canadiandebtgirl

Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Menu Planning

In Uncategorized on June 25, 2009 at 11:13 am

Well, the flyers arrive tomorrow so I am starting to think about the menu for next week. This is one thing I am terrible at remembering to do, yet it is a task that can save a whackload of cash and time. It saves money because you buy food that is on sale, and only what you need. You save cash from those multiple trips during the week to ‘just get asparagus or lettuce’ where you come out with a few extras that were great deals just too good to pass up. Truth is: did you really need them? Probably not. And those few dollars extra could really add up over the month.

Menu planning saves time because you don’t have any of those afternoons panicking because you have no idea what to make for dinner. you save the time you may have spent running to the grocery store, or *gasp*, the FAST FOOD PLACE for dinner. If you planned ahead, you probably already have meat defrosting in the fridge and maybe even veggies cut up so you can just throw them in a pan or on the grill when you come in the door after a long day of work.

So, do you plan your menus weekly? Do you have a spreadsheet to do it? Do you just scribble it out on a napkin? What’s the best way to plan each meal? Do you go on sales, or what’s in the freezer?

Cleaning the Clutter

In Uncategorized on June 22, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Our lives have a way of getting cluttered. Our kitchen counters get cluttered, our desks get cluttered, our purses get cluttered (well, mine does!), and our closets especially get cluttered.

At the end of every season I try and do a purge of my closet to get rid of any items I haven’t used since the previous season (one whole year). This keeps things clean and keeps my trends fresh – ha! Who am I kidding? I don’t follow trends!

But it does give back to the people who need it most, as I always donate my giveaways on freecycle.org or the Canadian Diabetes Association. Plus, this is a little bit of good karma because I myself use places like freecycle, Value Village, and thrift stores to restock my clothing and household items. It is a little bit of good for me, and also for the environment because this keeps stuff out of the landfill.

This week is my closet’s time to get purged. I wonder what treasures I will be giving away this season?

Time Management

In Uncategorized on June 16, 2009 at 11:03 pm

the past few weeks I’ve had a terrible time trying to focus. Every time I sit down to a task, I find a million other little ones that need to be done right. now. Then by the time I get my initial task completed, it was three times the amount of time it should have taken! This little nasty habit applies not only to my personal life, but my work life too.

After reading a great post by Gail Vaz Oxlade, I took her advice. Of my long list of things to do, I grabbed my pink highlighter and pinpointed three that were ABSOLUTE must-dos for today. Then, after checking my email, I closed my email, the internet, and turned off my phone ringer. Anything that was absolutely critical could wait until noon today. By the end of the day, not only did I get those three things DONE, but I also got a few other ‘extras’ crossed off my list too. That felt really good. I felt accomplished. And efficient.

I’m a lover of lists, but to prioritize them like that really was a new tool to add to my toolbox for time management. The ‘Highlighter’ Trick.

Another technique to use, especially if you are susceptible to the ’email-checking-every-10-minutes-and-replying-right-away’ monster is to schedule when you will check and respond to email. A training course I once went to suggested checking your email three times a day. First thing in the morning, once at noon and then again at 3:15. If anyone needs answers from you at another time during the day, they pick up the phone and call. It does your prioritizing for you! Fantastic.

The Debt Snowball

In Uncategorized on June 15, 2009 at 10:33 pm

This is the method I am using to pay off my debt: its called the debt snowball.

First, you write down all you debts. For myself, I excluded my mortgage and student loans as they are not as essential to pay off right now. I also excluded by car loan simply because to me it is also not as essential to pay off at this time. I’ve had a car payment for the last three years, I need a car for work, and despite all the recommendations to include it in my debt calculation, for the sake of my own sanity and my own snowball, for now I have left it out.

Then you also include all the interest rates for each debt and each minimum payment. Make sure you are covering your interest every month, and maybe a little bit more! Sometimes your minimum doesn’t cover this, so run the numbers to be sure.

Then, tackle your smallest debt first. Or highest interest, whichever gives you the best feeling of achievement. In order to know how much you are paying towards debt, you need to work out a budget.

Instead of going into all the fine details here, I will refer you a blog entry at The Simple Dollar, a great resource for all things personal finance. This is the article here.

And if you want to play around with the numbers and the ‘snowball method’, I found an excellent free download spreadsheet you can use! Just check it out here.

Screenshot of Debt Reduction Calculator

Make a Plan and Get on with your Life!

In Uncategorized on June 12, 2009 at 8:54 pm

When I finally fessed up to my debt load, it was overwhelming. And I will admit I was obsessed with the numbers even after I had made a plan and put it into play. It is hard to turn away from them and enjoy life as it happens. It’s funny how something like this can consume you, almost as much as the shopping and consuming, in the buying sense of the word, did in my ‘debt-building’ days. Its like a complete 180!

But you have to make yourself a schedule for your worrying – check your bank accounts once or twice a week, run the numbers through your budget, double-check your credit card bills online once a week – this keeps you on track. Once you have done your checking and double-checking move on! Enjoy your evenings with loved ones, go out with your buddies (within your entertainment budget for the week, of course), take walks in the park, and don’t even once think about the money. Because you’ve done your work, you have a plan you are following, and in between payments to your debt you still need to live your life.

After all, our days on this Earth are not infinite and if we don’t love our lives when we have the chance no amount of money in the world could ever bring these moments back to us.

So go out and enjoy that sunshine!