debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!


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Financial Mistakes of the Worst Kind

financial-mistakes-debt-debsThe way I handle our finances today is night and day to what we did before. So much so, that I even have a hard time remembering some of the financial mistakes we made. It’s probably because I push bad memories from my consciousness. It’s a coping mechanism.

So before I completely forgot everything, I thought I would try to document the things I do remember about the worst financial mistakes we made that got us into $394K of debt.

You read that right folks! So now I would like to walk you through things we would do over, if reliving our experience. Hang on for the ride!!

To read more please go to my guest post on Frugal Rules.

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Money Lessons in Marine Life

I don’t know what was going on this week but I can’t believe the number of videos I saw that were oceanic in nature.  Did you see them?  I do love some big blue ocean,  so it made me want to look them up so I could watch again (I originally saw them on the TV news).

They lead me to other fantastic sea videos which I loved so much,  I wanted to share.  So not to worry folks, if you missed seeing great marine life videos this week, or want to see them again, plus more, I’ve got you covered.

Besides, Discovery Channel is starting their advertising campaign leading up to Shark Week which starts August 10 so this will rev you up for that.  Don’t get Discovery because you canceled cable to save money?  Well then, you’re in for a treat.

But since this is a personal finance blog, I need to keep things relevant and that was not hard to do.   First watch the video, and then I will tell you what this video is saying to you in personal finance terms.

So we are gonna have a whale of a time and there’s even a special photo taken by moi that I am proud to share amongst this fabulous collection of videosl

Double Breach

Did you see that?  She took your eyes off prize just for a short bit and then missed the opportunity to see the complete double breach jump.  Um ya…., that’s like if you finally put your money where your mouth is and bought Apple (Disclosure:  Short AAPL ha ha) in March this year at $75 even though it was lower than $60 for a bit in April and June of last year.

AAPL-Shark-Week-money

Source: www.nasdaq.com Apple Inc. Stock Chart

On the positive side, she’s got it on video and with a selfie to boot!    That’s gotta be worth some money!!  [Personal note:  we took the same boat tour in September 2011 but didn’t see one whale]

Not Checking Your Money

Did you see that at 39 seconds?  Maybe it’s hard to see the whales, I dunno.  Apparently the pilot didn’t see it but only avoided the landing because of the antics of onlookers on shore.  I would have thought that in an area where whales are quite common, you would be checking for these carefully as you land.  What does this remind you of?  How about not checking your bank balance before you use your debit card so that you don’t go into overdraft?

Money Trickery

This was reported as a ruse put on my The Discovery Channel to raise excitement of their upcoming shark week.  Was it brilliant or slimey?  Slimey as in when you do your homework to check out all the prices on a new TV, decide to buy from one place and find out the salesperson neglected to tell you that the wall bracket costs extra.   Ya?  But then you bought the TV anyways, right?  I mean it is SHARK WEEK after all.

Big Problem

You’ve got a whale of a financial problem, it’s ugly and “you’re in the bottom of the ocean alone”.   (You feel like) you’ve got no one to help you, no one you can talk to, but if you can figure it out and pull it off what a story it will be.  Anyone else feel like that?  No one?  Just me?

Well truth be told, I used to feel this way.  Now that I’ve started blogging I feel like I have people to talk to.  Lots of people.  Thank you.

Money Constraints

Does your budget and frugal living sometimes make you feel like you’re on the periphery and not having fun?  It’s like you are looking at everyone playing, like the pelicans, but not able to partake.

Don’t let your frugal living put you on the bench.  There’s lots that you can do that doesn’t cost money.  I, for one, am just thrilled by all these on line videos I can watch  for entertainment purposes.  It’s not the money you can’t spend, it’s the money you choose to save that’s important.

Financial Wins

Witnessing something unexpected is like winning a prize or getting a bonus that you didn’t expect.  You can’t believe you are witnessing this.  You’re in the right place and the right time and it feels so good.

Celebrate small financial wins in a joyous manner.  They will happen, and probably when you least expect it.

Leap into Investing

You have a lot of built up anticipation before you finally make your first investment in equities.  You think it’s going to be good but it’s also kind of scary.  The suspense is quite real.  Hang on for the ride, but don’t get freaked out by all the ups and downs.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

I have a confession.  I’m afraid of big fish.  And by big fish I don’t mean any big fish, I mean humongous groupers.  Aren’t they the ugliest looking things?  Well after watching that video and now that I know they are an endangered species, I feel kind of sorry for them and now I think they are kind of cute.  It’s a bit like feeling sorry for the Joneses.  I mean, they don’t realize their money is going to be extinct if they keep on spending the way they are.

Mr. Pay Day Loan

Barracuda-money

Mr. Pay Day loan is courtesy of moi, although The Irishman will say he took the photo but I do think he is mistaken.  He was found off the shores of Cozumel while we were scuba diving.  Great place to scuba dive.  Mr. Pay Day Loan found some unsuspecting divers borrowers to lend money to and I caught it on camera.

Barracuda looking at food

Barracuda-debtdebs.com-moneyDid you see that?  Just in case you missed it I’m gonna show you again, fully illustrated.

So there you have it, all your money concerns illustrated by oceanic situations.  Have you ever heard the expression “You can’t fight the ocean“?  Well that’s true, I totally agree with that.  But as far as personal finance difficulties go, you can fight ‘em tooth and nail fin.

*Note:  The first three videos are the ones I saw on the news this week that spurred this post.

Linked to Friday Jet Fuel #2

 

Shoeaholic No More
This post was featured on Rockstar Finance
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The Lemonade Stand Book Review and Giveaway

I was tickled pink (as in pink lemonade!) to review Shannon Ryan’s new children’s book “The Lemonade Stand”.  I am a new grandmother of an eight month old who has been reading bed time story books since he was only 2 months.  I now have a new appreciation for the power of the written and illustrated word for children of all ages.

The Lemonade Stand – by Shannon Ryan

the-lemonade-standThe Lemonade Stand shares the desires of our children to meet their own needs for play, their insatiable capacity to love and the want to help others.  It shows a way to fulfill those dreams in a practical and totally achievable manner.

Shannon incorporates her own girls, Lauren and Taylor, in the story, along with her little godson’s, who have not quite achieved the wisdom of their money savvy friends.   Ryan and Christopher have big eyes full of want as they see things on the toy shelf while shopping with their mother.

The boys do not have enough money in their pockets and their savvy Mom is not willing to indulge their every whim.  Lauren understands their disappointment and provides some hope that they can do some things to improve the situation all on their own.

Without, giving away the plot, although you may have some predictions ;-) , the two boys learn all about entrepreneurship, marketing, raw materials and associated costs and finally profit margins.  There’s a little math thrown in there too, for good measure!

What I liked about the book was the demonstration of self-sufficiency but also the wise allocation of the profits made against wants, future needs and charity.  Children can identify themselves easily in these characters, and in doing so realize they too have the capacity to do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true.

As a mom of four grown children, I second guess my past behaviours and what I have taught my kids growing up about money.  I probably could have done better, knowing what I know now, even though they’ve all turned out pretty good in matters relating to money and otherwise.

Shannon gave me permission to share ‘The Lemonade Stand” with my daughter, a new Mom who is also very frugal.  She liked the book too and in her words “it teaches some important life lessons such as learning the value of money, how to share, how to work as a team with others and how to save money for something you really want.”  All of these are things they hope to teach their son as he gets older.

Personally, I will be happy to read this book to my grandson, and given that he’s already standing at eight months, I think he will be opening his own lemonade stand anytime soon.  ;-)

The-Lemonade-Stand-Shannon-Ryan

Collage of Illustrations from The Lemonade Stand by Shannon Ryan – Illustrated by Aaron Kizer

The Lemonade stand is skillfully illustrated by a very talented Aaron Kizer.

How to buy The Lemonade Stand Book

If you are interested in purchasing this book for your children, nieces or nephews or grandchildren you can use the following coupon code (TOUR3114) to get $3 off the book at The Heavy Purse Store.

The Lemonade Stand – iPad Mini Giveaway

July 14-31, 2014

Sponsored by The Heavy Purse

As part of the book launch, The Heavy Purse is offering an iPad Mini giveaway raffle

Co-hosted by Are Ya Gonna Eat That, Broke Millennial, Budget and The Beach, Budget Blonde, Budgeting for More, Busy Mom Budgets, Cash Cow Couple, Cents and Sensibility, Club Thrifty, Color Me Frugal, Debt Debs, Debt Roundup, Disease Called Debt, Eat Laugh Purr, Enemy of Debt, Eyes on the Dollar, Femme Frugality, Financially Blonde, Frugal Rules, Living Richly Cheaply, Luke 1428, Making Sense of Cents, Money Saving Dude, Monster Piggy Bank, Not Now Mom’s Busy, Reach Financial Independence, Shoeaholic No More, Stacking Benjamins, Tackling Our Debt, The Broke and Beautiful Life, The Finance Girl, The Frugal Farmer, The Random Path, Thrifty Dad, VeegMama and Young Adult Money. Join Lauren and Taylor in their continuing money adventures in The Lemonade Stand by Shannon Ryan, CFP®.

Shannon is a Mom on a mission to help busy parents teach their children simple, value-based principles that guide their money decisions and support their long-term financial well-being. “Everyone handles money. Unfortunately, not everyone does it with confidence. Money has long been a taboo topic in many homes, which makes it even harder for parents to know where to start or what to teach. So I created a series of children books to help parents ease into these important conversations. Financial literacy is one of the most loving gifts you can give your children, and I encourage everyone to make money conversations a priority in your home.”

We’re Giving Away an iPad Mini to One Lucky Reader!

Help us celebrate the release of The Lemonade Stand and join Shannon in her mission to increase financial literacy in both children and adults.

The giveaway runs from July 14-31, 2014 and is open worldwide.*

* A winner located outside of the United States will receive a cash equivalent prize via PayPal. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Debt Debs Super Duper Advice

debt-debs-adviceDid you see the great post compiled by Mark @ MoneySavingDude which compiles 50+ Money Saving Tips From Some of The Best Personal Finance Bloggers Today?

There’s a great variety of ideas from lots of great experiences all collected in one spot.  Mark did a great job on compiling that post.  I was so impressed that I took him up on his offer to promote myself add my own.  #growingmyfangirls&homeboys

This got me thinking about all the things I have learned over the last 2+ years of our debt recovery journey.  We’ve made so many mistakes, that I could do a Do’s and Don’ts, but I wanted to keep this positive.   So with the World Cup Fever upon us, let’s just call this the FIFA List (Finance Is Freakin’ Awesome).  So here’s my list of things I wish my former self knew already:
FIFA

  1. Track your spending!  Yes, I know you think it’s boring but once you make it a habit, it is not.  Just start.  Make a plan of what you can afford to spend against your income (a budget) and stay within it.  If you blow some categories one month, just pick yourself up and do better next month.  You can cut back (eat your pantry) on groceries next month or reallocate from a category you are under budget on.   Use a piece of paper, excel, MINT, YNAB… whatever… just do it!
  2. Stop buying stuff! It’s just crap! More stuff to dust, giveaway, throw away later. Live a minimalist lifestyle and put value where it belongs on activities and experiences and people!
  3. Use credit cards for rewards only if they are for things you need and are lucrative.  i.e. Cash in the hand for cash back cards are the best.  Travel can be good if you can work it so that you are saving a lot for planned travel.  Anything else that causes you to buy things you don’t need, or travel a particular way you normally wouldn’t are not what you are looking for.  Look for cards that give you 4% on ‘needs’ purchases – gas and groceries.
  4. Always pay off your credit cards monthly, the only exception being in step 5 below.
  5. Use low rate balance transfer cards with discretion and manage very carefully. Use them to your advantage to pay off a higher interest debt but don’t get caught with your pants on the ground! I can’t stress this enough!  So here are the conditions:
    1. Under no circumstances let anything else be charged to this card while you have an open balance. This happened to us for an annual renewal that we forgot about and we have paid $20 more interest as a result. Hey, you don’t think that’s much? I’ll take $20 any day!
    2. Don’t pay a balance transfer fee. Usually they are at about 1% but sometimes more. Negotiate for a 0% balance transfer or wait for that deal to come along. We were constantly being solicited to do one of these transfers and we said only if they would waive the transfer fee, which they did, and the interest reate is only 0.99%.
  6. Pay off your home in 15 years. How to do this and why?
    1. How?: Take out your mortgage for 20 or 25 years but ensure you have prepayment privileges so you can pay extra throughout the year and with a high enough maximum so that it will be gone within 15.
    2. Why?:

i.      You want to have cushion in your amortization period so that if worst case happens, job loss or illness, you have some buffer and don’t get stressed about it, as you might if you only had an amortization period of 15 years.

ii.      It’s better to be able to pay extra through out the year. Otherwise you need to be very disciplined to save the extra $3K to make the prepayment before your annual anniversary.

iii.      Most people buy their homes when they are starting out and before kids start coming. By the time your oldest is preteen, there’s other expenses to worry about like sports and activities (hey kids are expensive!) and having your mortgage gone gives you greater flexibility and more opportunity to save for university costs and extra for retirement*.

iv.      I don’t advocate skipping your retirement savings during this period of mortgage repayment. You should be doing both simultaneously. Your budget should be tight, but it should be doable. If you can’t, then maybe you should consider that you bought too much house.

Guess which one is featured on 50+ Money Saving Ideas?

Pay-off-Mortgage-in-15

So on the topic of Lessons Learned, although I’m still learning the ropes on blogging, and I might have already shared a thing or two on that too, I like to include stuff as I go along this new journey of PF blogging.
(PF = Personal Finance or Pretty Freakin’, your choice ;-) ).

blogger-carnivalI recently signed up for some blogger carnivals and learned a couple of things I’d like to share:

  1. It is the host’s discretion which posts to feature for that week.  Some hosts seem to cover all posts submitted.  Others just pick up the top ten.
  2. If your host is not picked up, you can try to submit again in the next week.  General rule of thumb is that the post should be less than two weeks old, but I’m not sure how ‘official’ or enforced that is.  I’m still learning, but I’m thinking that you could submit something up to a month old, possibly.  That’s what I’m going to try to do and we’ll see how it goes.  Let’s face it, if you don’t get picked up one week, it’s pretty hard to only submit posts that are less than two weeks old.  That’s why I’m thinking there may be some leniency there but we’ll see.
  3. Some carnivals are not posting regularly per the schedule.  I tried contacting the hosts to see what’s up with that, but have not had much success.  You can contact me directly if you have any questions in this regard.
  4. Keep a record in an excel file or something of what posts you submitted to what carnival.  You don’t get an email once your submission is received and it’s easy to lose track if you are submitting a few at a time.  If it doesn’t get picked up, the situation gets even more confusing a few days down the road.
  5. If you’re post is picked up, then you should receive a ping back.  What I did not know, but Harry Campbell from Your Personal Finance Pro helped clarify, is you are supposed to include a link to the carnival on your site.  Duh!  Makes sense right?  It doesn’t have to be a separate post.  You can just tag it on one of your posts or include in a weekly roundup if you normally have these.

So here are the carnivals that I have had posts featured on:

The link above is for PF blogger carnivals but I’d also like to point out Mel @ BrokeGIRLRich did a really great post on blog parties called Personal Finance Blog Hops and Link Ups.  Again, these are PF related, but these are common in the blogging community on many niche areas it seems.

keep-calmLastly, while I’m at it, I would like to shout out to these folks who have featured my posts in the last month.  Okay I’ve never done this before and honestly did not know this was blogger etiquette.  Duh! Again!  Now I understand why people cover this in their weekly highlight posts!!  I won’t be tardy in my backlink love in the future.  Live and Learn …

Can A Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis? – Thank you Brian, John, Shannon and Hayley who featured this post on Debt Discipline – Week End Roundup #33, Frugal Rules -Thank You for Serving!, Financially Blonde -Weekly Roundup and A Disease Called Debt – New Blog Design Soon – Hayley’s had her new blog out for a few weeks and it looks fabulous!
Curve Balls – When You Are Hit With Unexpected Financial Events was in Young Adult Money’s The Weekly Quick Hits Roundup – Thanks DC!

Couple’s Money Conversations to Avoid was link loved in Everybody Loves Your Money -Link Love – 6/6/14

Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure was helpful to The Write Budget – Weekly Wrap Up #18 – Back to the Beach.  Lauren was able to fix her favicon so that it showed up on the browser tab instead of the little navy blue Bluehost squares.  I was really happy that the tips were helpful!

Debt Games – was a guest post I did at Kayla’s site Shoeaholic No More when we did a blog swap and she wrote Debt and the Single Girl here.  Tonya @ Budget and the Beach enjoyed that post as well and featured it in her Feeling Guilty/Link Love.

Father’s Frugal Finances – was liked by Debby aka Little Miss Money aka Ginger on a Mission in Day 246 – Public Transportation: a Comparison.  She’s over in Belgium right now training for her new job and had something to say about New York City versus Belgium transportation systems.  Jason aka Dividend Mantra was long :-) on love in his Weekend Reading – June 21, 2014.

Whew!  I just realized this is a combo post, personal finance advice and new blogger advice all rolled into one.  Something for everyone.  ;-)   Actually, not really, but once I start doing my investment portfolio updates – watch out!  In the meantime, I hope that you found something useful!

“Advice” Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Funfairs Carnivals” Image courtesy of Nathan Greenwood / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Smile House” Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

debtdebs-Fergus


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Top Ten Reasons You Need to Manage Your Finances

Big big post for you here today folks.  It’s time for another Top Ten Reasons à la David Letterman style. This time I’ve brought my good blogger friends to back up my points.  You know, just so you don’t think I make this stuff up and all.

Last time I did the Top Ten I kinda screwed it up. I forget that Dave goes in reverse. What can I say? I was a Leno fan.

Speaking of the Tonight Show, who’s enjoying it with Fallon as the host? I love the opening music (don’t ask why, but if I turn the channel too late after watching the news and miss the opening music I’m bummed up.  Hey hey hey hey….Hey hey hey hey… Hey hey hey hey… hey hey hey hey)

It’s definitely different than Leno. I like the musical numbers he does.  Plus he does a good Vladimir Putin.  I miss headlines, and jaywalking though. Did anyone see it the other night when they had the zoo animals on?  No?  Okay well you’re in luck because I have it for you below.

At about 3 minutes in the trainer pretended the little albino alligator snapped at Jimmy and he ended up in the corner because he got so scared.   Then they brought the big mama albino alligator out and he looked like he was going to run out of the studio. Meanwhile his female guest, Rosario Dawson, was handling the little white baby like a pro.

You can view the video directly on YouTube by clicking here

Also see the follow-on video with Roxie the big big elephant here.  I’m a little reluctant to share these videos because I’m not a big fan of animals in captivity.  Share your thoughts in the comments, if you like.

Anyways, I digress, so back to the Top Ten.

Top Ten Reasons You Need to Manage Your Finances

goats-kids#10.  Your kids – Read this heartfelt story from Vanessa of the Cash Cow Couple who wrote at The Heavy Purse

The Surprising Consequences of Keeping Your Kids in the Dark about Your Finances

Vanessa explains how important it is to explain any ways you are managing money in an open and practical manner, focusing on the positive with your children.  You do not want to create fear in your child which can develop into unhealthy money and spending habits that take years to overcome.  As a mother, I wonder if I’ve made these mistakes, even if meaning well.  All I can do is look forward and help educate other parents about this as well.

Top Ninth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

fast-food-not-frugal#9.  You may end up having to go on a cash diet – Grayson Bell at Frugal Rules is putting himself on one because he says he’s spending too much on fast food.

It is Time to go on a Cash Diet

There’s no shame if you have to go this route, it’s better than letting a problem perpetuate and maybe become an even harder habit to break.  I’ve decided I may need to put The Irishman on a cash grocery diet if the poker chips don’t work.  What is it with men and grocery stores?  Is it just mine?  OK, then, carry on.

Top Eighth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

duck-bill#8.  You may be paying for stuff you don’t know about – Dee at Color Me Frugal found out the hard way when she was suddenly billed for something that apparently was in the contract but they weren’t aware.

Why It’s Important to Check in With Your Billers Regularly

At least through some whining negotiating she was able to cut her losses in half, but if she hadn’t checked her bill closely she would have been none the wiser for that time and going forward.  BTW, the duck named Bill totally agrees with me.

Top Seventh Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Bread#7.  You’re paying for a lot more than the food you order when you eat out according to Karen at Suburban Finance.

Hidden Costs in Restaurants

She reminds us of the extra costs of sides and add-ons as well as the variability across geographies.  What get’s me the most is how these options are always presented in such a way as to make you think they are doing you a big favour, bringing you bread or asking if you like something extra, with no hint that there’s extra cost involved and they’re just trying to up-sell and increase they’re profit margin.  Good marketing for them… bad for you and your pocketbook!  Besides who wants to pay extra for bread that looks like worms?

Top Sixth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

gas-prices#6.  You may be missing out on better opportunities if you don’t do the math and calculate your costs that support your income earning potential or even just your costs to support your family.  How many times have you driven across town to hit a sale but basically blew most of your savings on gas?  Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff discusses how this has impacted her in:

Opportunity Costs at Work

Now with the price of gas these days is through the roof.  I use GasBuddy.com to find the best prices in my vicinity.  $139.8/litre last reported 50 minutes ago at my favourite nearby station (which in US gas terms is $4.915/gal  using these handy dandy Bank of Canada daily currency converter and gas converter tools!)

Top Fifth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Germany#5. What if a great opportunity came along, something you always wanted to do but then you couldn’t because you didn’t have the financial means necessary to support the endeavor?  So like, let’s just say that Erin of Broke Millennial had this chance (she doesn’t) to move to Germany (she’s not) but didn’t have the funds to pay her way over until she could get reimbursed by her new employer?  Ya, that would suck ay?  Well Erin explores all things about why she should move to Germany in … drum roll…

Perhaps I Should Move to Germany?

Basically she proves that she would never be caught with her pants on the ground and not ready to move to Germany or anywhere if the right opportunity came up because she rocks managing her money!!   Besides, who wouldn’t want to move to Germany on a moment’s notice with cool looking architecture like this?

flickr-John-Morgan-manage-your-financesTop Fourth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

#4.  If you manage your finances then you have extra money to buy important stuff like dividend paying stocks which is a nice form of passive income.  I don’t have any extra money these days so I just drool when I read posts like this from Dividend Mantra.

Recent Buy

So I just follow a long like I’m using play monopoly money so I can learn the ropes and look forward to the day when I have some extra cash and I can write a post call Recent Buy except I will call it Decent Recent Buy, because my name is Debt Debs and I have to get at least one D and some rhyme in there because that’s how I roll.

Top Third Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Dollar-Store-shopping#3.  Wow, I can’t believe I’m already at #3.  For this one I need to say categorically you need to manage your finances so that you can shop at the dollar store.  Huh?  Yes, you need to shop at the dollar store for two reasons.  #1 you can get some okay things at the dollar store and there is no reason to go buy some overpriced thing when the dollar store version is just fine.  Girl Meets Debt knows about some of these things and also some that you should not buy at the dollar store.

5 Things to Buy (and Avoid) at the Dollar Store

I’d like to add pens to her list of things to buy at the dollar store.  But what’s the #2 reason you need to shop at the dollar store?  You need to remember what it was like when you shopped at the dollar store to get your shopping fix because you didn’t have any money and spending just $10 on some dish cloths, some plastic hangers, a couple of cards and a candle was enough to make you realize, you didn’t need to shop anymore to feel good.  Stay humble…. and never be a collector of needless stuff again.

Top Second Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

standard-poodle#2.  If something is really important to you and you need money for it, it’s not fun when you don’t have the money for it.  Our beloved standard poodle passed away January 2013, and though I still grieve for him, I think I will soon be ready to get another Standard Poodle, this time from a rescue organization like SPIN or SPRO.  It just sucks that we don’t have the money in our budget because pets can be expensive.  But I bawled my eyes out yesterday when I read about LBee & the Money Tree having a really rough week losing her beloved dog, Murray.

For Murray

Her love for that pooch was so apparent in her words and the wonderful pictures she shared.  It reminded me how much we loved and miss Fergus, and know that one day, we will share our love again with a standard poodle rescue.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s when.  And if I had been a better money manager, it would be tomorrow that I would get another dog.

The #1 Top Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

happy-piggybank-manage-your-finances#1.  And the #1 reason why you need to manage your finances is an oldie but goodie found on Rockstar Finance from Will at First Quarter Finance.  You may find out that you actually enjoy saving money!

How to Enjoy Saving Money!

Now there’s a novel concept, and one, I myself, can vouch for!  Go figure…

Images courtesy of morguefile except where noted
Monopoly Money / John Morgan / flickr
Dollarama / Michael_Swan / flickr

Happy #FinSavSat folks!  Enjoy your weekend!

Debt Discipline
Multitasking


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The New Multitasking – Fragmentasking

MultitaskingDoes the word multitasking make you feel energized and alive?

Not the first thing you think of?  It used to be such a cool word when it was the new black.  Kinda like twerking got popular this year (although that word wants to make be barf).  How about selfie?  It’s sorta cute in a narcissistic kind of way!

My form of multitasking is so fragmented, that I wanna coin a new term fragmentasking.  It basically means flipping around from this to that until the time allotted runs out or you go to bed.  Whichever comes first. Fragmentasking sounds like frugal and fraggles so I’m all over that.  Do you fangirls and bros think your tweeps can relate to that?

So on that topic, here’s what my fabulous and frugal days have me fragmentasking about lately, in no particular order, I give you…

THE FRAGMENTASKING LIST

UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna

Home Hardware: UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna – $134.99

Digiwave Digital TV Antenna ANT7286

WALMART: Digiwave Digital TV Antenna ANT7286 – $89.97

1.  Two weeks ago I let you know we were joining the cable cutting club even though, we actually starting discussing this back in March and I even reached out to fellow blogger Kay at Green Money Stream inquiring about what type of digital antenna they got.  The Irishman has been researching Walmart, The Source, Staples and Home Hardware but we still are antennaless, and alas not cableless … yet.  Enough already.  I still don’t know how I’m gonna watch THE LITTLE COUPLE yet (man I love that show! eeek… I forgot to watch it last night!!!  Oh, man, I guess I won’t miss it that much), so that’s on my fragmentasking list to research.

2.  I had a killer week last week – a project Go Live and there was a last minute glitch identified Tuesday that had to be addressed by Thursday so we could run all the batch jobs over the weekend.  Some configurations had to be updated that had not been detected during testing (grrr…) so three twelve hour days later all the work was completed.  I had to really ignore my fragmentasking during this time because I suck at it and apparently Stefanie from the Broke and Beautiful Life does too.  So I followed the advice I gave Stefanie and said “Hold all calls” (in my head, gee I’ve always wanted to say that), until the work was done.  A little bit of fallout this week that I’m dealing with, unrelated to the initial issue, but hey, that’s life my job.

3.  After a nice Father’s Day brunch at one of my daughter’s, The Irishman, my youngest and I actually spent Sunday afternoon working on stage 2 of garage cleanup.  It was easier with three of us doing it together and I was really pleased that my OCD daughter was able to put herself out there and brave the dirty disgusting garage.   We sorted through a bunch of stuff and The Irishman took a load of donations to Value Village.  Weather was great and we were tired and sore by 5 p.m.  A bunch of garbage got picked up today on trash day.  Good riddance!  Stage 3 fragmentask and possibly 4 will be needed, but they should get easier, now that we’ve cleared up a lot of room.  Not the funnest day to spend Father’s Day but he seemed pleased with the progress and I was a happy mama!  Here’s a before picture but you can’t see final until it’s all done!

garage-before-cleaning4.  So needless to say, with Father’s Day and garage cleaning, I haven’t made any progress yet on my stock portfolio tracking to get comfortable with making the big move to a self-managed retirement portfolio.   I’m very meticulous and very nervous so this will take me some time, but I’m committed to do this.  Is anyone else hearing about a stock market correction?  I keep hearing one is coming, but the quick glance at the daily emails I get, so far so good.

chip-system-grocery-saving5.  Another fragment on my plate is dealing with how to reduce our grocery bill which for us is $800/month but it includes pet food, paper products, toiletries – basically anything we buy at Costco, any grocery stores and Shopper’s Drug Mart.  I use MINT so it’s just easier to have all those stores go to our grocery budget line.   We’ve  been eating our pantry right now so that’s all we’ve done in the short term, but still need to delve in it more.  One idea I’ve had (since The Irishman seems to love going to grocery stores ug and we like to use credit cards to get the cash back rewards), is to use a copycat cash system.  I would get 30 poker chips and two baskets – one spent and unspent.  Every time one of us spends $20 of this grocery budget, we move a chip over to the spent basket.  This way there is a visual of how much money is left and we need to figure out how to make it last until the end of the month.

6.  On the topic of savings, Money Ahoy’s Derek is preaching to my choir when he said Turn Off Your Outside Lights at Night.  I don’t believe you need to leave the outside lights on when you go to bed or even later in the evening.  The Irishman likes to leave the back deck light on for security reasons but I think it’s redundant.  We had front yard lights on a few weeks ago when he left his truck unlocked and someone went in and stole his GPS.  Grrrr… laughs on them though because they didn’t take the charger and the dang thing never holds a charge anymore.

7.  I tried been trying to keep up with my blog reading and it’s not that easy.  Wave your hand if you also have that problem.  I can get caught up one day and then fall right back behind the next.  I’m a little anal and hate to miss a cool post so I pretty much scan them all or at a minimum read the title and see if it ‘speaks to me’.  That, coupled with finding new blogs to read and going back to read replies to comments I’ve left leaves me in a big taskfragging heap and we’ll just leave it at that.  :-D

8.  In my blog blitz catchup earlier this week I came across The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak from Trent @ The Simple Dollar and I’ve been giving it some thought as I soak in the tub (fragmentasking at it’s best!).   I guess it’s really all about the law of diminishing returns and finding that sweet spot where pleasure is maximized and more doesn’t lead to minimize it.  Confused?  Go read Trent’s post.  It’s kinda cool.

9.   Speaking of momentary pleasures, for a fleeting moment I got to dream about my future after reading Mr. CBB’s Can you picture yourself living the retired life?  It doesn’t mean I’ll be fragmentasking any less, but on my own terms, you betcha!

The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak – See more at: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-addiction-of-momentary-pleasure-and-seeking-the-peak/#sthash.KiE86Cf7.dpuf
The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak – See more at: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-addiction-of-momentary-pleasure-and-seeking-the-peak/#sthash.KiE86Cf7.dpuf

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Prakairoj / Business Man And Post Memo Around Body
Salvatore Vuono / Casino Chips

My-Dad


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Father’s Frugal Finances

The best example I have had for being frugal has come from my father. In fact, we often thought he was downright miserly.  Somehow, it might have backfired, given our current financial situation. There may have been some moments that I thought he was just too cheap for his own good. Maybe this stuck with me and I swung the pendulum too far the other way. In retrospect, he really has set a good example and one which I wish I had heeded a long time ago.

powdered-milk-frugalChildhood Currency

As a child I remember asking him how much money he made. Both of my parents scoffed and said “Oh, we don’t talk about that.” They realized I would blab to all my friends, even if I didn’t realize if it was a good wage or not, it certainly would seem enormous to me. They didn’t get the blabbing part wrong. Look at me now – a blogger!

But my impression was that we were a little poorer than my friend’s families. Not by a lot, and probably not at all, but hearing frugal talk in the household, drinking powdered milk (yucch, I hated that stuff) are things that may have lead me to this conclusion. My mother didn’t work until my youngest sister turned five, and then she took a part-time job in a retail store.  In general, I grew up feeling like money was not to be wasted, in case you really needed it someday.

Teenage Turns

Imagine my surprise when my parents started taking some winter vacations on their own when we got a little older but were left in the care of our aunt. A cruise, a trip to Florida…. well, well, things must be looking up in the Finance department.  It was probably more like miserly intervention.  My Mum had probably had enough and started threatening and there was probably a few “I deserves” on her part thrown in there too!

Florida-Disney-WorldNext thing I know, they bought a house in Florida. Wow! I didn’t see that coming. Of course it was mortgaged, and it meant seven of us loaded into a sedan for a three day 27 hour drive door to door. Disney World, Busch Gardens, the beach, Tarpon Springs… here we come!   We did this for three Christmases in a row.   We had to save up our own money for any extra spending. Truth be told, I think there was a bit of Jonesying there on the part of my mother when they bought the house, and she convinced him it was an investment. I was even allowed to have a friend fly down to Florida and meet us there.  I wasn’t complaining.

Sixteen years of age and a new driver, I managed to convince my Dad to let me have his car to go to the drive-in with my boyfriend. Looking back, he was pretty accommodating, though I didn’t see it as a big deal at the time. What I did see as a big deal was the scratch I put down the side when I parked too close to the speaker and scraped it a good long streak. I was so terrified of his reaction that I did not sleep a wink all night. I heard him up getting the tea and his breakfast and figured I need to get this over with. I told him what happened and immediately started bawling. He didn’t say a word but went over to look at the car in the driveway from the living room window. Eventually he spoke, asked questions, maybe appeared a little annoyed, but nothing like I expected, and nothing that I can recall now almost 40 years later. I don’t recall if he asked me to pay for repair or if he even had it repaired. All I remember now is my fear and his reaction being not nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be. Even though he was frugal, it appears money wasn’t always front and foremost in his thoughts.

frugal-studentTenant, Tuition and Transportation

I went to university but paid my way, tuition and accommodations.  There was never any discussion of money set aside for me for this. For the most part, I managed quite well, being in a Coop program, so I had good employment work terms between every semester of school.

We had an older used second family vehicle, even though my Mum didn’t drive. It was there for when I was at home for my work terms so I could drive to my job. I was allowed to take it the six hour drive to university for the first weekend of every term so I could take all my stuff, but I had to bring it back the very next weekend and return by bus to university. I often wondered why they didn’t let me keep the car with me at school all term, because it just sat in the driveway at home. It was sort of an unspoken frugality that was practiced.

I could walk to university from the various places I rented during my school terms which were at maximum about 2 miles. I didn’t need a car. I only needed a car to get my stuff down there and back each term (my Coop placements were all in my hometown).  Having a car at university was a want. He probably knew I would get lazy, start driving to school, drive all my friends, spend lots of money on gas, possibly get into an accident… . No, needs they could support. Wants would not be supported.

Even though I would have to buy a one-way bus ticket to get back to school after delivering the car back home (bus tickets weren’t that cheap either), and even though we got rear-ended once on the way home (not our fault, but my friend was driving), this was the standard that was expected all through-out my university years. I was envious of some friends who had cars. I would struggle home with my groceries stuffed in my knapsack and two arms breaking as I tried to carry everything the half a mile to my accommodations.   I think I tried renegotiating the terms once or twice, but for the most part it was accepted by me as a no go, for what-ever reasons, and even if it did not make sense to me.  Laying down the ground work for no lifestyle inflation had begun.

ToyotaGraduation Gifts

My last semester, I already had a full time job lined up for after graduation. I think the second vehicle might have died by this point, but that wasn’t needed as a way to get home that term. I was given a relocation allowance by my employer, whereby I could rent a van to bring all my stuff home, including some furniture that I had managed to leave there for the full four years.

I did need a vehicle though to get to work, and decided I wanted to buy my own brand new car. I planned to live at home for my first year to save up to buy nicer furniture and prepare to move out on my own.   I had my eyes on a Toyota Tercel and went shopping for it with my Dad earlier in the semester, so he could help me to negotiate. They asked for a $100 deposit, which my Dad put down on his credit card. (I don’t think I even had a credit card then). I fully expected to pay it back, once I started working full-time, because money always ran a little short by the time I got to the end of each school term.

Imagine my surprise when I picked up my new car in May, and Dad said I did not need to pay him back the $100. It was a graduation present. A very generous graduation present, I felt. $100 from my Dad felt like $10,000 at the time.  Maybe it was a little bit of foreshadowing to how he is today.

downpayment-for-homeHome Homage

Fast forward, and after a couple of years of apartment rental, it’s time to purchase a home.  Dad lent me some additional money for my down payment.   He set an interest rate that was lower than what I would pay but better than he could get in short term interest bearing investments, so it was a win-win!  I actually didn’t even pay this money back until I was married a few years.  He wasn’t asking for it but I didn’t want to be indebted to him any longer, especially now that I was a mother and with many family responsibilities. Since he was money savvy, he saw an opportunity to help his daughter out and himself, all at the same time.

frugal-sandwichBread and Butter

He continued to be quite thrifty, was good at repairs etc. so it wasn’t usual for him to bring in any experts. He cheaped out on house painting, leaving it to my Mum to do.  When she said eventually, that was it, she was doing no more painting, she was too old for this, he had to address.  He asked Huey, Duey and Louie aka my husband and my two BILS to help him paint the living and dining room and hallway one weekend, instead of hiring painters.  My Mum didn’t want to be around so asked me to take her out for the day which I obliged.  So by mid afternoon, the guys were getting hungry.  “Do you have anything to eat, Grandad?”  Oh, sure, he said and made them bread and butter sandwiches*.  They still laugh about Grandad’s cooking prowess to this day.  Not only was he frugal on getting the painting done, but he didn’t even have to score for a pizza!

man-on-phoneBrains or Braun

Years later, Dad took ill suddenly and was diagnosed with a brain tumor on his pituitary gland.  After surgery, he needed hormone replacement therapy, and getting exactly the right dosage is always a matter of trial and error.

At one point, he had so much estrogen in him he was calling us to talk on the phone regularly, crying in front of us and shopping up a storm!  I kid you not!  He went shopping for a sports car with my husband once (didn’t buy one, thankfully)!  He bought new windows for their house and my mother was in her glory!  We said to him “Who are you and what have you done with our father?”

Since he was under close supervision in those early days, the doctors immediately spotted the overdose and cut it back, a little too far, and he went back to his miserly self but worse!  Let me tell ya, those hormones play a big part in this I have witnessed!

Single but Satisfied

Life changes in an instant, and he lost my Mum unexpectedly 9 years ago.  7 years her senior, we never expected things to turn out this way.

He is 89 years old, lives in a rented apartment, still drives and comes to dinner most Saturday nights, bringing a bottle of wine for every meal.  He’s still frugal, but he’s no longer cheap and has become quite  generous.  He complains about how much his stock broker is making off him, but still has quite a bit invested in the market even at his age.

He knows we have cut back and are living frugally, which pleases him, I think.  But I could never tell him the extent of our debt, because I don’t want to disappoint him.

I must say that, as much as I miss my Mum (she was always the life of the party), it has been good to get to know my Dad even better in her absence.  I often think about their situation, since The Irishman and I have the exact same age difference.

In retrospect, I think my Dad has the right amount of frugality and I think that at the end of the day, I do too!

My-DadHAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all you Dads out there!

Just remember ~

Time is money, but money also takes time!

 

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
milk – imagerymajestic
Disney – David Castillo Dominici
student walking – Ambro
Toyota – tiverylucky
helping hand home – jannoon028
bread and butter – rakratchada torsap
man on phone – stockimages
My Dad – Simon Howden

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The Thrifty Issue


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Curve Balls – When You Are Hit With Unexpected Financial Events

baseball-curve-ballsSpring is here, B-B-Q’s have been lit up and summer’s just around the corner.  Kids are starting their summer activities, whether it be swimming, soccer, football or some form of baseball.  I’ve been thinking about the latter as I review the series of financial events that delivered us to this point in our season.  There were a number of ups and downs that I consider curve balls that we needed to ‘deal’ with and not lose our drive.  So it made sense for me to use baseball terms to relay to you how my winter – spring financial season went.

The Home Team

T-ballMy husband’s income is variable, based on the demand.  He is a real estate appraiser, so swings are inevitable based on the time of year and the market.  Normally, he does receive enough bread and butter engagements to meet a minimum – moderate level of income and that is what I base our debt repayment plans on.  The idea being that it should feel like we’re playing T-ball.  The figure I use for this is $2,400 per month, which gets paid in two installments, the 15th and last day of the month.  He gets paid one month in arrears, meaning he gets paid next month for the work he did this month.  Therefore I know now, what his income will be for June, as an example.

Basically, as part of the battery, all of his income and some of mine goes to debt.  Anything he makes above that budget amount is a bonus baby which we also apply to debt to help us meet our goals even sooner than our five year plan.   Usually, we are able to stick with this as I have all foreseen expenses budgeted (including car repairs, etc.).  However, I don’t move unspent budgeted money that may be needed later into a separate cash account.  Maybe I should, because it can get messy and feels like we have a dead arm, when all of a sudden we do have a big bill, but I’ve already skimmed off the money and applied to debt.

Opening Season

good-baseball-pitcher-curve-ballsSo looking back to the beginning of the year, January was a tough month, because he had not one engagement last December – a strikeout.  So there was no money coming from him for January.  That was our first curve ball.  Debt repayment goal could not be met, or at least not fully.  I scrimped together $1,000 from some actual and anticipated expense savings whilst declaring a bean soup and scrambled eggs on toast menu plan would get us through the lean winter months.  That $1,000 payment felt like damage control.  As the umpire, I had to watch the game closely, even if hoping the home team could steal a base to regain control of the game.

Then I got small hit on a curve ball, when he told me he could give me $2,000 he was saving in his business account which was for an upcoming annual business insurance premium of $3,100 due soon.  We decided we could put the insurance on the credit card giving us one extra month to pay and gaining cash back points, and hopefully business would pick up and we’d be in for a bit of slow pitch now that the Christmas season was over.  He never could explain what happened in December.  Normally it does slow down, but it has never come to a shutout like it did for him in 2013.   He did, however, land a large contract for the city which we could count on down the road because it wouldn’t pay out for a few months.

Regular Season Begins

baseball-player-in-the-airWell that softball turned into hardball pretty quick when we saw that January was not looking very good either.  He ended $1,100 short from our minimum goal.  With two away and two down, I was starting to get kind of panicky.  I had slowed our debt repayment, but we were committed on a low rate cash transfer credit card that needs to be fully paid by August of this year.  We had put a $24,700 lump sum against our 2.89% mortgage debt last Sept, planning to pay the 0.99% credit card off at $2,250 for 11 months.  Yes, I know this is just swapping debt for debt, but was at a lower interest rate and with no transfer fee. It seemed like a good idea since we were planning to make prepayments of more than that amount monthly.  Of course, we had no foresight of the earnings slump that was to come.

We were window shopping for strike 3 near the end of February when it looked like his income for that month to be paid in March was going to fall $700 short from our @2,400 target.  Not only that, but now we had an over $5K Visa payment due in early March (remember the $3,100 insurance above) plus $2,700 of first installment of property taxes due in March.  Normally I put $450/month in my Emergency Fund each month to build up enough to cover property taxes.  Well, with robbing Peter to pay Paul, that didn’t happen, and things were getting very precarious, indeed!

The Losing Streak

empty-baseball-fieldAt this point we are $4,200 negative on budgeted earnings plus I needed to find an additional $1,100 to make up the insurance payment for which he had only $2K for ($3,100 – $2,000).

What did I do?  Bring in a pinch hitter? I scoured the internet looking for part-time job possibilities and while I was doing that I turned into a blogger.  Overnight.  Magically.  Just like that.

I had no knowledge of the term side hustle.  I didn’t think I had the stamina to work 2 shifts per week at Shoppers Drug Mart after a brain draining workday.  I also decided early on that making money at blogging would, for me, be undoubtedly very difficult.  And yet, I was incredibly stressed and needed somewhere to unload.  So a blogger I became.

I dug-out our Emergency Fund.  I know JMoney says No Touchy! but we were dealing with a job loss of sorts (hey, where did all the fans go?).  That is what your E-fund is for.  Unforeseen events that you have no control over.  Okay, broken washing machines and vehicles kind of are too, I’ll give you that.  But hypothetically we are supposed to have a separate maintenance/stuff breaks fund to deal with that.   Some of us do not, but choose to keep our E-fund nice and high to cover that as well.   [Future post coming during the championships about how I plan to increase my Emergency Fund and why.]

Regular Season Ends

Batter-upThen we hit two home runs in a row.  The first was a due to a change-up with a family member and it was an out-of-the-park HR.  My husband is a licensed realtor and acted as agent for my sis and BIL to buy a new home and sell their existing home.  He had not intended on charging them any commission and in turn, return to them the fee he received from the purchase of their new home.  They insisted that we keep his earned commission from the purchase and in return for not taking a commission on the sale of their home they wanted to take us on a cruise (which we gratefully declined).

So that $4,000 yacker saved our home game and I started to relax a bit. Our second inside-the-park home run was that my husband’s March income exceeded our target by $1,600.  This was because of the completion of the large contract that he had been working on for a couple of months.  The regular small housing jobs were coming in, but at a rate lower than last year.  It was hard to say if business would increase to the same levels as before.  I might need to revisit my @2,400 / month projection if this continues.

I still kept blogging, as I soon realized I still had a lot to learn and I also had a story to tell as part of the Hot Stove League.   Maybe, just maybe, I could help others and maybe, just maybe, I could develop my blog into a retirement side hustle of my own.

Post Season

slide-into-baseAs we enter the seventh-inning stretch I see that I need to examine my slugging averages more closely because although the actual income has finally caught up with planned income, my Emergency fund is still $2,100 lower than it should be.  I can account for $1,100 of that being the passed ball shortfall in the insurance premium that I had not budgeted for plus $450 of missing tax savings that I did not fund one month when I was doing a suicide squeeze.

If I can continue to play ball, the plan is to pay $2K per month to the low rate credit card to have it knocked out of the park before the interest rate goes up ($6K – 3 more payments to go).  I’m not sure if I will deploy this strategy again, as it certainly has been a nail-biter.  I may just decide to become a patient hitter and just pay any excess towards debt as it comes so I don’t stress myself out so much.

Now I’ve got some good news about breaking balls and some bad news bears to share as we head into the wild-card playoff.  What d’ya want first?  Okay, the bad news it is – as in a grouch Uncle Charlie of My Three Sons curve ball when I received something in the mail yesterday.  I saw the word Justice on the envelope thinking it was a call to Jury Duty as I quickly tore it open only to find a RED LIGHT CAMERA SYSTEM OFFENCE NOTICE for my car which I was not driving on a particular day in a certain area to the tune of $325.  Ya, sucks the big ball$.

So that somebody, who shall remain nameless, worked his a$$ off this month (as luck would have it) and will bring in ticket sales of $3,200 next month which is $800 greater than minimum plan.  So two things we learned here folks – housing market is moving again in Canada and don’t run red lights when you’re debt wrangling or playing a perfect inning.

To mop up this post, I must confess that I knew little about baseball.  Just like me, you can learn how to manage your finances better too!  You just need to get in the game, define your level playing field and don’t stop short when things don’t go your way and you’re down and outHome plate will still be there, even if you need to round the bases a few times.  It’s practice and green lights that will get you the Commissioner’s Trophy and make you a champion of the series in your world.
Home-Game-Baseball

Images courtesy of flickr.com
Baseball glove / Andrei Niemimäki
T-ball / Chris Harrison
Baseball pitcher / Ralph Arveson
First base / Jonathon Assink
Baseball field / JACoxwell
Baseball batter / Eric Ward
Slide into base / Sherri Abendroth
Home field / Sherri B


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Family Matters – How Does Your Family Treat Money and Debt?

How Do Your Family Members Treat Money and DebtI wrote recently about some key contributors to our debt journey, acknowledging that my worst fear was the impact it was having on the ability of my adult children to manage their finances responsibly and proactively.

The Early Days after Debt Acknowledgement

My oldest is the most frugal of all of them, and has been quite capable of managing her finances well, (mostly) without my help.  In fact when we first acknowledged our debt crisis, I was quite overwhelmed and anxious.  I found it anxiety provoking to even log into our bank accounts or credit card statements on line!  Can you believe that?  She gave me some sage advice suggesting that I just start with one of them, and log in every day, until the anxiousness subsided.

Later I added logging in to see my credit card balances to my routine, and soon I was creating budgets on excel and living and breathing our financial numbers until I was bleary-eyed.   The new found financial good habits, for me, had begun.

More than a year later, after that initial shock, I had built up routines and coping strategies and I began to talk more openly about our finances with all of our children.

Good Personal Finance Habits

Even though I knew my oldest was probably in the best position, I still wanted to satisfy my curiosity urgent need to know exactly how they were managing things.  Were there any things they were not doing or neglecting that, after twelve months of debt wrangling, I might be able to offer advice on.

She assured me that they had all of the following in place:

  • An emergency fund of cash equal to about 3 months of expenses.  We discussed the merits of having up to six months of expenses.
  • Fully topped up TFSA’s (Tax Free Savings Accounts), for both her and her husband.  This equated to about 40K at the time, more than enough to be considered the additional component of their emergency fund.
  • Regular contributions to their RRSP’s to obtain the maximum company match.

I also knew that she had good frugal habits in place such as:

  • Managing household expenses by minimizing hydro use (her husband always jokes that he walks around in the dark half the time).
  • Selling unwanted stuff on Kijiji to make a few extra dollars from household clutter.

More recently, they just moved into a new home, and I helped them do a few different sensitivity analyses for the mortgage repayment.  I use the following Canadian Mortgage Calculator (from Vertex42 – can also be used for US, see note below (*).  We created the following worksheets by making copies of the master and tweaking the variables:

  • To illustrate the impact on total interest paid and final payment date of switching to accelerated bi-weekly payments from monthly mortgage payments.  With accelerated bi-weekly, you pay half of your budgeted monthly mortgage amount exactly every two weeks on the same day of the week, thereby fitting in 26 payments a year,  instead of 24 if you just paid it twice per month, or 12 if only once per month.  Your payments are less if you pay biweekly, but the biggest savings comes from taking your monthly payment and dividing by 2 and paying that every two weeks having the equivalent of 13 months of payments (26/2) instead of 12.
  • We also wanted to see the impact of making prepayments, both annual of $3,000 plus an extra bi-weekly payment of $50.  These prepayments come right off the principal.  (Note:  You need to check the terms of your mortgage with respect to prepayments.  There is often maximum annual amounts.  Some can be made at any time and as often as you want throughoutt the year, some can only be done once per year at or near anniversary date).

canadian-mortgage-calculator_options

  • The compound period for a Canadian mortgage is semi-annual, but this calculator can also be used for US mortgage calculations by changing the compound period to monthly – the main difference between a US and Canadian mortgage.
  • They are planning to following the final option in the chart.  If they can save make an extra $50 payment every two weeks and save to make a $3K payment every year, they will reduce their mortgage term to just over 16 years.

My son lives farther away and seems to be pretty savvy.  I’m pretty sure he’s paying off his credit cards each month.  I think his student debt is fully paid.  I believe he is also saving for a down payment for a house.  Other than that, I don’t know much else.

I offered him help to prepare any budget spreadsheets answer any questions he may have in order to ensure his financial house is in order.  He hasn’t taken me up on it yet, probably because when we see him we don’t really have time to spend on this.  But he knows I’m ready any time, even if we do it on a web session.   I can always send him the spreadsheets to fill out, but something tells me that it’s easier more valuable if Mum is there to ask the savvy questions and keep it interactive!

  • One of the drawbacks though, is that if Mum does all the work, they may be less likely to keep it up or track their spending going forward etc.

I wrote on Worth-it-Wednesday, how about how my #3 surprised me about paying off her student loans.  She was on my list to work with next, because I really wasn’t sure how she was doing, what with a recent humanitarian trip to Haiti which she paid for herself (she’s a nurse).   I think maturity is helping here because I see her being more frugal like her older sister and brother.  I think she now has a sense of how good it feels to be debt free (well, since last weekend   ;)  ) and she seemed pretty, pretty happy about it!  Bazinga!

Bad Personal Finance Habits

I’m not really sure where to start with #4 so I’ll just dive in.  She doesn’t have a lot of income because she is on disability due to here severe OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and social anxiety.   Her OCD is the germaphobic / cleanliness type so she’s always buying new products to keep her body and her bathroom clean.  She also discards (or gives to me or my husband digs it out of the garbage) shampoo or makeup that she feels has sat around too long and has become contaminated.  She goes through toilet paper and paper towels like there’s no tomorrow (note to self:  buy shares in Scott paper).  Plus, I think she tends to try to soothe herself and her symptoms by shopping on-line.  The UPS truck is often stopping at our house and makes me feel annoyed.

She used to pay us $300 / month for room and board, which was okay because it covered her expenses.  Lately she renegotiated her payment because she felt she was paying too much and said she wanted to save her money.  I wasn’t too keen but it was becoming a bit of a bone of contention and I gave up the battle out of resignation, I guess.  She had calculated how much she consumes in hydro, paper products, water etc. and thought that $190 was sufficient.  Only I have yet to see any of that money for two months now.

Am I frustrated?  Damn right I am.  Is she taking advantage of us?  Maybe.  Am I going to do something about it?  I will, I’m just too tired to fight with her about it right now.  We’ve been going through this for seven years.  Her symptoms became visible to us at age 14, but really severe at 17 and she’s 24 now.  She acknowledges that she had OCD symptoms since about 5 years of age (touching compulsions, scrupulosity, bad thoughts).

It has been really bad.  Think worst case.  Ya, it happened.  Every parents nightmare.   Well I guess worse case would be if she wasn’t here anymore.  She tried twice.  So I always have to remind myself that as bad as it is, it could always be worse.

Anyways, I just wanna OCD break right now, so I choose not to deal with it.  Probably a bad move on my part.  I think dealing with her OCD has also played a factor in our debt load.   Many trips to hospital, parking, eating out, buying things she needed, shopping to try to feel better, taking trips to get away from it all.  When it gets really bad, your spending becomes an afterthought.

We still have bottles of bug killer in our hall closet that my husband bought last summer when she insisted there were bugs in her room, even though we couldn’t find any evidence of them.   (Ya, I’m frustrated too because he never took them back after she didn’t use them and used something else instead to kill the invisible bugs so now $30 – $40 of chemical bug killer still sitting in my front hall closet).

I’m not looking for sympathy.  But there you have it.  Another excerpt on my personal debt story.  I count my blessings …  still.

I was going to also talk about my sister and how they are treating their debt and spending but this post is entirely too long so I’ll keep that for another time.

Plus this post is getting to be a bit of a downer and I don’t like being a Debbie Downer (even though Debbie Down was my nickname as a kid), so let me end on a positive note and with a joke.

Positive note:

I was initially inspired to write this post by John at Frugal Rules when he wrote Why Financial Literacy is so Important to Me.   He says it’s his responsibility to teach them to be wise about their financial decision making and I couldn’t agree more!

This pair of ducks were coming to our pool in spring for about 10 years - this year they didn't return

This pair of ducks were coming to our pool in spring for about 10 years – this year they didn’t return

An oldie but goodie:

A duck walks into a bar and asks, “Got any gwapes?”

The bartender, confused, tells the duck no. The duck thanks him and leaves.

The next day, the duck returns and asks, “Got any gwapes?”

Again, the bartender tells him, “No — the bar does not serve grapes, has never served grapes and, furthermore, will never serve grapes.” The duck thanks him and leaves.

The next day, the duck returns, but before he can say anything, the bartender yells, “Listen, duck! This is a bar! We do not serve grapes! If you ask for grapes again, I will nail your stupid duck beak to the bar!”

2 bunches of grapes by Grant CochraneThe duck is silent for a moment, and then asks, “Got any nails?”

Confused, the bartender says no.

“Good!” says the duck. “Got any gwapes?”

 

“2 Bunches Of Grapes” by Grant Cochrane from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net
Worth-IT-Wednesday


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feedly vs Bloglovin on Worth IT Wednesday!

feedly vs bloglovinSome of these Worth it Wednesday posts are becoming a little bit techy, hence I capitalize the IT in the title on these sorts of posts!

This post will be a little face off between feedly vs Bloglovin with a few other personal updates thrown in at the bottom.

feedly vs Bloglovin

feedly icon (looks familiar)

feedly vs Bloglovin

Bloglovin icon (who knew?)

Last Wednesday I asked for some help on choosing a good blog reader that would work on an Android tablet and I got 5 responses (I think 3 of them I entered on behalf of those that responded in the comments – note to self:  they’re not a big fan of polls in the personal finance community :D ).

So the consensus was 60% Bloglovin’ and 40% feedly as the tools of choice.  Being that the vote was somewhat arbitrary (translation:  lame  not many responses), I decided to try out both applications on my new Yoga Lenovo B8000-F tablet that I got for Mother’s Day to see which one I liked better.

I installed both straight way and tried feedly (aka feebly, BTW their brand is with lower case “f”, kinda like my “d’s” ;-) ) first.  Some of the comments below pertain also to the non-tablet version as well.  I’ve tried to highlight only the features that I see as different between the two apps.

If you think I’ve missed something, or I’ve mistakenly noted something that is incorrect, only because I don’t know how to use the tool yet ….which is entirely possible…. please let me know.

feedly on Android Tablet

Pros ~

  1. Ability to group your feeds into different categories i.e. Debt Blogs, Investment Blogs, Blog Blogs, Dog Blogs, God Blogs, Funny Blogs, Oh My Blogs.  These topic lists can also help to prioritize your blog reading, as in PF Favs, New, etc.
  2. Ability to mark items as “Save for Later” if you want to read later, or comment later, or send to Pinterest etc. later.
  3. You can go back to recently read, if you swipe away a page and then realize you want to go back to it.
  4. You can sort the posts so that oldest shows first.  (Good for anal people like me who don’t want to miss anything)
  5. You can mark specific blogs as “Must Reads” and select those for fast and easy priority reading.
  6. There is an ability to link it up to Evernote, but I must admit I don’t know what the advantage is with this or how to do it.  Evernote looks like a cool app though.  Anyone use it?

Cons ~

  1. Not very intuitive to know how to add blogs (but that could just be me as I’m still learning how to use the tablet)
  2. When leaving comments, often my screen would disappear and I would lose my comment.  This could be user error on my part, but it happened enough and I can’t tell what sequence of events prompted it, to say that it’s a bit finicky.   I also noticed that it stays in a feedly screen as opposed to launching the website in your browser.   This may have something to do with it.

Bloglovin’ on Android Tablet

 Pros ~

  1. You have the ability to like posts which I think can be used similarly as the “Save for Later” above in feedly.  I know I said I would only talk about the differences between the e-readers; I just point this out because it is a little different.  In addition, you can see how many “Likes” have been marked by all Bloglovin readers for a particular post.
  2. Posts are marked as unread until you mark them read.  They do not disappear, but any blogs with all read posts, will move down your reader list, so that only blogs with unread posts show at the top (I didn’t notice this at first).
  3. When you select “View original post”, it opens it in your preferred browser which is preferable and may avoid the commenting problems I noted above on Feedly.

Cons ~

  1. No ability to group your feeds under different topic lists.  For me this is a big missing feature.
  2. Posts sort in following order:  Unread first (good), most recent first (not alterable).  This may not be a bad thing for people who are trying to be more efficient and effective, because likely they will want to read and comment on the most recent post, and skim the others for something that spikes their interest.

So what am I doing now?  Oh.my.blog, I wanted a reader application to help me do damage control on my email.  Now I’ve got two readers going on top of my email.  LOL  They are a nice way to track the blogs you follow, no doubt about it.

So the conclusion is – there is no clear favourite, for me anyways.  I’m leaning a little more to feedly if I can get the commenting thing sorted out.

I need to figure out if I’m going to drop one or use each for different purposes or different blog lists. Dunno.  I promise I won’t do another post on it, because this is boring the death out of me, so I can just imagine what it is doing to anyone reading this!!

P.S.  You may notice I added the two follow buttons at the top right of my blog.  Of course, email, facebook and wordpress are still other good options and buttons are up there too!  Gotta keep those options open!  Can anyone help me with that RSS button?  I still don’t know what that is and where it’s going.  HAAALP.

Post editorial add:  Holy crap, I may take away my endorsement of feedly because I just tried to look at my own blog in there and when I click on the link to “Visit website”, once you start scrolling down the page turns to just my page background and you can’t get back to the post.  Not nice.  Don’t go there.

Update 26 May 2014:  Well I never heard back from feedly after submitting 2 tickets but it appears that the display of my blog is fixed on the Android.   Yay!

OK, on to other news!

FinSavSatI am co-hosting the Financially Savvy Saturdays blog hop with creator Femme Frugality this week.  Check out last week’s edition which was co-hosted by Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt for more info. Plan to join in starting on Saturday with a recent non-sponsored/giveaway post from this week.  A new post will be here early Saturday (including this weeks html code to add to your post) for you to link up to.  A great way for people to highlight their favourite posts plus it’s fun and easy peasy!  #FinSavSat

Things are a little crazy around here on a number of fronts. I’ll point out the $finance impacts, because these points are obviously personal.

DoodleWe have a guest for the next four days while my sis and her husband take a short trip.  He will be back again for a week later in May when they go on their cruise without us.  Yes, I am very happy about that spending decision, even though they offered to pay.  Never mind the hidden financial impacts, it just feels right too.  Plus I get to spend four fabulous days with this awesome pooch!  We are doggy owners again!  For four days!  Count our blessings!!  $no dog for us right now due to no money in the budget$

My daughter and her family are closing on their new home today; they start moving some breakable stuff today and the movers are coming tomorrow.  They will be about 13 minutes closer to our home which means 7 minutes only to see my grandson!  Heeee!!  $less gas$ $can ride my bike in about 20 minutes$

Okay, that’s a wrap.  This post has been written with only 11 revisions.  Holy cow.  What have I forgotten to do?