Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Adapting to new priorities

So as I hinted at in my last post, my priorities have shifted since May.  There are some big changes coming in my life, basically related to the fact that I really need to achieve a better work-life balance.  In the past, when I had major life goals in mind, I could become an excellent saver and would stick to a very strict budget in order to save money to achieve my goal.  It was that focused mindset that allowed me to save up a down payment for the townhouse I currently live in and, before that, to pay off a car loan in an exceptionally short period of time.  So what is this new goal???  Although I can't elaborate too much, there are a few big financial roadblocks. 

First off, my car (Betty, the rusted out Mazda3) is dying and not in a minor way.  My brother is my mechanic and when I had him investigate some rattles, I was told that there were a multitude of mechanical issues that will be occurring soon.  In short, I was told the condition of the vehicle didn't warrant the thousands of dollars of repairs that will be needed to keep Betty on the road.  His advice was to drive this car until it died and, in the meantime, save up as much money as possible to purchase my next vehicle.  I was excited at the prospect of a new car but had hoped Betty would last until next year so this is a *major* purchase that I'll have to incorporate into my budget sooner than anticipated.

Secondly, the past few months of half-time flying at my primary employer have completely drained my savings and put me in a tiny bit of debt.  I should have this debt cleared up in a month or two but that means money that would otherwise go towards savings or a new car is being diverted for awhile.  I'm frustrated with this because I hate debt so much but, as much as I regret my financial situation, I actually really needed to take a step back from flying for those six months and most of what I spent my savings on (snowboarding equipment and lessons, lift tickets, travelling) was actually money I consider well-spent.  Its a crappy situation but considering some of the alternatives, was actually the best choice.

Finally, I need to adjust my budget and get back to living *well* below my means if I want to make the proposed changes and not put myself in another bad situation.  I'll also need to save up a significant amount  I'm basically going to have to pretend to have a low income, in preparation for some changes that might cause a low income.  It's really hard to think about that at my age when I feel like my income should just be steadily rising!!

For the next few months, I'm going to have to pay off my debt, save up money for a down payment on a car and restrict my budget (I'm going to aim to live below $3000 each month which is less than what I make now but any extra will go to the two previously mentioned goals).  I used to relish these types of challenges but I'm actually dreading this one.  There's been some significant lifestyle inflation in the past few years and I'll have to drastically change the way I live in order to make this do-able.  It's hard but really, if I'm hoping to honour my new priorities, it's simply the way it has to be.  I'm currently trying to crunch the numbers to see how a $3000/month budget will look for me and will post one here soon as well as updates on how well I'm able to follow it.  Wish me luck!

Happily (ok, maybe with a tiny bit of stress!),

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