March Monthly Report – Hopeful


I started writing this post during the Easter weekend. And though it is now over a week since then, I hope you had a Happy Easter/Passover/break from work last week Friday! Since I am an independent consultant, I never really take a break from work. But it’s ok because I like the other benefits of working for myself. That is, when I have ’em.

Back to business, this past month I again didn’t make much progress reducing my debt. Sad face.

However, the great news is that my monthly income went up, because I got a couple extra contracts! So I pretty much earned almost what I would earn in a normal month. The first new contract is already finishing up. But the other client is longer term so I will have somewhat steadier income for at least the next 6 months. Will still need another contract though to make close to what I was earning before income dried up in October.

My main client, that I will be leaving, also has a deadline to start paying up some of their outstanding debt by the end of this month. And then more next month. Hopefully, that will happen. So I can pay off more than the minimums on my loans, for at least the next 3 months.

Anyways, as implied earlier in this post, I didn’t put much of my earnings into my debt, because I have to build up back my emergency fund. And also, taxes.

I tried to keep down my expenses as though I had no income. Here are some ways I spent my money.


$59 $81 $143

Ok, dining expenses don’t look like the dining of someone living as though she had no income. Most of that money was spent on dinner for a friend on her birthday, along with paying for my dinner. And then I also went to one networking dinner. Besides that, all my “dining” expenses were really coffee/juice at coffee shop meetups with clients.

In March, I spent literally no money on entertainment. Add that to the dining situation and I think you’ll have a good idea of my social life in wintertime in Canada (as mentioned in my last post, February’s spending on recreation was a fluke).


$0 $10 $136 $0

This was fantastic news for my wallet. Not so fantastic news for my social life. I always question my reason for living in Canada, whenever I go through winter and its associated blues.

In total, apart from money put towards loans and a little money I gave to my Mum, I only spent $310 for the month. That includes the expenses noted here.

Anyway, time to stop putting off the inevitable: the summary of where things stood at the end of March. I’ll give you a hint. It wasn’t much further from where they stood at the end of February.

NAME JULY 31, 2013 MARCH 31, 2015
Mastercard $6,123 CAD $0 CAD
Visa $8,653 CAD $39 CAD
B-school loan $96,800 USD
($109,142 CAD)
$77,984 USD
($88,036 CAD)
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan $20,931 CAD $17,774 CAD
Student Line of Credit (LOC) $9,678 CAD $0
TOTAL $154,527 CAD $105,849 CAD

February’s balance was $106,223. So that means that in March I paid off a paltry $374, even less than the month prior.

What hurts the most is that I dumped well over $1000 CAD into my loans , not to mention the loss I make monthly whenever I convert my CAD$ to USD$ at the bank, for them to wire to my loan account. Also, in March, I actually put in $149USD more than the minimum, whereas in February I had put in just the bare minimum. Yet, I STILL paid off less in March than in February. Furthermore, if the exchange rate wasn’t so horrible, I would be much closer or already at the point where I’d be celebrating getting my loan down to under $100K.

So again I will leave you with a song. What hurts the most, was being so close…

By the way, while I will easily admit to liking country music, I do listen to all types. And I swear country music is not the predominant music that plays in my head!

Also, I am TRULY thankful I live at home and don’t have to truly worry about rent and other expenses that come with living on one’s own. And I am hopeful that the coming months will be better than the Oct to Feb period.

February Monthly Report – I’m Blue


I’ve been feeling like it doesn’t make sense to update when things are going downhill. But hey, maybe I can be inspiration to others for persevering, to show the dark before the light.¬† You know, when my luck turns around as I know it will. Eventually.

Actually, I thought I’d have a great post for you today, thanks to an expected influx of cash. Main client who owes me a ton of money had promised they’d be able to pay me this week. Alas, it doesn’t seem like it is going to happen, as the money they received is now tied up and might be going to someone else they owed money before me. *Siiigggghhh*

I have told them that I am likely going to leave entirely at the end of this month if things don’t change. And in two weeks, no matter what, I will start doing more hours for another client and reduce my time working for main client. Because I need to start getting more regular income again.

This month, I uncharacteristically counted my chickens before they were hatched (expected windfall from overdue invoices). I waited until last week but the client was so good at convincing me that I would for sure have gotten paid by this week that I went ahead and splurged a little to try a winter sport. So I spent quite a bit on doing outdoor recreation last week and also paid in advance for it again next week. Ended up losing my phone during last week’s excursion, of course. So I then had to buy a new phone…I was planning to get a new phone in May anyways, but it would’ve been nice to not have to unexpectedly spend hundreds with my precarious financial situation.

And I believe the Canadian dollar fell more.

Needless to say, I didn’t make much progress reducing debt this month.

My dining expenses went back up but is still not too bad. I went out a little more overall in February because I could feel myself getting hit with a big case of S.A.D. And I wanted to curb it by distracting myself. That’s why I did the winter activity too – I need to find something that will lessen my winter depression. Still in the process of trying to improve my mood at the moment, especially since it seems like winter WILL NEVER END in Canada.


$201 $59 $81

Groceries went down from $83 to $35.

Entertainment wise there is that outdoor thing I did. So my entertainment expenses definitely increased in February. And will likely be a similar figure next month.


$13 $0 $10 $136

You should really add another $120 for the gear I had to buy to be properly dressed. Got the cheapest gear available but cheapest available is still darn expensive. Winter sports is a pretty expensive pastime! Another reason to intensely dislike, nay abhor, winter!

Here is where things stood at the end of February:

NAME JULY 31, 2013 FEBRUARY 28, 2015
Mastercard $6,123 CAD $0 CAD
Visa $8,653 CAD $0 CAD
B-school loan $96,800 USD
($109,142 CAD)
$78,302 USD
($88,286 CAD)
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan $20,931 CAD $17,937 CAD
Student Line of Credit (LOC) $9,678 CAD $0
TOTAL $154,527 CAD $106,223 CAD

January’s balance was $106,705. So that means that in February I paid off a paltry $482. Not even $500. The heart is low. The heart is so low…

January Monthly Report – Giving Thanks

Hi all,

I am back with my January report!

I’ll start with the good news. I got a small contract that will help cover my monthly expenses for January and February! Very thankful for it, especially because I wasn’t out looking for another contract (got my hands full with my current contracts). It literally just came to me.

The bad news is that the loonie, i.e. the Canadian dollar, keeps falling. I will probably have to re-adjust my debt reduction tables in 3 or 4 months to better reflect the average exchange rate. Not looking forward to that at all as it will increase my amount owing by at least $10K CAD. *sigh*

Anyways, let’s go back to business.

My dining expenses went back down! Only went out to eat with friends once and the rest was for family takeout.


$133 $201 $59

My spending on gifts actually went up from the $240 it was at Christmastime. I spent $291 in January! That was mainly for a snowblower for my Mum because I was tired of having to shovel snow and I didn’t want my mother to be breaking her back to do it either. And, since I earned money this month, I gave a little to my Mum.

I also spent $82 on groceries.

For entertainment, it was again another good month spending-wise. Not so good though for my social life. I only spent $10 for a Groupon type recreation deal that I will be using in the next couple months.


$30 $13 $0 $10

And my dental expenses went back down to normal monthly levels.

Here is where things stood at the end of January:

NAME JULY 31, 2013 JANUARY 31, 2015
Mastercard $6,123 CAD $0 CAD
Visa $8,653 CAD $15 CAD
B-school loan $96,800 USD
($109,142 CAD)
$78,555 USD
($88,571 CAD)
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan $20,931 CAD $18,134 CAD
Student Line of Credit (LOC) $9,678 CAD $0
TOTAL $154,527 CAD $106,705 CAD

December’s balance was $108,196. So that means that in January I paid off $1491, far below my minimum threshold of $2500 per month in debt reduction. But I’m in lockdown mode financially now so I am okay with that number.

I have started out the year behind schedule. But one of my clients promised to pay me the massive amount owing by the end of this month. Hopefully that happens. So that by March I will be square again and can make up the payments. At the same time, if things don’t improve I will have to start finding new contracts around then too.

Here’s to hoping things work out financially for me this month!


2014 Report – Another Year Over

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

2014 is over and, as always, I am thankful to get the opportunity to see the start of another year.

Today, I bring you the end of month report for December 2014 as well as a debt progress summary.

In December, I had zero money coming in and the Canadian dollar fell even further against the US dollar. At the same time, some of my expenses went up instead of down. For instance, I spent a bit more on dining out because of the holiday dinners and meetups with friends.


$172 $133 $201

I also spent about $240 on gifts.

Thankfully, my family is not big on Christmas gifts. However, a family member had a significant birthday, there are kids in my household and I also bought little holiday gifts for a few friends so that’s why the figure is $240. AND I also spent $1000 more on health (dental) expenses than I had been averaging the past few months.

Another thing to give thanks for is that my holiday spending was limited to eating out and gifts. I had no entertainment expense! The cold weather is not conducive to my going out. Yesterday, for instance, the weather was feeling like a positively depressing -30C/-22F. When winter hits in Canada I know I can look forward to spending much less on entertainment!


$0 $30 $13 $0

Also, since I had no incoming cash flow, I did not give my Mum money for the family this month. A bit of the dining expenses up above though was towards a couple family takeout/delivery meals (pizza and takeout).

Here is where things stood at the end of December:

NAME JULY 31, 2013 DECEMBER 31, 2014
Mastercard $6,123 CAD $0 CAD
Visa $8,653 CAD $38 CAD
B-school loan $96,800 USD
($109,142 CAD)
$79,667 USD
($89,936 CAD)
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan $20,931 CAD $18,260 CAD
Student Line of Credit (LOC) $9,678 CAD $0
TOTAL $154,527 CAD $108,196 CAD

November’s balance was $110,767. So that means that in December I paid off $2571, just meeting my minimum threshold of $2500 per month in debt reduction. A minor miracle considering I had no income!

At the end of December 2013, I was $139,881 in debt. So that means that in 2014 I paid off $31,685 or an average of $2640 per month. On a salary that ended up being quite a long ways below the six figures it would have hit had I been earning proper income the last 4 months of the year.

Overall, I have paid off $46,331 in 17 months! And that doesn’t include most of the interest payments!

I am currently on track to meet my goal of eliminating my debt in a total of 5 years and that is great! I may not be quite where I want to be right now financially, my savings are currently being depleted and my future is still quite uncertain. But I’ve begun to accept uncertainty as my permanent status in life anyways. And, more importantly, I am super thankful that I got good income for as long as I did and that I was able to pay off as much as I did! Many people’s entire gross income is the total I paid off this past year and many of those people work a helluva lot harder or at least expend a lot more physical energy working in their jobs than I ever will. So I AM thankful!

My financial wish for 2015 is that I, and any readers in a similar boat, will attain our debt reduction goals this year!

Debt and Retirement

Hi all,

Today I woke up thinking about the future. The Canadian dollar keeps falling, my debt is going down but is still massive and I have not saved anything for retirement.

Ok, that last part is not entirely true. I have around $30K in assets. This contains cash, savings, TFSA savings and a $1,150 TFSA investment fund which I was proud to finally open a couple months ago. However, because of my current income situation, I am basically disregarding most of the amount I have saved, because I can easily see myself depleting the saved amount by a monthly average of $4K in the next 6 months, if things continue as is cash flow-wise.

Sad eeyore
Anyways, as I was saying, I have been thinking about my future. More specifically, I have been thinking about my lack of retirement savings.

Every time I think about retirement I think about finally starting to invest, to start that retirement savings train up. However, the thing that has always stopped me from turning the ignition is my debt. Even now, any gains made from my beginner investing in stocks and/or ETFs are likely to be less than the 8.13% interest rate on my high 5-figure US$ b-school loan. Also, the fees for a small-time novice investor like me are terrible.

However, I am 31 years old and self-employed. So, besides actually saving for a rainy month or few, I need to start saving for retirement. Properly. And that means dipping my toes in the investing water, in order to possibly pay off debt faster and mostly save more quickly for the future.

Unfortunately for me, one of the things business school confirmed was how much I dislike finance. I like accounting but hate finance. So my efforts in core finance classes were the bare minimum and I avoided finance electives like the plague. Well, unless they concerned venture capital and related topics. That I love! I am a techie after all so it would be bad to not care about venture capital. But besides VC stuff, most of what I learnt in finance classes has long since left my brain. Thus, whenever the thought strikes me to turn to investing to increase my net worth, I start regretting the fact that I don’t like finance at all. I usually then spend a ton of time reading investing sites and personal finance blogs to get tips for first time investors. This was the case today, and a couple months ago.

A couple months ago, I woke up with the same things on my mind as I did today. Two months ago, I decided to finally take the plunge. Or more like a little dip. I plopped $1,000 in a Tangerine TFSA Balanced Growth investment fund. The 3-year annualized return from it is 12.97%. I hope to pay off the remainder of my debt in 3 and a half years. If the fund continues as is or does better then I will come out ahead, even considering that investment money diverts from the b-school loan payments. If things end up a bit worse, I’m hoping it won’t be much worse than the 5-year fund return rate of 8.71%, which is still higher than my loan interest. And if things end up dismal, well you will understand my line of thinking about that in a couple sentences.

I also set up automatic monthly payments of $75 to the fund (today increased to $100).

In my mind, I could afford to risk losing the entire $1000 initial deposit and $100/mth is an amount I could also afford to lose if it ever came to it that I lost everything (Queen of Positive Thinking here, remember?). Today’s mind wandering into worrying-about-the-future got me thinking though that, instead of dumping 98% of my savings into savings accounts with no more than 1% interest, I should be putting more money in investing options. Even if I stick with a fund instead of doing my own thing, I am more likely to get a return greater than 1%.

At least 10% of my savings should go to investing!

So as a start, this upcoming year, if I ever start getting income again, I plan to put 10% of my savings into investing. I will start with the Tangerine Balanced Growth investment fund now and the Equity Growth one sometime in 2015, because they are tailor-built for lazy investors like me with assets under $50K. Then, maybe one day I will enter the world of self-managed investment portfolios.

EDIT: Thanks to reader ricodilello, I realized that it is better to put my money first into an RRSP, at least as it concerns paying off debt more quickly. As he highlighted in his comment on this post, if I put $5,500 in a TFSA fund and got a 10% return, I’d be looking at an extra $550/yr to pay down debt. However, if I put that same $5,500 in an RRSP savings account I would lower my taxes by over $1,500, which is basically the same as saying I’d get an extra $1,500 to pay toward debt. And if I went a step further and put that $5,500 in an RRSP investment fund then not only would I lower my taxes by $1,500 but I would also likely have a return, hopefully of at least $550 (10%).

Whatever the case though, all money invested will be untouchable. Separate and apart from an emergency fund. Once my money goes towards investing I will consider it dead to me, until retirement :).

sheepish smiling eeyore

November Monthly Report – What’s Going On?

Hi all,

The news coming out of the US the past couple weeks have been depressing, especially as it concerns the Brown and Garner cases. Added to that is the fact that, after October, November was the month I took in the least amount of money since last year when I first started working for myself. So money is tight going into the holiday season. Also, the Canadian dollar is still struggling against the US. For these reasons, my mood going into the holidays is a bit somber.

With November being the second straight month of barely any incoming funds I was unable to put as much money towards debt. I cut down my expenses a little more too, as I am now on the path of spending as though I expect no income for 6 more months.

In fact, if I discount the money I gave my Mum and loan interest payments, in November I only spent $458 in total. Most of it was on health and dining out.


$440 $172 $133

I reduced my dining out by a bit. A good chunk of the dining spending above was work-related. The only non-work-related dining expense was treating my family to Popeye’s takeout one Saturday night ($55 fed close to ten people – there is a reason poor people eat a lot of fast food). I was lucky in that often my clients paid for lunch if we had a lunch meeting. However, sometimes I ended up buying my own lunch when my meeting was just before lunch time. A few other times I was good and packed my lunch with me when I knew my work meetings downtown were scheduled to be done at lunch time and I wanted to go work at the library afterwards. I may have to go back to packing my lunch more frequently if my situation continues as is.


$68 $0 $30 $13

That $13 was for a movie ticket.

If things continue as is I will have to suspend giving my Mum money and cut down further on dining as well as miscellaneous expenses, until I start receiving income again. For instance, no more delicious lattes every now and then at Starbucks – it will be all about the cheaper tea/bottled water during my meetings. Every little adds up when trying to cut down on spending! I had also been hoping to do a holiday trip (or rather, a January trip) somewhere but that doesn’t look possible at the moment.

On the bright side, since I am in the suburbs with my fam again, far away from the temptations of downtown living, and since it is cold again here in Canada, my desire to go out and spend money is much lower. So I am not yet really feeling the crunch.

Anyway, here is where things stood at the end of November:

NAME JULY 31, 2013 NOVEMBER 30, 2014
Mastercard $6,123 CAD $0 CAD
Visa $8,653 CAD $0 CAD
B-school loan $96,800 USD
($109,142 CAD)
$81,802 USD
($92,346 CAD)
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan $20,931 CAD $18,421 CAD
Student Line of Credit (LOC) $9,678 CAD $0
TOTAL $154,527 CAD $110,767 CAD

October’s balance was $112,940. So that means that in November I only paid off $2173, falling short of my minimum threshold of $2500/month. I am, nonetheless, thankful that I was still able to pay above the minimums for my loans (which combined currently equal around $1091), despite two low-to-no incoming cash flow months. And I’m very thankful that my situation is not so terrible yet.

In December, I hope I will be able to pay off enough to get to $45K paid off in 17 months.

October Monthly Report – Cash Flow Woes

Hi everyone.

My end-of-month report for October is due. So here I am!

October was a little bit of a rough month income-wise because I didn’t get any money coming in for the projects I am working on. One of the clients was late with payment, main client, but they have been late the last few times so I was kinda expecting it.

I actually had to dip into my savings to make payments towards debt. I felt comfortable doing so because my savings are still enough for now. Not one year’s worth like I want, but maybe enough that I could make the money in it stretch to last me 6 to 8 months if I get no income for a while, without reducing my debt reduction rate. Although I have a feeling that my cash flow will continue to be bad for the next month or so, here’s hoping it won’t come to the situation where I’m looking at 6 to 8 months without income!

Anyway, since I kinda knew I wasn’t going to have any money coming in, I limited my spending throughout the month. Glad to report that my spending for this month is the lowest it has been since February last year, a few months before I got my first contract. Back then I was on such a spending diet that my monthly spend for the month, minus credit card interest payments, was $400 or less. So this month my spending was the lowest it’s been in a year and a half. Definitely a record.

Granted the main reason my monthly expenses fell was because I cut back my spending, knowing or rather suspecting that I wouldn’t get any cash coming in this month. But it’s nice to know I can easily make $500 plus reductions in spending if really needed.

As part of my reduced spending plan in October I went out less. Part of this was prompted by the fact that early on in the month, after a late night out and a few minutes waiting out in cold weather in clothes that were not meant for cold weather, I impulsively decided to get a cab home. That ride cost me over $40 as opposed to the $3 the bus was going to charge. I felt so guilty about that that I skipped going out at night for a couple weekends. I also hate cold weather. So the way I see it, my guilt was another excuse to not go out in the cold.

My dining expenses for October amounted to $172. Thankfully, that’s a marked decrease from the previous 2 months. The last time it was that low was in June.


$371 $440 $172

The $172 is close to my ideal of $150 or less and within my budget of maximum $250. So I’m feeling better about it.

My other big expenses excluding loan interest, for the next few months, will be health (mainly dental), gifts (including monthly amount I give my Mum) and entertainment. Health should be a fairly constant $250 Р$350 for the next few months. Gifts will ramp up during the holidays. My family is thankfully not big on gifts, but I do like to buy presents for my friends and also treat my huge family to a few dinner/lunch takeout meals. Entertainment is the other regular expense. That includes travel, drinking/partying, recreation, etc.

I no longer really have a grocery bill. So from now on I will track entertainment expenses instead. In October it was pretty low, because I barely went out and my bus tickets for travel were bought in July. Here is a comparison of my entertainment spending the last 4 months.


$404 $68 $0 $30

In other news, the Canadian dollar keeps falling. Earlier this month I started feeling a bit of debt fatigue as I considered how the balance feels like it has barely moved the past couple months. And I felt a bit depressed when I considered how much longer the Canadian balance on my b-school loan is going to take to go down.

I am feeling a bit better now as I am focusing on small steps at a time (that by the way is great advice for life!). When all was said and done at the end of October, here is where things stood:

NAME JULY 31, 2013 OCTOBER 31, 2014
Mastercard $6,123 CAD $0 CAD
Visa $8,653 CAD $0 CAD
B-school loan $96,800 USD
($109,142 CAD)
$83,589 USD
($94,364 CAD)
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan $20,931 CAD $18,576 CAD
Student Line of Credit (LOC) $9,678 CAD $0
TOTAL $154,527 CAD $112,940 CAD

September’s balance was $115,652. So that means that in October I paid off $2712, meeting my minimum threshold of $2500/month but falling short of my real goal of $3000.

My US dollar amount is going down but, as aforementioned, my Canadian balance feels like it is not moving much. I think part of my sadness came from accepting that I am not going to be able to pay off $50K by the end of this year, a stretch goal I had. Perhaps if the dollar was not dropping so fast and the end of this year was not looking to be filled with cash flow worries…Ah well.