1/29/2016

I Screwed Up

It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but I screwed up.  I was backing out of the carport, and turning to avoid the pickup that parked their (just out of the picture) and I caught the corner of the Escape on the pillar.

The carport is fine, the Escape is not.

Ugh.

The first quote I got to fix it is around $1,400.  Jordan's going to call around to see if we can do any better - but there is only two places in town that do body work of any kind.  It's the entire front bumper that needs to be replaced.

1/28/2016

Moving

So begins the process of packing up our old house without a new house to put everything in.  


A while back I mentioned that Jordan and I were preparing for this by purchasing a 20 foot long container.  Fingers crossed that it winds up being large enough to hold everything - but if not, there is some space in my grandmother's home that could work in a pinch.

We'll be going into Alberta every weekend in February until the house is packed up and moved.  The first weekend we'll be just finishing getting everything from the basement up and into the garage and everything from upstairs down to the main floor.  Stairs suck when you're moving so if we can do this before even renting the moving truck, we'll be a lot better off.  Fingers crossed that the work I do with physio will help me be productive when we're moving...that and having Little Man with us will be interesting to see how much we can get done.

1/27/2016

Plantar Fasciitis

Thank goodness for health benefits!

I don't think I've shared this before, but I happen to have chronic planter fasciitis.   For those not familiar, it's when the ligament that connects your heel bone to your toes gets inflamed.  It's been ongoing for me for going on three years.

I've previously met with three different doctors, completed 6 months of physio, two rounds of cortisone injections in my heel (talk about painful), and custom orthotics.  All to no avail.

I've just started physio again, with a new practitioner and am amazed at the results.  After one session with her, I've had more progress than with any other method.

The pain is ridiculous, when I'm walking, sitting, pretty much doing anything my heel/arch ranges from light throbbing to stabbing.

While on maternity leave and before my termination is processed, I still have access to my benefits, so now is as good as time as any to see if we can make any headway with the pain.  My first assessment/treatment appointment was an hour and cost $90 - $60 was covered by my plan and $15 by Jordan's.  There's a $75 annual deductible for Jordan's plan, so now that it's covered, all of my subsequent visits ($60/30 minutes) will be paid for 100%.  Which is excellent because she wants to see me 2-3 times a week for a while.

The greatest part is I was able to submit both online, and within two days was already reimbursed.

So yay benefits, and yay new physiotherapist.

Oh!  For anyone interested, she used ultrasound and then taped my heal/ankle to receive pressure on the tendon and it was amazing!  I couldn't believe a few cents of medical tape releived so much pain AND that no one else has thought to try it.

1/26/2016

Foreclosure Sale

With the pending closing of the sale of our house, Jordan and I have been on the house hunt again...and we've just found a diamond in the rough that we're going to put an offer in on.  It's a bank foreclosure sale, so comes with some complications.

There are multiple offers going in, and no offer can include any conditions.  That means no conditions on financing, or inspections et.  The first offer has been accepted by the bank, so now it and any other offers need to go before the judge to see who will be awarded the sale. There are tenants in the house that will need to be evicted, and, the sale is going to happen before our house closes.

hmm...what else?

Well, we got in to see the house last week and it's a MESS.  It poses both the advantages of being sold at a price where all of the renovations we would do will bring the property's value back up to what it should be whereas if we bought a house that we wanted to do some cosmetic/preference changes it would be money spent that wouldn't really impact the value.

The house is within a stones through from a school, and a small convenient store.  It's nestled high on a bank that provides a beautiful view from a wraparound deck.  There's a large six foot fence that surrounds the .8 acre space.  A large garage/shop that is in really good shape (better then the house).  It has a lot of positives that make the prospect of doing the major reno completely worth it.

....

So I was really excited when I wrote all of that and it was just when we decided to put the offer in.  Well we found out on Thursday that we lost the house.  Another bid came in just $1,166 more than ours - I can't help but be so disappointed.  Jordan was doing such a good job of being analytical about it and I let my emotions get involved and started fantasizing and planning with what our lives would lookalike on that little big piece of dirt.

Ahh well, on to the next house.

1/25/2016

Jordan's Retirement Savings

We got some great news a few weeks ago.  Jordan's employer is increasing the amount that they will match for his RRSP.  I mean, the really great news is that he's actually working somewhere that has a retirement program!  It's the first time ever.

The company establishes contributions based on previous years profitability and the employee's salary.  I'm not sure what the actual formal is, but last year it was matching up to $24/pay and 2016 it's increasing to $42 and change a pay.  I like round numbers so we're going to contribute $50/pay to get the full match plus a few extra bucks of our own.

Yay, it's like free money
Granted he has to stay with this company for five years to keep all of the employer contributions, but that's still pretty awesome considering his industry doesn't often have retirement benefits of any sort.

It's not 10% of his salary - which would be nice, but it gets us halfway there.  If we can get another $200/month in savings for his retirement that would be ideal. Our ability to swing that will depend a lot on what we wind up doing for housing here in BC and what I wind up doing for work in a years time.

Time will tell.

1/22/2016

Insurance

I'm not sure what automobile insurance is like outside of Alberta and BC but I can tell you that it's wayyyyyy cheaper in Alberta.

The renewal came up for the Kia so we got organized to switch the policy over - for comparable coverage it's going to be $418 more a year.  On top of that, they charge a premium to pay monthly, unlike Alberta where they just divide the premium by 12.

So, we paid the $1,346 upfront.

The Escape is up for renewal next month... So I'm sure it'll be about the same again. 

1/21/2016

Planned Spending

Okay, so yesterday we looked at our day to day spending to see if that was in alignment.  Today I thought we would look at our planned spending.  

On average we spent about $1,770 each month that we had planned for (or had intended to plan for).  Again, I went through the categories generally last week, and I don't mean to re-hash it, the idea here is just to see what we need to be doing to be ready for 2016.  Remember, this isn't spent every month - we might have months of spending nothing and then need to replace a windshield for example.  The idea is that we're saving each month so that when something does come up, we've got the cash ready.
So, the reality is that we just cannot spend like this in 2016.
My employer paid top up is almost done, and we only have EI for the rest of the year.  I have no idea what I'll be doing for work come 2017 so we need to be modest.

I think though, we can start with what we have currently saved and match that up against what we would need if we DID spend like we did in 2016 and see what the gaps are.


We already know that we're not intending to spend the money that we still have in the baby fund, and that there's no foreseeable reason to spend like that in 2016 - Little Man only needs on crib after all.  We're 100% here anyways, so we don't need to worry about money for him.

Vacation and Christmas/Gifts has just been depleted.  Christmas this year was about $2,500, there would have been a big chunk in July and then the rest spread out throughout the year.  So - we won't be able to be as generous with each other or with our friends/family this year...well, generous in terms of cash spent, we can still be generous with our time and our love of course.  

I think that Emergency/Vehicle should be saved for - we're just about there anyways, and with two vehicles, this is pretty accurate year over year in terms of the cash availability we need to have.

Maintenance is the other biggy.  There's already enough for my annual professional designation membership and some for clothes but nothing for the physical maintenance of our home....good thing we're selling it lol.  I often draw from this account for big pantry stock-up Costco runs.  So, we might need to re-think how we do those, or doing them at all.
Are there any big cuts that you're making to your budget for 2016?
I haven't done a 2016 budget post outside of updating the Current Budget tab at the top because we're so in flux that I'm doing lump sum savings rather than automatic, but I think this post really helps cement what we have money for and what we don't.



1/20/2016

Day to Day Spending

For those of you who have been following our journey for a while now, you know that Jordan and I have our fixed and variable spending money split into different accounts.  Our fixed account, or workhorse, does not have debit card access.  It's the account where bills like the mortgage are paid, and income like my EI and Jordan's salary is deposited.  It pays the day-to-day spending account $425/week.  Every once in a while, I review this amount and what's it for to make sure that it's aligned.  Given that we've had so many changes, I think it's time to look at it again.

If we look at our 2015 report from last week, I can pull out the categories that are from day-to-day spending rather than planned spending.

On average we spent just over $2,100/month on items that are intended to be covered by $1,842 ($425*52/12).     So, obviously we overspent what we had budgeted.

We have no credit card debt (I swear), but this is how it happens for sure.  The money came from cash we had stashed for planned spending - for example taking money from the home or vehicle maintenance accounts.

We do have some money in our planned savings accounts, it's clear why we don't have as much as I think we should.

So.  Do we change the budget, or do we spend differently?

I'm inclined to try to spend differently.

I talked about these categories generally in the 2015 spend review - but we need to get better about the $$ that goes in our mouths (or in the trash as the case may be).  I think the Alcohol, Medical, Entertainment, and Pets are all pretty reasonable on a month to month basis.  It's the Gas, Groceries, and Eating Out that we need to watch.  Does this sound like a post I've written before?

If it does, it's because our groceries and eating out spending has always been something that we've struggled to manage.

My mom is a champion at shopping with flyers (we don't have coupon's like the United States) - and I'm starting to get re-aquainted with them.  I'm hoping to pick up more of my mom's grocery spending tricks as I spend more time in her home.

As far as eating out, I need to decline to go out as often as invited and perhaps when we do go - have cash for our portion of the bill. This is hard because I felt like we were doing better here, but we're clearly not doing as well as I thought.  I'm wondering if we're going out less, but spending more when we do, or if it's something else.  Either way, I'm going to try to get more disciplined here.

Maybe if I started posted all the eating out transactions a month, or a week - that would help keep me disciplined?  I'll have to think about that.

So, I don't think I can reduce the $425/week but I'm also not prepared to increase it.  I would like to get it back down to $400, but we can't do that until we're spending differently unless we want to be pulling out credit cards again.


1/19/2016

Child Care Benefit

Back in June I wrote about money I would be eligible for while on Maternity Leave, other than EI.  The Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) was one of them, and the BC Family benefit was the other.  At the time I had estimated I would be eligible for $125/month.  Since then, we've had a government change in BC and the UCCB benefit has increased to $160/month - wahoo!  So I'm receiving this, as well as $26.28 for the BC Family Benefit.

For the time being, we'e decided to deposit the money into Little Man's bank account, it's the same account that $100 will be withdrawn for his RESP.  The rest will stay in his very own savings account (Tangerine Children's Saving Account).  The hope is that the money will be there for him both for school, and for his first 'big thing' that he might want when he's older.  A pet, a car...that sort of thing. We'll also be depositing any Christmas or Birthday financial gifts he gets into his bank account, unless folks ask us specifically to put it towards his school - then it will go in his RESP.

It's important to us that we teach Little Man saving, planned spending, and sharing.  We don't have a full plan yet, but this is definitely the beginning of it.

1/18/2016

RESPs

For my non Canadian readers, RESP stands for Registered Education Savings Plan.  It's a government sponsored plan where they will contribute 20% of what you contribute up to a maximum of $500/year for your kids education fund.  You can set these up as family or individual plans, though I think family makes more sense because then if one child doesn't go to school, another can use the money.  If you're kids never go to school you can pull the principal plus interest out, but lose the government grants.

So, I don't know if you are aware of another guaranteed way to get a 20% return on your savings for your children's education - but there's really nothing that beats the RESP in Canada.

It was really important to my mom that we get started right away, and don't let this be one of those things that you 'get to one of these days'.  So in December, I met with a Sunlife Advisor and set up a family RESP with Little Man as the beneficiary.  Due to a very generous financial gift, we were able to get the matching grant for 2015 - so we already have $3,000 for his education and he's not enough three months old yet.

We're going to continue to contribute $100/month as a base, and then hope to get the maximum each year when we can afford it.

1/15/2016

2015 Variable Spend in Review



Phew!  2015!

This graph shows both what we spent each month in 2015 in each category, but the total sum of our spend over the whole year.

Gas is what it is - we drive a lot. Well, I think a lot in comparison to folks who didn't live 7 months apart and drove at least 600kms every weekend plus all the commuting for me was around 75kms a day until I went on leave.  We also had a family emergency later on in the year which had me and my mom driving quite a bit to different parts of BC.

Groceries & Eating Out 
I want to mention here that groceries includes house cleaning supplies, dog treats, diapers (when we buy disposables), basically everything that you can buy in a grocery store.  We also were buying groceries for my in Alberta and splitting costs with my mom in BC.  With so much time on the road this year, Im not surprised by the eating out.  Since being in BC, its pretty common for my family to eat out for lunches, and Jordan and I have tried to pick up the tab quite a bit.  Going into 2016, I think that these will go down quite a bit as we settle into a new routine here.  Also, we're just going to have less money - so there's that.

We really just started buying Alcohol again in the latter half of the year.  I'm breastfeeding, so won't be indulging very often and Jordan doesn't drink a lot without me.  So I see this staying pretty low.

Entertainment
This is netflix, movies, lottery tickets here and there for Jordan, sometimes wine making supplies.  If anything, I think this will go down....I can't see going to the theatre very often with a newborn, but really would love to take Little Man camping a few times in the summer.

Pets
This is sometimes dog food (but more often than nit that is tracked as groceries), the kennel from time to time, and treats or toys every so often.  I don't see a whole lot changing here.

I don't see anything changing for Medical, Education or Vehicle Maintenance.  Once a lose a bit more baby weight, Ill need to look through my wardrobe and see what still works and what doesn't so I think the Clothing category won't change a whole lot.  I'm tracking everything for Little Man under Baby, so his stuff won't go under clothing.  Speaking of the Baby category - this includes everything for Little Man from our Cloth Diapering supplies, to clothes, to toys, to his crib & dresser.  We're pretty set up now, we had a wonderful baby shower, and he was spoiled over the holidays too.  We of course have picked up some things from us - but I don't see any BIG baby purchases in the new year. Just clothes and diapers as he needs them I think...but what do I know, I've never had a baby before.

I tried to get a bit of a handle on Gifts this year, but we always splurge some in July and December.  We always have the money saved ahead of time so Im not worried about this too much.

We spent a lot in Home Maintenance  this year - in part because we were preparing our house to sell in Alberta, and in part because we've tried to contribute to my mom's house where we can as well.  This number will either go way, way down as we sell our home in Alberta - or go way, way up if we buy a fixer-upper in BC.  So time will tell here.

So there you have it.  This what Jordan, I and Little Man spent in 2015 on our variable and planned spending.

Are you happy with where your money went in 2015?  Are you making any changes if you weren't?

1/14/2016

Monthly Spend Report October - December

The last time I did a monthly spend report was back in September.  I'm not going to go too in depth here because tomorrow I've written up a full 2015 in review, but I wanted to get this posted anyways. The average that's displaying is the annual average for comparison.  The other bit of information is I gave birth in October so wasn't hitting up the grocery store too much in November (thanks mom).



1/13/2016

My Money, My Choices - Level Five Update


In updating my blog, I thought it was time to revisit our My Money, My Choices progress.  The last I left it we had just finished level four, and were working on five.  Level five has four activities.  The first three we've completed:

1, 2, 3... Make a Will, Designate a  Financial and Personal Care Power of Attorney.  Back in the summer of 2014 we found a lawyer and got these taken care of, but now that we have Little Man, we need to update our will.  That also will take care of activity four which is to appoint a guardian for any children.  So, I've got to dig up our will, and make an appointment with a new lawyer in BC and get these all updated.

1/12/2016

Cloth Diapers

Lots, and lots of people have written on the pros and cons of cloth diapering.  Anyone who's looked into cloth versus disposables knows that cloth - over the long term - is far more cost effective than the alternative.  So for that reason, and for Jordan - because of the environmental impacts of disposables, we bit the bullet and jumped on the cloth wagon.

Isn't his little butt cute!!

I mean, really, that should be reason enough to cloth diaper.  The cute factors.

We got started by purchasing some covers, and pre-fold diapers, which are working really well for us.  We picked up a locking garbage can and liners that will keep the dogs all out.

My mom bought some material, a pattern, snaps etc. so that we can make some more covers ourselves.  We've started working on that, and will post some pictures once we have them made.

Upfront, we've spent about $750 plus maybe $100 or so on material etc.  I think, honestly, we could have spent a bit less but I also don't feel like we over spent by a great deal.  Little Man was crying and then nursing when we were shopping so Jordan and my mom picked out most of our stash and I love what they chose for us!
Does anyone else out there cloth diaper?
We're still doing disposables for overnights, and if we're going to town for more than an hour - but overall it's working out really well!

1/11/2016

Life Insurance 2.0

I've written quite a few times about life insurance - I know it's something we need...but now that we have Little Man, I'm feeling a lot more pressing urgency to get it taken care of.  There was a medical issue that we needed to get more information on before we felt like we could confidently pursue it, but now that we have some answers - we can go ahead.

I've got some initial quotes from a Sunlife Representative, but want to do a bit more research before we settle on things.

I would love to hear what you guys pay and for what kind of insurance.  I would also love to hear people's thoughts on critical life insurance too.

I still feel like Jordan and I would be wise to have somewhere in the neighbourhood of $300-$500 in term insurance and maybe $25K each of permanent....because there's always costs at end of life no matter what and yes while people should, and you hope to have money to take care of things at the end - the fact is sometimes other crap has happened and you just don't.  I think critical life is important too - I just don't know how much of all of this we can afford right now.


1/08/2016

Life with a Newborn




So often I think about sitting down to write - it's passing thoughts really.  When we started our cloth diapering journey, as I'm dealing with some of the payments through my layoff, EI etc.  and then, Little Man wakes up, or fusses, or is just awake and fun and I would much rather play with him...but he had a good nap day not too long ago, and I've had a bit of a writing spurt.  I'm hoping to keep it up, but the reality is I probably won't write very frequently for a while longer yet.  I'm still here though, reading..and well, thinking about writing.

We are doing well, our little family.  Learning how to be parents, and doing so while sharing my mom's home as we wait for the sale of our home to go through and as we explore options for our new town in BC. I'm looking forward to sharing with you all, as much as we're able.

1/07/2016

1/06/2016

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