I’m Back

Hey you guys.

It’s been a long time. I had no intention of ever leaving my blog like this! I had a friend visit from the US, and we were running around doing ALL the fun things, and keeping to a pretty strict budget, too! Other than that, work has been pretty busy and a little stressful, so I just haven’t felt like I’ve had it in me to write. That’s FALSE. I always have it in me!

Also, the app that I was using to track my expenses told me that my free trial was up. I didn’t even know I was on a free trial! So I started to write down all my spending in the middle of April, in the old-school, pen to paper way, but when my friend was staying my house looked like a war zone, and I managed to lose my information on what I have been spending. I’m a little gutted about it, but I will still be posting my May expenditure.

I’ve still been managing to tackle my debt pretty hard, but I’m also still looking for ways to increase my income. So far, my credit card and overdraft debt has gone down faster than I expected. That’s what happens when you poner las pilas. <- (That has to be one of my favourite Spanish expressions!)

Since I didn’t give an account of my April spending, I will let you know that I got these sweet as football boots, which turned out to be 20% off.

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I also spent a bit of money on clothing and when my friend was here, we often ate out. During both April and May I have managed to put aside around 50% of my income to debt. YAY!

As I’m writing this now, I realise how much I have missed writing and how much this blog inspires me to kick some serious financial arse.

I saw this dog. It carried the things it need in a backpack. It looked happy.

 

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From you guys, if you have any ideas about free apps which are great for tracking expenditure, please let me know. One day, I might dive head-first into the world of spread sheets, but until then, I’m ALL about simplicity.

Until next time,

Panda

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Adventures in Drinking

I’ve been a little busy recently, but I’m still excited about this blog and getting all my debt (eventually) paid off! :)

There have been a few mini battles that I have lost, but I actually don’t feel too bad about it.

I guess now it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate. No dramas. Here is a story about my adventures in drinking.

I gave myself a goal of being sober for a year. This was, in part, to save money, but it was also for my health (I try to eat really healthily and I exercise, so it seems to be irrational to drink heaps of alcohol, too, yeah?) and also I find it really hard just to stop at one or two drinks.  This was an experiment in strength of will and also I wanted to get used to being sober in social settings when literally EVERYBODY else is drinking. This might be easy for some people, but it’s really difficult for me. All of my friends drink, and since I was a teenager, drinking culture has surrounded me. I find it hard to imagine a sober birthday party, or not being able to enjoy a beer with my team after playing a game of football. The alcohol culture is definitely different when comparing New Zealand to Korea, but alcohol is a big part of both cultures.

My hangovers have been terrible for around 3 years now. Yes, I have tried everything to reduce them. It’s common for me to waste an entire days after I have been drinking because I can’t get out of bed until it is dark outside. Even on the third day, I can still feel it a little. If I don’t drink for a few weeks, I feel much healthier. Cleaner. Smarter, even.

About 10 weeks into my sobriety challenge and I’m thinking…this is getting so much easier! I was learning how to have more fun, accepting that I can have a good time without alcohol…and then I went to a restaurant on a casual Monday night. It was just me and three other people, and it was pretty low-key, so you wouldn’t think there would be much pressure.

My friend’s friend, who I just met that night, kept asking me about the drinking thing. It was clear h wanted me to drink. I would ask him how this is effecting him, and I would try to explain to him that it’s my deal, not his. He just wouldn’t stop asking me about my sobriety. He wasn’t being aggressive, but he was really making me consider my motivations and my goal.

I’ve noticed that often the choices we make seem to effect other people in such an irrational way. I’m talking more specifically choices we make of which the consequences are very personal. I’m a vegan, and I’m not usually a loud and aggressive one. It’s not exactly something I go out of my way to mention to people. “Hi. I’m Panda. I’m a vegan. You should be one, too! Let me fight you!” That is not me. Despite this, I’ve noticed that people seem to worry so much about something that doesn’t effect their lifestyle. I’m sitting there, just eating my tofu, and people seem to be so worried about how happy I am with my lifestyle, and they feel so sorry for me because I can’t eat all the yummy things that they can eat. Then there are the other douches, who are openly aggressive to me about my dietary choice in a completely unwarranted way, as if all the nutrients that I’m ingesting from my fruit and veges are poisoning their nonexistent souls.

I find the same problem exists when it comes to me being sober. More often than not, people are more concerned with my state of sobriety than I am. Sometimes they are just making conversation, and they usually don’t say anything malicious. But still. It’s no picnic, I’m tellin’ ya.

That was a segway.

Segways are funny. I want to buy one, because they’re ridiculous.

Scrap that. I gotta pay off my debt. Then save for my retirement.

Then I can get a segway.

I will be an old lady. Riding on a segway.

We went to a bar afterward, and I was this close to drinking. I didn’t crack that night. I didn’t want to ‘fail’ without ‘planning to fail’. I like to think I have at least a little self-control. So over the week, I though about what I was really doing, and the irrationality of setting myself a goal of not drinking for an entire year. What was even up with such a arbitrary time? Did I plan on doing this forever? If not, then why would I go for 365 days? I struggled to think of a logical answer. Was I enjoying not drinking? No. My problem is, I always know that I will be having more fun if I have a drink in my hand. I wish I could stop thinking like this, but I don’t know if it is possible for me to change this mentality. This isn’t exactly something to applaud, but maybe not something to be ashamed of, either.

So, on Saturday night, I had two beers, and a martini. It happened. I was in control. It was fun.

Let’s go back to the drawing board.

I need to try to set up some guidelines for drinking so that I can learn to drink in moderation, which is something I have always struggled with. Losing my inhibitions when drinking often causes me to spend way too much money and maybe have a bit too much fun. If you can relate, let me know what kind of things help you save money on booze, or what you do to motivate yourself to drink less.

I hope I don’t sound too alki today.

Much love,

Panda

 

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I Eat Food

I got three boxes of food in the post this week!

I’m always excited about food, especially when it’s healthy, fresh, and delivered. Recently, I’ve reduced my sugar intake to zero (except fructose) and I feel amazing.

When in Korea, I buy Yonsei soymilk. I order it from GMarket and it always arrives within two days. So far, this is the only sugar free and organic soy milk that I can find in this country. It has quite a thick consistency and is different to every other soy milk that I have tried, but I get used to it. Usually I have just one carton a day, which has 200ml. The price is around $24.00 for 32 cartons.

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Then…my box from the CSA arrived. I have been contemplating giving up on ordering it, just because of the price. I was pretty impressed with the amount of stuff I got this week though, so, fairplay to them.

 

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Here we have: Mallow, spinach, assorted salad vegetables, perilla leaves, bean sprouts, sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, strawbs, stonecrops, and winter grown cabbage.

 

This is my box of stuff from iHerb:

 

photo 3

 

This is a smaller order than I usually get, but the coconut oil and protein powder were pretty sizable, and there is a weight limit. I plan on using the coconut oil not only for cooking, but for moisturiser and conditioner, too! As for the protein powder, it’s not my favourite vegan protein powder at all, and I only brought it because it saved me $8.74. To be real with you, it’s pretty grainy and it took me a whole tub to get used to it. I can’t drink it in shakes because it’s too chalky, but I can add it to my porridge or mix it with soy milk and fruit (maybe even a little PB if I’m feeling cheeky), and we are getting the same job done!

So far, I’m doing much better with my grocery expenditure this month. :)

Hope are all having a great week

Panda

xoxo

 

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March Spending Debrief

This is a real chat.

When I was writing last night’s blog post (click here), I was feeling full of piss and vinegar.

My debt was really getting me down for the first time since starting this blog. I’m worried about money this month because I have quite a few things I have to pay for. I avoided paying most of my utilities last month (something I told myself I wouldn’t do), and a friend of mine is visiting from the US soon. It could be a little expensive. Also, I have to buy football boots, I need to buy a little bit of makeup (I will need to choose between the expensive stuff with less chemicals, and the cheap stuff :( ), my hair really needs cutting, and it’s gonna be summer soon which means I will need some clothes.

Here’s why I’m feeling all riled up:

  • How the heck did I manage to spend over $50 on coffee? Old habits die hard. Bah. I ran out of coffee at home, so I was buying coffee in a kind of expensive way. It wasn’t Starfucks everyday, but it still wasn’t pretty. I ran out of coffee at home again yesterday, but I’ve promised myself I’m just going to have to go without until I manage to source the good, less expensive stuff.
  • I haven’t figured out how to put credit on my phone properly, so the two $10 payments I added each disappeared within two days. Now I don’t want to add anymore credit to my phone for a while, almost purely out of spite. No phone. No coffee. It’s like my little punishment for being bad with my money.
  • I brought a HUGE bag of mustard, because I thought that buying a big bag would work out cheaper. It would have been sweet if I actually got what I wanted. It’s completely my fault for ordering something online when I didn’t really know what it was. I ended up getting this gross mustard-esque sauce that tasted a little more like mayo than mustard, it tastes like it has a lot of crack (‘crack’ is what I like to call ‘sugar’) in it, and it was a weird bright yellow colour. I think it even glows in the dark. So, probably NOT gonna eat any of that.
  • I found out that the money I transferred to my US bank account to pay for Netflix had a $16 wire transfer fee applied to it. Was completely unaware of this fee.

I know that the phone, mustard, and wire fee aren’t going to be the cause of any massive failure to repay my debt, and it wasn’t even a large amount of money. I think it’s taught me that I just need to try a little harder. Wasting money like this literally feels like I am holding up my hard-earned cash and lighting it on fire.

I think that one of my problems is dealing with how long this process is going to take, and I also have to accept that there is always gonna be stuff I need to buy. Sometimes, if you put off necessary spending too much, then you’re screwed for the next month. This probably seems so obvious to most of you, but it’s hard when you are trying to be so careful with your money at the time.

I’m feeling a little better today, after I slept last night and have had a day to think about things. My week at work was really busy and stressful, and I think  I just needed a bit of rest and a cup of tea or two. I’m a firm believer that a cup of tea can shift your perspective on things :) No joke.

I have made a step to find tutoring, so hopefully I can start making a little side-hussle cashish.

In other news, I made a starchart! Why grow up when you can grow down?! I need to figure out a rewards system for getting at least four stars every day for an entire month.

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It could be hard for you to read the key, so here’s my system:

Pink star = Exercise

Purple star = Food (The healthy stuff, and not too much)

Blue star = Korean Study

Green star = Business Time (This is if I work on a side-hustle)

Yellow star = Write Things (I love writing!)

Orange star = Try Something New or Have an Adventure (Self-explanatory, yes?! This is my favourite star!)

I promise I’ll show you what it looks like at the end of the month.

Thanks for reading my rant

Until next time,

Panda

xoxo

 

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March Spending

Hi. I’m home on a Friday night, writing about money. So that’s how much of a cool kid I am!

Let’s see how March went. I have a bad feeling about it, but at least I managed to put more than half of my income towards debt, so thats the main thing, right?

I have decided I will start to look at my food by cost per day as well as just the total amount. I think this will help me focus, because I’m gonna concentrate on beating the previous month. Make it a game! Why? ‘Coz games are fun!

Food

Groceries: 

CSA                                   $140.00

iHerb                                  $128.89

Other stuff                          $174.58

Dining:                               $59.90

Total                                  $503.37      =      $16.24 per day 

Transportation

Subway                              $20.00

Taxiing                               $22.80

Bus                                     $55.20

Total                                  $98.00              

Utilities

Internet                              $16.00

Cell phone                        $20.00

Total                                $36.00              

More things:

Alcohol                             $3.50

(Not for me! Remember? I don’t even drink anymore!)

Coffee                               $45.50

Coffee for a friend           $14.00

Doctor                              $68.09

Medicine                          $12.60

So this thing happened where I had a blocked ear. It wasn’t even wax and it didn’t hurt much, but it started to get really annoying because it wouldn’t go away and I couldn’t hear things properly. I would randomly lose my balance, which was a little funny but also embarrassing. It would have been much cheaper but my medical insurance still hasn’t kicked in. Blah. Sad spending. :(

Gifts                                $33.05

Gum                                $3.50

Bank fees                        $11.00

Gym                               $260.00

Business time                 $15.00

Misc.:

Starchart supplies           $3.00

I made a starchart because sometimes I am like a child. I get stars if I do things well. Pics to come :)

Eyedrops                        $5.00

I don’t actually know what is in these magical eyedrops (bad news bears?) but they make my eyes feel untired.

Documents                     $4.50 (No interesting story here.)

Something?                     $9.50

Um…I don’t remember what I spent that on. Is that awkward for a PF blogger? I think some of it was toothpaste.

Total:                             $22.00

TOTAL =                      $1,110.61

 

The good: Buying a six month gym pass. I wrote about it here. Also, ZERO entertainment spending. I’ve still been social, but in free ways :)

The bad: Unexpected medical cost.

The ugly: Coffee. Food. My general sentiment after writing this post.

I think I’m gonna write a more general debrief on my March spending. I’m a bit dark right now, and I’m hoping that writing about it will perk me up. You will see this tomorrow. Maybe I will be feeling more peachy.

Much love

Panda

xoxo

 

 

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I Love Real Food

I got another awesome box of organic food on Tuesday. Look at all these nutritious, delicious things!

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This is: assorted salad veges, bok choy, strawbs, onions, carrots, potatoes, crown daisy (yeah. I dunno what it is either…)

Free range and happy vegetables :)

This is from the CSA in Korea. If you stumbled upon this page trying to find info on CSAs in Korea, they deliver every Tuesday, and there are a few different options you can get. Their website is here.

Let’s have a real chat.

I am really torn between eating heaps of organic food and saving as much money on groceries as possible. How do you prioritise?

Have a great weekend :)

Panda

xoxo

Posted in Grocery Haul | 2 Comments

First Credit Card: Gone

Last week I paid off the first of my credit cards. The total value of the card was under $600, but let’s not minimise this success, guys! I have had this card since I was 18, and I had never paid off the balance in full.

Before I called up my bank to close the credit account, I almost talked myself out of it. I kept telling myself the reasons to keep the card open. Reasons being:

1) What if I need some emergency money? (I don’t have an emergency fund yet)

2) Credit cards are good. People who are card maestros can:

  • Earn interest on their savings while making sure they pay their credit card balance off every month before the interest hits
  • Make the most of points and cash-back deals
  • Improve their credit score

3) I think the card is kinda pretty and it looks good in my wallet?!

It wasn’t completely irrational for me to be thinking of these things. This being said, I needed to remind myself that I am NOT a credit card maestro. Maybe one day I will be. But I’m so new to this financial journey (does that sound wanky?) that I don’t want to take chances.

The lady who cancelled my account massaged my ego a little. When I told her I wanted to close the account, she didn’t try to pressure me out of it, she said well done for paying it off, and she told me that she used to have $12,000 of credit card debt that she built up from travelling. She fully got my deal. Good. Lady.

To celebrate my achievement, I took a ‘during’ photo…

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…and an ‘after’.

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This feels good.

I even played a game which I coined ‘Credit Confetti’. It’s where, after you cut up your card, you throw up all the little pieces in the air and laugh like a maniac about your relatively small financial success (but you also laugh about your unquestionable ability to become a complete boss with money).

Thanks for reading, guys.

Panda

xoxo

 

 

Posted in I Paid It Off! | 9 Comments

The Cost of Exercise

This is me rambling about paying to exercise.

I’ve been meaning to join a gym for a while, but money hasn’t allowed. You might be thinking, ‘Hey, Panda! Whatcha doing? You don’t need a gym to exercise!’ And you know what: you’re not wrong. But that’s just not my style.

I have gone through fazes where I run outside 6 days a week. This is ‘free’. Kind of. When I get in ‘running mode’, I like to follow a plan and train for something. I get real into it. What does this require? Well, to avoid doing laundry every second day it requires a lot of workout clothes for the different seasons, as well as other costs.

I now live in Gangnam, Seoul. It’s pretty densely populated, so you have to run very early or late to avoid having to criss-cross through ALL the people. Also, nobody runs here. When I was living in a smaller city in Korea, I could easily escape to the rice patties and not worry about getting looked at like I was a crazy waygook. Also, winter here is cold and the summer is pretty brutal for me. I ran during the summer last year, but it was a love/hate relationship. In the middle of summer, you could be out for a long run, then BOOM! You hear a clap of thunder, and it would just PISS DOWN with rain. Running in the mizzle is fun. Running in the monsoon is not.

Hey, world, hear me complain!

Also, I want to train for something. Anything. I need the motivation of a race or two. Running really isn’t as free as you think it is. (See list entitled ‘All the Cheeky Costs’ below)

Before I received my first paycheck from my new job, I did home workouts occasionally. I had never done this before, and I though I would hate it. I found FitnessBlender on Youtube and also did some of the workouts by Jilian Michaels. They were pretty good, and I’m glad I did them because now I know if I am ever away from my gym and I don’t wanna run, then I have another option.

Working out at home just isn’t ma thang. I get distracted by the things around me, and I just feel like I am so much more focused on something if I am in an environment that is specifically designed for the task at hand. I have always studied in libraries better than I have at home. I get heaps more work done if I am at a café surrounded by other people who are also doing work. I feed of the energy of a place and I feed off it. Just like a parasite. But a good parasite. This is why I like a gym. Plus, I enjoy picking up heavy things only to put them back down again. Girls: You won’t get big, you will get strong and sexy and you will feel awesome.

I looked into Crossfit. I KNEW it was going to be expensive, but I was curious. Geeeez, guys. the price was phenomenal. It was around $170 a month or $560 for 3 months. Also, I would have take the subway to get there. More unnecessary spending.

The strange thing was, I considered it. I considered it for around 2 HOURS.

What’s up with my mind?! I’m quite interested in the psychology of spending. I think that in the past, if I really wanted something, I would have my mind made up on it already, or I would try to convince myself the reasons I should pay for it, and how I could possibly make myself afford it.

I was doing maths in my head to figure out what parts of my nonexistent budget I could cut just so I could do this exercise program that I really wanted to try.

This is a summary of my initial thought process:

My income means that I have the ability to pay the amount of money, but it means I will have to spend less of my money on other things. Spending I could cut includes X, Y, and Z.

Here is what I need my mind to jump to really quickly:

I have a networth of -$50,000. I have less money than that one homeless guy that is begging at Gangnam station. Sure, I have an income, but I have negative money. WHY THE HELL WOULD I PAY FOR AN EXPENSIVE GYM WHEN I COULD NOT?! After I took this mental journey, I wanted to slap myself a little for being so effing stupid.

Gyms in my neighbourhood are pretty expensive compared with what I would pay in the US. I settled on a gym which is a 10 minute walk away. I paid for six months upfront. This cost 260,000 won, which is approx. $243 ($40.50 per month). It was way cheaper to pay upfront, because the gym was charging 100,000 won per month otherwise.

 Ways my gym will help me save money:

- I walk there. Paying for the subway just to get to the Crossfit gym would have almost double the price as my entire membership to the gym that I decided to join.

- The gym provides shorts and t-shirts. It’s a thing they do in Korea. It’s pretty handy because you don’t need to do laundry or think about showing off your sweet as workout clothes. Gyms are fashion parades these days, I swear.

- I never used to shower at the gym, but why not save on water?

There are always hidden costs of exercise. No exercise is entirely free. Yes, I will continue to spend my money on some of the things listed below.

All the cheeky costs:

-       Electrolyte drinks

-       Transportation

-       Physio for potential injuries

-       Food because bitches be burning calories. (Running long distances can seriously up the food              budget.)

-       Protein (especially if you’re doing strength training)

-       Pre-workout supplements (I have taken these before, and now I always want them)

-       Massages

-       Races, tournaments, or competitions

-       Equipment and workout clothes

-       Time taken away from your side-hustle

I’m not saying what you should and shouldn’t spend your money on. Each to his own. The thing is, all of this junk must be considered in your exercise budget. You also might think you need some of this stuff when you really don’t. Why not look into making homemade electrolyte drinks? Can you buy protein in bulk? Cheap workout clothes on Ebay? Marketing companies are geniuses when it comes to making people thing they ‘need’ some of this stuff. If you want some additional reading, I stumbled upon this article recently. I really enjoy the sentiment.

For me, my health will always be number one. Find something you love but try to do it on the cheap.

How much does your body cost?

Much love

Panda

xoxo

 

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First Grocery Haul

Hey guys

There’s something I love about grocery hauls on the internet. It feels so raw and simple. When I feel like showing you guys my shopping, I won’t write essays on it. You can just look and judge accordingly.

CSA Box:

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This is: red pepper powder, salad vegetables, spinach, strawbs, onions, carrots, potatoes, oyster mushrooms, and bok choy.

 

iHerb order:

photo1

Here we have: Bengal Spice tea (one of my favourites!), peanut butter, protein powder, coffee (that doesn’t taste like yuck), rice cakes, chocolate, quick-cooking oats, and steel cut oats.

 

I really like getting groceries delivered.  I feel a slight bit like a kid on Christmas.

That’s all.

 

Take care

Panda

xoxo

Posted in Grocery Haul | 5 Comments

Overdue Student Loan

For a while, I have been internally freaking out about my student loan payments. As an overseas borrower, I am supposed to make regular payments on my loan, and it is also not interest free. I’ve been such a slackarse, and I was concerned that my loan was seriously in arrears.

I HATE ringing people, and I HATE talking to people whom I owe money, so you can bet that I loved calling the IRD. But what better time than Monday morning to do something that you really don’t wanna do?

I called the IRD. The guy wasn’t a dick to me.

Here’s bad news: I will have interest added to my student loan on the 24th of March, and this will make my net worth decrease. Not a good look for a personal finance blogger :(

I asked if I could come to an agreement so I avoided paying interest on the overdue amount, and he said no. He can’t really change legislation though,  so there were no hard feelings. :)

Here’s the good news: The tax department won’t come door knocking for my late payment. Could be a bit expensive for them to fly over here. Also, my interest rate on my loan is a lower than I expected, at 5.9%, which is the lowest of all my loans. There is a higher interest rate of 10.something% on the unpaid overdue amount, but this is still also lower than my other loans (damn those credit cards!), so I guess nothing changes.

I’m breathing a sigh of relief.

Much love,

Panda

xoxo

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