All posts by lesbecker

I Did Something Crazy…

Finance Financial Paid Account Payment Money Pay

Getting out of debt is hard, but it’s doable… I know this because I’ve done it now several times over.

The first time I got in over my head, I took out a loan to pay it off, and then I buckled down and paid the loan off. It took me two years.

The second time, with a lot more debt, I did the same. Three years later, I was again debt-free. So, of course, I turned right around and dug myself another hole, not quite as deep… but, still… I spent a year-and-a-half paying it down for a third time, without any loans – just old-fashioned stubbornness.

So then, just for good measure (or out of sheer stupidity), I did all of that one more time: dig a deep hole, panic, smarten up a little bit, pay it all down, and take years to do it…

And then…


Did it again.

Dig. Panic. Pay. Swear to myself never to dig another hole.

So, I’ve pretty much mastered getting out of debt. I just have to train myself to stay out of it.

This time around (#5!!!!!), I bailed myself out all at once with a crazy idea. Are you ready for this?

I cashed out my Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).

I took a hit and lost a couple of grand for closing it out 15 years early, and I’ll be paying a lot more income tax for the 2017 tax year than I’d like.


There wasn’t a lot in there and the gains sucked. I had stopped paying into it years ago upon discovering that the yearly tax savings didn’t do a lot to help the finances of a person like myself, living on minimum wage.

RRSPs are designed to be a tax haven for people who earn enough money annually that the savings at tax time make a bigger difference, and their plans earn waaaay more money because higher earners can sock more into them on a yearly basis. They have more money to invest, and they are entitled to feed a bigger percentage to an RRSP, as well.

RRSPs are also designed for those folks that expect to earn quite a bit less in retirement than they did during their working years.

When I learned this, I was disgusted with the idea of continuing to squirrel away several thousand of my hard-earned dollars annually for a really very crappy return. I could use that “extra” money to pay down debt, after all, right? So, I quit paying into it and my already-paid-in money sat there for decades, earning its really very crappy return.

Meanwhile, I continued to max out my credit cards and then pay them down… max ’em out and pay ’em down… over and over and over (and over and over), while also paying monstrously high interest fees. On a big ticket item like a couch or a washing machine, I likely paid the value of the brand-spanking new purchase three times over.

So I decided to take my early buy-out penalty and my kick in the teeth next tax time. I’m preparing for it. Since I had been spending about $500 a month toward debt, that $500 will now be split and be put away against that tax hit as well as my “Pre-Paid Living Account” (more on Pre-Paid Living in upcoming articles).

Will I stop using my credit cards, though? Weeellllll…..

I will not be carrying a balance. If I don’t have the cash in my checking account to pay for something, then I won’t be using a credit card to purchase it, but some things – important things – are set to “autopilot payment” through a credit card, and that works for me. The bill is automatically paid, I get a notice in my email, and then I go to my online banking site and pay the balance.


For realz, this time.

5th time is the charm. 😉

Want Your Paycheck Every Day…?

This is an interesting read about where the way we pay/get paid is headed…

Posted by The Money Game on Sunday, February 14, 2016


Mission Accomplished!
Mission Accomplished!

For the first time EVER, I completed the 52 Week Money Challenge! You can see in the left sidebar that my meter is back down to a measly $3… but that only gives me a great feeling of relief; my last payment to my Money Challenge account in December of 2015 was $103. That’s a bit of a tough go when I make minimum wage, believe me.

I did it, though! I’m REALLY proud of myself, too!

Did you take the money challenge with me in 2015? Will you take it with me this year?

It works like this: Week 1: you pay $1 into a separate savings account (or a jar, a sock in your dresser drawer, under your mattress…) – I put mine into a high-interest tax-free savings account, where it sat there looking very, very small. Actually I put $3 in there on the first payday of January 2015, since I’m paid on a bi-weekly basis. The reason it worked out to $3 is that on Week 2 you add a dollar… and then on Week 3, you save $4… etc. etc.

At the end of 52 weeks, if you’ve been keeping up your promise to pay yourself, you’ll have a whopping $1373 in that account, not including any interest you’ve accrued. I know it doesn’t sound like all that much to save in a year – but it’s $1373 that I didn’t have earning interest at this time last year (and I have a really neat plan for that money, believe me!).

I actually have $1,389.28 in that account. I started out with $10 already in there, as I had originally planned on putting $10 from every paycheck away, just to see if I could do it. My savings habits have been habitually DISMAL for my entire life – I had failed the Money Challenge for the two years previous, before I even got to February, but I decided to give it one last go, using this blog as an accountability tool. Turned out, I didn’t update very often – but I kept putting money in that account every single payday… even when I was laid off in the middle of January 2015 (I kind of had to play catch up after I finally found work two and a half months later, but I DID catch up).

The rest of the money in that account is $6.20 worth of interest – again not much, but it will grow exponentially as my balance grows – I plan to use the same account and the high interest will begin to be worth it as my balance gets up there.

That’s not all I’ve been doing with my money during 2015 – I’ll be giving more detail in future posts as to where my money really goes as well as how my “Prepaid Living Plans” are working out. I have several resolutions this year – one being updating this space on a more regular basis – at least with a weekly “Accountability Post”. It’s hard to prove I’m serious about my Shoestring Budget when I rarely update, isn’t it?

Anyway – I really hope you’ll join me in the 2016 52 Week Money Challenge. If *I* can do it, ANYBODY can!

The Simple Dollar has come up with 6 Ways to Hack the 52-Week Money Challenge that you may want to check out!

I Am the Night Stalker…

It’s been an interesting March, financially. I’ve replaced my full-time-with-part-time-hours-at-minimum-wage Day Job that I was laid off with in January with a part-time nicely over-minimum wage Night Job. I start orientation probably this coming Tuesday, and will be working 21 hours a week throughout the night stocking a large retail outlet. I’m actually looking forward to this job. This will be what keeps a roof over my head and pays down my debt.

The hours at a much higher hourly wage will likely be built into three shifts from 11-7 through the week. That leaves me four free days for other pursuits. So I added a couple of extra streams of income…

I’ve taken on two new service clients at $20 per hour each. The average appointment lasts two hours but a first appointment may be as long as 4. I worked for both new clients this past week and earned $120.00 for 6 hours work. The only catch to this type of service is that some clients don’t need the service weekly, which would be ideal for me. As it is, I can expect these two new clients to bring in about $80 every 3 weeks.

If I can bring in enough clients to fill in 5 weekly appointments at 2 hours each per day I would be bringing in $200.00 per week or $10500.00 annually, before taxes. That’s nearly my yearly expenses. So that’s my goal with this stream of income: padding my 2016 expenses account (Pre-paid Living!).

Both of these income earners are “Time for Money” trade-offs. They have a decent income but I have to actually be there and do the work. I need more passive income streams going…

I’ve also become a Jamberry Nails consultant, having been hypnotised into the endeavour by my daughter. I have just become active, so have not received any income through Jamberry yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing whether or not it will pay for my groceries every month. That’s my goal with it, anyhow.

I’ve also decided to get back into free-lance article writing… I have to actually write some articles and get some new clients in this one. Goal here? START.

I’m on top of my 52 Week Money Challenge – so far so good! I think I’m over my little blip of a financial crisis.

Square Has a Deal for You!

SquareReaderI’ve been using the free Square credit card processing option for several months now to sell my book as well as tutoring services and offline purchases from my designs store. It works right through my phone, whether I’m connected to the internet or not, and it can make the difference on getting the sale RIGHT NOW instead of (maybe) later.

If you’re not using Square, you should consider trying it – the fees are incredibly low and right now, Square is offering up to $1000 in free transactions just for signing up through this link.

Extreme Gaming…

How little can you live on?

Me? Very little. This is what my monthly bills work out to:

Rent: $ 400.00
Groceries: 150.00
Vehicle Insurance: 95.00
Life Insurance: 15.00
Bank Fees: 15.00
Phone/Internet*: 100.00
Netflix*: 8.00
Automatic Savings: 50.00
Gas: 100.00
Money Challenge: 115.00
Van Maintenance: 25.00
$ 1073.00

That’s it – bare bones.

So, that’s all well and good for me, assuming I bring in more than $1075 (or approximately $540 bi-weekly). Easy Peasy, right?

Yes. So long as I’m not in debt.

Which I am. Again.

(but “just a little bit”) LOL! Listen to me; trying to make excuses!

I assume, generally, that if I’m working full-time, even at minimum wage, that I can bring in an average $750 in take-home pay bi-weekly – or $1500 a month.

My debt is with 2 credit cards. 1 card has substantially more debt than the other; it also has a much higher interest rate.

According to The Rules of the Credit Card, I can’t use either of these cards – at all – until the debts are paid down. Then, I can only use them as a “money tool” – they can’t cost me money to use, they should save me money in some manner by using them, and/or, better yet, they should earn me money somehow.

All of my “extra” money – money earned that is not ear-marked for bare-bones expenses (stuff I can’t or won’t live without), will be thrown at that debt until I kill it.

So, if I take home, on average, $1500 monthly and my bare-bones expenses total $1075, my so-called “extra” money comes out to about $425. This is what I’m going to throw at my debt every month: $300 will go on the card with the lowest balance – because it will be paid off really quickly, and that will make me feel like I’m getting somewhere. It helps to feel like you’re winning when playing The Money Game, believe me.

Check out this screen shot:


So I’m looking at 9-10 more months paying this debt down and then I’ll be moving on (again) to investing in Pre-paid Living. That is a whole ‘nother kind of Money Game!


P.S. That Credit Card Calculator is available to use for free HERE.

P.P.S. *I WILL NOT live without Netflix OR the Internet!

The “I Lost My Day Job Now I Have to Get A New One” Challenge…

2015-02-11 12.08.38I suddenly find myself laid off, as I’m still paying down my now “smallish” debt, and beginning to hoard for my pre-paid life.

No income once my final check is paid to me in two days’ time. Trust me, that money is earmarked for survival!

Don’t know yet if I’m eligible for E.I. (“Employment Insurance” – government funds I’ve been paying into with every paycheck since I went back to work). Remember, I failed miserably at my “Early Retirement” and I may not have enough employed weeks logged to get on the program. I took NO E.I. during said “Retirement” – I’m hoping that works in my favour…

Meantime, my February 2015 Money Challenge to myself is to get a new job and begin earning at least what I lost before the end of the month.

I’ve updated the resume, and applied at a Mom ‘n Pop Grocery nearby. I could be doing anything – from working in the deli, stocking shelves, making pizza, cleaning, running a till…. I think it would be an interesting place to work.

I’ve also started a job search at a Family Retail Big Boxish type store. It has a bzillion departments (including electronics AND groceries!), so I could be doing anything there, too. So far, there are no job openings.

There’s another big-boxish place I’m going to apply to right shortly.

In the meantime, I’m also working on my Etzy store, building products for Les Becker Designs, taking two marketing courses, and working on several downloadable digital products (including one for this site).

My goal is to bring in $1250 in take-home pay during February 2015. And then again for March. And so forth. In the process, I’m already forced into the original February Money Challenge I was going to post prior to being laid off: Make February a “Dry Spending” month… meaning Absolutely NO unnecessary spending. Zero.

I’m winning that one so far. 😀

I’m writing articles for other publications again, finally – now I gotta sell ’em.

If I can do all that, I’ll be out of debt again in under 10 months. If I can double that income, I’ll not only be out of debt, but I’ll have the rest of 2015 prepaid… and a jump on 2016 to boot.

P.S. I am still running my January 2015 “52 Week Money Challenge” successfully. I now have $31.07 in the account.

P.P.S. The drawback to all these challenges is that fiction writing seems to have been put on a back burner. This will not do. 🙁