Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve

The biggest challenge for me this year has been work politics. 2009 also marked the most frugal year we've ever had. It felt good (most of the time) and when it didn't, we made corrections to get back on track.

Most often it was due to being too "extreme" with respect to cut backs causing the reflex boomerang response which undid things and under minded the intent. So a more moderate approach made for happier living.

My sense of days and times have been off the last few weeks. It's a great thing to be able to wake up with the sun, nap when tired and not care what day of the week it is. That must be what retirement or a good holiday is all about!

So I woke to find out today is New Year's Eve. We don't have any big plans to party this year, though a good meal is in the works (crab legs).

I wish you all a happy close of 2009 and a happy 2010 ring in. It is wonderful to share this journey with so many great people like you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Getting Back on Track

Still on the travel research cycle here. I'm repricing flights to see if I can make the current travel restrictions easier. We are lucky in that we live close enough to fly out of an American airport.

It may mean a drive down and hotel stay the night before. Yes, that would increase the over all cost of the trip but the obvious benefit is that I'll have crossed the US border by car.

I've been working on a travel itinerary to Iceland where it would take me 3 flights to get there -- all on different airlines which means re-checking in each leg. I had mentally gotten over it.

Now that it may take 3 hrs to get on a flight to the US, my connection times of 2 hrs in between each leg may not be enough even for someone who won't have a lot of luggage.

On different note, I've been eating a lot of junk foods lately. I may have put on a few pounds and it may also be causing some of the headaches I'm experiencing as I do not normally consume a lot of sugar. Time to get back on track.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Slow Day

Quiet day today. We are catching up on our favorite Food Network shows. It never fails to make me want to eat-- and travel, depending on the show!

Been working my way through my books as well. It's going slower than I expected. It never fails to amaze me how content I am just looking out the window and watching the scenery. Time just flies.

My attempt at starting a homeopathic detox over my holidays has given me headaches. Probably wasn't the smartest idea to give it go at this time of year when I snack more than at any other time of year!

I was hoping that my bank would show the current transactions today but no luck. Our banks in Canada weren't opened yesterday. I'm waiting to see some payments put through last week on our Visa register online as it is due today.

Keeping finances in order during the holiday season has its challenges. There was a lot of juggling going on for us as my last pay check of the year is waiting for me at my office so we had to make sure we can get everything taken care of with D's income. With the new budget categories we are setting up for next year, the end of 2010 will be easier.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Age Travel

The latest attempted airplane bombing has left me wondering about the airlines and how their way of doing business and how our way of traveling by plane will change again.

When the markets plunged this year, people were re-evaluating how they are handling their money. With increased security and delays at airport check points, people who do not need to travel for business may be thinking twice or 3 times before considering air travel. I can understand that. And I can understand if road trips, bus or train travel business get a boost due to the latest news.

How will that impact me?

D and I discussed this over the last couple of days and we believe a new era for air travel is already here. It is a new reality that will need to be accepted. If not, then people will find other ways to get to where they wish or not go at all.

Having caught the travel bug in the last week or so, I have been looking at a few perspective travel itineraries, 2 of which fly through or to the US. I am not scared to fly. I just know that the coming months will be chaotic and I would prefer to do those itineraries once the initial hype is over.

I happen to have traveled during the first few days when liquids where first restricted at Heathrow. The tension was palpable as no airport staff wanted to be the one that messed up. Others who did not know of the new restrictions were distressed when told they would have to dump their $90 face cream or morning yogurt.

Out of the places I was researching, only one (Havana) doesn't involve a connection through the US. I am going to wait and see how things settle before committing to anything.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

In Order

We are heading into town again today for another lunch out and some more grocery shopping. It will be fun. The sun is supposed to be shining and the temperatures very temperate for winter.

I've had to come up a better way to handle the yearly various misc. expenses better ie. vitamins, cat sitting etc. I have to admit, I've just been paying it and taking money out of general revenue when in reality, they are predictable and expected.

The best explanation is probably laziness on my part with a dollop of denial. I didn't want to admit that it adds up to around $1200 each year and deserves its own category.

So, I've modified my spreadsheet for next year to incorporate it. The effect will be a less jumbled looking sheet.

Time has been passing by quickly. It is nearing the 2 week mark for us out here and I don't want to go leave yet nor have I been bored at all.

I wondered yesterday just how long it would take, if left to my own devices, before I would even want to go back to my regular/working life.

Should I win a lottery any time soon, I shall be testing that out. I probably ought to start buying tickets first...

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Merry Christmas Round Up

Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating!!!

I love watching the sun rise over the mountains. It is a clear morning and D will be preparing our Christmas breakfast of banana chocolate buttermilk pancakes with choice of sausage or bacon. Yummy!

The resort had a parade and fireworks last night. We were able to catch most of it from our front window. It was fun and joyous.

It has been over a year since I discovered and signed onto NetWorth IQ. I am happy to find that for 2009, we have seen a significant increase due to the recovering economy bringing our stock values back up and a concerted effort on our part to save and pay off the mortgage.

The numbers stand as such. January 2009 net worth -- $520 004 vs. December 2009 -- $652 555, for a difference of $132 551. All in all, a great year.

We are expecting our savings trend to continue next year as there isn't anything dramatic planned in 2010 that I know of right now... travel wise, I'm looking into some cool stuff but money wise, not really.

Have a great day, however you may be spending it!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

On Graciousness

I find it amusing the number of recent blog posts slamming travel as a worthwhile activity. The topic could easily be substituted with a myriad of other subjects.

What strikes me as strange is the strength of emotion behind the posts. If I didn't know better (or maybe I do), it sounds almost prejudice in quality.

If the topic was approached from the direction of environmental impact, I would understand it more. Calling an activity a waste of time or unnecessary, I feel is inappropriate and unkind.

Not everyone appreciate or enjoys the same hobbies or past times. Not everyone wants children. Not everyone enjoys home ownership. I would not label their choices as wrong just because it is different from mine.

We are fortunate to be living in a country where one can pursue various interests and past times. To knock another person's choice is a petty way of being "right". I would prefer to describe that as a bad case of self righteousness.

What happened to being gracious and open minded to differences? I happen to enjoy reading and hearing about how differently people live their lives. There is much to learn from each other.

Sometimes it confirms the path I am on. Sometimes it changes my path. Both are good.

A wonderful Christmas Eve to Everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snow Report

I've been keeping a keen eye out on my local Ontario weather. Why would I care?

Because we have contracted out our snow removal to a local fellow so I want to keep track of which days he would be working.

We are paying him $25 each time to clear snow from our driveway and walkways as well as to sprinkle environment friendly ice melter as needed.

Our house is on a fairly large corner lot and there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. I don't want anyone to slip. That is one expense those of us who live in a northern climate have to consider when going away.

As much as I wish a white Christmas for those who want one, I'm also hoping that people who have to drive far will have clear highways and byways.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Spending Round Up

As I was sipping (gulping is likely more accurate) my peppermint mocha the other day, I said to D that I have spent more money at Starbucks this year than the last 5 years combined. By more I mean around the $50 mark. I don't seem to be tiring of that drink.

Each year both Starbucks and Second Cup introduce their holiday drink series and Starbucks has hit the mark with my taste buds this season. When I fly home in 2 weeks, I will be looking forward to my next dose at the airport!

As the year draws to a close, I'd like to round up the major spending that went on in 2009. My handy dandy spreadsheet is invaluable for this as I have forgotten more than I realize.

Travel starts the list off with flights purchased to France, Argentina, Alaska and Newfoundland on top of our usual ones for BC. We also prepaid for accommodations at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

I put new tires and front brakes (2nd set ever) on my car along with some oil spray. D got rid of his car and replaced it with a used one. Before he was able to trade it in, his old car got new brake lines. His new to him car got snow tires and rims and oil sprayed.

We upgraded the insurance on our properties, I bought new skis and donated to various charitable causes.

Had I sprung for the EVO, it would have topped everything on the list (outside of the house in NF that also didn't materialize) but I didn't and looking back, it was the right decision for then. No promises in the coming years though...

Speaking of cars, I am still very pleased with mine. Had I gotten a new one, our plan was to keep mine because it is the most practical for the cottage. We had planned to take D's car to the airport a week ago but had to make a last minute switch as it couldn't hold all of our luggage...

The EVO would be in the same boat as the trunk is practically non existent because they designed it for balance, not practicality (the battery and windshield washer fluid are in the trunk for even weight distribution -- so is the subwoofer).

Looking to next year, I will likely be replacing my rear drum brakes. They are squeaking pretty good right now and have never been replaced since '97. I was last told in the fall that there was 35% left. People get out of my way because I sound like I am not able to stop. It makes me giggle.

Other than that, I am not anticipating much else outside of oil changes for next year... knock on wood. The rate I am driving it, it won't be ready for the next timing belt for years. I have 272K on it and the next belt is due around 360K.

Sure, I have some surface rust and got a quote a couple of summers ago. I didn't want to spend the money on it and we are working to doing some work ourselves.

I told D I put my foot down on the fiberglass stuff. It stinks so bad, I almost faint from it (bad previous experience with my parents' car). If the rust ever gets so bad I would need filler, then I'm making the appointment at the body shop.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Daily News

Each morning around 8:30am, the ski and snowboard instructors here take off en masse down their first run of the day to scout out the day's terrain and where they will be bringing their respective groups of students.

I look forward to seeing them each day in their black Descente jackets, red ski pants and striped pom pom hats. Man, would I love to be part of that group, despite the weather being less than ideal lately (very foggy) and how challenging it would be teaching in it.

Time is going by quickly here. In a couple of days I will have been here a week already. Hardly seems possible. This year we've gotten more established and organized. When we were in town the other day, we brought back a few bags of groceries.

It wasn't too bad at all price wise, around $58. We remember that last year, each time we'd be at the local grocers, which was every day, we'd inevitably spend $24 daily. It adds up after a few weeks.

Our frugality efforts at home has definitely rubbed off here as well. Over the year, we have become smarter and more efficient food shoppers.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No More Pant Shopping

We went into town for the day yesterday and reacquainted ourselves with a host of favorite places to eat and shop.

There were some clothing deals to be had and I came back home with a couple of pairs of pants to replace some ailing ones I have. Those being replaced won't be thrown out but relegated as official cottage and ski bum wear.

I cannot describe the frustration I felt when I was jean shopping. By the time I was done, I was seriously starting to sweat. Trying on clothing isn't a enjoyable thing for me at the best of times so when you throw in the size chart differences at respective stores, I liken it as fun as a trip to the dentist.

The store I bought my jeans from was Jacob. Their pants are sized according to what I think is hip size. Because when I chose what I thought was my waist size, I couldn't get those pants up past my knees. I realize that my mental body image may deviate far from reality but I honestly couldn't believe it could be that far off!

I ended up 5 sizes larger before they fit well. Lucky for me, I don't get upset with things like that nor do I get offended or embarrassed with the final size number. The most important thing for me is that they fit, they don't exposed half of my behind when I squat and can sit down comfortably.

It is beyond my comprehension just how some girls and women fit into some jean/pants. Some are so skinny, I don't think I could get my arm down them, much less tuck them into long boots as the current style seems to dictate. I know that I probably sound like some old grizzled woman here.

The store manager was the one helping me yesterday and she was very sympathetic to my cause. After the 3rd try on, I was starting to get frustrated and told her that the pants I wore into the store was a size 2 from The Gap, maybe she would know how to convert it to their sizing.

Now that I know what size I am for that store (30), then I will be able to hopefully avoid a repeat of my experience yesterday. Considering I wear my pants for years before they get worn out, sizing charts may have change by then.

I had an easier time at Esprit. Their pants were sized from zero onwards. I'm more familiar with that way and ended up fitting into their size 4. Poor D was the stereotypical guy waiting on the bench outside the storefront. The 2 pairs of pants plus a scarf added up to $87.01.

A great lunch at our favorite British fish and chips place and a post lunch Peppermint Mocha helped to ease my morning pain in the behind.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

2010 Monies

I did a quick tally before leaving work a few days ago to see how I fared for Jan '10 income. As I mentioned before, I get paid a month later so the days I worked in Dec will constitute income for 2010. It is a great feeling knowing I've already done 1 month of next year's work already.

Unless something goes awry, I ought to be coming up slightly ahead of my projected income for January. A great way to start the year and a great thought to end 2009 with. I'll know the exact amount when I get back.

As for 2010 projections, I haven't changed anything from 2009. I did do that one exercise recently to see just how low my income can go before I have to sacrifice goals and it was tempting to lower it.

I decided to lower only when actual income has gone down or up for good ie. business reaching a new level. I didn't feel that lowering projections was good for me mentally. It would feel as if I've already accepted it. There was no reason to.

Some people separate the concept of debt into "good" vs. "bad". It is easy to understand why though I don't tend to do that. To me, debt is debt. It is money I owe.

Sure, some debt represents things that will make me money and some will not. Just like some educational degrees are for self interest and some graduate with tools that will enable a lucrative career. So not all education is "good" debt.

A mortgage for a property that I do intend to sell wouldn't seem like good debt to me as any capital gains may lay unrealized until I die. Whereas a mortgage for a rental property that benefits me while I'm alive appears better.

For me I just lump everything in one pile for ease of remembering. I prefer bottom line numbers anyway.

If someone has 10 credit cards with different balances, a few line of credits, a mortgage, a car loan etc. etc. I'd just add it all up and deal with it from there. A whole number makes a bigger impact and doesn't allow the mind to minimize what is really owed.

Friday, December 18, 2009

BC Calling

The number is currently 43 and climbing. No, not our ages but the number of Windows updates my laptop is requiring after being dormant since March. And it is taking forever. So this is one con of not bringing it home with me.

After our laptop vs. netbook research in the past month, I thought I would be dissatisfied with my older laptop but surprising I'm not. In fact, I like my laptop more. It has held up to the test of time in appearance and size.

I would prefer that it was 50% lighter but I am content with it and will again, leave it here until I return. Now that I know it will need to catch up for a while, it won't be as much of a shock next time.

We get 99% of our bills online now and this morning our gas bill came covering the period between mid Nov to Mid Dec. In fact, they had just done the reading 2 days before we left for BC.

Natural gas prices did come down significantly from last year. Remember I had mentioned how unsatisfying it was to have reduced usage 50% and still pay the same? Well, I have some hard numbers now to back that up.

For mid Nov - mid Dec '08, our usage was 346 cubic metres costing 33.5 cents per cubic metre. The bill came to $171.55.

For mid Nov - mid Dec '09, our usage was 177 cubic metres costing 19.9 cents per cubic metre. The bill came to $52.82.

As D already segregated the monies for utilities, we now have a small windfall which will go towards groceries and eating out as food prices here are still kinda crazy.

I was shaking my head at the $6.83 tag on a jar of "Classico" spaghetti sauce and the $2.85 can of Campbells chicken noodle soup the other day. Thank goodness we are able to bring some food with us in our luggage.

Otherwise it has been a smooth transition back to our western home. We got to ride up with the same driver who brought me back to the airport in March. I think I freaked him out when I mentioned some of the things we had talked about.

He was the interesting scuba diving, computer programmer fellow who had talked me into taking up snowboarding. He was still shaking his head in disbelief that I would remember him when he left us at our doorstep. D was warned not to ever lie to me...

I hope we meet up again. He and his wife went to Alaska for 2 weeks around the same time I was there and I would love to hear about his experiences.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Canadian Mortgage How To's

In response to a comment question, I decided to modify and re-post my long answer in case anyone else is interested in how mortgages work in Canada.

  1. When you get a mortgage here, you commit to an overall time frame ie. 15, 20, 25, 30, 35 yr amortization.
  2. Then you pick the type of mortgage, variable or fixed rate, open or closed.
  3. Finally you pick your term ie. 1-5yrs. That and your credit rating will determine your rate.
  4. You are committed for the duration of the term to whatever rules apply to your mortgage. Our banks don't like it when you pay too fast and too soon so they penalize. Open mortgages allows you to pay it off any time you want but the rate is quite high and the term short -- currently 6.55% for a max. 1 year term.
  5. When the term is up, then you renegotiate for the next block of time, choosing the type of mortgage product you wish and this continues until you reach the end of your amortization.

Thus, you are privy to whatever is happening to the world at the time of renewal. We are just "lucky" that the rates have dropped in our variable mortgage because the economy has tanked. This is the 4th and 5th house I've bought in my lifetime and the first time rates have fallen so dramatically.

Two years ago, we amortized for 12 years, taking a 5 year variable, closed mortgage. Eight months later, we did the same for the ski condo at a slightly higher rate. When both 5 year terms ends in 3 years or so, I don't want to renegotiate as I would likely have to at a much higher rate.

That's why we are doing what we are doing, within the confines of our mortgage rules. Luckily, we can get very close to our goal despite their rules. I have cash and a line of credit that charges prime + 1% I will use to pay out the rest of the mortgage if there is an amount left over in 3 years. I don't want an open mortgage unless my bank makes me offer that beats my line of credit.

Finally, in Canada we are not allowed to write off mortgage interest on our income tax so it is in our best interest to get rid of a mortgage ASAP.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Packing and More Packing

Finishing up our packing has been overwhelming. It always starts off like a bit of a challenge as we are managing foodstuffs and some kitchen appliances. I'm fairly good spatially and D is very good with estimating relative weights.

It took about 3 combinations between the 4 suitcases in order to protect the right things, weigh in under 50 pds per suitcase and have it packed such that when vertical, nothing gets too squashed all the while leaving room for the morning of stuff. After all that, I haven't done my personal packing yet.

My stuff doesn't take long and will be housed in my 2 carry ons. It looks like it will be mostly books this year. I am starting to really appreciate the concept of the Kindle now as I stuff my 8th book into my knapsack.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Mortgage Roundup

It is close enough to the end of the year that I can round up our mortgage progress for 2009.

We only have one more payment left, due to come out on Christmas day and I am able to calculate what we end up with.

We started Jan 2009 with mortgage balances of:
  • $140055.95 on the main house, 10 yrs 3 months amortization, 2.60% rate
  • $48462.59 on the ski condo, 10 yrs 2 months amortization, 2.74% rate

We end Dec 2009 with mortgage balances of:

  • $116458.84, 5 yrs 8 months, 1.35% rate
  • $34626.77, 4 yrs 7 months, 1.50% rate

For a decrease of:

  • $23597.11 in principal for main house
  • $13835.82 in principal for ski condo

Friday, December 11, 2009

End of Week, End of Year

It has been extra busy socially as of late. Something about the end of a year that seems to make people realize they haven't seen enough of each other during the year and now is the time to do it before Dec 31st.

I am enjoying the extra lunches and dinners. My pocket book has taken a bit of a hit because of it. In fact D has a breakfast and an after work function while I have a dinner out with a girlfriend tonight. Tomorrow night is another dinner party and Monday another lunch for me. Good stuff.

Next week is my last quarterly tax installment for the year. I am leaving the amount as is, even though I know I will owe next year but I don't want to mess up my cash flow for the rest of December. Remember I won't have access to the second half of my pay cheque until Jan.

We are about 75% packed. I'm afraid it is me that is lagging behind this year. I just haven't felt like it. It won't take me long, probably less than 1/2 hr so that is probably why I haven't bothered. I know I can get it together in no time.

I took a closer look at our last hydro and water bill of the year yesterday and found an interesting fact. Last Nov. we were in France for 1 1/2 wks. This year we didn't go but I took the time off anyways. The usage amounts were almost identical. I'm very pleased with our conservation efforts.

We also got a notice of rate changes for hydro. As our province is slowly switching to "smart meters" (our cottage already got her's), it was a reminder of what we will be paying at different times of the day.

Currently we are paying 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour any time of the day. Smart meter pricing will really help all of us understand the true fluctuation and demand on the system. The on peak price will be 9.3 cents/kwh, mid peak price will be 8 cents/kwh and off peak price will be 4.4 cents/kwh.

This will make a big impact on changing peoples' usage habits. I know we will be doing laundry and most of everything we can within reason on off peak hours. We are lucky that weekends are considered off peak and what is when we are at the cottage most often. We will have to switch gears to our new reality when we are there for week long durations.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Selling Stuff Summary

I made a sale earlier in the week and have been tracking its course to BC since. Even though it is insured and sent, I like to know it got there OK and they like it.

This item is likely the last thing I will sell before 2009 ends. It was a couple of pieces of Swarovski crystal (gifts from a long time ago) which brought in $105 not including shipping.

Overall monies made this year from my first ever selling stuff attempt clocks in just over $5000. I'm fairly comfortable now with selling. If you remember, it was D who started it off by selling a set of his old speakers.

When we upgraded our sound system, they've been sitting in our basement. Not to be outdone (I have a nasty competitive streak), I decided to try my hand at it. Glad I did because I've really enjoyed the experience.

This year I've been responsible for over $4000 of total sales and we have parted with: A hand held VHF radio, lots of hobby equipment, gold and silver jewellery, concert tickets, voice activated recorder, a mini safe, binoculars, receiver, several sets of speakers, center channel console and crystal.

D thinks he is out of things to sell. I'm getting really close to that conclusion myself though I'll still go through the household with a fine tooth comb and see what I can come up with for next year.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Gail's blog post today struck a chord with me. She wrote about the halo effect -- how we are influenced by how we perceive others. It brought me way back to when I was between 10 - 13 yrs old.

My music and ballet classes were held on Bloor Street in Toronto. I walked that stretch of Bloor between St. George and Yonge St for many years of my life.

Those who are familiar with those few blocks would know that is where some of the biggest names in fashion and jewellery are found -- Chanel, Max Mara, Holt Renfrew, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Tiffany, Hermes etc. etc.

I remember when my aunt was looking for a shop space for her business. She insisted on looking in Yorkville (same region) because that is where the "action" was. I also remember how she would covet the Louis Vuitton store and when she and my other aunt bought their first purse there, it was a big deal.

Personally, I still don't see what the big deal is. Even as a 10 yr old, I didn't understand what the appeal was. I really like their steamer trunks and luggage collection but I wouldn't spend the money to buy it, even now.

So I grew up thinking someday, I would also be shopping at those stores. After all, I've had many years of window shopping under my belt and I had aunts who were grooming me for the "good life".

I still remember the very first thing I bought at Holt Renfrew. It was a hair clip that cost $55. I remember being pretty giddy about it.

Then came the time when I was shopping for a Tag watch. And the time when I realized I owned 59 pairs of shoes from Town Shoes. And the first time I spent $600 on a coat. And the time when I bought a plane ticket for $2200.

Those days are long gone now. I moved myself out of Toronto deliberately so that I wouldn't be so swayed by status and wants. Not all thing expensive caught my eye then nor now.

The things I would still buy are worth it from a design or function perspective, not because they have a great name. Sadly, there are many poor quality things that have a big name attached to it.

In my senior high school economics class, I won a contest on "conspicuous consumption" by providing the most expensive item you could buy that wasn't jewellery, electronics, cars or houses.

What did I win with? A haute couture gown by Yves Saint Laurent found at Holt Renfrew. I believe the tag said something in the mid $20000.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mortgage Rates Hold

Good news for all Canadian variable mortgage holders, the Bank of Canada rate is staying the same. This morning's announcement is the last one of the year.

I've already put next year's announcement dates in my new day timer. Never in my life have I tracked BoC rates until this year!

As an FYI, I used my bank's online mortgage calculator to find out how my amortization would be affected should my mortgage rate rise from the current 1.35% to 4.50% (where it was 2 years ago when we bought the house).

The amortization would increase by 7 months, assuming our current payment stays the same.

Our payment wouldn't stay the same. I have one of those mortgages whose payments will increase with the rate such that your amortization will be the same.

On the other hand, should rates fall, as we have lived through in the last 2 years, our payment falls and our amortization lengthens if you do nothing about it.

We did something about it. We raised our payments so that our amortization stayed the same and then boosted it higher.

The caveat is, we are not allowed to lower the payment once it has been increased. Should mortgage rates go up in the future as people are predicting they will start to, our payments will continue to creep up.

This phenomenon is as close to the type of mortgages we hear about in the US where you start out small in payment and after a year it leaps up etc.

We are prepared to handle increases should they happen in the next 3 years. Our current amortization for the house mortgage is 5 yrs 10 months. The ski condo is at 4 yrs 9 months.

Our goal is to get them to 3 yrs and 3 yrs 8 months respectively by utilizing the allowable yearly mortgage prepayment.

In 3 yrs and 3 yrs 8 months is when we would normally be renewing. I do not want to renew. If there is a small balance left, we will pay it out with cash or a line of credit.

Monday, December 7, 2009


My 2010 day timer has been in my hands for at least a month now. I usually get one in July when they first start arriving at the business stores. Why so late this year? I'm afraid it is because I know I won't be putting anything too exciting in it and most of next year will be similar to this year. Sad but true.

I am most excited to get a calendar when I have daring trips planned and need to madly calculate now many working days I have vs. how many days off I'll need. There aren't any really big plans for 2010.

Next year, the year after that and the year after that will be similar. They are all accelerated debt payment years. I had 1 1/2 yrs of not participating in that before jumping back on the bandwagon this year. I miss those years.

Honestly, debt repayment isn't anywhere near my top ten list of fun things to do. I am not excited about it nor the amount of spreadsheet work I do to balance everything. There is nothing living about it.

I guess that is one of the reasons why we do things like go see puppies or go out with friends because you need to inject some real life in everyday life outside of couple life. To remind oneself that other things are going on out there that doesn't follow the bi-weekly schedule of mortgage payments.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Lots of Fun

We tempted fate yesterday by looking at puppies for sale at 2 different farms. Both of us are pro shelter dogs but the cute puppy pictures were irresistible. I've never had a puppy, just older dogs so the thought of puppy training is daunting.

When we head out west in another week or so, I will be paying for a staff of mine to care for our cat every other day. It will cost $135.

Should we have a dog as well, the care would involve our favorite country club for dogs -- which translates to $25/day. Multiply that by 3 weeks and you get the picture. And here we are only talking about Christmas each year. There are other times of the year that we are away.

Not a cheap thing, pet care. That's after you spend money to buy them. I am a lover of English Bulldogs. D is lover of Australian Shepherds. Complete opposites. Those were the 2 breeds we saw yesterday. They cost $1800 & $900 respectively.

My group of Bullies were earlier in development even though they were the same age (8 weeks) as the Aussies. I had great fun playing with the mom and dad as well as the other ones on the farm. It was extremely hard not to commit to one.

D feels his favorite breed would be too much for our household. I would have to agree. It was overwhelming watching 7 puppies tear around you like a hurricane. This was after they stopped to climb all over us, said enthusiastic hellos and peed on me!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Minimum Space Requirements

warning... long post!

I found out a vital piece of information from my financial advisor yesterday that has helped me make a decision about my spring tax situation.

After asking her to sell 50% of a stock to put it into my registered account, she told me that I could just transfer it laterally without having to sell and that amount would be based on the last closing rate and would be considered a rsp contribution. I did not know it was possible to do that.

In my mind, I've kept those 2 accounts as separate and not related so this move was a pleasant surprise. So yesterday, I made a $11575 rsp contribution! It's especially great as I didn't need to use any new money to do so.

The personal tax exemption is supposed to go up as well this tax year and I have a few small expenses in Dec. to input. Hopefully when the dust settles, I won't be out too much. Right now I still owe in the low 1000's. Oh yeah, I missed out on the private rim sale. Someone beat me to it.

I want to write about minimum living space today. Dave, the new co-blogger over at Canadian Dream, wrote this piece a few weeks ago and the concept of it has been rolling around in my mind since.

As you know, I have a thing for real estate and we own a 3 of them (1 outright and 57% of the other 2). When I read the comments to Dave's article, a number of people spoke of un-used space in their respective homes. It got me thinking.

D and I use every square inch of our houses (when we are there). How could that be when we are just 2 people?

In our main house (2880 sq ft), we have 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms and a very small basement, not really usable outside of a workshop as it is a very old house (1854). So our square footage is pretty much all above ground.

The main floor houses the kitchen a 3 piece bathroom (that D uses after his runs as I refuse to let him drip all over the house to use the upstairs shower), laundry, kitchen, living room (doubles as D's work area) room/dining room combo, study and sun room.

We hang out in the sun room and study when not eating, working or watching movies. The 2 rooms are completely different in feel and experience as is all the other rooms.

Upstairs is our 3 bedrooms. One master with en suite (mine), and another bathroom (D's). The 2nd bedroom is our guest bedroom/office. Mostly office as we very rarely have guests. I am typing in that room right now.

The other bedroom is our theatre room. It houses our TV (we don't pay for cable) and our projector. We like movies and concerts.

D and I spend a lot of time together compared to other couples we know. Luckily we like to do that and each other. When we work, we like to be separate.

If you were to come to my house, you'd see minimal if any clutter. When we moved here (from a 1000 sq ft townhome), outside of furniture and clothing, I had 7 or 8 bankers boxes. Since then I've reduced it to 2 (will probably all end up as recycling), mainly stuff from the desk I recently donated.

Our rooms have nice furniture and antiques but no trinkets all over the place. There are paintings on the walls, built in book cases in the study and a couple of rugs, my piano and that's it. I let the architectural details of the house speak for itself.

When we are at the ski condo (just under 300 sq ft) and D has to work, I cannot seem to be able to relax as well. I think it is because he is giving off a different energy when working that doesn't mix well with my relax zone.

Plus the noise when he is on a call etc. I cannot escape it as there is no place to go other than out. It is open concept. We live very small and it is cosy and simple. It is very easy and I do not miss anything when I'm there.

So what we are opting to do this year is have D work minimally during our upcoming holidays so that it will feel like holidays. This has meant using more of his paid holiday time to ensure it.

I don't want to live the exactly same way everywhere I go. For me, it would take away from the experience. I even fought having Internet there for that reason. Eventually I relented as it is very useful for checking flights and weather etc.

At the cottage (700 sq ft), we have no TV or phone or Internet. We are as unplugged as can be and love it that way. We have 2 bedrooms, the 2nd one more as storage as there is only one closet, a main living area with 2 couches, bathroom and kitchen. That's it. Not even a book case. We don't miss a thing when we are there either.

We've talked at length about how it would feel living full time at the cottage or ski condo and what we would be giving up. There is a very obvious cost difference with each one. I guess it depends on how anxious we are to fully stop working and move.

Right now we like being able to enjoy living in 3 very different places -- ranging from what I consider to be luxury to basic. We have learned a lot about ourselves in the process and are very grateful for being able to do this right now. It hasn't escape me that maybe the reason it is so easy to not miss stuff is because we know we are coming back to stuff?

Given the choice, D would keep all 3. I would be willing to sell everything and move out west right now. I'm not scared to start again and start small. I crave time more than anything else and I would have the luxury of time if I did that.

I say I because full time in that space with 2 people would probably drive both of us crazy. We would likely need to buy another unit for it to work long term. So I guess, I did end up answering the question of Dave's post. I need at least 300 sq ft for myself to keep sane.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Over The Shock

I've picked myself up from the tax shock of yesterday and have started to form a plan.

The most likely scenario will involve cashing in one of my stocks that have done well and putting into my rsp. I am considering liquidating 50% of my holding.

It will still mean I'll owe taxes but it will be in the lower end of 4 figures. I can live with that. Should I liquidate it all, I'll still owe a very small amount. There is value is keeping the stock so I'm leaning towards a mid way approach.

In other news, I think I may have found rims for my car. If it works out, I will buy them.

I've also taken pictures of some things I want to sell. There may be enough time to test out the market before we leave for holidays. It will also depend on how cooperative photobucket is. I've found them to be hit and miss.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Freak Out

I managed to totally freak myself out last night. So much so, I sent D off to bed by himself so that I could work on it late into the night.

First of all, I got my month end statement from work. It was good. I made $222.16 extra (take home) over projections and now I have my income for the year. Total extra net income for 2009 comes to $10765.43.

All was good until I inputted the numbers into my online income tax software. I thought I was close to breaking even with respect to income tax. Here I was thinking I got the system down pat.

It turns out I didn't, not by a long shot. When I started replacing last year's expense numbers with this year's, I noticed a trend.

My frugality efforts at home has significantly rubbed off at work too. My default expense tax numbers from last year were too high, way too high, some cases 50% too high.

So you know what that means, I will owe next April, in the thousands. Not happy that I will need to make room for that expense on the spreadsheet.

I still have Dec. expenses to add in but it will not likely make a significant impact as I am not anticipating spending much on my business in the next few weeks.

Yikes. My first frugality horror story!

I can now understand why people scramble for "write offs" at the end of their fiscal year.

D thought this would be a great use case for going out and leasing my EVO... (he was joking) Fortunately I am not the type to do such spur of the moment things for tax relief.

Really, when you think about it, you still need to spend first and that goes against the point of this exercise.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gas Usage

D printed out a couple of neat graphs courtesy of our gas supply company. It shows our 2 year gas consumption and bills. We have been in our main house for 2 years now and the results are really interesting.

Our overall gas use has decreased 1/3rd this year compared to last year. How? Basically by manually turning off the heat when we are warm and not using our electronic thermostat.

It goes against the recommended way but it works for us. I found that I didn't need the house at the same temperature the whole day and it was a waste to leave it on at all when we go out.

Funny enough, we cook with gas and that has actually increased as we are eating out less.

Ironically, our bills were similar both years even though our consumption decreased. Why? The cost of natural gas skyrocketed last winter. Had we not made our thermostat changes, our bills last winter would have been higher.

Even though I would have liked to see our monthly amounts reflect our efforts, I cannot control the cost of the resource. Who knows what this winter's prices will be?

We are lowering our in house max temperature as a start. I've even talked D into wearing an extra layer. We are going to keep cooking.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Getting Ready to Go

The packing for our trip out west has started. You may be surprise to read that 90% of what is in our suitcases is food! Let me explain.

Groceries are expensive where we are going. It is double or more. Originally we thought it was because we are at a ski resort and being a captive audience etc. etc.

Then we took a trip into the city and found some of the prices even higher?! We were told that it is because it is expensive to get all the food through the mountains etc. etc.

I put my foot down at the $6.99 carton of Tropicana orange juice, the $4.50 package of Fudgeos and the $11.00 pancake mix. We have been bringing our favorite foods with us since.

Ironically, meat, dairy and some vegetables are a good price while bread is not. I cannot figure it out.

It actually works really well. When we took possession of our condo, we flew out to stock it. With our ski equipment and clothing already out there, what else do we use our luggage for?

So all we have to bring out are snack food, dried foodstuffs etc. That way when there is a sale here, we just buy extra and put it aside. At the end of each ski season, D takes an inventory so we have something to work with for the next year.

Last year we brought out a humidifier as the air in the mountain is dry. This year we are bring a new pot, a couple of boxes of cereal, spices, better kitchen knives, potato chips, cookies, kleenex, pasta, a new mattress pad, an espresso maker and a very cool lego set.

The xray people at the airport probably giggle when they scan our luggage.

Carnival of Personal Finance #233 Welcome to Webcomics

Check out this week's Carnival of Personal Finance over at A Gai Shan Life!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Levels of Safety

Because I get paid for the work I do a month later, last Friday represented the last working day of 2009. Once my month end statement gets printed next week, I will know what my income was for the year for income tax purposes as well as if I will owe any taxes next spring. (I'm pretty sure the answer is yes)

I actually look forward to being able to get my taxes done. It is a form of closure for me on another working year (and it has been a tough one) ...yes I know I'm weird!

I also modify my quarterly tax payments according to what type of year I am having so that there would be minimal surprises in the spring. I have fine tuned it over the years such that I am pretty accurate. There is nothing that throws cash flow off like a gargantuan tax bill when it is within our ability to figure it out.

I also like to keep track of that throughout the year because how well my business does affects how much I contribute to RSPs. For the last few years, I haven't been because my goal was to match my registered amount with unregistered money instead as my focus has been on liquidity this year.

Now that the markets have somewhat bounced back, in a shorter time than I had expected, I have close to what I started with in my non registered account and some cash as well. I feel better about that.

So we end the year with:

  • $5000 cash towards the main house roof
  • $5000 cash towards cottage roof
  • $5000 cash as backup
  • $1000 regular working account
  • $1000 as misc business account

For 2010, I would like to bump up the regular working account to $5000 and start a Float account as well, if possible, have $5000 in it too. I would feel closer to feeling "safer" with respect to liquid assets.

We currently are very real estate heavy in our assets and as we cannot eat our homes, just plain old money is good. This economic downturn has sent that message home to me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

No Party This Year

D and I both work in places where there aren't a paid for Christmas party. Personally, I believe they are being cheap. Both of our companies recorded record profits despite the down turn. And it isn't as if a company paid party wouldn't be a tax write off anyways.

I am boycotting mine this year and we won't be around for D's as we will be out west. Even if we were, he has no desire to go. That's an entirely different issue altogether. Me, I like dressing up for a night out. I still have many beautiful dresses (mostly black cocktail ones) left over from my spending days that want to be worn!

The reason I'm forgoing mine is mainly due to me not wanting to hang out with my associates. As they have difficulty accepting my views on life and work (the part where I am supposed to work 40+hrs as week to earn their respect...), I don't need to see their disapproval any more than I already do.

D would love to go and have it conveniently slip out in conversation how great our lifestyle is. That isn't my style. If they wanted to know more about me, they can just ask. Because they don't, they end up making crazy assumptions like I cannot afford a house because I drive a 12 yr old car.

I still remember the look on my face when I was asked where I was renting back a couple of years ago when I moved into the city. Even if they knew my reality, they likely wouldn't even believe it because it is so far from what is possible in their minds. Whereas for me, it's all about priorities.

Those of you who get to party it up this season, Enjoy and Have a Great Time!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


It seems like I need to clarify our $250/month grocery and household supply budget. It may seem low to some. When I was single, I was spending over $1000/month on "food". I also didn't use my kitchen much.

If all you do is buy real food ie. fruits and vegetables, some meat and seafood (we like shrimp) and no processed or modified foods, it is amazing how much you get for $250. That is all that money is intended for.

Yes, we do eat out. It comes from a fun account or our own allowances, which by the way is $40/month each. We also have a "dream account" for solo interests and ventures which gets funded to the tune of $80/month each. There is also a misc. account that we put in $80/month for anything else that comes up.

There hasn't been a need to set up clothing or gift accounts because we rarely spend on those categories. For Christmas, we buy for 2 people. That's it. Total cost is usually around $100 max.

D and I do not exchange gifts. We enjoy going out for dinner instead. And we buy clothes out of replacement necessity, not fashion. I just bought a pair of pants over the weekend to replace a pair that has been with me for 9 years.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Year End Food Round Up

This year's tomato harvest was a bust. Our peppers did much better and D has finally perfected his hot sauce and kosher pickle making techniques.

He is optimistic for next year though I am hesitant in putting more money into supplies when I can support local farmers instead.

Our food budget is $250/month including household supplies. It wasn't until we started to watch "Til Debt Til Us Part" that we realize we spend less than all the people we've seen so far on the show! Most of the families are getting around $125/wk for groceries, even couples!

The major factor that has helped us with keeping our food bill low is our reduction in meat consumption. It is at least 50% of what it was a year ago. We also started buying dried beans instead of canned.

We plan our meals around what is on sale that week. Something I've never done before. I actually look forward to Fridays when our neighbourhood flyers arrive. If I see something that I know is good (we have a price book), I will circle it and go from there.

In the category of non grocery food items such as eating out, it comes out of our allowance. Same goes for meeting friends for coffee or lunch.

We actually had money left over after the last grocery rounds. That was a first. And I can honestly say we have never ate or felt better.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Laptops vs Netbooks

I've started my laptop vs. netbook fact finding mission. I've used laptops for the last 12 years. My first one being a Compaq Presario. My current 6 year old one is by HP and weighs about 17 pounds probably.

D has been encouraging me to get with the times and move to a netbook for the size and portablilty. This D seems to like encouraging me to spend money....

I do have trouble embracing new technology easily and quickly so it was like pulling teeth to get me to even take a look at them. After all why test temptation? I figure, if I don't see them, I won't suddenly want one.

We looked at them in 3 places -- Costco, Staples and Best Buy.

I was tempted at Costco when I saw an HP netbook for $450. The smallest ones didn't do much for me but this one was slightly larger. In Staples, I decided against laptops once I saw how big they have gotten. Full size keyboards are the thing now.

I did see another HP "laptop" that didn't have a DVD drive for $700 that caught my eye. It was finished in brush metal and I really like that look. Finally in Best Buy, I was willing to get a laptop again because they had a special on a HP one for $550.

My thought was I can get new technology and more power for $550. I can compromise on the size thing. Spending $700 was too much but for $100 more, I get a better machine than the netbook I saw earlier. That is the quirky logic that goes on in my mind.

For fun we looked at Macs. They are really sleek and really the price is similar to what I've paid in the past. D is a Lenovo guy so I've been told "no tech support" should I go the way of a Mac...

I paid $2200 for my Compaq and $1700 for my current HP. I cannot believe I can buy a better replacement for $550 plus taxes. That just blows my mind. And things will probably just get more competitive and even better. And no, I didn't buy anything. I'll just keep the research neatly tucked in the back of my mind.

Festival of Frugality- My Best Purchases' Edition

This week's Festival is up, hosted by The Financial Blogger. There are a slew of cool articles there. Enjoy!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fun Weekend

My snow tires are getting put on today. I've had no luck finding used rims at the wrecking yards or private sales. My car is too old perhaps or maybe the other people who own them still have theirs' and do not get into bad accidents? So I will bite the bullet and pay for the tire swap. Note to self, next car, buy extra set of rims immediately.

I went through an interesting exercise this weekend. My spreadsheet currently goes to 2013. My question to myself was "How much more can I decrease my earnings before I have to compromise my goals?"

The impetus for the question came earlier this week when I realized that I am now making roughly 50% of what I did 6 years ago. Over my 12 year career, I've been gradually decreasing my working week so that I can gain more life. With it, came the decreasing income.

I figure if I can still afford to save and pay for everything else and retire early, what is the problem? This last year of frugal changes has helped more than I could have thought possible, making it much easier to live on less. It also gives others the opportunity to make more.

The results of the spreadsheet was this. I can afford to make $1500 less per month and still make my mortgage prepayment and saving obligations. Any more and I would be under. Now I know what the low water mark is for the next 3 years. It was a worthwhile exercise.

Once mortgage prepayments are no longer needed, I then can afford to cut back some more (very likely), keep things up for a year and see how I feel (not likely) or quit altogether and have D take care of things (not sure my ego can take that).

Being that our Christmas shopping has been done for a while (yes, I'm one of those types), I like going into shops this time of year to take in the various decorations and holiday spirit. It's really the only time I go into a shopping mall nowadays.

Our tradition is to buy this year's holiday coffee from Starbucks or Second Cup (for me, always something chocolate mint flavored, with loads of whip cream) and just wander and people watch. It's really nice when you are not pressured to find something. We would also end up grabbing a slice a pizza for a snack and our journey is done for another year.

Where we did end up afterwards was much more fun. We went to an art supply store. D is developing an interest in sketching so he wanted to look at the various types of pencils, erasers and paper available.

It has been a while since I've been in a good art supply store. I've always felt that such stores ought to be crowded and loaded with stuff to feel authentic. We weren't disappointed yesterday. Apparently I was walking around with a big smile on my face.

I practically lived in an art store growing up and when I studied art on weekends seriously for 7 years. I also forgot how much I know about art supplies and how much stuff I've used and owned over the years. They are looking for part time help. I'm considering it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Negative People

One of my all time pet peeves are people who do not seem capable of being happy when they see someone else succeed. Often, they can be downright angry about it.

  • Because how the success was achieved didn't fit into their idea of how "it ought to" have happen.
  • Because they feel the person didn't work "hard enough" to deserve it.
  • Because that person isn't as talented as the one who is resentful.
  • Because the angry one is so much better and the world just doesn't know it yet.
  • Because that person was lucky.
  • Because the world is crazy for buying into this person's ability when they don't really have any.
  • Because they are jealous.
  • Because they are suffering inside and out and can barely make ends meet.
  • Because they don't like themselves.
  • Because they didn't take a chance.
  • Because it is easier to make excuses than to go out and do it.
  • Because they are scare to fail.
  • Because they have too many useless restrictive rules for their life.
  • Because they set themselves up for failure.
  • Because they are not ready to be successful.
  • Because they feel the world owes them.
Either way, it is all about them. That's why there is not enough room to feel joy for someone else. I have no patience for such people.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Year End Utilities Review

D keeps track of monthly utilities via a spreadsheet. His year end summary showed the financial gains we made from our frugal changes over the year.

Here they are.

  1. Main House Hydro & Water -- down 19.98%. We have moved away from using our energy star dishwasher to hand washing most days. We manual turn on and off our electric hot water heater as we have found one charge can last a few days. A mild summer meant next to no air conditioning usage. (Average $105.69/mnth for a 2880 sq ft home built in 1854 that has been completely updated and restored)
  2. Main House Gas -- down 8.14%. Our thermostat last winter was kept at 69 degrees F as the high when there was someone home and off at nights. We are aiming for a high of 68 F this year. Depending on how damp the air is, there are days where 63 F doesn't bother me and other days, I'm freezing. They are saying it will be milder winter... (Average $78.32/mnth)
  3. Main House Phone & Internet -- down 14%. We changed service providers to a small local company from the large conglomerate. (Average $60.69/mnth)
  4. Car Insurance -- down 9.62% --Despite trading in an older car for a newer one. (Average $144.10/mnth for 2 cars, 1997 Honda CRV & 2005 Honda Civic Coupe)
  5. Cottage Hydro -- down 7.80% -- Having a temperate summer meant no need for air condition here either. (Average $30.15/mnth for a 700 sq ft one storey structure that isn't as well built as our house)
  6. Cottage Gas -- down 11.20%. We didn't go up as often during the winter because of terrible road conditions. This winter, we are planning to not go up as often either. We are trying out the concept of using keeping it seasonal and seeing if we like it better. Gives us more time to enjoy our home. (Average $16.05/mnth)
  7. Toll Road -- down 12.53%. We have been experimenting with going to the cottage via various back roads. It takes 1/2 hr to 45 min longer but we get nicer scenery and no road fees. We didn't come up with the idea until the end of the summer so next year we'll get a whole season benefit to look forward to. I draw the line when it gets dark early. Winding through pitch black country roads with lots of animals around at night isn't my idea of fun. (Average $10.56/mnth)

Total money savings translated to $702.46 for the year.

When we were doing the cottage insurance shuffle this past summer, the was a 2 month spike in expenses. When we got fed up with the Brokers and changed back, the costs went back down.

The monthly fees at the ski condo went up a couple of percent to $138.76 which includes hydro, heat and water. I still feel it is a great deal and can't wait until the day I move in there full time.

Thanks D, for keeping track!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No Sense

There is something I haven't done for my car that has been costing me more money than it ought to -- buy steel rims for my winter tires.

My car is 12 years old with no signs of slowing down. I didn't think I would still be driving my first car but here she is, still with me. So each year, twice, I pay to get my Blizzaks on and off my rims.

It costs a lot more than if I had separate rims. I just didn't want to spring for them at the time. The resulting math doesn't make sense. It takes 1 hr and about $85 to get them on and off each time. Over the years, that adds up. My appointment to get my tires on has been pushed forward to next week. Will this be the year I finally spring for rims?

The way I've let this slide added to the long look I got at work yesterday now that the word is out I will not add to my work week has made me question whether I've let my work situation slide as well.

Would I have been better off starting my own spot years ago? I tell myself that I am there for the people and my working days are numbered anyways. I hope I haven't deluded myself like the tire rims. Both situations are testing my commitment -- to my work and to my car.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bits & Bites

This time of year I like to dream big. I think of giving beyond Christmas and Birthday gifts and just plain cash. I dream of giving of myself.

On another fun note, someone I know who works here has a free offer. Enjoy, my Canadian readers!

Remember the guilt talk I was supposed to get from my associated about working weekends? They had a perfect chance last week and nothing happened. I put it out of my mind and figured they really were scared of me after all... As Machiavelli says, it is better to be feared than loved...when it comes to business...

Well, the phone call came yesterday and it was their assistant who was asked to ask me... so they wouldn't even do it themselves...what does that say? I politely declined and said I wasn't interested. End of story.

ING finally processed my sale request of part of the gain from my non tax account. I am putting the proceeds into an RSP. That move will net me a few hundred dollars. My only issue with them is that the price of the sale is on the day they process the request, not on the day I chose to sell it. So I won't know the price I will buy at until it is processed. It is the cost of dealing with an online entity.

D has had a couple of issues with his new to him used car he purchased at the end of August. As you can imagine, neither one of us are thrilled about it. We didn't trade in a '97 CRV for a '05 Civic to have more problems. Both issues are covered under warranty but still...We decided that if one more issue creeps up, we're getting rid of it and D can drive my car until we decide what to do next.

Yes I am going to the New Moon Premiere on Thursday night! D will likely be hiding his face but he's coming too. It is possible we'll be the oldest ones there and we may not be able to handle the hoards of screaming young girls but it will be fun and make us feel crazy younger...

Monday, November 16, 2009


No, I do not believe the right word yesterday was snobby. Last year I purchased a Paris apartment coat from an antiques store. So I am not adverse to wearing used clothing.

What bothered me about the store was the quality of the clothing there. They looked out of shape, like they have been shrunk in the dryer and now are out of proportion. I'm not sure you can look presentable in it.

So the question of dignity came up. It is possible to be poor and have few articles of clothing and still look clean and fitted. I ought to know. My family was quite poor growing up ie. a few generations living under the same roof etc.

I never had nice clothes. My parents felt that as long as you and what you were wearing was neat, clean, tidy and fit, then you had dignity. I may not have had many articles of clothing and what I had wasn't trendy or cool but it was nondescript and fit.

My mother felt that a few new pieces of clothing worn over and over again was better than tattered used clothing so she never bought used clothing for my brother and I. Mind you, I think there are better used kid's clothing stores now vs. when I was growing up.

As I got older, I received hand me downs from my aunts. They were always great and fashionable. I looked forward to them.

Because I didn't have an allowance, I was taught that I could have anything I wanted. I just had to work for it. So go out and get a good education in something that will make money and the life you build will mean more than if someone just gave it to you.

I wasn't allowed to have a job either so I couldn't buy anything for myself until I was 18. By then I was busy saving money for my education as my parents couldn't afford to send both of us to school.

So I kept a mental list of things I wanted, dreams I wished to fulfil. Delayed gratification was me.

Gosh, I remember so clearly still how much more money other students had than I throughout university. I remember this guy I wanted to date and how nicely he dressed and how he had such a ease about him, like he never had to worry ever.

I felt very insignificant and backwards around him and his friends. I certainly did not look cool. To make up for it, I had a lot of dignity and confidence that I was going to make something out of my life.

We fell in love and on and off years after, I moved away for a work opportunity. Come to think of it, it was all very "Pretty in Pink".

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Educational Experience

D is on a mission to find a cheesy ski sweater. Why? Because he is D and that is what comes out of him sometimes. It's his alter ego from the business D, I guess, and one of the many ways he makes me shake my head and laugh. He takes me out of my all business mode.

Me? I was on the hunt for some new sunglasses -- Serengetis -- to replace my ailing 12 year old pair. I found some I liked very much that actually fits. I have a fairly small face/head so finding sunglasses and hats are a challenge.

The ski sweater search brought us to a used clothing store. When I lived in larger cities, these type of stores were starting to be trendy. They would have period items and high end names at relatively bargain prices.

We didn't end up at one of those stores. We went in to what would be equivalent to a Goodwill store. Places where I would donate my stuff to. It was an educational experience for me.

I tend to notice the energy of places and people I encounter. The energy wasn't bad but everything looked tired, including the people there. No one smiled and it seemed like people were determined not to make eye contact with others.

I came out very happy that I donate. No where did I see anything that resembled the quality of things I give so there is a need to share and give more.

It also made me wonder what it would take for me to shop there regularly, not just for something kitschy?

Frugality isn't going to do it this time. I'll happily get my hair cut once a year for $15. Shopping there however is going to take a different kind of motivation and I just do not see it happening.

Am I being snobby about this? Is it even the right adjective?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Everyday Finance

Good news came in the mail yesterday. For some reason our property tax bill is lower than it ought to be.

I'm not complaining -- just surprised as our property assessment was significantly higher. The difference it is going to make is $8/month. I'll take it.

Each fall, D's company allows its employees to make changes to benefit/insurance amounts. We went over this yesterday. For us, we like to reassess life insurance needs.

As we do not have children, the term policies are in lieu of mortgage insurance. As our mortgage amounts decline each year, we reduce the insurance amounts accordingly.

D is older than me by 4 years so to buy the equivalent amount of money for him costs more than mine. We will be saving $95/yr for 2010 with our recent decrease.

The jury is out as to whether we will maintain a "base" amount of life insurance once the mortgages are done. Not sure if we need it. We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Other than that, D is getting his winter tires put on today. Mine will go on next week.

Get to deposit my pay cheque today. Can you believe they do not do direct deposit?! I wouldn't have to juggle cash flow so much at the end of each year if I had access to my pay.

I know, I know...If I wasn't out west skiing, I could pick up my pay cheque. I would like them to get with the times, that's all.

Ski season kicks off this weekend for many places, ours included. D is super pumped about it and wishes he was out there. That is a big motivator for him moving towards work that is not location dependent.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Saving vs. Investing

In hopes of higher returns, I have been considering moving more money out of savings accounts into non registered accounts/non tax accounts. 

Our timeline for potential use of this money is 3 - 5 years at the very least.  Basically it is when the roofs may need replacing at home and at the cottage.  Makes sense right?

The panic is coming from not seeing the money in the savings accounts.  You see, I view non registered accounts as not being as accessible as a savings account even though I know is it a matter of days when the money gets into my hands, I feel as if I've "lost" it. 

Also, I've gotten used to seeing a relatively high balance in the bank and I really like that.  It is as if I was carrying it in my wallet or something.  I realize I am being mental about this.

So do I just swallow the next to nothing gain, just so I feel "richer" or do I bite the bullet and take the mental hit of seeing a 4 digit number instead of a 5 digit one? 

I believe I'll end up investing it because it is the smarter way to go.  I cannot guarantee I will not whine about it. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


Good news on the job front for D. Since his work trip to NYC, he has been considering a shift from Project Management to Consultant.

He had a meeting about it yesterday and he's officially "in". Which likely means more business trips. I am thrilled for him. Hopefully I'll be able to go on some!

It will be 5 weeks today we fly out west for our Christmas holidays. We'll be there for 3 weeks. I'm thinking I will give snowboarding a go after being talked into it by the driver who took me to the airport last spring.

My printer finally passed on and we have an ink jet now in its place. It's one of those all in one wireless copier, fax, scanner etc. things and makes a horrendous noise just getting ready to print. Had I known, I would have sprung for another laser.

I had been spoiled with mine. It was a Lexmark laser printer I bought 18 plus years ago when they first came out for the incredible sum of $2300! It took me through university and beyond. Don't laugh -- I get attached to stuff like this.

I just finished Ramit Sethi's book "I Will Teach You To Be Rich". He has a good sense of humour and pokes fun at his Indian heritage but there wasn't anything in it that has made a difference for me. Our financial account set up is pretty good.

What I really liked about his over all message is what I would call his "Middle Way" approach. He has no problem with someone buying a BMW, for example, if they have all their accounts and savings plans in order and executed.

All the "leftovers" are to be spent. What else are you going to do with it when you've already saved enough and owe nothing? Makes sense to me.

I have been asked how I was going to pay for the EVO I didn't end up buying. So here's my answer.

In order for me to have moved ahead with that purchase, I needed to find a way to fund it without changing my current accelerated mortgage plans. For me, it meant liquidating some stocks, using some cash savings and calling in part of my annuity from D early.

What is happening now, is a new account called "Car Fund" has been set up. I will put money into it for the next 3 years or so and when the times comes, if I still want it, I will buy it or spend it on something else that makes more sense. Lots of options.

Remembrance Day 2009

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Recovery Costs

Care giving is tough. It can be draining mentally and emotionally. I was tired out after yesterday's visit with my aunt. Her temporary circumstance opened my eyes on the reality of how much care is needed post surgery.

She isn't able to lean forward, lift or bend down. Therefore she cannot bath herself or reach for a pot from her upper or lower cupboards. She cannot run a vacuum or go up the stairs or take the garbage out. Thus the temporary bedroom in the living room.

Canada has good social services. So she is getting help every few days for bathing and rehab. There is a program call "Meals on Wheels" that will deliver one full meal from Monday to Friday for a fee of $7.50 a day. She still needs to fend for herself for the other 2 meals of the day and on weekends.

It is very understandable that she is very frustrated and lonely. Having been widowed for the last 55 years and not knowing how to drive, her life is quite dependent on others as it is. Now it is way worse and embarrassing. There are no family members in the same city as her. The closest is 45 mins away and I am 1 hr 15 mins away.

Had it not been for the surgery recovery, she is otherwise spry and limber for a 85 yr old woman. She cannot wait to heal up and get back to herself again.

Yesterday's visit forced me to think about elder care and the cost of it. If she was willing to, she could pay someone to clean her home and do personal care on a daily basis. Also, have prepared meals delivered for the rest of the time if she did not wish to cook. All of these services cost money and it adds up quickly.

Luckily for her, a retirement residence/nursing home isn't needed. Should it become needed, they can be really expensive, upwards of $4500 per month per couple for full meals and activities.

We do have government subsidized nursing care housing but they are run like a hospital and are for people who have no income and cannot care for themselves. It seems like that the more independent you are, the more it costs to move into a "lifestyle community".

Monday, November 9, 2009


Due to the increasing business expenses I have, I've decided to create a new savings account in my system to handle end of year cash flow issues and impromptu workshop expenses.

This has been long overdue. It also represents my renewed commitment to stream line work costs easier and cleaner.

I got confirmation of my article acceptance to the trade journal I subscribe to. It is going to be published in the next issue.

The cottage got closed up (plumbing wise) with great success this weekend. It would have cost us over $200 to get it done professionally. So we spent part of it going out for a celebratory dinner instead. I believe it is going to be a yummy yearly tradition.

For you foodies out there, I had a curried butternut squash soup to start, a braised lamb shank over garlic mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables and a maple walnut tart with homemade vanilla ice cream. A real stick to your bones meal and a rare meat meal for me nowadays.

I'm really enjoying being at home for this week off, though as I type this, I realize I spent very little of it at home today. I drove out to visit an aunt who just came out of surgery. She cannot move well so I brought lunch and offered to get groceries and stuff.

She isn't a true blood relative rather the aunt of a guy I used to be engaged to. When our relationship ended, I stayed in touch with her and 12 years later, her turning 86 at the end of the month, we are still going strong.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cost of Work

Even though I know enough to plan for it by now, the end of each year is one of the toughest times cash flow wise. It isn't because we go all out for Christmas gifts, it is because of the large expenses lurking around the corner in the first week of 2010.

My licencing fee renewal just got here. For me to continue working legally, I need to pay this. This year, it will cost me $850, due in one lump sum on Jan 1/2010. I can pay it in 2 installments, six months apart for $450 each. I have refused to pay the $50 premium for this service.

When this bill comes, I then get reminded of my liability insurance notice. It will likely grace my mailbox in the next couple of weeks. Last year, it cost me $1200. If I do the upgrades that I'm thinking of, the price will be in the range of $1550 also due Jan 1/2010. There is a 4% premium should I wish to pay this in any other way than lump sum. I hate being charged extra so I too pay it all at once.

I pay my association dues monthly as there is no penalty to do so. It is about $1000/yr. These three expenses make up the core of my mandatory business expenses. And I haven't made a penny yet!

I remember this being overwhelming when I first started out because I felt already behind and real life ie. rent, car payments, food, telephone, savings, student loan repayment etc. etc. hadn't happened yet.

It is just part of doing business now and once a year, I think about it. There used to be a fourth line item called disability insurance and I got rid of it once I realized the plan doesn't cover part time work very well. (remember I got to test that out when I broke my wrist learning to figure skate a couple of years ago...)

So anyways, with us going over budget on the visa for Nov. and all these bills coming in, and not having access to my 2nd pay cheque in Dec (because we head out west mid Dec) means I have to make everything happen with what will be coming in for Nov. and the first half of Dec. It is making me juggle!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another Day

My last day of work before a week off! Yeah!!! Not sure if it will be busy though not worrying about it either way.

We will be draining/pushing the water out of the cottage pipes this weekend thus the need for the new compressor valve. Last year's attempt was a bit of a fiasco as the valve wasn't working well (despite it being new) and overall time taken was just too long and unpleasant. I'm keeping fingers and toes crossed this year that it won't lead to divorce!

Not much to report financially today. The weeks that neither one of us get paid tend to be pretty boring financially.

The budget area we seem to be excelling in is our food/grocery account. We have been sticking with it with no whining or anything.

A reader gave a fantastic suggestion regarding our Costco membership. I did not know that we could buy gift cards that would allow us to continue shopping there for 1 year after our membership expires without having to pay to continue our membership. We could even ask friends of ours to buy such cards for us, effectively eliminating the membership altogether!

So at the very least, we had reduced membership costs to every other year. I'm in the midst of calculating our annual expenditures at Costco to decide how large of a gift card to buy by the end of this month. Thanks again for the tip!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Reining It In

I may need to revise our monthly Visa budget. It is supposed to be use for gasoline and D's monthly parking costs. If we use it for other things, then the amount gets paid for from other working accounts right away.

As of late, we've been going over in the non gasoline/parking category. That bugs me because it means there are extra things we've been buying that doesn't fit into regular spending categories. We've gotten a bit lax.

So, I'm staring at the $788 balance instead of the budgeted $180 wondering what happened?! Well, it's called by many names such as some really good chocolate, DVD's not found at the library, a couple of meals out, oil spraying 2 cars, food processor, pet shampoo, new work clothes for D and a Lego set.

It'll get paid for, of course, and I remind myself it is all within our control.

My month end numbers for Oct. came in and I seriously just squeaked by my monthly projection by $72.96 take home. A bit close for comfort and the closest yet this year.

When I was on my car hunt, we encountered 2 salespeople. The first one was terrible, the second one was the one I've been in contact with. Now, the first one will not leave D alone. I'm not sure how calling over and over again and emailing is going to motivate D into buying a car when he is not the real buyer.

It's probably just as well as I have less patience than D and would likely just tell him off. In this day and age, I cannot believe that the stereotype of the "guy" making all the financial decisions still exists.

On a really funny note, we were at "Princess Auto" on the weekend, looking for a compressor valve when I was approached by 2 farmers asking if I worked there.

I almost burst out laughing after a split second of shock because I thought they were taking the name of the shop perhaps too literally... they were pretty embarrassed when I said no.

Seriously, I was wearing a pair of 2 1/2 inch brown boots, a powder pink fitted North Face jacket and pale corduroys. I guess that makes me look like a "Princess"? ... or maybe I really did look like I knew what I was doing!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


The verdict is in.

There will not be a new performance car (vs. my current get me from point A to B car) added to my life right now. Who knows if I will still want it in 3 years? (Probably, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there) It is a relief to finally make the decision.

What it came down to was my unwillingness to spend the money Right Now. (I don't usually have a problem with spending large amounts of money) The timing isn't ideal and it is as far from a necessity as it gets. That doesn't mean I've stopped lusting for it but I can control it...for now.

My H1N1 inoculation yesterday knocked me out literally by 8:30pm. I slept for almost 10 hrs and awoke to some soreness around the injection site. Shouldn't affect work today too much.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Odds & Sods

I have a confession. I just ate a coffee crisp for breakfast! Leftover loot from Saturday...

Pretty much finished the editing of the article I'm submitting for the magazine. It's going out for the first read today. The actually hard deadline is in 1 1/2 weeks but I have a week off starting this Friday and don't want to do any formal work during that time.

Going to attempt to get my flu shot today. There is apparently a shortage right now so if there is a lot of pushing and shoving at the public clinic, I'm going straight back home.

They are estimating that there is only enough to inoculate 60% of the high risk people -- of which I am considered one due to my profession. I'm just not going to worry about it, if the doesn't work out. Stressing out will only make things worse.

On my quest to get up to speed with my health appointments, I have a dental checkup and cleaning this week too. Yeah... I'm not a fan of going to the dentist...

Turandot will be shown live from the Met at movie theatres in HD this weekend. I'm going to go. It was this opera I had a ticket for but didn't end up being able to go, the last time I was in NYC.

D and I braved the crowds at Costco yesterday to load up on stuff as our membership is expiring this month. What I would like to see happen this year, is to not renew for preferably 6 plus months later, to spread the costs farther apart.

I've also been pricing out some continuing education courses and better liability insurance plans for work. They are in the fairly necessary category of things so I'll be working to build them in financially.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

This will be the first Halloween we've been around since we moved in 2 years ago. Normally we are in France. So we are currently unprepared candy wise. That'll be taken care of later on today. I'm going to insist on carving a pumpkin or 2 as well. Why not? D isn't too excited but he doesn't know who he is dealing with.

I led my high school homeroom class to 2 pizza party victories with winning the school pumpkin carving contest 2 years in a row. If you haven't gathered by now, food is a huge motivator for me....

Instead of just focusing on the pumpkin all alone, I like to create a scene. The first year, we came up with Humpty Dumpty -- so 2 pumpkins, one before, on the wall dressed up, and one after, cracked open like an egg with a "fried egg" (made of a white and yellow plastic bag) leaking out with band aids everywhere. We even had the wall, a white picket fence and fake grass!

My senior year, I was studying music history at the conservatory and a piece of music was the spark. It was Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. The last part of the fourth movement musically describes an execution via guillotine complete with the sound of the head rolling down.

I'm thinking perfect! We do that scene with a stuffed body etc and a frightened, crazed looking head rolled away with exposed "neck" and bloody hair, doorway as the guillotine, rope, blade and that segment of music playing in the background.

Great memories! Have Fun tonight Everyone!

Friday, October 30, 2009

S'All Good

Being the ever helpful guy he is, D sent me this video to help me in my car buying decision... (he knows I want to learn how to Drift). I've probably seen Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift about 5 times!

Well, I spoke with my colleague about the sudden change to working more. I was told that the owners spoke to them directly and after a lot of guilt laying about their lack of family time and the need to all of us to band together on this... they relented and agreed to do it.

Apparently they also said they would be speaking to me directly also. Nothing yet. My colleague thought they haven't done so because they were scared of me! D doesn't think they will either and just said they would in order to coerce their way. I'm mentally preparing myself just in case.

I subscribe of a couple of trade journals and this month, one of them dedicated the issue to financial preparedness in the midst of personal injury/disability. The articles really resonated with me as I have personal experience with that.

I decided to email the editor asking if they felt their readers would like to know about a first hand experience with professional disability that didn't fall into the category of making disability insurance out to be the end all and save all (as my injury didn't qualify).

The reply came yesterday and they would so I'll be writing a short article for their next issue.

Just for fun, I decided to send in my Alaska travelogue (edited to be non blog style) to a local paper for their travel stories section. The chances are likely slim to be chosen but the act of sending it made me feel good.

Last working day of the month. It is the tightest one this year billing wise. I hope I end up beating my goal.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


A number of glitches going on right now.

My houseboat and flight reservation is in scheduling limbo. D really wants to come along and is willing to put off his spring ski trip to do so. I'd like him to come too. We explore new places well together.

Technically, that wouldn't be a solo trip then... I may have to twist my own arm to find yet another place to go later on the year... I'm thinking Greece would be pretty cool! : )

On the car front, I got some info last night. Of course I would end up loving a car that is harder to find than anything else more mainstream. And of course there is only one left of of the '09 model (2008 ones and earlier are different) in Ontario in Black and the 2010 models have changed again.

I'm doing my best not letting my brain cells get themselves into a knot. What is helping is my hesitancy in wanting to fork out $55000 right now.

My associate who earlier last week said they wouldn't cave in and work any weekends have now committed to working some. So the email came addressed to all of us, thanking her for stepping up and helping out... there is only one space that needs coverage now... hint, hint... I'm going to get the story from her today.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Something New

Ideas are forming for my next solo adventure. If everything works out, it will involve a houseboat in the Netherlands. My life isn't going to stand still, new car or not! (No, I haven't made a firm decision either way)

It is also my way of letting go of the clinging to an idea or goal too hard. Whatever happens will be for the best.

D is having trouble talking his colleague into trying different foods while in NY. I'm not sure how you can be there and not end up giving something new a go. There is just so much! (See, he ought to let me go next time!)

I just sent D a link to a little hole in the wall place in Chinatown that just serves dumplings and told him to make sure to grab a hot pastrami on rye sandwich with a dill pickle (or matzoh ball soup if he really wants to get into it) at a Jewish Deli and some Soul food in Harlem before he leaves.

There's nothing "crazy" about any of the above (It's not like I suggested something more upscale like Nobu or Morimoto -- neither would be considered "crazy" in my book anyways...).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Holding Down the Fort

My blood work came back all good. Very relieved!

I went by the Mitsubishi dealership yesterday to see the EVO again. Mistake.

Now I am trying to figure out if I can afford one (and all its required upkeep) without affecting the mortgage prepayments...

It's amazing how tricky one's mind can be to come up with answers when motivated!

D's off on a business trip to NYC and I'm a little peeved that it came up last minute so I wasn't able to rearrange my schedule to go too.

I think he didn't want me to come along anyway even though I know that I would have been no trouble.

Honestly, if we even see each other, it would be amazing with his work schedule there. Plus, I know NYC well enough to occupy my own time just fine.

It would have meant free hotel stay which in NY, means a lot. I'd still have to pay for my own flight and food, which is fine.

So D, if you are reading, that's my 2 cents for next time! : )

(Maybe he has an ulterior motive, maybe he is thinking there will be a new car in the driveway when he gets home... he did sent me a cryptic email this morning wishing me good luck on whatever decision I make...he's a tricky guy, that D...)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Extremely Not Frugal!

For the first time in my life, I've been tempted by a car. D has done it now. I am falling in love (correction, Already In Love) with the EVO.

It is pretty perfect for me. I love the sport seats, the no tint part, the brakes, rims, spoiler and suspension look so cool, has a Rockford Fosgate stereo system, AWD, few people know what it is and it is subtle looking for what it can do.

I couldn't care less for the sunroof or GPS but it comes with the package. My only peeve is that the seat doesn't adjust as much as I'd want in a premium vehicle. They tell me it is a performance thing but I'm not buying it. I've sat in a WRX and it adjusts in many ways.

We test drove 2 different types this weekend "for fun" (very dangerous fun, I might add...) and both could not believe how it felt. It is liken to the take off on a plane. You are literally pushed back into your seat! Very very exhilarating.

I want one! : )

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Annuity

What to do, what to do?

D, my husband, is determined to "pay me back" for the extra prepayments I am putting towards his half of the mortgage, (remember that I've already paid for 50% of our main house and ski condo) in the form of an annuity starting whenever the mortgage is done.

Total amount will be in the $100000s paid over 7 - 8 yrs in order to keep D saving and investing.

This money isn't part of our retirement savings plan and isn't needed for such so I can save it if I wish or blow it on something if I wish. That's probably why D has been passing along links to fast cars...

Should I decide to quit my work when the mortgage is done, then I will forfeit the annuity as D would not be able to run 3 homes, save for our retirement and pay me at the same time. My time off would be the annuity then.

Time is tempting.

Some days, I wish I was more motivated by money. I like managing money, seeing how far it goes and getting great value for it but making money... it is tough for me.

I took a year off after high school and worked 3 jobs (full time job and teaching piano for 2 music schools) in order to save up enough money for university.

I made myself seriously ill and vowed then that I would not put myself through that type of craziness again. It seems I have been somewhat repelled by work since.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

D's Work

I've spent a lot of time writing about what my work does to me. It wouldn't be nearly balanced if I did not mention how D feels about his work.

He is bored with his current job of 2 or so years. Having never stayed too long at any position, moving on doesn't scare him. His last position was too demanding and exploitative so he took on his first large corporate position.

It pays well and has pretty great benefits. But it is also pretty boring for him, utilizing barely 40% of what he is capable of. His brain is slowly turning into mush. The new position he has applied for will be helpful in this area, should he get it.

When we talk about our respective work, I long for less responsibility while he longs for more. I long to try something else despite the time, money and effort spent to get to where I am professionally. Sometimes it is hard to relate to each others' grievances.

On a different and fun note, D has enticed me with another car choice. A Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR -- a natural competitor for the WRX STi. He has decided that his next car will be the STi so he is thinking it would be great if I replace my aging vehicle with the EVO... and we can drive them out to here and have some fun...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rolling With It

Was very pleased to see our hydro and water bill numbers.

We used $21.29 worth of electricity, $11.50 worth of water and $16.50 worth of sewer last month. Very pleased with that.

Of course, when they add in all their fees, the bill balloons but we have controlled well that which we can.

Considering I am still using the desktop computer as my laptop is out west, I feel there is more savings available.

I had a pretty perfect work day yesterday. Something clicked as I tried to figure why I was feeling so calm and content despite working with the associate that feels I'm a slacker.

My "normal" workday is pretty intense. I solve and fix problems for a living, one on one with people in fairly small rooms with no natural light.

In a 6 hrs shift, I have no scheduled breaks and I have been known to see upwards of 35 - 40 people in that time.

Crazy field right? I'm the slowest out of the group... believe it or not!

Yesterday, I saw half of that and even though it meant less income, it felt good. Easy and relaxed. I was able to read 2 magazines, journal a bit and even check email.

I took a look at what it means for my spreadsheet and we can still manage without too many concessions.

It's too soon to tell if this is a new reality though I'll roll with it happily. It may make my dropping a day obsolete.