debt debs

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


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25 Year Anniversary – What’s in a number?

Well, we reached a milestone yesterday.  25 year anniversary of marriage.

What’s in a number?  It depends on what you are looking at.  If you are married a long time but there is no quality, how much is that worth?

On the one hand, I’m feeling a little guilty about the lack of fanfare we did to celebrate this occasion.  On the other hand, one day does not a marriage make.

We did stay an extra night at Dad’s cottage, coming back early yesterday morning, but we forgot to toast and drink the champagne we bought on Monday night.  We’ll save it … but not for too long.  $13.95 spent but deferred.

I was surprised and happy to find this in my front hall this morning.
25-year-anniversary

No, it’s not an anniversary present.  We’ve been talking about getting one for a few months, but just didn’t manage to get out to make the purchase.  The Irishman was in the vicinity of a store that we had a store credit with and so he bought it.  Cost $14.95 but $0.00 for us today and value, immeasurable.  I’ve been wanting this to save on laundry costs, and yes, I can calculate the savings down the road.  But for right now, it’s not even the most important thing.  It’s the fact that he did go a bit out of his way and get me something I really wanted that will help us.  It really is the small things that matter.

I’m off for the week, with big plans to get a number of things accomplished around the house.  We are 50% through the week so far and I’ve accomplished a bit fat “0” on this list.  On the other hand, I spent yesterday with Monkey Butt while he worked.  Today, said Monkey, came over for a swim and Grandpa turned on the pool heater for the occasion.  Money spent – $10, value received – priceless.

My sister texted me to see if I would go with her for a pedicure.  Sure my toe nail polish is 67% effaced, but my nails are trimmed and heels polished thanks to a husband who likes to give me ‘foot’ jobs.  $42 saved until next time.

There’s 140 days until Christmas, but who’s counting?  As long as we’re still on this earth together to celebrate with family around, I’ll be happy.  Life is precious.   But I won’t worry about tomorrow.  I’m doing the what feels right for today, and that’s all that matters.

I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow blogger for coffee yesterday.  Almost 150 minutes spent in great discussion.  It felt like 45.  1 blogger I’ve met in real life.  Countless others I haven’t but still call friends.

6 shout outs to those who shared my posts recently:  Shannon @ Financially Blonde (hope she’s having a good vacation!),  Kipp @ Frankly Frugal Finance  and Edwin @ Cash Syndrome  and Stack the Chips (some new blogs I’ve recently discovered), Raquel at Practical Cents (great home owner advice) and J. Money @ Rockstar Finance (don’t know what made my day more, the 391 views I received that day or the fact that he labelled my post as funny!)

So you see, life is filled with silver linings.   Here’s to 25 more years!

25-year-anniversary

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #5 and

Debt Discipline


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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!

brokeGIRLrich
This post is part of #FinSavSat blog hop.
Click on the picture above and join in!
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
"Alcohol and Ulcerative Colitis" by Kimery Davis Attribution License


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Booze Budget

booze-budget

“Alcohol and Ulcerative Colitis” by Kimery Davis
Attribution License (from flickr)

When spending needs to be lowered to match income, usually cell and home phone plans are renegotiated, brown bagging of lunches begins,  eating out is well curtailed …. ya da ya da ya da.

We’ve all been there right?  OK, well some of us have been there.  Any frugal readers retiring early out there…. I’d love to know your take on this.

So Debt Debs and The Irishman have done their bit.  Well Debt Debs has done a lot and The Irishman has grudgingly been pulled along.

I have the numbers along with graphs, people!  I know you want it!

OK, I need to clear up something first though.  I was working on a brilliant post to educate everyone me on the Power of 72 (hands up if you’ve heard of that :ponder:).

I thought I’d change things up a bit from the focus on debt and look at a$$ets for a change.  Oh, big mistake.  Apparently, I have none.  Well that would actually be lying, because I do have some but not ones that fit well with the Power of 72… or is it the Rule of 72?

Ya, I had negative numbers, and upside down numbers and way up numbers to oh so low numbers.  So I decided to show you my a$$ets per the rule would be more embarrassing than showing you my a$$.  At least not until I go to Class of 72 training.

Ahem… since there is no money in my budget for “72” training, you will have to wait until I self teach myself and then you can all yell at kindly point out to me as to how I’m doing it wrong.

So for today, we are going to focus on Booze.  Pretty hard for a Monday, right?  Ya, well sometimes it’s the hangover we need to cure us of our ills.

Why do I want to focus on BOOZE you ask?  Well, I was a bit miffed on Friday when the Irishman spent almost $70 on it,  which is almost all our total monthly budget of $75 in one shot.  This, coupled with a perception that spending in this area has been going up recently, made me decide to launch an audit.

$75 / month may seem high or may seem low to some of you.  Generally we tend to consume more in the summer, so I like to underspend this budget in winter so that we’ve got lots available come cottage weather.  Well actually I’ve never done that, but a goal is a goal, right?   Like I’m not gonna spend it in summer ….

We started last year making our own wine at a wine making store.  That has helped costs a lot (and increase consumption somewhat but we won’t go there).   However, we have run out and recently have resorted to lovely bottles of Jackson Triggs Pinot Grigio, high quality wines like that (actually, they’re not bad).  I have resorted to nagging The Irishman to starting another batch of ferment-your-own.  I may have to step up the pressure.

So first I check the actuals versus budget this year from MINT:  Mint  Budgets - Alcohol

Hmmm… not bad at all, but this does not include the $70 above which has not hit my credit card yet and thus not in MINT.  However, there is not a lot of savings so far to carry us into the high usage summer period.  Generally I like to see this number quite negative at this time of the year.  Better do some comparison to previous spending.  Just so you can audit me auditing my figures, I present you now, THE NUMBERS (if you can read them):

2012 Booze Spending

2012 Booze Spending

2013 Booze Spending

2013 Booze Spending

2014 Booze Spending

2014 Booze Spending

Don’t worry about the colours.  They represent spending on different credit cards.  Ya, I’ve now standardized on one that gets me big points because I’m a smart cookie.

So a visual glance shows things don’t look too bad in 2014.  Definitely improving over the years.  Need to do a deep dive.  Let’s look at the pretty graphs:

Booze Trends

Jan_Mar Comparison
Oh my… look at March 2012.  LOL That was the month of D-Day (debt acknowledgement day).  Lots of tears folks… lots of tears… (and apparently lots of booze).

Look at those trend lines!  Are they not a work of art? How predictable are we ay?  Like a pair of synchronized swimmers, we move effortlessly through the water (booze) with every turn (gulp) in perfect harmony.

And the pie chart sure shows a lot of year-over-year progress… yay us!

Wait, I spotted something.  Look at the little orange trend line for Q1 2014 above.  See how it perkily points up to the right?  There’s definitely a wayward habit starting there.  Better nip it in the bud before it becomes a run-a-way train.

Note to self:  Talk (plead) with the Irishman and show him these graphs.  Wait don’t show him the year-over-year graphs ’cause he thinks that gives him license… you know how he thinks.  Use your psychology.  OK, just focus him in on the little orange Q1 trend line and remind him how we like to party-hardy at the kot-kot.   And remind him to get that wine on!!  Whew!

Now I know that you’re dying to compare your numbers with mine.  Sounds so dirty, doesn’t it?

Go dig ‘em out and give it to me.  Is your booze budget more or less than mine (2 people)?  I got my big a$$ panties on so don’t be shy.

BTW, I did not drink the 1.5 litre of Jackson Triggs this weekend.  It is hidden. ;-)

P.S.  Had a good laugh when I noticed something  See the red negative number in the 2012 chart in October?  That is when I made him take some booze back.  I kid you not.