Simple Finance

I was  a bit impulsive in my 20s. If I could take it all back, I would have saved more and not wasted money on little things. The good news is that I’ve learned my lesson and I am in a much better shape now. I have an interest in personal finance but I am not a financial whiz. We are often bombarded with financial advice, most of them complicated. To tell you the truth I tune a lot of it out but I learn a little something each day and I take things slowly. I  currently have a system that I am comfortable with and I will continue to improve.

Here is what I am currently doing:

1. Pay yourself first: Allocate a portion of your earnings towards retirement, investments, an emergency fund and a savings fund.  Everything else is used for day-to-day things such as expenses. Start doing this right away, even if you only have $20 to start. It’s better to do it now than wait 10 years down the road. Start with something small then work your way up. In the past, I’ve tried budgeting down to the last penny but I somehow could never stick to the plan. With the way I am currently doing things, the funds are being sent to different accounts and lessens the temptation to dip into them. I manually transfer the fund every time I get paid but I highly suggest automating this part through direct deposit, that way you won’t even miss the amount.

2. Read personal finance books, blogs or columns and learn as much as you can about investing. I recommend David Bach’s The Automatic Millionaire, Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad,  Carrick’s Best Reads and Mr. Money Mustache.

3. Live beneath your means and DO NOT get into credit card debt. Enjoy your money (wisely) but don’t squander it. I used to eat at crappy places just because it was convenient. Bad move. Why pay $20 for a sub-par meal when I can take the $12 and make something nice at home and stretch the amount to 2-3 meals. I had the same bad habits with fashion. I used to buy a bunch of little nothings that hung my closet. Now I choose better quality pieces that will be worn many times over. I am frugal but I am not a penny pincher. I like splurging on nice things and fancy eats but don’t do it on an everyday basis. I did back then and it got me in big trouble. Yikes. Lesson learned.

4. Set financial goals. Do you want to retire in 10, 20, or 3o years? My personal goal is to have the option to retire in 5-10 years and leave the 9-5 rat race or  be secure enough to take time off and find a career that I love (if I already have not done so). That means having flexibility to experiment and try new things and being financially secure to leave my day job at my own volition without having to worry about finances.

saving money

Become more productive in the evening

Don’t you wish you can get more things done at home after work?

I’ve entered a phase where I’ve been watching a lot of shows on Netflix and wasting precious time. A  bad habit that I’ve formed after a day in the office. It also does not help that I tend to procrastinate. While it’s good to relax after a long day, becoming too complacent is not a good thing. 4 hours in front of the telly M-F is 20 hours of time wasted.

To slowly ease in, I’ve decided to set an evening schedule from Monday to Friday and get at least 2 things done on my to-do list.. It can range from housework to starting a new novel. Big or small, it does not matter, as long as it is being completed.

To start:

Every Sunday I will make a list of things that needs to be done.

Here is the proposed schedule:

– Dinner (this should not take more than an hour to prepare)

– Kitchen clean-up (30 minutes)

– Task #1

– Task #2

– No more than 1 hour of TV (depending on what it is, tasks may be done during this time)

–  30 minute bedtime read (part of my goal of reading a fun novel once a month)/ tea

– Light out at 10:30 pm

Each day task 1 and 2 may change or it can remain the same. It’s flexible and not set in stone. You can even allocate time for the tasks. Do what works for you.

Some items on my list include:

– Working on Adobe Creative Suite

– Tidying up/cleaning/laundry/organizing (yay no chores on the weekend!)

– Rosetta Stone tutorial

– Blogging, research

The benefit of becoming more productive in the evening is that it will free up my weekends for other things that I enjoy doing. I won’t have to worry about chores or other little tasks.

Tomorrow will be my first evening of trying it out. If you can’t start tomorrow, start your list on Sunday and commit to it the following week. Good luck!

calendar agenda pink

 

 

 

The 10 Outfit Wardrobe

I love fashion but I don’t always have time to think about what to wear. Truth be told, I’d rather use the extra 10 minutes to sleep.

There are people who plan a week’s wardrobe in advance on a Sunday but I can never seem to get into the habit. Instead, I tend to rush every day and base my outfit du jour on items that are currently not wrinkled. This in turn prevents me from wearing things lovely items made from fabrics of delicate nature (i.e. silk). I  always felt like I was in a rut, fashion-wise. Rushed, frazzled and uninspired.

Enter The 1o Item Wardrobe.  I’ve been a big fan of Jennifer L. Scott for some time now and her concept of the 10 item wardrobe.  The idea is that you have 10  core quality items that you wear every day (with extra items to supplement — evening dress, basic tees, etc.) until you wear it out. Your 10 items would get evaluated per season and you add or discard items on a needs basis. Of course it’s not strict. You don’t have to have just 10 items as you can customize the idea to suit what is right for you.

I am a tad lazier than the average person when it comes to getting ready in the morn so I’ve taken the 10 item wardrobe idea and tweaked it to a 10 outfit wardrobe which works really well for the 9-5 work life but is also applicable to anyone who needs to get dressed in the morning. It’s a wonderful no-brainer way of getting dressed. A lazy gal’s answer to the daily what-to-wear conundrum.

The idea is simple. Basically, I have 10 outfits (which crosses over seasons — think transitional dressing), that gets rotated every other week. Five outfits for week one, the second half for week two.  From time to time, I change things up but for most of the season, my work attire remains the same and I never have to worry about what to wear. 10 outfits complete with accessories.  10 outfits that I love and I never get bored because I feel great wearing them.

I have a clothes rack where I hang clothes that I will wear for the season and keep the out of season items in my closet. That way, I always see what I have available. Getting dressed in the morning has never been easier. Now I just have to figure out what to do with my hair!

Here are some tips to get you started and some helpful tips on how to manage:

– At the start of each season, choose your 10 work outfits. Make sure that they are quality items that you love so you will not get bored. Evaluate what needs to be replaced from the items that can still be worn.

– If you want to save more money, plan two seasons ahead for off-season deals. This really helps. I love shopping at independent boutiques that carry European-made or locally made fashion and some places are quite expensive so I always buy off-season and get really great deals.

– When shopping, choose pieces that can be worn for two seasons or more and in more ways than one. For example, I have a geometric patterned dress in navy and red that can be worn in the spring, summer and fall. All I need to do is wear tights when the weather is colder.

– Plan out what shoes, bags and jewellery that will go with each look.

–  Consider weather variations. I love dresses, but if it rains I have a pair of pants that I can switch up at a moment’s notice.

– Designate space for your outfits for the season. A section in your closet or a clothing rack.

– For clothing that requires more maintenance plan ahead if you decide to wear the items. I have this gorgeous grey silk tunic dress but it’s a bit of pain to wear because it wrinkles easily and it can only be steamed. I think that organic dry cleaning is too expensy so I hand wash and steam to remove the wrinkles. I don’t want to do this every week or even every other week (Yes, I am that lazy) so once a month I dedicate a couple of hours for steaming delicate clothes and I treat the tunic as an extra item that I have to vary the 10 outfit rotation.

My current 10 outfit summer wardrobe includes:

– Seven dresses (2 needs replacing)

– One skirt (paired with various options for tops — the tops are part of my extras)

– One pair of light coloured pants (not jeans, paired with various tops)

– One pair of dark coloured pants (paired with various tops)

And that is it.

I’ve noticed that all my clothes are rotated well. I don’t have a bulging wardrobe where things remain unworn (new and old items).

I now have a closet full of clothes with always something to wear. :-)

I hope that this helps you out and gives ideas on how to organize your wardrobe.

minimalist wardrobe clothes rack