Student Loan Update

I ran some projection numbers on our joint account, and if we stick to our budget/spending plan -  we just might be able to pay off my student loan this month....I've talked with Jordan about it, and he is 100% behind us using the joint account to get the loan dealt with.

I currently owe $3,096.81 on my loan and it's at 2.25% interest rate.  In August, my regular student loan payments total $600 - leaving me with approximatively $2,500 owing.

If we stick to our plan, we'll have about $2,400 left over in August - so If I just save about $200 bucks of my own personal allowance - it'll be done.

It would be an incredible achievement...and both Jordan and I want this pretty bad.  So, cross your fingers for us - lets stick to the budget.


Bills are In

Enmax: $214.44
Shaw:   $116.56
Total:    $331.00

We each pay $82.75

Our Enmax bill is exactly $6.00 less than is was last month and  $4.22 less than last August!  Check out my 2009-2010 comparative chart below. There was a bill sanfu in May/June, but other than that it's a good reflection of our usage.


so...I cancelled my WOW subscription.

Not perminently by any means, but I've been playing my DS and my new Wii game that Jordan gave me when I have a few minutes to play a video game - but mostly - I've just been spending so much time outdoors (which is fantastic), so what's the point in continuing to pay $15/month for something I'm not really using right now.

WOW is pretty great in that I can cancel and start my subscription as often as I like, and my characters just get put on hold in their servers.  I don't ever have to start over.

Here is my WOW Character (for those readers that play)...i know there's, what - two of you?


Update and a Question

I was at a bit of a loss for words this morning, but after talking with Jordan this evening, I have a bit of an update for you.

Jordan's banking information was changed a pay period earlier than we thought (for July 31, 2010 instead of August 13, 2010). After a bit of finaggeling (is that even a word) we've managed to get the accounts sorted out. He'll get his first $100 allowance on Friday and the joint account will pay off his Visa - then we'll both be credit card debt free when we go into August.


We still haven't received our joint credit card yet, but we called Mastercard today and they said we should have it in the mail by Friday. If we don't, I told Jordan we can use my credit card as our 'joint' card until it comes.

The one thing I'm really looking forward to is being able to actually track all of our spending now.  But I'm not sure how it will all break down.  I'm thinking groceries, eating out, clothing....'entertainment' - but maybe we should break entertainment down.  Maybe eating out counts as entertainment - I'm not really sure..

  I'm wondering, if you track your spending how do you categorize it?


My Last Bi-Weekly Budget

It's a little anti-climatic but this is my last bi-weekly budget I'll be posting - going forward Jordan and I will have a monthly budget that we post and an end-of-the-month spending re-cap. There will probably be a few posts around our allowances and how their working out as well.

You'll notice that I have none of my normal ING Transfers going through, they've been put on hold until August 6, 2010. What am I doing with the extra money? Paying off my visa bill - it was a bit high due to camping and birthday's this month.

I'll be going into August with zero credit card debt, and looking forward to that.

Joint Emergency Fund Goal

Now that Jordan and I joining our financial selves, we will have to look at some of our goals jointly.  The first goal we looked at was our emergency fund.  It currently has just over $500.  Here is a picture of what jordan and I need to survive each month.

We have set our goal at two months essential expenses.  This is because it is so so so unlikely that we would both lose our jobs at the exact same time, given that we are in very different industries.  We also have other goals in mind right now, like saving to buy a house.  Once we have $5,000 set aside - we can look at this again.



We haven't received anything in the mail as of yet, but I called BMO Mastercard - and I was approved!  The next steps inlucde getting Jordan a card and sorting out what our limit should be.

They actually approved me for: $10,500

Based on the budget we posted earlier in the week, our monthly credit card spending limit should be $1,200.  If we spend more than that - we'll have to take it out of our allowances (or some other such thing - we actually haven't talked about that yet).

When determining what our credit card limit should actually be, I think we should take into account the above as well as our credit utilization. According to many folks who have weighed in on the subject, including Gail Vaz Oxlade - you should never have a balance that is more than 30-35% of your credit limit. 

So, if Jordan and I are planning on spending $1,200/month - our limit should be about $4,000.

Would you reduce your credit lmit, or leave it as is?


Birthday Thanks!

Thanks to everyone who gave me birthday wishes!! It was such a nice treat to have all those comments waiting for me after the weekend.

Jordan gave me a Nintendo DS and a Mario game for my Nintendo Wii - I've played with the DS a lot, but haven't had a chance to play the new Wii game just yet.  My best friend Amy gave me some camping wine glasses and beer mugs and a camping cook book.  There's some interesting recipes in the book about how to use a dutch oven (which I have) to bake over the fire - so I'm excited to try some of those out.

My grandma gave me $75 and my parents gave me $100.  Other than buying myself a pedometer, I have no clue what I 'want' for my birthday.  So, I've stashed the money in my 'JESS Money' fund.  This is sort of like a travel/buying Jordan presents/camping/anything i want to do but don't have the money for - fund.

Joint Credit Card - We Chose!

Before Jordan and I left for our camping trip last week, we submitted an application for a joint credit card.  As it turns out,  it takes a bit of effort to get a joint card.  Only one of us could apply (which we chose me) and then after I'm approved, we'll add Jordan as a secondary card holder.

We went with the BMO GOLD AirMiles Mastercard.

  • 1 AIR MILES reward mile for every $15 in card purchases
  • Earn 1,000 reward miles - enough for a flight (apply by July 31, 2010)
  • Double reward miles at Shell 3, National Car Rental & Alamo Rent A Car
  • Exclusive 25% discount on all AIR MILES flights worldwide
  • BMO Travel Protection including Collision Damage Waiver coverage for car rentals
We felt the the AIR MILES (especially the 1000 mile bonus the first year) was totally worth the $99/annual fee. After the first year, if it's no longer worth it - we'll switch to a no fee card.


To Do List Update:


  • Truck Insurance
  • RRSP
  • Payroll
  • Car Insurance
    • I submitted the change, but not sure if they received it yet
  • Student Loan payments
    • I submitted the change, but not sure if they received it yet
  • Payroll
  • Horse Board
  • Merging our Air Miles accounts
    • I've printed the forms, but Jordan needs to sign and we need 'proof' that we're common law.....
  • Renew my CAA membership and add Jordan on to the plan

Joint Budget Update

Jordan and I have settled on a workable joint budget.  It's bound to change after the first couple of months, but this is what we're going to work with for now.

Since posting our first run at the budget, we've made a few adjustments:

- A 'something for later' fund has been introduced.  This is joint savings for larger purchases.  This could be anything from a BBQ to a Quad to a trailer...or any other thing.

- Annual Expenses are now allotted for.  Our annual expenses include: Costco membership, CAA membership, Tennants insurance, vehicle registration

- We increased the allotment for gas to $250 - which is a bit more realistic than the $200 we had before.

- All non negotiable items will be auto-withdrawn (or cheques written) from the joint acount (except for groceries/house)
- If items are highlighted in yellow, they have a joint ING account
- We will use our joint credit card for our annual expenses (they are never more than $150 at a time)
- We will use our joint credit card for groceries and household purchases (cleaners etc), gas, and all other joint purchases (I detailed what's joint and what's personal in yesterday's post)


What Counts?

...as a joint expense?

As you know, Jordan and I are in the process of merging our financial-selves into a joint, more organized unit.  We got into a discussion this past weekend, with my mom, about what counts as a joint expenses.  The list we have so far, is by no means exhaustive.  As Jordan said, somethings will be decided as they come up - that said, here's what we have so far:

  • Beer
  • Movies (renting or the theater)
  • Eating out
  • Camping Trips
  • Joint Hobbies (or trying new hobbies)
  • Pets (currently we maintain two fish tanks, but we will eventually have a dog too)
  • Vehicle maintenance (includes windshield wipers, oil changes etc.)
  • Gardening (tools, seeds etc)
  • All things holiday decor (halloween, vday etc).
Our current monthly budget for all of these things is $500.

...as a personal expense? 

Jordan and I will each get $100/week for our personal expenses.  Personal expenses are just that, personal.  They include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:
  • Personal hobbies
  • Lunches at work 
  • Clothes
  • Glasses (for me)
  • Gifts for each other
  • World of Warcraft subscription
  • Ancestry.com subscription


All Set up....for the most part

We arrived back in the big city mid-afternoon today, I always want to stay visiting my family longer - but I always wind up feeling good that we got home in the daylight too.  We got all of our camping gear cleaned and put back into storage and Jordan bought a pizza for supper - that was a nice treat.

We watched The Bounty Hunter (which was hilarious by the way) and then I got down to business.  For the last hour and a half or so I have been preparing for our August 6th, 2010 - joint budget live date.

I've set up just about all of our atuomatic transfers - which we decided would be on a weekly basis (instead of bi-weekly or monthly) to align with our pay days.  Even with all that work, we still have quite a few things to do before we go live. We have to change banking information to the joint account for the following things:
  • Jordan
    • Truck Insurance
    • RRSP
    • Payroll
  • Jessie
    • Car Insurance
    • Horse Board
    • Student Loan payments
    • Payroll
A few other things on the to-do list include:
  • Merging our Air Miles accounts.  I used my account number to sign up for the CC - so we'll merge Jordan's number w/ mine
  • Renew my CAA membership and add Jordan on to the plan


It's My Birthday

Today, I am 26 years old.

I'm not sure what this next year will bring, but I am looking forward to it.  I'm in the process of developing some new personal, health and career - orientated goals.  Once I have them all sorted - I'll share them with you here.


Student Loan Update

It is a little awkward to see, but I wanted to share with your the progress on my Alberta Student Loan.  At the time I captured this image, my $300 payment on July 9, 2010 hadn't been processed yet.  When it does, my total amount owing will be $3393.26.  That means I have about 11 and a half payments left!  


Joint Account Balance Update

Jordan and I will likely be combining our accounts during the first pay period or two of August, but until then - I thought I would have a look at the current balance in our joint account. I am pleased to share that with a fourth roommate, our joint account balance has increased.  I am most comfortable when there is at least a full months rent in the account ($1,350). We're not quite there yet - but certainly on our way.


Gone Camping

Jordan and I are leaving town this morning to go on a week long camping trip!  We'll be heading out to the wilds of BC for a wonderful eight/nine days!  I'm so looking forward to this. It's going to be great to spend the time with my family and Jordan and it will be a break from work.  Where we are going we have no cell/internet service - so I CAN'T check e-mails/facebook - or anything else.

When we go camping like this with my family, we usually (and have this time) split up the grocery shopping between us.  This saves on waste and then no one has to spend too much more $$ then someone else.  I anticipate the grocery bill to be between $100-$150 and then probably another $50 or so on beer.  That will leave me with about $100 for gas - which should be plenty.  Jordan will also have some cash, but I'm not sure what's left from our last camping trip (last weekend).

I have written a few posts that will go live throughout the week (like this one), but I won't be able to moderate them.  As I'm still getting some spam comments, I'd prefer just to accept all comments when I get back.  Please don't let that stop you from leaving notes - I love reading each and every one of them.

* the picture above is from our camping trip on the July long weekend.


Bi-Weekly Budget

July 9, 2010 - Bi-Weekly Budget

Things are coming along nicely. I'm  happy that all of my 'funds' are slowly starting to increase again - though I'm not sure exactly what to do with all my baby pots of money when Jordan and I join forces.  I am thinking I'll keep everything in one pot as a 'me/backup' fund.  We'll see.

I have half a tank of gas still, so I think that $300 should be plenty for the next two weeks.

I have a $150 visa payment this week.  This includes my last cell phone bill (approx $50) and a few other odds and ends.  I currently have a balance of $462.90 - which is not so bad.  As long as I don't use it during the next two weeks, I should be able to wipe out the balance on my next pay day (crossing my fingers).

I think it would be easier for both Jordan and I if we had $0 credit card balances when we join everything.


Roommate Update

Our new roommate has been slowly moving in over the last couple of days and appears to have settled in.  We have talked overly much - but he seems like a really genuine and busy person.  I hope he statys that way for his ten month stay with us.  We'll have to chat to his parents about how they want to organize utility and rent payment, but i suspect they will opt for e-mail money transfers.

They shouldn't cost the receipient (us) anything, and it's convienient for them!  We would of course also take cheques if they preferred. 

I recently re-arranged the billing cycle for Shaw, so they could do one transfer with rent and utilities on the same one (so they aren't paying the fee twice a month).  That's what our current roommate does and it works well.  Once the end of the month rolls around, I'll send them an e-mail to discuss how they want to arrange everything.


Credit Cards

There are far too many options.  I spent a good couple of hours last night perusing the internet in search of the best card for us - but I'm getting a tad bit overwhelmed.  I thought it might help if I right out the though process I'm going through and get any feedback you might have.

Step One.  Identify what we want out of a card
  1. Low Interest Rate
  2. Rewards
  3. Cash Back
  4. No Annual Fee
Jordan likes no annual fee, but he also likes free stuff (his words).  I'm comfortable with an average interest rate (which seems to be around the 19% mark) because we're not planning on carrying a balance.  We don't spend enough money to make cash back seem like a valuable option. 

Step Two. Identify Rewards Programs we are already involved in/interested in
  1. AIR MILES (we shop at Safeway and Shell b/c of the airmiles)
  2. Areoplan (but we so don't use this)
  3. Petropoints (I collect them but don't do anything with them)
Step Three. List All Airmiles reward cards that have no annual fee

*there may be others, but I can't find them if they exist

Step Four. Choose a card

Okay - this is where it gets a bit tricky.  My brain hurts, and I'm really not sure which card would be the best one.  I don't like the looks of the BMO Gold card b/c if it's nasty annual fee - but it feels like a toss up between the other three.

Which would you choose, or is there something we're not thinking of?


The BMO Gold Mastercard is now offering 1000 bonus reward air miles for signing up.  That's the one with the $99/annual fee. 

I also just found a calculator that shows how many AIR MILES you would earn with each card on an annual basis. If we spent $1,000 on the card (realistic) and $100 with the card each at shell each month we would get 864 AIR MILES with the Gold BMO card and 630 with the regular BMO card for the year The difference of 234 miles -might be worth something, but I'm not sure it's worth $99/year fee.

Considering redeeming miles for Cineplex movie passes - you get two for 175 miles and that is worth about $25.  The extra value in the reward miles is only about $35.  That said, the 1000 bonus miles would be worth about $125.  




It has been a bustling last few days!  Jordan and I went camping for the Canada Day long weekend in BC. We found a beautiful spot that used to be a local hang out but has been a bit revitalized.  It's now very welcoming and clean - and only 30 minutes from my parents place (which was handy given that we forgot pillows).  There was a lot of work that went into preparing for this trip because it was the first camping trip of the year - and of course an equal amount of work to come home and clean up.

It was a bit of a trial run because we are planning a week long trip next week!

Yesterday was Jordan's 27th birthday!  We went out to a favorite pub and spend the afternoon having a few beers with some good friends.  After that, I took him to see Karate Kid in theater.  It was pretty good!

I won't share how much the last few days cost for two reasons.  Jordan and I have been paying for things back and forth - and some things I don't want him to know :)  I will say that we're still in good shape and are still moving forward towards a joint budget.

Our next step on that front is to update our budget based on your feedback last week and to investigate the best joint credit card for us.  Does anyone have any advise on that?



It's that time again...bill time.

Enmax for June (will be billed i n : $220.44
Shaw for June: $94.73

Sub- Total = 315.17
Total Each = $105.06

A Few Notes:

Shaw is less this month then it has in previous ones because I changed the billing cycle.  I wanted the enmax bill and Shaw bill to line up closer to billing dates and thus when they have to be paid.  This will work better when we have roommates moving out on the first, we'll have the bills in before then.

Looking at what we were billed for each month (each month that we were billed was for the previous months usage), there is a consistent reduction in the amount we are paying which means - we're using less!

The only discrepancy's here were from the May and June bills. This is because we were over billed in May and then June was a correction.  For more reading on how much fun that was check out my post last month.


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