Thursday, July 29, 2010

Last Day!

Last working day of the month for me. Heading up to the cottage bright and early tomorrow for a 4 day long weekend. Planning to go to the beach and later on, the drive in to see 3 movies and eat lots of french fries and onion rings... life is good!

I'm getting over a small viral flu bug. No sneezing or coughing but it has done a good job decreasing my energy levels to 60% all week. I feel much peppier today. Guess I shouldn't be surprised with everything that has gone down this month.

I will admit that at one point this week, I started dreaming of buying a small cabin somewhere and running away again... when I got overwhelmed and fed up -- a natural reaction for me -- I always seem to gravitate to real estate... :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Future Options

My bookkeeping duties have expanded since I moved to my new office. There are deposits to be deposited after each business day. There are receipts to write and more bills to pay.

So how has the income part compared to what I was used to previously?

It is around $1600 more than what I would have taken home because the higher overhead at my old office.

So now I have a couple of options swimming in my head which assumes the volume of business will continue to stay steady.

The first option is to continue working at my current speed and net more each month, pay off stuff faster. I exercised this option this month.

The second option is to cut back my work hours such that I make the same as what I had previously and reap the rewards of more time and one less working day. Very tempting.

My brain says it is too soon to tell and too soon to make changes like this. August could turn out to be a bust so until my current formula has shown proven success, just hang tight.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Little Things

I'm getting very close to be able to get my 8 inches of hair cut off for our local cancer society.

Right now it is a matter of having enough time to even go out and get a hair cut. Hoping it will happen next week.

When this work week is done, we'll have put our first month in the new office behind us. It has been successful and starting to feel somewhat "normal" now.

The only thing I'm not looking forward to is the electricity bill with the summer being so warm this year.

It seems like I'm noticing the yearly increases of various expenses more so this year than previous. Little things have a way of adding up.

Not sure why, but I just received notice of some of my regular monthly expenses go up by close to $7 a month and it made me stop and notice.

I'm probably just hyper aware right now as I am still working through a lot of expenses that pop up day to day in the business.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Good News

It will be a long weekend for us Canadians this week. I've decided to take Friday off (yeah!) so we can head up to the cottage for 4 days. The weather is supposed to be less hot and humid, a welcomed relief from all the humidity as of late.

D was officially offered a full time position with his company last Friday. It wasn't supposed to happen until his contract came to an end in October but we are not complaining. Having pension matching, benefits and a signing bonus are good things to have sooner.

What this will mean is that our plans for France in the fall will not work. We were going to go for a couple of week after his contract ended, before full time started. Now that he is converted earlier (as early as a few weeks from now), the holiday prorated time starts and he won't be eligible for that much time off the remainder of the year.

The amount his is allowed, he wants it to go towards our time out west. He has been staring at his ski pass ever since it arrived and cannot wait until ski session. The rest of us think he is out of his mind. I haven't had enough walks on the beach yet.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Looking for Balance Again

My new mortgage amounts based on the Bank of Canada recent quarter point increase were posted this morning. The house mortgage payment is going up by $4.96 a payment while the ski condo has gone up by $1.60 a payment.

Last time, the quarter point increase translated to $5.20 and $1.69 respectively.

I was grumbling a bit to D last night about how many waking hours I spend on "work" now and if this was really all that worth it. Sure I have money coming in but that isn't usually enough for me. I don't even have a day off planned for the summer anymore!

He kindly reminded me that I didn't plan for all of this to happen. They left me really with no choice but to leave. Another couple of people have resigned. They have called an emergency meeting with the few that are left to convince them to stay, I'm guessing.

I waver between accepting my current situation and outright outrage. Being a true entrepreneur is hard work. My previous work scenario was the "Coles Notes" version of self employed. I'm having to step up now and I don't always like it. Now I understand how people can spend 50, 60 hrs a week working.

The pendulum will end up more in the middle soon...I hope :)

Meanwhile, I'm ready to take a couple of days off.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Just Plugging Along

The Bank of Canada's rate announcement will be happening later on this morning. Most people now are saying "increase"! There are 3 more of these scheduled announcements before the end of the year. You can see how it can be scary for some people who are already pushed to their limits.

We are in the 2nd half of the mortgage paying game where we pay way more principle than interest so if the rate increases, the effects aren't that extreme for us. Plus we are paying it off aggressively so each rate increase will be on a significantly lowered mortgage amount. I'm planning as if they are going to increase each opportunity they have, just in case.

A client of mine has a side business of coating asphalt driveways. They came by to do ours yesterday at a cost of $147. Other quotes I've gotten were in the $80 range for labour if you provide your own supplies. They did a great job and our driveway sorely needed it. We won't be able to drive on it for another day yet so it can cure properly.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My First Blog Award

It was nice to end the week with a message from Emma Lee with news of a top 25 retirement blog award for me.

Thank you very much Emma and Dennis and to all of my readers for hanging in there with me over the last couple of years!

Top Retirement Blog
Online MBA

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Definitely Not Fun

Wow, what a week. As it is summer vacation for kids, my colleague and I both had new clients who brought along their children to appointments. Didn't think that was an issue until they got here.

Some of them were literally hell on wheels...who decided that emptying my bookshelves would be a cool thing to do or screaming at the top of their lungs when they didn't get their way...

The best part, in both cases, the parents did nothing. As my new office is much smaller, sound and disruption feels more magnified and of course there is the touchy subject of how to tell parents that their kids' behaviour is not acceptable in this environment. Luckily, after the 4th outburst, one parent snapped out of it and took action.

I will not be sterilizing my work environment or turn it into one giant playroom. In fact, I was so traumatized by the whole ordeal I am considering referring them to someone else should the next appointment be as crazy as the last one.

It is also tempting to cancel them altogether and not let them come back. No amount of money is worth that level of outburst, disruption and minutes off my life. Seriously, I wanted to give them back their money if that could have helped.

And this may mean I will no longer take on young families who have to come as a group as clients. There are other places with adequate staff and space and are better suited to large families than what I have set up now. That is just a limitation I have in my current situation.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Communications Expense

I was talking to a mom of a couple of teenagers who was complaining about the lack of student jobs out there this summer as there are a lot of adults who have had to take those jobs. The economy in our area is still slumped.

Her daughter really needs the job so that she can pay her mom back for the large cell phone bill she had racked up -- in the tune of $350 for 1 month of texting etc. Apparently she didn't read the fine print of her plan.

Being a new cell phone plan owner myself, I wanted to know who they were with, what plan did they have and why such high usage?

Of course when the "why such high usage?" question came around, they looked at me like I had 4 heads, as if it was obvious...everyone has a cell phone and if you are anyone, you have someone to talk to and many people who would want to talk to you...

My 2nd month of the plan ends next week and I've used just over 1100 mins this month, again with no minutes for personal use. I payed for my phone after seeing just over 2 clients.

The technology enables me to do business and make money. I wouldn't have a plan otherwise. I just don't see why a high school student would need a cell phone plan that costs $50/month minimum. It is a pure expense with no real gain. Maybe I'm just not social enough to understand.

When you calculate how much people can potentially spend on the area of "communications" each month, it can be staggering. This category can include cable, home phone, Internet, cell phone, satellite, data sticks, data plans, web hosting, domain registration, online ads...

I guess that is the new reality.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Banking Hiccup

There are days where things do not run easily and no amount of pushing will help. It's easier just to step back and let it go, put it on another day's "to do" list.

I'm having a partial one of those days. I say partial because I consider myself wise enough to back off at the first taste of such resistance.

I made 3 bank deposits last week. I made one last night and it got chosen to be "held" for some unknown reason.

After talking to a bank representative and having been told the "book" explanation, they still couldn't answer why the discrepancy or is this going to happen again?

Now I have someone I know at the bank working on for me and am waiting for the call back.

I'm thinking I'll be told that my sudden frequency of deposits have triggered some security at the computer level and hopefully it can be reset to accommodate my new deposit reality.

Monday, July 12, 2010


D and I had a conversation about when one "peaks" this past weekend. The topic came up as we noticed some people driving around and walking around dressed and looking like they stepped out of the 70's.

D's dad had an interesting take on it. He believes that those people drive the cars they do and dress like they do because it was at that point in time when they felt the best about themselves ie. the most good looking, successful, popular etc. and they wish to continue to "capture" it.

What do you think? Does that make sense? Is the concept depressing as peaking may connotate everything else that comes after is subpar?

If that was true, I peaked work and looks wise when I was 17 years old. I was in a co-op position as a Jr architectural technologist, dressed very professionally, wore makeup, made not much money but was giddy with happiness.

So much so, I looked forward to going to work, even though it meant a 2 1/2 hr bus and subway commute each way. It wasn't my first job, I just loved the work. I decided not to continue in that career path because I wanted more job stability. Funny, self employment isn't really the pinnacle of job stability...

Since then I've made much more money doing what I am doing right now, which has nothing to do with architecture but I've never felt that level of giddiness for work since. I experience a lot of satisfaction from helping people whereas I didn't work one on one with people back then.

I dress more casually now. Rarely do I wear 2 1/2 inch heels anymore. And I do not spend $100 on a haircut nor wear a lot of makeup. Maybe somewhere along the line, I felt I had less to prove though I do miss the clothes and the haircuts.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Almost There

End of the week. One more work day today. It has been a huge accomplishment to make it through this week. So can I retire now? I asked D that and he said not yet.

We are off to the cottage for the weekend. Hoping to do some beach walking and maybe some swimming and whole lot of relaxing.

The pay check was for half, like I budgeted for. So we'll have to go back to pick up the final one in a couple of weeks.

Our ad came out yesterday. It looked great and the number of hits on our website also skyrocketed as well. I want to keep the momentum going.

Have a great weekend Everyone!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Time Out

I took last night off. D and I both needed it and throwing a small dinner party was as good an excuse as any. Though the topic of work did come up, it was a relief not to be doing any work for a change.

Reminded me of what my non work life was like again. You know what? I enjoyed that dinner party so much more because of how hard I've been working. It was neat to feel so intently enjoying myself.

The mystery of the last cheque will reveal itself today. One cheque or 2? Who knows? I've budgeted for 2 anyways as I do not expect them to do me any favours at this point.

The community paper where our ad was placed didn't arrive yesterday as I had expected. If it doesn't show up today, I'll be calling to see what the delay is all about. I also haven't been charged for it yet so not sure what is going on.

The next Bank of Canada rate announcement isn't for another 1 1/2 weeks and there is talk out there supporting a slower rate of increase as markets have been dropping. I've budgeted for it rising so it will be a nice surprise if they don't.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tired & Warm but Good

We are in the midst of a massive heat wave here in Southern Ontario. I've done my best with using the AC sparingly. When our next hydro bill comes, we'll be able to see how successful our efforts have been.

D and I walked to the bank after my work last night to put in the day's deposits. It felt strange and my mind was thinking it wasn't much money so I wasn't feeling particularly enthusiastic. I enjoyed the walk.

In reality, I have been used to thinking of my income as a monthly total paid bi-monthly, never a daily total. The daily numbers are supposed to be relatively smaller.

It's all perception and what I've been used to, that's all. Plus I'm impatient to see how the month turns out.

Apparently there was a group meeting where I used to work to tell everyone left to put their game faces on and that there is a great relationship between them and me still... (oh brother)

Some of my coworkers came by yesterday to wish us well and brought us some flowers and plants. What a great boost that was!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Car & Cell Phone

Our car insurance premium renewal came yesterday and I was a bit nervous opening it.

It was good news -- only an increase of $1.62 a month! We'll take it. My colleague's wife got hers and likely because of an accident whereby there was a total vehicle write off, her insurance more than doubled -- Ouch!

Today I get to call Bell about my cell phone bill again. I get to talk to the manager this time. Hopefully my plan will get sorted out properly. My visit to the store didn't get me too far.

According to my usage records since my last bill 2 weeks ago, I've already used 775 minutes. Crazy, for someone who've never had a cell phone plan before and I've not used it to talk to anyone I know personally. It's been all business.

My plan is for 600 minutes a month but the promotion was for unlimited for 6 months, which is why I took it as I figured on doing a lot of notification calling.

The unlimited part is what is missing and I was billed for the difference last month. I don't want to be calling every month to fix things.

Monday, July 5, 2010

On Budgets & New Work

We were at Costco this weekend and a thought came to me. Bulk shopping has a big impact on cash flow. I know, obvious, but being surrounded by shopping carts full of stuff when you are the only one buying 1 thing at the time, really sent the message home.

How do people budget for huge food and household purchases like that? I know for us, it wouldn't work well. Our food budget wouldn't go very far there.

Sure, there are some great savings to be had. That's why we are members. You almost need a totally separate account for those once a week/month etc. purchases for "stocking up". We don't have such an account so when we do do a big shop there, it uses up our food account for the month.

The surprises haven't stopped. I may not get all of my pay at once after all. They are still "thinking about it". In reality, I know the pay cheques have already been calculated and ready to go so it may be a control/passive aggressive thing to keep me in limbo.

If truth be told, this kind of stuff just gets me more motivated to do better.

My first solo work day went pretty well. A few forgetful moments and doing the new things out of order but all in all, I was satisfied and relieved. Money wise, I made $5 less than if I was still working where I was -- Almost on par with instant cash flow.

Let's hope it will be sustainable which will mean I've transitioned my business successfully.

Friday, July 2, 2010

First Day

First day of new business today. Kinda nervous. I guess I'm worried people won't be able to find me or will forget. I must give people more credit.

It's one of those situations where once I start, I'll be fine. Considering it has nothing to do with my ability to do my work. It's totally a mental wig out thing.

I'm glad D is working from home today. I will have support close.

My last cheque will be available next week. Can't wait.

I am so grateful for D for all of his work and effort with helping me set everything up. He has gone above and beyond what his role is, even for a spouse.

There aren't enough words to express my gratitude for everything he has done. Though, I have a feeling if I offered to buy him a WRX, he'd be quite giddy.

I've even had clients volunteer to help me move. You cannot ask for kinder gestures than that. Even friends and colleagues have gone out to their way in their offerings to help.

Part of my nervousness is likely due to not wanting to let anyone down.

And Thank You, my readers for bearing with me through all this. Nothing fun about this topic and I hope to be able to write about other things other than work soon!