Guest Post: Finance 101: Building An Emergency Savings Fund

Jessie's note: The author mentions America, and while you all know that I'm Canadian, I beleive that the themes he talks about are applicable in all of North America.

The fact is that most Americans will earn several million dollars during the course of their professional careers.  That is a lot of money!!  Unfortunately, very few will actually retire comfortably, but the truth is that it is rarely ever due to not making enough money.  Usually, it is due to improperly managing the money one does make.
The truth is that managing money in a frugal manner in America is a very hard thing to do!  It is a real challenge to cut back on spending when our American culture is based on consumerism.  Every day all day long we are constantly bombarded with advertisements and marketing efforts that are shrewdly focused on bilking us out of our hard-earned cash.  But the good news is that with some determination and discipline, a person can break out of the consumer-based money-management behaviors that cause many Americans to not save.  No matter how deep your financial hole is, you can get out!

There are two primary poisons that try to kill our financial progress—debts and reckless spending.  Reckless spending can be cured immediately with the proper amount of personal will, but debts, of course, must be paid off over time.  The first step to personal financial success is determining to cut back on your spending.  A budget is 100% essential.  The second step is to address your debts.  Most Americans have a high level of credit card debt, and these must be addressed immediately.  The first step in addressing them is to stop using them!  The personal finance success formula is simple—cut back on spending, stop using credit cards, build up an emergency savings account, and then use excess savings that are a result of decreased spending to pay off debt.  It really is that simple.  Implementing this formula is where the difficulty is.

In this article, we are discussing the importance of building an emergency savings fund.  Most personal finance experts agree that there should be at least $1,000 in this account.  This account serves one major purpose.  It is designed to help you never use credit cards for unexpected expenses.  If the car gets a flat tire, or you have an unexpected doctor visit that requires a co-pay, or any other unexpected expense occurs, you should always have a small cushion of savings that can finance these expenses.  This will not only give you peace of mind, but it will also help to solidify your progress of not accumulating any more debt.

An emergency savings fund should be built before you jump headlong into paying off credit cards, college loans, car loans, and the mortgage.  Once you cut back on expenses, you should direct that extra money toward building the $1,000 emergency fund.  The easiest way to cut back on expenses is to keep track of all your expenses for one month by logging them in either a journal or an Word or Excel file.  Then, at the end of the month take an honest and objective look at where you are spending your hard-earned money.  A little common sense will make it clear where you are spending too much money.

As unexpected expenses arise, you can then dip into your emergency savings to make ends meet.  When you have to make a withdrawal to cover an expense, then your next objective should be to build your savings back up to $1,000 as soon as possible.  Building and faithfully maintaining this emergency savings fund should not be seen as an “option.”  It really is essential that you have a financial buffer in place to help in time of need.


Great Feedback!

Thank you to all the commenters for the feedback on the first draft of our potential house budget.  I'd like to summarize some of the comments here, and open the door for any others.  Quite a few folks had questions as well as suggestions, so I'll address those as well.
  • Increase house maintenance budget by $100
    • Our thinking in having the house maintenace budget at $100 was that it may be enough b/c before we move in we're planning on 40-60K worth of renovations, so we'll be starting out on a good footing.  That said, this may be something to look at if there's enough wiggle room in the budget.
  • Don't forget about home owners insurance
    • THANK YOU!
    • WE Totally forgot about this.  I'll call to get a quote next week to fit this in.
  • What about vehicle maintenance?
    • This is part of our $500/month planned spending category
  • What about vet bills?
    • This is part of our $500/month planning spending category
    • Horses actually have very few day to day expenses, and I administer all of her vaccinations
    • We are planning on buying a dog however, and forgot to plan for that in this first draft!
  • What about medical expenses?
    • Our benefits cover our medical expenses
    • If there are any additionals (which would be rare) it would come out of our $500/month planned psending
  • How do you pay for your cell phones?
    • Our allowances pay for these
  • You have really big allowances, what do you have to pay for using those?
    • Personal care (make up, hair cuts etc.)
    • Our cell phone bills
    • Lunches at work
    • Gifts for each other
    • Personal trips w/ friends
    • Hobbies
  • How come your gift budget is so high?
    • For Christmas alone we have 18 groups of people to buy for
    • There is also a significant amount of travel around Christmas, so we budget high to take in account for that as well
  • Have you thought about gardening once you own your own home?
    • We actually garden now, and do all of the yard maintenance for our place and my aunts place that we're going to be buying.  It's rare we have to buy anything anymore (we have a lot of tools etc.) and if/when we do - it comes out of our $500/month planning spending
  • What about outdoor maintenance?
    • Other than what I mentioned above, I'm not sure what theses costs would be.  But they would be included in the $500/month planned spending.
- We need to account for house insurance
- We need to see if $500/month is realistically enough for all the things I mentioned above that it's intded to cover
- Perhaps we need to look at our allowances and lower them, but then pay for our cell phones through our joint budget (really things would cost the same, just moving how it's orgaised around).

If anyone has any other suggestions, we'll gladly take them.  In a week or two, I'll post another draft budget.

Thank you!


House Budget Help

It may be a tad early, but Jordan and I have come up with a budget for when we are homeowners.  I'd like to share it with you in draft version - I'm hoping that any home owners who read this blog can share with us any insights on what we might be missing.

So, what do you think?

In theory, our incomes will be 5-6% higher and our vehicle insurance will be lower in a years time - but that's not a guarantee.


House Fund Goal

Now that we have a number, Jordan and I can solidify our house fund goal.
  • At least 5% downpayment
  • At least $5,000 closing costs
    • we won't need to pay a realator, but we will have legal fees and I'm sure other things that we don't know about.

So, while we won't be pushing to reach our new goal until after Christmas - we know what it is.

Before anyone comments and says that we ought to have 20% to avoid mortgage insurance, we know that technically we would be better off if we saved $52,500 - but it is simply not realistic.  If we save more than the initial $20,000 - that will be fantastic, but we know that once we have that amount saved, we'll be technically ready to take the next step - that's when we'll talk to my aunt about firming up a timeline.  There is no point doing it any time sooner.

Jordan and I also talked about saving an additional $10,000 cash for things above and beyond the renovations that we will need to do.  These things would include new appliances and any new furniture that we would need.  We will push for this once we hit $20,000.


What's Next?

Now that Jordan and I are debt free, we are going to work on some of our short term goals before we ramp up our house fund.

Coming up right away are our:
  • Christmas Fund
    • Need to get to $1,500 in short order
    • This pays for gifts as well as decorations and extra travel
  • Travel Fund (new)
    • We would like to set aside around $500 for summer travel plans
    • If the house purchase goes through sooner rather than later, this could quickly be absorbed by the house fund
  • Emergency Fund
    • We would like to eventually have about $7,000 tucked away - but for now, I would be happy if we had $1,000.
  • Education
    • Jordan's going back to school
      • This will probably cost $100-$200 for books ect.
    • I'm going to start pursuing my CHRP
      • Over the course of a year, this is going to cost about $1,000
We've decided that education is a joint expense because the benefits (increased income) is a joint reward.


We Have a Number

Jordan and I had a great conversation with my great aunt this weekend about....MONEY.

We showed her the market analysis that was completed on her house and then showed her what we thought a fair market price would be based on the information the real estate agent guy showed us (about $300,000K on the open market - if her home was ready to be sold).

As there is an expectation that my great aunt will leave her home the way it is when she sells which is NOT move in ready.  Renovations would be required as would a lot of cleaning to get rid of the smoke, we started with a range of $250,000 - $275,000, we talked about what Jordan and I could afford and what my great aunt was expecting in terms of the sale of the house.  My Great Aunt told us that the range we were thinking of was the same range she was thinking of.  She suggested a number in between, so $262,500.

She asked us if we could make that work, and we said it would.  We asked her if it was enough money for her to either buy a small condo for herself, or to give her enough money for rent in an assisted living place (she's exploring options right now).  She said that it was absolutely plenty.  She has three healthy pensions as well as a variety of personal savings - she doesn't need the money.

Throughout the entire conversation, I sat next to my Aunt and Jordan sat across from us.  It was important that we didn't overwhelm her by our posture/eagerness.  As  hard as it was, I didn't talk throughout the whole conversation and questions to engage my Aunt.  

Jordan and I went in the conversation knowing that if my Great Aunt wanted over $300,000 or so - it probably would have been a deal breaker - because although her home is in a very desirable neighborhood, you can get a brand new townhouse for about $350,000.  If that was the case, we were fully prepared to still help her on her search for her next home when she's ready and help clean up her place (as best we could w/out investing our own cash) to get it ready to sell.  I think knowing that we didn't HAVE to come out of the conversation with a price or a deal, really made it easier to have a great conversation - and, it wound up working out, because we do have a price.

So, we know what the price will be, what we don't have is a set timeline but we are looking at a range of 8-18 months.



As of today, Jordan and I are 100% debt free!

Jordan and I worked the numbers last night and have decided to manage our credit card based on our billing cycle not necessary our monthly budget.  So our monthly budget will actually include the last three weeks of a month and then the first week of the following month.  When I projected the numbers through to the end of October, there was absolutely no reason for us not to pay of my Alberta Student Loan, TODAY!

I called the student loan people and arranged to have my final payment debited from our joint account today.  It will take a few days to process, but they won't bill me for any additional interest.  We will receive a letter in the mail within the next two weeks that formally recognizes that the debt has been paid.

When we started this Journey we were $20,136.75 in debt.  I previously hadn't included Jordan's debt with mine - and now that I am, it's a seriously impressive number (it's bigger than I thought).  I am absolutely pleased that we were able to pay off this sum in a year and a half.

This is how the original debt broke down:

  • Jessie's Alberta Student Loan: $6,141.75
    • paid August 20, 2010
  • Jessie's Canada Student Loan: $4,495.00
    • paid April 30, 2010
  • Jessie's Credit Card: $4,500 (approximately)
    • paid September 8, 2009
  • Jordan's Credit Card: $500.00
    • paid July 30, 2010
  • Jordan's Truck Loan: $4,500.00
    • paid May 20, 2010
Thank you so much to all of the readers and blogger's who have provided us with support during this journey. I hope you stay with us as our financial selves grow into home owners, new vehicle purchasers and awesome future money planners.

~Jessie & Jordan~

ING Introduces Thrive

Thrive is ING Directs new chequing account for their Canadian account holders. For all of my American readers - ING's chequing accounts will be old hat to you - but for Canadians, their annoucement of launching a FREE chequing account is a big deal.

Truely free chequing accounts really don't exist in Canada, there's always a catch...or at least there always used to be before Thrive.

Here is a summary of why Jordan and I are thinking about switching, 100% to ING.
  • No monthly fees (deposit, withdraw, transfer - all free)
  • Free, unlimited bill payments and transactions
  • Free first chequebook
  • Free monthly online statements
  • PAYS INTEREST (0.25%)
  • 24/7 Live Support
  • Has ING's industry-leading security guarantee
  • Free e-mail alerts
  • Free ABM access the exchange network...(there are only two ABMS in my city we could use....but who pays with cash these days anyways...)
  • All Interac® transactions are free
  • Free Whoops! Protection
    • ING will 'front' each account holder up to $250 in FREE overdraft protection
    • You are given 30 days to bring your balance to $0 or above or you are billed $2.50 for every 30 days the blance is under $0
  • Free E-mail money transfers
  • You can get draft/certified cheques
That is a pretty impressive FREE list!!!  Given that Jordan and I currently have three chequing accounts with CIBC and each costs $12.99/month - switching to Thrive accounts could potentially save us $467.64 a YEAR!.

If any of my readers don't have accounts with ING but would like to, I encourage you to check out there site at http://www.ingdirect.ca/en/.  If you sign up, please feel free to use my referral code: 17396382S1.  If you open an ING account and deposit $100 or more, I'll receive a $25 bonus.

I would really like to hear from all of my American readers who already use ING's chequings accounts - do you love it or do you hate it?


Joint Credit Card - Over Spending

okay...so this is the first month using our joint credit card and we still have 12 days left...and we've wayyy over spent.  We've over spent by about $500 already!

okay okay, it's actually $484.90 (that includes the $180 from our vacation)


There are a couple of problems so far:
  • We actually started using the credit card during the end of July for about a week 
  • The billing cycle is not month to month, so we've already paid the first bill
For those folks that use a credit card and budget monthly - how do you manage paying your credit card bill?  Do you pay it when you get it, or do you pay at the end of the month whatever you've allotted?


I Heart Employer Paid Benefits

I truly do.

About a year ago or so ago Jordan and I claimed each other as common-law spouses on each others employer paid benefit plans - and I've finallly taken advantage of it.

I usually wear glasses, but every so often I would rather wear contacts as an option.  I went through the fitting rig-a-marole ($35) and then bought 90 days worth of contacts ($144).  Because I wear them so sporatically 90 days worth of single use contacts, will likely last me the whole year.

We filled out the vision claim form the night before last, and Jordan's going to submit it tomorrow...tomorrow b/c I forgot to give it back to him and it's sitting in my purse w/ receipts.

We're submitting to his benefits plan first b/c I've used the available vision benefit with my employer's plan already on my glasses - hopefully that's okay and they don't make us submit to them aways - get the formal rejection and then submit to Jordan's employers.

We shall see.


Market Assessment Complete

Most readers know by know that Jordan and I are saving to buy our first home.  Only readers who have been around for some time know that we're looking to buy my aunts home when she decides to move.

Her timeline is vague (anywhere from 3 to 18 months), but it's in both our best interests to start to hammer out the eventual price.  It's important so that we know if Jordan and I can actually afford to buy her home; because if not, we'll start looking at new builds (townhouses/condos).

it's a bit dark - but here is a picture:

So, our first step was to have a market assessment done.  It's actually best if we get two done (us and her) to make sure that it's fair.  The real estate agent we found came up with a recommended listing price range of $375,000 to $391,000.

Jordan immediately thought that the number was wayyyy to high.  To give you a picture, the house has been lived in for 30 years by two chain smokers (now only one) and hasn't had a single reno/update done.  My aunt, when she moves - wants to leave the place as is.  Not only is she a smoker, but a bit of a collector (not quite hoarder-style, but she does have a lot of stuff). We anticipate required renovation costs to be between $65-80,000.

Upon going through the report, I've found that the majority of the homes in it have had lots of renovations including: finished basements, hardwood floor, new counter tops, new bathrooms, new kitchens etc.  My Aunts doesn't have those things - it needs those things. I've summarize the report he gave us and found 3/29 listings to be close compartitives.

you'll notice right away there's two duplicates.  I believe this is because they were listed and failed to see and then listed again at a later date.

So - if you look at the actual comparative homes, there's an average price of about $305K - which is much more reasonable (and actually my first gut response when thinking about how much I would pay was $300K). When we described the report to my grandfather (who has been a general contractor for nearly 40 years, if not longer) he thought about $290,000 sounded good.

Jordan feels that starting at $250,000 (because my aunt loooves to negotiate) would be good and then we can go through the report and suggest she still get her own done.  

It gives us a great place to start and we are feeling pretty good about it.

Our next steps include:
  • talking to my aunt
    • talk about money
    • talk about a timeline
  • suggesting she get a second market analysis done
  • get a bank assessment done
    • to find out how much of a mortgage we could actually get for the property
  • ramp up our savings


Allowances at Work

I think this whole allowances 'thing' is really working.

During one of our excursions while on our camping/cabin-ing trip we wound up shopping.  I bought two new great sweaters (total was $55.68) and a new bathing suit (total was 65.53).  I also bought a couple of albums on iTunes (total was $19.96).

I used my credit card for these purchases, and the grand total is $141.17.  I'm going to pay the $41.17 now, which will leave me about $40 for the rest of the week.  I'll pay the remaining with next Friday's $100 allowance.

I don't know Jordan's exact balances, but I think that he is enjoying having the allowance too - we always know how much we have to spend w/out worrying about it.


Family Emergency

So, while we were on our trip we had a family emergency.  I won't get into the details, but my grandma had to go to the hospital on Thursday and has to stay until at least Monday to get some tests done.

We made a few extra trips back and forth from the cabin to the hospital and ate out more than we would have otherwise - all in all a low-cost emergency.  That said, it is what the e-fund was meant for.

I've transferred $150 from our emergency fund into our joint account to cover some of the extra cost.  Once all the transactions go through from the weekend, we'll have a better idea about if that's enough (it should be close enough).

Even before this fam-emergency, Jordan and I realized we didn't actually plan very well (if at all) for our week away.  So for the next two weeks, it's going to be movies and WOW for us - no more extra spending.  Otherwise, paying off my student loan is in jeopardy.


Guest Post: Getting Out of Debt - A Success Story

This guest post is written by Jason Holmes. He is a regular writer with Debt Consolidation Care and is also a contributory writer with other financial sites. His expertise is woven around various aspects of the debt management industry and with his e-books he tries to impart to people the different situations and simple solutions to get out of difficult situations. Some of his works include e-books like 'Credit Score The Quintessential Therapy for a Happy Pocket', Take Creditors and Collection Agencies to Small Claims Court' and, My Story- From Depression To a Smile'.

With god's grace I am leading a peaceful life for the past few years. I have a lovely wife, beautiful children and no financial problems. But things were much different 2 years ago. I was deep in financial crisis and had a lot of bills to pay off. The creditors were threatening to sue me. In short, my life was a complete mess.  

I got married at the age of 21 and had a son within a year. Being a student with a low paying job made it very difficult for me to support my family. I needed quick cash. But instead of looking for a better job, I started using all of my credit cards. I hardly had money to pay the bills and within a few months my credit card bill amount was around $60,000. But my problems didn't end there. My son had a hole in his heart. The doctors were of the opinion that he needed immediate treatment. If any of you have been through this situation, you must be aware that such a treatment requires a lot of money. The total medical bill was around $50,000. I borrowed from my friends and paid $25,000. Still, I owed $25,000 to the hospital authority. So, things were getting out of hand! 

My credit score was going down with each passing day. I was having regular fights with my wife. Out of the two of us, she is the sensible one. She kept advising me that I should look for a secondary source of income until I get a better job, and start making payments to the creditors. But I kept ignoring her. My wake up call came on that day when one of my creditors threatened to sue me. I realized that I needed to do something to get out of this situation, as I had a family to take care of.  

I started thinking of the ways to get out of this mess. My total credit card bill amount was $60,000. The medical bill amount was $25,000 and I didn't have sufficient amount of money. I knew that the creditors won't work with me unless I could pay them what they asked for. So, I started looking for better jobs and this time I did get one in just 15 days! My wife is an excellent cook. She started selling home-baked cookies to the neighborhood. This increased our monthly income to around $15000. 

I realized that even if I made the minimum monthly payments on each credit card, it would not be possible to wipe out such a huge amount of bills. My wife asked me to contact creditors and I did so. I requested them to lower the payoff amount. But they refused to do so. One of my best friends suggested that I enroll with a settlement company and I followed what he said. The consultant at the settlement company was successful in negotiating down the credit card bills up to 40%. So, I had to pay around $36,000.  

The counselor told me to save as much money as possible and I did so. I stopped using credit cards, tried to save on my utility bills, made a budget and stuck to it. I also found a part-time job. Believe me, I was able to pay off the outstanding balance within a year.  

Once, I have paid the credit card bills, I contacted the hospital authority and requested them to forgive a portion of the medical bill. The management was kind enough to forgive $10,000. I saved every penny and paid off the remaining debt within 3 months. A heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders the day I paid off my bills completely. I realized that hard work and determination can indeed help one get rid of financial problems.   


Joint Spending Update

I spent an hour or so on Wednesday morning sorting out how much Jordan and I had spent so far with our joint credit card... I had a feeling it was creeping up faster than perhaps we had intended it to.  We did know, that our first month would be the hardest though.

So, currently the balance owing is $1,298.94.

I will be reimbursed for $313.44 for my trip to Saskatoon and $144 for contact lenses that I bought and wrote a cheque for $180 to cover our food and cabin expenses for our vacation.

So, we have $178.50 'left' to spend, before we hit our budget cap of $1,200.


Camping Costs

So last night we had a family conversation about how we were going to pay for the week of having a cabin on a beach.  A few of us had made some assumptions and didn't ask enough questions (namely me), which is fine because my family is a great one to learn in.

While money isn't talked about, as a general rule, I should have known to ask how we were going to pay for everything.

We wound up counting tent days as half as a cabin day (so Jordan and I sleeping in a tent and my cousin and her friend outside wouldn't pay as much  as our mom's and grandma sleeping in the cabin).  It is fair however; for us to chip in some because we're using the amenities of the cabin (like the shower, the kitchen, the bathroom...etc.)

Food on the other hand we figured should just be divided up based on the total number of days each person has stayed.

I won't get into allll the details, but we wound up talking about it for a solid hour or so.  Jordan excused himself outside, I think in part because it's my family - but also because he shy's from heavy money conversations in general.

At the end, Jordan and I wound up contributing $100 for the total cabin bill of $980 and $80 for groceries (which, so far is exactly our 'fair' share).  There might be more groceries that we wind up buying - but we'll handle that when we run out of food.  If we want more booze (which I think we might) that's up to each group of people to handle.


Non-Sufficent Funds

So...we're camping - but we do have Internet and e-mail access.

I was checking my online banking and realised that our newest roommates rent/utility cheque bounced!  This is as I'm re-configuring if we can pay of my student loans this month, so needless to say I was pretty shocked that we were missing $585!

We (relatively) calming sent new roommates (who's17) mom an e-mail.  We explained succinctly what had happened and asked for payment as quickly as possible.

We got a phone call from roommates mom at about 6pm this evening apologizing for the mix up.  She sent us an e-mail money transfer which came through at around 10:30pm.  So - fixed the same day, as far as ass ups go, we're pretty happy with the quick resolution.

We did mention to the mom (and she agreed) that e-mail money transfers would be the preferred way to handle bills going forward - so this shouldn't happen again.

* le sigh.

can we just buy a fricken house already?


Business Expenses

My trip to Saskatchewan was spectacular!

The flights there and back were seamless and the cabs were available and helpful.  The local office was welcoming and I was able to get a tonne of training and work done while I was there.

I wound up spending a total of $308, this included my hotel stay, four cab rides, breakfast and a lunch.  I went out for dinner and that cost $65 (yeah, I know - for one person...pretty ridiculous...but that includes a good tip and two glasses of expensive wine...that I was planning on paying for myself)...so back to that $65...when I was checking out of the hotel the person asked how my night was.

Well, I'm a strong believer that if you don't want to know the answer, don't ask the question.

I told the hotel - rep - lady that It wasn't very good.  I didn't get to sleep until 2:00a.m. because my neighbor had traffic all evening and that i could hear street traffic all night (not normal street traffic - it was loud honking/screeching-type).  That plus the entire hotel was undergoing renovations and were still charging their normal price.

I was not impressed.

I told her it was unlikely I would stay there again.

She asked if there was anything she could do.  I responded (legitimately not in an ass-type way) that I didn't know if there was.  As I had  charged my meal to the room, she said she could take that off the bill.  I said that would be fine and I appreciated it.

I really did...and I'll probably stay there again.

...Funny part of this little story: I got back to my home office and told my boss about it.  He laughed....apparently subtlety is not on my lists of strengths....but also they are okay with that.

I submitted my expenses on Friday and will get reimbursed on my August 20, 2010 pay day.  As that will go into the joint account, I used our joint CC to pay for everything (yay for bonus AIR MILES).


Going Camping

Jordan and I are gearing up for another week long camping trip! This time we're heading into the middle of BC where there's currently a fire ban :( So we may not need to bring as much firewood as we thought.

We're looking at a total travel time of about six hours, but we're going to stop at my parents place so it won't be straight there.  We're actually going with my parents, grandma and aunt - so should be excellent family time!

Tonight we gassed up the track and bought beer/rum/bottle of wine.  Tomorrow afterwork and Saturday morning we have to:
  • drop off some clothes at the donation spot
  • go to the bottle depot
  • pack our clothes, tent, sleeping gear and colman mini-fridge/plug in cooler
    • then we've got to pack the pickup
That's about it.

Once we get to the local - we'll go grocery shopping w/ the fam.

They are all staying in a cabin, and we'll have a tent - so we don't need to bring any of our cooking or primary camping gear, as we will be cooking w/ them in the cabin.

Hope you all have a great week!


Monday Morning Check Up - On Thursday!

So I'm getting ready to hit the office this morning and I'm really not sure what to write about.  My trip is going really well - but it's not over so I'll wait to share all the expenses.

I thought I would  give My Pretty Pennies and her Monday Morning Checkup post a try, even though it's Thursday.

1. The most I've spent last week?

We spent $114 on groceries on Tuesday....but my hotel bill today is over$250 (but i'm not sure if that counts b/c I'll be reimubrsed).

2. Today I feel good about money.  Things are chugging along nicely and tomorrow all of our joint savings accounts kick into gear which is pretty exiciting.  We had a market anaysis done on my aunts house last night - in in a day or two, we'll get the actually assessment!!

3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free/inexpensive thing I did last week that made me happy was watching movies on the PVR with Jordan...we vegged for pretty much the whole long weekend.  That, and riding my horse.

4. I will consider this week a success if all of the auto-transactions set to start tomorrow actually go through.

5. Would you rather own a lake house, a beach house, or a mountain house?

ohh...Can't my house be on a lake that has a beach in the mountains?  That sounds real nice!
Today I'm grateful for: a sister vacation coming up soon!


Business Trip

Today I get to go on my first ever business trip. Okay, so it's not like I have a very long job history - two years at my current employer and a variety of other summer-style jobs while going to school., but I'm still pretty excited.  I think everyone at work knew too - I talked about it enough.

The travel company that manages all of our travel booked my flights and reserved the hotel .  I will have to pay for the hotel room, cab rides, and food - but it will all be reimbursed.  I just have to keep receipts and submit it when I get back - then I'll get paid on our next pay cheque (it will fall on the August 20, 2010 pay period).

Jordan and I talked about it and decided that I can use our joint credit card.  One, we'll get all the Air Miles from it, and two I'll get reimbursed on my pay that get's deposited into our joint account - so it makes sense because the joint card is paid from the joint account.  I suppose things like business trips are another reason to not reduce the credit card limit that BMO gave us.

I expect to spend about $200-$250 of my own money, and am comfortable with the repayment schedule.  Technically, I could have asked for an advance to cover any expenses - but then, if I owed my company anything - I'd have to write a cheque to them.  So I think I like this scenario better.

The Author over at Small Steps for Big Change has gone on quite a few trips for work - and I've enjoyed reading about them - it also makes me comfortable with this arrangement at work.

So why am I going?

We recently hired a new person for our regional team and she has no resources there, so I am going to show her some of our processes.  Basically how to do what we do and where to go to get it done - it should be pretty good!  My Boss has said if we don't get through everything in the day and a half he'll send me back in a couple of weeks - but we'll play it by ear.


Blogging Income

Do any of you make any?

Since the inception of this blog, I  have made a grand total of $27.35 from AdSense.  As it's such a small amount, I've never requested a payment - and probably won't for the foreseeable future.

I have on the other hand been approached by a few people who have/administer websites and wanted to either put up a guest post with links or have a link under my advertisement link list on the right hand side of this page.  I haven't made a lot of extra money this way but there has been more interest lately.  That said, I never intended my blog to be one that produces an income - I see it as a nice side benefit.  The only advise I can give is to make sure that you have an e-mail address posted on your site so that potential advertisers known how to reach you.

After paypal took their cut and the funds were changed into CAD - my most recent bit of blogging income totals $175.  After moving the money to my main account, I have made an extra student loan payment of the same amount.

My new student loan balance is $2,923.68.

It feels so incredible to have my student loan balance starting with a $2.... when this sucker is paid off...we're so going to celebrate (and it might just be sooner than we think).


Holiday Monday

ahhh...Love a Long Weekend.

Jordan and I have done a whole lot of nothing!  Well, that's not exactly true.  We took my Aunt grocery shoppnig yesterday, watched a tonne of movies, I went horse back riding yesterday evening, and today?  I think today we're planning on doing a bit of grocery shopping for ourselves.

We got our joint credit card in the mail on Friday, and now that it's August we can use it for all of our joint expenses.  Next week, we just need to get Jordan a card of his own and officially on the account.

I hope you are all enjoying your extra long weekend too (if you get one)!

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