Cashing in Points

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There's nothing like the impending holiday shopping that inspires me to look in on all of our points/rewards card balances and see if we can get a few gift cards to help with shopping or straight out gift-giving.

I checked in with Aeroplan points and thanks to my recent work trip to Washington, DC - we had just enough to get a $100 Costco Gift Card.  That should arrive early November which is great!

Next I looked in on AirMiles...we have over 5,000 dream miles of them but unfortunately they no longer carry gift cards; so I'm at a bit of a loss there.  For anyone familiar with their programme, they are pushing their AirMiles Cash over the Dream and a lot of the Dream benefits are now gone.

Well...I'm not sure what we're going to get yet with those miles...as their don't seem to be flights available or accessible either...so we'll have to see.

But yay, for $100 for Costco!

2015 Budgeting

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It's started....the 2015  budgeting process.  I'm sure all of you are going through similar processes - trying to identify what worked, and what didn't.

One of the big things for Jordan and I this year was finally getting our day-to-day spending account sorted out so that we both had debit card access to it.  This involved moving our 'work horse' account from a joint chequing to a joint savings account and the benefits have been huge!  We're both more accountable to the $400/week limit; and while we both still go over from time to time (okay, often) and use our credit cards; it's helping to build the right spending behaviour.

A week ago or so I did a post called 'Where has all the money gone' - I went a bit further for this exercise and looked at our spending since I started tracking - back to mid-2010.  The chart of that is below and shows you exactly how we spend every year.  I did leave out the wedding in this chart b/c it's not going to happen again.


You can see that buying the Kia in 2014 really did impact what we were spending in gas since we had moved and my commute increased even though Jordan's decreased when his job changed...and you can see when we bought our house in 2011 and our home maintenance spending spiked.  For some categories, I don't think our spending changed (like entertainment) so much as our tracking got better.

The problem is that we run out of money before we run out of things we spend money on...that's what I need help with - where I would really appreciate your advice...it's prioritization time.

I have two columns right now - what's realistic...what we can afford and what we would budget ideally based on past spending habits.

I should mention here that our income does not include ANY commissions, raises, or added $$ when I cap out on CPP/EI maximums in August.

A few notes on the Monthly Spending category in our draft budget.  It is meant to include everything in dark grey above- Gas to Medical expenses.  For 2014 we budgeted $1,600/month and my mom suggested that rather than go straight to $2,000 to be realistic - we try to wean ourselves off more slowly.  So we're thinking of budgeting $1,800 as a more achievable number.

You'll also see that we don't have the Escape payment budgeted for in the draft - that money has been added to the LOC Debt category b/c I expect to have the Escape payed off by the end of 2014.

Everything from retirement, to planned spending is under Bi-Weekly Savings - including two new goals.

We would like to start tucking $$ away for a down payment on a truck once the LOC is paid off and we would also like to start planning to develop our basement.  Right now I'm thinking Jordan's commissions could go towards the truck/basement but again - would love peoples thoughts on this.

So there it is - out in the open for judgement and recommendations.

Thank you!

oh! Don't forget when looking at the Streetwise retirement savings numbers - I save 5% of my pay which is matched to a total 10% for my pension at work and I also save $75/month to purchase shares at my company which we consider to be part of our retirement planning.

Escaping the Escape

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Guess what?!

Jordan's benefits finally paid for his teeth (we're still waiting on my benefits) - and in part because of that, and in part b/c of his pay raise, and in part b/c of the contents portion of our recent hail insurance claim we were able to make a $3,500 payment on the Escape.

We now owe just $5,000.  Wahoo!

I love paying it down - even more so than the LOC b/c with the Escape...you can't spend the money again.


Insurance Premiums Going Down?

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That never happens....never.

...Unless you switch providers, and that's just what my company has done recently.

My long term disability premiums are being reduced from $1.097/$100 insured to $0.771.  That means we'll be saving $144.94/annually OR about $12/month.

Not a lot - but I'll take it...every little bit adds up.

PIE!

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Okay - I know this post is going to go live after Canadian Thanksgiving, but on the weekend prior I wanted to practice my pie making skills - in particular my pie crust making skills...check it out!

The crust is the super simple recipe from the Lard-Tenderflake package and it turned out great!

I wound up peeling way too many apples though - so I made an apple crumble along with the apple pie.



Jordan was pretty happy with all the baking and cooking that happened.



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