Update

So, I’ve been having a hard time keeping up over the past couple of weeks.  Not just at the blog, but at everything.

I leave for work so early in the morning, and by the time I get home I am exhausted and just waste away the evening watching TV and on the internet.

Part of the problem is that I overextended myself by agreeing to work some weekends this summer…I am approaching 20 days straight of working and I know that my upcoming Saturday and Sunday off will do me a world of good.

But there is also this nagging bigger issue that I have felt behind and rushing to get things done since I started law school.  There is just so much on my to do list and I always seem to be short of time.

I am really, really trying this week to get things done so that hopefully I can make some progress on the “to do’s”.

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Where do you like to give?

Despite not paying too much attention to my finances over the past couple of months, I have actually been making good money.

I give $100 of every $1000 that I make, and I now have a few hundred dollars to give away.  My go to has been KIVA, but I have close to $1000 there now and would like to look at some new options.

I am choosy about where I give because I work hard for my money, and I want to make sure that wherever I give, my money will be working hard there too.

So, where do you give?  Or find places to give?

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Entertainment/Leisure Spending

One of the best pieces of financial advice I ever read was in an article in (I think) about financial advice for each decade/stage of life.  People from each age group gave advice to a younger demographic.

Each age group seemed to be worried about something different.  The oldest people in the story were frantically trying to save for retirement.  The people just slightly younger than them were trying to pay off their houses and throwing all of their money towards that goal.

The next tier younger were struggling with college costs and how much they could save to contribute to the education of their children.  Other younger folks were saving up for homes, and struggling with all of the extra costs that went along with their growing families like new cars and extracurricular activities.

One person mentioned that when they were in their early to mid twenties they felt so broke, and that they wished they had realized that never again in their life would they have as much discretionary spending.  Later on, the goals of retirement, education, and mortgages seem to take precedence over travel, meals out and other entertainment spending.

This is definitely true for me right now.  Last week I spent $20 on transportation, $50 on Starbucks (reloaded my card) and $30 at a bar for dinner and drinks.  That slants very heavily towards wants.

I read this years ago, but ever since I have tried to remember that this is the time of my life when I can spend on myself and not feel guilty.  Once I have a home, I know that I will be focused on paying off my mortgage, and the same goes for retirement savings.  I don’t want to get used to indulging in my every whim, because I don’t want the transition to hit me too hard.

The other thing that struck me when I read this article was that I could have a real advantage if I could get ahead on some of these goals.  My friends and peers of around the same age have not really started the savings thing yet, or are just starting.  My hope is that by saving for a house starting at a younger age, I will be able to jump ahead of the savings curve.

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Creating a Daily Schedule

For the next 7 weeks I am working full time at Best Job Ever.  I am tired, but really enjoying myself and savouring this time.

This job, even though it’s only 8 hours a day, has a way of filling up every waking hour.  So I’m trying to claw back on this a little and accomplish some other things this summer as well

I switched my sleep schedule from 11-6am to 10-5am because I thought that having time to accomplish something in the morning would be helpful to me, considering that I am quite sleepy in the evenings.  So far this hasn’t exactly worked, as all I have accomplished before 6am is my internet time.

It is also instinct for me to come home and plop myself in front of the tv until dinner.  I would like to do something useful during this time instead.

And finally, during all of my breaks at work I tend to do one of two things: do work or chat with co-workers.  I could work on other things during this time, like blogging, reading or other computer stuff, and that would free up some of my afternoon time.

I want to get the schedule down soon because I know from experience that as soon as I can make this a habit, it will all get much easier.

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Where My Money is Going in July

My budget this month is $500 and I doubt that I’ll spend all of that.

Unlike the rest of the year, a huge chunk of what I spend in the summer is on entertainment.  First of all, I’m much busier during the year, but also my friends are flung far and wide and there are people that I only see in July and August.  Plus, it is way more fun to go out in the summer when the weather is nice.  I’ve earmarked $100 for entertainment.

Transportation will be about $120 this month, which I don’t love, but that money gets me to work, where i earn much more.

I’ve set aside $100 to treat the staff who are working for me in July.  They work just as hard as me but are paid a lot less, so I like to treat them to Starbucks sometimes.

And of course there will be little miscellaneous things I need to buy here and there that will add up, but I still have some wiggle room.  I think I’ll spend right around $400 this month.

Since my budget switched over, I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with money left over in the budget at the end of the month, so that’s something I will have to decide before the end of the month.

For now it’s nice to know that I have a comfortable budget for the month and will make it to the end of the month before the end of the money.

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Admitting failure

I like to meet the goals I set for myself, and even exceed them if I can.  Admitting failure is hard for me, but I definitely failed one of my 2014 goals.  I wanted to track every penny that I spent, and I did well for the first few months of the year, and then I stopped.  I just got too busy.

And for awhile I would just tell myself that I hadn’t written my spending down in awhile, but I still remembered it all, and I would catch up soon and write it all down.

Eventually it was clear that I did not remember every penny I had spent for the past several weeks, but it seemed easier to ignore it than admit defeat.

Now I am finally admitting defeat- I failed and there’s no denying it.  But I’m just going to brush myself off and start tracking again.  Because at the end of the year I would rather report that I tracked my spending for 9 months of the years but I fell off the wagon in the middle than to say that I tried at the beginning of the year and then stopped and never started again.

I still believe that tracking my spending is valuable and worth my time because it helps me a lot, so it is worth trying again.

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Getting the Budget Back in Order

For almost two months, I paid almost no attention to my budget because I was so busy studying for the bar.  Thankfully I averted disaster.

My key to success is that I have a low-maintenance budget right now.  First, my bills are all automated.  Second I have a float of money in my chequing account just in case.  And third, I switched almost all of my spending to cash so that I could see, without even logging into my online accounts, how much money I had left to spend.

And because I was really busy, I in fact spent very little money.  I usually know exactly how much money I will have coming in, but all I could handle was going to work, so money built up in my “incoming money” fund at tangerine.  It took me a little while to figure out where all of my money needed to go (give, save, spend) and to get everything sorted out, but now I am back on track.

For the next two months I will not be spending very much money, but I will be making a lot, which is just where I like to be.

Switching back to cash has made a huge difference to me.  It is just easier to know what I have left to spend and it takes no time at all.  I just need to make the time to go to the bank once a month to get out the cash I need, and then after that everything is easy.

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Progress Report

My exams are over, I am pleased to report.  I have about a month before I find out whether I passed (and thus whether I have to start studying again).

Things got so busy during the last few weeks of my studying that everything else in my life got put on the backburner.  So what I am focused on now is putting things back together and getting myself to a nice and organized place.

But also after all of that time of total lack of balance, I want to spend some time doing what I enjoy as well.  I made myself a list, well two lists really.  One is of enjoyable things to do and one of not enjoyable things.  Every day, in addition to my 8 hour work day, I am trying to cross one things off of each list.

Additionally, I am also trying to get back to daily goals like writing in my journal, reading and exercising, which I used to be so good at, but have completely ignored over the past couple of months.

My room is a mess and it feels like my life is a bit of a mess at this point too.  I was just so busy studying (and working) that I didn’t have time to take care of myself, so now I need to get caught up on life (and a giant pile of laundry as tall as I am!).

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Starbucks

For someone who is notoriously frugal, I have been spending a ton of time in Starbucks lately.  After just a few days of studying for the bar, it was apparent that I wasn’t able to get my best studying done at home.  That has always been true for me, and now I lost my train rides for prime study time.

I desperately needed to get out of the house, and found myself with almost $100 in Starbucks gift cards.  So I decided that would be my new study spot.  I don’t live within a ½ hour walk of any Starbucks, but am within a 15 minute car ride of about 6.  So, I’ve been taking turns visiting all of them.

I usually stay for about 4 hours, and get about half of my study hours done for the day.  If I leave the house when my brother does for work, I am home by 11:30 with half of my studying done for the day.  If I try to do that at home, I get continually distracted and move MUCH slower.  For example, if I visit Starbucks, I am often done my 8 hours by 4 or 5, but if I don’t it is more like 8 or 9pm.

I usually get something to drink and something to eat, mostly because I feel that I should if I’m there for a long time.  By the time I’m done with the bar, I still won’t have used up all of that gift card money.

Plus I registered all of my cards online and found a couple of really sweet bonuses.  First, thanks to a sweet tip from a barista one day, I found out that with a registered card (used 5 times) you can get free refills on coffee and tea.  I usually start off my morning with a cup of tea, and then follow up with a cup of coffee.  Even though it’s a different drink, it’s still free!  (You do have to stay in the store between your first and second drink).

And second, I’ve now been so many times that I’ve reached Gold Level on their rewards program.  Every 12 “stars” that I get, I can redeem a reward for one free item.  I like this perk because their more expensive drinks look yummy, but I never get them because I can’t justify the price.  So I have been getting to sample some of their fancier drinks as well.

Once the exams are written, I won’t continue my almost daily visits, but I will still pop in from time to time for a cup of chai tea!

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Back To Work

Despite working right up to the day of my final exam, I have not been working very much lately… in fact, I had two weeks completely off from work.  (Obviously just paid work, as I have been studying my tail off!)

It was SO nice to have a little break, but honestly I would also like my paycheques to be getting bigger instead of smaller!  So yes, I will be working during the studying for the bar, but not too much.

This week, as an example, I am working Friday night, Saturday morning, and Sunday all day.  Totally manageable with my studying.   There are a couple of weeks coming up that are a little bit busier, which makes me anxious about still being able to fit my 8 hours in, but I know that I will figure it out.

On the plus side, at the one time that I really haven’t been paying attention to how much money I’ve been making, my paycheques are growing, and I’m grateful for the money coming in.  I haven’t  even had time to divvy it up to my different accounts yet—maybe next week!

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