Give Me Back My Five Bucks

2015 Annual Goals: Q1 Review

A little late with this review, but better late than never, right? :) My main goals for this year were to plan out each week as best I can, prioritize the ‘stuff’ in my life, and re-focus on saving on the little things.

We are four months into the year, and to be honest I haven’t been doing a super good job of any of those things. Sure, I’m taking my lunch to work more often and I’m planning my life out a bit better, but I still miss my own personal deadlines, and I still feel like I never have enough time. I’m also mid-way through a huge purge of all my stuff. I attempted to sell a bunch of things online, so now everything I didn’t sell is going to get donated. But, it’s all currently sitting in boxes waiting to be sorted. Basically I’m not doing a great job with life right now, and I need to get back on track for Q2.

So below is how I’ve done so far with my actual goals. I’m really proud of myself for cutting out unnecessary spending on clothing though. I’ve made my current wardrobe work, and have lived with what I have. Once I finish getting rid of all my stuff, I’ll be better able to evaluate what I actually need/want to replace.

Financial

  • Stay debt-free (aside from my mortgage). CHECK! I have no debt aside from my mortgage.
  • Increase my income by 15%. PASS. My blog’s advertising revenue has been down, but I’ve almost doubled my freelance income in the first 4 months of 2015 compared to the same time frame in 2014. Combine that with my full-time income, and I’m currently about 14% ahead. Granted, I lost my job in Q1 of last year, but only ended up unemployed for 5 weeks (2 of which I got severance pay for, and 1 week I received EI).
  • Save at least $800/month into my RRSP/TFSA. NEEDS WORK. I’ve been investing $600 into my RRSP every month, but the deposits into my TFSA have fluctuated between $100 and $150 every month. I need to work on this. My retirement goal has made me a bit anxious. I constantly question whether I’ll have enough money to retire early, because retiring later than “early” isn’t really an option. BF is a bit older than me and is expecting early retirement with a full pension. I want to continue growing my money as much as possible so that in the future, our lives are a bit more parallel in terms of timing.
  • Stay on budget every month. NEEDS WORK. I haven’t been publishing my monthly budgets, and I need to get back on track with those.

Personal

  • Limit Starbucks trips to 2x/month. FAIL. I’ve already failed at this.
  • Bring lunch to work most days. PASS. I’ve done an okay job. Better than last year, but definitely haven’t been bringing my lunch in “most” days. This needs to improve, and once it does, it will make it at lot easier to hit that $200/month TFSA goal I have noted above.
  • Shop for needs. CHECK! I have barely done any clothing shopping at all this year. In fact, the only thing I’ve purchased is a new pair of black boots after the ones I bought 6 years ago finally gave out.
  • Go on one big trip. CHECK! My sister and I are headed to Cuba in just a couple of weeks. BF and I are also planning on going somewhere in the fall for 2 weeks. We had discussed an RV trip up north, or even something crazy like somewhere in South America or Asia. Also on the radar is a trip to Mexico with BF and his family in late November.
  • Run in one half marathon. PASS. Field hockey season has ended, so I have just started training. I’d ideally like to race in August, but haven’t found anything that fits my schedule yet. If that fails, I’ll do the GoodLife Half Marathon again in Victoria. :)
  • Read 20 books. PASS. I’m a little behind, but am sure to catch up while in Cuba. I have a huge list of books to read on GoodReads. Time to tackle them.

Professional

  • Enroll in Business Management program. PASS. I did research into two programs that I’m interested in, and in my performance review at work earlier this year, we made it one of my goals to enroll in at least one class this year. So I’m pretty excited about that! :)

What if you don’t file your taxes on time?

Note: this post is sponsored by TurboTax Canada, but was written and edited by me.

Most of us have already filed our taxes. I haven’t yet, but have all my paperwork ready for this weekend. :) However, there are thousands of Canadians that will end up filing late, or not filing at all. And that’s even after the CRA extended this year’s tax deadline to May 5th!

If you don’t owe money, there won’t be a late filing penalty; you can still file later and still receive your tax refund. Not a big deal.

BUT if you owe money and file late for whatever reason, you will end up triggering penalty fees, interest payments, and you could become ineligible for certain government benefits.

Here are a few things to know if you file your taxes after the April 30th May 5th deadline:

Interest and penalties
If you owe money on your 2014 taxes, compound daily interest is charged starting the next day after the filing deadline. Not only that, but you’ll also have to deal with a late-filing penalty of 5% of your 2014 balance owing, plus an additional 1% of your balance owing for each full month your return is late (to a maximum of 12 months).

If you happened to have been charged a late-filing penalty in one of the previous three years, your penalties may double to 10% of your 2014 balance owing, plus 2% of your 2014 balance owing for each full month your return is late, to a maximum of 20 months. Yikes!

Extraordinary circumstances
If you owe the CRA money and something has prevented you from filing on time, or making a payment when it became due, there is a chance  the penalties and interest will be waived by submitting a request. Some examples of extraordinary circumstances include:

• Natural or human-made disasters, such as a flood or fire;
• Civil disturbances or disruptions in services, such as a postal strike;
• Serious illness or accident; and
• Serious emotional or mental distress, such as death in the immediate family.

Loss of benefits
The government calculates certain benefits based on your most recent tax return filed. This means that if you haven’t filed your taxes, you will not trigger benefits you might be entitled to – such as the Canada Child Tax Benefit, Universal Child Care Benefit, Children’s Fitness Tax Credit, and the GST/HST benefit.

Don’t forget that if you are applying for a mortgage, lenders will require your most recent Notice of Assessment. If you haven’t filed your taxes, there will be no paperwork to validate your income.

So if you haven’t gotten your paperwork ready to file before the April 30th deadline, it’s in your best interest to spend some time this weekend to sort out your information. Using online tax software like TurboTax will help you figure out exactly what you owe in easy to follow steps. Remember that filing before the deadline might mean you still get charged interest on the amount owed, but at least you’ll be able to stop the late filing penalty from increasing.

Have you ever missed the tax filing deadline?

Would you tip your Starbucks barista?

FullSizeRenderAfter working late last night, I went to Starbucks this morning for a pick-me-up latte. I ordered my regular drink, paid with my Starbucks app, and waited patiently for my drink to be made. It was then I looked down at my app and saw that a little window had popped up on my screen, asking if I wanted to leave a tip. Whaaaat? This is new.

Now, I don’t mind if Starbucks asks if I want to leave a tip. But I also wish they were clear on what the tip is for. Is this tip going to the actual person who made my latte? Is it going to the store (and then spread out among employees)? Or is it going to Starbucks in general? Because that answer will make a huge difference in determining whether I tip or not.

Related: Should tipping in restaurants be banned?

And, I actually find it a bit offensive that the only options for tipping allowed are $0.50, $1.00, or $2.00. What if I want to tip less than $0.50? And who is going to tip $2 on a $4 drink!? Come on, Starbucks.

You’re also able to add a tip amount into the app up to 2 hours after the transaction took place. I find this interesting, because is anyone really going to remember the latte they drank 2 hours ago, and think “I’d better get on my phone and send them a tip.” I think, no. But maybe I’m wrong!

Related: How much do you tip?

 What do you think of the new Starbucks tipping feature? 

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