Desirae Odjick’s personal finance story: “The definition of a half-baked idea.”

By: Desirae Odjick on November 22, 2016
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My personal finance journey started with this one fateful budget review in August 2015.

I sat down to review my “budget”, but as usual, it was less a review of my real-life spending and more of me daydreaming about how I could spend my monthly money. Using an Excel spreadsheet made it seem legit, but let’s be real: I was playing budget, not actually budgeting.

But this time was a bit different because I had started reading a few financial blogs, and I had the bright idea that I should try saving more aggressively.

See, all of the financial blogs I was reading were early retirement blogs that advocate for saving a huge portion of your income so that you can retire decades earlier than “normal” people do. I’m in no rush to stop working anytime soon, but these were some very convincing blogs, and the concept of trying to see how much more of my income I could save was intriguing.

I know — I’ve got weird interests. Just go with it.

So I sat down, put my recurring expenses into a spreadsheet and crunched the numbers. It looked tight, but if nothing went seriously awry, I could probably be on track to save half of my income. The reason I even entertained this idea was because I had (finally) begun to set some concrete savings goals for myself. I wanted to save enough for a house downpayment over the next few years, and I knew that my emergency fund needed some serious love.

Add in a few other savings goals, and I quickly realized that if my habits didn’t change, I’d have a fully-funded emergency fund and a house downpayment by the time I was…. in my forties. Since my ideal timelines were a lot shorter than that, upping my savings rate seemed like the best way to hit my goals faster.

The next part is just classic me. Now that I had this idea, did I take time to think it through, evaluate my plan, and see how a few months of attempting to save half of my income went?

Of course not. That’s not really my style.

Instead, within an hour of firing up Excel to “play budget”, I had launched to publicly track my progress and write about personal finance. Honestly, this impulsiveness had a lot to do with my blog’s name, which was the definition of a half-baked idea. The obvious overlap between that and my attempt to save half my income was just too good to pass up, and so Half Banked was born.

However, I don’t think any of my other half baked ideas have ever worked out quite as well as Half Banked did.

I thought I was okay with money before I started the blog, other than the whole pretend-budgeting thing, but I’ve literally done an entire series of posts on what not to do with money based on the blunders of my own not-so-distant past. Want to know how not to buy car insurance, and how not to choose a credit card? I’ve got you covered.

Those posts are all 100% based on my own money mistakes, and they’re things I probably never would have corrected — or realized needed correcting — had I not been thinking about and writing about money.

The even better thing is that I’ve heard from real-life humans who have taken a step forward in their financial life because of something I wrote. Whether it’s feeling confident enough to open a TFSA, starting to track their spending, or starting to tackle their debt, nothing is better than hearing that, by being open about money on the Internet, I’ve helped someone else in a small way.

Which is really why I keep going. Beyond the fact that I just straight up love it.

Wondering about that whole saving-half-my-income thing?

Well, to make a long story short, it took me a whole 8 months from that fateful August day to actually hit my goal of saving half my income in a given month. It turns out, what you think you spend in a given month, and what you actually spend can be significantly different numbers, which is why tracking your spending is so important.

Since then, I’ve hit my goal a handful of times, but even in the months where I’ve missed it, I’ve gained other things that are arguably more valuable than saving 50% of my income: a clear picture of where my money is going, a higher savings rate than I had before, and a very clear understanding of how variable expenses can creep up out of nowhere.

What’s that saying about shooting for the moon and landing among the stars? Yeah, that one.