Thursday, March 31, 2011

Minimum Wage Budget

Now that I have only $2000 left to pay off my credit card, I have been looking at all the things on which I would like to spend my freed-up money. The reality is that I will have to begin paying student loans soon so my dreams of a more extravagant lifestyle will have to wait a while longer :)

So I have come up with a plan - which I am still tweaking - called the minimum wage budget, to help me stay organized and stay on track with my financial goals. It looks something like this:

Minimum wage = $10.25 x 35 hours x 4 weeks = $1435.00
Child tax credit                                                     355.96
Child support                                                        300.00

(I am purposely leaving out the Universal Child Tax Credit in the hopes it gets scrapped for a real child care plan, when "the Harper Government" is defeated next month)

That leaves me with $2090.96, which is actually not much less than what I bring home, but the intention is to ignore that extra amount and hand it over to student loans.

Is it just me, or does this seem like quite a bit of money to work with? I guess I have been in the lower income bracket for so long that this seems like it will work. But next I have to figure out the spending plan.

Seriously, Karissa

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It is all about Choices (200th Post)

When I was much younger I tried to educate myself about global issues. The more negative the better. This was not always easy to do because the internet did not yet exist. I got most of my information from obscure zines, and my favourite issues were the ones about animal rights. Later on I got into food security and environmental destruction, and when I chose my majors for my Bachelor of Arts one of them was International Development, which focused on these issues.

Somewhere along the way I crashed. I knew that the Western way of living was destroying the planet for everyone else, even though the media told us it was third world population that was responsible. At one time I wanted to work in the media but I quickly learned to distrust it, particularly the mainstream news. I also decided for my own sanity to ignore the booming "independent" film documentary industry that was seeking to expose the truths. I can handle only so much negative information before I start to become bedridden and despondent.

Since having my son I have been especially ignorant, and even started eating meat again, because I do not want to crush his spirit with negativity. After living an alternative lifestyle for so long I decided to raise him to be "mainstream," knowing that when he is older he can choose his own ideals and values, just like I did.

What does this have to do with my debt-free ambition? I think that I have really come a long way to curb my consumerism, which I believe is a huge contributor to the negativity of which I just wrote. Our demands for stuff: clothing, electronics, housing, food, coffee, etc etc etc has made the world more and more unbalanced in the past several decades. Now I am not perfect at all, and I do not strive to be (progress not perfection correct?) but I am pleased that some of my financial decisions might be contributing to a better life for all.

For example, I rent a small apartment, which means I do not have to spend a lot on utilities, and I do not have to worry about renovations, the materials of which can put pressure on the planet. I drive my cars until they are undrivable. Eventually I would like to go car-free but I am not ready yet. I drive only 10 kms a day to work and back. My son has sat in the same car seat since his birth, and rather than purchasing a new booster seat I borrowed one. I rarely shop for clothes and when I do 98% of the time I use thrift stores. I shop for food only once a week and buy the same basic stuff each time. I try to choose products with minimal packaging and when I do end up with plastic, I do what I can to reuse it a few times before recycling it.

I am not trying to brag or be better than you, I am just trying to remind myself of the good things I try to do. I do not live unconsciously, even if I do like to stop at Tim Hortons for coffee once a week with friends. I have to pick and choose what causes I get involved in, if any, and to me watching every documentary to inform myself of the (crappy) reality of the world does not help me. I know there are awful things going on out there. I am not in denial, but I can only handle so much information. I am trying really really hard to focus on the good things. Lately it has been difficult but I am still trying. If I do not click on the links to inform myself it does not mean I am sticking my head in the sand.

It means I am making choices. I choose not to keep myself awake at night worrying about what we humans have done to our beautiful planet. I choose to live simply, to focus on my breathing, and to try to use my time to find positivity. It is not an easy choice, but it is necessary for my sanity and my good parenting.

Seriously, Karissa

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

the home stretch

The light at the end of the debt tunnel is beautiful and warm. Just in time for a well-deserved thaw, I will be credit-card debt-free.

With my income tax refund I paid off the line of credit. With the child tax credit I will put $200 on the credit card, bringing it down to $3000.

The good news is that I was asked to house-sit for three months!! Without having to pay rent (or bills) this spring and summer I will be able to pay the debt off in full, several months before my self-imposed deadline.

Then in the fall I can begin to pay my student loans. I am trying to come up with a strategy to get around the consolidation agreement that stretches out the payments over 14 years, doubling the amount borrowed.

So, that is my good news.

In other news I am grateful to have a little bit of savings into which I can tap to make a donation to MSF.

Seriously, Karissa

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Global Go Go

I have mentioned here before that in 2005 I spent two months in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I don't have any more big trips on my radar for a while. I might have to wait until my son is an adult, or maybe we will go somewhere together.

In the meantime, I will have to satisfy myself with the adventures of others. Are you planning a big trip in the near future? If so, you might want to check out Tyler Tervooren's (Advanced Riskology) free e-book Instant Adventure.

Seriously, Karissa

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

I Love This

"In November 2008, Pluto moved out of Sagittarius into Capricorn, where it will stay through January 2024. That gives us 16 years to revamp our political, economic and social institutions. This deep cleansing, exposure of corruption and falling apart of structures that do not serve the collective good is obviously in process. Do you witness becoming less reckless and getting more serious about your financial affairs?
Fiscal and public responsibility are aspects of the Pluto in Capricorn purge."

~ Guru Rattana, NMBeing #179 - REALITY SHIFT 2011

Seriously, Karissa