# Are People Still Talking About the 52 Week Savings Challenge?

It’s June and two days I ago I put \$21 into the jar I’m using for the 52 weeks saving challenge and I wondered “Is anyone else still doing this other than me and my two friends?” Chances are a lot of people that were all gung-ho about this challenge in January have fallen off the bandwagon already. If you don’t know what the challenge is about, you must have been living under a rock in Bikini Bottom because this was plastered everywhere. Just in case you were this challenge is basically save the amount of money for the corresponding week e.g Week 1 = \$1, Week 2= \$2 and so on and so forth. At the end of the 52 weeks, you would have saved \$1378.

There were some who criticised it saying it was silly and did not teach real saving, but honestly if you’re not a big saver, it helps to take baby steps. The total amount at the end of year is nothing earth shattering but it will probably be more than that person would have saved if they did not participate.

Other critics mentioned how many people would not last and I can’t argue with them there because we all know how people are in January, when they’re on that “new year, new me” high. Then February comes and people just settle back into their same old routine.

What does this challenge teach me?

Determination – I’m determined to save that \$1,378. I set a goal at the beginning at year and I intend to see it through.

Perseverance – Regardless of what happens each week I make sure I put that money in the jar.

Saving Money is Fun – I always saved money but the challenge helps make it fun by turning it into a game.

For now I try to save my allowance money and what I can from my transportation expense to put in the jar, but since I am now in the 20s and my allowance is \$20,  I will have to start taking it directly out of the bank. I have saved \$231 so far with this challenge and I more than likely would have spent that money on trivial things and would not have missed it, so it doesn’t hurt to save it.

Did you start the 52 weeks challenge? Are you still doing it? If you aren’t, why not?

# Is It Bad Manners To Talk About Money?

A  few days ago I was watching the first episode of Nashville and the country star’s husband told one of their daughters that it was bad manners to talk about money. This caught my attention because I’m always talking about money and finance related topics with my friends and family. So if it’s really bad manners to talk about money then I’m one rude person.

Money is still a very taboo topic, much like sex was a few years ago, but we all know how that goes these days.

Now hear me out, I’m not saying that you should just talk to random people about your financial state, but find someone you are comfortable with and talk to them.

• Talking makes you more accountable for decisions you make
• You can get feedback or insight
• It reduces the fear of the debt or whatever financial state you are in

If you don’t discuss it or acknowledge it, it doesn’t exist. Right?

I understand why some people don’t talk about their finances. You may have been raised to never talk about money, or you may be ashamed about how much debt you have or even that your savings balance is too low. Then they are people whose bank account is healthy and don’t want people to know because they may ask for handouts or think you’re bragging.

Do you think talking about money is bad manners?

# If You Don’t Owe Anyone You Don’t Have Any Money

*blank stare*

A few days ago I was eavesdropping overheard a conversation that two women were having at the bus stop. It was about mortgages and a certain store’s payment plan for furniture, so it caught my attention, even though I don’t have nor am I interested in having any of those two  things. It was a really daft conversation, but what’s a girl to do when she’s stuck at the bus stop while her headphones are at home? One of the ladies said she bought some furniture on hire purchase and her sister disapproved and the other chimed in then and said “If you don’t owe anyone you don’t have any money.”

*scratch the record*

### What?!

Let’s break this down:

If you don’t owe anyone = You don’t have any money (false)

If you do owe someone = You do have money (false)

That is so silly on so many levels and really perpetuates the idea that you need to live on credit in order to survive. If you have that attitude then you will forever be in debt and you will basically be working to pay someone else. Isn’t it bad enough that you go to work to make your company richer, but you’re also making sure whoever you owe has a steady flow of income  coming from you every month.

Climbing out of debt is easier said than done, but your attitude and mindset has way more of any influence over how fast your balance decreases than how much money you make every month.

Have you ever heard anyone say this before? Do you think attitude and mindset are more influential than net pay?

# Why I’m Accelerating my Student Loan Payments

Oh Government you think you are so smart, with your low interest rate, meagre minimum payments and length of payback period. I’m on to you. I shall not play your little game. Ever.

Let me just state for the record: I absolutely hate my student loan and I want it gone. Like yesterday or the day before that. The thought of paying a loan for 12 years is the stuff nightmares are made of and being debt free is high on my list of priorities. I would rather tie a ball and chain to my leg and walk around with it or go to a butterfly house than sheepishly pay money for all those years.

While I think its thoughtful (or greedy) that the minimum payment is so low. I have to say thanks but no thanks and I have a few reasons for why I will pay more than the required amount per month.

Interest is no joke!

I borrowed \$25,000 and if I pay my minimum payment for 12 years plus wait until after my grace period to start paying my interest will be something like \$10083.53 That is an ugly number (and also bad at Math, so that may be wrong) and while I may not feel it over that length of time, I simply cannot ignore it and play along.

My interest rate is variable and while I admittedly don’t know much about the economy, I just feel like it can only go up from here. The quicker, I get out the better.

Added to my interest is some random insurance fee but thankfully it doesn’t affect my principal.

I have sureties

… and they would have to pay if for some reason I can’t make my payments any more. How shitty would it be that, I was living it up and probably doing more than them while paying the minimum amount, and then they have to pick up my slack. That wouldn’t be fair to them.

I don’t want to be 30 with student loan debt

I don’t even want to be 26 with student loan debt. While I probably won’t be one of those super ninjas who pay off their debt in 9 months, I will do my best to knock it off in less than 5 years.

I want to travel

This sounds so cliché but I want to see other places and paying that money over that length of time would mean potential money will always be tied up and spoken for. If that means not  travelling every year for the next couple of years because I am paying off this loan, I’m cool with that.

Some may argue that I could invest my money rather than pay off the loans fast, but mentally I can’t handle knowing I’m not doing my best to eliminate them. I love seeing my balance grow, but I love seeing my debt decrease more.

That’s essentially why I’m accelerating my payments and trying to get out of debt as fast as I can.

Do you feel that paying off debt early is important? If so, what are your reasons? If not, why do you feel that way?

# May Budget

What my budget should look like for May

May in my budgeting world actually starts on the 3rd and ends on the 30th (don’t ask). At the start of each month, I like to sit down and decide how much money I should allocate to each budget category, based on what I have written on my calendar and what I expect to occur. My income is not fixed, so I used an average of what I expect it should be, and I shoot for the lower end of the spectrum as far as pay cheques go.

Student Loan

My main reason for having a budget so I’m going to continue tackling this, the same way I have been for the last three months (not that you would know what I have been doing -_-).

Savings

Even though I have student loan debt and I put what I deem to be significant amount to it every month, I still want to save money. I don’t see the point in putting every penny to debt and then if something happens I’m cashed strapped. I love travelling, so I will continue to put \$100 a week to that account and \$60 to my Rainy Day fund. I know it probably seems backwards, but if something dire had to happen I would use the travel money. Simple. Plus, any extra money I save throughout the week goes to my Rainy Day fund.

I have set up my income to go to two different bank accounts every pay day, so the Other Savings category is what is left over when I have taken out what money I need for the week.

Gifts & Guilt Free Spending

So people decided to be born in this month and Mother’s Day happens to be this month as well as several outings I plan to attend. The money in these accounts is used for gifts (duh!) and clothing and other things I will need for my planned activities. I haven’t bought any new clothing since December, but I really need to buy a shirt or two and a pair of black flats (so I can wear them with everything. I’m such a cheapskate).

Transportation

My commute to and from work demands that I spend at least \$40 a week on bus fare, but some days I can save money if I get a lift to work. I categorise this as a fixed expense and I don’t change it from month to month.

Allowance

This is just daily allowance to cover snacks and drinks and I have brought it down to \$4 a day and even save it most days. I have the advantage of my employer providing lunch for us, so I don’t have to worry about either preparing lunch or preparing to buy lunch everyday.

Mobile

I have tried, and tried, and tried, to get my prepaid BB service on a monthly schedule, but to no avail, so now I budget \$60.00 a month.

Utilities

I only pay one utility bill and I’m budgeting \$80.00 for it this month as its usually that amount or less each month.

I could have just shut up and shown you this:

Monthly Breakdown (Major Expenses)

– Student Loan: \$720.00

– Transportation: \$160.00

– Allowance: \$80.00

– Guilt-free spending: \$160.00

– Gifts: \$60.00 (\$40.00 to be added that I saved in April)

These numbers aren’t set in stone and obviously some categories will have to be tweaked as the month progresses. The other savings category will most likely be that amount when the month ends, because as I said before, my income fluctuates.

What does your budget for May look like?

# Achilles Heel

Achilles Heel: Everyone has one or many and mine is junk food, but I’m getting way ahead of myself here, so let’s rewind.

I started budgeting on the 1st of February 2013, because I like to start things on a fresh page and January 1st had already gone, but like any normal person in this here 21st century, I decided to post my business on the internet, but  I digress.

One of the main reasons for starting a budget was to be able to pay way more than my minimum payment on my student loan and be able to track my money, so that I could save effectively. It’s no fun going to the bank and just randomly taking cash out and then one day realising your balance is not what you thought it should be. I started the process of working out how much I needed per week for my fixed expenses (transportation, loan payment, mobile payment [it shall remain] etc.), important variable expenses and savings. After jotting these down, came that all important category: Allowance. Now my allowance money previously went to, you guessed it, junk food. I could buy potato chips, gummy snacks and chocolates (the wafer kind) everyday with real hard earned money. If that wasn’t bad enough, I just went to the ATM at the beginning of the week and withdrew any amount of money I felt like using that week.

That crap would be no more!

I started off with a \$30 weekly allowance (\$6.00 per day), to cover junk food and other misc items and then after a few weeks chopped it down to \$20 a week (4 frickin dollars a day!). I’m a master at trying to beat myself at my own game (slightly delusional but it works) so I would buy all my junk food at the beginning of the week for \$6.00, ration it throughout the week and save the rest of the money. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even buy junk food everyday and I attribute that to three things:

– making sure I eat breakfast everyday

– not craving the snacks

– saving is more important than eating empty food, no matter how good it taste

Maybe I will walk into a store with \$10 and walk out with a bag of junk food, later to be found hunkering down behind the sofa.

Here’s to seemingly overcoming my achilles heel and hopefully you can overcome yours too.

# Small Victories

Delayed gratification is not something that most of us born in the last three decades are very fond of. We have become accustomed to this fast paced life and having things at our finger tips. No longer do we have stalk the radio to hear our favourite song or wait until we get home to tell our friends about something awesome that happened. So naturally, I don’t want to take 12 years to pay off my student loan. The thought of paying out money for 12 years is not a happy one, so I’ve created a goal to pay it off in 5 years or less. It is really daunting to look at my Student Loan balance and think I owe that much money to someone, so I’ve decided to create small victories for myself and my peace of mind. It is powerful, isn’t it, tricking yourself to make a situation more appealing.

The plan

The yearly payment required on my loan will be paid in a  four month period, therefore I will be paying off three years of my loan in one year. I will work with four month goals and subtract each payment from that goal amount and every time I knock it off, it will be small victory for me. My balance will still be high in the first year or two, but at least I will be meeting my goal, by cutting the large balance into smaller chunks. The amount for the payment will be one of the first things I budget for each month.

The Good News

My payments are not scheduled to start until June but I have started paying since February, so I’m ahead of their schedule. I have paid off all the interest that accumulates during the one year they give us to start paying back and have started the principal payments. Once I can keep this up, I should be able to pay off this debt by 2017 (gosh that seems so far away).