Category Archives: looking forward

Inside My Money Belt


If you’ve spent any time with me over the past ten months or so, you know that I have a slight (cough) obsession with personal finance. For those of you who have navigated to this blog from one of my comments on another PF blog…well, today’s your day to get a peek at what I’m all about. Since I’m a planner and a researcher, I had a lot of questions and doubts at the beginning of the year about what exactly I should be doing with my newfound “big girl paycheque,” and I spent quite a bit of time looking for a model for how much I should save for travel. I had pretty specific goals for the year preceding travel, which included paying down a good chunk of my student loan. It would have been really helpful for me to see something like what I’m posting here today, even though personal finance is, of course, different for everyone. I have also come to believe in financial discourse, and I’m okay with a certain degree of financial transparency – especially when it helps other people learn.

I decided to save exactly 25% of every paycheque I received for travel, and a further 15% went towards an emergency/start-up fund for when I get back. I put 35% straight towards debt repayment, and I lived on the last quarter of my income. (A note on my living circumstances: I have been fortunate enough to live at home, so I don’t have any fixed expenses.) I haven’t paid off my student loan yet, but I’ve saved up enough independent of my travel and emergency funds to pay more than minimum for the next year.

I was really pleased with the progress of my little finance experiment, and enjoyed watching my travel savings grow week by week. (I especially enjoyed my tax refund, which definitely helped my savings and debt repayment along!) My original goal, before I knew where I was going in Brazil or how I would get there, was to have $5000 saved – enough for a return flight, and to get me by for a month or so while I looked for a job. I am definitely happy that I’ve saved considerably more, and in addition have secured in advance a placement that guarantees room and board as well as a stipend. You’ll see why in a minute.

Voilà, my beautiful (and terrifying) budget! Explanations to follow.

  Brazil Budget 2011-2012  
 

Budgeted Amount

Actual

Difference:

Reassigned balance:

Travel Savings:  

$7,103

   
Pre-departure Expenses:        
IICA fee

$441.00

$440.59

$0

 

Initial Flight

$2,000

$1,321.02

$679

Christmas Flight

Visa

$150

$68.22

$82

 

Travel Medical Insurance (1st part)

$500

$251.10

$249

remainder 1

Textbooks/Materials

$70

$73.45

-$3

remainder 1

Credit Card Annual Fee

$99.00

$99.00

$0

 

Assorted Other

$200

$128.39

$72

remainder 1

Airport Expenses

$150

$150.00

$0

 

Remainder 1:

$3,493

$4,572

$1,078

 

Anticipated Expenses      

 

Taxes and Setup

$500

 

$500

 

Unforseen Basics

$500

 

$500

*not budgeted in R2

TESL Renewal   (Oct ’11)

$140

 

$140

 

Insurance pt. 2 (Dec ’11)

$500

 

$500

 

Christmas Flight (Dec ’11)

$929

 

$929

 

Rio/SP/Salvador (Jan ’12)

$1,200

 

$1,200

 

CC annual fee  (June ’12)

$99

 

$99

*not budgeted in R2

Last OSAP (July ’12)

$150

 

$150

*not budgeted in R2

Remainder 2:

$803

 

-$803

 
Monthly Allowance:

$66.89

     

Notes

  • I swear this table was neatly formatted in Excel and Word…apparently WordPress isn’t impressed with my efforts.
  • The IICA fee wasn’t exactly that amount because it was in USD, and I also had to pay for the money transfer; this is what it cost me in CAD.
  • You probably recall I did a lot of shopping around for both my flight and my insurance, so there was some savings there. Woohoo!
  • I pay an annual fee for my travel credit card, but I’ve already made up the difference in points. Basically, this is $99 I pre-paid towards the flight I’ll take at Christmas.
  • Assorted Other: the last, growing category for before my trip starts. I’m officially broke in the “25% variable spending” allowance category, so any beers or movies I buy from now until August 10 will come out of my travel budget. Eek!
  • Airport expenses includes baggage costs for 2 pieces of luggage on my AA flight from Detroit, a there is no allowance. It also includes a one-day Admiral’s Club pass, if I decide to buy one – or else just airport food and entertainment for 12 hours.
  • Taxes and Setup: I’ve heard there are taxes I’ll have to pay on entry that nobody tells you about, so I’m going in prepared. I’ll also have to get a Brazilian SIM card for my phone, among other things. Apparently I won’t get my stipend until the end of the month.
  • *not budgeted in R2: I left these items out of the calculation because they will either be covered by quarterly tax returns or will cause me to recalculate the budget in their eventuality.
  • TESL Renewal: in order to maintain my status with my professional organization, I intend to pay into the membership even though I won’t benefit from it out of country.
  • Insurance pt. 2: I’ve already obtained a quote for this, and it’s a bit less than budgeted. I’ll deal with it in December when I’m home.
  • Christmas flight: =sum($250 + balance of August flight budget). This will get supplemented by parents as my Christmas present, and by my credit card points balance.
  • Rio/SP/Salvador: In January most Brazilian schools are closed for summer vacation. I hope to take this time to explore some more of the country. (SP=São Paulo)
  • Monthly Allowance: Yikes! This is much lower than I’d hoped. Anyway, it’s just meant to supplement the stipend provided by the host school, which as I hear is more than enough to live off of. The amount will also change as I get hard numbers for the other estimated amounts, for which I was generous.

So there you have it: the interior of my under-the-T-shirt money belt, complete with compartmentalized and scheduled spending. I’m sure you all think I’m even crazier than you did before, but at least now you know the truth! I’ll say it again: Crazy like a fox!

12 days until departure!

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Filed under budgeting, crazy like a fox, looking forward

Time Flies, So Why Can’t I?

Here I am, sitting in Coffee Lodge during the last full week of school, procrastinating (naturally) and attempting to mark writing assessments. It seems like just last month I started my job, but it’s already been 5 months since my last assessment-marking marathon. I can hardly believe that this time next week I’ll have said goodbye to my students and handed out the report cards, and all I’ll have left to do is write my June report and clean out my desk!

I’ve learned so much this year, and I’ve grown to love my students even more. I’m so proud of the work they do. In fact, we’ve even started a class blog as a sort of memorabilia, and as a way for me to show off how awesome they all are. We’re going to enter it into a province-wide contest, but the real motivator for everyone is to have something they’ve written in their second language published for others to read. Most have kept their real (or Canadian) names, while others are posting under pseudonyms, and we’ve even found some creative ways of posting class pictures without divulging certain identities. We even have a fan: a creative writing teacher and author from Australia, who has thrilled my students with questions and encouragement under their posts. I encourage you to check it out, and comment, too!

As of July 1, I am free and clear of my current teaching obligations, sad though I may be to leave. What comes next? Well, Brazil is the plan, as you know. However I am STILL waiting for a package with my visa application documents to arrive from Brazil! This is probably the most frustrating waiting period of my life: I need the documents to apply for the trainee visa, and I need the trainee visa to get further instructions from the internship organization and to book my flight.

Meanwhile, Canada Post is on strike. I informed IICA of this a few days before the strike began, asking them to send out a new package via courier, and was assured this would be done. A week and a half later, I received another email asking if I’d received the package yet – nope. Emailed them back, reminding them they should have sent out two packages already. Received a reply basically implying the second package never went out, and they’d send a new one the next business day (this was Friday, so it wouldn’t go out until Monday), and it would take 7 business days to arrive. Well, that was 8 business days ago and counting, and still no package! So I’ve lost an entire month in visa processing time and potential for airfare advance purchase sales.

I was so excited to finish school and then take off for my awesome Brazilian vacation, but now I have no idea when I’ll leave! And I have to admit, I’m beginning to doubt this IICA thing is even going to happen. It’s scary, because I really don’t know what I will do if it falls through. I’ve saved up money for a short (1-2 month) vacation, and although I haven’t officially quit my job, I turned down summer school. Also it would be really embarrassing to tell EVERYONE that I’m only going on vacation now, not moving there. And I probably couldn’t handle living with my parents for another year, although it’s generally been good, since my sister and I are currently sharing a room.

Basically this is the first year ever that I’m not particularly excited for school to end and summer to begin. And it should have been the most exciting time. It’s such a shame! It just proves the whole “best laid plans of mice and men often go awry” line true once again.

So I’ll just keep going forward with my short-term arrangements until I know what’s up. Right now these include Sunday and Wednesday soccer, running when I feel like, visiting friends and family in Toronto, and maybe picking up the yoga again. I can get 8 hours of sleep and try to eat better (thus improving my chances of a respectable appearance in the dreaded Brazilian bikini), and research places I want to visit on a shortened itinerary. I can study Portuguese, which I haven’t even glanced at in weeks! Alright, there are lots of things to do to keep myself busy, even if they don’t include hang-gliding over the bay of Rio de Janeiro onto Copacabana beach. And I guess you can look forward to hearing a bit more from me here, as I won’t have any excuse not to post more regularly. J

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Filed under Brazil, Canada, IICA internship, insecurities, looking back, looking forward