Convenience

When I look over my expenses and consider what I am spending on most consistently, I start to notice a pattern. It could be a coffee/ dinner/ cab ride but in the end, all of these things are buying me the same thing: I’m really just paying for convenience.

I think it’s actually insane the extent to which we can pay for things to be done for us… for example: my boss buys precut and washed veggies trays for her kids instead of cutting them up herself!!  Instead of spending $7-$10 on an array of kid-friendly veggies, she’s spending twice that for less food!  This is a bit unreal to me, but when I look at my own life I can definitely see some parallels where I choose to spend for convenience rather than save money and put in some additional effort.

A few weeks ago I had a meeting after work and then was going to get drinks with some friends.  Now this next part is almost embarrassing… instead of bringing a change of clothes with me to work, I bought a new top and pair of shoes while on my way to meet my friends.  I look back and am astounded by how careless I was with my spending that night.  The solution is simple: plan ahead and bring what I needed with me!  And to be perfectly honest, this isn’t the only example that I can think of for myself; it could have been dinner, clothes, shoes, a book… the list goes on for items that I have purchased instead of bringing.

I posted a few weeks ago now on several DIY things that I am trying for Christmas this year and I was able to make those items at home to save money and I enjoyed doing it, but I have to tell you, some of those projects were time consuming.  It was not the most convenient task – especially considering the holidays are generally a busier time anyway.  I had to plan my time and make use of downtime to make sure I got what I wanted completed instead of running to the store to buy decorations.

I realized then that budgeting is about so much more than just writing down what you buy and setting limits on what you will allow yourself – it’s a process that includes planning your time and effort!  I am starting to think that one of the best ways to save money is to commit to saying “No” to convenience items.

Don’t get me wrong – I know time is valuable and there are times when it is justified to rely on convenience items instead of spending the time doing it yourself.  However, this is not always the case; I would encourage you to take a look at your spending habits and commit to a budget that not only tracks your money but also your time.

  • Could you let go of that cleaning service and commit to doing it yourself?
  • Could you leave the party half an hour earlier so that you can catch the last bus of the night
  • Can you carry a backpack or large purse that will hold the supplies you need for the whole time you’re away from home?
  • Can you try some DIY art or other project at home so you don’t have to purchase? (Bonus: bragging rights when you finish it!)

There are so many examples since we have become so accustomed to full service lifestyles but here is an opportunity for some change and maybe a way to learn to appreciate what we have more!

Let us know if you have any suggestions!

airplane-wallpaper

Flight Savings

Well that time of year has come, Christmas is right around the corner and people are heading home for the holidays. But what’s this? $950 dollars for a flight? For 5 days? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

That is legit what happens lately every time Christmas rolls around. You see, Heather and I are originally from Ontario (now in BC, represent) and my jaw drops each time when we look for flights home. Last year we dropped almost 2 grand for the both of us to fly home for a week…..YIKES.  We can usually get a flight between $550-650 but $1,000 per person is insane! But we both missed our families and had to go home for the holidays. Not to say it wasn’t worth it but to quote above…YIKES.

Likewise, Heather and I did long distance for about 10 months and we both flew back and forth about 5 times (combined) so we were always scoping out the best deals. In fact, we’ve kind of become pro’s at it (my homepage is the flight network….haha). Anyways, take a look at our awesome savings techniques below!

1)      WestJet blue tag deals: I LIVE by this promotion. Ok so here’s the deal: Sign into facebook and “like” the WestJet page here. You can also like their twitter account here. Now that you like them, WestJet promotions will appear on your home page.  Every Thursday from 2pm-5pm west coast time (Pacific) they come out deals come out.  Once, I was able to get a flight to Ontario for $400 dollars which is a savings of around $200 bucks! Damnnn, that’s good stuff. More information on the blue tag deal here: http://www.westjet.com/guest/en/deals/offers/blue-tag.shtml

2)      Rewards cards: I love me some air miles. Currently I have the free BMO Mastercard that allows me to collect air miles while spending. For every $20 I spend, I collect 1 air mile. While that may not seem like much, I throw everything on that card and in 1 year I already have over 1250 points! That’s a flight to Ontario which is awesome. Likewise, I also visit groceries stores and gas stations that allow you to collect air miles which has been helpful.

Likewise, the Avion credit card is supposed to be fantastic. Although there is a $120 annual fee attached (which I’m not a fan of), its supposed to earn avion rewards quicker then similar rewards cards. The best part? No restrictions on travel. Many similar rewards cards blackout certain dates (especially holidays) and only allow you to travel on certain airlines. This makes the Avion card much more flexible overall. My parents both have this card and swear by it. If you’re an avid traveller this is the card to get!

3)     The question I hear all the time: Should I wait and buy tickets last minute or book them well in advance?

This is a tough question to answer because there is no real solution. I’ve heard of friends getting cheaper tickets 3-4 months and advance and I’ve also had friends who booked last minute and got cheap seats! It’s so variable. When I’ve gotten cheaper tickets, its mostly because I was in the right place at the right time (seat sales, deals sent by friends, etc).

My advice: If you have a few months to spare, start slowly researching deals to get a general price range for your flight. Follow major airlines on social media , check out the blue tag deals, talk to friends, and continue visiting sites like Flight Network for any deals. Once you have a general idea of the price of the flight you want, you will know when you see a good deal and you can snap that up!

Happy travels this holiday season in 2014! Share your flight saving tips in the comments below!

December goals – 2013!

Time to be more accountable.

Heather and I are going to start using this blog as a tracking point for our personal and financial goals. That way we have it written down, and we can track/measure them with ease.

This will be our first post about our goals and we hope to do this every month to hold us more accountable. We are breaking it down by Personal and Financial goals. Also, YES, I did choose Christmas colours. See our December goals below:

Alex:

Personal:

1)      Attend Full Indie meetup: With an ongoing interest in Videogame and indie development, I want to attend the Full Indie meet-up on December 19th to get more information, meet people in the industry, and see if this is something I want to pursue as a side hustle.

2)      Get ready for Christmas: We have a couple parties that we are hosting/attending so I want to start getting ready for them with time to spare and of COURSE I want to be as frugal as possible.

3)      CMA: With 2 assignments left in our 2nd module, I want to ensure that these are banged out quickly so I can have more time to enjoy the holidays.

Financial:

1)      Budgeting: I did a lot of research and found many great tools for personal budgeting. I choose (insert budgeting link) because it’s very easy to use and customizable to my life. Eventually I want to create my own budgeting template but for now this will do just fine!

2)      Contribute $500 towards my Student Debt: With over $20,000 in debt, I am looking to make larger payments to continue getting these down as soon as possible. My usual contribution is about $300 a month but I think that $500 is totally manageable.

3)      Less reliance on credit cards: Lately I’ve been overspending a bit on my credit cards. While I’m able to pay them off each month, I am left with little to contribute towards savings/debt. I gotta get off this credit card train asap and keep the balances much lower. Aiming at $500 in charges split between both my credit cards by the end of December (including Christmas gifts!).

Heather

Hey Everyone!  My goals for the month are:

Personal

1) Host two Christmas parties (two groups of friends) without letting myself go overboard on the spending.  Limit $50 per party on food/drinks

2) Start my NEW JOB!

3) Keep the drinking and unhealthy eating to a minimum over the holiday season – it is far too easy to go overboard!

Financial

1) Track spending on Christmas gifts.  Stay within my budget for each gift.

2) Get back on track with automatic transactions to pay into my TFSA and RRSP.   I was doing $75 to each a while back but stopped when I moved to BC.  That was a long time ago and its time to get back into it.  Its going to hurt having that money out of my bank but it will be worth it!