Friday, September 30, 2011

Is It 4:00 Yet?

I'm really excited to have my little girl, ahem, younger daughter home today. She alternates weekly between my house and the house when my ex lives. Today is the day that she comes back here. I will pick her up after school today. Then we pick up her brother from the sitters place, and we should be home by 4:00.

That's when she will walk into her new bedroom that hubby & I have been working on since last weekend. She's going to be thrilled (at least I hope she will be).

We packed up her room and took out all the old furniture. some of it was pretty junky, so I'm sure she'll be glad to have it gone. We brought in and set up the matching bedroom set; mate's bed, chest with mirror and cork board, dresser and nightstand. New purple sheets on the bed, with an almost matching reversible comforter (purple on one side, white with purple and blue designs on the other), and a new pillow. A lamp was found at Sears, that has a shade almost the same colour blue as on the comforter. I trudged off to Canadian tire this morning for a specific bulb that the lamp required (we tried a regular one, but it was too big). I also paid a visit to Lens Mill Store for a piece of broadcloth in the exact shade of blue to match her comforter design. The broadcloth was put up over the cork board (it had some writing on it from the previous owner) with light purple ribbon criss-crossing the entire area, all held in place by white thumbtacks.

The bed is made, the cork board is properly covered, and her new lamp, which replaced a Disney Princess one, is on the nightstand. All she needs to do is to go through her things, and decide what to keep, and what to donate, and put her clothes away in the drawers which ever way she wants them. I'll be helping her with this chore, as I know it's one that will be easier done with two sets of hands doing the work. :)

On another note, my sister and I are gearing up to set up at Gibraltar tomorrow for our first sale weekend. Hopefully, all will go well, and we'll sell lots of product. We need to have a certain amount of sales so that we can pay the rent on the booth, and maybe, just maybe, have a little bit to put back into buying more product making supplies. I'll be manning the booth all day Sunday. If you're a Londoner, why don't you stop by and say hello?

I'm not even remotely close to being ready for Thanksgiving next weekend. But we did get a jump start on Christmas shopping. My gift is bought. :)

Wanna see?  This Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer was on sale at Sears. $412.49, down from $549.99, plus I get a mail-in rebate of $50, making the total price $416.11 with tax, for a total savings of $205.38. I'm giddy! I can't wait to use it to make some bread, buns, cookies and doughnuts. I chose this one specifically because I wanted a mixer with a glass bowl (I'm not fond of the metal ones). I did get a stand mixer last year, and we opted to buy a lesser quality one. The very first time I used it (to make doughnuts), I burned out the motor! With this new one, I know the motor can handle the hard work that will be required of it.

I'll try to pop on tomorrow with a financial report, but I'm feeling pretty crummy about our debt situation this month, so I may just skip it this time. It's going to be a fairly busy weekend, so I may not be around. I should be back posting on Monday though.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


...I am tired of paying down debt, to have it run straight back up on me.

I think I've hit the debt fatigue that sometimes happens.

I'll update the monthly numbers tomorrow, but it ain't looking good. My income tax owing is in the neighborhood of another $6500. That pretty much sets us back almost to where we were in the beginning of the year. I'm trying hard to see the good in this, but I can't. At least it wasn't on a credit card, right?

Rent is due tomorrow. Anticipated payments haven't come in yet, and I haven't started the hours with part-time job either. So, to make sure we still have a roof over our head, I've taken money out of the Emergency fund to cover rent. :(

I don't like this feeling. It seems we get ahead a bit, and then fall back behind. There are bills coming that I had saved the money for, but ended up using it for other expenses. I feel sick to my stomach, and just want to curl up in bed and forget about the world.

I'm hoping Hubby and I will have a budget meeting this weekend, so I can get all these bad feelings off my chest.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sometimes I Just HAVE To Run The Numbers

Capital One sent me my monthly statement. I received it in the mail today.
I looked it over and thought, I cannot wait until this will be paid off in 14 months!

Then I remembered, I've been paying more than the minimum payment, with a couple of lump sum amounts thrown in here and there. I wonder when this puppy will be gone.

I ran the numbers at a Credit Card Payment Calculator.

If I only pay the minimum amounts, it will take 4 years and 2 months to be rid of this thing. Not bloody likely!

If I continue to pay $150.00 per month, it will take 2 years and 1 month for it to disappear. Better, but still crappy.

If I pay $200 per month, it will be gone in 1 year and 6 months. Better still, but not quite on my timeline.

So I sat down with a pencil, paper and calculator and did the numbers and payment amounts that I can live with.

Barring any unforeseen complications, I should be able to beat this into submission in exactly 14 payments.

Not ahead of the schedule that I had already figured out, but still on my timeline. Maybe, just maybe, I can find an extra dollar or two to add to my payments along the way.

I'm still on track, and that is just fine with me. :)

P.S.: I tried to run the numbers on Hubby's single remaining credit card, the MBNA. I know what the annual interest rate is, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how they get the monthly interest amount. I read all the fine print on the front and back, but still can't get numbers that match. Any suggestions? For the record, his interest rate is is a ridiculous 27.98%. The balance was $1481.37 and the interest amount charged was $32.44. Can anyone help me please?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Double - Dipping

This article about double dip recession got me a thinkin'.

I want you to think back to 2008 - 2009, and what your life was like then. Think about your debt situation, your assets, everything that happened to you when the recession hit.

Now think about where you are financially and emotionally today. Are you better off now than you were back then? Did you get your consumer debt paid down or off? Have you set aside money for your Emergency Fund in case of a job loss?

The article states that :
Meanwhile, the Canadian household debt-to-income ratio has since risen to a record of 150 per cent as consumers take on more debt and see their incomes squeezed.

That means Canadians owe $1.50 to banks, credit card companies and other lenders for every $1 they earn.

This is absolutely frightening to me. I took a look at our own personal numbers, and I'm pleased to report that we do not fit that statistic. Which likely means that some other couple who fit our demographic has twice that amount of consumer debt.

We were all warned in the last recession to get our financial houses in order to protect ourselves. For the most part, I think we have accomplished that here in our own family. We still have debt that we are paying down, but not at the crushing level it was in 2009. We took the steps necessary to make things better so we could breathe a bit easier. We've paid off about $50,000 of debt since January of 2009, and have built up some assets. We started saving for retirement and our kids education.

By no means are we perfect examples of a family who has completely done the right thing, but I know we are definitely on the right track. Some of us will take longer than others to reach the goal of Debt Free. But we do alright.

If another recession hits soon, I still think we can handle it and beat this monster debt into submission. Others will not have had the foresight to fix the broken pieces of their finances.

How about you? If we are faced with a second recession so soon after the first, will you be able to weather the storms brewing? Have you done what you could to protect yourselves from financial disaster?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Ramblings

Hubby got up with Cub this morning and let me sleep in. He is such a wonderful Hubby. I love him to pieces. While I was still sleeping, he got down to work and started pulling apart the furniture and cleaning out DD2s room. She lives with us every other week, so it will make our surprise that much easier.

The lady that babysits Cub was looking for a Diaper Genie, cheap. Seems that stinky diapers from Cub and his daycare friend are not what a house full of adults really want to smell in the basement bathroom. she had found one on Kijiji for 5 bucks, but I told her I would bring her Cubs old one, for free.

We got to talking, and since they are in their new house, they went to Ikea to do some shopping. She had a coffee table and end table that they were just going to throw in the garbage. I asked if I could have them for DD1s apartment. Of course she let us take them off her hands. Score 1 for us. Then she told Hubby and I about the bedroom set.

She has her daughters bedroom set up for sale on Kijiji, with no bites on it. The set includes: mates bed with headboard and 3 drawers, 5 drawer dresser (tall), 6 drawer dresser with mirror (short), and nightstand, all matching. The mattress for this bed was just purchased in July. Hubby offered her $300 for the whole set. Score 2 for us!

We are now cleaning out all the crap from DD2s room, and will be bringing in the new furniture today. Sometime during the week, we will go to Mall-Mart, and buy a Bed-In-A-Bag with new sheets and comforter, and some new pillows. We've decided to take this out of the Christmas money, as we were going to buy her new bedding for Christmas anyway. The $300 will come out of Hubby's next pay cheque.

I sold $10 worth of candles yesterday to an family friend. I think I'll be putting that $10 in the new work equipment fund. I have to come up with $900 as a down payment on the new equipment, and they will allow me some time to pay off the remaining $900. This is an amazing deal, and I can't pass it up.

Next weekend, my sister and I will be setting up a sales booth at Gibraltar Weekend Market, also known as Gibraltar Trade Centre. We have committed to one month of weekends at the market to sell our wares. I have a small stockpile of candles ready to go, and she has an entire line of bath and beauty type products to sell. We are going to be focusing mostly on items for Christmas gifts. I;m just hoping we can make enough sales to warrant the rental of the booth. After the month of October, we will reevaluate and decide then if we should stay there for another month.

I will also be looking after my friends business for a week in the month of October, while he is on vacation. Which means I'll have an office to go to everyday, if I so choose. I am going to dedicate any money from this job to paying for the insurances that will be coming due in the next couple of months. I know I had set aside money for the insurances, but with paying off other things, overspending and paying a $2800 bill in June that I hadn't expected, funds are getting short again. Must tighten belt.

On another note, I got a communication from my divorce lawyer. My ex is wanting to reach an out of court settlement that would finalize any equalization of assets, and free him from ever paying spousal or child support in the future. In exchange, my ex wants to give me the house that we bought together. This may sound like a fairly good deal, but I am pretty leery. This exchange would benefit him because I know he doesn't want to give full disclosure as to all the assets he has, including the ones we had together. It would also benefit him because he would be free to purchase and RV and travel throughout North America, like he has planned. Which means I would have DD2 full time, with out child support payments coming in. Fortunately, my lawyer has already asked for the complete financial disclosure anyway, so that we can figure out if I would be better off financially to take the house, or to get payments from him. Funny thing is, I knew nothing about his plans to 'give' me the house, but both of our daughters did.  :/

The little plants out on my balcony that I have been attending to since spring are finally giving me something back. My onion plants all died, but the cherry tomato plants are bearing some fruit. I should be able to can 1 or 2 jars of tomatoes (lol) this year. The most surprising plant has been the single surviving pepper plant. It had flowered several times, but no peppers. Today, when I went to water them, there it was. One single lonely pepper on the plant. It is big enough to let me know that it's been there awhile, but hiding from me. I'm thinking next year I may try different types of vegetables, because I've had next to no luck with the tomatoes and peppers.

I have cleaning, laundry and knitting to attend to, so I should get going.

By the way, if there is anyone out there who reads this who would like to do some trading/bartering for scented candles as Christmas gifts, please send me an e-mail. If you make anything that we could exchange, it could help us both to keep our budgets down for the holidays.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Purple Hats and Microloans

I've written posts before about the volunteer work that I do with Keeping Kids Warm , a local charitable organization that knits and crochets items of warmth for homeless teens in our area. I attend knitting classes most Thursdays, and I am pleased to say that my skills have improved over the last year. This month, the charity is assisting in a call for help from the Middlesex London Health Unit.

Please click here to read about the call for purple hats for the month of October, to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome/Infant Abuse. KKW is assisting by asking all of our members, volunteers, friends and associates to make at least one purple baby cap for this cause.

Yesterday, I was so very pleased to give my first micro loan with Kiva. I finally figured out how to put money from a pre-paid credit card into a Pay pal account, then transfer it over to my Kiva account, so that I can actually lend that money out. I loaned to a group of women in the Dominican Republic who are starting businesses to provide for their families. There are other deserving people who I would like to loan to, but I will have to wait until I can get another pre-paid credit card, or until the outstanding loan is paid back. I have heard many good things about Kiva, and thought I would finally give it a try.

Quiet weekend at home, so I'm knitting and trying to catch up on some sleep.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

We're All Unique, And Yet The Same

We all have different background, different traits, different upbringings and different ways of life. No one could expect you to try to live on my budget (nor would you want to), and I definitely could not live with someone elses budget. We have different income levels and sources, with differing priorities for how we spend and save that money.

So why do people think that there should be only one way to build and fix their finances?

I remember going to a picnic one year in Toronto, where Hubby and I had the opportunity to meet Gail Vaz-Oxlade, Money Maven extraordinaire. We were blessed, along with many others, to sit and share a meal with her, and were able to pick her brain about all things financial. We talked to her about our journey to Debt Free Forever, as I had so many questions because of the unique situation we are in with regard to the way I receive my income. I will never forget what she said to me.

"Everyone thinks they're situation is different, and unique. Really, it's just another excuse as to why they can't do something, can't save, can't pay off their debt." She went on to say that if a couple just apply the principles she preaches ( don't spend more than you make, save something, mitigate your risks, pay off your debt in 3 years or less), there isn't any situation that can't be made better. Anyone can do it, regardless of how 'unique' their situation seems.

I have to admit, I am a little slow sometimes.

When fellow blogger Taylor over at Debt Can Kiss Off asked her readers if anyone had any experience with lump sum payments, I had to chime in my 2 cents worth. If anyone knows how to mess up with large lump-sum income amounts, it is definitely me. For those of you who get paid regularly weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly, imagine the strain it puts on a budget when you get paid the majority of your income annually.

My situation although unique for its own reasons, really isn't all that different. I still make X amount of dollars per year, gross. I still have to budget for things in the somewhat distant future (like 8 months from now). I still have to keep a tally of my spending so it doesn't go out of control. That is no different than anyone else who is trying to keep their financial boat afloat when they get a weekly pay cheque.

I've come to realise (finally!) that the boat Hubby and I are faithfully rowing to the distant shore of Debt Free is no better than the boat you and your family are rowing. Sure, your boat may have pretty blue stripes and has a catchy name for it, while ours is just called boat, but we both have to deal with the same leaks and waves. We deal with the same issues, struggles and once in awhile, the same accomplishments.

The only difference now is that we can wave to one another across the water, and support one another (through our respective blogs) to keep rowing. Especially when it feels like all we are doing is going around in circles. :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I'm here....sort of

I'm taking a bit of a break this week from blogging it seems. There are things to do, and people to visit, work to get done, and many, many things to keep my hands busy (even if I'm not doing them).

I'm still here reading all your blogs daily, so please keep writing.

I just don't have a lot to say right now. All is well, I just need a break for a few days.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Thoughts

This past week, I challenged myself to: 1) 1 week financial fast and 2) 5 - a - day servings of fruits and veggies. The bigger challenge for my overall health and wellness is to lose 40 pounds by my birthday (seven months from now).

The fiscal fast didn't end up being quite what I wanted it to, but it did keep me thinking about where my money was going. Friday I did spend about $6 on chocolate bars and soft drinks for Bug (DD2) and myself. We both were having a 'difficult' woman day, so I feel it was justified. Saturday ended up being a no spend success because of work and not feeling well. The kids have each had the 24 hour flu, and I think they shared with me. :( However today, we had to head to Shopper's for some ginger ale for the sick people in the house. There were things on sale, and a promotion for a bonus 18,500 points if you bought $75 or more in the store. Because pull-ups were one of the things on sale, we definitely hit the $75 mark, got the bonus points and stocked up on something we will use.

The 5 -a- day challenge was easy when I put my mind to it. I realised it was easier to get my 5 servings in first thing in the morning by having a smoothie. Friday brought it to an abrupt halt when Cub started to vomit. I couldn't drink a green looking smoothie after just having cleaned something similar looking off the carpet. The rest of the day I did munch on veggies, but I couldn't tell you if it was enough. I did not get in 5 servings yesterday because by that time, my own tummy wasn't doing so well. Even though I am still not feeling great today, I am making myself eat and drink, but I may be shy of 5 servings again today. Overall, I think I did well, because this challenge made me stop and think about what I was putting in my body, and that was the whole point.  :)

Exercise didn't make a prominent appearance in my schedule this week either. I did however manage to lose 1 pound, likely due to all the fruits and veggies earlier on in the week. I am still having my struggle with the salt shaker, but I'm winning a little more each day.
Trent over at The simple dollar wrote a post entitled "The Resistance Fighter Inside Of You". It's a good piece, and it made me think. My resistance fighter inside of me is more of a scared little girl who whines a lot, but that's because she's used to getting her own way.

I, like Judy at We May Be Poor, But We Are Happy am going to put on my big girl panties this week, and fight that little b*tch, ahem, girl inside of me who is whining to beat the band today. Every day I will do my best to continue to make changes in my lifestyle and finances.

This morning I was blessed with time to sit, relax and knit while watching a mini-marathon of Gail and Til Debt Do Us Part. Hubby and I got to talking, and I challenged him to open a RRSP account now that his car is paid off. I reminded him we're not getting any younger, and we need to save for retirement. I made all the points about tax savings, tax deferred growth, tax deferred income, etc. He mentioned that if all we have to live on after retirement is from his pension from his workplace, we're in deep ca-ca. Indeed, we will be in deep ca-ca if we don't start somewhere. We'll have to see if he'll do it on his own, or if I need to hold his hand to get it done.

I am emotionally in a good place today. We don't feel like the sky is falling (financially speaking) anymore. It's been a tough road to here, and we're ready to fight this through to the end. You hear that, MBNA and Capital One credit cards? Your days are numbered!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Some Great Christmas Gift Ideas

I check out lots of links to thing I find interesting. I'd like to share some of them with you, perhaps maybe to inspire you to have a homemade Christmas this year or maybe to give new life to those things with which would otherwise end up in the landfill.

This Oven Rack Jewellery Organizer is a perfect example of re purposing stuff we no longer use.

For those who want indoor herbs over the winter, why not have a Mason Jar Wall Planter ? this would also be a great gift for a foodie or plant lover.

Here is a game that you could make for the kiddies on your list, using some recycled materials. Come Together Kids tells you how to make the game, and to play it.

Why not bake a batch of Emoticon Cookies for your favourite tweenager?

Need different sized boxes for your gifts this year? Why not make you own out of diaper boxes ?

You can use those leftover bits of wrapping paper to make Wrapping paper Baskets to put all the things in that you make for Christmas.

For that person who has everything, and when you ask what they want and say nothing, this craft idea could be the perfect match!

Have you seen any great crafty gift ideas that you would like to share?

Friday, September 16, 2011

It's done!

This is the last of the car payment. We refrained from celebrating this because we still owed a teeny, tiny amount.
But it's done. :)

Sep.16, 2011 LN PYMT $1.04

Points On Purpose

Gail on Reward Program savings ( from article):
Don’t forget the next important step: For every dollar you save by using your points, open up a “points savings” account and deposit the money. Now each time you use your points for anything—groceries, gas, travel, whatever—deposit the equivalent amount in real dollars into this savings account. Now you’re really saving with those points!

This is something that has been on my mind the last couple of weeks.

We have 2 Petro Points cards with the points going to one account. I never though much about the points until the other day. We had enough points to get not one but two Fuel Savings cards. By cashing in 15,000 points, we are entitled to save 5 cents per litre of fuel purchased, to a maximum of 200 litres. Times 2, that's 400 litres of fuel savings. (5 cents X 400 litres = $20)
When we've used all 400 litres of fuel savings, I will be making an additional $20 to my RRSP account.

We also have a Shopper's Optimum account, again with 2 cards. I usually wait until around the holidays to make use of those points. With some good luck with timing, if I hit a sale on staples like sugar, flour, etc., I can stock up for free, lol! I'm no extreme couponer, but I do love me some points cards. The next time I cash those out, it should be around the $60 mark, so I can drop $60 into our Car Fund. :)

The other 'savings points' program that I use is PC points. I have cashed out 20,000 points before for $20 worth of free groceries. I bank with PC Financial, so I deposit the grocery amount to the account, and pay with debit. I get points for spending amounts and extra points for bringing my own bags to the store. I won't likely have enough to cash out again on this one for awhile, but when I do, I will be sure to transfer $20 over to one of our long-term savings accounts.

How about you? Do you really save the money you 'saved' with your points programs, or does it just get funnelled back into your spending?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Challenge - Day 4

5 A Day:
~ smoothie: 1 cup 100% juice, 2 cups spinach, 1 cup cantaloupe, 1 cup frozen strawberries
~ 1 cup of 100% juice
~ snacked on raw broccoli and cauliflower

****NO SPEND DAY!!*****
I felt horrible after spending yesterday, so I made sure I didn't spend anything at all today. :)

I am horribly irritable and bloated (you know what that's about, I'm sure) so I'm not pushing myself for any kind of exercise. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel up to it. The scal says I haven't lost any weight, but with the bloating, I figure I must have lost something. I am not going to worry about it though. In other good news, I haven't picked up a salt shaker in 3 days. anyone who knows me personally could tell you that the amount of salt I put on my food is terrible! Another pat on the back for me. Good girl. :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Challenges - Day 3

5 A Day:
~ morning smoothie: 1 cup juice, 2 cups spinach, 1 1/2 cups cantaloupe, 1 cup frozen berries
~ 250 ml 100% juice
Fiscal Fast:
Wow, did I crap out completely today. Hubby and I went to the 'Hundred Dollar Store' and guess what I spent? Not quite $100, but it was close. I bought coffee cream, slippers that Cub needs for daycare, a new bra, 2 baby gifts to welcome friends kids to the world, socks for Cub, a new toothbrush for me, a sun reflector for the van, and 'swim' diapers for Cub for his swim lessons.
I could have put off all of these purchases until next week, except the coffee cream and toothbrush.
Gee, when I fall off the wagon, I fall off HARD!
Health & Wellness:
Nothing to report here. *sigh*

Ok, I swear, Day 4 has to be better than this.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Challenge(s) - Day 2

5 A Day:
~ smoothie: 1 cup juice, 2 cups spinach, 1 cup cantaloupe, 1 1/2  cups frozen berries, 1 kiwi
~ 3 oz raspberries
~ lunch was cheese and triscuits
~ supper: Soup made with potatoes, turnip, parsnip, carrot, onion and leftover steak (it was pretty good)

Fiscal Fast:
I had to buy smokes today (I know, I know) to the tune of $16.73. I hate this expense. Once I can afford it, I'm going for acupuncture or something.
I also paid $20 on a bill, and put $2.73 cents in a savings account. I also stuck a $5 bill in my laptop fund envelope.
On a good note, I made $20 bucks driving DD1's friend somewhere.

I'm not doing so good at this, am I?

Health & Wellness:
~ nothing to report today. I'm sore and very irritable, not sure why. Oh right. Maybe it's because Cub was up for the  day before 5 am and is still not asleep now at 10:30 pm. I can't sleep when he's awake.   :(  Hoping for a better day tomorrow.

5 a Day & Fiscal Fast Update - Day 1

Ok, so it's not my first day with the 5 a day challenge, but I'm starting to get the hang of it now.

5 A Day:
~ medium banana, 1 cup of 100% juice, 1 cup cantaloupe, 1/2 cup spinach, 1 cup frozen berries
~ mashed yams and raw veggies with dinner, about 1 cup of each
~ 1 large glass of juice
~ some raspberries and 1/2 banana

Fiscal Fast:
~ no timmie's run, but I already had that old habit conquered
~ No problems not spending yesterday. Today will bring it's own challenges, I'm sure.

Health and Wellness:
Starting weight: 191 pounds  Goal: lose 41 pounds in 7 months (lose 40 pounds by 40th birthday)
~ Put on exercise DVD and had to sit down after 15 mins. I did manage to get my heart rate up a couple of times. My knee does not like exercising!

I know I'm out of shape when a beginners DVD is exhausting. I only did 1 circuit of exercises, and will try another one today. This is going to be a slow process without a doubt.

As for the fiscal fast, staying home made it easy. Now we are out of cream for coffee in the morning, and I dunno how I'm going to deal with that. Milk just isn't the same for me.

On to Day 2....Wish me luck!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Telling Hubby's At Work Story

B (Hubby) is in the parking lot on his lunch break the other day. Parked a few spots away from him is a co-worker's car, same make, similar model to his. B's car is a 2002 Pontiac Grand Am. Hers is a 2008, I think.

Small talk ensues about stuff to get their minds off work, if only for a moment. Similar Car Lady (SCL) says to B, "You should take better care of your car. It looks like crap."

For the record, B's workplace, in my opinion, is so bad for rumors, badmouthing others, and general pessimism, that the employees have taken putting others down in any way possible to a whole new level. It's awful, and I wish I could get him out of there!

B is momentarily stunned at that comment, and then asks what she means by that. SCL says that the paint on the car is scratched badly in areas, and fading in others, with bits of rust showing up in other areas. The trim on his vehicle is broken in spots (thanks vandals!) and or coming off.

He replies that yes, his car is imperfect, it's not exactly like he just drove it off the lot, but it is aging. He points out that her car has no working back-up lights, and she has dents, not just scratches on hers. B suggests that she worry about her own vehicle and leave him to worry about his.

He told me that story last night after dinner, and how it bothered him that his coworker would not only talk about how he treats his vehicle, but that she commented that it probably smelled like smoke all the time.

I listened, and understood why this would bother him. I agreed with him.

Then I mentioned that it may not look perfect, but it runs great, and we do take care of the essential parts of the car. It's safe to drive our family around in. We do routine maintenance and care on it. It's clean inside and out. It does what we need it to do, even if it is 9 years old.

And then I said something that made him smile.

"Yeah, she may think it's a piece of crap, but it's our piece of crap! Besides, I'll bet her car isn't fully paid for."


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Before the Fast

Today I spent some time preparing, mentally more than anything else, for this weeks fiscal fast. Yesterday, I made sure both vehicles were topped up with gas. Today I checked the flyers for sales, prepared a weekly menu, and then hit the stores.

I bought a box of 52 pull-ups at Mall-Mart for Cub. I can get him to use the potty several times a day now, but it's still so new to him. Having pull-ups is still something we must do. For now.

Basics had a sale on potatoes, carrots and onions this week. A 10 pound bag for $1.88, so I got one of each. We were out of potatoes and onions anyway, and carrots will help with my 5 A Day challenge. The rest will go in the freezer.

Part of today's shopping excursion would be to see if I could get enough fruits and veggies not bagged, that I could make my own 'produce box'.

  • bananas, 5  $1.03
  • 0.730 kg green beans, $3.20
  • 0.660 kg yellow beans, $3.33
  • broccoli, $1.29
  • cantaloupe, $1.00
  • cauliflower, $1.77
  • field cucumber, $0.99
  • Kiwi fruit, 2 for $0.79
  • 0.660 kg parsnip, $2.32
  • 1.460 kg yams, $4.15
  • 3 X 6 oz raspberries, $2.91
  • bunch spinach, $1.49
  • 0.300 kg turnip, $0.65
  • 10 pounds carrots, $1.88
  • 10 pounds potatoes, $1.88
  • 10 pounds onions, $1.88
Total cost: $30.46

I'm going to try one of Carla's smoothies, without the chia or flax. Just juice, fruits, and some spinach. Eating healthy along with starting out an exercise routine should help me to start to feel better.
I think we have everything covered for the week. Now let's see if I can do this.
Cheerleaders Sharon, Carla and Jane, get your pom-poms ready! ;)

Fiscal Fast, Sept. 12 - 18, 2011

I'm going to try for a Fiscal Fast this week. Thanks to Sharon at Midlife Mom Musings for the challenge/idea.

Our Fiscal Fast Rules:

  1. Gas for vehicles will be purchased prior to fast. Additional gas will only be purchased for business purposes. (My vehicle is essential for my work.)
  2. Regular groceries will be purchased in advance. Milk will be the only allowable food purchase during the week.
  3. Bills that are automated will be allowed, but that is it. If anything else comes up, it will have to wait until the 19th of September. We pay for babysitter/childcare weekly, so it will  be allowed also.
  4. Keep a household diary, putting in how I avoided spending each day, thoughts and feelings about not spending and what I would typically spend on a given day.

That's it in a nutshell. I have my giant to-do list to keep my hands busy when work isn't doing it. I can catch up on laundry until the cash on the laundry card runs out. All monies coming in will be whisked away to rent account, EEE account, or kept in chequing account for bill payments coming later in the month.

Anyone else doing a fiscal fast this month?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Workouts and No Work

After reading some of the comments the other day, I really had to think about the 'gym membership' idea. Would I really  use it enough to make it worthwhile? (I still have no idea what this would cost me.) Would it help me to accomplish my goals for strength, health and weight loss?

I know me. I can take procrastination and laziness to a whole new level. Not so good, when I'm considering an expense that could be quite large in the long run. Looking at other options is a much better idea.

From Carla: "You could do a workout DVD at home & throw in some crunches & push-ups... cheap & will tone you up. I always exercised at home, if you want to lose weight bad enough & get into shape, you'll do it. If not, then you just don't want it bad enough. This is said in love & with previous experience. ;) You have to REALLY want it! Good luck!!"

So I started thinking. What if I bought a $250 gym membership, and then quit after 2 or 3 visits? I'd be ticked at myself something huge. But, if I bought a $10 workout DVD, and only used it 2 or 3 times, I won't cry myself to sleep at night over it.

Then I got to thinking about other free forms of exercise. I love walking, and can work up a good sweat doing it. I could use laundry soap jugs as my weights for strengthening my arms in various ways. Throw in some crunches & push-ups like Carla said, and I should be all good.

She's wise, that Carla. If I want it bad enough, I will do it. If not, then I just don't want it bad enough. Although my exercising will be about increasing my strength. Weight loss and other health benefits will be an added bonus.

On a completely different note, I want to tell you about something I saw the other day. I had to drive to University Hospital, as part of my work. This , of course, is located directly beside University of Western Ontario, whose librarian staff on on strike. In order to enter University grounds, you have to cross a picket line.

I've seen a few picket lines before. In recent years, Canada Postal workers, the London Transit Commission, City of London employees, various Teacher Associations at all education levels, and auto makers alike have all been on strike. They have their picket lines, along with their metal bins with wooden pallets lit on fire for warmth, as well as vehicles parked in areas making crossing such a line difficult. All of these unions know how to picket. The UWO Library staff however don't seem to have the same intimidating presence.

The LTC won't go across the picket lines though, so it's made for some interesting route changes at the University in the past few days. Added to that mix is the ongoing construction zones in and around University Hospital. It makes getting in and out an exercise in patience.

I was stuck at a red light on Western Road,  behind a huge line of traffic. While waiting, I got a chance to watch the picketing librarians for a bit. They were all conservatively dressed, with large neon yellow vests that have even brighter orange crossing lines on them. Most of them were sitting wherever they could and wearing hats to keep the rays of sun out of their eyes. The ones who were actually walking the picket line were doing so at a leisurely pace, looking very subdued, yet peaceful. There were no cars blocking the regular flow of traffic. There were no barrel fires. There was no shouting or chanting. There were no honks of support form the traffic passing by. Yes, they had picket signs, and handed out information pamphlets, but they weren't causing a ruckus.

Leave it to librarians to hold the most civil strike on the face of the planet. :)

I've decided, although it will take me out of my way a bit, I will not be crossing their picket lines again. I can get where I need to go at the hospital without doing so. It'll just take a wee bit longer. I hope to learn more about their strike situation, and pray that it is resolved quickly for them. Strike pay can't be good for any family, regardless of what their occupation is. I may even try to help out with something by way of supplies for them, as it could take awhile for them to get back to work. I need to learn more about it.

Because I learned that knowledge is power.

And I learned that from a librarian. :)

Friday, September 9, 2011


I was hoping that I would be blogging today that Hubby's car loan is paid off, but I can't.

I forgot to factor in interest, or something equally stupid.

There was a payment this morning of $51.01.

That leaves a balance of ..........................................................  $1.04.


On a good note, I got a package in the mail yesterday from 'It's Me, Sam'. If you click this link for this post of hers, you'll see the painting she sent me. It's the one at the very top. It's called Saskatchewan Sunset, and I lurve it!!! I have a place all picked out on the wall where it will reside. As soon as Hubby gets home, I'm going to make him hang it for me. :)

Makky's Mom, I have sent your candles out to you, so you should get them very soon. I hope you like them.

I've crossed a few more things off my giant do-do list this week. It's been very good having some time to get things done without a 3 year old 'helper' all the time. I'm learning to love the quiet of our home again.

We'll be staying home this weekend and just decompressing. The Western Fair starts today, and I'm not so sure that I want to go. It's a lot of money for not much entertainment. The kids love going, but I dunno if we will though. Although, I do always enjoy the Warriors Day parade, which is tomorrow.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Steak for Dinner, and other stuff

I managed to grab some nice sirloin cuts from the grocery store, so we will be having steaks for dinner tonight. Today will be spent mostly in my pj's, doing something with which I dread doing....getting my business finances squared away. Thankfully, my sister, who has a business administration degree, has offered to come over and help. God bless her!

It's a good thing that I have nothing strenuous planned today because I am terribly achy and sore from working yesterday. Every time I have a physically demanding day, I remind myself that I am not getting any younger and I really should think about how to build my strength in my upper body and core. Now that Cub is in daycare, I could probably fit some time in at the gym. I have never had a gym membership before, and to be honest, I wouldn't even know where to start. I know I'm out of shape, and could stand to lose a few pounds, but if I were to do it, my main goal would be to build my strength. I don't even know if a gym membership would be cost effective for me. I do know that if left to my own devices, I would not be able to do the type of exercising that I would if I had a gym membership. Likely, I would use it in order to justify the cost, therefore making me progress toward my strength goals. If I don't buy into a gym membership, I will continue to do what I've always done about it.....nothing.

I'm off to do the paperwork. Ugh!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Random Rambling

Yesterday, DD2 was off to her first day of 7th grade. I still think of her as 'my little girl' and when milestone days like yesterday happen, I get a little teary eyed. That little girl is still in there, and sometimes she lets herself be seen. Cub, on the other hand, is becoming more independent every single day. Before long, he'll be joining the ranks of the rest of the schoolchildren.

With the glorious silence that was around here yesterday, I managed to get a bunch of paperwork done; invoices were sent out, bills were filed, and I'm feeling less out of control with everything. I realise now I just needed some time to get caught up. I'm not fully caught up just yet, but I'm having someone over tomorrow to help me out with that. A full day between two people should get everything accomplished.

Dinner was made early last night, and then all four of us went to 'the hundred dollar store'. for the record, I kept the bill under $100, but not by much. Most of what we bought was essentials, but there were some treats as well. I also bought flour, sugar and chocolate chips for making some cookies. I'd like to make several batches to put in the freezer, if the cookie monsters don't eat them all first.

Cub has his first swimming lesson today. I'm not so sure how well that's going to go over, but keep your fingers crossed. He has the ability to be able to do what they will ask of him, I'm just not so sure about his listening skills yet.

We're having breakfast for dinner tonight. I am aiming for having all our suppers at home this week. Maybe Hubby will BBQ steaks tomorrow night?

Gotta run. It's time to head to school. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Toot! Toot!

OK, deep breath and here goes.

As you may or may not know, I became a first time Mom at the tender age of 17. It was an unexpected pregnancy but changed my life in many ways, most of the good ways too.

From 17 until 19, I raised my eldest on my own. After I met my future ex-husband, I was raising a 2 year old and a 4 year step-son.

I held several part-time, low paying jobs until I was 30. It was then that everything changed again.

In 2002, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She implored me to 'do something' with my life, for myself. She died that June.

By the end of that year, I had taken the exams necessary to complete my GED. Inspired by one of my customers at a local pub I worked at, I decided to pursue a profession that I was interested in.  I applied, and was accepted into college for the 2003-2004 school year. (That customer is now one of my bosses.)

September of 2003 was a landmark year for me and my girls. I was starting my first day of college, my eldest was starting her first day of high school, and my little one was starting her first day of kindergarten. It broke my heart to leave my family behind for the next 9 months, and I came home when I could, but it was the only school in the province that offered that course.

The 2004 - 2005 school year allowed me to work in my chosen field as an intern, and much closer to home. I was reunited with my family, working full-time and completing my assignments for school. I bought one of the businesses that I worked for in the spring of 2005, wrote my board certification exams weeks later, and graduated from college in June of 2005.

For the past six years, my business has changed in many ways, mostly as a result of the collapse of the economy, but I have worked through it as best as I could.

I left my then husband in 2006 for several reasons. It was the first time in my life that I had ever lived alone. As soon as I had an apartment, I went to get my girls. It's been a struggle not to have my DD2 with me all the time, but I'm learning to deal with it.

Also that year, I met my soul mate. He is everything I have ever wanted in a partner. We fit together so well, that we finish each others' sentences. Within months, he moved in with me, and have been together since.

In 2007, things started going downhill financially. I was losing business clients. The volume of works calls declined by about 60%. Of course, there wasn't enough money to pay the bills, and the collection calls started. But we were oblivious to it all. We kept charging away, thinking it would all work out in the end.

Then I found out I was pregnant. Happy news, yes, but we were completely unprepared. My pregnancy limited how much work I could do, and the pregnancy was very hard on me. In March of 2008, our little Cub was born. We were blissfully happy. Ten days later, we were given the news that our son had a very rare metabolic condition that could be life threatening. All hell broke loose. Whatever money we did have was spent sustaining us while we dealt with hospital stays and doctor visits. Bills went unpaid, and things got worse and worse. Hubby suffered a head injury due to a fall, and was hospitalised. When he came home, he couldn't work, he couldn't help with the baby, and had mood swings due to the injuries his brain was subjected to. I was at an all time low.

I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and started looking for more work. To get our bills under control, we moved from a three bedroom townhouse to a three bedroom apartment. My eldest and her best friend moved into an apartment of their own. By The beginning of 2009, Hubby was back to work, and we went all out on getting our $60,000 or so of debt on a repayment plan. I found Gail Vaz-Oxlade on television. We started putting things to right.

Since that time, we've paid off about $40,000 worth of debt, including one credit card, one vehicle loan (with the second one to be paid off very shortly). We've gone from the brink of homelessness and bankruptcy to having some money in retirement, education and emergency savings, while keeping up with the bills (for the most part).

We're working our plan, and now deal with things as they come up. An unexpected bill no longer causes sleepless nights and heart murmurs.

I've realised that this challenge was a lot harder than I expected. I couldn't write it as objectively as I would have liked, but I tried. Toot!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Toot Your Own Horn

Today, I have a challenge for all you readers, bloggers, PFers, women, men, and who ever else stumbles across this insane post. I challenge you to Toot Your Own Horn!

No, I don't mean your car/van/e-bike horn either. I want you to tell me (either in a post on your own blog or in the comment section here, which I may or may not make into a post of its own) about your accomplishments, personally, financially and otherwise.

The inspiration for today's post comes from Captain Sweatpants, who posed a question to female readers on his blog  a few weeks ago. It made for some great discussion about accomplishments great and small, as well as talk about humility gender roles in society.

His question was: "Why is it that women don’t ever admit that they’re awesome? Do you actually know you’re awesome but just don’t want to verbalise it? Or (this is worse) you don’t even realise you pure awesomeness?"

Here's the catch: I want you to do objectively. As if you were listing the accomplishments of someone you admired, and wanted to point out all their good traits, and multi-tasking skills.

So who's up for this challenge? I will start tomorrow with my own post (God grant me the strength to do this) and see where it goes from there.

P.S. - To get your giggle factor going, I would like to share that when I clicked on the spell-check for this post, it highlighted PFers. When I clicked in the highlighted word for alternate suggestions, the first one on the list was 'Pervs'. I found that insanely funny!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Woodland Cemetery Walking Tour

Today's post is about a frugal activity that a person or family could do that incorporates healthy lifestyles (walking), a history lesson, and an opportunity to open up discussion with those closest to you about the taboo subject of death.

As you may already know, I live in London, Ontario. My hometown is rich with history, being chosen for the provincial capital in 1793. While it never did become the capital of our beautiful province, our city was founded in 1826. Not as old as some other cities in the country, it does have a history unlike any other.

Recently, a Facebook page was started on a whim, to talk about what Londoners remember from our past (and perhaps learn a thing or two as well). Entitled, "If You Grew Up In London, Ontario, You Will Remember...", there are tons of pictures and documents talking about the near and far history of our beloved city. It's also being used as a springboard for the London and Area Heritage Association to get new members, and to gain votes for Canada's Favourite Ballpark Contest (It's down to 2: Our own Labatt Park and Thunder Bay's Port Arthur Stadium. Visit to learn more an vote.),

Of course, my contribution would be to say that you can learn much about an area's past by visiting the local cemeteries. We have several in this city that I will feature on my blog, but today, I want to talk specifically about Woodland Cemetery.

Located at 493 Springbank Drive, Woodland Cemetery has it's roots in the Anglican Church. For the history of the Cemetery itself, visit Woodland's History page. Woodland opened in 1879, but has graves that had been moved there from burials dating back as far as 1830.

If you visit the Cemetery Office, you can ask for a Walking tour pamphlet, which will point out some interesting facts about the cemetery and points of interest during your stroll. The are some notable figures buried here, including John & Amelia Harris, who lived in what is now known as Eldon House (another fantastic London historical landmark), John K. Labatt (of Labatt's Breweries), Bishop Benjamin Cronyn, and Josiah Blackburn (founder of the London Free Press).

If you take this walking tour, you will also see the Railway Monument, a tribute to the nine railway men who lost their lives as a result of accidents on the Great Western Railway between 1857 - 1873. It would also be difficult to miss the McClary Monument, a tall grey obelisk that rises 9.6 metres above the ground (that's over 31 feet).  There are also rare, hillside vaults, built in the early 1880's. Nothing of it's kind is used in this day and age.

Also buried in Woodland Cemetery is George J. Goodhue, who is often described as London's first "millionaire". His son, Charles built Waverley Mansion in 1883, with the money inherited from his father, which is located on Grand Avenue, and is still standing, being used as a retirement home.

If you were to take this walking tour, I would imagine that following the route set out by the cemetery, it would take about 1 - 2 hours, stopping at all the points of interest along the way. If you have never been in this cemetery, I suggest you take your time, and read some of the monuments other than the highlighted ones. The grounds are beautiful throughout the year, but especially fall, when all the trees are showing off the glorious colours of autumn.

Take a water bottle, wear comfortable walking shoes, and encourage discussion about our city's history with your family. This tour could have off shoots of visits to different parts of history in varying other parts of the city, and could become a memorable event for your family. I invite you to give it a try.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Matter of Choice(s)

Thanks to Makky's Mom, I felt compelled to post about the choices that we all have with regard to our own wishes for our funerals.

Basically, you have two options: Cremation or Earth Burial.

Here's a list of things you need to think about with regard to both options.

  • casket type
  • service details
  • cemetery property
  • monument (headstone)
  • reception after service
  • container/casket type
  • service or memorial details
  • type of urn
  • what to do with the cremated remains after all is said and done
  • reception after service memorial

Typical caskets are constructed from wood or metal. Cremation containers can vary from  cardboard to the most elaborate wood casket you can find.

You need to think about if you want a service of any kind. This can range from no service of any kind, a memorial service with or without casket/urn present, to a full traditional-type funeral service with visitation.

Your casket can be buried in the ground, or put in a mausoleum. Both can be costly.
Your cremated remains can be put in an urn, and kept by family members for private disposition. Or you can have them buried, put into a niche in a columbarium, or scatter them in a certain area within some cemeteries.

Cemetery property can be expensive, even if you are only buying one plot for cremated remains in an urn.

I am only aware of one Green Cemetery in Canada, located somewhere in British Columbia. This page can provide you with more information.
Biodegradable caskets come in all shapes, sizes and differing construction materials.

So do Urns. Here are some examples.

Taking an example of a friend of mine, even with choosing lower cost options, they are looking at $1800 for cremation and professional services, $1900 for one plot, $400 for an Urn, and $7000 for a monument. Add in about $850 for a memorial service, and $600 for a cheap-o reception, they are looking at a total cost of about $15,000 for two people.

There are so many choices to be made. Funeral service or cremation. Which cemetery? Burial or scattering? Embalming or no embalming? To have a visitation (viewing) or not? Should there be flowers? Memorial donations? Which Funeral Home to involve?

Consider this. Most funerals/cremations are paid for by way of a funeral/insurance plan, life insurance proceeds, and on a credit card.

A Credit Card?!?!

Yep. A credit card. Lots of folks have credit limits that could swallow the cost of an entire funeral service, with, excuse the term, all the bells and whistles. Most funeral service establishments require some type of deposit before services are rendered. Anywhere from 50% of the total and up.

Would creating a Funeral Fund seem morbid to all you PF-ers out there?

I'd rather be morbid than have my spouse or kids put my casket on their credit card, and end up paying it off for the next 30 years, with interest.

What say you, readers? Have you ever even given your final wishes any thought?

Note: After I wrote this post, I found an interesting article on cremation. Of course, it doesn't cover every last detail, it will give you a good idea of what to think about.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

September Goals

First, I'd like to go over last month's goals.

1. Deposit the remaining $347.29 needed into the Emergency Fund. Check!
2. Put $500 into the rent account to start paying back the loan. 313/500
3. Spend the vacation money we have taken out, and to spend it without regret or guilt. Check!
4. Put any leftovers from vacation into rent account. No leftovers to add. :(
5. To earn $500 total from all side gigs. Check!
6. Draft some blog posts and see if they will actually post while I am away on vacation. Check!

4 out of 6 isn't bad, I guess.

September goals:
  1. $75 for the pager; this will pay up the account until June 1/12
  2. Continue making small-ish deposits to Emergency fund, EEE Account, House fund, Vacation fund, car fund, and laptop fund.
  3. Start 2 new funds for Business Equipment and Dental Work.
  4. Our Insurances are coming due. Pay off #1 & #2.
  5. Catch up with all paperwork for business. o_O
Of course, other things will pop up inevitably, and we will be looking at how to make the new budget work, but I think we'll be ok. I just wish we hadn't spent so much money. Oh well. We'll dust ourselves off and go from here.

At least we aren't using any credit cards. :)