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.

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