Monday, January 26, 2009

Arranging Money - Obsession or Efficiency?

Normally, my strategy with every pay cheque is the following:

Pay all bills
Pay off credit cards
Leave Enough for Auto-Withdrawals
Dump remainder on Student Loan

I generally keep very little in my bank account, maybe $20 leeway. I have excellent (free) overdraft protection to $500 that covers anything unexpected requiring cash on hand.

Now, I have five pay periods left until I'm done work and I'm tempted to leave the funds in the account and stop the "leftovers applied to loans policy," operating more on a cash basis.

I've vastly simplified my personal finances this year, they now consist of:

-a single normal credit card (low limit) plus emergency card (high limit), paid off in full each month
-prepaid cell, no land line (using the credit card)
-rent and utilities as a single payment, fixed rate
-two minimum loan payments, auto-withdrawn

I plan to clear one of the loans before I go. The cell will lapse and I have no lease to get out of. While away, I will have to remember to pay my card periodically (and monitor my account for fraud), but nothing else.

However, given that my primary loan is still open (at a low interest rate), I'm not sure if this shift will help freshen up my finances or just result in $5 more interest per month? I'm hoping it allows me to stockpile about five months of earnings (plus tax refund, plus pension cash out) in a tangible way to get a better picture of what I have to work with. But will the temptation of having a large sum of cold cash languishing in my savings account be too much?


MOST INTERESTING DEVELOPMENT OF THE WEEK: I am attempting, largely unsuccessfully, to empty my cupboards. I haven't had a major grocery shopping trip in two months. Although most of this is a result of being away over the holidays, this is my fourth week home in January.

This has made me realize how much I had unintentionally hoarded. The funny thing is, it's hardly a stocked pantry (condiments and beverages excluded) and this has been the same for so long I can do it from memory:

Pancake mix
Box cold cereal
Bag hot cereal
One can chic peas
One can tomatoes
One can beans
One can coconut milk
One bag microwave popcorn
A few sun dried tomatoes
Small bag of sticky rice
Package of sushi nori
Can of tuna
Can of sardines
Small bag whole wheat cous cous
Assorted noodles/pasta (house pool)
Frozen naan
Jar of saurkraut
Half a can of refried beans
Package of pepperoni
Package of veggie dogs
250 g marble cheese
3 red peppers
One small red cabbage
Half a red onion
200 g plain yogurt
500 g natural peanut butter

*Bold = january purchase

I'm so amazed at how long this stuff has been able to hang around in the cupboard I'm declaring war and continuing the grocery ban. For morbid interest I will document what I end up eating as a result. The exceptions include: bread or buns and some fresh produce... but only whenever I manage to get through the existing produce to a measurable degree. After exhausting protien sources, additions will be allowed on a piecemeal basis.

MOST ANNOYING FINANCIAL PREDICAMENT: the time has come to renegotiate my bank fees. Instead of notifying me the no-fee period as they understood it was about to end, they just started billing. I don't really like my bank at all but it's the best of many evils, somewhat like cell phones...

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