Friday, July 31, 2009

Crazy Insurance Brokers

In April, we switched insurers for the cottage in order to be better covered for that property. We got 3 quotes and went for the one whom we thought would do the best job.

It is almost 4 months later and we have decided to ditch Company A for Company B because A has demonstrated a lack of customer service (2 emails and 2 phone call messages before responding) and has suddenly shown their pushy sales calls at dinner time, playing hardball, pretending they have the control when they hadn't bothered to review our file before spewing off incorrect facts about our cottage... not remembering who is paying who...

They have admitted to using their own unique table to determine insured amount (26% higher) vs. what the insurance company uses and have refused to change the insured amount.

We are going with another broker who sells the same insurance even though Company A told D that we would not be able to buy the same policy because they have a monopoly on it in Canada. Not true.

The new insurance is in effect today and personally, I am happy to pay an administrative fee that goes with cancellation of a policy just to be rid of Company A. It has become a matter of principle.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Septic System Checkup

Some extra expenses have popped up regarding the cottage. Every 6 years or so, the township employs an engineering and environmental firm to do check ups on septic systems that were installed prior to 1999. Since our cottage is 65 yrs old, we qualify.

So we got our letter in the mail notifying us that this summer is our time. The last checkup happened shorted before we found our cottage 6 yrs ago so passing the test was one of the conditions in the agreement to purchase.

The last couple to own it as well as us, use the cottage fairly "lightly", the concrete tank and weeping bed was is great shape. Our recent assessment by the septic company was very good as well. Because it was pumped out last year, we do not have to do it again this year. We are now waiting for the engineering assessment.

Total cost, around $110 for the certificate and inspection. Good for another 6 years or so. A small price to pay compared to septic replacement, which happened to one of our neighbours at a cost of $3500 - 4000.

A new one would have to conform to current building codes which no longer allows for an underground septic system if you are a certain distance away from a body of water, which we are.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Old Ways

I made my last mortgage move that will pretty much put us in the ballpark for finishing up the mortgage by the time the renewal comes along in 3 years.

The move was an increase of $100 per payment. It is amazing what compounding in your favour does. I had previously thought that lump sum prepayments was the most powerful way to make an impact and underestimated the power of the small amount over a longer time effect.

We are doing both so hopefully will be benefit from both sides.

On a different note, I made a few clothing purchases lately. We enjoy going across the border to a number of US border cities for the day, have lunch and do some shopping. I was looking for a small token gift for a girlfriend's birthday (we take each other out for a fancy dinner as the real gift) as well as some lighter summer work clothes now that I am walking.

I ended up spending $65 total for a french manicure polish set (girlfriend), 3 skirts and 2 short sleeved tops. I was pretty pleased with it all. The last time I made a similar purchase was for 2 skirts and 1 top for just over $500 so an amazing improvement. That seems like such a previous lifetime to me. I'm not sure that I would be going back to my "old" ways even when we are debt free.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back to Work

D did manage to get in with his family Dr yesterday and is scheduled for an ultrasound this week. That is great. He's still grumpy about it all but once we know what we are dealing with, things will be easier. It's the not knowing that kills me.

Other than that, back to work today, last week of the month. Hopefully I'll find that I've made a bit extra when all the dust settles with month end. Summer months tend to be slower as are the months following Xmas. Still, a bit extra would be great and appreciated.

Monday, July 27, 2009


We discovered our local ER this weekend in cottage country. D had a run in with his first (and hopefully last) kidney stone. Time was a blur for most of Saturday night and Sunday morning.

I am hoping he will get in with his family Dr. today for the followup and further testing.

D has been training for his first ultra-marathon race in the fall and we believe his stone may be have been caused by dehydration even though he drinks water throughout his run via a Camelbak and takes re-hydration products.

His parents are on holidays so we don't get to find out if there is any significant family history until later.

He is pretty bummed out that he may be seeing a limit to his physicality.

Friday, July 24, 2009


We'll be leaving for the cottage in about 2 1/2 hrs. My day off has flown and I am enjoying it immensely. It feels so Normal to be off today... : )

Our net worth went up today courtesy to pay cheques yesterday. For the next couple of years debt repayment will be the biggest reason for it going up. It is motivating to see that number rise nonetheless.

Summer time work at the office is great because my associates have rotating holidays. So the environment has a calmer, less rush feel. I like it.

It feels like it did when I first started and there were only 2 of us working. Those days won't be coming back as the trend in health care practices move to large group settings.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Country Living

Not feeling great last night or this morning. May have had some bad Baileys at a dinner party last night -- meaning it had been open and sitting in the bottle too long.

The dinner was held at a friend's home -- a restored stone farm house on about 50 acres. We went on a small hike after dinner as I have never seen the rest of the property before. It was gorgeous and once in the rolling woods, it reminded me of parts of Colorado, northern Ontario and Vermont at the same time.

I wonder if it is in the cards for us to move into the country?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I'm experiencing a slow moving day today. It was a surprise to wake up to an email expressing interest in something I have up for sale.

The sale has been finalized ($50) and it is the second one that has been paid via EMT or Interac money transfer or Email Money Transfer.

The big plus with this method is no transactions fees for the receiver. We have been big PayPal users up to now and paying about $5 to receive money and $0.50 to transfer into my bank account.

I am going to look into this method for sending to see what type of fees that entails. It just may be a better way for us to do business.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Done Tweaking

I've reached the enough point on my mortgage spreadsheet. Yes, I can tweak things here and there still but I've had enough. If I just allow myself to follow it through, it predicts a good result.

I feel that I've put in 90% overall effort -- 10% over where I would have optimized the 80% effort rule and dangerously close to overdoing it with the remaining 10%. So I am going to stop right here!

The Bank of Canada was announced this morning and they are holding there place, so there will be no change in our mortgage rates.

I've been reading a number of different peoples' views about gradual recovery in the next 2 years which may mean an increase in our prime lending rates again.

I realize that no one really knows for sure but I will be monitoring recovery signs like a hawk now that I am back in this mortgage game again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Calming Down

As of late, I've been focused on doing tasks single mindedly vs. my usual take on 3, 4, 5 things all at one. It has helped to simplify my life.

Tasks are still getting done and not taking longer with the added bonus that my brain isn't functioning on overdrive.

Overall, this approach is giving my nervous system a well earned break. If I get myself all riled up, I tend to overeat, eat unhealthy things, cook less, read less, exercise less as well as develop a negative attitude about work. My empathy levels suffer.

I am in that calming down mode presently and am just starting to feel unrushed again. It is a great feeling.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Daily Living

D and I have very different "non paid" at home jobs. It works for us to divide property duties that way in order to capitalize our strengths.

For example, D doesn't mind cleaning whereas I can only tolerate a certain amount before I turn into a monster...

I like taking care of our book keeping, long range planning and savings whereas D can only handle it a bit at a time before his eyes gloss over.

Most of the time we complement each other really well and our multi home lives clip along well. I consider this to be really important that it does because it serves as the foundation to our living well.

Of course there will be times where neither one of us feel like cooking, cleaning or planning. And there are times one of us doesn't pull our weight because of one reason or another. And it is really easy to get lost in the swamp that can be debt repayment and overdoing it with the planning.

In the end, what motivates us is the ability to live the way we do and eventually the way we want to. That is the icing on the cake.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

End of Week Thoughts

I have a few Fridays off before a I get a full week's worth of vacation at the end of the summer and another week in October. Right now, I'm thinking that they are a long ways away.

Seeing others take their vacations now is creating this longing for me to join in too -- not necessarily with them but along side them.

Earlier this week I had a light bulb moment for a change. I'm considering taking my Fridays off for July and August next summer. That way, I can get a taste of a shorter work week in preparation for the year it becomes permanent. Total working days are a couple of days shorter with this new plan but manageable.

On the debt repayment front, we took a brave step yesterday and increased the mortgage payment amount, enough to knock a year off the amortization of the house and almost 2 years off the ski condo.

I had been hesitant to use this strategy for a long time because once payments increase, they cannot be lowered. So, if interest rates go up, so do our payments. Due to our new commitment to a shorter debt timeline, we are taking the risk that interest rates will not rise significantly in the next few year.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


For the first time in recent memory, I do not feel as if I will be missing out if I don't "jump" at an opportunity.

For most of my life, I would not have believe that. I was one who felt the need to "jump" at things for fear that I would miss out or I would tell myself that the timing was "meant to be" or was "perfect".

On a spiritual level, I do believe in following my gut for pivotal or "big" things. But respect to spending money, I am now able to make the distinction. I used to buy things out of worry that if I didn't, I would lose out. (silly to me now, but true!) I would react to airline seat sales in a similar way.

Because of that, I have seen many great places, own some great things and am happy to have done so. Now that I have a relatively short timeline to being completely debt free, those trips and prized possessions are going to hold me until that time where I can jump at seat/stuff sales again as a financially free person should I still wish to.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Electricity Use Update

We got 2 electricity bills in the mail lately. One for our main house, the other for the cottage. I've been looking forward to them as I was sure we have managed to further reduce our usage this year vs. last year.

We have used 47% less electricity at home this month vs this month last year. Our actual electricity usage cost comes to $21.69 for June. (Incidentally, our water use -- same bill -- was $10.46 for June) So we are averaging less than $1 a day for water and electricity.

The explanation for the reduction comes from manually shutting off the hot water heater (ours is electric and owned), reverting to washing most dishes by hand (makes a difference even though our dishwasher is energy star), using our dehumidifier in the basement on an as needed bases and eliminating our use of an additional basement deep freezer. We also cook with gas. We have only used our central air conditioner for 1/2 hr so far this summer so August numbers may be higher.

For the cottage, we get bills quarterly. So, for the last 3 months, we have used $15.38 worth of electricity. We are slightly lower than last year but very close to the lowest we can go for that property. When we leave, the breakers are turned off.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


For the first time since I've started selling stuff, I feel regretful about letting a recent item go. I didn't have to sell it and couldn't imagine myself using it again but now that it is gone, I do.

One reason could be that I am starting to look at selling accessories that go along with that item and it has brought back memories.

It also turns out that D had experience with using that particular item and would have enjoyed using it too. He didn't tell me until yesterday.

I harboured some fear with respect to using that item so that was a motivator to sell too. (For some reason, I have visions of me breaking it and it snapping off and hurting me.)

As I have been tracking its delivery course, I saw that it arrived at its destination yesterday. The new owner is an avid participant in the sport so I know it is going to a great home where it will be used.

I can always buy another one if I feel really really strongly about it.

The funny thing is, with past items, even those that have a lot of history or energy attached to it, though I have felt sadness and grief, it did pass and I feel better afterwards and have not thought about them since.

It has served to show me the level of attachment I've developed to things. I've learned a lot about myself in the process.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Home Insurance

I've been busy this morning on the phone wanting some comparison information about the different categories of home insurance. I also wanted to know if our home was over insured.

Turns out it is yes and no. The insurer we use provides "bundles" of coverages that they try and sell you instead of giving the option of modifying each line item.

For example, I wanted to make sure we had $2 million liability but I was told I had the $2 million liability for the home and my car for this annual fee.

$2 million liability coverage for my car?! Why would I want that? And isn't that why I have car insurance?!

So, I was sent to look online for a further explanation of the different categories. The website isn't loading up well so I'll look into it later.

Meanwhile, I've downgraded our coverage from the "Platinum Plan" to the "Gold Plan" for just over $125 savings a year. It means I no longer have coverage for "mysterious disappearance of jewelery and money"....

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Health Observations

There are a couple of shocking health related observations I have about the younger generation around me. Maybe it is location specific...

Firstly, there are a growing number of teenagers that are tanning bed consumers. Incidentally, they all seem to get their hair done at the same salon (or basement of friend's home) as the colour is a similar shade of bleached blond.

As a health care practitioner, I am stunned by this. I thought public has progressed in the last decade?! Don't we all know about the dangers of tanning? Isn't that bleached blond, leather dark skin with light colour lipstick considered passe (80's)?

My second observation involves what I call general recreation. I have a hypothesis about how it is that when one transitions from being a teenager to a working adult that increased weight seem to follow.

In my area, a favorite pastime is getting together on Friday nights after a long week's work and socializing with a beverage or two with plenty of snacks. Then it is off to a different place for Saturday and Sunday. BBQ's are usually involved. Good times are had by all.

It doesn't take too many weeks of fun before the pounds get packed on -- fairly innocently. Everyone is having a great time. Not many notices the effects of an extra 1000 calories or more every weekend. Fast forward a year and all of a sudden everyone is 15 pounds heavier.

I used to think that it was a question of will power. Now I know it is an innocent byproduct of having fun and being social. Understanding this phenomenon has helped me tremendously in my ability to help people at work.

By the time people get to the point they are seeing me as a client, and everyone has a set point where they suddenly realize that the changes are too much, they are frustrated because they feel they have done nothing wrong and the thought of not being able to participate in social gatherings hurt them greatly.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Actually Believe It?

I am sorting out what it is about my associate that get my defenses up. He is the one who told my other associate that "I was in it for the wrong reasons" when I chose to cut back my work week.

Though I realize he is "old school" in thinking and believe that you need to put in the 50 hour weeks to prove dedication, there is something more than the overt disapproval look I feel from him.

He has taken to patronizing my other associate who happens to work the same number of hours I do. Why? Because he is after information about an alternate money making business. So he not so subtly is ultra friendly while forgetting basic politeness with others in the room.

I find his lack of tact disgusting. And considering that he is asking for help from someone who is at least $350000 in debt and is not a great money manager just shows me how off the mark he is.

Which brings me to another topic of discussion this week. Looks vs. Reality.

Why is it that some people come across like they actually Believe they Own a car that is leased, say they are heading up to their cottage when they are Renting etc. etc?

Or from my associate's perspective, Actually Believing that someone is wealthy because they have the required numbers of (usually leveraged) Lifestyle "Show to Others" Items?

I think that because I know a number of people who have recently lost their jobs I am hyper sensitive to this description distortion.

When you lose your job, it hits home very quickly the things that can be taken from you because you don't Own them ie. your house, car, furniture, anything that isn't paid for... One realizes very quickly just how much security one really has.

This particular associate is the oldest of all of us -- 43. The one he is patronizing is 37. So we are all part of a similar generation. It never fails me to be blown away at how different people are even within what I would think was a homogeneous sample.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Financial Goals Roundup

The numbers are in for last month and I exceeded my income expectations by $1070.38. All of which is going to the mortgage prepayment cause. Currently we own 52% of our house and ski condo and 100% of the cottage.

Our current mortgage cooperative goal / turning 40 financial plan is not to renew the mortgage when it comes up in 3 years or so and put the remainder in a line of credit (the rate is at prime)as we are hoping the outstanding balance at that time to be under $40000. This amount should take about a year for us to clear.

Our yearly savings goals have been shrunk to $20000/yr ($5000 each in our non tax account, $5000 in my non registered and $5000 automatically deducted from D's pay) for the next 3 yrs in order to make this plan a reality. We are skipping our registered retirement accounts for now.

This depends heavily on my income and D's job security. Jobs are getting scarce in my neck of the woods and more jobs are scheduled to be lost in surrounding areas which may impact on my business. You can only plan what you can and move from there.

The above would be the best case scenario. If I should win a lottery, that would make things different. I guess I would have to bring myself to buy a ticket first... : )

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Waking Up

I'm laughing at how my morning got started.

D and I were woken up by a rogue fire alarm in our house around 4 am. I think it was trying to tell us the battery needed replacing (thank goodness, not because of a real fire!).

I fell back asleep til just before 9am and woke to D telling me about someone who was interested in one of our higher priced items who was a Nigerian scammer...(I'm still not quite awake at this point!)

Now, D has just told me about how much cable will cost out west. He has been lobbying for it since we are out there 5 1/2 weeks this year. It will cost around $250.

I started laughing. I couldn't help it. I think the cable cost is ridiculous. So I left it to him that is he can get the condo rented for a week, then we can have cable.

Otherwise I'd rather spend $250 in other ways... like 5 dance lessons or 5 cello lessons... : ) Now, let me slowly wake up in peace!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Turning 40 in 3 years

For some reason my up and coming 40th birthday is becoming mentally significant. No other age has stood out before.

I tend to think of life transition in terms of life events ie. graduation, graduation again, first job etc. etc. not as a number.

A large number of my friends are much older than me because age doesn't matter to me. I am attracted to a person's spirit and zest. Most of them have more energy and vibrancy than people much younger I know.

So why suddenly am I fixated on turning 40 in 3 years?

A large part appears to be my expectations of where thought I ought to be by then.

When I was in my late 20's I expected to be debt free and semi retired by mid thirties. I did manage to get there but plans have grown and changed since I met and married D.

I am a bit dissatisfied that there is still debt in my life even though it isn't really my debt. We are working on that. The lower interest rates brought on by the current economy has benefited us.

We are reducing our savings amount for the next 3 years to accomplish the mortgage repayment goal and I worry some of the opportunity lost not investing more during a down market.

I feel a bit weighed down by responsibilities at work and at home. I am currently selling things to lighten up and restarted a health plan to combat this.

I cannot change the unsupportive people I work with so I am changing my approach to them so they do not drain me of my reserves.

So there is this insane urgency to "get it all together" in the next 3 years so I can start my next decade of life freer. Strange!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back At It

Heading to the post office this morning to ship another couple of items I sold yesterday. Netted around $250 out of the deals once you factor out shipping and paypal costs.

The best part of the selling stuff? Making people happy! When you buy from a store, the store doesn't usually see it but when dealing with another person, you can and it is great when it happens.

Haven't made a decision about the lessons yet. Cannot seem to bear parting with money these days. I continue to scour the spreadsheet looking for openings that could fund it!

Monday, July 6, 2009


My mind is has been a flurry of activity since last night when I found out about a couple of learning opportunities.

I have a chance to learn to play the cello with the lead cellist of a symphony orchestra.

Cello teachers are not an easy group of people to find. I had to teach myself while waiting for the Conservatory to call me back about availability years ago (they never did) and had written the whole thing off since then.

Second, I have a chance to learn ballroom dance again with a professional instructor and competitive dancer who just moved into the area from Montreal. I studied ballroom for 1 1/2 years and loved it.

If it weren't for poor business management of the school, I would still be there. My ballroom shoes/heels were one of the few things I wouldn't sell as I was holding out for a future opportunity.

So my mind is in a tizzy right now.

I am thinking of the cost of these activities (lessons are not even close to being cheap) and I am also thinking of my soul cost of not taking up these opportunities when it is staring me in the face...

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I've noticed lately that events have turned out way better than I was anticipating. What I was anticipating wasn't very good.

I believe it is the universe coaxing me to believe that the best will happen, even though it may end up being a totally different form than I had wanted.

The outcome in all 3 events/interaction I was kind of dreading was not only surprisingly positive but was in a form I would not have had the capacity to think/make up.

Ironically, one of the first things I bought for my office was a painted wooden sign which sits almost directly across from me that says "Believe".

The latest events have convinced me that my spiritual muscles needs some stretching!

I'll be away for the next few days. Back next week.

Happy Early July 4th to my American Bloggers and Readers!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day!!!

Happy Canada Day to fellow Canadian Bloggers and Readers!!!

As a country, Canada is beautiful and I have yet to see it all. Canadians are known world over as being accommodating and polite, even bit pushoverish.

We have big open spaces, varying geography as well as vibrant cities. One can choose many different ways of living. Standard of living is pretty high. It is still possible to find really good value in real estate, even in our large cities, compared to places in Europe.

It is our climate that most people are surprised about. We don't all live in igloos and around where I live, it can be as warm as the Caribbean here!