About Me

Friday, October 30, 2009

Barely Blown Budget

Try saying that 5 times fast!

I do not know how to copy and paste my excel worksheet like some of you. So if someone can tell me how to save it properly so that I can add it to my blog that would be oh so helpful!

Anyway this is the monthly budget broken down as Budgeted/Actual

Transportation 100/26 (my brother filled up my car twice for me, such a nice guy)
Food 25/56 (I bought groceries for some family meals I cooked, and spent $17 on lunches out)
Entertainment 87/59 (Going out with the boyfriend, and playing bingo with my mom)
Clothes & Gifts 60/96 (I bought a hoodie for a football game, and a few bingo tickets for my parents)
Everything Else 23/62 (Bank fees, fabric and batting for sewing projects)

Okay yes some sections are way over and others are way under, but overall this month has Put me over budget by $4. So close.

Also in October was the Shopping Trip Budget which was $1000, I spent $837. However afterward I also bought the boyfriend an anniversary gift for $74, and his family's Christmas gift for $143. So originally I was under budget with the Shopping Trip, however since then I have gone over it with the Christmas shopping by $54.

Now technically this does put me over budget. But I am almost done my Christmas shopping now, just need to buy for my brothers, my dad and something small for two friends of mine and have not included the Christmas budget I have for that. So if I can purchase the rest of the gifts with $256 ($300 minus the $54 I was over budget on the shopping trip) then I am set. I figure I will be under budget with this. I hope you do not consider this "cheating."

In addition, I paid $1500 to OSAP this month. Where I only made $1200 plus $30 babysitting and $74 GST cheque. So overall I may have gone a few dollars over budget but I think it was still a successful month. Bring on November!

For November I think I will keep my budget the same, although I think I could change some things around. Also I think I want to keep track of my no-spend days and aim for 20 days this first month.

Lump Sums

Today was payday. I got paid $480. And for one of the first times I didn't make a lump sum payment toward OSAP. Pretty much every payday since July 2008 I have been making extra payments on my student loan based on what I could afford until next payday. But now I am going to be watching my account grow until I have $5000 to give to my family. They gave it to be at the end of Feb 2009, so my goal is to have it paid back at the end of Feb 2010, giving just over $100 in interest. They said no interest, but it's a small way to say thank you. I'll likely have a debt-free party then too and take them out to dinner.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Almost Pay Day!

With my bi-weekly payment schedule, tomorrow is payday. I only taught two days in that time-period but I worked one full day at the rec centre so I should bring home $440 not great for two weeks but not bad for three days of work. I already have enough left-over in my account to pay off the rest of my OSAP. I am soo excited. OSAP sent me a message yesterday saying that because the last day of the month falls on a Saturday, my payment will be taken from my account on Monday. So that's it, Monday I will be done my student loan!

It's then on to the $5000 loan I owe my family. I think I should be able to do this by the end of February. Sooner if the supply calls continue to come regularly and I work at the rec centre full time over Christmas break. However, I am going to give them one big lump sum payment at the end of February instead of paying once or twice a month. This way I will soon be able to maintain a $1500 balance in my chequing account at my bank and therefore waive the $3.95 per month fee.

By the way, I watched the movie UP today, and I highly recommend it. It is sooo funny and sweet I nearly cried!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Let's Talk About Life

In my last post I briefly touched upon some of the goals I have for myself. I would like to one day, hopefully sooner than too much later buy a house, get married, buy a new (used) car, purchase furniture for the house, and still be able to pay my bills and have a bit of a life.

Let's break down the cost of those items:

House - or I should say downpayment. Now the downpayment can vary. But if you can pay 20% or more then you can avoid purchasing the high-ratio mortgage insurance (which can range from 1-3.5% of the principal amount of the house). Let's say I want to purchase a $250,000 home with a $50,000 (20%) downpayment, that would work out to be (at 6% interest) $1288 per month, or $595 bi-weekly after the downpayment and we are living there.

Wedding: I would like to have an average wedding. Nice but not too over the top. Still either way, weddings are expensive! Considering everything involved (minus honeymoon and engagement ring) I think $15,000 would be reasonable.

Furniture: Seeing as though I currently have almost nothing except what I had as a student, almost everything would need to be purchased except kitchen supplies. How do you estimate the cost of that? Let's say $5000 to begin with, I am sure if we needed things that family would be willing to give us some of their things.

Car: I would definitely buy used, not too old but not too new either. I think $12,000 would be reasonable for a good running vehicle. I bought mine for $2000 and it's working well but it has some issues and will need to be replaced eventually.

Let's say I want to get married, move into a house, have furniture and a car in three years...That would mean saving a total of $2278 each month starting now. Which is NOT going to happen. Let's say all of those in 5 years, well that is $1367 per month. Much more reasonable, but by then I will be 29 and wanting to have kids, which are another major expense....does it ever end? Compromise, and say 4 years, that is $1708 per month. Split between myself and my boyfriend that is $854 each per month but neither one of us will be able to start that for several months at least. However when he graduates this June he will also owe about $35,000. So that means that we either have to push back plans or decrease the downpayment, find a cheaper house, or make more money. How do you do it?

I do eventually want to move out and live in an apartment with my boyfriend which also costs rent, furniture expenses, and everyday household expenses. I do not like not knowing what will happen because I am a planner...Still, I look forward to the future!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Life Is So Expensive!

I going through Gail's website last night and came across the questions page. This one woman asks how to prioritize the things she wants in life, wedding, house, car, retirement savings, etc, in addition to having a small student loan. I think about this a lot in my own life. How am I ever going to be able to start life?

Supply teaching is great, but the paycheques are irregular which makes it difficult to stick to a savings budget. I would like to save for a downpayment, house furniture, have some money in retirement savings, and get married within 2 years, but is this possible? I will have to do some calculating to see what I need to save in the next 24 months to have some of these goals possible. Will post more on that later.

In the meantime, check out the beginnings of my quilt. Look past the uneven squares and the lack of ironing!

Can someone help me to rotate these pictures? That is not how I took them, and not how I have them on my computer, only on blogger...hmmm.

Monday Already?

Sorry, I have not taken the time to take and upload pictures of my sewing adventures yet. I started working on the borders on Saturday and let me tell you, they are tricky to do! Yesterday and today I didn't do anything on it. But today I worked in the city and picked up some more fabric (40% off!). I might even make some Christmas pillowcases for my friends. I will get some taken and uploaded soon...

It has been busy though lately. Today I worked a full day just over an hour from home. I had such a nice Grade Three class!! Then I volunteered after work for 2 hours with my Brownie group. Tomorrow I am working another full day a town 25min from here, after work going to bingo with my mom (maybe I'll win big, ha). Thursday I am working a half-day morning 40 min from here. That is the price you pay living in a small town, you often need to travel for work. Seems like work is picking up at least! Means paycheques will also be picking up. I received my paystub by e-mail today and it's going to be a small one - $360.44, oh well, that will cover the rest of my OSAP and then I can start saving to pay off my family loan!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

My First Sewing Project!

Tuesday night my mom taught me how to use her sewing machine. I had told her that I wanted my own for Christmas and she said that we really don't have the space in our house (very true) but she would teach me how to use hers. Deal!

After a quick 20 minute lesson, I felt like I had the basics. That night I went on E-bay and found a cute baby quilting kit that came with all the fabric you need for the front, back and border of a baby quilt, and supposedly with instructions. Yes I wanted my first project to be a quilt, my mom thought I should start with a pillowcase...noo not I. I picked up the kit yesterday after school and was excited to start. I soon realized there was no instructions. The pattern it showed on the packaging was kind of boring as well (had 12 squares in random order (boring!). I thought I would wing it and make it a little nicer.

I decided to skip the washing fabric, drying fabric and even ironing fabric before starting. What can I say, I was anxious to get started. I began by cutting fabric using a rotary cutter (a lot harder than I thought it would be, that thing is sharp, and fabric stretches quite a bit). I cut 3 inch squares. Then arranged them into 3 different patterns until I found something I liked. Then I started the sewing...

I wasn't exactly sure how to start a quilt, do you start from the top, the bottom, the middle? I decided to start my way from the top row and work my way down. After some frustration I started to get the hang of it and it started to go a bit faster. Looking back I should have ironed those squares. I probably should have pre-washed the fabric as well because it might shrink a bit when I was it. Oh well, a beginners quilt is supposed to look like a beginner's quilt right??

I lost my thread from the needle too many times to count, and once stiched an entire row before realizing my bobbin was out of thread. But I think overall it turned out fairly well. I am only done the top of the quilt, so I still have to add a border and backing. Because I didn't use the giant squares the picture the kit came with my quilt is quite small. My mom also doesn't like the border fabric it came with, so I might run out some point today or tomorrow to get nicer border fabric (the closest fabric store is a 30 minute drive). I am quite excited to finish it. I will try and post a picture of my progress so far.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How Much Would You Pay....

Fabulously Broke made a post yesterday asking how much would you pay for
-a purse?
-a winter jacket?
-a pair of boots?
-a casual (not formal) dress?

Reading the comments, it actually surprised me by how much some people would spend on these items. For me (these would be the max I would spend on each):
purse: $50
winter jacket $200
pair of boots $120
casual dress $70

I am from the southern end of "northern Ontario" and we get a lot of snow, I would invest some money in quality boots and coat, but still I think if you shop right you can find some great quality items without spending an arm and a leg on them. Is there anything else that should be added to this list that you think you might pay more (or less) on than the average person?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Life Goals....

Do you have them? Things you want to learn or accomplish at some point in your life.

I started one of mine last night. I asked my mom to teach me how to machine-sew. Yes learning how to sew was a life-goal of mine. I have always wanted to learn but just never did. Now that I have the basics (was literally a 15 minute lesson, it's much easier than i thought) I think my first project I want to make is a quilt. Either a baby quilt or a quilt for a pet bed. Any tips??

I think that sewing is a great way to actually save costs on some things as well. Hemming your own pants, making your own bedding, fixing up a ripped seam, etc. So really, I am saving money??

I hope to start making something this weekend or Friday if I do not end up working. Lately I haven't been feeling well but was slightly better today and I received a call to work a half-day. I got another call tonight to work a full-day tomorrow. Hopefully things are picking up!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Are You Interested...

In what you are spending in interest?
I cannot believe how much I have already spent in interest in just 17 months of having my OSAP loan. Imagine I took the 120 months (making only minimum payments) to actually pay it back...

When I first graduated I was paying the floating rate which I am pretty sure was 6% interest. Since then, actually only a few months after I graduated prime went down and I was paying 4.75% for the rest of the time. I am so glad I chose the floating rate instead of the fixed rate! Just so you know, "floating" is prime plus 2.5% where "fixed" is prime plus 5%! Currently prime is at 2.25%.

Consider this: if I took the full 10 years (including grace period) at the floating interest rate it is now I would have paid $8003.36 in interest. If I took the fixed rate at the rate it is now I would have paid $12673.19 just in interest!! Craziness!

One thing many people get "tricked" on is the "grace period" they give you. Many people believe that during these 6 months there is no interest accumulating. Unfortunately that is wrong, you need to read the fine print. Interest starts accumulating the day you graduate. However, you do not have to make any minimum payments or pay the interest during these 6 months. If you are able to though it is great to make lump sum payments anyway to get decrease that interest building up.

You may be wondering how much interest  I paid over the 17 months (including grace period) I have been done for. Well just a bit of background, when I graduated I owed $5.95 A DAY in interest!! Earlier this month I got down to $0.14 wow that felt nice. Currently it is probably at $0.02 but it takes several days to update on the NSLC website. So in total, after 17 months (drum roll please) I will have paid $1247.15 in interest. Not too bad considering what it COULD have been.

If you would like to calculate how much you are spending in interest I recommend the Canlearn site or this Loan Calculator site which will show you your interest accumulated once you click "show/recalculate amortization table." Good to figure out what you are paying in interest to student loans, mortgage, family loans, car loans etc. Fun to play with!

Main advice: make lump sum payments in addition to your minimum payments whenever you can. It could literally save you thousands!!

What Is On Your Christmas Wish-List??

Last night my boyfriend (I should really give him a name soon) were talking and he asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Usually I can come up with a pretty good list of things I want/need. But this year, especially because I am living at home, I really don't have any needs, or even many wants. I told him of a couple of children's books I wanted for school but that's it. I really don't want anything from him, he's been so generous but I know he will want to get me something.

I really want to learn how to machine-sew (and quilt) and so I would like a sewing machine eventually, but I think I can practice on my mom's first. Maybe I can ask for tickets to see a show or gift card to a restaurant so we can enjoy it together?? I always enjoy board games as well. Hmmm, I know my brothers and my parents will be asking me as well....what's on your wishlist??

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How To Make Progress Bars

Some people have been wondering how to make progress bars. They are actually easier to make even though the HTML code is tricky. But here is one version of progress bars. First you need to go to the "Layout" section of the Blogger and then "Add a Gadget." From there you need to add the "HTML/Java Script" gadget. Create a title for your progress bars and then add the following into the content section.

<b><font color="#3366FF">TFSA</font></b><br/>
Current $350
<div style="width:240px;height:15px;background:#A9D0F5;border:solid 1px #555;" class="goal">
    <div style="height:15px;background:#3366FF;color:white;width:23.3%;" class="progress"><b>23.3%</b>

<div style="font-size:10px;float:left;">$0</div><div style="font-size:10px;float:right;">$1,500</div>

From this you can change the colours, the width of the progress bars, and of course the percentages and goals. Where there are numbers combined with letters is where you can change the colours. You can change the colours easily by going to this site and copying the colour code http://html-color-codes.com/ to what you would like. Play with it a little bit, if you mess it up just re-copy and paste it until you get something you like. I hope this works for you! If you have any questions please ask!

Does Anyone Else Have This Problem??

I am having an issue with some blogs. It could be my fault as I am relatively new to this still. I cannot post comments on their blogs. Is there something that I am doing wrong here? Does this happen with anyone else?

In other news, the boyfriend just left today, he was up since Friday after school. We had a great weekend. We went out for supper on Saturday which was $15 each. We also carved pumpkins today but he paid for those. I made a haunted house and he made a goofy face. The rest of the weekend we were fairly lazy which was kind of nice. We played some Rock Band and watched some TV, just hung out.

I got paid on Friday ($620) and made a $400 payment today to OSAP. I will be updating those side bars shortly to reflect this change. So that means that my minimum payment will cover the rest of what I owe for this month and then I will be DONE!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I Have Money Left!

After all that shopping, I actually have money left over! I did not anticipate being given any money from my mom or boyfriend so I did not budget for it, and saved up for the trip myself. So I probably spent a little more on myself than I thought I would, but with free money why not? I still have money left over, so I made a $500 payment to OSAP today. My progress bars reflect this change...98.01% complete!! I get paid tomorrow as well, so I might make another payment next week. Then I get paid AGAIN on the 30th. I love three paycheque months. So if I make a big enough payment with tomorrow's paycheque I could potentially be done my OSAP loan by Halloween! I still haven't cashed my GST cheque or put my leftover Canadian or US cash into the bank. Which will be about $200 all together. So new October goal to add to the list - pay off OSAP!

Shopping is Exhausting

We are back. It is nice to finally sleep in my own bed. I think we had a good and successful shopping trip. I don't think I could do this every year though. It was expensive.

So what did I get??

I bought two collared t-shirts for my brothers ($26)

I bought my dad some rum ($15)

I bought my mom two sweaters, some socks and a nice bag ($62)

I bought the boyfriend three pairs of pants, and three sweaters ($139)

Not too bad for at least getting Christmas started. I want to get the boyfriend a couple more things he wants two things for his computer that I will have to order, and I have two things here for him I bought earlier as well. I want to get my dad a shirt or something he wants, maybe the Blue Planet? I want to get my brothers  some DVDs or a game (that's what they have asked for). My mom is basically done, just get her some bingo tickets and maybe some Christmas jewellery. Now just to get the boyfriend's family (I did get them some hand soaps, so I am thinking of making them up a gift basket). Then I think I will just get my friends a little care-package I can send in the mail.

So for myself
I bought three sweaters for $40, two pair of dress pants for $40, my favourite purfume for $40, a pair of Columbia snowpants for $42, some lipchaps and soaps for $17 (soaps will be used as gifts), two children's books for $11, a purse for $26, a CK wallet for $23, shoes for $40, several pairs of socks for $6, three just for fun t-shirts for $16, three Aeropostale hoodies for $69

The hotel cost $40 each, the car rental was $60 each, and the gas was about $25 each. We had to eat at restaurants each day so that was about $90.

What an expensive three days. I am glad I went, but I do not think I would go again next year. I would like to go with the boyfriend or my mom and just take my car and pack more lunches etc to save some costs that way. I did not need to stay at a hotel with a pool. There were some added expenses going with a larger group. Overall I think it was a successful shopping trip. I now only have a few things left to get for Christmas which should be quite easy to complete. With the $500 given to me as a gift it was a relatively cheap vacation out of my own pocket.

Back to Reality....and Canada!

We had a good trip, it was fun but I am glad to be back. Shopping is tiring!! I think it was quite successful. I spent a lot but I got a lot of gifts. I will post more details tomorrow. Have a great night!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gone Shopping

Well tomorrow is the day! All this time saving up is going toward the next THREE days of shopping. I am excited for it, never have I gone on a trip JUST to go shopping. Will be an adventure. There will be 5 of us and we are renting a van which means that every expense will be split 5 ways, and we will have enough room to bring things back. I am hoping it won't be too much for the car, gas and hotel. I will update you when we get back.

Things I want to buy:
-Christmas presents for my mom, dad, brothers, boyfriend, boyfriend's family (or at least half of those people)
-Teacher clothes for myself
-Jeans (I am pretty picky with jeans so in three days of shopping I hope to find at least one pair I really like)
-Halloween costume for myself and possibly boyfriend
-Nice fall jacket
-Maybe some casual clothes as well, we'll see what we find!

I hope everyone enjoys their day off tomorrow!! It snowed hard here for a while, so enjoy what fall days we have left!

What are YOU thankful for??

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone!!

I am a day early but it is never too early to get in the Thanksgiving mood (besides I will not have internet access for the next 3 days). So my question to you is what are you thankful for?

There is so much to be thankful for in this beautiful country. I was out walking today and looking at the fall leaves, it's just so refreshing! I will have to upload a picture soon, this area has just about reached it's peak in changing colours.  

I am thankful for my family. They are such a great support, as are my friends! What would we do without family or friends? I am thankful to have a job. I sometimes complain at lack of finding full-time work, but with some friends from teacher's college without supply work, and in this economy I am thankful to have anything at all. I am thankful to my boyfriend, he can make me smile after a long day, and is always so sweet and generous. He is always willing to listen to me vent, and support me. I am thankful for my health, and the health of those close to me. My brother just returned from the army, and he says he is thankful for his freedom.

Really, it's the things we often take for granted that we need to think of the most during thanksgiving. Let people know that you are thankful for them. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Just my luck...

On Tuesday I went to pick up my brother from Toronto. We stopped on out way home (about 2 hours from home) for supper. We had a delicious meal, and then left. I drove home and when coming into the house I couldn't find my purse. I seached all through the car, not there. Darn.

I called the restaurant and asked if they could send it by mail collect. They said they could send it by mail, and they would send it free of charge. Thanks you, thank you!!

I still hadn't received it yesterday, so called to confirm that it was sent. They said yes and that if it wasn't there today it would be tomorrow. So today rolls around and still no purse. Got a message from the manager though saying that if it wasn't here today it would be on Monday (a holiday though, so I think he meant Tuesday). Now typically this wouldn't be a big deal, except for the fact that I am going on a shopping trip on Monday morning.

Luckily...I have my debit card with me, for some miraculous reason I had it in my pocket instead of my purse, and I also have my passport and US money that was given to me at home. Thank goodness!!! So really the only things I do not have are my driver's license and mastercard, and the convenience of carrying around a purse.

I had planned on using my mastercard for anything beyond the US cash I had, however now that that is out of the question, I guess I will have to use my debit card. Does anyone know if we are charged extra (beyond exchange rate) for using a debit card in the States?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What would you do with a million dollars?

Have you ever seen that show, "Lottery Changed My Life" on TLC? I have watched it once, and this one person won a few million dollars and totally blew all the money. Is now actually in debt! How can that happen? These people were not taught about finances, or how to manage their money. A man in his 40s who lives down the road from me (with his parents) just won Cash for Life. So he receives a $1000 cheque every week. What will he do with his new "salary?"

I would love to win the lottery, however besides a few TV bingo tickets every once in a while I do not play. I bought one lottery ticket when I turned 18, and didn't win. I haven't bought one since.

What would you do with a million??

I would first pay off the mortgage on my parent's house. Give them an amazing vacation (cruise is my mom's dream). And give them a good chunk to put into retirement! Renovate our basement, which is something they have been wanting to do for a while. I would then pay off the rest of my student loan, my family loan, my brother's student loan, and give my other brother a bit as well. From there I would buy a new car, give the one I have now to my youngest brother. Then I would purchase a house, modest size. I would allow my brother to live with me to help him find a job or apprentiship (since our town has little to no opportunity for what he wants to do). I would also have to furnish it, and get a kitten. I would give my brother and his girlfriend a vacation, and my other brother a vacation to take with who he would like. I would then put the rest, how much would I have left? I'm guessing  I would have 400,000 left after this. I would put that money into savings. This would be wedding/honeymoon fund, vacation fund for when the boyfriend graduates, money to pay off his student loans, retirement fund, and then the rest just in savings for a rainy day, and planning for kids! I would also give my close friends a sweet gift, and have a nice party as well, I'll pay off their student loans too, why not? Wouldn't it be amazing to win a million?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

GST cheque!

My GST cheque came in the mail today! An extra $75 woohoo! I love "free" money! I think I will put it in my bank account and use it toward my shopping in the states fund.

I also worked two half days this week so far (approximately $150 net). I am working at the rec centre on Friday and I worked a half day there yesterday (approximately $130 net). My goal is now to finish the rest of my student loan by the end of November. I just paid off my credit card, and I have about $1000 to spend on my shopping trip (budgeted), but I doubt I will spend that much! Hope the jobs keep coming and this goal will actually happen, so I can move onto the next debt...wow life is expensive!

Monday, October 5, 2009

These are a few of my favourite things...

I love weekends
my boyfriend
my best friend
making lists
my family
pink, blue and green
flip flops
swimming in lakes
my hometown
country music
chick flicks
watching hockey (go leafs go)
fresh sheets
board games

I love weekends. I had a great weekend  with the boyfriend. We went to a football game, and out dancing. We played some games at home and hung out with his family and some friends which was a lot of fun. He also gave me $250 american for my shopping trip! Wow, he really is amazing! Very generous of him. My mom also gave me the same amount in american dollars for my shopping trip. So I have $500 american in free money!! I cannot wait. After being careful not to spend too much it's going to be weird to do so much shopping/spending! But I am sooo looking forward to it!

I also paid $600 to OSAP today! Updated the progress bar to reflect this! I owe under $1200 now! Could I have it finished by the end of November??

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Goals

Where did September even go? It's already October, which means the snow is going to be coming soon :(

Now for my first set of monthly goals!

1. Go to the gym at least twice a week
I bought a 6 month gym membership through this online auction. Great deal and I have not been in to start it up yet so today is the day! My goal here is to go twice a week minimum, and hopefully tone up a bit. I am not really into the equipment at a gym but I have always enjoyed fitness classes, so we will find out today what they have to offer in that regard. Hopefully they offer spin classes too!

2. Complete half of my Christmas shopping
Yep that's right, Christmas! It's coming up fast and I am usually a giant procrastinator so now is the time to start. I am also going on a shopping trip in the States on Thanksgiving so it gives me the chance to complete a lot of my shopping that needs to be done.

3. Start volunteering at schools
I called the other board in my area to see if they were hiring. They said they were not but the best chance I  have of getting on their supply list is to start volunteering in their schools. My goal is to do about two days a week, but if I get called in to supply teach then I will obviously take that over volunteering that day. I did this last year and although nothing came of it, it was still a good learning experience. I am also volunteering one night a week as a Girl Guide's leader.

4. Advertise as a tutor
I ordered some magnetic business cards online for tutoring services and some flyers. I hope to put them up around town (mailboxes, rec centre, library) and see if anything comes of it. If I am able to tutor one or a couple of kids it would be great, it would be good experience and I would earn a little extra revenue.

5. Read a new book
I just finished a book, and I am trying to get back into reading. I have time during the day when I am not called in to work. I prefer the chick-lit books (authors like Sophie Kinsella and Meg Cabot). Any recommendations??

I finally figured out how to make progress bars! I just love them! So hopefully they will keep me motivated to fill them up! I like seeing the bar move...

In other news, I started babysitting this new family and made $30 on Tuesday. Now that I am no longer working at the rec centre this will help to have a bit of extra income. Although it may not be very often that I am called to babysit. I also made my minimum payment on my student loan today and will change the progress bars to reflect that, yay!

Student Loans....

Oh how I wish this was gone! It's been 16 months since I have graduated. My original loan amount was $31,000 (well $24 short of that). That is 5 years of school (4 undergrad, 1 teacher's college). I also had a bank loan my first two years of school.

I have paid $1246 in interest on my OSAP loan SO FAR!! Wow the price of education. No full-time job yet, but I still think it was worth it!

I now owe $1975 to osap 16 months after graduation. I should have it paid off by new years. I owe family an additional $5000 (goal is end of February for this).

I think I have done quite well so far. I wish it was gone now but I'm close! Some friends I know are only making the minimum payments which means that it will take them 10 years to pay off their student loans. I would have been 33 by the time my student loans were paid off if I had done that! I will be done at 24.

My education was paid for almost entirely by me. My parents gave me approximately $3000 over the course of 5 years. The rest I received from OSAP or working during the summers and part-time during the school years. I think this is a good thing too, I feel more accomplished knowing I paid for my own education. I knew people who had their way paid for them and went out all the time and didn't care as much about their studies. My boyfriend has also offered to pay the rest of my loan off, but I won't let him. I don't want help with that either.

However, what I did not know graduating is that my uncle and my mom had set up education funds for me when I was a kid, and together they gave me $5500 when I graduated. That went straight toward a lump sum OSAP payment. Decreased my interest accured daily by a lot!

A great tool that I LOVE is the CanLearn website has a loan repayment calculator (http://tools.canlearn.ca/cslgs-scpse/cln-cln/40/crp-lrc/af.nlindex-eng.do). I look at this often and input the amount I owe, the interest rate I have and then how many months I would like to repay it in. It calculates what my monthly payments would have to be, and the total amount of interest I would be paying. Very interesting to see how making some extra payments can take off months or even YEARS of paying off the loan and how much you are saving in interest.

I have always been fairly wise with my money in high school I set up my own RESPs. But I think I learned a lot more when I went to school. Cost of living! I had never before paid any bill! Internet, phone! We decided against cable in my first year, and set up some bunny ears, talk about lifestyle deflation! I had also never paid for groceries before my first year of university! I quickly learned to stock up on non-perishables during sales, and that meat was very expensive. I often went without it in my diet due to cost. For Christmas my wishlist consisted of needs like laundry soap, toilet paper, and groceries! It made me almost as excited to open a set of oven mitts as it did a new movie I had been wanting. Priorities change.

Is Shopping Glamorized?

I like to shop as much as the next guy. But has it become so glamorized that people are willing to go shopping just for the status and not worry about the consequences? Reading books like Shopaholic, and watching movies that seem to glamorize shopping and brand name clothes I wonder where do these people get their money? Now Becky Bloomwood faces the consequences of her actions, do the others? Is shopping so glamorized that people are willing to go into major debt just to show their "status?"

I was talking to my friend tonight and she was talking about her shopping trip and as she told me what she bought she mentioned all the brand names. I don't know why, but for some reason it kind of annoyed me. Was it envy?? I'm not too sure. I have a few brand name items, mostly gifts though. I actually prefer the non brand-name clothing. I like when you cannot tell what type of shirt it is, where the brand name is not plastered all over it. I think GT Boutique (Giant Tiger) has the best teacher pants for $11. Can't go wrong there!

When I go shopping I look for what I like, if I really like it then I ask myself is it worth the price? Based on quality and affordability. If it's not then I'll move on. If I keep thinking about it later then I might go back and decide to get it but sacrifice some other things. No eating out for the month, do something free for the weekend instead of going out with friends. Or what usually happens is I go in with a mission to get something. A few weeks ago I went shopping with the mission to buy new running shoes, I looked at a few and liked a pair that were $80, I bought them, and that's it. Of course I looked at all the nice clothes in the stores as I passed by, but I only had money to buy shoes and that is all I did. Takes some willpower from me to not even windowshop in the other stores.