Savings Snowball Update

It's Friday!! Love Fridays!

I've updated my side bars and am pleased to say that I'm right on track.

Below is an image I've taken from my savings snowball tracking spreadsheet (from late September on).  Today I transfered about $50 from my Christmas fund (b/c I already hit that goal) to my emergency fund, that combined with next pay days big deposit I'll have reached my goal of $1,000 in my e-fund before 2010!

You can see that I'm also on track to reach my RRSP goal for 2009 as well!

Joint Bank Account

Recently I mentioned that Jordan and I would be opening a joint bank account for rent and utilities.  Well, we've opened the account and I've sent away all the notifications to each biller to have the automatic withdrawals changed.

Each biller said it would take about two weeks to process, and I'm just now receiving October's bills.  So, in theory, by the time we get November's bills (during the first week in December) all of the changes should have happened and we'll be good to go.

Starting on November 5, 2009 Jordan and I are each going to be contributing $325/bi-weekly to the account. As we are paid on opposite weeks, that means that there will be money going into this account each week.

I'm so looking forward to this!!


With our recent rent reduction, we will be each contributing $287.50 bi/weekly which equals $1,150 when there are 4 pay periods in a month which is exactly what we estimate our new rent and utility expenses will be.

We set up all of the automatic transfers last night = so exiting!


Landlord & Rent Update! Wow!!

I don't say this often, but I am absolutely impressed with myself right now!

Over the last while I've been in negotiations with my landlord.  It was most recently left off with people encouraging me to just pay the $1500/month and never mind the rest b/c being in a month to month lease was worth it.  Well it turns out we're getting a rent decrease, with no other changes to the terms of the lease.  We'll continue operating month-to-month.

Starting November 1, 2009, our rent is going from $1,500/month to $1,350 a month.  That's a savings of $150, or $1,800 combined for Jordan and I (or $900 each).

This has wonderful implications for our budgets!!! waahoo!

Here's how it all played out:

"Good Afternoon Landlord,

I hope this note finds you well.

I am following up from our e-mail conversation whereby you stated you would get back to us upon your return from your trip on October 12, 2009. As it is nearing the end of the month we thought it best to touch base to ensure that rent is taken care of for November.

Please let us know your address so that we may drop off a rent cheque prior to November 1, 2009.

Thank you,

"Thank you Jessie.
Our address is XYZ.
[instructions to the house] & [description of the house]
If you could leave it in the mailbox, we would certainly appreciate that.
Thank you.

"Hi Landlord,

Thanks for writing back.

Should we assume that you have decided not to consider a rent decrease and that we should leave a cheque for $1,500?


"Jessie – I will reduce the rent to $1350 per month."

"Hi Landlord,

Thank you for confirming the new monthly rent. I will drop off a few post dated cheques for you, for your convenience.

Have a great weekend,

Bi-Weekly Budget - Tomorrow is Payday

It's that time again, my how the weeks fly by.

Below is how things are shaping up for the next couple of weeks.  I have a bit of a heavy current balance that is being carried forward from last pay - this is for two reasons.  One, I had expected to have rent of $750, which I don't because somehow we actually managed to find a roommate.  The other bit of money is due to the benefit reimbursement that I received yesterday.

A few notes:
  • My pay is higher then normal (by about $30-50) because there was three pay periods this months, so i had no benefit premium deductions (these were all done on the first two pays)
  • My Christmas, RRSP, Emergency, and Clothing fund are all receiving their $25
  • My horse board is due, and I have already written a cheque for this (that's why it's in green).
  • I've given myself $290 as my bi-weekly jar money.  I would have liked to bump this up some because I have family come to town next weekend to start Christmas Shopping, but that's not the way it's worked out.
  • Bank fees = boo!  But if I could ever get this account to a steady $1,000, they would waive the fees.  Something to think about.
  • Student loans will be auto deducted on the last day of the month ($75/each loan)
You'll see quite a large C/c payment this month.  This is for a few different things that came up, which are detailed below.  The payment brings my C/c balance down to $0.  Wow that feels good!

There we have it.  Questions?


I forgot to mention that when Jordan gets reimbursed from work, he'll be giving me $100 for his work boots, which I'll dump into whichever pay period that works itself into.


Overtime Update

Phew - it's been a crazy week, both on the work front and the home front - and it's only Wednesday!

I've just hit the 40 hour mark today (including 7.5 hrs for both Thurs/Friday).  So any time I work above and beyond my normals hours for the last two days of the week will go towards my OT count.  It defn. won't move as much as last week, but I'm hoping for at least 2.5 hours each day.

Benefits Reimbursement

So not too long ago I mentioned that I had bought some glasses but had to wait for my benefits to reimburse me. Well they finally did.  I received $126.  It was deposited directly into my account yesterday, how fantastic!

I was actually confused for a good 20 minutes trying to figure out where the money came from, but was pleasantly surprised once I figured it out.


2010 Monthly Budget - Looking Ahead

Have you starting thinking about your 2010 budget?

I have, off and on, for the last few months.  My Mom and Jordan have been encouraging me to just get through the rest of this year before worrying about it - but there are seriously only two months left!!

It's hard to figure out what I really want to do.  Do I want to eliminate my student loan debt, reach $10,000 in the house fund or max out my RRSPs.  I don't have unlimited funds - I can probably either do one of these things really well or all of these things half-a$$ed.


Slow OT start this week...

When I commit to putting in some serious OT at work, I like to get the first 2.5 hours out of the way on Monday.  That way, the rest of the week is all banked time.  Unfortunatly, Jordan and I slept in this morning and I only worked an extra .50 hours.  So tomorrow, I'm going to go for a loonng day to try to catch up.

Weekend Update

Phew! What a busy, busy weekend we had!

Samantha finally finished moving on Friday (October, 23) which was a full two weeks later then she said she would be.

Nelson and Lindsay have nearly finished moving as well.  They did the bulk of their things on Saturday, and then came on Sunday to do a little cleaning and do one more car load.  They still have quite a pile of things to move, but at least the bedroom/bathroom for new roommate was finished.

We spent just about all of Saturday out of the house to give everybody the space they needed to move/clean. Unfortunately, I had to spend a good hour and half to two hours cleaning our roommates left overs on Sunday.  The bathroom had a lot of things under the sink and what not that had to be cleaned/sorted and the floors/toilet had to be cleaned. Both bedrooms had to have the walls washed (scuff marks) and the floors needed a good second vacuum as well.

We spent the rest of Sunday re-organizing and cleaning our things.  We were able to move my desk out of our bedroom and bring the spare bed upstairs, so we now have a really nice spare bedroom upstairs.  I'd like to maybe put some art on the walls - but it's good for now.  We were also able to clean the living room and bring out some of the new art pieces we've been collecting over the last few weeks and we brought up my glass coffee table from the basement as well.

The kitchen and our bedroom need a few more hours of love, but it's all coming together really nicely.


Kindness pays double time...

So my supervisor/boss-lady at work was sick for half the week and in all day meetings for the half of the week.  On Tuesday she dumped a pile of work to get done (some of which I hadn't done before) - and I managed to get it all taken care of for her. 

She gave me a gift card for The Keg for $50, when I combine that with the one we got earlier in the week - that means we're going to have a fantastic supper tonight!


what to do about cell phones...

My cell phone is crapping out.

I actually used to work for Bell for a couple of years when I was going to school, when I graduated and got my real job, I left the cell phone world.  At that time the best plan I could get was with Solo Mobile, a subsidiary of Bell's.

Unfortunately, my solo hardware (LG Rumour) is dieing.  I'm getting these white screens of death, when it's not white, it's green/yellow.  It's not water damage, it's not pressure damage. It's just lame product defect.  Unfortunately, it's not under warranty anymore.

So here are my options:

  1. Cancel the cell phone plan and not have a cell phone
    1. Cost: $300.00 to cancel
    2. No more cell phone monthly cost - save $45/month * 21 months left in contract = SAVE $945
  2. Cancel the cell phone plan, find a new phone and provider
    1. Cost: $300, $0 new phone, $50/month for a plan and locked into a new 3 year contract
  3. Cancel the cell phone plan, use an old Bell phone I have and go on a month-to-month plan 
    1. Cost: $300, $50/plan but not locked into a contract
  4. Buy a new solo phone for about $150-$200 bucks and put it on my account.
So...what do you think I should do?

Joint Bank Accounts

Jordan and I have taken the next step towards joining our finances and our budgets.We have been talking for a quite a while about this possibility, and I've written about it before as well.

Our joint account is going to be, strictly, a bill paying account.  We will pay our rent and our three household bills from this account (shaw, bell and enmax).  This is going to achieve a couple of things for us.
  1. It will create some stability in our accounts.  We are going to come up with a bi-weekly amount to contribute to this account that will cover rent & utilities.  Our roommates money for rent/bills will also be deposited directly into this account.
  2. It will create a stronger financial unity between us.  I have been managing all of the household bills for the last 3+ years, making this changes allows Jordan and I to do this together.
  3. Through contributing bi-weekly (rather the monthly) we will develop, in short order, a buffer in this account, or a joint emergency fund if you will.
I'll explain the third point in more detail.

Assuming our rent stays consistent at $500/each, and approximating utilities at $150/each (for 3 people) we come up with a monthly amount of $650. Dividing that amount by two gives us $325/bi-weekly.

Jordan and I are paid on opposite weeks.  That means that there are four months out of the year that have an 'extra' pay cheque.  So, within a years time we will have accumulated $1,300 ($325*4).  I think that's a pretty crafty way to build a joint emergency fund.  Once we hit the $1,000 mark in that account the 'account fees' will be waived, so there's another bonus to leaving the money in that no-interest baring account.


Bill Reduction

Not too long ago I reviewed some cost saving options on our phone/internet plan.  When I did that assessment, we had five people living in the house.  Now that we're down to three - I called our phone/internet provider to see how much we could save if Jordan and I eliminated our house phone.

During the conversation, I found out that this company has a Student Plan.  WHAT?! A student plan!? I've lived with and/or been a student the entire time I've been in calgary.

Okay, not going to dwell on that.

Jordan happens to be a part-time student right now, hurrah!  So, as a first step we decided to get on this student plan and then decided next month if we want to keep the phone or not.

We were able to reduce our plan from $55.95/month to $44.40/month (plus GST of course)

That saves us $13.55 every month!  

Granted - that's not a huge sum of money, but I'm a firm believer that every little bit helps.


Kindness really does pay...

The week before last I briefly mentioned that Jordan and I would be house sitting for a co-worker of mine from the 10th to the 17th.  We agreed to for a couple of different reasons, but mostly - it's nice to be nice.  

When I got to my desk this morning I saw a little blue envelope with my name written on it and inside was a delightful little thank you card and a $50 gift certificate for The Keg.

What a wonderful surprise it was (and I made sure to tell him) - Jordan and I really looking forward to using that card.  Maybe next weekend when all of my roommates are planning on moving out on the same day (have fun guys).


Worried for Nothing?

I was pretty worried about things settling down around the house & with the landlord when I wrote the last two posts, I'm pleased to say that I took some of your advise combined with Jordan's/Mom's and am calmer for it.

I called Service Canada and spoke to a representative about the Alberta Residential Tenancy Act.  As it turns out once an annual lease is over, if a new lease is not agreed upon, it automatically turns into a month-to-month agreement (or a periodic lease).  I have signed three leases with my landlord, each with a rent increase.  I learned that my landlord was SUPPOSED to give me (and my roommates at that time) 90 days notice.  That means, that over the last three years - I have 'overpaid' $825 (total, that amount would have been split by the number of roommates at the time).

I also learned (though I had suspected it) that because Landlord has been in the unit 2x a year for the last three years (to change the furnace filters) and has seen our fish tanks - she cannot add that to the lease.  She can not require us to get rid of the tanks!

If she wants to get rid of us, she has to provide a VALID reason.  Valid being major renovations (which would require 365 days notice even with periodic tenancy) or wanted the space for family (which would require 90 days notice even with periodic tenancy).  I'm feeling sooo much better about all of this.  I should have called weeks ago.

The only benefit with pushing Landlord to negotiate with us would be to secure a rental decrease.

So, I think, the plan now is to wait until the end of the month - and if she hasn't written/called - we will drop off a rent cheque for November.

Do you think we should pursue a decrease to the rent, or just accept that we are in a month-to-month now and she's not going to budge on the $1,500 (I think the market is closer to $1350-$1400)?

Added to that positive news, Jeff - (new roommate), is happy to start moving in sometime during the last week of October - I have now only to try to make sure Samantha (old roommate) as actually out of the house by this Saturday, October 24th (which she said she would be).

I think it might actually all be okay.

Negotiations with the Landlord - The Continuation

Yesterday I wrote about finding a new roommate, this will seriously alleviate some of the financial stresses we thought we were about to encounter.  That said, we are still in the middle of a lease/rent negotiation with our landlord.  Further to yesterday's post, this is another reason not to re-do my budget just yet.  We may be faced with a rental decrease, she may try to increase it, any number of different scenarios could play out.

The lease was up on September 1, 2009.  As landlord had to leave the country for a few weeks we agreed to pay the same rate $1,500 for the month of October.  Many e-mails later (check out the 'moving' and 'roommate' categories for more info), she told us we would figure everything out when she got back to Canada on October 12th.

It's October 20th today.

Jordan (and my mom) think we should wait for landlord to come to us.  We need to not look desperate. My fear is what happens if she doesn't get back to us and November 1st comes and we still have no agreement in place.  I'll keep everyone appraised of how this situation develops - hopefully it works out and everything is happy :D


Overtime Project II

A few months ago, I embarked on an overtime project.  My goal was to 'make more money' to help pay down my credit card debt.  Another filling project has come up at work (oh joy) and one of my October goals is to start on this project. This time, I would like to use the extra money to go towards paying down my student loan debt, of which I currently have $8,584.94 owing.

Currently, my goal is to reach 75 hours before Christmas.  75 hours would net me an approximate $1,000 to put towards my student debt.

My work week is 37.50 hours.  Due to my professional status at work, I lose any 'time' I put in between 37.50 and 40.00 hours.  Essentially I give the company 2.5 hours each week (if I work extra hours).  As there are 10 weeks until Christmas, I need to put in 7.50 PAYABLE hours per week - which means I actually need to work an extra 10 hours a week or an extra 2 hours every day.

Wish me luck.

New Roommate - We Have One!

When we got notice from Samantha that she would be moving out right along side my brother and his girlfriend, we put out a few 'feeler' advertisements to see if there was any interest and to see if we had priced the room appropriately ($500/month plus a 1/3 split of the utilities).

Thursday evening we had a person come by the view the space, and he actually seemed like a pretty cool guy.  We explained all of our expectations and asked if he had questions and if he had any expectations of us.  After a few Facebook messages back and forth, we've asked if he would like to take the room and he's accepted!

New guy, we'll call him Jeff, has to be out of his current place by noon on October 31, 2009.  My brother and his girlfriend are planning, thus far, to be in the space until the end of day on October 31st.  That creates a bit of an uncomfortable timeline.

As Sam should be finished moving by October 24th, we've told Jeff that he can use that room as a 'staging' area before setting everything up in my brother's room.  He can move all his stuff in prior to the 31st (to hopefully avoid a traffic jam).  The reason for the shifting around is b/c my brother's room has a bigger closet - so we'd like to offer him that.

What does this mean?

It means that our budget is going to change again!

In October, our rent was $250 (and for the past few months), after we got notice from everyone leaving - we anticipated our rent would be $750/each (Jordan and me).  It will now be $500/month.  Since I've already done up a budget for $750/month, I effectively have an 'extra' $250/month to re-budget.

I'm thinking that this will probably go to the emergency fund until I reach the $1,000 mark.  Then it may go to my clothing fund, and then perhaps debt after that.  We'll see how everything works out.  I'm not going to make any changes to my budget until Jeff has actually moved in and I have deposited his rent cheque.  I want to play it safe.


It's Payday!

Today is payday!  Here is my budget for the next two weeks:

If the item is highlighted in green the transaction has already happened, most of my accounts are set up on auto debits/credits so by the time I wake up in the morning everything has happened already - I love that!

You'll notice that for the next two weeks I've budgeted $200 instead of my normal $300.  This was, in large part, because I bought glasses and needed to put some money towards that on my Visa.  I've put a big chunk of money into my emergency fund, and got started on my clothing fund.  I also have budgeted $200 to carry forwarded to my next bi-weekly budget.  This is b/c I'm preparing for rent to be $750 next month.

I created the new clothing fund, as promised, and have removed this item from my bi-weekly variable spending.  I've also decided that 5 jars was too many, and have downgraded to three.  I'll now have transportation, food, and other/entertainment. This suites my lifestyle more closely and how I/we've been using the jars.

Hobbies - Our Fish

I've written a bit about the fish tanks that Jordan and I have, and they are currently a bone of contention with our landlord - so I thought I would share a little bit more about them.

When I moved into this place a little more then three years ago, my roommate at that time had a pet iguana.  We talked about my fish-keeping hobby and she was fine with me bringing in a tank.  I started with a 33 gallon.  Throughout my time in the house, and after Jordan moved in a year or so ago we expanded.  We got a second 33 gallon as well as a 90 gallon tank.

Getting started is the most work and is very rewarding.  Getting a healthy tank set up, planting it (we use live plants) and finding a healthy mix of interesting fish to populate the tank is a lot of fun!

It would be hard to estimate the annual costs of having the tanks, I would guess maybe $25/month on average.  There would be some months when you spend nothing and some when you're buying food, plants and/or fish. 

This is our 90 gallon tank, you can see we have a lot of different kinds of fish, some great plants and some great wood pieces.  We would call this a community tank.

Here is a picture of our main 33 gallon tank.  This is our tetra tank, it has a varity of fish but they are all from the tetra family.

To give you a size comparrison between the 90 gallon tank and a 33 gallon tank, here is a picture of our 90 gallon tank next to our second 33 gallon which we are going to try to sell.  It looks soo little next to the biggy.

We're hoping to get $25 for the four silver dollar fish that are in the small tank to the right, and hoping to get $250 for the tank/stand/filtration system/heater/rocks.  If we're successful that money will go towards paying back our house fund.


Got My New Paystub Today!

My employer issues pay stubs the day before we are paid.  So today, I received my first paystub after I got notice of my raise. wahoo!  It was pretty neat to see that bigger number.  I had guessed it would be about $50 more then usual - it wound up being $47.11 more.


To clarify -  I meant that the raise was $47.11 more then I used to get paid. I thought it would be $50. So I guessed $2.89 over.  Pretty close :D


Ask the Readers: A New Look?

Jordan suggested that because of all the recent, exciting, changes in my life - particularly getting that credit card paid off, I should change my blog template.  He figured a fresh start is what I've given myself and that's what my blog should get to. 

I've read on few sites that changing your template too often can distract readers, I've also read that most readers use a 'reader' of sorts so they don't spend a lot of time on the blog itself so it doesn't much matter.

I think I'll probably do some changes, but I'm wondering if anyone has opinions on this?

My Glasses are Here!

Hurrah!  I can see again.

I wrote about purchasing some new glasses last week and was able to pick them up today!

I got two pairs, one prescription sun glasses and the other prescription regular glasses.  I did return the extra warranty that I got suckered into and so the upfront cost was $395.23.  I submitted my receipts to my benefits administrator and will be receiving $126 once the claim is processed.

So the total out of pocket cost will be $269.23.

For two pairs of glasses that's pretty spectacular.  I have a line item on my next weeks budget to pay off my visa for this purchase.

I found a picture of the sunglasses which look like this but with dark lenses:

I can't find a picture of the other pair, but they're cute, I promise!


Clothing Fund

I've decided to open a 'clothing fund'.

In my bi-weekly budget, I 'budget' spending between $20-$50 on my clothing & gifts category depending on what else is going on.  That money never winds up going to clothing, however often goes to gifts or 'other' stuff that might come up (*cough Halloween decorations).

I think that if I open an account for this category and not take the money out in cash every two-weeks it will be easier to accumulate so that I can actually buy some new clothes.

New clothes?!  Is that a need?

Actually, it is.  I work in a professional industry where presentation (self presentation and the presentation of my work) is very important.  Currently, my professional wardrobe is seriously lacking.  Plus I'm down to one good bra.  The girls need some support and one bra just isn't going to cut it!!  I am, we'll say, well developed in this front (ha-ha) and the two for $39.99 at La Senza (or wherever you smaller chested ladies shop) just isn't going to work it for me.

On my next pay I'm going to give this fund a bit of a jump start with $200 (which MIGHT by me two bras).  Following that I'm thinking $20/bi-weekly to this fund.

I'm wondering how much cash I'll have to stash before heading out to the stores.  Is $20/bi-weekly enough?  I have no clue what my goal should be.

I would so love advise on this one!

Spending Summary

Over the last week Jordan and I purchased quite a few items!  Here is our 'spending summary'

So, we each owe our house fund $666.41.  That's not to shabby at all.  We have a plan in place to have this paid back by January (this is when we anticipate re-starting our house fund as well).  You'll notice that there is nothing in the 'Chair' category.  This is because we are going to be re-furbishing two old Ikea chairs.  One is from my great aunt and the other Jordan has already picked up.

Going forward, it's back to budgeting.



New Couch & Last Purchase

Within the last month I paid off my credit card, got notice of a raise, we got informed that three of our roommates would be moving out, and we have yet to renew our lease with our landlord.  All of this brought us to the point where we realized we would have to do some investing in our home and our space.  Some of this has been with money from our house fund and some of this has been will elbow grease.

The final purchase we will be making this weekend is a couch.  I wrote a bit about one we liked from leons a while back that was a cream/white colour for $499, on sale.  We found out that the manufacture was actually based out of our city! With this in mind we found a few other retailers of the couch we wanted to find the best price we could.

We found the same couch in a different colour at Home Furniture.  However it was priced at $650...through some crafty negotiations - they are going to meet the Leon's price and we'll get the couch in this beautiful micro-fiber dark chocolate brown!  Jordan can rent a U-Hual for about $25 so we don't need to pay the $100 they wanted for delivery.

This is what the couch looks like:

This is the colour it will be:

It will take 4-5 weeks for the couch to arrive because it will be a custom order.  This is perfect timing for us as it will give us time to work on selling the couches and furniture we no longer want/use.  They want 50% of the price now and then 50% once it arrives at their showroom.  We are comfortable with this as well as it gives us a little time to pay back the house fund early if we can and have cash on hand for the rest of the couch.


a little free apartment therapy

I've written a lot in the last couple of days about all the money we've been spending in efforts to get ready for when we have no roommates.  Some of these things have been wants, some have been needs (although we went for higher quality then we necessarily needed).

Last night - I did a little free 'apartment therapy'. 

I re-arranged the living room.

At first I didn't think that it would help very much, and I thought what I 'Needed/Wanted' was some new art or something to spruce the place up a bit.  I've been looking around at places like JYSK and IKE but couldn't find want I wanted... I didn't even really know what I was looking for.  All I knew was that  I really wanted to take back the space and make it ours again. What I wound up doing was moving one of the fish tanks to a different wall, got rid of an ugly bookshelf that held DVD's (the new tv stand has closed cuboard doors so I took advantage of that) and I moved my glass art display case into a different corner.

I didn't take any pictures yet, but I'll try to over the coming weeks.

It was a few small changes that took about an hour or so combined with an hour or so of cleaning - and the living room has a totally new feel to it!

Speaking of Spending...

Below is a list of some of the cook ware sets that we are were considering:
This WAS going to be a post asking for help in deciding which cookware set to go with, but we took the plunge and bought the Paderno 11-pc 'Flair' Cookware set.

The set is made from solid stainless steel and has a 25 year warranty.  It's oven and dishwasher safe as well.  The Flair set that we picked up includes a 1L, 2L, 3L, and a 4L saucepan a 5L dutch oven and a 24cm non-stick fry pan.  It also comes with five lids.

You can see that the list price was $700.00, we first found it at sears.ca for $300 and thought that was a steal!  On the advise of mom, we checked out the Paderno website, and were able to buy the set we liked best for an additional savings of $60.90 when comparing the price with the sears.ca 'sears day' sales!

We spent a total of $254.09 after shipping and taxes.

We ordered it on Monday night and it should be here by October 16th.


We've been spending, spending, spending....

With all of the roommate changes and going from a 5 person household to a 2 person household there will be a few household items that we will be missing in short order.

I talked a little bit about this yesterday with some of the smaller purchases we've made at Ikea.

This past weekend we also made a couple of larger purchases and have plans for another.

You're probably thinking...really?! That's so not important.  Well no, but it was either that or a new TV (yes I know a TV isn't a need - we're okay with buying these items that we want).

I'll explain.  My TV is recently out of warranty, and we have a blown speaker.  The TV doesn't work properly unless hooked up to external speakers.  We found a great deal on an LG home entertainment system at Costco.
It was $250.00 (plus GST).

Two of the people who are leaving have been living with me for over a year, one has been there closer to two years.  It can often be hard to remember exactly who's fork is who's after that much time.  To avoid any sort of potential conflict over this, and as Jordan and I wanted a newer set anyways we thought we'd go ahead and buy a new one (just about everything I have is hand me down of some sort).

We looked at Ikea and found some cheapy sets that weren't super nice - and then back at Costco we found a great set for jus tunder $45.00 (plus GST).
It's weighted fairly heavy and is a set for 8 people, plus it came with some serving spoons/forks.

The stand I had before was an Ikea special that was a hand me down from my mom.  It was great while it lasted, but it didn't really fit in the living room where we are currently living. It also took up a lot of space because it was quite long and low to the ground.

We picked up a new stand at Walmart for $110 (plus GST) as well as a few other odds and ends (Jordan wanted optical wire for the new home theater system) there for a grand total of $167.  The new stand is tall, and matches the fish tank stand in the same room.

Everything looks fantastic!

We have borrowed the money from ourselves (our house fund) and have made a commitment to pay it back with any tax returns we get in a few months.  If we don't get enough of a tax return to pay it back, we'll live like paupers for that month until it is paid back.  We can of course, pay it back early (which is what I will try to do).

The other item's that we're looking at purchasing include:
  • A new couch to replace the gross, stained ones that we have (budget $500)
  • A set of new pots and pans (budget $250). 
    • The ones we have are starting to fall apart.  This is another case of a hodgepodge of pots/pans (much like the cutlery).  We'll have a few pieces left over, but not enough to cook like we do.
    • Sears if having some AMAZING sales right now... if anyone has any suggestions for this, it would be greatly appreciated (see link).
  • We MAY need another chair (budget $100 - Ikea Style).


Apartment Therapy?

One of my favorite bloggers over at Small Steps for Big Change has been going through apartment therapy.  Each week she goes through a different part of her apartment to clean/update/simplify and otherwise make her home a happy place.

Although I'm not doing that exactly, I've been loving reading along and with all of our roommmates moving out - Jordan and I thought it would be nice to update our living space.  We spent $100 at Ikea ($50/each) to spruce things up a bit.

We bought some new branches for my vase/branch/art hallway dealio, new plates & bowls, a closet organizer, a $30 ikea cushion for one of their slay back chairs.  Jordan found an old frame so for $30 it's like brand new (they retail for around $100).  We also picked up some tupperwear and those round cork mats you put hot stuff on.

We are talking about plans for some larger items as well, but that's for another post.


New Glasses!

This past weekend, I actually spent some money that was above and beyond my $300/bi-weekly variable spending (jar money).

I broke down and FINALLY bought myself some new prescription glasses.  The ones I am currently wearing are three or four years old and are the wrong prescription for me.  My eyes are different already by a full point, so this has been increases the frequencey and intensity of headaches.

I've actually been looking for the last six months or so, and have realized that's nearly impossible to find a single pair of high index glasses for under $300.  I have been to over a dozen different retailers.

Jordan and I happened to be in Sears on Saturday because we were looking at some items we will want to replace when our roommates move out.  Sears optical (I didn't even know that had a sears optical until Saturday) had a fantastic deal on (won't get into all the details) but basically like so many other retrailers the best 'deal' was acheived when you bought two pairs instead of one pair.

I wound up getting a pair of prescription sunglasses and prescription regular lenses both high index, with scratch resistance and UV coatings and all that jazz for a grand total of $449.97.  Which is an effective price of $225/each pair.

The above price was with a one year extra warranty on the glasses, but I've never needed that before, and neither has anyone in my family so I think I'm going to retrun that (I have 30 days) which will bring the total price down to $390.  I have $125 left on my glasses benefit's through work, so after I claim that expense that total amount I have to come up with is $265 (or $132.50/pair).  I should be able to paymyself back in two weeks on my next pay day.  So that money will only be owing on my visa for a couple of weeks.  I'm completely comfortable with this!  Plus Jordan will stop nagging me to take care of my eyes :)

I should have pictures of them in a week when they are ready to be picked up.


My Mom's Bread Recipe

Krystal and Frugal Dreamer were chatting about bread making on Twitter the other day and it got me thinking about my mom's amazing bread.  My brother's been making it for a while now, but now that he's moving out, I have an even larger reason to try to learn how to make it myself.  I think that I'm going to learn how to do it this winter... we could have a bread bake off, if that's even a thing?!

I actually have a cook book that my grandma wrote for her children, and then passed it along to her grandchildren.  Each recipe has a short story followed by the ingredients and directions.  Often, something is written in the directions that isn't in the ingredients and vice versa.  I think she secretly did this on purpose to get her family calling for the rest of the details ;)

So, here is mom's story/recipe - Mom, if I miss anything, please feel free to add it in the notes.  If anyone tries it, I would love to hear how it works out for you.  I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out when I try it.

Mom's Name Bread

I taught mom's name everything I knew about bread.  I think she learned something on her own because her bread is so much better then mine and now I use her recipe.

5 cups warm water
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons yeast

Combine and let the yeast rise.

1/4 to 1/2 cup of margarine
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup skim milk powder (optional)
1/2 cup wheat germ (optional)
10-12 cups flour, some white and some whole wheat

Combine with yeast mixture and kneed until your arms are tired.  Let rise until double in bulk. Punch down. Either let it rise again or make into buns or bread.  Let rise again. Bake at 375% until brown.



My Jars - an Update

Jason from Canadian Savings  asked me a couple of great questions on my recent payday post that relate to how I use the jar system.

Question One: How long do the jar amounts have to last you?
I budget bi-weekly. So the $300 that I allocate for my variable expenses are for two weeks.

Question Two: Do you track your spending?
I have found that tracking wasn't as important for me as it is for some folks. I didn't get a lot of value from it. What I mean to say is that I allocate $100 for two weeks worth of groceries. I know where that money has gone - it's gone to food. I don't need to track how much went to bread/butter/or other items relating to groceries.

Some other details about how I manage my 'jars'

  • I keep any 'left over' jar money - and roll it over into the following weeks. That way, If something comes on sale and I want to bulk up, I have the $$ for it already.
  • Some people have commented before that my entertainment budget looks a little high. I would argue that it's not.  
    • 'entertainment' is a very broad category for me.  For example, last month I bough some Halloween decorations for the house, I took money from my entertainment fund for that. Entertainment may also includes any trips home I make and extra gas money to visit my horse, and a variety of other item's that may come up. I could increase my Transportation budget and decrease my entertainment budget - but having it set up the way it is allows for more flexibility.
  • I recently decreased my clothing/gifts jar because I have a dedicated Christmas/Gift account where I save separately, so I shifted some of those funds to my 'everything else' jar.
  • Jordan also contributes to the food jar. We are both paid bi-weekly but on opposite weeks. He deposits $100/bi-weekly as well.
  • I should also mention that our grocery/food budget also includes joint personal care items like razer blades and cleaning supples. I would buy my personal make up and other items from my 'other ' jar.
I hope that answers Jason's questions, and addresses any one else's' if their out there. Feel free to ask more :)

October Goals

I've seen quite a few folks posting monthly goals, so I thought I'd have a go at it too!

  • Meet Christmas 2009 Goals of saving $500
Woohoo! this is already done with my first paycheque in October!
  • Turn Sam's (old roommates) room into a spare room/office
Right now, I have a pseudo spare room in the unfinished basement. I want to take this opportunity to make it a little warmer/friendlier.  By having a desk in their as well, it might help Jordan to get away when he's studying for school.
  • Decorate the house and my workstation for Halloween
Jordan and I will be doing this on the upcoming weekend.  I'm going to bring any 'left over' decorations to work.
  • Learn how to make apple cider 
We're going to have a halloween/putluck/pumpkin carving context at work in a few weeks.  Due to that big 'ol apple tree in the back yard I'd like to learn how to make cider.  A co-worker of mine offered to make pie using the same apples, so I have to remember to bring her a bag in.
  • Start second phase of overtime/filing project at work.  
I'm going to make my goal 75 hours of OT, which should translate to roughly $1,000 of extra income.  I plan on using that money to help reduce my Canada Student Loan. I will probably have this paid out in two increments at 37.5 each.  This will hopefully help reduce the tax implications of such a large influx of funds. I hope to reach at least 37.50 hours by Christmas.

I think I'm going to keep it simple for now.  I hope everyone has a great weekend!

It's Payday!

Hurrah, it's payday.  Here's a breakdown for the next two weeks.

As mentioned last week, Jordan and I decided to but our house fund on hold for a month or two until things settle down with our housing situation.  Jordan also increased is truck repayment plan, and wanted to see how that would work out.  Because of that, and no more credit card debt repayment, I had an extra $600 this month to play with.

I kept my jar money at $300 which seems to be working.

I was going to break up the large sum, but in interests of meeting some of my short term goals, I'm going to go after them one at a time while maintaining my $25/bi-weekly contribution schedule.  So, this pay day, I'm putting $500 towards my Christmas fund which will have it fully funded for this year and $100 towards my emergency fund.

Have a great weekend!


Roommates - We Have None!!

So, it would seem that my gut instinct to transfer rent money over from one account to another was a good one.  Jordan and I got home this late this evening and there was a note on the fridge with my name on it. This is what it said:
Dear Jessie,

School has been hectic, I don't usually leave until 10pm on most nights, so my aplogies for my absence. I am writing this letter to inform you that unforutnatly I will not be able to afford living here unless I get a job, which is impossible with my current work load.  My cousin has offered me a place to stay which will be much cheaper and my utilities, transportation and meals would be included.  My apologies to you, because of Lindsay and Nelson's departure from this house.  I know that it's going to be hard on you and Jordan.  I hope you can find someone to mpove in soon.  I will probably move out before thanksgiving, but Iwill give you rent for the month of October, as well as utilities for that month as well with hopes of getting the secuirty deposit back.  Once agian, I am deeply sorry, I would stay if school would allo wme some free time to accumulate some weath. I will be here after school to talk.
My Apologies,
I can't say I'm surprised with everything else, things like this tend to happen in bunches (at least that's what they say isn't it?).

Just as I finished writing out the note she left for me, Sam got home.  She gave me $500 for all of October, and will pay Septmeber's utilties when I get all the bills  in next week.  I told her i'll get her damange deposit back to her after she's moved out and after we access a fair portion of October's utilties depending on the date she actually leaves.

I'll have to talk to my brother and Lindsay about splitting the utilities 4 ways rather then 5 ways as well.

Our initial reaction (Jordan and me) is to not hurry into finding a replacement. It would really be nice to have the house to ourselves for November.  We are going to put the feelers out, but not look really hard until December.  I think that it will be fairly challening to find someone b/c no one likes moving in winter, especially around Christmas.  But we shall see how that works out.

The landlord is geting back from her trip in a couple of weeks, and we are still in the middle of re-negotiating the rent.  If she lowers it by a couple hundred, that will make a large difference.

As it stands, Jordan and I will split November's rent of $1,500 two ways, so $750 each.  That extra $100 from my raise at work, just found it's new home - Rent.  Unless of course we can get it lowered by then, but either way we'll be splitting it.  Needless to say this has some serious implications for our budgets.

Utilities will probably be around $200/each or more when it's just the two of us... we'll have to wait and see on that one (I see a post coming realting to that).  So we should both expect to have housing costs of about $1000/month if we are on our own.

For now, there's nothing we can do other then to continue to be frugal. I tell you, I am so so so happy my credit card is paid off. (Jordan asked that I bold that, he's watching me type as we watch TV together).

We'll be able to make this work no matter what happens.  Jordan and I are in this together, and we'll pull through.  Things we'll be tight, and I'll post updates to my budget once I have some solid numbers that I can work with.  For now, I think I will plan for the worst-case and bank the rest so that I have it just in case.

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