Sunday, December 30, 2012

Murphy's Holiday Visit

Christmas is over, and we are looking forward to 2013 with hope and enthusiasm. Part of the reason we are so hopeful is because we had an unexpected and unwelcome guest for Christmas: Murphy!

Christmas morning started a little earlier than I had planned. Cub was wide awake and raring to go at 5 a.m. We started the coffee, let Cub and DD2 open their stockings while we tried to wake up. At this point I had only been asleep for a couple of hours, so it was really difficult for me to get into the spirit. We opened our gifts, gave Cub something to eat and drink to tide him over, then headed back to bed for a little nap before we headed to Grandma's for breakfast.

Everything was going according to plan, and were packing all the gifts into the van when Murphy reared his ugly little head. An open rear van lift gate, and an overhang in the underground parking are not a good combination. Hubby was trying to move the van forward a couple of feet with the back open, and the rear wiper just grazed the overhang. This of course caused the rear window to shatter into about 3 million pieces. With nothing open Christmas Day, there is no way to repair it immediately. We pile us and our stuff into the car and arrive at Grandma's late.

Because the window couldn't be replaced until the 27th, I had to turn away about $500 worth of work and pay the $325 bill for the repair. :(

I get it replaced and all is well with the world again. Or so I think. I start working again and feel relieved to have that over with. Fast forward to December 29th. A very busy work day for me. Hubby is helping me get some stuff done so we can spend time at home relaxing.

But Murphy was hiding in the back of my van, just waiting to pounce! With a very large and important package in the van, we arrive to the place of delivery. Turn van off, unlock doors, get out to remove package only to find the back lift gate seized shut. Not good. Not good at all.

With difficulty, we remove delivery package, and head to Dodge dealership to get vehicle fixed. (By the way, we already have an appointment on Dec.31st to have a piece at the rear of the van replaced where a decal has a bubble.) They are extremely busy. We wait for an hour to be told there is nothing they can do for us right away. They have to order a part. I ask for a loaner. I'm told that because the van still technically works, Chrysler will not authorize a loaner vehicle. I lose it.

After some tears and an explanation of why our work vehicle needs to have a working lift gate, they provide us with a loaner. It takes two hours of our day, but we're finally back to work.

We're on call January 1st, so can someone else please take Murphy off our hands? Holidays are stressful enough without his help. Thank goodness there was enough in our savings to cover the additional expenses.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

So much to do...

We're down to the crunch. Five shopping days left if you include today, which I am because it's still so early in the day. Five sleeps until we get to see what the jolly old elf has left for our families.

Five days isn't enough.  *sigh*

I've got the shopping done. At least I think I do. Last night, I pulled out all the gifts, piled them onto my bed and separated them by recipient. Then I had the opportunity to take inventory. Does one pile seem to outweigh the others? Is any one pile particularly small? Does it even matter who gets what?

I think I stopped caring about the gifts a long time ago.

I just want to spend the day with my family, enjoying each others company, eating, singing and laughing together. I could care less about all the hoopla.

Our tree hasn't yet been decorated, and honestly, I don't think it's going to get decorated. I've been fighting a vicious bout with Influenza for the past few days, while still working and doing Mom stuff. I don't have the extra energy it takes to decorate a tree. If Hubs and the kids feel like taking on the task, all the power to them. Otherwise, even our tree will be taking on a simplistic design this year.

Not one gift is wrapped. I have rolls of paper, tape and all the accessories, but absolutely no gumption to get it done. Thankfully, Hubby enjoys doing this with me so I foresee a gift-wrapping marathon in our future. I'm getting tired just thinking about it.

Other things I still haven't done: baked cookies, made treats of any kind, purged toys and clothes, cleared space in the living room, put pictures in frames (as gifts), or written out one single card.

What the heck happened?? I was so prepared and then...pffttt. Everything fizzled out on me.

There's still the regular day-to-day stuff that needs doing: laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc. that has got to get caught up on. I need a vacation from this holiday.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Women's Money Week, 2013

Attention Bloggers!

Remember last year when Women's Money Week posted the Ultimate List of Women Money Bloggers?

Some of us had to send them an email, or something to get added to that list, and others were just automatically on it. I still use that list to find good things to read on the Interwebs, written by fabulous women who write about money. To see my wee blog on the same list with Gail Vaz - Oxlade and Krystal of Give Me Back My Five Bucks was certainly exciting to say the least.

How many of you have stayed with Women's Money Week and been following the Weekly Resource designed to help you take action each week? Did you even know that there are weekly articles and way to hold yourself accountable for the week's action item? The whole blog/site is geared to help those who want to reshape their financial future, and will hold you accountable should you need that too.

You can also sign up now to be a part of Women's Money Week 2013 which will run from March 4 - 8, 2013. Their site says, "It will be a great chance to connect with other bloggers and get incoming links." More information will be available in January.

I like the idea of having some new people popping in to read my wee blog, so I signed up. Perhaps, given a bit of time to write, I'll be able to write a marvy-fab article that will get featured during WMW2013.

Anyone else interested in taking part in this?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Pamper Myself Kind of Day

Way back in July, a client gave me a thank you gift that consisted of a $150 Spa package at a upscale place here in London. After months and months of trying to find time to use this little gift, I finally made time to do so.

Yesterday, I headed downtown to Studio H - London to get my facial, Hand Treatment and hour long massage. I figured, what the heck - while I'm here, I'll get an express pedicure and get my hair done as well.

It was glorious! I was in the Spa and Hair Salon for about 5 hours, getting pampered every which way but loose. I spent an ungodly amount of money on my hair and a little bit on my feet, but it was so worth it. I feel relaxed and happy. The feel-good has lasted into today, even when I was cleaning hair dye off my face this morning.

Thankfully, I can afford to do this type of thing for myself. I don't do it often, but every once in awhile, a lady needs to treat herself to something fun.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sealed Pot Sunday

For twelve months, December 2012 to December 2013, I will take part in the Sealed Pot Challenge. My family, but mostly myself, will be putting bits and bobs of money into my sealed pot, which will be used at some point in the future for my hubby and I to go away on an adult vacation to somewhere warm. On Sundays, I will be tracking my progress to help me keep focused on my goal, which will help me to keep my hands out of the tin.



There are now 75 participants taking part in SFT's Sealed Pot Challenge!
 
 

This week I am proud to have achieved:
 

This week I know I added some paper money along with the change that accumulated in my little change purse. I've been diligent about stealing the pennies from the console in the van as well as the odd nickel and dime. This is where Hubby puts his small change from coffee purchases throughout the week. By doing this, he is unknowingly contributing to our future vacation, lol.
 
Next week I hope to:
Next week, I will aim to consciously not spend on something, in order to add that dollar amount to our sealed pot. It likely will just be an intended coffee and donut purchase, but every little bit will add up to some fun in the sun.
 
Which country are you from?
I'm proud to say I'm Canadian.
 
I'm really hoping to add a reimbursement cheque that I'm owed from an overpayment when I paid off the balance owing to an old credit card account. It's over $100 and will make a nice boost to the vacation savings. I have some other irregular income amounts coming in, but those will be going toward other savings goals like the Emergency Fund, RRSPs and RESP.
 
Have you thought about your financial goals for 2013 yet?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Friday, December 14, 2012

December Goals Update



  1. Add $279.50 to any one of my RRSP accounts. This will round up my contributions for the year to a full $1200. $195 / $279.50.
  2. Add $100 to the Emergency fund. Slow and steady wins the race. Done.
  3. Add $50 to the Emergency Essential Expenses Account. $5 added.
  4. Set aside $400 for the new van payment.
  5. Pay $200 toward Income Tax owing. $50 paid.
  6. Get $1000 RSP loan from bank. Applied, I think.?
  7. Open TFSA account at CIBC for accelerating van payments and adding to house down payment fund. Done.
  8. Get credit report and score so that I can do yearly update. Bank is getting this for me.
  9. Add DD2's account to my 'bill list' to do online transfers for her savings account. Done.
  10. Pay off $79  $231.76 owing on credit card by due date, Dec. 20/12. Paid $50.

I met with my rep at the bank this week to apply for the RRSP loan. I could just make a $1000 contribution, but I want to do it as a loan for a couple of reasons; the bank has a promotion going on that if you have three of the qualifing products, you get a reduction in bank fees across all your accounts - the only one I don't have already is a mortgage or loan, so I opted for the loan. Tax reduction is self-explanatory, and saving for retirement/home down payment are bonuses. :)

I also opened a TFSA account with CIBC so that I could set money aside as a buffer for the van payments. However, using my online banking, I am not easily able to transfer money to this account, so I will have to check to see how I am able to do that.

I'm only $84.50 away from my yearly RRSP contribution goal that I set for myself so long ago. I want to hit this goal in the worst way!

I'm adding to many of our savings accounts now while I am able to. There is already $100 in the account for Christmas 2013. The emergency fund has been added to. I've put money in both of the kids bank accounts. Money is set aside for upcoming auto maintenance and licencing. Vacation account has a little something to get that one started. I've increased the monthly contribution amount for the kids RESPs.

I also paid some bills before I went shopping. Oh shopping, how I love thee. But that's a whole post for a different day.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

About the New Van

If you read my December mini-goals post, you'll have noticed that we bought a new van. Brand new. Less than 50 km on the odometer when we drove it off the lot. The 2013 model. Really, really new.

So here's the breakdown.

The total price of the van before financing, but after trade-in allowance, deposit and discounts, including taxes and assorted fees, was  $31,775.25.

It is financed at 4.9% per annum over a period of 96 months. The total cost to borrow is $6104.43.
That leaves the total amount to be paid as $37,880.64.

We had to sign that we would be making monthly payments of just under $400 ($394.59 to be exact) but really want to split that into bi-weekly payments of $200. We can do this, but have to wait until after the first monthly payment has been made.

The good news is, the loan agreement does not have any sort of penalty for paying the loan off early or for making any additional payments over the life of the loan.

With the current/original repayment schedule, it will be fully paid for in November of the year 2020. I'm so not OK with that.

If we put an extra $600 per year (that's $50 per month) toward the loan, we can have it paid off in November of 2019, which is 12 months early.

If we pay an extra $1200 per year (or $100 per month) toward the loan, we can have it paid off in February of 2019, which is 22 months early.

Hubby and I will be spending the next couple of weeks figuring out how and when we will be paying down the loan faster than the original schedule. I know that paying it bi-weekly will also pay it down faster, but I'm not sure how to calculate that. Can some one recommend an online calculator that can do that? Now that I've had a taste of being consumer debt-free, I want to be back there.

My reasoning for incurring new debt is because a van is necessary for producing an income for me. My justification (rightfully or wrongly) is that the difference in fuel costs alone should be enough to meet the new payments. I still have to find out what the difference in insurance costs will be.

After the end of this month, I will be setting aside $1000 (already budgeted for) as a buffer in the account that the payment will be coming out of. That way, if we are having a difficult month (or two) we have enough already set aside to meet our obligation. I cannot see this happening, but one never knows, right?

Friday, December 7, 2012

My Thrift Store Deals

I probably should have never set foot into the Talize store the other day. I had worked a very long day, and I rationalised it by saying to myself that I still needed to get some Christmas shopping done. I was only going in to look for 2 wicker baskets, or something similar, to put in all the odds 'n' ends that I have for two young men on my gift list.

Sigh. I should know better.

However, I must pat myself on the back for not going totally crazy and spending a couple of hundred dollars, which would be oh so easy for me to do there.

I ended up buying some old three-ring binder type photo albums with dozens of new/unused photo pages in them. These holders are perfect gifties for my couponing family and friends.

I found an 80's Artificial Tree Stand, brand new, still in the package, never used, for a mere $5.99. My MIL has been looking for one of these since the The Tree Incident so I was ever so happy to be able to find one for her that should last at least 20 more years.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Old Navy, and spied a wool coat that I wanted. I picked out my size , in black of course, but could not justify spending $70 plus tax on a thin winter coat. It just didn't seem right. Well, my trip to Talize had me finding a Wool/Cashmere blend coat that fits like a glove. The sleeves are the right length for my little Tyrannosaurus Rex arms. It is the length that I wanted, without too much bulk. So I look at the price tag to see if I can justify buying it. $19.99. The perfect price too!

Last, but not least, I walked down the aisle where the yarn is kept. I know, I know. I never should have went back there, as I made a promise to Hubby to not bring any more yarn into the house. It's not like I've used up all the stuff that I already have or anything. :(

 
See that lonely single knitting needle? I looked everywhere for its twin, with no luck. :( 



Okay. See that brightly coloured large ball of multi-colours on the near right hand side? That size of yarn ball at Mall-Mart sell for $12. See the cotton yarn in the bag on the left? They sell those at Mall-Mart for $14. To purchase all this from a retailer would cost about $90.
 
I got all of this beautiful yarn for a grand total of $8!
 
 
I envision making socks out of the bright multi-coloured yarn, and swiffer dusters out of the cotton, with some dishcloths for the heck of it. The fancy fuzzy yarn will get incorporated into one of my Inchworm pillows, and I'm not too sure about the rest just yet. Probably lots of cowls to donate.
 
I probably should have never set foot into that store in the first place but I have no regrets either. Except how to tell Hubby I'm keeping it all.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sealed Pot Challenge

Thanks to SFT for being the gracious host of the Sealed Pot Challenge, where you seal a tin or pot or container of some kind, add your small change, some bills, or financial snowflakes for one year, and then use it for something you want or need.

I'm horrendous at making a decision on almost anything that is not work related so I've flipped and flopped on my decision on what to do with our money.

At first, I thought buying meat to fill the freezer would be a good plan for it. Then I thought that putting it toward my RRSP would be a good idea as well. Then I thought that we should do something fun with it, like spend it on a getaway to somewhere warm.

Sigh. There are so many good things to do with this money. So I'm putting half of the tin's contents toward my RRSP, and the other half will purchase meat for the freezer. The getaway to somewhere warm will have to wait until next year, which I will start saving for the instant I'm finished counting up the 2012 Tin amount.

So, here is the grand total of our 2012 Sealed Pot:


 
$200.00 !!!
 
 
There were some coins left in each denomination left over except for twoonies. I've left these extra coins in the tin to start of the 2013 savings with something. :)
 
 
So, have you all opened your tins or pots? If you took part in this challenge, leave your link to your post about the results please.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

December Mini-Goals

Here are some things I'd like to accomplish financially to round out 2012.

December Mini-Goals, 2012
  1. Add $279.50 to any one of my RRSP accounts. This will round up my contributions for the year to a full $1200.
  2. Add $100 to the Emergency fund. Slow and steady wins the race.
  3. Add $50 to the Emergency Essential Expenses Account.
  4. Set aside $400 for the new van payment.
  5. Pay $200 toward Income Tax owing.
  6. Get $1000 RSP loan from bank.
  7. Open TFSA account at CIBC for accelerating van payments and adding to house down payment fund.
  8. Get credit report and score so that I can do yearly update.
  9. Add DD2's account to my 'bill list' to do online transfers for her savings account.
  10. Pay off $79 owing on credit card by due date, Dec. 20/12.

Notes:
  1. Must keep adding to my RRSP. I have no company pension available to me when I will be ready to retire, so I have to do this for future me.
  2. I can focus on the emergency Fund now with other things off my plate now.
  3. This is our 'Life Backup Plan' if Hubby or I were to lose a steady source of income. It needs to have a lot more money in it.
  4. Yes, we bought a new van. It's pretty, and beautiful, and shiny and new. And expensive.  And necessary. No regrets.
  5. I will get this bill down every month and pay it off. I'm aiming for 2013 year end.
  6. For credit history improvement purposes. I know I can borrow this amount and pay off within a year. :)
  7. Already done. :)
  8. In the works.
  9. Need to do this so I can transfer her monthly allowance to her own account.
  10. Start the new year off without any CC debt. :)

Do you have any goals for December?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Oh the things you will see....

As most of you know, I drive a lot for my work. I spend hours and hours in my van singing away to whatever is on the radio, driving to or from somewhere. I see a lot of things. Some of them make me smile. I really want to start sharing these things with my dear readers in hopes that you will smile too.

This week I've seen:

  • a migrating flock of what at first I thought was Canada Geese. I looked skyward to see beautiful white birds in flight. I'm still not sure if they were Tundra Geese or Trumpeter Swans, of which both have been spotted in Southern Ontario.
  • a westbound truck on the 401, loaded to the hilt with freshly cut Christmas trees, on their way to new homes for the holidays.
  • red-tailed hawks; lots of them - some in flight, some perched on the highest branches of trees along the 401.
  • across the river in Detroit, a huge building that had lights that were shaped like an enormous Christmas Tree.
  • two four-year old friends greet each other with a hug before walking to school together.

Sometimes, you have to be mindful of the beauty that surrounds us every day.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

One More Book Review


Debt - Proof Your Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays without Breaking the Bank

by Mary Hunt



"Christmas--with no debt, less stress, and more joy!
Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it's also one of the most stressful--and most expensive. Expectations run high, and it's tempting to whip out the credit cards to create the perfect Christmas, with lavish meals, new decorations, and the latest, greatest gadgets and fashions for everyone on your gift list.
But you don't have to overspend or go into debt to have a fabulous holiday.
Financial expert Mary Hunt shows you how to assess your situation, commit to no new debt, and think creatively about gifts. With Mary's guidance, you'll discover what caused you to overspend in the past and how to approach this Christmas with a plan. It just might be the best gift you can give yourself and your family."


My thoughts on this book:

This little book is fully stocked with some great ideas! If you ever wondered how some people manage to have a great Christmas, nice gifts for everyone, and still keep their sanity, this is a must read. Included are recipes, creative gift wrap ideas, gift in a jar ideas, and so much more. If this book doesn't give you at least one idea on how to make your Christmas easier on your wallet, I'll eat my hat! (Ok, no I won't, but you get the idea.)
I found a new term that will become part of my regular vocabulary: yarnicide (pg. 79).
I particularly liked the idea of a new Christmas tradition (to replace the commercial chocolate-a-day advent calendars) of unwrapping and reading one Christmas themed story per night with my kids starting December 1st. I will so be doing this next year!


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Book Reviews




The Christmas Pony by Melody Carlson



"With Christmas around the corner, the Turnbull family is in need of a few small miracles.
It is 1937, and Lucy Turnbull knows better than to wish for a pony this Christmas. Her mother has assured her in no uncertain terms that asking for a pony is the same as asking for the moon. Besides, the only extra mouths they need at their boarding house are the paying kind. Then an interesting pair of strangers comes to town, and Lucy's world changes forever."


My thoughts on this book:

With all the hub-bub and excitement before the holidays, I like to read something that's light and will help me get into the Christmas spirit. This book did just that. It was a sweet story that made me think of what Christmases may have been like for my parents when they were young. The main character is a young girl who wants a pony for Christmas, but more than that, she wants to see her Mother smile again. It's a feel-good read, suitable for any young lady to read during the holidays.



"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".




Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot

 
 
"Celia Anderson doesn't have a husband on her Christmas wish list. But when a traveling carpenter finds lodging at her boardinghouse, she admits that she might remarry if she found the right man--the kind of man who would bring her roses for Christmas. It would take a miracle, though, to find roses during a harsh Wyoming winter.
But Christmas, after all, is the time for miracles . . ."

My thoughts on this book:

Another light read that really helped put me in the right frame of mind for the holidays. This story was about a simpler time, and made me think of this is how Christmas used to be, before all the consumerist hype started. I liked that the story showed that people in different times also had challenges in life that could be overcome. Definitely a good read on a cold winter's night!


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".




Monday, November 26, 2012

Had to Share

Hubby's grandmother is 92 years old and still lives in the house her husband built after they emigrated to Canada. Her health is slowly declining, and truthfully, I don't think she'll be here to celebrate her 93rd birthday.

A week ago Sunday, she had some sort of episode and was taken to hospital. She hates hospitals. They were diligent in checking her from head to toe, but are still unsure as to what was/is wrong.

As the doctor was doing a routine examination, he was getting her to do some things so he could check her reactions for brain function. He asked her to 'blow out her cheeks'. She heard blow out your teeth, and promptly spit them out onto the bed! The doctor and my MIL were laughing so hard, they had tears in their eyes.

I love this woman immensely, as she welcomed me and my children into the huge family that they have. It never mattered to her that her grandson and I are not legally married, or that my older children are not blood-related. My only grandchild was born on her 91st birthday, which made his birth that much more special. My son loves to visit his 'big gramma' (he can't quite say great-gramma) and they have such a special bond.

Some of hubby's family is in total denial about her decline. She likely needs full-time care, but I suspect that the time for a nursing home has already passed. I know that the waiting lists are long, and they have missed out on that opportunity.

They are having some disagreements as to how to best care for her. As of now, they are having someone spend every night with her at her home, which I'm sure she wouldn't want at all. I'm still wavering on the decision if I should take a shift at her house.

I'm hoping that one day this week, we'll be able to bring DS, DD1 and grandcub over for a short visit. I'd like to see her smile watching the kids play. I want to make her some rabbit stew for dinner. I want to hold her hand, and tell her that her family will be okay. I want her to know how much she is loved.

Maybe work will be kind to me this week, and give me a day or two off so we can go see her.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

We're getting there!

Today, we reached a milestone.
 
I came home from working, and Hubby asked me to see what he had written down. It was a list of the bills that he had paid.
Added to the list of bills I had paid off Friday.
 
We hugged and cried together.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We are CONSUMER DEBT FREE!!!!!!
 
 
 
 
Wow, does that feel good to say.
 
We're not done yet, but we are making progress.
In 2008, we were approximately $60,000 in debt.
Today, that total is approximately $15,000.
 
We've paid off two vehicle loans.
We've paid off three extremely large (for us) credit card balances.
We've paid off two store credit cards.
We pay our bills monthly, and on time.
We have money in our savings accounts.
We are setting some money aside for retirement and our children's post-secondary educations.
We are saving for a down payment for our forever home.
 
What a great day.
Thanks to all of you who are sharing in our success.
 
 

Friday, November 16, 2012

I saw the best thing today...

I was driving down Springbank Drive, headed for the cemetery, when traffic was slowing down and merging into one lane. Driving a mini-van sometimes gives me a height advantage so that I can see what's happening up ahead. Lo and behold, a police car had a cab pulled over.

I grinned, smiled and thought to myself, it's about time.

I'm not sure what the cab drivers are like in other cities but here in London, Ontario, the majority of them are atrocious drivers. I'm not sure if it's because they are running a business driving cab/taxi, or if they are just plain ignorant, but most of the taxi drivers barely follow the rules of the road.

There is the speeding issue. There is no excuse for driving 20 - 30 kilometres over the posted speed limit, regardless of what the reason may be. This is coming from a woman who does an absurd amount of driving as part of her job. Unless you're driving an ambulance with lights and sirens going, slow down!

Seat belts are another issue. Everyone in a vehicle equipped with them should be wearing them correctly. Passengers of taxicabs are not exempt from this law. If you only knew what damage is caused to the human body when it is ejected from a rear seat after the vehicle travelling 80 kms/hr has stopped suddenly due to a collision. Let me tell you, it isn't pretty. I've seen what happens to people who are not properly belted in, and believe me, you do not want me to be your last ride.

Aggressive driving is also a pet peeve of mine where taxicab drivers are concerned. And the lack of use of turn signals. And the general attitude that they own the road.

I hope that driver was duly fined for whatever infraction caused his little roadside vacation. Thank you to the police officer for upholding the laws of the road.

If you drive, please continue to do so safely. I don't want to be picking up anyone I know.

Ok, rant over. :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Still here, still working, still doing

I spent several hours yesterday driving through southwestern Ontario. I made my way from London to Windsor, Tecumseh, Amherstburg, and then finally Sarnia before I headed home again. Most of the drive was during daylight hours, so I was able to see a lot of sights. Houses that valued in the millions, and a block away small houses that were probably only valued at $60,000 or so. But they were equally beautiful.

Hubby and I have been talking about the type of house we would like to buy. At this point, it still dream-talking as we know we are no where near prepared to buy a house yet. I have been saving small amounts in a daily savings account that is registered, so that someday we may just be able to purchase a home.Twenty-five dollars per pay cheque really does add up and eventually it will become our down payment.

We will soon be in a position to pay off the remaining of our consumer debt, and then just as quick, add on more. We are in the market for a new-ish mini-van, preferably a Dodge Grand Caravan with Sto-N-Go. This is the vehicle that is as much a need as it is a want. I have to have a certain type of vehicle to work, and the Grand Caravan fits the bill. Certain dealerships now do leasing again after having to stop that program when the economy tanked. Something about a bailout or something, I'm not really sure.

I'm working on a plan to get the rest of the debts paid off, one at a time. I'm still working the system the way Gail taught me, albeit slowly. But I'm still doing it.

Have a fabulous day.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Knitting Top Ten


Top Ten Ways Knitting has changed my life:

1.      The constant exercise of my fingers and hands while knitting has staved off the effects of arthritis. I have less pain in my hands and therefore can knit more.

2.      I am able to make handmade gifts for loved ones and friends from the practical (dishcloths) to the frivolous (superhero cape).

3.      Recognising that I am a lifelong learner, knitting will provide me with years of education ahead. There are so many stitches to learn, projects to accomplish and yarns to work with that I will still be knitting and learning well into my retirement years.

4.      A project on the needles becomes a conversation starter. I am painfully shy at times, and am usually unable to approach someone I don’t know to begin a conversation. Whatever I am knitting usually attracts attention so that they will ask what I am making.

5.      Knitting has deepened the appreciation I have for my mother and grandmother and their respective fibre arts (Grandma was a quilter).  My love for knitting has opened my eyes to other forms of fibre art and textiles and wanting to learn more about them all.

6.      While I am knitting, I am able to let the continuous movement of the yarn and needles put me in a Zen-like state, giving my mind the freedom to wander and subconsciously tackle problems.

7.      Yarn stores. I love walking into a yarn section or yarn store to marvel at the array of colours, pattern books and needles.

8.      I have made many friends who share similar interests and have been welcomed into a ‘group’ of other yarn/knitting/fibre lovers. Their friendship and guidance means the world to me.

9.      I am a procrastinator by nature. Knitting helps me to avoid housework and other unpleasant tasks and provides me with the quiet time needed to build up my courage to tackle the realities of life.

10.   Through knitting, I am able to give back to my community. Keeping Kids Warm is a local charitable organization that provides handmade outer garments to homeless youth. Working with this group gives me immense satisfaction.

 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sealed Pot Challenge

Do you remember reading about the sealed pot challenge last year? SFT over at SFT's Life After Mortgage asked those who wanted to participate to find a jar or pot, put a hole or slot of some sort in the lid (for putting money in) and sealing it closed.

The idea is to add bits and bobs of money to your pot to accumulate over the year for a special treat of your choosing. Some folks are using it for a weekend getaway, others will use theirs for Christmas or New Years, and others won't make that choice until they know how much money is in their pot.

Reading back over SFT's posts, I realised that I never officially signed up last year, although I did get a tin ( a Christmas Kit Kat tin with slot already provided). I had taped the lid shut, but at some point over the year, I opened it and never resealed it. To be honest, I can't even remember what I opened it for (I presume I needed cash for something). I know I stopped adding to it for awhile because money was really tight. But I have since started adding to it again.

Well, the time is almost upon us to open our little jars of gold and see what we have managed to squirrel away over a year. I believe I had said (wherever I posted it) that I would like to purchase meat to fill the freezer to get us through the winter. Another post, I mentioned that I was waffling between a meat purchase and making an additional contribution to my RRSP. I'm still not sure what to do with the money. Both are really good ideas.

Have you done a sealed pot/tin before? If not, would you consider trying it?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Updated

Hi all.

I've updated my blog list. I removed some blogs that have sadly come to an end, deleted some that I no longer follow (sorry) and added some new-er ones that I have found in my searches. Some blogs won't be to your tastes at all but I enjoy reading them.

If you would like me to add you to my list, leave a comment with a link to your blog.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Surprise!

On a whim, I decided to take the kids into the Optometrists office to schedule an eye exam for DD2. It's been a while since she's had new glasses, so she was definitely due. I scheduled an appointment for Cub at the same time as he has never had this done. I was surprised to say the least.

DD2 - well, I was expecting them to change her prescription and send us on our merry way. They also are referring her to a surgeon to shorten one of the muscles on her eye. She had this surgery six years ago so I wasn't all that surprised that it needed to be done again. I've left it up to her to chose if she wants to go through it or not.

Cub - he got his very first prescription for glasses. I had no idea how poor his vision was. The optometrist said, " I'm surprised he not walking into walls and stuff". Except he does that. Makes sense to me now that when we'd be driving and I would point at a horse or cow in the field along the road, he's be looking everywhere but where the animal was. Poor guy couldn't see past the car window.
At the playgroup we used to attend, he would play with cars, but not the same way other kids would. He would lie down on the floor, and drive the car back forth, inches from his nose. It was because he wanted to see the car.

His glasses make him look oh so cute, but I'm glad he was born in this era. If he was a 70's child, he would have ended up with 'coke bottle' glasses. (Picture the guy on the Trailer Park Boys- Bubba, I think). His teacher has already noticed a marked improvement on his ability to focus on tasks.

Interestingly enough, the first few days with his glasses was like discovering things with him all over again. "Mommy! Look at that! Look at this!" I would hear that over and over. He was seeing some things for the first time, I'm sure. What an experience to have with a child who is old enough to articulate. "Look at the red leaves on the trees, Mom! Are they on fire?" or "See how tall that building is Mom?"

Thankfully, DD2's glasses are covered by her fathers insurance coverage. For Cub, we had to pay upfront for his, and should be reimbursed from Hubbys insurance but I'm not sure at what percentage. I hope it's 100% but we will have to see. We paid nearly $300 for his glasses.Thank god we started building some savings and have been paying off our debt so that we are able to handle things like this. Four years ago, if we had been handed a surprise $300 bill for something, it would have thrown us off kilter. Now, not so much.

The optometrist has also referred us to a pediatric specialist for Cub, because she really wasn't able to do a complete exam on him. He is only 4 and has the attention span of a gnat. She also said that he will likely have to have surgery on one of his eyes to shorten the muscles so it doesn't turn in.

Now I'm afraid to schedule appointments for Hubby and me. I don't think I can take any more surprises.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Done? Not so Much....

I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment something nice on my last post. This whole thing has been an emotional roller coaster for me, and apparently, it's not quite as done as I thought it was.

Early morning, October 25th, I get a call to 'do' a call for the contract work. I laugh at the girl and tell her my contract expired 25 minutes earlier. I suggest to her to call her supervisor as well as the on call person on the receiving end to get someone in authority to tell her what to do. I apologise, because I know this is none of her doing, and she is just getting caught in the middle.

Then I went to bed and slept like the dead a baby. No call woke me in the middle of the night. It was glorious. Except I woke up feeling anxious and guilty, so I called the lady working the morning shift to see if they got it all worked out on their end.

A couple of hours go by, and the phone calls are coming fast and furious. The department head calls me to see if I'm 'open' to another contract extension. Then the sourcing specialist calls me to see if I would "...Please consider extending the current extension for another 3 months". They realise that they have left a gap between the time that my contract ends, and the new one starts, by a couple of months.

Suddenly, I feel like my specialty work is valued again. I feel valued and somewhat smug. This big deal corporation never considered the fact that I may not be there to do the job, and they certainly never thought that I wouldn't bid on the contract, no matter what. I let them know that should they not get any bids on the new contract or the bids they do get are unacceptable, I would be willing to negotiate with them, however as that particular contract stands, I have no intention of bidding on it. Ever.

I'm curious as to why they would ask me to extend the current contract well past the new contract start date. By like 50 days. There will either be some overlap in service, or they have no one to take over after I am finished.

I was actually looking forward to doing anything other than that job. I resignedly and begrudgingly accepted another extension, only because I am partial to the money it brings with it, and Christmas is coming rather soon. Not to mention that with this final 'big payment', we can pay off the last of our consumer debt.

I have decided with hubby, that should they ask for another 'extension' at the end of January, we will decide then if we want to, and if we do, I will ask for another full two year term with only the existing guidelines (none of the new stuff).

Here's to three more months of interrupted sleep, and not enough hours in the day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Change of Pace

For the last eight years or so, I have been self-employed. I have also during that time held a contract with a large health care provider.

Today, this comes to an end.

I had a decision to make. I needed to decide if I was going to bid on this contract again. I entered into the website which houses this contract request for tender, and was shocked to find that they have changed the wording of this contract that I have fulfilled for several years.

I was also saddened to see that the new requirements for this contract put me out of the running, so to speak. Further reading led to the discovery that my competitors had been notified of the request for tender for at least a week prior to me being notified as well as the dollar value of the contract was buried in its pages that any astute reader could easily have found.

I could feel a huge fight coming on. A fight for my contract, the one that no one else wanted, once upon a time. A fight for fairness for the small business owner who was just trying to earn a living for her family.

Knowing that I have a tendency to make snap decisions, I stewed about it for the better part of several hours until hubby called me to let me know he was done work for the day. I dropped the bomb on him. He was as furious as I was.

We talked. DD1 was there, and was included in the discussion. I mentioned how much we 'needed' the thirty five thousand or so of income this one contract brought in per year. We talked about the 'new' requirements that would take me the better part of a year to bring my company into full compliance with. I mentioned the fact that I would also have to show documentation to prove compliance along with my submission for tender. I could do it, but not in ten days.

And then I felt a door close.

I admitted to being tired. Tired of the late night calls to set up someone elses morning work. Tired of feeling that I was all alone in my line of specialty work. Tired of being feeling underpaid for work that would go for a higher rate elsewhere. Tired of being surprised to see that my nights work involved extremely heavy lifting. Tired of holding down multiple jobs/contracts so that sometimes my working hours go over the amount any normal human being would find acceptable. I'm not getting any younger, and truthfully, someone else just might be better suited for the job now.

I realised that I am no longer the one to do this particular job.

We decided that we will not bid on this contract this year.

Hubby and I agreed that we would still do whatever it takes to keep our family clothed, housed and fed well. But let me tell ya, losing  $35,000 in income is nothing to sneeze at. But with the income also goes having to be on call 24/7/365. Also going is the additional strain on my hernia, a huge yearly cost for fuel, repairs and maintenance on my van, and additional expenses that were required to maintain said contract.

One of my other contracts has been slowly increasing in call volume over the last 12 months. I can focus my energies on this and my part-time job as well, without worry of how this particular contract will interfere. I can book holidays off without worry of getting called back, and the phone ringing in the middle of the night will now become the exception, and not a normal daily routine.

I fully believe when one door closes, another one opens. Now I might be awake and alert enough to see it.

We still are focusing on repaying our debt, and living a full, enjoyable life. Perhaps our dreams of home ownership are going to take longer than we originally planned, but we will be alright.

Tonight will be the end of an era for me.

The change of pace is going to be wonderful. I'm going to try to enjoy it for awhile without adding more to my work schedule.

Thank you all for you prayers for wisdom and guidance.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Things to Ponder

Hi all.

I'm really not in a good place right now. Not to worry, my health is good, and the family is fine.

But life has thrown another curve ball at us which is going to be huge. (And NO, I'm not pregnant!)

I have about eight days left to ponder over some things, and I will have a huge decision to make. I'm pretty sure what the decision is going to be, but I'm leaving my options open until the last minute. Just in case a fairy waves her magic wand and helps us out. ;)

This possible life changing decision will definitely compel me to post more about what is going on with us, and how we will be dealing with the consequences of it.

So, for the next few days, I'm slowing everything down. Slowing down on spending, eating out, visiting people, leaving the house even. Partly because I'm almost scared into inaction, but also because I want to tread very lightly and not make impulse decisions (which I am prone to do).

I'll be knitting more often, spending more time with my family, giving my all at work, and counting my blessings. I'll be remembering all that I have done over the past eight years and all that has changed in that time. I will be trying to put it all into perspective.

Prayer. Some prayer will help. A lot of prayer will help.

I have you all in my prayers of thanks. Please keep us in yours.

~ Eboo

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Review: What A Difference a Mom Makes








Boys will be boys--always.
And no one has a more powerful impact on them than you, Mom.
Surprise! Your boy wants to please you, and he cares deeply about what you think. Those driving needs will stay with him throughout his lifetime. That gives you, Mom, a lot of influence over your son. You can set him up for success in life.
In What a Difference a Mom Makes, the New York Times bestselling author Dr. Kevin Leman reveals how you can make a positive imprint on your son--from the moment you first hold him in your arms until the moment he leaves for college. And the best news? It's never too late to start, no matter what age your son is now.
Through Dr. Leman's expert advice, you'll understand who your son is on the inside, the truth behind sibling squabbles (and how to handle them), a secret for discipline that works every time, and how to navigate the critical teen years. You'll also discover how your parenting style impacts your relationship with your son and how you can respond in a healthy way to his growing interest in sex and relationships.
Want to capture your boy's heart? Want a man you'll be proud to call your son? You can make a difference, because you are the one who matters most in your boy's world.
Even if he won't admit it.
~ from the Baker Publishing Group website



My Review:

The title of this book really reached out to me. I couldn't wait to read it! Who doesn't want to learn the secrets of how to raise a boy into a good man?

I'll be honest. When reading, the author's style of writing kept alluding to 'giving you the secrets' as a method of getting you to read the whole book, which is a style I personally am not very fond of. It's as though there is a Big Secret waiting to be told somewhere amongst its pages. But there was no big secret.

There were a lot of helpful hints though. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed this book, learning about how birth order can affect your child's personality and learning about how boys think differently than girls. Dr. Leman suggests ways to deal with struggles and difficulties that will happen while raising your son (and your daughter for that matter) through all stages of life.

There were some areas where Dr. Leman makes references to religious beliefs in order to help you guide your son to moral values that would be beneficial for rearing any child, but I don't feel that the book had an overly religious tone to it (which is nice).

I would recommend this book to those who are interested in learning a different way to think about child rearing, or for those who could use a little encouragement that they are parenting well.




"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

Monday, October 8, 2012

Thankful

 
"Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for those things you have and in some cases, those things you don't have."
~ my sister sent this to me this morning in a text message
 
I've been fortunate this weekend to spend time with family. Saturday evening, DD1, her bf and Grandcub came over for dinner and a visit. I made mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and made chicken roast that was rather unique. There were chicken breasts, deboned and seasoned, wrapped in bacon. Everything is better with bacon, don't you agree?
Yesterday, we went to the big dinner potluck with Hubby's family (there were over 50 people there!) then spent some quality time with the kids when we got home.
Today will be a quiet day spent at home, with my MIL coming over at some point. I have no idea what I'm making for dinner tonight, but I'm sure I can rustle something up. No potatoes though. We've gone through 20 lbs of potatoes in the last couple of days.
 
I've been working lots (although it's been very quiet this weekend) and mostly keeping out of trouble. I'm working on some knitting projects, and doing work with the charity, gearing up for our biggest season of the year. Cub has finally adjusted to his new schedule with school, and DD1 has been excited for starting eighth grade.
 
There is so much to be thankful for this holiday, I couldn't possibly list them all. Family, friends, a loving home, enough to eat, a good job, an education, and happy, healthy kids.
 
If you are reading this, please know that I'm also thankful for you.
 
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sept. 19/12

Wow! I sure don't intend to stay away from blogging for so long, and before you know it, I've been away two weeks. I've read on a few other blogs that the writer just isn't as 'in to it' as they once were. I guess that describes me. I'm hoping that will change with the seasons, as I tend to stay in much more in the winter therefore giving me more time for blogging.

The repairs to the van were not that bad money-wise. I spent about $400 there for a rebuilt alternator and a new battery. The rental of a van for three days set me back a mere $180, which I think is reasonable.

I've been couponing and saving some money on groceries. I'm still throwing the odd change from my wallet into my savings jar as well. I'm knitting up a frickin storm over here too. Maybe I can post a few pics next week of what I've been working on.

I have some work to do today, submitting invoices and mileage and the like, so hopefully I will get some 'extra' pay next month. I'm planning on using the extras to beef up the Xmas fund and the Emergency fund.

I have a book review to write as well, so I'm off.

Have a fabulous day!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Murphy Strikes Again!

I knew that our van wasn't feeling so well. She'd had a few hiccups over the last little while, so I knew that I had to take care of some things sooner rather than later. While working yesterday, she suddenly and unexpectedly stopped working altogether. Darn you Murphy! This was going to be the month of putting away extra savings toward our goals, not shelling out every bit of money I have on repairs and a rental!

I have no idea what's wrong with the van. It just won't start. Insert key, turn, and hear awful clicking sound. I'm no expert, but I'm fairly certain it's not a battery thing. Nothing that simple ever happens. At least not to me. Call a tow truck. $60 - something just to tow the thing to the mechanic who won't be in until Tuesday morning. Give me strength.

I call the car rental place. I need a mini van, and I need it now. Preferably a Dodge with Stow 'N' Go seating. All the locations are already closed ( it was Sunday afternoon already) and only one is opening on the holiday Monday. I book a rental (it better be the one I want) for three days. Cross my fingers that it long enough to repair my poor van. The agent tells me I will have to give a $750 deposit and bring in my insurance paperwork, not just my pink slip, otherwise I'll be paying an additional 25% for insurance. I can already hear my bank card crying.

We beg a ride from our MIL back to our place to get our working vehicle, drive to home of colleague who has allowed us to borrow his van for a couple of hours. Take borrowed van to do work, and then drive it back. I'm already 4 hours behind schedule now. Please pass the Advil.

Needing to start the next part of work, I realise I need to eat something or I'm going to be sick. The burgers we had at this little pub on Richmond Street was the highlight of my day. They were delicious!

I finished up working somewhere around 10 o'clock last night. But there is more to be done over the next couple of days, and I have to go pick up a rental.

Towing costs, rental vehicle costs, and likely a hefty repair bill. Thanks Murphy. Just thanks.

Who wants him next?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

All the Little Things

This past week I've spent some money buying a few things for Cub because he's about to start school! He starts Junior Kindergarten on the 7th of September. I can't wait! I'm a jumble of emotions over this; excited that he's going to big kid school, but a bit sad that my baby growing up on me. He needed some things, like a new pair of running shoes (a tradition in our family), and some containers for his lunches. The school he will be attending has an all day, everyday program. What a relief it will be to our budget to not have to shell out childcare expenses anymore. I do not regret one dime that I have paid to our childcare provider. She was worth every penny!

I'm going to  be joining in on Carla's September Savings challenge. A month on focusing on one a few things will sure help me to keep our finances on track. I need to beef up our Emergency Fund and Xmas accounts, so any available money will be going to one of those accounts. I'd like to double our EF to $500 and boost the Xmas account to $300.

We already made plans to take the kids to the Western Fair one day, so that spending will be excluded. I'm going to Shoppers Drug Mart today to do some shopping (planned with coupons for the 20X the points event) so I will pick up the discounted tickets there. Gotta reduce spending where you can, right?

This year, my DD2 has decided to join Cadets Canada. I dunno how well that will go, but I do know she needs to join something. She needs to have more physical activity in her life, and the skills that she will learn through Cadets will be invaluable. Also, my sister is one of the instructors, so I know that she will be looked after and I will worry less.

I've started knitting again, not that I ever really stopped. There are so many yarns that I want to use up and so many projects that I'd love to make! Those of you who knit or sew can understand that, can't you? I've started on a hat that I will add to the stash of items that will be donated to charity. Knitting classes will be resuming shortly, and I hope to see some new faces this year. I love setting aside time in my week just for the purpose of knitting. It brings me such joy.

I've hired a lady to come help me catch up with the housecleaning and things around the home that I never seem to have the time to do. I need some of these tasks caught up so I don't feel so behind the eight ball all the time. She is supposed to be coming for eight hours today, but I haven't heard from her yet, so I'm not sure if we'll get much accomplished today or not. Plus, I still have shopping to do.

There are so many things going on or soon to be starting, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed these days. But this is my life, so I try to:



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Prioritising Goals








1.      $1000 Emergency fund.
2.      $500 Credit card balance.
3.      $1200 Xmas account.
4.      $3600 2012 Tax.
5.      $5000 Auto fund.
6.      $5000 TFSA.
7.      $1000 Store card balance.
8.      $2500 Credit card balance.
9.      $6000 Business Debt.
10.   $14,000 Tax owing previous years.
11.   $3200 RESP.
12.   $7500 RRSP.
13.   $2500 Down payment fund.
 
Notes:
 
  1. Although we don't have $1000 total in the account labeled 'Emergency Fund', we do have more than that amount available to us should we need it. Part is in a bank account, the majority of it is in Canada Savings Bonds. I count this as a win.
  2. That credit card balance is a thorn in Hubby's side and will become the next victim on our payoff list. Coming soon!
  3. I try and try to keep up with the dollar-a-week savings plan, but it is unrealistic for us. I do know others who it works well for though.
  4. I make payments toward an unknown amount that will be owing when I file taxes again in order to reduce the overall amount owing.
  5. Our van is in need of replacing. It's our work vehicle and is necessary for us to bring in an income. We will likely get very little in trade in value, so we must put this higher up on the list of priorities.
  6. An arbitrary number. No real goal for our TFSA yet. Maybe supplementary savings for our future home.
  7. This card has a ridiculous interest rate. I think it should be higher on the list than #7.
  8. This amount is way down from its original $7700 or so. Slow and steady wins the race.
  9. This is mostly unpaid and yet to be filed HST reports.
  10. Good gracious, this is a scary number. Although this goal has a higher priority, it is lower on the list mostly because it will take awhile to pay off.
  11. This number will bring the total amount of RESP funds to $5000. We only have a few years until DD2 will be needing to take some of this money out. As for Cub, we still have lots of time for growth.
  12. Another arbitary number. It's difficult for me to ascertain how much I will need iin my golden years, but I know it'll be way more than what I have thus far.
  13. It's a goal to strive for. As we approach the time when we will need this, I'm sure the number will change to something more specific. Until then, this number will do.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Financial Snapshot, August 2012

Since we got back from our little vacation at the cottage, I've been going over the finances again and again, trying to prioritise our goals and put our numbers into perspective. Here's what I've come up with:

~ We repaid a $3000 'floater loan' from family, that was borrowed in June to pay for childcare expenses
~  paid over $2500 for business supplies that are necessary. However, one large ticket item ($1600) isn't exactly what I needed, so I will be exchanging that for a higher priced item that is better suited to my needs
~  put $500 into my long-term RRSP mutual fund account
~  put $100 into the RESP mutual fund and started a $25 monthly deposit into this fund
~  transferred $300 from one RRSP savings account with bank 'B' to a similar account with bank 'A'
~  set up a $25 bi-weekly deposit into the RRSP savings account (this has become our savings account for a down payment on a house of our own someday)
~ paid our annual renters insurance of $257 almost a full 2 months early
~ put $100 into each of the kids bank accounts
~ put money into each of the following: Xmas fund, Emergency fund, TFSA, Auto fund, and Vacation fund
~ DH has also independently started putting money aside in his savings account

OUR DEBTS:
  • There is less than $500 owing on the credit card in Hubby's name.
  • There is less than $1000 owing on the last department store card we have.
  • The active credit card in my name has a $300 balance.
  • The inactive cc in my name has a balance owing of $2500.
  • Our business has an outstanding debt of approximately $6000.
  • I have a debt to CRA for approximately $14,000.
OUR ASSETS:
  • Savings acct 1: $220.00
  • Canada Savings Bonds: $840.00
  • Xmas Acct: $78.81
  • Vacation Acct: $36.28
  • TFSA: $48.94
  • RRSP Savings Acct.: $75.33
  • Emergency Fund: $250.00
  • Auto Acct: $25.00
  • RESP Mutual Fund: $1,730.19
  • RRSP Mutual fund: $2,324.18
  • RRSP House Fund: $350.10
Obviously, we are still in a negative net worth. But overall, we are doing better and better. What you can't see from this snapshot is that we are either ahead one month or current with all of our bills (rent, phone/cable/internet, cellphones, vehicle insurances, daycare expenses, etc.).

This year, our business didn't get a large lump sum contract as usually happens in the spring. Instead, there was only a four month extension on the current contract. So instead of budgeting with figures in the $30,000 range, I was budgeting with figures in the $10,000 range.

So there you have it. We are actively putting money into various savings pots in order to reach our goals. Looking at the balances, I thought they should have been higher, but sadly are not. I suppose that's partially why I look at the financial snapshot from time to time, to see where we could be doing more.
Tomorrow, I'll list our financial goals and dollar amounts, in the order that I have prioritised them.

Questions, comments, concerns? Post a comment and I will actually try to reply to each and every one of them.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Shopper’s Optimum Points – A Guide to help you get more for free


Shopper’s Optimum Points – A Guide to help you get more for free
~ written by Antieeboo

There are a ton of customer loyalty rewards programs out there but in my humble opinion, Shopper’s Optimum Points has to be the best, and the easiest one by far.
If you haven’t yet signed up for this free program, you should.
So what’s the big deal you might be asking? Well, free stuff is a pretty big deal if you ask me.
Here’s how it works:
For every dollar you spend at Shoppers Drug Mart, you get 10 points. When you have accumulated a certain level of points, you can redeem them to a certain dollar value off your purchase. For example, when you have 8,000 points, you can redeem them to get $10 off your purchase. The beauty of it is, the more points you accumulate before redeeming them, the higher the dollar value. Currently, the top redemption level is 95,000 points = $170 off your purchases.
Everything you purchase at SDM is eligible for points with some exceptions (lottery, gift cards other than SDM, prescriptions, etc.) and almost all the same exceptions apply to redemptions. But if you are buying food stuffs, diapers, cleaning supplies, make up, perfume, chips, pop, greeting cards and the like, they all qualify.
I have cashed in my points toward the purchase of electronics (a camera and a video game) before the holidays to help reduce my spending.
How in the world can you accumulate 95,000 points? (That’s like $950 spent in real money!)
I conveniently live across the street from a SDM. I buy my milk there, and it is almost always the lowest price in my area. The grocery stores charge at least five to ten cents more for a 4L bag of 2% milk, so I always buy at SDM. That nearly $5 I spend on milk earns 50 points every single time I buy milk. If I only buy one bag of milk per week (and we buy more than that), that’s easily 2,600 points earned just on one product.
If you have a bank card or credit card that is associated with Shoppers, you can earn points on purchases made at other retailers as well. It would be best to check out their website for those details. I don’t have either of those cards.
But the biggest tip I have ever heard of is to buy a SDM gift card before you do your shopping. That’s right. Before.
If you are going to spend $50 (which is not very hard to do, especially if you are buying diapers), go into the store, and purchase a $50 SDM gift card first. You earn 500 points on purchasing just the card. You can then go about your shopping, picking up your milk, eggs, facial tissues or whatever. When you get to the cashier, pay for your purchases with the gift card you purchased only moments before. If your total comes to $50, you will earn another 500 points. This is the easiest and quickest way to double your points.

Look for bonus point products and bonus point events.
SDM often has 20X the point events, so if you purchase $75 worth of products on that day it will be worth it to buy then. Instead of earning the regular amount of 750 points, you would earn 15,000. There is usually a minimum amount that you have to purchase to qualify ($50 or $75) for the bonus.
Bonus point products are easy to spot while you are shopping. Usually, where the price tag is on the shelf, there will be a sticker saying that you can earn 300 Bonus Points (or something to that effect) on this product.

Probably the best value you can get for your money using Optimum Points is the Super Redemption Weekend. SDM holds this event only once per year and it is usually during the first part of December. During this event, redeeming your points for top value, 95,000 points will get you $250 of free product.
That $80 more than a regular redemption!
This event typically happens just before the holidays, so it could really help to take the pressure off my finances. I could get several small gifts, some stocking stuffers, or stock up on food stuffs and beverages for the holidays.

That’s it in a nutshell; How to use the Optimum Point Program to your advantage.

I have not been paid in any manner by Shoppers Drug mart for this article nor did they ask me to publish this. All information contained in this article is of my own opinion, and from information I gathered myself. All errors and omissions are mine as well.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Feeling Refreshed

We're back from our week long vacation at the cottage we rent at Ipperwash beach. We had a blast! The weather was fantastic and the only one to get a sunburn was Daddy. We managed to keep our spending under control too.







During the holidays, I used some of my time to sit and think about our financial situation. Where we are, where we were, and where we want to be. Sort of a financial autopsy on what has worked for us in the past, and what hasn't. I spent time thinking about goals, and how to achieve them. I put items into perspective and listed (mentally) priorities.

We have come so very far in the last few years. Our consumer debt is almost finished being paid off, and we are learning, albeit slowly, to set aside money for our future selves and for our kids educations. We have formed new habits with spending, and are still struggling with others. We have incurred different types of debt as we learn how to manage all of our financial matters and have pledged to keep on fighting the good fight.

We dream of things we want, like owning a home, knowing that we are no where near ready for that type of financial commitment just yet. We talk about fabulous vacations we would like to take, concerts we would love to see, experiences we would like to have and places we would like to visit. But until we win a lottery, and we rarely purchase tickets, those things will remain just dreams; a mental escape from time to time.

We live in the here and now. We make purchases now with a clear conscience of the financial obligations that we have to ourselves and others. We have learned to use coupons and sales to stockpile items we use for our leaner financial months. We have both taken on extra jobs to earn  money to pay off our obligations and debts. From time to time, we take a look at our overall financial picture to make sure we are still heading in the right direction. We have sacrificed things that bring us personal enjoyment for the betterment of our family. We are no longer ostriches, with our heads in the sand, hopeful that things will get better all on their own.

We've made mistakes, but we have learned from them.

I want to personally thank Ms. Gail Vaz-Oxlade for doing what she does, showing common folks a better way to live. I've had the pleasure of meeting her, and bending her ear a bit. She's offered encouragement as well as the occasional butt-kicking when needed. I'm sure we would have worked our way out of the mess we were in eventually, but she provided us the education and the tools to do it much more quickly. Thanks Gail, for being an inspiration to us all.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Deposit Slip - Book Review

Before I get started with my review, I want to thank the marvy-fab Carla at My Half Dozen Daily for introducing me to the world of blogger book reviewing. Thanks Carla for being so wonderful, so you!


Today, I'll be reviewing "The Deposit Slip" by Todd M. Johnson.




This is the first book I've ever gotten to review and what a wonderful first experience it was! I read this novel front to back in less than two days. It grabbed my attention somewhere around page 12 and didn't let me go until I had read it in it's entirety.

Here's an excerpt from the book:

" $10,000,000 is missing. Erin Larson is running out of options. In the wake of her father's death, she found a slim piece of paper - a deposit slip - with an unbelievable amount on it. Only the bank claims they have no record of the money, and trying to hire a lawyer has brought only intimidation and threats. Erin's last chance is Jared Neaton. How far will one lawyer go to find the money? And how far will someone go to stop him ? "

What I enjoyed most about this book is that the author kept the suspense until the right spot in the book about where the money is and where it came from and that it actually existed at all. There were lots of plot twists, turns and curves that kept me guessing for a fair amount of time while reading. The mystery, the intrigue, the evil plot...it was all there. And the ending? Well, I can't spoil that for you. You should read The Deposit Slip for yourself.


"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".