10/31/2014

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.

10/29/2014

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.



10/24/2014

$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:



10/23/2014

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!

10/22/2014

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.

Jordan

  • $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.

Jessie
  • $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. 

10/21/2014

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!

10/20/2014

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!

10/17/2014

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.

10/16/2014

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.


10/15/2014

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.

10/14/2014

PIE!

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.



10/13/2014

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!

10/10/2014

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.

SO.

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.

Yay!

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

10/09/2014

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)

Gas
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.

Alcohol
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.

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

Pets
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.

Gifts
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.

Vacation
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.

10/08/2014

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.
Thanks!
~Jessie

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.

Bottling


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).

10/07/2014

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.

10/06/2014

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'.


10/03/2014

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.


10/02/2014

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!!

wowZa! 

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!
Jess

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