START TRACKING YOUR SPEND
Get to know where you spend, how it makes you feel and what really matters when it comes to your money!
Let's stop pretending that being good at money means you need to be good at math. Instead, let's listen to our body and our mind.
Despite never leaving my house, 2021 has been an exciting year for me so far. If you didn’t know, earlier this month, I spontaneously left my job and have since gone back to school. Although I planned on leaving at some point in the New Year, there was no carefully thought out plan to follow.
Since it was spontaneous (I still had an excel spreadsheet open when I made the call), I wasn’t as financially prepared as I would’ve liked. I could go on with a “clear-cut” recommendation of what’s best and how I messed up, but the reality is, this is real life. I know that my situation isn’t unique, especially among young women. Feeling uncomfortable, mistreated, and miserable are valid reasons to leave a job, even if you don’t have everything laid out for your next steps. You are not a failure, and your health is worth more.
Whether you’re between jobs right now, going back to school, or simply looking to find areas for improvement in your financial life, these tips can apply to you. My budget will undoubtedly change, but I won’t be doing anything drastic, like only eating beans for a month, because that would make me miserable, hurt my already poor digestion, and set me up for failure. Instead, I’m going to be implementing small things that I know I can stick to.
Since I left my job willingly, I was able to get a few weeks severance. Still, I am not eligible for any government subsidy programs like Employment Insurance (EI) or any COVID relief programs. I completely severed my only income stream, and that is still scary for me. I pay rent, and I have a pet to care for. I have a car that needs maintenance. So many things that I wouldn’t have thought twice about before, like my cat needing eyedrops, now weigh more heavily on me.
When money isn’t coming in, it can sometimes feel so daunting that it sends us spiralling into a destructive mindset. “F*ck it. I’ve already messed things up, so what’s the point?”
This mindset can cause us to overspend, avoid our budget, and numb out entirely to all financial decisions. If your income stream(s) have stopped for any reason, I think it’s essential to face the first step head-on, and that is acceptance. Accept your situation, give yourself grace, and know that you have control – over your mindset, spending, and attracting new opportunities.
In Shannon Lee Simmons’ book, Living Debt-Free, she talks about her experience going into debt to start her financial planning business. She said that she didn’t regret the debt itself, only that she didn’t go into that period of her life knowing that debt was inevitable. She wishes that she could’ve accepted the fact and removed the shame and guilt she was placing on herself. She said she would’ve been much happier and potentially made better financial decisions because of it.
If you’re digging into your savings and feeling shame, just know that those funds are there for this specific reason. If you’re going into debt during this transitional period, know that nearly everyone goes into debt at some point in their lives. Please take it in stride.
Like I mentioned before, I’m not receiving any of my usual income streams, and on top of that, I’m adding the additional expense of two semesters of school. My income streams for the next two months will mostly include personal savings and parental support; however, there are a few things that I’m looking into to help supplement that:
Financial aid, scholarships, and awards are a great way to reduce the growing costs of education. Some financial subsidies are based on financial need, while others are based on merit. If you’re thinking of going back to school or are currently enrolled, contact your school to discuss your options and what’s available. I’ve been researching awards provided by my school and by other institutions. Many Canadian scholarships go unclaimed, so just being increasingly aware and taking the short amount of time to apply is worth it.
I think we’ve all heard of that one friend that made $2,000 selling her otherwise new junk on Marketplace. The opportunity to de-clutter and receive money in return sounds like a win-win situation to me. While I’m not as busy over the next while, I’m going to push myself to take the time to go through old things and put them up for sale.
Although my priority over the next eight months will be my school, I’m interested in learning about freelancing opportunities that I can complete from the comfort of my own home. I’m currently looking into freelance writing, but contract positions exist for dog walkers, uber drivers, tutors, content creators, etc. The list is endless in this new gig economy.
I was always earning a modest income and living frugally because of it. There won’t be a big Schitt’s Creek-like shift in my lifestyle now that I’ve left my job. Most of the spending areas I could’ve improved will already be drastically decreased given the COVID-19 lockdown currently taking place in Ontario. I’m not driving my car, going out to eat, or spending money on clothes for upcoming social events. I’m even colouring my hair at home with my hairstylist’s virtual help (these are wild times). Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned and that I will be introducing to manage my expenses better:
If, like most people, you don’t carry cash around, money can sometimes cross your path without you even realizing it. It can be tough when you’re on a tight budget. While knowing how much you paid for something is essential, knowing how much spending room you have leftover is crucial. This is why I will be keeping my monthly spending money in my chequing account and nothing more. At the end of each spending day, I will be sending those accompanying funds to my credit card. This will make sure that my bank account balance is up-to-date and will keep me more accountable.
I’m lucky enough to share many subscription accounts (thanks, mom), but I do still get charged for a handful of subscriptions each month. That can add up, especially if you’re not valuing them anymore or if you’re not getting the best deal. I will be going through my subscriptions in the upcoming few weeks and making some hard decisions about what stays and what goes. Did you know that Spotify offers a ‘Premium Duo’ account for CAD 12.99 a month for all my couple friends? With the continued ability to keep our music separate, this cost-saving hack spares us $80 per year.
My boyfriend and I have been paying a premium for our groceries during the pandemic. We value the free curbside pickup option, high-quality service, and healthy selection of items compared to the big box stores. As someone with health conditions and food restrictions, the big box stores just don’t offer everything that I need. It’s much easier to get everything in one trip, but we’re going to start shopping at more than one place. Buying the specialty goods from the premium store and buying other items for a significant discount at a typical grocer would significantly reduce our grocery bill each month. Our grocery bill is a big chunk of our expenses, so finding a new routine that works for us and our savings would be great.
My rent and utility costs will stay the same, but with the lockdown and these new measures in place, I’m confident that I can reduce my monthly expenses by 25%. That’s my goal for now, but if lockdown measures ever subside, I know that may not be feasible in the future.
Dealing with a major life change can drastically change how we manage our finances. But, with my plan set out, I’ll be sure to document my budgeting journey and sharing along the way. This way, I can better understand where to adjust when the time comes and exactly what to expect if this happens in my future.
What are some ways you’ve adjusted your spending after a major life change? Let me know in the comments!
Oh no, you missed the live webinar! But, good news: Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a resource for anyone planning for a future child or family.
Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone looking to cut back on non-essential spending. My most-requested product is these monthly calendars to share on your Instagram story, use as a phone background, or print off to track your spending habits.