Monday, February 6

Put your Money where your Values are

Ever since moving to Alberta, getting a real job and becoming an adult I have started to track all of my expenditures on excel to see where my money goes.  Time and money are good indicators of where a person's values lay.  Apparently I don't value savings right now....

Right off the top 25% of my income goes directly to the Ontario government to repay OSAP (student) loans.  We're, of course, talking net income.  A big chunk of my cash goes right back to Alberta whether I agree with how the conservatives spend it or not.  Back to OSAP.  So far I am off to a good start - it is a painful percentage to look at but it shows that I want to be out of debt as fast as I can and it ain't all talk.

The next 25% keeps me warm, dry and mobile - rent and car payments.  This is just slightly over a full 25%.  Hopefully no need to justify rent but I will point that I went the more affordable shared place pre-furnished to save dough which then gets handed over to the crones of Mr. McGuinty.  The car would be irresponsible in a big city with mucho public transport however, I need the car to get around this sprawling urban mess and out to the rural sites I cover for work.

Gas - $100-$150 per month.  I had set a budget of $100 however I have tended to go over this.  A good chunk of it gets reimbursed eventually for driving to those far away work sites.  Another large percentage of this is weekend trips to Edmonton.  I value good friends - money well-spent.

Food - budget:  $300.  Actual:  $350...ish.  This seems large and it is half and half.  The budget is high because I have decided to buy all of my meat at a butcher that only sells local, organic, free range dead animal muscle tissue.  Organic milk and other dairy products.  Organic fruits and vegetables.  Local whenever possible.  A good investment.  The kicker is - quite a bit of my monthly food bill goes to eating out.  When I eat out it is more expensive and I buy things that don't fit my rules of organic or cruelty-free.
            How can I make my food budget more closely reflect my values/goals?  1)  Stop buying coffee at work.  I lost my ceramic mug so it is even worse right now with those dang paper cups.  The coffee isn't fair trade but it is convenient.  I don't need caffeine to get through the day but it does waste my money.  Money spent on coffee would be better used to save a bit of money for travel.  2)  Stop eating out unless it is a social event and, still, make wise choices.  No more subway after the gym.

Booze - by most people's standards my booze expenditures would be pathetic - about $30 a month for a beverage here and there when out with friends.  But I just don't really even like it that much and I don't care if I have it or not.  Somehow that doesn't sound like a good place to put my funds.  Maybe I'll try sticking to water.

"Me" things - I'm not too frivolous but I did buy a wii.  And a new coat.  And make up at Sephora.  If I am going to spend money on well made items I would like to start making sure I know where it was made and a little bit about the company I am supporting.

Charity - $0.  Or about that.  Correct.  The most embarrassing one on this list.  It is like closer to $1.28 if you could the change I put in box at the cash at Tim's after I buy myself a coffee.  I like to get passionate about causes and I like to think that I care about others but I don't show that with my money.  As a poor student I always said I would support charities/causes in which I believe with my money when I had it.  Guess what?  I have it.  Yes, money can be tight but it isn't like I will be waking up any time soon and be chillin' on a private island with the owners of Wal-mart (ew) and Bill Gates.  If I really wanted to I could be giving something.  Challenge to self:  put some money where my values are to help other people.

Overall this turned out better than I had expected.  I am generally responsible with my money but it is the little things that I let slide.  Less coffee would mean more money for savings - savings that I might get to use for travel, something I love to do and have been pining for.  The most telling was the money I spend on charity or lack thereof.  Maybe this means it is time to change.  Next up:  I'll see what how I spend my time says about me.

Does how you spend your money reflect your goals and values?

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