April today! Three more days until I blow this popsicle stand for a vacation in my hometown with the ‘rents. Let’s review those goals for March:
- Contribute $192.30 biweekly to my Emergency Fund – Success!
- Put all “found money” toward my computer fund – Semi-Success!
- No impulse purchases during the month – Massive, utter, complete failure.
- Have at least two no-spend days per week – Failure.
- Figure out exact amounts required for each event coming up, budget accordingly – Success!
- Start outlining my plan for the move/researching moving companies – Success!
- Grocery shop less – (inadvertent) Success!
- Post 2x/week on the blog, and keep up with my Google Reader daily – Failure.
- Try to grow my nails out – my biting habit is definitely triggered by stress – Success!
My EF is still chugging along quite nicely, and my computer fund is a few hundred bucks away from $1,000 (goal: $2,100). I impulse spent a LOT this month. Mostly on clothes. I had basically stopped going to the mall from December – February, so I didn’t know there were all these cute things floating around on sale! I managed to buy all of them, and now I’m suited up for Spring. There are still a few things I want to buy (especially because Sephora sent me a lovely 15% off coupon), but I am cutting my spending for April fo sho.
I started researching moving companies and hourly prices range from the reasonable to the un-fucking-believable. That will be another post though! I haven’t grocery shopped much, and I’m not sure why – that’s another reason to re-institute the spending reports. My google reader sits around 100 right now, so I’m going to work on that tomorrow along with preparing my computer to go home and live with my mom. My nails are pretty long at the moment and I’m really proud! So proud in fact, that I booked myself a manicure after my tri-yearly hair appointment on Thursday.
How did you do with your March goals? Was March a good or bad month financially?
I have an Arts Degree. What does that mean? It means I worked at Starbucks, of course. Granted, I only worked there a few months. During that time though, I secured a couple of temporary positions as an administrative assistant, and for awhile there I worked both jobs (it sucked). Then I got my permanent position, and I quit Starbucks faster than you could say decaf grande half sweet soy caramel macchiato. The first thing I did with my big-girl paycheques was buy myself some decent work clothes. And I probably bought a designer purse here and there (TreatYoSelf!), but I definitely didn’t start actively putting away money. If I’d known then what I know now about personal finance, I would’ve started an automatic savings program right away. Hindsight is always 20/20!
Here’s what I’ve learned about personal finance & my 20s so far:
- If you have debt, pay it off. As aggressively as possible. Start with the highest interest rate first, and snowball your amounts to the rest of your accounts. This will get you used to parting with that money and make it easier to save in the long term. And don’t get back in the hole!
- If your employer matches ANYTHING, sign up. Free money. Compounded over thirty to forty years. Seriously – get on it!
- Don’t let your lifestyle inflate with every raise. I of all people know how tempting it is to run out and spend raise money on awesome things. But! My rent in 2008 was $530 (4br house with 3 roommates), and right now it’s $975 for a 1br apartment. I wouldn’t trade my apartment for the world, but I wish I had put more away when I didn’t have a huge chunk of money going toward rent. Inflate your savings in proportion to your raises.
- There is no better time than now to put money away. You hear this advice constantly, but even if you put away with $25 a paycheque, that’s still a start. Too many things will get in the way of saving money when you buy a house, have kids, or buy a car, so start now and learn to live without that cash to take care of yourself in the future.
- Start an emergency fund. You never know. Wouldn’t you rather focus on your health or your family rather than stress and worry about how you’re going to pay your bills? Make sure that you have the appropriate insurance for your situation (tenant’s, homeowner’s, life, critical illness, etc), just in case.
- Ditch the bank fees. Why are you still paying bank fees? If you’re a student and you still have a free account, move it as soon as your bank finds out you’ve graduated.
- Read up on your rights as an employee. Too often, young people entering the job market are taken advantage of due to their inexperience and lack of labour law awareness. Educate yourself. And if you feel your employer is asking you to do something that will compromise your safety, you are perfectly within your right to say no (and you have the law on your side).
This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2012. For more posts about Money in Your 20s, see Money in Your 20′s/30′s/40′s/50′s/Retirement Roundup
There are only two certainties in life, and I’ve helpfully named them in the title of this post. You know what’s another certainty? Me losing my mind around tax time as I wait for my T4 to show up in my mailbox. I attempt to do faux-tax calculations by making a guesstimate based on last year’s numbers. I try to maximize my RRSP contribution without really knowing how much will make a difference. I check my mailbox on an hourly basis. I use words like “guesstimate.”
In Canada, employers have until February 29th to postmark their T4s. I was lucky last year – my T4 arrived in mid-February and I filed right away. I had my tax refund by March 3rd! That’s definitely not going to happen this year. My employer moved to an online payroll system, but it doesn’t generate T4s. And so I wait.
I have a very rudimentary understanding of taxes. My mom and I did them together (by hand! On actual paper!) when I was in highschool, but once I switched to doing them myself I starting using TurboTax. However, that does take some of the education out of taxes, but it’s not like I remember much from my pencil-pushing highschool days anyway. I only require a simple return, so paying $20-30 to have a program verify my deductions and calculations is totally worth it to me. And! If you’re a student, you file for free, so now you have no excuse. TurboTax generates your .tax file, which you then conveniently upload to the Canada Revenue Agency website via NetFile. You can then login to the CRA website’s My Account feature and obsessively check to see if your return has been processed. Not like I would know or anything.
Given the fact that my T4 won’t arrive until well after the RRSP contribution deadline in Canada (February 29th), I can’t make solid calculations on how much more I should contribute to my RRSP account to make a dent on my return (I worked a lot of overtime in 2011 and I’m not sure how that’ll affect my taxes). I have a company sponsored (but not matched) RRSP to which I contribute 5% of my pre-tax income, but I figure I could always be doing a little more. I’ve also started doing some more overtime at work, so I took some money out of my savings account and moved it into my RRSP Investment Savings Account with ING. Again, rudimentary understanding of taxes, but what I do know is that adding money to my RRSP account will not only give me a break, but it’ll be good for me in the long run.
IF ONLY I COULD JUST FILE ALREADY.
I hate the waiting game.