Thursday, May 16, 2013

for sale

Last night before I fell asleep I was seriously contemplating selling my bass guitar and my violin.

I own a 1974 Fender MusicMaster bass that I used in several punk-rock bands in the 1990s.

I also own a 1902 Stradivarius copy that I have never really played. A few years ago I took it in for repairs and was told that if I played for 20 minutes each day that the violin would repair itself. I never did it.

I could probably get $600 for the bass and maybe $50 for the violin, so it might not be worth it. That amount would be spent pretty quickly with nothing to show for it.

I still owe $2900 to my debt. $650 would barely make a dent.

Yet I don't intend to play either instrument any time soon so I would do it for two other reasons:
1) to de-clutter a bit
2) to break from my past.

I played the violin in public school from grades 6-9. I went to music camp for a couple of weeks for two summers. I was actually pretty good by the time I quit. I was supposed to audition for a school of arts for high school but my nerves kept me away, and no one from my family was interested in coming with me, which might have encouraged me. One of my biggest regrets is skipping that audition. I'm sure I would have been accepted, and I planned to major in violin and minor in music theatre.

The bass was given to me by a friend but I did pay him back for it. He bought it stripped of it's original mint-green paint, and it also had a modified pick-up, so it was not worth much. I think at the time it was less than $300. Last year my partner decided to sand it and paint it burgundy, but it still does not get played.

I am also thinking of selling my Toyota in the fall. I would want $3000, to pay off the debt completely.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

money mistakes part two

The other day I was standing in our "back backyard," a large lot behind our backyard that we share with several other houses in the area, watching my son kick his soccer ball again and again into the net that someone had set up there. Parked nearby was a red SUV, and the appearance of the driver reminded me of one of the "stupid money mistakes" that I referred to in my last post.

I think I posted over and over about my problematic previous vehicle, the red Ford. I had just put out another large sum to keep it on the road in July 2011. About two weeks later, one of the graduate students was in my office, and she mentioned that she had to sell her Toyota in two days before she left the province for good. I asked her about it, and she mentioned it was a 2005 Echo with 72 000 kms on it. I asked her how much and she said $5000, to which I replied, "Sold!" Then she told me that it was a standard, and I decided then that it was time to learn how to drive manual transmission.

My VISA had recently sent out a couple of 0% balance transfer cheques, and I wrote one to her for $5000. I covered the cost of the safety inspection and the emissions test. I also had to pay for transfer of ownership, and I decided to get new license plates, since my red Ford was still officially on the road. These expenses were about another $600, and were not stupid money mistakes.

For a couple of weeks I desperately tried to learn how to drive the Toyota, but I just could not get the hang of it. I felt quite indulgent owning two cars, but I was not ready to get rid of the Ford because it was just so much easier to drive. I thought about selling the Toyota, and even spoke to the local dealership about trading it in. But a part of me was so determined to learn how to drive it. I told myself that I did not want my son to watch me quit something because it was difficult.

I decided to call about driving lessons. I tried a couple of local places but they did not teach standard, only automatic. The last place I called was Young Drivers, and they said an hour lesson was $140!! I was so desperate by this point that I booked the appointment.

I met up with the instructor in a parking lot, and he got in the driver's seat of my Toyota and started to drive. He asked me if I knew of any side streets near hills we could practice on, so I mentioned a quiet area not far. I was surprised he did not have a spot picked out. Then he pulled over to the curb and showed me how he could get the car into fourth gear without going above 20 kms. I was not impressed because I did not understand the mechanics of the system yet and what he was doing, and he was cutting into my precious learning time.

A few minutes later we reached the hilly street, and he had me practice over and over with the hand brake. I still could not get it. I was so frustrated, and could not quit stalling. After an agonizingly long 40 minutes he took over into the driver's seat again to take us back to our meeting spot. I asked him why he would not let me drive the car myself, since I have been a licensed driver for at that point over 20 years and really needed to practice in traffic, not just at curbside. He laughed at my question and said I was not ready to drive and needed ten more lessons with him. At the cost of $900.

A few days later a friend of mine took me out to a parking lot where I had previously stalled and stalled and could not get out of my spot. He practiced with me for over an hour, and would not accept any payment. I felt foolish, and wished I had not just handed over $140 to Young Driver's for nothing, since I could have easily gave my friend $40 for his time and effort.

And you know what, after my hour with my friend, I had a lot more confidence, and within a couple of weeks was driving the car with no problem. I even taught my partner how to drive it!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"stupid money mistakes"

I was so pleased with my "I AM CREDIT CARD DEBT FREE" blog post that I couldn't bring myself to follow up with the next post: "Stupid Money Mistakes."

Back in 2011, just a couple of weeks prior to my "DEBT FREE" post, we moved out of our two-bedroom rental and into a friend's house for a couple of months. He wanted someone to be there while he was away, to watch for basement leaks and look after the lawns. He did not want any rent money, and would not take a cent towards utilities. He said it would give me an opportunity to save some money, and I corrected him and said it would help me pay off my credit card debt. And it did. Which was fantastic.

But I made a couple of really stupid spending mistakes and I could not bear to come back on here to blog about them. The first one I made on the day we moved out (I just realized that was exactly two years ago today. Bean's birthday!) The property manager had given me a year's free cable, and I had to return the boxes to the cable company. I received the boxes, packed everything up nicely, and then left them in the foyer in front of the mailboxes. For some reason I thought that the cable guy would pick them up when he came to disconnect my cable.

I put the boxes out on a Friday, and returned on the Saturday to clean the apartment. In that time I had figured out that I was supposed to return the cable boxes to the post office. But the boxes were gone and the superintendent said she had not seen them. Sure. I called the cable company immediately to see if the cable guy had returned them for me. He had not. Our building had our own dedicated cable guy and I found his number and left voice mail, which he did not return. I waited a couple of weeks, then called the cable company again. Still no boxes, and they informed me that I now owed them $400 to replace them Yeah, oops. So much for saving money.

I guess I could have neglected to pay the replacement fee but I could not bear to have a red mark on my credit after working so hard for so many years to keep my head above the dangerous waters of bad credit. Bye bye $400.

That was the big unforgettable mistake. I'm sure there was another one but it does not come to mind right now. It was two years ago after all. When it returns to my memory I will write a Part Two :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

feeding time

I follow myself on Feedly (RIP Google Reader) but the post I put out the other day did not show up in my feed. I wonder if some sort of a link break occurred when I decided not to continue my account with Since I wasn't posting anymore I decided not to pay my annual fee, and instead returned to a address.

So there is a good chance that no one is reading my new posts. Is there anybody out there?

I realize that if decide to continue blogging here that I am going to have to get out there and read/comment on other blogs to drive up readership. Or I can just continue to blog away quietly. I'm not offering anything for sale here so I don't need a huge audience. But I do like to be a part of a community.

For a long time I could not figure out where I wanted to try to belong. I was focused on paying off my credit card, so that made me a financial blogger maybe? But I was on my own with my son and all the financial restraints that accompany that status, so that made me a single mom blogger maybe? But I did not want to release many details or any pictures about him to protect his anonymity so that made me uninteresting compared to most of the mom-bloggers out there. Plus the cliquey drama that I had heard about ...

It's not like I'm a total NOOB online. But like with life I pick and choose my parts. I started out on an online forum in 2003, from there I went to mySpace in 2005 and then LiveJournal that same year. I knew a lot of the folks IRL on the forum, and I made a few IRL friends on mySpace and LJ. Especially LJ. After I had my son in 2006 I noticed that people were posting A TON of Youtube videos, but my old laptop was not fast enough so I never clicked the links. I still rarely click video links, I don't know why, laziness perhaps?

Then Facebook of course in 2007 which revolutionized the way everyone socialized online. Don't say it isn't true. MySpace died a quick and tragic death, and LJ slowly followed (I still post on LJ because my "tribe" on there are single moms in Canada, USA, and overseas and we help each other whenever we can). I have a couple of photobucket accounts still that I used for mySpace and LJ. I even have a Flickr, but that's because I used to keep photos people emailed me in Yahoo Photos, and when they killed that app they opened me a Flickr. I never really got the hang of it though.

In 2009 I joined Twitter, which I loved. Facebook had become too visually distracting for me with all the photo uploads and Youtube linking, and I missed the simple status update. Twitter brought back that simplicity for me and the bonus was that I got to keep my anonymity. I could complain about family and friends without them finding out! However within a couple of years Twitter moved to a branding strategy for a lot of people, and it was back to clicking their links, and my personal way of using the app did not make sense anymore. I did start one to link to this blog but killed it when I found it difficult to maintain two accounts. I still have my Twitter and check it a couple of times a week, mostly to get news on the soccer team that I follow.

I started a couple of Google + accounts but never log in to check them. I am still wary of forgetting to log out, and then have Google track my every online move. They probably already are, but nothing is creepier than the Google Search History two years after the search.

Feedly has renewed my interest in reading blogs, and now updating my own. I like Feedly a lot, but I wonder if it will still have access to my blogroll after Google finally bites the dust?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Back again ... maybe

Today I am back. I just decided to pop on here and make a post. I thought about writing it yesterday but I did not know where to begin. I actually still do not know where to begin but here I am.

The last time I posted was almost two years ago, when I paid off the last of my $20 000 credit card debt. Prior to that I updated irregularly. When I started the blog I had just had the cable cut off to save money, and did not have internet at home. I do have access at my office, but rarely felt inspired to post anything in that environment.

I also struggled with what I wanted to write about here. I was afraid of saying too much because I wanted to keep the blog anonymous. I wanted to protect the anonymity of my son, Bean (not his real name). I eventually stopped reading other people's blogs because I felt a bit guilty about lurking on their personal photos and details, while not contributing similar information about myself.

I wanted to educate people about wellness and a simplified budget, but I was pretty new to the game and did not feel like I could contribute with any real authority. I was afraid I would alienate "normal" people if I blogged about Archangel Michael or Reiki, for example.

I was trying to follow the advice of the successful financial bloggers: decrease debt, increase income. I succeeded at the former but not the latter. I did end up purchasing some ING mutual funds but I never did get the courage to try investing for real. Honestly, I still do not have the funds to do so because I did not increase my income.

I still work as a part-time secretary at a university in Ontario, Canada. My son will turn seven next week. We still live in a rental, but a few months ago moved into a whole house with my fiancé. When I first began this blog in 2008 we were just moving out of a whole house rental so I guess we have come full circle. Living with someone is difficult, but mostly still easier than living above or below strangers, which we did for three years and counting.

I sold my old problematic Ford to the wreckers for $200 and borrowed $5000 from my line of credit to purchase a used Toyota. It was well worth the expense since I have not had any car trouble since August 2011 (knock on wood). I just paid that $5000 off this month, less than two years since the purchase.

Last summer I borrowed some more to go to yoga teacher training. I thought it would be an investment into a new stream of income but I did not have a positive experience and I am afraid to teach yoga. I still go to a class once a week to stay in shape but for now I have shelved the idea of becoming a yoga teacher.

I hope to keep in touch and post something here regularly. I hope you are all doing well.