Wedding Music!

We're planning on hiring a DJ for the wedding that can handle dinner music as well as party music afterwards.  We're still on the hunt for this - but hoping we can find someone for under $1,000.  Originally we were budgeting about $600 but it looks like we'll have to bring someone into my hometown and will likely have to pay one nights accommodation for them.

We still need to figure out if we'll have any music during the ceremony and then our first dance song.  What did you guys do for your music during the ceremony?

There are two options for ceremonhy location at our venue.  One is at the old barn where there is  little or no access to electricity (unless we used extension cords) - and the other option is on the North facing side of the venue where they have a nice stone feature wall.  My preference is the barn - but this may impact our music options.

The other thing is our first song....here's a song that Jordan found that he really loved!  I think it's pretty great too - but I thought I would put it out there and ask you for suggestions too.

It's by Ray Robinson and is called "Be The One": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4UYpbmBQ0c

I can't find lyrics written out to this exact version of the song and it looks like from googling the lyrics there is more than one....I like the one specifically in this You Tube video - but so far haven't been able to hear each and every word - so I'm open to hearing your thoughts.


Wedding Bar Help!

One of the decisions that Jordan and I made early on was how we wanted to handle the liquor at the wedding.  We are going to have a bottle of red and white (Copper Moon) on each dinner table and a single bottle of champagne (Segura Viudas Brut - maybe)  for toasts. So there will be lots of free drinks for supper.

We talked about having an open bar, but after this conversation with my cousin on Facebook, we decided to go with a twoonie bar.

Having every drink available for $2 will pay for the cost of the liquor.  We will still need to subsidize juice, pop and ice for the bar - but we're guessing (based on an invite list of 150 with about 120 of those that actually drink) that it will cost about $250.

I'm wondering though - if anyone reading this has either hosted a wedding or a party as big as this has some advise on running the bar.  I'm not sure what and how many types of mix we need and what core alcohols we need (keeping in mind any booze this is un-opened, we can return).

The other debate is whether we should ask the bartender to deal with all the money (and then give us the cash  less their tips at the end of the night) or ask someone else to handle selling drink tickets and then the bartender only has to deal with their tips.  My Aunt has volunteered to sell drink tickets but I think we'd need at least two people doing this.  I like the drink ticket idea because then, if we wanted, we could give our attendents a few free drinks on us relatively easily.

So - what are your thoughts?


Wedding Planning Update

Now that Christmas is over, my train of thought it changing to full-swing wedding planning. We got a few key items sorted out after we got engaged but then all things wedding came to a halt mid-November when we started gearing up for Christmas.

According to this Easy Wedding Planning Plus Guide that my Maid of Honour bought me there's certain things you need to have done in order before the wedding - as it turns out we're right on track for the 'get this stuff done before 9 months before the wedding'. We've even got some things done ahead of the books schedule.

This stuff is all done:
  • We've selected a wedding date: August 6, 2011
  • We decided we wanted to get married in my home town
  • We've talked about who will pay for what (Jordan and I will pay for everything equally)
  • We made a budget, and talked about it a lot
  • We've made our guests list and started collecting addresses (almost done)
  • We have reserved our ceremony/reception sites
  • We've selected and reserved our Justice of the Peace
  • We know our colours (lilac and charcoal)
  • We've selected and booked our photographer
    • we did an engagement photo session and got all of our pictures over Christmas - we chose our favorite ten which will get the final high resolution copies of in the next couple of weeks and we'll get all 91 of them after the new year.
  • Jordan ordered and received his passport that we'll need for our Honey Moon (I already had mine)
  • We've chosen our attendents
  • We've selected and book our caterer
  • We've started planning our Honey Moon (VEGAS!)
  • Find someone to do our cake/cupcakes :D (my cousins girlfriend)
We still need to:
  • Get our attire organized
  • Organize DJ and other wedding music
I'm hoping we'll sort out attire and music in January, after which, we'll need to focus on:
  • Reserve accommodation for wedding night
  • Sort out flowers/decorations for the venue
  • Organize and mail wedding invites (we're thinking around May with an RSVP date of June 15th)
  • Figure out if we need to rehearse anything
  • Sort out accommodation for out of town guests
  • Register for gifts
After all that's sorted we can thinking about the things we need to do 6-8 weeks before like getting our marriage license.  I won't list the other stuff out yet because we have a whole load of other things to think about first.


Spending Update

I can't get into the nitty gritty details of Christmas spending, because far too many people that I bought for read (or have the potential to read) this blog.

But, I will share this:

We have made a few payments already including mom & dad paying me for the gifts I bought on their behalf's as well as just a regular payment.  Unfortunately this is just what's currently owing,  our total bill from November was due on December 26, 2010 and was for $5712.44 - as Macl1in hasn't reimbursed our $2,000 deposit for the Retire Your Ride Program, we weren't able to  make the deadline. We needed to make another $915 payment in order to avoid interest penalties.

What is really tragic is now we'll pay interest on all of our purchases until we have a zero balance at the time the company runs our bill :(

So, to compound all this - we still need to buy groceries and gas for the rest of January.

We have eliminated our house, wedding and allowances for January - and we will only have $310 from now until January 5th.  It's going to be tight.

Don'tcha just love Christmas?



Roommates - Le Sigh

It's been a while since I've had a roommate rant post, so after yesterdays events - I thought it was time.

We have had quite a few trials with one of our roommates lately it seems, at least twice a month, mid-week - we get phone calls from neighbors complaining about loud music during the day.  Further to that, we often get woken up in the middle of the night with music or friends coming home from the bars (mid-week).  Yesterday was the breaking point when I got called at work with a complaint!

We've had a few conversations with this roommate already about his general lack of respect for our space, our things and our home - and he's brought us far to close to potential eviction with all his nonsense.  So, we've asked him to find another place to live.  He has until January 30 to have all of his things removed.

Not that he has that many things - this is the roommate that was renting a fully furnished bedroom.

I'm concerned because we know that there is a whole in the closet wall and he's moved huge TV's up and down the stairs so many times there's quite a few hits and dings.  I would like to give him back his damage deposit - but it's all going to have to be puttied and cleaned otherwise, it'll be a no-go.

Thankfully, he pays he rent in advance so he's already paid January's rent.  He'll owe us fro December's and January's utilities - but there's never been any problems with paying, so I hope there's no problems in that area now.

So, Jordan and I have a choice to make.

1. Pay the increased rent - $850 and 2/3's utilities (instead of $350 and 1/2 utilities)
2. Find another (short-term) roommate

The kicker is that we want to save as much as possible between now and the wedding, when we want to be out on our own.  An extra six months of roommate hell = $3,000....which is why we've kept this guy around so long.  But our sanity and the potential for eviction just isn't worth it (neither are the fights between Jordan and I).  Not that they are plentiful, but the situation add's irritation to a lot of otherwise normal conversations and we wind up getting itchy with each other.

I'm partial to continuing to save like mad for the wedding, and dropping the house savings down a bit and just enjoy less roommates. We might not be in a house as fast as we'd like, but really it's not the end of the world of we rent for a while longer.


Short Update

Like most years, I wish that Jordan and I had put away more than we did for Christmas. I won't have final numbers until the middle of next week or so - but it's looking a little rough that's for sure.  Are you in the same boat that we are, or are you pretty good at forecasting how much you'll spend at Christmas?

I'm not just talking gifts - but we donate more, drive more, drink more and socialize wayyy more this time of year then any other time of the year.  I'm thinking next year we'll aim to save $1,500 or so to pad the December budget instead of the about $600 we had (the goal was $1,000 but with a few emergencies along the way that didn't exactly work out).

Other than the Christmas budget, things are really coming along smoothly.

This is my last couple of days at work before I have a week and a bit off - so really looking forward to having a break.  Jordan and I have the same week off in between Christmas and New Years which is a nice change.

We have a potluck at work today which I'm looking forward too - i brought hummus :D yum!

Hope you all have a fabulous Monday!


Christmas Shopping

.....and we're done!

and I'm sick! I have a horrible cold that has been chasing me all week.  It's caught up with me and I feel positively ill.  I'm pleased that our Christmas shopping is done already or I'm afraid I just wouldn't have the energy.


Saving Money Feels Good!

Our goals have changed so much (and so frequently) this year that I'm not going to do a 2010 goal recap post as so many people are right now.  Instead, we're just continuing to work towards our goals - and in January/February we should be able to really hash out exactly what we need for what goal - and make it happen in 2011!

I just deposited $500 into each of our top priority goals right now: Wedding Fund, House Fund and Emergency Fund! Our status bars while not at the 100% mark look pretty healthy - which is a pretty fabulous feeling!


Emergency Fund - Replenish Plan

The first step to replenishing our emergency fund went smoothly.  Jordan's two year secured credit card was released of it's 'security' at the end of November.  We transferred that $500 directly to ING and we're well on our way to having a stash of cash.

This need to rebuild our emergency fund quickly goes back to the peace of mind I wrote about in my doing it all post last week. 

I found out that I'll be getting a Profit Sharing/Christmas Bonus of $775 (less taxes).  That will be deposited on my December 10, 2010 pay - so we'll do a swift transfer of that money into the Efund as well.  That should bring us to about $1,000 by the end of the year.

In the new year, we'll add any tax refunds we get (which there will be some from RRSP contributions and Jordan's school expenses) as well as Jordan's beneficiary cheque (I'll explain more on that when it comes in).

I'm hoping that by...say April - we've got our $2,500.  It feels like a long time to wait for peace of mind - but it'll be worth it once we have it straightened out.


Changes to the Canada Pension Plan

I came accross an article in The Globe and Mail who published on October 28, 2010,  that discusses upcoming changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). I hadn't heard of any changes, so I started digging.  Before I share what I've learned, for my non-Canadian readers, The Government of Canada established the CPP program in 1966.

It is an earnings related social insurance program that provides basic benefits when a contributor to the plan (someone who is employed in Canada) retires or becomes disabled. When contributors die, the Plan provides benefits to their survivors. A CPP retirement pension is a monthly benefit paid to people who have contributed to the Canada Pension Plan. The pension is designed to replace about 25% of a person's earnings from employment, up to a maximum amount.

Commencing in January 2011, Canadians are about to see some significant changes to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP).


The following changes to the CPP will be phased in gradually between 2011 and 2016, with the first major change occurring in January 2011 for people retiring after age 65:
  • The monthly CPP retirement pension amount will increase by a higher percentage if taken after age 65
  • The monthly CPP retirement pension amount will decrease by a larger percentage if taken before age 65
  • A longer period of low earnings will be automatically dropped from the calculation of the CPP retirement pension
  • Contributors will be able to receive their CPP retirement pension without any work interruption.
  • If you are under 65 and you work while receiving your CPP retirement pension, you and your employer will have to continue making CPP contributions. (or if you work outside of Quebec while receiving a QPP retirement pension) These contributions will increase your CPP benefits.
  • If you are between the ages of 65 and 70 and you work while receiving your CPP retirement pension, you can choose to continue making CPP contributions. (or if you work outside of Quebec while receiving a QPP retirement pension)These contributions will increase your CPP benefits.
The government website states that these changes will improve retirement flexibility for working individuals in Canada, enhance pension coverage, and improve equity in the CPP.
Have you heard of these changes?  What do you think of them?

I think it's fantastic that you can continue working past age 65 (up to age 70) and continue contributing to CPP (with your employer contributing at the same time). 


Monthly Spend Report

Here it is again, our monthly spend report.  I'm really enjoying the process of categorizing and tracking all of our spending via our master card.  It makes it easier then writing everything down every day (though we are trying that for any cash expenditures).

I am pretty pleased with the majority of these categories.  As you know, last month we recognized that we were spending a lot of money on Booze & Eating out - this last month we spent wayyyy less in these categories.  There's obviously still some work to do in the eating out category - but this is good work as far as I'm concerned.

The reimbursables this month include Christmas shopping for family and a $1,000 deposit to hold the new Escape.  This will be refunded in a couple of days when the Retire Your Ride approval comes through.

We're still low on grocery's, but as we eat out less this number will go up.

I bought a pile of new work clothes, but this was from birthday money and allowance money that I've been saving up - this was not against our joint expenses.

Education is high because I registered for my first CHRP exam!

Gifts is high (hello Christmas!) but we had savings for the majority of this spending and we're almost done our shopping.  Finally, you all know about our family emergency in November - we had some money stashed but not enough to pay for the whole trip up North.

For a bit more perspective on our spending, I wanted to show you this month to month image.  In 16 categories of spending, we spent less in 11 of them from October to November!

Since we had money saved up for Emergencies, gifts, education and clothes - this is fantastic! The banking was for when we ordered our credit reports online - wasn't sure what category to put that under.

Our Learnings:

  • Need a larger emergency fund, STAT - at least $2,500 i think
  • Need a bigger Christmas fund for next year
  • Need to save for education expenses (I'll have a few more big ones for my CHRP) and Jordan will have textbook expenses next year


Choosing Your Winter Tires

I don't know that I've ever written a post on choosing winter tires, but folks who live where the winters look like this...

...you need to make a good choice.

Now, I've always had winters and I rotate every change of season (winter-summer), it's also a good time to get your oil change and any other basic maintenance done.  In the long run this type of maintenance can save you big bucks.  We'll be losing the car for the Escape on Saturday, and so we need to address the tires right away.

Here are Jordan and my top considerations when choosing a good winter tire:
  • Weather Appropriateness.
    • When searching online or in a store you need to take care to LOOK at the tire - not just listen to the salesman trying to tell you what's best.  Look for The Snowflake (point one below is the snowflake).  This tells you that the tire has been rated for cold/snow/ice.
  • Size of Tire 
    • you can find the size requirements in your owners manual or the internet
      • 195 is the width of the tire in millimeters. 
      • 60 is the “aspect ratio.” It’s the percentage ratio of the height of the sidewall to the width.
      • R means the tire has radial construction. 
      • 15 represents the wheel diameter in inches. 

  • Moisture Separation (directionality of wicking)
    • This speaks to how efficiently moisture is wicked away from the tire allowing posting contact with rubber to road.  The better the tire is at wicking the moisture, the more tracking you will maintain.
  • Siping is a process of cutting thin slits across a rubber surface to improve traction in wet or icy conditions. On roads covered with snow, ice, mud, and water, sipes usually increase traction.  The rubber tire has greater flexibility because of the slits.
This is how Jordan explained it to me.

Pick something up....go ahead....I'll wait.

Okay, So lets say you picked up a can - when your fingers compressed around the object the grooves/wrinkles that make up your finger print compressed/flexed around the object making it easier to grip.  Make Sense? Here's a fancy diagram to help:

  • Texture of Rubber
    • Softer rubber is better in the winter because it molds itself to the ice and snow, thus providing better traction (this also helps the Sipes mentioned above).
    • Winter rated tires have a more flexible compound (are softer) which hander the lower tempatures better than an all season or summer tire does.  

So there you have it - they key elements (as Jordan and I see it) to selecting your tires.  

So, what tires are Jordan and I going to buy for the new 2011 Ford Escape?  We chose the Michelin-Latitude® X-Ice® Xi2. The base price of these at Costco is $200 installed.  What are we going to pay...$177 - installed.

Please know that you can negotiate tires like you negotiate for a new vehicle.  You don't have to pay the MSRP...we sure won't.


Negotiation Update

So the 2011 Ford Escape that we were meant to buy - was sold!  How frustrating!

Luckily, the found a very similar model that had all the same features we wanted plus a remote starter (which we wanted but had cut previously when looking at numbers).  Further to that, now that it's December instead of November there are different promotions going on.

We still have Jordan's Xplan pricing, but the extended term financing is $4,000 instead of $3,500 (which pays for the remote start).  We can also now get another $1,000 off for having a Costco membership.  All of that, combined with 1000 bonus Air Miles - makes me a happy camper.  We are losing out on the Winter Tire package - but Jordan can find those for a better deal anyway (and we won't have to finance them).


Networth Update

My detailed networth update can be found here, or you can follow the link from the badge below.

If you click on the link to check out my NetworthIQ profile, you'll see that this is the first time I've combined Jordan and my networth 100%. As we took the vehicle debt on jointly it only makes sense to add in our joint cash flow as well as joint retirement savings.  Some other details on how the networth is pictured include:
  • I addded Jordan's retirement savings to my own - as the vehicle debt is ours jointly. The vehicle is also listed as an asset, it will depreciate as time goes on (and the loan is paid off). 
  • Cash includes all planned spending savings accounts as well as emergency fund and wedding fund. 
  • Our cash for a down payment on a house in the 'house' section of assets. 
  • Actual value of my company shares is in 'shares' 
  • Cash set aside to purchase shares is in 'other assets'


    We Bought The Escape

    We did it, we bought the 2011 Ford Escape!

    it will take a few days before we can pick it up - but here's a stolen internet picture.

    For those who missed it, we made the decision before my scrap heap of a vehicle could make the decision for us.  Being able to take advantage of the Retire Your Ride program in Canada, was a big incentive.  My car has needed several hundred dollars worth of repairs every couple of months for quite a while now - with no end insight (burning oil, cracked windsheild, steering problems ect).

    We wanted to find a vehicle that would work for us now and for the next ten plus years.  With that in mind, as well as Jordan's access to X Plan pricing through work and the above mentioned Retire Your Ride Program - we decided to go with Ford.

    The escape seemed to fit well with our lifestyle now and what we forcast in the future - I'm sure you know though, that there are sooo many different options.  I won't go through them (you know what they are if you're interested) but I will tell you what we chose:

    Ours is the XLT 4WD 3.0L (V6).  Notable features include:

    • Installed winter tire package (as well as standard seasonals)
    • Ford Sync
    • SIRIUS Satellite Radio w/ 6 month paid subscription (Jordan can have my current radio)
    • Canadian Winter Package
      • Leather interior
      • Heated Seats
      • 6 way driver seat adjustment

    So, on to the good stuff - how much are we paying?

    Through incentives and negotiations  we carved off $7,186.76 from the MSRP.  The breakdown:
    • $1686.76 (from x plan)
    • $3,500 from extended term financing
    • $2,000 from retire your ride program
    ....and so maybe everyone gets that good of a deal - but we feel pretty good about it.

    We're looking at an interest rate of about 6.99% (though the finance guy is looking to get that down today).  Paid over 84 months our bi-weekly payment will be $189.88. 

    What we are losing (1.99% interest rate) in going extended term is worth about $2,200 in additional interest expenditure - though we are gaining an upfront discount of $3,500.  Our solution?  Make an additional payment of about the same amount within the first year of financing, and we'll get the term down.  We'll continue to make additional payments as the opportunity arises.  As the loan is open ended, we can pay it off any time without penalty.


    Financing Help?

    So after much deliberation and budget crunching, we decided that while we're not going to try to do it all (at the same time) - we do still need to replace my car.  So, we chose the Ford Escape as the best option for us.  If anything gets put on the back burner - it will be a new home.

    I'll get into the details of exactly which vehicle it is, but right now - I need your help making a decision on the financing options we were given.

    I know that the 60 and 72 month options below are accurate, but I didn't actually get a monthly payment for the 80 month term - so I did a bit of guess work b/c I actually couldn't figure out how the dealership got the monthly payment amounts that they did.

    We're going to do our darnedest to negotiate a better interest rate, and to make bi-weekly payments - but given the information above - what would you do?

    If anyone can help with making sure my 80 month number is accurate, that would be much appreciated

    Thank you!
    ~ Jessie


    Doing it All?

    It's hard to believe that I haven't written since Monday as I sure have been doing a lot of talking about money.  Most notably was a conversation I had with Jordan which started out as one about my vehicle crapping out and turned into one about how we manage our money and communicate that with each other.

    There are a lot of things that we want...a wedding...a house...a new vehicle.  We also want peace of mind.  Can we have all of those things, do you?  I think that we can, I'm just not sure that we can all at the same time.

    Let's start with the peace of mind.

    We have recently depleted our emergency fund and are down to a measly $75.  As we have so many plans right now - I can't see where we can get the money to fund this up to say, $2,500.  A number that Jordan and I are both comfortable with.

    My suggestion is that we use any Christmas bonus' (approx $500-750), Jordan's GIC ($500) and any tax returns to fund it.  That in conjunction with continuing to put away $100/month - should have it back to respectable levels within the first few months of the new year.

    Next, is our vehicles.

    You may have noticed that we don't/haven't budgeted for vehicle maintenance/expenses as a category of its own.  This is paid for from our 'other' category. We are finding from the tracking of our spending, that we're actually spending about $115/month on repairs - every month!  That seems a bit ridiculous.  To compound that my car and Jordan's truck need more work.  My steering is acting up and I think i'm burning oil - apparently expensive things to fix.  Jordan's check engine light is on - (has over 400,000km) and so may need some big work as well.

    Our thought is to purchase a new vehicle (2010 so has better discounts than the 2011's coming up).  We're looking at either a Ford Escape or a Ford F150 which would work for our lifestyle.  Buying another small, used car that won't last - won't work.  We need something safe for me and a couple of kids and something that we'll work for camping and moving my horse (towing capacity) and potentially a camping trailer 5 or 6 years down the road. I expect our new vehicle to last upwards of 10 years, if not longer - so that means spending a bit more money now.

    So, the next big things are a wedding and a house.

    Jordan said that he's willing to put off the house to keep everything else on track and keep me in safe ride.  I think that maybe we could look at a Condo instead of a house - so we can be on our own without roommates, and keep costs down.  While condo fee's will be a factor there are condo's for sale at about the $200K mark in this city of ours.

    If the numbers I'm guessing to the left are accurate, we could still save about $500/month for the wedding.  We would have $10,000 come bill paying time - which granted is about $5-7,000 short of what we need - we could certainly look at doing a bit of trimming.

    Jordan did also say that he would be happy to shave some of our 'planned spending' down and our allowance to order to make this work.  My mom felt that we still need our allowance to have a bit of independence, but we could certainly cut our spending some.

    So, all of this....the thought of doing it all....is what has my head spinning - and why I've been so quiet.  We've been thinking and talking a lot about what our next move is going to be.  We're both wanting to take a leap - but it's certainly a bit scary!

    I'd love comments, questions...support ;) If you have any to give.


    Jordan's Trip

    Thank you for your condolences and thinking of Jordan during this difficult time.  He's been back home now for a couple of days and has had time to settle back into routine.  When talking with my mom on Sunday, she suggested doing a post of Jordan's expenses while up north.  Well, I'm really glad she did.

    For the most part, Jordan stayed with family, though on his last night he had to get up early to catch a flight and just wanted some time to himself, so he stayed in a hotel.  The hotel took a deposit (via credit card) in case there were any troubles and as I was doing the check on our credit card, I noticed that while the hotel took a deposit, they did not refund it!

    Jordan called the hotel to get it sorted out, but the manager wasn't in over the weekend - so we're waiting to be called back on Monday.  As it stands here is the summary:

    I'm confident that the $428.40 will be refunded, but if not - we'll have to make it to the end of the month on $122.  If we get the money refunded, we'll have $550 to last the end of the month - which is enough for groceries and a few more Christmas presents.


    Christmas Spending Update

    So I had a great time with my family and got a tonne of Christmas shopping done.  I finished 17/22 people!  I'm pretty impressed with that - I have two cousins left to shop for from the cousins draw that we do (one is for Jordan) and then I've budgeted for a work gift for both me and Jordan - so that will be defined more as we get closer to December.  We have a couple of new friends that Jordan wanted to get a gift for, but I'm wary of starting a gift giving tradition with friends that are a year old - so we'll see where that goes.  Finally I have a good long time friend that we still have to come up with a gift idea for.

    I had purchased a few gifts before the family weekend but so far, in total, we have spent $811.75 on Christmas gifts.  That works out to be about $48/person which is pretty good.  Last year people commented on my shopping posts with questions around why so many people?!  Well, we buy for both Jordan's parents and mine and both of our grandparents.  We also buy for our siblings and two family friends.  There are a couple of cousins we buy for and then a couple of work gifts - that winds up being 22 people not including each other.

    When we shop together as a big group, we often pay for each other's purchases when we're trying to hide things from each other.  So, I currently owe my mom about $42 and my grandma owes me about $78 - so far.  There will be a few more purchases on either side, so I'll just keep track of this for a couple of weeks.

    I also spent just under $400 on work clothes and undergarments for myself.  I have been saving up my allowance for a while and also had some birthday money set aside for this.  I found some fantastic deals and wound up with several great outfits!


    Quick Update

    The last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind.  Jordan's grandmother passed away on Tuesday and we had to find a way to get him to her funeral for Monday.  I was going to go with him, but flights for both of us would have been upwards of $4,000-$5,000 - so it wasn't feasible.  He is on his way now, caught a flight this morning up to NWT.  I'm thankful for our emergency fund, but reminded that it simply isn't big enough to cover real emergencies.  Sure, $500-$1,000 is good for day to day small things that come up - but not for something like this.

    After Christmas, I think we'll look into getting this organised a bit better.

    In the meantime, my family is in town to do some major Christmas shopping for a few days.  I don't really have a list guiding me this year, but I'm hoping to get some shopping done and cross a few people of the list.

    I hope you all have a good weekend!



    Trip to See a Mortgage Broker

    I've talked on and off a lot about our plans to buy a house eventually.  We are currently so torn between buying my Great Aunts home (whenever she's ready - at an as of yet undetermined time) and buying a new construction home.

    When I wrote about this in November last year, we had a list of things we needed to accomplish before we could seriously think about it.  I'm pleased to see that we're well on our way to accomplishing all of these things.  We've paid off all of our debt and managed to increase Jordan's credit score by around 100pts.  We are sitting in a very good position to buy a home - we now  need to increase our down payment - it's the last step!
    • Jordan's truck loan is paid off
    • My student loans are paid off
    • Jordan's credit score is higher
    • We have money in the bank!
    We went to see a mortgage broker over the weekend, and brought him our credit reports & scores from equifax.  We didn't want to actually get pre-approved, so there was no need for him to do a hard inquiry which would show to all lenders in the future, but we wanted to show him the hard facts so we could have a realistic conversation.

    The broker was so helpful!  He informed us that based on our incomes and credit scores we would have no problem securing a mortgage between $300-350k, which is what our plan was (how perfect is that).  He did say that we could probably stretch it to $400k if we had a 20% or better down payment - but that's not in the cards.  Jordan and I also don't want a mortgage that big - so not a problem.  

    We ran some scenarios with him that included purchasing my aunts home or a new build, and both seem really possible.  He told us that the benefit of buying a new home is that the builder will absorb the closing costs, GST and other legal fees.  The price of the house - is the price of the house.  If we buy my aunts home, we'll have to pay closing costs as well as GST (gross) - depending on how it all comes together.

    Speaking of how it all comes together, he said something we could do to avoid the down payment altogether is put my name on the title of the house, then re-finance it for the purchase price.  We would then take my aunts name off the title, and give her the money.  We hadn't heard of that idea before - and it would really help because then we'd have all the down payment money available to use for much needed renovations.

    Right now, Jordan and I are so so so torn on what is best for us.  We're ready to take our lives to the next stage and that stage doesn't involve roommates.  We know we want to have it all sorted out before August, so that we come home from our honeymoon and are in our new space.  

    What would you do?  What questions would you ask yourself?


    Our Credit Scores

    In preparation to meet with a mortgage broker last weekend, Jordan and I checked our credit scores.  The last time we had done this was almost an exact year ago for me and two years ago for Jordan - the results were surprising on both accounts.

    My score has gone down, and Jordan's has gone up - significantly.

    My equifax score went from 769 to 755.  Two years ago, my equifax was 749.  I feel pretty good about the score and understand why it went down a touch.  When we got our joint credit card, they checked my credit - so I have a recent hard inquiry on my report.  Further to that the history of that card is very short (three months).

    When Jordan was looking at purchasing his truck two years ago, the bank told us it was about 650 (I can't remember the exact number).  I wound up having to be the sole name on the loan because of it, though Jordan made all of the regular payments.  Jordan had to do some work clearing up an old debt and starting to re-build/build his credit.  Part of that process involved getting as secured credit card with his bank - keeping the balance low and making regular payments.

    Well, the diligence paid off.  His credit score, two years later is 747.

    We are more confident than ever about seeing the mortgage broker.  We are so looking forward to what he will tell us about our readiness to buy a home of our own.


    Do You Netflix?

    Jordan and I were watching TV this past week and a commercial for Netflix came on.  Normally I just ignore them, but the tag at the end said 'now in Canada' - which of course got me thinking.

    Netflix claim to fame is "Unlimited TV episodes & movies instantly over the Internet"  For $7.99/month - we can supposedly use our Wii/PS3/Computers to watch anything/as much of it as we like - interesting proposition seeing as how we currently spend about $60/month just on our TV/Movie package with Shaw.

    Right off the bat I see that our favorite shows are not available: House and Bones - though we can watch those on Global TV's website and I can watch all my favorite Slice shows (Gail Vaz Oxlade) on their website.  Law & Order SVU is also not available on Netflix, but I can watch that on CTV.ca.

    hmmm... this is not looking so good Netflix.  Perhaps, it's not so good for current TV shows.

    I went to the blockbuster website and did a random search on Netflix to see if I could find any new releases.  I looked for Toy Story 3, Sex and The City 2, and Splice - not of which are available yet on Netflix.

    So what is?  Well, it appears that the only movies/TV shows that are avilable are quite old - movies that have been on the shelves of blockbuster for months if not years.

    Maybe I'm not looking into this deep enough - but I'm not sure that Netflix could replace our Shaw subscription - so I ask you.  Do you Netflix?  Does it supplement your TV with Shaw or another provider, or does it replace any service you have?


    Three Month Spending Trends

    I have been looking forward to writing this post for the last few months,  we've finally been able to review three months of spending patterns for Jordan and I since we combined our finances and started using our joint credit card.  Several of my readers have commented that they thought our credit card budget/planned spending was high - and they weren't sure why.  Seeings as Jordan and I have consistently blown the budget - I wasn't really sure why either.

    There are a few trends that are glaringly obvious:
    • We don't budget for all the categories we spend in
    • We don't spend nearly what I thought we did/need to for groceries/cleaning house supplies
    • Our 'planned spending' which is a bit of a catch fall is almost double!
    • Our 'other' is ridiculous
    We had actually intended for travel/education/wedding/annual expenses to just come from the planned spending or other categories, but I wanted to break it down further to really look at our spending.  The gifts category I'm not so worried about budgeting for, because when we purchase gifts I just transfer the money from our ING gift account.  The wedding fund is treated the same way, with moving money from our savings account to cover the expenditures.

    Here is the spending summary in context with the budget:

    I'd like to give a bit more context to the categories, so here is the list really broken down:

    Our planned spending is dominated by booze, eating out, and entertainment (to a small degree).

    Our other category includes pets (the fish), medical, vehicle maintenance, clothes/shoes, and hair cuts.

    The education category includes parking for Jordan when he goes to school once a week, but this will need some padding soon when I go for my CHRP.

    So, on average and not including gifts or wedding stuff (as described above) we have blown the budget by about $800/month

    It's something that I'll need to go over with Jordan, but we'll have to decide if we need to find money from other parts of the budget and/or cut spending to make up for the shortfall.

    I don't think it's realistic to cut eating out and booze expenditures all together - but we certainly can try to cut back a lot in that area.  Alone it's not enough.  I'm also thinking we could try to drive my car more often then the truck because it's better on gas - but I'm not sure how much we will actually save doing that.  The other thing that we could try to do is not buy clothes/shoes/vehicle maintenance all in the same month.

    I would really love your honest thoughts - I've you're still reading.  I'm looking for suggestions more then just 'don't buy so much beer' - but how to stick to the budget better when we're using credit cards and how to plan for clothes when their for work ect (not frivolous).   If you want to tell me we spend too much on eating out - that's okay too :)


    November Monthly Budget

    You'll notice that there are a couple of fields that are empty already (roommates rent and Jordan's credit card) - that's because those transactions have already happened.  My budgets tend to be very active, always updated.

    There is also a huge credit card payment - this is due to my reimbursable expenses (work trip).  About $2,200 of this is not Jordan or My house hold spending.  That still put's us over budget and the period isn't over yet (it will be on Nov. 5) - but I think we're getting better at this.

    Our planned spending and savings categories are as per normal - nothing special here - just slow and steady.

    Finally, we have to exciting things we're able to to make great strides toward this month.  We're able to make some very large contributions to our house fund and our wedding fund.  The house fund contribution is to pay ourselves back from what we have borrowed over the last couple of months.


    slow and steady

    There's not a lot of new things to report lately, other than I have a dreadful stomache bug.

    We're still saving, slow and steady for all of our goals - and I'm hopeful that they'll all be met.

    We have gone over our credit card budget, but trying to reign that in as best we can until Saturday.  This was from some Christmas shopping and more recently a trip back home.  Well, that's what did it in the end - but we could have planned a bit better and not splurged on other things.  My mom suggested that perhaps the majority of our spending happenes at the beginning of the cycle - so we run out at the end.  I'm going to see if I can graph our shopping days to explore that a bit further.

    I'm not as excited for Christmas as I usually am by now...I feel like something is missing.  Not sure exactly what it is, but I'm on the look out for some Christmas Cheer.


    Pay Statement

    A while back I mentioned that at mid-October I would hit my EI then my CPP maximum.  Well, that time is here!  Whoohoo!  I've hit my EI max, so no more deductions for that, and I'm $49.05 from hitting my CPP max, so that will happen on the first pay in November!

    I also just started contributing to my Pension at work!  I already have $611.52 socked away....how did that even happen?!  I love employer matched contributions!  This money is on top of the $25/week that Jordan and I each contribute to our personal RRSPs.  Eventually, I would like to increase our contributions, particularly Jordans because he doesn't have a pension or retirement plan through work.

    I'm also very pleased that I'll be getting reimbursed tomorrow for all of my work expenses - to the tune of $2215.14.  It's quite a large sum of money that just sitting on my credit card begging to be paid off, so paid off it will be, tomorrow.



    We've Hit Our Limit

    It's only the 27th of the month, and our budget is meant to last us until the 5th of the following month - and we've already hit our allotted spending cap - plus some Christmas Shopping!  We have 8 days to go, and I'm not sure that we'll be able to avoid spending....

    I know Jordan will owe some to his food truck and we need to go grocery shopping too.

    I'm doing my part by getting up a bit earlier this morning and having coffee and breakfast here.  I also made a stew last night for our lunches and Jordan's supper tonight - because I'm going to a friends.

    We'll have to try hard not to go and spend more than is absolutly necessary....this will be the third month in a row over.  Though the first two had huge wedding purchases and this month had my trip to Ontario, a deposit for our photographer and car repairs.



    Do you Bundle?

    We currently have our TV, internet and phone services bundled with Shaw.  Normally we are pretty pleased, but leading up to yesterday the customer service has been pretty dismal at best.  The PVR was glitching, the prices went up b/c some promotions fell off, and I've spent far too much time on hold (over 45 minutes during my lunch hour yesterday).

    Jordan and I went down to a physical Shaw location - after I was told that we could have a student discount applied to our services, but Jordan would have to take over the bill and there would be quite a bit of jostling to do.  Well, it turns out - if your nice to the lady behind the counter, it's not that hard to get your Shaw services sorted out.

    She applied the student discounts to the account even though it was still in my name (I mean, we live together, so what's the big deal) and even gave us an extra $20 bill credit because while standing in line we discovered that we were being over billed for our phone service!

    Because the bill for this cycle has already been generated I can't quite figure out exactly how much each service is now, but I know that it's around half what it was before.  It took about two hours yesterday (including on-hold time and waiting in line at the Shaw place), but I'd say it's well worth it!


    Weekend Re-Cap

    Jordan and I had a fantastic weekend in Golden.  We were able to visit with lots of family, see my grandmother win a volunteerism award, and have our engagement photo's taken!  I'm hoping that there will be a couple I am comfortable sharing here - but we'll have to wait and see what develops (ha-ha-ha).

    I don't normally read blogs on the weekend, it's my evening activity, but I was checking out Shaking The Money Tree, and she was reminding people that proctor and gamble are doing their annual brand sampler give away. So if you are interested in some free samples, check it out!


    Engagement Photos

    I'm pretty excited!  Jordan and I are having our engagement photo's done this weekend in BC.  We've never had professional photo's taken, other then school class pictures - but I don't think that really counts.  I asked the photographer for advise on what we should do/wear and this is what she said:
    In terms of prep, just have a think about what you want to wear and what kind of overall feel you're looking for (romantic, urban, quirky, in nature, etc). That will help me determine where we go for locations. If you have somewhere in particular you'd like to be photographed, please let me know and I'll go scout it out ahead of time.
    In terms of attire, we'll have time to do two looks, if you choose. You might want to do one that's more casual and one more dressed up, or you might be happy in one outfit . . . that's great too. Don't worry about matching each other, but do take into consideration what the other will be wearing. It might look funny if you're in a sequined cocktail dress and heals but Jordan is rocking his favorite sweatpants ;)
    Photographers often advice people to wear solid colors in darker tones, which are safe in terms of looking flattering. I vote for you wearing something you love, that speaks to who you are, and that you feel great in. Nothing translates better in photographs than confidence. If that means you wear a hot pink scarf, and yellow polka dotted jacket, so be it.

    The total cost for the package that we're going for is $2,200.  That includes:

    • Engagement session, including 10 digital files
      • up to 2 hours
    • Ceremony/Reception session
      • 5 consecutive hours of photography
      • private online gallery for 90 days
      • complete set of digital files, licensed for personal use
        • approximately 250 photo's that she has professional re-touched
    If we want to increase the length of time she's there on the day, that's fine - we just pay her hourly rate.  

    This weekend when we meet, we have to bring a 40% retainer = $880!

    It feels good to have this service secured, and we're so looking forward to doing this fun thing together!


    Potential 2011 Budget

    Based on the goals I described in the last post, here our potential 2011 budget.


    While we budget on a monthly basis for the big picture, the variable expenses get broken down into weekly transfers to align with our pay schedules.

    Rent and utilities are based on having two roommates, so we split the bills four ways.  Hopefully we can keep this going for the foreseeable future.

    Our insurance rates recently went down a fraction and my horse board stays fairly steady.  $165 in the winter and $90 in the summer.

    We haven't been tracking our spending long enough to know if $1,500/month is enough or too much 'planned spending'.  We're going to roll with this for now and continue to track and post our spending patterns.

    Here are where the big numbers lie.  The House Fund and the Wedding Fund.  If we can make this work, we'll meet our 2011 goals.

    While I just started my pension, I'm not at the maximum for contributions into RRSP's (neither is Jordan) - so we'll just continue along with $100/month for now.  I would like to see this increase in the future.

    I'm hoping my readers will take a look at this and let me know if we're forgetting anything or if something doesn't look realistic.


    J&J's Goals

    I wanted to do a 2010 checkup on the goals that I started out with this year.  I did a search and found that they changed so often, it's no wonder that I feel like I havn't acheived much.  Of course, we did have the huge success of becoming debt free this year - but we didn't realize any of our savings/planned spending goals.  Part of this was the merging of our finances and working to sort out what that would look like.

    In 2011, we have two huge life changing events.  Not only are we getting married, we intend on being prepared to buy a house.  While I can appreciate that it is important to have money set aside for all types of different things - these events will happen, so we best plan for them.  The other part of these two goals is that we wan to realize them before/on August 6, 2011.  That means, we have 8 months to get organized.

    We currently have just over $6k in our house fund.  I had to move some money around to pay off our credit card bill before the due date, but have some money set aside to pay ourselves back next month.  By the end of December, we will have just over $11,250 set aside.  We anticipate needing, at a bare minimum $20,000 to purchase our first house (I've posted about the details of this before, but if you want them again, just let me know). 

    So, goal Number One:  Save $8,750 in 8 months (by August, 2011)

    Next is our wedding.  We currently have just under $300 set aside, but we have also already spent almost $6,000 of a project budget of just over $22,000.  By the end of December, we anticipate having set aside about $1,750.  We also anticipate that we will spend some of our planned spending budget (paid via credit card) will be eaten up by wedding expenditures - so we won't have to actually have that much cash sitting aside next summer.  That combined with talking with some family members, we anticipate some monetary gifts that will help us realize this in time

    So, goal Number Two: Save $7,500 in 8 months (by August, 2011)

    I imagine that we will continue to put money away for both Christmas/gifts as well as vehicle maintenance/emergencies - however this will be about $100/month - without strict goals.  We need the flexibility to be able to achieve our primary vision of a wedding and a home.


    Getting Back On Track

    Instead of writing another post complaining about how stressed out I am, I'm going to write a post outlining how I'm going to get back on track.  Some of these things I already took care of today, but writing it all out helps me see that I've actually acheived something.

    • Submit receipts for work visit to Ontario
    • Meet with manager to discuss trip and where I'm at locally
    • Close savings account with CIBC, I don't use it anyway and I want to simplify things
    • Change chequing account options with CIBC (move to a lower fee option)
    • Get Jordan to change his chequing account options as well
    • Visit my great aunt
    • Go home and visit my parents for a weekend
    • Confirm that Jordan submitted his expense receipts for his new work boots
    • Do a goal check up with Jordan, what do we actually want to acheive and is it realistic?
    • Plan and post a potential 2011 budget that aligns with those goals
    • Do a wedding budget check up with Jordan and post it
    • Do a current monthly spending check up with Jordan and post it
    • Sign and e-mail back venue contract
    • Sign and snail mail back photographer contract and deposit
    • Find a DJ
    • Figure out a plan/list of what needs to happen by when


    I'm feeling a little bit all over the place.  I'm back in my  home town and done with travel for now, but there are so many things I need to catch up on - both at work, and with my personal life.  I'm feeling a little out of it with regards to where the money is at - but I did a quick check and I think we're okay budget wise - but I'm no 100% sure.

    While I have booked the venue/caterer/photographer - we still technically need to sign and fax back their contracts.  While that seems like a small thing, I just haven't had time to do it yet.  I did manage to submit the receipts for my expenses - which for the two weeks came to a total of $2,215.14.  That will be deposited on my last pay of the month - so we'll have it in time to pay of the next months bill.

    I'm hoping to actually write some more thoughtful posts over the next few days...but like I said - things feel just Chaotic.


    Guest Post: The Best Way to Save Money Is Not Having It

    By Bella Paige

    If you can’t trust yourself with your own money, then you have a problem.

    Let’s admit it – money is never enough even if we get a salary increase, bonuses, etc. Buying and consuming has become such an incredibly big part of our lives that we don’t really make the difference between a necessity and a shopping obsession anymore.

    The problem is, I realized, shopping was swallowing most of my finances but I couldn’t help it as it was kind of a therapy after a long day at school and work. I was working really hard, but I was spending as hard, too.

    It was time for a change because I didn't want to be like most of my friends with thousands of dollars in debt at the age of 22. So, I opened a savings account and was trying to put a certain amount there every month. Guess what – after a couple of months, I stopped doing it – negligence took over as I was too busy to go online and transfer money from my checking to my savings account. Another problem was, once the money was in my checking account, I had a hard time putting a certain amount aside because I could always figure out a thing to spend it on.

    So, to protect my money, I had to trick myself.

    I asked my employer to automatically deposit 10% from my monthly salary into my savings account and directly deposit the rest into my checking account. This way, the 10% was saved before it even came to me. If you don’t have it, you can’t spend it, and thus you can save it, right? It required more effort to go to the bank and withdraw from the savings, as well as go online and do the transaction from savings to checking in order to spend it. I successfully forgot about this 10% which, at the time, equaled $150/month. After a year, you can all figure what my savings grew up to – $1,800.

    Honestly, I was proud of myself because I was never able to save that much on my own before. It might not look like an achievement to some, but to me it meant I was smarter than my slackness.


    This & That

    I'm feeling a bit more comfortable with my little hotel life that I'm developing.  While I really miss Jordan and home - I'm settling in a bit.  Maybe it's a bit late, but better than never.  The bartender in the lounge here knows what I drink (coors lite) and makes small chat, the doorman says hello and goodbye - and I like my five minute walk to work in the morning and my mini coffee maker.

    I don't so much like that I lost my phone charger.  I thought that I might have left it behind last week, but after going through twenty something chargers that the hotel has in their lost and found - I realized it was a bit hopeless. I was feeling a bit 'stranded' but after a quick chat with Jordan, I found the courage to venture out.  I found a Walmart, a $15 cab ride from the hotel and was able to find the perfect charger.

    It cost about $35 which was a shame -but it actually works as three chargers as one.  I can plug it into a wall, into a car or into a USB port - I didn't have alternative charges before - so this will be great!


    Ugh...Due Dates!

    So when Jordan and I first got our joint credit card, we set up all of our budgets based on  monthly spending patterns, because a credit card bill is due once a month.  That make sense, right?  Right.  Not Right.  We soon realized that our credit card bill came on the fifth of the month - that caused trouble because my budget spreadsheets were based on exact months...the 1st to the end of the month so we had to adjust everything.

    The way my spreadsheet is currently set up, when the monthly bill comes in we plan to pay it off by the end of the month - not necessarily right away.  Well, that doesn't work if the last pay day of the month comes after when the due date for the bill is.

    crap... I feel kind of foolish for not thinking of this...though, I'm glad I caught it before we got caught in an interest trap.

    Last week I told you why the balance was as high as it was....so this week i'll give you the plan to pay it off:

    the highlighted green items have already happened

    I'm sure.you can see that I've transfered a large some of money from the house fund to pay off the card before the due date.  We'll get paid two days after the due date, and at that time, we'll transfer the money back to the house fund.  It's going to be quite a bit of fiddling around - but the lesson is learnt!

    Be aware of your billing cycles, budgeting cycles, and due dates!


    Home Today

    Today marks the last day of my trip, I'm heading back to my city tonight.  It will be a long day, working in the morning then dealing with the airport!  While this part of my business trip is over, I'm actually going to be coming back on Tuesday after the long weekend.  The office here has decided they need additional support and my home office is happy to support them.  So, the trip continues.  I'm super happy I get to fly home for the long weekend though!  I really miss Jordan!

    This week has been pretty quiet for personal spending - for both Jordan and I.  It's done the budget good to not be trying to entertain each other.  We'll have a look at the numbers and probably post those details over the weekend.

    Have a Great One!


    October Monthly Spend Report

    Another month has flown by!

    I don't want to get too detailed in commentary around the spending last month - but I do want to share that I am finding this processes is really helping identify our spending trends.  It's fascinating to see the break down like this.  I'll let you see for yourself:

    We certainly eat out and drink more booze then I thought!  It feels like this is an area that we can really reign in.  This includes lunches while at work as well as eating out while traveling.  Travel this month include two trips into British Columbia.  When we do this, there is always going to be some eating out - but this feels high.  Naturally, the grocery's seem low.  
    The wedding category feels high, because it is high.  That would be my engagement ring and the venue deposit. 

    The rest of the categories seem pretty reasonable to me.  Travel was the flight to Vancouver which was subsidized by Air Miles.

    If we don't include the wedding stuff....which tends to make me feel better about the over budget number - we would be over by $931. I attribute the eating out and travel to this....but really, it could also be booze....or other items as well.

    Funny that we didn't spend anything on 'entertainment'


    So far, so good

    My trip so far has been pretty good.  It's been a struggle to adjust to the time difference, even though it's only two hours ahead.  I miss Jordan and my house... the quite is very strange. I'm sure the next couple of days will fly by though.

    Finances wise...

    I had to put my credit card on the room when I arrived, which I wasn't expecting.  So Jordan and I might not be able to pay off the bill right away.  That said, we'll still be able to pay it in full come the due date (the bill just came today).

    My office is right across the street from the hotel I'm in, so I can walk in the mornings which is really nice - but it also means I don't have a reason to take a cab or rent a car.  With no mini fridge in my room - I have to eat out for every meal.  It's not particularly healthy and it's pretty expensive.  I will get reimbursed for it all, but it doesn't feel very responsible.


    I'm Outta here!

    There has been an urgent request to have one of our team members fly out to an office in Ontario to provide some additional support.  Due to a variety of illnesses and emergencies, their office went from six support staff to one, in a week! 

    I'll be taking the red eye on Sunday night, getting to the hotel around 6:00am, hopefully I'll be able to catch a few hours sleep on the flight - because I'll have just two hours to get to work after I get situated.

    It's a pretty great opportunity for me to network, help out another office - and see somewhere new.  Plus I have a cousin who lives in Ontario - so hopefully we'll get to see each other.  I've never been out there before.

    This trip will be like my trip to Saskatoon not to long ago in that I don't have to pay for the flights or the hotel, but I'll have to pay for all food and transportation.  Once I get back, I'll submit all of my receipts for reimbursement.

    I'll definitely be banking some over time this week.  There will be 7.5 hours today coded to travel and then regular working hours 37.50/week to the office i'm supporting.  I'll have another days worth of travel to code when I come home - and then of course any additional OT I do during the week.  My home office and the office I'll be supporting have a couple of hour time difference, so that means that I'll likely still do some work for the home office as well.

    What does that mean?  I'm guessing around 20-25 hours of overtime.

    Today/Monday are going to be very very long days! 


    thoughts on retirement

    tonight, after a great day of talking wedding talk with my mom we started chatting about retirement income.  I'm really not sure how we got on the subject, but at 26 years old - i'm far too concerned about my life 30 years from now.  I get very stressed out thinking about our income in the future, when Jordan and I are both retired.

    One, I worry because Jordan's job does not provide RRSP/Pension matching - and we're currently not really able to contribute to personal RRSPs more than we do now.  I know that will change, and heck, 30 years is a long time - but really, how long is it?

    Do any of you worry about things so far in the future that you can't really plan for them?

    I mean, how am I supposed to know how much income we'll need in retirement?  Who knows what our incomes will look like, what our savings will be and what kind of debt load will have.  Further to that, CPP and OAS are bound to change.  I think they will still exist - but to what extent?

    le sigh.


    Fabulous Friday!

    I hope you all have one!

    It's going going to be a hectic day at work, followed by a bunch of running around and then driving several hours into BC!  It will be so nice once we get there, and hopefully after the weekend is over I'll be able to tell you that we have selected our photographer.


    Pension Commenced!

    October 1, 2010 marks the first pay which my employer starts my pension.  It's a defined contribution pension plan which means that the contributions are set in stone, not the benefit.  The benefit (after I retired) will be based on how well the money does with the investment profile I've selected.

    My employer matches 5% of my gross pay, so a total of 10% - I'm pretty pleased that I'm finally putting 10% away (even if 5% of it is from my employer).  Two years after the plan starts, it will be vested - which means no matter what happens with my employment, I have 100% rights to my company's contriubtions on my behalf.  If I leave any sooner (for whatever reason) - my company will keep it's share.

    While all of this is fantasitc - it puts a bit of a hitch in my pay, and the budget that I posted yesterday.  My take home pay is going from about $1450/bi-weekly to $1320/bi-weekly - a take home reduction of $260/month.  Now, don't get me wrong, I've been wanting this for a long time, it just means some re-planning.

    As you can see at the bottom, we're going to be down about $220. We already wrote our mechanic the cheque, and I defn. want to pay our credit card bill off in full.

    We do have about that mutch in the wedding fund - and as the c/c bill is mostly my ring anyways - I'm thinking I may pull money from there to cover the overage.

    I know that we could fiddle with some of the planned spending/savings - but everything is automated, so it would be a big pain to have to stop all payments and then restart them again.

    What do you think?


    October Budget

    As we're just a couple of days away, I thought I would put up our budget for October.

    This month has five pay days, which is why the income section is higher than normal.

    The cell phone bills and enmax are guesses based on previous use - and I update these as the bills come in throughout the month.

    whoo hoo! My insurance went down by about $30/month!

    Jordan and I changed our allowances to be $25/week instead of $100/week.  Which means that our planned spending (aka, planned master card bill) will be a bit higher.  As you can see above, I'm going to start out budgeting for $1,500.

    Yup....it's a big mastercard bill.  But we can pay it off, in full!

    We had some work done to my car over the past couple of weeks.  This amount pays that bill.


    Catch Up!


    It has been so so busy lately!  With checking out vendors and spending more time visiting family in the last few weeks then we have in a long time - I haven't had much 'veg' time (or blog time).  So, this is a bit of a catch up post.


    Jordan and I have paid a $500 deposit to secure or vendor and picked up a few things (benches, arbor) to help set the stage on the big day. 

    I love, love, love my ring!  I still can't believe how much we spent on it!  I probably haven't told you the cost yet, but it will be showing up on this months spending summary in a week or so.

    We're going to go to BC this coming weekend to see the venue and meet with a couple of photographers.  I'm hoping to also squeeze in seeing a DJ.


    So my car has needed more and more repairs.  I told you about the hit & run that I got into - so there were some repairs there.  My gear shift was acting funny and my e-break wasn't working - so that had to get fixed to.  Plus my blower for hot air finally got fixed (let me tell you, Alberta winters have been really cold on my feet).

    I don't have the final bill yet, but e-mailed my mechanic asking if we can get that sorted out sooner rather than later.


    I have loved visiting family all over the place!  Naturally, our gas bill is going up some - but that's just fine because we get to visit to many people.  We went to the Vancouver, BC area last weekend to visit some of Jordan's family which was nice.  We were able to use our air miles so a nearly $900 flight cost only $350 plus $100 of random expenses.  So - was it money we had?  Not necessarily, but the trip was priceless.  We hadn't visited this part of Jordan's family for probably a year or more - so it was time.

    Work/Professional Designation - CHRP

    I've applied for some funding to get my CHRP this year, I'm really hoping it goes through! The first exam will cost $262.50 plus $367.50 for a study workshop and falls in May, 2011.  The second exam costs $525.00 and the working shop is another $367.50.

    Before I could even consider registering for these exams I had to become a HRIA member (Human Resources Institute of Alberta).  The registration fees cost $137.81 for the remainder of the year - I'll have to pay the whole fee come January, 2011.

    The first exam is The National Knowledge Exam ® (NKE) which consists of 150 multiple choice questions. Each question lists four possible answers, only one of which is correct. The exam is based on academic knowledge of major human resources functions. The passing grade is 70%.

    The second exam is The National Professional Practice Assessment ® (NPPA) assesses one’s understanding of the RPCs (registered professional capabilities) as they relate to experiential knowledge. Experiential knowledge is implicit and much more difficult to quantify or describe effectively. It refers to the wisdom gained from experience and insight in applying academic knowledge to actual or simulated situations.

    So there's everything in a nutshell, I hope you've been having a good week!


    Budget Blues

    I was talking to my mom last night about our wedding budget, and realized that there are still several items that we forgot to include.  Part of this realization comes from an amazing gift from my grandmother.  She wants to take care of a weeks worth of accomodation following the wedding for our Honey Moon.

    Back up, a honey moon?  That's not on the budget.

    So, on top of a honeymoon, we're also missing:
    • Wedding Bands
    • Stamps
    • Hair/Makeup
    • Favours

    ahh well, it's a learning experience that's for sure!  We'll get it organised before too long. 


    Hit & Run

    I would like to tell you that the title of today's post is some sort of clever way of describing exactly what it's not.  However; that's not the case.  A week ago Monday, I was driving to work and a transport truck changed two lanes and moved directly into me!

    I saw him coming and was able to brake (thankfully no one was behind me), but he still hit my driver's side mirror.  He managed not to take it right off, but it bent backwards.

    Considering what happened, I came out fairly unscathed.  I caught the license plate number as well as the 1-800-how's my driver number.  Armed with those, I called and reported the hit and run to the local police.  The guy who owns the fleet is happy to pay for the costs to repair this - thankfully, we won't have to go through insurance.  It costs more and takes longer.

    I got a quote done by my mechanic yesterday, and it's going to cost just under $500 for the part and the labour to get the job done.  While we have enough in our emergency fund to cover this, I'm so glad we don't have to use it!


    Busy Weekend!

    We had a great last weekend of summer!  Did you?

    Friday was pretty low key, but Saturday we hosted a 'last hurrah' BBQ.  Lots of Hotdogs, Burgers & Beer!  We went from 2pm until about 2am.  I love casual nights like those.  They are inexpensive, when compared to a night out on the town - plus, it's a great way to catch up with friends.

    On Sunday, my parents came into the city for a drive so we got to vist with them for a few hours.  We talked about a whole pile of things (wedding talk) and I was able to share some apple crisp I had made that morning. 


    I love having an apple tree in my back yard!! Though, last year, my apples were ready the first week of September.  This year, they just finally were ready
    this week! 

    This year, the apples are bigger than they have been in previous years too - which is a nice treat!

    Links ♥