11/25/2015

Welcome Little Man!

Guess what guys?!

We have welcomed our little baby boy into the world!  He's about four weeks old now and our first month with him has been a whirlwind.  He's absolutely perfect in every way.  I have to say, that our family has also been absolutely amazing.  I've had a tonne of support from both Jordan (who took the first two weeks off) and my mom, who's taken the subsequent couple of weeks off from work.  They've both been making sure I'm eating and taking care of myself so that we can all do our best to take care of our little man.

He's quietly napping on me at the moment, and i've worked out how to balance my mom's laptop on my knee while he does that so I'm quickly writing out this post, and looking to update my financial spreadsheets too.

You can expect that posts will be a bit sporadic for a bit, and I'm also thinking of updating the look/feel of the blog to welcome the Little Man into the fold (much like I did when I started including Jordan when I wrote and we moved from Jessie's Money, to Jessie's Money and Jordan's too).


10/22/2015

EI Salary Top Up

I'm so happy to be writing two such positive posts in a row.  I checked my online paystubs this morning and found that my employer paid employment insurance top up has been approved and processed.

A small bonus here, is that when I did my calculations earlier in the year for planning - I forgot that I had already maxed out my CPP/EI premiums for the year - so the benefit is about $65/pay more than I thought it was going to be for the rest of 2015.  Woohoo!

If you read yesterday's post, you know that as part of my employer paid benefit maternity/parental leave benefit package, once approved for EI, I'm eligible for a top-up.  They 'top-up' my EI benefit to 70% of my pre-leave salary for 15 weeks.  Normally, in exchange for this benefit you have to guarantee that you'll work for them again for a minimum of 6 months after your leave of absence.  In my case, that requirement has been waived because of the termination.

So, 70% of my $78,750 salary is $55,125.   That divided by my employer's standard work week (1950) gives me an hour rate of $28.27.   My EI benefit (pre-tax) is $524 - to find an hourly rate I'll multiply that by 52 weeks and divide by 1950 hours which gives me $13.97/hour.

The difference between the two is $14.30 - so I take that and multiply it by 75 hours (two week pay period) to get my bi-weekly benefit of $1,072.19.  After taxes, we're left with just over $970 every two weeks for 15 weeks.

So yay!   My next project is to update my budget sheets, and work out turning our savings plans back on.

10/21/2015

Employment Insurance (EI)

It's finally come through!  Woohoo!

My recent employer took their sweet time to process my maternity leave, and didn't issue my Record of Employment (ROE) - which is required to get EI benefits - for five weeks!  Yes, yes, legally they are required to submit it to Service Canada within 5 days - but they didn't.  It's all sorted now, but I was getting super stressed out for a couple of weeks.

I've got my first EI payment and it was a titch higher than I had estimated a few months ago when I was building ur maternity leave budget.  I got the max benefit which works out to $464/week after taxes.

For my non-Canadian readers, Employment Insurance is a federal benefit that all employees and employer's pay into with premiums that are deducted from your pay/managed through your employer.  You can apply to receive EI benefits for a number of reasons, including maternity/parental leave.  You have to have worked to be eligible to receive benefits in the program.  The basic rate for calculating benefits if 55% of your average weekly earnings to a maximum of $49,500 - that means you can get a maximum of $524/week.  This is taxable income, and it looks like I'm being deducted $60/week - so my net is $464.

I've now submitted my application for employer top-up benefits, and should see that on the next regular pay schedule.  Employer paid top-ups are 100% at the employer's discretion.  My employer tops up my EI benefit to 70% of my pre-leave salary for 15 weeks to help with the transition.  To be eligible for this benefit, I first had to get approved for EI (otherwise, there is nothing to top-up).

I'm looking forward to being able to start some of our savings plans up again now that we have this bit of extra cash flow coming in.


10/15/2015

It's Official

No, baby's not here yet, it's official that we have listed our house in Alberta for sale.  We were holding on to it for a while because it looked like one or two of my cousins might be interested in renting it for a while - but that fell through.

After many conversations amongst ourselves, and our Real Estate Agent we thought listing now made more sense then taking the risk of unknown tenants for a year and unknown market conditions a year from now.

Selling our first home while staying with my mom will give us the opportunity to pay off a little bit of debt and keep the rest liquid while we continue to save. The intent is that when we're ready to buy again, we'll have that ever elusive 20% down.

That does mean however, that we have a full house full of stuff that we need to deal with when it does sell (and a few small trailer loads of stuff we have to deal with now).  So, we've decided to buy a storage container.  It's 20 feet long and 8 feet wide and will be big enough to keep all of our furniture and belongings safe that we don't have in my mom's house.

The container was $2,200 and delivery is another $800.  So the delivery cost is sunk, but the container itself is an asset as it can be rented or sold afterward.  We thought this made the most sense rather then renting storage space (which is at a premium in the small town we're in right now) and would all be sunk.

Wish us luck in finding a buyer!

9/30/2015

Spend Report Catch-Up

Whoops!  I missed the August Spend Report last month with all the hubbub that was going on so I thought I would post August and September next to each other.  September of course marks a big shift in our spending habits mid-month.  The last two weeks of September I haven't been working in an office, so no more temptation of the work cafeteria.  I've also been in BC with my husband, so wayyyy less driving.  I expect that October and November will show an even more drastic change.

So you can see right away that we spent about $800 less than we usually do (referring to the total less reimbursables).

There are no real surprises here - some spending for baby and home maintenance.  The latter was a Costco run for my mom's place, some odds and ends from the hardware store and that sort of thing.

I'm looking forward to seeing the total spend be closer to $2,000 for the month of October.

9/22/2015

$10,000

Some of you know that the company I used to work for has an employee ownership model.  As part of that, I own shares worth $10,284.30 USD.  If the USD/CAD conversation rates stay about where they are now, the refund should wind up being closer to $13,500 CAD. I should note that it is not an option to maintain my shares if I'm not an employee.

As per my shareholder agreement, the company has up to six months from my departure to sell and issue a refund to me.  I've confirmed that I will receive the money in USD in a cheque.  So, sometime between now and the middle of February we'll get a cheque and need to have a plan for the money.

I've always considered the money invested in shares part of my retirement plan, but now that the funds are being paid back, I'm feeling a bit torn.  Jordan and I chatted about it over the weekend some and he's also a bit conflicted.

Here's the options that we're thinking on:

  • Keep the money fluid in my TSFA 
  • Pay off the Kia 
  • Pay off half off the LOC debt
  • Move the money to RRSP
Keeping the money fluid does have it's advantages.  Certainly it would fully fund our emergency fund and then some.  We don't know what type of job I'll find next year, so it might be good to have this as cash to remain flexible.  This also opens us up to spending the money even if we don't really need to.

Paying off the Kia is a super attractive option.  The interest rate is 0%, and as of today we owe just over $15,000 on it - so it would be so so close to being paid off with the share money.  We pay a little more than $250/month on the car and not having that payment would give us a different type of month-to-month flexibility.  That money could be redirected to paying off the LOC - going from $500/month to $750/month, or directed to savings that we've had to pull back on because of going on EI. Putting the money towards this debt has the advantage that it can't be 're-spent' unlike the LOC.

Paying a big chunk on the LOC would make tackling the rest of it feel actually achievable.  Since using it to build the garage and fence on our Alberta house, the balance has gone up and down from $19K to about $25K. Currently it's sitting at $23,500 - so the share money would get this down to a manageable $10,000.  The interest rate on the LOC is 5.73%, so from a financing charge perspective it makes more sense to lower this debt than the Kia as well.  The minimum payment would reduce by about half which would give us equal month-to-month flexibility that paying off the Kia would give us (reducing the required paying by about $250).

Last option would be to just move the money into RRSPs.  This wouldn't impact our cash flexibility in anyway, but would lock in the money to long term savings which was the original intent of it.

So, what do you think?  Keep the money as cash, pay off debt, or move the money to long term retirement savings.  We could really use your thoughts on this one.



9/18/2015

Job Loss

I've written about it before, about Employment Insurance, about preparing for the worst - but I've never actually experienced it.

Many of you know that things are pretty rough in Alberta right now, with continued uncertainty around the oil & gas industry combined with mining - many organizations are struggling.  My employer is no different.

I've officially been let go.  It's a pretty strange sort of feeling.  I have known that things weren't great for a while now, but I had been hopeful that I would make it through.  I did in the 2008/2009 recession, and I made it through a variety of restructures, but this time it just wasn't in the cards.

So, here I am, starting my maternity leave a few weeks early, trying to figure out what to do with myself until baby arrives sometime next month.  I've been pretty busy my first week with setting in to our place in BC, and generally getting ready for baby - but I imagine as the days go by I'll start to get a bit bored.

We'll be alright financially, my employer has treated my really fairly and my maternity leave benefits won't be interrupted.  I've got a decent severance package which will, when combined with my Mat Leave, will take me into early 2017 as it doesn't start until mat leave ends.

I'm hoping to get writing a bit more frequently again, though I'm not sure how interested folks are in reading about baby stuff, but we'll see how it goes.






9/01/2015

Networth Update

Despite declines in the value of my pension and some of other other investments, we've had an increase in cash savings and the company shares I own which are in USD and so have gone up because of the exchange rate.

That combined with steady re-payment of the mortgage, LOC, and vehicle means that we've had a steady increase in our overall networth.

8/21/2015

Satellite Radio

I've had Sirius satellite radio for a longggg time.

My dad actually first got a family plan, and both my brother and I, himself and my mom all radios for Christmas one year when I was still in college.  It was one of my favorite gifts as I spent so many weekends driving back and forth between Alberta and BC.

I didn't actually realize until several years later that there was an annual subscription cost for them!?  I felt so silly realizing that it was a Christmas gift that just kept on giving.

Well, once Jordan and I bought our own vehicles with built in radios, we wound up signing up ourselves, and started paying our own way.

Each year the radios have come up for renewal, I've been able to negotiate better prices than the standard renewal...but this year, well this year maybe I'm just cheap?  or no longer see the value?

I got an email that said my annual renewal would be $175.89 plus fees and taxes.  I called in to find out how much the fees and taxes were, and to confirm that this was for both radios.  I was assuming that the $176 was for both...but holy hannah was I wrong!

After fees & taxes, the first radio was going to be $213 and the second $154 - for a grand total of $367!!  Wowza!  So I told them that I was going to have to cancel, because I thought $176 was too much for one radio.  I was passed on to customer retention and went through the same conversation...the best price they could offer me was $105 inclusive of fees/taxes for each radio - so still $210.  I told them again, that I thought $176 was too much, so $210 was still not possible.

Well, that was apparently as low as they could go, because about five minutes later, I had cancelled both subscriptions.

If we call in within six months we can re-activate either radio,and they will waive the $30 re-activation fee...

So, we'll see if we realllllly miss the radios in the next few months - but my bet is that we'll be too busy with baby to notice.

8/19/2015

July Spend Report

I was going back through the last few months of (few) blog posts, and realized I missed posting my July spend update.

So, here it is. Our July spend, plus the average for so far this year.

July is always a bit more expensive for us because there are a lot of birthdays (mine, my mom's & Jordan's to name a few).  We don't go into debt over it though, this is money that's saved up as planned spending throughout the year.

Gas was about on par, but groceries spiked.  This was in part because we went camping and had to to a big stock of the trailer so it's ready during the rest of the summer and fall.

Alcohol went up a bit more than normal - this actually includes some beer for Jordan and some near-beer for me. It just wouldn't have been camping with out it.

I picked up a few more outfits because I was running out of clothes that fit again, new shoes because swollen feet, and got my nails done.

Vacation was the camping trip we went on for four days or so - it was absolutely lovely.  This is a picture of our view, and the picture below is Aries (our biggest dog), sleeping after the trip - she was sooooooo wiped.

There's a big chunk of reimbursables for July too.  I went to Ontario for a week for work so this was hotel, food etc.  It's been paid back now.

Wow...and there's only two weeks left in August.


8/18/2015

Photography

When Jordan and I were planning our wedding, I knew I wanted a photographer. I didn't want to go bankrupt over one, but I wanted someone who's job it was to catch all the moments I wouldn't see that day.

I had some people tell me I wasn't spending enough, and others tell me that their favorite photos were taken by friends and family - and it was a waste to pay someone.

I have to tell you, it was the best thing that Jordan and I spent money on that day.  The very best.  Not long after we were married, we found out that my dad had lung cancer.  A few short months after that, he passed away.

We have amazing photo's from that day, of my entire family, of my husband and I, of our grandparents, and of my dad.  A guy who hated having his picture taken.  My family still cherishes those photos, photos we never would have had otherwise.


I'm thinking about this today, because on the tail of yesterday's post about priorities, I found myself emailing that same photographer asking her about baby portraits for our budding little family.  I was looking at the cost - weighing it it my mind.  This isn't a safety or frustration issue here - this hits straight at my third budgeting for baby priority.

So here's the thing, even though it's going to cost us $500-$800 depending on the package we choose.  I still want to do it, I want to enjoy the moment, and the pictures captured afterward because you just don't know when it's going to be your last picture.

8/17/2015

Priorities

People are very quick to tell you that babies don't have to cost a lot of money.  That we, as a population, spend far more then is actually necessary.

To be fair, by people, I mean people who are 20-40 years older than me - at least those are the ones in my life who generally make the comment; I'm sure others have other experiences.

The first time my grandmother said it to me, I responded with "you're right - they don't have to cost a lot.  Do you know what does impact finances - not working for a year."  She took a minute, and then agreed - because while she worked later on in life, while she was raising her five children - she didn't work, and didn't have to.  In fact, it was expected that she wouldn't.  There also weren't the options that exist now.  Sure, there were baby carriers - but not nearly the options that we have today.  There are more choices now, more options.

Here's the thing - I think it's okay to spend money.

It's a tool and while I think it's important to have a stash for emergencies, planned spending and all that good stuff, it's also okay to spend the money you do have for discretionary things on just that - things that are discretionary.

So, yes, my stroller was pretty pricey...but its the best stroller for my families needs.

Jordan and I decided pretty early on, that our decision making tree for baby would put money last, not first.  Don't get me wrong, I haven't completely lost my frugal wits, we just decided on what our priorities would be before making purchasing decisions.

  1. Safety
  2. Frustration Level
  3. Money
Safety's first, always.  Next comes frustration level - I tend to run pretty hot.  I wasn't graced with patience a mile long like my mom, I'm more like my dad - short/quick temper & no grudges.  So, with that in mind, I knew that any equipment we bought for baby - be it a stroller or a car seat or something else, it had to be easy to figure out.  I'm going to be stressed already as a first time mom, scared, learning, and I don't want to buy something that I know would set me off.  Last, is money. 

We saved up for a long time for this baby, three years, and so while we do think about money and look for sales it's not as important as number one and number two on the list.

8/14/2015

Time is Flying By

Wow...how is time moving by sooo quickly right now.

Today, I'm 31 weeks pregnant - so anywhere from 6-11 weeks left (ish) before baby arrives.  I only have four more weeks left of work before I start my scheduled vacation, which will convert to maternity leave once baby shows up.  Four more weeks, and I head to BC to join my husband and actually live together again!

Wow.

I'm pretty excited!

8/13/2015

EI & CPP

Today's a great day guys!

We get our paystubs today for tomorrow's payday and I've maxed out my CPP and EI contributions for the year - which means each pay going forward will be an extra $200.

Woohoo!


For any non-Canadians...

CPP is the Canadian Pension Plan .  It's required for employees and employers to contribute a fixed amount about to a maximum each year.  Once you retire, you withdraw from CPP depending on certain income thresholds.

EI is Employment Insurance.  It's another government plan where there are fixed contributions about to a maximum by both the employer and the employee.  You can apply for EI if you are laid off, got on maternity/paternity leave, etc. - basically if you lose your job through no fault of your own.

7/17/2015

Birthday Camping Trip!

We're heading camping for the next four days to go camping and celebrate our birthday's.  Both mom, Jordan and I are all July babies.

It's actually the first birthday I can remember working in a very long time...but as soon as the clock strikes five I'll be out the door and driving to BC to meet up with the family.

Hope you all enjoy your weekends!

J&J

7/10/2015

Budgeting for Baby

You know that Jordan and I have decided to hold off of buying a home in BC just yet, but I'm not sure if I've shared that we're also holding on selling our home in Alberta.  This is for a couple of reasons, but the largest is that it's not a good time to sell with the current oil prices/economy in AB.

There's a few more things there, but I'm not quite ready to share all of that yet.  I am though, ready to share our draft baby budget.  This is with carrying our home in Alberta, and living in BC with family.

I would really appreciate any thoughts or advice you have!

Income is income.. I'll be eligible for the maximum EI benefit and the UCCB payment which just increased from $100, to $160/month for care givers of children under 6 years old.


Onto monthly expenses - these are our normal expenses for maintaining our house in Airdrie.  I've reduced the utilities slightly, but not a lot just in case.  It will be winter, and while the house won't need to be heated to 20, it will need to stay at 10 Celsius so pipes don't freeze.

We'll still have cell phones, though our contracts are up for renewal in November so there will hopefully be a smaller bill by the end of the year.

We still have the car payment, mortgage, and our LOC payments.  I'm leaving our monthly spending at $1,700 (what it is now) because while we'll spend less on gas etc. with me at home, I'm assuming their will be baby expenses that will balance that out.

My employer will keep all my benefits going, I just have to pay for my Long Term Disability premium (which I'm happy to do).

We're able to keep doing some of our planned saving/spending, but at a much lower rate.

For the first 15 weeks of my maternity leave, my employer 'tops up' my EI to 70% of my salary.  That means that we'll have approximately an additional $900/bi-weekly during that time.  My plan is to bank all of that money - but maybe it would be better to drop that all on the LOC (~$6750 total) or maybe to add to our vacation or emergency funds?

What do you think?

7/09/2015

Free Things

After writing June's spend update post, I wanted to share with you one of the free things that we do just about every weekend...and that's taking the dogs on a new adventure.  Here's a couple pictures from the last couple of weekends.




This first one is playing in a creek.  We go to this place just about every weekend for a hike. The dogs love playing in the water!

This is Aries (brown) and my mom's dog Rider (black).  Baxter is on the shore for this one, he doesn't like getting his belly wet.










And this second picture is all the dogs in the back of the Escape...all half asleep tired from all the playing!

7/08/2015

Baby Spend - So Far

Stroller - UppaBaby Vista 2015 - $855 As most of you know, Jordan and I have been saving up for baby for years...little bits at a time.  We're now at that place where we can spend on baby things, and we are completely prepared for that in our budget, woohoo!  We had put away $10,000 over threeish years for both pre-baby, and post-baby.

Here's where we're at so far....and while we've been saving for a long time, that doesn't mean we want to spend money we don't need to - just about everything we've gotten on sale.
  • The Crib was regularly $229.99 - saved $30
  • The Dresser was it's regular price, but came with the change table top
  • The Stroller was regularly $925 - saved $70
  • Car Seat Adapter (not pictured) was regularly $75 - saved $5.60 

The last big thing will be the mattress for the crib which I'm planning on getting from Costco for about $130 (best price I've found for the mattress I want).  After that, we'll wait and see what we need after the baby shower :)


The Crib! $299

The Dresser/Change Table - $379
Chicco Key Fit 30 - $220



7/07/2015

June Spend Report

Wow...it's July already?  I'm not entirely sure how that happened.  We've already celebrated Jordan's birthday and have both mine and my mom's coming up soon too.

Here's June's spend numbers.

Gas, eating, and groceries all continue to trend high.  This is expected given our travel right now.  I'm driving to BC at least 3 or 4 times a month right now.  It's hard to buy groceries for one person, that won't spoil when you're only at the house for four full days out of the week.  We're also of course contributing to groceries and other items at my moms while we're working out our living situation.

Alcohol stays low with baby on the way, though entertainment creeped higher in June.  This was a couple of date-night, movie nights, the craft fair, and a few other things.  We try to pack in a lot of fun on the weekends when Jordan and I get to see each other.

Pets spiked because Aries and Baxter had their annual checkups in June.

Clothes were from maternity wear...it was time...nothing fit, now I have things that do!

Home Maintenance is odds and ends from both houses - it was a Costco trip that might have also had some groceries in it...by might of, I mean I'm sure it at least had a couple bags of dog food and coffee but I didn't keep the receipt.

Vacation was my mom and my trip to Winnipeg to visit my brother and his partner.  I had already got the flights with miles a few months back, so that would have been on a previous spend report.  Mom and I trade each year who buys flights and who buys hotel - points are totally aloud (mom did flights on points last year).

Reimbursables are just that - from work and from family.

Last but certainly not least is baby! This was the rest of our Crib/Dresser (had already but a down payment down to get them ordered).

phew!

That's it for another month.

6/11/2015

New House - Not Yet

So unfortunately, Jordan and I had to let the house go that we had put an offer on.  The list was for $250,000 which was our offer but to get the house where it needed to be would have been about $90,000 in renovations (with a LOT of sweat equity).  After doing an appraisal, we found out that it would only add about $20,000 worth of market value.
 
We didn't think it would be 100% of the reno, but it needed to be at least 50% to make it worthwhile.

So...we move on.

Jordan has two houses lined up for us to look at on Sunday.

6/05/2015

Spend Report Update

It's been a few months since I've posted a spend report update - mostly because there was a new line item 'baby' which we weren't quite ready to share yet.

Now that we have, I can get back to posting these regularly.

Gas is fluctuating quite a bit right now, because either Jordan or I are driving to BC (or Alberta) each weekend to visit each other.  When I drive it costs a bit less because of the vehicles we're using right now.

Groceries is trending a bit high because we're buying groceries for both our house, and my moms (as much as we can) to help contribute to her house while Jordan's staying there.

Eating out sky-rocketed in May.  Yup, it did.  Lots of eating out on the weekends when we're visiting each other, plus road food, plus with all this driving back and forth it's hard to meal plan/buy groceries that are just going to go bad.  Only a few months left of this before I join Jordan in BC.

Alcohol is obviously wayyyyy less now that I'm preggo.  No, it's not because I was the big drinker and Jordan's always abstained, it's because during my pregnancy Jordan's being super awesome about not indulging very often when I can't.

Pets in May was high - this was both dogs annual vaccinations and checkups.

Clothes/Shoes/Hair - I'm starting to need some maternity clothes - not many, but some items here and there so this will go up for a while.

Home Maintenance has included things around our house (getting it ready to sell) and my mom's (chipping in when we can).  Just this past weekend, we cleaned out and painted my mom's two spare bedrooms as she's getting new carpeting put in (fun!).  This also includes a general trip to Costco which had stuff for both households on it and $600 for a home inspection for the new place in BC.

Reimbursables - this was stuff for a recent work trip to Ontario and Costco runs for my grandma and aunts.

Last but not least...BABY! The new category!

April was a few onesies and some other odds and ends.  May was a Stroller, and 25% down on a crib and dresser so it could be ordered (remember my $10,000 baby fund - we've been saving for a while...don't worry, we had the cash for this).

phew!  That's it for now.


6/04/2015

Other Monies on Leave

Yesterday when looking at our income while on Maternity Leave, I mentioned that I'll also be eligible to apply for the Canada Child Benefits which include:

  • Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)
  • Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB)
  • GST/HST credit, and
  • Any other applicable provincial programs.
Due to income restrictions, Jordan and I will only be eligible for the National UCCB ($100/month).  We are though, also eligible for a program in British Columbia (BCFB), for which we'll receive about $25/month.

I figure - every little bit counts.

A short post today - but tomorrow I'll be posting the whole budget.

6/03/2015

Income on Leave

In the last few months I've gone through countless iterations of our budgets for when I'm on maternity leave, for the new house, for carrying both mortgages for short time until our Alberta house sells....sooooo many budgets.

Before I delve into the current one, I thought I would share our income situation.

With Jordan's new job in BC, he got a bit of a raise.  Of course income taxes, benefit deductions and the like are all different too.  This has resulted in a larger than expected change to our net take home for him (woohoo) - a little more than $1,600/bi-weekly.

I'll be receiving my regular salary until I go on maternity leave in October - so we're banking a lot of that between now and then - but I will have benefits while on leave.

I plan on taking the full leave that I'm eligible for, which in Canada is 52 weeks.  For 50 of those weeks, I will receive Employment Insurance.

In Canada, Employment Insurance benefits is 55% of your average insurable weekly insurance, up to a maximum.  In 2015 that maximum is $49,500.  So, because my annual salary is larger than the maximum, and I have contributed fully to EI, I will receive the maximum benefit amount of $524/week.  Of course, there are income tax deductions on this.  I've used the Canada Revenue Agency's Salary Calculator to determine that my benefit will work out to be about $440/week or $880 bi-weekly.

I should also mention that my employer provides a generous top up.  They will top up, or supplement, my EI payment to 70% of my salary for 15 weeks.  This is an awesome benefit to help you transition down to EI benefits.

I'll also be eligible to apply for the Canada Child Benefits which include:

  • Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB)\
  • Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB)
  • GST/HST credit, and
  • Any other applicable provincial programs.
Phew!  I think I'll save writing about those for another day.



6/02/2015

More News!

So not only are Jordan and I expecting a baby, we're also moving!

We've had an offer accepted on a little 1960's bungalow in my home town and are just working through financing, a renovations budget, insurance, etc. before we waive conditions.  We're going to be selling our home here in Alberta, and I'm in discussions with my employer about the possibility of working from home/telecommuting in some way.  It's too far away for my boss-lady to be able to commit, but I'm very hopeful we'll be able to work something out.

That's right, we're buying a house, renovating it, and having a baby all this fall!  Yes, we're a bit crazy - but we're so enjoying this adventure so far, and looking forward to sharing it with all of you.

Jordan has already moved to BC, and is staying with my mom until the new house is ready (my mom is pretty awesome that way).   He's got a fantastic new job that he actually applied for over the Christmas holidays when we were in town visiting which is still in the automotive industry.  He's been enjoying it so much, and got a bit of a raise to boot!

6/01/2015

5/29/2015

Networth Update

There's been a lot going on lately and we're not quite ready to do a full update - but I wanted to get my net-worth posted because it's been a while.

We've just broken through the $150K mark, and are sitting at $151, 760.

This is in large part due to the contributions and performance of my pension, general savings, and continuing to pay down debt.

4/21/2015

Life Insurance - The Saga Continues

Note, this is not a sponsored post - just an ongoing commentary about our adventures with Life Insurance.

Before Christmas, I did an initial post on Life Insurance and my thoughts about what our needs are.  At that time, I thought we would need a 500K policy on myself and $400K on Jordan.

I reached out to Glenn Cooke of Life Insurance Canada who is strongly recommended by Gail Vaz Oxlade for some help.  He actually read my blog post, and challenged how I was calculating the financial loss of one of our incomes to the other.

I had worked out a 'gap' in our budget, by simply removing the income line and then making some adjustments to saving and other expense categories based on being a one person household.  Glenn suggested that rather than doing that approach, follow the general rule of thumb that suggests people need to replace about 60% of their income if it's a duel income family and 80% if it's a single income household.

When I do that, and I use the calculator on his website,   We need almost double - $602K for Jordan and $865K for myself based on 20 years to replace the income.

That just seems.....like sooo much money to me.

We don't have kids yet, but would like to soon - and even with kids factored in, I'm just not sure that it's the right way to approach this.  Glenn talked about enough money to replace lifestyle....am I wrong in thinking that some lifestyle changes are expected if a spouse passed away?

What do you guys think?

4/10/2015

We did it!

Today is payday, and because of my recent raise, we were able to top up the Baby Fund and hit 100%.

So...now what to do with those regularly occurring deposits into that account....  We've been contributing $300/month towards it for the longest time.

I'm thinking on one hand we could put the money towards the line of credit...but on the other hand, maybe we should target our next closest savings goal and see if we can get another 100%  Another option would be to stash the cash for a couple of months so that we could take a short trip to visit Jordan's family in May - even another $300-$500 would make that trip totally affordable.

hmm...

We have some thinking to do.

4/07/2015

3/25/2015

Tax Time!

I love tax time.

I've just gone through and triple checked and then submitted our tax returns.  We use TurboTax - for under $30 at Costco, it makes filing sooo easy.

I used to do our taxes by hand first, and then use TurboTax - just in case there were discrepancies...and there never has been.  So this year, I just used the Tax Software to skip that step.

We're ear marking the entire refund to our Baby Fund - that will bring us sooo close to being at 100%.  It will feel so good to hit that goal so early on in the year, and then we can look to the next goal we can achieve.

So, where is the refund coming from?

Well we were actually both under taxed by our employers to the tune of $300 when I first entered in our T4's.  The refund is coming from:

  • Medical Expenses - Jordan's second tooth implant and benefit premiums from both employers
  • RRSP Contributions
  • Pension Adjustment
  • Professional Membership Dues
  • Interest on Investments
  • Educational Credits (I was still in school the first few months of 2014)
How are you guys fairing in your tax returns?  Do you owe?  Are you getting a return?  If you're getting a refund, what are you going to do with it?

3/24/2015

Salary Review

Well, it's that time of the year again...salary review time.

Most of you know that my career in in Human Resources. Specifically right now, I work in the Learning & Development department of my organization. I've been with my organization now for about 7 years, and have about 8-9 years combined experience.

Given the state of the economy right now for my industry, there's not a lot of butter to spread around - but that said, I'm feeling very good about the review of my salary.

I'm technically still below the 100th percentile (the mid-point for my job), but received a 5% wage increase when the average was closer to 2.5.  I feel like my manager really went to bat for me, and was able to get an increase that is fair and reasonable.

drumroll please...

I've gone from $75K, to $78,750.  Wahoo!

3/23/2015

2015 Budget

Last week I showed you our goals and progress for savings/debt repayment - now I'd like to show you how we're getting there with our 2015 budget.

We won't hit each of our goals 100%, but we're going to move the needle significantly on all of them.

Jordan has settled in to his new job, and it is thankfully - NOT Commission based.  You'll all remember how much I wasn't impressed with how wildly his pa could fluctuate under a commission structure.  Now it's reliable.  He get's an advance on the 15th of the month, and then the rest of his pay at the end.

There's some changes to insurance b/c we now have one vehicle in Alberta that we pay for monthly and another in BC that we paid for lump-sum for the year.

The Escape was paid off in 2014, so that's fallen off the budget - but we do still have the Kia to pay off.

We're putting at least $800/month on the LOC (more when we can).

We're saving $1,100/month and putting away $735 as planned spending a month.  We're feeling really good with where we are at with the monthly amounts for each category though I would really like to get Jordan's retirement savings bumped up as soon as we hit the Baby Fund goal.


3/20/2015

Savings/Debt Goals

Moving forward on the update train is where we are at with our saving/planned spending goals and our debt-pay off.

The goals for the first three planned spending categories come  from our average spending over the last few years in each.  It's how we set up our monthly savings rate as well.  The trick here of course, is that throughout the year, we draw on these accounts (which is what their for), so we never actually reach 100%.

We've been chipping away at the Baby Fund for a long time.  The idea here, is then when we do start our family, we won't be stressed and strapped for cash when I go on Maternity Leave.  I would love to see us reach $10,000 by the end of the year - we're actually on track to hit this in 2015, woohoo!

We don't have targets for each year for the Mortgage or the Kia either - these we just chip away at with the regular payments...though I do often do extra payments on the Kia...just little bits to help knock it down.

The LOC goes up and down...every time I make a few really good payments, we get behind somewhere else or something unexpected comes up and I need to dip in.  We are making progress here, but it's slow.  We put $800-$1,000/month here and as we hit other savings or debt targets (like paying off the escape), we add that payment to the LOC.

We don't have retirement savings goals for each year as a dollar value - my goal is to get to 10% of Jordan's gross pay, but right now we're still sitting around 7.75% right now...but each year we get a bit closer....because of my pension, I'm already sitting at 10%.

Phew! There it is.

3/19/2015

Networth Update

It's mid-March, but just to catch up here's where we are at in terms of Networth.

The big dip from January to February was a change in value in my employee-owned shares at work.

Since the dip, my Tangerine funds have done better then expected, we've re-started several automatic-savings plans, I had a bit of OT paid out, and just over $1,000 in refund from a share purchase that was refunded.


I'm feeling pretty good with where we're at so far.

3/18/2015

January/February Spend Report

Catching up from the first few months of the year, here is our January/February spend reports.

January was big on groceries because we were stocking up both my and my mom's pantry's, and gas spiked in February because we'll be driving a lot more to visit each other on weekends.

We had a big expense in February for Vehicle Maintenance - this was getting an out of province inspection on the Escape, and getting it insured in BC.  We paid for the insurance as a lump sum.

Education is my HRIA membership which I maintain to keep my CHRP designation.

January was huge for Home Maintenance because we started putting a lot of focus on getting the house ready to sell.  This included:

  • Carpet Cleaning
  • House Cleaning
  • Home Staging Consultant
  • Purchases of baskets, containers, bedding for when we show the home

So, we're up in some categories and down in others.  After reimbursables - we're on track for our normal monthly expenditures.

3/13/2015

It's March?

When did that happen?

It's been a crazy couple of months.  A lot is on the horizon for Jordan and I, and I'm so excited to share it with you.

I have, for...well, for forever, have wanted to move back home.  At the same time, I also thought that it would be impossible, that there is no work for me there, and so it was sort of wishful thinking.  I certainly didn't think that Jordan and I would ever find employment there at the same time.

All of that said, Jordan and I have been thinking about my home town a lot lately.  We would live in the same town as my family, and be that much closer to his grandmother and his aunts/cousins.  So we started to talk about how maybe we could make a five year plan, and actually make it happen instead of just wish it to happen.

Well, long story short, over the Christmas holidays a position was advertised that was exactly suited to Jordan's skills.  He applied on a whim, and interviewed shortly after.  He was offered, and accepted the job.

Guess what?

That means that Jordan lives in my home town now....and I, still live in Alberta!

Hilarious.

Right now, the plan is for Jordan to try it out.  Make sure that he likes small town living.  At the same time, I've been chatting to my employer about telecommuting options, and starting to network just in case. At the same time, I'm also starting to get ready to sell the house.  It's like non-stop spring cleaning.

We're thinking that by the fall, I'll be home....just in time for the holidays.

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