Sunday, March 29, 2009

DailyOM: The Power Behind Us

Supporters

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 have always had supporters around us whether we noticed them or not. No matter where the support comes from, few of us can make it through life without assistance.

As we take the time to acknowledge everyone that has every supported us, we can’t help but feel grateful. Understanding our place in our human support system helps us see that just as there are people that support us, we are a supporter to many people. By gratefully accepting the expertise and assistance of our supporters, we can consciously and more easily build a life that we love. Thanks to our staff, groups, friends, and loved ones for all their support. We all need each other’s support to thrive this world.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

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 arrange a quickie abortion - something I didn't even consider - would delay my trip by a couple of weeks, at least.

I did what I do with everything, I dove right in head first and dealt with it all as it came.

Sure, my situation wasn't ideal. I was single, temporarily unemployed, and up to my seventh chakra in debt. I had years of counseling ahead of me, if I were ever to feel comfortable in my own skin. I had issues and scars. I had little support from my family.

But I was thirty, not a kid in high school, with a B.A. and a lot of love to give. Having my son forced me to take a real look at the mess I called my life and quickened me to straighten it out. It took time, it's taking time, but it's happening. I can feel it. I'm smoke-free over three years now, getting myself out of debt, added the Honours to my degree, and I'm a lot more self aware, as well as a lot less self-conscious. Becoming a mom did wonders for my self-esteem. I'm learning patience ... stability ... integrity.

I guess my point is that there is no ideal time to have kids. Sure, plans are great, but life is what it is. It's only life.


Seriously,
Karissa


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

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 neighbourhood that was for sale, and absolutely adorable. I took a chance and called the agent listed on the sign. He referred me to a colleague in the mortgage business, who was a manager at TD-Canada Trust (this financial institution keeps showing up in my life, and I don't even have an account there anymore). The mortgage broker, whom I'll call Lisa, graciously met with me at her office and looked over all the bits of paper I brought with me, which showed that yes, I do have only a single, small income (between $20 to 25 000), and a huge amount of debt (close to what it is now).

She did the necessary credit check which proved that I have excellent credit and make all my payments on time. I tried to convince her why I would be a good risk for mortgage approval. She was polite and not too condescending when she explained why, from her perspective, I was actually a bad risk. This was the first time I had heard the term "debt-to-credit ratio."

I was angry and embarrassed when I left her office but after a while, and after renting a whole house, I realized she was right. Lisa did me a favour. If she had approved me a mortgage I would be stuck with it now, and I would be losing my mind trying to keep up with the payments. Not to mention the utilities and maintenance costs, insurance and property taxes. And the decreasing value of my property.

About a year after my appointment with Lisa it became apparent that there was this mortgage problem in the US. So many people just like me didn't have a Lisa to stop them from making a huge mistake.


Seriously,
Karissa


Monday, March 23, 2009

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 spent just under $40 on all kinds of ingredients and snacks, including $9.48 on salted and mixed nuts. Whoops!

Bean loves the snacks though and it's a bit better than cookies or candy so I'm trying not to beat myself up for it. At least I didn't buy another bag or pair of shoes.

I'm looking forward to adding up all my categories in the next week or so to see if I spent too much over the budget. I have a feeling I did pretty well this month. The debt total has gone down a bit anyways, and that's what really counts.


Seriously,
Karissa


Sunday, March 22, 2009

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 the wisdom that our spirit accumulated even before we stepped into this lifetime. Remembering who we are can give us the patience to persevere when we become overwhelmed or frustrated. It can give us the courage to work through the most daunting challenges and help us trust the ancient wisdom we carry that is offered to us by our intuition.

We have chosen to be on earth because there is something we want to learn that can only happen by inhabiting a body. Some of us are here to repay a debt, learn about love, or teach forgiveness. Most of us are here for a combination of reasons, we carry this information in our souls, all we have to do is remember. As you go through your journey, try not to forget how brave you are, being here now. Honor yourself.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Since I can swear in my own blog ...

The first commenter at this post at singleparents.about.com is a stupid, ignorant piece of sh*t. He (she? must be a he) advocates a site called childrenneedbothparents.net, 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 straight single moms regret choosing the wrong man to father her children? So many of us stuck it out and tried to make it work, and decided it was in fact healthier to not expose her children to the abuses in the parental relationship.

In my own situation I had to make the difficult decision to separate from my son's father. My son was not learning how to relate to others in a healthy way because of our fighting. And get this: my son is not fatherless. He has both parents, even though we live in different cities. He spends almost every weekend with his dad and dad's family. I wouldn't let him go if I thought it was unhealthy for him. They have a close and loving relationship, and I do everything I can to encourage it. My son is well-adjusted and one of the nicest and most outgoing kids in his daycare.

To all the single parents out there, Happy Single Parents' Day.

To our critics, go to hell. Your generalizations are not helpful or useful.


Seriously,
Karissa

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 to be switching to chip-technology. My new card and PIN should arrive in the mail within a month. I am wary of this new technology, because of the things I have been reading about store scanners that can read the information about a card when its owner walks through it. As well, this change in technology makes me think the VISA will be too much like a debit card, which is also dangerous in the temptation kind of way.

I'm thinking of calling VISA and canceling the account within a few days, before they send me the new card. I want to be debt-free and card-free within a couple of years, so I don't need any fancy new technology. I want out of this game.


Seriously,
Karissa


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

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 ebag.com, 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 longingly at my online selection, but he won't go without me.

So I force myself to get off the couch and follow him into the bedroom. I was saved by the Bean.


Seriously,
Karissa


Sunday, March 15, 2009

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 his daddy and paternal grandparents almost every weekend. We have a more than adequate roof over our heads, a car that runs, and enough cash to get us through. The support cheque comes almost regularly.

The only thing I truly wish for is that my parents would get to know him before he grows up, but we'll see. My dad makes a bit of an effort but I have to drive the three hours out to his place so he can see my little guy.

Some single moms have been concerned about the stigma surrounding their unmarried status. I don't feel it. If I get looks or attitude about the lack of a ring on my finger, I am oblivious to it. If anyone is condescending to me or my son because his dad lives in another city, I don't hear it. I don't even think it happens.

I'm not ashamed of our little family. I was ashamed of the way his dad and I used to fight, but after a year and a half of being apart that has reached a minimum.

Life is hard a lot of days, but it's good. We're happy and healthy and we have each other. Bean has his daddy and his family too. We're in a good spot. I sincerely hope and wish that every single mom I meet joins us in this spot.


Seriously,
Karissa


Saturday, March 14, 2009

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 the second-hand stores and look for a skirt, but decided to re-hem an old pair of dress pants instead. Several reasons: 1) if I buy something new I have to get rid of something old, and there's nothing in my closet right now that I want to let go of; 2) I don't want to spend a cent on something I can live without (except for coffee, c'mon, it's COFFEE!); 3) I have lots of nice things that need more love or a simple stitch-up job; 4) I hate wearing tights or anything constricting around the crotch area so buying a skirt isn't a great idea for me.

Tomorrow is church and then a playdate with J and G. Bean hasn't been back to the old house since we moved out / J & G moved in so it should be an interesting visit. All his outdoor toys are still in the shed, so if it's a nice day we'll probably drag some out and have them ride cars up and down the driveway. As though the last few months here never even happened.


Seriously,
Karissa


Friday, March 13, 2009

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 context of billions of dollars of bailout payments, what is my $32 000? Mind you, I'm in Canada and as far as I know we haven't had to bail anyone out yet, but our economies are globally linked and we are being affected here as well. If the Canadian government wants us to spend to save the economy, then some of us are going to need a little help freeing up some disposable income. For me, forgiving my student loan will help dramatically. I'll pay off the consumer loan ... I just need a little help with the other one.


Seriously,
Karissa


Thursday, March 12, 2009

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 university radio station for over three years and found it so rewarding. I don't know when or why I abandoned the idea of a career in broadcasting, but I'm sure it had a lot to do with self-esteem issues.

So, I'll add radio broadcasting to yesterday's list of things I want to do with my life. I also have to add teacher's college, because we have one now at the university and it is definately an option. The only problem is that part-time teacher's studies takes place during the evening and on weekends, and I have my son each evening and some weekends. He is in daycare every day so I don't feel comfortable leaving him with yet another non-mommy at night.

However, I would love to take courses in the primary stream, so that I can help Bean with school when he gets there. I could also put myself on the supply teacher roster if I get to feeling particularly masochistic.

Yep, lots of options. Too many choices can be as overwhelming as none, so I'm fortunate that for now I can just stay put and continue working in an office and not have to make any other decisions.


Seriously,
Karissa


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

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 billing on my B.A. means for me is not only closure on a personal project I began over ten years ago, but it also gives me a future in the pursuit of higher education. With an Honours degree I can now apply for a Masters degree. Now, my grade average is a little low for competition, but I may be able to take another course or two on my employee tuition waiver to try to bring my average up. I'm not concerned about it now because I'm not currently looking at a Master's program, but it's nice to know that the option is opening up to me.

In terms of future education goals I probably will head back to college for career upgrading. I'm interested in financial planning, naturopathy and natural health, midwifery, refugee and immigration issues, community development and sustainability, and yoga teacher training. Obviously I'm going to have to pick something and stick to it, but for now I'm happy to accept my Honours degree and take a break from school for a little while.



Seriously,
Karissa




Tuesday, March 10, 2009

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 amazing) but he always always pees or poos in them. He's not ready yet, but we keep trying.

Normally this is the week where nothing goes on financially for me: nothing comes in or goes out by way of bill payments. From a PF POV, it's a boring week, enough to almost make me want to shop. Having these two payments coming in invigorates me and makes me want to get back to my spreadsheet and sidebars.

Oh the excitement. Can you feel it? :D


Seriously,
Karissa




Monday, March 09, 2009

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 support themselves. It's a catch-22, because we want to be able to look after ourselves, but we also want others to pay for us. Where is that line that gets blurred or crossed, that enables an independent woman to accept someone else paying her bill?

I also insist on paying my way because that is what I do with friends, or we take turns covering the bill. Why would I do anything differently because there might be some kissing later on?


Seriously,
Karissa


Saturday, March 07, 2009

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 almost all my cooking.

I also added a bunch of sprinkled salt while I was stirring. When the water looked like it was boiling off too quickly I added two more cups of warm water mixed with a tablespoon of vegetable stock powder.

I let it all cook for awhile until it turned into mush. It tasted better than it looked:



Enjoy!


Seriously,
Karissa


Friday, March 06, 2009

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 grade eleven business math class, and I had a little bit of money from my earnings working as a cashier at the drug store. Dee told me that if I started investing immediately that I would be a millionaire at her age.

Having spent my entire life watching both parents struggle for lack of funds, I decided to listen to an adult (for once) and paid a visit to the TD bank at the mall (this was way before they merged with Canada Trust. I had a CT account once too but closed it due to extraordinarily high service charges). I walked up to the teller at the TD branch at the mall and told her that I wanted to start investing in mutual funds. She appeared to take me seriously and sent me over to a manager. The manager was friendly enough and after hearing my plea took me back to the teller to open two new accounts: a chequing and a savings.

I put my money into the savings account for a few months until I had close to $500 saved. I didn't have a plan. I just deposited what I liked and spent the rest. I didn't get any other guidance from the bankers. Soon enough I had cleared out the account to buy some new clothes, and it was several years before I had that much money in the bank again.

I kept both accounts open until PC financial came along, and then I made the switch. TD wasn't good or bad, but they didn't help me at all with an investment strategy, that's for sure. I'm definately not a millionaire right now.

Now that I am older and wiser I think I'm ready to come up with a plan for investing. I'm not rushing into anything, which will give me the time to do my research and increase my confidence. I would like to get into the market while prices are low, but like every other investor I don't want to lose my savings. As well, investing is a goal, but my financial priority is debt elimination.


Seriously,
Karissa


Thursday, March 05, 2009

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 of my achievement. Of course he asked the question I had been dreading: does any of the money his employer sends each week end up in savings?

I tried to explain to him that my priority for the next couple of years is debt reduction. I have some savings (A LOT more than he does), but most of the money goes towards debt payments. I told him that if I didn't pay down the debt, then more of "his" money would be going towards interest payments, and lowering the interest takes priority over accumulating a smaller amount of interest in a savings account.

I think he got it, but I almost forgot I was speaking to someone whose debt reduction strategy is to let things go until his wages are garnished ...

And now that I've put my achievement out there it can be used for ammunition the next time we argue. I know him well, and he might try to argue that "his" money is being used to pay off "my" debts, even though a good chunk of it is compounded interest from cash advances that I had to take when I was living with him!

They say all is fair in love and war. I say some of us have to work our butts off to get stuff done, and we still get in trouble for it!

/rant :)


Seriously,
Karissa


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

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 inspired because if there is a change to my income it will be even more important to be debt-free.

However I am also feeling uninspired, because it's still at least a couple of weeks before I can change any of the totals in my accounts. What do I do in the meantime? I certainly can't shop ...

In the spirit of keeping my grocery bills low, I made an amazing vegetable and bean stew, using only ingredients from my cupboard and fridge. I had a lot of produce to use up from the community food box. The stew turned out quite good: chick peas, lentils, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, onion, garlic, carrots ... I seasoned it with vegetable stock powder, cumin and garam masala. It wasn't as spicy as I would have liked but I wanted Bean to like it too. He wouldn't eat it at first, but when I fed him a spoonful he said "yum!" and then had two or three more bites. Success!


Seriously,
Karissa


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

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 minutes now, and I would like to have new paperwork issued before I file my taxes.

As well, last year I received a T5 for Investment Income in the amount of $119.65. I assumed this was for interest earned in my RRSP account. However this year I did not receive one of these forms. Should I? Or should I not have last year?

I hope we can clear this up today, so that I can go ahead and file my taxes. I do not want to be held up by your errors and inconsistencies.

I have been flirting with another online bank. It would be a shame to have to make the switch after nine years of banking with you, but it is definately a consideration.


Seriously,
Karissa


Monday, March 02, 2009

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

Sunday, March 01, 2009

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 March: stop waffling and start meal planning. I wish I weren't such a dunce in the kitchen.

End of Feb budget: $97.16 remaining
LOC down $1042.50
CC down $53
Slush Fund down $200
EF remains the same


Seriously,
Karissa