Welcome to my regular roundup post, giving a brief insight into what happened in my part of the world over the previous month, plus links to my favorite personal finance articles published recently.
What a busy (and expensive!) month July has turned out to be!
Firstly I took my very first (frugal) vacation in what must be 5+ years since I decided to get serious about becoming debt free! It certainly wasn’t a “luxury” vacation – we went camping in Jersey – but it was great to take a break, relax in the sun and not worry about all the normal everyday stuff. I also got to drive my car onto a ferry for the first time; quite an experience!
(I should say to my American readers that I mean the “original” Jersey – not “New Jersey”!)
Here are a couple of photos of Jersey – talk about peace and tranquility!
A New Job
In other news I landed myself a new job! I’ve mentioned before how much I hated my previous job but that I was sticking it out for as long as possible because it paid better than any other job I’ve had before. However life there was simply getting worse and worse as our staffing levels kept getting cut while the workload continued to increase.
After talking to my boss about how unhappy I was, and him basically telling me there was nothing he could do, I went home one night and decided to see what else was out there. As it turns out, I found my “perfect” job almost instantly and within the space of a week I had an interview, got offered the job and then resigned from my old job. How quickly things can move sometimes!
There are so many upsides to my new job it’s not even funny. I get to work “normal” hours (no more 4.30am starts!). I get weekends and public holidays off. I’m working in an office doing far less physical work so I should get less tired. I’m working fewer hours than I was before. And they managed to match my old salary!
It feels like a major lifestyle change that I’m so excited about.
The only potential weakness I can see here is that it requires some commuting, unlike my old job which was within walking distance of home. That means that my traveling costs will go up – though I’ve already found all sorts of cuts I can make in my budget. For example my car insurance renewal is due shortly and the quotes I’m getting are far cheaper than last year.
Overall I’m pretty darned excited; I start on Monday so wish me luck
Sadly I’m expecting this to be another expensive month because I’ve just had a load of work done on my car so it’s ready for some serious daily abuse and I’ve also (for the first time in 18 months!) actually gone out and bought some new clothes for my job. I haven’t gone crazy; I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did – but from someone who basically spends nothing on clothes each year it’s still going to make an impact on my budget.
I’m already looking forward to September, when I’m a little settled in my new job and can get the budget back in order.
Best Personal Finance Blog Posts
July hasn’t just been an exciting month in my personal life; there’s also been plenty of good stuff going on in the personal finance bloggosphere. Hayley was kind enough to include me in her “Editors Picks” for the Carnival of Financial Camaraderie – (thanks Hayley :-), my Pinterest followers topped 600 and growing and there were all sorts of top-quality blog posts related to frugality, debt elimination and budgeting.
Here are my favorites that I strongly encourage you to check out…
In this rather deep yet educational article, Trent discusses the sticky issue of losing control of your spending when life is going well, only to realize that your financial responsibilities have locked you into a lifestyle you can’t escape from. I wrote along a similar theme here.
As a tech nerd I love to find new apps to make life easier. Here we find out some of Jason’s favorites. Well worth a look if you’re a smart phone owner keen to get your finances under control.
It’s all too easy to overspend these days with credit cards and loans so easy to come by if we “need” them. But overspending doesn’t just have financial consequences; they can also be behavioral. I love Hayley’s take on the subject and her tips for avoiding overspending.
A relatively new blog in my feed reader, Christine is “living the dream” after getting control of her finances, saving up a load of money and then heading off traveling. Here she discusses some simple, proven tips for successful savings. And, if that interests you, you might be interested in my own tips which I wrote about here.
I look around at my local record stores sometimes and wonder how they’re still in business. I mean; who really buys CDs any more? Digital isn’t just easier, it’s also much cheaper. While I love Spotify and iTunes, they do involve spending some money; how refreshing then to find this impartial review of some free music download services worth checking out.
Somehow every month it seems Derek manages to sneak in to these roundups; it seems that somehow his writing always manages to speak to me. Here he gives some “tough love” on the realities of gaining weath.
When you think about it, many of us rely on a variety of resources in order to actually earn our incomes. For example you might need a car to get to and from work or you might need childcare help if you’re working long hours. Here Mr CBB puts together a thought-provoking list of considerations to keep your earning potential as secure as possible.
Blog superstar J. Money writes a blazing post about not getting jealous of people with all the bling. As he says, anyone can buy that stuff if they’re willing to take on debt or makes loads of other compromises. By not buying all that stuff, you get ever closer to freedom. “Freedom from stuff, freedom from your job, and freedom to do whatever the hell you want with your life.” Amen!
What do you do if you win/get given a gift card but you’d rather have the cash? If you’re like many people you’ll try to sell it on eBay, accepting less than the face value of the card. Find out how you can benefit from the process here by buying gift cards at discounted prices, using to pay for your everyday purchases and saving a ton of money as a result.
Stephanie hits the nail on the head with a powerful post about how being disorganized can cost you money. She gives plenty of examples and tips for getting yourself organized and, as a result, saving money.
One of the personal finance lessons I’ve learned time and again is about time. Pay your bills late and you’ll likely pay a surcharge. Put something expensive on your credit card because you don’t have the cash right now and you’ll likely end up paying interest on it.
But the reverse is also true; get organized and shop at the right time and you can save a ton. Here’s how Vanessa has saved loads of money this year by getting her Christmas shopping done (very) early