How Far Can An Extra $40 Per Month Go?

September 10, 2014 Permalink

what can i buy for $40 month

The other day, I announced on Twitter that I was cutting the data plan on my phone and that it would save me $40/month.

I followed my Tweet up with a post about exactly why I decided to cut my data plan, and lo and behold, it has nothing to do with money. I do love money, though, and there is no better financial feeling than having more of it in your pocket, so I thought it would be fun to examine the financial benefit that I’ll experience from this choice.

My cell phone plan has reverted back to the basic text and talk plan, so that will save me a cool $40/month. For those of you who don’t have a calculator handy, that’s $480 per year.

$480 per year is no small number. Instead of inflating our lifestyle by $480/year, we plan on using that money for something more worthy than dinners out or useless trinkets. Here are a few things that we could do with that chunk of change:

Pay For a Month’s Accommodation in Bali

We could extend our honeymoon by a month, or go again sometime and pay for an entire month’s stay in Bali using AirBNB, based on the accommodation cost of our honeymoon.

Since I would save $480 for every single year that I go without data, I could do this once a year. Not bad!

Fly to Cancun

$480 would buy me a round trip flight to Cancun, according to Kayak’s Explore tool. It would score both J and I flights to Los Angeles, with the deal I got in June. With all of the travelling I’ll be doing in the next year, I won’t even need a data plan.

Turn it Into $3,379

Invested for 40 years at a modest rate of return of 5%, that $480 could end up being worth more than seven times it’s original value. That’s the beauty of compound interest.

If I invested it in an RRSP every year I went without a data plan, this number would be far larger. In fact, I’d be able to retire a year earlier if I went without a data plan for a number of years.

Save us $5,948

If we chose to put the $40/month toward the mortgage principle for each month left, could save us $5,948 in interest over the life of our mortgage, and shave about another year off of the payback time.

That almost $6,000 could buy us a pretty awesome trip to Europe or Asia, or a new (to us) vehicle.

Buy a Kayak

If we saved the $40 per month, in two years time we could buy a kayak. We’ve wanted a kayak for some time now, since we live close to the ocean and some lakes. How much fun would it be to have a kayak?

We could buy a used kayak in about a year of the savings if we found one on Craigslist.

Score a Canon Eos Rebel TSi

I’ve been lusting after this camera for awhile now. My iPhone camera does the trick for the most part but who doesn’t want a new toy to play with every once in awhile? Especially considering the amount of travel I’ll be doing in the next couple of years.

If I bought this in the states, I’d have enough after two years.

 Snag an Apple Watch

Apple recently announced it’s new product: a watch. It’s not just any watch, it’s a smart watch, and it will be on the market in early 2015 for around $350. I could snag an Apple Watch in just under the average human gestation period, if I were so inclined (which I’m not).


Apparently, $40/month can go quite far! How’s that for an argument for picking up an extra couple of hours at work or starting a side business?

How I Quadrupled My Income, Took Control of My Money and Started Living the Life I Wanted

September 5, 2014 Permalink

Four years ago, I was a broke student who had recently moved to a new city with less than $100 in my bank account.

I was barely getting by, struggling to stay out of credit card debt and counting my pennies in hopes that I would be able to pay for the next semester in school.

Since then, I’ve managed to quadruple my income, max out my emergency fund, buy a car and a house and contribute a substantial chunk of money toward my retirement accounts. Four years later, I’m 50% of the way to reaching my goal of saving $12,000 for travel.

I was able to do all of these things because I started small and worked my way up.

The Power of Starting Small

My story isn’t the type of overnight success story that we are so attracted to in Western culture.

I didn’t win the lottery or land my dream job right out of college.

I didn’t start a blog that immediately went viral or a business that blew up and landed a thousand paying customers in a month.

I started small and built upon my learnings and successes over the period of four years.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. Things have happened beyond my control that set me back. I’ve become demotivated and discouraged. I’ve gone on spending binges and wasted money. I’ve won money, lost money, and mistreated my money.

But one thing that I’ve always done right financially was learn from my mistakes, take steps forward, and, at the very least, start, no matter how modest my beginnings.

There is No Such Thing as Quick Fixes

It’s probable that some of the readers who clicked on this post did so because they thought they might stumble across a different type of article. Maybe a quick-fix, or the secret to increasing their income and taking control of their finances. Something that successful people have been hiding from them until now.

Our society leans too heavily toward quick-fixes. Who wouldn’t be interested in quadrupling their income without effort or a pill that will make them drop ten pounds in two weeks?

Here’s the problem with those giant leaps and the quick fixes, though: they don’t exist, and they aren’t realistic.

The quick fixes that actually work are never quick, and you have to put in some serious time and effort to achieve those desired outcomes.

How I Actually Quadrupled My Income and Took Control of My Finances

I didn’t strike it big on the stock market or inherit a successful business.

I took the first step and got started, despite that there were no quick fixes in sight.

I came across a frugality blog, and enthusiastically read every post. A week later, I started my own, excited to impart the money-saving wisdom that I’d struggled to obtain over the years and combine helping people with my love of writing.

I began reading literature about money every day. Part of the blogging territory, over the course of that first year, I collected knowledge, bit by bit, each and every day: theories, opinions, facts and assumptions.

I played with my budget, then created it all over again. Every weekend, I reviewed my spending and learned from the previous week’s mistakes.

I began setting $25 aside from each paycheck into my emergency fund. It sounds like too small a number to make a difference, but it was a start.

After some moderate success with my $25 savings plan, I began putting all found or extra money into my emergency fund. There was no big bang. I didn’t suddenly amass a $10,000 emergency fund by outsmarting my money, but over the period of the year I had saved $3,000 in my emergency fund. I saved $3,000 because I started.

I began working on my confidence and pushing myself out of my comfort zone a little bit each day, so that I could feel confident enough to apply for higher level positions. I began emailing companies for which I wanted to work to introduce myself.

It didn’t land me the job over night, but it was a start.

A year after engaging in these exercises in confidence and networking, a year after I started, I landed a job which afforded me a $4.50/hour raise and provided me with a higher level of experience.

Five months later, I landed another job which doubled my income.

I started small and built on my progress every step of the way.

No Step is Too Small

In 1891, a man named Thomas from Glasgow, Scotland used his life savings to open a small market, using his experience and wages gained from travelling the USA and working at his parent’s store to get his foot in the business.

Now, his small business has blossomed into arguably the most successful tea empire in the world.

Thomas Lipton took the first step by gaining experience in the business; he started something which he improved on and built over time. By the time of Lipton’s death in the 1930s, his company had merged with a number of other companies, amassing to 3,000 stores worldwide.

Mr. Lipton would not have seen that type of success – or any success at all – had he not taken that first step and started. He started small – with gaining experience and starting one store, and progressed to huge success. Every business, every entrepreneur you’ve ever heard of or admire had to start small and work their way up.

It sounds unlikely that reading about money and starting a personal blog could lead to an outcome like quadrupling my income and gaining control of my money, doesn’t it?

It sounds far-fetched and frankly like a load of bull.

You know what is even more far-fetched? Quadrupling your income and gaining control of your finances to live the life you want by sitting here, reading this article, and then going to seek out the next quick fix.

The beauty of taking the first step is that the second step follows shortly thereafter. Then the third, and the forth, because it’s easier to keep going after you’ve started then it is to start in the first place.

When you wake up in the morning, it’s damn hard to get out of bed. It’s warm and inviting and you aren’t ready to face the world yet. But once you hoist yourself out of bed and start your morning, it’s far easier to stay awake.

Starting something is like that, too. If you can bring yourself to make the first move, momentum helps keep you going.

What could you do to improve your life if you just start? What could you make better by ridding yourself of the notion of the quick fix and taking the first, tiny step?


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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.