Tag Archives: guides

Tips For Saving Money

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Obviously living alone requires you to be a little more focused on your budget and on what you should & shouldn’t be spending money on. I speak with experience because I sort of got fucked over last year and decided I wanted to live the party-lifestyle only to realize that yes I can sure party hard, but it would’ve been best in my pj’s at home.

Yes I did it all, the weekend getaways, the fancy dinners, the premium alcohol, the bars, etc. but then I got sent back to reality fairly quickly when I realized that my credit card wasn’t going to pay itself off.

My parents often told me this and told me that about budgeting and credit cards, but did I listen? Probably not as well as I should have. Sometimes in life you have to learn from your mistakes. In the meantime, I’m not your mom or your dad but just a friend giving you some advice.

Tip #1 Setup A Budget

This is EXTREMELY important and honestly I should’ve been more strict with myself about this critical step that could’ve saved me from owing Mr. Visa a shit load of money. Don’t skip this step please. It’s very easy, create a budget using Excel, or an online template. It’s very important to take account everything your spending money on. Making a budget can even help you realize why the heck you are spending money on certain things and help you manage your money a lot better.

Tip #2 Eating Out 

I won’t go too much in depth here because I’ve actually written 5 Basic Tips On Surviving: Food Edition and it will encompass how you can save money by modifying a few eating habits and eating out is one of them. Trust me there’s nothing I love more than going to a nice restaurant to eat but then there’s drinks, a bottle of wine, etc. It’s important to pick and choose your nights out and definitely do not go out every weeknight. If you’re like me, young homeowner & living alone, try 1-2 times a month. Make those special nights count.

Tip #3 Shopping

So whether you’re a male or female, shopping can get out of hand for anybody. Car parts, home decor, clothing, etc. it all adds up VERY quickly. It’s important to include a section of your budget allotted to  shopping, i.e. $150 on clothing twice a year or $300 a year on home decor. As for car parts and other larger projects like vacations (I specifically mention car parts because I am currently building a vehicle) you need to create a separate savings account for this, that way you can add a small amount weekly or bi-weekly without it affecting your priorities.

Tip #4 Setup Auto Withdrawals

It can sometimes get overwhelming to have several bills to pay, that’s why auto withdrawal can help you make sure your payments are on time. Late payments can hurt your credit & cost you a lot of money in interest fees. But at least with auto withdrawal you’re safe and this also helps make sure you don’t spend the money on things that are not priority.

Tip #5 Don’t Spend Money You Don’t Have

This ad is quite funny, but it’s extremely realistic. #debt

I cannot stress this enough and yeah my mom told me so many times and I didn’t listen, so maybe you won’t listen to me either but just realize that credit card companies like to target young consumers such as me and you and what they did was they kept sending me letters allowing me to raise my limit. I was always good at paying my bill in full until it got out of hand and I regretted saying yes to that first letter, and then the second and then the third… It’s okay to have a credit card and use it for the benefits that some of them offer but PLEASE don’t see as free easy money, make sure you can pay it off.

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Winterizing Your Home

Winterizing your home is a very important process you need to make time for. It involves a lot of different things, so to make sure you get everything done, remember that making lists are always your best friend and help ensure you don’t forget anything.

I live alone so this is a big process, thankfully my boyfriend was really helpful with this because it would’ve taken many more days had I been alone. (p.s wasn’t always in a relationship and have done it alone in the past…it’s so long)

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I had a leaf blower jet pack…thankfully

I had to get my car shelter up, rake all the leaves (by the way there was like 50 bags of them), close up the pool, pick up a lot of dog poop, put away the outdoor furniture, cut the grass for the last time, etc. You get the point it’s a lot.

Let me tell you though, once it was done, wow did I ever feel great! It’s so fun being a productive homeowner! 🙂

Conclusion: Being a homeowner you will start to take pride in doing things around the house.

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Life Goes On: Panic, Plan & React

Do you ever feel like everything is going great for you, life is good, the relationship is good, everything at the house is good. When you find yourself in a position where you feel invincible, like nothing can go wrong, but then again, how can this be real?

Well the truth is, it’s not. If you’re life is so perfect and nothing is wrong with it well then f*** you. Seriously. Do you ever have these moments when all of a sudden the shit has hit the fan? I do. In fact, I have made myself an editorial calendar of the approximate times my shit will hit the fan and it’s based on a quarterly schedule.

Calendar Joyride is over

Things are fantastic and out of this world for 4-5 months and then boom your car motor blows up and your dog suddenly needs emergency surgery. When this happens I just want to lose it completely and wake up from this horrible dream. Unfortunately it’s not a dream, it’s reality. What’s important is the crisis management plan you need to put in place.

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Step 1

I’m a pretty emotional girl, so this may vary for you. I say let your emotions out, cry, scream, laugh…whatever it takes. My boyfriend told me I was talking in my sleep last Friday, saying ” Everything will be alright, everything will be alright (and I was laughing hysterically at the same time)”, so whatever works best for you, do it. Get all the negative out so that you can put your action plan into place and start thinking straight.

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Step 2

You need to evaluate the situation(s). My car’s motor blew up, so my first move was to establish how much I paid for the car…Now on a side note I do have a background in auto mechanics and know a lot of people in the automotive industry so this event that is definitely a big deal, was a manageable big deal for me, having connections really helped.

So I paid $2000 for this car almost 3 years ago. If I were to “scrap it” it wouldn’t be a total loss because the car did serve me for 3 years and I didn’t have to put any money on it. Now my other option was to repair it and find a new engine, which is what I did. notepadCalculating the cost vs. benefit made me realize that by fixing up the car I would be able to drive it for another few years.

*Fun fact: A lot of Japanese cars can go up to almost 400 000 km! 

So yes I resolved my problem, but that’s only part of it. Money is the MAIN issue here. This is not free, were looking at $1100 in total cost of repairs & my dog needed surgery so I had to tack on another $400. Now I didn’t mention this before but ya I have 2 jobs (thank god). One full time career and one part time job that pays for the extra’s including the emergency situations.

Life is so unpredictable sometimes you always need a back up plan. You also need a cushion and by cushion I mean extra cash saved up for the occasional “life slapping you in the face” moments. It’s called life.

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Step 3

Know where to cut down. In other words, lock yourself up, you’re not going anywhere and you’re eating tuna cans (not literally) but this is the survival attitude I want you to have!dec23-survive

You’re in “money saving mode” and on high gear too until you’re done with this. Don’t be dreaming of Martini’s, you’re drinking wine out of a box this week. (Ew gross don’t even do that!)

Just remember that you’ll manage to work things out. Just follow my 3 step guide: Panic, Plan and React. And remember, life goes on.

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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

3 Emotions you might feel when living alone.

I’m just naming a few emotions that I often feel because I have been living alone for almost 5 years now. I like to call them, the good, the bad & the ugly.

When you’re living alone, who knows how you will feel, this changes day-to-day depending on daily situations.

Emotion #1

Feeling Silly

Feeling silly is one of my regular emotions when I am at home. This basically consists of dancing in my underwear, screaming out loud, talking to myself, talking to the dogs, dancing with the dogs oh and the occasional opera concerto, polishing off a bottle of wine and watching funny videos while laughing hysterically by myself. (Were you out of breathe reading that? haha)

No I’m not crazy; I just like to keep myself (and the dogs apparently) entertained.

doggy dancing

It’s important to let lose, it’s no sign that you’re crazy, just get into your undies and dance the night away, put a show on for yourself and the dogs. Feeling silly is totally normal.

Great times dancing with Curtis Mayfield

Emotion #2

Feeling lonely

watching tv alone There’s no doubt that living alone can cause loneliness. Don’t worry, this is also normal. I say don’t panic, embrace it! When you’re young, your friends matter most to you. You spend countless hours with people, at their houses, or them at your house, etc. For me, I needed people around me all the time. Trust me when I say this, because I do speak with experience (not that I’m old…) but your time alone will be extremely appreciated once you learn to accept being alone. This theory also works for relationships FYI… if you cannot be alone, you cannot do a lot of things, but that’s my two cents. Make yourself a martini and just chill.martoiniLove the moment because one day when you have a family that peace and quiet will be gone, or you can get two pitbulls like I did, and that peace & quiet will also be gone. Don’t be afraid to be alone, once you have overcome this fear you will grow so much as a person.

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Emotion #3

Feeling overwhelmed

Yes you will feel overwhelmed from time to time, it’s completely normal. How many times do you think you will come home to a messy house, a pile of dishes, a racoon spreading your garbage everywhere, dog puke all over the house, piles of laundry, etc. SHIT HAPPENS! You’re only human and some weeks might be more stressful, or you might be lazy or tired.

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed but what’s important is dealing with it properly. The last thing you want is for your shit to get out of hand. Best thing to do is to breathe and make yourself a to-do list, prioritize what’s important and just get through it. It’s achievable if you want to resolve it.

There is no need to panic about the emotions I mentioned above. Feeling these are quite common, yet people never really talk about it, mind you, it’s not really a conversation starter… ‘’ Hey hey! I sing made up opera songs to my dogs in my underwear’’. Being a homeowner comes with big responsibilities. Organization is very important. Establish times and dedicate specific days for doing chores (it’s called a calendar). You will sometimes fall behind, but it’s important to know how to pick yourself up. My boss once told me that it’s okay to make mistakes or forget something, but you need to make sure that you have a solution in order to resolve the problem.

Sources:

http://www.ifweweredogs.com/en/2014/05/13/el-perro-millonario-2/

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5 Basic Tips on Surviving: Food Edition

You’re probably wondering what you’re going to be eating for the next few years and I could assure you it will be fine. Don’t worry about it.

1976 Kraft Dinner Ad

1976 Kraft Dinner Ad Target market: YOU

My dad said to me (not too long ago actually) ‘’ people your age are all eating Kraft dinner and Ramen noodles’’, because he felt that I was eating too much fancy food at home, haha I do but in the beginning when you’re getting yourself organized and just moved in, you may not have the financials to eat surf and turf! I have eaten Kraft Dinner before but as a snack or a late night snack! Don’t worry; I am going to help you eat well while respecting a budget.

1- Foods you should avoid buying in order to reduce costs

I am mentioning the following two items because my laziness almost took over my wallet a few weeks ago.

CRAP! Don’t eat crap; it’s not good for you. Eat smart.

Yes I agree a lot of healthy foods are more expensive than junk food, it’s horrible and should be a whole other discussion on its own!

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$$$ Do you know how many vegetables you can buy instead of this?

Don’t buy prepped foods and by this I mean cut up fruit or salad kit mixers, etc. These ‘’kits’’ are overpriced for nothing. Just buy all the ingredients individually and prepare it yourself. It’s not very time consuming and in the end you will have greater quantities instead of having a portion for 1 or 2 days. Don’t throw away your money, set a time in your week for meal prep, and trust me it’s worth it. So buy a variety and fruits and dice them up and same thing for salads, buy different ingredients you like in your salad and make a mix you can keep in a larger Tupperware container. Voila! Your salad will be ready and mixed for the week. nonnaAlso, visit your grandmother regularly; they hook up the food too!

2- Look at specials

I am not saying to become an impulsive coupon collector but look at the weekly flyers or on the internet and check when those meats are on special, because when they are, you will buy it all and then freeze it!

As for fruits and veggies my recommendation is to go to a market any chance you get. Fruits and vegetables are getting pricier but these farm markets or wholesalers are much cheaper than your local grocery stores.

Oh and helpful tip from my mom: Don’t buy chicken breasts if they are over $11 a kg. Thanks mom, I think about you every time I buy chicken breasts.

Oh and easy on the expensive steaks, let your parents feed you luxury when they see you! They’re so happy not to be feeding you anymore that I am sure they love spoiling you when they see you. And again, hit up grandma’s…they love feeding you and seeing you eat. Don’t have a grandma? Then come to mine, she will be more than happy to feed you too! #thatitalianlife

italian dinner

3- Entertaining

If you’re like me than you love entertaining guests. Well you should stop, or like simmer down a little. Don’t understand why you shouldn’t be so generous? Think about your guests and if they have ever invited you over or given you anything. Thats right i just saved you bucket loads right here!

In my other life I am a master chef. I love making food and especially for guests. That’s right, I am like my grandmother. But honestly, this gets expensive too. Try doing potlucks instead. They work, you don’t have to spend ridiculous amounts of money on food, nor spend a lot of time cooking and you basically get leftovers and no dishes. I like to call this a win, win situation.win win

4- Leftovers vs. eating out

If you don’t mind eating leftovers, then making stews, soups, lasagnes, chilli’s and etc. are extremely beneficial and cost efficient. You can also freeze most of this stuff and go back to it later! Think about it this way, I just made a lasagne for a total cost of $20 and was able to get 6 portions from it. The boyfriend at it all but that’s beside the point. $3.33 for a nice homemade lasagne portion is way tastier than a restaurant bought one that cost you $15 for a single plate, plus tip. I’m not saying to stop eating at the restaurant but eating lunch out everyday is definitely not part of the budget. That gets crazy expensive and you have major bills to pay now that you’re a homeowner. Sorry to my friends who eat out everyday but that money can pay for a trip and my trip too! Just saying. #sheneedsvacation

5- Healthy choices

Making healthy choices is always the right route to take. Loss of inspiration can happen often, especially when living alone. A lot of people ask me, how do I do it? Cooking crazy meals for myself. The truth is, I love to cook anvbarbino meals 2d make new recipes and I love and NEED to be healthy. If you’re going to drink and party and smell burnt tires at drifting events well the least you can do is make yourself a fabulous meal. Don’t cheap out on yourself, take the time to appreciate yourself & a good meal. Just because I live alone doesn’t mean I should be eating Kraft Dinner and you either!

vbarbino meals

For more meal inspiration follow my Instagram page @vbarbino

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Vanessa Barbeau

Marketing Professional

Hungrycookie

Food And Travel

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Everyday journeys of a one of a kind girl.

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A blog site about surviving life's challenges

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Melanie Prada

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