Way back at the beginning of the month, in celebration of Financial Literacy Month, I took the pledge. In fact, I took a few pledges. My pledges involved making a change (a big one, in my case), fixing a problem and acquiring knowledge. Here’s what I pledged to do:
- Look into reducing my monthly banking fees
- Save money by eating from home more often
- Speak with a financial advisor and/or small business accountant to prepare for the upcoming tax year
Are you curious to see if I followed through? Here’s what I did.
Did I reduce my monthly fees?
I sure did, and it wasn’t hard at all. Almost immediately after I wrote the Financial Literacy post I took a look at my monthly bank statements. Turns out, I’ve been paying approximately $17 per month in fees. Yikes! Somewhere along the line I had thought it wise to pay for the smallest package, thereby reducing my monthly fees. But all I did was accrue more fees at a higher per-use rate.
By my calculations, I save $8 per month with my new ‘unlimited transactions’ package. Plus, I can stop withdrawing money from machines, since I can use my debit card whenever I want.
Result: $96/year in savings. Not bad!
Did I save money by dining in more often?
Actually, I did. Aside from a number of unavoidable business meetings, I cooked my own meals every single day. On top of that, I started working with a holistic nutritionist, so my meals have all been very healthy choices.
The restricted diet she has me on has not only helped repair and feed my body, but it has cut my food expense drastically. My new diet has had a rather interesting side effect as well. Before I started working with the nutritionist, I was the one cooking the meals and worrying about the groceries. Now my partner is in charge of his own meals, and I’m in charge of mine. We share the kitchen and cook meals together, and he’s actually making healthier choices too.
Result: A healthier, happier couple with more money to spare. My partner and I were eating out at least 2-4 times per week and each bill came to approximately $60. By our calculations, we’re saving an average of $160 per week, or – I can’t believe this number – $8,320 per year! Wow. This month alone, we’ve saved a ton of money AND I’ve lost 11 pounds. Needless to say, we plan on sticking to the plan.
Did I speak with a financial advisor or small business accountant?
Actually, I spoke with both. First I visited my bank (I bank with RBC), and made an appointment to see a financial advisor. To be honest, I knew most of what she told me and didn’t learn a lot. What I did learn was that the answers I was looking for were ones I had to get out of a small business accountant.
But I didn’t have a small business accountant, so I called around. I asked friends for names of people they trusted. I posted my question on Twitter and asked small business owners from within my community. By the end of the day I had a list of names. One gentleman’s name came up several times, so I decided to call him. He agreed to come out and look at my books on Monday of the following week.
The morning of our visit, I pulled out all of my paperwork and put on a pot of coffee. He wanted to see what type of software I used, how I processed my invoices and where and how I kept my receipts for expenses. He made suggestions and had a look at last year’s tax return.
As someone who is fairly new to business, or at least owning my own business, I don’t want any surprises come April. After looking everything over, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was right on track. He even gave me an estimate for how much I’d be paying in taxes this year. He gave me a couple of suggestions for easier account management and assigned a few small tasks to be completed before the end of the year. I’ve already completed them.
Result: Preparedness and peace of mind – something money can’t buy.
Next month’s pledge:
Although Financial Literacy Month is coming to an end, there’s no reason why the good work shouldn’t continue. Where could you start saving money? Why not make those changes today? It could mean a wealthier tomorrow. Here, I’ll take the initiative and get us started.
As a non-driver, I take cabs far too often. I pledge to walk more and cab less. It’s better for the environment – and my wallet.