Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Less money, mo’ problems

I’m sure Notorius BIG is spinning in his empty grave thanks to my blasphemy, but if there’s one thing I’ve noticed in my life, it’s that the less money I have, the more stressful life becomes.  I blame most of the money problems on the fact that Saskatoon rent has increased dramatically, but wages have remained the same coupled with the fact that I am a student.  Plus we didn’t have any money when we came home from Thailand, and finding a job that Matt deemed as suitable took a few months.  In that time, credit cards were racked up for daily expenses, and since the pay scale in Saskatoon is still stuck in the 90’s, we don’t make enough money to really pay anything down.  We started to get ahead at one point, but as soon as that happened, our car broke down, requiring $700 worth of repairs. 

I am getting really tired of the pay cheque to pay cheque lifestyle, and I find that my spending habits and Matt’s don’t really match up too well.  From what I understand it’s natural for spenders and savers to pair up in relationships, but it’s the one part of my life that I find continuously frustrating.  I’m all for saving where we can and cutting costs, taking lunches to work, for example, or shopping for groceries at WalMart (and dying inside the entire time).  Saving a couple of dollars each time we shop is significant to our lives.  We just don’t have the kind of money we used to make at the dreaded warehouse, so we have to live within our new lesser, but much happier, means.   And I feel like I’m finding ways to do that, while Matt is still living in a dream sequence that eating out all the time is totally justifiable.  My suggestions to save money include “quit smoking” or, more realistically, “buy cartons of cigarettes” go ignored.  It’s to the point where I consider locking down all bank accounts and putting us on a strict cash budget, but I’m not the mom here, I shouldn’t have to do that.  I’m not interested in handing out an allowance, but I’m also not interested in coming home one day to find our utilities shut off.

All I can do to ease my mind is look ahead—way ahead.  Matt should be getting a raise in the summer, and a promotion looks to be in his near future.  All that will help, because after one year at SIAST, I will be working full time in an unpaid clinical practicum for over 10 months.  Sure, after that I will be making the big bucks as an X-ray tech, but something about working full days for free (AND paying SIAST $7000) doesn’t sit well with me.   

To ease financial concerns at the moment, I went looking for a better paying summer job with more hours.  As much as I love it at the store, I can’t spend the summer working 24 hours per week.  We can’t survive on that.  So on Monday, I started my job at the fruit stand.  My time is split pretty evenly between Confederation and Wildwood stands, but I am raking in more than 45 hours per week, which is excellent.  I retained one day per week at the store, so my summer will consist of 50-60 hour work weeks.  I did, however, manage to get a couple of Sundays off for family shit, and then I scored a long weekend in July.  Hopefully Matt and I will be able to organize a camping trip for that time.  Or perhaps another trek to Calgary and then to Canmore.  That would be lovely, but we’ll see if we can afford it.


Dylan Laine said...

fingers crossed!!!

terriannep said...

Ah, there is nothing wrong with shopping for groceries at Wal-Mart! We buy stuff at Wal-Mart all the time. If I can get something at Wal-Mart for a couple bucks less, I am all over that. I can also find a lot of random non-food stuff at the Dollarama that I need. Dish soap, makeup sponges, q-tips... why spend three dollars when I can spend one?!

Rob is really good at creating a budget for us to live off of, and sticking by that seems to work. We allow a certain amount of money each week for things like groceries, eating out, going to movies, etc., and then we divide it by seven to figure out roughly what can be spent each day. Sometimes we're over budget for the day, sometimes under, but regardless, if Friday comes along and we've spent our weekly allowance, that means we're laying low on Saturday. The allowance is based on the expected income for the month, minus all expenses (rent, bills, gas money, savings, etc.), divided by four for each of the weeks in the month.

Maybe because you and Matt have different priorities with the weekly allowance, you should divide it up. Then Matt can spend his share on whatever he wants and you can do the same, or you can contribute to your own savings so that you are confident in your own mind that *you* have money aside, independent of Matt. If the weekly allowance each is only twenty five bucks and Matt smokes two packs a week and eats out five times, well... he'll have to stretch that twenty five bucks!

There is no order without rules, only chaos. At least, that's my two cents. Pun intended. :P

Lojo said...

I agree with Terrianne on this one. Except the part about there being nothing wrong with shopping at Wal-Mart. Of course there are many things wrong about shopping at Wal-Mart. Not saying that I don't do it though, Terrianne. Regularly.

And Terrianne. One more thing! I think we're all extremely jealous that you have a man-partner who creates a budget. A BUDGET. OMG.

Okay, Cat-Robot. I am going to assume that you guys have separate bank accounts? Yes? If no, by GOD, get separate bank accounts. Joint anything is bad. Including credit cards. Bear Face and I even have separate coin jars. It's how mother nature intended things to be.

A certain amount of money has to be designated to the bills. This is obvious. Take that sum, discuss, and delegate. Maybe 50/50 would be reasonable, maybe not considering that you're still doing the student thing and Matt is working full time. Maybe taking on a bit of a socialist slant with the bill delegation would be more realistic. I'd throw gas into this mix, as well, and divide it up based on an estimation of how much you each use the vehicle. Or maybe one of you takes the bus more and needs to put money into that. Etc.

Groceries. I find this to be a difficult one because I rarely ever date dudes who have the same eating patterns as I do. For example, I don't eat much meat, which means that I don't want to be spending money buying meat. We're at the point now where we usually buy separate groceries, particularly because Bear Face isn't home much. I much prefer the separate groceries, although some may find that a lump grocery fund would work better.

But as Terrianne pointed out, the key after all the major bills are paid is to have your own lump of money to spend on frivolous things or to put into savings. And if an unexpected expense comes up that is both your responsibilities and you end up being the only one with savings left over, then there should be some sort of reasonable pay back agreement.

And c'mon, Matt. No to buying cartons? C'MON. When I am strapped I buy cartons and it's a self motivated purchase! CRISIS CONTROL, DAMMIT.

If possible-- I know it might be tough considering your current circumstances-- but I'd cut up the credit cards if you haven't already done so. Actually, in retrospect, a bit of credit card repayment should be tacked onto your necessary bills, as well, and then try your best to slowly pay those down. The last thing you guys want at this age is to rack up consumer debt.

I hope you can create some sort of order and slowly get things straightened out a bit. I, too, am sorting out relationships and money issues. If you ever want to bounce ideas off of each other, drop me a line. Or if you just want to bump chests, that's welcomed, too.

Anonymous said...

My ears are so red right now.

twitch said...

Feel the burn, baby,