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xmas 2010 post-mortem

Happy New Year everyone.

I have been working on my budget for 2011 and I am confident that I will have the last of the credit card debt gone by the end of the coming year. I can't say I will be debt-free because I will then have the $30 000+ student loan debt to tackle, however I am feeling pretty ecstatic to see the end of the credit card era of my life.

It was nice to receive my paycheque on the 28th of December and be able to allocate it entirely into my new budget. I didn't have any credit card bills to pay since I managed to use some savings for all my xmas gift purchases. I also bought way less this year than in previous years. My sister and I agreed to buy nothing for each other and instead got together on xmas eve for a nice visit. I also didn't buy for any of my step-siblings' kids (of which there are now 6) because they keep multiplying while I responsibly keep my number of offspring to just one :)

I kept my traveling to a minimum this xmas and when I did hav…

confession time

I have been trying to wean myself off the internet, and it's not quite working. I took a two-week vacation from my Google Reader and it helped a bit but I WAS still checking facebook several times a day. I try to filter as much as I can by refusing to click on external links and this helps a bit.

However I realized that I feel like an ostrich with my head stuck in the internet, and I am avoiding everyday, real-time life by spending more than five minutes on the internet each night. This is especially not fair to my beautiful four-year-old boy who is growing up so quickly.

I thought, how ironic that I read all these sites about minimalism and quality of life, but I don't put them into practice. An hour online goes by, and my dishes are still piled up on the counter. I am overwhelmed by all the "stuff" I have to do but I avoid it by checking what someone from my life ten years ago is doing.

It reminded me of how I first got into meditation, and I would read and read an…

I guess I should title this (meme)

Snagged from Butterfly Collector

Part One - Describe:

Your hair? shoulder-length, natural light-brown. I haven't coloured it in over five years, since I became pregnant. I actually like my natural hair colour, after years of abuse :)

Your favorite food? veggie curry

Your dream last night? I can't remember

Your favorite drink? Coca Cola (in a can)

Your dream/goal? to be debt free

The room are you in? living room

Your hobby? playing on the internet

Your fear? that something terrible will happen to my son

Your TV? is turned on when my son is home

Your Pets? none, but I'm thinking of getting Bean a dwarf bunny for his fifth birthday in April

Friends? I don't make them easily, but I keep the few I have close

Your life? waiting

Your mood? at this moment I am ok

If you're missing someone? I miss my Nan, who passed away five years ago this month

Your best friend? I have more than one

Part Two - The Wheres:

Where do you want to be in 6 years? in a happy place

Where were you l…

my own blog rules

I've been maintaining this blog for (close to? more than?) two years. I'm obviously not keeping track of time. The blog is not exactly what I thought it would be, but it's been an amazing tool for tracking my progress and that's the most important thing. It keeps me honest and accountable. It probably keeps you asleep - if you even read it anymore. I don't care really, I stopped watching the stats almost immediately.

And I've come up with a few rules and here's three:

1. Stop clicking on free stuff. Maybe even stop following blogs that offer free stuff. Thanks to a couple of thoughtless keystrokes I now get a spam phone call each night, and at least a couple of spam snail-mails each week. Good thing I'll be moving and leaving my landline in the spring but in the meantime ...

2. I've stopped following almost all blogs that don't offer a full blog post in their feed. I follow way too many blogs now and rarely click on them individually unless I kn…

Cool contest - tons of prizes

Squirrelers is hosting a Thanksgiving giveaway contest until Nov. 25. There are tons of prizes:

Grand Prize: $100 Amazon Gift Card, from Squirrelers
Your Money: The Missing Manual, by JD Roth (Sponsored by Budgeting In The Fun Stuff)
$10 Amazon Gift Card (Sponsored by Young and Thrifty)
$10 Amazon Gift Card (Sponsored by Wealth Informatics)
I Will Teach You to Be Rich, by Ramit Sethi (Sponsored by PF Firewall)
$25 Amazon Gift Card (Sponsored by Invest It Wisely)
$25 Gift Card to a major retailer (Sponsored by (Barbara Friedberg)
$15 Amazon Gift Card (Sponsored by KNS Financial)
$20 Amazon Gift Card (Sponsored by Money Crashers)
Control Your Cash: Making Money Make Sense (Sponsored by Control Your Cash)
$20 Amazon Gift Certificate (Sponsored by Out of Debt Again)
2 separate prizes of If I’m So Smart…Where did All My Money Go (Sponsored by Doug Warshauer)
$20 Amazon Gift Card (Sponsored by Everyday Tips and Thoughts)
$25 Starbucks Gift Card (Sponsored by Couple Money)
$50 Wal-Mart Gift …

this is why I can't carry a credit card with me

The health food store near our apartment has a customer appreciation day on the last Tuesday of the month: 10% off all purchases. I try to get a list going and when I direly need something I'll try to time it to make it over on this special day.

Last Tuesday I noticed I was running low on Vitamin D. I take Vit. D, a multi-vitamin, and fish oils every morning. I was also feeling a little under the weather, so I thought I'd pick up a natural cold remedy while I was in there picking up the Vitamin D.

When I got to the store I noticed the "Customer Appreciation" sign wasn't up on the door but I decided to go in anyways. You know where this is going. I walked out with Vit. D, echinacea, (EDIT: AND more fish oils), a bottle of Floradix (liquid iron supplement), two bags of organic cereal, a bottle of shampoo, a box of rice milk, and a bottle of China Cola. I spent almost $80.00.

When I got out to my car with my bag of stuff, I remembered that customer appreciation day …

Confession (Debt Rut part two)

I did it. I said I wouldn't, but I pulled the trigger.

I bought a netbook. Actually, more than a netbook. About $300 more.

I put in some overtime hours and instead of putting the extra money onto my debt I used it to buy myself an early birthday present. A $600 early birthday present. A little laptop, that had all the specs I had been researching for the past six months. I tried to wait another month to see if the price would drop for xmas, but I gave in.

It's an Acer Aspire Timeline 1810T. I'm going to write a proper review for the Future Shop site and I'll copy it here too.

So far, a fun little toy.

Please don't judge me :)

Seriously, Karissa

PS: I also bought a new winter coat for $89. It's goose-down. Hopefully it lasts the season. It has been years since I bought a proper winter coat. PAID OFF.

PPS: I also bought a gym membership for $40 a month. So far I've been going to yoga twice a week and it's totally worth the money spent. Deducted from payro…

I'd be rich

Recently my sweetheart and I had a conversation about lotteries. I told him that all I wanted was one million dollars. It's a ton of money for my purposes but really on the grand scheme of things it's not much. Think about it, all you have to spend is one cent and you're no longer a millionaire.

Anyways, if I won a million dollars - which I wouldn't, because I don't buy tickets - I would spend it like this:

$400 000 - one good piece of property to live and retire in. It doesn't even have to cost that much, but I would like to put aside a cushion for utilities and maintenance.
$40 000 - pay off every last cent of my credit card debt and student loans
$60 000 - take a trip around the world with my son and my sweetheart

That's only half. The other half I would put into trust funds for charitable donations, maybe a bursary at my university, and of course savings for my future and Bean's too. It's really not that much but it's a fortune to me, and ho…

Debt Rut

The dreaded debt rut. I think I'm in one.

I recently posted that I switched my focus from paying the credit card debt as quickly as possible to building a proper emergency fund, which I expected to deplete either if I went on strike or if I got the car repaired.

I didn't go on strike, but I did get the car repaired. Yet my EF still sits at just over $1000. The thing is, where recently I thought having savings would be detrimental to my aggressive debt repayment schedule, instead I decided I liked the look of a nice four-figure number in my bank account. I changed my mind, and that's ok. The debt gurus would be proud, because I now have a minimum EF.

So not only had my debt sat at $6500 for over a month, it's now actually increased to $8000, because I decided to use my line of credit to pay for the car repair, so that I could keep my little EF intact in my savings account.

The other thing I have decided is to re-visit the "Debt Diet," which I think Oprah was e…

This smile cost me $1500

Bean and I returned the borrowed Honda and got back on the public bus for the month of September. We made the most of it, but twice a day I dreaded bumping into the smiling driver who made me pay for the boy's fare as well as mine. Each day I carried $7 to $9 in change with me so I could pay for us both. I was getting tired, and equally tired of relying on my sweetheart to drive me around for errands each weekend.

So I got the Ford fixed, and it cost me $1500. In the three days since I got the car back, I've had a serious smile on my face :) Does it ever feel good to be able to do things again.

For example, Bean was up half the night with an earache. I got through to a doctor's office that is part of our Family Health Team, and they said they had an appointment available in forty-five minutes. There was no way we could get to the south end of town on the bus, but since we have the car back I was able to accept the appointment and get there just in time. If we didn't ha…

Swearing at Strangers

Twice, in the past three days, I have wanted to swear at strangers.

The first time was at the folks who run the swimming lessons registration at the school gym. I was told that registration would start on Wednesday, and when I hurried over there at lunch time I was told that I would have to come back between 5 and 7 pm. When I told them I wouldn't be able to because I planned to pick up my son from kindergarten at five and we would have to take the bus back UP to campus, the woman just shrugged and said they "had to keep it fair for everyone." FAIR!! How is that fair for us single, car-less moms?! Or are we just nobodies?!

The second time, yesterday morning, was at the city bus driver. Now, I have been threatened numerous times over the past few months that ALL passengers pay $2.25 for their ride, unless they are under two or over sixty-five. Each time I get on the bus with my son, he goes running to the back seat while I pay. Some drivers threaten to make me pay for him…

So far, kindergarten sucks

For me anyways. Bean seems to really enjoy it so I guess they're doing something right.

We had a communication breakdown on the second day that wronged me and alienated me from both the JK teacher and the principal. I thought about boycotting the Welcome Back BBQ scheduled for this evening, but decided to go anyways, have a hot dog, and see if the teacher or principal would approach me.

The invitation to the BBQ didn't mention anything about paying for the hot dog. I knew there were raffle tickets, since I was asked to donate candy for a prize basket (which I did, so much for my boycott), so I knew I would have to spend some money there. In the end I bought only one ticket, because a hot dog for me and Bean each, plus a drink cost me $4.50. If the food had been free, like I thought it was supposed to be, I would have spent $6 on raffle tickets instead of only $1.

Then I had the pleasure of dragging Bean out of there, who insisted on staying until they drew his name for the toy…

More savings

Well I finally opened an ING savings account, and it took me a few months, but I finally remembered to send a cheque in to get things rolling. The good part is that I got a $25 referral bonus (and I can't remember whose Orange Key I used to get it) and the bad part is that the account is still not linked to my other online bank account. I guess I have to send them another cheque, marked VOID. What a pain. I'll get around to it eventually.

So now I have two Savings progress bars, one for my old account, and one for my new.

ING just started offering a chequing account so I opened one today. I am going have my government incentive cheques (GST, HST, PST) deposited there so that I won't be tempted to spend them. I am also going to send VOID cheques to the companies I use for RESP savings and life insurance to have both withdrawn from the ING account.

The focus of this shift to ING is Bean, and keeping "his" finances separate from the others (rent, food, household, et…

A new expense

Bean starts Junior Kindergarten tomorrow, bringing a new responsibility for me that will also require a change in the budget: the school lunch. For the past three+ years we have been fortunate to have the daycare provide a hot lunch every day, and I knew it was a matter of time before this luxury came to an end.

Not a complete end, as for the next two years Bean will attend JK every other day, alternating with daycare days. So I will have to be hyper-vigilant about remembering what day it is. If it's a "school day" we will have to pack a lunch and take a walk up the hill to the public school. If it's daycare day then we can leave empty-handed for the bus - or the car if it gets fixed next week like it's supposed to.

Now to go make some jam&banana sandwiches, peel some carrots, and pack some crackers.

Seriously, Karissa

Progress bars update

Anyone following my progress bars might notice that for this month so far my debt has stayed at $6700 while my savings has increased to $500. Normally I would put most of the savings towards the debt but for the next few weeks I just can't.

Now I know I'm supposed to have at least $1000 saved for emergencies but for a while I was doing it my way and throwing almost every cent on the debt. I'm just that desperate to get it paid off. However this month I'm halfway to a proper EF because the threat of a strike is looming at work and I don't want to rely entirely on my Line of Credit.

If the strike is averted I will probably use the money saved to fix up my Ford, which is still sitting at the shop waiting for a quote. I've asked the mechanic to keep it under $1000 but he thinks it might be more like $1200 - $1500. Hope to find out within a couple of days since I have to return the Honda to its owners tomorrow (with thanks, and hope that they don't mind I didn&#…

me and my wise ideas

My passport expired in May, and I've been slowly working on the "simplified" application for renewal. I finally had some time to get the photos taken, and for some stupid reason I chose to go to Walmart. They weren't very friendly, but they took the pics and when I asked the price I was told there was a "special": two pics and a passport wallet for $19.99. In disbelief I asked what the regular price was and was told $23.99. I told the lady I was sure I had never spent more than $10 on passport photos and she acted like she didn't believe me. I handed over my card and she handed me a plain black passport wallet that smelled slightly of gasoline.

I then went across the street to Shopper's Drug Mart to mail the small package to the passport office. Next to the postal outlet was a photo area, with a sign that said, "Passport Photos $9.99" which made me feel slightly sick to my stomach.

I hardly ever go to Walmart any more and now I remember wh…

Managing

I just got off the phone with VISA. I have a card with a $30 000 credit limit and a "low-interest" rate of 12%, with an annual fee of $29. I had them switch it to a no-fee, 1% cash-back card with warranty extension and a $5000 credit limit.

I am just not comfortable with so much open credit now that my balance is on its way to $5000, but at the same time I was not yet ready to close out the account entirely, which was my intention. I realize that it's useful to have a VISA card for the locations that do not accept MC - like the eye doctor I visited last summer.

Eventually I will be credit card free, but not yet.

Seriously, Karissa

Another Moment of Joy

A bright, beautiful, windy day. Coffee in hand, I'm heading toward my office. I hear them before I see them: a huge gaggle of noisy Canada geese in circle formation passes by overhead. They are honking like their lives depend on it and the silliness of the sound makes me smile. I notice that, even though it is mid-to-late August and mornings are getting chilly, they are heading north . This makes me feel joyous. Summer is not yet over.

I look out over the river and see the gaggle settling onto the water, still in a circle. I wonder what the noisy urgency was, and why they settle there. From how far did they fly? Maybe just down river. No answers, but it doesn't matter, because their very existence made me happy.

Seriously, Karissa

What brings me Joy?

This post is part of SOYJOY‘s What brings you joy contest. Learn more here.


Seriously, I'm a person of a pretty morose character. Years of wrong choices, bad luck, untrained coping skills and general pessimism have flavoured me in such a way that contentment has been an elusive second cousin, thrice removed.

About six years ago I found myself alone, lonely, and unhealthy and medicated. I had hit my bottom and luckily for me I was desperate to climb back up. I explored meditation and cognitive therapy. I went to twelve-step meetings and listened to the stories of those who had suffered much more than me, always wondering if I deserved to be so unhappy. I couldn't pinpoint the start of my decline, but I guessed it was sometime during my fourth year of university. I knew, though, that I had lived with unhappiness and depression off and on for years.

So you can imagine my hesitation and skepticism when my dear friend Kate Baggott posted about Joy the other day. I thought about it,…

For me, time is money

My time is valuable. Isn't yours?

I switched to a more part-time work position so that I would have time for my son. My job is great, my work hours are somewhat flexible. Not as flexible as work-at-home or freelance, but I don't have the skills for that.

By working part-time I am able to spend more time with Bean in the morning - let's face it, we are dawdlers. Once I drop him off at daycare I meander to my office, unless I have a meeting scheduled which makes our morning hectic, but thankfully that is only once every month during the school year.

Some days I leave work early so that I can go to the grocery store alone, or attend a self-help meeting (my version of "me time").  I know I can't handle the stress of "I want this! I want that!" so I rarely take Bean to the store with me.

A couple of weeks ago though I was feeling rushed. It felt like a thousand degrees outside and I was hurrying through Price Chopper, getting the things we needed to get …

Car repair or purchase - what would you do?

So my Ford is still sitting in my parking lot, and I'm still driving the borrowed Honda. I can't say I've saved much money, since I have paid $130 for a new (used) tire and a replacement brake line. Both situations leading up to these repairs were costly in terms of stress and slight trauma as well. I have a feeling I should bring the Honda back to it's owners' house and say "thanks!"

If I do that I have three choices:
1) Get back on the bus
2) Buy a new(er) car
3) Repair the Ford

The mechanic who installed the Honda's new brake line said more lines are rusty and are going to break, and will need replacing. He's willing to take look at the Ford for free. He thinks $3000 was a high quote for the repair, but admitted that it will still be expensive.

I hope to have the credit card balance down to $7000 and in a couple of months I will transfer it back to the LOC (5.5%), before the interest rate on the card goes back up to it's normal 19%. That le…

La la la laptops*

Because I may be buying another car soon, I put off the new laptop purchase for a while. While Dell has deals for back-to-school and Mac is "giving away" Ipod Touch, it seems like the computer I want is only going up in price while the weeks of summer dwindle away. A month ago it was in stock and $599, now it's back-ordered and $692. Grrr.

So I'm looking at Dells again but the reviews aren't great, and I even contemplated a Macbook because there's one with an 11" screen, and Bean would LOVE an Ipod because his cousin has one.

Any feedback on netbooks or small-screen notebooks (I'd like Duo Core rather than Atom) is much appreciated.

CAR UPDATE: just got off the phone with a mechanic (who fixed a rusty brake line on the Honda I've borrowed, which is a scary story in itself) who said that my Ford may have been misdiagnosed and he might be able to replace the timing belt and get it running again. He's going to research a bit more and get back to…

Nothing is Free ...

... but some days things are cheap.

I approached first Canadian Tire, and then the used tire shop with dread, expecting to pay out at least a couple hundred bucks for a front tire, maybe both front tires. The one on the right blew while we were on the highway on Sunday. It was scary for me, but my son slept through it and when he woke up and found out a tow truck was on its way was incredibly excited.

He even asked me to take pictures of the truck, which I did.

The CAA guy installed the spare tire and advised me to go no more than 80 km the rest of the way home. Without any air conditioning the ride seemed to take. Forever.

Canadian Tire was too busy so on a friend's recommendation I went to a used place and was told it was my lucky day (finally!) because they were going to sell me the last tire in stock in the size that I needed. For less than forty bucks.

Happy day!

For several days I have been looking online at 2004 to 2007 hatchbacks. I'm checking out mostly Honda and Toyo…

What is Free?

There's a lot of talk about freedom in my neck of the woods these past few days, but I'm going to try to keep it simple and mention a couple of cool free things that have come my way the past couple of weeks.

There is of course the car, a great little Honda Civic that is serving us nicely around town. I say a prayer of thanks every time I get into it.

I've been offered another car for no charge: my sweetheart has a Saturn that is not highway-friendly and he has been meaning to take care of it for over a year now. He said I can take it whenever I want to. The caveat is that it is manual so I will have to learn to drive standard. My "bucket list" (I really dislike that term) includes this skill so I think it is time to cross something else from the "list of things to do before I die" (my preferred title).

Finally, I was pleased to receive an email from Ms Single Mama requesting my snail-mail address, as I had commented on her offer to give away a free cop…

Here's a thought

If the city wants commuters to switch to public transit, how about giving the drivers a little training in customer service?

I have to say I will be skipping to my friends' house to pick up their car, because I can't stand the public abuse the bus drivers dish out. Not just to me, but to other parents as well. For some reason they really like to pick on the parents of small children.

In this city, anyone over the age of two is expected to pay $2.25 for bus fare, but nobody bothers to pay if their kid is four or five, and the bus drivers don't enforce it. Some of them, however will grumble every time we get on and don't pay, but if we offer money, they won't take it. They just like to grumble. There's one driver who asks the father of one of Bean's classmates every single time they get on the bus, "how old is he?" And every single time he replies, "he's four" and she starts grumbling. This same driver passed one of the mothers and her…

Three goods and a bad

More like one fantastic, two greats and an ugh.

The Greats:

- The university has an agreement with Dell for computer purchases. I got the brainy idea to contact our sales rep and get quote on a Mini. He quoted me $297 taxes, etc in, and that includes a six-cell battery. I am going to wait until July to order it because when the HST comes into effect the university will apply an institutional rebate of 78% (meaning I will save another $15 on the price).

- HST rebate cheque direct deposited yesterday. $200 immediately goes on the debt, bringing it down to $8000 even, and the other bit I am saving for another pair of orthopedic shoes (bringing me up to three pairs: sandals, clogs, and then shoes!)

The Ugh:

- I signed up for this challenge and on the first day wrote a few hundred words, which I promptly lost when my Word decided to go bunk on me. I started again yesterday but it's just not flowing like it was the day before. Haven't lost all hope yet, but I'm clearly missing t…

Car-Free

A couple of observations on living car-free:

- Our day is extended by at least an hour because of waiting waiting waiting for the bus
- If we miss the "fast bus" (the express) we will almost certainly be late, because the "slow bus" comes by every forty minutes
- Unfortunately the "fast bus" runs only six times a day during the summer term
- Wearing a back pack is turning into a serious habit
- I'm convinced I have less cellulite on my hips and upper thighs, from walking across campus at least twice a day
- I have already put $200 towards the credit card debt only one week into the month
- It's not so bad, really (I tell myself this several times a day and almost believe it)

Seriously, Karissa

Bye bye for now

To do tomorrow: have the Ford towed back to the parking lot of my building. The mechanic of the lot where it sits now quoted me a $3000 repair bill, and then offered to sell me a 96 Corolla for $1500. He said the timing belt went, exposing valves, bending them, and frying the engine. As it stands now I owe them $120 for the diagnosis, and tomorrow I'll pay them and have CAA tow my baby the hell out of there. My sweetheart stopped there last night to remove the boy's car seat and found both doors unlocked and the key in the ignition (not that the car would start to go anywhere, but still).

What a mickey-mouse operation. If I decide to get the car fixed, I won't do it there.

In their defence, I did say I'd be by to settle up by Wednesday or Thursday so maybe they just forgot to lock up after I didn't show up on Wed. But still.

So for now I have a 30-day bus pass and a plan to use next month's gas money to buy a toy shelf for Bean's bedroom. He is just recentl…

Update

Jolie wanted to know how the cash jars are going so here's an update.

We're going into week four with the cash jars. So far I think I'm getting used to it. One problem I can see so far is with gas money. For the past three months I have spent around $80 on gas for the car, so for this month I budgeted $100. The whole amount was spent a week ago. I suspect it's because I am using a full-serve station now and maybe they aren't very honest at the pump. I can't think of another option because my son is usually in the car when we fill up and I used to rely on pay-at-the-pump with my credit card. I'm thinking of going back to that.

For groceries the cash only seems to be working though, and we still have $60 out of $200 remaining with just over a week to go. I don't have any of my $100 personal spending money left but that's to be expected. I sold my sister my crappy cell phone and all its accessories for $50 and I still have $40 left from that.

In other …

Save Your Bucks

Save Your Bucks
By Robert Loney

Ever wonder who is offering the best price on that fridge? Or whether you could get a less expensive long  distance calling rate? Here I am to your rescue! Paying for a home internet connection? Make it work for you!  Various organizations and people have posted aids to help consumers get a better deal, and in doing so have probably made retailers and service providers drop their prices a bit as competition heats up! Here I'll provide some useful web sites that can help you save money by becoming a smarter consumer!

First, let's tackle the purchase of goods. There are several sites that compare how much a particular item costs at different retailers. Most allow you to search for a product by specific features (e.g., freezers that are energy star), and some also provide full descriptions and user ratings on items.
http://www.pricecanada.com
Computers, electronics, DVDs, Canadian oriented.
http://www.shopbot.ca/
A wide range of products, Canadian …

It seriously didn't matter

I opened my first savings account when I was six years old. My mom was a bank teller and she set my sister and I both up with Calculator accounts at the Royal Bank. I loved playing with my passbook, pretending to push the little buttons on the cover. I loved rolling up pennies and giving them to my mom to deposit, watching the typed numbers increase in the passbook.

I always had a little bit of cash, even as a little girl. I got an allowance of $2 a week and I liked to spend it on books (usually Judy Blume). I remember coming up with extra chores lists, and would charge my parents 25 cents for anything above and beyond my usual chores. My sister always spent her money right away and would come to me to "borrow" my money because she knew I always had some.

I had an ATM card when I was twelve, and used it wisely. I knew how to write a cheque. I took a business class in high school, with a component in personal finance and did very well. I took business math and marketing and e…

Cash Only

April was a little too spendy for my liking (two impulse shops + one trip to the Capital + one trip to have my snow tires removed + Bean's fourth birthday = $500) so for May I have switched to cash only. I withdrew $400 cash ($200 for food & household, $100 for car-gas, $100 spending money) and divided it into a couple of old spagetti sauce jars.

So far, I hate this system. I am just not used to cash. I like cards.

I don't know if I'll get used to it. I'm going to try my hardest, because I can't rely on the security of my line of credit anymore, since I transferred the balance of my debt onto a low-interest master card (0.99% for ten months). Previously I was depositing my monthly paycheque into the LOC account and removing a weekly amount for expenses (usually $100 a week or $200 when car insurance was due). This system seemed to work really well for me: I was paying the balance down and feeling secure about access to my funds.

Now that my debt is sitting in a…

Wants/Needs; Pros/Cons

Canadian Saver asked me why I want a Dell mini and it made me think. Besides the fact that it's cute, why do I need this new toy?

So I thought I'd make a pros/cons list:

Pros:
- small size will make it nice for my weekend jaunts
- 160 or 250 gbs for storage - I can keep more pics, music and maybe a movie or two for travel
- I can get one with a purple top!

Cons:
- my son will think it's his, because it's small and purple (his fave colour)
- I want the OS to be WinXP, and this is available only with a 3-cell battery (a 6-cell battery on its own is $170 extra)
- adding purple adds $30 to the cost, plus I'll probably buy a sleeve (compound spending)
- I read somewhere that the sound and video don't actually work well on the Mini
- I'm supposed to be paying off my entire credit card debt this year, so I must stop spending money I don't have!

Seriously, Karissa

Mini-obsession

I certainly don't need one, but I want a netbook. Badly. Lately I have been comparing the Dell Mini to the MSI Wind. Doing so I'm getting pretty good at navigating through geek-tech sites.


Telus update: I finally called Loyalty & Retention yesterday and explained the whole sordid tale, beginning with the dead battery from last October. The result is a new HTC Snap on the truck and into my hands today. I hope that receiving this FREE toy will placate the desire for a new laptop.


Not that it was free, with the bill I paid back in November plus all the time and aggravation on the phone and in person since then. But I'll take what I can get.


Seriously,
Karissa

Well no wonder

Just returned from  weekend jaunt to Capital City. I was going to drive but my little car (paid off) starting making a squeaky noise that I think might be the fan belt - it detaching itself was just one of the many car problems I suffered last summer, resulting in $1400+ in repairs. I really don't want a repeat of THAT this summer. As well it was reported to rain on Friday and one of wiper blades has come apart, resulting in a beautiful arc of a scratch on the windshield. I wish I had that checked as soon as I noticed something wrong, but I left it and now I will deal with it this week. In just a few days I will be taking the car to the Big City to have my snow tires removed so I will have to get it looked at very very soon.

So I bought a return Greyhound ticket, which set me back $118!! Taking my car would have cost less in gas but I just couldn't take the risk. I guess Greyhound has increased ticket prices to cover increased costs (fuel, salaries, benefits, etc) and decrease…

How cool is this?

I love gadgets and toys. I have a serious pen collection that I've culled by bringing them into work so that people can grab them from a mug on my desk. I'm not as attached to them anymore: they can go. What stays with me is a little 2GB data key that holds copies of my most important documents, some pics, and a most-up-to-date copy of my budget spreadsheet.

So you can imagine how impressed I was to find this cool pen + usb traveller from Memory Suppliers.com (I have a link to the site over there in the right-hand column).

Too bad I don't have a reason to order any of these nifty gadgets. If I were one of them pro-mommy-blogger types I could have a debtfreekid logo designed and hand them out at conventions.

Maybe next year :)

Seriously,
Karissa

Still obsessed

... with spending money I don't have.

This past week I have created wishlists all over the Net. I customized a Dell Mini and looked at yoga toys. I have at least twenty listings in MyEbay.

The BBC Canada Store contacted me to add a link - which I have, below - and now I have all nine or so seasons of Red Dwarf in a wishlist on their site.

I went to Winners last week, looking for panda bear slippers for my son. I walked out with two dresses and a jumper, a pair of (non-orthotic) wedge sandals and a toy purple dragon. Over $130 spent that I managed to work into my budget spreadsheet without catastrophe, but those funds SHOULD be going toward the $9000 on the MC.

A visit to the dollar store yesterday had me spending just over $30 and this didn't cover all the items on my shopping list.

Something is up in my psyche and I'm not sure what or why. Is it just spring fever? Or have my spending issues returned to cause problems?

Seriously,
Karissa



The Problem with Parity

The Canadian dollar is almost at par with the U.S. bill, and because of this I have found myself browsing both ebay and ebags. I have a serious addiction to leSportsac - especially the leopard print styles - and I usually buy a new item each year. I skipped last year because I was so serious about debt reduction.

I am trying not to let myself believe that I "deserve" a new bag. I am grappling with the issue of entitlement in all kinds of areas. I used to justify the expensive leSportsac purchase by acknowledging that the bags were Made in USA, but I know that they haven't been for a few years now. The quality of the Made in Asia bags appear to be the same, but the guilt of potentially buying from a sweatshop does not make me feel good. Maybe I want a reward for being so good at debt repayment, but I don't want to compromise my values.

But oh, there are some cute bags out there.

Seriously,
Karissa

0.99%

I called Master Card to check the status of my application for the new card. It was still pending, but the rep informed me that I had a deal on my current card for 0.99% for the next nine months. I decided on the spot to go for it, and now my diminishing debt is back on the MC for a little while. It changes my strategy of pooling all my resources into my easily-accessible LOC, and means I will have to be more diligent to put a large chunk onto the card rather than hoarding it in a savings account with fear.

However it will be nice to use my neglected savings account again. Hopefully I can keep some funds in there for once!

Seriously,
Karissa

A New Master?

Well, my debt is under $10 000 and settled nicely into my Line of Credit at 5.25%. The only strategy I had planned for the next year-and-a-bit is to plug as much money possible into that account to pay it down to $0. I was looking forward to starting with my next paycheque on the 28th (I get paid once a month, right?).

I figured at least one of my credit card companies would come sniffing around since they all have zero balances. So I don't know why was I surprised today to receive an invitation from MBNA to switch to their PremierRewards card. Normally I shred these invites but today I sat down and looked it over.

If they approve me for $10 000 I can move my LOC balance over and pay 1.99% for ten months. The "small" print at the back of the page tells me that there is a balance transfer fee of 1% of amount transferred with a minimum fee of $7.50. So right off I will pay $100 to transfer over. Interest on $10 000 is $16.58 per month, which would go down if I continue to …

Axing the Amazon Associates Store

I was excited to learn that Amazon.ca was going to send $15.61 to my chequing account for being a part of their Associates program. All I had to do to earn this was post a link on my sites and encourage people to click through my link to purchase their books and music. I have had the links up for over a year but it wasn't until this past xmas, when I started to harass my facebook friends, that I made the $15 and change.

I waited for the payment to arrive to my account, and in anticipation, sent $15 to a friend getting married who was selling stuff online to raise funds for her wedding. I sent it as a gift, not wanting anything in return. Meanwhile the $15.61 never arrived.

I began investigating over the past few days, using their online forms. I have to admit the responses were fast! First I was told that the payment had been returned by my bank, and to verify my bank information on my account page. I did this and let them know, and received a second response telling me that I had…

I MASTERED MY CARD

Received my T4 at the end of February and immediately filed online. Received my income tax refund by direct deposit today and PAID OFF MY MASTERCARD. Looky at the pretty sidebars. I moved up the debt bar because I'm so proud.

People have been asking me how I cleared $11 000 worth of debt in 15 months and to be honest, I'm not quite sure how I did it. I'm making a mental list and hope to type it out and post it soon.

Hope you're having a great weekend. Mine just got that much better :)

Seriously,
Karissa


Get Smarter About Money

Apologies if this has already been spammed about the web, but a random click on an ad banner (yes, sometimes I click!) brought me to this site.

I haven't have a chance to go through all of it yet, but at first glance I do like the look of it.

**This is not a sponsored post**

Seriously,
Karissa


For fun - Pay the Bills Spell

A random click brought me to this - Llewellyn's Pay the Bills Spell.

When I was much younger I was a big fan of Llewellyn products, but now I just browse the titles for fun. I consider these things distractions, and it's easy to get carried away with them and use them for procrastination and avoidance of real life issues.

I might just do this spell, so that I stay on track. Anyone know where I can find a cauldron?

Seriously?,
Karissa


Fifteen months

I'm proud. Hell, I'm bragging. In fifteen months I have paid off 50% of my credit card debt. Over ten thousand dollars. I don't know how I did it. I didn't take a second job and I didn't sell anything online. I still have a social life and a car. I even paid off a huge car repair bill ($1400+) and bought two pairs of orthopedic shoes ($500). I bought a crappy new cell phone ($300 with all the bells and whistles). And still, I managed to pay HALF my debt in just over a year.

I'm psyched I tell ya. If I can keep this up, I'll be paying off my student loans in no time, and then I can start saving up for a bigger and better life for my son and I.

Seriously,
Karissa


Who says nothing is free?

You have to imagine my surprise when I received a voice mail from the cable company offering me free digital TV, high-speed internet, and telephone with the purchase of my new home. I returned the call to confirm and as it turns out, with my new lease I will be receiving all three services FOR FREE for twelve months. I was told that I would receive cable with the new apartment, but I assumed I would have to pick one service. I had decided on telephone because I still hate Telus so much.

Nope. All three. It has been years since I watched cable TV, and over a year since I canceled my cable internet. I feel like I'm back in the 2000s. I just might gain twenty pounds being a couch potato in the next twelve months.

Seriously,
Karissa


Well I did it

I cleaned out my TFSA and put it on my MasterCard. I am so close to paying it off I can taste it. I will probably move another $400 from my LOC to bring the MC balance down to $1500. Then it's the waiting game for my tax return which will go right on there as well, hopefully paying it off. I'm not putting anything into my RRSP this year. I want this debt gone.

After fifteen months sharing a one-bedroom, Bean and I are moving into a two-bedroom on March 1st. We're staying in the same building, just moving down to the ground floor. I'll be paying about $150 a month for the extra bedroom plus a small backyard behind our apartment. Plus the super said they would give us a basic cable account for free for one year. I will have to sign another one year lease, which I think is BS considering I just finished one with them.

Seriously,
Karissa

Today's horoscope

"You might be anxious about your finances, and if you have debts, especially on plastic, there might be good reason for concern. It could motivate you to do something about it, and that's a good thing. Start planning for a "zero-debt day" and you'll feel a lot better. "

Seriously,
Karissa

The Way of the Happy Woman

*This is not a sponsored post*

Back in 2005 I spent two months in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and it is one of my long-term goals to return.

For a few months now I have been receiving email from Sara Avant Stover and I thought I'd share the most recent one here.

Dear K,

I don't know about you, but for me, one of the hardest things to do is LET GO.

Another way to put that is "Surrender."

When I'm faced with a bad day, a challenging situation, or a super-human to-do list, sometimes
I can get wrapped up in the drama. I can take on a defeatist attitude and say to myself,

"Oh, I can never do that."

"I'll never have enough time."

"This is overwhelming."

And, when I say these things to myself I actually start to BELIEVE them. This is when I get into trouble. I get tired, even sick. I lose focus on the big picture. And, worst of all, I lose touch with my soft core as a woman.

I KNOW I'm not alone in this. I hear it from many of you, from my clients, s…

Goals for 2010

Happy New Year!

Here are some of my goals for 2010:
- go to the gym three times a week (yoga, weights, cardio)
- eat three proper meals a day - with protein - and keep them as healthy as possible
- start knitting again (xmas presents)
- pay another $7000+ off the debts
- practice gratitude every day

Seriously,
Karissa