Mindful Life: Money

Where do we spend our money the most? How much waste do we make? Why? Why? Why? For the most part, all the questions ended up with, why? Why do we eat out three or four times a week? Why do we end up throwing out most of our vegetables and fruits? Why does it feel like we have no money left over?

Mark and I made lists. And lists. Some more lists, and why not, another list. These lists that we made became important. We look back at them now wondering what was wrong with us. Damn, there goes all our money…

List one: Our debts, interest rates, bills, and other payments.
List two: How much we both made and how we made it.
List three: Where we spent our food money.
List four: Where we spent our other money.

List one was as we expected. We owed a lot of money all over the place. Both Mark and I went to school, bought vehicles, have visas, both own a cell phone, rent our home, and have other little debts. Individually we both spent around $2,000 on debt and bills a month. This is one of those unmindful parts of our journey. We knew that it was a lot, but didn’t know how much.
To solve this problem we have made a mindful plan to be 80% to 100% debt-free by next fall. (More on how we’re doing that later.)

List two is extremely hard to predict. Mark’s job is weather dependent. Bad weather equals low pay cheque. My job is fairly constant as long as I don’t get sick. Putting all this together was easier this time around. When I was a nanny I had eight clients and writing where all the money came from was harder to do.

List three had our jaws on the floor. To save money we are currently running off of one vehicle. Mark has to go to the Tim Houston’s beside my work to pick up his coworker so it couldn’t be more perfect. One gas bill, I have time to work on my writing in the mornings and afternoons, and we save money on insurance. Win!
The downfall to this is our food spending. When I get dropped off at Starbucks, a few steps away from the Timmies, they also give free refills to gold members. I pay for my coffee, using my travel mug to get a small discount. I then work on my writing before I walk to work. Sometimes I order a bagel. This is still cheaper and more time efficient than making a pot of coffee at home due to how many refills I get. That’s a plus. At the end of the day, Mark sometimes doesn’t get into town until 7 or 7:30. By the time we get home, and cook and eat dinner it’s 9ish…and then there’s the cleanup. We get no unwind time…so we eat A&W. Healthier than Mc Donald’s, but still fast food…
In a month we eat out at a fast food place about ten times, give or take a few days. We get so tired, not to mention hungry, by the end of our work day that we want food, now! We do mix it up and go to other places to eat. In the end, we end up throwing out food that has gone bad in our fridge. That part always hurts. We intended to eat healthily. All those vegetables and fruits that had gone to waste. We might as well threw away our pay cheques…

List four happened to be a sad little list of one thing this month. We went to Blackberry Fest. A block party that the whole town goes too! It was a blast. I got a $40 blackberry tattoo that I adore. Mark drank more than he thought he could. (I was the designated driver.) We spent less than we put aside for the party which was a surprise. Mark and I hadn’t gone out in months. It was fun to see what the whole town was talking about. Everyone said we had to attend Blackberry Fest, and now we know why. It was super fun.

In list one I had mentioned that we wanted to be 80% to 100% debt-free. It seemed highly unlikely that we would be able to accomplish this in a year. I watched YouTube videos, read blogs, watched that show Till Debt Do Us Part, money management Ted Talks and whatever else I could get my hands on for free. I also talked about our debt and bill payments. These were the key to how we plan to get a grip on the hand around our wallets. We listed all the payments and interest rate, this included what we owed family. At the top of the list was the highest interest rate down to the lowest at the bottom. If they had the same interest rate we put the lesser amount owed at the top.
There we had a neatly organized disaster we had created ourselves. I know I could have bought a used car instead of a new one. We didn’t have to have five credit cards. But there they are.
Here’s the game we play. It’s like stacking dominoes in a neat little line. Push one over and they all fall over.

Ready…
Dept one: Visa. Owe: $673.00. Interest: 18%. Payment: $100 (I always round up to the nearest $50.) PAID OFF.
Dept two: Visa. Owe: $1,300. Interest: 18% Payment: 150.00. Added payment: $100.00. (And there’s the first domino hitting the second.) The payment bounces to $250.00! It will take about 6 months to pay off that debt.
That $250 will be added on to the next debt payment, and so on and so forth. The bills I pay now won’t go up or down until all is paid. At the time I will still be making all rounded up regular payments to my debt so it doesn’t go to collections. It’s a fun fast game that will get my debt caught up and gone.

I want to bring some light onto list three. Even though we are running off of one vehicle and eating out we’re still saving money. The cost of double gas and insurance out weighs our eating out habit. The horror is in the food at home that we throw away. Mark and I talked about how we can make this into a better plan. We know there are going to be days we eat out. It’s going to happen. We tried the zero eating out thing and came up short on money elsewhere because we did eat out.
Our meal planning needed to change. Instead of planning for seven meals a week. We plan for four or five. We try to get frozen whenever we can that way things don’t go bad as fast. And I cut up most of the fruit and freeze it. This way we can still enjoy it fresh with minimal waste. The frozen fruit is great for smoothies, breakfast toppings, and dessert.
(There will be a post on our house waste and the environment in the future.)

These are simple changes that Mark and I have brought forward to get our handle on money. As much as I hate to admit it, money has a strong hold over the world. We’re just making sure it’s grip doesn’t kill us. It was time for us to make mindful decisions on our money to bring less stress to ourselves. We made them so they fit into our lifestyle, and so can you.

All money above is in Canadian dollars.

YouTube Video: Our Journey to Family: Save the Money

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