On Vacation!

It's officially started - Jordan and I are on vacation.  For the next two weeks, Jordan and I will be hanging out in beautiful british columbia.  Our roommates are taking care of the house - and I think it will be a great break for both of us as we get used to living together.  It's been a good start to the living arrangements - a few hiccups, but thats all settled now and I think we're in a good place moving forward.

It's 8am (ish), and I'm sitting on the couch enjoying my first cup of coffee - Aries (one of my dogs) is at my feet,  my mom is gearing up to make home made buns and all in all - it feels like a pretty awesome way to start the week.

As a follow up to my last post - my overtime pay came through and I was also pleasantly surprised by a $600 bonus.  I usually get around $1,000 but wasn't expecting anything at all this year - so wahoo!  Sure, after taxes it was closer to $380 - but still pretty awesome!  This Thursday we should see Jordan's final pay and vacation pay - his employer basically told us if they weren't organized that he wouldn't get his vacation pay until two weeks following - but we've done everything we can to hand-hold them through this process....so we'll see.


End of The Year Income

As the days left in December tick away Jordan and I have started to solidify our income transition plans from his bi-weekly pay schedule to his new twice/monthly pay schedule.  He has approximately $4,500 worth of vacation owing to him that will be paid out, and I have 30 hours of overtime that I have requested be paid out.  As Jordan has hit his CPP/EI maximum's, I expect that after taxes the vacation will  net about $3,000 and my OT will net about $650.  We also just received the second portion of December's rent ($300) so it looks like we're in fairly good shape to ride out whatever changes come our way.  

My mouse trigger finger just wants to sweep that $$ onto our debt, but the plan is to hold strong until mid-January to feel out our 2014 cash flow strategy first.


December Networth

Well, here it is - our final net-worth post for 2013.  We started this year at $16,938 and wound up at $74,198!  An incredible increase of $57,260!

The biggest factor you'll recall, is that we built our garage, deck and fence - all which significantly increased our homes market value.

We also made big gains in RRSP/Pension savings and purchased 100 shares through my work - which have already increased in value.

I am so proud of our accomplishments and look forward to the coming year where hopefully we can break through the 100K barrier!

Here's a breakdown of where the assets and debt are currently sitting.

While we still owe more on both vehicles than their trade in value - I'm comfortable with this because of the 'off the lot' phenomena.  We like new vehicles - with new vehicle smell...and (knock on wood) - these two will last us a long time.

RRSPs, Pension, and Shares have all grown significantly where planned spending has had it's ups and downs.

Our checking account has a healthy buffer which serves as our own overdraft protection - something that has been nice to have and as we move forward with Jordan's new career - a must have.

Since buying our house a little less than two years ago - we have paid down 4.43% of it - a mere $15,457.  We've sure paid a lot more than that in interest - but it is going down bit by bit.  We've toyed with increasing our weekly payments and while I'm not ready to do that just yet - it's something that is certainly on the horizon.

We have only paid down 2.73% of the Kia - as a very recent purchase we've only had a few payments so far.  The Escape on the other hand is down 40.40% of what we financed and I'm confident we're going to make a lot of progress with that loan in 2014.

Finally - our line of credit.  What we once thought would be a $10,000 limit to help coverage overages on our backyard project, turned into a $40,000 limit for several of life's incidentals.  Sitting on the LOC now is:

  • $900 in online courses (crossing my fingers for reimbursement)
  • $2,6179.50 for the first phase of Jordan's dental work (to be reimbursed)
  • $5,406.43 for our recent share purchase at my work (interest is tax deductible)
  • $977.60 for winter tires
The remaining $14,836.47 - is a combination of the remaining back yard debt as well as some credit card purchases (consumer spending).  We were expecting to carry forward around $15K in 2014 before I decided to go back to school, Jordan got dental work, we decided to invest in shares, and we bought winter tires.

So, technically (?) we're on track (ha!).

Okay, so we're not on track for the LOC - we had some expenses that we decided to incur that's that - our LOC balance has gone up.  As we knock it back in $5K increments, I intend on also reducing the amount of credit we have access  to in the same - until it's down to a 10K limit - - the original plan.

There it is - 2013's ups and downs of our networth, thanks for reading along as we navigated all these changes, I'm looking forward to another fantastic year with you.


No-Income Transition

I'm now pretty confident on how we'll handle the bills when Jordan's job changes - but I still need to work out the transition between the two.

His last regularly scheduled pay in December will include his last two weeks worked - last day is on December 20th and on December 26th he should be paid for the weeks ending December 13th and December 20th.  He will also be paid out his vacation accrual which is currently sitting at approx $4,300 - so they'll be a tad more added to that from December's accrual.

Jordan's first pay in January will be the 15th....that's almost a full month of no regular pay, just the vacation monies...though if nothing had changed it would have been on the 9th..so it's only six days longer that we're used to.

Juuuust in case I'm going to stash $1,000 from the vacation money to use for bills and the rest (less taxes of course) will go to savings/debt/Christmas.

Am I missing something?  Am I forgetting something?


Variable Income - Fixed It (I think)

Thanks to an Anonymous poster on my post earlier this week- I think I just might have this variable budget business sorted out.  Check out the updated scenario where the bills/paydays are worked in.

The Regular category includes: Mortgage, Monthly Spending, Escape, LOC, both RRSPs and the Baby Fund.

I had messed up the LOC payments before, and I had to reduce the Baby Fund from $50/week to $40/week - so that we always have greater income then expenses.

With a $2,000 account buffer, it should never dip below $500 - which does allow for some variability in the timing of withdrawals which is helpful when there are holidays and what not.

I will have to be careful in both May and October when there are 5 Friday's but they aren't the months where I get a third pay - those months we'll have to manage the extra savings/debt payments that aren't necessary depending on commissions and the like from the previous months.

The plan for any commission/bonus money is to first bolster our emergency/savings accounts and then full steam ahead against debt.  For the next few months we also have our new roommates $600/month rent money which we'll use for the same purpose.

A big, big thank you to Anonymous who spotted my error earlier this week - I'm feeling much more relaxed about the changes.


Utilities - Year in Review

It's silly really - but I love being able to do my annual report on utilities because i've been tracking it for so long, I am able to create pretty graphs.  Keep in mind that each month is that which the utilities were billed, so if it was billed in November, it was actually the utilities used in October.

The trend line, while a bit bumpy, cleary shows the dip one would expect to see in the summer - and spikes in colder months.

For those that find the above graph a bit too cluttered, this one shows the monthly average a bit more clearly - I use this data to predict my monthly bills now for budgeting purposes and find that I'm usually within about $10!  I'de say that's worth doing all this tracking.

The last little graph I have for you is the combined monthly average year over year.  Remember that we've only been in our current house for the last two years - and the differences was less than $2.


Variable Income

How do you manage?
How do you even set up the budget?

I don't know how many different charts/sheets I've already created and tossed because they didn't work as I had anticipated...I need some help on where to start.  I want to create the budget, with all of our automatic payments, based on Jordan getting $0 commission - so I know we're covered.  Then, if/when he does get commission - I want to use that money to 'top up' our debt/savings plans.

Using a typical month, I've sorted out that we cannot continue regular contributions to our Emergency, Vehicle, Christmas, Gifts, and Vacation Funds - so that will come from commissions.  I've also reduced our payment to the Line of Credit to what is mandatory.  I've kept RRSPs and the Baby Fund.  All that and you can see we're left with $43/month - perfect.

So that tells me I'm on the right track - but the part I'm having troubles with is the timing of it all.  Jordan will get paid on the 15th and the end of the month and I get paid bi-weekly.  I feel as though we need to consider the four months that have five Friday's (January, August, May and October) - but in only two of them (January, August) will I get paid three times...and of course Jordan will still just be paid twice.

I also broke down our expenses on a weekly/monthly basis to see if that would help.

So looking at this chart I know that (I think), at any given time - I need to have $2,587.12 in my bank account to account for both monthly and weekly withdrawals.

I also know that every single Friday $1,303.28 is withdrawn from my account.

Given that my take home pay is ~$1,775 and Jordan's base take home would be ~$1,025 - what do we do? How do I figure out what my 'buffer', my personal overdraft should be, to account for the fluctuations in income/withdrawals.

Here's one scenario that I worked through - trying to see how the numbers would jive.

You can see that we don't have get past $0 in the account - but at the end of the month we're down to $1,419...not the $2,500 we would need to start out with.  So I'm stuck again on how to make this balance.

I would appreciate any thoughts/ideas on how to make a budget that works given this new pay structure.

Jessie & Jordan


We've got Roommies!

Earlier this month I shared with you all that we were inviting our very good friends to come and live with us while they work through some financial troubles.   This helps them with very low rent, and helps us - with a bit of extra cash for the next six months.

They moved in this past weekend - it was busy and a lot of work; but we made it.  It will take a week or so for them to settle and unpack, but I think it's going to work out wonderfully.


Jordan's got a new Job!!

Yes, a new job!

After all that nonsense over his last raise, Jordan entertained an interview request from a connection he had made on LinkedIn.  Several weeks later and some negotiations - he's accepted their offer!  They are going to match his vacation, he'll have a more comprehensive benefits package and salary will be a combination of base salary as well as commission.  He'll rotate working some Saturdays, but when he does - the following weekend will be a three day one.

His base salary will now be $30K, but the potential is as high as $63K.  This is a huuuge variance with Jordan's current salary being just under $55K.  They are going to guarantee his salary at $4,500/month for the first three months as they don't want him to earn less by making the switch; they want to give him enough time to establish himself and to learn the job.

He starts on January 6th and his pay will be bi-monthly - I've never budgeted for an income that was bi-monthly - especially one that has commissions and end of the month and quarter bonuses - so it'll take some work to match that against all of our weekly payment/savings cycles - anyone have any suggestions for that??

His last day will be December 20th, so we'll have a nice long holiday off together - it will be the the first two week holiday we have ever taken together during the Christmas holidays...I'm so excited!


Jordan's Raise Finally Went Through

It only took almost two months of fighting - but Jordan's raise has finally gone through.  What is actually slightly funny; is that as much as they were bickering over $600; that actually wound up increasing Jordan's salary by another $200/year...so the difference is now $400 from what they had originally agreed on ($55K).  It's was all so petty.

His take home pay is now $1,551.86 - a gross increase of $123.08 which nets us $75.62/bi-weekly to add to the budget.  I would say that's a couple of months that were worth fighting for.  I think we are almost ready to plan the 2014 budget...


Making an Investment

A while back I had let you know that Jordan and I intended on purchases 100 shares where I work - it's an employee owned company with a remarkable return on investment.  The sale is in USD so I was waiting and watching the dollar to see when the best time would be to send in my cheque.  Unfortunately, I got the timing wrong - if we made the purchase back in September it would have cost $111 less....but, we would have paid more in interest (which is tax deductible for an investment).

Everything is starting to line up for 2014's budget - now all we need is confirmation that Jordan's raise actually finally went through and we can have our planning date.

This purchase is not only an investment in my career (share ownership can lead to increased opportunities); it's also an investment in our financial future.  As part of our long-term retirement plan we're starting to make savings choices that are beyond a daily interest RRSP.


October Spend Summary

I'm a few weeks late, but here is the October spend summary. I'm actually pretty pleased - it was one thing to post yesterday's write up on the gas savings, but another to see it here - where I've calculated what we actually spent for the month and see that compared against this years average!

Groceries/Costco purchases is a bit lower then normal - so that's a good thing too.

Eating out was wayyyy down - super happy with that.  Entertainment clothes/shoes/hair are all down too.

Reimbursables is the most interesting category - this is Jordan's dental work (so far) and the second of my six courses.  We're crossing our fingers on the reimbursement for my school - but it's not a guarantee...I'll find out the end of December.


Fuel Economy on the Kia Rio

Back in September I had shared that we expected to save approximately $109/month in fuel by purchasing and driving our new Kia Rio then continuing to rely on the Escape as a commuting vehicle.  Well, two months later I am very pleased to tell you that we are doing slightly better than expected.  Except for one receipt where we forgot to right down the KMs here's a breakdown of our fuel ups/kms driven since we purchased the car.

We are averaging 6.65 L/100Km or 35.59MPG! Wahoo!

I would like to see that average push closer to 40MPG, and on the highway I know we can do it (because the week we did it was me driving); but now that we're into commuting in winter conditions there's a lot more stop/go - so we'll see how we make out throughout the rest of the winter.


Knitting Up a Storm

I started looking at our Christmas shopping-for-who list this year and we're looking at a solid 18 - with three more we haven't decided on and maybe some baking for the neighbors, which I decided I wanted to do just now as I wrote that sentence.

Quite a few people this year are getting home made scarfs..and one lucky one (lucky?) just might get a toque if I can manage to get it done and shipped in time.  The picture to the left is my very first attempt at a toque after completing nearly 20 different scarfs...Jordan's actually already called dibs on one of the scarfs.

I did a few last year; one for my mom and one for one of my cousins and I liked it so much I thought this year would be the year to do the same for Jordan's side of the family.

Crossing my fingers I don't succumb to gift-giving-vitis again this year....and keep the budget in check.  I'm a big fan of thoughtful; not such a fan of starting the new year with a pile of holiday debt.


Another Increased Expense

I really shouldn't be surprised but here it is, another increased expense.  Just got notice our house insurance is going up $168.96 annually.

For those of you who have owned a home for a long time, is this a lot?  Or, is the increase reasonable?

They also increased my deductible to $1,000.  


Savings & Debt: Monthly or Lump Sum

I need help...

Jordan and I have a budget date coming soon; and we will need to decide if we should approach paying off the Line of Credit and our Savings (including planned spending) monthly or lump sum as well as if we should count on rent in the budget; or use it as surplus to pay off the LOC early.

If we attacked it lump sum; the repayment/saving schedule would look something like this:

This plan assumes that we will be able to incorporate about $500/month into our annual budget for the first six months of 2014 from our new roommates.  The Emerg fund would see a lot more money then in our plan; because at the end of the year; everything extra would go to that.

Monthly, would look something like this:

This plan does not assume any income from renting out a couple of our rooms.  The monthly plan would see us reaching all of our goals; at the same time, in December, 2014 rather then reaching goals all throughout the year; every couple of months.  Each month we would apply the rent to the Line of Credit to help reach that goal faster - but would not assume/count on the money to reach our goals.  The end of the year would see some cash left over and unaccounted for currently without a plan.

I would really appreciate comments/suggestions/challenges to either plan.

Part of me really wants to 'set it and forget it' and not have a bunch of manual transfers every month - the other part of me wants that debt gone and pay as little interest as possible.  

Jordan doesn't want to count on the rental income; but I think that income is income and we should count it.

What do you think?


$500/Month for Six Months

My last few posts have been all about extra expenses; so I thought it was time to share with you something that will result in a bit of extra income for a little while. Our very best friends, a married couple with a cat and six month old twins for whom we are the God Parents/Guardians for if anything were to ever happen are in a financial pinch right now. Our city was one that was devastated with the flooding this past spring/summer; and the rental market is pretty tight. Their current place is pricey and in disrepair with a landlord who doesn’t seem to be prioritising getting it fixed up. All that to say; that we have invited our friends and their family to move in with us for the next six months.

We asked for $500/month in rent; and they negotiated up to $600. They’ll be getting half of our basement; two bedrooms and a bathroom to themselves and we’ll share other common areas in the house.

We’ve both had roommates before that were friends/family and there were pros and cons; this time however; is the first time that we’re doing it not because we need to; but because we genuinely want to help our friends. We’ve gone into this with eyes wide open; talking about everything from morning and dinner routine to making sure we have a TV/internet/house phone package that works for everyone.

Jordan works with Mr. so the three of us will all carpool to work and Mrs. will continue to be an amazing stay at home mom to her bundles of joy. This should also help them shave $ of their gas bill. We’ll be sharing the cost of groceries and because Jordan and I often chuck leftovers; I’m betting that our grocery bill might actually go down some.

After running some numbers; I expect that we’ll have an additional $100ish in extra monthly costs including the extra TV/Long Distance Plan for the phone and additional gas/electricity/water….gas bill is the most variable b/c we usually turn the house down to 17C when we’re not there; but now it will be up high 24/7.

So; the big move in day is December 1st but maybe a week or two earlier depending on how things go with packing and cleaning their old place.

For the first six months of 2014; Jordan and I will have an extra $500/month going towards all of our new (and old) expenses.



November 1, 2013 Networth

Wow...so it's that time of the month again - net-worth time!

In the last month Jordan and I have spent $600 in education for me, $2,679.50 in dental work for Jordan, and $977.59 in tires for our cars....phew!  We also spent just over $300 at Costco doing a big shop to get our deep freeze stocked and get staples like toilet paper, paper towel cleaning supplies and the like.

it's been quite an expensive month.

Even with all of that, we have managed to increase out overall networth by $2,000 by paying down our mortgage and vehicle debts and increase our retirement savings.

We're going to be spending a lot more money before 2013 is over; but there's a plan for all of it - we just have to stay on track.

You'll see that our chequing account is a bit more hefty than normal - I like to wait until the 8th when most of our monthly auto-debits are withdrawn from the account before making a payment on the cards/LOC and as the next pay day is also the 8th; it will be waiting until then.


$7,900 in Teeth

Jordan was born with two congenitally missing teeth - every since he was small; his benefits have only provided for a flipper/mouth piece that give the appearance of teeth.  That appliance after 20+ years is now starting to wear on his existing healthy teeth causing more problems.

So...given that for the past year we have been exploring alternatives to the mouth piece.  There are two - either bridge or surgical implants.  For a variety of reasons; primarily longevity, quality and ease of maintenance Jordan has chosen implants.

After many quotes, and many arguments with our benefit providers and dental surgeon...we have a plan.  The total cost of the two implants is $7,900 - are combined benefits will reimburse us $3,000 each calendar year....that led us to the tough decision to plan for two surgeries rather then one.

Jordan's already undergone the first surgery to implant a screw into his jaw bone and now we wait 2-3 months for it to heal. Once healed (end of December), the implant/screw will be fitted with a tooth.  Then, and only then - when the first tooth is considered 'complete' can the dentist submit the expenses to our benefit providers.  So, Jordan and I have had to pay cash (read use the credit card) for the first part of the procedure (and will continue to pay cash each time something happens related to the procedure).  In January we should get our first reimbursement; and then we'll promptly schedule the second surgery.  

Our debt load is getting a bit scary, but we have a plan and will eventually be reimbursed.  Jordan and I would both rather pay the interest now for him to have a happy and healthy mouth before we have kids or anything else when there are more demands for the money.


$1,000 in Winter Tires

So, this year we had to buy six winter tires. A set of four for the new Kia Rio and two for the Escape. Unfortunately we drove over a screw driver last winter and killed one of the Escape's tires...and you really ought to have the same two (tread/depth etc) on the front and the back....

So, seeing as Jordan works in the automotive industry it was his job to get this sorted out for us.

Here's the breakdown he sent me:

2x Hankook RW11's @ $135.32 (for the escape)
4x Hankook W419's @ $110.10 (Kia Rio)
6 tires x $4/tax = $24
4 steel rims @ $49/ea = $196.00 (Kia Rio)

Tax in = $977.60 

To save us money Jordan put the steal rims on the tires and swapped the tires/wheels over on the escape at his workplace shop with the help of one of our very good friends who also works there and is a mechanic.


Jordan Got a Raise....Sort of.

Almost a month ago, I shared with you all that Jordan got a raise.  He had an incredible performance review and was left feeling valued and confident.

Four weeks later and it's all gone to crap.  I won't get into all the details other to say that he works for a company that is perhaps the least organized and professional that I have ever seen when it comes to managing performance/salary expectations.

His pay raise has been reduced from $300/month down to $250/month and he will not receive the increase in pay until November.  Effective November 4th - both pays for the month should show the new rate.  A month of stress, anxiety and b*ll sh*t for $600....it's pretty pathetic that the leadership at his company chose to behave that way.  He will also start getting a flat $40/month to cover part of his cell phone bill has he's expected to take off-the-clock work phone calls.

His new annual salary of $54,400 ($26.15/hour) will net about $68.62 more each pay, or $1.784.13 a year - which is about $462.02 less then we were anticipating. I'll be updating the 2014 budget with the new numbers this week as we get closer to posting it.



That is a small sigh of contentment.

I had a week of banked overtime paid out because we kept chasing a few hundred dollars owing on our credit cards and couldn't seem to get them caught up due to conflicting priorities.  I'm happy to say that all three credit cards have a $0 balance, and we have $150 for gas and groceries until Friday.


Going Back to School!

Yup!  I'm going back to school.

I've registered for an extension certificate in Instructional Design and Curriculum Development.  It's an online programme with Mount Royal University - there are participants from all across Canada, so it's a really neat experience something like this with people from so many walks of life.  There are six courses, and each one costs $299.  I've already started the first and will have two over winter.

To help offset the cost I'm applying for funding through my work which would give me $1,900 if I'm successful.

Successfully completed the programme will help me to continue to advance my career and meet my personal needs of continued education.

Wish me luck!


Networth Update

Here is my October 1, 2013 networth update.  We're still a bit below where I'd like us to be, but I think that over the fall we'll start to trend upwards again.

You'll see that I chose a trade in value for the new car a couple thousand less then what we paid - that's to account for the pretty much automatic depreciation new vehicles have...you really never cover the taxes/delivery fees that you have to pay up front.

The MasterCard also has a balance that I'm cranky about.  We're waiting for some reimbursements from Jordan's work and also had some unexpected expenses crop up.


August and September Monthly Spend Summaries

Wow - so I sure slacked off last month in not posting August monthly spend summary - so today you'll get both August and September.

Gas is consistent - even after the purchase of the car.  We took both vehicles to my home town because I was staying a few extra days and Jordan had to go back to work, plus a couple of other trips around the city.  I expect that October will be far less....crossing my fingers anyways.

Groceries has settled down...some now that we're not camping any more - but we spent a big chunk of money (about $100) on an end of the summer BBQ at the house...so that explains part of why it's still so high.  I would like to see this closer to $400-500 and eating out back down to around $150.  We've been splurging on food.

Alcohol also went way down now that we're not out camping all of the time - it works out to be about $50/week which makes sense for a case of beer and a bottle of wine.

Home Maintenance and Education went up, but I'm saving talking about those for posts later this week.


Draft 2014 Budget

Since Jordan receiving his raise, I've been spending some time working on the 2014 budget.  I thought I would put it out to all of you for some feedback before we finalise things.  I've also assigned budget percents and added them up in Gails Life Pie Categories.  We don't line up perfectly - but I'm happy we've got really good balance here.

On to the breakdown...

In December we will be look at our cell phones and trying to get a good plan in place for the both of us - I'm also crossing my fingers that Jordan's work will start paying for half the bill.

I'm currently shopping for Auto Insurance - but it looks like we're already getting pretty stellar rates.

Monthly spending includes gas, groceries, entertainment, pets, haircuts, clothes etc.  - it's everything and is currently $300/week which is down from $375 since getting the new car we expect to save a lot on gas.

As I have a pension, we contribute less to RRSP for me and more for Jordan.

The Baby Fund TSFA is counted as savings right now but the intent for this is income replacement when I'm eventually on maternity leave (no, not preggo, just planning ahead).

We've broken the LOC debt into two parts.  One is for the purchase of shares which is considered savings as it's a long term investment. The other is debt we expect to carry forward from the backyard project.  We anticipated being able to pay more of this off then we were.

Also planning on saving more for emergencies/vehicle repair (winter tires for the new car), Christmas/gifts and vacation - we always spend it, so want to plan on saving more (this is included in the life part of our pie).

Questions?  Thoughts? Suggestions?

These draft leaves us with about $2,000 left over.


Jordan Got a Raise

Jordan is meant to have a performance and salary review around June of each year - though, as is typical it didn't happen on time.  As it turns out, Jordan made exactly the right call when decided to postpone pushing is manager to have the conversation with him.

The summer is a very busy time of year and this past was no different.  By waiting, Jordan was able to ensure that his boss-man was in a positive state of mind, and not stressed from the hectic season.  He took that extra time to make sure that he was performing at the top of his game and even took on extra responsibilities (that he wasn't advised of and expectations weren't clarified) without griping.

I'm so very pleased to share that Jordan received a 6.55% raise - he's now earning $55,000. From $51,400 it's an additional $3,600 gross annually - I've calculated a net pay increase of $86.39 every two weeks.  On top of this, his employer is also looking at either paying 50% of his cell phone bill, or getting him a work phone.  If they pay half the bill (our favorite option), that will work out to be about another $400/year.

Here's a picture of his five year pay history:

What an accomplishment! Over 5 years, he's increased his pay by $16,600 or $7.98/hour.

Congratulations Love!


Updated Budget

Over the last couple of blog posts I shared with you our recent new car purchase and some of the expected fuel savings that we're looking forward to.  This post is all about how much it's going to cost us to save that gas and how the budget is going to change.

The total price we are financing, including fees and taxes, is $21.013.91.

Not too shabby for wanting to be under $20K.  Here's the breakdown:

We start at just under $20K with a $1K discount because we're good negotiators (at least we think we are) - next up are some pretty standard add on and fees.  I wasn't sure about the protective paint coating but Jordan works in the industry and was confident that it was a good price for a good product.

We are financing at 0%.

The 0% financing deal accompanied terms up to 60 months as well as their 60/84 plan.  I hadn't heard of the latter before but basically is their way to trap people into owing a balance at the end of the plan with an option to re-finance (most people just roll the amount owing and trade in for a new vehicle apparently.

Well, we're not that silly but we like flexibility of lower payments and we like 0% financing.

So, we went with it.  Our payments will default to $115.65/bi-weekly for 60 months with $5,979.41 owing at the end of the term.  We intend on comming up with the extra $1,000 each year to add to the loan (it's open with no penalties for early payments) to make sure it's paid off sooner rather then later.

So!  We have increased payments of $115.65/bi-weekly - now what? Well, we're also saving about $110/month on fuel and will have increased insurance premiums of about $31.48/month (it's about because our insurance is currently under renewal).

We were planning on increasing our day-to-day spending from $375 to $400 in January, instead we have reduced it to $300/month.  That leaves us with an unplanned overage of $77.78 (($115.65*2)+31.48-75-110).  We'll have a little bit less cash going towards the backyard debt, but it's not significant enough to worry about - you'll see more changes coming to our budget in the months ahead, but this will get us to the end of the year.


Our new Kia Rio - Saving on Gas

Yesterday I shared with you that with you that Jordan and I took the plunge to purchase a 2013 Kia Rio EX manual transmission sedan.

In pearl black with a grey interior an 16" alloy wheels - it looks super sporty!

But looks...well that's just a side benefit.  The big reason we are making this change is fuel economy.  When we moved outside of the city and decided that we would commute into work every day, we didn't realize how taxing that would be on the gas budget.

Here is a graph that shows our average gas expenditure over the last three and a half years.

2010 was back when we lived and commuted in the city - into 2013 we carpool but drive upwards of 100KMs a day plus more on weekends and holidays.

Perhaps an even more interesting graph is the ebb and flow of gas expenditure over the course of a year.  Check out this one:

Clearly we drive a lot - and a lot more in the summer then in other months...of course what's not factored in here is the cost of gas and that does fluctuate a lot too.

I took the number of KMs we drove in July and our gas consumption to come up with our average fuel economy for the escape (10.42 L/100Km).  I used the advertised city fuel economy to come up with this chart which projected a savings of $109/month based on a fuel price of $1.20/liter.

Next week, I'll share with you the updated budget which will encompass the savings in gas, plus the new car payment and increased insurance costs.


a Second Vehicle

sooo, Jordan and I bought a 2013 Kia Rio EX standard transmission sedan.

We've been looking at second vehicles for a while now, and while I was happy to wait a bit longer - Jordan was ready to buy now.  The plan is to park the Escape except for big shopping runs (ie costco and camping trips and use the Kia for all of our commuting.  We drive up to 100KMs getting to and from work.  So buying now made sense for a few reasons:
  • Start saving on gas now
  • Protect the last 5,000 KM of warranty on the Escape before it expires 
  • Convenience
  • We can afford it
We actually specked out and test drove the following vehicles before narrowing it down to the Kia Rio and the Chevrolet Spark.  While in the price range, we tossed these ones out early on:
  • Fiat 500C
    • Only had two doors, and no headroom w/ the sunroof option, cheap finishings
  • Hyundai Accent
    • Felt cheap, glove box hit my knees, not as comfortable
  • Ford Fiesta
    • Cupholder in door was annoying, no arm rests, lot pricing not consistent with online pricing
...and these once we're just too pricey (I wanted the car to be under $20K)
  • Toyota Yaris
  • Mazda 2
  • Honda Fit
  • Dodge Dart
  • Nissan Versa
The prices of the two vehicles were so close and the comfort and drive ability so well matched that a few small things sealed the deal.

It was a very close tie, but in the end the Kia won because of a few things: 
  • Kia is one of the few sub-compacts that has a proper duel armrest for both front seat passengers instead of a single arm rest for the driver only.
  • Kia had an 'oh shit handle' for the front seat
  • Leather wrapped steering wheel
  • 5 year, 100,000KM bumper to bumper warranty (the others were 60K)
  • General fit and finish

One of the biggest reasons we bought the vehicle now (instead of when I get pregnant which was the original plan) was to start saving on gas now, so naturally one of the biggest decision making factors was fuel economy.

Kia wasn't the bst - but came in at a very respectable 6.9L/100KM in the city and 5.3L/100K on the highway.  For my American readers that's a range of 34 to 44 MPG and for my European readers that a range of 41 to 53 MPG.

Jordan and I tracked our fuel consumption for the last few months and are confident that we will save at least $100/month if not more on our gas bill.

Wowza!  So this post is already longer then I had planned on - tomorrow I'll share a few more details about the fuel savings and how that's going to impact the rest of the budget.


Cell Phone Usage

Cell phones...can't live without them....can't live without them.

Jordan and I currently have different cell phone contracts by different providers - I'm with Bell and he's with Telus.  We have been waiting years for our contracts to end around the same time so that we could choose one, and have a joint share plan.  In theory, this should reduce our monthly expenditure on cell phones and perhaps even give us enough features (long distance) that we can finally get ride of our house phone.

To start this process, we have first summarized our usage in the table below.  

Can you guess which chart is from me, and which from Jordan? 

Jordan's on the bottom! 
*note that the last line item was current usage up to September 3, I didn't want to wait a few more days so it might go up a titch more for the current months usage. 

He texts wayyyyyy more than I do and I use a tonne  more data then he does.

Over all, a couple of things are clear.  Here's what we need on a share plan:

  • 2G of data
  • At least 500 minutes of local outgoing but preferably up to 700
  • Up to 100 minutes of long distance 
  • Up to 25 picture/video messages 
  • Unlimited text messaging nationally (incoming/outgoing)
  • Unlimited incoming calls

Jordan also would like both call display and voice mail - I hate voicemail and would be happy with just call display.  What do you think, are we missing anything?


September 1, 2013: Networth Update

Below is our networth update as of September 1, 2013.

We've dipped a bit - and that is because we had one final bill to pay for the backyard last month and the payments we've made to the LOC haven't quite off set it yet.

I'm looking forward to making a lot of headway on the LOC debt over the next few months as things settle down from Summer.



CPP & EI - I hit my max!

Woohoo!  I finally hit my CPP and EI contribution maximums.

Now that I've hit my max, my take home pay will increase by $180.56/pay.  For the remainder of the year that's $1,444.48.  I knew this was coming a while ago, and so this extra cash is already allocated toward paying off our backyard project - but it still feels so good when it happens.

For those folks that follow my blog that live outside of Canada, I've put a little blurb below to explain what these two programs are.  

Canada Pension Plan (CPP) 
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 retires or becomes disabled. When contributors die, the Plan provides benefits to their survivors. The benefit is meant to supplement an individuals personal savings, investments and retirement portfolio. The employer is required to contribute the same amount of CPP that is deducted from an employees pay to a maximum amount every year. 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. Every employer is required to deduct CPP contributions from an employee's pay if that employee meets certain requirements (age, is in pensionable employment, is not currently receiving CPP benefit through retirement) to the annual maximum, which can change from year to year.

Employment Insurance (EI)
Employment Insurance provides temporary financial assistance for unemployed Canadians while they look for work or upgrade their skills.Typically, you will not be approved to receive an EI benefit if you quit or are fired your job with cause. If you are laid off, this benefit is available for you to apply for. Canadians who are sick, pregnant or caring for a newborn or adopted child, as well as those who must care for a family member who is seriously ill with a significant risk of death, may also be assisted by Employment Insurance. Every employer is required to deduct EI premiums from their employees insurable earnings on every dollar up to the yearly maximum. All employers must also contribute 1.4 times the EI premium withheld for each employee.


Networth Update

Here it is!  Our August 1, 2013 Networth Update!

I'm so proud of this, Jordan and I have come such a long way.

You would have seen a few days ago that our homes value has increased such that our mortgage owing is quite a bit less then what it's worth on the market.

We also continue to contribute regularly to our RRSPs, Pension and Shares.


Our Homes Updated Value

I have been waiting to write this post for a long time.  This is the post where I get to tell you that our homes value has dramatically increased since we bought it in December, 2011.

Up until this point, I have been using our City Tax Assessed value of our home ($328,600), which as you may know is fairly arbitrary (not every house is actually assessed by the city - they typically take an average based on the neighborhood and your reported key features such as fireplace and garage).  A homes actual value, is the price that someone will pay for it.

That leads me to telling you how much we paid for our home.

Before any upgrades, our base home and lot was priced at $327,650.  After incentives, upgrades, GST, GST Rebate, down payment, and CMHC insurance - we financed $348,819.10.  

You can see from the spreadsheet to the left that the purchase price before GST was $345,613.24.

Back in April, I told you that we found out our homes real value - the value that someone would be reasonably expected to pay has gone up from when we bought it.

Now that we have completed The Big Backyard Project, our home is valued at $377,000.

Because I have been using the Tax Value of $328,600 in our networth updates, we are going to see a jump of $48,400 to our total networth!

So excited for August 1st!



Update: LOC, Big Backyard Project, Shares & Escape Pay Off Plan

In November of last year, I was offered a Line of Credit with BMO.  We accepted it, thinking that it couldn't hurt to have the funds available - especially with planning our Big Backyard Project.  A few months back, we actually increased it from $10,000 to $40,000 thinking that it would be a way to also pay of the Escape at a lower interest rate.

When we polled our readers, everyone suggested that we increase our payments as well as pay off the Escape with the LOC.

We haven't done it yet (waiting until the dust settles with the Big Backyard Project), but we're getting close.

We currently owe a total of $15,337.77 on the LOC - this includes payments for the backyard to date (Fence, Deck, materials for garage) as well as about $3,530 in spending from our MasterCard that was unplanned (some costs with the Escape - windshield, new tire ect., spending more money on birthdays then planned, as well as extra costs from camping more than we had planned).  We're expecting the following upcoming bills that are planned to be covered by the LOC as we pay it off as aggressively as possible:
  • $5,775
    • Labour for garage
  • $356.30
    • Last 8 Feet of Fence
  • $6,782.10
    • Investment purchase of Shares through work
That will bring the total LOC balance to approximately $28,251.17.    We’re planning on being able to pay off $12,500 to the LOC for the remainder of this year (less then originally planned - details on that later when I finally catch up on our month-to-month spending updates) which will leave us carrying $15,669 forward into 2014.

The original plan was to carry forward $0 into 2014.  This changed to being comfortable with carrying less than $5,000 into 2014.  With the addition of the share purchases, and spending more this summer than planned - we're now looking at a significantly bigger number.  I'm sure we'll make a plan for that too - just haven't looked at the 2014 budget yet.

Let's loop back to the Escape - we currently owe about $18,500 there.  If my approximations are right for the last big of the garage and the share purchase - we should be able to transfer the balance from the Escape Loan (also with BMO) over to the LOC sometime in late Fall.  The balance owing on the Escape will be about $16,600 which would bring our total debt load (not including the mortgage) to be - $32,269   

We will then increase the automatic payments and treat the LOC line any other loan and get it paid off as quickly as possible.  

So, there it is - all of the details of our current projects and debt load.  I've probably missed a few details so please feel free to ask questions if you have them.



Are we saving enough for retirement?

This is certainly not the first time I've asked this question, nor will it be the last.  I got to thinking about it after writing the post the other day which included an update that Jordan is contributing an additional $25/week to his RRSP Streetwise Fund with ING.

I'm lucky that I have a great company sponsored pension plan at work.  It's a defined contribution plan, which means what I get out of it really depends on the market but there is a set amount that both I and my employer contribute (5% of my gross salary each).  My rate of return based on my chosen investment mix was 4.9% two years ago and 9.9% last year.  Year to date, it's 4.2%.  Jordan, is not so lucky.

Here's a breakdown of our current annual retirement savings:

The RISA is the basic RRSP with ING, Streetwise is our investment RRSP account with ING.  Shares I purchase through my employer but are not a registered retirement plan - I consider this to be ours, not mine or Jordan's.  Finally Jordan gets a small annual profit share that is automatically contributed to a work RRSP account.

We are looking at a lump sum share purchase that would increase this years retirement savings by about $6,750 - but I really want to focus on the annual contributions, not the random lump sum stuff that we do.

So...what do you think?  Is it enough?

I would like to see us increase Jordan's savings by at least $15/week - but that's really only to meet the arbitrary 10%.  



Recent Decision Making

The last little while, my posts have been a bit all over the place as we've had some conflicting priorities.  I've talked about buying an investment property, or investing in RRSPs or even investing with shares at work.  I've talked about paying off the escape and looked at increasing our mortgage payment.

There are just so many options.

Yesterday I wrote about our decision on a vehicle - basically, we've committed to continuing to do research and not rushing it.

We have also decided to buy more shares at my work which is an investment in both my career and our retirement.  We have also moved our RRSPs with ING from a RISA that was getting 1.35% to a Streetwise Mutual Fund Portfolio.  Specifically, the Equity Growth.  It's high risk/high return - but it's a relative low sum of money (under $6K combined), and we have 35 years of investment time.  The portfolio is trending very strong at 8.73% YTD.  While we will continue to contribute $50/week (each) to our RISAs, Jordan is now also contributing an additional $25/week to his Streetwise! So pumped!

We haven't written off the idea of an investment property, but we have put it on hold for at least a year or two.  We want to focus on our family and a few other things before we go down that path.


Update on our Vehicle Decision

okay...so a few weeks a go I wrote a post about fuel economy and Jordan and I trying to decide if the Escape was the right vehicle for us.

We haven't decided, but we have spent a lot of time doing research.  One of the things that we are going to do the next time we wish we had a truck - is rent one!  That way, we'll get to test it out, see how it feels...is it really that much easier then the Escape.

Another thing that we're doing is continuing to track our mileage - if we do this over the course of the summer we should have a better idea about what potential savings there would be for trading in the Escape for a commuter car.

The last thing on the list is to get our windshield replaced (done), the car cleaned (done), and the speaker/air conditioner repaired (not done) - once we have all of those check-marks, we can find out the trade in value of the Escape and go from their.



Networth: July 1, 2013

I feel like I have a bit of catching up to do.  I'm going to start with our networth.  We've gone down from $23K to $18K over the last month.  This is because we have paid some of the bills related to our big backyard project - the project isn't done yet, so I'm not ready to increase the value of our home....that should happen next month if everything goes according to plan.  There were a few delays because of the flooding in Alberta.

Here's is a detailed breakdown:

Our home tax assessment and vehicle value hasn't changed.

RRSPs & Pension have gone up as per usual.

Shares have also stayed steady.

Regular savings has increased - but a big chunk of this is going to go towards the LOC as soon as I get my banks talking to each other properly.

The mortgage and car are going down steadily.

The credit card has some expenses on it including a new windshield, and gifts (July is a big birthday month for us) as well as gas and groceries from camping.  This will all be paid off in a few days.


Gas Mileage/Fuel Economy

Jordan and I, as part of our conversations about growing our family, have been talking about vehicles.  Right now, we are a single vehicle house hold with a 2011 Ford Escape.  When we bought the vehicle, we thought it would be a great family car - able to handle all of our needs as our family grew.  We have found out two things.
  1. When driving 90K round trip every day, fuel economy is more important than we planned for
  2. When you have two shepherds and try to go camping, travel for Christmas or give people with luggage rides - your hatchback isn't as big as you think it is.
Our average monthly gas bill since moving to our new house is $385 with a high of $575.64 and a low of $188.17.

The advertised fuel economy for the Escape was 8.3L-10.4L/100K.  Here's what we're actually getting, shown in both L/100K and MPG.  You can see we are near, or over the top of the range each time!

1 km = 0.621371 miles
1 liter = 0.264172 US gallons

A large part of this is because our commute is typically in stop and go traffic.  On the dates were the economy is better, that typically falls during a highway road trip.

Size is the next issue - we have found over the last two years that we stuff the vehicle to the MAX! and we still often don't have enough room during Christmas or family trips. We're certain that once we have a little one, it's going to get even more cramped (if that's even possible).

So, what are we going to do about it?

We're going to investigate some of our options including trading the Escape in and purchasing two, 2-3 year old vehicles.  One, a pickup truck to be used on family trips/weekends with dogs/kids and a very small, commuter car with high fuel efficiency.  We currently owe about $19,000 on the Escape.  This isn't something that we're going to do tomorrow - but you know me, I like to have a plan and our plan has always been to get a second vehicle once we start our family...so we're just planning ahead.

What would you do?


The Deck, is Done!

Not only is the deck finished, but it actually came in under budget!!  I had originally planned on spending $5,596.64 - but i had mis-measured - the total square footage came to 180 rather than 210!  At $15/sq/ft - that's a $450 difference.  I had also over estimated the railing costs by $150.40 and the stairs by $308.04.

The grand total for the deck is $4,642.64.

...that's $954 less than we had budgeted for!


June Networth Update

It's hard to believe another month has gone by already.  Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of progress on our big backyard project - not so much that I can adjust the value of our home but enough that our networth is declining.

We have paid for about half of the backyard project, and will owe the rest once the deck and garage have been completed.

Here is a breakdown of our networth as of June 1, 2013. For anyone who's not read one of these updates before - recall that our homes value is based on a tax assessment currently, which is not necessarily reflective of the homes value on the market.

You might noticed that there is another Joint Credit Card on the list...Jordan and I bit the bullet and got a joint Amex/Costco card.  We've also used other people's memberships, but at this point we're doing it on our own.


Beneficiary Cheque

...no, not that kind.

Jordan is an Inuvialuit beneficiary.

Each year, the Trust that he is a member of distributes a beneficiary payment to all that are enrolled over the age of 18.

The distribution payments are based on a percentage of the average earnings for his band.  They are not huge and vary every year from $200-$900 depending on the bands profitability.  They must first ensure there is sufficient funds to reinvestment the the preservation and growth of land claim capital for future generations of Inuvialuit.

So, Jordan is happy to receive $563.20 and contribute it to our Big Backyard Project.


The Fence is Done!

Hizzah!  Our Fence is done! 

The deck would be too if it wasn't for the torrential rain storm that we are currently having, but it is on the docket for next week!  We are so absolutely pleased with how it turned out.  We chose a fence called The Fortress II.  The distinguishing characteristics are the 4x6 posts, and the 2x6 beams.  It's finished with 1x6 top center and bottom rungs.  The posts are also much deeper (by about a foot) then our neighbors, which structure is based on 4x4 posts and 2x4 beams.  

With two shepherds, we wanted to go with strength and stability.

I thought I would also give you an update on the budget since I posted The Big Backyard Project.

We were originally budgeting for the fence to cost about $7,458 and for our neighbors to chip in half of the cost on each side (which we had discussed before choosing the fence we wanted) - so a total expenditure of $4,255.  We wound up changing the length of the fence (on both sides), as well as going from 6x6 posts to 4x6 - so that affected the budget a bit.  

The largest change to the budget was the fact that one of our neighbors backed out of paying the full half of the fence.  They decided to go with the Fortress I which was $30/foot rather than $47/foot - and so were only willing to pay $15/foot on the side that we split.  Our other neighbor, while they also decided to go with a less expensive fence for the rest of their yard, honored their commitment to pay half of the full price.

oh!  We were also able to negotiate a small discount from $47/foot to $45/foot because we 'sold' our neighbors on the company we went with - so they gave us a price break.

So...here's the new breakdown:

I've included the deck/garage as well - but nothing has changed there.

Jordan and I wound up having to pay $4,037.55 which is $217.73 less then originally anticipated! 

I was pretty psyched about that - until I remembered that there are two sections of fence that still have to be done, once the garage is finished, to tie it all together...so we'll actually have to pay an extra $535.50 to wrap that up...which is only $317.77 more then we had budgeted for....not bad for an overrun, when our neighbor decided to chip in $496.12 less then we had agreed.

Questions? Comments?

Links ♥