Right off the top 25% of my income goes directly to the Ontario government to repay OSAP (student) loans. We’re, of course, talking net income. A big chunk of my cash goes right back to Alberta whether I agree with how the conservatives spend it or not. Back to OSAP. So far I am off to a good start – it is a painful percentage to look at but it shows that I want to be out of debt as fast as I can and it ain’t all talk.
The next 25% keeps me warm, dry and mobile – rent and car payments. This is just slightly over a full 25%. Hopefully no need to justify rent but I will point that I went the more affordable shared place pre-furnished to save dough which then gets handed over to the crones of Mr. McGuinty. The car would be irresponsible in a big city with mucho public transport however, I need the car to get around this sprawling urban mess and out to the rural sites I cover for work.
Gas – $100-$150 per month. I had set a budget of $100 however I have tended to go over this. A good chunk of it gets reimbursed eventually for driving to those far away work sites. Another large percentage of this is weekend trips to Edmonton. I value good friends – money well-spent.
Food – budget: $300. Actual: $350…ish. This seems large and it is half and half. The budget is high because I have decided to buy all of my meat at a butcher that only sells local, organic, free range dead animal muscle tissue. Organic milk and other dairy products. Organic fruits and vegetables. Local whenever possible. A good investment. The kicker is – quite a bit of my monthly food bill goes to eating out. When I eat out it is more expensive and I buy things that don’t fit my rules of organic or cruelty-free.
How can I make my food budget more closely reflect my values/goals? 1) Stop buying coffee at work. I lost my ceramic mug so it is even worse right now with those dang paper cups. The coffee isn’t fair trade but it is convenient. I don’t need caffeine to get through the day but it does waste my money. Money spent on coffee would be better used to save a bit of money for travel. 2) Stop eating out unless it is a social event and, still, make wise choices. No more subway after the gym.
Booze – by most people’s standards my booze expenditures would be pathetic – about $30 a month for a beverage here and there when out with friends. But I just don’t really even like it that much and I don’t care if I have it or not. Somehow that doesn’t sound like a good place to put my funds. Maybe I’ll try sticking to water.
“Me” things – I’m not too frivolous but I did buy a wii. And a new coat. And make up at Sephora. If I am going to spend money on well made items I would like to start making sure I know where it was made and a little bit about the company I am supporting.
Charity – $0. Or about that. Correct. The most embarrassing one on this list. It is like closer to $1.28 if you could the change I put in box at the cash at Tim’s after I buy myself a coffee. I like to get passionate about causes and I like to think that I care about others but I don’t show that with my money. As a poor student I always said I would support charities/causes in which I believe with my money when I had it. Guess what? I have it. Yes, money can be tight but it isn’t like I will be waking up any time soon and be chillin’ on a private island with the owners of Wal-mart (ew) and Bill Gates. If I really wanted to I could be giving something. Challenge to self: put some money where my values are to help other people.
Overall this turned out better than I had expected. I am generally responsible with my money but it is the little things that I let slide. Less coffee would mean more money for savings – savings that I might get to use for travel, something I love to do and have been pining for. The most telling was the money I spend on charity or lack thereof. Maybe this means it is time to change. Next up: I’ll see what how I spend my time says about me.