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?

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.


Welcome to our PF Journey


We’re Danielle and Jenn. We’re no experts in personal finance– but you’re probably not either. So teach us and learn from us as we detail our financial adventures from saving and budgeting, to choosing between sushi and a haircut.  Since no one taught us in school (and judging by the fact that Canadians have record-high level debt, they would have done a bad job anyways) we want to learn how to make the funds we have go the farthest, while still enjoying our 20-something lives.

Danielle is a journalism grad student and likes to intern for free in her spare time. She pays her rent and feeds herself by taking every random part-time job she can find such as: teaching assistant, bartending, tutoring, stuffing envelopes and freelance writing. She regularly dips into her savings, which she earned during her year “on” between undergrad and grad.   Thankfully, she is out of debt, but desperately wants to stay that way. This is difficult since her income is close to zero and she has a penchant for expensive bronzers, lattes, cotton dresses and free-range eggs.


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