8/31/2011

House Update Wednesday


 Gah!  This is the first week where nothing has changed....waiting is hard.  


Tuesday's Update:

Construction is still waiting on the city to complete their inspection on the back fill.  They are planning to commence framing within the week; however, if it continues to keep raining it might be early next week before they start.

8/30/2011

Honey Moon Spending


This picture is like straight out of a postcard stand...
but we actually took it with our new fancy camera.

Jordan and I planned on spending about $3,000 while in Vegas (not including our flights)....here's how we did:

The shows category includes tickets to see the Blue Man Group, Penn & Teller as well as front row tickets to Zoomanity - a Cirque Du Solei production.

Entertainment included going to Madame Tussauds wax museum, The Gun Store,  the Mandalay Shark Reef and even getting a couples massage!

Stuff included things we bought for ourselves that weren't clothes...things like: books, perfume, a suitcase, duty free alcohol cigars, and  tourist 'we did that' Tshirts among other things.

so...wow!  Are you surprised?  I actually am.  I thought we would have been somewhere between three and four thousand...I didn't think we'd topple four!  Wow!  Serves us right for not keeping track while we were there.


We have never been on a vacation (other than camping) together so this was an eye opener for how much cabbing and eating out everyday costs!

Part of my gift to Jordan was to not be so focused on money while we were celebrating our union together - I wanted to give us both a break from thinking and talking about money all the time.  We both knew we were coming back to a pile of debt and that things were going to be very tight for sometime...which means talking about money and saying no a lot.

I don't regret a single purchase and am so pleased with our trip, it was absolutely amazing!



We did even make some decisions that helped us save several hundred dollars and probably prevented us from going over $5,000.


 We didn't bring a single device with us, so no big cell phone bills to pay and we also went grocery shopping to supplement our eating out.  We ate breakfast in six out of the seven days we were in Vegas as well as cooking supper in twice.

Our accommodation was gifted to us by my grandparents which was a HUGE savings!  The bill we had was from a few meals charged to the room and one extra night.



So that's the honey moon spending...questions?  Comments?

8/29/2011

Credit Card Spending Check In

As part of our 'the plan', our credit card budget for the month of August is $500 for gas and groceries.  This is just a quick check in to see how we're doing:


It's August 29th and we're at $543.47...oops.  We made it so so so close!  The budget for August was a bit of a  guess, because we had spent half of August in my hometown and then in Vegas for our honeymoon.  We didn't get a chance to buy groceries as soon as we had intended (which is why we grabbed Wendy's...just the once).  I had also forgotten about our Netflex subscription when I was putting 'the plan' together - so we'll have to account for the next month.

This is the closest that we've come to sticking to a spending goal with the credit card and I'm hopeful we'll be able to stay true to 'the plan' for September-November and stick to a $700/month budget for gas and groceries.  


  

8/25/2011

Debt Update

As of today (Jordan's pay day) we have made our last large payment for the month of August towards our debt and have so far only used our credit cards for gas and groceries as we committed.  I know it's only been a week...maybe less, but I think it's a win!

I've made a couple of slight adjustments to 'the plan' - come on....it's me, of course I did.  Here is how we're shaping up for the next couple of months:


Jordan's dropping off the grant paperwork today, so I'm hopeful we'll have that $1,000 within the next week or two.

I'm keeping our tracking bar (top right) up to date as well, so if you're ever curious where we are at - that will give you a clear picture as to whether or not we're sticking to our plan.

8/24/2011

House Update Wednesday

Every Tuesday Jordan and I receive an email with an update to the progress of our new home, I've decided that each Wednesday I'll do a post update you on what's going on.

So far the property was excavated and our foundation was poured here's a picture from this past weekend:



Update:
Currently, your house will be back-filled tomorrow, and at your request, I asked our Site Supervisor if possession was still tentatively set for sometime in November.
I am pleased to tell you that everything is running on schedule and the estimated month for possession is still set for November.
So so so excited!   Including today, that's 89 days until possession...assuming the very last day of the month in November! Wowza!  

8/23/2011

Downsizing


Part of our plan to prepare to take possession of our new home is based on financial goals, the other part of that plan is to downsize significantly.  We have accumulated a lot of 'stuff' in the last four years in our rental.  Some our own, some past roommates items that have been left behind.  We're not interested in moving things that we don't have a place for in our new home.

I have been posting ads on kijiji.ca to get rid of some things around the house - and wow!  We've had a positive response.  I've already sold two ikea chairs and and ikea book shelf that we've had for sometime now.

I got $40 for the set of chairs and $75 for the book shelf:

Next on the list are a couple of coffee tables, an old couch, and old futon and a few lamps.  We'll be using the money we get from the sale of these items to bolster our cash budget to prevent us from using our credit cards and staying on track with debt repayment.
We may also earmark some to go towards any new items we need for the new place. 

8/22/2011

'the plan'

If you missed our omission of debt guilt, check out Friday's post...it's a doozy.

Here's 'the plan' to get out of the $18,860 debt hole that we're in.

1. Stop using Credit for 'entertainment'

Jordan and I agreed on step one before the wedding. 

2. Get all balances below 30% of available credit.

This is our first step for each card so that we minimize the impact on our credit scores - as without a doubt they have taken a hit.  Fortunatly the credit utilization part of your credit score can be fixed within a few statement cycles with large payments - we need to do this first so that if the bank re-checks our credit (which i'm sure they will) before we get the mortgage in Nov/Dec - we're still in good shape.

3. As the interest rates are the same, pay the balances down in order of smallest to largest

I beleive in small wins before you get to the end goal as a motivator - by paying off the smallest balance first we'll not only get some of these small wins, but we'll also pay the least amount of interest.

Pretty simple right?  We were blessed that we had some amazing monetary gifts from the wedding which are going to help us acheive goal one for our personal cards this month and goal one for the joint card next month.  We'll then attack Jordan's card, mine and then the joint.

Here it is in spreadsheet form:

This image shows you the summary of the plan - you can see that each payment also accounts for regular spending as well (as described above).

Part One -

We will only use our joint CC for gas/groceries (as those are very consistent) - entertainment will now be paid for using cash.  Here are our averages for the last ten months and our commitment until Christmas:


I've zeroed out booze and eating out as that will be all part of the entertainment.  Education is for Jordan who goes to school once a week and needs $ for parking and other items.  I'd like to take out $50 every friday and use just one 'jar' for that - but i need to see if Jordan wants to do one a week or one a month at a time.

Part Two -

The first column shows our maximums, the second column is what we want our maximum balances to be for the purpose of a solid credit score and the third column is the immediate payments we need to make.


Part Three -

You can see the breakdown of the payments for each month here



The grant is the $1,000 Jordan gets for each completed year of his apprentice.

Summary:

If you made it this far in reading, this spreadsheet basically summarizes everything i've already described.

phew.

but wait.

We still owe $2,100.54 (plus probably a couple hundred dollars worth of interest)
(ps the credit card balance in the previous screen shot is less b/c my spreadsheet was broken and not behaving properly - it will be $2,100 remaining owing not $1,015 as shown above)

yup.  we do.

Iffff our roommate stays with us for October/November - we'll have another $1,000 to apply to the balances and the rest will be taken care of in December.  I'm hopeful that our house won't be ready for possession until december so that we'll be able to do it in one payment instead of two or more.  We also may get our damage deposit back which was $1,275 - so that and the roommate could potentially pay of the rest by Christmas.

thoughts, questions, comments - we're all ears


8/19/2011

CC Debt

We owe....

$18,860
...combined on three credit cards

don't judge us.....
okay, maybe judge for a minute.


it's okay, i'll wait...

http://www.worldquest.org/?p=2218

okay...enough judgement. Come on, we just bought a car, adopted a dog, got married and had a honeymoon.

(excuses, excuses....we know)

but wait!  you're probably thinking...didn't you save for all of these things, and plan? 

yup, we did! and it wasn't enough...surprise!  Things cost more than you think.  Also...and here's the biggy - we had planned on cutting back our normal spending patterns (on fun things like booze and eating out) and didn't do a good enough job...every month for the last few months the debt's been creeping higher.

So - there it is, our omission of guilt.


Now...now we're going to deal with it - and really deal with it.

We're going to be homeowners come November/December (possession debt hasn't been released yet) - and we refuse to go into home ownership with any debt (other than the car - but that's next after the credit cards).  We've gotten out of the debt hole before, and we an do it again - it's like we've had some practise at this.

Monday - i'll share 'the plan'



8/18/2011

July Spend Report

July was an irregular spend month because we were so wedding focused I think - there were a lot of trips into BC so our gas expenditure was higher than normal.  We did well on groceries and eating out - so that's a big win!

Interest and our credit cards annual fee kicked our buts on banking fees - ouch!


I'm really looking forward to August's spend report because that will mark a full year of tracking our spending - it also means a fresh start!



8/17/2011

We're Back!

...and there is so much catching up to do!

We got in about 1:30am on Monday night (or I suppose Tuesday morning) - the next day I made the three hour drive to my home town to pick up Aries (our giant puppy) from the kennel and Jordan stayed in Calgary to unpack.  I didn't get back until 10pm last night - needless to say (but I'll say it anyways) - we're both so tired!

Jordan's back to work today and I hae the next couple of days off.

I'm looking forward to spending time with the budget and the blog and getting them up todate.

Over the next couple of weeks there will be a few posts about the wedding and our honey moon - but out big push is going to be paying of the debt load we're now carrying.

~Jessie

8/15/2011

How to share chores, Spousonomics style

While Jordan and I are honeymooning in Vegas, I've asked a few of my favorite bloggers to help me out by writing a few guests posts.  Obsessive Compulsive Daniela, a 20 something Canadian blogger, has written two - thank's again Daniela! 

Tims Stobbs from Canadian Dream recently reviewed Spousonomics: Using Economics To Master Love, Marriage, And Dirty Dishes by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson. Combining economic policy and relationship advice sounded intriguing, so I decided to give it a whirl. I also used this as an opportunity to try out the BF’s new Kindle. As a bonus, I figure if John (BF) has access to the book on his e-reader, it’ll increase the possibility of him reading it.

I’m about halfway through the book and so far, I like it. The authors conducted what they refer to as their “Exhaustive, Groundbreaking, and Very Expensive Marriage Survey.” They also interviewed a crapload of couples. Economic theories are explained (in relatively plain terms) and the theories are applied to real life examples gathered from the interviews.

The very first chapter is all about couples sharing responsibilities in the household. And this got me thinking of all the chores that need to be done in our small condo, and how John and I divide up these tasks. I decided to make a list of chores and include every little thing, regardless of often it needs to be done.

It was kind of surprising to see the list when I was finished – there were almost 40 chores. Our place is only 585 square feet, but damn – that is a lot of things to take care of! Certain things, like grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, and making the bed occur a lot more often than, say, chipping the ice off the bottom of the freezer and vacuuming the bedroom carpet. But it was still a lot of stuff.

I also realized that I was taking care of most things on the list. Don’t get me wrong, John does do certain tasks, like cleaning up after I make dinner, or making the bed in the morning, or cleaning the bathroom every other time. But he could do a bit more out more, and this would help me feel like the home stuff is more balanced.

Now, I like things super organized. Entering a room that is clean and clutter free has an incredibly calming effect on me. John, who keeps things relatively neat, does not share this trait. I know that this means I’ll be the one to do extra tidying. And I’m okay with that. I’m okay with doing a more in general – HE works longer hours, sometimes into the evenings and always on the weekends, and I rarely have to work beyond 5pm, Mon-Fri.

Spousonomics also highlights the fact that partners will have different specialties, and each person will be able to do certain tasks quicker than the other person. It’s way faster for me to go grocery shopping than John. When I go, I know what we need and I know where stuff is. If John goes, I normally have to tell him what we need, and sometimes where to go in the store to find it. Plus he has an aversion to asking employees where stuff is – must be a guy thing.

I shared the list with John, and he too was surprised by all the things I do. He was very willing to take on additional chores. We still have to sit down and figure out who will do what. Ideally I’d like a system where we each take care of our own chores and we can trust each other to take care of things without reminders. Obviously there will be times when this isn’t always possible, but it can at least be a goal. I was also thinking we could set up some sort of penalty when chores aren’t done, such as putting $1-$2 in pig. Like a swear jar, except for chores. If we had a swear jar, I would be broke.

How do you share chores in your household? 

8/12/2011

8/11/2011

Mirrored Rules Of Personal Finance

While Jordan and I are honeymooning in Vegas, I've asked a few of my favorite bloggers to help me out by writing a few guests posts. This is a guest post by Rafiki. He is a 20-something blogger from the island of Barbados.  He writes on personal development and finance at Upendlife.

When I first began my personal finance journey I learnt a rule which would go on to become my golden personal finance rule. That rule is 

SPEND LESS THAN YOU EARN
Since learning this rule I've made it a good part of my life's worth to do this. I have automatic transfers set up to savings & retirement and I usually don't do much in terms of spending money frivolously.

Recently though I came across a twist to this rule, an exact mirror image is the best way to describe it and just like a reflection, it is facing the opposite direction but completely duplicates your actions.

This mirrored rule is

EARN MORE THAN YOU SPEND
Now this rule caught me off guard and I took some time to consider it. If you really want more and you don't want to accumulate debt to do so, your best option to do that is earn more money. When you think about it, they are plenty of ways you can earn more, be it side hustles, overtime, selling stuff or even investing.

The difference in these rules, to me at least, comes down to this,

One is a minimalist, content and patient lifestyle while the other is an over achiever, always active impatient lifestyle.

To me, the most valuable thing on earth is time and how you utilize it is up to your preference. I'm the kind of person who after finishing my 40 hour week I just want to relax and do things I love. Things like reading, playing games, spending time cuddling with the love of my life while watching the tele and treating her us to an outing every once in while. So for me the earn more than you spend option isn't best suited for me.

The earn more than you spend type is the type of person who would set a goal, for example, to buy a new bicycle. They are the kind of people who would go to work in the morning, come home and walk a few of the neighbor’s dogs for a fee and then jet off to do some late night work like waitressing or bartending. This works for them but a lot of the times they operate on less sleep or they sacrifice some other thing like tele watching or something less important to them.

Earn more than you spend is the go getter lifestyle. They are always doing something to further/better themselves or earn something. When they achieve whatever it is they want, they may bask for a while in the glory of success but then they are “on to the next one”.

Nothing is wrong with either lifestyle as both still need to save some of what they earn and consider the future. They both need an emergency fund, some retirement savings, some form of goals and they both need to do whatever makes them happy without accumulating unmanageable debt.

An interesting tidbit is that the lifestyles can interchange. Sometimes the spend less than you earn person may switch up and start working more, most likely to achieve a short term goal faster. They may pick up some overtime or start doing some odd jobs. Other times the earn more than you spend person may reach a burnout and just want to relax and take a break, maybe go on a vacation just to recharge and they switch up their lifestyles as well.

Both are great rules to live your life by. It doesn’t matter which you are. You just have to know yourself and what you want and be true to yourself. Any of these lifestyles are better than the alternative credit life.

Do you know which you are?

To Jessie & Jordan

I wish you the best for the future. May your lives, when joined together be one of the greatest blessings to this earth. Separate as you are now you have done and achieved so much. The world itself can hardly wait till your hearts beat as one. We all could use more touches of love in our lives and in this world. Spread as much joy and love as you possibly can for the rest of your lives and love and cherish each other forever. Congratulations in advance and I hope the wedding day is one of the most memoriable events in your life. May you live happily ever after.

Your friend and fan
Rafiki from Upendilife

P.S.
Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.

8/10/2011

Marriage - What Does it Mean to You?

While Jordan and I are honeymooning in Vegas, I've asked a few of my favorite bloggers to help me out by writing a few guests posts.This is a guest post by eemusings. She lives in New Zealand and blogs about personal finance, career, relationships, food and 20-something life in general at Musings of an Abstract Aucklander.


With Jessie and Jordan off celebrating their newlywed status, I thought I'd take this opportunity to reflect on marriage - such a heavy word - and exactly what it means to me.

Some of you might know that I recently upgraded from de facto to fiancee. (I still haven't quite got used to it and still refer to T as my partner, actually.)

What you mightn't know is this wasn't the first time he proposed. No siree. That came a couple of years ago, when I was in the throes of my final year at university and perilously close to a mini breakdown. There I was, in tears for the umpteenth time, lying in bed in our damp, mouldy converted-garage-room, when he asked me to marry him.

"Are you kidding?" I said. This was not how I had pictured it. I was 20 years old. He was, at the time, unemployed. And quite honestly, I wanted to be proposed to on a happy occasion, with a ring.
I think my reaction wounded him more than he let on, but eventually he gave it a proper shot two years later, and here we are today.

Those engaged among you who've started wedding planning (unlike me) have probably already come up against plenty of barriers. Specifically, I bet you've encountered people judging your choices from day one - even on the pettiest of details. I haven't even set a date, looked at any venues or settled on a guest list, but I've already met with judgement on three apparently controversial points:

Keeping my name
I've always planned on keeping my last name. But more people than I thought reacted to this, well, as if we were living a century ago. Even more surprising, these are women I've known for quite a while and who should have expected me to do so anyway.

A frugal, but not cheap, wedding
Never having been the kind of girl who dreamed about walking down the aisle, I'm much more concerned with saving for travel than my wedding. I'm really not excited by flowers or decorations. This leaves me in the minority. So far, I've pulled a number ($5,000) out of the air, and hope I can achieve all my priorities on that budget. 

Not rushing it
To us, being engaged doesn't mean a rush to the aisle. I don't see it as a catalyst to start dress shopping. It's two people committing to getting married - but not necessarily immediately. In our case, it's more like a couple of years away. Again ... not a popular view; I've actually been asked why we bothered at all.
I feel brides too often get caught up with "the big day" and forget to actually pay any attention to what comes after. 

Marriage. 

To me, it's the precursor to buying a house, starting a family - it's a formal and binding commitment one doesn't enter into lightly. (Not that I judge anybody who follows a different path.) 
 
For me, being married means choosing to choose somebody, every day, for the rest of your life. Choosing not to give up. Choosing to wake up to that person. To be their guiding light when they need one, and know they'll do the same for you. To focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses. To accept their flaws and faults. To know you will never walk alone, and accept both the benefits - and drawbacks - of the fact.

What does marriage mean to you personally?

8/09/2011

Etiquette on Returning Gifts for Cancelled Weddings

While Jordan and I are honeymooning in Vegas, I've asked a few of my favorite bloggers to help me out by writing a few guests posts.  The first comes to us from Obsessive Compulsive Daniela, a 20 something Canadian blogger.


This past spring I received two wedding invitations from girlfriends. I used to be super tight with both of them, but due to physical distance, busy schedules, and a bit of laziness, we're not as close as we used to be. But they're both still the type of friend I can catch up with over a two hour phone chat. The weddings were less than one week apart – one on a Saturday and the other on the following Friday.

Weddings = wedding showers. One of my girlfriends had two wedding showers and a bachelorette (of which I could only attend one wedding shower) and my other friend had one shower. I’m not a huge wedding shower fan – I find them kind of boring – but sometimes you do what you gotta do, right?

I find it challenging to figure out how much to give, and how often to give, if you are invited to multiple events. I made a rule for myself that I would give the same total amount to each couple, regardless of the number of events each had. Since each of them had a shower, I decided to give $50 as a gift. I think this is relatively standard, as least for the showers I attended. They were both held at parental homes, so nothing hardcore fancy. I planned on giving another $200 to each couple for the wedding on behalf of myself and my guest.

Fast forward to five days before the first wedding. I received an email from my girlfriend explaining that the wedding was cancelled. I was totally shocked. I’m not going to get into the details around why it was called off, but suffice it to say, it was not an amicable break up.

I’m not proud of what I’m about to admit. My motives were totally selfish and self serving (and maybe a little bit human). Within a couple days of receiving the email, I thought to myself, so I’m going to get my fifty bucks back, right? I’d like to think that this was the pragmatic side of me coming out, my logical self that focuses on the numbers. Of course I was concerned about my friend. I wanted to know that she was okay, regardless of what had occurred, and we made plans to catch up with a couple of weeks. But that didn’t mean I stopped thinking about the $50.

Two months have gone by since the cancelled wedding. I have yet to receive a thank-you note or a refund (for lack of a better term). I’m normally a blunt person, and I’m comfortable asking somewhat uncomfortable questions, but this is one area I’m a little unsure of. It’s partially about the money, but it’s also the principle – I gave you X for a major life event, and then the event didn’t happen. 

What do you think is proper etiquette in this sort of situation? Do I shut up and leave it be, or do I voice my concerns? If I don't get the money back, do I not give a future gift? What would you do?  

8/08/2011

8/06/2011

8/05/2011

Jordan's Raise

Most of you know that in mid June Jordan was advised of a career advancement opportunity and was promoted during the first week of July.  His second pay in July showed his full pay increase.  I asked Jordan to send me his paystub so I could work out his new gross pay.

They had told Jordan that he would receive between $200-300/month increase in salary (don't ask why they talk like that, he is salaried) - with some quick math we saw that they are offering $2,400 to $3,600 increase in pay. As his current salary is $42,000 he's looking at ending up at $44,400 to $45,600.

So...what did he end up at?

$44,400.20

They wound up giving him the smallest increase in the range that they offered.

Don't get me wrong going from $42,000 to $44,400 is fantastic - it's a 5.7% increase in pay.  It's disappointing that they would give a range that was higher and then not talk to him about what they were actually going to give him.  This is particularly frustrating because he should have gotten an increase in pay just for completing his second year parts apprenticeship...and he just got a promotion that includes increased responsibility and supervision of two other employee's work loads.

...either way...


Congratulations Jordan! 

I  love you

8/04/2011

Upgraded

I haven't written much about it because I've been trying to stay calm - but as of July 27 we hadn't received Jordan's wedding band yet.  It was weeks and weeks late when it arrived on July 28th - but when it arrived....it was too small.



I got the call at work from the sales consultant who realized while on the phone with me that it was the wrong ring.  I called Jordan and asked him to swing by the shop and check it out - even though we had a plan to deal with this (which would be to buy a cheap replacement and then swap them afterwards), my anxiety level was pretty high.

Jordan at the shop chatted with the sales consultant - who by the end, upgraded Jordan to a ring that they had in stock!  No more waiting!  and this ring, has a beautiful diamond in it!

Check it out:


Loves it!

8/03/2011

Getting Handy

Recently we had a dryer malfunction....not so good anytime but especially in the weeks leading up to a wedding (*eek).  Most of you know that we rent, so it should be easy right?  Just call the landlord and they'll get it sorted out.

Not so easy when we have a secret...a big secret:


Given that we have this large secret that needs to be kept until Christmas - we had to fix the dryer ourselves.  By we, I mean Jordan.  He did a pretty impressive Job too!  It wound up costing us about $50 for two different parts - it seems that in the recent power outage two things got messed up.  I wish I could talk more intelligently than 'things' but I do have some pictures to share:







8/02/2011

August Monthly Budget

August's monthly budget is pretty simple - with a MEGA credit card payment.  Take that BMO!  


When we get back from our Honeymoon we're going to evaluate the debt load and the allowances may disappear for a while - we're planning on taking from September to November to nail our credit card debt to the wall.

8/01/2011

Heritage Day

Happy Heritage Day!


Heritage Day is celebrated in Alberta on the first Monday of August each year. Although it is not a statutory holiday, many Canadians in Alberta use this day as an optional holiday to celebrate the province’s heritage.

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