Wednesday, November 02, 2016


I just updated the side bars and I noticed - unless I made an error previously - that my student loan balance is going UP instead of DOWN. I have read about this happening to other people, but because I have diligently applied and been accepted for the Repayment Assistance program every six months, I thought my balance was actually going down.

This puts the pressure on me to shift my fast-track payment from the car loan to the student loans. This is starting to feel right, because the student loans are old, so old, from 1996 - 2005 and I don't want to deal with them anymore.

I am making an extra $20 a month car payment and now I am going to increase the student loan payments. I haven't increased the mortgage payment yet.

The big news is that I started a full-time job in August, and I saw my first, full, real paycheque on Oct. 28. I saw an increase of $588 in my take-home pay, which is nothing to sneeze at, but our expenses for before and after-school care will increase dramatically, as will the student loans payments. This is mostly because my gross pay increased by $1600, but of course taxes, etc. took most of it back.

So, once again, I'm finding that it is almost not worth increasing my hours at work, since I see only a small increase to help my budget along. Increasing my work week hours by 14 over the last 3 years brought me only an extra $1000 a month, and I don't actually see much of it due to increased payment obligations.

The benefit to increasing my gross income when I first did so back in 2013, was that I was finally able to qualify for a mortgage.

The good thing about the new job is that it is only a 12-month contract. After 12 months I might return to my previous two part-time positions, and my budget spreadsheet accounts for this.

I am still on-track for the following:

Aug 2019 - car loan paid off
Dec 2021 - student loans paid off
July 2022 - quit secondary part-time job (less seven hours worked per week)
Dec 2024 - RRSP paid back
Dec 2031 - retirement from uni after 30.5 years (aged 57)

Go me!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mid-year review

It took me half a year to figure out that I might run out of money before year-end.

According to my spreadsheet, overspending and indulging has left me with only $1300 to cover groceries, gas, and spending money for the next five months (Aug - Dec).

It shocked me to see this, since I don't feel like I live an extravagant lifestyle at all. I haven't bought any new clothes or shoes for myself in 2016, and I last had a cheap haircut in August 2015.

I still haven't called the plumber in to fix the leak in the bathtub / kitchen sink either.

I did move $1000 from a savings account onto the car loan back in April. And I plan to do so again in August. I really want to get rid of the car loan.

Some expenses have gone up, such as house and car insurance, property taxes, and hydro but heating gas has gone down by half to make up for it.

I have my 2017 spreadsheet all set up and if I stick with it properly, everything will be covered, including savings goals AND I will still have $100 left over each month. In addition, I will begin making regular over-payments on my car and mortgage.

About a month ago, I had a little panic when I realized that in less than eight years, I will no longer receive child support payments or child tax benefits when Bean turns eighteen. That is 25% of my net income disappearing like magic.

So, I sat down with the spreadsheet again and made separate sheets for 2018 - 2024, and figured out that if I am really careful, I will have my car paid off early in 2019, and the student loans paid off in early 2021. Then I can make even larger mortgage payments in order to build up some equity to protect me from financial hardship.

If I'm really good, I can quit one of my part-time jobs around mid-2024, which would be really nice.

We shall see! I'm glad I had these mid-year awakenings to get myself back on track for my future.

Friday, May 13, 2016

In three years

In three years I will be 44. Bean will be 13.

In three years our car will be paid off. As soon as Bean's legs are long enough, I will teach him to drive it, and we will share it until it no longer runs. I don't plan to buy another car.

In three years I will owe less than $10 000 on my student loans.

In three years I will owe just over $110 000 on the mortgage.

In three years I will either be working full-time, or I will take the leap and reduce my work hours and practice living minimally and mindfully.

In three years we will be thinking about which high school Bean will attend. Will he go into the international baccalaureate program at our local school, or will he commute to the other end of town to continue French Immersion? We will have another year to decide.

In three years I will have hopefully reached my savings goal.

In three years I will have struck another couple of items off my bucket list in the sidebar.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Make do

It took a few months for me to figure out that the theme for 2016 is "Make Do." Because I have compulsive spending habits (that got me into over $20 000 in credit card debt), I have to be very careful with my idle time. If I am on a computer I have to avoid online shopping, and if I have a few free hours on the weekend I have to avoid the shops.

It is not made easy when my newest credit card allows me to designate three shopping categories to receive my 2% cash back each month. Since January, one of my self-selected categories is "Drug Store." I have been out of my nice face serum since late 2015, and it has been so tempting to go into the drug store and purchase another $50 bottle, knowing I will get $1 back for the purchase. But I have avoided the drug store and saved the money, and I am instead using up a jar of $50 cream that I purchased last year. Making do with what I already have. I am similarly avoiding Sephora, since I have at least 10 lipsticks and liners that I can use up, and a few mini tubes of mascara that I bought on a whim last spring.

I have an obsession with tech, and I bought two mobile phones in 2015 (one new and one used). I decided to keep the new one, and sell the used one. I am currently a bit obsessed with another new phone, and the wearable technology that accompanies it (at a hefty price, natch). I have promised myself that I will "make do" with the phone I bought last year because it is still a good phone, and that I will not buy another phone until 2017. Maybe by then I will find a used version of my latest obsession at a cheaper price.

I've decided to switch my mobile service to a cheaper company, even though sometimes it is slightly crappy. Am I so important that I have to be on call at all times, or that I have to have data service in every area I visit? If my phone is not getting service for a bit, it is a good opportunity to put it away and enjoy where I am, what I am doing, and who I am with at that moment. Nothing in my life is so urgent that I have to pay $15 more a month for a phone service. I will make do with what is cheaper.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Bean has decided that he is a geek/ nerd, and I'm having fun indulging him with comic books and watching great superhero TV shows with him. We don't have cable TV, so we wait until the shows air and then catch them online the next day. 

He loves the Nintendo characters (even though I bought him an XBox last year - d'oh!) and I printed off a bunch of free Valentines from the link above for him. Tonight we are going to watch The Flash, glue the Valentines onto construction paper hearts, and make sugar cookies for his classmates.

I received statements for two of my four student loans the other day, and the smallest loan was at $1650 at the end of December. I'm tempted to use part of one my savings accounts to pay the loan off completely. It's been a part of my life since I started college in 1996, and I want to see it gone. Twenty years! Currently, I'm in an assistance program where the government pays the interest and a small portion of the principal of each loan. This small loan gets a $5 payment from the government each month, along with my $15. It's like it will never go away.

I could put $1500 towards my mortgage, which is the loan with the highest balance and interest rate (2.94%) or towards my car loan (1.99%) but I think I want to take the Ramsey route and tackle the smallest debt first. It will be nice to see PAID OFF on one of my loans. Then I can put the $15 towards the next smallest loan and see that one disappear as well.

Friday, January 08, 2016

2016 so far ...

So far not off to a great start. I misread a letter from the student loan company and was $4 short for one of my payments. I started off the new year with a $45 NSF fee in my "no-fee" account. It was a really stupid mistake, since the line of credit they granted me is sitting there unused, and I could have transferred an extra amount from there just in case ... could have, should have. The mistake will eventually be forgotten, but not my grudge against that bank. I have already pulled almost all of my money from it to use another no-fee bank that is serving me much better.

It felt great to end 2015 with all my bills paid, thanks to the "Xmas Saving" account I set up, where I deposit a small amount each month to cover December (extra) spending. However, I forgot to leave a little bit in there to visit a friend before New Year's, and ended up having a larger than expected credit card bill to pay in January. So I'm playing a bit of catch-up this month and not spending on anything else. I think I might make February a no-spend month as well, and this year try not to compensate by having a spendier March.

I had my 2016 budget in place a couple of months ago, and I'm still making tweaks to make sure I can pay back the RRSP I borrowed to put the down payment on my house. I'm also trying to save a "Car savings" fund for parking tags, plates, and oil and tire changes. Those bills always seem to come up the same months as my extra mortgage payment months.

The cat stays indoors now, so hopefully no large vet bills this year.

The car loan is under $15 000, the student loans are chipping away, and the total debt is under $180 000. Still pretty good for a single mom working not-quite full-time.