The “Gotta Be Frugal” Blues

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Sorry that I haven’t been posting as of late. Besides having had a very busy schedule over the last week and a bit, I’ve had quite a bit on my mind.

As you may know (if you read my first post from earlier this month), I composed a list of things I would like to see happen this year. Among the items on my wishlist was my desire to move out of my parents’ home and find a place of my own.

It’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past couple of years. And lately, more so than ever.

But I think I may have already bitten off more than I can chew.

On New Year’s Eve while out with friends – all of whom live downtown – the question (in between gulps of alcoholic beverages) came up yet again. And silly me, what did I say?

“I am moving out THIS YEAR. I don’t know how. I don’t know when. But it WILL happen.”

I think I pretty much based this declarative, alcoholic-laced statement on a previous response to someone at work about a year ago, when she asked me, “When are you moving out?” and I said, “Probably 2008.” (Of course, that time, I was sober.)

So fast forward to this month. With the exception of the last few days, all I’ve been doing is surfing the MLS listings in Toronto. And when I haven’t been doing that, I’ve been surfing the View It rental Web site … 

Which has then led me to asking myself the dreaded question – or questions – over and over:

Do I suck it up and rent? Or do I dig in my heels and save as much as I can until I can buy something?

Compound this with the fact that talking to a few of my friends hasn’t made my quest to find the answer any clearer.

After a night out with some people I knew, my friend – who works at a bank – was very graciously driving me home, and I was lamenting to him about my situation.

Of course, he’s a renter and is in a situation where – in his own quest to advance his career – he’s not looking to buy or even upgrade his living situation anytime soon … or at least until he can improve upon his current income bracket. So he was kind of extolling the merits of renting.

A couple days later on the subway with a really good friend I work with, I was talking about the same thing. He understood my inner struggle on another level, since he used to live even farther away from work than I do. He made the decision several years ago to leave the nest and move in with friends.

Fast forward a few years. He since moved in with his then-girlfriend, got married last summer, and is still currently renting … and trying to figure out how on EARTH they’ll afford a place to live – and where. His advice to me? Stay home and save as much as possible.

Last weekend at a friend’s birthday party, I was talking to a work-mate who is simultaneously working and going to school – and has bought a condo in his end of town.

We got into a bit of a life-philosophy-type of discussion, but the gist of what he was saying was: you don’t want to have your independence, at the expense of your economic freedom. You’ll end up having less social freedom in the end. Stay home for as long as you can.

To one half of my brain, what friends # 2 and 3 have said, rings true with me. But the other half is tired of spending upwards of 15 hours commuting to work weekly – she would just rather find a place which would allow her to get to sleep earlier and to get more things done in the time usually spent commuting.

But another question that’s getting to me the most is: can I afford it?

I thought there might be an outside chance. Then I talked to my mother.

I’ve realized the money I’ve furiously been saving would’ve been great for a downpayment – about four years ago. I’m not close to what I thought I would have. And if I were to successfully save what I need, what would the mortgage payments be like? All that comes to mind is the image of a bank worker pinching me really hard. In the ass. With a huge pair of pliers.

On top of which, the rental situation seems bleak, too. Depending on my expenses, if I rented, I couldn’t even put anything away for retirement, never mind putting money towards a downpayment.

The only true way to find out for sure is to come up with a budget.

So right now, I’m taking things one day at a time. I’m trying to make a record of what I buy so I can figure out my spending habits.

At the end of this month, what I’ll have to do is add everything up, and then go over what items I’m spending money on, so I can either cut down or cut out those things I should really do without.

It already depresses me a bit to think about it, because I’m afraid to see what the grand total is going to be. But, more importantly, I’m not looking forward to trying to figure out what I’m going to have to go without, especially with the type of social life I’m used to having.

I know it’s probably the best thing I can do for myself, especially given what my end goal is.

But man, is it EVER going to suck.

So to my friends who happen to read this … if, for whatever reason, you don’t see me out as much during the next couple of months, you’ll know why.

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One thought on “The “Gotta Be Frugal” Blues

  1. Allyson says:

    Since you’ve talked about finding a new job too, have you considered leaving the GTA? You might actually have a chance of affording a place of your own elsewhere, whether bought or rented, while still having some money left over.
    Buying a house by yourself is a big committment–property tazes, paying for unexpected repairs, being responsible for your own snow removal and whatnot. It’s a worthwhile investment though and I think you should go for it. There’s always the no downpayment option too. You’ll end up paying more in the long-run but if the market is good, you can sell in a few years and use the profit for the first house as downpayment on the second. That will put you in better shape.

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