finding the balance between living and saving

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Spending Detox March 11-16

Spending Detox March 11-16

See this post for and introduction to our March spending detox and the accompanying ground rules. Sunday, March 11 We went hiking in the Rockies with a friend today! We’d been intending to snowshoe, but it hasn’t snowed in a while, so the path was […]

Spending Detox March 5-10

Spending Detox March 5-10

See this post for and introduction to our March spending detox and the accompanying ground rules. Monday, March 5 An Amazon order I made at the end of February arrived – an exercise ball recommended by my physiotherapist to help with posture. Unfortunately the Amazon […]

Spending Detox March 1 – 4

Spending Detox March 1 – 4

See this post for and introduction to our March spending detox and the accompanying ground rules.

Thursday, March 1

It’s grocery day and I didn’t have the means to pack a spectacular lunch because there isn’t much food left in the kitchen. I tossed a can of chunky soup, the last orange, an apple, remnants of a bag of trailmix, and the butt ends of a loaf of bread in my bag. What I thought was gonna be a sad, sad food day turned out okay. I was satiated enough to hit the gym after work. Chris had dinner ready when I got home from work, then he took the car to do a grocery run while I went to yoga class.

The LL Bean catalogue arrived in the mail. I ordered a few Christmas gifts from them in December, which evidently gives them license to spam my mailbox. I love the Bean, and I knew the catalogue would be too tempting, so it went straight into the recycling bin.

Spending
Groceries: $132.84
Total: $132.84

 

Friday, March 2

It’s a heavy snow day, so I stayed off the roads and worked from home. We lunched at home went through two carafes coffee. In the evening I attended a murderously difficult hot yoga class and Chris braved the roads to drive to the gym. We bought some beer and a few extra groceries, then made dinner and watched Pride & Prejudice on the couch. Chris’s planner is nearly full so he ordered a new Moleskine notebook on Amazon.

Spending
Groceries: $23.88
Beer: $16.00
Moleskine: $20.00
Total: $59.88

 

Saturday, March 3

Low key day. Spent the morning doing paperwork and laundry. Yoga class in the afternoon. Cut some old Levi’s into denim shorts and stuck some gear tape on a hole in a down jacket. I’ve been meaning to do both those things for months. Chris did a lot of gaming and reading. In the evening we prepped lunches and gear for skating in the morning.

Spending:
Nada.
Total: $0

 

Sunday, March 4

We slept in a bit, then drove to Lake Louise and rented skates. It was a beautiful day, and for perhaps the first time in 100 years, Lake Louise wasn’t crowded. We had an entire rink to ourselves for a while, then shared the ice with an Australian couple and a local family. The weather was incredible – a little cloudy, but positively balmy at -5C. We wrapped up the day at a hotel pool, which is a free activity if you act cool.

We packed a lunch and didn’t buy any overpriced food, but we did cave and buy overpriced fizzy drinks. I think we were craving sugar, but we’d only brought water with us. Technically, this could fall under the “unless travelling” exemption, but I’m still gonna chalk it up as a fail. Chris also managed to rip a giant, unrepairable hole in the crotch of his only pair of jeans. Those might need to be replaced later this month. Otherwise it’s sweatpants and khakis for him ’til March 31st.

Lessons learned: Bring something sweet to drink if we’re gonna spend the day outside.

Spending:
2 pairs of rental skates: $26
Drinks: $10
Total: $36

Mo Money March Spending Detox

Mo Money March Spending Detox

Chris and I are doing a month long spending detox for March, inspired by Cait Flanders’ book, “The Year of Less: How I Stopped Shopping, Gave Away My Belongings, and Discovered Life Is Worth More Than Anything You Can Buy in a Store.” After digging herself […]

5 Ways To Create More Space When You’re Feeling Constricted By Your Life & Finances

5 Ways To Create More Space When You’re Feeling Constricted By Your Life & Finances

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of space, and how I can incorporate more of it into every element of my life. Not NASA space — or perhaps that’s Tesla space now – but room-space. Void-space. Nothingness to expand into (or out […]

4 ways to reduce the temptation to spend by changing the ads you see

4 ways to reduce the temptation to spend by changing the ads you see

 

Ever find yourself pining for something or making an impulse purchase based on a promo e-mail or well placed ad on social media? We’ve all been there. With the amount of time we spend on our screens, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to insulate ourselves from a culture of excess – be it in our social media feeds, inboxes, or browser tabs. I’ll walk you through a few ways to reduce your exposure to the onslaught of ultra-targeted advertising and reserve your eyeballs for things that matter.

1. Email
Promo emails are annoying honeypots of temptation. All too often we sign up for mailing lists in exchange for a one-time discount, then forget to unsubscribe from the barrage of promotional material that follows.

Unroll.me is a free service that helps bulk-unsubscribe from mailing lists. If any slip through the cracks, do a quick Ctrl/Cmd+F + “unsub” to find the unsubscribe button, ‘cause lord knows it’s gonna well hidden. Unsubscribing from promos en masse has the added benefit of freeing your inbox from clutter, creating a little more space in your life, so you can breathe easier.

2. Facebook
Facebook comes at you from a few different angles. They getcha with ads embedded in your home page, and they getcha with content posted by Pages you follow.

Facebook Ads
Facebook can get spooky granular with its level of targeted advertising. The platform holds an incredible amount of demographic information about you and is able to marry that with your interests based on your activity on their platform. This includes your relationships, likes, interactions with retailers, and the links you click on. Some of the categories Facebook has me slotted into, and leverages for its advertisers, are incredibly niche. Things you’d never think of, such as: away from hometown, away from family, close friends with expats, and accesses Facebook on newer devices.

Needless to say, the deck is stacked against you, but you can also game the system by following these instructions to edit your ad preferences.  Remove yourself from the audiences that hit your weak spots. Pay special attention to the Shopping & Fashion and Business & Industry tabs.

I used to see ads for gorgeous handmade jewelry, cozy sweaters, and the latest outdoor gear. Sometimes I clicked through to sales and bought stuff I had no pre-existing desire for. After tweaking my settings I get ads for fire suppression systems and luxury cars I have zero interest in. PERFECT!

Facebook Pages
You may also wish to remove posts from retailers and publications that encourage spending. From your news feed, navigate to the menu on the left side of the page. Under the heading Explore, you’ll find the Pages Feed. Click through to your Pages Feed to scroll and unsubscribe from Pages that post tempting content. I ended up removing pages like Everlane, Lululemon, and Refinery29 from my feed.

3. Instagram
Instagram is owned by Facebook, so if you’ve edited your Facebook ad preferences away from things you’d normally shop, your Instagram account should reflect those changes. You may also want to consider unfollowing brands and ~influencers~ hawking products you don’t heckin’ need.

4. In your browser
This probably goes without saying, but ad-blockers are the mother of all ad-suppression techniques. They leverage filter lists in order to block requests to URLs associated with ad networks, and edit out elements of HTML associated with advertising. I like uBlock Origin, which makes it easy to disable blocking on websites I support – mostly news outlets and blogs I like.

 

A bunch of shit I don’t need, and you may not either

A bunch of shit I don’t need, and you may not either

We all have our spending vices. Apparently one of mine is Crappy Tire. I got a call from the Canadian Tire credit department the other day informing me I’ve spent $1200 there in the past year and wouldn’t it be great if I had an […]

Negotiate a better interest rate on your credit card

Negotiate a better interest rate on your credit card

It has come to my attention that some folks aren’t aware that you can get your credit card issuer to lower your interest rate. This is especially true of twenty-somethings I’ve chatted with. Chances are your financial situation has improved since you were approved for […]

Embrace the Wisdom of the Gecko (or How I Saved $743 with 1 email)

Embrace the Wisdom of the Gecko (or How I Saved $743 with 1 email)

That cheeky lizard bugger has been right all along.

A few months back I received a renewal notice from my auto insurer informing me my rate would be rising from $1560 to $1919.

…Da fuck?

I hadn’t been in any accidents, received any tickets, or made any claims. My car was getting older and my grid rating represented the lowest possible risk for my driving experience. Alas, my insurer just thought it was a fun time to increase rates across the board. So I went searching for better rates with a variety of online quote comparison tools. I sent the best quote to my broker, who was able to beat it by a further 17.5%.

Original rate: $1560

Rate increased to: $1919

Found a quote on my own for: $1425

Broker wrangled: $1176

 

This represents a savings of $743/year or $61.91/month. Uh… yes, please. That’s 12 lattes, 36 avocados, or 4 Kindle books per month! These are much more worthy uses of my money.  Never accept arbitrary rate increases at face value, and if you haven’t shopped around for better insurance rates lately, add it to the to-do list.

How do you shop for insurance? Does anyone use a broker who catches rate increases and does the work for you?