Friday, April 29, 2011

Odd Jobs

The flashing as well as the roof over our sun room is getting old and is in need of replacement. We have experienced some leakage along the edge of an exposed brick wall. As our flooring is tile, it didn't case any damage.

D is pretty handy. Has done some roofing but doesn't feel confident about the flashing part. So I am in the midst of looking for a contractor to get the job done. I'm not expecting this to be an expensive job as the roof area is small.

We lucked out on finding a fellow to remove a tree at the cottage for a reasonable price. The last dead tree we took down cost $475. This one is coming in at $282.50, much better.

D is making another attempt this year to open the cottage without professional help. Fingers crossed all the elements will be in alignment and the savings will be around $200.

We have various "working accounts" in place to handle small fixes without any hesitation. Large scale jobs like entire roofs, car, furnace, hot water heater replacement etc. are funded from our non registered accounts.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Better Health

Stress and I are not strangers. I can get so stressed I need to take a homeopathic stress remedy to calm me down. About 12 yrs ago, I had my first anxiety attack.

I live (and I think a lot of others do too) with a certain level of background stress. It isn't until I have free time, vacation time, walking or running time I tune into just how stressed out I really am.

My normal behavior is to override it and keep going. I'll catch up with it/myself later. Not the most healthy coping habit.

The single most thing that stresses me most is money -- How to continue earning it happily. Followed closely by how my management of it affects my relationship with D.

He feels I'm too strict. I'm tense from forcing myself to be strict. My refusal to believe we are OK and will be OK. It hinders the level of enjoyment I have in my work. A big vicious circle.

I have no big answers other than to enact some small stress reduction changes. Little by little they will add up to major significance and better health.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sad Day

D's uncle died suddenly last week. He was 67 yrs old and retired a couple of years ago after a long and fruitful career running his own construction company. Happily married for decades with healthy children and grandchildren.

They has just come home from their vacation down south when he fell over and was taken to the hospital. He died 2 days later from advanced lung cancer no one knew he had. They had plans to tour the States in their motor home. The one big purchase they worked so hard to attain. It was a sad day.

The subject of stress has been on the top of most people's conversation and the concept of waiting til what the "normal" acceptable retirement age to begin living. Most times when the subject of early retirement would come up, most people roll their eyes at us. Not so that day.

I noticed a significant increase in interest about our plans, especially when we are able to talk in terms of short time lines. It's much easier to comprehend a 2 - 5 yr time span vs 25 yr.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Clean Out Continues

Declutter your mind, declutter your life. Declutter your house, declutter your life etc. etc.

So far so good. I've got good momentum and am finding myself willingly doing stuff to D's continued amazement.

It has been incredible just how much stuff I'm pulling out of my head's thing's to do list. Things I've been carrying around with me for years.

I must admit, it has been therapeutic, even for a quasi minimalist like me.

It has been a great trip down memory lane as well. Sorting through piles of legal paperwork uncovered old real estate listings and bank papers. I even had the advertisement of my townhome condo.

Looking at old mortgage papers made us chuckle when we looked at our signing rates of 6.1% vs our 2 and change % now.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Clean Out

I'm off this week and will spend it de-cluttering and organizing home, cottage and my life.

Talking myself out of taking a trip this week felt like I was volunteering for a root canal. In the big scheme of things, it really is a minor thing.

What got me through it was the feeling I have reached another "ceiling" in my life and I must do the work to break through it in order to reach the next new level.

D is utterly amazed with me. Who are you, he asked. I've put off a whole lot of things/decisions about our home, some for the 3 years we've been here and he had given up trying to get me engaged in discussions.

I'm capable of learning, however slow!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


It is set. My colleague and I will be moving offices for July 1st. Everything has been inked and signed. We are very excited as it will be a better long term business move.

There is much less stress with this one as our business model will not change. Nothing much changes other than a more central location with better parking. It is my hope to finish up my career here.

My recent car purchase will cause some shifting of assets in my NWIQ chart. The depreciable assets (oh well!) goes up while non registered account balances goes down.

As D and I are splitting on this purchase and he doesn't want to cash out his non registered stocks, he will be carrying a line of credit balance for the next year or so. I'm paying for my half outright.

No new news about my pregnant friend's plight. Her partner hasn't made any attempts to reach out to her. She is trying hard to keep a positive outlook for the baby's sake.

D and I feel so strongly about her we are thinking of setting up an RESP/savings account as our gift to the baby.

Happy Easter Everyone!!!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Drudged Up

Is it silly to be sad about leaving your first car? I'm feeling very nostalgic over it. It has been in my life for 14 yrs and represented not only my first car but my freedom and ticket to independent life. I am used to it.

D says it will go to a great new home and will serve the next person really well. That doesn't make me feel much better. It's just that it is so well designed for someone practical like me. I dislike center consoles and it is one of the few that doesn't have one.

I guess I'm one of those people who get attached to things. At various points, I reverted back to wanting to fix it. Then D gets on his mini rampage about how it is time to move on to a safer, newer car. Something that has that better stereo you want. Something that has a bit more pep than 125HP.

That it is OK to spend money on yourself and show your success a little. I will own up to that. No one but a handful of people and a whole lot of bloggers knows that I do all this travelling and own more than one home.

How I dress certainly doesn't give anything away. I do use a few nice purses though but it would be interpreted as fairly normal as a lot of women splurge on a nice purse.

But a snappy car draws attention and I'm not used to that. D thinks I ought to get used to some of that and to feel proud of myself for my hard work over the years.

I come from a culture where it is very normal to show success with material things. I've rebelled against it for most of my life. If I was "normal" according to upbringing, I'd be on my 4th car by now and own a giant executive house with a 3 - 4 car garage in the suburbs of Toronto.

My family considers me "poor" because I have driven the same car for 14 yrs and because I do not shop at Holt Renfrew and Bayview Village. Thus my not so great relationship with them. They would consider the fact that I have been looking to buy a used car as cause for concern. It's just not a successful thing to do. I disagree.

Because I've chosen to live differently from them means I have been cut off from my family all this time. They withdrew from me so that I could learn just how tough life is and learn their approach is right. I bought a small SUV because I needed the room to move myself out of the house while they stood watching.

They have been hoping I would come back to them after being defeated by life and beg to be taken back. It hasn't happened yet and I don't expect it to. I have too much pride and I've worked too hard for that to happen. It's amazing how much stuff gets drudged up because of a car purchase.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

All Ready

Finally got my retina scan done for my Nexus account. It was a bit of a process as for some reason, the computer wasn't able to capture mine easily. So 12 tries later and me almost blinded, I was done.

Then they walk you through a simulation of how you get through passport control and immigration. That part was easy enough and literally takes 2 minutes. We'll get to test it out next time we travel.

The car dealer is willing to take my car in as a trade for a very minimal amount of money. D feels we can sell it privately for much more. I like the convenience of being able to drop off an old car and swap it for your new one, especially when the dealer is 1 1/2 hr away. We are going to give it til Wed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Contrasting Day

Friday was a day of contrasts!

I start it by putting a counter offer on a nice used luxury automobile. An hour later, I find out my offer was accepted.

I sign up for salsa lessons and an art class, all to start in May.

The middle of my day came with news of a friend's son being diagnosed with some form of liver disease. He is currently undergoing extensive testing.

I end the day with news from a dear friend who is 7 months pregnant that she has left her partner due to his ongoing drug habit.

As she is kinda dependent on his income, I don't know how she will be able to afford diapers, daycare etc. Thank goodness she has family nearby who will pitch in.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Clean Out

My spring clean out has officially started. A half garbage bag of clothing is destined for donation. Next step will be paper recycling and book donation.

Tonight will be pretty quiet. Our dinner guests ended up getting sick so we issued a rain check. Consequently we have a ton of leftovers which freeze well.

I have a burning desire to tie up all the various loose ends that exist in my life. From hemming pants to sorting through piles of stuff.

If I end up staying home for my holiday, I'll be doing more of that. Believe it or not, I'm actually excited at the prospect of it.

I haven't cancelled anything yet as I am giving myself the option of a last minute take off. My absolute deadline is Wed. If I overdo the clean out, I may just want to take off.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Disposable Housing

D works with someone who is in the process of buying and selling their 4th house. Each time they do it, they've lost money. We don't get it.

The first time, it was because they realized they didn't like old houses as much as they thought.

The second time, it was because the new house didn't have enough character and felt bland.

The third time, it was because they wanted to try moving out to the country for some more space and then found it too isolating.

Now, the forth time, they want to be in a city where there are more services and are hoping the perfect house will finally be found.

Each of the homes have needed $20K - $25K worth of work so that has meant an equity line of credit which eventually gets wrapped into the next mortgage.

The time frames of house ownership have been between 2 - 4 years with the ages of this couple in the 30's.

If there was ever a scenario of "disposable housing", this is it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


It is a 3 mortgage payment month. Because D gets paid bi-weekly, we don't need to make any special plans or arrangements.

Back when I was on my own, I did have to build up extra as I got paid bi-monthly. I don't miss those days.

It is a good week for self care. I'm treating myself to a facial this morning and had a massage earlier in the week.

Believe it or not, I still haven't made a call on my vacation yet. I just know I'm taking the time off regardless. The thought of having time to organize my life at home is tempting right now.

Haven't made any decisions about my car either. This has not been a good month for making up my mind it seems.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Gift Card

I'm not one to buy for the express purpose of getting a reward but tonight we were at our local drug store and a poster advertised a $20 gas card if we spent $75.

We were there to see if our vitamins were really on sale. I needed to get some face cream plus other household stuff. And another big reason to go was so I could prepay for the Harry Potter DVD coming out this week.

All in all, we ended up spending around $95 and received the gas card. It was a lucky stumble upon tonight. With gasoline prices on the up and up, a gas card is a valued reward for preplanned spending.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sharing Space

Well, it looks like I'll be moving offices again. In our search for new space ever since finding out our current building is undergoing zoning changes, we stumbled on a pretty incredible office sharing deal.

The person who is leasing the space is wanting to share it as it is not being used part of the time. Business wise, she works in the same sector as me so is complimentary.

Best part is the rent. She has calculated it based on amount used. That's pretty amazing. Because I work part time hours, my rent would be $500/month and I wouldn't even have to buy most supplies or clean.

I like the office very much. It's small and professional. Nicer than what I have right now and the location is much better. It wouldn't have been anything I'd sign up for myself because I would have found the entire lease too expensive but a share of it is amazing.

Ideally, I'd like to finish my career in this location. And she isn't going anywhere for a long time as there is a 2nd child on the way and her spouse is a prominent self employed professional in town. Plus they just bought a house.

Another visit or 2 and I may be inking a deal. My current lease is up at the end of June.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Portable Internet

We signed up for the "turbo hub" (portable Internet device) and tested it out at the cottage this weekend.

Our verdict is, with one computer, slightly slower than home but will work just fine. With 2 laptops, it slows down quite a bit.

D found out there is an antenna you can buy which is supposed to boost signals so we'll see how that works once it comes in.

We lucked out with the set up cost. The hubs were just marked down a day before we arrived to buy it so we got to save $20. We signed up for a 2 year contract at about $35/month.

This hub will be replacing our Internet at the ski condo. Yearly costs are still higher though.

The real gain is the ability to go to the cottage on a Thursday night as D works remote Fridays allowing us to avoid the typical Friday night cottage traffic. That in itself will raise our quality of living.

And on long weekends, we would just come home on the Sunday, again avoiding traffic and getting time at home too, rather than rolling into town the day before going back to work.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Interesting Turn

The mechanic's estimate for my car came to $1200 taxes in consisting of my rear brakes, a new battery, and a couple of tie rods with alignment after.

None of which are really pressing. I brought my car home to think about it and paid the $35 check up bill.

D gets a call from the mechanic yesterday inquiring if I wanted to sell my car as he has a customer looking for something his son can drive for the next 4 years at university.

This was a long time customer who trusted the opinion of the shop keeper who thought of us as he knew my car. We suggested a price of $2500 and I'd throw in my set of 4 Blizzaks (no rims) which are good for another season or 2. He said he was interested.

I felt pretty flattered. D thought it was a sign I needed to finally let go of my old car and move onto my next vehicle.

It made me sad to think of giving her up. Mind you, I was sad too throwing out my long time favourite pair of pants a month ago.

If I can muster up some time today, I'm going to test drive a few more used cars.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Don't Get It

(It's my car's turn to be in today. Crossing fingers it won't cost more than it is worth. I can still sell mine for around $2500.)

This seems to be the month for a lot of my girlfriends' kids' birthdays. So I've been hearing a lot of moaning and groaning about how much kids' birthday parties are costing these days -- around $2000.

Normally, I wouldn't speak up about things like this as we don't have kids so don't understand the need for 1st, 2nd, 3rd birthday parties but when the subject of party budget came up, I felt the need to voice my opinion as a 3rd party observer.

We covered a number of good points. One was why are you even doing this? The most common reason was for the pictures so that when their kids grow up, they can look back at what their 1st birthday party consisted of.

My view was a 1 yr old doesn't care about their birthday. And I don't think a 16 yr old looking back at 1 yr old birthday photos are going to care much either. If you are doing it so that your kid won't accuse you of being a bad parent for not doing it, then you need to question your definition of "good parent".

Well, that went over well. I think this falls under the same umbrella as substituting a baby for a doll or playing house with a real house or planning a wedding without realizing what marriage means.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Car Stuff Update

Quick post this morning as I have a meeting to fly to shortly.

Just got a phone call from D, whose wagon is in for snow tire removal. Apparently they have found a loose ball joint as well as some cracked belts. Total fix price $550.

Something told me yesterday not to put that leftover $1000 towards the mortgage just yet...glad I listened.

It was supposed to have been my car going in today but we just got back into car hunt mode so will be postponing it until we find out more.

Finally test drove a 328i, 335i and a couple of Cayennes S's. I ran out of gas before we got to the A4s and S4s.

I can understand now, how the test drives alone can talk someone into sign papers right away. Those cars sell themselves. I've learned a lot about the differences between Japanese vs German power.

No decision yet on my trip. I will need to make up my mind this week.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Keep It Coming

A few days ago, I posted about putting some extra savings into our mortgage prepayment. Well, the origin of the savings is D's tax account for when he worked contract for 6 months last year.

He had put aside too much money, it turns out.

Today, he told me there is another $800 left from that account after filing and paying his taxes. Great news I said! But it gets better.

This year, we got our cottage closing for free. It is the 2nd time in the 8 yrs we've owned it. We'll take it, we said! The amount we saved is a little over $200.

Finally, D got a call for some part time contract work lasting 6 - 8 weeks. He has accepted which means some extra spending money for us.

When there is leftover regular income, it does towards debt repayment. The $1000 minus my car repair (rear brakes) will go towards mortgage.

When there is extra income, it gets split between us as fun money. I pop my share into my dream account.