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.

  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".