2014 Year End Net Worth

Well, here it is, our 2014 Year End Net Worth.

We started out at $77,804 and are now sitting comfortably at $121,006.  A pretty sizable increase for just 12 months!  Okay, Okay, I know - we could always do better. and I get that, but I'm also really genuinely pleased with the progress we've made.

With most people out this New Years Eve celebrating the bringing in of 2015; I'm sitting on my mom's couch, suffering a cold and budgeting.  I'm seeing really good things for 2015, and I'm so looking forward to growing and sharing and continuing this journey with all of you.


Christmas Baking!

 I love, love, love Christmas Baking.

I went home two weeks ago for the weekend and spent two days baking with my grandmother, my mom, and one of my aunts.

Here's a couple of snapshots.

We wound up with I think at least 4 or 5 kinds plus home made chocolates that we do every year.

We tried to hit everyone's favourite cookies.  The next day we shipped out tins of cookies to people who wouldn't be home for Christmas and did a few for right away, and then put a few tins in the freezers to bring out over the holidays.



Oil & Gas Makes the World Go Round

We all know (unless you live under a rock) that oil prices have been dropping steadily over the last while.  Unfortunately for me, living in Alberta, our provincial income is heavily reliant on it...not to mention my employer.  So oil prices hanging out around $55/barrel is not very good....we like to see it at $80+.

So...not good for work, not good for the province.

But it is good when I'm fueling up the car to go to work (thought if it keeps up much longer, I might not have work to go to).

These photo's were taken just this morning!

Gas prices have dipped to 80.9 at Costco where I live.  There are some Shell's and other fueling stations that still are at 89.9; but by and large everyone is below 90 cents now.

I'm going to take this as a blessing leading up to Christmas, but am also going to cross my fingers for OPEC to stop messing around.


Networth Update

Just $600 shy of $120K, our net worth continues to climb.

Total debts, including mortgage, have been reduced to $365K and change and total assets have risen to about $485K.

The Escape has been paid off!  Completely! I'm so very happy to be going into 2015 with one less payment, and just as happy to be able to funnel that money towards the LOC.


Fun & Sensible

A little while ago my mom sold some property and decided she wanted to give my brother and I a financial gift for something fun and sensible.  Giving money with strings can be tricky, but these are totally strings that I appreciate and value.

Jordan and I have made some progress on deciding what we're going to do.

  • Drive out to visit Jordan's family in Vancouver (if he gets the time off) (~$350 for gas/road food)
  • Buy Gym Memberships through Jordan's corporate discounted rate ($850)
  • Pay for our Wills/POAs/Personal Directives ($735)
  • Pay off the Escape ($2,700)
  • Baby Fund ($1,000) - bringing the balance up to $5,000
  • Summer Camping with Mom ($700)
A big thank you to my mom for helping Jordan and I achieve some of our big 2014 goals!  

Thank you so much, you're gift really means a lot to us.



October Monthly Spend Summary

I hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween!  We had 104 kids this year!!  Probably $100 or so of this months 'groceries' was Halloween candy.

Some categories were a bit higher, some a bit lower than the average.  As is typical when we spend less on eating out; we spent more on groceries - but consumption stays about the same.  We did have a couple of road trips (as we usually do in a month); which contributed to the eating out that we did do.


October Networth Update

October has been a very good month for our networth!

We were reimbursed for Jordan's dental surgery, received just over $600 for contents insurance from our hail damage claim, Jordan's increased commissions scale have been realized and my mom gave us a financial gift for something fun and sensible (that we have yet to spend, so it's added $1,500 to our networth for now).

 Today is also Jordan's pay day....and it looks like I have $650 to play with.  Here's where it's going:

  • $150 to the Escape, bringing the balance down to $3,000 even
  • $500 for Christmas
I really, really debated putting the whole $650 on the Escape...but that's been part of our...historical problem.  I put too much money on one kind of debt, than rack up another kind because I didn't have cash to pay for something we should have .  THEN it looks like we're crappy with  money, when really I just payed less interest (b/c the Escape has a higher interest rate then the LOC) ...annnd I shouldn't worry about looking like we're crappy with money, but there it is.


Another $1,500!!

So after months, and months, and months of waiting, arguing and sending in letters - we have finally been reimbursed for the last phase of Jordan's dental surgery.  A deposit just shy of $1,300 was deposited today and there's a bit of overflow so I have $1,500 to work with.

So...another SMASH on the Escape?

Well yes, but not the whole sum.

We're about to have to pay our $1,000 deductible for our hail claim for the house; and so I've tucked that amount away so we have it handy.

Here's where the $500 is going:

  • AMEX - $117.89
    • This is gas & 85 for a new wine kit....that came from my birthday money, not out of the day-to-day or work-horse budget.
  • Escape - $500
    • I borrowed a few extra bucks from the day-to-day account to round up the payment
    • Remaining owing $3,250
annnd Friday is Jordan's pay day; so hopefully I'll be writing to tell you about another big SMASH once we see how big his commission pay is.


$1,500 SMASH

I don't usually do a blog post every time I pay debt down - which is just about every pay day - but I think sometimes because I often just tell you where we spend money; maybe you don't know that we pay down significant debt every month.

Today was my pay day; and I just paid:

  • $94.01 on our Mastercard
    • This was from my last physio appointment (reimbursable) and Netflix
  • $98.44 on the AMEX
    • This was Gas and a small grocery shop
  • $750 on the Ford Escape
    • This was because I enjoy paying this off with 'gazelle like intensity'
  • $574.93 on the LOC (minimum is just over $400/month)
    • While our focus is on paying the Escape off, we still have minimum payments to make.
  • $73.55 on the Kia Rio
    • This was because I like round numbers.
Here's where the non-mortgage debt stands after these payments are processed:


DIY - Christmas Cards

Every year, Jordan and I send Christmas cards to about 65 people.  The list started at over 100 (everyone we invited to our wedding three years ago), and has been whittled down over the years from moves/address changes that we weren't told about and from people who don't respond etc.  I imagine it will continue to get smaller over the years...but 65 is where it's at now.

This year, instead of buying cards, I'm making them using the crafting supplies that I've had stashed in the basement for way too long.  Like so many others, I had briefly hopped on the scrapbooking bandwagon long enough to collect more paper, scissors, stamps and stickers than I know what to do with.

This year, I'm using them!


Money Has Wings - Other Deductions

Yesterday we looked at the employer paid benefit premiums that can suck money off your pay cheque without you even realizing it.  Today I want to  look at some of the other deductions.


  • $15/month for social club
I'm sure there would be a way out of this if we needed to - but this is money that goes to team lunches, coffee, and other events in the shop.  For the fuss it would cause to not pay it (and then to not participate in activities) I won't even ask Jordan look into it.

  • $35/month for parking
  • $288.46/month for pension
  • $150/month purchasing shares at work
I think we would all agree to leave my pension alone - so I'll do that.  For parking in my city, $35 is SUPER cheap (some people pay $$$'s).  I could look at transit, but the costs in time and money would far exceed the cost for parking.  Also, I hate transit.  

Then we come to my shares.

If I someday want to become a senior owner of the organisation I will need to have purchased a certain amount of shares.  It is a significant part of our culture here to invest in the company.  The shares are a good value, and are not publicly traded.  I consider this savings as part of our long-term retirement planning/saving.

So...I'm not going to cancel any of these things - but I think it's important to look at every now and again to make sure that you're aware of and comfortable with your employer dedications. 


Money Has Wings - Employer Benefit Premiums

As we're looking to our 2015 budget and where we're spending money - I thought it would also be a good idea to look at the money that is spent before we ever see it, the money that is deducted straight from our pay cheques.

First up - benefits! A lot of folks think that health care is free in Canada. It's not.

We do have basic health care services (doctor visits, emergency room visits) that are paid for through provincial health care premiums and some provinces - like mine - pay for those directly (we pay in taxes I'm sure). Many employees also have benefits through their work - but often time employees and employers split the costs of those benefits.  These sometimes include long and short term disability insurance, extended health and dental, and life insurance.

The premiums that I want to look at are the extended health and dental - they are the most $$.

We currently have family coverage from both of our employers for both dental and health care which costs us $277+/month...a month!

When Jordan was looking at dental surgery we knew this was the right plan for us, but now that it's over - it's time to reassess.

If we switched to single coverage from both employers - but kept extended health for Jordan (b/c it's free through my employer) - we would save $185!!

Okay...but do I need the extended health care offered through Jordan's employer?

Right now I have about 4 physio appointments a week - but that will only last for a couple more months.  Those cost $75/visit and my benefits pay for $60/visit...Jordan's pay for $15.  That's $60/month that wouldn't be reimbursed any longer BUT we would still be saving $26.90 (rather than $86.90).

I can't see a reason to keep extended dental - it's not needed to pay for regular dentist visits/checkups...it's really only necessary when you need big dental surgeries and what not.  The kicker here though - is that it's a bit of a risk.  If we move from family to single dental premiums, we can't change it again for a 12 month period following the change.

So...what do you think?  Is it worth it?  Should we switch to single?  That $125-185 (depending on physio) would sure help in the month budget!


Cashing in Points

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

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

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

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

But yay, for $100 for Costco!


2015 Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you!

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


Escaping the Escape

Guess what?!

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

We now owe just $5,000.  Wahoo!

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


Insurance Premiums Going Down?

That never happens....never.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


DIY Soup Stock

 This past weekend I made home made soup stock, and homemade soup for the first time (without my mom). It wasn't quite as flavorful as her's is - but Jordan went back for seconds so it must have still been pretty good.

I simmered a chicken carcass for about 8 hours with onions, carrots, celery and garlic and all of the typical spices you would see with a roasted chicken.

Saturday evening the pot cooled and went in the freezer so I could skim the fat off the top before making the soup.

Sunday was soup day - I started by melting the fat into a pot, then adding onions/garlic, followed by mushrooms, then celery.  Finally I added carrots then topped off with the stock.

From there I added a handful of rice and then after about 15 minutes I added fresh chicken (cubed) - and then after about another 15-20 minutes we were ready to eat.

It was delish!


Jordan Got a Raise!

Yesterday was a long post about spending money...so today will be a short one about making money.

As many of you know from when Jordan started at his new company back in January this is the first time his pay structure has included a commission structure.  He was put on a temporary salary guarantee until he was training and into the swing of things, which was then extended month-by-month, as he was promoted and continually reassessed as a high-performer.

The good news his the salary guarantee is now permanent - we will never have to worry about his salary being less than $4,500/month.

How commission has worked is that he gets 2% of all sales he makes...and when those earnings take him from his base of $2,500 to the guarantee (so when he's earned $2,000 in commission for the month) - the rest he gets to take home.

Well his job changed so that he's managing a team of 4 and mentoring another 2 people - that and what he's selling has changed.  So his personal potential for earning commission has decreased - but he's making everyone around him a better service/sales agent.


The great news is that he'll now also be earning 0.5% of everyone else's sales!  Which means he'll earn that $2,000 muuuch faster, which means he will actually start to be able to increase his take home pay.

Which makes the budget of the house happy.


Okay, okay - I told you this would be short, and it wasn't...but you read it anyways didn't you!?


Where Has All The Money Gone?!

It's been a few months since I've looked at our spending over a month by month perspective.  October feels like a good time as in January I'll be doing a year over year comparison and year in review.

I think the graph I have below is the most useful when trying to analyze the data...but if you have suggestions for ways to look at it - I'm all ears.  I have - for this third quarter review - eliminated categories with very small spending (medical) and those with none (emergencies)

I'm not surprised with how much we spend on gas overall.  January was low because we had just bought a new vehicle (the Kia) and had one set of wheels for a short time.  In the spring/summer we spend a lot of time driving to go camping and in the winter we drive to BC a lot to visit my family.  We use the Kia for grocery shopping and errands - but with two big dogs - we use the Escape for any trips where we take them.

Groceries/Eating Out
The up and down with groceries almost mirrors Eating out in that when we spend more in one category, we spend less in the other - but combined we average about $1,000/month (or $500/person).  I know that a lot of people feel like this is high - and I don't disagree.  Those, if you comment here please note that this also includes house cleaning supplies...well any house 'stuff' that one would get at the grocery store - ziplock bags, tin foil, cleaning supplies, often dog food etc.  This remains one of the top areas we could improve.

Eating out...well...you all know we have a problem here.  BUT it's not the $5 Starbucks 'effect' - this is everything from Jordan buying his staff donuts/coffee, date nights, annnnd some Wendy's - we tend to eat on the road when we're on the road - and we're on the road just about every weekend.

Did you see yesterday's post?  Did you?  We'll see if making my own wine helps with this part of our spending by early next year when it's ready to start drinking.

This went up recently because of buying more books, buying wine supplies, and some itunes purchases.

I know, I just said dog food is usually captured under groceries.  Sometimes it's here, this is also dog bones, dog treats - and we had to buy a new dog bed recently as well.

Clothes etc.
This one is pretty self-explanatory - this has ups and downs us our careers/closets demand updating.  Jordan had to pretty much buy an entirely new wardrobe this year, and continues to invest in good work books - and I continue to try to invest in my wardrobe to 'dress for the job you want, not the one you have'

Vehicle Maintenance
Well...vehicles need maintaining.  So...this is that.

Who doesn't like presents?  Jordan and I enjoy being generous with each other and our families.  Just wait until I start Christmas shopping....

Home Maintenance
This is everything from odds and ends around the house like small appliances, dish clothes, pillows, mops, brooms, to things outside like a trickle battery charger, rakes ect.

So I'm pretty sure you guys are going to hammer me for this...BUT I wanted to try to pull out gas, eating out, ect. expenses for when we were camping this summer/fall...so this, is that. We weren't sure last year how much it actually cost us - so outside of extra groceries & alcohol (which I didn't track separately) this is what we spent on camping.  We did go several times each month.

click to see larger image
phew....that was a very, very long post.


Monitor Size

Hello my lovely readers!

I've realised that folks with smaller monitors may not be having the viewing experience that I had hoped.  This blogger template shrinks with smaller screens, but some of the modules don't - and I would hate for all of you to be viewing this site all scrunched up.

So, I ask of you two things.

  1. Please participate in my poll at the top/right of this blog to let me know your monitor size.
  2. Please feel free to comment on this post if there is anything visually annoying that you would like me to look at fixing.

Making Vino!

Stirring in the Chemicals
Back in April, on my Good News! post commenter Janette suggested that Jordan and I look into making wine as a way to help manage our spending on Alcohol without having to necessarily limit our consumption of it...well Janette - thank you!

For my 30th birthday back in July my mom and my husband went in together to buy a starter kit and the supplies along with a three hour course and I was up and on my way!  I've bottled my first kit, and have started on my second - a Reisling kit from Costco.


So far it's been super fun!  We hit a garage sale and got more supplies so I could keep going and keep learning.  I want to start a third wine (another red) and then start to investigate beer making with Jordan!

I need to be careful not to spend too much $$ as I get started - but I think I now have everything I need to keep going (except of course a new wine kit which includes the juice and chemicals to make the wine).


Wills - Getting Closer

We are getting so close to having our wills, POAs, and personal directives written up!  We met with a lawyer almost two weeks ago and are expecting to see drafts of everything soon.  Then we just have to sign, pay and we're done!

It feels so good to be getting that 'end of life' business taken care of.


Auto Insurance - Help

Our vehicle insurance is up for renewal this October; and while we can make changes at any time to the policies - I use that letter in the mail as a reminder to review it in detail.

On both the Kia and the Escape we have:

  • One million in third party liability
  • $1,000 collision deductable
  • $500 comprehensive deductible
  • Accident rating endorsement (if we get into an accident, we won't be penalized in our insurance rates)
The Kia also has a 5 year replacement cost solution - which basically means if the Kia gets totaled (at fault or not), we would get a replacement; not a repair.

Our annual premiums for both was $1,668 for both and is increasing to $1,763 for both.  If we got rid of the accident rating endorsement and the 5 year replacement solution - we would save $164/year reducing our annual to $1,599.

So I'm really debating that.

The risk of course, is that paying that every year would save us a lot of we were to get into an accident.

Now...Jordan has never been in a collision.

I was in three early in my driving history - but have had zero infractions over the last six years.

So...what do you think?  Do we save the $164 - or do we suck it up and pay for 'just in case'.


Networth Update - October 1

Well, here we are - nothing like a networth post to get back into the habit of writing.

You can see a steady increase from the image to the left.

Now sitting at just about $107K - we have  $53, 215 in debt - including both vehicles...so coming down steadily.  The Escape is down to $8K which is very exciting...she's almost paid off!!

Our combined retirement assets are now over $66K which is also an amazing feeling.  Looking forward to hitting $100K hopefully sooner rather than later.


Miss Me?

Hiya! Have you missed me?...because I have sure missed you. I can't beleive it's been a month since I've written anything!!


Well I have lots to share, and am going to start writing up a storm over the next few weeks. I have updates on Jordan's salary, our insurance policies, wills, insurance claims...and more.

Looking forward to catching up with everyone!


Networth Update

Wow, another month has just flown by hasn't it!

Our networth continues to increase bit, by bit with steady debt repayment and growth in our retirement and other investment plans.  This month we've gone up 2.71% overall to just shy of $105,000.

We're down to $8,500 owing on the Escape, and $19,500 on the Kia with the LOC up to $24K...yes, I said up.  It went up a bit.  I paid of the c/c using the LOC so we didn't get hit by big interest charges.

We might have some good news soon though with both my and Jordan's salary - so we should get the LOC going down more significantly by the years end.

Oh?  You want to know what we spent using the C/C and why we didn't plan (read, have the cash) for it?  I was hoping no one would ask.  Okay...here goes:

  • Renewed our satellite radio subscriptions ($100)
  • Replaced the smashed passenger side mirror on the Kia ($600)
  • New 10 year passport ($180)
  • New prescription for glasses ($180) - waiting for reimbursement
  • Stuff for making wine ($180)
  • Birthdays (probably $1,000 between the both of us)
  • A variety of clothes, gifts, eating out ect)
All told - I added about $3K to the LOC today by paying of the M/C.

I'm very overdue for a spending reconciliation...going to be hard, but it's going to get done and posted this week.


Bill Creep

I struggled with a title for this post - but basically what I'm talking about is all of those bills we have - for TV, phone, internet, radio etc. that starts off at a promotional rate, and then creeps up in price over time.

I don't have a set schedule for it, but at least a couple of times a year I call up our service providers to make sure we're paying the best rates for our services and see if I can negotiate better prices.

Today I called up Shaw (TV/Cable), Bell (cell phones), and Sirius (satellite radio) - I had no joy with Shaw and Bell - but I had great success with Sirius.

We got our satellite radios when we purchased our cars - of course it was free for the first six months and then there was a fee for it afterwards...but I didn't really look at the details until now.

We had been paying $190.84/year for one of them and and $119/year for the other...what?! $310.88!  So I asked if we bundled them what pricing deals he could offer - and the agent came up with $294/year ($175+$119) - I told him $300 for radio was just ridiculous, commercial free or not, and asked one more time if there was anything he could do to get me better pricing.

and he did.

We renewed the account for $120 for the next year!  Saving over half the price if I hadn't made that phone call.

That's pretty good for only 15 minutes of time over my lunch break on a Friday.


Hail Damage

Quite a few of you know that Jordan and I are based out of Alberta, and some of you may know that we had some pretty intense hail storms here this past month (among others).  We certainly didn't have it as bad as many people, but both the Escape and the house took some damage.

Here's a snapshot of Aries eating the hail off our our patio furniture...she was in heaven!

I don't have any good pictures of the vehicle or house damage - bad angles.

We've seen the adjusters for both the Escape and the House and are now just waiting for the damage estimates and the next steps.

From the sounds of it - we'll at the very least need a new roof and some new siding...and the Escape it's right on the cusp of being a total loss.  We should know in the next week or two for sure.


Life Insurance

There are a lot...a tonne of resources online around Life Insurance.  Calculators for how much you should have, blogs on what kind you should buy (whole, term, term to 100, universal), and debates around insurance as an investment vehicle...not to mention the plethora of do's and don'ts articles out there.

So..I'm not going to recycle all of that and write something of my own, but entirely unoriginal, but I will share with you a couple of my favorite blog posts as well as what I think Jordan and I should do.  I would also really appreciate your thoughts, and opinions of our plan.

  • We will not use life insurance as a way to invest
  • We will use life insurance to hedge our bets on the timing of our eventual deaths
  • We will, sometime in the next few years have children.  Maybe one, hopefully three, probably two.
  • While our mortgage and other debts will decrease over time, and assets will increase over time - other financial needs (for eventual kids) will go up.
  • That while we both of life insurance through our employers, we may not forever and so this won't be counted on (mine is 3x salary, Jordan's is 1.5x salary).
Our intention with regards to life insurance is to leave one another with enough money so they have choices. The choice to move, or to stay. The choice to take as much time that is needed away from work to grieve. Our intention is not for either of us to have more money than they need - our deaths will not be a lottery.

Assets & Income
  • Current debts including mortgage, both vehicles, and the LOC is about $375K.
  • Removing our home and vehicles from the equation (because we want choices), our current assets are about $72K.  This leaves a gap of about $300,000.
Okay...what else, well, we need to sort out other than the debts - what the loss of each other's income would do to our lifestyle.

Monthly Budget Needs

We both earn respectable salaries - and either of us could run the household bills without the others salary without the mortgage/car payments needing to be serviced. I have only to look at my stay at home mom/dad budgets to get an idea about income replacement needs.  The fixed bills would be fine, but when I add in a childcare assumption as well as continued savings for emergencies/vehicles ect - things get a bit tight...and by tight I mean un-affordable.  Have a look:

I would need about another $400/month, and Jordan would need about another $900/month.

Looking to Life Insurance Canada's website, endorsed by my favourite money author Gail Vaz Oxlade, I used the income replacement calculator to sort out how these monthly costs translate into insurance needs.  To replace the $400/month for 20 years, Jordan's policy would need to be for an additional $87K.  To replace the $900/month Jordan would need for 20 years, my policy would need to be for an additional $197K.

Something we'll have to ask an insurance broker is should we buy insurance assuming children - or wait until we have them and then adjust the policy, or buy another policy.

The Cost of Death

Okay...this one is sort of uck to talk about, but it's important too.  For my dad for example, who passed just two and half years ago, we had a very modest reception in a community hall.  The fees for the funeral parlor were just under $6,000 which included the rent of the hall and the incidentals associated with that.  His headstone was around $3,000, and the cost of the plot in my home town was around $500.  So $10,000 is not an unreasonable estimation.


Okay...so when we have kids I'll need a policy of around $500K and Jordan will need $400k - before kids I need a policy of around $310K.

What do you think?  Are we ready to go to a broker, are there things we're not thinking about?

Good Links


Getting a Will

Yes, yes we have finally found a lawyer and set up an initial appointment.

We'll be looking at $700 + GST for $735 for Wills, Power of Attorney and Personal Directives. I have been advocating for both family and friends to have these documents in place...in fact, I have even used the words 'it's the greatest gift that you can give to your loved ones'....and 'it's a selfish thing not to take care of things so your loved ones don't have to'

I've said it so many times that I've been starting to feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

My Great-Aunt is an amazing example of how to stay on top of these....end-of-life documents, for lack of a more rosy-way to put it.  She reviews and updates them  at least on an annual basis.  One of my grandmothers on the other hand has no will, no poa, no personal directive...nothing.  She also is on the slippery down-hill slope of dementia and so there is no one who can legally speak on her behalf...now, I say legally because while I can't speak on her behalf I do advocate for her at every opportunity - but that's a story for another day.

It'll be a few weeks before the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed, but I sure can tell you that it feels great to get it started.


Powers of Attorney....Continued

The Alberta Human Services department as a really good brochure on POAs that can provides a brief overview on the types of POA that exist.  It came up in the comments from the last post; but I thought it was important enough to mention here as well.

First is the concept of 'enduring' a POA agreement by itself would cease to be effective in Alberta once the donor (the person for the the POA is for) becomes mentally incapacitated.  An Enduring POA gives a few more options, namely it can take effect:
  • Immediately
  • When the donor becomes mentally incapacitated, or
  • When some other event specified by the donor occurs.
It my great-aunts case - she chose to give me Enduring Power of Attorney, effective immediately.  In doing so, she also has effectively voided the previous POA agreement that was in place with another relative of hers.  By and large, my family is happy that I will be assuming the role.  I am the closest blood-relation, with a very good personal relationship in the city...everyone else lives 3-12 hours away.  So with regards for appointments with banks etc. I make sense as a practical choice.

...So, what does that mean?  What are my new responsibilities under this agreement?
  • To act in her best interests - this includes a duty to protect her interests
  • To consult with her, and those who take care of her and with family and friends as appropriate
  • To keep accounts, and given an account when called upon to do so including: list of assets, assets acquired and disposed of, receipts/disbursements, investments bought/sold, liabilities, and payments - all with dates and a clear paper trail
Good Reading


Power of Attorney

Do you have one?

Are you a representative on someone else's behalf?

Over the last few months I have been working with my great aunt and her lawyers to make some changes to her current POA over to me.  It's right around the corner now, so I thought I would share that with all of you....I'm not going to be renaming my blog, Jessie, Jordan, and Jessie's Great Aunts money - but I might have some new things to write about.

Some topics that I expect will come up will be managing other peoples money, financial planning in retirement, and even elder abuse.

Does anyone have any other topics they might find interesting around POA and the responsibilities or the risks involved?  Drop me a line to let me know!


Net-worth & Debt Update


We did it!

We've broken the $100,000 net-worth barrier!  As of July 31st we're sitting at a sweet, sweet $102(+).

We've been tracking net-worth for the last 19 months...and it's incredible to see how far we have come in that time.

Not including the mortgage, we're not sitting with just over $50K in debt.....where does that debt come from?

  • $28,700 left on the Escape and the Kia combined
  • $2,180 from Jordan's dental work (waiting to be reimbursed)
  • $21,500 on the LOC
...but what, what is sitting on the Line of Credit?
  • $5,500 - purchasing shares at work
  • $1,000 - tires
  • $2,000 - random vehicle work/repairs (living in a construction zone is rough on tires/vehicles)
  • $2,500 - guessing...interest over the last year and a half - embarrassed about this part.
  • $3-5,000 - consumer spending, gifts, camping etc.
  • $3-5,000 - remaining from the back-yard project
It's a whole smash of things, and why a lot of people don't like LOCs...it's so easy to pile extra's on to them. We've been making steady progress over the last six months though; and haven't actually added anything new to the balance for quite some time.  It's hard sometimes not to feel like we're failing because of this...but when I look at our Networth, and I see the overall progress - I know that we're making good choices (yes, we could always make better ones), but good choice, with good results!

If this year continues to trend the way it has so far, it looks like we'll be able to pay down an additional $7,000 from now through to December...oooh that'll feel good!


What Else?

Oh...so besides slacking off when it comes to writing about money, what have I been doing?

Well my mom, Jordan, and I all had birthday's in July - and I turned 30! Yea...30.

Also; we've gone camping a LOT, and BBQing a LOT...and some quading and really - just enjoying the summer.

Here's some pictures.


Savings Plan Update

The Escape is so close to being paid off I can taste it...we're down to $8,900 - down from $28K.

After a bit of a chat with Jordan, and bouncing some ideas off of my mom; we've decided to forgo re-starting the RRSPs/Planned Savings for just a couple of months (I had stopped them all when we were switching automatic transactions from the joint-chequing to the new joint-savings work horse account).

I would much rather have one less payment when we eventually get pregnant; then the alternative.  Doing this gives us $800-$2,000 each month to dump onto that debt...the amount varies depending on how Jordan's salary works out...we're still in limbo with his employer extending his guarantee every month, for a month which makes things difficult to plan for; but we're enjoying the bump while we have it and crossing our fingers for something more permanent as he grows his career and reputation there.


I've Been Slacking

...I can't believe it's been a few weeks since I've last written...and I haven't made much progress at all with the last few things I committed to.

I haven't made an appointment with a lawyer for a will - BUT Jordan and I did have some good conversations about who/how/what in terms of our estate at this point in time.

I also stalled on the home inventory...but I need to get back to that too!

The Joint Chequing account sega is actually complete though!  We have completed moving all of our joint chequing transactions into a joint savings account that earns a few points better interest AND then allows us to use the joint account like a proper joint account for our day-to-day expenses.  Following up on the: Is $300 Enough Post - we've bumped our weekly spending for d2d up to $400.

So far so good.

The intent here is to stop relying on credit cards; and get back to the original spending plan...that is, stop spending once the money in that account is gone for the week. Oh! and that the other piece; we're going back to weekly rather than bi-weekly for the day-to-day account.  Just easier to manage.


Joint Chequing - Followup

So, Jordan and decided it was totally worth the effort; and have been working at switching over all of our accounts to a joint savings account over the last little while.  We actually started before the post about considering it went up!

We have 13 different companies that interact with our work horse account; not including all of the transactions for auto savings within Tangerine.

p.s.  If you haven't signed up for Tangerine now, it's a really good time to do it.  Tangerine is currently doubling their referral bonus from $25, to $50 if you open accounting using within a minimum of $250 using this code before July 31st - we both get the free money!

All you have to do is click the link below, and enter my Orange Key when signing up: 17396382S1.


Making a Will

We haven't finished Level 4 yet, because we're still taking our home inventory; but I didn't want to lose momentum (either in writing or in the My Money, My Choices process); so I'm going to start working through Level 5.

Activity 1, is to make a will.

Oi!  I knew this was coming, but I'm not sure I was ready for it just yet.

Activity 2 is to name a financial power of attorney, and Activity 3 is to name a personal care power of attorney.

I guess we need a laywer.


Taxes! Do Them!

It boggles my mind how many people don't keep their taxes up to date; especially when they have super standard; nothing to write home about taxes to complete.  We're talking a T4, maybe 2 and an RRSP or school deduction.  Seriously.  It's not hard.

It just so happens that the last two activities in Level 4 of My Money, My Choices to get this years tax return done and catch up on any previous years.  Jordan and I are all caught up; but I can't say it's always been that way.

When I met Jordan, we were 19 I think, and he had several years of taxes to do....like 4 or 5.  So, I sat down on his living room floor (tax software wasn't as popular then); and did them all.  I think payment was my choice of movie and he had to cook me dinner.  Though once he got his cheque in; he took me out.

I was floored that he hadn't done them, and really wasn't worried about it; this of course comes from your influences growing up.  Now, I can't say that Jordan gets excited as I do, but he's happy for me to get them done, and happy to get those tax returns every year.  I don't submit them by hand any more, typically I use TurboTax because I have three returns to do (mine, Jordans, and my grandmothers) and my mom and I often share the license for hers too, but I still usually do a practice run pen/paper style just to make sure everything lines up correctly.


July 1st Networth Update


So...today, I was going to tell you how Jordan and I broke through the $100,000 Networth barrier!  Wow!

but...we didn't.

Our networth actually went down.

So what happened?
  • Our Tangerine Funds went down slightly
  • My Sunlife Funds went down slightly
  • We spent more money then we had
  • We haven't been reimbursed for Jordan's new teeth yet (over $2,100)

That'll teach me for getting excited before it actually happens.

But, some good news!  We now owe less than $10,000 on the Escape...and that's still pretty awesome.



Home Inventory

Do you know what you own?  Everything, every item - do you know what and where it is, how much it cost or what it would cost to replace it?

The pictures I'm sharing with you this week are from the house fire my family experienced in Christmas Eve, 2003.

Our house/garage fire was not nearly as devastating as it could have been, our family and our pets all got out safely. 

The next several months were spent living out of a rental trailer where my brother and I had to share a room and everyone had to be a lot more mindful of space, noise and mess.  I was home for the holidays from collage, and not working and as a naturally curious person (read snoop?) I spent time with my mom looking at the insurance paperwork and asking questions about what it is she had to do.

We were lucky and had replacement insurance, but in order to claim, we had to know what it is that we had - and that meant sometimes guessing or ball-parking because there were no photos, spreadsheets, or lists that we could refer to.  It was during that time that I swore I would take pictures of everything in my house, I would be prepared.

But do you know what, it's been 11 years and I still haven't done it.

But that changes now.  Over the next few weeks, Jordan and I will categorize EVERYTHING we have.  So that if we ever suffer such a loss, we'll be ready.

Also, my brother has recommended the Delicious Library app which allows you to not only enter things in manually, but also scan barcodes using your iPhone camera and, annnnd fancy graphs.  Who doesn't like a fancy graph.  BUT I don't use a MAC and it requires IOS; so, I did some hunting and found MyStuff2 - which has given me a very good first impression.  You can get started for free to test it out (up to 15 items) and then upgrade if you want to keep going.  It's got some pretty cool export features and the barcode scanner is amazing!

This is going to be a lot of work.

This is Level 4, Activity 7 in My Money, My Choices.


Joint Chequing

So we can make the money work; but can we make sticking to the debit card work?

That's the question that I left yesterday's blog post with.

I called Tangerine - and it turns out, things haven't changed...Ugh!

The Tangerine representative suggested that instead of having two chequing accounts; that we basically open a new joint savings account (you can have as many as you like); and transition our salaries and all of our auto-payments to that and then use the pre-existing joint account as the new day-to-day.

What do you think, is it worth all of that effort?

How do you manage having more than one person spending from a single chequing account? 


Is $300 Enough?

So, it's the middle of June.  We're halfway through the year.  This feels like a good time to look at the budget and to see if it's working.  In particular, is 300/week working for our day-to-day spending?

I thought we should first look at what we actually are spending.  So here's our spending summary for the first five months of the year for what should have been spent out of the day-to-day and wasn't saved for through our planned spending accounts.

Our monthly average is just under $2,000.

Then I looked at how many weeks were in each month, and what we spent per week.

Not a single one was at or under $300, no wonder we can't stick to the budget, the budgets not working.  In fact; in all of the years that I've been tracking our spending; we've NEVER stayed at $300.

We had bumped ourselves up to $400/week for around six months last year, before Jordan's commute was slashed, but then brought it back down because we were saving so much in gas.  The kicker is though; that gas prices have been going up, and we drive a lot - so that did save us money; but now those costs are rising.

Next I took our average of $2,000, multiplied that by 12 months and divided it by 52 weeks.  I came up with $460.  Again, no wonder we can't make $300/week work.  Sheesh.

So...my next question would be, can we afford it?  Well, we obviously can because we're not in debt, we pay of the credit card (s) every month; and we are in fact spending this every month.  

I think a reasonable thing to do would be to bump us to $400/week - and get serious about not using our credit cards so often.  That should help us stay on track; and on budget.  Even on Jordan's current salary guarantee that's set to end this month (more to come on that later); we can make this work.

So we can make the money work; but can we make sticking to the debit card work?

When we set up our day-to-day spending account, Tangerine (then ING) would only allow a single debit card for each chequing account, so it was impossible for Jordan and I to be in two different places making two different expenditures both on the debit card.  So one of us, always has a C/C to use - a big huge pain in my but when I reconcile the spending each month.

So, I phoned them to see if that has changed...more on that tomorrow.



June 1st Networth

June 1st we came so so so close to breaking through the $100,00K networth mark - but we're not quite there.  We were up to $99,623.31 and climbing.  Just the way my spreadsheets are set up; it would be more work than it's worth to do the screen shots for June ( would have to remove data, then add it back in) - but I gotta tell you; I'm really looking forward to the July 1st post.


May Spend Report

It's late - but here it is!

Here it is!  Off the top it looks pretty crazy with over $7,000 in spending - but have a look a the line in orange.  Over $4,000 of that has been, or will be reimbursed by either our employers, our benefit providers or our family (Costco chopping for family).

Items in blue came from planned spending categories - and the Clothes/Shoes/Hair was paid for by gift money that I had been saving for almost a year - it is mostly the shopping spree I shared with you a month or so ago plus new work shoes for Jordan.

As always what goes in our face (groceries, eating out and alcohol is high).  I actually expect it to be higher in the summer because we're off camping so much.

Gifts is also going to start increasing as we move into July.


Credit Reports

My first post in getting caught up is to answer a reader's question on how/where Jordan and I accessed our credit reports.  I should probably remind readers that this is written from the Canadian perspective.

There are currently two credit reporting agencies - Equifax and Trans Union.  Governed by provincial legislation they collect and disseminate information that pertains to Canadian's credit.  Keep in mind, that lenders are not required to report to these bureaus/agencies - they do so of their own volition; in part, I assume, because they believe it's in their and other creditors best interests to do so.  On that same thread however; not all creditors/lenders report to both agencies - some just report to one.

So the information that the two reporting agencies collect; comes from the lenders/credit giving companies that we interact with - like cell phone companies, banks, and even the government when you apply for student loans.  The information they collect also comes from us!  When we request our credit reports we have to supply personal identifying information; if we give them anything new - they will add it to the file for the next requester.

Now, speaking of requests - companies can't just go requesting your credit history or your score without your consent, so you should always know when it's happening (identity theft aside).

You can request your report, at no cost, by filling out their applications and mailing them in.  You can request a combination of your report and your score by filling out their online application and paying a fee.  The fee's vary, and change overtime; so I won't mention them here.

Speaking of the scores - there is no one; no company; other than the two reporting agencies, that know the magic algorithm that used to calculate it.  There are many people who guess; and I'm sure many educated people who are close to getting it right - but the fact is, it's not public information.

So - Jordan and I ordered our reports; not our scores.  We have no immediate or even short-term need to access new credit; so no desire to know what our scores are (other then curiosity, and we're not paying for that....you know what it did to the cat).

I've linked to the two sites above, and through navigating their sites you can find links to the printable application forms - it can take 3-6 weeks; longer if you have a very common name but when it arrives it's absolutely imperative that you make sure there are no discrepancies and fix them if they exist.

Fixing errors can take time; and if you don't take it when you don't need credit - it will be sure to come back and bite you when you do need credit.


I'm Back!

...and feel like I have loads of catching up to do.

Over the coming weeks you can expect an update on our credit reports, and the last couple months of monthly financial updates.  There's also changes expected for Jordan's salary; so we'll be looking at that, and what it means for the budget.  We're going to continue on our My Money, My Choices journey as well.

Looking forward to getting writing again!




Continuing on in our My Money, My Choices journey - we come to overdraft.  I've thankfully never lived in it, but have in the past dipped into a few times by accident.  The cashflow exercise we went through a month or so ago really helped getting this straight so that we weren't having bills automatically debit from the account before pay day.

The great thing though, about banking with Tangerine is their Whoops! Protection...which is their version of overdraft protection.  Everyone, automatically gets 30-day protection to a maximum of $250 - FREE for 30 days.  So, if your account is accidentally withdrawn because of a miscalculation on the dates, you won't be charged for it or suffer a NSF fee.

Now, it is only free to a point.  You'll be charged $2.50 if it takes you longer to pay it back after the 30 days, and every 30 days after that if you fail to get your account balance back into the black.

Gail suggests that the easiest way to ensure you never dip into overdraft is by creating your own OD protection - something that Jordan and I have done for a long time.  Our's is about $1,000 - there's never less than that in the account.


My Money, My Choices - Level 4, Activity 3 and 4

Activity 3 is one I can really sink my teeth into, in this one, we have to check our credit history reports.  Activity 4 is to correct any errors.  I requested them for both Jordan and I on April 14th from both Equifax and Transunion and the Equifax ones arrived last week.

Managing your credit is your responsibility, and checking in on the two bureaus is part of that job to make sure that everything is right....waiting until you need credit, until your buying a home, refinancing, getting a credit card - whatever - is NOT the time to do this...because repairing mistakes can take time to fix.

I'm very pleased to share that everything is in good order!  The Kia and the Amex show up on Jordan's report and the Escape, LOC, Joint C/C, Cell Phones and my Visa show up on my report.  The mortgage however; is missing.

I called them, and apparently they only report to TransUnion - so we'll wait another week or so until that report shows up and check.

They do have some wrong contact information for us, and they haven't updated Jordan's job - so we'll get that sorted out and check this off as complete.


My Money, My Choices - Level 4, Activity 1 & 2

Level 4 is all about credit...which is a tool and important to learn how to use well.  When credit, turns to debt it becomes a tool that weighs us down and prevents us from achieving financial independence.

Activity 1 is to get a credit card...well that's an easy one to check of as complete.  I have a personal VISA in my name only that I use when travelling for work to keep those expenses separate and Jordan and I have a joint AMEX (with him as primary) and a joint Mastercard (with me as primary).  It's really important for our own credit identities to ensure that each of us is the primary on at least one; that way when the credit card companies report to the credit reporting agencies - we're both building a good credit history.

Activity 2 is to consistently use credit - I'm comfortable tracking that activity as complete as well because we use our cards and pay them off consistently.


Coffee Addiction

I am addicted to coffee.

Not Starbucks lattes, or frappes or whatever - just awesome coffee.

So what's this picture all about?  Why am I camping in my kitchen?  Because my awesome Bunn Coffee maker died a week ago...DIED!

Okay, just the heating element crapped out.  But guess what - it had a three year warranty and was only 2.5 years old.  So we shipped it away, and the new one should be here early next week.

But in the meantime my frugal friends, I am making drip coffee using some of my camping gear rather than buying coffee at Tim Horton's every morning.


I Went Shopping!

I don't generally shop for the enjoyment of it - especially clothes shopping...but it was getting a bit desperate in my closet, so I asked Jordan (who's much better at it than I am) to come with me.

I had some money from last Christmas and other personal savings for the trip.

Here's what I picked up:

  • 4 tops/blouses
  • 1 sweater
  • 2 capris
  • 1 pant
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 dress
  • 1 blazer
  • 1 spring jacket
I spent a grant total of $519.78...before coupons and discounts the original price tag would have been $265.27 higher.  Not bad for a Saturday afternoon!


Investing - Asset Allocation

After writing about my pension asset mix a month or so ago, I felt like I hadn't really finished the exercise so I went to the front page of the internet and found a sub-reddit for personalfinancecanada and there I asked about pensions and asset allocation - and what I got, was a big lesson that I wanted to share with you.

First, if you haven't seen it before - I would really encourage you to check out the Canadian Couch Potato Blog.  It's written by Dan, and Dan's got a lot of credibility on the topic of investing in Canada.

no, this is not a sponsored post, I'm just excited about it.

On his site, and through some help on reddit - I learned a bit about index funds and some recommended approaches for setting an investment mix.   One of the approaches, which appealed to me had a balance of bond and index funds - for the medium risk appetite.

I totally see now, why those that commented on my last post about the topic thought my investments didn't have enough equity built into the mix.  Someone on reddit suggested I
  1. Determine your preferred asset allocation (ie, above graph)
  2. In a spreadsheet, pool all of the values of your various accounts and parcel the total out into buckets representing the percentages from #1 to the various asset classes.
  3. Distribute the individual asset class values across the accounts based on tax efficiency. You match asset classes and accounts. A spreadsheet is really helpful for this.
So, I did just that...and here's what my current state of affairs looks like including all investments.

Then, I played.

I played and looked at my investments until I came up with the following 'future' state...which is what I'm thinking of doing.  Basically, it involves:
  • Changing my TSFA DISA to the Tangerine Balanced Income Fund
  • Adding the balance of my RRSP DISA to my RRSP Tangerine/Streetwise Equity Growth
  • Adjusting the asset mix of my pension (tossing Trimark has it had high MER without higher growth)

I wanted to put this back out to you before I actually made the changes.  What do you think?  Am i missing something?  Do you think the advise to go with the Canadian Couch Potato Asset Allocation (40-20-20-20) is a good one, or do I still have too much in bonds?

Links ♥