Mindfulness and the Importance of Having Fun and Looking Good

Source: Etsy

Source: Etsy

How much do you think you spend on the following categories?

  • Entertainment
  • Clothing
  • Random Expenses like lattes, snacks, etc.

Probably more than you think you do!

Where do you spend your money?

I know that my entertainment and clothing categories were woefully small in the last six months and I’ve been wondering why that is. I think it’s because I’m spending a lot of my money on food expenses, and I’m not taking the time to take care of myself through other means that aren’t food.

Thing is, we need both entertainment and clothing. When I’m not spending money on those categories, it’s usually because I’m eating way too much food that’s bad for me. I’m eating my feelings.

So, although I know my entertainment and clothing categories are gonna go up in the next few months, I totally understand why and I’m actually kind of glad that I’m spending more on those items because it means I’m not spending it on junk food.

Here’s the truth: I’ve been steadily gaining weight over the last year. Kind of like the same way I’ve been steadily gaining more debt. The correlation between the two is not a surprise. When you’re not paying attention to one thing in your life, chances are you’re not paying attention to other similar things in your life. So I was spending (and eating) way too much money (and food). Now that I’m tracking my expenses and logging some of my food, I’m doing a much better job of managing both.

This is where mindfulness comes in

The reason I’m tracking my food is because I’m working with a nurse to lose some of the weight that I’ve put on. Her first recommendation was to start eating breakfast, so I began tracking that. We met after two weeks and talked about adding more vegetables to dinner.

I’m not expecting miracles to happen right away, though. With anything that requires a concentrated effort to do, I know that there will be steps forward and backward. Case in point: I gained two pounds in the last two weeks. I also had to use my credit card last week to pay for laundry.

But I know that these events happened and I can mitigate the damage of both because I’m aware of what’s going on. I really can’t stress enough how important it is to just be aware of what’s going on in your life instead of letting things happen blindly.

This is why I’m a big fan of mindfulness. Mindfulness is just being aware of what’s going on in your life. Living automatically without much concentration leads to the problems I’ve been facing lately. Now that I’m more aware of my actions I can slowly change things so that I’m no longer gaining weight and spending money frivolously. Hopefully I’ll even begin losing weight and saving more of my money!

Have you experienced mindfulness? Has it helped your life?

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Budgeting the Cost of Living

It’s incredible to really see how much you spend each day when you create a budget for yourself.

I have yet to set specific goals as I feel it’s a bit early still but I’m now closer to knowing how much money I spend on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. That’s the wonderful thing about math–you can break down the numbers as far down as you like. So now I know what my cost of living in Toronto is: roughly $88 per day.

How did I get that number? I tracked my spending for the last seven months, with January being the most accurate month thus far because I actually tracked it daily as opposed to going back into my bank statements and putting the money into different categories. I then divided my monthly spending by weeks and then the weeks by days to get that final number.

$88 doesn’t seem like a lot of money but it sure adds up. And you know what? That’s just a single female with no mortgage, children or car payments. I’m curious: how does my number stack up against other categories?

Turns out it’s kind of hard to get the daily number cost of living, probably because there are a lot of variables to consider. Here’s the facts:

Toronto is the second most expensive city in Canada to live in, according to Readers Digest. While I thought it was the most expensive, I was surprised to learn that Vancouver is in fact the leader in cost of living expenses in Canada. Expatistan, the “biggest free database of prices in the world” says Toronto is the 33rd most expensive city in the world. So globally Toronto is not the worst city to live in, but certainly not the cheapest either.

My average monthly expenses as of February 2014

Category Average Monthly Cost
Bank Fees $30.87
Bank Withdrawals/Unknown $323.02
Books $8.18
Business Expenses $23.50
Clothing $36.11
Credit Interest $106.45
Entertainment (Books, movies, crochet projects, etc.) $38.44
Food $411.18
Gifts (Christmas, birthdays, etc.) $26.04
Health/Beauty $91.56
Household $6.70
Hydro $44.55
Internet $30.18
Laundry $28.81
Life Insurance $80
Mail $0.69
OSAP $180
Rent $597.49
Savings $17.40
Transportation $158.64
Travel $113.70
VISA Debt Repayment $134
Wool $20.52

The numbers in red are the ones I’d like to bring down and the numbers in blue are what I’d like to bring up. Obviously, the savings and the debt repayment are the most important things I would like to focus my money towards.

The reason my health and beauty category is so high is because I take a medication that is pretty expensive and I don’t have health insurance. D’oh. I have options to reduce that cost this year, though. I’ve just been dragging my feet getting around to it. And my transportation costs will continue to go down as I no longer pay for a Metropass. Although we may be getting a car this year, so that number may indeed change drastically (along with all the other ones. Eek!)

I like looking at these numbers and I’d like to do it on a quarterly basis from now on to review how things have changed.