Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Talk about temptation. I just found out about a seat sale to South America. I was supposed to have gone a year ago right now as a matter of fact and have since put it on my 2010 places to see list... For the first time I've known D, he is excited about the possibility...what is the universe doing?!
D and I have been discussing the concept of our "lost dreams" -- ideas, concepts, dreams we both had growing up that we've forgotten about or cast aside because we "grew up". Anyone have any of those?
I had an idea of where I felt I ought to be by now personally, professionally, spiritually. I had ideas of how much of the world I ought to have seen by now too. And per usual, I felt that I haven't succeed in everything.
As we got discussing some more, digging out stuff from our cobbed webbed memories, integrating them with (hopefully) some wisdom gained, we concluded that things have turned out really well.
So I haven't retired yet, but semi retirement is a good balance for now. So I haven't bought that around the world ticket and used it, but I've seen on average of 2 new places a year since I graduated and started my career at the age of 26.
I've now replaced that idea with one that makes more sense -- 12 countries in 12 months -- one day! I will likely start smaller with 3 countries in 3 months but something along that line.
New ideas to take me through the next decades of my life.
Monday, March 30, 2009
I bought the middle of the line one and after 5 yrs, I need to see a Chiropractor after a few days of sleeping on it. This was the first thing on the list of cottage improvements for the year whether we ended up renting it or not! Recently we bought a mattress topper for it, thinking that will help. But yesterday afternoon, we found out about the annual "mix and match" sale at Sleep Country (another Canadian company) so poked in to see if it really was a serious sale or not.
Long story short, we ended up with a great salesman who dug and dug at their computer system until he found some amazing deals -- enough that we replaced our current bed at home too (which is 12 yrs old).
We bought a king size pillow top mattress and box spring set, 2008 model (matched and new) for 75% off ($633 before taxes) and a queen set of the same, 2009 model for $715 before taxes (less of a discount because it is this yrs but got discounts for being a brand new model promotion, multiple purchase, mix and match pricing but he ended up giving us the matching box spring after all for the reduced price etc.). We didn't even have to haggle about it -- which works for me as I am not known as a great haggler!
Throw in free delivery (standard) to both our home and the cottage and they will take away the old sets, the purchase was pretty much a "no brainer". Our current bed at home cost more 12 yrs ago then our entire purchase yesterday. Crazy!
This purchase will be paid by the monies in the existing "home" and "properties" working accounts. It feels good to know they are already paid for even though the purchases haven't shown up on the visa statement yet. I don't intend to have to make this type of capital purchase for another 10 yrs or so.
If you are in Canada and need a new bed, I would highly recommend you give Sleep Country a chance.
Friday, March 27, 2009
- net worth (see side bar) has gone up a bit, from cash savings as well as very recent market activity
- decided to give savings a go vs paying of mortgage more aggressively -- current amortization is 9 yrs -- due to D's insistence on paying his own way
- drove to work once this year (so that I could carpool to a meeting), other than that, haven't driven to work since Oct '08
- we have decided to increase our monthy cash allowance to $60 from $40, down from $80
- am impressed enough with ING, who currently holds my non tax acct (index fund), to seriously consider opening up another registered rsp account with them
- finished up our first ski season out west
- bought new skis
- replaced tires and brakes on my car
- had a few lunch dates and dinner parties
- received my trip documents for Alaska
- bought flights to France for fall -- seat sale
- working accounts are working well -- where I draw out of to pay for flights and car repairs -- current balance at $1500 each, will get to $5000 each by end of the year
- got Cedric the Black Cat -- he seems to like being called Black Bob more...
- went to an association meeting and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome and food
- donated to a couple of good causes
- cooking from scratch fairly consistently -- only buying barely a handful of prepackaged food
- started our veggies seeds
- currently rearranging layout of house to fit our lifestyle goals better
- revamped insurances for cottage and ski condo
- our mortgage rates went down to 1.6% and 1.75%
- began tracking gas, water and electricity usage monthly vs. last yr -- we have reduced our usage to between 18 - 35% -- unfortunately, the cost of utilities have gone up so our bills haven't gone down directly by the same percentage
- already getting into the Easter chocolate...
Thursday, March 26, 2009
There has been some necessary concessions with placement of exercise equipment and spare bed. I've presented my ideal layout but it doesn't provide good enough answers for everything else. So a bit of a tug of war is ensuing.
We have a week to make a firm decision as the movers will be here to help us re-organize. (The movers we used have a service for clients where they will come back and help you re-arrange things free--this will be the first time we've taken advantage of the offer and we intend to give them a tip for their time)
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
What it provides is towing services, battery boost, gasoline delivery, getting you back into your car if you locked yourself out etc.
For both of our cars, it costs $170 / yr for their "gold" plan vs. $110 for the "silver" plan.
The main differences is 2 more service calls a year and a jump from 10 km towing to 250 km. That's the point each year which ends up preventing us from going with the silver plan. (What if we are at the cottage and need to be towed home...)
Personally, I feel they set up the plan to make it a "no brainer" to chose the gold plan. I don't believe they wish to sell the silver plan at all.
I'm going to mull it over for another day before deciding what we are going to do this year. My parents have had their cars towed a number of times so they would never consider downgrading. Us, We've only ever used it for battery boosts. We've managed to make it home any other times the car sounded strange.
Any experience with having your vehicle towed over long distances?
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
So, I thought -- wouldn't it be nice to have more time off in the darker months than in the lighter, more energetic months?
The change is subtle, in that it will mean I will take more time off from Dec through Feb -- one more week to be exact.
The last time I made a similar change was years ago when I decided that I was more paid work productive during the afternoons than early mornings. Thus I no longer work mornings. My work day starts at 1pm and ends at 5pm or 7pm depending on the day.
As my need for paid income decreased over the years, I have systematically reduced my work week. I haven't worked 5 days a week or weekends (when I was also teaching piano and music history) for at least 8 years now.
Currently I am at 3 days a week with total paid work hours at 16 hrs a week and for 2009, 128 working days a year.
My next move will either be to cut down to 2 days a week (12 hrs) or work it as I am for another 9 yrs (when D will be done the mortgage) move out west if that's what we want to do, retire from my paid career and do something entirely different.
D has a more traditional career and mindset compared to I. He does have a corporate career but what comes with that are paid holidays, benefits, a small pension and the ability to work from anywhere. Should we move, he is hoping that he will be able to work remote full time.
Whereas I am self employed and have to make my own pensions and benefits. Other than him wanting another couple of weeks off a year, he thrives with the structure and set up. I guess I have more of an artist disposition.
I feel it is important that whenever possible, to mold your life, your work, your way of doing things in a way that is in harmony with who you are and how you work best. If it can be done before retirement, even better. I believe that I would see less stress, less stress related illnesses etc. in my practice if we were all able to do that.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Turned out that a client's dad of a friend owns a maple sugar farm so I managed to get (OK don't laugh) 2 litres of maple syrup for $20! We usually buy small bottles for $9 so now have enough to feed several families.
Continuing on the house front, we are re-jigging the layout of a couple of rooms to make it more functional. I have exercise equipment I want to move upstairs as I do not wish to work out in the same room as the kitty litter.
The tomato (2 types), basil, bean, cucumber, chive and pepper seeds got planted. We invested in some grow lights to help them on their way.
When I checked the gov. site to see if they had done anything with my tax return, I was surprised to find that it had been assessed and they are planning to send my cheque this Thursday. I am very pleased about it and cannot believe how little time it took (1 week!). I was hoping to have the money in hand in time for my Nfld trip as it will pay for my accommodations.
The spreadsheet has been changed again to reflect some more savings. This time I will be reducing slightly my dream account. I won't be investing until I know for sure there will not be another major purchase.
With D taking a hard line on wanting to pay "his" portion of the mortgage sans help from me, I brought up my concern for the time when the mortgage comes up for renewal in the next 3 1/2 - 4 yrs. We would likely not be able to get the same type of mortgage as we have now, therefore be subjected to what the world will be like at the time.
To me, that's risky. I know there are legions of people renewing all the time but personally, I cannot wait until the time when I no longer play in that arena. I am hoping that all the savings I will be doing in the next few years will grow at least more than our mortgage is costing so that should I need to cash it in to pay out the mortgage, we come out ahead.
Just got a message from D that my front brakes will need to be replaced. So with the 4 new all season tires, my bill today will be around $820. Ouch! But considering it is an 11 yr old vehicle and only the 2nd time I've had to buy regular tires and brakes, with 285000 km under its belt, I cannot complain. My rear brakes, which has never been replaced still has 40% life.
Friday, March 20, 2009
- Managed to get a whole row of books ready for donation
- Will be starting my seeds this weekend
- Will be moving outdoor furniture out
- Kitchen clean up starting
- Skis have reached Chicago, ought to be here next week
- Had a great talk with a girlfriend who is frustrated with the man in her life who refuses to be held accountable for his actions (disappearing act!) -- my advice? Move on!
- D did end up getting a bonus -- we certainly didn't expect it but am very grateful for it -- will be used to fund his non tax savings account
- I've put in $3450 (max $5000) in my non tax account so far
- Have a dinner party to go to tomorrow, expect to have a great time!
- Helping a friend find a better job
- Booked myself a massage for next week
- Booked myself THE haircut in 2 weeks (I've been growing it to donate to the cancer society) I decided I cannot wait until May
- We've narrowed down the cottage insurance choice to 2 (from 3!)
- Thanks to Daphne, I'm finally writing down my gratefulness points rather than just thinking about it
- I'm finally going to an association meeting after 9 years -- next week
- My yearly admin fees for my registered savings account was paid yesterday
- Working on my Feb bookkeeping, half done
- Finish one book, reading the other
Thursday, March 19, 2009
How to Survive Without a Salary by Charles Long
Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up by James Hollis
So far, I am inspired!
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The bookshelf will be the first to "get it". I've probably bought 3 books in the last 2 years -- books friends have written as well as Spanish verb book and dictionary. So there are still many books I own,will not be reading again that will be donated to my local library.
For one of the few few times in my life, I have the urge to clean! Cleaning is not my strong point. That is not to say I am messy. I just don't tend to create large messes that would require huge cleaning, that's all.
But all of a sudden, I want to wash down walls, cupboards, shelves etc. Must be something I ate... in all seriousness, I think of it metaphorically as "internal" cleaning as well -- like a mirror. I want to enter spring light and airy inside and out.
I have and will be making some purchases.
Firstly, I decided to invest in new skis. They have been bought and was shipped yesterday from Denver. My first season skiing out west posed some challenges and laughs as I use what is known as "east coast skis" meaning we out here tend to ski on hard pack snow and semi icy conditions. We know how to carve!
Whereas, out west, they actually get lots of fluffy snow and my skinny skies have some issues with, can you believe that? You don't ski the same. So I have succumbed to the peer pressure to buy some that are wider underfoot so I will get some buoyancy and control over the "crude" and powder.
I got a great deal ($900 or so savings) on as they are the 2007 model (still new though). They may not have the "new look" graphics but I'm not vain enough to care. They will work just fine. Total cost not including duty $505.58.
My second expenditure was just secured a minute ago. My car needs new tires. And my snow tires need to come off now that spring has arrived. That will happen on Friday. Total cost $406 plus other stuff, I'm sure. I'm going to ask them for an opinion on my front brakes while they are at it. Last fall they were at 35% left so we'll see how much was used over the winter. The bill will be much higher if they are due to be replaced.
Monday, March 16, 2009
My return is done using an online software. That part was fine, sort of, and after downloading the file, I realized that I left a couple of things out (my marriage date and clicking the single to married status line) and re-saved it, re-downloaded it.
The government site just wouldn't take the file so I was 1 try short of being locked out. At that point, I got desperate and called their help line. He didn't offer much more help so I tried sending in another downloaded file and it took it.
So, the government may have gotten the updated version and maybe they didn't. Neither piece of info ought to mess things up too much as the important "net income for D" was there but who knows with the government?
Bottom line, it was my miss. I'll be following up on that another day. Hopefully it won't delay my small return (about $400) from getting to me on time!
Saturday, March 14, 2009
One of the things that's been on my mind is the amount of paper mail we get. I was on the phone with my bank to ask them to discontinue sending paper statements.
Apparently, it is the law in Canada that even though I get my statements via epost, they have to send a paper copy. How backwards is that?! I'm sure it has something to do with covering their behinds with respect to people missing payments but I feel the law has got to change.
On a similar note, I have a few 2 yrs magazine subscriptions that will be ending this year. They seem to come at the same time and prefer to come when we are away so our mailbox is overflowing -- not a great security sign to give out.
So I've changed the mailing addresses to my office. Why has it taken me so long to figure this one out?! (It's my years of living in a gated community that has spoiled me for some things)
I've pretty much decided on the insurance policy we are going with for the cottage. The process to cancel the existing one will be easy -- yeah!
My annual mortgage statement came in the mail while we were gone. One fact on it kinda blew us away.
We started Jan 1 2008 with a 5.1% interest rate and now we sit at 1.6%... How low can it go? I, for one, want to find out.
To end, my Feb month end for work showed an increase in take home pay of $697.90 for March. I'm 3 for 3 in beating the spreadsheet estimates so far this year.
On another lucky note, someone dropped off a piece of Turquoise and Rose Quartz for me yesterday, just like that. They are supposed to promote balance and harmony. Works for me!
I'm going to start my "getting rid of one piece of something a day" venture in hopes to "lighten up" my load at home.
Have a great weekend, everybody!
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Lucky D won't be coming home til Sunday so extra ski days for him. For me a 2 day work week, so can't really complain about that. I've ended my ski season a better skier than I started, so I'm very happy about that. It hasn't been easy slaying those fear dragons.
I had the most inspiring driver take me to the airport yesterday. It was just me so I sat up front with him and we chit chatted the time away. He would be in his 60's and was first season working for the resort. Real positive guy for so early in the morning.
Turns out he was awake at 3:30am as he enjoys doing his computer work before getting to his part time job. Also turns out that his computer work consisted of keeping up his skills writing computer code!
He had gone back to university and completed a computer science degree by the time he was 46. Then he worked for a large company for the next 20 yrs. Prior to that, he was a commercial pilot and a scuba diver right out of high school! His next adventure will take him and his wife into rugged northern BC.
By the time he got me to airport (1 hr due to road conditions), he talked me into learning snow boarding. I was so excited, I left my shoulder bag in the van and didn't realize it until I was checking my luggage in. Luckily he was still around.
To round out a great trip, the on board flight TV wasn't "working" properly so we all got the paid per view movies free. And if that wasn't enough, I didn't have to pay for my airport parking ($100) as the self check out terminal was broken! Let the good luck keep rolling!
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Since I've been on the relative cost bandwagon, my mind has been weighing our biggest expense decisions (houses) against the life value we glean from them. I'm still learning a lot --about myself and D and our priorities.
So, to correct my earlier post:
- the ski condo running costs is 70% of the main house
- our yearly trip to France costs the same as 1 yr of the ski condo
- the cottage costs 50% of the ski condo
- the mythical Nfld home would cost 55% of the main house and would get used the least
With our current retirement savings plan, D would work another 14 yrs until he was 55. I would work for another 10 yrs until I was 47, with the last 5 yrs dropping my Fridays if nothing happens with Nfld -- will continue with Fridays if purchase happens.
We would be able to afford to both stop work at that time should we wish and have enough money til I was 99 yrs old, assuming a 3% growth and 36% left over yearly for tax and savings considerations (27% if Nfld home existed).
We've been playing around with another scenario. What if we downsize?
Downsizing for us would mean selling our main house and cottage and moving to BC full time. We would live in the ski condo for 4 months of the year.
Now, things get really interesting. The area we would be living in for the other seasons would be cheaper to buy and can be bought outright without a mortgage. I am not talking about Vancouver here!
There are many other areas in BC that are beautiful and affordable. Heating costs would not be a major issue then as the house would be "closed down" for the winter.
The money left over from the sale of the cottage and main house would be a really nice supplement to our retirement accounts, such that D and I would be able to completely retire in 9 years.
There would be 49% and 38% left over each year for tax and savings considerations. That would allow for another journey abroad each year --perhaps a volunteer abroad vacation.
If we sell the cottage in the next few years, I would be open to buying in BC then -- perhaps even a rental property so that it can serve as long term supplemental income.
I've looked into getting licenced to work in BC. It will be more expensive than in my home province and I do not feel the pay off will be there as I am not planning to stay in one location for the entire year.
I'll stick to the idea of a seasonal fun job. Right now D is thinking he may want to continue working remote for a few years.
Monday, March 9, 2009
First there is everyday frugality. It is important to know how much your life as it is, dreams and all cost. When everything is just hunky dory, it is easy to live a great life. But as most of you know, there is room for fine tuning that does not affect life as is.
What happens when you do not get that raise or bonus or your business brings in 10% less? The cost of everything else tends to inch up each year whether we pay attention or not. How do you make up the difference?
These are good questions to answer now, in the comfort of your own home when you are not being forced to decide. Will you then, cut out/delay a trip, a purchase, allowance, entertainment? I would think that most people would be able to still maintain most if not all of current life relatively unscathed. The changes may bite a bit.
Next level. How would you make up 25% - 50% shift down in income? This may mean one half of a couple has lost their job or someone is choosing not to work. Would your life even look the same as it does right now?
How would you feel about that? Would that scare you? I like thinking in terms of emotions as it motivates me into planning. This is the level where a lot of people I know would start squirming.
All of a sudden, living too close to the edge becomes running off the highway. Payments may become delayed. Panic may set in. The lack of savings very apparent. Can anything significant be sold quickly to increase cash flow?
All of a sudden, all the "toys" and stuff in your life can seem so worthless, meaning they wouldn't sell for enough to help, even though you may still be paying for them. How long can things be sustained now?
At this stage, cutting cable or a trip isn't going to cut it. If your current life only costs 70% or less of what you make, this scenario may not phase you. It may mean no money left over at the end of the month but you can manage fine.
If you are able to find your peace at any level, then nothing will really threaten.
Live for the best. Prepare for the rest. Attach to nothing. That's how I view things.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
I brought up the idea of making a list of what to buy to round out the ski rental plan as we are planning to head into town today for a change of scenery and a break from 1 week of straight skiing.
He told me that he has decided to withdraw his rental proposals.
I was dumbfounded. I had made up my mind to give it a go for a year and see what comes out of it.
He had already made contact with a local cleaning service and negotiated a fair rate. Insurance is in place -- the policy has been paid for. He has spent a lot of time developing the website and calling all sorts of places and people. We've even bought 4 sets of comfy cosy linens back home in anticipation.
He feels that the rental idea is a good one. BUT, it wouldn't be a great idea for us. US meaning more ME as he doesn't relish the idea of having to handle ME if I were to come back into either space to discover that there is a scratch on the wall, stain on the mattress and the "energy" of the places have changed.
He thinks that I will end up selling the properties because I will feel that they were no longer mine. And right now, we don't HAVE to rent them.
I cannot deny that I would have a cow if I found a red wine stain on my off white sofas at the cottage (it is decorated in a "Hampton" beach style"). AND I cannot deny that I am very sensitive to how places "feel" and how different people can affect the energy of a place -- even people I like.
On a positive note, we have learned a lot about the process and found out that neither insurance policy we had in place were ideal (even from a non rental perspective).
There are newer policies available we didn't know about -- policies that are more specific to cottages and ski condos. The upgrade to the more niche policies will cost about $450 more a year total for both properties.
I love that he knows me so well to know how I would be but I cannot help but feel like some high maintenance chick -- am still getting over the shock of his position.
Friday, March 6, 2009
As for me, I have not such ambitions. I stick to what I have been introduced to from previous lessons and I am content mastering my technique over and over again. If anything, too much speed burns me out from a nervous system perspective.
We speculated that it has something to do with my inherent wiring. I am naturally more high strung and intense so it doesn't take much to send me over whereas D is naturally more laid back so he loves the more extreme type activities.
Over time just due to practice, I'm sure I'll be more comfortable with the steeps and speed but until then I listen to my stomach.
If it is starting to flop, I back off and call it a day.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
It is designed to put into perspective, how much time and money is spent at each property during retirement and highlights where we will be location wise.
D included the mythical Newfoundland property as well. The spreadsheet assumes mortgage free status.
Here's what I've learned so far:
- our main house costs the most to run (no surprise there)
- 4 months a year will be spend out west
- 7 months a year spend at the main house and cottage
- 1 month out east
- the ski condo costs 50% of our main house to run
- the cottage is the cheapest to run, coming in at 17% of main house
- the mythical Nfld property and cottage costs together come to 94% of the ski condo
- our yearly trip to France costs 80% of what it would be to run the cottage and Nfld
- Nfld house would cost almost double the cottage to run
Mentally, I compare trips to trips and felt we were paying a reasonable price for it. We thought we were doing well there as renting an apartment is way cheaper than staying at hotels.
I realize that the airfare makes up a large part of the costs too. Similar idea with the ski condo and Nfld -- the airfare, seasons passes, condo fees form a significant percentage of yearly costs.
When I think of running a property, I usually focus mainly on utilities, property tax, maintenance.
What I found interesting in this study was that when we colour coded the months spent in each location, you really are able to visually measure the "value" of each property/trip in terms of:
- time spent there
- how much retirement savings to have each year to support this type of lifestyle?
- and most importantly, does this make sense and do we want this?
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
It is just gorgeous. Looks like the view from an airplane window once above the cloud line.
I'm still jet lagged a bit as I am up really early here and want to sleep early too. My system is still trying to function on home time which is 3 hours different.
D knows that the more enamored I am with being here, the chances of me going along with renting it goes exponentially down.
I'm having difficulty justifying making money with "my home". After all, I have never considered renting out the main house either.
He would like me to re-frame it as "helping other people achieve their goals of being a ski bum or cottager for a little while".
So the insurance is in place here and I am still wavering.
On a very surprising note, my second resend email yesterday to a Realtor in Nfld actually garnered a response -- a good one too!
(not the ignore my list of 12 questions, instead, please look at my website for details...ah...I've already done that...)
so I may actually get to see a place! I'm still waiting on 3 other responses.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The real estate market, as we see it has gone down a bit. Our unit would probably sell for $5000 less than we bought it for last year. On the other hand, there are some bargains out there. The thought did cross my mind to buy another one just for rental... so my little spot here can stay totally mine!
The big news this morning is the Bank of Canada rate announcement. It was lowered another 50 pts! I will be looking to my bank to follow suit in the next few days. That will mean some crazy low mortgage rates for us -- 1.6% and 1.75%.
In other news, we have secured proper insurance for the ski condo and have gotten 3 quotes for the cottage.
Still no word from any Realtors in Nfld. I will try again today. I may just end up having a great getaway in April!