Living on One Dollar

Living in North America, we often forget how fortunate we are to be in our current situations. We have clean, running water. We have food and shelter. We often have stable sources of income, and most of us have a means to make it through each day. But for so many people in the world, that is not a reality.

Kelvin and I have a bad habit of watching Netflix through dinner, and today was no different. It was a very fruitful time, though. Instead of watching Top Gear or Friends or Once Upon a Time, we watched this documentary called Living on One Dollar. The notion of wealth has been at the forefront of our minds lately – our church is going through a sermon series on it, we are reading multiple books around the idea of wealth and living a more radical life, and it just seems to be a pervasive topic of discussion – and so it seemed fitting that this caught our attention.

The documentary really held our attention, and it made us think long and hard about the luxuries that we have, and the means that people have to go to make ends meet. We were introduced to these amazing individuals who, despite making around $2 a day, have such big dreams and big hearts. They love each other and their community, and give so freely of the little that they do have.

I’ll be heading off on maternity leave in 3 weeks, but this is definitely something I want to introduce my future classes to. I want to look at poverty and micro financing and encourage my students to think bigger. Beyond just their own personal experiences and the daily problems they face.

And of course, with all of this comes the question…what can I do to help?

Goals for 2013

In my last post, I mentioned that I may or may not sit down to write some goals. Today, seeing as how I have not yet been called in to any schools to supply, I figured that would be a good thing to do. I have had goals float around in my head, but it’s nice also to have them on paper. Here they are!

Financial
– Pay off wedding entirely
– Replenish TFSA to $2000
– Open a joint account

Professional
– Organize an EdCamp in Kingston
– Begin an LTO
– Do professional reading at least every other day

Spiritual
– 
Become a member at Bay Park
– Serve in the worship ministry
– Pray powerfully
– Initiate a mentoring relationship (this is a continuation of my goal from last year)

Personal
– 
Write to my grandparents at least twice a month
– Be a good wife (vague, I know…)
– Swim at least twice a month
– Eat no chips or chocolate (exception made at weddings)

While we’re at it, let me update you on how I did with last year’s goals:

Financial (moderate)

  • Bring my TFSA to $5000 – COMPLETE! I literally just made it, with $1.26 over my goal as of December 31
  • Pay off all the financing I have – STANDSTILL… I did pay off all my outstanding financing from 2011, but we are now financing the roof
  • Take on the full mortgage by the end of the year – COMPLETE! And I am very happy with the low interest rate we have
  • Have $5000 in savings by year end – FAIL… I still have a little ways to go to reach this goal

Professional (good)

  • Keep an updated resume and portfolio – COMPLETE! This wasn’t too tricky. There wasn’t much to add to either
  • Attend 3 workshops or conferences – STANDSTILL… I maybe went to two?
  • Take an AQ course – COMPLETE! I now have Spec Ed Part 1 :)
  • Grow my Twitter PLN to 100 people – COMPLETE! And I hope to keep growing next year

Spiritual (poor)

  • Complete my bible reading plan every day – DISCONTINUED… I decided it was too intensive for me to do the plan again after completing it last year. Still, my devos were less than regular
  • Read at least 5 Christian books – FAIL… I probably read three, and started a fourth
  • Update my worship binder – STANDSTILL… I did update it some, but there are still many songs I am missing
  • Actively search for a mentor – STANDSTILL… This is a tricky one. I have hopes that this year I will be able to establish something more solid

Personal (good)

  • Buy a bike or a scooter – COMPLETE! And I cannot wait for spring when I can bring her out again
  • Bring my BMI down to 21.7 – COMPLETE! Thanks to my new bike, Joshi’s Holistic Diet, and my bout of tonsilitis -__-
  • Practice guitar regularly (at least 3x/week) – COMPLETE! I love playing guitar, though maybe I should try to play in keys other than E and G
  • Communicate with my family at least 2x/week – COMPLETE! For a while, I was calling my parents every day. I need to keep this communication up though

It is unfortunate that my spiritual goals did not fare well. Alas, I must remember the bigger picture, and keep pressing on. I have faith that this will be a better year.

App Love: Toshl

I am someone who needs to keep track of all my expenses. When I was in university, I kept all my receipts and inputted everything into Excel spreadsheets with colour-coded cells. Then for the longest time I was using wiserwallet.com, waiting patiently for them to come out with an app. That never happened. But thankfully, I learned about Toshl, and have been using it faithfully ever since.

What I love about Toshl is that it is so easy to use. I can input an expense straight away after my money is spent, and I can also set recurring payments, which I do for same-amount monthly payments. I can make my own tags and write notes for later so I know exactly where I spent the money.

You get extra functionality with Toshl because you can also manage it on your computer. You can take a look at how you’re doing this month compared to last month, and what you tend to spend your money on. Plus, it’s all cute and colourful, which makes me like it that much more.

The downside is that I can only input one income and one budget item every month (unless I pay money to upgrade to Toshl Pro). I don’t worry too much about the budget component – as long as I am in the black every month and have money put aside for savings, I consider it a successful month. As for the income, I get away with it by changing the income total with every influx of cash I receive, then documenting it in the notes where the money is coming from.

If you are looking for an app to keep track of your expenses, I highly suggest this one. I predict Toshl will be in my life for quite some time, and hopefully it can become a part of yours!

I’ve had enough of NSF fees

I know it’s late, but a fire has been lit under me, and this is a healthy way for me to attempt to deal with my thoughts. Service providers will not be returning to their offices until after 8 am, so I still have five hours before I can speak to someone.

A little bit of background to this post – I am someone who loves using online banking. I’m with PC Financial, and for the most part, I like the services that they provide, and it suits the needs that I have. There are definitely disadvantages, though, such as the delay between when you make a deposit and when it shows up in your balance, as well as the wait that is required to move money from your savings to your chequing account.

Now, I often review my chequing account to make sure everything is sound. I like to have a cushion in my account in case unexpected fees come up, or I need to write a cheque. Prior to this year, I haven’t really had substantially sized withdrawals from my account, so this year has been an exercise in dealing with shock and in appropriately allotting money.

So with all that in mind, onto the real subject matter of the post – pre authorized payments. I have a huge number of pre-authorized payments set up – all my utilities bills, cell phone, security, charitable giving. I’d say I’m up to about 7 or 8 items that I need to keep track of. I like to think I’m pretty organized, and I know exactly when the bills are supposed to be due. Up until recently, this has worked very well for me. However…

In the last 2 months, due to a combination of cheques being cashed all at once, transfers not happening in time, and dates moving around, I have been dinged with two NSF fees. And with PC, these fees are $45 a pop. That’s $90 I’ve just thrown out the window. Add to that the NSF fees charged to me by my service providers, and that’s a pretty penny that had just vanished into thin air. Definitely not amused.

So, in my outrage (at both myself and the situation) and as a hopeful solution, I have decided to cancel most of my PAPs and return to Internet banking. This way, I can pay when the money is there, and save the money I would otherwise be spending on NSF fees for bigger and better things.

That is all. I appreciate your listening ear.

goals for 2012

it’s that time of year again! here are my goals for the new year – as i accomplish them i will update or add more :)

financial

  • bring my TFSA to $5000
  • pay off all the financing i have
  • take on the full mortgage by the end of the year
  • have $5000 in savings by year end

professional

  • keep an updated resume and portfolio
  • attend 3 workshops or conferences
  • take an AQ course
  • grow my twitter PLN to 100 people

spiritual

  • complete my bible reading plan every day
  • read at least 5 Christian books
  • update my worship binder
  • actively search for a mentor

personal

  • buy a bike or a scooter
  • bring my BMI down to 21.7
  • practice guitar regularly (at least 3x/week)
  • communicate with my family at least 2x/week

financial goals

i love to watch til debt do us part. and up until this year, i always asked myself, “how could these people be so silly? how is it possible that you have so much debt and you still don’t want to make a change?” now i realize, the answer is either you don’t want to deal (or simply haven’t dealt) with your money responsibly, or you have a problem saying no to yourself. i always thought of myself as a fairly organized and responsible person, but when it comes to finance, i am realizing just how easy it is to turn a blind eye. you may be keeping track of your daily expenses, but when you don’t graph it, total it, or compare it with what you’re making, they simply remain numbers on a page. you may know that you spent $1000 this month, but the meaning behind that changes completely when you realize you’ve only made half that amount.

there is a dire need for me to set some financial goals (and a subsequent plan to reach that), so today i am starting with building my budget. now that i have an income i can actually make a firm budget rather than the soft budget i had while i was in university. with my calculations, if i want to be debt-free by the time i’m 24, that would require me to make $1000 payments monthly starting January. with my current income that’s impossible (which is why i’ve been applying for more jobs), but i am confident this will work out.

lately, i have been reading krystal yees’s blog give me back my five bucks daily, and it has given me tons to think about and many great pointers. definitely worth a visit!

scribbling on the walls…and other things

i couldn’t sleep last night. i was thinking so much about this other blog that i wanted to create that i woke up at 3 am and proceeded to type out everything that i would want on it. i don’t know how i will manage to balance the content between these 2 blogs, but i’m sure it will all make sense in the end. this is more of my every day blog whereas that one has a very clear focus and niche on it.

completely unrelated, i am on a job application frenzy. i’ve applied to a whole bunch of jobs, and i have my resumes and cover letters ready for two more. if i want to be financially independent and debt-free by the time i’m 24, i better get on the ball. and by debt-free, i don’t mean mortage free. that i think i will have for a little while…