In our April 2016 issue of MoneySense, we introduced you to Lindsay Tithecott, a 29-year-old who is trying to pay down debt, build up savings and buy a larger condo. Throughout the year we’ll be giving her a financial challenge every two weeks to help her get her finances in tip top shape. Make sure to follow along! Let’s start.
Challenge No. 1
Lindsay’s expenses are modest but a big chunk of your budget goes to fitness—$3,260 annually on ballet, kickboxing, the gym, a personal trainer, and other outdoor activity. Lindsay’s first challenge was to track how often she actually uses these fitness services over two weeks. Does she feel she’s getting her money’s worth? Then we asked her to prioritize which gym services she can’t live without and which she wouldn’t mind dropping in order to save some money—even for only a year or two.
Over the past two weeks I have been monitoring my fitness activities to see what I’m willing to cut. But instead, my enthusiasm has grown for each sport and activity that I participate in, making only the smallest of concessions to help my budget. The first activity I reviewed was my weekly kickboxing session—a session a friend of mine and I substituted for our monthly dinner out. Classes are $11 each and attendance is flexible. Sure, it may be more expensive than a steak dinner, but I feel amazing after a class! I don’t want to give this up.
I also monitored my personal training session with Tara, my trainer. Having Tara allows me to push myself while not injuring myself. Plus, the truth is that I’m lazy. I’d never stick to a fitness plan without the accountability Tara provides me with. I don’t want to give these up and if anything, would really like to increase them to twice a week at some point. (I know, I know, not while #MoneyFit is around!) My trainer costs $2,300 annually, and I feel she’s worth every penny.
Finally, ballet. I started when I was 5, and it’s a part of me. I tondu while talking with co-workers, I stand in fifth while I wait to cross the street. But I don’t attend regularly due to work and life commitments, so I have decided that I will step back from ballet for the final term of the year. But not forever! So $260 saved; you’re welcome line of credit.
After tracking them for two weeks, I can honestly say I don’t want to get rid of any of these activities. But with the need to be a responsible adult and adjust my budget, I have decided that stepping back from ballet, while, only for a short time, is all I can bear to give up to save money. I’ve come to the realization that I would rather ban my entire shoe shopping budget for a year before giving up any more of my millennial experiences.
Follow Lindsay on Instagram at @ltithecott.
What the expert says
“Managing cash flow is always about prioritizing,” says Heather Franklin, a certified financial planner in Toronto. “This challenge helped Lindsay understand what specific areas of spending she wants to maintain and which can go. This is a budget basic.” She’s chosen to prioritize experiences over material stuff and wants to continue her fitness routine—with minor cuts to ballet for a $250 saving. And although deemed important to her, Franklin points out that a personal trainer is an expensive luxury and she may want to reconsider this expenditure down the road. “Motivation is key to fitness success and ‘laziness’ as Lindsay says, is costly—both to our fitness routine and to our bottom line,” says Franklin.
The good news is that Lindsay has made the decision that her clothing expenses—specifically shoes— may be a key area to cut back on. “Realizing this may help her actually cut her clothing expense because she has seen how important her fitness routine is to her overall lifestyle,” says Franklin. “It’s a good start.”
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