9/30/2009

Rent's Due Tomorrow

Well, we're at the end of September and my roommate is MIA.  I haven't seen her much at all the last couple of weeks.  She did say when she moved in that school keeps her very, very busy - but still.  Very strange.  In case she is 'late' with rent again, I have already transferred her damage deposit from my ING account over to my chequing account.  That way I'm protected if she's late again.  If she shows up today/tomorrow, I'll just transfer it back.  If I don't see her, i'll be asking for at least 6 month's worth of post-dated cheques.

I love ING's no fee's and my unlimited chequing (and therefor transferring) account.

$100/month

Thanks for all the well wishes with my recent bit of good news.

I'm wondering what reader's would suggest I do with this $100/month I'll be netting.  I see a couple of different options:

  1. Increase student loan payments
  2. Increase contribution amount to emergency fund
  3. Increase RRSP contribution amount
  4. Clothes & other fun stuff
  5. Something else I'm not thinking of
What do you think?

9/29/2009

It's Official!

I'm pretty thrilled.  I just got a 4.5% raise!! It's effective October 3, 2009.  I'm the only person in my division who's getting an October raise...and out of the entire office there's only about 10 people out of 500 folks getting increases mid year.

Wow.

Apparently, they want to keep me around!

I spoke with my direct supervisor about whether this will impact company-wide raises in April and it won't.  I will still receive my annual salary review in April 2010.

I went from making $45,000 to $47,000. Yay me!  I'm pretty sure this translates to only about $100/month more but we'll know by the end of October how this will shake down.

Gardening!!

So I had a pretty stressful day, if anyone follows me on twitter you know I thought I was going to be laid off for the first half of the day.  Turns out, I'm not!  I'm actually getting a raise which is pretty sweet!  I don't know all the details yet, but once I do I'll defn. be sharing.  I was late getting home, lost my keys, got lost in a horse store... blah!  We did some running around for my aunt and I didn't get to my horse before it got dark (it's getting dark at 7:30pm now!!)... so that also kind of soured me. 

But then...!

We checked on our garden at my aunt's place, and I dug up some potatoes.

digging potatoes is this untapped source of stress releif.  It brings me right back to my childhood and the best memories I have of my nanny (my dad's mom)...here are some great harvesting pictures!  There will be more later this week when we pick/pull/dig everything else.



potaotes!! check out the one on the bottom left... it's huge... !! it'll feed three people at least!  My best friend is going to send me her recipe for potatoe and bacon soup!


Cabbage!! we actually have two so far.  We're going to try to make cabbage roles?!


Our pumpkin!!! We have another one growing that's still a bit green.  I'm going to attempt to make a pie out of it.  It would be shame to just carve it for halloween.




yumm! the first three tomoates!  The green one fell off by accident, but it will ripen on it's own inside.

9/28/2009

A few updates

So, we are holding our breath with the landlord/living/moving situation until the middle of next month when they are back in Canada.  Hopefully we can come to some sort of resolution.  It would be nice not to have to move, but in the end if that is what makes the most sense - it's what we'll do.

On a postive note, Jordan and I had an unexpected $200 fall into our financial situation this past week so we were able to stock up on some groceries.  That was a very nice treat!  We now have several months worth of protein staples and canned goods!  We bought tonnes of meat (pork chops, sausage, steak, roasts, chicken breast, ground beef) and packaged it all up in two person portions in the freezer. 

Another awesome thing!  Is that sunday was my credit card's period end date or what ever it's called.  So my next bill she have a zero dollar balance!  woo hoo!

9/25/2009

Negotiations with the Landlord Continue...

I just got off of the phone with the landlord's husband, and we agreed that I would drop off a cheque for October's rent of $1,500 sometime after work today.  Apparently they live about five minutes away from where we are.  I told him this would be find and a 'good faith' gesture as we don't have a signed lease.  He agreed that we would 'pretend' that October was a month-to-month scenario until we have the opportunity to sit down and chat next month.

Jordan and I are going to go check out a 'back up' place this weekend, just in case things don't work out - but I am getting the feeling that they will.

Negotiations with the Landlord - Part Two

All I have been thinking about over the last couple of days is this lease negotiation business....I called my mom this morning to work out the first e-mail that I was going to send to her today... I wanted to make sure it had the correct tone.  Here are the e-mails that I exchanged with Landlord this morning:

Good Morning,
I am hoping that you might have had time to review the e-mail correspondence sent a couple of days ago and that you have a response.  It would be in both of our best interests to settle into a new lease agreement.
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns that would help expedite this process.  I would be more then happy to provide you with a copy of my tenants insurance if that would ease any latent concerns you have over the fish tanks.
If you haven't had the opportunity to review the e-mail  I sent a couple of days ago, would you kindly let us know when you might have a response?
Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend.
Jessie

So she says... a few seconds later:

I am sorry Jessie but I need more time to review this.  I am leaving the country early tomorrow and will not be able to address your concerns until my return the week of October 12th
 So I say....


Hi landlord's name,
Thank you for this e-mail.  I don't think you have a cheque for October 1st, 2009.  What is the best way to arrange this before you leave.
Thank you,
Jessie
so she says:

We can make those arrangements when I get back.
Thanks Jessie. 

and I'm thinking, I suppose she never has been one to say a lot of words...... and I reply:
Thank you for that, I look forward to chatting when you return.  Have a great trip! 

There you have it!  So, I guess we don't really need to worry too much for a couple of weeks yet.  My mom thinks that she is probably going to give concessions on the fish, and on rent - otherwise she would have just sent an e-mail that said the rent is going up, deal with it - or some such thing.

Landlord's husband just sent me an e-mail heh heh... and HE wants a cheque before they leave.  Interesting.  But we have no lease agreement.  I think the fair and good thing to do would be to try to meet with him after work with a cheque for the standard $1,500.  I think this, in good faith of their efforts, would be reasonable.

I'm going to wait until lunch to see if they send any other e-mails before replying to this one.

I feel pretty good about the direction of this.

9/23/2009

Negotiations with the Landlord

Yesterday I told you when we wrote in our e-mail to the Landlord.  This was her reply"


Thank you for your email.  No problem on the notice.  I had just passed the email to my husband last night and we can simply toss it.
I am sorry but I will not change my view on the pet situation.  All of my units have a “no animal rule” which also now extends to pet fish.  If we discuss a pet further, it will not result in a rental decrease but rather an increase due to wear and tear.
I will consider a rental change.  Will it only be two of you in the unit?  That will impact my decision because the more people living in the unit, the more wear and tear the unit takes.  Please confirm that for me.
Are you freaking kidding me?!  She has seen our three fish tanks at least twice (and the first tank at least 4 or 5 times) and has never said anything.  I've lived in that place for three years and it's never been a problem. Grr.... so, this is what we wrote back:

As you are aware of the fish tanks that we already have in this unit, I don't think it is reasonable for you to include them as part of the new lease agreement at this time. If you were to enforce this, it will un-necessarily force us to find other living arrangements. We would prefer to keep the good rapport that we, as tenants, and you, as our landlord, have had over the last three years.
 There will just be Jordan, myself and Roommate Name in the unit.  We are no longer interested in a house full of roommates. 
We'll just have to wait and see what she says back...

Moving...or not?

So Jordan and I have been doing a tonnne of talking about the whole moving thing, and now we're thinking that we might as well just stay where we are...We figure we'll be going from three roommates to one roommate and that might make a big enough difference.  Our rent will go up to $500/month each and of course utilities will go up some as well, but it's probably only going to be $100-$200/month more then if we found somewhere else.  Plus, this has been my home for three years and I have sooo much stuff (that I want to keep)....

All that said, we're not giving up on what we want... I wrote this e-mail to my landlord tonight:

Good Evening LandLords Name,


Jordan and I have spent the last few days seriously thinking about the implications of moving, and we would like to recind our notice. Given that this is prior to October 1, 2009 I am confident this shouldn't be a problem.

Roommate One and Roommate two will still be leaving on November 1, 2009 and as such Roommate One should be removed as a tenent listed on the lease.

When we negotiate the new terms of the lease, I would like to have Jordan Last Name (my boyfriend) as the secondary lease holder. He has been employeed full time with Company X for the last 12 months, and can provide proof of this if you would like it.

I am wondering if you would consider two points.

One, with the market such that it is - being flooded with new properties - would you be willing to consider a rent decrease? I think that $1,300/month would be reasonable given our history and the market. The second thing I hope you will consider is the 'no pets' rule. One of the biggest reasons Jordan and I were contemplating moving was that we have been in desperate need for a dog as a companion. Given that I have been a consistant tenant for the last three years, I was hoping you would re-consider this point.

Thank you, we hope you have a wonderful evening.
Jessie & Jordan
We figure, what's the worst she can do - say no?  At lease we will have tried... and if it doesn't work out, then we'll consider moving in six months or so, but we would like to give this a good effort...I'm already thinking how nice it will be to turn the spare room into an office/proper spare room :D

9/22/2009

To CHRP or not to CHRP?

There are a great number of professions that have 'designations'.  A few letters to put at the end of your name to signify that you may know something that others of your ilk don't.  Well, as someone in the field of Human Resources it would be a great advantage to receive my CHRP designation (description below).

The Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) designation is a nationally recognized level of achievement within the field of human resources. It reflects a conviction that the professional practice of human resources management can safeguard the interests of employers, employees and the business community. The designation represents continuing recognition of the bearer's professionalism.

If I receive my CHRP designation it not only increases my professional standing with my company, it also increases my marketability.

So, what are the costs?
  1. I must be a member of the Human Resources Institute of Alberta which costs $100*/annually and requires a $100* application fee just to go through the process to become certified.  Once I am certified, the annual fee increases to $200/annually
  2. There is an optional National Knowledge Exam workshop (the first test I need to complete to get my CHRP), which prepares you for the exam, that costs $350*
  3. I then have to register an pass the National Knowledge Exam (NKE). The cost of the exam is $250*
  4. Once I have passed the NKE I have up to five years to pass the National Professional Practice Assessment (NPPA) The cost of the NPPA is $500*

Once certified, I have to re-certify every three years, which costs $50*

*all of these costs would have GST added on top.

Now, for the good part...

My employer is currently offering the opportunity to apply for a continued learning award.... so I could potentially get the whole thing paid for.  After certification, I would have to pay the annual fees myself, but I think I'll give it ago (the application that is).  What's the worst that will happen, they'll say no?

9/21/2009

Do you know what's hard?

Looking for a new place to live while maintaining sanity is hard.

I fear much of my blog posts will relate to this in some way or another for the next while..

oh also, I accidently put an extra $75 into my RRSP this pay period, which means I have about $75 for the next two weeks...and my grocery budget was $100.  I am anticipating a giant fail.

Do you ever just get tired of thinking about money all the time?

I'm Moving

My household has been in a bit of a tumultuous state and there's going to be some major changes.  My brother and his girlfriend have found a place and our moving out on November 1st.  Jordan and I are going to try to be out by November 1st or December 1st - depending on how things shake down.

Unfortunately for our new roommate she may h ave to move as well.  I'm waiting to hear back from our landlord, however if she want's to she could keep the place, sign a new lease and find new roommates.

It will be hard because I've made this place my home for the last three years; however, I am just so tired of living like a student.  I've had roommates in one form or another since I moved out of my parents place 6 or 7 years ago - it's time for Jordan and I to be on our own.

It's pretty exciting and I'm a little nervous too with all of the changes.  Nobody likes moving, so it will likely be a little stressful - especially if we all try to move at the same time (hence why we might wait until December).

Once we find a place I'll do up new budgets and post them.  In the meantime Jordan and I have put a hold on our house fund b/c our rent will most certainly be going to go up some.  We are going to try to sell a lot of our stuff, so hopefully the move will go easier... (again why it might make more scents to wait until December).

Jordan's getting his review this week (it should actually be today) and I'm going to talk to my boss as well this week because I've been with my company for one year now (officially Oct 6)...so that will also help us make some decisions once we know if our finances are going to change at all.

9/20/2009

9/18/2009

Bi-Weekly Budget - Today is Payday

Below is a picture of the next two weeks.

Things will be pretty tight because I got a much needed haircut and splurged on some Halloween decorations as well as some party favors and a gift for one of my roommates birthday's last week.




I have $200 for my variable expenses, $100 of that goes to food.  Thankfully I found an extra $20 in my jeans pocket this morning so that's going to help out with gas for our trip to my home town this weekend.

All of my side bars have been updated, and I'm quite pleased with the progress.  


October and November should see some large contributions to my Christmas Fund and Emergency Fund, I think I would like to get those fully funded before putting a great sum more of money towards my student loans. Mid-November will see large contributions to my RRSP to reach my $3,000 goal.  If not before hand, I will increase my debt repayments in January once I have achieved these shorter term goals.

Utilities - Phone & Internet

As you know I'm taking part of this week to explore my households utility bills.  This post is about our phone and internet services.  Next week I will write about our major utilities including gas, water and electricity.


On average we pay $67.47/month for our phone and internet services.  The break down looks like this:


This discounts are based on bundling two services together as well as owning my own modem.  We pay a long distance rate of $0.04/minute which is why it varies.  The increase in the bundle to have a set long distance plan would be $30/month, so it's not worth it to have that service.  We also have no extra features.  What I mean by that is we have no call waiting, call display, voice mail ect.  My roommate Lindsay was kind enough to purchase a answering machine, which works just fine for us!


I  had a look at what is currently being offered to new customers and for the same products they are offering a current bundled price of $55.95/month.  If I add GST to that and compare it to what we're paying (less the long distance) - it's the exact same price.  I'm both pleased and surprised to see this as often new customers get better deals then us existing customers.


The only thing we could do to save money here, is to use less long distance minutes and/or reduce our high speed internet (7MBps) to the high speed 'lite' internet (256 Kbps) plan.  


I think that between $5 and $10 of long distance is reasonable considering that the families of each person in the household live, for the majority, out of the city/province.  I'm also comfortable paying a bit more for faster internet.  


What do you think?

9/17/2009

Car Insurance

so I just received my policy renewal information for my auto insurance.  It's going to go down by a whole $5.28...that's a whopping $63.36 for the year.  My new premium will be broken down into payments of $150.28.  I called a couple of insurance brokers, and unfortunately - my current one - is the cheapest I can find.

Hopefully next year I'll see a bigger change.

Utilities - Satellite TV

My post last week, and the comments regarding it, got me thinking about each utility provider.  I'm going to take the next couple of days to review each of them.  I will start with Bell - our TV provider.

When we signed up, the best deal was to sign a two year contract.  We are through one year of that.  I believe the account is up for renewal in July 2010.  We can change our programming as much as we like, but cannot cancel unless we pay a cancellation fee which I believe is about $150.

Below is a break down of our Bell Bill:


You can see that as of August 16, I negotiated a $20 bill credit for 12 months.  this effectively 'wipes out' the rental of the HD PVR.  No way would I ever buy one of these boxes because your warranty goes out the window, it's a far better deal to rent (I used to work for Bell).  So for those reasons, we'll just look at our programming.
A year or two ago I bought a HD TV, for that reason - I want HD channels.  It only makes sense.  It truly is a better picture.  But do we need 4 HD theme packs?
It seems that each theme pack is $5. So one theme back is $5, two is $10, 3 is $15 - and four (drum roll please) you get a break on and only have to pay $10.  It would seem that if we are to have HD channels we ought to have one or four.  I think four is the way to go.
We have Sports 1, Sports 2, Variety 1, and Variety 2.  It seems like a lot of sports, but if you check out the options we're only missing HD world - which is not a very good package.
All of the Bell packages start with the digital standard package.  It's like your basic cable. 
This is a non-negotiable.  What this does is give you the channels so that if your show is on at 6pm, it's also on at the US equivalent.
Apparently this is relatively new and also non-negotiable.
I think the digital theme packs is where we might have changes (if we have any - roommates please feel free to weight in on this).
If you have 1 to 4 theme packs they are $8/pack.  If you have 5 theme packs there is a discount and you pay $23, if you buy six theme packs it's $26 and if you buy 7, 8 or 9 theme packs it's $5/each above the $26 mark. Whew! Catch all that?
So if you have 1, 2, or 3 it's less expensive then what we have now but if we wanted four - we might as well have five or six. Four packs would cost $32 so wouldn't make any sense.
So currently we subscribe to:
  1. More movies
  2. Sports One
  3. Sports Three
  4. New and Learning One
  5. Variety One (which I think is now called lifestyle b/c we have some of the lifestyle channels and don't subscribe to them)
  6. Variety Two
We set these up prior to our recent roommate changes.  So people may have changed their TV flavors a bit.
If it was just me, I would pick the following:
  1. News and Learning One
  2. News and Learning Two
  3. Sports One (for Jordan)
  4. Lifestyle One (has slice and Gail Vaz-Oxlade)
  5. More Movies
Phew!  So I see some room to save maybe $3 (or $0.60/each if we went from 6 to 5 theme packs.  That is of course assuming, we keep any 'theme packs at all'.

We COULD decide to eliminate the majority of the package and go to the HD basic package.  This would include the digital standard package ($32),  time shifting ($2), digital service fee ($3), a few free HD channels ($0), plus the rental of the HD PVR ($20)...for a grand total of $57/month + GST. I'm assuming that if we went this basic, Bell would not let us keep the $20 discount we negotiated a while back.  That would save the household $15/month or $3/each.  Doesn't really seem worth it does it?

9/16/2009

Planning For the Future - Episode Two

Yesterday I wrote about making a plan with the funds I'll have 'left over' each pay period, and I briefly mentioned that the money could go towards my student loans.  I'm actually quite surprised that folks didn't put a larger emphasis and paying down this debt. Perhaps it is because student loans are traditionally looked as as 'good debt'

Part of the conversation my mom and I had was about aligning my student loan debt repayment plan to reflect our goal of having all of our debts paid of prior to buying a home in a few years.  With Jordan ramping up his truck loan payments, I think I should increase my payments as well.

So, below I present two cases.  One is to apply this years 'left over' $1,300 towards my debt AND re structure my payments to have them paid off in two years.  The other is to assume the lump sum goes somewhere else and JUST re structure the payments to have them paid off in two years.

As of August, 2009 I owe the following:

Alberta Student Loan Owing: $ 5,593.78
Canada Student Loan Owing: $ 3,118.16 

Scenario One: Use the $1,300 towards student loan debt.


I would of course use that money towards the debt with the highest interest, which happens to be the debt with the lowest principal owing which would bring my balances to the following:

Alberta Student Loan Owing: $ 5,593
Canada Student Loan Owing: $ 1,818
If I continued my current payment ($75) as a minimum payment on the AB loan and had a payment of $375, it would take me approximately 5 months to pay off the Cnd loan.  After that I would have a full $450 to pay down the remainder of the AB loan.  In those five months, my AB loan would be brought down to (with the $75/month payment) $5,218.  It would take me about 12 months to pay this amount off with payments of $450/month. For a total debt reduction timeline of 17 months.


Scenario Two: Use the $1,300 towards something else entirely.


If I had a minimum payment of $75 on the AB loan and had a payment of $375, it would take me approximately  9 months to pay off the Cnd loan.  After that I would have a full $450 to pay down the remainder of the AB loan.  In those nine months, my AB loan would be brought down to (with the $75/month payment) $4,918.  It would take me about 11 months to pay this amount off with payments of $450/month.  For a total debt reduction timeline of 20 months.

So using scenario one will only actually save me about 3 months if I choose to increase the money dedicated to paying off my student loans by $300/month AND use an extra $1,300 to help pay them down.

That's not actually a very big difference between the two.  Of course, I would actually have to be able to come up with $300/month for this to work as well, which should be doable because I did have $500/month going towards my credit card debt.

With that in mind, I don't think I'll use the $1,300 for my loan - but I do think I'll look at increasing my payments again.

9/15/2009

Planning For the Future

I had a great conversation with my mom last week and thought I would share some of it.  I told her that with my new saving plan in place I would be able to reach my 2009 goals by the end of the year and still have about $1,300 left over.  I was panicking because this money wasn't allotted - it doesn't have a plan!  We talked about increasing my entertainment/clothes jar allotment, putting it in my emergency fund, putting it in an RRSP, or using it to help pay down my student loans.

Mom thinks I should increase my entertainment fund a bit, and use the rest in RRSP's or my Emerg fund.  I'm wondering what you all think?  What would you do with it?

Here are some exciting excel spreadsheets to help illustrate my options.

This shows the 'left over' money I'll have for each pay period until the end of the year including the money I'll use to help reach my goals.  Right now I'll have about $1,300.

As you can see it's not very consistent and has huge ups and downs.

I should also mention that my bi-weekly budget for variable expenses continues to be $300.
Here is my current savings snowball plan to reach my 2009 goals:

So... what should I do with that extra money?!  I know it's not a lot, but I'd really like to figure out a plan for it.  After this weekend, I'm leaning towards increasing my entertainment fund - but I'd love to hear what you folks think.

9/14/2009

This Weekend & The Bank

I don't believe that I have written about this before, but about eight months ago Jordan was looking to buy a small, used, truck for himself.  After much debate, we decided on a 2002 Ford Ranger.  The truck, although it has high kilometers, would be perfect for us.

We took out a personal loan for $4,500, during the application process we learned that Jordan's credit was not steller.  He was actually one of the SMART 18-20+ year olds who didn't sign up for a credit card as soon as he was legally able to.  Unfortunately, that also meant that his credit score was not very high because he's never had credit.

He signed up for a secured credit card and we are currently working to build his credit (which is a whole other post topic).

So, back to that loan.  The bank wouldn't give him a loan by himself, so I offered to co-sign.  In a super ridiculous move - the bank STILL wouldn't approve the loan (I do have a great credit score).  We then tried to get the loan with JUST my name and the bank pushed it through no problem.  I think, this is lame.

Anyways, this weekend Jordan decided to up the frequency of his payments and effectively increase the amount he's putting towards the loan each month.  What a process that was!

The bank lady who had apparently 'done lots of loans before', had never made such changes to an existing loan.  Apparently it's a pretty rare thing for people to want to pay their loans off early?!  So the whole process took well over an hour and it shouldn't have taken more then 20 minutes (the way I figure it).

oh, I didn't yet mention.  The way Jordan and I worked out the loan and payments is that yes the loan is in my name but all of the payments are debited straight from his account.

So he went from paying $216/month, which was what the computer calculated would take 24 months to pay off the loan, to $150/bi-weekly.  This increase in frequency and amount will shave off about 6 months on the loan.  It should be paid off by July/August of 2010.

Jordan is now 100% on board with bi-weekly contributions to savings/debt repayment ect.  It works sooo much easier then monthly budgeting!  He also split his RRSP contribution in half and is now doing that bi-weekly as well.

Although the experience at the bank was a little crappy, I'm so happy that Jordan decided to ramp up his debt repayments.  Having all of our debts paid off within the next two years will make our home buying experience in a few years time, that much easier.

Magic Jars Update

I didn't post my bi-weekly budget last pay period because I had all sorts of financial stanfu's happen, culminating with my roomate paying rent four days late.  I am still using the jars and have about $40 left until next Friday. 

I'm not sure if I mentioned it or not yet but Jordan decided to use the food jar with me.  This will be his second pay period using a joint food jar with me.  He put $100 towards groceries this past Thursday.  I so love that he's on board with this!  We had talked about it last month and at first he was hesitant but I asked him to think about it - and he decided to go for it. 

I *think* that he likes knowing that he puts his $100 in, and so do I, and that's it.  Like a bill we created for ourselves.

I feel like thinks are really coming together on this front.  Although I am slightly panicky about what to do with my money now that the credit card is paid off.  I set my goals, and will work towards them - but for some reason I feel uneasy about it.

9/12/2009

9/11/2009

August Utilities

Frugal Dreamer got me thinking about my utilities this month, so I thought I would share as they will be debited from my account during this pay period. They are as follows:
  • Major utilities - $269.42
The major utilities include water, sewer, recyling and garbage pick up as well as gas and electricity.  If people are interested I could break down all the costs.
  • Satillite TV - $74.86
I'm actually pretty happy with this bill.  It used to be $92 plus/month until I negotiated a lower price for 12 months with the same services.
  • Phone/High Speed Internet - $66.06
We have the second teir of high speed internet and the most basic digital phone line available.  Unfortunatly there are not a lot of competors for phone/internet where we are.


That works out to be $82.07 each and everyone put in their share on time. Everyone is pretty good about this, and new roommate left her monies on the fridge for me - hooray!

It sure is nice splitting it five ways now that we have a roommate rather then four ways.

Keep in mind that there are five people in a three bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 3 level townhouse.  In addition to the standard appliances we have two mini fridges (one beer fridge, and one for two of my roomates b/c there wasn't enough room in the fridge), and one small freezer.  People are pretty good about keeping lights and what not off but everyone has at least one computer, most of us have a computer and a laptop which increases the electricity bill.  Jordan and I also have three fishtanks, which use less electricity then people might think - but it's still more then if we didn't have them.

We don't have A/C but we do have a couple of fans to help with airflow.

9/10/2009

9/09/2009

9/08/2009

So now what?

Now that I am credit card debt free, I ought to make a plan for going forward.  I have already written my revised 2009 goals which included:

  1. Pay off my credit card
  2. Have a debt free Christmas
  3. Replenish my emergency fund to a minimum of $1,000 by the end of 2009
  4. Increase my total RRSP contributions to $3,000 by the end of 2009

You have probably noticed that I moved my tracking bars around to reflect the changes.  I'm going to save $500 for my Christmas Fund as a priority, and then work on replenishing my Emergency Fund and Increasing my RRSP contribution.  Some would say, I believe, that I should put funds towards my E-fund first.  I think however; that if I don't save for Christmas now - I will go back into debt.  It's a priority for me not to let that happen - and should a small emergency occur I can use they money earmarked for Christmas.

I am also considering taking out an RRSP loan - which I would love to hear thoughts on.  When we get closer to tax time, I'll write a more thorough post on that.

I am going to continue using the jars, however; I'm going to look at increasing my entertainment and food jar bi-weekly allotments.  I would like to let myself enjoy the next four months without any significant financial stressors or worry.

Right now, I am thinking that my big 2010 goal will be to pay off my two student loans.  Do you think paying off a little more then $8,000 in one year is doable, or should I make this a two year goal?  or - Should I play catch up with my RRSP's - there's a lot to think about and plan for in 2010, and it's only 3.5 months away.

I suppose I've put out a few random questions and thoughts - I'd love to hear feedback on any of it

I am credit card debt free!

...that's right, I am finallly

credit card debt free!
wow.

I'm not sure I believed this day would actually come! I feel like in some way or another I have owed money on my credit card for the last five years or so. I've come very close to paying it off a few times, and then promptly plummeted right back into debt. I even cashed out a few RRSP's a couple years ago to try to pay it off.

My CC debt has never felt insurmountable, and has always felt insurmountable all at the same time. At it's worst it always ranged from $3,500 - $5000. I think that the relatively small sum made me feel even worse that I couldn't get it paid off. I would often wind up criticizing myself because, come on?! What's wrong with me?! Why don't you just do it!

I could blame the length of time on any number of factors, but I'm not going to go down that route. Instead, I'll tell you what I did that worked.

1. I had to make the decision that eliminating this debt was important to me!

It had to be more important then a haircut (which I haven't had in probably a year and a half), more important then new shoes, new work clothes, or a new couch (to name a few).

2. I put myself on a budget, and stuck to it.

I used Gail Vaz-Oxlade's 'magic jars' to get me on track. Living on cash really worked for me, although at first made me very uncomfortable. I had only to remind myself of point number one before I got over it. I put $250/bi-weekly towards my credit card debt while continue to save in my RRSP's and emergency fund.

3. I built a $1000 emergency fund

Once my credit card debt was in reach, I used the majority of that emergency fund to pay of my debt. I was wayy over my head with it, and truly needed it to be gone. It was my emergency! I am now working to build that fund back up.

4. I cut up my credit card!

I tried leaving it at home, leaving it with Jordan - I even wrapped it in paper with awful messages to myself reminding me that I wanted my credit card debt paid off. The only thing that got me to break the habit of using it, was to remove it from the equation. I had used my emergency fund to pay off this debt, and the only way to not regret that decision was to cut it up the card.

Not using the credit card finally enabled me to be able to have my debt repayments do their job and - repay that debt!

Thank you for following me through this first step towards financial freedom. Going forward in the short term I plan to get my emergency fund back up to at least $1000 and have a debt free Christmas. Come January I plan to focus on eliminating my student loan debt. I look forward to continuing this journey with all of you.

9/07/2009

Updates!

I beleive a few updates are in order before I get back to regurlar posting...

Our roommate gave me rent ($500) plus $50 on Thursday!  phew! I did go into my overdraft and will have to pay interest and overdraft charges because of this.  The $50 will more then cover it.  I didn't ask for any extra cash, but I beleive that she really just wanted to make things right.  I really appreciated that.  I tried to tell her it wasn't necessary but she was backing away before I had the chance. 

When I didn't get rent on or before the first, I put a hold on all of my automatic transfers *just* in case.

On Friday morning, I set re-set up my final credit card debt repayment as well as shifted some other funds around.  As it was a long weekend, all of the transfers havn't finished going through yet.  So I'm not TECHNICALLY credit card debt free, but I'm hopefull that tomorrow everything will go through.

The one transfer that I didn't stop was to our house fund, so we've gone up another $150 in that fund!

Camping went pretty well, communications got a bit botched and my brother wasn't able to join us and we got seriously rained on.  This was good for quadding (lots of mud) however, not so good for tenting.  Our tent, sleeping bags, everything got wet.  Apparently my 'deal' of a tent - was not such a hot deal.

Jordan and I will be scoping end of season sales to hopefully get a better tent.

I don't think we will buy the awesome couch, loveseat and chair for $1300 that I mentioned last week - but I might look into some cream coloured couch coveres so I don't have to look at them anymore and they give the elusion of comfort and 'homey'.  Perhaps I'll make some throw pillows? 

hmm.. I think that is probably everything for now :)

9/05/2009

Gone Camping!

I hope everyone (who gets one) has a wonderful long weekend! 

Jordan and I are running away to BC to go camping with my parents.  Unfortunatly my brother and lindsay have to work.

It will be a great trip I think.  The only significant cost is gas, which really won't be that bad because it's only about a 3.5 hour drive to the lake we'll be at.  Camping with my mom is fantastic, she has so many goodies stocked in the camper so we don't have to remember things like salt and pepper.

Jordan and I are in charge of lunches and some breakfast stuff and mom is champion-ing dinners! 

9/04/2009

Furniture

Jordan and I fell in love with a couch on Wednesday night.  It's comfortable, priced perfectly, and has a great warranty!

For the couch, loveseat and chair - the price was $1299!  That includes set up and delivery in home as well as a lifetime warranty on the frame and springs.  The foam in the cusion's are 7 inches thick and the material is 5 inches think so as the foam shrinks a bit naturally, the fabric is still taught over them!  How cool is that!



Yeah! Couches!

We have this rediculously old and ugly used blue couches.... they are rejects.  But they were free!
Do you see... that second char, it looks like it's chewing on something....


It's hard to decide if it's worth it to buy new furniture when we are renting a place with 3 other people....plus $1300 (okay more like $1500 after taxes and this special cleaner protection stuff they sell you) would be a big chunk of change ripped out of our house fund....

9/03/2009

Roommates = Stress

*note, I wrote this post on Wednesday evening and it is set to post for Thursday morning*

So as most of you probably know, we recently took in a roomate to help lower our costs.  Great idea!  In theory...

Our new roomate seemed great (and still personality wise, seems really nice and outgoing).  She paid her damage deposit in full - no issues.  We even let her start moving in early....so that it would be easy and comfortable for her.Unfortunatly, I feel like I'm being strung along with the first months rent.

I ask that my roomates give me a post-dated cheque a day or two before the first of the so that everything's all organized and I only have to make one trip to the bank.  On the August 31st, I made mention of a cheque and she said she'd have the money for me the following day (today).  After work, she told Jordan she was heading to the bank and then to go shopping and would return with the rent money.

We just got home from doing some running around (looking at a fabulous couch that I'll post about later), and when I come home there was no $$ to be seen.  Jordan (who's muuch better at hard conversations then I am), knocked on her door and asked what was up.  She said her student loans havn't gone through, and her employer hasn't paid her yet - so she doesn't have the money.  She HOPES she'll have it for tomorrow but said it might not be until the end of the week.

I get that these things can happen (with student loans) but come on!  How about some notice!  She could have told me a few weeks ago that finances might not be aligned so that I could plan for this.  As it is, if my landlord deposits my rent cheque on time, I'll have over draft fines and interest to pay.

Thanks new roommate.

She said she'll pay upfront for the next several months once her financing goes through, but Jordan made it clear that this cannot happen again.

I'm not completely writing this whole roomate thing off, I beleive that it really was a mistake and she feels super guilty about it.  Unfortunatly all the guilt and 'im sorrys' don't help start our roommate relationship off on the right foot.

one more day until I am credit card debt free!!

9/02/2009

APPLES!!!

I don't know if I've shared this before or not, but I have two apple trees in my yard!  One is a crab apple tree that is baring fruit for the first time this year.  The other is an amazing tree with delish apples (not sure how they would be branded, but they are verry tasty. 

So, what can I make with baby crab apples?




What can I make with super awesome delishious apples?







mmm... I could go on for quite a while!  What is your favorite apple dish?

9/01/2009

Saving Money

I've decided to cancel my ancestry.ca subscription.  This was the last online subscription I was holding on to.  It was $11.95/month.  I haven't done any research for a couple of months and figure that when I'm ready to re-focus on it, then I can look at subscription fees again.

Canadian Taxes - Where Does Your Money Go?

JD over at Get Rich Slowly posted an article  today about the United States of America's taxes.  I thought I would dig up a little information on Canadian Taxes.

For the fiscal year (2007-2008), Canada's federal government recorded $242.4 billion in taxes and other revenues.  The largest expenditure of that money, is DEBT!  Debt costs our country $33.3 billion dollars, annually.  That's about 14 cents of each tax dollar!  The Department of Finance Canada, actually as a pretty great interactive website that explains where all the money went.  Here's a link!

That link tells us a great story about our federal taxes, but I'm curious about our provincial taxes and our sales tax as well.

I will use my salary as an example of how taxed we, as Canadians, are.  I am currently living in the province of Alberta, and will use their guidelines for provincial calculations.  To make it easier, I will base my calculations on the assumption that I have no RRSP's or other means to reduce my taxable income (which I do)

I have calculated the provincial and federal taxes I will owe on my income based on the rates provided by the Canada Revenue Agency.  Those rates are listed here.

The goods and service tax (GST) is a tax that applies to the supply of most goods and services.  In Alberta, we are charged 5% on top of just about everything we buy.  Assuming that I spend approximately $1,500/month on variable (taxable) consumption.  That would be  $75/month or $900/year spent in GST.

Here's a little graph:

Wow!  Talk about a HUuuuge argument to do as much as you possible can to reduce your taxable income!  Just about $12, 500 of my annual salary is gobbled up by taxes, and that's with fairly conservative estimates!

So how can we reduce our taxable income, so that we pay less taxes?

  1. Contribute to RRSPs!!  Keep in mind, this is only a tax deferring vehicle.  You will pay taxes on this money when you take it out after you retire, although in theory at a lower tax rate.
  2. Open a TFSA.  Tax free savings accounts are fantastic vehicles for your emergency fund.  Keep in mind that you don't pay taxes on the INTEREST earned.  You do pay taxes on the money deposited each year.
  3. Have you been going to school?  There are a great number of deductions available for post-secondary students
  4. Do you own a small business?  Look into the ways to reduce your taxable income using business 'write offs'
  5. If you already donate to charity, keep and track those receipts, and claim it!
There are so many different ways, however; each person has their own unique set of circumstances.
How do you reduce your taxable income?  Do you think you pay too much, or too little in taxes?

I will be credit card debt free in 3 days!!

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