Jo is about to get naked.

Financially naked. I think actually getting naked would be less frightening.

The reason for this post is that I like read a lot of money/finance/frugality websites. They are useful, but lately they don’t really speak to me. Why? Many people who write articles have a spouse and their combined income is pretty good. It’s a little hard to listen to tales of woe of debt and money from people with combined incomes over 90, 100, 120K and the expense of their mortgage payments. I live in a 500 square foot apartment.

So this is a post about the single, childless gal, who makes 35K a year. When you are surrounded by professionals, 35K is not a lot.

Yes, I make 35K a year. I have a crappy job that I don’t like but for many reason, I am stuck in this job. I am not going to get into why I am stuck in this crappy job and why I don’t leave this crappy job because that alone is another blog. Yes I am looking for a less crappy job.

People with good non crappy jobs think I can just submit a few resumes and presto I am in my dream job. It’s easy to give job search advice when they themselves have not looked for a new job in decades. Here’s the reality of looking for a job in the age of the internet:

Job is posted on job site. Wants applicant to proficient in 10 things and “nice to have skills” in 5 other things. And 10+ years experience.

1 job
500 applications
100 of those applicant have proficiency in 10 things
50 applicants have proficiency in 10 things plus the “nice to have skills”
35 people have proficiency in 10 things plus the “nice to have skills,” plus the “10+ years experience,” and other skills not even mentioned in the ad
15 are interviewed
1 person is hired.

Getting out of a crappy job is not easy. So STFU. That’s all I am gonna say about why I am stuck in a crappy job. For now.

I did not have a steady job for years. I worked in an industry that was mostly freelance and after many frustrating years I decided that this was not the life for me. Never having any money, not being able to plan for the future, and being in my late 30s, it was time to grow up and get a regular steady job. So in November 2003 I got a steady job.

So I make 35K a year with benefits. I am Canadian so I have health coverage. The 35K includes an annual bonus. But you know what, the 35K does not really bother me that much. I am single, I have no children and no debt. Now I can’t consider myself a financial guru because trust me I was not always such a frugalista. My brother did help me out and when I was on a position to pay him back, he refused. I asked him three times and he refused each times so I stopped offering.

In late 2003 made 33K off the sale of my condo (bought in 2000 for 53K sold in 2003 for 90K). To hold onto that condo  would have been too difficult. I used that money to pay off all my debt and start an emergency fund and begin contributing to an RRSP. I did not start contributing to my RRSP until I was 38 years old.

Here is the naked part! Here is a graphic of my budget.

After taxes, I make $2100 a month. As you can see there is not a lot of room for extras. I am responsible for 100% of the bills. It’s all on me.

Emergency Fund – $7500. I have yearly goals for the emergency fund and thanks for my work bonus, I have already reached it for 2011. The fund was originally the “emergency/new car in 2017” fund but since I take the bus to work and only drive a few times a week, I might not replace my car and instead elect for car sharing.

RRSP – Right now I only have just over $14,000. It’s not much but it’s better than nothing.

I am quite proud that I saved over $7600 last year (emergency + RRSP). I was able to sock away so much money because I made about $900 dog sitting. This allowed me to go to Holland to visit my brother. And the dog!

Of course there are choices to be made when you make $2100 a month. Choices not sacrifices.

I do not smoke
I have about 4 drinks a year
I do not go to clubs. They bore me.
I have no cable TV. The 4 TV shows I watch are all available online.
I own a used Pentium 4 computer.
I paid off my car almost 2 years ago.
I do not drink coffee, tea, hot chocolate or any hot drinks. Tim Horton’s hates me!
I do not bring money to work.
I ride my bike to work 5 months of the year. I take the bus only when it rains.
I hate going out to dinner because frankly I am vain and too many restaurant meals make you fat.
I read over 100 books a year. They are my main source of entertainment. If I were to buy all these books the cost would be over $2500/yr. Instead I get books from the library. I never have a shortage of books.
I have not bought a new piece of furniture in 4 years because I keep getting stuff out of the garbage in my building.

I have a very old cell phone (only phone) that is not a smart phone. I pay $22/month. Every 4th month is free because I am on auto pay and get $5 a month for being on auto pay. People always say “you should get an iphone?” Why? An iphone is what, $300, $400? How would I pay for the smart phone plan that costs $50, $80 or $100 a month? There is no room in the budget for a smart phone. Am I to stop contributing to my RRSP because an iphone is way cooler than having a nest egg!

My rent is high because I chose to live alone (if I wanted a roommate at this period of my life, I would be married by now). I live in a clean, safe and well maintained building. I used to live somewhere cheaper but the constant visits to the building by the police, noisy/mentally deranged neighbors and surly building staff forced me to move out. Some people say “you should buy a house.” Uh where? I would only qualify for a mortgage of about $90K and there are no 90K houses here. Not even condos in Cracktown.

Disposable Income is my favorite category . I can use it to buy anything I want. Granted this covers a lot of things including clothing, haircuts, birthday gifts and entertainment. So if I want to blow $50 in one evening getting shitfaced, well then I guess I won’t be doing much of anything else. Suddenly getting shitfaced does not seem all that appealing especially since I probably won’t remember much of the evening.

I don’t feel that I am deprived in any way with my 35K. I just choose to do things differently than most people. It’s all about choices. I choose not to be obsessed with the latest gadget or a covet a pair of fancy boots or being seen at a trendy nightclub. I do not feel the urge to flash my iPad to all or decorate my apartment with a huge TV, ear bleeding stereo system, enough DVDs to open a video store and all the latest best sellers. Why? So I can show people how incredibly cool and well read I am. I know I am cool and well read. Living on 35K makes me smarter. I love the creative buzz I get from figuring out how to do things on the cheap. I find it fun to make stuff from other stuff.

I cannot really complain. There are many people out there who are supporting a spouse or family on 35K and they do an admirable job balancing things and I take my hats off to them. I hope they write about it on their blog.

I will admit, I am not perfect. I have a vice. I love Diet Coke. I was spending too much on it even though I buy it by the case. I cut my consumption by 40%. For some reason people at work love to comment on how much Diet Coke I drink. I should note that the people who like to make snarky comments about my love of Diet Coke, have no savings, and are up to their asses in debt. I bring a can (cost = 0.28) with my brown bag lunch. Once in a while I will spend $1.75 and buy a bottle .

Let’s do the math:

after taxes for 1 year (I get paid three times a month, twice a year) 2100 x 12 months + the 2 extra paycheques = $27,300 + $900 dog sitting = $28,200.
I saved $7600 last year.
7600/28,200= 27% of my pay.

So fuck you, I am gonna have my Diet Coke.

Interesting Things I Learned About Black History During the Other 11 Months of the Year

I dislike Black History Month. Yeah you read that correctly. In Canada and the U.S. February has been designated Black History Month and every year I rant about how much I hate BHM.

I love history. Black history, White history, Asian history, World history, I love it all. I once spent 90 minutes on a Saturday night reading up on the history of the pencil. Granted I do love pencils, but that’s another story.

The reason I hate BHM is that history is interesting and people of all races, religions etc. should be encouraged to learn about history all year round.

Here is a list of people, events and new stories that I found interesting this year.

Blind Tom Wiggins. Born into slavery, blind, autistic, he still composed beautiful music.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Website. Real people, ripped from their families to be traded as a commodity. A shocking amount of children.

Huck and Jim’s Excellent Adventure. Personally I don’t like it when people re write history but both commentators make excellent points. Personally, I never considered Huck Finn a children’s book. It’s definitely high school material. Thanks to Carla for the excellent revisionist title!

Argument for the new edition
Argument against the new edition

Sherman’s March to the Sea. I read E.L. Doctorow’s book The March and this prompted me to learn more about the campaign. It was misery for everyone, white, black, north, south, private or general!

Tunisia is country struggling with corruption. A country in North Africa is very far away from the comforts of my Canadian suburb.

Remember those who fail to learn from history are bound to repeat it.

Ten Reasons You Are On Hold for Tech Support

10. Mrs Customer is lonely and drunk and needs a friend.

9. Mr Customer once programmed mainframe computers back in 1962. He knows everything. Of course that’s why he’s calling. And he’s not afraid to tell you how to do your job.

8. Mrs Customer has spent the first 14 minutes of the call complaining about outsourced agents. Guess what, it’s been 14 minutes and you still have the same problem. Shut up about the outsourced agent because the agent you are speaking to:
a) does not care
b) can’t comment on it anyways
c) is an outsourced agent and is dying a little bit inside with every call

7. Mr. Customer has an overwhelming urge to read to you what is on the screen even though the agent has seen this screen probably 10,000 times. Even if we politely tell Mr. Customer that he just needs to tell us that he’s at the screen and he does not have to read the screen, he still insists on reading every screen.

6. Mrs Customer bought herself a D-Link router but has no freakin’ clue how to hook it up. D-Link is gonna charge her $1.99/minute to help her so Mrs Customer thinks she’s a clever bunny and will call her internet company for help. The agent will spend the next 10 minutes explaining that the equipment is unsupported. Then the agent will spend another 10 minutes explaining what “unsupported” means.

5. Mrs Customer is a multitasking diva. She is cooking lunch, texting on her cell phone and talking to you all at the same time. So you get to repeat every single instruction five times.

4. Mr. Customer selected the option “internet technical support” to ask a question about the TV bill.

3. Oh, Mrs D-Link is calling back for the 15th time. Agents are still saying “unsupported.”

2. Every time you ask Mr. Customer a question that requires a YES or NO answer, he tells you a longwinded story unrelated to his issue.

1. Mrs Customer never has any information in front of her to validate the account. So we have to wait 5-10 minutes on the phone while she searches the piles of paper on her desk for an account number. Even though Mrs. Customer has called six times in the last four days and every time we have asked her for her account number, she does not have it ready.