Becoming minimalist

February 27, 2013

Becoming minimalist is a fairly new concept to me.  I have always heard it, but I never fully understood what it meant, which may sound silly, but judge not my fellow readers! To me that just meant being organized and not having a lot of stuff.  Now although that is correct, I always considered myself to have those qualities. Yet, who am I kidding?! I'm far from minimalist, but I would slowly like to get there.

The topic of minimalism definitely relates to my drive to me a millionaire before I'm 30.  Cutting down on useless products and stuff will help keep me organized as well as keep my life on track in terms of my spending. I don't want to buy things that I don't use or that just take up pointless space in my apartment.

I read somewhere that 80% of our activities are completed with only 20% of our things! Now I'm sure those numbers aren't set in stone, it depends on the person, but I feel like that statement has definite validity.  

Let's back track a little though on how my life is now.  I've always considered myself to be average or above average in the 'clean & tidy' category.  My apartment is pretty much always clean and organized, but I have little areas that are cluttered and I am running out of room for my stuff.  Which in my mind, isn't a reason to get a bigger place, it means I have some major spring cleaning and organizing to do.  

Do I really need 22 bottles of lotion? no.
Do I need 136 different pens and pencils? no. (I do have an obsession with office supplies though, specifically pens! But that's a post for another day!)
Do I need old magazines and old text books? no.
Do I need a closet full of drawer organizers and boxes when they aren't being used? no.

These are all areas that I need to work on, and hopefully start to organize and whittle down to only what I need, not what I want or what's on sale on large quantities, *cough* body lotion.  That way I can efficiently function in daily life without getting lost in a clutter abyss.

Is anyone else working towards becoming minimalist?

The gym - The place we love to hate

February 25, 2013

We all have a love/hate relationship with the gym, am I right? I don't think there is a single person out there that doesn't want to be healthy.  But, the gym can be a scary place and not to mention expensive!

Tonight I decided to go for a late night run and workout in the gym in my building.  I like to consider myself semi-fit, and I try to get to the gym as often as I can.  Lately, that has been less that I would like, but that is besides the point. I started to think how lucky I am to have a gym in my place of residence.  If I didn't, the cost of a gym membership elsewhere would definitely hinder my drive to workout, in an official gym at least.

Now, I realize I am paying for the gym in my rent, so it really is a cost to me.  What that cost is, I guess I will never be able to figure that out. Depends on how often I use it I suppose.  That intrigued me to take a quick look and what gym memberships cost these days.  Lets take an annual membership for example:

City of Edmonton - $524.00 (Average of 3 levels of facility you go to)
YMCA: $718.25 (This one blew my mind!)

Okay to be honest, I looked up a bunch of other gyms as well (Gold's Gym, Spa Lady, World Health, Goodlife Fitness) and none of those places had their prices anywhere online. So, that doesn't help me at all! Shesh!

Regardless, no matter what gym you go to, it can be very expensive. Unfortunately, from experience, I have seen a lot of people commit to a gym membership, give their all for 3 weeks, then quit or get busy and let their money go unused.  So one tip, just make sure you are dedicated and planning ahead so you don't have this expense become a waste.  Even better, just go for a run outside, create a workout group with your friends in someones basement, or even do yoga by DVD at home.

It's expenses like a gym membership going unused that can help hinder people from becoming financially stable and one step closer to being debt free.  I know it seems small, but expenses like this make a difference in the big picture.

Can anyone else think of an expense that is often overlooked like this one?


February 22, 2013

Well, as promised, I went grocery shopping trying to take all my new rules into account.  I must say, I am very proud of myself, finally feeling like I had a successful adult shopping trip! Woot!

My average grocery bill was $110, and it went down to $70. I got all very healthy and gluten free things, and I followed the advice of my commenters and stayed on the perimeter aisles of the store for the most part.

Although, I did go hungry.  It was right after work, but that's my own fault. Yet, I resisted the chocolate monster as much as I could and came out the victor.

Now, if I keep this trend of cutting down my shopping and being more organized with my grocery money, lets see how much I'll be saving in one year.

$40 x 32 shopping trips in a year = $1280

Easy as that, I just saved myself $1280 a year.  Every penn... nickel counts right?!

The evil grocery store

February 18, 2013

Since living on my own, I have had a brutal war with grocery shopping.  Without a doubt, I always seem to be on the losing end of that war.  Grocery stores across Edmonton are laughing at me the minute I walk through the door.  Am I the only one that feels grocery shopping takes way more effort and work than it actually should? I'm assuming so, because I am 23 and still haven't mastered it.

It's funny; every week I walk into Save-On Foods with a smile on my face and a feeling of hope that I will finally get enough food to last me, plus throw nothing away. So finally, in my journey to become a millionaire, I said enough is enough. Time to buckle down and finally see exactly how much money I am wasting every shopping trip.

On average, I spend about $110.00 every week and a half on groceries. So, let's break that down:

$110 x 32 shopping trips per year approx = $3520.00

You don't even have to say it; that number is WAY higher than it should be for a 20 something female living on her own with no roommates. I was astonished when I saw that.  But, that being said, it is completely my fault it's that high.  I tend to buy gluten free/healthy/organic foods for the most part, which are without a doubt more expensive then most other foods. At the same time, I am hugely unorganized when it comes to grocery shopping and I have nobody else to blame.  I am not changing my eating habits though, I just need to re-adjust my spending and be way more organized when it comes to giving my local grocery store money.

With that number in hand, I then calculated a rough estimate of what I throw away in that same time period, which I already know is hard for me to write.  I throw away about $30.00 of food before my next shopping trip, just due to the fact that it goes bad in that week and a half.

$30 x 32 shopping trips per year approx = $960.00

I can't even believe that number! I might as well throw that money from my balcony, which essentially is what I'm doing.  That's horrible and I need to kick that habit ASAP.  No wonder I'm not a millionaire yet...

While wallowing in my sadness, I came up with a few ways to help curb this trend, for me at least, hopefully they help others as well.

1) Never go to the grocery store hungry - I know everyone always says this, I just need to follow the advice. I normally always go after work, before I've had a chance to eat dinner.  When you're hungry, the whole store looks like a giant chocolate bar, which I can't resist.

2) Plan out your meals for the week - I have never done this, which tops my list of reasons why I'm throwing away so much money. Buying random food items isn't going to help you during the week when you are making meals. You are without a doubt going to miss something or not use something.

3) Make a list and stick to it - This is in the same family as number 2. Again, I never go with a list, which means I end up either buying way to much food, or I miss many things that I thought I've made a mental note of.  It also made me discover my memory isn't the greatest. Gotta love teaching yourself a lesson.

4) Designate one day a week to cook and prep your weeks meals - Now because of my 60+ hour work weeks (I wish I was exaggerating that number) I always get caught not having meals made. Thus, I eat out and don't use the food I have in my fridge.  From now on, Sunday is my cooking day. Doesn't matter what other plans I have that day, I need to dedicate the time to prep my meals, so I not only eat healthier but am able to use up all my food. With this, I will be in my kitchen, drinking wine, blasting music and cooking up a storm every sunday. No questions!

5) Coupons, coupons, coupons - I was hesitant to put this recommendation in.  Because coupons can hurt you in they aren't dealt with properly.  I used to be the person that picked up a flyer of coupons and said "OH I could use this, this, this and this." But that is wrong on so many levels. That prompts you to buy things you might not actually need and you can end up spending more money without creating any savings.  My advice is, make your grocery list, plan all your meals, then once that is done, consult your coupon flyer and see if any of the items you are getting have a coupon. If they do, bonus! If not, don't buy something you really don't need just for a deal. My boyfriend was the one that brought this to my attention. How right he is!

I plan on going grocery shopping tomorrow since my fridge is bare right now, I'll blog about my first organized and planned shopping trip.  Fingers crossed I don't have to throw anything away for once. Although, my fingers don't need to be crossed if I'm prepared.  Time to finally win the grocery shopping war.

20 something wannabe millionaire

February 13, 2013

Yes, you read the title right. This isn't a joke, I swear!  I have decided to try and become a millionaire before I hit the old age of 30.  Now I know exactly what you are thinking.  Yes, this sounds like a crazy idea.  Yes, the chances of achieving this goal are slim. Yes, I understand what I'm getting myself into.

I know this wasn't the topic of my blog before, so I am shortly going to do a whole reconstruction of it. I may throw in a random unrelated story now and then, who knows!

Continuing on, let me explain my reasoning behind my decision to do this.  I have always considered myself fairly money savvy; my mom taught me right from the beginning.  I have always had an interest in money and the idea or potential it could bring.  To add to that, I have also had a passion for writing since I was a wee one. I am by no means a Charles Dickens, and my grammar could without a doubt use some work.   That being said, my love for sharing words and thoughts doesn't change.  Thus, the idea to share my journey to become a millionaire before I'm 30 is born.

Now, let me give you some background on myself.  I am a 23 year old living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  I have been living on my own since I was 20 and pretty much started my life after college with student debt and zero savings.  Between the age of 20 and 23 I have tackled a majority of my debt and have started creating savings for myself to one day buy my own house. I live in an apartment by myself and I am completely independent, not getting outside help which is what I prefer.  I have a full-time job as well as a part-time job, and I would consider myself a workaholic, which I'm okay with, because I love what I do!

With all that being said, I'm not going to consider my full net worth part of my journey to become a millionaire.  My car, my future house, and all my other belongings will not go towards the total. This is strictly just savings.

I realize this is an insane goal and I only have 8 years to achieve it.  I going to do everything I can to reach this target. I am also looking at this as an opportunity to learn more about personal finance, organize my life and create a comfortable future for myself, whether I reach my goal or not. Plus, writing about my experience along the way might help someone else achieve their personal and financial goals and that in itself is all the reasoning I need to start this challenge.

Lastly, critics of my journey are welcome. I will never be one to turn away advice, second opinions or negative feedback.  I use that as motivation and I want to create a means of discussion on the whole idea of personal finance.

Wish me luck everyone...