Doing dumb stuff with our money. We’ve all been there.
While we pride ourselves on helping people make smart financial decisions, we here at LowestRates.ca make mistakes ourselves.
And so in the spirit of transparency, we’re going to open up to you and tell you the dumbest financial things we did this year. They range from pathologically buying things on Instagram to piling up subscriptions and having no idea how much they’re costing us a month.
Now, without further adieu, here are our financial regrets of 2019.
The siren call of buying stuff on Instagram
This was the year I caved and created an Instagram account.
I pretty much only follow plus-size fashion influencers who put together the most amazing outfits. I can scroll for hours.
Being a tall, plus-size woman myself, I’ve been starved for clothing options for years. I never really paid attention to fashion or influencers because they weren’t relatable — none of them looked like me. I’m used to being ignored by advertisers.
Clothing was never a line item in my budget.
Now, I’m inundated with images of beautiful fat women living their best lives every time I open the app. And with a tap, I can see where they bought these clothes. I don’t even need to leave the app to buy stuff.
Never has freedom, happiness, and fabulousness ever felt so within reach.
But most of this clothing needs to be shipped from the U.S. and nothing is ever shown in Canadian dollars.
I usually look at Instagram before bed — do you really think I’m going to bother with currency conversion?
So I’ve bought more clothes this year than I ever have in my whole adult life and a lot of those purchases happened on Instagram. And yet I’m still wearing jeans and tees to work every day. It takes time to shift your personal style — and your self-perception.
It’s great that I have more options for clothes now. At the same time, I now know that I don’t have as much self-control as I once believed.
I set a goal to put a pause on clothes shopping last month and I succeeded. I’m hopeful I can find a new spending philosophy: one that prioritizes saving but allows for some fun clothing purchases.
Enthusiastically buying classes and never going
I keep buying classes... but I never actually go.
Yoga, Zumba, Introduction to web development, Introduction to user design, Introduction to digital marketing, Introduction to French, Pilates, and Millionaire Mindset. This is (only a partial) list of classes that I've paid for, and never attended in 2019. While I love to learn, I chronically overestimate how much free time I have and how much downtime I need. My consistent assumption that I’ll have enough energy after work to go to yoga or take an introductory web design class has resulted in a long list of extra purchases on my credit card this year, usually between $15 and $30 each. While $15-$30 doesn’t sound like a lot, after 12 months, it can certainly add up. Never mind the number of “Sorry we missed you!” automated emails I’ve received this year.
Therefore, one of my resolutions come 2020 is to be realistic about my bandwidth to take on additional commitments while already working full time and completing my master’s degree in the evenings. Part of this resolution will come from learning to accept that I can’t do everything at once, and that trying to do so means I likely won’t do any of it well.
Thanks for sticking with us this year! Happy Holidays from the LowestRates.ca team.
LowestRates.ca’s resident Miss Perfect
Financial regrets? Jeez, you kind of caught me at a bad time. See, 2019 was the year I finally held myself accountable for my financial missteps. So I’m going off-book here and celebrating instead of ruminating.
Whenever I make big changes, they’re always inspired by small events. Case in point: over the holiday break last year, I read and reviewed Shannon Lee Simmons’ book, Living Debt Free: The no-shame, no-blame guide to getting rid of your debt, and as the first of January rolled around, I found myself making a very turn-around-moment commitment: 2019 would be the year I finally tackled my debt.
Inspired by what I’d learned in the book, I booked myself an appointment with a financial planner a few weeks later. Together, we confronted my finances and came up with a debt repayment plan. I’m proud to say that since that meeting, I haven’t taken on any new debt. Whenever I used a credit card this year, which was sparingly, I made sure I had the money in advance and paid it off the same day (a novel idea!).
For me, 2019 was an exercise in financial responsibility and awareness, and in getting out of debt. No more paying a little bit off, but then using a little bit more — just consistently paying it down while truly living within my means. It’s been a slog, but there’s no looking back now. 2020 will be the year that I successfully obliterate my line of credit balance. And I can’t wait.
Empty emergency fund
I’ve got no emergency fund, well I have $1.11 saved to be exact. It’s particularly embarrassing for me because this was a goal of mine for 2019 and one that I made very public the year before that.
The truth is I find saving for emergencies boring and daunting. Paying off my debt first has been far more rewarding and exciting.
But in 2020 I’m going to prioritize preparing for the unexpected and build an emergency fund – for real this time – because I’m tired of living in fear that if the worst happens I could incur more debt and sabotage my finances.
While personal finance experts suggest saving 3 to 6 months of expenses, I’ve looked at my current financial situation and seen what I can actually put aside.
To avoid further procrastination I’ve set a realistic goal and the best way to implement it is to get specific.
So I want to save $3,000 by December 31, 2020, by allocating $125 bi-weekly to my emergency fund.
Runaway subscription addiction
I checked my credit card statement last week and there it was: $8.99 for Disney Plus. I never intended to get charged for it. I don’t care about Baby Yoda. At all.
My plan was to sign up to the seven day free trial to watch one movie (Free Solo) and then cancel it immediately after I was done. I even set up a reminder on my phone. But when that reminder came, I was busy and swiped it away.
I think we can all agree free trials are the scourge of our time. Disney Plus was another subscription among many that I’ve signed up for and completely lost track of. I once had two New York Times subscriptions and somehow paid for Tidal for six months before I caught it. Most expensive Kanye West album ever.
I’ve recently gone through my credit card statements to find out exactly what I’m subscribed to and don’t use. There was a lot of random stuff I totally forgot I had and never really use anymore. A Dropbox subscription. Extra storage space on Apple’s iCloud. The list goes on.
I’m reining in my subscriptions for 2020. I’m being proactive about tracking them on my credit card. And I will not be signing up for any more free trials. I’m done with you, subscriptions.