What’s Going on With Add Vodka?

September 2, 2014 Permalink

If you have been reading over the past month or so, you may have noticed that I’ve been making some changes with Add Vodka. I’ve received a couple of emails from readers asking what is going on with the site, and so as to not leave readers in the dark, here’s an update.

Long-time readers will know that I started Add Vodka back in 2010. The site was born with Blogger, but I moved to a self-hosted WordPress blog as the site grew, and have been at add-vodka.com ever since. If you have been around for a while, you may remember how quickly this little site grew at the beginning.

After a period of rapid growth, I pulled away from the personal finance blogging community, unsure of the direction of the site and my online career in general. My posting frequency dropped substantially, and I engaged with readers less and less. My social media use slowed substantially as I disengaged myself.

I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past few months re-arranging my life so that I am living true to my values. Everything that I do, everyone I spend time with, every habit, and even my spending has been going through a test to determine whether they are impacting my life in a positive, negative, or neutral way.

Though I am far from finished, the outcome so far is simply that I’m making an effort to make life happen, instead of letting life happen to me.

All of this to say that my life has changed so much since I started blogging, and mostly for the better. Add Vodka passed the litmus test of life improvement, so it’s here to stay.

You may have noticed recently that I’ve been writing more frequently. The quality of the information has improved substantially. My posts are more thorough and thoughtful.

I’ve also been tweaking the way the site looks by putting myself in your shoes, and thinking about what I would want to see (or not see) when reading a blog. I’ve been trying to make it a better place to read great content.

This website is like my online home. I wouldn’t want my physical house to be cluttered, disjointed, or unfocused; I wouldn’t want my friends and family members to avoid visiting my home because it’s messy or an unpleasant place to be. I feel the same way about Add Vodka.

I’ve changed things up, simplified, and rid the blog of the bright colours and tacky icons. I’ve eliminated Adsense, and anything that might distract you or otherwise get under my reader’s skin. I’ve gone back and have begun to edit some of my previous posts for grammar and spelling issues. I’ve been reformatting older posts to fit in with the new design and to replace broken links and ugly images. I am sure you will find it much easier to navigate and read.

I’ve been spending more time on Twitter, Instagram, and Google Plus, because I genuinely enjoy interacting with all of you, instead of just pushing out and promoting my own content. I’ve been seeking great articles around the web and have been trying to share this information with you, both on social media but mostly through my posts.

Everything I do on Add Vodka is going under the magnifying glass to become the best representation of myself and my work as possible. If there is anything that you want to see, don’t like, or just want to chat about, please send me an email.

Otherwise, I hope you subscribe to get posts and updates straight to your email inbox, and enjoy a far simpler, more streamlined and engaging site.

 

Financial Wins and Spending | Week 5

August 31, 2014 Permalink

financial wins

 

I was in denial that summer was coming to an end, but it’s actually getting cool outside. It’s still August so I’m still in denial, but it makes no difference to us anyway, because two weeks from the moment I’m writing this, we’ll be landing in Guangzhou, China for a short layover before arriving in Kathmandu, where we will start our nearly month-long honeymoon.

Since I am on a temporary contractand the company J works for pays his vacation time out on each paycheque, we technically won’t be getting paid for the period of time we are away from work.

I did get a vacation pay out from my previous employer which will go toward paying the bills while we are away, and of course we have savings aplenty just in case, but we won’t have the regular paycheques that are deposited into our account as if I were a regular employee.

Even though it won’t impact us that much, we are still trying to save money where we can so we don’t have to worry on our trip. If you’ve been reading along with my previous reports, you’ll note below that we’ve spent far more this past week than we have in the weeks prior, but not for lack of trying.

spending money weekly

 

Eating Out

I was so close to having a week-long streak of not eating out, but my team at work decided to do an end of summer dinner so I joined them for some Southern food. It was good to get out and get to know them away from work.

Gas

I mentioned last week that J and I went to hang out with my mom and stepdad in our hometown last weekend, so our as spending was higher than normal. This is just the portion that I put on my credit card.

Groceries

J bought the groceries last week. I bought tortillas because we forgot to buy them at the grocery store when we went. I think he spent around $120, but because I am not sure and it didn’t end up on the credit card under my name, it doesn’t end up on the spending report either.

Pet

A few months ago, one of our dogs had a small cyst on her leg. We took her in to the vet to check it out and were told it was benign. She was bleeding recently, so we took her into the vet. That cost us a cool $82.80, and we’ll have to take her in for a minor surgery next week which will be $550.  It sucks that veterinary care is so expensive, but our pets are worth it and I hate to see either of them not feel up to snuff so we are excited to get it dealt with.

Donations

I don’t donate enough money to the causes that I love, and I’ve been trying to step that up recently. There was a dog in my community who the SPCA was trying to raise money for to afford him a walking device so I put money toward that. I need to work donations into my monthly budget, or, at the very least, start volunteering more often.

Financial Wins

We’ve had a few more small wins over the past few weeks, which have added up to big returns.

A Literal Win

Lucky girl that I am, I won a Visa gift card ($100). I got it in the mail at the end of the week and I plan to put the money aside for my travel fund. I’ll use the gift card on regular expenses, such as gas and groceries, and then transfer the $100 into my savings.

Reaching Half of My Goal

Just a couple of weeks ago I announced my goal of saving $12,000 for travel in 2015. I had wanted to save it in 7 months, but on Friday I woke up to payday and transferred another portion of my pay into my travel fund, which pushed my savings up to half of my goal since I set it two weeks ago.

I still have more than six months to reach the goal of saving $12,000 and of course I’ll surpass that. I’m excited to see how much I am able to save.

More Free Movies

J eats a lot of cereal, so when we went to go replenish his supply at the grocery store this week, we were happy to see that the free movie promotion was still on. We’re going to go to a movie this evening.

 

 

The Difference Between My Shopping Habits Now and Before

August 29, 2014 Permalink

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I loved to spend money. This was before I discovered the joy of waking up in the morning on payday and transferring half of my paycheque into my savings account. Be still, my heart.

Now I save money like it’s my job. But back then, I couldn’t even save a penny.

I didn’t even know that I loved to spend money, it just seemed to fly out of my hands as quickly as I could make it. I actually thought I was frugal, because almost everything I bought was on sale. A large chunk of my earnings went to rent, tuition, and transportation, but another huge chunk went down the drain.

Fortunately, I learned how to manage money properly before it was too late. My spending habits changed drastically when I moved, as I started to manage the finances of my dad’s business. In managing the way the funds were allocated for the business, I learned a lot about the principles of saving, investing, and spending.

good vs. bad ways to spend money

I also began reading smaller, more relatable personal finance blogs (I’ve always been a reader of the larger ones), which helped me put things into perspective and work toward my own form of financial freedom.

My shopping habits were not sustainable prior to making the change.

Clothing Shopping Then

I used to buy a high volume of cheap clothing that started to look worn and shabby after one wash.

I would spend my lunch breaks roaming the mall, supposedly “window shopping” but often buying these items from stores like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters.

If it was on sale and I didn’t really like it, I would still buy it if I thought that the deal was good enough. An ugly tank top for $5? I’d still find myself at the register, digging in my wallet for my bank card, thinking that there would surely be someplace for me to wear it.

Clothing Shopping Now

Now, I buy clothing when I need it.

I love fashion and feeling great in what I am wearing, but instead of buying a large quantity of cheaply made clothing, I demonstrate these interests by spending more (sometimes) on quality, classic pieces that I actually want and need.

My wardrobe now consists of a handful of trendy items mixed in with a few key pieces which will last me for far longer than would anything those cheap stores sell, and will continue looking good for years to come.

Anything that I need to replace, I will do so, with quality instead of quantity.

Grocery Shopping Then

J and I were at the grocery store the other day, picking up something from the freezer aisle, when I reminded him of our terrible grocery shopping habits of when we first moved in together.

First of all, we were eating like crap. Every item in our cart would be something from the processed food aisles: cereals, packaged cookies, “fruit” snacks, pudding, chips, Poptarts, bagels, you name it.

Second, we often went shopping without a meal plan, and would buy a handful of fresh ingredients which would just spoil in the fridge because we had no real plan for it. We were spending well over $800/month on food for the both of us, none of it healthy and much of it ending up in the trash.

Grocery Shopping Now

Now, we meal plan, brown bag our lunches, and skip the processed food, opting instead for whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Our diets are much better for it, and as a result we both feel better than we ever did eating all of that crap. Furthermore, we spend substantially less on groceries than we did during our grocery free-for-all.

I will always remember one time, standing in line at the grocery store in front of an elderly couple, with our carts to the brim full of “food”. The woman nudged her husband and whispered: “Oh, they must have a big family”.

That should have made us stop and think about how much food we were buying (and how much of it is marketed towards children), but it didn’t click for a few years.

 Shopping for Leisure Items Then

Leisure items can be anything from a television, to our bikes and hiking boots.

Back when J and I first started dating, if we wanted something like a bike, new television, or even a car, we’d find the cheapest possible version of the item and buy that.

We would then grow tired of whatever poor quality item we’d purchased, and go buy one that was equally as cheap but maybe a bit easier on the eyes.

The cycle would continue, the product would break or we would grow tired of the glitches or issues with it, and we’d have to get a new one.

Shopping for Leisure Items Now

Now, we spend hours researching before we even step foot into a store. We look for quality, functionality and anticipated life of the product before even looking at the price.

After we’ve narrowed it down to a handful of items, we’ll compare them for value, and then go check it out in the store.

We buy things only that we know that we’ll use for years to come (our bikes, for instance) and don’t bother with stuff that will just end up cluttering our garage.

 

It’s so refreshing having quality instead of quantity, and being able to rely on our purchases instead of live in fear that they are going to wear out. We change and adapt throughout our lives, and this is one change that I’m grateful we made.