Friday, 30 March 2012

Putting life in order!

I love days like today, when I have a bit of extra energy & I can put life back into an order that feels so good. Here's what my day has looked like so far:

  • Sorted the bills.
  • Paid the bills for the next month.
  • Updated spreadsheets.
  • Made piles of the loose paper.
  • Sorted, filed, shredded & dealt with the things that needed attention.
  • Made phone calls, answered emails & made future plans.
  • Gathered, sorted & started the laundry.
  • Put donations into a box & sorted the recycling.
  • Swept the deck & vacuumed the front step rug.
  • Cleaned the kitchen, swept the house & washed the floors.
The things I still need to do before I go to bed tonight:

  • Finish the laundry & put everything away.
  • Revamp a PowerPoint for a co-worker who is away.
  • Go to the newspaper & hand in my freelancer contract - yeah!
  • Head to the library to return a book & hang a poster of our workshop.
  • Take the donations to the charity shop & do some shopping of our own.
  • Go with my daughter to get our eyebrows waxed - a last minute change for today.
  • Shop to order cakes for our theatre production, flowers for opening night & little gifts for the cast & crew - a tradition that is a small budget expense but fun to give to say "thank you for helping us pull this huge production off each spring"!
Busy weekend ahead with groceries to buy, costumes to iron, make up to sort for each of us into our own bags, three rehearsals for two different productions, one dinner out with my guy, just us & time with our family before we spend the rest of the week literally live at the theatre!

Enjoy your weekend. Financial totals to be added up some time this weekend & shared. Fingers crossed we did as well as we think we did this month.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Feeling a little Springy!

The sun is out, after days of snow, sleet, rain & fog. Melting away, creating puddles & mud but at least the pavement is visible again & I can have my sun roof open!

Recent charity shop treasures:

Small Boyd's Bear. I already have the matching boy bear wearing little green overalls. So cute together.

Cost me an entire .75 cents.

A small china basket, perfect for little Easter eggies!

This started out at $1 but blue tags were half price, so in the end, cost me exactly .50 cents.

Bag of Easter eggs for decorating. My plan is to put them in 6 small plants pots, with ribbons tied around the front. I "color~coded" my kids when they were small. We called it their "family color".
Pink, blue, green, yellow, orange & purple. So much easier when it came time for things like Easter Egg Hunts.

Rule #1: you are only allowed to put the eggs in your Easter basket that match your "family color". Worked very well!!

This little bag of eggs will now become my creation of 6 little plants pots with my kids "family colors" to signify each of them.

A bargain at .25 cents.

As a new gramma, I couldn't resist this cute little plate. I have the perfect spot for it, once the library is all reno'd.

This plate was not on sale but I was quite happy with the $1 pricetag. Well within my budget.

My favorite spring colors are pink & green. What are yours? Hop over to Carla's blog for a great giveway & to answer this very springy question! You just might be the lucky winner!!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Not wanting to rush time ....

.... but very excited that at the end of this year, our roof loan will be paid off in full, we'll have paid off 42% of our car loan (in just one year) & just over 49% of our mortgage. Right now, we have paid off 33% of our roof, almost 10% of our car & just 44% of our mortgage.

Quite a difference.

Moving right along!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


After several attempts to have the leader of our fine province come out to see the work we do, at her request, after moving the date several times to accommodate her schedule, after making sure we had all staff, who have wonky schedules & aren't always in the building at the same time be here together, after polishing the floors & shining the water decanter, after sweeping the steps & making sure our shiny, freshly washed cars were all lined up outside, with space set aside for her shiny limo, after giving up our lunch so we could be all ready (can you hear my stomach protesting the lack of food?), after another last minute change necessitated moving the 2 hour visit this morning to a 30 minute stop this afternoon, she is now late & clearly not showing up ....

Sad really, when we are just weeks away from a provincial election & her job is on the line!

And I even wore makeup today ...

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat ....


An old Martha Stewart magazine from May 2008. Looking for spring ideas & a couple of recipes to take along on our holiday, when we have time to cook gourmet meals for just the two of us!


Oprah's interview of Lady GaGa, a favorite of mine. Love that GaGa still stays with her mom & dad when she's in New York, in the bedroom she grew up in.

Listening to?

The wind outside & the noise our grandbaby contributes to the house.


Nothing but we just devoured two freshly baked cupcakes from Crave. I had lemon lime icing on a vanilla cupcake & Kent had vanilla icing on a red velvet cupcake. Just for us. No kids or grandkids particiated in this activity ....

Happy you accomplished this week?

Filing, organizing, shredding at both my offices & delivering a great workshop on the weekend. A great meeting with a couple who have lost several babies & have asked me to be at their birth as their doula. Also standing up to a very tough lady today who won't take no for an answer. I may be a good head shorter than her but my might is just as strong!

Looking forward to next week?

Playing with a sweet baby tomorrow afternoon. A new program to launch tomorrow night. Gym dates with Kent. Watching my hyacinth's bloom. Transferring some funds to the trip savings & making plans for our holiday. I have mixed feelings about meeting with the Premier this week but also looking forward to showing her the work we do in the community.

Thankful for today?

That we could sleep in for a bit to make up for all the early days last week. A fun trek to the Antique Mall. A great rehearsal. An incredible crock pot dinner waiting for us when we came home. Chatting with a new friend on Facebook, making plans for a lunch together.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

We did it!!

We survived with just $25 in our spendable account. I kept checking the account yesterday, worried I had forgotten about an expense that would go thru but last night, just before my pay went in, our balance was still $25. Yeah! And never again shall I put money into the savings without a more accurate account of what needs to be paid first. Paying self first is a great plan but one must be able to support the plan too!

I did a quick tally to see where we're at for total debt repayment. A few years ago, our debt totalled $207,310. We are now down to $126,585. So we've paid off $80,725. I wish it was the other way around but we're getting there, one payment at a time! Most of our debt is our mortgage, now sitting at $98,410. This is good debt & not one we lay awake at night worried about. We make payments on a weekly schedule & we've upped our payments every year when we renew so that we're paying it down faster each year. We're now paying 85% of the principal off with every payment. We have 2 plans: stay here & finish paying off the mortgage OR sell, build on our acreage (without a mortgage because our land was paid for years ago), then eventually sell & buy a small condo here & our main home on Salt Spring Island. The second plan gains us more financially but we also love this house & our neighborhood. We can't completely leave this community forever as we have created a legacy project here & we have family but we're open to having two homes down the road, as long as we can do both without a mortgage. And Salt Spring has been our dream since we were both 18 ....

Back to our total debt. The rest is our car loan & our roof, sitting at a combined total of $28,175. Both will be done in the next 24 months, the roof by this October. At that point, except for the planned kitchen remodel, we will be just dealing with the mortgage. Kent's leased car goes back in 2015, at which point we'll decide then if we'll continue to lease (bonus for him now) or buy. But not something to even think about for now!

That's our current tally!!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Think we can do it?

We've unintentionally created our own challenge for the week.

Transferred a bit too much to our savings account too early in the month.

Which as of tonight is leaving us with exactly $25 in our daily account.

It's 52 hours until payday.

A quick check to our spreadsheet shows we don't have anything outstanding to be taken from our account.

Brainstormed to see if there was anything we might get hit with.


We need to eat but have food in the house.

We need to drive but both cars have gas.

We need to be comfortable but utilities are paid.

So other than an unexpected expense, we might just be able to do this.

Stay tuned for the final tally on Thursday morning!

Saturday, 10 March 2012


My sleep is really messed up right now.

I can fall asleep very quickly each night.

Staying asleep is a whole other issue .

It's 8 p.m. now & I desparately want to go to bed.

But Kent is out at a table read, grandbaby is running around giggling & there's a show I plan to watch in a bit.

And if I go to sleep now, I'll be awake even earlier than the 4 a.m. that has been the trend the last two weeks.

I have no energy when I wake up at that time to physically leave the warmth of my bed & do some work, so I lay there, listening to the wind outside & the gentle breaths of my husband.

Damn, I envy him!

Four hours of sleep each night is not enough to be the best I can be each day. I'm starting to fill the fallout. Forgetfullness, lack of inspiration, disorganization, all things I work hard to not allow in my day are pretty present. I'm starting to get pretty frantic that my work will pile up & something will go terribly wrong. I'm just not at a point in my life where I can fail at the tasks I so enjoy doing, especially with so many people counting on me to get things done & done well.

Suggestions for a full nights sleep?

Friday, 9 March 2012

Cutting Back.

I'm always looking for ways to cut back on our spending & within our budget in the areas that are not fixed, like our mortgage. We're great at saving & we refuse to carry any credit card debt. What goes on our cards must be within our budget each month or we don't buy. We do pretty good for staying within our food budget, although using leftovers instead of composting them would be an area we could improve. Our "free" spending ~ clothing, antiques, treasures ~ is always small & we truly only buy when the deal is awesome. We're very careful when it comes to our utilities & have received comments from the electric company & gas that we should be the "poster family" for others. Our cars have been chosen for their value, safety ratings & gas consumption. We rarely go out to eat but will treat ourselves to an occasional Timmie's hot chocolate or a Second Cup fruit smoothie. Where we spend money is in the area of the Arts, which we are very involved with in our community. But most of this is also budgeted as we know when the next festival is coming up or what our costs will be when we're involved in a theatre production.

The one expense that sometimes comes along is when Kent, who is a film maker by trade, has to put a charge onto our Mastercard. He is often paid a bit up front but usually the major funds come at the end of the project. So we throw it on our card, buy some time, pay it off & then pay ourselves back when the payment comes back to us. I also often purchase items for our family centre & then have to claim back that money. I'm not great about doing it on a monthly basis & sometimes save up receipts for a couple of months & then submit them. Drives my administrator crazy & I'm working to change this. We recently acquired a free "in perfect condition, not a scratch on it" desk to be used in our "library" that we are creating out of one of the kids bedrooms upstairs. We have a beautiful couch in a light purple velvety fabric, purchased for $100 from a family who had just bought it, then got transferred. Along with some metal shelves, this wood desk will look great with the wood floors, sage green paint & white trim. But what I am excited about is the drawers! Yes, the drawers. I envision one for utility bills, all in their neat, labled file folders. One drawer for all my writing paper & my collection of letters from pen pals & family members, bundled with pretty ribbon. One drawer for Kent's film expenses. One for my work expenses. One for our home expenses. That leaves three more drawers. One for the centre. One for my contract. One for pens, paper, greeting cards, stamps, the chequebook & computer stuff, like blank cd's, sticks for storage & batteries. I keep dreaming about this desk as the one piece of furniture in our house that will save us from potential disorganization. It will become the hub of our paper ~ the place to throw those things we need to dig up later! Can't wait ....

In looking at our budget, the one area we could improve on is expenses that are fixed but could be lower by comparison shopping. For example, we've been with our insurance company for our home forever. We used to pay under $400 a year to insure our home & contents. It would increase slightly each year for inflation but always a comfortable increase. Two years ago, without notice, our premium rose by $28 a month. Ouch. But great coverage, so we didn't protest. No claims but we're told across the board, increases were due. Then last year, they decided they needed to review all policies & this included a tour of our home to determine if we had adequate coverage. They never toured our home when we took out the policy in 1984 but ok. Let them in the door & bam! A month later, our premium rose up to $112 a month, another $40 dollar increase. So our premium in two years doubled. We read on the net this national company was doing this to get rid of long term customers. What?? So this past week, I received a quote from the company who has our car insurance & guess what? For better coverage, our premium will drop to $74 a month, a savings of $38 to us. We'll be switching right away.

The next thing we're doing is calling our cable/internet provider. We currently pay $145 a month for HD tv & high speed internet. We've had no issues but the other provider in town keeps hounding us to switch. And for a $60 a month savings, I would. But instead, I'm calling our provider & insist they lower our fees to the same as the other provider, or we'll switch, knowing they will transfer us to their "Customer Retention Department" who will then invite us to stay by meeting our demand for the lower fee, same service. Already did this with our land line & saw our phone bill drop from $46 a month to $28. We also renegotiated our cell phone plan & dropped it from $110 a month to $70 for both phones with all the features we need.

And speaking of our land line, we never use it anymore. No one calls us (sad, I know) because we all converse by email. skype, Facebook or the occasional cell call. Truly, the only time our phone rings is when the telemarketers feel the need to check in on us. Or my mother calls when she is out somewhere. She doesn't have our cell numbers & we'd just have to give those to her but other than that, our phone is silent. The sum of $28 a month doesn't sound like much but in a year, that is $336 we could use towards a trip or a holiday, like Christmas!

The other thing I'd like to convince Kent to give up is our daily paper, a $26 a month expense. We are activists & truly, the paper is something we don't have time to read much anymore. We recycle but our bag is overflowing each month with paper ~ not a nice visual outside our home each week when the recyclying truck comes for pick up.

If we make all these changes, we could save a total of $152 a month or $1,824 a year. Wow! That's money into our RRSP's, our savings, our trip fund, Christmas ....

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Little things ...

... can brighten a day.

Like the sun shining & the snow melting.

A monthly meeting tonight of like minded arts people.

Stopping for our favorite white hot chocolate to take with us!

Pictures in a magazine that sparked an idea for Christmas gifts.

Two sessions with families today that started rough & ended beautifully.

Writing a paragraph for the book I started writing last fall. Paragraph by paragraph, it will get done!

And transferring $475 to our joint savings account to bring it up to a rounded total. I still have to transfer over $525 but decided that would be the beginning of our trip account, soon to be opened, so we can keep those funds separate from the long term savings.

After a rough couple of days, it's nice to see that life does carry on & that the little things in life can mean so much more when we've faced adversity, feel despair & then wake up to a sunny day.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Taking the day off ...

... after a very late night. Dd finally had her breaking moment last night. Reality has hit that her relationship with her husband may, in fact, be over. The hope has disappeared & the despair has set in. In the middle of the night, we had one weeping mama & one frantic baby.

None of us have been thru this before. I've tried to sleep, had a warm bath & finally decided I won't be able to function at the office today. Thankfully, I'm set up to work from home & I had no families booked for counselling today. The roads are bad, the weather chilly & I'm staying in, to catch up on files, catch up on sleep & snuggle our precious grandson all day.

Our families have been intact for generations, so this is a brand new experience. Not one we ever envisioned for our children but one we are in the middle of now as we try to support our eldest & her baby the best we can. I'm hoping it doesn't get messier than this & that they will work towards finding ways to be the best parents they can be, while living apart, hundreds of miles from each other.

Yuck ...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Shaking my head ...

Our 4 year old dishwasher was recalled 2 years ago.

We were offered $150 towards a new one or a repair guy would come out & replace a part.

We declined both.

Why, you may ask?

Because the recall was related to a fire issue & we've already been thru a massive house fire.

So we weren't willing to take a chance that a repair would fix such a big issue.

And the $150 could only be used towards 3 different models of their choice, which turned out to be higher end models than the midline we had chosen. And listed between $800 to $1100, before the money offered. We had paid around $450, so spending more seemed more like a ploy to line the pockets of the appliance company.

We've washed dishes by hand for the last 2 years but decided it was time to look for a new unit so we can sell our house at some point. I'm sure the new owners would like this feature included in their newly renovated home.

Last month, we stumbled across an amazing sale & bought a new dishwasher literally minutes after finding it. A Bosch high end model, on sale for $499. Everywhere else we looked, it was listed for over $1299. The only thing I don't like is it is stainless steel & our other appliances, all matching, are brushed nickel. Looks like stainless but no finger marks. My dear husband convinced me we'd make out just fine but if it really bothers me, we'll replace the rest in time.

Great, more expense!

Anyway, back to the dishwasher.

Trying to find a plumber to uninstall the old & install the new has been more challenging than I thought. Missed appointments for a quote, quotes on the phone & our latest, a quote that didn't make any sense at all. We were expecting a quote of around $200 & the latest sits at $480. The plumbers explanation for being so high?

"It's a Bosch & if you can afford to buy one, you can afford to pay a higher install fee."


So I asked if there was extra time he would need or extra parts, but he honestly said, "No, it's easier than most to install. I just charge those who can afford higher cost appliances a higher fee. I have to make up the difference for helping out those less fortunate by charging them less."

Lovely. So because I have made a good purchase of a highly rated appliance, saving my pennies to do so, but I'm perceived as let's call it "rich" then I have to pay the penalty.

The guy wasn't too pleased when we told him we honestly couldn't justify spending almost the same amount for the install as it cost us to buy the unit. He was astounded to hear how much we paid but wasn't willing to budge on his price. I told him how much we had already been quoted & he wasn't impressed with the, as he stated "low ball price." His next statement was the one that got him kicked out of the front door:

"You have two new cars in the driveway & you can't pay me better than the other guy!"

One is leased & paid for by my husband's company. And the other we saved & saved & saved, then paid invoice & that car is still worth more than what we paid because of the lower price we were able to get after hours of negotiation. So yes, we have 2 nice cars but not high end. A Honda & a Kia are pretty middle of the road for pricing. Actually, both were lower than our previous 2 cars, so he has no argument there!

But that shouldn't be an indication of what we can pay. I'm reporting this guy to the company he works for on Monday.

And will spend another day looking for a decent plumber to do this small job at a decent price.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Goals for March 2012

Our goals for March include paying down our debt:

  • Mortgage - $775
  • Car - $675
  • Roof - $625

That's a total of $2,075 towards our debt for the month.

Our second goal: putting at least $1,000 into our Joint Savings Account. We need to have a discussion on how much we should be contributing to our Individual Tax Free Savings Accounts. This is money we don't really want to touch unless we decide to put it towards paying down our mortgage faster or use towards our retirement plan, which does include real estate purchases, instead of just RRSP's. The money is not locked in but I don't want to be moving money back & forth, which is why we have our JSA. We also need to decide if we are going to actually replace our kitchen this year, once the other reno's are finished. It would truly be the last thing to do & then our house would be completely reno'd from top to bottom. But then we would have to decide if we're staying or going.


Don't want to have to go there just yet. Probably subconsciously why we keep putting off the kitchen decision.

Other goals include:
  • continuing our "No Spend Days"
  • sending in our taxes for assessment & refund
  • purging 31 items from our home to be donated
  • deciding whether to ditch our home phone land line
  • planning our May holiday, including our son's wedding
  • deciding on a health care plan to buy into instead of just using Kent's health spending account
All goals I'm pretty confident we can achieve over the next 30 days!

What are your goals this month? Can you do better than ours? I challenge you to try!!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

February Wrap Up!

Time to lay out the results of the February Challenges. Here's our totals for the month:

We paid down $1922 on our debts ~ $792 to our Mortgage, $660 to our Car Loan & $500 to our Roof.

We transferred $595 to our savings accounts ~ $525 went to our joint savings, $70 was split between our two Tax Free Individal Savings Accounts.

We did a preliminary on our Income Taxes & discovered, to our great surprise, that we are both getting tax refunds totaling just over $2,000 together. We both had significant increases in our income this year ~ mine from 2 raises & Kent's from moving back into the Corporate world of audiovisual from self-employment. To get refunds, even without buying new RRSP's this year is a nice bonus for us. Next comes the "how should we spend money we weren't expecting" conversation. Our son is getting married this spring, so most likely we'll decide to use this towards the trip that we will be taking together as a family. We had already started to budget for this very special day but now we are ahead of the game & have added some much needed "K & J" time to our holiday.

We purged the house again & managed to donate far more than the 29 items suggested by Carla as the starting point for decluttering. I still have to bag up the clothing but even before counting in the clothes, we gave away more than 60 items, including glassware, dishes, books, toys & small household items we no longer need. I really liked this challenge & want to see if I can do it again this month, with a plan to get rid of 31 items. We also threw away about 4 bags of shredded paper & broken items that could not be donated. Our garbage bin was overflowing. But it felt so good to get rid of more stuff from our home.

One of my other tasks was to track every single purchase to see where we could cut back if needed. I discovered that we can afford to up our payments on our car loan, so we moved that payment from $125 a week to $200 a week. Because we are using our Line of Credit, we can pay as much & as often as we want. So for now, we've upped the amount we want to pay, knowing if we run into any difficulties, we can lower the amount. We will also be upping the amount we are paying towards our Home Depot Card that our New Roof sits on, with 0% interest as long as we pay this back before the middle of October, as we will, because we've used this process a number of times for the renovations for our home. And not once, have we ever paid interest. I'm sure Home Depot hates us by now!

The only thing I didn't get around to this month was to roll our coins that we've saved up. The money is sitting in a jar & I have the rolls but just need an hour or two to actually sit & roll. A dear friend of ours gifted me a new DVD that I really want to watch, so maybe on the weekend I'll have some extra time to take care of this task. It will be interesting to see how much we did accumulate.

That was our month. Hoping to do even better this coming month but happy with our progress so far!