial picture looks like will be quelled once you actually know the numbers.

2. Stop spending your money on STUFF.

Upon surveying the living room, Gina notes that Jake has six massage chairs, only because “they don’t make a massage couch.” A cable bill surfaces that shows Jake rented Olympus Has Fallen on demand 12 times, and he inexplicably owns three turntables (on which he plays his Nana’s old polka records, horribly). Make sure you’re spending your hard earned money on things you enjoy, but don’t be stupid about it. With iTunes and Netflix, nobody needs to pay seven dollars a pop for movies on demand.

Gina fix: no more stuff you don’t need.

3. Compromise is key.

In Jake’s mind, he would rather take a loan for $430,000 than entertain the idea of moving to a different apartment. He has a sentimental reason (he and Gina basically grew up in his grandmother’s apartment and doesn’t want to part with it), but in reality his financial situation is not conducive to staying.

Gina fix: she can buy the apartment and rent it to Jake, thus keeping it “in the family” so to speak and saving him from a move. And a loan from a weirdo sea witch. Double fix.

4. Saving a boatload of money in your 20s can get you far.

Gina’s lived in the same crapbox apartment since she was 20 and has been saving like crazy for 13 years, and also cuts back on takeout by eating Scully’s lunch every day (resourceful!). She didn’t let lifestyle inflation get the best of her and now she has a fat wad of cash to show for it.

Gina fix: none. She is the master of thriftiness.

5. Getting it together means eating a little humble pie.

After initially rejecting Gina’s offer to buy the apartment and rent it to Jake via temper tantrum, Jake has a rare moment of clarity and introspection. He runs the numbers on what he can actually afford for rent, and decides that he should sublet Gina’s apartment (at a profit for her) and she can buy his grandmother’s place.

Thus making Gina a landlady. Bam.

brooklyn nine nine animated gif on Giphy

So there you have it. Despite being a constant source of gif-able hilarity, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has now delved into personal finance with some fantastic advice.

Do you watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine? Do you love it (and Gina) as much as I do?

If not:

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How my savings landed me my dream job.

In July, I decided to take a huge risk. I left my unionized, secure position in health care to work at a digital marketing startup here in Edmonton by the name of Kick Point.

Over the past year, I’ve been having the career-crisis that many in our age group are familiar with: what am I going to do for the rest of my life? What does my career path look like? What do I WANT to do? I even secretly took courses (finance and accounting), which were great, but didn’t immediately spark a clear career path. So I started looking. I had been at my position for five years and although I had a great relationship with my bosses and a fantastic wage, I felt like I had reached my peak in terms of job development. I took on more responsibility and learned how to do new things (which I love doing), but there wasn’t really a way up and out of that position promotion-wise within the company. I wanted a cool job, with social media and flexible work hours. You know – the mythical millennial job you read about online but have never actually known someone to have.

I found the account coordinator posting while scrolling through twitter one day, and it was hard to hold my excitement in (but necessary – I was on a city bus). Every point on the job description applied to me. This was my job. My golden rainbow-pooping unicorn millennial job. I’d never wanted something more in my whole life, but my first thought was that someone else would be the successful candidate. I didn’t have any experience in the digital marketing industry, I had been working in a hospital for five years! What did I know, anyway. The negative thoughts took over for a day or two, until I decided (with the help of Mr. Dollars) that if I applied, it could pay off in a life changing way. If it didn’t, I would be proud of myself for even taking the risk to apply. I knew I had to write the cover letter of a lifetime and submit a stand out resume, and I had two amazing friends help me make my cover letter strong and eye-catching while simultaneously highlighting all my mad organizational skillz. One of those friends was Bridget from Money After Graduation, whose three part series on The Dream Job  was instrumental in how I crafted both my resume and cover email.

Coordinate ALL the accounts

The job closed on July 19th and I submitted my application after I wrote what seemed like thousands of drafts of both my resume and cover letter. It was different than anything I’d written in any other application, and I had fingers and toes crossed hoping that my personality would shine through and Kick Point would notice me. And I was anxious. I had never been so anxious in my entire life, and even though it was out my hands at that point I couldn’t help freaking out a little.

I got a little crazy. I did things I never thought I would do. Dirty, BC hippie things, like: putting positive vibes into the universe, thinking positive thoughts, meditating to keep my heart rate down, visualizing Kick Point’s partners laughing as they read my email and cover letter, etc etc. The day I got the interview was the day my life changed. After I hung up the phone with Dana, I shut my office door and did the most enthusiastic happy dance I’d ever done. I think I maybe even teared up a little because I was so elated they even wanted to meet me.

The day of the interview, I was sweating bullets all day. I tried to prepare as best I could, but I was a ball of nerves. I don’t think the Kick Point team knows this, but I was early for the interview. I didn’t want to be super early, so instead of oh I don’t know, waiting in the interview location (seriously how cool is it that I got to interview in Cavern) like a normal human being, I decided to duck into an alley and hang out. In an alley. Like a creeper.

Since this post is about how I landed my dream job, you can guess how the interview went. I work at Kick Point! How do my savings factor into this, you ask? Well, I took a pay cut. Having my emergency fund (as well as my additional savings account) gave me the financial security to take the edge off a pay cut. I also went into the job search knowing that what I made at my old position was an extremely cushy wage and no matter where I went (even within the company) I would probably end up making less. I was more than prepared to take a leap.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Saving equals freedom. Not once in this whole process have I ever regretted taking the risk and doing something new, and if I can do it, anyone can.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken? Did it pay off?

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Whoops, forgot about a goal. Or two.

So we all know I have a history of setting goals and not putting them on the blog, right?

I’ve taken it to a new level.

I set a goal, and I met it, but I completely forgot I’d even set it in the first place and only realized I’d made it today. I didn’t even write it down! It was a five figure savings goal that I’d had in mind for awhile and set a rough deadline of achieving it at the end of June. I didn’t think it was going to happen, but thanks to automatic withdrawals to my savings accounts and some slight spending restraint (although not much), it did! At the end of June, just like I’d hoped, like some magical PF fairy just sprinkled savings dust on my pillow to make all my savings dreams come true! It just took me almost two weeks to realize my shiny savings goal was completed.

Worst. PF blogger. Ever.

Along with that goal, the final payment went into my travel account at the end of June as well. Now I have the $2500 for  NYC with my mom in October! The only reason I knew about that one is because ING sent me a congratulatory email for achieving it.

Now that I’ve realized these goals, with my luck if I set any goals for the remainder of the year and forget about them, they probably won’t even happen. I won’t tempt fate.

So there you have it, savings is my life and it’s so ingrained in my day to day existence that I do it subconsciously.

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Thanks but no thanks, BMO – Part Deux.

Remember a few months ago, when I got an offer from BMO for a line of credit I didn’t need? I do, because Gail tweeted it and I died, but that’s not the point. Read up on it here.

Well, they did it again. Except instead of a line of credit, they offered me an increase in my credit card limit. That’s all fine and good, because hey, sometimes increases are warranted. The problem lies in their sales pitch and the way they’re framing an increase.

Oops, they did it again.

Oops, they did it again.

They tell me a higher limit would give [me] a little extra for everyday shopping, larger purchases, travel, entertainment, and anything else. BUT they then go on to say that You’ll also enjoy peace of mind knowing you have available funds in case of an emergency.

Oh no you did not, BMO. Did I hear you try to play on my fear of an emergency? 

Two things: you’ll see I’ve handy dandily crossed out “funds” and helpfully written in “DEBT”. Because that’s what it is. Let’s call a spade a spade. Secondly, the way I prepare for an emergency is to build up a proper emergency fund. It took me awhile, but I did it and I’m proud of it. One of the main reasons why I did it was to ensure I didn’t get myself into a debt trap during a stressful time, and that works for me. I’m a type A, ready-for-every-scenario person and I do a lot of worrying so it’s natural for me to have a substantial safety net.

So in short, BMO is plain old wasting their time on me. I’d say I want them to stop sending me mail, but I really enjoy writing posts about how wrong they are, and I take an unhealthy joy in shredding ALL the things.

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Paying the stupid tax and goals for March.

I’m still mad at myself for this, but on February 4th I did the dumbest thing I’ve done in a long time: I lost my bus pass.

It must’ve fell out of my pocket on the bus, therefore I had absolutely zero chance of anyone actually turning it in. I waited a couple of days, got ridiculously upset with myself, and looked everywhere I could think of but I definitely lost it. I think the most infuriating thing about it was that I was now going to have to pay around $150 to ride the Edmonton Transit System to and from work, which is NOT worth it given its many inefficiencies. I didn’t want to give them any more of my hard earned money! But I had to get to work somehow, so I bought $68 worth of bus tickets (it was too late to buy a new monthly pass for $89). That $68 was my stupid tax, and coincidentally I had just read Cassie’s post about stupid tax on my way to work, about eight hours before I lost my pass! I’m still very upset with myself for being so careless, but I’ve learned my lesson: bus pass will ALWAYS go into my purse after I show it to the driver. Not my pocket, not my lunch bag, my (secure) purse.

The $68 I spent on tickets actually helped me save money by not being able to go anywhere after my transfer expired. I’m guessing I saved at least that much (if not more) by being restricted to a walkable radius near my apartment. I’m willing to admit it now, as it may have been a blessing in disguise.

Which leads me to my February summary and March goal. I saved 49% of my net income in February (seriously, who am I, I don’t even know anymore), and since I pay my credit cards from my first cheque in March, I’m on track to save about 50% in March as well.

I love seeing my savings grow, but I’m probably going to have to shell out for a few things in March considering that while I was walking home from work one day, I realized that my left boot was no longer waterproof. It’s actually pretty good timing considering winter boots are on sale right now, so I’m hoping to find a good deal. I also need a couple of new clothing items (mainly a black cardigan), so hopefully I can find something reasonably priced in that department. I may or may not be getting my hair did in March, because I’m now officially closer to 27 than I am to 26, so the greys are taking over in full force. The worst thing I might have to shell out for is taxes. My return last year was small, and I didn’t get my T4 on time to do anything extra on my RRSPs (maybe it’ll be in the mailbox tonight!), so I might be owing this year (yuck).

What’s the biggest stupid tax you’ve ever paid? Do you have any big goals for March?

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