Introduction to Elizabeth’s Debt Story

Hi everyone! I’m Elizabeth, and I’m a new blogger here at BAD. I’m excited and nervous to come on board, as I’ve been a reader of this blog for a couple of years, and I know the readership is scrupulous. That’s part of the reason I’ve decided to share my story – I know readers will call me out when I need to be called out, and I want to be held accountable. I’ll write my first few posts sharing my full financial story, and I’d love to hear what you all think.
Why am I here? Well, I’m in debt. My parents raised my four siblings and me with financial sense and tried to teach me to save money. My dad was a teacher before he retired, and he had paper routes, taught summer school, and even did pharmaceutical experiments to pay for our extracurriculars. I got a job at 14 and haven’t stopped working since, but I’ve always spent everything I’ve earned.
I’m 32, single, and an IT manager at a medium-sized global company. I live in Toronto, the most expensive city in Canada. 1-bedroom apartments average over $2200, and housing insecurity is pervasive. I’ve rented an old house in a cheaper part of the city (meaning I have a long commute!) for five years now, and luckily I only pay $1350 for my three bedrooms, but I do all my own repairs and maintenance. It’s a good deal, and I’m pretty handy. My yard and spare bedrooms for visitors make me happy (my family lives far away), and seeing basement apartments posted in my neighborhood for over $1400 reinforces that I’m stuck here, anyway. I don’t know what I will do if I need to move sooner, which is why one of my goals is to save for my own house. 
I make 82k yearly with a 10% bonus. After taxes, retirement contributions, and other (mandatory) deductions, I take home $2193.22 bi-weekly. I have been interested in personal finance for a couple of years, and I’ve managed to improve my credit score with a lot of work, but I still have over $35k of debt and nothing left over each month. That’s right, I make 82k and have no savings. I have huge lifestyle changes to make. As a result, I’m looking at snowballing my credit card debts (paying off the lowest balances first, which also happen to have the highest interest rates). I’ll share the beginnings of my debt plans in my next post. From a high level, it looks like this: 

I’m making financial plans as a single person, but I don’t plan to be single forever. I’m recently out of a long relationship that was happy but financially incompatible. He didn’t care about money at all, and I became increasingly concerned about the future. I’m on my own now and don’t want to rely on anyone. Here’s what I’m saving for: 

Emergency savings. I have $321 saved for an emergency right now
Housing. If I’m thrust into the housing market soon (always a risk as a renter), I’m in trouble
A family. I don’t want to close doors for myself, and I’m exploring adoption (for down the road, but since it can take many years, I am beginning the process now). I wouldn’t adopt a child for a few years, after building savings and moving to a low cost of living city. 

What would you like to see? I’m happy to share every detail. I’m working on a detailed budget right now. It’s funny, tools like have become so easy and automatic, I rarely sign in to check on things, and I don’t learn from ongoing trends. Consequently, I’m working on a manually-updated breakdown of my spending, but even the early numbers are scary. Does anyone have a great spreadsheet template to recommend? Bonus if it supports a bi-weekly paycheck (I’m paid every other Friday, and occasionally have months with a 3rd paycheck). I would love to be able to plug in my budget, spending, and debts all in one sheet. 
Next up: The mean, green numbers. My spending and lifestyle choices, broken down for you to see. Looking forward to hearing from you all!
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