Tuesday, May 03, 2011

money chat

It's federal election night in Canada and there are 28 minutes to go until the results start coming in. Time enough for a quick post?

This is the ELLE Canada Horoscope for Pisces, April 2011:

Money, money, money. Your confidence is growing (surely you've noticed) and your inner poise shows. In part, this is why you're getting a better job, earning a raise or thinking up ways to make money on the side. Whatever the cause, you're certainly focused on earnings, cash flow and major expenditures this month. (Ka-ching!)

Possibly the most accurate horoscope I've ever had. April did see a boost in my confidence that came from being hired for a really good job, even if only on contract. I'm not too sure about the inner poise although I'm working on my outer poise (posture). More than anything, April was all about cash flow and expenditure for me. I hadn't had a pay cheque since leaving my last job in August. My savings were withered up and then, all at once, I had to pay out for first and last rental deposits, moving company fees, a transit pass, a couple of new furniture items, a pair of sensible office shoes plus all the minor things one needs to get set up in a new apartment. I was also driving a borrowed car home to Waterloo on the weekends to house-sit, when petrol costs happened to be at their all-time highest.

My savings account was down to $5 (lowest since high school!) so a fair chunk of that spending went on my credit card. For the first time ever, I did not pay off my full balance at the end of the month. I have long prided myself on having $0.00 in debt, even if I didn't have much at all in savings, so it feels not so great to have a significant balance owing someplace. Like, it's always at the back of my mind. How do people with serious debt cope with it?

I have never tracked my expenses or stuck to a real budget. I've always just tried to be reasonably sensible with my spending. But now that I'm on a contract and I may well be jobless again by October with Toronto rent to pay, I feel like I should start saving more carefully. I need some advice, though. Do you use any money managing programs, online or perhaps even in app form? (I am considering an iPhone although that obviously goes against what I just said about saving, but at least my new union has a good monthly plan.) Money in general is a mystery to me. Have you any suggestions for how I can be smarter with my earnings?


Eva said...

I've been using an iPhone app for the past few months. Before that I was just using excel to track my spending, but the app is easier because I can enter small amounts on the go and not forget them. It also shows when you're over budget. (My food spending is always over budget when I buy lunch instead of bring it...).

Lara said...

Credit cards are for emergencies and you kinda just had one so don't stress. Just pay more than the minimum balance and you're golden.

I did a post a while back on budgets. It may help.


Anonymous said...

mint.com is a great place to start!

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