Cut back, way back.

I used to watch financial shows in order to get tips on how to save money. I found that the people on the show usually had a lot in common: not bringing lunch/eating out, luxuries like shows and cabs, cigarettes, coffee etc..

I don’t do any of that on a regular basis. I consider it a balancing act. If I don’t buy an expensive cup of coffee everyday, and drink the free coffee from work, that’s money that can go towards… Well let’s be honest, more clothes!

I recently still felt the need to cut back even more – and I took the hit with my beauty products. Since I was using relatively high-end products I took it down a few notches. (Okay, more than a few in some cases, but that’s what I tell myself!)


Joico shampoo and conditioner: $40

Nars bronzer: $45

MAC eyeliner: $18

Lip InFATuation lip gloss:$38


Herbal Essences shampoo and conditioner: $8 with coupons

Sephora bronzer: $18

Rimmel eyeliner (FREE with mascara):$0

Lise Watier lip gloss: $20

And HELLO: $95 in my bank account every 4 months.

Staying pretty still, but maybe not so poor.




“I was watching a show about this woman who hoards clothing and I realized her clothes looks like our basement”

This quote comes from my father, referring to the fact that the basement, as well as every closet, shelf and dresser is filled to the point of bursting with my mom’s clothes.

 I seem to have inherited the clothing gene from my mother. (See Financial Failure Article)

 My father continues to say how he thinks through each purchase carefully. I realize I have inherited genes that are in constant battle with each other.  No wonder I get so many migraines.

A lot of the time my mothers ‘want’ gene is the winning team; maybe that’s why we both seem to accumulate so many things, a few things which I always seem to stock up on unnecessarily.

 My biggest weaknesses seem to be lip glosses and balms, lotion, body washes and sprays. I will buy any of these things even if I have a large stock at home because I save some for special occasions, when I’m in a happy, sad, when I need change… You name it, I have a body product for it. 

 My challenge to myself: use up all the products before buying more. Even if the product is on sale (even typing the word gets me excited), I find a new scent I love, or I feel like a new lotion will save my life.

 This will take every ounce of willpower I have, and like my immune system, I will have to teach my dads genetics to be strong.

Repeat after me pretty little poor girls: I do not need that, I already have that at home. I do not need that, I already have that at home….

 Wish me luck.



Financial Fun Fidays!

Hello everyone! Me and Jenn are back from our Summer and Fall vacation to the land of working hard at school and work and we’re ready to start this blog up again! So here’s a round-up of the good, the bad and the ugly this week.

Lunches: TERRIBLE. Horrible, horrible, horrible. I bought lunch almost every single day this week, as well as coffees and snacks. I was just in a “not caring mood” and thus spent about $30 on food out. I for sure also gained weight for this. *sigh* . Winter hibernation weight is always fun! NOT.

Clothes: Fairly bad.  I’m going skiing this weekend (yay!) and I don’t own a ski jacket or snowpants. My entire childhood I borrowed my younger brother’s child size snow pants and they were always too tight and weird looking. The last few times I’ve been skiing I’ve just worn leggings. But this time instead of going to Blue Mountain, I’m going to Tremblant where I feel you need snowpants since it will be windy and I’m more likely to fall since the course will be harder. Therefore, I went to Winners and snagged the LAST pair of snowpants (2 sizes to big, but oh well) for $22.  Score. Except they were white. And the ski jacket that I had borrowed from my aunt was also white. I couldn’t look like a marshmellow on the hill…and what if I blended into the snow? So I decided to buy a colourful ski jacket as well. *impulse purchase*. It was $40 on clearance down from $280 original. It’s still money spent, but at least it wasn’t full price. I try people, I try. Of course while I was at Winners I tossed a few more things into my bag like headphones (mine broke again), vanilla (on sale, and will always need!) and false eyelashes (cheaper than eyelash extensions), so my total was $90.

Income: I finally signed my Marker contract which means I get $40/hour for 1000 hours over the semeseter to mark poetry papers. BEST JOB EVER and the reason I can eat without going into debt.

Overall? A pretty pricey week. And this weekend will only get pricier. Way, way pricer since I have to spend on gas, lift ticket, ski rental and food. I’ll be sure to post pics when I get back!


Love moneyMoney…

Love money

Money might not buy you love, but it buys you everything else. And thankfully for my dad, he loves me more than money.

The story: I needed a new apartment. Not just because I was living in an overflowing bachelor apartment, but because I no longer had a boyfriend who’s house I could run to when my parents came to Toronto. Not to mention that’s where most of our relationship took place. But that’s a whole other story. I needed out, for space reasons and sanity reasons.

I went apartment hunting, and found the perfect place: one of the best areas in Toronto, three closets in my bedroom alone, minutes from a grocery store and subway. Much like when I shop for clothes, I NEEDED it. And I needed it NOW.

The power of budgeting: Putting your earnings vs your spending on paper. I recently moved, and although my parents contribute to one fourth of my rent every month, they also paid for my first and last, which meant that they would reduce the amount they give me every month until I had ‘paid’ them back. I thought I could handle paying for all the rent by myself for a few months, and still pay down my debt. I wanted to get the amount I owed them over and done with. I figured I could handle it, how bad could a few hundred dollars be?

Apparently it could be really bad. I put it all on paper and realized that a $400 increase in expenses per month was actually sending me further and further into debt; that I should have not tried to ‘get it over with’ and spread out the repayments.

It’s pretty typical Jenn behavior to try to get everything done in one fell swoop and then deal with whatever I’m left with once its over with. Bad way of dealing with it.

The realization: What I should have realized is that my dad is not charging me interest and therefore I should have no taken on such a huge repayment plan that effects the amount of money I can put towards my principle debt (on credit cards) each month.

The love: After talking to my dad, he offered to not only reduce the amount of repayment, but to halt the repayments for six months until I had knocked down some debt and therefore would be paying less interest.

The moral of the story: 1) (most important) PUT EARNINGS AND SPENDING ON PAPER.
2) Make interest free repayments slowly
3) Only repay what you can handle

And… Borrow from your parents. Sorry dad!


Putting the pretty back in prettylittlepoorgirl pt 1.

A poor girl knows it isn’t always cheap to be a pretty girl. Let’s take getting a mani-pedi for example. When you get your nails done, you are paying mostly for a service, not for those ten milliletres of polish. Doing the job yourself means that you skip paying for the service, plus when you buy nail polish, you get to keep it!
Yes, when you first try, it may not look as pretty as a pro job, but consider it learning a skill! Practice makes perfect!  
Tools of the trade (that you might not already have!)
A nail buffer – like this
Item Salon Brand (OPI) Drugstore brand (Revlon) Drugstore Brand (Sally Hansen, Hard as Nails)
Basecoat $8.99 $4.96 $2.47
Colour $8.99 $4.96 $2.47
Topcoat $8.99 $4.96 $2.47
Total (including nail buffer and tax) $31.82 $18.16 $9.71
The reason I included the third option is because you can use the same brands that the salon uses, but often I find (and of course this varies) that the drugstore kinds are just as good and last as long.
A really key trick to a lasting manicure is using a topcoat. Danielle prefers Essie, while I actually have a supply-store brand that my sister used in her nail salon. I’ve heard reviews raving about Deborah Lipman’s topcoat, so if you’re willing to shell out the $22, let me know how it goes!
Remember – topcoat to the rescue!: Always use a basecoat and a topcoat. A basecoat will help the colour adhere to your nail and the topcoat will help prevent chipping. A topcoat is key for that shiny, salon-done look. If you’ve made a minor mistake, a good topcoat will mask that. To freshen up a manicure, add another topcoat!

You won’t be a pro overnight, but it’s not rocket science. Just think of all the money you’re saving:

12/week for a manicure=$48/month
25/ twice a month for a pedicure=$50/month

=90/month! And that doesn’t include tip! That’s a minimum savings of $27.71! And that’s if you buy a new salon-brand polish colour every week of the month! 
What do you think about those savings, pretty little poor girls?

Best Jobs for Students

I was lucky enough not to have to work during my undergrad–not that I would have had time to, taking 6 courses a semester and all, but I definitely need an income now that I’m in grad school. I pay my own rent/food/transportation/bills etc., and that all adds up to some serious cash every month. It’s challenging  to find a job that will cover all of those expenses with part-time hours.

If you only have 5-20 hours a week to work it’s important to do one of two things: get paid higher than minimum wage, and/or get skills that you can apply to a job after graduation. So while I am only getting a tiny honorarium of $500/month for full-time work at my internship this summer, the skills I’m learning will make that line resume worth it when I try to find a full-time job after graduation. Or so I hope….Note that I also supplement my income by selling beer and sometimes popcorn at baseball games and concerts, and occasionally get good tips. (Don’t be afraid to have more than one part time job, it will sharpen your time management skills.)



Beyond $10.25: Good Jobs for Students

Server/Bartender at busy bars on busy nights

It’s hard to make tips unless it’s busy so if you’re getting paid under minimum wage and working only Monday nights, it might not be worth it. Conversely working one Saturday night at the local pub could net you over a hundred in tips. These positions are coveted and require experience, a Smart Serve certificate and often a connection, so apply early, dress up and ask to speak to the manager.

Teaching Assistant

In my opinion this is the ideal job for a student. The wages are ridiculous high compared with anything else you’re likely to get. I did this last year at my university and I made $37.50 an hour. One problem I did have was that my contract was for 3 hours a week but I regularly worked 10, so my wage per hour technically ended up being significantly less. You also get great skills in this job, it’s fun, it’s on campus and you can mark papers in a coffee shop.


This is also a great job during the school year. You can charge between $15-$60/h depending on your location and subject. I charged $40 and hour when I did this last year and found clients through my cousin who is a teacher. I want to keep doing this this year and expand my client base by putting up flyers. One downside is that travel time can be annoying if you don’t have a car, but maybe that’s just me.


If you have one or more days off from school, and good office skills, considering applying to a temp agency. I did this several years ago and they made my take some sort of computer test (which I didn’t even do very well on) and I ended up temping for a stock brokers office where I made $15/hour, had hot guys hitting on me all day and occasional got up to mail a fed-ex package.


What to look for in a P/T job

When considering a job, remember that your school has to come first.

  • Flexibility…will they let you take time off for exams?
  • Hours…does the business mostly operate in the day or night? Does this accord with your class schedule
  • Location…Transportation can be a big waste of time, especially if you don’t have a car. If you do have a car, is the amount of gas you’re going to be using schlepping to your job worth it?
  • Temptation…If you work at your favourite clothing store, will you just blow all your money on your sweet discount? It won’t be worth it if you do. Work at a place who’s products you hate and you’re sure to save your cash.

Fun Financial Fridays!

It’s FRIDAY! This weekend I’m going to the island, going to check out a Greek city festival and going to hit up the financial district after work today to try and find a rich man to marry, or at least buy me a pint!

What I did right this week

  • I bought tonnes of make-up and hair products at a magazine’s beauty closet sale (everything was $2 and I spent $36…and got amazing products like Stila eyeliner, NeoStrata skincare products, Urban Decay blush, Ojon hair serum,3  tinted moisturizers and a bunch of lipglosses. Several products I normally pay full price for that usually retail at at least $30. Can you tell how excited I was by this sale?! )
  • Brought my lunch 4/5 days
  • Went home to visit my parents, my dad bought Sushi so I brought that into to lunch today, and I picked up a government cheque for $70 that was mailed to my ‘rents house
  • Didn’t panic and sell my stocks : buy LOW sell HIGH
  • Applied for two part-time jobs during the school year
  • Didn’t buy  groceries at all and tried to use what I had in the pantry
  • Bought a 36’er of vodka so I can pre-drink effectively and save money at the bar
  • Got a friend to fix my bike instead of shelling out cash at the bike-repair shop

What I did wrong this week

  • I bought coffee almost every day, sometimes twice a day
  • I bought my lunch at my work cafeteria on Thursday (about $4.50)
  • I went out to dinner and ended up ordering more than I could afford ($17)
  • I’m going for after works drinks tonight ($who knows$)
  • Forgot to ask my roommate for her part of the hydro cheque before she went to her cottage for a week
  • Bought a book (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) that my roommate already had and I could have easily borrowed

What I can do better next week

  • I’m going to buy coffee beans this weekend to stop this buying-out-coffee madness!


Use your friends to save you money

In one attempt to save money, I decided I was going to bike everywhere.

And not because I was not imagining myself in a floral maxi dress with a fish-tail side-braid cycling on a dutch-style bike  with a baguette in my front basket, a bottle of Pinot Grigio in my left hand on my way to an afternoon picnic in the park.

Truly, I wasn’t. I lived in Belgium for a year: been there, done that.

Rather then indulging some soft-focus hipster fantasy, it was a practical decision to save money on transportation.

Where I live, an unlimited monthly transit pass is $100 and it costs $3 to take the bus or subway. To me, it’s just not worth it unless I’m going somewhere more than a 40 min walk away. Since I live downtown, in an apartment that is a 6 min. walk to school and a 15 min. walk to work, it’s pointless for me to buy a monthly transit pass since it won’t be cost effective. But sometimes, like when I want to go to the library, or go buy groceries in Chinatown, or go browse at all the lovely boutiques on the west-end of town, it just takes too long to walk there and I end up giving in and taking the streetcar. That’s at least $6 for a round-trip, which I’d rather spend on three coffees, frankly.

That’s where my  bike comes in. I bought it last summer at Canadian Tire for under $150 and it’s been sitting in my parents garage uptown since September. Finally, after weeks of trying to motivating myself to ride it downtown, I did it one evening. I was so happy. Now I could run errands in a faster time AND get fit doing it, all  for FREE. Win-win-win situation.

Of course, the SECOND day it was downtown, locked up to a post outside la apartment,someone tried to steal it. I guess when they were trying to steal it they got caught or something, but they (the bastards!) kicked my fenders in and punctured my wheel as well as stealing one of my locks.

So I had a completely flat tire (so flat it fell of the rim) and was thus unable to even wheel it to a bike repair shop because it wouldn’t roll.

Life sucked.

I also couldn’t drive it to a bike repair shop because I had no money to pay for it to be fixed! “Whatever”, I thought, “I’ll just continue to walk places”.

“Now”, you ask, “Danielle, don’t you know anyone who can fix a freakin tire?”

No, readers, no I do not.

You see, I grew up in a big city, all my friends grew up in a city, my parents grew up in a city, we can’t do things like that. My dad hires pays handyman $80 an hour to change light bulbs in our house practically.

I scrolled through my BlackBerry wondering who I could call. Now would be the perfect time to get  a country-boy boyfriend.


A few months ago I met a boy at a bar from the country. We hung out for a bit and he ended up putting up some shelves in my room. But we had lost touch over the last few months and I didn’t want to seem awkward or weird by calling him up to ask him to fix my bike since we hadn’t spoken for about four months.

But I also didn’t have money to fix my bike.

Long story short? I got over it, decided money was more important to me and I should at least just ask. The worst he would say was no.

But he said yes!! (after asking me if I deleted him off nooo I just got a new phone..he totally did not buy that, but that’s irrelevant).

Now I have a bike that will save me money because I can ride to No Frills to get cheap groceries, and to the library so I won’t have to buy books, and maybe even to my parents house if I’m feeling super fit adventurous (where they will give me free food and free laundry!) And I saved like $50 by getting him to do it rather then a bike shop.

Moral of this story? Use your friends.


How much is my coffee habit costing me?

Jenn may be a shopo-holic, but I’m a coffee-a-holic. Remember that  caffiene is a legitimate drug and I am legitimately addicted.

It’s not as bad as my university days where  I was taking six fourth-year level classes and trying to get into grad school and justified my two-a-day Grande Iced Americano habit during exams as a “study expense” so I could bill it to my parents (for the record, I did get into grad school so I’m going to continue justifying this).

Now, it’s nothing so bad at that. But it’s still a coffee or two a day.

It’s not the hyperness that concerns me, (I call it bubbly) but rather my financial health.

For a long time I would buy my coffee out every weekday. At between $1.50-$2.00 a pop, that’s about $10 a week. Not too terrible, you say. But that’s $40 a month and $520 a year. And that’s just plain coffee, not including the times where I splurge on $4.00 lattes or $2.50 Americanos (and those times are often). At its minimum therefore, my coffee habit is costing me the approximate equivalent of

  • Five pairs of Lululemons
  • Five months of unlimited yoga
  • Four pairs of heels from Aldo
  • Half of an all-inclusive vacation to Mexico
  • Twenty-one bottles of vodka
  • Eleven Axium manicures
  • 13.4 shares in Starbucks, which would pay me dividends

But I realized this a while ago. That spending money on coffee every day is a giant waste of money, especially since I have no income! Which why I stopped, bought a French Press and some honey-processed-fair-trade-shade-grown-organic coffee beans from Manic Coffee and started to make my own coffee every morning. At $15 for 1 lbs of this gourmet coffee, my spending dropped significantly for the next three months and I was proud of myself for so successfully kicking the habit.

Except then I ran out.

And now  I find myself off the wagon, walking into Starbucks before work. Walking downstairs to the cafeteria and buying some subsidized-but-tastes-like-water Aramark Coffee. Saturday mornings going to the coffeeshop I live above (DID I MENTION I LIVE ABOVE A COFFEE SHOP? That’s like putting an alcoholic above the LCBO) and ordering a cappuccino  with my Globe and Mail.

“It’s just $2” I tell myself. But $2 every day adds up.

“But I’m so tired today,” I tell myself.  Then stop downloading TrueBlood before bed.

“I need that kick the morning,” I tell myself. Then stop  being such a lazy bum and walk to Manic Coffee after work and buy some coffee! (I’m picky with my coffee, can’t just get it from No Frills. Yuck)

“I’m too rushed in the morning to make coffee,” I tell myself. Then stop using your BlackBerry as an alarm and get up earlier.

Basically, I’m lazy, I need to go BUY some coffee, MAKE it in the morning, get a trendy ceramic cup to TAKE it to work. Otherwise I’m just drinking my money away.


Financial Failure

Hi, my name is Jenn and I’m a shopaholic.

I sighed as I was writing the title to this post.  I’m weak sometimes. Some people smoke, some people drink, and I … shop. I’d like to blame it on genetics. As a child, the closet in my room was filled with not mine, but my mother’s clothing. As was her closet, her chest of drawers, and an entire room in our old house.

Sometimes I actually believe that buying this or that will actually change my life. Like a pair of jeans will somehow pay my bills, do my dishes and clean my apartment. A lipstick will actually make me look like Kat Von D. I…must…have… (insert newest obsession). Just the other day, I had the discussion with Danielle about how I need to stop thinking about how good of deal something is, if I don’t have the money for it, I just won’t buy it.

And then I hit the mall. (To return something, I swear!)

Now, to rationalize my purchases a bit, I did include a clothes budget for myself every month. And then not only did I find the jacket I had been wanting last fall for less than half the price of what I was going to pay for it, I also found the boots I had been unsuccessful in finding (yes, I’m aware it’s summer, which brings my shopping addiction to a new low). I think my purchases through and I know that I would actually make use of these items, but then I stumbled across a cute top… and well, I’m sure you know how this story ends.

I would love to end this post with some kind of epiphany or something that would wrap this story up in a positive way to my financial future. But no, there was none of that.

There is just happiness as I look down at my new boots… And hunt for a second job.