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.
  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

  • 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.
  • 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.