My Wallet.

It's no secret that money, and the desire for more of it, provided a major shove for this move. I wasn't prepared for the amazing change in lifestlye that we experienced (conveniently timing our move to skip winter entirely...woo hoo!), but it's not like our lifestyle now includes the fabulous parties, Jimmy Choo pumps and designer handbags that we were lacking in Ottawa. Those things still...lack. Well, save one favorite handbag, perhaps. It does now include a fun ferry ride to work, sunny lunchbreaks spent wandering around downtown, and weekend swims in the ocean. Still, that original plan focused around our finances has been lurking around in the background of all of the fun, and now, with 2008 looming over us and me on a limited work permit, it's become time to buckle down and deal with it.

I am a spender. When I have money in my wallet, it's not there for very long. And, while the maturity that I've gained (??) in the past few years has encouraged me to be smarter about my spending, I think that the internal spender in me tends to rear her slightly-less-attractive head when opportunity arises. has arisen.'s time to corral her to a budget, once again.

Since we arrived, we have spent a lot of money. It's expensive to set yourself up in a new place with only a limited amount of the complete household you once had. We needed first and last month's rent for our apartment, which, though cheap by local standards, would be a ridiculous amount to spend on rent anywhere else. Except maybe Monaco or perhaps downtown London. This is the most expensive country in the world...there is not much we can do about that. Still, it was unfurnished...we needed a car...and a scooter...and the actual move itself, including shipping and 25% duty fees on everything we own, took a toll. And after all that, we needed to eat. In the past two months, we have spent more money than in the past year back in Ottawa. Not all of it was necessary.

Last year...or maybe the year before...we inflicted upon ourselves a fairly serious spending budget, compartmentalized for our lifestyle and with the intention of saving for a big trip. While we did buy ourselves a very lovely roof and contribute towards our trip to Mexico, we were simply unable to save anything. While we were excellent at sticking to the jar system, we have yet to go on a big trip and did require some financial assistance even to make this move. Not a huge deal, debt-wise, when I think about some of the conversations I've had with friends in similar boats. I've never felt like we were in any kind of trouble and I know that we have made a lot of very smart decisions when it came to what to do and how to deal with our money. But then, on the other hand, I did not need to spend $28.00 on a vegan cookbook yesterday. Or $16 on Chrismas candles the day before (since Christmas is officially dunzo and a peppermint candle will not have the same appeal in February), so it's become clear that we need to get ourselves (me) back on a budget.

In the past week, I did a tally of everything we owe (minus the mortgage, which someone else is now paying for us) and with our new salaries and a strict plan, my goal is to have everything paid off by July 1, 2008. This is an aggressive goal, but not an unattainable one, in my belief. I have not been without some form of personal debt (read: Visa) since I got my first credit card when I was 19 years old. I can't even imagine what debt-free will feel like. I have consolidated as much as possible and we're ready to go. Our main focus in coming here was to put ourselves in a good position to purchase a second home and open doorways for our future, financially. We have every possible reason to be able to do this successfully, so I'm putting this out there here, now, with the hopes that such a personal declaration will make me more accountable to it. I don't want to turn this into a strictly PF (personal finance) blog, but I will be updating on the situation from time to time. In the same way that I log all of my runs online to be able to enjoy the geeky monthly running total graphics, I want to be able to track our progress on this...our top priority.

So, blog friends (both virtual and not), wish me (us) luck. It's going to mean a lot of cutting back, but it's also going to mean that we get an opportunity to enjoy our new surroundings without spending money unnecessarily. I have no lululemon around to tempt me (though I still got my fix, thanks to my sympathetic mother), no Starbucks to eat up at least $10/week...nada. I do foresee more spending on books, since they are great for the beach AND the occasional afternoon indoors, but I figure I can write those expenses off as brain function enhancement. Plus, my current book - an 8-in-one compilation of Jane Austen's books - cost $20 and will last for months. This defines cheap entertainment.

I may put some snazzy debt tracker things on the sidebar, if I can figure them out, and have already started reading up on dedicated PF blogs for tips. I've found a few great ones already that I'm going to link to and blog about in a future post to pass their wisdom along.

Black Swede on a Budget.

P.S. Only JUST realized that my blog initials are B.S. Hopefully not applicable to the above goal.


Anonymous said...

You can be my budget buddy! I'm living off less than a third of my former salary and it's a bit terrifying... But I too suck at budgeting. Good luck to us!


Heather said...

Yess!! I like it. We are too budgeting for 2008 (new place and big vacay coming up). Let us know how it goes :b

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