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Showing posts from 2014

Alone and Happy

I'm supposed to be on my way to the big city right now with Bean to meet up with my mom's family for xmas dinner, but I got a call today saying that my Gramma is sick, and we are postponing to maybe next weekend. She is the reason why we get together so we meet at a restaurant near her condo. Since everyone has to drive in, and one of my cousins is also sick, and another cousin spent christmas with her baby son at Sick Kids Hospital, we will wait to get together.

I spent the morning organizing all my photo files from 2014, which I will transfer over to two separate external hard drives. I also cleaned up my desktop on my laptop. I'm trying to catch up on Feedly, but am almost three weeks behind again on blogs. Maybe I need to go through and delete a bunch, but I don't really want to.

I get a lot of ideas reading other people's blogs, but I rarely come here to flesh them out. I have been meaning to write about my solo home-buying adventure for weeks, but I'm not…

Thanks to this post on The Simple Dollar, I learned about a site called, which gave me something to think about regarding my debt repayments.

I plugged in my minimum amounts:
1) Mortgage - $862/month at 2.94% (paid bi-weekly, but there was no place to show the two months of the year where I pay $1291 - I guess I could have used $933 as the average);
2) Car - $250/month at 1.9%;
3) Student Loans - $144/month at 4% (I guessed, since there are actually four loans with different percentages - the most common one is Prime + 1.5%).

The result told me that I should continue making these minimum payments until March 2021, when the car will be paid off, and that $250 can then go onto my student loan payment. In October 2024 the student loans will be gone, and the combined $250 + $144 goes onto the mortgage, paying it off by October 2030.

This is pretty cool because I have decided I want the mortgage paid off in 15 years so that I can think about early retirement. October 2030 is a m…

Money Monday - 3 days late

Happy Thursday!

The plumbers returned last week to check the leak on the brand-new hot-water tank, and said it was perfectly fine. They think the leak is coming from the bathtub upstairs. So I didn't need to have the old tank replaced, and I didn't need to sign the five-year contract for the new one. Too late.

The bathtub does not leak when we take daily showers; it only happens when we take baths. I thought maybe we were filling it up too high and the overflow drain had a leak. We had a jacuzzi tub in the last rental house and were spoiled with a big bath. On the weekend I took a bath and was careful not to fill it up too high.

When I checked the basement afterwards it was like a downpour, running across the floor to the drain. Worse than I had seen it before, but before I had not checked immediately after the bath and it may have dried up some. Still, I felt it was lucky that I had spent a few hours in the basement earlier organizing, and nothing got wet.

A family member sug…

Money Monday - a new car port

OK, it's Tuesday, so I'm only a day late for Money Monday. I'm trying me best here eh? :D

Better than 2012, when I didn't post at all!!!

During the offer and counter-offer part of the house sale, I made sure that the car port and shed behind the house would be included, and they were. After a couple of weeks of waiting, waiting (it felt like months), I received a call from my agent saying there was a problem. He received a call from the sellers' agent saying that a complaint had been filed to the city back in 2005 about the car port. Apparently it was too close to the property line. It was implied that it was to be dealt with before the sale was finalized. I was disappointed that, if the sellers had to take it down, I would have another winter of scraping snow and ice off my car, which had not yet lived a winter in my care.

In the end,  the car port stayed up, and I had to sign a letter with my lawyer saying I was aware of the complaint. Since there was no work ord…

Money Monday - the hot water tank

We have been in the house less than three weeks and we are ecstatic. Bean's new favourite word is "Newhouse."

On the weekend I noticed the tray under the hot water tank is full of water, and slowly starting to leak onto the concrete basement floor. I put newspapers around it, and they dried, and Baxter (the kitten) decided to take them skating around. The basement seems to be his domain, because his litter box is down there.

I called the utilities company, and they are sending a plumber this afternoon to replace the tank. Before the old one is removed, I will have to sign a five-year contract for the new tank.

I balked at the commitment. The rental is $12.35 (10.93 + HST) per month on my hydro bill. In five years the cost of the rental will be over $3200, if the price does not increase. I could probably have three tanks purchased and installed for that price, but then I would be on the hook for all the repairs.

I spoke to the plumber, and he assured me that renting is th…

So I bought myself a house

This week I turn 40 years old. Last week I became a house owner.

I am sore, grumpy, and slightly overwhelmed, but I am also proud and ecstatic.

I had two goals to reach by my 40th birthday:
1) to get married;
2) to buy a house.

I reached goal # 2 with a week to spare.

I have modified goal # 1 to read:
1) to find a suitable life partner in my 40s;
2) or not.

So, Partner (ex) informed me that he found another place to live about a week into September.
I realized quickly that I had three choices:
1) Keep our rental house and sublet one of the bedrooms (Rent = $1250 + $320 utilities + $57 internet);
2) Move into another rental, hopefully in the same neighbourhood;
3) Cash in $8500 RRSP account and buy a house of our own.

First I went to Kijiji and searched the "room wanted" ads. There were a few single women who had teaching contracts who were looking for a room. I thought this would be ideal; but since Partner (ex) dropped the bomb a week into September, these women had already…

How buying a brand-new car has saved my budget

All the Personal Finance blogs tell us not to buy a new car. I never planned to myself, but when I could not find what I wanted used, I took the plunge and made the splurge. I bought a 2014 Hyundai Accent in April 2014.

Not only do I feel safe and secure in my new car, after years of driving hazardous beaters, but I am also in the best financial shape I have ever been, ever.

Before I bought the car I scrutinized my budget spreadsheet for weeks. If you know how often I do this (at least once a day), you would know that this is a big deal, since I had the spreadsheet open for hours each day, moving numbers around. The only way I could afford the payment was to be radical with each category, to make room for the new purchase.

Once I became comfortable with the changes, I bought the car. Since my intention was to pay it off in 3.5 years instead of 7, I stopped spending everywhere else. I still put money in the grocery account, and the gift account (for christmas and birthdays), but I did …

Summer Spending

Time seems to speed up when you have a kid, and even more so during the summer. I am already solidifying plans for the first week of September when the students arrive back at the university.

We took our holidays right away, leaving for New York state two days after grade two ended for Bean. I had paid for the retreat with my income tax refund back in March, so we needed U.S. cash only for gas and meals along the way. We decided to leave a day early and break the trip up into two parts, with the first night spent in a pretty cheap motel across the border. I think that was Bean's favourite part of the trip, because he loves hotel swimming pools! I was quite impressed with the scenery along the way south: what a beautiful part of the country!

Once we arrived at our retreat, we parked the car for the entire week. Meals were covered, and were deliciously vegan. We have decided to go vegetarian since our return, which coincides with the need to bring our grocery bill down to $75 a week…

Materialism, Moms, Kids

This morning Bean had a very serious look on his face as he told me that he wished he had kept a friend's birthday gift for himself. As I noticed the hurt look I thought of the friend mentioned, and realized that the gift purchased and given was BACK IN DECEMBER. 2013. It was a Lego set of a type that Bean has recently become quite fanatical about, especially since there is a tie-in cartoon of the Lego series now on Netflix. He has been watching it every day when we get home from work and day camp, while I am making dinner.

I try not to get annoyed but I can't help it. The friend who received the toy in question is the kid who seems to have everything. I really like his mom and I always wonder how she gets by as a single mom, with two kids, a mortgage, and under-employment. Every time my kid gets excited about a new toy trend it is because this kid, and a couple of others, brought the toy to school and made it the next big thing. All of these kids have single moms, and I don&#…

Will a paper route suit?

For a couple of years I have been telling Bean that his first job will be a paper route. Most semi-responsible people I have encountered started their employment history this way, so it seems like a good thing to do. Kind of like what working at McDonalds was when I was much younger (except now anyone under 18 rarely gets to work in food services, since adults moved into that sector when the good jobs disappeared).

I even bought him a wagon for xmas in 2012 to encourage him, and figured we would have a route by his 7th birthday. However by that date I didn't think he was ready and would find it more of a curse than a blessing. Also I'm still a bit hesitant because as kids, my sister had a route but pawned it off on me (without pay!) so I know how much work can be involved.

And I never knew how low the pay is!

The route I have a lead on is for "the free paper" in our town. We will deliver to 27 houses on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and the pay is $22 for two w…

A Place on Earth

Re-blogged from Fifty Weeks:

In heaven the beer is Belgian. The bread and cheese are French and the beaches are Brazilian. The waves are from Australia and the landscape from New Zealand. All the prices are Cambodian.

In heaven the soup is Vietnamese but the goulash is Hungarian. The city squares are Czech and the meadows are Irish. The bars are Irish too, but you don’t need to go to heaven to find an Irish bar.

In heaven the wine is Italian and the mountains are Nepalese. Dinner is Indian and lunch is Thai. Breakfast is Spanish and served just before going to bed. Whatever the meal, the steak is from Argentina.

The nights are short in heaven because the days are Swedish and it’s always July. The trains are German and always on time. The drug laws are Dutch.

In heaven the sun is Greek and the rivers Lao. The golf courses are Scottish. The composers are Austrian and the school children are Korean; I didn’t spend long enough in either country to nominate anyone else.

Waiting for a PayPal refund

... or maybe this should be filed under stupid spending mistakes? Read on ...

I knew I shouldn't have, but I clicked on the link from Paypal offering me a $25.00 credit from I have never used, so I took a look. The selection was overwhelming, so I went to my two favourite lurking categories: wristwatches and handbags. I wasn't thinking when I selected one of each for my cart. The minimum purchase was $75, so I picked a $25 bag and a $50 Timex watch. I clicked through ... order went through ... no $25 credit added.

Oh great, now what have I done? I mindlessly bought two things I don't need, and didn't even get the discount that brought me to the site in the first place. I clicked help, and saw that the order could be cancelled within two hours. So I cancelled it. Goodbye new bag, goodbye new wristwatch. It was a short fling.

Emails came through confirming first the purchase, then the refund. Then an email from Paypal: here is the $25.00 credit! What? Th…

Mama's vent

Sometimes a mama has just got to vent.

I took a holiday day off yesterday to chaperone my son's class to the local pioneer village. We had not yet gone and were looking forward to it. The teacher gave me a list of five students for my group. I sat with two of them at the back of the school bus going there, while my son sat two seats up with the other two kids. When we got there we had free time for about 45 minutes, so we set out to tour the village. The kids were pretty good at first, but one of them kept complaining that he had already been there three times, and another kid, who had also been there before, was begging to go to the playground. For the first kid I tried to be nice while I asked him why he bothered coming on the trip, and for the second kid I made some kind of compromise that we would get to the playground after lunch.

They ran around and tested me a bit, but I stayed cheerful. At lunch we noticed a snack bar, and I mentioned to another mom that I might want a cup…

Kids and Money

My kid turned eight years old a couple of weeks ago. I booked him an amazing party at the local laser tag place for under $400. He invited eleven friends, and they all showed up! He got a lot of Lego, which he was thrilled with. I got him a new two-wheel bike, because his old one was getting too small. I also bought him new soccer cleats and shin guards, but I would have bought them regardless of his birthday. It was an expensive weekend!

Spending on my kid now has its own category in my spreadsheet. I track all the expenses in their own categories (daycare/camps; sports; RESP; life insurance - something I would not purchase now but I bought the policy when I was less informed, and it is universal life, so I keep paying for it - only $24 a month; misc - includes birthday party and more frivolous expenses like tiny shopping sprees). I add up all the amounts and apply it against the amount of child support I get each month. If there are any funds leftover they go into his savings accoun…

De-Clutter and Profit!

We finally got around to going through our CDs and DVDs and took them to the pawn shop for fun and profit. Partner made $240 and I made $60. He had a lot more than I did, since I de-cluttered in 2005 before heading to Thailand, in 2008 when my basement was leaking and no good for storage, and again in 2011 when I was readying to house-sit for the summer. As well, as I joked with the store people, most of my CDs were second-hand to begin with, and I was selling them back third-hand. Partner had a few video games and Blu-Rays, things I never bothered to purchase in the first place. Bean and I were still watching hand-me-down videotapes when we met Partner in 2011!

Now we live in a house with a Playstation (which plays Blu-Rays), a new Smart TV, three laptops, several tablets, a DVD player, a VCR, and my old combo DVD/VCR player. Partner insisted on subscribing to a television service, and the compromise was satellite, but after about six months I managed to convince him that we were pay…

House Rules

Each year I come up with a personal spending rule for myself, and my partner and I come up with a house rule.

Last year my personal rule was to buy no new clothes. I am permitted new underwear and footwear (hopefully only on a replacement basis: one-in, one-out rule), but shirts, sweaters, skirts, dresses, pants, jeans, coats and jackets, are purchased second-hand only. I can't recall if I followed my personal rule perfectly in 2013, but I might have come very close, especially since a co-worker went on a few closet purges of her own and I became the lucky recipient!

Prior personal rules were to cut out daily take-out coffee and limit take-out lunches. I did succeed with those, and now find the same $20 bill in my wallet for weeks. I now bring snacks and leftovers from home and use the department coffee maker each morning when I get in to the office.

Our house rule for the first year of co-habitation was "no more Wal-mart." This rule became especially important to us as …

Saving and Spending

So far in 2014 I have saved $1000. Go me!

I have spent a little bit too:
- a trip to Build-A-Bear with Bean (I gave him $40 in gift cards for xmas, and I had around $40 left over from January budgeting, so I let him pick a few extra things for his cute cute rainbow bear);
- a trip to Sephora for me ($55 on a new foundation, plus another $60 on an exfoliant, from which I will use house-funds, and share the tube with my partner - see what I did there?);
- and a trip to the Shoe Company for a pair of Pods (fake Bogs) which were 30% off and another $10 off when I used up my points with them (total was about $55 - but I used a credit card where the payment will not be due till end of Feb, thus using March funds - see what I did there?).

I'm not paid to endorse any of the above shops.

I have doubled my student loan payments in the hopes of having the bulk of them paid off in five years.

I am still saving for a mortgage down payment, but I am getting discouraged by what is on the market …

To Save or to Spend?

I already know the answer to this question.

But now that I am not putting my money towards credit card debt, I am antsy to spend. I have been looking at listings for a new (to me) car.

My criteria are: low kms, manual transmission, and air conditioning. I don't care about the other features.

My current automobile is the little Toyota I purchased from a graduate student in 2011.

I am in a love/hate relationship with this car.

First, last summer was unbearable, what with she having a black exterior and no air conditioning. We had only a couple of weeks of heat-wave, and I was miserable. This summer I hope to drive to NY state for a vacation and I'd really like air conditioning for the highway.

Second, the driver's side lock is finicky, in such a way that sometimes I get locked in, and I have to climb over the stick and out the passenger side door. So frustrating! Slightly embarrassing!

Other than those things, she's a great little car. If I could find one j…

Debt Free Again

I paid off the last bit of credit card debt (again!) in December. I owed about $500 on a low-interest card; I think it was left over from 2012's yoga teacher training or perhaps it was half of what I paid for 2013's meditation retreat. Either way, it is paid.

I actually paid $900 for debt re-payment last month, since I accidentally sent a $500 payment to one of my student loans instead of to the credit card. Whoops!! I felt stupid when I caught the mistake, but realized it was ok because the student loans also have to be paid. I cashed out my savings for the first payment, and most of my mutual funds for the second payment.

I also contributed $600 to my RRSP savings account, making up for the $50 a month that I used to save, but ceased when I began my debt-free journey back in 2009. In a couple of months I will contribute another $600 to cover the year ahead.

Since I last posted, I took on a few more part-time hours at the university, which I believe has tipped me into the nex…