Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Last working day of the month. It looks like I've surpassed my goal amount again this month. By how much will be determined by how busy I am today and I won't know until I show up later today.

I tend to think in terms of a month at a time for goal/income setting purposes. I know how many working days I have each month and approximately what that can mean for income. Some days I wish I got a salary but come tax time, I am grateful I am self employed as we do get more favorable tax treatment.

We sold a set of speakers for $150 a few days ago and our list of available inventory is shrinking. There have been a few new items popping up and a few I've decided to donate if they are not sold by a certain time. It has been surprising just how much we are selling to people out of town that require shipping. I would have thought most if not all sales would be to local people.

We were visiting some great people over the weekend and they are more appropriately described as my "parents". I have gained many sets of "parents" over the years -- people who love and care and want for me the best, like our real parents.

This couple is my inspiration and the topic of world travel came up. They have been around the world twice -- each time for a year -- before they had children. We were discussing the pros and cons of that in today's society.

Surprisingly enough, they felt that it is more difficult to do that today than it was during their time as the pace of life and competition they felt, were faster and higher so you would be left really behind after a trip like that. I would have thought they would wholeheartedly agree a year off before going into a career be mandatory!

I can see that their point was, they were working in government and teaching respectively at that point and were able to take their 2 sabbaticals without fear of losing their jobs and they had saved up before going in the first place.

That led to me telling them what the latest rendition of my retirement vision was -- To teach skiing for the entire season and then use the money to travel for the rest of the year. The main house and or the cottage would be sold meaning a chunk of money in the bank along with retirement savings that wouldn't need to be touched much at all. I would be a citizen of the world. Something to look forward to in the next decade or so.

Monday, June 29, 2009


I have been asked how D has managed to come around to the whole idea of me contributing to the mortgage when earlier in the year, it was a point of contention ie. he saw it as his responsibility, so back off.

He does claim it as his responsibility and we are keeping track of the amount I have contributed above and beyond 50%. So far it amounts to around $22500.

So what will happen?

Once the mortgages are done, I may start drawing an amount each month from our general revenue account until we equalize. I may use it and invest in something.

There are loads of options but right now it is a paper transaction that allows me to help out towards a common goal and the agreement allows him to feel good about things too -- a win win situation.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Get Stronger

It has been a tough and busy month. Paid work has been gratefully busy and I am a sore and achy from not stretching enough.

Selling stuff and re-organizing finances is like having 2 part time jobs so by the time I leave to walk to work after lunch, I've already been working since 7:30 am and my paid work won't wrap up until 7:30 pm!

I am definitely feeling it after this month.

When I get drawn out, I take it as a sign that something needs changing. Either I back off or I get stronger. I'm thinking stronger.

I'm going to spend some time this weekend looking at my health routine and seeing where I've slacked off, eaten poorly or not enough and go from there.

As I tell my clients, the goal is to be stronger than the worst thing you do to yourself...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Yeah Friday!

Except for a loaf of my current love -- the cranberry chocolate artisan bread, we now bake sour dough, rye and multigrain by either the bread maker or oven. They taste great and we have not missed buying regular bread at all.

I haven't calculated if we actually save money or not when accounting for the electricity the bread maker uses or the gas our gas oven uses... I guess we just feel good about doing it ourselves, that's all.

The other day, I threatened D that I will sell our pasta maker if we do not start using it! That no stone shall be left unturned in our house now that I am on a selling rampage! He thinks he'll come home one day to see an ad for himself and Cedric!

Now that we are into the warmer season (I had a challenging walk to work yesterday, with high temperatures and humidity -- 38 degrees Celsius -- and because I start work at 1 pm, I walk during the hottest time of the day), we have noticed our gasoline usage creeping up.

Extra trips to the cottage, extra social outings etc. We haven't chosen to limit activities but it is more an observation.

With our new commitment towards the mortgage, our yearly holiday schedule will consist of 4 1/2 weeks skiing, 1 1/2 weeks cottage for D. For me, 4 1/2 weeks skiing, 3 weeks cottage, 1 week solo trip and 1/2 week extra, probably at home.

I'm not sure if D actually believes me but I brought up renting out our vacation properties again. Remember that he vetoed it due to my reluctance? Now that I have gotten the taste of selling stuff and feeling good about it, I suggested that we revisit the concept of getting ready to rent the ski condo this coming season.

I am not ready mentally for the cottage yet but winter is far enough away that I can get my head around it. He said he'd get back to me about it...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sobering Thoughts

I asked D to create a new spreadsheet for me the other day and the results were quite depressing. It was designed to show our cash flow when I move to a 2 day work week -- not pretty.

Even if I took out most of our leisure activities, I could not make it work. The reason? The mortgages and our savings goals were too ambitious. There was no leeway to live.

I figured that I was D's backup until the mortgages are done and this sheet made me realize that I was not just casual backup, I was mandatory backup.

Unless of course we move into real estate selling mode and I'm not quite ready for that yet.

Sometimes I find it easier to function when I do not have a choice. Sound strange? It helps me settle my mind since I have a propensity to think too much. On some level, there is peace with "it is what it is".

The 8 year or less timeline coincides with D getting another week's holiday so it will be great to celebrate that and the increased cash flow.

From now til the end of the year we have freed up enough cash flow from trips etc. to put about $10000 towards mortgage prepayments. My march towards the 2 days work week has begun.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Prepayments Revisted

Yeah! The other buyer did come through and made the purchase yesterday. $55 was the result.

I've been busy this morning playing around with mortgage calculators to determine what effect our up and coming prepayments will make and if it will be worth it. So far it seems to be.

We know that when the renewal comes in 3 years or so, that mortgage rates will likely be higher. I am factoring that in and looking at what the payments will be at 3.5, 4 and 5% over a 5 year term.

I don't want to go longer than that to finish what is left but I want to make sure that the payments will fit what D is currently paying -- because if it doesn't, I will have to step in and I don't want to do that.

So the trick will be to put enough prepayment monies towards it so that the amount left in 3 years or so will fit nicely in a 5 year term.

Paid bi-weekly, the overall amortization will be 4 yrs 7 months with no prepayments and much quicker with. That will be my job.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tired but Good

I have probably spent way to much time on the spreadsheets lately. Though something really good has come out of it, I am still tired. A break from it is in order. It feels like it ought to be a Thursday instead of Tuesday!

We will be extending our Christmas vacation by a week so that we would not need to be flying out west twice in the winter. The difference in ski days is 3 days for a savings of 2 flights and transfers!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Life Beyond Selling

I did end up sending an email yesterday to the slow response buyer. I worried that I would come across too pushy but it was good for my peace of mind. Another email went out to someone who had expressed interest but I had delayed due to the above slow response person.

What will become of it? I don't know, but I feel better about establishing healthier boundaries. I sometimes think that Internet dealings have the potential for allowing personal laxity that otherwise may or may not occur if we were dealing face to face.

My budget spreadsheet had a major overhaul due to the recent trip changes. So far, 2010 and 2011 will look fairly similar. We are making more use of the cottage and ski condo. I am going to look into converting some foreign currency I have into Canadian dollars so it can be put into savings and work for us now, rather than just sitting there.

On a fun note, we started watching the Harry Potter movie series yesterday in anticipation of the next film opening soon. I have been a late adapter to the books and movies -- just last year! I can certainly understand why there is such a large following.

Can't wait until Transformers opens either! To top it off, an old fashion ice cream truck came by our neighbourhood -- the ones that have that circus like jingle playing -- and I got a Spiderman popsicle -- hard to describe but it was of the face and there were 2 gumballs that were the eyes and the red and blue tasted like red and blue slush! It was Yummy!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Selling Sagas

I am frustrated with this one person who I am awaiting payment for a couple of items. Meanwhile I have another person who I have put off since last Thursday because of what I thought was a pending deal.

Maybe I'm just too nice about this. I am thinking of writing him back and saying that I am pursuing my next lead because I have not heard back since last Wednesday. This sale may not be worth it me. He has had previous recent feedback stating that he was slow with communication.

How slow is too slow? I had already fallen for the single dad sob story. Is this yet another version of a bad buyer?

On a much more pleasant note, Happy Fathers Day!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009


We are biting the cancellation bullet for the remainder of our trips this year. I am on hold with Air Canada as I type to finish off the airfare part of it.

I have to admit that it has been a difficult decision even though logically it makes a lot of sense. My desire for adventure is very strong but luckily, so is my desire to reach my savings goals.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Spending More or Less

D and I treated ourselves to a rare dinner out (nowadays!) to celebrate our latest sale windfall. The topic of our upcoming vacations away came up. He isn't keen on not going and would like to go on one and cancel one as his first choice.

So we ended up discussing how much each trip would cost ie. how much we would save by not going, how satisfying it would be to be so close to meeting our working account amounts. That wasn't getting us anywhere.

Then I thought of something. How about tallying up how much our current yearly vacations to ski and cottage would cost, market value?

I was frustrated and didn't want to feel as if I was the bad person here. Plus I thought D was acting a bit spoiled!

It came to $24000 / yr! Based on how much it would be to rent a similar ski condo, seasons passes and to rent our own cottage based on the rates we were going to charge had we gone ahead with the rental idea.

The figure above does not include mortgage payments, food, transfers or any of my solo trips this year to Newfoundland and Alaska nor the trip to NL we didn't go on.

In reality, our current lifestyle could not have been afforded by D if he was still single and he knows it. I saw the light bulb go on.

I suggested that we could each get a lump sum yearly to spend on travel of our choice based on our income ratios if he felt that was fairer but that would mean a 50% decrease in skiing and 0% extra vacations. He opted to leave things as they are.

I thought it was a great exercise because it made both of us feel that our travel spending is more than adequate and not spending another $10000 in the latter half of this year make a lot of sense and not seem like a sacrifice.

However the cancellation fees will amount to just over $1000.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Continuing the Clean Out

Haven't made a firm decision about holiday location changes yet -- though I have reworked it on my day timer to see what effects it has on the rest of the year. I tend to see things in terms of overall time distribution.

Made another sale yesterday worth $465 and put out another 3 items this morning. I am pacing myself now. Makes for a more pleasant experience. There is one sale pending but I won't count my chickens before they hatch.

The items I shipped out last week all made it there and were picked up. What a relief as we were trying to meet a deadline for this one buyer. I know my responsibility ends when I ship and email the tracking number but I have been tracking it as well to make sure.

I am liking this spring clean out/garage sale!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How Far to Go

As much as I like taking the middle line with things, I am on an upswing right now with respect to paying off debt. Now that D and I have an "understanding" about mortgage prepayments, I have switched modes and the game to get it done faster has started.

Not very middle way of me and I'm sure I'll wear myself out and swing back down to a more balanced zone but right now, I'm enjoying it.

Part of this upswing has brought forth discussion on just how far are we willing to take this debt reduction thing? Enough to consider canceling trips?

We are currently looking at what fees would be charged and how much we would be saving by not spending regardless of whether the trip is a deal or not. This is a novel approach for me.

Luckily the alternative isn't so bad. Now that the cottage has been newly painted and the new mattress doesn't make my back feel bad, our last 5 days there has been wonderful.

It was nice to see the weekenders go home and have the entire beach to ourselves. Even managed to get a bit of sun despite using a 45 SPF.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Finally Over

The dream is over. I have decided to finally let go of my Newfoundland ownership quest.

It came about a few days ago when I was sitting peacefully in my sun room. I was feeling very content with how things were going in our lives and how well the spreadsheets and retirement planning was situated. Things are balanced well right now.

I realized that I did not wish to mess with it. That I did not want anymore, to expend the energy to search, view, inquire, set up accounts, buy stuff to enable this dream of mine to come to life.

I realize that each step is a stepping stone towards or away from things and perhaps my recent foray into selling stuff was the tipping point I needed to see that I do not want to buy anything that would mean buying even more stuff.

Being hugely fond of due diligence, I had already made contact with the insurance broker who would be providing the home insurance, the local township offices about taxes, water, garbage services, local plumber about closing down the place when I'm not there, landscapers to maintain the property so the neighbours wouldn't hate us, furniture stores who offer delivery, carpet stores to replace old carpeting, cleaners who would be willing to provide seasonal service, a lawyer to handle the closing and the local utilities about account start up fees. etc. etc. etc.

To top that, I had started manipulating the spreadsheets to incorporate all these new line items as part of our yearly life. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. It was too much. For years, I loved the thought of doing it and playing around with the possibilities and felt I had the capacity to manage it, but not now.

D and I was supposed to leave early tomorrow morning for Newfoundland.

My Realtor was very understanding and joked that he had ordered a week of great weather in anticipation of our arrival. The proprietor of the B & B I stayed at during my last trip was also very kind and did not charge a last minute cancellation fee. I would have happily paid it but I think he knows I'll be back for a real vacation sometime in the future.

We have decided to head up to the cottage instead to enjoy what we already have. Back end of next week.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mortage Decision

I believe D and I have finally come to an agreement with the whole his mortgage vs. my mortgage payment issue.

For those who have just joined in, a little background. When D and I got together, we both had assets. Our current real estate holdings are split 50:50 and I have already paid for my half. The existing mortgage (8 yr 8 month amortization) is technically D's responsibility. He doesn't want me to interfere in what he believes is his responsibility even though my joining in would mean a quicker end date.

What I've been doing is creating our retirement and multilevel emergency savings. So on paper, our net worth is going up because of savings vs. mortgage repayment. Because right now, we are enjoying a ridiculously low rate of 1.35% (home) and 1.50% (ski condo), going for a larger gain in conservative investments is making sense.

So here's the new deal. When the smaller mortgage comes up for renewal in 4 years (1.50%), we are not going to renew because the amount left will be around $24000. It will be paid off using my line of credit whereby I will be the one responsible for finishing it off. I may choose to cash in some of our investments I'm buying right now or I may just pay it off using income.

What that will mean is that D can use all of his income to handle the remainder of the mortgage and we will end up well under the total 8 yr 8 month mark.

Meanwhile, any monies left over after maxing out our yearly savings plan goes into prepayment of the smaller mortgage so that I will end up with less to deal with in 4 years. I just put in about $350 last night. Knowing me, I will do my best to pay off the small mortgage before it comes up for renewal.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Generosity Backfire

D was surprised this hasn't happened sooner but I had my first contact with an unreasonable potential buyer for some of my stuff.

He not only gave me the sob story of him being a single dad etc. and he wanted to give this item to his daughter... The old softy me, having marked down this otherwise new item down by 50%, proceeded to reduce it by another 40% so he could afford it.

Then the bickering started. We are talking less than $4 here folks. He wanted the shipping billed to the penny and wanted to disregard my cost of packaging and doing business ie. the paypal fees, the packaging fees and the gas, time and effort to get to the post office so that he could buy this item at a bargain because I felt for his cause.

After his 3rd email, I decided not to do business with him. He had the gall to write back to ask me to contact him if I changed my mind.

I'd rather donate the item than sell it to him. To me, it seemed like he was being hugely ungrateful. I certainly do not need the money as much as he apparently does.

If less than $4 is enough to put him over the edge, then maybe he is trying to wear a hat that is too big for his head. He ought to consider an item/label that is within his comfort range so that he wouldn't have to go to such embarrassing lengths to make ends meet.

Personally, I would not be inclined to put myself out there like that to try and gain sympathy so that I can buy something I cannot afford. I also wouldn't expect someone to make a special case for me. Perhaps I wasn't really doing him a favour by being generous.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


I do not particularly like the act of waiting.

When I'm on vacation and am waiting for a plane or a train, I'm really good.

When there are 3 pending sales, not so good. I am waiting for my paypal account to register monies deposited and am waiting for a price to be finalized and am waiting til Friday when another item is delivered and sold.

Potential total amount of sales this week -- $1100 -- which will bring the grand total sales to around $4200 for the last 2 weeks. I am running out of things to sell.

I thought of something yesterday as I was impatiently waiting for confirmation.

That I am going through the process of clearing out my "estate" while I am still alive. Interesting concept.

Before I realized that I had enough things of value that were worth selling, ie. the scrap gold jewellery, I just assumed that I would lug it around and just hold onto it. After all, it isn't heavy or inconvenient.

Had I done that, and never got around to deciding its fate, my executors would be the ones who would have the job of going through the stuff and doing essentially the same thing. Or worse, have an auctioneer come in and get pennies for everything in the house.

It suddenly made sense in a big picture way, why it is great I am doing this now. I might as well be benefiting from the sale of my unused stuff now when I could use the money then leave it for others to deal with when I'm gone.

In a way, it is like that exercise you read about, where you are asked to write your own obituary. What of you, do you want to leave behind and how do you wish to be remembered?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Do It Yourself?

I'm sure that I am not the only one realize this connection -- that self sufficiency saves money. For me, knowing that and really knowing that and choosing to live that have been quite different.

I grew up with both parents working in blue collar jobs. They were adamant that I do not go there and my dad went as far as not allowing me to apply for a summer job where he worked so that I wouldn't get my hands dirty. I wasn't too happy with that.

So I had it in my mind that manual work was beneath mental work. I thought that mindset is a bit silly as I happen to enjoy raking, mowing the lawn and painting the house. I've even gone as far as do body work on a car. By the way, that fiberglass stuff really, really stinks!

When I met D, he brought the whole do it yourself thing to a whole new level. Having worked in construction for the summers while in school and having a dad that was an electrician, gave him skills that were far superior to the stuff I dabbled on.

He wasn't afraid to try something he hadn't personally done before because he was confident that he could figure it out...like plumbing... I was nervous about that because I have a thing with leaks. He managed to do it and I was impressed.

Nowadays, I believe that if we are physically capable of doing something, then why not? If the math doesn't add up, then choose differently but our first notion is try it ourselves first.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Fun Times with Selling Stuff

I have to admit that I never thought I would find selling stuff so enjoyable. To be honest, for some reason I felt guilty about it. I'm good with the concept of trading in a car for another one at a dealer (I have yet to do so though...) but other than that, I tend to prefer giving things away.

I feel that because I make a decent income, I "should not" want more than that. The concept made me feel like I was not being generous.

Perhaps it is a cultural thing. My family didn't believe in garage sales and didn't understand the concept of sifting through other peoples' cast offs. They also lumped antiques under the same idea. So I feel I've been unduly influenced by that.

One of D and I's favorite pastimes is visiting various antique markets and stores. We like seeing design and history in the pieces.

My absolute love is with French antiques. We have a side board (Louis XIV), wardrobe and a roll top bookcase all from France. Two of them are made of walnut with one done with a beautiful inlay pattern. They are not for sale!

Today's Bank of Canada rate announcement is a good one. They are maintaining the current lowered lending rate. Our mortgage stays as it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Monthly Round Up

Month end time again. I beat my target for May and will end up $732.65 ahead than budgeted for. Nice to get a bonus. It will be used to top up the car working account to make up for the recent brake line replacement.

Overall, I'm pretty pleased at how my investments are coming back to life. I'm still behind with respect to the paper value but not as much as I was. To get back to breaking even,
  • my retirement account has 18% to go
  • my non registered account has 3.5% to go

The market drop has made me aware of the importance of a stronger cash position. We have taken steps to create that this year.

My new tax free saving account is doing well. I opted to invest in an index fund and it is currently yielding just over 9%.

Yesterday was the first day I actually thought about eating out. In the end we didn't. Funny what a year can do to change a way of life.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Too many phone calls yesterday almost gave me a headache. The results?

With respect to the item purchased 1 1/2 yrs ago, technically, I was still covered under the extended Visa warranty, however, that matching warranty isn't identical to the manufacturer's one. Visa will not cover anything related to physical breakdown.

So, I asked the agent, what does it cover if not a breakdown? Did not, could not get a straight answer. I wouldn't have been calling if it was working... I couldn't think of a case where I would be wanting to put through a claim for something that was still working? So got nowhere with them.

I proceeded to call the store where I purchased the item and they were willing to entertain the idea of replacing it even though it is over 1 year old. I have since emailed them pictures of the defected area and am waiting for a reply. It would be great if it was solved this way. The item in question cost $1100 so not small dollars.

The next phone call was to another department of Visa travel services that dealt with baggage loss/delay which happened to me over Christmas for 5 days. Luckily I was going to my own place (ski condo) and there were clothing etc there but I had to buy another set of base layers because of my luggage delay.

It turns out they were willing to open a claim for me to get the money back. However, they needed a letter from Air Canada stating my baggage was delayed, the airline luggage stickers they put on when you check in, used boarding passes etc.

Well, I no longer have my used boarding passes nor luggage stickers nor was I thrilled at the prospect of calling the airline for a letter.

So consider warned. You will need to keep everything if you find yourself in a similar situation. If you do, you would be able to claim toiletries and various other expenses within 96 hours of baggage loss/delay. Good to know.

Monday, June 1, 2009


I'm going to attempting a couple of things today with my Visa company -- actually with an insurance company of my Visa company -- to talk about submitting a claim for something I purchased 1 1/2 yrs ago.

The item had a 1 year warranty and my Visa has a benefit that is supposed to extend the life of that warranty by another year. We'll see what the process is going to be like! Anyone have any experience with this?

The other issue with Visa or perhaps it will end up being with the airline, is a Travel Interruption claim for when it took me 16 hrs to get to Vancouver over Christmas and my luggage took 5 days to get to me whereby I had to buy a couple of articles of clothing to get me through. Again, don't know anything about if I would be eligible for anything but am going to ask anyway.

Decided that I'm not going to bother with selling my silver. After going through my inventory, there are more pieces I would still like to wear so until that changes, it won't be worth it for now. However, the gold rings will still be going...to the right buyer!

Back in the fall, I ordered some new blinds for the cottage from Sears. Since then, I seem to be receiving catalogue after catalogue in the mail. What a waste of paper. They will be receiving a call today too.

The real estate market in Newfoundland is pretty hot. 3 of the 5 houses I've been keeping an eye on have sold! I was hoping to make appointments for viewing during my next trip out. I'm a bit disappointed but I may not have ended up liking them...that's what I'm telling myself!