debt debs

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

The-Power-of-Now


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Monkey Butt: The Power of Now

Irish Rose-the-power-of-nowIt’s summer time, the time when things usually slow down.  The sense of urgency lessens and you can literally stop to smell the roses once in a while.

Whereas last summer I was chilling by the lake many weekends, this year, for various reasons, we have not been able to make the weekly trip as often as we would like.  This has definitely contributed to my lack of feeling rested.  Work has been quite busy and this new found blogging hobby is consuming all of my other time, with some exceptions.  Excuse me while I point out my #1 priority.

The Power of Now

I hadn’t seen him since Sunday and felt a strong need to whip over and see him for his bath and bedtime routine last night.  Poor little guy has been sick this week with roseola but has started feeling better.

So I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, trying to juggle so many balls in the air, but also maybe a little tired last night.  I knew today would be a killer day, as I was facing a deadline for work and waiting on some information before I could complete a bunch of work that likely would not be smooth sailing.   I wanted to draft a post last night, knowing that my work may take me into the evening on Friday with Murphy’s assistance.   But, I was so tired and my brain was fried, that I just couldn’t face some of the topics that were floating around in my head but not grabbing me outright and compelling me to write.  Is this my first case of writer’s block?  Oh my!

Anyways, at the beginning of the week I was caught up on blog reading, but knew I was fast falling behind again.  This didn’t please me, so I decided to turn my attention towards this, because my post for today obviously wasn’t going to write itself!

The first blog that came up on my reader was the one I was meant to read right at that moment.   In my busyness, I have fallen away from something I strove to practice since last summer.  Frequent readers may remember that I have referenced the concepts of “The Power of Now” a number of times.  This time last year, I was enjoying reading and applying it to my everyday life.  Today, I’ve got the book still perched on my bathtub ledge, I think about it often, but am I applying it?

The-Power-of-NowIn his post, John brought me back to the splendor of applying the concepts of living in the moment.  When I take sudden road trips, thankfully not too far, to go see my little monkey butt, I feel like I am getting there.

But that is not enough.

Living too much in past or in the future is not good.  And as much as I strive to not do this, I still am.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t lament about the good old days.  I do feel the best is yet to come… or… ahem… is now.

To be honest, unless I’m recounting a funny story, memories can be still a bit painful – missing my Aunt, my Mum, my dog.  But I don’t want to go there.

I prefer to live in the moment but yet I do live a bit in the future.  Life is not perfect, because I cannot do exactly everything I want to do.  That is why I sometimes live in the future.  What if I get to the future and it is not as I expected?

There’s a high probability this could happen.  Therefore I am wrong to put all my eggs in that basket, all my money on Monkey Butt  for the win, all my desires on hold today because I must sacrifice for a better tomorrow?

Sometimes, I feel I’m continuously playing catchup, in a world that won’t stop.

I am swimming across the English channel or Lake Ontario.  It’s choppy and not fun, but I’m determined to get there.

I know I don’t want to sacrifice my goals for some fleeting pleasures, and yet must I sacrifice my present joy for something that may not materialize exactly as I imagine?

The answer is no.

I can have it all.

I can experience joy today, as much as I want and not turn my back on future goals.

I can execute on my plans, but not let it seem like drudgery.

I can find balance, in a world of demands and opportunities.

As long as I allow myself to take those opportunities and even seek them out.  I deserve them.

I deserve to achieve my goals as well, so I keep my eyes on the prize.

I live each moment and say, “How am I feeling now?”

Is this bringing me pure joy?  Keep doing it.

Is this in line with where I want to go?  Keep reaching for it.

Is this too much of one and not enough of the other?  Stop.  Rebalance.  Then get back on that horse called Monkey Butt, as soon as I am ready.

P.S.  I really recommend you read John’s post, Be observant, it will change your attitude, if you haven’t already.  BTW, after reading it, I shut down the laptop and went to bed.  I managed to get my work completed by 5  p.m. today (that never happens!)  And now, I  have the pleasure of writing this post, refreshed, relaxed and ready to start the weekend.  How’s that for living in the moment?
 

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A Disease Called Debt
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Moving Blog from WordPress.com to Self-Hosted WordPress.org

self-hosted-wordpressWell, in the grand scheme of things, moving my blog to self-hosted did not go too bad.

What I’d like to do is share with you my gotchas and lessons learned on what’s important.  Although I had done some investigation and reading before hand, there is a lot of information available but not one document that puts everything together in a linear but brief fashion.  I think this is important because some of my gotchas could have been avoided if I understood the end picture better.

Now I need to qualify that my gotchas actually had nothing to do with my hosting site.  My worst problems were caused by WordPress.com two-step authentication process and and issue I was having with accessing my blog’s gmail account.  I will go into these in more detail below, but as a result of these issues, I made decisions that I would later come to regret and if I knew the impact up front, I would have not done the actions I did.

So here’s a bunch of points I want to make which are following a sequential process and thought process about how I went about the migration.  I will summarize at the bottom the actual technical steps for easy reference, since some of the points below are not really actions but more decisions, I made.

Hosting Partner Choice

Big-ScootsI decided on BigScoots (non-affiliate link) after doing some research into the following hosting companies:  Blue Host, Host Gator, Dream Host, Liquid Web, Host Papa, Green Geeks, Go Daddy and Web Hosting Canada.  I wanted to get a Canadian firm, in all honesty, but I was unable to find one WordPress blogger who used a Canadian company host.  I also wanted inexpensive but not cheap.  Blogging takes enough time, without having it sucked away by technical issues and outages.

I also wanted a host company who was quite familiar with the WordPress application.  Upon a recommendation of another blogger, I decided on Big Scoots who are big but not too big and fairly inexpensive $24.95 USD for initial year.  Domain is additional (I think $10.95 USD), but my domain is paid up for another eight months, so even though it was tempting to sign with them now for convenience, my budget brain would not allow me to.  Hopefully I won’t regret this decision later when I need to renew my domain registration in early March.

Migration Support from Hosting Partner

self-hosted-wordpressA big shout out to Justin at Big Scoots who did some of the heavy lifting.  As soon as my account was opened he contacted me with a ticket, via email, offering support.  He was actually offering to do most of the migration, which I had not expected at all.   I specifically had decided not to pay WordPress.com $129 CAD to do it not only because of the cost but because I wanted to learn from the experience and so opted to do as much as I could on my own.  My feeling was that it would be helpful for me to support the blog if I did this work myself.

I opted to follow the steps in this article from WPBeginner How to Properly Move Your Blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org to conduct the migration.   (Note:  You will notice in this document that WordPress.org offers to do the migration for free but I think they work with Blue Host, though I’m not sure if they only exclusively with Blue Host.)

Minor Point #1

The cPanel is the control panel that gives you access to your files and all other programs that you can use to manage your site.  Think of it like the backbone or middleware and then WordPress is the application layer on top of this.  Of course, I had never seen a cPanel before, because in WordPress.com this is all behind the scenes, all I could see was the WordPress application layer.

One thing I noticed as soon as I started snooping around cPanel, was that my home directory was set up as Home Directory /home/debtdeb instead of debtdebs with an ‘s’.  I was concerned it may have later repercussions so pointed it out to Justin in the ticket.  He said it was automatically named and shouldn’t be an issue but would change it none-the-less, which he did so expediently.  I had a little trouble logging into the cPanel after that (said login was invalid), which I thought might be related.  After a refresh, I was able to login.

Gotcha #1

There is nothing in this article about how to put your site in maintenance mode.  Justin @ BigScoots wanted me to install a plug-in to accomplish this.  But, one of the main drivers for moving away from WordPress.com is that you cannot use plug-ins, so that option wouldn’t work.

Deborah,You will want to put the site into maintenance mode, you can use a plugin like:

self-hosted-wordpresshttps://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-maintenance-mode/

This way they will hit a splash page that says its under maintenance and will not allow them to post, etc.

Regards,

– Justin

I did some research in WordPress.com Forums and found a suggestion to make a custom home page temporarily which I did.  The steps on how to do this are here -> Front Page.  I grabbed an under construction picture and posted it on the landing page.

I think that worked pretty well except that after I had exported my blog, E.M. @ Journey to Saving managed to sneak a comment in on my old site that would forever be lost in cyberspace except that I have captured it here :-) :

E.M.-Journey-to-Saving

Minor Point #2

So anyways, I did manage to export my blog to .xml file and added the software through the cPanel option (BigScoots uses Softaculous -there is a link in the WP Beginner article linked above that gives more info on all the different Apps Installers used for WP). I also increased the import size levels temporarily to allow the blog import.  They are set at 2 MB, so usually you need to increase, although my blog at 4 months old with lots of pictures was only 3.7MB.  These were the instructions I got from Justin on how to do this:

You can increase the import size by doing the following inside cPanel:Click on “Select PHP version”
Select a version other than native, default is 5.3.
cPanel-increase-import-size-limitClick “Set as current”
Click “Show PHP Settings”
Click the gray setting next to the following options:
“post_max_size”
and
“upload_max_filesize”

You need to change both of these to increase the file size limit.

So for some reason when I went in the default was 5.4 not 5.3 (notice now it is showing 5.5).  I don’t know why these are or the importance.  I opted for staying with 5.4 which Justin said was fine  Notice instead of saying “Show PHP Settings” it says “Switch to PHP Settings” which I figured out.  I changed the two settings which were at 2MB to 16 MB each (not shown).

Gotcha #2

Security-lockOriginally, Justin wanted to get into my WordPress.com site but I had trouble in figuring out how to do this because I had 2-step authentication turned on which although for security reasons is probably quite good, it is a PITA to work under.  I especially had a lot of problems with it (see  Gotcha #7  for consequences below), and have since turned it off on my WordPress.com site due to these difficulties.

Basically, once you put your password in, it asks for an authentication code and there is a button that you can click which sends the code to your phone, which you then enter.  But for some reason, and I’m not the only one, because I saw some Forum posts on WordPress.com on this topic, it gets into a loop where it keeps asking for your password and then authentication code and goes no where.  Eventually it locks you out for 30 minutes.  I had that happen to me twice.

Gotcha #3

DNS-propagationI was keeping the same blog name (domain name still to be hosted by WordPress.com) and just changing hosts.  Therefore I needed to update the name servers in my WordPress.com account from the WP.com name servers to the ones provided by BigScoots.  It wasn’t clear to me at what step that change should be made.  I didn’t know if doing it too early would cause me to not be able to get into my old blog.

It only briefly touches on the topic near the end of the WP Beginner article above.  Justin said it didn’t matter if it was done before or after.  Sometimes it takes a little while (up to 48 hours) for the new DNS to replicate around the world, and this includes your own ability to access your new blog (Gotcha #5).  Therefore, from what I know now, I would recommend changing them sooner than later.    Justin gave me a link to an article explaining more on DNS: http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/05/25/introduction-to-dns-explaining-the-dreaded-dns-delay/.

Whenever I tried to access my new blog using debtdebs.com/wp-admin, it would take me back to my old WordPress.com site and application.

Gotcha #4

So since, I could not get into my WordPress application software on my new site to do the import, Justin did it for me.  I was able to attach my exported .xml file to the ticket.  He also had to load my YOKO theme and I sent him a link on where he could obtain that.   He downloaded the .zip of the actual theme and extracted it into the themes folder on the server.

He said there were some failures which took him maybe 30 minutes to correct, but I can’t give you any more details than that.  In the end, he never needed to access my old WordPress.com site.

Gotcha #5

Even once he was done, I could not get into my WordPress.org software because of the name server DNS changes not fully replicated.  Justin suggested to force the DNS to change by flushing what is cached on your computer.

cachedIf you open up command prompt type the following:

ipconfig /flushdns

and hit enter

then type

ping debtdebs.com
and hit enter

You should see the new IP address replying back, being 123.456.78.999

This worked, but then stopped working because “Your ISP’s DNS servers are going back and forth, if you want to force the IP address you do so by forcing your computer to see the correct IP using your computers HOSTS file.”  Here’s the instructions, Justin gave me:

http://helpdeskgeek.com/windows-7/windows-7-hosts-file/

Once inside your hosts file, add this line to the bottom and save.

123.456.78.999 debtdebs.com www.debtdebs.com

This worked well.  I was able to get in to my WordPress application and see what needed to be fixed, which is really par for the course, but I will summarize them on Gotcha #6.

Gotcha #6

The following things needed to be added / changed once I got into my new WordPress application:

  • Blog picture in header
  • Some widgets were missing and needed to be re-added:  Social Media icons and Status Bars (I needed to go back into my old site to copy the code for the html widgets), Recent comments (I eventually removed becaused the version available doesn’t have pictures with it) , Top Posts and Pages, Disclaimer, Buttons (Top Blogs, Yakezie)
  • Twitter and Facebook plugins (These couldn’t be added until I installed JetPack – see Gotcha #7)
  • Time Zone in General Settings (I didn’t notice this until I got Akismet plugin working)

Gotcha #7

Remember when I said that I was having trouble getting into my old blog due to the two-step authentication process?  Well, when I went to get an Akismet API I couldn’t get into my old site.  I was anxious about leaving my new blog without spam filter on, so I created a new email address and registered for an Akismet API through that account and email ID.  It worked fine.

So since I had this new email, I also installed Jetpack referring to my new WordPress account and email which was a mistake.  When I went to execute one of my last steps to migrate my existing WordPress.com subscribers over to my new blog (see Gotcha #8), I found out that you need Jetpack to be registered with your old WordPress account to be able to do this.  I have a ticket into Jetpack to find out if I should deactivate and redo, or if they can change something for me.  I don’t want to screw anything up further, so I am proceeding cautiously.  I’ve also left a ticket with WordPress.com Forum and the WordPress.org Forum and at the Jetpack Support site (though theres no public forum of my request, I just received and email back stating my request, but no response as yet.

Auntie-SPAMIn addition, once I realized this, I also realized that I probably shouldn’t have done the same thing for my Akismet registration either.  I launched a ticket for Akismet and they have advised:

You can login to https://akismet.com/account with your old credentials and select a subscription there.  Once you’ve done that, click the ‘disconnect this account’ link on the Akismet settings page, then reconnect.

This has worked fine, and actually all my previous spam history is now merged with my new spam history, so we’ve got all the WHAM BAM thank you SPAM together, MAAM.  (Awww… that calls for a picture of Auntie SPAM again).

Gotcha #8

Followers-SubscribersHere are the relevant links for Transferring Follower and Subscribers which I haven’t been able to do yet until I hear back from Jetpack.

Subscription Migration Tool.  Technically, this may not be a gotcha, but it just feels like it is because I’m delayed.  Hopefully once I have JetPack sorted out it will go smoothly.

I have around 50 WordPress.com followers and would hate to lose them.  :cry:

I’ve already turned on most of Jetpack’s settings.  I’ve come to learn that Jetpack is the standard stuff that is in WordPress.com native.  The only settings I have not activated are:

  • Jetpack Comments
  • Jetpack Single Sign On
  • VideoPress

I have installed commentluv (so happy to have that feature) so I wasn’t sure if I would need the first two.  If you think I should enable, please leave a comment, luv ;-)  (they facilitate WordPress.com blogs and Twitter / Facebook commenters).

Gotcha #9

jugglerOh ya, the other thing that wasted my time was my gmail accounts.  This has absolutely nothing to do with the migration itself, but since it slowed me down, I’m calling it out.

So I have my main personal gmail account and two other personal gmail accounts that I use for playing lexulous, on-line forums etc.  Then I have my blog gmail address which is debtdotdebsatgmaildotcom.  So, you know in gmail how you can have them all kinda linked and switched from one to the other?  Ya, well I use that …. a lot.  So I mentioned in Gotcha #7 about creating a new gmail for my new blog.  Well I don’t know if 5 is too many or because I was working in just one browser, but everytime I tried to log into my old blog email it would open one of my personal gmail accounts.  I could not get into my old blog email and I needed to see if WordPress.com was sending me emails about my password recovery for my site etc.  It was so frustrating.  Eventually, I opened a chrome browser, so I had Firefox, Chrome and Internet explorer browsers open and trying to do all kinds of stuff with the three.  I felt like a juggler.

I don’t know about you but with Google+ now and all the gmails I just get lost some days.

Gotcha #10

But the pièce de résistance that I was able to fix on my own, was this little baby that I mentioned in my previous posting on Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure.   I was so freaked out about it because I thought I was not going to be able to get my beloved fraggle to show in my little browser tab.

How crazy is that, ay?  Well I was broken hearted when found out that the YOKO theme (which I love and am not nearly tired of yet since I’ve only been blogging four months) did not have a spot for me to load a favicon in the theme.

Thanks to this youtube video, How to Install a Favicon to Your Website, I was able to code the fix directly in css and I am such a SMARTY PANTS so PUMPED!
browser-tab-with-favicon

  1. Create a favicon.ico file here http://www.favicon.cc/
  2. Load favicon.ico file into my directory folder “images” at self-hosted site
  3. Insert this css code using editor in the header section under title part:

<link rel=”shortcut icon” href=”http://debtdebs.com/wp-admin/images/favicon.ico” type=”image/x-icon” />

replacing your site information and hierarchy (may be a little different), of course.

I’ve left a note on the Elmastudio Theme Forum (creators of YOKO).  Now isn’t YOKO such a great theme for this site because it’s so much like YOLO?  ;-)

The Recipe

So although it seems like a lot of points above, it really went well.   I just like to have an exact recipe with everything the right order and everything clearly named and easy to find.
many-tasks-of-blog-migration

  1. Procure a domain hosting service and verify you can access their site.
  2. Put your existing site on maintenance mode using tips in Gotcha #1.
  3. Turn off 2 step authentication in WordPress.com if you have it activated.  You will need you printed codes to do this. (Gotcha #2)
  4. Change your name servers in your old WordPress.com site (assuming you are keeping your domain with your old host). Store>My Domains> Edit Domains>Name Servers (Gotcha #3).
  5. Export your blog to .xml (Tools>Export).
  6. Log into your hosting platform and create the WordPress application from the cPanel.
  7. Access your new application via yourblogname/wp-admin.  If it is taking you to your old site, wait a while or follow steps in Gotcha #5
  8. Import your blog from the .xml file.  You probably have to install your theme as well in the WP-Content>Themes folder.
  9. Correct any errors/failures with the assistance of your hosting company. (Gotcha #4)
  10. Adjust widgets / settings. (Gotcha #6)
  11. Install plugins (e.g. Akismet, Jetpack, Commentluv) and activate settings on Jetpack features desired. (Gotcha #7)
  12. Migrate your WordPress.com subscribers.  (Ref Gotcha #8)
  13. Set your WordPress.com site to private and / or Redirect visitors to your new site by procuring Site Redirect ($13 Cdn)

I have not done Step 13 yet.   I haven’t figured out if I need to do it because my link addresses are the same since my blog name didn’t change.  Here’s what they say about it in the WordPress.com Store:

Do you want to move away from WordPress.com to your own self-hosted WordPress installation without losing SEO ranking and breaking links? Have you recently changed your blog address and need to move traffic to the new address? This upgrade redirects your wordpress.com blog to your new blog by performing permanent (301) redirects for all of your content.

If anyone can help a homegirl out and tell me if I should do this for a year I would greatly appreciate it.

Any tips and tricks I have forgotten?  Does this make you more confident to move your blog, or less confident?

like-postCREDITS – we’ve got credits!

Images courtesy of / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Stuart Miles / man carrying boxes, coloured blocks, jigsaw fan
cooldesign / men with boxes
David Castillo Dominici
/ construction
sheelamohan
/ time and lock
renjith krishnan / Make Money Online. Internet Cable With Dollars
rajcreationzs / computer networks
Grant Cochrane
/ cartoon dog juggler
Master isolated images / like

 

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Canada Day – Be Mindful and Be Brave

Canada-Day-Long-Weekend-mindfulCanada Day isn’t until Tuesday July 1st, but basically this is the CANADA DAY long weekend, with many people extending their weekend if possible.

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends.

I am very fortunate to be able to go to my Dad’s cottage for the weekend, meet up with extended family and kick back and relax.

In the spirit of winding down and reflecting, I’m not going to inundate you with lots of frugal tips or financial updates, even though it is the end of the month.

In fact, what I was going to write about will just make this post entirely too long, and I want to vary it up a bit after Brian so aptly pointed out that I rock write a long post!

I’ll save that for another time and just share a few personal tidbits with you.

Be Mindful

Natalie @ Debt and the Girl wrote about The Dangers of Black and White Thinking which I found quite interesting because I’ve always been a black and white girl.  I always labeled every situation as either bad or good, without even realizing I’m doing it.  Shades of grey has never come naturally for me.  I don’t know why, and I’m incredibly interested in human psychology, so would love to understand it a bit more.  Some discussion in the comments about whether this way of thinking comes from life’s experiences or not.  I don’t know and I’ll probably never find out, but it is quite fascinating.

But what I want to say about that is, you can change the way you think by being mindful as Budget Bloggess discusses in Distracted from Spending: Summer Weekends.  I wouldn’t have really had believed before, but I’m halfway through my second reading of The Power of Now and now understand this phenomenon better and practice it in my everyday life.

It makes it easy to log-off from work at the end of the day, knowing that the pile of work will still be there tomorrow and all I can do is prioritize and continue doing my best.   It makes it easy to make a fast decision to stop working for a bit because my grandson has dropped in unexpectedly and I won’t trade those interactions for anything.  It makes it easy to not bear guilt about what I may not be able to do for a family member or friend but feel joy when I can.  Life can be short, so we have to approach it in an inspired and mindful YOLO fashion, but not a reckless and irresponsible way.

If you want more writings that touch on this topic, check out:

How Being Humble Helps Us to LIve a Happier Life from Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt

The Power of Mindfulness from Stefanie, Staff Writer @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

… and While Being Mindful … Be Brave

Yesterday I was babysitting my grandson for the evening while his folks attended a wedding rehearsal and dinner.  In the true spirit of mindfulness, I was savoring every moment.  We played on the floor with his toys, turned on Disney channel for a few minutes (don’t tell Mom), I fed him (or tried to feed him, he wasn’t hungry as he had a late lunch and was breastfed by his Mom just before she left), took him for his bath and brushed his teeth.  By that time my husband had arrived to lend a helping hand so we did jolly jumper time, then stories, some bottled breastmilk (which he drank half of surprisingly, we haven’t had much luck with that  before) and bed.  He ‘fake’ cried for a bit doing his usual rocking and banging his foot on the mattress (I was watching closely on the monitor) and eventually went off to do-do land.

I was in such a state of joy and yet it was typically a very sad day for me.   Nine years ago yesterday, my Mum passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, alone at home from heart failure.  My father found her, when he returned home from a day at the cottage with my husband and brothers-in-law.  He found her in her bed with her tea cup partially drunk and her crossword puzzle and pen still in her hand.   My parents had been at our house the evening prior and we had a wonderful impromptu dinner, my children were all in attendance (which in itself was unusual given the age they were and all their comings and going), one of my sisters/BIL and a niece and a nephew.  Another sister/BIL had spent a similarly meaningful evening with her the night before.   Looking back, those experiences seem like they were a foreshadowing of what was to come.

I found something really fascinating yesterday, while I was feeding my grandson.  He became mesmerized with my ring on my hand which is a diamond solitaire ring belonging to my Mum.  He was pushing it around my finger, over and over again for a very long time considering he is an eight month old.  It felt like Mum was there with us in the room, just the three of us.  I became even more mindful at that moment.  It was pure peace and happiness.

I can’t remember if this little episode happened before or after the ring pushing incident, but here he is, after spitting out most of what I put in his mouth, but entirely fascinated by his Nama singing Brave to him*.

*Click here to view directly on YouTube

A Few Callouts

I would like to thank MrCBB @ Canadian Budget Binder for linking to my recent Top Ten in his Friday post – Should The Brick honour this customers claim on her extended warranty? : PF Weekly Grab a brew #78

I am very humbled to be nominated by Josh Rodriguez for the CNA Finance Personal Finance MVP Award! over at CNA Finance.  I’m in very highly esteemed company with David Carlson from Young Adult Money and Laurie from The Frugal Farmer.  Big congratulations to Will Lipovsky at First Quarter Finance for winning the first award!!  You can vote by leaving a comment in the post or send an email to CNAFinanceHelp@gmail.com!

We’re minding my grandson again tomorrow and then out of internet range for a few days.  Good weekend and good finances all!
Debt Debs out.

  • I have it on my tablet and play it for him, along with Happy and Under the Sea (The Little Mermaid).

P.S.  Man I still can’t write a short post!

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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
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Mother Money Moments

I always become a bit melancholy around Mother’s Day.  There’s a lot of strong emotion around mothers, whether you have one (or not), whether you are one (or not) and basically just all of the personal experiences we have related to the phenomenon of motherhood.

Interestingly enough, I can relate a number of my stories surrounding motherhood to personal finance.  Revealing these facets helps to explain, in part, why I am where I am today in my debt journey.

Excuse me, while I go and grab a box of kleenex.

My Second Mum

Hip Auntie - I'm Blondie on the far right

Hip Auntie – I’m Blondie on the far right

She wasn’t really my second Mum, but it sure felt like it.  You see, I was blessed with not only my own mother, but a wonderful relationship with my aunt.   She was a only a couple of years younger than my Mum, but she acted like our hip Auntie and spoiled us like a generous grandmother.  As she never married or had children of her own, we received all the benefit and love that her mothering instincts desired, and then some.

I paid my way through university, as I had the benefit of coop work terms every four months throughout my 5 year degree.  However, usually near the end of the school term, cash was getting low for me and my aunt would always seek out in our weekly phone calls the state of my bank account.  She was very generous to send a cheque for several hundred dollars to tide me over until I started my next coop work term.  No repayment was expected.  I was always very thankful for this cash relief as I was trying to finish up my exams and did not want to be distracted by my growling tummy.

Fast forward well past graduation, past my first apartment which I furnished after living at home for a year and saving, on to buying my first home.  For some reason the elderly couple I bought from wanted to leave the microwave, which I didn’t need, but took anyways – it was a little bigger than the one I had in my apartment.  I offered the one from my apartment to my aunt, and to this day I do not understand why or what got into me to suggest what I said next.

I said that she could pay me $50 (or some such amount) for the microwave, as she didn’t have one and wanted to get one.  Well this did not sit well with her, and she became rather withdrawn.  Initially, I did not clue into my faux pas.  I thought it was actually a pretty good deal (in those days) – it was still fairly new and nice and compact for her condo.  Well her sullenness lasted for days until we had a heart-to-heart and she explained how hurt she was after all she did for me when I was in university.  Many years had passed since that time, and I had let my busy, selfish, determined self get in the way of seeing the big picture.  She had always been so generous and kind to us, and I let that blind me so that it never entered my purview when I made that stupid, ridiculous request.  I cried a lot and told her how sorry I was.  Of course, we made up instantly, but I have always harboured great guilt over that incident.  I loved her dearly, and still miss her like crazy, even though she’s been gone for 15 years.

Suddenly, I’m a Mother

Mothers-Money-MomentsIn my late twenties, after a series of some quite long and some shorter relationships, I met a man through a mutual friend.  It was a blind date, which I openly confess I only went on because I suspected he might have some single friends.  He was a widower with three young children, and I felt assured that he would not meet my criteria, which included having my own children.  Well, you know what they say, you find love in all the unsuspected places.

The great part about our relationship, from the beginning, was that he was looking for a wife, not a mother for his kids.  They had been managing on their own as a family for 3 years.  I was able to slide in with no expectations put on me, which, in all honestly, made me want to assume my new role as Mum, which I did.

Within a year, we had a fourth child.  Life was busy but fun.  We worked hard and played hard. I loved buying things for my kids, taking them to movies or out for a meal.  We had holidays in Florida 3 summers in a row! Life was grand and I loved it and my family!!

Christmas was so exciting – I learned all the tricks of the trade from my aunt.  I would plan out our Christmas purchases of toys and clothes, often buying one more thing right up to Christmas eve.  Of course, then I had to buy 3 more things,  always making sure the appearance and spending was balanced amongst all four kids.  I wouldn’t change a thing about those early years!

Life Takes a Turn -> Impact on the Maternal Breadwinner

In the mid-nineties my husband was laid off from his job after a series of Corporate restructurings.  Even though we had some indication the cuts were continuing, it still comes as a bit of a shock.  Even, when employed, my salary was always higher than his, but it did not mean anything to me.  I always felt we fed from the communal trough.

He decided to pursue a different career path, working for himself instead of seeking another full-time position.  I won’t go into the details and ups and downs of this avenue, but I know it has had a significant effect on my psyche, having been the primary breadwinner of the family for the last 20 years.

I was always a high achiever, high performer, but with the added stress to keep my position, salary and benefits for the sake of the family,  I felt an overwhelming burden.  I was no longer a loving wife and a fun mother.  I was providing for my family, and I had better not screw anything up.  I would work long hours, to ensure my position was always secure.

The stress and pressure could always be relieved by “I deserve” purchases while out shopping, holidays with the family or get-a-ways on our own.  Since I was bearing, what felt to me, this great burden, I left The Irishman to manage things more on the homefront, including managing the finances.  I worked with a computer and numbers all day, why would I want and why should I do this in my badly needed decompression time?

Mum Goes on a Trip with Nana but Ignores the $igns

Life goes on.  The children start to become teenagers and we try to roll with the punches.  My dear aunt passes away from cancer at age 64.  YOLO ensues.  Money is used as a de-stressor.   We have enough on our plate.

I decide to take my youngest on a trip to Ireland with my Mum, for her 14 birthday.  Exciting times!  We are so looking forward to seeing family and I’m ecstatic to show her around the Ireland I’ve come to know and love.   I go to pick up the rental car at the airport and my credit card is declined.  I manage to contact my husband who calls the bank, something about a lost payment or other.

Mum Misses Nana and Auntie, so YOLO Continues

Youngest daughter develops severe OCD.  Life continues to be stressful.  We don’t spend willy nilly, but we don’t hold back either.

Mothers-Money-Moments

Mum ~ Taken in Ireland
What a glorious time we had

Mum passes away suddenly almost a year from when we left on our trip to Ireland.  Life becomes almost unbearable.  So thankful that we did that trip together.  Wonderful memories.  YOLO continues.

Mum Quits Making Excuses and Gets on the Bandwagon

I wouldn’t have done it, if I didn’t have to, but after a series of ‘signs’ that I chose to ignore, I finally got the big sign that I could no longer hide from.  I can’t even remember what it was, probably another credit card decline.  It’s not important now.  Mum has to either face the music and commit to supporting her husband and family to get out of this mess or have herself committed.  I chose door #1.

Mum is Now a Grandma

Nama is the New Black

Nama = Na + Ma from Nana (my Mum) and Grandma (my MIL)

So after two years of frugal living and debt repayment, I’ve learned a lot.

About myself.

Most importantly, I want to help my children be good money managers.  I feel I’ve let them down in this regard.  But it’s been said before that guilt is a wasted emotion.  One of my favourite PF blogs has given me the fortitude to face it.

If you are at all touched by this post, you should go check this out too ~ Mea Culpa @ The Pursuit of Riches.

I have forgiven my husband.  Now it’s time to forgive myself.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers, Aunties, Mother-in-laws, Soon-to-be-Mums, Wanna-be-Mums and Chrysanthemums!

Sure hope I didn’t leave any one out! :D

Don’t forget #FinSavSat blog hop party.  I’m co-hosting this week.  Just slide on down to previous post and add your link!

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This post is another as part of the Financially Savvy Saturdays blog hop.

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Financially Savvy Saturdays: Thirty Seventh Edition

Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, a blog hop created specifically for personal finance writers!

We welcome all things money here. Whether you’ve written anything from the best way to improve your blog income to how animals play a part in your finances, you’re invited to link-up.  If it ties into personal finance, we want to read it!

Tweet about it. You can use #finsavsat when tweeting about the party!

Feature of the Week

As this week’s co-host, I have selected my favorite post from last week’s blog hop. This week’s feature is “Financial Lessons from Walter White” from brokeGIRLrich.   If you were a Breaking Bad fan, you will want to click on the image to read this great post!

breaking bad money-financially-savvy-saturday

If you submit a link this week, your post could be highlighted in next week’s party!

 

We do have a couple of rules for participation. Those who don’t follow the rules will have their link taken down.

  1. Your post must be written in the past seven days and not be a giveaway.

  2. Be sure to include a link to one of your hosts by copying and pasting the html in one of the boxes below into your linked up post. You have the option of the button or a text link.

  3. Follow your hosts. You can follow Femme Frugality on Google+, Twitter OR by subscribing to her RSS feed via email. Also follow Debt Debs on BlogLovin’, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, OR subscribe to her RSS feed.

  4. Comment on at least two other posts that have joined the party.

  5. HAVE FUN!

 

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OR grab the text link here!

 <em>*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on <a href="http://wp.me/p3TJm1-ok" rel="nofollow">Femme Frugality</a> and <a href="http://wp.me/p4prw5-gT" rel="nofollow">Debt Debs</a>*</em>

 

Click here to add our link to this weeks blog hop!

P.S.  Because my site is on wordpress.com, I can’t add script so that you see all the participants in this week’s #FinSavSat directly on this page.  But if you click on the link above you will see them all, and you can add your own.  These will also show on Femme Frugality’s site instantaneously!  How cool is that?


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My New Enlightenment Since Acknowledging our Debt Crisis

ImageChef.com-debt-crisisMy Come to Jesus Moment was in March 2012 (aka D-Day).  I hesitate to use that phrase, because I am quite spiritual and don’t like to use the Lord’s name in vain.  However, Brett Nelson, a contributor at Forbes wrote:

CTJMs, we understand, are all about focus, clarity, intention and gravity—in other words, the very stuff that, if consistently mustered, would wipe CTJMs from the schedule.

He suggests ways to avoid CTJM’s including establishing milestones, embracing conflict, defining priorities and avoiding surprises.  Well that is really is what good personal finance management is all about, minus the embracing conflict thingy.

But wait!  When I think about how we got here, part of it was because we did not embrace conflict.  We avoided it like the plague.  We placated ourselves with shopping trips, one up-ing each other with purchases (well he bought that, so now I’m going to buy this) and saying “I deserve” when we were tired or stressed or just plain frustrated with life.

Laurie from The Frugal Farmer wrote on Debt Roundup What Do You Really Deserve?  I identified so much with that post.   All I wanted was peace, freedom and security but I was looking in all the wrong places.

I defended my spending habits as stress relief from a busy lifestyle that I had created by not prioritizing. I absconded from my role as joint financial steward justifying it in my mind that I was the higher income earner and worked long hours, so that was the ‘least he could do’.  I looked for peace a few too many times at the bottom of a bottle, weary after a long day or fretting about other family stresses.

So now what have I done to (help to) turn things around?

  • I don’t do things that are in conflict with our goals ~ this includes unplanned spending, shirking responsibilities in managing our finances.  I’ve even started grocery shopping (for deals) and cooking a little more which is crazy (for me).
  • I speak up, instead of burying my head in the sand, if I think things are going astray.  Better to have these small difficult conversations straight away, that are actually quite insignificant compared to the ones we had around D-Day.
  • I practice living in the moment – from “The Power of Now” by Eckhardt Tolle.  This helps keep me from getting down about our debt situation and worries about family members.
  • I try to set an example and communicate within our household about ideas we could do to save money and not waste.  It appears I am the most frugal person in the house now, turning off lights, conserving gas etc. It used to be The Irishman.  Go figure.
  • I’m discussing my new frugal philosophy and sharing tips and tricks, budget and amortization spreadsheets and cool posts with my adult children.  I could bear great guilt about how I have not set a good example for them but I know guilt is a wasted emotion.  Instead I am trying to help them as much as I can with the new smarter ‘me’ and an excel file for any situation up my sleeve!
  • I’m a cheap date LOL.  Visiting my grandson on a weeknight, is now Nama’s favourite night out.  Otherwise it’s history channel or just being side-by-side, both on our computers.  A beer on Friday night, unless we splurge on a champagne Friday which means bubbly in the bathtub.

So I think Jesus is helping me, and smiling, when I say my new frugal enlightenment instances are affectionately called “Come to Nama” moments.
Photobucket.com:  tailz2006

This post is another as part of the Financially Savvy Saturdays blog hop.

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Frugal Fraggles, Rocks and Poodles

03 Aug 2008 097Is anyone wondering what this strange picture is that I have as my avatar?

I am, so I interviewed myself to find out what’s up with that.

Ya, what is it?

This is a Fraggle.  It was lovingly hand painted with gel pens in a pseudo tattoo on my arm by my niece.  We have a book at the cottage which the kids used as a reference to create their own hand drawn tattoos.  I highly recommended this activity for kids.  Shannon Ryan @ The Heavy Purse has lots of great ideas on  how to raise financially literate children.  This qualifies as a frugal activity for your kids.  We bought the gel pens at Costco in a multitude of colours and they lasted for more than two summers.

Oh, but what’s a Fraggle?

Fraggles are the muppets characters in a series from Jim Henson called Fraggle Rock.

I think my tattoo is a variation on the character called Wembley in this very appropriate video for a PF blog of Wembley’s 30 minute work week!

*To view this video on YouTube Click here

Why did you choose this image for your avatar?

I wanted something fun.  Plus I think it looks like he is running away screaming from his debt, dontcha think?

I can identify.  So we instantly bonded.

Plus I wanted to hide under a rock when I first acknowledged out debt situation.

Fraggle sounds a lot like frugal.  I’m in love.

While we’re on the topic, do you have any other rock connections?

Painted RockI painted rocks one summer.  I found smooth and unique and oddly shaped rocks and painted them.  Some with loons and ducks on them.  Some with words and sayings and poems.  I found a new canvas for my acrylic paints.  It was fun!  And mighty cheap entertainment.  At left is a cardinal painted on a tiny rock.

BrokeGirlRich wrote about her trip to the big ball of twine in Darwin, Minnesota and included a video and song from Weird Al Yankovic.  (It’s quite hilarious … you should watch it!)   In it he talked about Poodle Dog Rock which appears to be somewhere in Nevada.  I couldn’t put a picture on this post, as I couldn’t find one available under Creative Commons License, so I’ve just linked a beautiful night photo of it.   Here’s another big rock that looks like a dog.  Upon further inspection, both photos look more like a mini poodle rocks.  My  penchant is for Standard Poodles… yup, the big big poodles.  Here are some beautiful poodles up on a big rock mountain.   Karen says they’re yodelling.  I think they are singing the song mentioning Poodle Dogs.

Flickr: Karen

Flickr: Karen

There's Elvis-O-Rama, the Tupperware Museum,
The Boll Weevil Monument, and Cranberry World,
The Shuffleboard Hall Of Fame, Poodle Dog Rock,
And The Mecca of Albino Squirrels
We've been to ghost towns, theme parks, wax museums,
And a place where you can drive through the middle of a tree
We've seen alligator farms and tarantula ranches,
But there's still one thing we gotta see ....
Flickr: Karen

Flickr: Karen

Some other cute photos of poodles and rocks that I have no license to include in this post, so I’ll just provide the links:

OK clearly I could go on and on with STANDARD poodle picture links to poodles and rocks.  Either I’m off my rock(er) or I just love standard poodles that much.  You be the judge.

flickr:  Erica Frank

flickr: Erica Frank

Speaking about rocks, I’m heading up to Sudbury, Ontario for Easter.  Anyone that knows the city will acknowledge it is built on one big pile of rocks.  Along the same lines as the giant ball of twine, Sudbury has a giant nickel.  I wonder if the nickel will be next to become extinct, now that the penny is gone.

Gros Morne NFLDOf course, the place in Canada, that’s known as THE ROCK is the island province of NEWFOUNDLAND.   Here’s a photo from Rocky Harbour near Gros Morne National Park.

Last point on the subject of ROCKS, have you ever listened to the works of Carl Reiner interviewing Mel Brooks as the 2000 year old man?  At about 5 minutes in, they talk about the first language being the ROCK language.  I won’t say more but let you listen to it.  I find this very entertaining.  Before that, about 4 minutes, they talk about the jobs that were existing 2000 years ago, among those being hitting a tree with a piece of wood, looking in the sky and watching each other.  Tough work if you can get it.   Enjoy!!

*To view this video on YouTube Click here

So that’s all I have to say on rocks and frugal fraggles and frisky poodles.  Have a rockin‘ Easter weekend!

brokeGIRLrich

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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