Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Odds & Sods

The roof over our sun room needs to be replaced according to D. I haven't gotten around to calling our trusted roofer for a quote. It's a small job that D and a friend (who owes him a roof job) can do but D has too much on his plate so it will be a hire out job this time.

We finally decided that growing vegetables are not our forte. We definitely spent more money on buying pots, soil, plants etc than we got back in produce. What we did get to eat was great but it just wasn't enough to be sustainable. So it will be back to supporting local farmers next year.

With the summer BBQ season, I've noticed our meat consumption go up and the way I feel, go down. Could be all the stress of my work change this summer too. But I'm back on the reduced meat band wagon. Come to think of it, it could also be all the ice cream I've been eating too.... :)

End of summer sparks a lot of summer sales. D and I managed to pick up some summer work clothing on drastic sale from stores we'd never buy from otherwise.

I've decided on a work strategy. As I am loving the shorten work week, I will be doing my best to schedule myself this way first and only use the extra day when there is no other way around it.

Income wise, we've just gone through (last day today) what is traditionally two of the slowest months of the year. My income has been on target and slightly above.

If the regular work cycle follows, it will get busier come the fall. And if I've managed this last month working 3 less days... then it is looking good for future sustainability. At least that is what I tell myself. Time will tell.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Planning Ahead

The trip is booked. We are going back to France in the fall. D got confirmation of his pro-rated allowed time off as well as confirmed details of working remote at Christmas time.

All this added up to him being able to take a week off. So we are booked. It is going to be paid for with his signing bonus.

A couple of capital expenses potentially loom for the fall/winter as well. We are pricing out snow blowers and winter tires and rims. It will likely end up costing just under $2000 for both.

D's new wagon is equipped with new all season tires. We may see how they work before springing for winter ones.

Depending on the type of winter we get and the amount of work we wish to do, a snow blower may not be needed.

I guess it will depend if I want to be out there shovelling before 8:30 am. Right now, the answer is no. All I would be wanting to do is walkways and sidewalks. I won't have time to handle driveways.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Side Tracked

One of the things I've noticed since making my work move to a new location is that I seem to be more sedentary than before. I'm driving and sitting more because of extra administrative work and with various errands. Getting daily exercise has risen in my daily priorities.

It's a cottage weekend as last weekend ended up being different than planned. I got sick and almost literally in D's new to him car. As you can imagine, he was in quite a panic trying to get me an appropriate barf bag.

We ended up getting off the highway and checking into the first hotel we could find. I battled a stomach flu for about 48 hrs and has recovered since. I can't seem to eat as much since. Probably my stomach shrank a bit -- doesn't hurt my feelings...

Happy Weekend Everyone!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Fall Trip Planning

D and I are close to deciding on a fall time week off trip. We have come up with a top 5 list of places as well as their relative cost.

The question comes down to whether I can afford the time off and if we wish to be speaking a different language other than English.

Iceland isn't on the list even though I found a fabulous direct flight there from Canada. D is just not interest in going there in October. I would go back in a heart beat.

Money wise, we both have enough in our dream account to cover our share. I have enough leftover euro from previous trips I wouldn't have to get anymore should we go the Europe route. We just need to decide.

Part of my hesitancy is because I haven't totally come to trust my colleague to be able to take over my administrative duties when I'm gone. I'm sure they can do it but I worry about their focus.

We'll be wrapping up our 2nd work month shortly. August has gone by faster than July, it seems. Lots to think about this weekend.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mortgage Update

We are officially done with this year's prepayments on our main mortgage -- to the tune of $23100. We won't be allowed to start again until end of Sept. So, I'll be channelling available monies to our other mortgage in the meantime.

The goal with the other one is to pay it down enough such that the amortization matches the remaining term. Right now it is 2 yrs 9 months and we are at 3 yrs 6 months. We started with a 12 yr amortization 3 yrs ago and it is through prepayments we have been able to knock off the time remaining.

With the main house, it is a much bigger job. We sit at 4 yrs 2 months and aiming for 2 years 1 month. In order to achieve this we have sacrificed any rsp savings this past yr and for the next 2 years.

We will be hitting the maximum allowed on the smaller mortgage by the end of Sept. just in time to start on the bigger one again.

I'm still confident that we ought to be very close or bang on finishing both in time to avoid re-mortgaging. D and I were discussing just how much we've been through this year so far, with both of our jobs changing.

Getting through all that has made us feel stronger and I do not stress as much with the above like I used to. It will all get sorted out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Potentially Great News!

We got some potentially great news from the "fine print" of D's full time job information booklet. I say potentially because D cannot access that part of the employee computer system until his 3 month probation ends in mid Nov.

The news is in regard to his pension. We were under the impression that he is taking part in an defined contribution plan whereby his work will pay a percentage of pay into an investment account and he would contribute a percentage as well ie. 6 and 6.

But the fine print is saying he is now a part of a defined benefit plan whereby the pension is determined by a formula that takes into consideration number of years worked, maximum salary years and some other factor.

This is the type of pension everyone wants to get. It is what I consider to be a real pension. The kind that teachers, public servants, police officers etc. get.

I'm still in shock. D doesn't think his pension will be as good as a police officer's but I say anything will help and once confirmed, it will change the amount we have to put away for retirement. This has the potential of freeing up a lot of our cash flow.

What we have planned when the mortgages are paid off in a couple of years was to kick into heavy retirement savings gear. If we can pare down the amount we have to save by 30 - 40%, heck, even 20%, that changes our world significantly. Fingers are crossed for good news.

Friday, August 20, 2010

End of the Week!

D and took cashed out $4000 each from each of our non registered accounts to pay for the Outback. That is on top of the trade in. We hold some of our non registered investments with ING. Last year, I complained about how long it takes for them to buy/sell vs. my broker.

Lo and behold, the money showed up today in our checking account. I initiated the sale on Monday so that is record time for them. The bank draft for the purchase came off of our line of credit. I was going to move things from savings but I have things slotted such it would have caused a headache to do so.

The transfer from checking to saving (different banks) should happen by Wed next week so I'll end up paying 8 - 9 days worth of interest. It's worth avoiding a headache.

My colleague and D are trying to talk me into cutting back a day. I guess my wear and tear is showing. I'm still confident that the tiredness is temporary so I'll just wait and see. News on the street is that 2 more people have decided to leave my old work place. That will make 8 out of 11 of us. You cannot tell me that won't impact their cash flow, despite their nonchalant attitude.

Today is a perfect day for drying laundry outside. Even though this summer has been very humid most of the time out our way, there has only been a few occasions where it was too humid for clothes to dry and we either postponed laundry or used the dryer because we had to have it.

Have a great day today and a great weekend!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mortgage Options

A friend of mine and his spouse just re-negotiated their mortgage on a new to them home of 3 yr in order to incorporate a couple of renovation loans. The bank pitched them on the idea of one giant LOC instead of a traditional mortgage.

There is a growing trend of people I know who have gone that route. I was thinking of the pros and cons of that the other day.

The pro is that you can get everything you owe consolidated into such a loan and when managed under one big umbrella, and with one rate, it is easier and can save interest.

Continuing on the saving interest front, when income gets put into this account, it gets to work on all the debt all at once, right away, and you save interest that way too as you will not need to worry about when the timing was on all the different loans.

One of the first companies to offer such a product is Manulife. It's called Manulife One. Last I checked, there was a fee to get this set up.

The biggest con I can think of with this way of managing debt is the lack of a hard deadline.

With a traditional mortgage, you have set terms and amortization. That builds in some discipline for most people. When the debt is somewhat free flowing, I can see there is possibility to take debt repayment too casually and it is easy for the years to just go by.

Depending on the person or couple, it can be a dangerous thing to be involved with. Banks etc. will sell people on the flexibility of it and how during low cash flow times, it will not demand as high a payment as a mortgage would as it will allow you to pay interest only...

We are too far along the mortgage road to consider such a product. If we were starting out, I wouldn't go this route. I like and hate the structure of a mortgage in that I find it too inflexible some days but it keeps me directed and that is valuable to me.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Plugging Along

My solo day went well yesterday. It was busy. Today is easier and I can catch up on paperwork.

I'm liking these extra "banking days" since I am now doing business deposits after work. The next morning I have a chance to distribute the monies to the various accounts. When I got paid bi-monthly, I'd have to wait. OK, call me a nerd...

I have a massage booked later on tonight. It will be first time I'll be using D's new benefit plan. Very much looking forward to it. I go once a month whether I feel like I need it or not. They always managed to find something.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Solo Day

I'm on my own today. My colleague is off so it will be me running the whole show. I knew sooner or later this was going to happen. They are probably wondering when it will be their turn at it too.

Not sure why I'm a bit nervous. I do most if not all of the stuff anyways from turning on the lights, the a/c etc. but having another body there is nice though, to bounce ideas off of and talk to. Plus it makes me feel more secure knowing I'm not the only one there looking after the money and stuff.

Part of D's work status transition to full time from contract will mean he will get the remainder of his contract pay at the same time as his new pay starts -- a bit more cash flow. With the recent car purchase, I'm putting all extra monies back into savings to build it up again.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New to Us Car

Long story, but we are picking up a new to us car today. It is a 2004 Subaru Outback wagon with 96000 km on it. We bought it on Saturday for $11500 and will be trading in D's 2005 Honda Civic Coupe, with 125000 km.

The reason for the swap, considering we just bought the Civic last summer (almost to the day) was that D had a couple of incidents with his car last week neither one of us are happy about. The car didn't perform well under semi emergency maneuvers.

Add to it my back hurts after riding in it after 2hrs and the decision to make a change was fairly easy. Perhaps the newer Civics have better suspension and ride but the one we have allows us to feel every little line on the road. Not good after a meal.

Because it is still in great shape, we got a good trade in amount for it. The difference will be paid with savings.

I just secured insurance for the Subaru. Despite it being a more expensive car, it is actually cheaper to insure as it isn't nearly the target to be stolen like Civics are. We will be saving just over $19 a month.

D is really excited at the prospect of owning his first "old man" wagon. He joked that he will now need to buy himself a Tilley hat....

It is also a good choice as my vehicle is getting up there in age, unlike the used Infinity G35x I almost took on a test drive...

However we will be sacrificing the great gas mileage we have gotten used to with the Civic for all wheel drive and extra safety features.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's Over

***I just read an article at Iceland Review about a DVD that is out about an Icelandic Horse named Kraftur (means Power). Here is the trailer for it. I am going to buy the documentary. Made me teary eyed. The facebook fan page has some great pictures.***

My adult TV debut was yesterday. I'm pretty positive I hyperventilated the entire time. My colleague who was supposed to have been there was running late so I had to do the interview by myself despite my trying to stall things.

I thought we were going to have some sort of a script but it was not done that way. He had forgotten to print off the list of questions I sent...and wanted us to just wing it. A control freak like me has a hard time with stuff like that especially when what comes out of my mouth will be permanently recorded.

The camera was going to be on the entire time and we had one shot at it. Great, I thought. Plus I couldn't look directly at the camera, instead at my interviewer who was running the camera. I felt my eyes wanting to move towards the lens...probably made for a "neat" effect... oh brother!

My microphone I had to feed under my clothes fell off but was easily fixed. I'm sure my face was really red the whole time as the camera was really close to my face. He asked some basic questions and some tougher ones too. I just kept talking.

So my associate got there right in the last minute of my thanking the viewers and clients for their time. The crew took some shots of the office and then left. Then the party began.

I did drink 1 1/2 glasses of wine after. Ate some super hor d'oeuvres and felt much better. We had a great showing at the open house. I think everyone had a good time. D is hoping we'll throw another one at Christmas time.

I am taking the next 4 Fridays off. That's as much as I can manage this summer with all the changes. D is officially converted to full time next Monday. And we are expecting his first pay check from this new contract job any time. Things are good!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


A business hiccup came today from Purolator. I was expecting a parcel again last Friday and didn't receive it. Saw the truck go by twice and the message on the tracking page said that my address needed to be verified.

The address was correct. UPS and Canpar made their deliveries just fine earlier. Forty minutes later, the driver was supposed to try again before 6pm. So I sat waiting for 2 hours and nothing.

Yesterday morning I was told all the info exchanged on Friday didn't get put into the system and that is why the parcel status was still the same. Not impressed.

The company that sent the parcel has bent over backwards to help me. They told me it was to be delivered yesterday. Purolator told me today. I told them I didn't care, as long as they were going to try again and not send it back.

It came yesterday. This was the first issue I've had with Purolator in 13 yrs. Not a bad track record at all, just not the most efficient handling.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Crazy Times

Last night's dinner out represented the last of my "holiday while working" treat. As the bills started to trickle in, I am reminded of how much I used to spend in the dining out category.

There were many months back 7 - 8 years ago where I would eat out 2 - 3 times a week with an average bill of $75. D and I spent $64 last night. That's like 2 for 1!

I still gasp when I get to look at old credit card statements, usually when it is tax info shredding time.

I'm in a bit of a panic as we were notified yesterday of an opportunity for the new office to be featured in the local community news next week.

I haven't been on TV since I was on student council in middle school, standing there to present our school's fund raising efforts...

It's supposed to be only a 5 minute segment and we get to submit questions for them to ask but still, a bit nerve wrecking.

It's a good thing it will on the same day as our open house. I'm going to need a drink after that!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Clipping Along

We ended up missing out on the drive in over the long weekend and will try for it again this Friday night. I need to remember to keep fun things in my life.

In a few weeks we are hosting a small get together for people we used to work with. Now that most of us have gone separate ways, it is nice to come together and catch up and chat about business ideas and issues.

This week has been spent finalizing print and online ads with YellowPages. I just paid for the contract yesterday so all is well there.

I'm also a little behind in sending out Thank You notes for people who have referred other people. They are all done now and just need stamps.

One sign that I'm mentally in a better place is that I've started looking for places to go again. That is a good thing. D thinks he can swing a getaway after all in the fall if his proposal for working remote is accepted.

We won't know for probably another month. There aren't any massive seat sales going on right now so no huge rush to take action.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sort of Staycation?

My second cell phone bill came and it came again with some glaring errors worth about $40. The store manager is on vacation and should be back this week so I'm hoping for another once and for all correction.

Apparently now, I'm told that my plan wasn't eligible for the promotions I was promised when I signed up...so the store manager will need to override the system in order for those errors to go away.

D's paperwork for full time conversion came and he will be getting a signing bonus as well. By the time the tax man gets his share, the remainder of the bonus will be enough to pay some of my business fees due at the end of the year.

Had I not change my place of work, I'd be on vacation this week. Last night a light bulb went on and I declared I was going to treat this week like I'm on vacation so we went out for sushi and had a great time.

This is as close to having a "paid" vacation as I've ever had. Silly, I know, but the mental switch framed things in a much more fun way. We are going for Vietnamese food tonight. Just in case you haven't noticed, food is a big part of a vacation for me... :)

We won't end up spending anywhere close to what I'll be making this week so there will be money left over. How's that for a sort of working staycation!?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Online Banking Blip

I do most of my banking online. Canada has a great online banking system and it is very convenient -- when everything works well, which it does most of the time.

I've recently hit a hiccup. One of my bill payments is floating in the banking never land.

Usually when I pay a bill, the monies are received in about 4 business days or so. This bill payment went out on the 19th of July and has not yet been received at the other end.

So on the phone I go and I call where the monies were supposed to go first to make sure it didn't just arrive. Nope, they do not see it on their end.

Next call is to where the monies originated from and they confirm it was sent on the 19th and I am told it is the destination's fault as their system has not "collected" it.

So an inquiry has been launched which will take up to 2 weeks. The amount in question is $695 and I was advised to pay it again in order not to be charged interest.

Lucky for me, it was supposed to be a payment for charges to come so there isn't a rush or I'd be livid about the error.