Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Obama, Europe, Job Fears

Or, Yay, Yay, Boo.

So, Obama is the new President-Elect (wooooooo!), I went to Europe for 15 days (woooooo!) and have come back to probably not a job after December (YIKES).  This scares the bejesus out of me.  I've emailed a contact to see if I can get any advice from her, which is good, and I'll definitely start scanning the jobs boards, but the market is hell, which is why I probably won't have a job (not enough work for the company to merit hiring me).  Oh, the economy.  Long story short; I have to start searching, and I have to start clamping down on expenses.  Good news: I have almost $4000 in savings for emergencies, and can also dip into the moving fund if necessary.  Bad news: that would be moving backwards financially, which I'm not keen to do.  Argh.

Will write about Europe later, as it was amazing.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

This Time To Our Neighbours

If you care about your country, prove it. Vote.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two Score And Five Years Ago

A J-Bird was born.  Well, plus 4 days, I'm a bit behind here.

This is going to be quick, because I'm a bit tied up at the moment.  But re: nothing at all:

I (kind of embarrassingly) am quite enjoying both Katy Perry's Hot n Cold and Pink's So What.  I know, but I can't seem to help it.

I've had many many Lee's donut holes this weekend.  Powdered donut hole, thou art the sweetest poison.

30 Rock starts up this week.  I'm SO EXCITED.  I've decided that's my birthday present from the universe, and even though the universe is a week and half late, it's such a good gift that I can't help but forgive it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

And Now, to the Americans...

It's your election, and your country, but it's everyone's planet.  So please, please don't elect a an elderly man who chose as his running mate a woman as entirely unqualified as Palin to be President.

These elections are just so stressful.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

All Quiet on the J-Bird Front

Booked my ticket!  I am definitely going to Europe, I leave on the 7th.  Woo!  I still have to book all my intra-Europe flights, but hey, now I'm guaranteed to make it to the continent.  Score!

Go check out Mindy Kaling (Kelly from The Office)'s blog, Things I Bought That I Love.  It lists adorable things, and is also consistently amusing, with just enough "made me choke from laughing" to keep me reading for about 3 hours today.  Amazing.

And that is actually it.  I'm boring, y'all.  Bedtime for J-Bird.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Election Day

I hope all you Canadians voted today; I sure did, and though the election isn't going my way, I at least feel like I have the right to complain about it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It's a Pretty Tight Summary

"Nineteen people flew into the towers.  It seems harder for me to imagine that we could go to war enough to make the world safe enough that nineteen people wouldn't want to do harm to us.  It seems like we have to rethink a strategy that is less military based in general"

Jon Stewart, speaking with Tony Blair

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I May Be Getting Old...

Because I've started to think further in the future than the next 3 months.

Don't get me wrong; I've had plans in my head of things I'd like to accomplish and experience "one day" for as long as I can remember, but I never planned anything out in specific terms.  Until now.

Today, I thought a bit about where I want to be in 5 years.  Not things like "I want to be on a beach, sipping a mojito with a hot cabana boy fanning palm fronds over me" (though that would be nice), or even "I want to be doing X job in Y city" (since as I wrote earlier, I have no idea), but financially, where I want to be and where I'd be comfortable being.  And then I priced it out, to see if I could do it.  And I think I can.  So here are the goals:

In five years, I'd like to
  • Have saved up at least $30 000 for retirement
  • Have saved enough to put a downpayment of at least 20% on a home (I've priced this at $60 000 for now.  In light of today's market in Vancouver, this is a pretty optimistic idea of 20%, but I'm also hoping that the market drops a bit.  Plus, as discussed in an earlier post, I don't know where I'll be living; however there aren't too many places that are more expensive than Vancouver, so while this number is up for revision I think it's as accurate as it can be for now)
  • Save $2500 a year for traveling
  • Donate $500 a year
That's the "big picture", at least for now.  Assumptions I'm making that may not apply to others: that in five years I'll still be single, and I won't be having any kids.  With some quick calculations, it means I would need to save $18 000 a year.  That's a lot of money.  But hopefully I'll be making more money as I get older, and will be able to save more.  Is it daunting?  Yes.  But I'll never be able to meet a goal without having one in the first place, so here goes.

(oh god, help)

Thursday, October 02, 2008


At the Canucks game last night:

T: Why does the crowd boo every time Luongo makes a save?  Do they not approve of him being captain?
J-Bird: I...don't know?  I'm sure it's nothing, you must be misunderstanding.
T:  They're doing it again!  I hate them!
J-Bird: Okay, I'm asking Pretty.  Hang on. [Texts Pretty]
Pretty's response: It's not "boo", it's "looooo".   As in Luongo.  They're cheering for him.
J-Bird: See?  I told you you were-

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Flashback to April

I just found a "plan" I'd jotted down in April, tallying my financial status and goals.  April was a bad time in general; I'd been dumped, was dealing with reactions to my decision to not go to grad school, and those were not the worst things afoot.  In addition to all this, the travel mess that was grad school interviews had included a last minute flight cancellation and re-booking, so I was also carrying a balance on my credit card and had zero savings.

I had been smart enough to save up for the flights and everything that I knew interviews would require.  But I hadn't planned for the mix ups and adjustments I was going to have to make, and by the end of it all, I was about $1200 in the red.  Not a huge amount, but when you're also making a pittance...yeah.

I hated it.  I hated knowing all my disposable income was spoken for, I hated having to figure out exactly how much I needed to throw onto my credit card, and most of all I hated paying Visa so much of my money in interest.  And in the midst of everything else that was terrible, I started to grasp for something, anything that I could do to make things better.  Could I get un-dumped?  No, and I think do-overs are generally a bad idea anyway.  Could I change people's views about my career choices?  Nope, not until they just dealt with it.  Could I fix the terrible things that had happened to my friends?  No, that would take time and healing I had no control over.  I realized that this, this money thing, was the one stressor in my life I could immediately work on fixing.  So I did.

I made a spreadsheet to track all of my expenses.  All of them.  If I spent a penny, it was on that sheet (and I did, once.  I needed a one-cent stamp).  I tracked the day I spent it, what I spent it on, and how I paid for it.  Just by paying attention, I started being motivated to Not Buy.  Did I want it enough to put it on the sheet?  If not, I didn't get it.  As a result of this, I started bringing my lunch to work more often.  I love food, but what I love most is the social aspect of food.  My ideal night out with friends involves a great meal over a few hours of conversation.  But sitting at work alone?  I may as well save that delicious sushi lunch for when I have the company to merit it.

This made me consider how I wanted to be using my money, in the greater scheme of things.  I wasn't willing to give up everything I spent money on, but I did want to learn to spend it in the ways that made me happiest.  I discovered that when it came down to it, I would rather spend my money on experiences than things.  Birthday dinners out?  Absolutely.  Attend an art show?  What night is it?  Go away on an international vacation?  Let me sign the dotted line PASS ME THE PAPER SO I CAN SIGN THE DOTTED LINE.  Latest model of cellphone?  Um, pass.  Figuring that out has saved me a lot of money, and also allowed me to go out and do more of what I truly love.

I also decided that I would do everything in my power to avoid getting into my situation again.  I started to replenish my emergency savings.  I started a savings account for traveling.  I thought of my long-term security, and made a plan to start saving for retirement (though this was put on the back-burner until the visa was paid off and the emergency account was funded).

So this was my position at the end of April, when I finally picked myself up and decided to do something:

Visa card: $644.01
Emergency Fund: $395.50
Retirement Goal: $5000.00 (balance $0.00)
Travel Goal: $1000.00 (balance $0.00)
And I would guess about $200.00 in my checking account.  All in all, I was down about $50.00 not exactly ideal.

Almost 6 months later, thank goodness things have changed!  (more about that next time)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Egg Goes BOOM!

So it turns out eggs explode in the microwave.  I know this from experience.

At this juncture, I'd like to mention that I didn't just stick an entire egg in the microwave; I even broke the yolk and everything.  It was a (too) soft-boiled egg, that had been opened (to ascertain its insufficient level of cookedness) and muddled about.  However, at about second 18 of the 20-second cycle, it, for lack of a better phrase, blew up.  Leaving a crater of shell and an inverted volcano of white and yolk on the ceiling of the microwave, as well as bits of egg all over the rest of the chamber.

It was easy enough to clean up that this was funny rather than irritating.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Learning Time!

Subject - Celiac Disease and Two Religions
Sufferers of celiac disease can't eat wheat.  This can cause problems during religious customs, such as the Christian Communion (wheat-based...cake thingys) and Jewish Passover (wheat is in matzo).
Most Christian churches have okayed substitute cake thingys for celiac sufferers, but the Catholic church hasn't.  In fact, in 1994 the Catholic church basically banned celiac sufferers from being ordained, because they were unable to take communion (and in a stunning act of relational brilliance, they included in this same proclamation the banning of alcoholics, b/c of the wine, thus a little bit implying that celiac sufferers should in fact be able to eat wheat and their celiac disease was a result of their SIN).  Later, in 2003, they downgraded this ban to a "great caution".  And then in 2004, proving that all those sinning celiacs have been pardoned by God, some nuns made a wheat based low-gluten cake thingy that was approved by the Vatican.
Now to the Jews.  Matzo is key to their passover dinner; you HAVE to eat it.  Made of a mixture of grains including wheat, this has caused problems for observers who have celiac disease, especially the Ashkenazi Jews, who also avoid rice (thus cutting one of the common substitutes).  So how do they deal with this?  Well, it turns out that way back when, someone very reasonable included a clause in Jewish law that no one should ever endanger their life to fulfill a commandment.  So it's fine, no one was or is banned from anything, the end.

(Disclaimer: The Author is not a follower of any religion.  She is, in fact, a Heathen.  She's sorry if this distresses anyone, but would like to add that she means sorry in the "condolences" sense of the word rather than the "apology" one.)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Guidance, Please!

Would you look at this frequency of posting!  You ought to be proud as punch, this does not come easy.  It was a pretty quiet day; fall has arrived here in Vancouver, and the rain came in to officially open the season.  I don't mind the dreary weather at all when I'm at work.  Especially when work provides unlimited tea.

I need to start thinking about what I want out of a career.  This job has been great as far as gaining experience and seeing what the "9 to 5' (or 8:30 in this case) is like, and I've certainly learned a lot, but I'm not sure if the industry has enough complexity to keep me engaged, when it comes to the long-term.  It's definitely a viable career option as far as sustainability of lifestyle goes, and part of me wonders if that could be enough.  Assuming I'm working with people I like, doing a job that keeps me busy and can support myself to a level I'm happy with, is that enough?  And what is this "level I'm happy with"?

Truth be told, I'm not really sure.  I may be less sure than most people my age.  I don't know if I want kids (frankly, I lean toward not wanting kids).  And because of that, I feel like my likelihood of getting married is maybe a bit shaky, too.  Most people, male and female, picture themselves with kids down the road, in the same way I...don't.

I do know I love to travel.  Going down to two measly weeks of vacation a week would hurt (Oh! To live in Scandinavia!).  Financially, I want to be able to buy a home, live a reasonable lifestyle (I don't think I'm that extravagant, really), travel (see above), and save a lot for retirement.  I want to have time to hang out with my friends and family, and I hope to fall into love with someone.

That pretty much covers what I want outside of work, which unfortunately I wasn't that confused about in the first place.  I'll have to ponder more to figure out what I want to do with the other 40 hours of the typical waking week.

It's right about now that I wish I had just one blinding talent and passion.  Everything would be so much simpler.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

So, I'm boring.

There are a couple things I should be doing, but...I don't feel like it, and they aren't due right now, so I'll do them later (clearly a winning life philosophy, but everyone can have a break once in a while, right?).  I've been fairly boring lately; I made bread on Saturday, and in my opinion it turned out splendidly.  You can look at the picture on the sidebar (at least for now) and judge for yourself.  It was the first time I'd made real, has-to-rise-twice bread, and even though I had to add an entire extra cup of flour to the recipe to make it a dough rather than a batter, it tasted delicious and looked just like in the recipe.

And that was really the extent of my weekend.  I had plans to go out both Friday and Saturday nights, but instead passed out on my bed by 10 pm both evenings.  I am a rockstar.  The bright side: it was cheap, and what with the planned travels I'm definitely trying to save.  Every little bit counts, right?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

How'd We Get To September 20th Already?

Oops, sorry y'all.  It's been a while.  Let's recap, shall we?

I've impressed my bosses at temp job enough that they've asked that I stay on until the end of December (woo!)

I asked for a raise (go, ballsy me!) and got it (go raise!)

I went to on a weekend trip to the States and spent a lot of money (but it was totally worth it), but since it didn't touch my savings, and I'd just been given a raise, I figure it was my present to myself.  We went up the space needle, had a lovely seafood dinner served by an appalling waitress, and, as is apparent, shopped our faces off.  It was also the first time in a looong time that I'd gone away on a true holiday, and...I should probably do that more often.  It was lovely. 

And in that same vein, I also asked for 2 weeks off, and got it, so I'm going to EUROPE!  Most of my savings will be focused on my travel fund for the next little while; I'll still be adding a bit to the emergency and apartment funds, and hopefully gifts, but I have some big catching up to do so that I can pay for my trip rather than pay visa to pay for my trip (which is not an option).  I've set up a "count" of my savings on the sidebar there.  Hopefully I can have the travel section there be $2000 by the time I leave.  Here's to tangible goals!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Miss Mranda got Married!

On Saturday, we all got together to celebrate my dear friend's wedding.  It was wonderful and everything a wedding should be, full of lovely people and a bride and groom so excited to be married they were shaking.  Best wishes to them!

In less exciting news, I've been plugging along at my savings plan, and am pleased to say that I managed to put just under $1500 into savings this month!  that's all I'll save in August, but it's not too shabby, I don't think!  I did realize along the way that I also need to be saving up for gifting-season, so I've opened another account for that, as well as deciding to add another $50 to my emergency account every two weeks.  That way when my circumstances do change, I'll have slightly less distance to go to reach full funding again.  So until I figure out where to get the counter bar-graph graphics, here are my balances (rounded):

Mutual Fund - $3400.00
Emergency Account - $3050.00
Moving Account - $1475.00
Gifting Account - $50.00

Total - $7975.00

Not too bad!  The mutual fund will eventually get rolled into an RRSP/TSFA, so I won't be counting that  from now on, as it's in the "don't ever touch it, ever" category (I think of it as the tax I pay myself), but I'm pretty happy with it all so far.  And my temp job has been extended a bit, so that's great too.  All in all, things are going pretty well on most fronts.  Just have to work on those others....

Friday, August 01, 2008

Financial Update, And The Setting Of Goals

As I recounted in a post waaaay back (ie the last one), I've been putting together an emergency fund.  Well I am proud to report that in (slightly) less than three months, I've managed to save (just) over $2600, making my emergency savings account fully funded!  Granted, this is fully funded for now; if anything big changes in the way I live (like say getting a car, or a new apartment) then I'll have to adjust accordingly (the goal is to have 3 months worth of  expenses in the thing).  For now, however, I'm good to go.  I would like to thank my tax refund, my new (but temporary) job, and my own self for not spending as much.

This being done, it's on to new goals.  It'd be lovely if I could say "well, now that that's finished, I can spend away!" and be done with it, but it makes more sense to build on the momentum, for a couple reasons.  One: falling behind is a lot easier than clawing back on track, and I don't want to go through that all over again, and two: there are things I want to do.  Things that are not free, and that I don't want to have to pay Senor Visa extra for.  So, to commit it to...screen so I can't take it back, my next goal is to save up three thousand dollars for what I will call "apartment supplies".  I want to move out, and I'm going to need furniture.  And flatware, and kitchen supplies, and basically everything that doesn't come with the apartment (I'm planning on renting, so there's no talk of a down payment just yet.  Phew!).  

Just to make things a bit more complicated for myself, I'm embedding another little goal.  I have several dear friends who are, for one reason or another, no longer living in my hometown.  I also, due to a snafu by one of the grad schools way back when, currently have a small but not insignificant credit to an american airline that needs to be redeemed by January.  Again, it's not a huge amount; realistically, if it covers my fuel taxes and whatnot, I'll count myself lucky, but it's there, and I'm going to use it.  So while saving up for moving out, I'll also be trying to leave myself enough to go on at least one trip before 2009, to visit one of my friends.  I don't have a strict deadline for when I want to have the apartment fund complete, but I don't want it to be too much longer than by 2009, which presents challenges of its own.

I'm working at a new job.  It's been great, and I'm learning a ton, but it's a temp position and ostensibly will be over by the end of August.  This means that to save enough (or indeed, anything), I need to find myself a new position that pays (at least) as well as this one, and right quick.  So there you have it, everyone: my goals.  Ladies and gentlemen, here goes nothing.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Big Recap - Finances

Well. Let's see here...

Part the First: The Debtening

Once upon a time, there was a girl named J-Bird. She was planning on applying to grad school, and having been told how expensive this was, had been dutifully socking money away for months and months, in that automated way all the finance gurus suggest. When it came time to apply, she was very relieved she had, because it was pricey, like the eggs of faberge and the chav bags of LV. Then came interviews, which were even more pricey, because they required J-Bird to not be at work. And immediately after the interviews came the 90th birthday of J-Bird's grandfather, in Taiwan, a far away land full of mystery. When J-Bird returned and looked at her finances, she was In The Red, and now indentured to Senor Visa.

Part the Second: The Paying

J-Bird was sad to be broke, and spent many a week working away her indenture and paying evil evil interest to Senor Visa. Also occuring in these weeks: J-Bird's bestest friends had terrible, awful things happen, J-Bird got dumped, and some people decided that since J-Bird had opted out of grad school, she had Ruined Her Life and was doomed to be a Failure. This is the part of the story where you feel sad for J-Bird.

Part the Third: The Sorting of Affairs (Monetary, not Romantic)

Having realized that owing large sums to Senor Visa was not the best option, J-Bird thought of ways to prevent this from happening again. After reading some books by wise people, who go by the names Orman and Bach, she decided to start tracking her spending, some might say obsessively. She found herself spending way, way less this way. She also kept socking away money, this time for an emergency account. All extra monies went into this account. When J-Bird's minimum goal is reached, some of the extra monies will go into more fun savings accounts, like Travel and such. Jbird is working for herself, and not for Senor Visa. And those people stopped telling J-Bird she had Ruined Her Life, and good things started to happen for her bestest friends, and even though J-Bird was still dumped, life was full of champagne and everyone lived happily ever after.

The End.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I'm back, yo

Lots has happened:

I applied to grad schools, got accepted to 6 of 8 (better than I expected) went to interviews for three, and decided on...not going.  That's right, I'm staying here.  Some took this news better than others.

I learned about wine, and to love wine, and now I'm wine buyer.  There's a switch, huh?

I was dating someone for a few months, then that ended.

I went to Taiwan with my family, for my Grandpa's 90th birthday, and ate 'til I exploded.

I started to fall into a mini-cycle of carrying a balance on senor credit card, and since I'm reasonably good at math, was instantly horrified at the amount of interest I'd been paying, and therefore started to buckle down on controlling my finances.

I ate a delicious meal on Friday night at Boneta.  Seriously, it was true love in my mouth.

In things that haven't changed, my friends are all still awesome and make me laugh at every opportunity.

More detail to come, first I have a picture of the now to update!