When in doubt…iXpenseit

imgres

 

After trying a few different apps, I’ve become most comfortable with iXpenseIt.  It seems the most user friendly to me and also has the most options of how the view the data you’ve collected.  Now I just have to remember to use it!

 

But it’s hard when you’re constantly distracted by things like this:

kimstlucia1

or this:

kimstlucia2

or hello kitty still following you all over the Caribbean:

hellokitty

 

 

Advertisements

canadian-money

Financial February flew by, a little it too quickly actually. I didn’t get very  many posts out, but I did get a fair amount of learning done (I think relearning grammar might be going on my project list). I finally finished “Personal Finance for Canadian, for Dummies” and while there was good info in there for me, it was so dry it was more like reading an encyclopedia. It did help me to learn a lot of financial terms specific to Canada, but I probably could have gotten that from going to a bank and reading all the pamphlets. It turns out Canada and the US aren’t really that different when it comes to personal finance and the options out there for your retirement. They have higher taxes, but also more generous programs when it comes to retirement (At least in my case). Also when investing the money in your retirement accounts you have all the same options available to my US retirement funds. I’m not really sure what I thought would be so different, as if the options for investing my money would be limited to snow plow companies and tim horton’s. But no, all the same options are out there, and now I also have increased familiarity with Canadian products and companies from living there.

“I will teach you to be rich” on the other hand was a great personal finance book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to learn more about their finances or who needs a good plan to get them into a better relationship with money. Even if you don’t live in the US, the concepts still translate.

Also on my list was understanding the Canadian tax law for independent contractors. After reading the Canada Revenue Agency’s website until my eyes were bleeding I feel confident in doing my own taxes. Again, it’s not that different in concept, just in forms and names. However, I did also get the name of a good accountant!

Also on my list for the month was trying to find a good method for keeping track of the spending I do. This month I tried to keep track of it all with the trusty system of pen and paper. It worked reasonably well, I tallied up my expenses daily and then reviewed weekly… but honestly I don’t think it’s a great long term system. Right now I am in one place and not spending money anyway but in cash, it’s pretty easy to keep track of. Most of the time however, I am moving around and much more busy, plus I might spend money online, on a credit card and in cash multiple times a day, and that doesn’t even count my automatic bills from my bank account. So I want to try an app. I almost always have my phone on me, I just need to get into the habit of recording what I spend on it. My goal is to find one that has a user friendly interface and also is able to organize my spending in many different ways. So I guess Financial February is spilling into March!

While I was originally going to do Medical March to appease the alliteration gods, I will need to push that off for a month since I am currently still aboard the cruise ship and hopefully will not be seeing any doctors anytime soon. Just using an app seems like a pretty lame project for a whole month, but on the other hand this has been an exhausting couple of months! So as a compromise I think I will do a fun one:) This month sticking with the theme of growing up, I’m going to learn to be a girl. So hair, make up and financial apps… OH MY!

hair_archive_

 This is still in fashion right?

nice-girls

No one likes to talk about money. Whether it’s how much you make, how much you save or how much is on your credit card balance, it’s a generally avoided topic of conversation. I think that’s my favorite aspect of Ramit Sethi’s book, “I will teach you to be rich” – that he starts the conversation and keeping it interesting enough that you want to keep reading about it.

While most of the book covers things I already knew and had implemented it was 1.) nice to see that and 2.) nice to get a refresher about what is important in personal finances and why. However, the book opens with a question I don’t typically ask myself: what does rich mean to you?

I felt a little silly that I had never stopped to think what being rich would mean to me, and to be honest I’m still working on figuring that out.

My favorite thing about the book though is how much it is about action. After each chapter there is a task list to complete that pertains to all the stuff you just read about. He makes it about as easy as possible to comprehend aspects of your personal finances and then do something to get them in order.  Here some of the aspects of the book that I found the most useful:

BIG WINS

I like that he focused on big wins and the overall picture. This was most evident when he was talking about budgeting. I would bet that most people you stopped and asked would say they stick to some kind of budget

Basically there are two solutions to fix an unbalanced budget: earn more money or spend less. Most budgeting guides or tips always go with spending less money, and spending less money on a small scale that adds up over time. Don’t buy coffee and bring your own lunch to work. Yes these will definitely save you some money, but they take daily, long-term commitment to really make a dent. Ramit offers up some bigger picture ideas that can save you a lot of money in the long run.  Obvious things like eliminating your credit card debt and lowering your card’s APR to working on your credit rating so you qualify for better loans on really big purchases. Qualifying for a lower interest rate for an auto loan or mortgage will save you thousands more dollars than quitting coffee. For some reason drinking less coffee seems like an easier concept to wrap your brain around though, perhaps because it’s a savings you can see.

A large portion of the book focuses on retirement planning, which was also very well laid out even for us self-employed people. Again the major hurdle for most people seems to be just starting. I have to say when I first opened my IRA I had very little idea what I was doing and not even that much money to throw in there. However that was almost a blessing, better to learn with a little money, than to start learning when I am concerned about retirement and throwing big chunks of change in there.  With the help of compounding interest and lots of time, you can’t really argue that starting retirement planning early is a big win.

AUTOMATION

No one likes constantly monitoring personal finances, which is why it’s best to automate them. The more of your money you can set on auto pilot and just review monthly the better. Provided you actually review things when the time comes!  I think as the internet takes over more and more of our lives this is happening naturally in a lot of ways.  When money is automatically transferred from my checking account to my savings account without me having to do anything or see it go, it’s much easier for me to accumulate savings.

MAINTENANCE

The final puzzle piece of personal finance domination is maintenance. Similar to the what I learned throughout, “Getting Things Done” without maintenance everything will eventually fall apart again. The good thing is that once everything is put into motion, maintenance doesn’t take much time out of your life and in fact seems to relax me since I feel on top of my business.

I feel like every topic I am tackling is hitting me over the head with the same lesson. The are no quick fixes or magic pills, there is only consistent effort. So far this is the best method in training, diet and personal finances…are there quick fixes for anything out there ?!? 🙂

article-new_ds-photo_getty_article_89_142_skd191105sdc_XS

From Marketing to Markets

Personal-Finance

January is over, thank goodness cause that was getting stressful!  I am so glad that I accomplished everything I set out to do, a little surprised that I managed to do it all, but overall happy I did it and happy it’s over 🙂  Best lesson learned from that entire month: Better to do a little work everyday, then play catch up at the end of the year.  So the theme of my life again seems to be consistency is the best policy.

So with one stressful month behind me, I thought I would give myself a break and look into all financial aspects of my life.  Oh and February is only 28 days… Good planning.

For this projects I will be read two books that were highly recommended (…by the internet)

0470679883 iwillteachyoutoberich

…I wonder if the original title was “Personal finance for Canadian Dummies”  and then it quickly got changed?

I already really enjoy learning about finances, taxes and the idea of keeping good records.  I say the idea of keeping good records because as soon as I am on the road for too long my nice filing system becomes an overstuffed envelope that I figure I will deal with later.  Later becomes April 10th, and more and more often I am not anywhere near my home office to deal with taxes come April.

To be honest I am pretty knowlegable with US tax law, planning for retirement in the US and generally keeping track of my money.  However I recently immigrated to Canada and I don’t know anything about their financial system, except that I will probably be paying more taxes.

So February here we go:

*Read: “I will teach you to be rich” and “Personal Finance for Canadians for Dummies”

* Follow the program outlined in “I will teach you to be rich”

*research and implement a better method of “keeping the books” while I am on the road

*Understand the Canadian tax system well enough to know if I need someone else to do my taxes for me 🙂

*Learn my options for retirement planning for US vs Canada

*Try not to fall asleep while reading numerous tax forms

Exhausted Student Falling Asleep While Cramming

You have 4 weeks, GO!