6/26/2009

6/24/2009

Overtime Update

Also - I didn't realize I had carried over some vacation time from last year, so I'm going to take this Friday has a vacation day, not use my banked overtime, so I will add another 7.5 hours today, as well as any other time I put in this week.

That means - I'm very close to my goal. Which is good, because I have already filed my way up to the letter P.

Because I'm taking three days off next week, putting in extra hours on the Thursday/Friday won't do me any good (because I lose 2.5hours/week). So, my goal will be to have 75 hours banked (worth about $1300 after taxes) by August 7, 2009.

There are the 4 pay periods between now and August 7, 2009, which means 4 payments of $250, plus any 'extra' fundsthat i've already allocated ($100 this pay and $135 next pay) to my Visa - the $1300 from the 75 hours banked OT should be enough to pay off my visa in one lump sum.

When I request the time, it can take up to 10 days to receive a payment. So I will request the payment that first week of August (unless I reach 75 hours sooner), which may wind up giving me an extra few hundred dollars because another pay period that goes by means another $250 on the credit card automatically.

I'm pretty thrilled... I just whipped out the calculator and a pencil to see if this would all work, and it TOTALLY can. As long as I can get the OT in, which i'm pretty confident I can do. I've been averaging about 10 hours/week so far.

So I could be consumer debt free in...about 6 weeks!

Cross your fingers for me.

Camping Costs - Update

Well so far we've paid:

$180 (me) campground reservation - I should be getting about $90 back from my girlfriend and her partner for this.

Last night, Jordan spent:

$150/alcohol - keep in mind about $40 of this was for part of his mom's birthday present (two bottles of wine), and we probably won't drink all the booze we bought.

$70/f00d - all the 'dry goods' and long lasting root vegtables ect.

We still have to buy hotdogs, burgers, breads, eggs, ect. So I'm guessing we still will be spending about another $50-80 on food.

With the $90 I get from my friends, I can help pay for all the gas it will take to drive to BC.

6/23/2009

Camping Costs!

Jordan and are planning a camping trip from Friday (June 26) to Wednesday (July 1) - I have been so wrapped up thinking and planning for this trip I haven't had too many brilliant ideas for posting.

Jordan suggested I write about how much it costs to go camping!

Over the last two years, it has cost a lot - and I couldn't tell you exactly how much. Between buying coolers, tents, all manner of cooking supplies, bedding, spare tents, ect - it's a lot. That said, all of those supplies will last us a lifetime (if not the next 7 years or more).

This trip, we just have to buy food and booze for ourselves and Jordan's little brother. Right now I'm thinking it will cost about $100/liquor and $150/food. Though, there will also be gas which will be maybe $150?? We are driving about 12 hours to and from the campground from where we live. This of course will be split between J and myself - so we'll see how it all shakes down.

I have already paid $200 for the camping spots, which I'm supposed to get $$ back from our friends - but somehow I doubt that it will happen.

There's got to be a way to do it cheaper - but I'm just sure how. Suggestions?

6/22/2009

weekend spending and small update

So far - so-so

We went away this weekend and I managed to spend only $25 (a big thank you to Jordan and my dad or it would have been way more)...

Right now I owe myself (my credit card) $232... wayyy better then the $400 plus I owed myself last pay period. I have set up an auto transfer of $100 (on top of my normal visa payment) for Friday, and I will carry the $132 until my pay period after that. Hopefully that w

By that time, I should be getting close to requesting a pay out from work from all this OT.

Woo!

6/19/2009

My EI Budget

I dediced to mock up a budget in case I were to get laid off. I'm assuming a few things:
  1. I would qualify for EI

  2. I would get at least 2 weeks severance ($1700 less taxes)

  3. My severance would pay off my credit card entirely (which it would if you include the banked OT I have and vacation time owed to me).

  4. I would get about $380/week after taxes in EI payments or $1500/month (see below)

  5. I would have enough in my emergecny fund to get me through the first month. I'm almost there, I would need another $400.

There are some things that just wouldn't change. My Rent, utilities, car insurance, cell phone and student loan debt. However; I could probably lower my student loan payments.

If i could manage, I would not want to stop putting money away into savings - however; it would be significantly less (expect my house fund, I beleive I mentioned before that's non-negotiable for me at this point).

I would have about $300/month or $75/week for food, personal & other. Could be doable.

I think it would be alright to survive on that because I know that Jordan would help out wherever he could.

Do you have an EI budget? Do you think mine is realisitc?

6/18/2009

Unemployment Insurance - Would I qualify?

Regarding the ‘fear’ of unemployment post the other day – I decided one way to combat that, is to know what would happen should I lose my job. If I already have a plan, a budget, and know what’s going to happen – then I will be more prepared and more calm.

I didn’t realize when I started writing that this post was so long.

So to be eligible for regular benefits (EI) I must show that:

  • you have been without work and without pay for at least 7 consecutive days
  • in the last 52 weeks or since your last claim ( called the qualifying period), you have worked for the required number of insurable hours

Okay, so what is the required number of insurable hours. Apparently, in Canada, this depends on what ‘economic region’ I am in.

When you show that you have at least 490 hours related to employment in the labour force during the labour force attachment period (the year prior to the qualifying period) you will need between 420 and 700 insurable hours (depending on my economic region – see below) to qualify for regular benefits. Otherwise, you will need a minimum of 910 hours to qualify regular benefits.

The Required number of hours for my region if I have worked at least 490 hours related to employment during the labour force attachment period is 665 hours.

Now, thankfully, in my case, I have worked full time for the last 52 weeks – which means I have about 1900 of employment hours. If I were to lose my job at this point – I wouldn’t have to worry about the labour force attachment period. That said; I would probably meet the minimum hours requirement of the labour force attachment period – although I was a student so it could be sketchy.

Okay – so I’ve learned that If I lose my job, I need to be unemployed and without pay for 7 consecutive days, and I know that I have worked enough hours to qualify for EI.

Next thing I learned was that:

  • You must serve a 2-week unpaid waiting period before your EI benefits begin to be paid. Generally, this period is the first 2 weeks of your claim. This is like a deductible for any kind of insurance.

  • If you have provided all the required information and if you can be paid EI benefits, your payment will be issued usually within 28 days from the date of filing your claim. If you cannot be paid, we will notify you of the decision made on your claim.

What that means is that you have to wait about a month to SEE ANY MONEY, and it will only be about two weeks worth of pay as you lose the first two weeks in the unpaid waiting period.

Okay.

So I would have to have one month’s expenses (at a minimum) to hold me over. Which I do! That’s great ($1000 in my E-fund currently).

But how much money would I get and for how long? Well you can receive EI in my economic region for 20 to 43 weeks!

They have a weekly benefit rate, which have a lot of different rules if you are low income or have children. For me the following would apply:

The basic benefit rate is 55% of your average GROSS insured earnings up to a yearly maximum insurable amount of $42,300. This means you can receive a maximum payment of $447 per week. Your EI payment is a taxable income, meaning federal and provincial or territorial, if it applies, taxes will be deducted.

This is how the payout is calculated *Note they always use the gross amounts*

  1. We look at the total earnings you have been paid in the last 26 weeks ending with your last day of work.

  2. We take into consideration the number of weeks in which you have worked in the last 26 weeks.

  3. We determine the unemployment rate in your region and the minimum divisor that applies at that unemployment rate.

  4. We determine your average weekly insured earnings by dividing your total earnings in the last 26 weeks by the greater of: a) the number of weeks you have worked in the last 26 weeks; orb) the minimum divisor number.Important: The divisor cannot be less than 14 or greater than 26.

  5. We then multiply the result by 55% to obtain your weekly benefit.

Using my after tax income this is my calculation:

1. Total GROSS earnings in last 26 weeks = $22,500
2. Number of weeks worked in the last 26 weeks = 26
3. Current minimum divisor that applies (see above image of a spreadsheet) = 21
4. Determine average weekly insured earnings
a. $22,500/26 = $865.38
5. $865.38 X 55% = $475.96

So on the surface, my weekly benefit would be $475.96 However, I’ve already said that there is a maximum benefit of $447/week. So that’s what I would have to budget with.

Weekly Benefit = $447 (less taxes)

Which according to an online calculator would be about $380 after tax/week.

Do you know if you would qualify for EI Benefits, how much would you get?

Note:
I got most of this information from the Service Canada website.

6/17/2009

Overtime

Success - I am soo tired today, but clocked another 2.5 hours of OT.

6 am comes very early in the morning....and leaving later in the day means traffic sucks worse then normal. Just sayin'


*reminder to myself - I got into this credit card debt, I'll get myself out*

Job Security

It's kind of strange. I haven't been worried about my job in the last month and a half. Not since two more people left my group and I was given their jobs. I have been far too busy to think about job security.

Unfortunately there were two more lay offs from my Division (not the same as my group), and there have been a few corporate services - type lay offs from the national groups over the last two days. They havn't touched us yet (since April 1st, 2009), and people here seem to be fairly confident that they won't do lay offs from our group again.

But still.

It plagues me today - I wonder who they would let go if they have to let someone from our group go again.

I am still the lowest on the proverbial totem pole, but I have been since day one and four people who were more senior were let go.

There's nothing you can really do about it, and worry doesn't help anything. I just thought I would pass along my thoughts today.

6/16/2009

6/15/2009

Priorities

So – Gayle didn’t answer my question.

Unfortunately, I’m now going to have to figure it out for myself. Which is actually okay because she would only tell me what she tells everyone else.

That combined with reading My Pretty Pennie's Blog who reminded me that the year was half over, I wanted to make a plan that I will finally stick with.

I started with noting that I have 14 pay periods left for this year, and I would like to achieve some of my goals THIS YEAR. So I’ve given myself a Timeline.

I then decided what my ‘non-negotiable’ are. For me these are things that unless I lose my job, I will continue working towards at the current rate I have set aside. These are the following:

I then looked at the items that I was saving towards and saw that I was putting away $135/bi-weekly. I decided that I would combine my emergency fund as well as my annual savings fund (too many accounts is stressing me out). Because of that, I increased the amount I was putting away to $50 b/w. I decreased my RRSP’s to $10 b/w and increased my Christmas fund to 75 b/w.

*oh - on a side note, I didn't include my increased share purchase fund, because this is actually done through my pay.

IF I follow through with this and don’t touch it, the following will happen:

  • My credit card will be paid off in 8 pay periods (or sooner when I get paid out from banked OT)
  • I will have $1000 saved for Christmas in 12 pay periods (perfect timing for shopping in December)

That will mean that I will have an additional $250 b/w for the last 6 pay periods of this year. With this $1500. I will be able to bring my Emergency/Annual Fund to $3211 by the end of December!

Come January I will review my goals and decide how much money I will need to put into my RRSP’s (this will depend heavily on if I can convince my employer to let me start my pension in October of this year, rather then October of next year) & how much I will need to put into my Emergency/Annual Fund – to keep up with annual expenses (right now I’m guessing about $25/b-w)

To summarize, this is what I did:

Step 1. Figured out my time line
Step 2. Determined my non-negotiables?
Step 3. Determined how much I had left bi-weekly to play with.
Step 4.Made a plan
Step 5. Sticking with it - (this is always hardest for me and only time will tell)

Phew! So, what do you think?

6/12/2009

Updates

I have updated my tracking bars as well as my networth!

I'm pleased to say that my Networth has gone up again significantly! I am also happy to report that I have broken through the $2,000 credit card debt barrier. I now owe *slightly* less then that on my Visa.

I owe about $9,000 in student loans now, which means I've paid off about $1500 so far - an excellent start I'd say!

Current Debt Grand Total = $11,076.10

So far I have paid off $2,772.60 of my original debt of $13,848.70! That's 20% finished!!

A second Job - at my job!

I've spoken to my primary supervisor about putting in some OT at work, and she thought it was a great idea. She cautioned me not to get 'burnt out' but said that she would prefer I put in the hours if I need the money rather then hiring an hourly person for a few weeks.

Hurrah! All I had to do was ask!

So right now we have a but-load (yes, I said a but-load) of filing to do. That will be my first project. Once that complete, we need to go through about 500 employee files to audit them - essentially (I work in Human Resources - hence the employee files).

I think that I need a weekly goal in terms of hours. I think my goal will be 7.5 of payable hours (which would be 10 hours worked) each week. I'm going to start on Moday, June 15, 2009.

I will create a tracking bar - much like the ones in my columns - and this will track my time, so I can share it with you.

What else.....I'll need a schedule. Right now I work 8am-4:30pm (8.5 hours less an hour for lunch). If I work 7am-5pm and take 30 minutes for lunch, that would be an extra 2 hours each day - this would mean I would reach my goal!

Thanks for the support!

6/11/2009

A thought about making more money…

I have been thinking about ways to save money lately – here’s an idea for making more money.

I COULD get a part time job and would likely have to commit 10-20 hours a week. I would probably make about $10/hour for a retail sort of position (waitressing would not work for me right now, because I have to wake up in the mornings and being tired would likely make my performance suffer).

Retail Option:

So lets say $10/hour * 10 hours/week = $100/week
Less taxes (lets say 30%) = $70
$70/week @ four weeks

If I did that every week I would take home about $280/month.

I would also have to spend more in gas to drive to a different job as well as consider the time constraints that would place on life and family commitments.

Option Work more at current job:

My current schedule is for 37.5hours/week. If I work overtime I lose the hours between 37.5-40. I can ‘bank’ overtime after 40 hours/week at straight time. This can be taken off at a later time or I can request to be paid out.

Lets say I worked an extra two hours every day (we have a serious amount of filing to do, and they are taking about hiring a temp – so I figure maybe this would work for a month or so if I can convince them to approve the OT).

That would give me 7.5 payable hours/week. My salary translates to an hourly rate of about $23/hour.

So 7.5hours/week * $23 = 172.50/week
Less Taxes (30%) and times four weeks equals about $483.

This option would mean no increase in commute or parking expenses. It would also only take away one ‘at home’ hour a day (I’m thinking of working 7:30am to 5:30 pm instead of my current schedule of 8:30am – 4:30pm).

IF I can get my bosses to agree with me – this could help pull in some extra funds. The BONUS is that I would only get paid when I asked for the $$ so I could ask once a month or after 3 months – this way, the large sum can be used towards my debt. Instead of a hundred or two bucks a pay which would be easier to frit away.

What do you think?

I think Jordan will tell me to just relax, and let the plans that I have in place have enough time to work.

Update & Bi-Weekly Budget Plan

Woohoo! Tomorrow is pay day, and I’ve got my pay stub.

I would like to offer a re-cap of the last two weeks. What I have attempted to do, is track my budget on a bi-weekly basis, rather then a monthly.

I spent about $300 on food, life and other variables using my debit – so this is okay! I also spent about $400 on my credit card (big sad face) this was on things from groceries, books, the pub, fun stuff – etc.

So, I figure that I owe myself.

With that in mind, below is a picture for the next two weeks. On the left column I have my fixed expenses, including an extra Visa payment. The top of this column are my fixed expenses during each pay period. Below the extra visa payment is a list of this pay periods fixed expenses. So this includes the house utility bills.

Given that I owe myself a little more than $400 – I have about $130 for my variables over the next two weeks. This has to cover groceries (probably not much), as well as a trip to my hometown for father’s day weekend.

I will do my best, but I am already anticipating that I will have to break out my credit card to cover the trip. I could not go – but that’s not going to happen. It’s not only father’s day, it’s also my Great Uncle’s memorial, plus I haven’t seen my family in what feels like forever.

In light of this anticipation – I’m not prepared to cut up my credit card (yet!), but I did create a ‘sleeve’ for it. It’s wrapped & taped in paper hid in the depths of my wallet. If I want to use it, I’ll have to read the messages I left for myself reminding me about how much I want to pay it off.

So – here we go, second set of bi-weekly budgeting.

6/10/2009

A Question for Gail

I submitted this question to Gail Vaz Oxlade today, I hope she answers it (of course if you have any advise - please feel free to chip in):

Good Morning Gail!

I hope this note finds you well.

My question is about priorities – and how to sort them all out.

A bit of context for you:

I have a small credit card debt ($2,500) and a relatively small student loan ($9,000) in terms of debt. I put $250/bi-weekly (bw) towards my credit card and $150/month towards my student loans.

In terms of TRUE savings I have goals including: an emergency fund ($10/bw), & my RRSP ($50/bw)

My planned spending funds include: House down payment ($150/bw – this is matched by my partner), a Christmas fund ($37.50bw),a buy company shares fund ($50/bw), & an annual expenses fund ($35/bw).

As my fixed expenses (rent, utilities, cell, insurance - ect) are about $750/month, and debt repayment is $650/month, and my planned spending accounts get $550/month - that leaves me with about $400/month for variable expenses from groceries, to gas, to fun.

Okay! Enough Context.

Here’s my question – in terms of figuring out priorities, what is the most important? Is getting my emergency fund to 6 months worth of hearth & home expenses number one? Or is paying of my debt number one? You blogged about this a bit today – but I guess my question goes further then that. What about all the other ‘savings funds’ and ‘planned spending’ funds that people have – where do they fall into the mix of priorities. I’ve spoken with some people (friends) who think the planned spending should just go towards debt. I think however; that if I have no money tucked away for planned spending – I’ll still spend the money – which is why I owe what I do on a credit card. If I have the money saved – in theory, I won’t use my credit card.

What I think might work best is if I try your debt-snowball technique as a savings-snowball technique. For this to work, I have to have a priorities plan.

I appreciate any tips, or advise you would have for me and those in my situation.

Thank you,
Jessie

6/08/2009

An Annual Savings Plan..Continued.

So, the more I think about this - more stressed I am making myself.


It is really hard to save for annual expenditures, that you are currently paying for monthly. For example, I pay an additional 4% on my car insurance because I pay it monthly. I would like to pay it annually b/c then I save the 4%. I made this spreadsheet to help figure out what to do.

Above, you can see what my annual costs are. To make this effective, I called up AMA and asked what my renewal dates were. From there I figured how many pay periods I had to save for each item.

Basically. If I had started saving for each item one year prior to having to pay for it, I would need to put away $78.57 bi-weekly. I didn't do this (namely because I didn't think of it). To accomplish this goal now, I would need to put away $229.82/bi-weekly.

Sigh. I don't have a spore $230/biweekly.

So, options:

1. I can just start saving the $78.57 now, and make up the rest from my e-fund

2. I could suck it up and get another job

3. I could use my credit card (boo!)

4. I could plan to save for, and pay for, the three lowest cost expenses which would be $33.60/bi-weekly (without car insurance.). With this plan, I would pay for car insurance monthly again next year, but start saving on the renewal date (or sooner), that way I would have 26 pay periods to save for it rather than 9.

What do you think?

An Annual Savings Plan

I read Gail Vaz Oxlade's Blog and one commentor on today's post, gave me the idea that I should have an annual saving's plan. I like this idea - I think it may be a little hard to implement, but I see the worthyness of it.

If you pay for things like car insurnace in one shot, it cost's less then paying monthly over the course of the year.

So far, the only things I can think of that I need to plan for are:
  • Car Insurance
  • Car Registration
  • CAA membership (required for my insurance).

Are there any other annual costs that I may be forgetting? Does anyone else plan for expenses this way?

6/05/2009

Saving Money - Reducing Bills

I have recently decided to increase my contributions to buy shares, as well as increase my student loan repayment. As things were already pretty tight, I felt I needed to 'find' more money within my budget. So following that, here's what I've done:
  • I have negotiated some of my utility bills, particularly my Express VU (TV) Bill this will save me $5/month (we split bills four ways, so everyone will save this).
  • I recently switched from a fixed rate to a variable rate on our enmax (heat - gas) bill, which will save us about $4/unit of consumption
  • I cancelled my WOW subscription - sad face - which will save me $15/month
  • I switched from the World Delux to the Canada Delux ancestry.ca subscription. This will save me $18/month (I will likely increase this again when I have more time to dedicate to my family tree projects)
  • Now that it's warm out, we have turned the thermistat to 10 (degrees celcious) - so it will probably not turn on for 2 sold months.
  • I have started taking advantage of gift cards and points.

To explain that, i recently cashed in some of my airmiles points and received 3 'night out' coupons for the movie theater (includes admission for two, pop, and popcorn). I've received $250 worth of gift cards (from volunteering at work) for a fantastic camping store. I have a $25 gift card for a drug store (from points).

So the actual amount of money I have freed up is $37/month. However; I beleive with doing the other things I mentioned, I will end up saving quite a bit more. This is the *hope*.

6/04/2009

Company Shares - Decision

A few days ago I wrote about purchasing company shares. I have decided to increase my bi-weekly contributions to $50 (from $26).

This will advance my goal of buying company shares to this December, 2009. Once I am able to purchase shares, I will decrease my contribution amount to $25/bi-weekly. I am doing this for a few reasons. I'm putting saving money this way because there is a minumum purchase amount of 20 shares, and then you can purchase later on in increments of 5.

I'm buying shares with my company for a few different reasons:
  • Increases ownership mentality
  • Demonstrates to my superiors/peers that I am committed to my company
  • My company is 100% employee owned and bases it's share price on the average of the previous 5 years earnings - making for a more stable growth in share prices
  • Share prices have been increasing steadily since the plans inception
  • My company not only pays divideds once a year, but also they pay an 'incentive payment' once a year (a different time) which is based on the profits of the company.

House Fund - Update

Wow!

Jordan and I have put away $2500!! Since we started saving in February, 2009. We've also have $6 in interest - so grand total $2506, which is 7.16% of $35,000.

Currently the interest rate is 1.35%, we started at 3% - unfortunatly it's gone down. However; eventually we know it will go back up. At the current rates, and current savings plan ($150/bi-weekly alternated by Jordan and I) ING figures we'll reach our goal by May 2013.

As jordan and I get raises, and additional monies - we plan on increase our contributions. But for now - this works for us.

Hurray!

6/03/2009

Saving Money on Utility Bills

Often we read about advise on how to lower your interest rates on the various forms of credit that is offered (credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, ect). Have you ever tried to lower other forms of expenses, such as your utility bills?

In our household we have three sets of bills:
  1. Enmax (gas, electricity, water, sewage, ect)
  2. Express Vu (television)
  3. Shaw (internet & phone)

We have recently been receiving a lot of promotional offers from Shaw, wanting to provide our TV services. We have an HD TV, and quite frankly - Bell still offers the best in HD TV, so I don't particularly want to cancel with them.

I called Express Vu and managed to get a $21.63/month savings on our bill. What services did i lose you ask? - None! We will keep the exact same services for about 23% less!!

Here's what I did:

  • Called and asked how much it would cost to cancel our TV services
  • Told them about the offer from shaw
  • Told them I liked Bell, and would like to stay - but couldn't justify the price difference
  • I asked if there were any options that we could explore
  • I was transfered to the loyalty department
  • The loyalty department (a guy named Jordan), spent a few minutes with me going over my services to see if there were any changes I would like to make - their wern't
  • I asked frankly "Do you have any options in terms of my pricing, I would like to stay with Bell but I can't justify this proce"
  • He said, how does 71.40 sound?
  • I said, it sounded perfect.

Done.

I've done this before with Shaw and received credits when new promotions come out for phone and internet services as well.

Does anyone else do this?

6/02/2009

Buying Company Shares

On my tracking bars, you have no doubt seen that I would like to save about $1000 to be able to buy shares at my company. They recently changed the minumum share purchase from 25 shares to 20 shares. Which means I now need about $800 Canadian to buy shares. You can buy shares in June/December of each year - I won't have enough funds ready by this month - so I would like to buy shares by December.

I have already saved $286 through the share purchase program at work, so I figure I need approxmately $462 (I will save another $52 bewteen now and July 1) between July 1 and Dec 30 - that gives me 13 pay periods (b/c the new deductions won't take place until July 1st).

I currently tuck away $26/bi weekly.

I would have to increase my deductions to about $35 bi weekly.

I would hate to increase my deducations, and then come december have to wait another 6 months because of currency rates - so I am thinking of increasing my deductions to $40 or $50 bi-weekly.

What do you think?

Should I increase my deductions, or stay the course - and wait a year or two.

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