11/29/2009

ING - Do you have your account?

I've noticed lately that a few bloggers I read have not yet opened an ING account.  I find ING one of the easiest ways to automate and track my savings goals.  Once your account is openend you can open as many (or as few) savings accounts as you like.  You can create trackers and automatic transactions (if you like) - and it's all free!!

I have my emergency fund, Christmas fund, clothes fund, house fund and an RRSP with ING - all in seperate accounts.  All except for the house fund are single accounts - but the house fund is a joint account with Jordan.  I really liked that we could set this up fairly easily as well!


If you haven't opened your account yet, you can use a referral code to get a sign-up bonus. Mine is 17396382S1 and the link to ING is http://www.ingdirect.ca/en/signmeup/index.html. If you use my code, we should each get a $25 bonus!!

My mom did this a month ago or so, and it worked out pretty well! 

11/27/2009

November Top Referers

This is just a short thank you to my top referrers in November:
  1. Saving 4 Later
  2. Frugal Dreamer
  3. Canadian Savings
  4. Shaking The Money Tree
  5. Girl Makes Cents
  6. Give Me Back My Five Bucks
  7. Financial Catastrophizer
  8. Gail Vaz-Oxlade's Blog
  9. Small Steps for Big Change
  10. Punch Debt in The Face
Thanks everyone!  I love the Love - you're some of my top reads as well!!

11/26/2009

Bi-Weekly Budget - Tomorrow is Payday

I got my paystub this morning for tomorrow's pay, so I thought I would post my bi-weekly budget.



My current balance is a little higher then usual as I transfered over the rest of my Christmas fund into my main account to pay my mom back from some shopping she helped me out with.  I also have a little bit of extra income this month from my recent participation with a research panel.


  • RRSP/Emerg/Clothes fund are as per usual.  
  • Yes I know, bank fees suck -
    • I'm in the middle of fighting with my bank about them - once it's sorted, I'll do a post and let you know how it goes.
  • I have an extra RRSP deposit this month so that I can reach my 2009, $3,000 goal
  • I've been trying to get a hold of my horse board guy to confirm December's amount, but I haven't heard back yet - so I'm defaulting to the max
  • Student loans and joint account - as per usual
  • I bumped transportation a bit b/c we are heading to BC this weekend; however entertainment/other is down a little
    • After a few comments from FrugalDreamer about her thoughts that my allotment of $150 was too much - i thought I'd see how it would go
  • Misc. item's on my credit card are also being paid back
    • I bought both of my scores and Jordan's as well (I wanted to know what it was, so I volunteered to pay for it)
    • It's Christmas, so I elect to put 'other' instead of get into specific details on the final entry

So that leaves me with a little more then $110 left over.

Let's see how it goes.

11/25/2009

Making More Money

Jordan has discovered a great way to make more money!

Okay - well he probably didn't 'discover it' but he introduced it to me.

On Monday night we participated in a two hour research panel and each made $75!  Not too shabby!  It was a group of 8 people (plus a facilitator) and he just guided th conversation around the topic at hand.  There were people behind a two-way mirror, mics, and cameras so they could review our responses and conversations at a later date - it was pretty frosty.

You can participate (if you qualify) about once or so a month.  I'm going to sign up for a few more of these!

11/23/2009

Joy - Parking Rates Go Up...

Here's the e-mail I received this morning:

Dear Parker,

As you may already be aware, effective December 1, 2009 the monthly parking rate will be increased to $57.50 per month and for those customers who pay quarterly (every 3 months) the rate will be $170. Please note these rates include GST. For example, those customers who have paid for a 3 month period which includes December, the next billing period will reflect the $170 rate and the renewal rate will be effective January 1, 2010. These rate increases are due to higher property taxes, and increased enforcement/security costs.

On or around December 1st, you will be receiving a notification via email that your OLD subscription payment scheme has been cancelled. You will need to re-establish your subscription after December 1st by extending your parking term under the new rates. You will receive detailed instructions on or around December 1st which you will need to follow to ensure your parking subscription is maintained under the new rates after the expiry of your parking term under the old rates.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your parking space or extending your term please do not hesitate to contact us at (XXX) xxx- xxxx.

Thank you, The XYX Parking Team


Joy of Joys.... it's going from $147/quarterly to $170/quarterly - I'm unimpressed!  

11/20/2009

Overtime Update

By the end of today I will have 26.75 hours of banked time - that's 35.67% of my goal of 75 hours before January 1, 2009.  I actually had another 7.50 hours, but I used that when my family was in town.

So.. what does that mean?  Well, to reach my goal - I'll need to bank another 48.25 hours.  I have 4 full weeks left prior to the end of the month, and two short week when Christmas falls & January 1st falls.  As i will be taking a few days off around Christmas, I think that I should try to get the rest of the hours in during the next four weeks - that way, I don't have to worry about it during Christmas.

48.25/4 weeks = 12 hours/week

Remember though - each week i work overtime, I 'give up' 2.5 hours (because of my 37.50 hour work week). That means, I'll actually have to put in 14.5/week, or an extra 3 hours a day. As of late, I've been working 7:30am - 5:30pm and taking 30 minutes for lunch instead of an hour - which gives me 9.50 hours a day (2 extra hours).

To hit the three hour mark, I'll need to work 7:00am to 6:00pm and continue only taking 30 minutes for lunch.


What do you think, is it do-able?  Will I drive myself crazy?

11/19/2009

...an update on my recent raise

Last month I wrote about the raise I received which was effective on October 3, 2009. I guessed at what my income would be, and even shared what my first new pay cheque looked like, but now that I have had a few, I thought I would share what my income looks like now.

My benefit premiums are split over two pay periods each month, dental comes off of each and my Long Term Disability premiums come off the second.  Due to this, each pay is not the same. My pay is now $1320.52 and $1,289.93 or $2,610.45/month.  This is true for 10 months out of the year.  Two months out of the year, I receive three pays.  During these months, on the third pay period, no benefit premiums will be deducted and my pay will be $1,333.87.

My net increase in pay, each month, was $95.  That said, on October 1, 2009 our benefit premiums actually increased slightly, so my net pay increase after that is considered, is actually $90.50. Not too shabby during a recession.

11/18/2009

2010 Monthly Budget - Draft

I've been humming and hawing for the last month or so about what my 2010 budget will look like.  Before I could post it, we had to figure out a few things.

  • What my salary would be in 2010
Tomorrow I'm giving a full update of my monthly salary, but for the purposes of my 2010 budget, my monthly income is $2,690.45 (this assumes bi-weekly contributions of $10 into my share fund, not $50 as I have been doing).
  • What our house fund contribution would look like
  • How much I could commit to my student loans
  • What savings funds I wanted
  • Specific goals I wanted to achieve
The largest goal we have coming up is the possible opportunity to buy my great aunts home next year.  Due to that, our largest goals are getting my student loans paid off, getting Jordan's truck loan paid off, and accumulating money in the house fund.

A few notes
  • Everything that has a * next to it represents an amount that will be divided in two and contributed to bi-weekly.  
  • The total left over is my everything else/other/entertainment money.  After a great conversation with Jordan and discussing the psychological benefits of it - I've decided not to put this in a physical 'jar' but leave it in my account.  I will have a notebook that i can track my spending in next year.
  • I will keep the Food/Transportation jars and Jordan will continue to contribute to the Food jar.
  • My horse board actually varies between $90-$165/month
  • The joint account represents rent, utilities, phone, internet, and TV.  Jordan contributes the same amount bi-weekly
  • I will continue to post and stick to, bi-weekly budgets, this is just 'big picture'
  • I will look at getting rid of bank fees, but I have them now - so I budget for them now
Okay - here it is:



According to Gail Vaz-Oxlade's budgeting system, here is how i measure up:



It looks like I'm doing okay - what do you think?  Do you have any questions, would you recommend any changes?

11/17/2009

My Canadian Credit Score

Your credit score is a judgment about your financial health, at a specific point in time. It indicates the risk you represent for lenders, compared with other consumers. In Canada, there are two credit reporting agencies: Equifax and TransUnion. You can receive either just your credit report via mail, or you can receive your credit report and your credit score if you pay a fee and order them online.

It's been about a year since I last ordered my scores, so I thought it was a good time to check them again. With our home buying timeline advancing, we're also looking at checking Jordan's credit score to see how much it's improved over the last year and what we need to do to continue to improve it, I'll write more on his another day.

The last time I checked my scores in January, they were 788 (TransUnion) and 749 (Equifax). They are now 829 (TransUnion) and 769 (Equifax). These scores are very good - but it would be nice to see Equifax at the 800+ mark like trans-union is.

A lot of people have written about how to improve your score and how to actually order your score, but I'm curious about what the difference is between the two companies, and what do the differences mean. In my reading, I have found out that Equifax reports your FICO score, and is apparently used by most major banks. Transunion scores you, but it is not a FICO score.

hmm..

Can anyone shed some light on this, do you know what the difference is?

I know, at least in part, why my scores are so different. Forever ago I accidently opened a department store credit card, and cancelled it a few months later. It still appears open with Trans union, however is closed with Equifax. Further to that, Trans union doesn’t have my cell phone account listed whereas Equifax does. Finally, both bureaus have incorrectly listed one of my repayment amounts (it appears lower then it actually is).

I wouldn’t have thought that the above would translate to such a huge discrepancy. I wonder if the department store card is giving me a ‘false history’ with Trans union.

Does it even matter, if Equifax is the bureau most often used by big banks?  What are your thoughts on credit scores and the differences between the two reporting agencies in Canada?

11/16/2009

Tracking Bar Updates

I have updated all of my tracking bars, and am pleased with the progress.  Here is a summary:

Emergency Fund
I'm exactly $75 short of reaching my $1,000 goal for 2009!  As I don't plan on changing my bi-weekly contributions - but the time January 1, 2010 roles around - I will have reached this goal!

Shares
Each pay $50 comes straight off my pay cheque and goes into an account managed by work to buy shares.  I needed to have at least $800 by the end of December to be able to by shares this year (you can buy twice a year), and I've made that goal.  Come January, I will reduce my contributions to $10/bi-weekly as once you buy your first big chunk of shares you can buy in smaller increments.

Loans
Both of my student loans continue to slowly decrease, in 2010 I will increase my debt repaymtnts significantly to get these paid off!

House Fund
Our house fund has been on hold for the last few months (since all of our roommate changes), however; Jordan and I will be starting back up again in 2010.  We have been able to repay $50 of what we borrowed from oursleves, and Jordan recently sold another couch for $30 that we will also use to pay back this account.

Clothing Fund
I recently emptied this account to purchase a few, much needed, bras and I've changed this goal to $250 before I go out and buy some new clothes.

RRSP
My RRSP account is coming along strongly this year - next pay, I'll top it up to reach my 2009 goal.

Overtime
Things are coming along here - I'm looking forward to stepping this up in the coming weeks.

11/13/2009

Payday!

Below is an image of my bi-weekly budget for the next couple of weeks.  You'll see that my first joint account payment is set to go, and last months utilities.  Jordan and my utilities will be held in the joint account and my past roommates will be held in my account - because so far, only one provider has processed the requested to swtich the account that the auto-payments come from.  Next month will be much smoother!




My Christmas account is fully funded and Jordan will be adding his portion soon, so I have stopped my bi-weekly contributions to that account for now.  My RRSP, Emerg fund, and clothing fund deposits are all on schedule.  This pay day will see two biggies - car insurance and my quarterly parking bill (yuck).

My emergency fund is getting a big boost, and that will take me to $925 in that account.  I'll reach $1000 before the end of the year with my ongoing, regular, contributions.  Wow that's a great feeling!  My visa also gets a chunk of money to finish paying off the new bras I bought last weekend.

You'll also see a postive $30 and change, that is from a little stash I have (that I don't track, it's very small and new).

Have a great weekend!

11/12/2009

What an uplifting experience....

this is a post for the girls...

I love bra shopping!

I breifly mentioned on an earlier post that I went bra shopping with my mom, aunts, and grandmother this past weekend.  We were all blessed, and cursed, with the same.....affliction body type.

We are all in the range of 36G through to 42H (or higher - I'm guessing) - yeah, it goes up that high (and we're allll natural).

These lovlies need all the help they can get - which includes an annual bra-fitting.  Women's bodies change and so do the rest of their clothes - it only makes sense that bra's would need to change as well.

Places like La Senza, or even La Vie en Rose usually only go as high as a D or if you're very lucky a DD... there's a lot of letters between D and H!  If you know much about sizing, each letter represents another inch... so no way are you squeezing an H into a DD cup - no way!

So, we found our selves at Knickers 'n Lace.  If you don't know much about how a bra is supposed to fit - I would really suggest checking out their website, they've got some great information on there.

I spent $357 on TWO BRA's - yea... they were $175 and $165 (plus 5% gst)

...and to any nay sayers out there - it's worth it!  You wear these every day for 10-12 hours a day - you need some high quality suppport and Sears and Walmart just don't have it! My mom, because she's amazing, bought me a third. It's a strapless - it works! I've never had a strapless that actually worked - it's amazing! I love my mom.



Oh right - you want to know how I'm paying for it?... well I had $170.05 in my clothing fund already and have set aside another $186.95 from tomorrow's pay to cover the rest.

Christmas Spending Update

When I first made a budget for Christmas, I just sort of guessed that $500 would work - well, it turns out that, that, is not a very realistic number.  I have a great many people in my life!  Not only that, so does Jordan. 

Jordan had a great idea of giving gifts as a couple rather then gifts from each of us.  This will allow us to do one great gift intstead of two smaller ones - so, the budget and the spending will nearly double!  Which is fine, because two of us will be paying for everything.

I won't post all the details b/c some of the people we'll be buying for read this blog from time to time - I will say that we are buying for 22 people (not including each other and we also have two birthday gifts in here)!!  What fun! 

Our total realistic budget is about $1,100, though I'd like to  keep it at, or under, $1,000.  We'll be spending anywhere from $15 (secret santa at work) to $150 (close family) a person.   This past weekend we spent just under $400 on Christmas presents allready and crossed 9 people off the list.

Has anyone else started Christmas shopping?

11/11/2009

Buying a Home of Our Own

As some of you know, Jordan and I are planning on buying my great aunts home in a few years when she is ready to move into an assisted living home.  We brought up buying her home about a year ago when she mentioned she was thinking she might move, that's when we started the house fund.  She was more then happy with the suggestion and we often talk about different things that we would like to do or that she would like to see done.  We haven't talked about details, just vague timelines  The last time we talked she said it would be 2-3 years before she was ready.

This past weekend, she spent a good few hours with my grandmother (her sister) - and later my grandma mentioned that Isabelle thinks she might be ready this time, next year.

NEXT YEAR... whew! We could be home-owners in a year!

The home is 100% paid for (has been for several years) and as Isabelle is looking at moving into an assisted living home, she likely won't need a large sum of money up front to purchase her next home - she'll be renting.

So, with that noted it's possible that she maybe be able to hold a mortgage for us (rather then us getting  a mortgage from a bank), we could also pursue a traditionally mortgage as well. 

Jordan and I need to get ourselves in the best financial position we can within the next year.  Although we were already thinking about some of these things, we're going to have to make sure that:
  • Jordan's truck loan is paid off
  • My student loans are paid off
  • Jordan's credit score is higher
  • We have money in the bank!
It would be good to have at least $10,000 I think - but we'll look at specifics in the coming weeks.  If not for a down payment (depending on how things work out), it will have to be for renovations (of which there will be plenty)!

I'm so excited for this new journey, I hope you are too!

11/10/2009

Overtime Update

Last week I was able to accumulate 8 hours of overtime, which was fantastic!

As my family was in town this weekend, I had booked Monday off to spend a little extra time with them.  I used 7.5 hours of last weeks OT (instead of a vacation day) and so only increased my tracking bar by 0.50 hours.  This week, I hope to plug in a few more hours - and should be able to!

11/09/2009

Weekend Update

I had an amazing weekend!

I was actually pretty sick for most of it with an awful cold, but my mom, two aunts, and grandmother were in town for our annual Christmas Shopping Trip, and how could I complain about a cold in such great company.  I'm pretty sure I stayed on budget - but i'll check my receipts and do up a post on that later on.

Not only did I accomplish a lot of Christmas shopping, I also bought two new bras that I'm very excited about!! and my amazing mom bought me a third that I wanted!!  Any bigger chested women who read my blog will understand what a great bra feels like and how exciting it is to get one (or three!).  I'll write more about this in a seperate post.

That's it for today - I've got receipts to go through and presents to hide!

11/08/2009

11/06/2009

House Fund Update

A while back, Jordan and I went on a bit of a spending spree and aquired some household things that we would need given the changes to the household.

We bought a couch, a chair, a tv stand, a souround sound system, new pots and pans, some home decor, and a few kitchen odds and ends (popcorn popper, gravey boat, cups, mugs)...i think that about coveres it.

Right before we did this, we had broken the $5,000 threshold.  Given the total balance in our account new, we owe ourselves $1,549.67, or $774.84 each.

We had put all of our old, used, couches up for sale as well as one of our fishtankes when we downsized from three to two.

I'm please to say that we have now sold one couch and a coffee table for $50.  I've deposited that money into our house fund.  So we now owe ourselves $1,499.67, or about $750 each.

It seems like a lot, but between now and the time we receive our tax returns, we'll get it all paid back. Aside from selling the things above that I mentioned (which will probably net us around $300-$500), we'll focus on this once we get through Christmas.

11/05/2009

Household Bills Are In.

On the 5th of each month, I receive the final bill (of three) for the household for the previous month.  I don't know that I've posted this before, but I'm going to start so that I can keep track.
  • Enmax $235.55
  • Bell $75.98
  • Shaw $41.39
Total = $352.92

what a fantastic number!  I've written about it before, but I will mention that I'm pleased with these numbers because over the last few months I've been able to negotiate a $20 Bell bill reduction for 12 months, plus we got on the student plan for our internet/phone with Shaw (our bill this month is $26.34 then it was last month)!

When Samantha moved out, we made an arrangement whereby she would pay $20/week for utilities for each week in October.  That way, she didn't have to wait until the end of the first week in November before getting her damage deposit back.  Based on the date she moved out, I held $65 for her portion of the utilities (our agreement was that I would deduct final utilities from her damage deposit as she didn't have cheques).

So, the total $352.92 less $65.00 is $287.92.


This number is then divided by four as these utilities were from the month when Jordan/ME/Brother/Lindsay were all living together.

So, we each owe $71.98.

Common-Law

I've recently had to fill out some paperwork at work where I had to identify my relationship status.  After a few conversations with family and Jordan, we decided that we are very likely common law.

As it turns out the law varies province to province and even federally.

According to Wikipedia
In Canada, the legal definition and regulation of common-law marriage fall under provincial jurisdiction. A couple must meet the requirements of their province's Marriage Act for their common-law marriage to be legally recognized.

According to the Canada Revenue Agency, as of 2007, a common-law relationship is true if at least one of the following applies:



  1. the couple have been living in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 continuous months;


  2.  the couple are parents of a child by birth or adoption; or


  3. one of the couple has custody and control of the child (or had custody and control immediately before the child turned 19 years of age) and the child is wholly dependent on that person for support.


In many cases common-law couples have the same rights as married couples under federal law. Various federal laws include "common-law status," which automatically takes effect once two people (of any gender) have lived together in a conjugal relationship for five full years. Common-law partners may be eligible for various federal government spousal benefits. As family law varies between provinces, there are differences between the provinces regarding the recognition of common-law marriage.

Okay, so that tells us that federally - Jordan and I are in a common law relationship and have been since March, 2009 ( a year after he moved in).


According to the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act which was passed during the fall 2002 sitting of the provincial Legislature and became law on June 1, 2003, there are two key elements that define an adult interdependent relationship.
First, an adult interdependent partner is a person who is involved with another person in an unmarried relationship of interdependence where they:

  1. share one another’s lives


  2. are emotionally committed to one another, and


  3. function as an economic and domestic unit.

Second, to be considered adult interdependent partners, one of the following must apply to the relationship. The adult interdependent partners must be:

  1. living in an interdependent relationship for a minimum of three years


  2. living in an interdependent relationship of some permanence where there is a child by birth or adoption, or


  3. living in or intend to live in an interdependent relationship and have entered into a written adult interdependent partner agreement.

Jordan and I have been living together for two years this coming March.  So according to Alberta's law, we are not in an Adult Interdependent Relationship.

hmm...

After chatting with Jordan, we are both comfortable with a common-law marriage status.  In Jordan's words 'we eat together, sleep together, and bank together' - what else need for us to consider ourselves common law.  Frankly, I agree.

Wow.
don't worry - i'll be writing about financial implications of this soon.

Are you in a common law relationship, how do you know that you are in your province/state?

11/04/2009

Getting Married

What does it cost?

(ha-ha you thought Jordan proposed didn't you - don't worry, he hasn't)

Jordan and I did have a conversation a weekend or two ago about what we thought a wedding would look like if it happened in the next year or two.  We even got as far as making a guest list.

Jordan Dream:
Jordan really wants to have a wedding/reception in a fancy hotel where we can eat/sleep/wed ect all in the same place.  If we did something like this, he would love to see it at the Banff Springs Hotel over a period of three days.  Jordan would like to have an open bar and lots of great food.  Following the third day, he'd want to drive to Calgary and take flight to our destination of choice for two weeks.

Jessie's Dream:
Get married in my home town in either a family member`s back yard or park.  I would want to be married by a justice of the peace (not a minister of any particular faith) surrounded by friends and family on a warm fall day.  I would want a casual reception at ... well, that`s where my thoughts get more hazy...  I`m not sure where I would want the reception to be, but I think at a family`s home would be great - but if it wasn`t large enough, we`d probably be able to rent space at a hotel which would work for out of town guests as well.  I would want to have a loonie bar to help off-set the cost.

We came up with a guest list of 50 people.  Wow! I thought I didn`t know anyone, my list actually had I think 5 more people then his did.  Lets say we got married in 2 years from now, we`d probably expand the network of people we know and would want to invite - so it could be as many as 75 - 100 people (my bet would be on a smaller number).

So before I do up a pseudo-wedding budget. Yes, I budget for random things that may or may not actually happen (it;`s fun - and Jordan actually asked me to). I`m calling out to all of my readers who have been, or will be getting married. What things do I need to consider before doing a little research?

Obvious things that come to mind are how much the hotel would cost, food, alcohol, justice of the peace, travel arrangements, clothes (dress, suite), rings...hmm..

What else should we think about before launching into creating this budget-plan?


11/03/2009

Debt Update

I don't believe that I posted an update on my total debt for a while, though I think that most of you know it is down to just student loans.  As my student loan payments just went through, I thought I would post an update.



I am 38.91% towards my goal of being 100% debt free.  Slowly but surely, it's coming along.

I've been playing with my 2010 budget some, and have hopes of increasing my student loan debt repayment to about $500/month. This will likely start in January, 2010.

I have read on some blogs, that many people feel that student loans aren't/shouldn't be a priority.  I think that because my other debt is paid off, it should be my number one.  Jordan and I chatted about this, and he is going to make sure his truck loan is paid off in short order as well.

November Goals

Writing out my goals for October seemed to work pretty well, so I thought I'd have another go of it for the month of November.

  • Clean up Halloween decorations within the first couple of days
  • Resist decorating for Christmas until the last weekend of November
  • Start Christmas shopping
  • Have a fabulous time visiting my mom
How about some financial Goals as well:
  • Reach 2009 goal of $1,000 in my emergency fund
  • Reach 2009 goal of $3,000 in RRSPs
  • Bank at least 30 hours of overtime
  • Receive final utility cheques from my old roommates

11/02/2009

October Goals - Recap

Last month I tried posting monthly goals for the first time, here's the results:

  • Meet Christmas 2009 Goals of saving $500
  • Turn Sam's (old roommates) room into a spare room/office
  • Decorate the house and my workstation for Halloween
  • Learn how to make apple cider Incomplete
  • Start second phase of overtime/filing project at work

There we have, I met 4 out of 5 goals.  I didn't get a chance to make the cider with the apples from my trees because it froze in dear old Alberta wayyy to early!

Joint Cheques Arrive

This past Friday, our joint cheques arrived!  It was pretty amazing to see both of our names at the top of the cheques, with our address.

We dropped of six months worth of rent cheques to landlord (November through to April) - we've just got to remember to put a reminde rin our calander's that we'll need to write a few more come May.  When we were writing out the cheques, we actually took turns signing them.  It was a great feeling.

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