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Showing posts from March, 2009

DailyOM: The Power Behind Us


Behind each of us stands at least one supporter. This was once thought to be the spouse who ran the home while leaving the other spouse free to work. While this is still one valid scenario, most of us will find that we have other kinds of supporters in our lives. In some cases, our supporters are the people whose help allows us to do the things we’re best at, see to our obligations, or pursue or dreams. In other cases, our support may come from the people who are there to help us through life’s challenges by offering us their strength and bolstering our spirit.

Our support may come from our families and friends or from the people we hire—nannies, assistants, gardeners, healers, therapists, and advisors. Our supporters may be the mentors who help us express ourselves by listening to us as we share our thoughts and feelings. Our supporter can be the person sitting next to us at a networking meeting or the teacher from our childhood whose words still resonate in our minds. We ha…

I did it my way

Reading this post by Frugal Dad today reminded me of how grateful I am to have done it my way, against all odds, despite all criticism.

I was thirty years old when I found myself pregnant by my ex. We had reconciled briefly, but I was in the process of getting rid of all my stuff and moving to Thailand for eight months or longer. I had already arranged a leave of absence from a position I despised at the university, and was looking for a geographical cure for my misery. I was already thirty, with a B.A. in International Development and no overseas experience under my belt. It was time to go.

But there were other plans in store for me. Under my belt was a little sprawn, who would inspire me to stop smoking, stop living by my four credit cards, and get real about life. I mean, GET REAL.

I found out I was pregnant a week before I left for Thailand. I felt it was too late to change my plans, my job was given out on contract and my apartment was already rented to new tenants. Trying to arran…

The mortgage angel

The idea of home ownership is never far from my mind, especially because being a reader of finance material exposes me to all the benefits and pitfalls of having a mortgage. And of course there's all the news about the bursting of the housing bubble in the U.S. and all. We didn't have the same crisis in Canada but I hear that prices are falling and this makes me a little antsy to get out of debt and into the property market.

This feeling of antsy hit me a couple of years ago, before I rented my house. I have near-perfect credit and always pay my rent on time, which is always around $900. I was starting to fall for the idea that I could roll that kind of money into a mortgage payment. I actually became obsessed with the idea of owning my own home (which helps me dramatically now, because I never let a payment slip on my debts) and I would drive around different neighbourhoods every weekend picking out houses I thought I could afford.

One weekend I found a house in my neighbourho…

Weekend spending

On Saturday morning I woke up child-free and took advantage of that by laying in my bed dozing and daydreaming for a couple hours. When I finally got up I had a serious case of the "buys" and I thought about heading out immediately to some stores to see if anything struck my fancy.

I managed to wait it out a bit by making myself a home-coffee and settling onto the couch to catch up on my blog reader. The urge to shop was still there but I had loads and loads of laundry to do and the laundry facilities were all clear. I did three loads and washed up most of the dishes and by then it was late-lunchtime and nap time. Then my mom called and we talked for over an hour and by then it was time to jump in the shower and get ready for a late dinner date with an old friend.

Shopping urge averted for another day.

On Sunday I had the urge to make banana bread with all the bananas living in the freezer but I discovered that I didn't have enough sugar. So off the the bulk barn where I sp…

DailyOM: Brave Spirits

Remembering Who We Are

Most of us are familiar with the idea that we are not human beings having spiritual experiences; instead, we are spiritual beings having human experiences. We hear this and even though we may experience a resounding yes in our bodies, we may not take the time to really acknowledge the truth of these statements. Integrating this idea into how we view ourselves can broaden our sense of who we are and help us appreciate ourselves as brave spirits on an important mission to learn and grow here on earth.

As spiritual beings, we are visitors in this physical realm. The fact that we came here and lost all memory of what happened to us before we were born is one of the many reasons that it takes so much courage for a soul to incarnate on earth. This is why spiritual inquiry so often feels like a remembering—because it is. Remembering that we are spiritual beings is part of the work that we are here on earth to do. When we operate from a place of remembering, we tap into t…

Since I can swear in my own blog ...

The first commenter at this post at is a stupid, ignorant piece of sh*t. He (she? must be a he) advocates a site called, which I only had time to skim through, but this post in particular caught my eye and pissed me off even more.

I hate the way the information is presented to accuse a mother of denying her children a father in their lives. I can't think of too many women who would disallow visitation, unless the father was seriously abusive and jeopardizing his children's lives. If we want to go by half-truths, stereotypes, and out-of-context "facts," then I propose that if children are fatherless, it is because the father couldn't handle the responsibility and left. Or was forced to leave because of abuse.

It takes a lot more than two parents to make a family. And a family arrangement does not have to be of a two-gendered nuclear type in order to lead healthy children into adulthood.

Do you know how many strai…

And then there were three

I have four credit cards. Two have zero balances, one usually does but I used it to pay for an event last night for which I will be reimbursed next week, and the fourth card has the accumulated balance from all the other cards, to the tune of $11 000 CDN.

One out of the four cards charges an annual fee of $29 because it is a "low-interest" card. However, the card that now has the $11 000+ balance is a good two percent lower than my "low-interest" VISA.

I can access probably about $45 000* (EDIT: I checked my records and it is actually closer to $60 000) in credit between the four cards. The "low-interest" card has a limit of about $30 000 of that 60 000. I was going to cancel the card this summer in order to avoid paying the annual fee, but that would drastically alter my debt-to-credit ratio. I will probably cancel it anyways and try not to worry about the hit to my credit rating.

Yesterday I received a letter from VISA telling me that they are soon going …

Spiritual handbags

It is 6:30 am, still dark out. Not a sound except a few brave morning birds singing in anticipation of spring. Stealthily I make my way into the living room to my laptop computer, eager to have a half hour or so to myself to check my email and blog, and to play with my budget spreadsheet.

I find myself on a site called, looking at my favourite line of purses. I click through the site's recommendations, just for me, and tempted by the one-day only sale, feel my brain click into purchasing mode. They take the paypal, so I don't have to move to find my wallet and credit card.

I have a moment where I think, "I could be using this quiet time to stretch and meditate and contemplate on being human ..." as I click back and forth between the red bag, the olive bag, and the standard black.

I'm about to make a decision when I hear the stomping of little feet, and my son comes running in, upset that I am not in bed with him. I tell him to go back to bed, looking longin…

Still grateful

I have my bad days, we all do. I had a few this past week that made me want to run away. Seriously. But I chugged ahead and by week's end - today - I was having a great time with my little guy.

I have been following single mom blogs closely for the past few weeks, and I am grateful that I have found this online community of women with whom I can share my similar problems and concerns. I'm looking forward to getting to know everyone better in the months and years to come.

I have a community of moms on livejournal, most of whom have been with me since my pregnancy. I love them and wouldn't trade them for the world, but only a few are single moms. So I'm always looking for more moms to relate to. This parenting thing can be really difficult, and I need all the help I can get.

However the way it is now, I really wouldn't have it any other way. My son is bright, healthy and happy. We have people around who love us. He goes to an excellent and trustworthy daycare. He sees h…

Saturday and spending

I somehow got Bean out to the store with me this morning, and out of the store without convincing me to buy him trucks and cars (darn toy section in the grocery store). We had to stock up on rice milk, coffee, macaroni, etc. and buy diapers and ending up dropping an easy $75. Yikes. Gas was nice and cheap at the pumps next door and I filled up my tank for $27.50.

We picked up Uncle T from the bus station and he wanted Pizza Hut buffet (about $10 per person) but Bean convinced us he wanted cheeseburgers instead, so we ended up at McYucks. Meals for the three of us came to less than $20 but T paid for it. Later on we ended up at the Pizza Hut near my house (takeout only) and dropped another $20, even though I had lots of leftover spagetti from dinner at home last night with Uncle S. T paid again, he wanted to and implied he enjoys having someone to spend money on, so we went with it.

I planned a lecture event for this Thursday and I wanted to wear something nice. I was tempted to go to th…

Student loan forgiveness

Today, Serena from Queercents asked, "could student loan forgiveness stimulate the economy?"

One of the reasons I am in such a hurry to pay off my credit card/LOC debt is because, after more than two years on Interest Relief, I could be called on to start paying back my loans as early as this May. I plan to keep applying for Interest Relief for as long as I can, and hopefully make it through to the Debt Reduction in Repayment program, but there is no guarantee that I will continue with my special status past this spring (fingers crossed).

My loan payments will be in between $350 and $400 a month, for 14 years. During this time I would only be able to make the minimums on the other debts, if that. This means that I will be debt-free by the time I am fifty. FIFTY!! Forget ever buying a house then. Forget having any disposable income either, and that's not good for the economy.

Why should my loans be forgiven? I borrowed the money, I should pay it back right? Yes, but in the c…

Maybe I'll just stay where I am for now

Yesterday I listed off a bunch of things I am interested in that, with some more education, could turn into career goals. Fabulously Broke asked me how would I decide between them, maybe a pros/cons list?

Research and a pros/cons list are definately a good idea. I used to be fanatical about making lists: my portable notebook (the old school lined paper kind) used to have pages of Plan A to G, until I realized I was just procrastinating and living in a dreamworld of the future rather than enjoying (or not) the present moment.

I checked my student record online the other day, and saw that back in 2001 I had requested transcripts be sent to a community college in the city where I grew up. I forgot that at that time I was struggling with life decisions, and was thinking of returning "home" to earn a post-grad certificate in either radio broadcasting or international project management (yes FB, I was thinking that maybe someday I could combine the two :)).

I worked at the universit…

The Honourable Ms Karissa

More good news this week: a letter arrived from the university Registrar's office, confirming that with my half-credit earned last semester, I officially hold an Honours Bachelor of Arts.

What this means in terms of employment is not much. The General B.A. I received in 2002 certainly helped me obtain a position at the university, but none of the three jobs I have held required a degree. There is currently a hiring freeze, and when it lifts most of the jobs posted will be either more like mine, or more specialized jobs that will require additional certification or management skills. If I wanted to be promoted I would have to have even more schooling, probably college courses that lead to a certificate in, say, accounting or purchasing or IT. A General or Honours B.A. in Anthropology and International Development Studies is not going to do a lot for me unless I am looking at changing my career path altogether. And even then, I'm just another person with a B.A.

What this extra bil…

Victory day in a money kind of way

I finally heard back from my health insurance people and tomorrow there will be a little cash injection of $53.25 in my bank account, after a couple of months, a couple of phone calls, a letter that apparently never got there, a fax sent (luckily I kept scanned copies before I mailed the letter), another phone call, and today's message with an apology. I felt important. Of course the money will go straight to my LOC.

As well I stopped by my old place where my friend who bought the house was holding some mail for me. It turned out to be a support cheque that I thought had gone missing/ was never sent a few weeks back. It was a good feeling tucking that cheque into my bag, and I'll deposit it later in the week so that I can buy a box of diapers for Bean's bedtime.

He wears pull-ups during the day and I think we have enough to get through at least another week. Some evenings after daycare I try "big boy" underwear and plastic pants (Bummi super whispers - they're…

Dating is expensive

I don't have dating worked into my budget. After a failed attempt at a relationship a few months ago I decided it would be more cost-efficient to stay totally single until my debt is paid off.

I guess the dating gods have other plans for me because I have been receiving (and accepting) invitations for casual coffees, lunches and dinners. Oh yes, and beer-events too but they aren't as frequent (although sometimes twice as expensive).

So I have been dipping into my Miscellaneous category to pay for all the extra coffees and meals that go hand-in-hand with getting to know someone new. A friend recently asked me why I am paying at all? My response is that I am a modern woman who has always looked after myself (and others too, but those days are over) and I have my money out and spent before my dinner companion can say anything.

I've also noticed that most men my age are not used to paying for a woman, because they have heard - and probably seen - their whole lives that women supp…

The little chick pea that could

MindyMom asked me to post the recipe for the chick pea stew I came up with earlier in the week. Since I don't follow recipes well, and tend to just wing it, I'll do my best.

The dish started with a pot of potatoes: 2 white, 2 yukon gold and 2 sweet. I peeled and boiled them for mash. I also added at least six chopped cloves of garlic. When I went to drain it all, I thought the water looked healthy so I drained it into another pot for stock.

Then I put a cup of dried chick peas in another pot with a bunch of water to soak overnight.

The next evening I rinsed the chick peas, put them back in the pot with the potato/garlic water, and set it to boil. I added in about a half cup of dried red lentils. After it started to boil I set it to simmer and added carrots already steamed, about half a bag of spinach, some of the mashed potatoes, a half-teaspoon of cumin and a whole teaspoon of garam masala. I'm pretty sure I also added fried onion and garlic because that's a staple in al…

My old friend, TD Bank

One of my goals for 2009-10 is to save up a couple thousand dollars and muster up the courage to start making investments. Alternate plans are to risk a little bit of my RRSP savings (to take advantage of the tax shelter), or to invest in a self-directed RESP (to take advantage of government incentives, such as the CESG). I currently deposit about $40 a month into a group plan.

Canadian Capitalist has blogged several times about investing with TD-Canada Trust, which has turned my attention back to old TD bank.

If the Toronto-Dominion Bank had a facebook profile, I would Friend them in the spirit of nostalgia. We were friendly back in the nineties, but broke up when I moved onto bigger and better things near the turn of the century.

Half a lifetime ago, when I was sixteen, my roommate Dee (who was a couple of years younger than I am now), told me to get my butt over to the bank and tell them I wanted to invest in mutual funds. I had learned a little bit about compound interest in my grad…

Money talks with the Ex

I'm so used to discussing money now that I have this blog. All my debts and savings are out there for the world to see - and to judge. Not many people who know me personally know about this blog. Some know that it exists, but I haven't widely passed along the link.

I'm afraid of being judged.

The issue came up the other night when I was on the phone with my son's father (SF). We can talk openly and honestly about a lot of things, but we have a really unhealthy aspect to our relationship where if something goes wrong and we start fighting (which happens every other month or so, for various reasons), everything we have confided in each other comes out as ammunition in an argument. More so for him, because I am more open and have very few secrets. And I talk a lot.

And I usually say too much. We were having an unusually civil conversation on the phone the other night, where I let down my guard and told him about the big chunk I have paid off the LOC. After all, I'm proud…

Post-sick blues

It's been over a week since the cold symptoms first appeared. The illness peaked over the weekend, and I'm now starting to feel a little bit like myself again.

It was just a bad cold. But what it has left behind is a general feeling of apathy and lethargy and I don't like that at all.

I'm so busy at work but I'm not complaining because I love my job and the people I work with. It's just a matter of staying organized and keeping all the plates balanced in the air for the next couple of months. It's hard, because we know that there will be news this summer about what the administration is going to do about a several million dollar budget shortfall. I feel secure that my seniority in the union will keep me safe, but I would not want to have to move to another department, or to see any changes made to the one I'm in now if I get to stay.

It all makes me feel so helpless.

I'm still motivated to eradicate my debt by the end of 2010. In fact, I'm even more…

What is up, PC Financial?

Dear PC Financial,

For several years now, at your recommendation, I have been depositing $50 a month into an Interest Plus RRSP account. I have not moved the funds into investments, because I was not aware of this option, and you have never promoted it to me. Fine.

At the end of 2008 I decided to change my strategy and deposit schedule for this account. I cancelled my automatic payments, with the intention of depositing weekly. I did not make a deposit in September and made only one $10 deposit in October. In November I make three weekly deposits of $10, $10, and $12. In December I made two deposits of $15 and $48. This brings my 2008 deposit total to

January to August (@$50/month) $400
October $10
November $32
December $63
With a combined total of $505.

This past weekend I was going to file my taxes. I pulled out all my little slips of paper, and noticed for the first time that my 2008 RSP statement has a total of $453.02. What is up with the .02?

I have been on hold for about fifteen minut…

A Precious Human Life

"Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to have woken up, I am alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it, I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings, I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others, I am going to benefit others as much as I can."

H.H. the XIV Dalai Lama

February spending

My "projected budget" gives me $1503.00 for daily and monthly expenses, not including any debt payments or savings. Those categories require an additional $784, ideally.

In February I spent $1516.61 on rent, food, car (gas and insurance), phone, RESP and life insurance. Oh yes, and my "miscellaneous" category, in which I grossly overspent by $170.23. However I underspent on food by a scary $113.32.

I decided about two weeks in to not food shop until I absolutely had to, forcing myself to get creative with what I did have in the fridge, freezer and cupboards. I had a lot more food than I realized. Plus there were a couple of nights where I was feeling not so well and Bean was happy to eat cereal and boiled eggs for supper.

We start March with quite a bit of food still in the kitchen, which is a good feeling. In fact, I picked up a produce box last week from the community food program and have yet to do anything with it. Better get on that before it all wilts.

Goal for …