My Canadian Dream

Hey everyone! Today’s post was written by Jordann. This is also her very last staff post here on Making Sense of Cents, and I am very sad to see her go. She has taken on a full-time writing position, and I wish her all the best! :)

Inspired by Michelle’s recent post about the American dream, I thought I’d share with you all, my dream.

If you’d asked me this question three years ago, the answer would’ve been completely different. It would have involved a sprawling house, two new cars, and all of the fancy, shiny, expensive clothing, furniture and gadgets I could afford.

I’d have 2 kids probably, a great job, and a golden retriever.

Oh young Jordann, how naive you were. My dream has changed drastically in the past three years. The dream I used to have for my future might as well have plucked from the pages of a catalogue. It was very materialistic, very one-dimensional, and very boring.

Yes, having lots of stuff is nice, having a giant house is nice (for some people) and having brand new cars, of course, must be nice (not that I would know). But are these items the most important thing in life?

Apparently I used to think so.

 

How I feel about material possessions.

Maybe it’s because I’ve spent the last two years living in a 400 sq. ft. house, but material possessions have really dropped on the “important scale” to me recently. They’re just not that big of a deal.

Sure, I like to be comfortable, but I’m just as comfortable on my free couch as I would be in a leather one. I have just as much fun watching Netflix on my four-year old TV as I would on a bigger, newer one. These things aren’t worth the money to me anymore.

What’s important to me is experiences, consuming less, and relationships that I’m proud of and want to actively contribute to. I want to be excited to see my husband at the end of the day, and I want to look forward to engaging with my coworkers. I want to always put my best effort into my job.

 

So what does my dream life look like?

Well, there’s a house in it, but it isn’t very big. In fact, a two bedroom house with a backyard for my dog would suit me just fine. There’s also a car in my dream, but only one, and it’s used. It’s also electric, because spending my hard-earned money on gas would be wasteful.

My husband is in my future, and so is my cat and my dog. There might be a baby there too, but we’ll see how things turn out.

My job would continue to allow me to work remotely, and it would be just as engaging and challenging as my current job is. I’d be paid well, but not exorbitantly, I don’t need that.

Financially speaking, my dream is modest. I save for retirement, I travel once a year to a new place, and I have enough money to spoil friends and family members. I have enough disposable income to not feel guilty about going to yoga a few times per month. I eat well, and am willing to drop some cash on organic, local groceries.

This life I’m describing, it’s not out of reach.

In fact, it’s totally achievable in my life time. I’m half way there already. I have a lot of things on this list already, and the ones I’m missing, are mostly material in nature. Those are things that a little time and hard work can take care of. Thanks to me understanding what is really important in life, I’m already on my way to my dream life. Are you?

What does your dream look like? Is it achievable in your life time?

 

The Evolution of My Emergency Fund

Enjoy this post written by my staff writer Jordann.

My emergency fund has gone through a bit of an evolution since I started it. At first it was non-existent.

I didn’t have an emergency fund in University. Money was tight, and I was more concerned about having enough money for rent, than I was about putting money away for a rainy day.

That all came to a screeching halt when I got in a car accident in the Summer of 2011. I was fresh out of school when I totalled my husband’s car and we didn’t have any money to fall back on.

The month that followed was anything but smooth. We had to deal with replacing the totalled car and a dozen visits to the doctor as my broken wrist healed. I missed time from work, and we both felt the financial strain.

 

The Origins of my Emergency Fund

Once that ordeal was over, I vowed to never again be caught so unprepared. So, I opened up my very first Tax Free Savings Account, and started saving. I still remember transferring that first $25 into that account.

It looked so pitiful, all alone in there. What good was $25 going to do in the event of an emergency?

But I kept at it, and over time that $25 grew to a few hundred dollars. Eventually I had around $400 in that account. $400 better than nothing for a first time saver like myself, right? I really wanted to get over a grand in that account though, so I kept up with my little $50 and $100 transfers, and my account slowly but steadily, grew.

 

My Baby Emergency Fund

My emergency fund finally got to the point where I could actually start using it about a year after I established it. It was sitting at about $1,600 at that time (I was aggressively paying off my debt, and slowly building my e-fund) and our new (to us) car needed some repairs.

No problem, I just pulled from the emergency fund. That’s what it’s there for right? Unexpected car repairs definitely count as an emergency. Just like an emergency fund for a car, companies like Insure 4 a Day can also help you insure your car when your car is in the shop.

It felt so good be not be totally thrown off course by a $300 car bill. Instead of looking at that bill in terror like I used to, I could just calmly say “I’ve got money for that”. What a revelation! Of course, as soon as I withdrew the cash, I wanted to replenish the account right away, and I did.

 

My Teenaged Emergency Fund

I’ve continued to add to this account (with some help from my husband) until it sits at a very respectable “Baby Emergency Fund” size of $2,200.

My emergency fund evolution isn’t done yet though. Once my debt is paid off, I plan on growing my baby emergency fund into a full-blown, healthy, “grown up” emergency fund. Instead of a small $2,200 in savings, I want to have 3-6 months of living expenses socked away, to insulate me from the lovely surprises life throws our way sometimes (like car accidents and broken wrists).

It’ll take a long time to build up this kind of cushion, but I’m not put off by that, I’m no stranger to saving. It’s going to be wonderful to finally build up some cash reserves instead of paying off dumb old debt.

My emergency fund started off small, but we all have to start somewhere, right? I have big plans for my emergency fund.

I’m curious, how much cash do you have set aside for a rainy day?

 

Frugal, Space Saving Hobbies

Frugal, Space Saving Hobbies

http://www.flickr.com/photos/calgaryreviews/5075253902/

As many of you may know, I’ve spent the last two years paying off over $38,000 in debt. In order to do that, I saved money on rent by moving into a 400 sq. ft. house.

Now that I’m living the minimalist life, I’ve had to find ways to keep my possessions in check. I do this mainly by learning to live with less.

I have fewer clothes, a smaller number of cooking utensils, and less furniture. I pair down, declutter, and eliminate unnecessary possessions on a daily basis. No area of my life has been left untouched – including my hobbies.

I’ve had to give up a few of my more space intensive hobbies, in favour of activities that don’t take up so much precious square footage in my tiny home. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that I’m also saving a bit of cash by indulging in hobbies that take up a little less space. Here’s are some of them:

Photography

I love taking photos. I love capturing special moments and family events. Fortunately for me, photography doesn’t cost much. I use an eight year old DSLR that was given to me after my parents had upgraded their model, and some photo editing software that a friend had lying around.

Sure I’d love to invest a little more money and space into it – I could upgrade my camera, try out some new lenses, and maybe even get a tripod, but for now, my second-hand equipment suits me just fine, and doesn’t take up much space.

 

Blogging

Blogging definitely doesn’t take up much space in my little house. All you need to start a blog is a half decently functioning computer, and a half decently functioning brain.

Fortunately I have access to both of those things, and blogging has been on my top three list of hobbies for the past few years. Blogging even helps earn a little income, which is always nice.

 

Reading

Old fashioned paper backs to take up a ton of space, but throw an eReader into the mix, and you’ve got the perfect minimalist, frugal hobby. I’m an avid reader, but I hate how much space books take up in my home. Fortunately for me, pretty much every book that’s been written is available on my tablet, and bonus: They’re cheaper than buying the paperback version. I still love to browse book stores for ideas, but I’ll probably never buy a physical book again.

There are ton of hobbies out there that take up a lots of space and money. Think restoring classic cars, having a boat, or scuba diving. All of these hobbies eat up space and money like crazy, and are they really more fun than my frugal, space-saving hobbies?

While I’d really like to have some more expensive hobbies, I have a hard time thinking that they might be more fun than curling up with a good book. Fortunately for me, I don’t have to make the distinction, because those hobbies really aren’t in the cards for me, in my present financial condition.

Do you have any favourite frugal and space-saving hobbies? I want to know!