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Showing posts from January, 2009

DailyOM: Goals

A Concrete Dream
Goals

Our desires act as fuel, propelling us toward new horizons. Without something to strive for, we stagnate and become stuck in ruts of our own making because we are unsure of what to do next. Goals are the dreams that we are willing to work for. When we set goals, we take responsibility for our lives and choose to wholeheartedly devote ourselves to our aspirations. Even if we only take the smallest steps toward achieving our ambitions, it is vital that we actively pursue our goals rather than just daydreaming about them. Having goals makes us feel good because it adds a sense of purpose and direction to our lives.

When you endeavor to achieve clear and quantifiable goals, your choices and actions take on new significance. Consciously creating your goals can help ensure that the success you seek is attainable and serves you. Your plan must be conceivable, tangible, and measurable. If you cannot visualize your goal in great detail or believe that you can realize them, …

Appeasing my picky eater

This week, after being presented with a pretty good homemade shepherd's pie (if I do say so myself), my son declared that "only snacks are good." He turned his nose up after one bite of the mashed potato, ground beef, cream of mushroom soup, and his favourite frozen veggies concoction and ate only a banana, a handful of cashews, dried pineapple, raisins and a few dried apricots. He asked a couple of times for "eggies" but I didn't have any prepared his favourite way: hard-boiled with the yolks removed.

I'm here to ask all the mamas (and dads, if any are reading) for any and all suggestions for healthy and affordable snacks to appease my son's picky appetite. I'm lucky (so far) that he enjoys raw veggies and fruits, dried fruits and nuts and rice cakes. I'm trying to keep the dairy foods to a minimum, because it creates a surplus of mucous that leads to ear infections.

I get into food ruts, which is why I haven't yet been able to stick to a…

Anyone else excited about tax time?

Each year I find I am impatient for my employer to deliver my T4 slip, so that I can get started on filing my taxes. I always get a pretty good refund because I usually have tuition or student loan write-offs, as well as RRSP contributions to decrease the amount owed. This will be the third year that I will file my son as my dependent, which lowers my tax bracket.

When I filed for 2007 I learned that I was still being taxed as a single person (single as in, without a dependent) and could amend my paperwork with payroll to deduct less tax, which put an extra $200 in my pocket each month. It would have been nice to continue paying the high tax and receiving the substantial refund (last year it was close to $3000 but I had to keep it in the bank to supplement my income, which was difficult), but it's much nicer to have a little more to budget with each month.


For the past few years I have filed online with UFile, and this year they have emailed me a $5 off coupon, bringing the price do…

Payday and a new goal

One of my goals for 2009 is to save at least $2000 and take 10% of it to make a donation to one or two charities. This is my variation on titheing. I have my mind on Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.

Last night I decided that I needed something to be excited about sooner, so today I am going to take $25* from my paycheque and donate it to Kiva.org. It's not really a donation, it's actually a loan negotiated through a microfinance NGO in a developing country to an individual who will invest it in a self-employment venture. Examples are a woman who will buy produce for resale in a village market, a man who will open a small mechanical shop, or a woman who will put it towards her textile business.



I feel so fortunate to have been born in a developed country, to have my education and my union job at the university. Some of the big financial advisors may tell me that I should put my $25 towards debt reduction, but some of them also say that we need small rewards for incentive. My contri…

Raiding my coin jar

There is exactly $1.50 in my coin jar right now. One loonie and two quarters. It's not what you think, I haven't been looting it for coffee money. Well, not quite.

See, I despise pennies, and try to spend them right away, so they never make it into the coin jar. I have collected them in the past, but it takes so long to accumulate enough to put into a roll and then you have, what? Fifty cents. Wow. Not to mention that they are almost always grimy feeling and leave a bad smell on my fingers. Blech.

So I don't save pennies. Sometimes I save nickels and dimes but again it seems to take a long long time to accumulate enough to roll. The result is a little more satisfactory, $2 and $5, but it takes a while.


I do save quarters, loonies and toonies. These really add up, and I mentioned before how I managed to save up enough to buy a bass amp with just loonies (rolled up and cashed into bills, of course).

However just as I moved into the apartment I realized that I was going to have …

A single mama's mechanical best friend

I am so pleased with my cordless power screwdriver. Without it, putting together our new bookshelf would have taken hours and generated sweat, blisters, and probably some cursing. Because of it I wouldn't have to wait for one of my man-friends to come over and put the six-foot shelf together for me. I had it in one piece within an hour. When I discovered that I had screwed in two of the shelves upside down, I merely chuckled and picked up my new best friend and reversed-screwed them out again. Easy peasy.

Frugal tip: if you are planning to buy any kind of tool-anything from the hardware store, especially one of the big ones (I go to Canadian Tire), try to plan to go after father's day. I got my mechanical buddy there for about sixty percent off just a couple days after father's day. I guess they overstock this stuff for gifts and when it doesn't sell, it gets drastically reduced to make space for junk for Canada Day.


Seriously,
Karissa Dee


I think I picked a good year for debt reduction

From Spring's Greeting Cards.com

THE YEAR OF THE OX 1/26/2009 - 2/13/2010 (Earth)


According to the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of 2009 is the Year of the Ox. The Ox, or the Buffalo sign symbolizes prosperity through fortitude and hard work. Those born under the influence of the Ox or Buffalo are fortunate to be stable and persevering. The typical Ox is a tolerant person with strong character. Not many people could equal the resolution and fearlessness that the Ox exhibits when deciding to accomplish a task. Ox people work hard without complaints at work or at home. They know that they will succeed through hard work and sustained efforts, and do not believe in get-rich-quick schemes.

Countdown till payday

Only four days till payday. This month I'm excited for a new reason: more money towards my debt and savings accounts!

Going to the movies today and using a gift card that my previous landlord left in the mailbox for me on christmas eve. He and his wife were the best landlords I ever had, as cliched as it sounds. A rare find.

Then in the evening, Chinese New Year celebrations with more friends. Happy Chinese New Year!


Seriously,
Karissa Dee


Community Food Boxes

We got our subsidized food box from the YWCA this week. We had a choice of large or small, and I always sign up for the small box. The boxes are packed and ready to go twice a month: the staples box can be picked up during the third week and the produce box is ready the fourth week of the month.

Because I receive the subsidy, I get the boxes for $5 and $6 each. They come at a great time for me, because my monthly paycheque is usually pretty well spent by this time. Have I mentioned already that I only get paid once a month? :)

Non-subsidized boxes are $11 (staples) and $12 (produce) for the small sizes.


I really like the produce box because it usually comes with one or two things that I wouldn't normally buy, like fresh herbs or beets. This week's staples box came with bagels and cream cheese, which I rarely purchase, so this was a treat, a bunch of carrots and a few potatoes, four apples and two tangerines, a can of beans, a can of tuna, a can of tomatoes, a package of spagetti…

Free e-book - Scott Blum

One of my goals for this year is to read two books a month, one fiction and one self-help (including PF). I have already fallen short of this goal, but I hope to fix that this weekend by reading Summer's Path by Scott Blum. Here's a description:

Summer's Path is the remarkable story of Don Newport, an engineer that comes face to face with his personal destiny under extraordinary circumstances. After losing his job and his health insurance, Don learns he has a terminal disease with only a few months left to live. On his death bed, he meets Robert, a brazen angel of death that promises to help Don with a graceful exit. As Don prepares to say his last goodbyes to his loving wife, Robert attempts to change Don's perspective about his mortality and proposes an exceptionally unique option.

Robert leads Don through an astounding meditation of life and death and reveals various healing and spiritual concepts including walk-ins, embodiment and soul destiny. On this magical journe…

Chore Charts for Kids

It's time to get serious around our house. Bean is at that age where too many things are becoming a struggle, and I have to get a handle on it. I have been trying to bribe him with a cookie to use the potty and it's worked only twice this week. Never mind brushing his teeth. When he refused to eat his supper last night, I realized I would have to change my efforts.

I googled 'childrens charts' and came up with this link and this one. I wanted to share.

I'm going to take a better look at them tomorrow, and hopefully find the one that works for us. Maybe stickers will work better than cookies.


Seriously,
Karissa Dee


Pi$$*d off and ranty

I have been waiting what seems like weeks and weeks for my expense claim reimbursement to come in from the health insurance company my employer chose to do business with. I checked my account online yesterday and found out that I am being reimbursed for less than half of what I claimed.

Two reasons:
1) Rather than having a $50 family deductible (which is what I was told would happen) they have decided to have a $25 per person deductible. Since Bean's prescriptions for 2008 just went over the $25 mark, we are not getting the full refund for his most recent prescription.

2) They have been reimbursing my chiropractic appointments as naturopathic appointments, because my chiropractor is also my naturopath, however she has two separate files for my appointments and has clearly been issuing receipts for my chiropractic file. The insurance people neglected to notice/did not care and put it all towards naturopathy, which has a way lower allotment than chiropractic. They told me that I went o…

Monday musings

I earned a little bit of money selling some cloth diapers on Friday and decided to drive to the big city on Saturday morning to visit some friends I haven't seen for a long long while. I had eighty dollars in cash burning a hole in my wallet and I managed to come home with twenty-five remaining.

The first thing I did after dropping off my son at his dad's was head to an ATM that accepts my card without a fee. I had over two hundred dollars in my chequing account and I didn't want to have ANY temptations so I put one hundred of it onto my line of credit. I had to leave the rest in there because my car insurance ($96) is due and electronic banking is so sneaky about when they are going to actually remove it from my account.

I headed downtown to meet one of my friends, who is a student and is also trying to live frugally. We went to a couple of art galleries for free and after meeting up with another friend, went up to the grocery store to buy dinner supplies. Admittedly, we ch…

DailyOM: The Weight of Objects

Clearing a Space for Change
The Weight of Objects

In life, we tend to have an easier time acquiring possessions than we do getting rid of them. Just as we harbor emotional baggage that is difficult to let go of, our lives can tend to be filled with material objects that we may feel compelled to hold on to. Most people are not conscious of how much they own and how many of their possessions are no longer adding value to their life. They fiercely hold on to material objects because this makes them feel secure or comfortable. While it’s true that the ownership of “stuff” can make you feel good for awhile, it seldom satisfies the deep inner longings that nearly everyone has for fulfillment and satisfaction. It is only when we are ready to let go of our baggage and be vulnerable that it becomes possible to recognize the emotional hold that our possessions can have on us.

It’s not uncommon to hold on to material objects because we are attached to them or fear the empty spaces that will remain …

A resilient five-dollar bill

I hear a lot about everyone's No Spend Days (NSDs), and it isn't something that I planned in my 2009 goals, but ideally it is something I aspire to achieve.

I incidentally experienced a non-planned NSD on Monday, when I drove PAST the Tim Horton's and went home for a cup of coffee. Completely unplanned and on a whim. I had only a five-dollar bill in my pocket and wanted to make it last as long as possible (all week, ideally) so I was impulsively inspired to go home and make a pot of vanilla-flavoured coffee. I was going home anyways, so why not?

I was well on my way to another NSD on Tuesday, until my gas gauge announced the lack of fuel in my Ford, so I made a pit stop at the gas station down the street from the uni. Gas was at 75 cents, which seems high after a couple of weeks of 68 cents, so I didn't want to fill up just in case the price went down again. I used my debit card to purchase ten dollars worth.

On a side note: there used to be three gas stations on the way …

Dear Vista Print

I came across your products while searching online for return address labels. Your website was pretty easy to navigate, your selection was immense, and your prices were fine. Another google search for "Vista Print coupons" led me to your U.S. site, where I could order my labels for free and pay only the shipping.

I was a little disappointed when my first order could not be corrected after I submitted the wrong postal address, and had to place a second order, but they too were free, and the shipping costs were inexpensive (around $6.00 for each order - so I paid twelve dollars for 280 return address labels, of which I can really use only 140, but I realize it was my mistake).

I received the labels almost immediately, and they seem to be of good quality. I was a little confused when you emailed me two invoices as I had used my credit card to make an immediate payment. I ignored the invoices and I have been ignoring your emails since.

I have been ignoring your emails, the ones…

Clutter Demon

Bag Lady

I came up with a new way (for me) to de-clutter and get rid of my plastic bag collection at the same time. I can't believe I brought so many bags with me from the house!

I usually donate the regular shopping bags to my son's daycare for re-use. I have another bag of bags that are large and extra-large and they never seem to go away.

My new plan is to take a bag each week and fill it up - even halfway - with clothes and other things I no longer need.

Last weekend I managed to toss two pairs of jeans from my too-skinny days, as well as some of Bean's things that I already suspect the consignment store will refuse.

Letting Go

I have such a hard time letting go of my stuff. Purge # 1 in 2005 was the easiest because I was moving overseas and didn't plan on coming back. I miss a few things but on the whole I was happy to let go. Purge # 2 was this summer, and it was more difficult. I missed stuff immediately. A couple of times I thought of going to the donation place wher…

Tweaking the budget

Not even two weeks in and I'm already making tweaks to make it work. To be fair, I've been practicing my budget for several months now, but my commitment will be made all the more apparent as I have less bills to pay, which equals more towards debt repayment.

I've had a few expenses come up that weren't already budgeted: $25 for a used bunk bed, $20 for coffee cards to thank my friends for helping me move, $50 for an oil change and fluid check (I wasn't going to to do this until the spring, but I couldn't get my hood to pop open and I was out of windshield juice so I went to Jiffy Lube). Plus I paid my utilities bills for the house after I already moved in here because by the time they arrived here I had put all my extra money into my emergency fund.

I increased my car gas/oil allotment to budget for the spring fluid change, which is going to be a big one because I will need to replace the transmission fluid and have a couple of filters replaced. My car is about …

Gratitude

I got caught up in organizing my kitchen while listening to a panel discussing Gaza/Israel on CBC-Radio this morning and didn't make it to church.

Which makes it especially more important to, but especially more difficult to, dig deep into my spirit and find things for which to be grateful. Especially after a quite difficult and emotionally-charged week.

Here goes:

1) To the person in the 'hood with the wireless modem who enables my online addiction, and for losing the connection last night and this morning so I could get other things done :) If you can see this, thank you.

2) To honesty and integrity, may you always be a big part of my life.

3) To my Higher Power, whom I sometimes call God: thanks for showing me the right path in the most opportune and creative ways. Even though I can't hold you at night I am looking for you always.


Seriously,
Karissa Dee

DailyOM: Finding Joy in Meaningless Tasks

What's Fun Got To Do With It
Finding Joy in Meaningless Tasks

Spending an afternoon working on the car, gardening, or even cleaning the house can be fun when we have an interest in the project. Yet, we can also find joy in the chores and tasks we don't especially like. All we need is a change of attitude, a different approach, a little music, or some help from friends, and the tasks or responsibilities that we perceive as tedious can become a source of pleasure.

Most of us tend to put off what it is that we don’t want to do. Yet, one of the best approaches to an unpleasant task or dull chore is to dive right in and be fully mindful of what it is that you are doing. You may not perceive washing the kitchen floor as enjoyable, but it can be if you view it as a loving act for both yourself and your family. Lose yourself in paying your bills, and thank the universe that you are able to receive the service you are writing that check for. Mending can become a treasure hunt to find the …

Debt Free Kid

Some things take me a long time to accomplish, and some things just seem to happen. Like this blog, for example. It was less than two months ago during another sleepness night that I remembered registering a Blogger back in 2005. Because I had been reading PF blogs for almost a year, working on my budget, and planning to move to save money, I suddenly felt inspired to write about it myself. Before that night I had moments of inspiration but couldn't find a space to put them.

And here we are. I knew that in order to fully commit myself to this personal project I would have to invest some of myself into it. I'm new, and I need practice, and a lot of motivation. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I would find a domain name of my own to help me develop and inspire me to keep going.

The name came to me today: Debt Free Kid. I wanted to keep my username in there somewhere, and thought about re-naming my blog KDdebtfree or DebtfreeKD. I slipped the 'i' in there to make it mor…

Personal Goals for 2009

From Quitnet.com:

Your Quit Date is: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 at 8:00:00 AM
Test Time Smoke-Free: 1217 days, 21 hours, 56 minutes and 54 seconds
Cigarettes NOT smoked: 8525
Lifetime Saved: 2 months, 5 days, 2 hours
Money Saved: $3,197.25

Congratulations

I smoked for fifteen years and tried to quit so many times. I used the patch, the pills, and the gum. I tried rewards incentives which only racked up the credit card bill. I was finally able to quit due to two life-altering circumstances: 1) pregnancy and 2) moving to Thailand and away from the people, places and things that triggered my addiction.

After slaying the smoking demon, I should be able to accomplish anything.

Here's my contribution to the personal goals lists for 2009:

1) Eat breakfast. Anything. Just force something down.
2) Take vitamins: multi, fish oils, and iron pills.
3) Drink water!
4) Meal planning. So far I have a calendar of meal ideas that work around proteins. For example, Sunday is beef, Monday is beans, Tuesd…

Financial goals for 2009 bandwagon

My budget is in place (in Excel anyways) and so far it looks pretty good. I'm saving an average of $350 in rent and bills thanks to the smart decision to move to the apartment. I have also canceled my internet cable (hello to the kind person who is currently supplying the wireless network, when I find out who you are I will make you some banana bread), which saves me another $35 a month.

My Emergency Fund is almost complete and I have made arrangements to "pay myself first" by deducting 10% of my gross pay each month and transferring it to an ING-type account. The transfer is made only once a month because, well, have I ever mentioned that I get paid only once a month? Yeah.

I have my $20 a week set aside for personal spending, and 20% of that goes to my version of titheing: $2 to my self-help group and another $2 to the offering plate at the UU church. I aim to be able to offer more to each once my savings account is established and I can skim a percentage from that accou…

My d'oh

Yeah, um. I called the bank about the $1.47 interest charge and was reminded that line of credits work differently than credit cards as they do not offer a grace period. Ah well, this is how we learn. I have never had a line of credit before so I had to figure it out the hard way.

This gives me more incentive to cut out the daily coffee purchase at the cafeteria, which actually costs me $1.52 a day if I bring my own mug.

Interest burns

Last week I transferred the balance of my 11.5% VISA to my 7% Line of Credit. I checked the statement of the LOC from the month before to double-check that the period ended on the 28th before I went ahead and arranged it through telephone banking.

Today when I got into work I checked the LOC balance online and found that the period ended on the 31st after all, and because I made the transfer on the 30th, I was charged $1.47 interest! It makes me burn a little, because that's one whole coffee I might not purchase this week.

I'm tempted to call the bank to find out what happened, but I don't think I want to make a big deal about less than $1.50.

Grateful

Sunday Gratitude List

1) For every morning that I wake up, but especially the ones where my little one sits up with a smile and says, "good morning Mama"

2) For the fellowship of the UU church that I have been attending regularly since September; how welcoming everyone is, how inspiring it is, how it gets me out of the house on a Sunday morning (which keeps me in on a Saturday night), and how much my son loves the train set in the nursery!

3) For how easy the move was and how nice the apartment is, and that we didn't have to move due to hardship, but just to prevent it. We are lucky kids.


Seriously,
Karissa Dee

So far, so excellent!

Today I was definately on the right track from a financial point of view.

I went to the truck rental place to settle up, and found that I had been charged for only one rental period, instead of the two that I booked, resulting in a cash refund of $55.

After changing my address at the bank that holds my first student loan and at the Service Kiosk for my driver's licence and health cards I went up to Wal-Mart to use a gift card my sister gave me for christmas. Our little DVD player is choosy about which movies it likes to play, so I decided to purchase a new one. The only player they had left in stock was about $100, way more than I wanted to pay, so I left with only an 82 cent purchase of a couple of christmas decorations. I think it was the first time I walked out of Wal-Mart without spending at least fifty bucks!

I decided to head next door to Canadian Tire to see what they had in stock in DVD players. The selection almost as bad as Wal-Mart, but at least the store wasn't as cra…

Happy 2009!!

We made it, we are in the new place, and we love it! It is bright and cheery and so far very quiet.

Bean and I had his daddy and uncle over last night for new year's eve. We made a spaghetti dinner with salad and garlic bread. I bought ginger ale for the big countdown, and missed it! I put Bean to bed late - around 10 pm - and fell asleep with him, as I always do, and when I woke up it was just past midnight. The big boys didn't even notice because they were watching a DVD.

I have been very conscious of compound spending ever since Money Minder posted on the subject last month. My main motivation for moving from the two-bedroom house to the one-bedroom apartment is to be able to afford to make large payments on my credit card and line of credit, with the goal of reducing it by half this year (ambitious, I know, but still worth a try). However, moving can be expensive and not only that, but it is easy to have some 'needs' associated with the new place.

For example, I am s…