During my vacation, I went camping for a few days with my family. For the first time since I have owned a Blackberry, I made a deal with myself: not to touch this devilish tool for 72 hours. If you have a smartphone, you know that 72 hours without your phone is longer than the entire ice age period.
Good news; I did it! It seems that canoeing, lighting a fire and eating marshmallows is so fun that I didn’t need my phone to see what was going on at work, at my online company and with my investments! During the afternoon, I pulled out a book that was recently sent to me for a review (one advantage of being a blogger… hehehe!). It’s called Give Yourself a Raise, written by Gordon Bennett Bleil. The title was cool enough to catch my attention, the rest of the cover page convinced me to open the book:
How to have
#1 More money
#2 Less Stress
#3 Financial Freedom
I’ll tell you upfront – I was divided, some disappointment somewhat happy about the book. Disappointed because I thought that I would learn more about how to reach financial freedom by raising my income. This is why the title inspired me. I guess I should have read the back cover as well and discover that it’s more an entry level book about starting to manage your personal finance correctly. You know, the usual “control your spending”, “start saving”, “pay yourself first”, etc. These kinds of books are pretty helpful for people without any financial education but they can become boring pretty fast.
Wow… that’s some serious critique for a free book I received to review, huh? But at least, I was also half happy about the book too!
I was away camping and only brought one book. I didn’t expect to read much during these three days as my three children were around as well! So I kept on reading even though the topic wasn’t as exciting as I hoped. It turned out that Gordon is nailed down personal finance problems with practical answers. I have read so many books about personal finance that are quite entertaining and motivating but never put the tools in your hand. I don’t care about how to turn a screwdriver clockwise to screw something in properly – I want to receive the darn screwdriver with a box of screws! This is what this book does.
It has a financial quiz to determine how much you suck with your personal finance (I do suck at times! Especially when it comes to paying off my debts… but you know this already!).
It shows you how to build a bucket system from A to Z with online banking.
It provides you with a useful chart and checklist to track your goals and achievements.
The rest of the book will explain you the basics of credit, retirement planning, investing, insurance and so on. Basically, anything that has already been very well explained in the Wealthy Barber. Overall, I think it is a very good book for anyone who’s looking for an introduction book to control his/her personal finance. The practical tools will not leave you empty handed and provides motivation. You will have a chance to use what you have learned and apply it.
If you are looking to start taking control of your finances, buying this book it a great move!
Can camping be so expensive that it increased my debt? Nope! That’s not it! While I was on vacation, I didn’t look at my computer and completely forgot about banking. This was a very good move as I disconnected totally from my day-to-day life. But when I came back home, I put my nose back into my finances and looked at my credit card statement… ouch!
During the month of August, we have incurred several expenses totaling several thousands. Just to name a few:
Furniture, toys and other goods related to the daycare opening
Children’s clothing for fall (not just the “back to school” frenzy, both kids grew so much, all jeans and shirts were too small!)
Children’s activities for fall and winter (gotta pay for everything upfront!)
A few expenses related to my 2 week vacation (hotel room, dining out, wine, gasoline and camping)
Furniture and paint for my kids’ bedroom (moving #3 and #1 into the same room)
Municipal and School taxes (why do they have to fall within 2 weeks of each other!)
This is why I have more debt now than I had before my vacation!
I don’t know if it’s related to “Give Yourself a Raise”, but I’ve decided to make a few more changes in my life to make sure that my year-end bonus combined with the new revenues from the daycare will pay off my consumer debts.
As the book says; you have to identify your leaking buckets. You need to know where you spend money that you could cut back on. And this is what I’m doing right now…
Eat less. I love eating and know that I exaggerate with at least 3-4 meals per week. I’m pretty sure I spend at least $100 per month on non-essential food items and I’ll start reducing my portions and eating habits accordingly. In fact, I’ve already started since September 3rd! I guess it will also help me dip below the 180 lbs psychological bar!
Drink less. Arf! By writing this; the smile on my face disappears. I love drinking wine but it’s darn expensive. From now on; no wine except on Fridays and Saturdays and never more than 1 bottle for my wife and I per day. It’s not rare that we open 3 to 4 bottles per weekend, since we pay on average $17 each bottle, this means I can save between $68 and $136 in wine per month. I guess $100 is a good target.
Skip Winter Soccer. This sucks too as I really like playing soccer. However, the winter season cost $260 and I really can’t dig my hole much deeper with such expenses. I’ll do my workout 5 days per week with my home gym that is 100% free and wait until my personal finances are better and maybe register next summer.
Put my RX-8 For Sale. I’m telling you, if it doesn’t hurt, it won’t do any good! Over next weekend, I’ll do a big clean up and make my car shine. I’ll put it up for sale on the internet and see how it goes. I know it’s a sport car so I might have to keep it until spring, but I will give it a try now. Since my wife stays at home during the day (with the daycare), it’s impossible for her to use the SUV anyway. I’m pretty sure we can manage with 1 car. The fact that I can save money on gasoline, insurance, car maintenance and can get a few thousand back from the sale was enough to convince me that I didn’t need a cool looking sport car to be happy in life .
Life will surely be a little bit more boring with less food, wine, sports and a nice car but I’m sure it won’t be that bad. I hate making sacrifices and reducing my lifestyle but I think it has become necessary if I want to change my situation and not look after my next year-end bonus to close my budget. After all, I’m pretty sure I’ll be darn happy to have made these choices in a year from now where I will see my debts melting!
I’m curious, what’s the biggest sacrifice you have made to pay off your debts?
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