Fiscal Fasting

Now we have reached the Christian tradition of Lent, and for those who are religious, or just gluttons for punishment,  are looking for things to take up (or give up) for this time of the year.

Allow me to suggest “Fiscal Fasting” , which is a delightfully obtuse switcheroo on the Lenten tradition of Fasting. Good Christians (in the day) might take up fasting to emulate Christ’s 40 days in the desert by giving up Meat or the like, I am not suggesting that (although I could do with giving up say Snacks and specifically potato chips for Lent) with this concept.

Fiscal Fasting would be simply denying discretionary spending for a week (to start). Can you live the same $20 you had in your pocket Monday all the way until next Sunday?

No, I am not suggesting that you do not pay bills that MUST be paid in that time frame (e.g. Mortgage Payment, Rent, Electrical Bill, etc.,), I am suggesting cutting out spending on things like eating out, buying clothes, etc., . No this does not mean that you should have an orgy of spending the day before and “coast” for a week either. If you wish to cheat that kind of defeats the purpose of this idea.

Maybe the best thing to do is:

  • Automate your bill payments so they don’t end up in arrears (be like that woman they found who kept paying her bills 6 years after her death).
  • Plan how you aren’t going to spend money, or how you will avoid buying crap you don’t need (or worse can’t afford)
  • Take $20 out of the bank

Start on Sunday, if by Saturday you still have that $20 bill you win, and should try again for another week. How long can you keep that bill intact ?

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Personal Finance: Lent Begins Today

As part of Lent, I am reflecting on my previous writings a little more, and this little chestnut was from 5 years ago, however, I have done some judicious editing  as well.

Mardi Gras was on Tuesday, so that means that Lent begins today and this is a perfect opportunity for folks to start something new with their Personal Finances (and their spiritual life, if they wish as well). Easter is a time for new beginnings or restarting something you need to resume, however, most people view Lent as a time to “find something to give up”. That is one way of viewing your Lenten journey, but another way is to look for something to Enrich your life for the 40 days of Lent (leading up to Good Friday and Easter).

Financial Lenten Journey

What areas of your personal finances could use either Enrichment or Better still a sacrifice that might help your financial well being? There are some very simple ones that I think about every year (and have done a few of them):

  • The Latte withdrawal penance. Cut out buying coffee for the 40 days of Lent and put that money aside, to either save, give to charity or pay down your debt. Keep track of this and see how much money you might be saving here, it’s worthwhile finding out where this discretionary money is going.
  • Read 4 Personal Finance books over the 40 days to enrich your understanding of your personal finances or your investing adventures. Building up your expertise over Lent is a good thing.
  • Brown bag it for 40 days, give up buying lunch at work, and bring your lunch instead. Another way to find out where your discretionary spending is going.
  • Take the bus to work for Lent. Leave the car at home, buy a bus pass and take the Bus to work. Yes gas is cheaper right now, but not driving might have other benefits for you (less stress, more exercise, etc.,).
  • Live on cash for 40 days and get rid of your credit cards. Freeze them in your freezer, lock them in your safety deposit box, or cut them up, but live on CASH only (no debit either) and see if you can do it, does it change your spending habits?

Think about these or suggest others, I am open to suggestions myself.

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Lent: Remember Sunday is an Off Day

Hey, those ain’t my rules, that’s what our minister told us. If you actually count the days in Lent from Ash Wednesday to Good Friday, you get more than 40 days, so the story I get is that on Sunday you get a break from your Lenten vows. Now I usually forget this one, and if you are doing financial stuff, maybe it’s not a good day to go “off the wagon” as it were, but if you are giving up chocolate or coffee, enjoy a little today, but get back to your vows ASAP on Monday!

My alcohol free Lent has started, but it is not going to be easy that is for sure. Oh well, if it was easy, what’s the point in doing it.

If you are putting away your credit cards for Lent, drop me a line with your progress, I am very interested in hearing from you.

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Happy Lent

This Lent must be quite serious, because the Catholics are giving up a Pope for it! OK, bad form on that one, but I just could not resist.

No I am not talking about lent as in, “I lent Michael James $10 either”, (more likely that sentence is backwards) I mean Big “L” Lent, as in the Christian Religious tradition.

Not sure of the fun things you could do for Lent? I have done this a few times, but for those new readers here are a couple of really simple things you can try for 40 days and see if it helps and if you can do it (Lent is great as a Test Period for Financial habit change):

Make Cash King (or Queen): Simply put away ALL your cards (including your debit cards) and use cash, until Good Friday this year (March 29th this year). I don’t buy the whole, “Debit is just like cash”, no it isn’t, it allows you to spend without knowing how much you have left, so use cash, it is a much better barometer for your spending habits.

Find a killable debt, and kill it! Simple enough, but it can’t be a massive debt, because you can’t really get it done in this short period of time, but if you have a credit card debt that can be dealt with in less than 2 months, do it! When you are done, celebrate, by going and killing another debt!

You can give up something as a penance type gesture, like giving up coffee (if you buy it somewhere expensive), however, check with your loved ones first to make sure they are OK with that. I quit coffee one Lent and was a complete son of a bitch (more so than usual if that is possible) and Mrs. C8j forced me to start drinking it for her sanity. If you are paying $6 a day on coffee, you could save up to about $300 right there, could make for a fun time somewhere. If you bring your lunches you’ll save even more money.

Scare the hell out of your wife and suggest you go to Church every Sunday during Lent (if you are not Church going folk), it’s fun to add that kind of tom-foolery during Lent as well.

 

 

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For those of you unaware, Lent begins next Wednesday (Ash Wednesday) February 13th, so here is yet another chance to restart (or start) your financial plans for the coming year. You could also create a quick 40(-ish) day long financial plan to try something out in the short term to see how you like it? In some derivations of Christianity you can even ADD things for Lent, so adding a financial plan for spending for the period would work well (or give up coffee, and put that money into your RRSP? If you do, remember to not comment on my site for a week or so until you have gone completely through caffeine withdrawal).

The nice part about Lent coming is Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Tuesday if you like) on February 12th , so remember to get yourself some pancakes, bacon, sausage and breakfast out for dinner on Tuesday night! You could also have Flapjacks, Johnny Cakes or possibly Crepes if you wish to be fancy. Any excuse to eat breakfast for dinner is OK by me.

Love Day is on February 14th, it is also the celebration of St. Valentine as well, but Love Day is much more financial relevant, given the amount of money that will be spent in the name of Love Day.  I guess there is a need to keep the spending going after Christmas and before the Easter spending splurge, luckily the Boxing Quarter Sales are still going on.

Weekly Recap

With Love Day coming, have you got your sweety something nice, if not, good for you! Don’t be swayed by all this commercialism! Sleeping on the couch for a week is a small price to pay to show you are not a sheeple :

My Writings for Week Ending February 8th
Lent is a Coming Time to Empty your Shrive

BCM Love That Technology

Another glimpse of what makes the BCM tick, and I do love the technology!

A Guaranteed Lottery Pay Out

A shameless lifting of a piece from the Million Dollar Neighborhood on OWN Canada featuring Preet B.

Turbo Tax Giveaway Time Again

I am giving away copies of On Line TurboTax all you have to do is leave a comment, and so far not that many entrants either!

RDSP TD and a little progress

One step forward and three steps to the side for my son’s TD RDSP. Guess I gotta call someone about this.

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Links for the Week

The big discussion in the USA is whether Wal-Mart should sell Bazookas and Tanks or simply sub-machine guns (I jest with my over armed friends down south), but remember folks, the most important thing right now is the ECONOMY :

Top Stories of the Week of February 8th
Did we actually see Beyoncé’s Lady Bits at the Super Bowl ?

Paying for Private School with Tax-Free Money – Got an Extra Million?

What the What? Free school tuition? Well as usual the BBC points out it is not as simple as you might think, but it is possible.

Why Does CRA Limit Us to 20 Tax Returns Per Computer?

That’s a very good question, I guess they don’t want folks starting your own Tax Preparation business out of your home? Curious to know if anyone really knows that one.

Goodbye Canadian penny, goodbye great penny idioms

Mark @ My Own Advisor sadly laments the demise of the Canadian Penny and how it will be a tragic loss for many great phrases that are part of our culture.

Record equity inflows have contrarians worried

Larry Mac points out that when the money starts flowing into a particular areas of investing, maybe it’s time to start thinking about getting your money away from the madding crowd?

A look at the Performance of the BMO Covered Call Canadian Banks ETF (ZWB)

The Canadian Capitalist looks at another interesting ETF from BMO, for those that think that you can judge an ETF on 1 year performance, you should read this closely.

5 Signs You’re in Really, Really Big Financial Trouble

The Pessimist is a fun site to read from our friends at Despair, Inc.. I agree with most of them, especially the picture of yourself wearing a barrel. I wonder how you can afford a barrel if you are broke?

When Will The Internet Become Faster Than FedEx?

If you want to send many TB of info to someone it is still faster to send it via FedEx overnight than try to FTP it, but when will that change? I remember transferring 100 KB over a serial line and thinking that took forever, but I am very old as well.

Scary When They’re Down, Scary When They’re Up

The Cdn Couch Spud points out that investors are now so shell shocked they are afraid of bull markets as much as bear markets. Did you realize we are in a Bull Market right now? I didn’t… :-)

Work Life Balance

Gail Vaz-Oxlade points out that many women cannot find that elusive balance in life, and being a mother makes it 10 times harder!

Banks charge for statements, despite record profits

Plucky Ellen Roseman tilts at one of my favorite wind mills service charges by banks for paper statements! I love having to pay $1.50 to get a piece of paper, or get it free in an e-mail that my SPAM filter might delete.

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finances dot com !

Digital Assets: assets in life, problems in death?

Who would inherit this Domain Name if I died tomorrow? Who the hell would want it? Evidently I need to make sure it is mentioned in my will, if someone wants it leave a comment and I might consider leaving it to you.

Tweet of the Week

Given that Love Day is coming so soon, here is a fun tweet to follow up on from our amigos at Stats Canada:

 

Other Bookkeeping

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A Non-Financial Video to Think About

Here I give you an interesting video which talks about your brain, so food for thought:

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