EI Approved

My Maternity Leave officially started on January 21st and I'm so pleased to see that my employer issued by ROE quickly and my EI claim has already been approved!  I was planning on having to wait at least until beginning of March due to previous experiences with Employment Insurance - but this is going very quickly!

Once I get my first payment (I'm thinking Feb 8th likely), I'll submit that to work and my 70% top-up for 15 weeks will start which is a benefit that my employer pays for.

Everything is coming together....just waiting for this baby to arrive.


Weekly Spend - January (week 4)

There are five spending weeks in January but this takes us up to Thursday of the fourth.  It's cumulative from the post I did a couple weeks back rather than each weeks spending re-cap.

In the last two weeks, we spent:

  • $25 more in gas
  • $440 more in groceries
  • $288 more in eating out
  • $25 in alcohol
  • $260 in Vehicle Maintenance
  • $2,200 in Home Maintenance
No change/spending in:
  • Medical
  • Clothes/Shoes/Hair
  • Banking
  • Car Insurance

The eating out thing genuinely surprises me...but I can see it's a few times out as a family and a few times Jordan eating out for lunch.  So we'll need to keep an eye on this.

The other obvious big ones are Vehicle Maintenance which were the replacement parts for my windshield washer that Jordan is installing and the $2,200 in Home Maintenance which is a new washer and dryer that was on sale and is for our basement renovation.  I'm thinking I might actually create a basement reno category to keep day-to-day maintenance items and the renovation separate.

Is your spending on track this January?



Who doesn't like pictures of renovations? Yes? No?

The majority of the demolition of our basement which was previously poorly finished was completed before the snow was flying.  Now that we have all of our final financing in place we were able to continue with some of the more...destructive demolition.

The first step is to prep for an interior weeping tile system.  We realized we were getting a bit of water wicking into the basement.  For a variety of reasons, we decided with our contractor that this system would be the most effective for our home.

So - to save on some costs, Jordan did the initial work to cut away the concrete and jackhammer where the system will go.  The two days of labor probably saved us at least $1,000...maybe more.  Next steps are to haul the concrete out, install the system, cover it back up with gravel & then pour fresh concrete.

So excited!

Also - so grateful for my mom.  We've stayed at her place for the last two days because of the noise, dust and exhaust. 


The Results are In

Our home appraisal results are in!

After the quoted renovations are completed, market value is estimated to be $425,000 - which is pretty much where we needed to be to get the full budget from the quote out of the equity in our home.  We still very much intend on doing some of the work where we can and putting in sweat equity where it makes sense too - but this is great, great news!


Weekly Spend - January (week 2)

Two weeks into January and I wanted to post my first spend report of 2019.  I think it'll be easier to stay on top of it if I do every week or two instead of just once a month - at least at first until I'm back in the swing of things.

Not including the Car Insurance renewal for one of our vehicles we spent $772 in the first two weeks. 

Not too shabby - and would have been on target except that for months of Jan/Feb I reduced our weekly spend budget to $300 from $350 - so we overspent by $150 if I ignore the reimbursable line (which have already been reimbursed).

Another nearly $50 is in banking - this is highly unusual for us - somehow in my effort to get one of our credit cards paid to $0 I missed the window to avoid interest on another.  Oops!!  It's very annoying.  It's been years and years since I paid any interested on a credit card.  Not going to beat myself up though, just going to move on and get it taken care of.

The personal care item was a pedicure - a treat for myself before Little Miss arrives - so no regrets there.


Networth Update

I've been tracking our Net-worth since 2013 and when looking at just the current year month-to-month, sometimes it feels like we have such slow (or no) movement.  I enjoy end of the year posts because you can really see the long term impact of the changes you've made over the years.

I think also helpful because over the course of the year you can have dips as market's change, investments change, life changes...but over the course of six years we've made such a change in our circumstances.

The biggest changes we made in 2018 included:

  • Paid off our second vehicle while is still has a trade in value
  • Increased the value of our home through renovations
  • Continued contributing to RRSPs, RESPs
...and some changes we didn't make, but were made and impacted us:
  • Temporary employment agreement was made full time
  • Jessie had two raises
  • Jordan had a raise 
We don't just save our money though - we see it as a tool and some money was spent! 

In 2018 we:
  • Went on a week vacation across the country for my cousins wedding
  • Bought a hot-tub 
  • Many many many trips to my mom's cabin by a lake around 1.5 hours from here
  • Cared for my Great Aunt when she was passing (many trips to a city about 3 hours from here)
  • Celebrated my sons third birthday (okay, this didn't really cost much but I wanted to share)
  • Went to a city around 8 hours away during a work trip - Jordan and Little Man came and played tourist when I was working and visited family
  • Ate well (perhaps too well...we'll see as I start tracking $$ on food again)
I'm sure there's more, but the point of this was just to share that we save, we spend and we try to make good choices for our family that keep us healthy and happy both now and in the future.


Raise the Roof

Well, not the roof actually.

Jordan just got a raise!  Woohoo!  Great timing with the renovations about to start and me about to go on Maternity Leave.  The excitement is because we have no idea when these changes happen - is workplace doesn't do formal communications.  It's just a cost of living adjustment, but it's a happy new year surprise.

I actually also got a raise effective Jan 1, 2019 which is pretty great too - we'll have just one, maybe 1.5 paydays at my new rate before going on leave, but it's enough that my employer paid EI top up will based on the new rate instead of the old one.

So, Raise the Roof!


Budget (s)

Last week I mentioned that Jordan and I are expecting eight iterations of our budget over the next year as we start/stop maternity and parental leave.  Here's the high-level of the five major changes that we'll see.  We're actually operating under the 'Wait for EI' budget right now.

Feel free to add any comments or questions you may have - things will no doubt change (as they have a propensity to do), but this is big picture guideline for the next year or so. 

I'll be tracking our actual spending and posting that regularly so hoping to stay on track with that added bit of accountability.  I'll also be making phone calls over the next few weeks to try to get the cell phone bill and a few other items negotiated to a more reasonable level.


Blend & Extend or Renew

Now that we have our quote and initiated things with our bank to get started on our basement renovation, we have a decision to make about how we handle our mortgage.

Current balance of the mortgage is just under $250,000 and the appraisal we had done in May of 2018 had the value come in at  $365,000.  We can borrow up to 80% of the value and so we have to re-appraise at  $423,000.00 to get the full budget out of the house.  That would then bring the mortgage up to about $335,000.  I don't think we're going to get that high, but I'm hopeful we come in around $395-$410,000 the market here is really good for sellers right now plus all of the work we did over the last 8 months.

On to our mortgage options - these numbers are based on the assumption that we'll get the full value from the house.  Our existing mortgage is a blended rate of 2.73% until June 3, 2020: with the new amount added plus the re advance fee of $250.00 our new blended rate would be 3.20% until June 3, 2020.  We currently have 206 months left in our amortization.

  1. If we keep the 206 month amortization our weekly payments would increase to $492.28. 
  2. If we renewed with a 300 month amortization our weekly payments would be $377.80.

We currently pay more than we need to at $350/week  and once we're back to work we can comfortably handle $500/week - but we would have to get through this year which would be tight.

What would you do?

Renovations...are we done yet?

Since we bought our home back in 2016 we've been taking on one renovation project at a time.  Before we moved in, we actually did a full kitchen and bathroom renovation on the main floor.  This past summer we did extensive work in our backyard (full privacy fence, deck, patio, pergola & hot tub). 

This fall, we updated the flooring in our Master Bedroom and added a tile back-splash in our kitchen.

We're now preparing for our final reno - the basement.  The basement was previously used as a yoga studio - just a big open space.  It wasn't particularly functional or attractive for our family, but we've made it work.  Given our newest addition, we felt very strongly that we now needed to get this last big job completed.  The urgency is now because I work from home, and my home office is going to become Little Miss' bedroom - so I need the space downstairs.

We're starting later than we had hoped, but are really excited to be moving this along.  The total estimate is just under $90,000 (including GST).  We'll be gaining two full bedrooms, a proper laundry room, a full bathroom (currently there is just a sink/toilet), a wine brewing & storage room and a proper living / family room & play area for the kiddos.

So, so excited.

Now that we have our quote, I've been pulling together confirmation of employment letters etc. etc. for the bank to see what we can muster for our renovation loan and how much we'll have to personally finance. Fingers crossed.


Money on Leave

The other day I mentioned that I've stripped back our budget to the bare bones in anticipation of waiting for Employment Insurance when I go on maternity leave.  We'll have several changes to our financial picture over the next 12 months or so. 

I'll be taking Maternity/Parental Leave for 6 months, then taking 3-5 weeks vacation (pending approval).  When I start vacation, Jordan's going to start his Parental Leave for the next six months.  The plan is to overlap for the month of August when baby is six months and Little Man is 3.5 years and really spend time as a family just connecting.  It will also serve as a transition before I go back to work full time.

Here's a rough ideal of the iterations we'll go through:

  1. Prior to Maternity Leave - full salary for Jordan & I 
  2. Maternity Leave Starts (wait for EI) - Jordan full salary, $0 for Jessie
  3. EI starts - Jordan full salary, ~$500/week for Jessie (max benefit of $547 less taxes)
  4. Work top-up starts - Jordan full salary, Jessie work tops up EI to 70% of salary for 15 weeks ~$1,700/month
  5. Work top-up stops - Jordan full salary, ~$500/week for Jessie (max benefit of $547 less taxes)
  6. Jessie Vacation Starts, Jordan Paternity Leave Starts - full salary Jessie, $0 for Jordan
  7. Jordan EI Starts - full salary Jessie, ~$500 for Jordan
  8. Jordan back to work - full salary Jessie, full salary Jordan

8 times.  8.


...The Wait

Happy New Year! 

Now that it's January, I feel like we're in the real count down until Baby #2 arrives.  She's due near the end of the month, but due dates aren't really predictors of when babies are going to show up.  Our son was a full two weeks overdue, so it feels like a real crap shoot.

Anyways, things have been so hectic with work and the holidays that I was feeling a bit under-prepared.  I only have 1, maybe 2 paydays before we're on the great EI wait....in Canada there's a one week waiting period before Employment Insurance kicks-in but it can take weeks and weeks for the money to actually start rolling in.  It really depends on how backed up the system is at any given time. 

So, to make sure we're ready I've stopped all of our automatic savings for things like vacation, gifts, vehicle etc. etc. so that our chequing account buffer increases over the next few weeks or so. I then did a cash-flow exercise (just timing of Jordan's pay-days with the remaining account withdrawals) and am feeling confident that we'll be fine until March.

I'm keeping RRSP & RESP contributions and the other expenses we'll still have are our internet, cell phones, BC Hydro, Mortgage, Gas/Groceries (though dropping from $400 to $300/week budgeted) as well as a day a week for daycare for kiddo (more on that later).

We'll be short about $350/month but with the buffer we have - we'll be fine until EI starts and then I can re-set the budget again.

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