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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Sticky Business: A busy bee ‘s work is never done

busy-bee I woke up with a slightly panicky feeling.  It could be that the clock radio was talking about stock market downturn which is never a good thing to wake up to.  I also knew that this was my last day of holidays.  After a busy bee enough but also smell-the-roses week, I am starting to feel a bit of lunch bag letdown because I have not accomplished much of the long to do list I envisioned making headway on during my one week vacation.

But since May reminded me that I love being a Libra with her post, If I Only had More Money (which is a worthwhile read, you should go check it out), because I crave balance, I’m going to reflect on the good and the not so good while I sip my coffee here and then figure out what I’m going to do next.  Care to join me?

Let’s start by being kind to myself.  Otherwise I might have to get slightly defensive due to my Type A personality as Prudence points out.  Back in June, I had laid out a bunch of things I wanted to achieve.  I previously did a quick review and thought I had done okay, but let’s double check by looking at the details:

  1. Create a spreadsheet of all my investments in my retirement portfolio and start tracking the stock prices, EPS and dividend payments daily. NOT DONE
  2. Add to the list potential other buys and track and understand their metrics to determine if and when I should acquire. NOT DONE
  3. Open a self-directed stock account and move all of the equities in my retirement portfolio there, making all future decisions myself.  NOT DONE
  4. Figure out how to get my grocery budget down from $800 / month (for three people).  NOT DONE
  5. Move my blog to a self-hosted site.  DONE
  6. Take steps to monetize blog. DONE
  7. Cut the freakin’ cable and save $83.56/month minus the cost of a good quality digital antenna.  DONE – cable canceled and service stops next week
  8. Fill out an application at Shopper’s Drug Mart for a job starting in September.  NOT DONE

Whoopsy!  Well I guess on paper I didn’t do as well as I thought.  Truth is items 1 – 3 are related and item 1 was on my list to do this week.   I think that may be one of the reasons I’m feeling kind of disappointed.  I know it will be a lot of work but I really want to get going on it.  It’s next on the list to address as soon as I can get some hours to start. #whenhellfreezesover

#4 is ongoing, but truth be told, I have not done much myself on this yet, other than nag talk to The Irishman.  I really want to get control over this.  I think the first thing we need to address is the wasted food.  As a son of a depression baby, The Irishman shops like we are on the brink of starvation, all-the-freakin-time.  Not only does this not appeal to my new minimalist preferences, but it’s hard on the budget.  I’m inspired by Will’s $75 / month spent on groceries.  This will be my focus for the fall.  If nothing else it will give me good blogging content.  #snicker

#5 and #6  I’m really glad to have behind me, but #6 is ongoing. Actually, mea culpa, apparently #5 is ongoing too because I just discovered that I didn’t have an email account set up for debster<at>debtdebs<dot>com in my cpanel and I see there are some feedback messages in my blog I never noticed before.   Apologies Kirsten and Keith (I’ll get back to you soon) and others who I don’t know yet but I’m hoping want to send me money for advertising or writing for them.  #hee hee  I’ve just now set up an email account and forwarded to my gmail.  Regarding #6 advertising, Cashville Skyline wrote a great post on this and so I proceeded to ask her a bunch of questions because I’m clueless I still have a bunch of learning to do on this. #snort

I’m really happy that #7 got done as it required mental work (researching the digital antenna to buy) and physical work (installing on the roof), although he reminded me that he still has to go back up there to do something once the cable is kaputz.  It’s kind of exciting actually.  Feels like we are going back to the sixties and I’m wondering what channels I’m going to get and how my TV watching may change based on what is available to us. #firstworldproblems

#8 well was partially in jest but not a totally ruled out option yet.  If not for this year, it’s still a possibility at some point.  Kayla at Shoeaholic No More continually inspires me with her energy and gumption.  That girl’s going places and I want to live vicariously through her see if I can do something similar with blogging and freelancing before I decide to go the paid employee part-time job route. #don’tquityourdayjob

Speaking of which, I’ve written three articles for Money Propeller, though none are published yet, they are scheduled for the future and I have another four in the hopper.  I’ve got a few guest posts written or planned and looking forward to increasing my exposure through guest posts. #wavingarmsmadly

Likewise, I am also seeking guest posts for this blog.  It’s nice to have others’ perspectives and despite some opinions to the contrary recently, my observation is that it still serves a need.   You won’t see affiliate guest posts here, only ones that are in harmony with my values (because let’s face it, it’s nice to have supporters), or ones that contradict my opinions (I think it’s important to learn and grow by digesting conflicting views which then either modify or reinforce your own), or ones that fill a void that I cannot provide much valuable information or experience for.  #guestposterswanted

So while I realize all of those photos of mine above are not true honey bees and in fact some of them look quite lazy instead of busy, I thought I would share a cool pic from a twit I follow with a cool fact but also a sad fact about the bees in Ontario being impacted by neonicotinoids pesticides used by farmers.  I’m sure there are two views to this story too.

 

Have you been a busy bee this summer or a lazy or injured bee?  What are your priorities you are getting done or not getting done?  Any views on the honey bee industry?

 


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Shutdown – Gone Fishing

Shutdown-Gone-FishingTaking a much needed break this weekend.

Has anyone worked for a company that has summer shutdown periods?

I used to and it was kind of nice because nothing moved while everyone was off.

That’s kind of what I feel like I need right now.  My blog reader has 129 unread posts, my email box though clean at the beginning of the week is starting to show signs of bloat, and my To Do list is, well. still there.

So freeze frame while I’m gone, m’kay?  Don’t go away but put your feet up and have a cold one while you’re at it.  Hey maybe we need a blog shutdown period!  I’ll start the movement.  ha ha

Before I go, I would like to thank the following for nominating me (again) for a Liebster:

Islands of Investing  – I think Jason asked mostly the same questions I had before so I’m gonna link it here – Liebster Award  HEE

Even Steven – I answered Steven’s questions on his post in the comments. ;-)

shutdown-gone-fishingThanks also to the following fellow bloggers who rounded up my posts – somebody had to before they ran away ;-) :

Our Big Fat Wallet

Young Adult Money

Fit is the New Poor

Million Dollar Ninja

Here’s some beers to enjoy while you go visiting.

Oh, ya you can go see the shopping I did this week.  It’s not what you’re thinking.

Sorry, rushing out the door.  The Irishman’s ready to honk the horn!

Great weekend all!

Gone Fishin':  flickr – Egan Snow
Beers:  flickr – Wagner T. Cassimiro “Aranha”

 


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Preferred Shares – Time to Spend Some Money

preferred-shares-cash

flickr: ROBERT HUFFSTUTTER

I have $21,029.46 in cash in my retirement investment portfolio just sitting there. I don’t earn any interest on it either. At prevailing interest rates it would be small, but maybe $17/month. The bad news is that it’s been sitting there for over a year, I think.

My broker has been waiting for some good opportunities to buy something. Surely there has been something to buy within this time frame? I have bugged him about it but then I get busy and do nothing to follow-up. Sometimes he emails me with some options and then I sit on the email thinking I need to study it more and then I ultimately do nothing. You can start lashing me with a wet noodle now.  I know I deserve it.

Last time I emailed him was May 29 and he gave me some options preferred shares, exchange traded fund yada yada yada yawn.  I did nothing.  Why does this stuff not interest me and why do I do nothing?

It’s seems like unless I have all my hands and feet on the topic, I feign interest.  I’ve been talking about moving to a self-managed portfolio and I mean that, but it also means a lot of work to get educated and start tracking before I make the leap.

This is the first step in the direction.

preferred-shares-trainI know it will take time, but with your encouragement, I’m hoping it will not take as much time as I am fearing.  Baby steps… get some momentum and let the train gather speed as it pulls away from the station.

It’s really no different than debt repayment, but in the opposite direction.  It’s my money!  It’s my money as opposed to someone else’s which is how I see my debt.

Preferred Shares for Sale

OK, let’s start.  So he (without my prompting I might add), emailed me this week and suggested to buy two preferred shares as follows:

  1. Enbridge Preferred shares series D (ENB.D).  It is currently trading at $24.64 and a current dividend yield of 4.06%.  In 2018, Enbridge will decide to either wind up the preferred shares and pay back $25 to the shareholders, or extend the preferred and give 2.37% above what a 5 year Gov’t of Canada Bond is paying at that time.  He says the yield and quality are good and the fact that it trades daily on the TSX means it can be sold easily, when I want to.
  2. Brookfield Asset Management Series B preferred shares, (BAM.FB), is also a rate reset preferred, trading at $25.09, a current dividend yield of 4.19%, a reset date of March 31, 2019, and a reset spread of 263 bps over the five year Government of Canada bond yield.  It is rated Pfd 2Low.

Looking at my portfolio now I see I already have ENBRIDGE common stock and Brookfield Renewable Energy.

preferred-shares

I know you can’t see my whole portfolio in the picture above so you can’t see how I’m diversified.

I can’t figure out the markets still going gang busters with everything going on in the world.

But in the interest of not sitting on my hands, yet again, I told him to go ahead.

Any comments on these two stocks?  Are your investments in index funds or do you have more individual dividend paying stocks in your portfolio?  Do you have any recommendations on excel files for tracking your investments?

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #3

money-barracuda


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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
 rockstarfinance
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
Flickr: Stephen Harper


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7 things about Jim Flaherty and why do I care?

Jim Flaherty

Flickr: Stephen Harper

Okay there’s always a few partisan naysayers in every crowd, but I’d have to say that pretty much all Canadians were stunned and saddened this week by the sudden death of the Former Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, from a massive heart attack on Thursday.

Flaherty suffered from a painful skin condition called bullous pemphigoid, and although no longer considered a fatal disease, there is speculation that the side effects of this steroid medications may have precipitated the heart impacts.  He definitely appeared to be suffering a lot more in recent years, and when he announced his sudden resignation to return to private live just 3 weeks earlier, his health was at the top of everyone’s concern, even though it was said to not be the reason for his departure.

Without further ado, here are Debt Debs 7 things she wants to say on this topic – some quirky, all personal finance related, of course, or personal or finance … we’re not going to get too picky today… after all, we’re grieving.

Item 1 – TFSA people!!!

Jim brought in our beloved TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) in the 2008 budget, effective January 2, 2009.   Some people say it as the four letter acronym T-F-S-A and some pronounce it “TIF-SA”.  This tax savings vehicle allows your money to grow and not be taxed on that growth, regardless of when you withdraw the money.  A TFSA is similar but not identical to Roth IRA’s in the US and Individual Savings Accounts in the UK.

Okay so I pretty much wrote a whole post on this one topic alone, so I have cut and pasted it for a future date.  That’s kind of a side benefit spin-off of this whole blogging thing.  You start to research something to support your inner monologue in your head and voila… you have learned a lot and you have a whole other post that is entirely too long to include here on a discrete topic that you can save for a rainy day.  Yup, that’s why I do this.

Item 2 – Registered Disability Savings Plan is a good thing … I think

In 2007, the RDSP was brought in by Jim Flaherty.  Ashamedly, I know nothing about this, and I should.  One of my children is on disability for severe OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and social anxiety.  (Yes, it has been a bit all consuming for us the last 7 years and may be a part of why we fell off the money management band wagon).  So I need to  research this for her sake and I will provide my views in a future post.

What I have heard in the news media, is that one of the Flahertys’ sons has autism, and this may be a reason to spur our former finance minister to put in place programs like this to help the nation’s disadvantaged.   I hope everyone is for that.  And for personal reasons, I do understand Mr. Flaherty’s as well.

2007: Introduces the Registered Disability Savings Plan to help Canadians with disabilities and their families save for retirement. One of Flaherty’s three sons has a mental disability and the minister wept openly when he announced the plan.

Item 3 – Bye Bye Penny!  It’s good to see you go!

 

Canadian Penny 2012AKA, don’t let the door hit your a$$ on the way out.  (OK, that’s just funny in my head)

In order to save $11 million for Canada, on March 29 2012, as part of the country’s Economic Action Plan 2012,  Flaherty announced that the penny would meet it’s eventual demise with a plan to start in February 2013 (Last penny was made May 4, 2012) .  The ‘nuisance’ coin was too costly to produce at 1.6 ¢ (60% over it’s own net worth! Poor Penny.)   Prices would not be impacted, but only a  methodology to support how to round up or round down the final transaction amounts for cash purchases only.

I think it’s worked out well.  (What do I know?  I never pay cash anymore. )  The nickle may be next.

Item 4 – GST (Goods and Services Tax) – Where’d it go?

Seems so long ago (January 1, 2008), that the National GST rate went down to 5% (it had moved from 7% to 6% for a short time period), but it was part of Jim Flaherty’s work.  It appears as of this time last year some thought it wasn’t good for Canada, but I see no damning evidence of that.  The budget will be balanced and deficit will be gone in 2015, and that’s 6 years after the economic downturn of 2009.  My plan is six years too.

In the province of Ontario, we still have it, but it’s been replaced by HST (Harmonized Sales Tax) which incorporates the PST (former Provincial Sales Tax of 8% [who remembers when PST was 7%?]) with the GST 5% for a total HST of 13%.  Timings for every province are all here folks – read if your planning to move to Canada.

So ya, the GST is not gone, it’s just buried.  Or you could look at it like it entered into a common-law relationship with it’s partner, PST.

Item 5 – Income Splitting – wait, I need all mine!

Income splitting is a part of the platform promised by the Tories (Conservative Party of Canada – CPC) when elected May 2, 2011 with a majority government.  AKA Income Sharing, this concept is supposed to ensure that couples earning different amounts but with the same total income are taxed similarly as couples earning the same amounts.

We heard in the media that Flaherty was no longer in favour of it, but since it was part of what the CPC’s were elected to deliver,  Prime Minister Harper would likely not renege on this campaign promise.

I don’t know a lot about it or why Flaherty no longer liked this proposal, so I need to do more research and report back later.   [Cheesus, church lady, not another thing you don’t know nuthin’ about!]  Plus now I’m curious, because I want to know what is my preference, and I hope you (Canadians) do too!

Item 6 – Frugal Parenting – my new quest :-)

Not only was Jim Flaherty Canada’s Finance minister for 8 years, he was also finance mentor to his 3 sons (My Three Sons – dog, I used to love that show.  Fun Fact I didn’t know – Ernie was originally a foster kid, and the original 3 sons were Mike, Robbie and Chip – here’s the episode where Mike gets married and then moves out East and Ernie comes into the picture.  All the episodes are on you.tube – what fun!).

Here’s the advice Jim had for his triplets back in 2010 with Debt Debs snarky remarks for good measure:

  1. Education is important - well that or training in a trade.  Not everyone needs to go to university.  I always say as long as you’re happy and can support yourself and any offspring and dogs and cats you bring into this world, off you go.
  2. Spend less than you earn - oh.my.dog, he was reading PF blogs wasn’t he?  Because, without a word of a lie, I don’t think I’ve heard that concept until I started reading them.  Novel concept, isn’t it?
  3. Buy property (but pay off your mortgage ASAP) – tax free gains on principal residences, what more could you ask for?  But pay off that mortgage and don’t keep adding to it!!!  Do as I say, not as I …. did.   Sheeeshhh
  4. Be frugal – oh.my.blog I always liked him but now I love(d) him.

Item 7 – Quirky Personal Coincidences

Flaherty tabled the 2014 budget on February 7, my father’s birthday.  He announced his resignation March 18 (my Mum’s birthday) and died on April 10 (my mother-in-law’s birthday).  He died at 64, same age as my aunt, both never getting to see that 65 year milestone, so important in our culture.  He shares Irish heritage with me, commonly wearing a green tie in most public appearances.  I have a green car for the same reason.  

In Canada, there is a long standing tradition since 1966 when the country was 99 years old, that the Finance minister should wear new shoes when he announces the new budget to Parliament.  I’ve known about this since I was a child, coming from a politically-minded family,  however, I was surprised to read that not all Finance ministers have upheld this tradition, not even Mr. Flaherty for a few of his budgets.

But alas, here he is in 2012 buying his new shoes.  At one minute in he picks up a pair of green high top sneakers, laughing, wondering if he should get those.  So cute.  I have one mini green high top sneaker key chain hanging from my rear view mirror in my little green car.

*To view this video on YouTube Click here

RIP, Mr. Flaherty.  My sincere condolences to your family, Christine Elliot, John, Quinn, Galen and extended family and friends.

The Million Dollar Diva

This post is part of the Financially Savvy Saturdays blog hop.  Click on the link above and check out some others.

You know you want to. ;-)

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADavid_Letterman_2.jpg


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Top Ten List – What I Don’t Like About My Investments

top-ten-things-I-don't-like-about-my-investments

By Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Washington D.C, United States (110613-N-TT977-230) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

From the personal finance information I’ve been reading (including many great blogs out there!), the importance of balance in your financial strategies cannot be stressed enough.

What do I mean by this?  Balance in debt repayment and investment savings for long term needs (retirement) to obtain the advantage of compounded growth.

In my travels (around the internet), I realize that I need to do more about ensuring our investment portfolio gets attention and not just our debt.  My head is not quite there (yet) because when I look at the stock market I get confused about yields and price-earnings ratios, and ex-dividend dates and common-law dividend dates… ah er… well you now understand my point.

So my former self would run and bury her head in the sand so she could ignore it.  I’ve perfected burying.  I have red scratchy eyes because of all the sand in them, but I claim the prize for ignoring bells and whistles (Note to self:  Blog about all the red flags I ignored over the years).

But with the motivation of some recent reads, I decide to start to really analyze my net worth, not just update it on my spreadsheet.  I’m gearing myself up to doing a Net Worth disclosure,  even, on Rockstar Finance.

These blogs gave me something to think about, as I work up my courage for Net Worth divulsion (egad that word sounds scary right there):

Debt Discipline – Net Worth Update: February – Brian shamelessly blogs his family’s NW, so what can’t I?

Cashville Skyline – Quarter 1 Update: My First Net Worth Overshare – Addison acknowledges that sharing NW is personal and can be difficult but has decided to for the greater good.

Ree @ Escaping Dodge – My Crazy Method of Determining Property Values for Net Worth Calculations has me thinking about whether I should include my home in my net worth calculation or not.  Note to Canadian readers:  Zillow does not seem to be available for Canadian properties, so I found  www.realtor.ca would be the closest Canadian equivalent (or local city sites can usually be found).  These sites give current listings and may not be reflective of actual values.   Due to privacy laws, real estate agents are not supposed to disclose sale amounts of properties, so use listed amounts with caution.

Financial Samurai – How Much Should My Net Worth or Savings Be Based On Income? – I’m way far behind if I base my evaluation on my current income, however if I lower my living standards (which we have done in the last two years), then I’m not doing too badly.

So in homage to David Letterman who announced his retirement this week, some say because his net worth is declining (he’s worth $400 million and makes $20 million / year, but I think he suffers from what Financial Samurai calls ONE MORE YEAR SYNDROME since he’s not retiring, like, tomorrow),  here is the TOP TEN LIST of WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT MY CURRENT INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO:

  1. I’ve got two losers in my portfolio, CAG and CPG.  (The fact that they both start with C and I am Canadian is purely coincidental)
  2. I don’t have the requisite 30% in low risk investments per Financial Samurai – Recommended Net Worth Allocation By Age And Work Experience (I need to calculate but I would estimate it’s around 10%)
  3. My portfolio is spread out between 4 different institutions (Hence the difficulty to calculate how much I have in low risk funds above.  It was worse, at 5, so I guess I’m making progress)
  4. My growth is not locked in.  (On my largest account, there is 48K of growth in market value which could disappear overnight in a free-fall market)
  5. I pay too much in investment fees. I paid $2574.97 last year on one account alone, and $849.23 on that same account first quarter this year.  That doesn’t include The Irishman’s account fees and other accounts.  I estimate that we pay between 6-7 grand per year on investment fees.  (Feels like paying a drug dealer for the small amount of work that he does for me).
  6. I have no clue how to interpret the P/E ratio when I look at a stock value. (It stands for Price / Earnings ratio but may as well mean Pimp / Escorts for all I can figure out).
  7. My investment advisor does not have a picture of my family on his desk (I have no idea why spell-check does not like advisor.  Does it want me to spell it the Canadian way? ADVISOUR)
  8. I have too many watch lists on my portfolio.  I’ve got Consolidated, Potentials, Hypothetical, Bad News, The Irishman’s Picks, IA Picks.  (OK, I realize you’ve got me on a technicality, because this isn’t my portfolio per se, but how I (try to) manage it.  Ya, it’s all that and a slice of loafed bread.  That’s how confused I make myself am)
  9. I have no stock in Coach, Mazda or Costco. (Products/Services I own or use, except in my case the first one would be COUCH)
  10. I don’t trade my own stocks. (Because I’m too chicken, due to #6 which results in #5)

 

So, there you have it.  This has helped me figure out what I want to focus on.  In preparing this list, it has also made me realize some good things about my investments but I’ll save that for another blog post.

Oh and for my Net Worth extravaganza … that’s coming too.  I think I’m becoming more confident about sharing.  I just need to wait for my stocks to go up some more get it together .  :D

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts too!
Oh, and again I’ve linked this post to @femmefrugality’s Financially Savvy Saturdays. Go check out some others participating in this blog hop for personal finance writers by clicking on the pic below. Enjoy!

Stapler Confessions