debt debs

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

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
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
no-ring-not-engaged-or-married


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Worth it Wednesday ~ Debt and the Single Girl

Please welcome my pal, Shoe, whooops :roll: I mean Kayla, who is guest posting here today.  I’m posting over at her site, so head on over there when you’ve finished reading this great share.  Without further ado, or should I say “I do”, I give you … Debt and the Single Girl.


 

no-ring-not-engaged-or-marriedLast week would’ve been my 4th wedding anniversary, if I’d have stayed married. But since I didn’t, June 5th is just a day like any other.

June 5, 2010 was my wedding day. I wore a gorgeous dress and got married to a man I, apparently, didn’t really know. When it came time for my trip down the aisle, I looked up at my dad and bawled.

Talking to my friends and family later, they thought I was crying “happy tears” but in reality, I was terrified and didn’t really want to go through with my wedding; if I had known then what I know now I wouldn’t have said “I do” to that cheater.

Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to go and get all sentimental and weepy on you! I actually learned a lot about myself and what I want in life by going through that experience. I know it did me good and I’m a lot stronger for it now. Plus now I’m comfortable and I actually love being single!

With that said, I think it’s important to note that paying off debt while single has its own set of advantages and disadvantages when compared to paying off debt while married or in a long-term relationship.

Advantages of Paying off Debt While Single

Because I’m single, I have the advantage of being able to set my own financial goals and budget. I’m able to decide independently how much money I’ll spend on entertainment and fun each month. Along those lines, I also get to decide how to use the money I set aside for that purpose. I’m never going to end up spending my hard earned and sparse entertainment budget on something I don’t want to do, like going to a football game or going to a movie at the theatre that I don’t want to see.

Another thing I love is that my free time is my own to do with as I please. This may not seem to have much to do with paying off debt, but because of my side hustles, (weekend job, cleaning the office building I work in, etc.) not only is my money a luxury, but my free time is valuable as well. If I want to watch chick flicks on Netflix for 10 hours straight while stuffing my face having a snack on my (rare) day off, I can! There’s no one there to stop me or complain about my choice of entertainment.

All you mother’s out there, please don’t take offense to this one. As a single girl without the responsibilities of marriage or children, I’m free to dedicate as much “extra” time to my career and side hustles as I please. I never have to worry about being home to spend time with my husband or pick my kids up from school or day care because I don’t have any! I truly respect those of you who are willing and able to do both – dedicate time to your side hustles/career and your family – to get your debts paid off, but I truly believe I have it easier since I don’t have both demanding my time.

Disadvantages of Paying off Debt While Single

It may seem crazy, but being able to set my own financial goals and budget is also somewhat of a disadvantage of being single. I’m still working hard to increase my self-discipline when it comes to my eating out and shopping monsters! Having another person to provide for and share financial goal with each month would give me some additional accountability, which isn’t a bad thing.

Being single can also be lonely. I’m not trying to make you feel bad for me, it’s the truth. Like I said before, I truly love being single and living on my own, but sometimes I feel lonely and end up spending a bit of money to get more human interaction. Usually I end up paying for a meal out or a drink with one of my girlfriends. The other down side is that the majority of my girlfriends aren’t single so they only have a limited about of time to spend together before they go home to their husbands. Luckily, I have my pets at home to help this loneliness happen less frequently. I highly recommend having a pet if you’re single even though they do cost money!

Sometimes I find myself feeling jealousy toward my married friends, not because I truly want to be married, but because they have the luxury of not having to work at all or at least not as long or hard as I do. Of course this could also be because they managed their money better and didn’t get into debt, or aren’t actively working to get out of debt. I have a lot of friends who I know are in at least some debt and yet they are able to only work part time because their spouse brings in a larger income. I try not to be, but sometimes I am jealous of their free time and flexible schedule.

Having children or getting married is a great motivator. There are lots of people who choose to get out of debt before getting married or having kids. These are great milestones to hinge your debt freedom on, since they are big motivators for most people. Knowing that I love being single and that I don’t plan on having kids means I don’t have those built-in motivators along my journey. Spouses are also great to lean on and bounce ideas off of. Because I’m single, I don’t have that built in support either.

What do you think? Are there additional advantages or disadvantages of paying off debt while single or married? Which do you think is easier?

Shoeaholicnomore (Kayla) is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at Shoeaholicnomore.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


 

Happy Hump DayDon’t forget to check out my post at Shoe’s site on Debt Games.

Lotsa crazy going on there, but it kinda works!!!

Hope you’re all having a good week!

Happy Hump Day!

~debt debs~

 

debtdebs.com-debt-graph


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Debt Deliberations

debtdebs.com-debt-graphI said I would do my debt updates on a regular basis to have good comparatives, so since it’s been a month since the last update, I aim to please!

Speaking of which, I wasn’t too pleased about the chart format that I’ve used in my debt updates so far.  I decided to change it up, but what with getting distracted analyzing the numbers, having 2 (only 2!) glasses of wine last night and spending time researching alternatives for front lawns (other than grass!), I’m still not sure if I like what I’ve got.  But anyhoo, here goes…. and I may exercise my women’s prerogative to change her mind later.

Debt Decline

The colourful graph above is based on the figures in the chart further below for actuals this year up to June, combined with a projected forecast for the remainder of the year. Since I just created this forecast by type of debt today, I don’t have any past forecasts, but I plan to chart the actual achievement against the above forecast, so I can see if we are on track for debt repayment.

We actually averaged just over $60K annual debt repayment for the two years ended March 2014, which was pretty awesome.  I wanted to compare how we are doing so far this year, and was wondering if we will be able to similarly, pay off $60K for this year.

On a fiscal year 2014 annual basis, my forecast shows us just shy of this at $56,871.   The next topic will give you a little clue as to why that is.  Still, it’s in the ballpark, so I’m not going to fret about it too much.  So we will push to meet the $60K and also set a stretch goal of $65K.  Now wouldn’t that be awesome?

Debt Increase

See the little dip up in March?  You almost missed it, didn’t you?  That is due to an extremely large credit card bill of $5K which included $3K for The Irishman’s annual insurance premium.  This, coupled with the fact that due to his lower than normal income in Q1, meant we could not pay as much debt off as planned.

But looks like we are back on track!  After only one week in June so far, he’s earned $900 which is only $300 short of his biweekly target of $1,200.  Any extra that he makes above the monthly minimum of $2,400 goes into debt repayment, over and above what we have already planned.  If that works in our favour, the future graphs that you see like the one above should show the forecasted debt repayment diverging from the actual debt repayment.  One can only hope!  And pray!  And work hard!!!

Spending impacts on Debt

I also watch our monthly spending against budget, as this is one of the key elements to be able to make debt repayment as planned.  I’m not going to do a budgeted expense analysis here today, but that could be something I cover in the future.

Bugs-expert-adviceI got  a lot of great feedback in my last post asking about what we should focus on next in our debt repayment journey.   Thank you all for your responses!  :-)    I really appreciate you taking the time to do so.  Sometimes, you just need an outsider’s perspective, when you get so embedded in the muck and can’t see the forest for the trees and start floundering, as I like to say.

So many said to lower the grocery bill and cut the cable.  My investing buddies were also big on opening our own investment accounts and managing our portfolios on our own.   Well guess, what?  We’re going to do all three of them!!  Look for more on these topics, which for us, will be quite challenging for various different reasons.  Of course, some will take more time than others to execute, but that’s why we call this a journey!

Detailed Debt Analysis

We’ve paid down debt to the tune of $28,771 this year so far and the trend of decline of debt continues since we first started our debt recovery journey.  The figures below show every month this year and the first column is from our D-Day.   Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of D-Day and I had it on my mind all day.   There’s nothing that can be done about the past, but we need to learn for the future, and remember all those who fought for our freedom.  I mean no disrespect calling our Debt Discovery Day our D-Day.  It feels both catastrophic and liberating, which could also be said about June 6, 1944.  For this reason, I felt it fit, and, let’s face it, there’s a whole lotta double ‘D’s’ going on here and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Onward to the analysis, our freedom awaits us!

debt-repayment-journey

Notice there is a big time gap between Mar 2012 and Dec 2013. I wasn’t tracking in the same manner so I don’t readily have those figures. It was only when I started this blog in March 2014, that I pulled together the ‘big picture’. It was quite satisfying actually to look back at the progress.

Normally we are scheduled to pay approximately $1,600 biweekly towards debt.  Although not all of it goes to principal, it’s all at low rates, the highest being 2.89%.  In addition, we also pay $177 biweekly for a car payment at 0% interest.  So I guess you could say we pay in total about $1,750 every two weeks.  In addition, we try to pay an extra $2K per month, on top of that, but that is being extremely aggressive and assumes that The Irishman makes more than the minimum $2,400 budgeted per month.  So in a low month we would pay $3,500 towards debt and upwards to $5,500, but even as I write this, that seems surreal, so don’t quote me (yet! :o )  Notice how in February and March the reduction was not even meeting the $3,500, due to the lean Q1 period!

Diversion

I know that some of these figures may seem quite high to some readers, and you may think, gee, I wish I had that much money to throw at my debt.  I even wince sometimes when I present these numbers, because I think that people will say “Meh!  First world problems”.

Let me just say this, it’s all relative.  Meaning that my debt numbers are a lot higher than most of what I’ve seen publicly out here on the internet.   In addition, I think at $2,400/month, The Irishman is more middle to lower income, or certainly is not paid enough for how hard he works!

We are a lot older than most personal finance bloggers and should be retiring soon.  He is 61 and I am 54.  Yes, I know, with our income level, we are stupid to even get into this mess that we’re in.

But here’s the thing.  If we can get ourselves into this state, there is a whole lotta other people out there who are probably dancing at the devil’s door too.  Lifestyle inflation, wants not needs, call it what you want… but I’m here to tell you that if you take your eye off the ball and say “I deserve”, you will be facing the music at some point too.   My message is to prevent people from making the same ridiculous mistakes and help those who have fallen like we have.

Delta Dialogue

Okay, sorry for that diversion.  I just felt I needed to get it out there.  So back to my analysis.  The decrease from March to April, was due to payment of the big credit card bill mentioned above ($5K).  In April, The Irishman got a big commission, so we were able to play catch up and pay down our low-rate credit card to the tune of $6K, which is why the May figure is so much lower.  In May, we were able to ramp the payment back up on the low rate balance transfer credit card to $2K, on top of our normal debt repayment of $1,750 biweekly.  There is also one extra $1,600 mortgage payment in the June 6 balance, as our mortgage was paid yesterday.

So all in all, I think we are back on track.  The annual target of $60K is not in the bag by any means at this point.  We’ve still got 4 years to go.  My planning has us at May/June 2018 having it all paid off.  My stretch target is December 2017, but that is only a pipe dream at this point.

Diatribe on Dialect

I was cleaning up some things on my blog and noticed I should review my SPAM folder in case any legitimate comments got unintentionally put there.  But, nope, all SPAM and I decided I should delete all comments there because there was getting to be quite a few, and it would make future reviews much easier.  Before I did, I saved a few gems that are pretty representative of most of them, but some genuinely more humorous than others.  Url’s provided have obviously been removed by moi, some pointing to running shoe sites, or lewd sites and other things I can’t even recall.  It’s so obvious with most of these comments that English is not their first language, and some genuinely try and are better than others.  Anyways, I will dissect these comments in my own snarky manner, just because.

how to grow taller when your 14

An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.
There’s no doubt that that you ought to write more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people
do not speak about such issues. To the next! Kind regards!!

how to grow taller when your 14”  Oh, the poor guys who googled this phrase.  Doesn’t your heart just melt for them?   This English in this one is actually probably the best I’ve seen in SPAM, even though the words and sentence structure is rather awkward.  I just love the the second last phrase though “To the next!”  Like ‘onward and upward‘ or ‘high ho cheerio!’.  Had me giggling. :-D

Richardsamuelmd.com/2011/11/22/how-to-treat-mild-Eczema/

It is the best time to make a few plans for the long run and it’s time
to be happy. I have read this publish and if I may just I want to counsel you few fascinating things or advice.
Maybe you could write next articles regarding this article.

I wish to learn more things approximately it!

Oh, a medical related one.  I’ve probably googled “How to treat mild eczema” myself once.  Oh, I hope I don’t invite the SPAMLORDs in now.  Again, this one is not too too bad, until the end when he says “I wish to learn more things approximately it“.  Good sword, I can’t even think what word the good doctor even meant to use here.    Anyways, you keep learning new things there on your {internet} rounds there, Dr. Samuel.  Don’t come by here though.  Nothin’ to learn here.  Glad I’ve got my good buddy akismet on my side!

Couples-Money-Conversations-You-Want-To-Avoid


42 Comments

Couples Money Conversations You Want to Avoid

Couples-Money-Conversations-You-Want-To-AvoidTime to kick up my heels and get a bit crazy.  Things have been a little too serious ’round here lately and I’m ready for an all out silly laugh out loud (or at me) poke fun tirade like I promised in my first post How did I get here?

To start off the fun, I refer you to this little gem I came across when I first starting blogging from Joe Saul-Sehy at Stacking Benjamins (go check out the picture, it made me LOL):

Struggling With Money? Steps to Help You Avoid Divorce

Well y’all know we have averted this D-word (so far – touch wood, touch my head, turn around three times fast, don’t step on a crack – hey OCD runs in my family, I’m allowed to do this!) but that doesn’t mean we didn’t and still do come across many delicate money moments.

You may have your own situations you can recall.  Give yourself 2 points for every item you can relate to on this list!

Couples Money Conversations You Want to Avoid

  1. You spent how much at Future Shop and for what?!  :?
  2. The car repairs from your accident are going to cost $650.  No more pedicures for the next 7 years.  :-(
  3. Honey, you know I love your homemade bean soup, but can we just have some meat after 3 days?  :cool:
  4. You know how the bumper on the truck is starting to rust?  Well I found a good deal on a replacement at a car parts dealer for $150….. Oh ya, I forgot to tell you, I dented the bumper the other day in a parking lot.  :oops:
  5. I need $20 cash for my annual membership dues.  “I gave you $20 last month.”  Oh yeah….   :neutral:
  6. I got a great deal on salad dressings, they were on sale for $1/each so they’ll last all summer.  “Did you look at the expiry date?”  Ya, they’re good until Dec 6.  “Um, no, that is Jun 12″.  :cry:
  7. Did you get your hair cut?  “No, I just brushed it differently”.  You should get your hair cut.  :wink:
  8. I’m so happy that Dairy Queen Customer Appreciation Days falls right around S’s birthday.  I got her a 50% off birthday cake.  “Um, she’s the kid who doesn’t like ice cream cakes”.  :cry:
  9. Oh, look at the price of gas here, we should fill up.  “Oh, no, they’ll be cheap ones once we get out of the city”.  I told you we should have filled up.  :mad:
  10. Did you deposit your cheque?  “Ooops ….”  :eek:
  11. I have a surprise when I pick you up from the airport.  Look for a white truck.  :evil:

Now I’m not saying that any of the above conversations happened in Debt Debs’ household and I’m not saying they didn’t, but since I pretty much tell it like it is on this blog, you know there’s at least an element of truth in every one.   :snarky eye roll:    Except for #11, that is 120% true.  He bought a truck when I was out of town on business without my knowledge or even discussion.  I see your mouth gaping open  But we’ve moved on from that and keep on rollin’.  :D

Next Topic – Time for Your Input

Ahem, in other news, I’ve got a lot of things on my Financial To Do List and having trouble finding time prioritizing for what I should work on first.  I’m gonna let you vote on what you think my priorities should be.  And then I’m gonna do whatever I feel like.  Ha ha ha.  Not not really, I will heed your advices very carefully, and then I will do whatever I feel like think best.

I’m probably forgetting things so feel free to add your own.  Also, some things are meant to build on another thing, so for example, I kinda have to do 1 before 2 and 2 before 3, for example.  Others are completely unrelated.  So here’s the list:

  1. Create a spreadsheet of all my investments in my retirement portfolio and start tracking the stock prices, EPS and dividend payments daily.
  2. Add to the list potential other buys and track and understand their metrics to determine if and when I should acquire.
  3. Open a self-directed stock account and move all of the equities in my retirement portfolio there, making all future decisions myself.
  4. Figure out how to get my grocery budget down from $800 / month (for three people).
  5. Move my blog to a self-hosted site.
  6. Take steps to monetize blog.
  7. Cut the freakin’ cable and save $83.56/month minus the cost of a good quality digital antenna.
  8. Fill out an application at Shopper’s Drug Mart for a job starting in September.

I felt like a fish flopping around on the boat deck, as wrote the above list.   You can tell I’m floundering a bit, ay?  I’m gonna put the above in a poll format too, because I like techy things.  You can either vote in the poll, put your answers in the comments or do both.  No pressure.  Do whatever you want.  Or not.  But if you want me to beg …. pleeeeeaaaazzzze tell me what you think I should do.

I very much appreciate your inputs!!

Call me Flounder.  (But call me.)

Random useless bonus question:  What would you prefer to be called pretty or cute?

flounder-fish

Real Flounder Fish – Pretty

Flounder-character

Fake Flounder – Cute

Images courtesy of flickr.com
Couple Arguing / Erin Nekervis
Flounder Fish / Steve Jurvetson
Flounder Stuffed Animal /The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek – Doug Kline

 


54 Comments

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

Found-Money


41 Comments

Found money

LOST-FOUNDDo you ever find money where you weren’t expecting to find it?

Whether it be on an inside pocket a small clutch purse from your last fancy gala, a $20 bill tucked in your sock drawer or glove compartment or some birthday money tucked in a card that you could have sworn you already spent.

Those small amounts are not windfalls, but enough for you to say, ‘Hey, cool’, and then get on with your day.  Unless you decide to fret about how you almost threw out said birthday card and that $30 would have been gone and you never would have even known about it.

Anyways, it’s nice when that happens, right?

What’s that you say?  It rarely happens to you anymore because you’ve got your money sewn up so tight that you know where every dollar is designated in your so-called debt life.

Ya, it doesn’t happen to me anymore either.

Until yesterday.

There were two of these in the mail.

Found-Money

2 x 100 dollas!  {insert Gail Vaz-Oxlade voice here}  One made out to yours truly and one made out to the Irishman.

How.sweet.that.was.  … of Prince$$ Cruise Line to send back the deposits we left for our next cruise when we were on our last one in 2010 and obviously giddy with the sea air.

I’ve thought about this money.  But I never even considered asking for the money back.  I thought it was lost money.

So what’s the lesson learned here folks?

Ask for your money back.  Or don’t, and maybe you will get a nice surprise in the mail one day.

That’s going right on our big fat debt, baby.  How.sweet.it.is.

In other news, I was featured on Brian at Debt Discipline’s blog this week.  You can see the Debt Debs interview here.  Be sure to let Brian know if you’d like to divulge all your embarrassing secrets share your story too.

A big thank you to A Disease Called Debt, Frugal Rules , Debt Discipline and Financially Blonde for linking to my post Worth it Wednesday – Can a Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis?  I think they know how much it took me to write this and other posts I’ve done recently, and I sincerely appreciate their support as I continue to dig deep.  I’ll be back to some funny and quasi-techy stuff soon.  I’m beginning to feel these writing jags go in cycles.  I can only be deep for a short period of time and then I need to come up for air and be my usual quirky, snarky and crazy self.

Thanks to The Pursuit of Riches for mentioning my interview, but you should check her out cause she’s got the best new news since I’ve been following her blog (which is basically from the beginning).

So I need to get crackin’ and help The Irishman clean out the garage.  I am inspired to do this from Holly at Club Thrifty.  Get a look at how clean her garage is!  This is something we’ve been putting off.   I hear him out there throwing things around now.  I better run out and get a before picture….

…. but first, since I love hearing this woman’s voice and her no-nonsense talk, I leave you with a little dialogue with Canada’s version of Dave Ramsey, Gail Vaz-Oxlade:

*To view this video on YouTube Click here

Lost/Found sign Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


52 Comments

Worth It Wednesday – Can a Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis?

We’re more than two years into our debt journey now.  It hasn’t always been pretty.  Last month, when Melanie @ Dear Debt wrote on Financial Fidelity it resurrected some feelings I had squashed down.   Coincidentally, Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt wrote that same week “How to make a relationship work if you’re in debt” on her own personal marriage struggles with debt and I said “Oh, boy!  I’ve got to do a post on this too … when I’m ready”.

I’m ready.

The Early Days of a Relationship Debt Crisis

I don’t remember now what particular purchase I tried to make with my credit card that was declined.  All I remember is the date in early March 2012.   I remember how my stomach sank and that awful dread feeling washed over me.   It was quickly followed by a fluttering of butterflies in my chest, as anxiousness and fear temporarily paralyzed me.  It wasn’t the first time.  It hadn’t happened for years though.  I didn’t see it coming.

I thought we were doing better.  I remember there being an issue in 2004 when I tried paying for a rental car overseas.  Then again in 2005, I poked my nose in and didn’t like what I saw.  I started trying to conserve money in a half-hearted attempt.  I remember not wanting to drive anywhere, as if saving on gas was going to be the answer to all of our financial problems.

Shortly thereafter, my Mum passed away, which set off a few years of YOLO with depression.  I never looked at the bank and credit card statements during this time.

We started planning a cruise with some friends and family.  I figured we would have time to save.  All of a sudden it’s 2009 but our cruise is postponed due to the financial situation of one of the couples.  It didn’t even dawn on me to look at our own financial situation then.  I just blindly trusted my partner that we had the money. There always seemed to be a few thousand in the bank whenever I went to take cash out of the ATM.  I was none-the-wiser.  I had been looking forward to the trip and felt I needed a break.  We went on a short one week cruise on our own anyways.  The following year we took the other cruise as planned.

Fast forward to 2012 and the declined credit card.  I decided that this was enough and I was sick of being put in these positions.  I asked to see the line of credit statement.  Maxed out.  $35K Why? Because of the trip, car repairs, Christmas presents, that thing we bought for the house.  The list was endless.  I guess my husband was moving money around from card to card while trying to make minimum payments.  Wait there’s more.  There’s a home equity LoC maxed out as well at $100K.  I thought we paid that.  No we didn’t because we were aggressively paying down the mortgage.  Why would we bother try to pay down the mortgage when there was still this huge HELOC sitting there?  “For psychological reasons, to have the mortgage gone”, I am told.  “Stupid psychological reasons” I mutter under my breath.   Wouldn’t Dave Ramsey be proud?

Then la pièce de résistance, $100K in low rate credit card balance transfers!!  I.was.in.complete.shock.

The Emotions of a Relationship Debt Crisis

I wanted to flee.  I wanted to run.  I wanted to get in the car and drive and never come back.  I could not fathom the extent of our debt nor could I see a way clear of it.  Divorce was the only way out of my misery.

marriage-survive-a-debt-crisisHow could someone who supposedly cares for me so much, have done this to me?  Was I not working hard enough to provide for the family?  I wasn’t gambling, or rampantly spending to keep up with the Joneses.  I was just doing what any ‘normal’ family does.  I deserve a holiday when I work so hard all year!  The platitudes just kept coming and coming.

I was so furious and beside myself with grief that I didn’t know what I was going to do.    I literally said to him “I spit on you!”.  The venom was real.  How could I love a man whom I was so seething at, …. again?

He slept on the couch that night.  And the next night.  And the night after that.  By the fourth night, I guess since I was still in the house, he decided to come into our bed.  I asked him why he was sleeping on the couch.  He said because he didn’t want to get spit on.

The Getting-On-With-It of a Relationship Debt Crisis

The financial aspects we dealt with together at the bank, adding onto our mortgage.  I went to work figuring out our budget and cash flow.  He started renegotiating phone plans, satellite TV, internet etc.

But that’s not the point of this post.  It’s about how does a couple come back together and repair the lost trust, respect and the “cared for” feeling once a relationship experiences a debt crisis.

It’s not easy but it can be done.

Take Responsibility

It was so easy to blame him for everything.  But that would not help our marriage.  I had to dig deep and acknowledge the role that I played in our debt position.  I also have to ensure he is accountable for his part in our debt journey.

  • It Takes Two – I had left him to manage it, never checking, never discussing, just assuming.  We both have to be involved.  Whether one takes one role, and the other takes another, we still have to share the load and be sure we are reading from the same book, let alone be on the same page!
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – He was overwhelmed but did not discuss it with me.  Other than the odd comment about a purchase, there were no other indications that he thought or knew we were spending beyond our means.  We now discuss our purchases, our progress against goals, our concerns and worries.
  • Record. Review, Revise – We never tracked our spending to know how much we should allow ourselves to spend in different areas and to ensure we were staying on plan.  I track everything now and review progress with him when we discuss.  Usually Saturday mornings in bed with coffee.  Romantic ay?
  • Plan Ahead – Although not a big spender, my husband is “penny wise and pound foolish”.  He will drive around to get sales on groceries, spending more in gas.  He will not buy something that we need because it’s more expensive than he thinks it should be (consequently resulting in a second trip later), but will buy something that don’t even need, just because it’s on sale.    Since I am doing all the ‘bookkeeping’ of our finances, this is his responsibility to think ahead and plan accordingly using lists and consulting the flyers for sales items.
  • Bring Home the Bacon – He was not bringing home enough income.   His job paid him like crap.  I said he needed to get a second job to increase his earnings.  He opted to speak to his boss about getting more assigned work.  This (except for lower season) has worked out for the most part.  He has increased his income dramatically from before, even if it is still quite low (in my opinion), but it is also variable.  He works very hard, too freakin’ hard as far as I can see for what they pay him and what he upgraded his skills for during the last 10 years.
  • Leave the Past There – There’s no point in resurrecting past mistakes and failures.  What’s done is done.  We’re either in this together or we’re against each other.    Okay, sometimes we laugh now, about how he didn’t want to sleep in the same bed in case I spit on him.
  • Be Informed – I let him research options about equipment / technology / home maintenance to ensure we are doing the best thing with our money.   For instance, we switched our home internet provider to Tek Savvy from Primus and our home phone from Primus to Ooma.  We save about $42/mth on our monthly fees (although there was some initial equipment investment doing this of about $300).  I do the research on tools and templates for managing our financial decisions.  We each do what we are more suited for and that (now) suits me fine!
  • Keep Each Other Honest But Keep it Fun – If we find we are slipping into bad habits we remind each other and make a joke about it (You don’t want me spitting on you do you?).

We can choose to be miserable about our debt crisis but we do not.  We both played a part in it and it will take both of us working together and working hard to reach our goals.  We have more than two years behind us and four more to go to be debt free.  That is longer than what is recommended (normally a three year rule of thumb is a good guideline in order to not experience debt fatigue, which I can attest to).

The only other way to get there sooner is to sell our home.  I’m partially in favour of that but my husband is not.  We’ve agreed to review each year and see if we’ve changed our minds.

After that, my husband can retire (he’s seven years older than me) and I will keep working until we have some money saved for house renovations and maybe some more for retirement.  It will depend a lot on how I feel, our health etc.

If you are facing a similar situation, you need to consider whether there is gambling, alcoholism, gaming or other addictive spending habits involved to know if repairing a relationship after a severe debt crisis is feasible or not. There is no easy answer and every situation is different.

Do not let fear keep you in an unhealthy relationship.  If both parties act (not say, talk is cheap) like they are committed to resolving the financial situation, repaying the debt, rebuilding trust and nurturing the relationship, then it is worth giving it a sincere effort.

We’re not there yet, but we are a work in progress!  Now instead of a spitting cobra when he looks at me he just sees this.

marriage-survive-a-debt-crisis

Enough said?  Okay, but first I suggest you check out this inspiring post on this topic from Big Guy Money – Improve Your Marriage – I Dare You

Javan Spitting Cobra (Naja Sputatrix) via flickr Michael Ransburg                                                    Llama via flickr Valerie
Oh, one last thing.  I joined the Yakezie Challenge.  For anyone who isn’t familiar with it, its about improving your blog over a six month period in order to be eligible to join this community  of personal finance and lifestyle bloggers.   There is a forum where you can work with other bloggers to get support while you are doing the challenge.  One of the criteria for measurement is your Alexa rating of traffic to your blog.  You also write a submission post at the end of the induction period.  You can see the button showing I’m doing the Yakezie challenge in my right side bar.
So on that note, I just want to say that I appreciate all who come and read what I have to say here, whether you comment or not, it’s all good and the more the merrier.  The post above is one of the reasons why I blogIf you like any posts you see or know of someone else who would like to laugh at me  benefit from it, please share via the buttons below.  You have the choice of Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Google+ ~ Pinterest ~ email.   Thank you kindly for reading and for your support!
 

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #1


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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


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Worth it Wednesday ~ Dear Debt Letter

debt debs ransom-note-dear-debt

Debt sent me a ransom note … I’m so ignoring him

Worth-it-Wednesday is here a little early because Melanie at deardebt.com enticed me to write my debt breakup letter.  It is such a great idea but as I started to write, I found Debt was sitting on my shoulder watching every word I typed.  In usual fashion he decided to chime in.  Go on over and check out what I and he had to say.  He’s a gnarly little fellow.  So here is me, writing my taking back my life letter, and this is how it went … Dear Debt …

In other news….Nutcracker by artur84 from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

DD#3_targetsMy #3 daughter gave me the best Mum’s day present on Sunday when she told me her student debt from her Masters degree was all paid off!   About a year ago we sat down and did a Gail Vaz-Oxlade analysis on her expenses to see if it fit into Gail’s guidelines for Housing – Transportation – Life – Debt – Savings of 35% – 15% – 25% – 15% – 10%.    Now, she did have more than could be paid off in a year but she received a very sizable income tax refund so was able to completely extinguish it this weekend.  I was so happy!! 

I didn’t know how serious she was taking it from when we last talked about it and I don’t like to nag.  Well, more honestly, I was probably afraid of being disappointed, so in usual fashion I buried my head in the sand.  (Hey, it’s her debt, not mine!  … even though I did feel partly responsible for not setting a better example on how to handle money.)  She used to be a bit spendy and she likes to travel.  Plus, her once famous quote “I’ll always be in debt” used to make me cringe, so I figured she was going to be a hard nut to crack.

Look the nut is cracked open into a heart shape ... ahhhh!

Look the nut is cracked open into a heart shape … ahhhh!

But I guess Mum’s persuasion and some new found frugalness on her part was just what was needed to crack that nut open.  She thanked me because she said I helped her to see it was possible to eliminate her debt.   :)   I guess I can really move on from my guilt trip now.  Heeee …

Image Credits from FreeDigitalPhotos.net:
Nutcracker by artur84
Walnuts In Love by Aleksa D