The Coin Jar – Found Money

Personally I hate change, since I was a kid growing up in Canada the government has gotten rid of $1 and $2 bills which have been replaced by coins that are larger than a quarter depending on their value. These coins are worth a fair bit but they’re also heavy which translates to a pocket full of change that is worth a fair bit and is heavy. So what do I do with all this change? Well I drop it into a change jar and then promptly forget its there. Every so often I need to move my little change jar only to realize that it’s gotten very heavy. At this point I’ll take some time and roll the coins which will often amount to a decent amount of money.

I did just this last week and I have close to $350 in rolled coins sitting in a bag at home. When the dollar figure adds up to a sum like that it’s a significant amount that you can do something with. In my particular case I’m going to turn this roll of coins into Christmas shopping money, taking the stress off myself a off my planning when it comes to the Christmas.

The thing that really caught me off guard is the fact that all my coins amounted to $350 which lead me to thinking that I could use this method to save up an emergency fund.

[tags]money, coins, change, saving, emergency fund[/tags]

Pocket Money, the mythical substance.

Over the past couple months I’ve been reading about budgeting, planning and a lot of personal finance stuff in general and one of the line items in some people’s budget I’ve discovered is pocket money. The concept itself isn’t new because most of us growing up got an allowance or pocket money from our parents. The concept is slightly different when it comes to what I’ve been seeing. The primary difference is instead of using your credit card or debit card you pull a certain amount of money out of the bank on pay day and that’s it this is your money for groceries, gas, and all sorts of little expenditures. You cannot pull any additional money out of your bank account, when that money runs out you have no more.

For me this pocket money is a mythical substance, not like dark matter which scientists are simply having a hard time catching. It’s a mythical substance because in our consumer world it takes a great deal of effort to limit yourself to only spending X$ per pay on stuff. My main reason for saying this is the case because we simply can’t leave home without taking our credit cards or debit cards for the just in case purchases or more importantly emergencies. Do I think it’s possible to simply not spend money that’s residing in your wallet? Of course but I think a lot of us (myself included) have been trained to think of the money in our wallets as expendable or worse yet already spent money.

My pay rolls around at the end of the month and I am going to try an experiment of sorts this time around. I am going to try doing the pocket money thing for my gas, food and entertainment expenses. Now just to be safe I’m only going to pull out half the money up front because if it starts to fail I still need to be able to have money in the bank account. This should take me to through to December 8th at which point I should still have money left over or be just about out. I’ll post the results of my experiment at that point. Here’s hoping that my thinking that pocket money is mythical can be proven wrong.

[tags]pocket money, cutting costs, budgeting, planning, spending[/tags]

Not Buying It – A review

I just finished reading Judith Levine’s Not Buying It:My Year Without Shopping (Amazon Link) and I have to say that I’m very impressed with the book. I do not agree with all of the author’s views but then again I’m more conservative than she and not as much of an activist. Political views aside I found the book to be a nice and easy read which is always a good thing when it comes to a book dealing with money and in this case consumerism. A book that flows well makes the reading that much more enjoyable.

I have to agree with Judith about consumerism in our society, it’s rampant and you can’t get away from it. Before you simply agree that this is an obvious statement I thought that as well and the book really opened my eyes a bit wider. Not only that it made me pause and think about my own hyper consumerism. Our culture is all about spending money and to be perfectly honest I was out there with the best of them spending money faster than I could make it.

Seeing someone remove themselves as far from consumer society as possible why still living a normal life made for a fascinating read especially when Judith commented about the struggles associated with simply not buying it. Stopping yourself from buying is hard and would be associated with struggle (imagine a smoker trying to quit smoking). I have cut down on a lot of spending but reading this book showed me that I can go a lot further if I wanted to.

The book definitely makes you appreciate the things that you have and it will make you pause before spending lots of money. A good read, I definitely recommend it.

[tags]Book Review, Not Buying It, Judith Levine, Consumerism[/tags]

An Interesting Take on Donald Trump

Today I read an interesting article by Robert Kiyosaki on his Yahoo! column, the article was very clearly a plug for his latest book(Why We Want You to be Rich: Two Men – One Message – Amazon Link) but you can’t fault an author for wanting their book to succeed. The interesting part for me was that Robert gave his take on what working with Donald Trump was like. It painted a very humbling picture of Robert Kiyosaki and showed that even someone who is successful in the business world can take pause and learn from someone more successful.

The nice thing about the article was reading how one person I admire (Robert Kiyosaki) interacted with another one (The Donald). What I also liked was the fact that it made Donald Trump seem like a real person instead of the iconic figure he’s often portrayed as.

So what about the book? I’m waiting for my turn from the Library and then I’ll post my review of it.

[tags]Robert Kiyosaki, Donald Trump, Books[/tags]

Black Friday and Consumerism.

Its funny but this year is the first year ever that I’ve heard the term Black Friday and not only that its being publicized in the media as much as it a breaking news story. I’ve known for a long time that in the US the Friday after thanksgiving is recognized as the ‘official’ beginning of the Christmas shopping season. But when did it get a name? Why is it such a big deal?

Well I’m not going to be daft here; it’s a big shopping day kind of like Boxing Day in Canada (and I’m assuming the US as well). It makes sense for retailers to try pumping the consumer crazy public for as much as possible. On the consumers side this is a day that they can get significant savings and start their Christmas shopping. It makes sense and both sides win.

But why all the media hoopla?

It makes perfect sense for retailers to advertise but why is this such a big news story? Does this mean that there is nothing of equivalent proportion happening in the world? I highly doubt that; maybe I’m being particularly sensitive to hyper consumerism because I’m trying to save money and I’m reading Not Buying It:My Year Without Shopping. Regardless it just seems so excessive then again the continuing consumerism around holidays has been catching me off guard for a few years now. On Halloween Christmas displays and lights go up pretty soon it’ll be a constant state of gift giving and spending of money.

I think that my becoming more aware of my monetary situation and financial responsibility has really put the Want vs Need when it comes to spending money into perspective. I no longer need to spend money for the sake of spending money which is something that I’m finding to be a eye opener. The plasticity of our world is amazing and the references to this in popular culture are that much more prevalent to me now.

But where are we going? I don’t know but if I can better understand the crazy consumer society we live in maybe I’ll find my own way of making some money off of it.

[tags]Black Friday, consumerism, Christmas shopping, spending[/tags]

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my American friends and readers, I hope you have a happy and safe thanksgiving! Eat lots of turkey, you’ll need all the strength for shopping tomorrow!

Determination and Goals

One of the things I’ve noticed having set up some financial goals is that just determining the goal is only a small portion of the accomplishment. The next component is actually achieving the goal which is often where the last part comes in: The determination. Sticking to your goals is where being determined and persistent comes in.

Since I got my goals in place and starting to see some success I’ve found that keeping determined and persistent with my goals is a serious challenge. At the beginning of the goal the idea is fresh in your mind and you’re raring to go, but over time seeing some minor improvements isn’t enough by itself to keep me motivated. Once this sets in keeping the same level of intensity has always been a challenge for me.

Keeping the idea and the goal visible has helped me keep things on track but it’s only moderately successful. What have people found to be helpful keeping yourself motivated with your goals?

[tags]Planning, Goals, Determination[/tags]

Keep the Dollar

Living in Canada I have to say that there is one thing that the Canadian government did during my lifetime that has irked me the most. Surprisingly it’s not raising taxes on a regular basis. It’s getting rid of the $1 bill and then getting rid of the $2 bill. Granted the two didn’t really need to be there but changing the $1 bill for a coin is something that literally buts holes in my pants. I have grown to hate change so much that each day when I get home from work I just drop it all into a big jar. The change in my pants pockets now weighs so much but can actually be worth a significant amount.

I know that it would cost the government more money to keep the $1 bill in circulation but I would rather have a fat wallet full of 1’s than have a pocket full of change rattling around wearing out my pockets. This is just one person’s opinion here but one of the things I always looked forward to when visiting the US was the fact that the money in my wallet had some substance even if it didn’t actually add up to a great deal.

So now that the US mint is trying yet another approach to getting rid of the $1 bill I urge all Americans to keep the bill!

Link: Yahoo! Article
Amanda from Young and Broke’s Take

[tags]dollar, dollar coin[/tags]

An Expensive Weekend

It’s been close to half a year since I bought myself something for the sake of buying something. This weekend that changed, at least to some extent. I needed to buy myself some hockey gear and I decided that this was both the weekend and I wasn’t going to be uber cheap about it. I got myself a decent hockey helmet to keep my brain from falling apart during a game. Overall the $190 investment was more an investment than splurging on something for myself.

With that said it turned out ot be a pretty expensive weekend all around. I needed to buy my parents birthday presents so I got them combo birthday-Christmas presents. On top of all of this we got some stuff for the wedding already. Between all three I spent close to $500 which is a fairly large amount of money regardless of the fact that I’m trying to get out of debt. Was it worth it? Yes and here’s why: The presents are going to make Christmas that much cheaper when it comes (two smaller gifts as opposed to a couple bigger ones) and the hockey helmet will hopefully prevent me from getting injured (the old one was on its last legs and I was being asked to replace it by a couple people). Between those two items alone I think it was worth the money; I made three people happy with the purchases and reduced the future impact on the pocket book.

I know its hard to justify the potential impact of an injury monetarily but it’s happened in the past and I wouldn’t want poor equipment being the reason that I had to miss work or worse. Did I need to spend as much money as I did on it? Realistically no, but I don’t often buy myself anything and I really enjoy hockey so it made sense to purchase a bit better than the lowest rung equipment.

This will have an impact on my monthly spending this month since I wasn’t expecting to spend any of the money but I did. I’ll have to raid the change jar and put that money into the checking account; thankfully in Canada we’ve got $1 and $2 coins which I hate as much as any other change and my change jar is up to $200-300 dollars. It just goes to show that although sometimes spontaneity in spending can be good and at times even necessary the impact can be more long term; you just have to be aware of it and keep it in mind regardless of the purchase.

[tags]spending, spontaneity, hockey equipment, consumerism[/tags]

Bond Info Site

Part of the process of learning more about the world of personal finance and investing in general I’m going to encounter a bunch of information about investing. I ended up with just that yesterday. I ran across an article about bonds. I’m definitely not in a great position to invest myself but bonds have always fascinated me. Unfortunately I never really had an excessive amount of information about them.

The article I ran across(on CNNMoney) had a good deal of information, I figured I’d pass it along incase anyone else found it interesting.

[tags]bonds, learning, investing, personal finance[/tags]