the 52 week savings plan

piggybank

Photo courtesy of hoveringcat

Saving has never been my strong suit. Now spending on the other hand I am very good at. I should have a medal… and a cash prize… so I can go shopping.

But one of my goals for 2014 is to get serious about saving and curb spending. Although Andrew and I have joint accounts we choose to keep personal accounts as well. That way if one of us wants to splurge on a “want,” rather than a “need,” we’re not spending the other person’s money. Our personal accounts differ quite considerably. Long story short Andrew has money in his and I don’t. Well… at least never for long.

So I wanted to find ways to make it “fun” to save this year. 2 days into the New Year a co-worker told me he was doing the 52 week savings plan. On a weekly basis you put the dollar amount that corresponds with the number of week it is in the year into a savings account. So for example, I started two weeks ago and put $1 into a savings account.  Last week I contributed $2. And this week I’ll add $3. Week after week the savings grows exponentially until the last week of the year when you put $52 into the savings account. At the end of it all you save $1,378.oo.

Obviously this savings plan seems ridiculously easy at first, but I know it will get hard once I hit November and December. Still its a plan I am willing to commit to. For one I like the idea of seeing how quickly the dollars add up. And two, my co-worker is doing it too, so I know we can keep each other accountable.

Do you have a savings plan for 2014?

on the subject of… RRSPs

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this guy is a pretty smart one…

I have had the great intention of opening an RRSP for the last couple of years, but didn’t do so until a few weekends ago.

Andrew is the savvy saver in our little family and has been wanting me to open up one for quite some time.

So after my appointment at the bank I texted him to tell him I did it! I finally did it!

I took a measly $100 out of my chequeing and put it into an RRSP account and then set up an automatic withdrawal from my bank account every 2 weeks so that I would never have an excuse not to save money for retirement, a house, or going back to school. It was that easy!

I learned I didn’t need a ka-jillion dollars to start saving for long-term goals I just needed to START. And I was so excited to share my new financial knowledge with Andrew!

His response was: “You are so hot right now…”

Who knew?

Our first NFL game: GO Seahawks!

Last Sunday Andrew and I experienced our first NFL Game and it was unreal! Nothing against the CFL… but the energy inside an NFL game is like a local BC Lions game… times 10! To be fair, there were a lot more fans at Sunday’s game, than any game at BC Place I’ve ever been too. 67,000 people (us included) packed into the CenturyLink Stadium to watch the Seahawks take on the Minnesota Vikings.

As any Vancouverite knows, taking a trip down south to watch a professional sports game can get expensive (the tickets are pricey enough!). Here’s a few tips on how to keep a day trip to cheer on the Seahawks affordable.

1. If you want to look like you’ve been a Seahawks fan your whole life, stop at a Wal-Mart on the way down to buy cheap NFL apparel. A Seahawks hat for $12 at Wal-Mart is just as good as a Seahawks hat for $30 sold inside the stadium.

2. Finding affordable parking is tough! The further away you can park from the stadium the cheaper it gets. So if you don’t mind walking, keep driving! Just make sure you have a GPS so you don’t get lost. After passing $50 lots, $40 lots and then $30 lots, we finally found a $20 lot at Columbia and 1st. Plus it was valet parking! We kind of forgot that at the end of the game and didn’t come back with a tip… oops… can I use the excuse that we were from out of town?

3. Opt to get lunch outside the stadium, rather than waiting to buy food from the vendors inside. There were plenty of hot dog, tacos and burger stalls outside the stadium, so we grabbed 2 hot dogs for $6 and took in the high energy pre-game atmosphere (which was already in full swing about an hour and a half before kick-off). Too bad you can’t drink beer in public in Seattle, or else I am sure the stalls would be selling that for cheap too! We still had to pay for over priced Budweiser inside CenturyLink…

C’mon Washington, you did just legalize marijuana for recreational use… I think its time you legalize the drinking of alcohol in public places 🙂 

Saving money on groceries

You know you are old when, you get really excited about saving money on groceries….

But just because your old, doesn’t mean you still can’t act like a kid!

Andrew and I have started going to great lengths to shave a few dollars off our grocery bill. Our weekly trip to the grocery store usually has two stops. One at No Frills (a no name discount store), and the other at the Safeway near our house. No matter what we do we still get a bit shocked about the price of certain items. Take toilet paper for example.

Once, we were at the cash register on a routine grocery run and the cashier rang through the toilet paper. I don’t remember how much it cost, but Andrew seemed to think it cost more than it was supposed to. So he cried fowl by exclaiming out loud, isn’t there cheaper toilet paper? why is this so expensive? To which I replied, you told me you don’t like the cheap kind of toilet paper because it’s too rough on your bum.

The cashier smiled. Andrew turned red. And I giggled. You walked into that one, Andrew. 

Wishing Trees

What would you wish for? If you could have just one wish?

I asked this question to myself after last weekend’s adventure with our friends Phil and Emily to the city’s newest Summer Night Market. In one section there were a bunch of trees with flower shaped lights on them. The bright purple light against the backdrop of the night sky was so striking. There were instructions to write a wish on a peice of paper and tie it to one of the trees so your wish would come true.

I think most people would wish for this… I know that was my first thought.

Sure, I’d like the extra money to go take a bigger vacation, to pay off debts, to buy a house one day and stop renting, to buy new furniture for my bedroom… the list goes on.

Certain aspects of life could be easier with a little more cash flow but more money doesn’t make me happy. It’s the little things that I look back on and they make me smile: It’s getting a compliment on a job well done at work. It’s a weekend with the family. It’s a well cooked meal with friends. It’s painting my nails a brand new cute color. It’s Andrew cooking me eggs on a Saturday morning. It’s reading the last page of a great big book. It’s laughing so hard that my stomach hurts. It’s turning off all the lights and curling up with my husband to watch a movie at home. It’s Bailey’s in my hot chocolate for dessert. It’s finding time to sit and just do nothing.

So if I had one wish, what would my wish be? For everyone to find someone in their lives that makes me as happy as I am when I am with Andrew. Maybe my wish worked on Emily and Phil! Just kidding. These two were lovebirds before I came along.

An IKEA story

A trip to IKEA almost always turns into an argument about money among couples. No matter how much you plan and budget you always come out of IKEA buying much more than you thought you would. This can be particularly challenging when you and your partner have different ideas about how much to spend on things.

Although we dread the shopping trip (the long drive, the crowds, the Swedish-ness) it finally came time for Andrew and I to return to IKEA. We needed things like a new dresser, a wardrobe and other great storage investments for our tiny two bedroom. Neither of us were looking forward to the trip because of what happened the last time we were there.

The last time we were at IKEA, Andrew had a bit of a meltdown. We were there just before Christmas to buy a futon for our guest bedroom. Andrew’s parents were coming to visit for the holidays and we decided that we needed to provide something a little more comfortable than our blow-up mattress (your welcome John and Shelley).

Why go to IKEA you may ask if it causes such stress? Because IKEA still offers the most affordable futon that is still comfortable… and we’re on a budget. So we drove to IKEA in our tiny Nissan and went in knowing we were there to drop some serious cash on some merchandise. After selecting a futon that was both comfy and in my opinion “chic” we then couldn’t decide on what fabric cover we wanted on it. There was the grey futon cover and a white one. I liked the white one, but it was $50 more than the grey one. While I tried to argue that the white cover would look better in our space, Andrew strongly opposed spending more money just for the “look” of something and insisted we get the grey cover. Ok fine. I gave in. This should have been my first clue that the air was especially tense. Much more than usual. Not between us… but between IKEA and Andrew.

As we made our way to the IKEA warehouse with our cart to pick up our new futon we soon realized that it’s large packaging would not fit into our tiny Nissan. This is something neither of us thought of. So I suggest checking to see how much home delivery is. I leave Andrew in the warehouse and head over near the cashiers, to the home delivery counter to see how much it will cost us. The price was $70 and it would be delivered next day. Not bad I think. I also think we have no other option. Problem solved right? Oh  how wrong I was.

I get back to Andrew in the warehouse and tell him the price of home delivery. He then starts scratching his chin and then rubbing his neck (never a good sign). He looks down at the futon in frustration, refusing to make eye contact with me. And I think uh-oh he’s not impressed as I was with the home delivery option. I don’t know why now, but I was still surprised by what he did next.

He told me he was convinced we could get it to fit in our car. If we folded down the seats. If we bought some bungee chords. If I sat with part of the futon on my lap in the passenger seat. I protested and mentioned we have no way of measuring the futon and knowing if this will actually fit. The box was quite large and the largest thing we had ever fit into our tiny car were skiis and snowboards and even that was a tight fit. But that’s when I saw it. The look in my husband’s eyes that told me, Ashly you are not going to win this fight… even if you are right. He will have to figure this one out for himself. So I do whatever any other good wife would do at this point. I sigh… nod my head, shrug my shoulders and say “OK. Let’s give it a shot.”

So first he took my scarf and attempted to measure the box with the length of my scarf, then left me in the warehouse with our unpaid futon, went out into the parking lot and measured the car. He came back 5 minutes later and declared “It will fit.”

We paid for the futon, wheeled it out to the cold parking lot (it is December in Canada remember?) and began by opening the trunk, folding down the back seats, lifting the box and shoving the box in. It didn’t fit. Andrew is shoving it in with his shoulder, then kicking it in and then shoving it in some more. Nope. Not gonna fit. This will never ever fit. His face  turned red in anger. At this point I thought OK, he understands now. It won’t fit and we’ll just take it back into the store and get home delivery.

Wrong again. Andrew suggests something to the effect of, We need to take it out of the box and then the futon frame and parts will fit. I am screaming in my head NO NO NO NO NO. But all I say aloud is, “OK.” So in the middle of this freezing parking lot, with the sun setting, we use our car keys to cut the tape, open this large box, take out the parts and the frame and try to fit it into the car. Again it doesn’t work. Andrew is muttering and swearing under his breath. I don’t know what he’s saying but I know it’s nothing I want to hear. And I keep wondering why $70 is such a big deal? We are already dropping a few hundred on this futon. We have the money. What is he getting so upset about? So I have to laugh… although I try to hide it, seeing that he is clearly and visibly upset. At this point people are walking by in the parking lot staring at us. I do my polite nod and smile as if to say, Everything is fine, thank you for noticing, we’ll be done shortly, we don’t need any assistance… great day isn’t it? Beautiful sunset. 

Finally, he says “OK, I think we need to get home delivery.” I think No shit sherlock. But all I say is, “OK.”

The funny thing is 2 weeks later Andrew proposed. Apparently the night we went and bought the futon was the week he was buying my engagement ring and he was stressing out just a little about money. Key word: a little.

And if you’re wondering… IKEA delivered the futon the next day as promised, Andrew set it up and it looks great in our guest bedroom.

Buying a toaster… together

Our toaster broke. It was a hand-me-down from our university days and it had finally toasted it’s last toast. Andrew, the darling husband that he is, was sure he could fix it. So at first he took it apart and it sat on our kitchen counter for a few days… all the while we were left toastless. What we found is we toast things a lot more than we thought, and so I finally put a gentle hand on Andrew’s back and said, “It’s time… It’s time to let go.” In other words, it’s time to buy a new toaster.

Andrew has a much harder time letting go (a.k.a. throwing things away) than I do. I think if I didn’t purge things in our household once in awhile, Andrew would be a bit of a hoarder. His motto is, let’s fix it. My motto is, if its broken let’s buy a new one. Especially if its a cheap toaster.

So after convincing him to go to Superstore, we arrive to find that this Saturday was No Tax Event Saturday… as in pay no taxes on anything in store. The store was packed. Way more crowded than any normal Saturday at Superstore. And Andrew started to get the itch.

You see, Andrew hates crowds. Not in a paralyzing, heart-stopping, panic-attack way but in a hate-to-go-shopping-with-a-bunch-of-other-people-in-my-personal-space kind of way. As we get out of the car and walk toward the chaos that is inside, I pat Andrew on the back and assure him it will all be ok. But my words do nothing to calm him. He scratches his neck. He takes off his hat and rubs his head. He puts his hat back on. He paces. And B-Lines it straight for the kitchen appliances aisle.

If theres one thing I’ve learned about my husband is that in situations like this it’s best to get in, get what you need and get out. My attempts to shop around for other things while the No Tax Event is happening are pointless.

So we find our toaster. Well, in fact we find several… all varying in brand, price and style. As I reach for the chrome/stainless steel looking one Andrew heads for the best priced toaster– the $10 one. It’s the only one left. It’s black. As he grabs the box with a look on his face that seems to say, this will do, I contemplate the idea of arguing in favor for the sleek chrome/stainless steel one I’ve got my eye on on the shelf. As I hesitate to gather my thoughts as to how I would argue for this more expensive (it’s $24), better looking toaster, I hear a toddler crying, I see several shopping carts and people crowding the aisle, and I see Andrew rubbing his neck, itching his head, taking off his hat, wiping the sweat from his forehead, eyes set on the exit doors. And I think, nah… let him have this one.

After all it’s just a toaster.