Friday, December 31, 2010

Sad News

We received some sad news this morning.

A colleague of D's died last night at age 40. He had been battling cancer for the last few years and had been given a clean bill of health.

Unfortunately it came back with a vengeance and things moved back too quickly. He is survived by his wife and 2 kids, both under the age of 10.

I haven't made it to my 40th birthday yet and when you hear of news like this, it really makes you think about how you are spending your time and how you are treating others along the way.

We will make it home in time for the funeral and visitation.

This is a reminder for all of us to live while we still can. Wishing you all a joyful and prosperous 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Just a Guess

It's just a hypothesis but I'm beginning to believe people show a lot of their personas on the ski hill, especially after getting off a ski lift.

We have been able to identify a number of personality types. I would venture as far as to postulate those traits may be similar in the way they handle money.

Here is my not so scientific take on things:

Persona A: The skier/boarder who quickly scrambles off to one side after falling. This person shows awareness and consideration. I would have more confidence this person would be considerate and careful in the other aspects of their lives. They appear to recognize that there is something to lose should an injury occur and also do not want to be a cause of one.

Persona B: The skier/boarder who stays where they are after falling, not look around and expect others to go around. No care or consideration for others or self. The world revolves around me. Huge ego. Nothing could possibly go wrong. I could see someone like this be adamant about being right. Not performing due diligence. Pride getting in the way of common sense.

Persona C: The skier/boarder who is lying down or kneeled right in the middle of a run where people are known to be approaching fast. Inviting danger. Extreme risk taker and gambler. D witnessed an accident the other day where someone got slammed hard and the results were pretty bloody. I'm thinking this type of person would be reckless with money. Easy come, easy go attitude. Believing they are stronger than they are and that they will always land on their feet.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Getting Organized

I don't really have anything to wrap up for 2010 that I've not said already. We'll be flying home in a few days and my 2011 work year will start soon enough.

Am I ready? Am I ever really ready is probably a better question! I'm not convinced I'm ever really ready to jump back into work. I just do it.

The 2011 travel plans are a much more interesting topic. The trips are not spread out as evenly as I'd like due to availability of deals and low season timing. I'm lucky I do not prefer scorching hot weather. The budget goes further this way.

This is the first time I ended one year with travel plans the following year sorted out and 90% paid for as well. Never have I been this organized.

Since my new office started, I've found I needed to be more efficient in my personal life because there isn't as much time anymore for casual searching.

My goal is to maintain a high work concentration next year and know that at certain points of the year, I'll get to see some cool new places and all I have to do is pack and get to the airport. The details are all set.

A whole lot of peace comes along with that.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Shocking Behaviours

D and I overheard 2 separate conversations by kids in the 8 - 9 yrs old range. (remember we are still out west skiing)

My snippet went like this:

(to their mom screaming) "Why are you so slow!!!" and "Why are you not getting my stuff in first!!!" (as they we walking down the hallway to their condo)

D's snippet went like this:

"My family only stays at 5 star hotels when we travel" , "My father owns 3% of a private plane company" and "The first time I got to fly on a private jet was when I got my money at age 1" (all during a ride up on a chair lift)

I would ashamed to have kids like the ones above.

The first one doesn't get how lucky they are just be able to spend Christmas skiing nor do they appreciate that mom isn't synonymous with slave.

The second one needs to learn that basic social conversational skills shouldn't include bragging.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Credit Card Expiry

I have 3 credit cards. A Visa, MC and an Amex. At one point in my life, I was down to one and got caught not having a pin for it in Europe about 10 yrs ago (before Cdn cards became pin cards) and Visa wouldn't give me one over the phone.

That's how I ended up getting the MC and Amex because they would. Because you never know when you'll be needing back up.

I'm in the midst of finalizing my last trip of 2011 when I noticed 2 of my 3 cards are expiring in Mar 2011. The last one (MC) in May 2011. That presents a bit of a pickle when you are hoping to take advantage of sales and make reservations later on the year.

I know my Visa company will not issue the new card until 2 weeks before. I cannot remember what MC does. Amex sends replacement cards the earliest, about 1 month before.

Making the situation more complicated than it ought to be, it would be nice to get some reward points for this trip which mean ideally, I'd like to use the Visa.

In the end, I will likely just use the MC as the trip I'm working on is at the end of April just so I can finalize things before the new year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Month / Year Wrap Up

D handles all of our monthly bills. They are deducted automatically from the checking account. He has just told me that the account has more money in it than it needs. Of course I stop in my tracks and give him a long look.

We could use the money in our savings accounts. And I like to end each month and year accurately. In the end, when he crunches out our January bills, that amount left over may be well under $1000 but money is money and we have use for it.

2010 has been a crazy environmental year. From the volcano eruption to earthquakes to the current flooding and mudslides in California. I watched an interview with a lady whose house is 1/3rd buried in mud after being flooded. She mentioned that she didn't have flood insurance so she has literally lost her home.

I know some homes are not eligible for flood insurance because the insurance company are not willing to take a risk in a known flood zone. Hopefully you find that out before you buy. For our cottage, because a stream sits in front of it, we were not able to buy flood insurance.

We weighted the risk with the size of the stream, first hand accounts of flooding from long time neighbours and decided we were willing to take the risk of purchasing the property. There is a crawlspace instead of basement.

I want to take this opportunity to wish Each and Everyone of you a Wonderful Holiday Season. Thank you for being Valued Readers and Contributors!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Looking Back and Ahead

I've been slightly under the weather the past few days so there was plenty to time available for me to work on my yearly spreadsheet. In fact I have the next 2 years kind of mapped out.

The reason being, 2012 is a pretty important year for us. It is the year my mortgage prepayments end and both mortgages get to coast to their term ends. We will then get to own both places after just 5 years. It may sound great but...

Would I recommend doing this? Not really. Just like I wouldn't necessarily recommend completing grade 10 level of piano. The sacrifices are great and there are plenty of opportunity to build an unhealthy level of resentment. I guess you need to know what you are getting into and have a spouse (if applicable) who is on board and can balance out views.

I finished my piano levels because that was part of the deal I made with my parents for them buying me a piano. I struck that deal as a 7 yr old and I felt obligated to stick with it.

I cannot say I am passionate about the instrument. I am good at it. Through the whole process, I did develop a love for learning and teaching music history as well as having the opportunity to nurture students over the period of the 7 yrs I taught. And it is the reason I have been able to have the post secondary education I do. For that I am eternally grateful.

The deal I made with myself and D regarding the quick mortgage payoff, was that I would do my best to use our pooled financial resources to achieve this goal. We first decided that it would be a worthy goal to achieve. That if I got too carried away (ie. too frugal or depriving), he would do his best to rein me in. (There wasn't a worry on his end). And I identified which years due to various circumstances would be tougher than others and why (mainly due to ambitious savings goals).

2009 was our most difficult year. It was the year where we needed to put in place emergency funds for all our properties and cars ($20000) alongside the prepayments ($23000). We cancelled a number to trips in order to reach our goals. I leaned heavily on this blog and all of you out there for support. Looking back, it wasn't very balanced. I had named this blog deliberately to remind myself to balance...

2010 has been much better. Without needing to put as much money into savings, we had opportunities to dust off some of our personal ambitions. We got to see great new places and D replaced his vehicle. We are still behind in the savings department but I'm not worried as the light at the end of tunnel is getting brighter and I know I would be able to catch up quickly.

2011 will be a hybrid sort of year. If everything falls into place, it will be an epic travel year as well as the final full year of prepayments. That means my income will be mostly savings after that. Originally I though I had half of 2012 ahead of me still. I had forgotten about D's yearly bonus (paid Jan 2012) which we are expecting to be able to pay for the remainder of prepayment needed as well as my 40th birthday trip. All of a sudden my timeline is a year. That is the best Christmas present ever!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Man vs Mother Nature

I've been following the numerous airport delays and closures. It is amazing just how disrupted this holiday travel season has been for many countries in Europe. The scale is mind boggling.

I'm sure many of you have heard the comments on the daily news. Most of the comments are frustrated in nature.

For D and I, should we ever find ourselves in the same predicament, we'd abort the trip altogether. Airlines will offer a refund or the ability to rebook for later.

It is easy for us to make this decision because we are not hung up on "the day". We would just visit another time.

I can understand for some people, there may not be the opportunity to move a holiday. But what can we do when mother nature doesn't behave in a way that coincides with our human plans? We are so small in comparison.

In other news, we are really enjoying the Knowledge Network this year. I've learned a lot from their great programming.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ungrateful People

It hardly seems possible that I've been off for 5 days already. The journey to get here involved a flight cancellation but we were put up at a really nice hotel courtesy of the airline. I have no complaints but I sure heard a lot of complaints from fellow air passengers.

Having experienced flight cancellations before due to weather, I know that airlines are not obliged to provide anything to you. However, we got food and hotel vouchers.

D and I both agreed that travelling during a major holiday brings one in contact with a lot of people who are not accustomed to travelling. So you end up needing extra time to deal with the sheer volume of people as well as getting through security because inevitably there are still many who do not realize there are liquid and gels restrictions.

One lady stood out because of loudness. I was checking D and I in at the complementary hotel when she (standing beside me) really laid into the fellow at the front desk for no reason. She was livid because she felt the airline didn't do enough for her. I turned and gave her a "what do you have to complain about" look.

The hotel even kept the otherwise closed restaurant open for the 9 of us who were involved in the flight delay. She even complained about how early she would have to get up for the free breakfast the next morning so that she could make it to her flight. Unbelievable.

Meanwhile D has his own rude adventure outside of the hotel by the shuttle that brought us from the airport to the hotel. Our luggage was the first to come off the bus and he witness everyone else just standing there while the really nice van driver climbed into the back of the van to push luggage out. No one came forward to pull their luggage off. They just stood there.

D ended up shuttling luggage out to people and did not hear one word of thanks nor did he witness anyone give the driver a tip. What is going on with people?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Savings & Cash Flow

D has been officially done probation since mid Nov. What that means is he is now allowed to participate in a whole host of savings plans which serve to augment his pension.

We have decided he is going to start with 2 of those -- The pension top up plan and the employee ownership plan. Basically it is taking advantage of the company's free money when you make a contribution.

I am still working on next year's cash flow projections based on my work numbers. To be conservative, I will likely make my income projections slimmer than what I've seen since starting on my own just in case.

The rental income I am getting from renting out my office space has increased our cash flow and should it continue for next year (I don't foresee an issue with this), we will be seeing more disposable income.

D is enthused about the idea of having more fun money whereas I am slightly concerned I will fall off the wagon with my spending. It is far too easy for me to spend money.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting Ready

It has been a time of numbers, numbers and more numbers in our household. Cash flow at the end of each year tend to be tighter than usual due to my finishing work early when our regular bills are still the same.

There are an assortment of one time bills due the first of Jan in the tune of a few thousand mostly for my work (I refuse to pay the penalty associated with making a couple of payments instead of one lump sum).

And despite not having more a couple of people to buy for Christmas, the Visa statement always seems more inflated than usual. I'm probably in denial over a few line items.

I have one more busy work day left and my holidays will start. The weekend consisted of some light packing and cleaning. I like coming home to a clean house and most if not all of our ski gear is already out there so we travel pretty light.

We've already done our last minute grocery shop for canned goods to bring out west with us so I can avoid grimacing at the thought of paying $2.95 for a simple can of chicken noodle soup.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Long View

The last Bank of Canada announcement kept the interest rate the same. I've already put next year's announcement dates in my day timer. I know...nerd!

I am forever amazed at people/couples who are able to take the long view on things. For example, D just toured the kitchen of a couple who finally got it re-vamped after living there for 8 years.

They have lived through one reno after another. It's amazing to watch. Their personalities make it work. That's not to say they haven't had their moments where they wished they had bought a new house but they got their house at a good time, paid a reasonable amount for it and saw the potential.

They also have no intentions of moving which in my mind, automatically makes them good candidates for building wealth.

Projecting myself onto this scene and D and I would likely never have gotten married in the first place much less have an opportunity to get divorced. I have patience for a lot of things but I would not willingly tolerate living in a construction zone for years. Living somewhere else while the construction was going on, OK.

I suppose it would be a more balanced approach to build something together over time. It is easier on cash flow and the budget. A more honest way of living perhaps? Compared to those of us who would buy everything so it can be set from day one?

It's an interesting mental debate because I am one of those who likes to be able to have everything set right off the bat. Because of that I drove myself crazy when we moved into our current house, having landscapers, masons and hvac guys all running around at the same time.

From a budget point of view, because I tend to those tendencies, I make sure I have the money for all that beforehand. So in that sense, we are similar to the couple above. The only difference being our money beforehand has to be a bigger amount so that it can cover all the work at the same time.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I've been really interested in reading about business lately and would recommend a couple of books you may find fascinating.
  • What They Teach You At Harvard Business School -- Philip Delves Broughton
  • Rigged: The true story of an Ivy league kid who changed the world of oil, from Wall Street to Dubai -- by Ben Mezrich

The amounts of money spoken about in the above books can be staggering. It' s a whole new world for me.

My income and life is small peanuts compared to what goes on in Big Business NYC. It's fun to get a partial glimpse into such a different world.

By the way, just saw the new Harry Potter movie and loved it. Thought it was the most beautifully made of all of them.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Long and Short Planning

The 2011 travel season is shaping up nicely. Not sure if the airlines are hurting or what but the number of good seat sales for next summer and fall are already being offered.

Even I feel pushed with considering something that far away. Needless to say there is always the issue of travel cash flow, locking away monies for long haul flights 8 - 9 months in advance.

D and I have been interviewing individuals and companies for office and home snow removal when when we are away. We've found someone nice who is well experienced in what we need to have done at a reasonable price.

This is my last full week of work. Next week will consist of only a couple of days and my holidays will begin. I have to put effort into keeping my head in the game for just a little while longer.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mini Wrap Up

Even though we are still the month to go before the new year, I am already thinking about it. You see, I gage the end of the "year" relative to my last working day which is 1 1/2 weeks from now. And we fly out west the next day. So, I've been wrapping up my 2010 spreadsheet and going through what happened financially this year.

Each year I end it by declaring to D that we will not have any huge capital expenses next year and each year there is something. So this year as I am a creature of habit, I shall declare the same thing and hope for the best.

No I don't regret buying my laptop and the pipes at the cottage needed help and part of being a condo owner is that you may be called upon to pay extra levies for capital projects. Of course the biggies were D and I both needing to change our jobs. 2010 has shaped itself into one upheaval kind of year.

On the other hand, I made it to Europe 4 times in 2010, saw some absolutely fantastic places and I'm hoping the momentum of it all will carry me into 2011 to further new adventures as I slowly plug along the mortgage payment road. There has to be something to balance out the boring.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Getting a Deal

Do you ask for discounts? If so under what circumstances? For what services would you not ask for a discount?

For me, I would ask for a discount if I was in the market for a new or used car etc. I would not think to ask for a discount at a restaurant or if I was at the movies. I wouldn't think of it either if I was at my optometrist or massage therapist.

So what would compel some people to ask for discounts for everything? I know how if you don't ask, you won't get but isn't there a limit to that before you come across like someone without much dignity?

If I cannot afford to eat out, I just won't eat out. Same goes for new shoes. I'd just look for a used pair. I wouldn't feel like it was my right to get a facial therefore the spa will have to give me a discount.

What got me going was someone who was randomly sitting beside me waiting for an appointment. They told me they are trying to get some form of disability credit from the government because they would get episode of back pain whereby they cannot walk well.

This person is still able to work full time in a job where they are required to lift things and be on their feet a long time. Not someone who you'd label disabled.

Then they go on about how broke they are but just isn't able to quit smoking. How terrible it was because they found it difficult to put food on the table for their family. And with the 2nd half of the same breath talked about all the expensive sports their kids are into.

Why was it stores that sell sports equipment were not sympathetic to their cause? Why wasn't their therapist able to give them a discount when it was obvious they needed help?

They were called into the appt before me so I watched as they leapt off the chair and walked just fine with the nurse.

I doubt they will qualify for whatever disability credit they are looking for. If they did, so should the rest of us who occasionally get really sore and stiff after a weekend of gardening or snow shovelling.

That's not considered a disability. Nor is an inability to manage money reason for businesses to reward by give discounts.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


D and I are at an interesting crossroad with our mortgage prepayments. Once in a while I will run some amortization tables to see if we are on track or ahead of the game.

Today's tables point out something interestingly tempting.

If we stop doing prepayments on our 2 mortgages, when our 5 yr term ends in Sept/2012 and May 2013, our main house will have owing $35535 and the ski condo will owe $2748.

The remaining ski condo balance will be paid off easily at the time without need for renewal. The main house's amount isn't necessarily large enough to renew. It is about the size of a line of credit in my mind which would be an option.

D's preliminary thoughts are to stop prepayments and save the $23100 yearly I put into the main house yearly instead. He feels now that the numbers have shrunk enough, it is a higher opportunity cost to not save our money.

I haven't made up my mind. However, I have made up next year's spreadsheet and am going to think about it for a while. There are still a few weeks left in 2010.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Travel Question

Being that I can be long winded, a reader question turned into a post...

***Question... perhaps a tough one to answer; if you were to go back and visit for an extended period (3-6 weeks) which country would you choose and why? The reason I ask is my wife and I just celebrated our 30th and all 3 countries are considered possibilities. We are also considering an overland trip from Cairo to Turkey which of course would take in several countries but not really allow one to 'soak' up the culture and flavour that spending an extended time in one country would permit.

Your thoughts... ***

Hi I'd rather be sailing;

Depending on the level of adventure and stimulation you want for your trip, you could easily spend all 6 weeks in any of the 3 countries I visited.

The most relaxing experience would be Dubrovnik and the next one would be Fira, Santorini though the rest of the island is much more laid back.

Greece would be interesting because you'd end up taking the ferries or hydrofoils to go from island to island.

From the 2 I saw on this jaunt, they were completely different. I didn't care for Corfu myself but I'm glad I was there. You could easily spend all 6 weeks exploring a handful of islands in Greece and not be bored whereas I find the Caribbean after a while, it becomes yet "another paradise island" with beautiful beaches. (no offence meant to Caribbean readers -- you folks have it good!)

In Croatia, it would be train travel to take you all over and from what I hear, the food is quite different depending on the area.

The island of Brac (off Split) is supposed to be gorgeous. D has a friend who is Croatian had recommended it. I never made it up that far on this trip but I would like to another time.

I can imagine finding it really easy to pass time in this country. The people I met were very gentle and not at all impressed that you are a visitor, meaning they don't stare at you because you are obviously so different. In the old town, the restaurants hosts were more vocal trying to get you to eat at their respective spots -- all harmless self promotion.

Turkey was the most "in your face" of all three countries I visited. I haven't written off Istanbul and will be better prepared when I go.

My best memory were the prayer calls. They were so peaceful sounding -- much contrast compared to the day to day market culture. I know I would have toughened up had I spend more time there. I guess I wasn't ready for the level of confrontation, that's all. I didn't at any time feel unsafe nor was I ever pushed or shoved.

If you are into history and ruins, Turkey is a great destination. I had a chance to got to Ephesus. If you happen to love Turkish food like me, you'd be in for a treat.

Turkey is a big country and I think 6 weeks would just barely scratch the surface. I would not call what I saw of this country relaxing though compared to the 2 above.

If you wanted a real adventure where you are on your guard and stimulated, then I would choose Egypt and Turkey.

If you wanted a bit of both, then add in one of the other 2 countries (whichever you could get to logistically easier or whether you like plane, train or ferry) and it would provide some balance and r & r.

What I would choose would depend on my mood. If D was coming with me, I would pick Dubrovnik and Santorini because of their sheer beauty and feel. Both places have a romantic feel. If I was going alone, I would chose Egypt and Turkey and make sure I learned the languages, get a chance to sail down the Nile and take a camel ride through the desert.

I am envious you are taking such a great amount of time. Congratulations on your 30th!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Continued Planning

I didn't have the jetlagged exhaustion for very long after this last trip. I believe it to be because the trip was so restful outside of the getting lost and Turkish bazaar part.

I have been busy trip planning since my return as D informed me when he picked me up at the airport that KLM had a 4 day sale. We have been looking for reasonable flights for next spring when we will be in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam wasn't on the sale list but I got the idea of going somewhere else before AMS so started playing around with their multi destination searches. I lucked out because we are able to fly to Rome and then AMS and home for $300 less than a flight to AMS and back.

Why? I have no idea other than to guess they are considering the jaunt to AMS as a free stopever as it was the flight to Rome that was part of the 4 day sale. Something for everyone out there to consider next time you are trip planning.

So the trip has morphed into Rome for 3 nights, then AMS for a week after. We could have stayed a week in Rome but D will just be coming home from his annual guys ski trip which incidentally is going to cost not too far from our European trip. Whistler is not known to be cheap.

I made contact with a nice appt owner in Rome as I was going to go for a week but in the end we decided to stay in the hotel I stayed at my first time in Rome for old times sake and make our short stay a true city break.

Plus I found out I had enough points after my last trip for a plane ticket anywhere in North America... Which has meant, I've been looking for a warm winter getaway. So that's what I've been working on outside of actually working since getting back.

Incidentally, I finished my ahem, "novel". It clocks in at 50130 words and I've been having a heck of a time getting the site to come up since yesterday so I can upload it. There are probably thousands of people who are trying to do the same thing right now. We have til next Tues.

***update*** It has been uploaded and I have officially met the challenge. (FYI, all participants who made it to the 50000 words are considered "winners". My writing didn't really win anything.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

An Internet Entrepreneur

I had a somewhat heated discussion the other day regarding the differences between wealth and cash flow. The person I was speaking to was convinced that high cash flow and having cash coming in from multi sources was wealth. I disagreed.

I said that wealth is something that is built. If you put aside some of the monies coming in, you'd be building wealth because you'd have something to show for it. Otherwise spending everything doesn't build wealth, it just means you have lots of money to spend.

One's ability to make money isn't really an asset because you cannot cash yourself in. You can chose to keep producing by working thus making an income or a business which would be considered a tangible asset.

This fellow I was talking to is 39 years old and does not have a penny saved but is extremely motivated to create multiple income sources. I pointed out that having a base income that can be relied upon can be a valuable thing while other business developments are being created.

He disagreed because he is needing ALL of his income from his primary job in order to pursue said opportunities. He is even going to cut back on his primary job in order to spend more time with the businesses he feels more passionate about.

I didn't think that was wise as none of the new businesses are even close to breaking even and cannot be counted upon right now to even pay a utility bill. I told him I would not jeopardise the main income at this point until the others start showing some sort of longer term success.

So I was labeled a non risk taker, which is fine. All I know is that each work day allows me to build wealth and it has already been proven successful. I can show those results numerically. I'm not as concerned about how much I make, rather how much I am able to keep while living an interesting life.

He cannot show me anything other than some minor success and a whole lot of monthly expenses after 3 years of being an "Internet entrepreneur". He has not attained even 20% of his expenses back yet but still continues to spend in hopes of hitting the big time, the day where he manages to tweak the magic Internet formula whereby the world will discover him.

That is why he isn't concerned in the least with having no savings because when he hits it big, he'll be able to catch up so fast, the monies he has spent would be a drop in the bucket compared to what is coming in. (I've seen his product and it isn't anything I would spend money on personally)

He didn't believe in building wealth the old fashioned way (ie. like what I'm doing). He feels that I am not making my money work for me. That I've missed out on so many opportunities by being so conservative. If he had access to my money, he'd know exactly what to do with it...

I wished him well as this is obviously the path he has chosen to pursue. He has big plans for the next couple of years. I told him I did too. Maybe we'll meet up then and compare notes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Some Trip Photos

First 3 pictures are from Santorini. The switch back road you see is what my Donkey and I traversed to get to the top.

Last 3 pictures from Dubrovnik. Hoping you'll be able to appreciate the steepness of the north part of the Old Town.

Should you find yourself in these areas, I would recommend the Dubravka and Zafora restaurants respectively. Great food and ambiance!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Great Trip!

My trip was fantastic. I didn't fall off my donkey in Santorini but I did get "chased" out of the grand bazaar in Turkey by forceful salesmen. You literally cannot even browse without getting somewhat harassed.

I had to remind myself it is cultural differences, that's all. They would do well to understand a bit more about other cultures as allowing people to browse would generate more sales...

Dubrovnik was a surprise. It had such a gentle, laid back feeling. If you've seen the last James Bond movie and remember when the camera spanned across Montenegro, that's what the coast looked like.

I managed to eat at some great restaurants with great views. My lunch in Dubrovnik was extra special as I go lost trying to get to the old town and what was supposed to be a 1/2 walk took me 2hrs.

As the medieval old town was surrounding by a wall, you cannot just walk into it wherever you felt like and man were some of the stairs steep. I'll post a picture once I get them sorted. I can imagine how daunting it would be for soldiers who had to fight or climb their way in.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Contrast of Importance

Being the ever practical person at times, I already have my one must buy Christmas present purchased and I will be handing it over tonight not to be opened until they wish of course.

As it is really breakable and with my schedule being crazy the next month, I didn't want to lug it to our annual Christmas dinner out in Dec.

Because my friend knows I do not place any emphasis on the commercial side of Christmas anymore nor am into the stresses the holiday seem to bring out, she'll chuckle at me and understand.


I'm glad my work day doesn't start til the afternoon because I will be able to reflect on Remembrance Day Tomorrow morning. I am at the age of what parents whose sons went off to the war would have been. I cannot imagine the stresses and sorrow many of them went through.

Many of us are free to do whatever we'd like because of the sacrifices of our veterans. One of the most emotional points I've had in a museum occurred at the National War Museum in Ottawa. I would highly recommend it. We were there on a day where one of the veterans from WWII was present. I couldn't really talk to him because I was so emotional.

We had just come through the trenches and emerged into an area showing how it would have felt like for a veteran to come home to a modern (for the times), freshly done home. The contrasting silence just screamed at you. I know I'm not doing justice with the description so go and see it for yourself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bit of Trouble

Took a quick listen on Livemocha of some basic Croatian, Turkish and Greek and quickly realized I am in trouble. I'll be happy if I can remember hello, thank you, goodbye and how much?

I was fiddling around with changing my seats on my flight and managed to lose my seat completely and could not get it back. Great. Called the travel agent as I used points for this flight and was assured I didn't lose my seat but I'm not convinced.

She also told me I shouldn't be able to pull up stuff like that on a code share flight but I can...I'll have wait until check in to see if I've done any permanent damage.

In the fog that was jet lag a week ago, I made another mistake with my work deposit so I'll be dinged a couple of dollars in penalty fees. Not impressed with myself. I have D double check my counting now.

There appears to be a slow snow season out west so far this year. Last year our resort had quite a bit of snow. Opening day is supposed to be Dec 4th. We were talking about what we'd do if there weren't enough snow by Christmas. Would we still go out?

I'd like to but D would prefer to hold out til the new year. We'll just wait and see. Mid Dec will be here before we know it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Happy Days

Never once in France have we seen anyone at a cafe using a laptop. At home, that seems to be all we see. People aren't people watching like they do in Europe. They are busy using the WIFI at their local coffee shop. It's kinda sad really, peoples' heads are down rather than up.

The last day we were in Nice, we witnessed a wedding in the courtyard below our apartment. The pictures don't do justice to the beauty of the flowers on the really nice car waiting outside of the old church. It's interesting that the guests dress in dark colours. Lots of rice was thrown.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Goals & Glitches

Neat Stat -- just short of 2 years ago, our total mortgage debt (for both places) was $190353. Today, it is $99454. In 2 years we are hoping/expecting it will be close enough to $0.

On days when I wonder if my math is accurate, it is nice to see big pictures numbers from where we've been to help assure we are heading along an accurate path.

The novel (I use the term loosely here) writing is coming along. As I have and will be missing time due to vacations, I started earlier to make up for it. Current word count in the low 20000s. Goal is 50000.

Two and a half weeks really isn't a long time. When I booked this whirlwind trip to Greece and Turkey I thought that 2 works weeks after coming home from France was alright.

Now that I am finishing week 1, I do feel rushed thinking of what I have to do next week before I leave again. I think next time, I'll give myself a month between trips.

I may have encountered another technology glitch with my phone as I think I am missing 7 voice messages.

I will be calling today to find out whether there was a glitch in the system while we were away or voice message unretrieved will get automatically deleted? I wouldn't think so but I'm going to ask anyway.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

No Go

No go on Sweden. Didn't receive a response from the owner of the apartment I would like in time to take advantage of the seat sale. Maybe something else neat will come up.

I'd like to go to London as well. We connected via Heathrow on route to France so I have a bunch of change in pounds sterling left which beckons me to return for a proper trip to England.

D knows of a couple who works for 4 -5 years in a highly technical field making decent amounts of money and then sells everything. They take off and spend a year abroad living in different countries.

The idea intrigues me. What a way to combat attachment in your life. I love it. I think I'd be a good candidate for it. D wouldn't be I think because he likes his stuff and he likes to have a home base. Renting out the main house for a year would be more his style.

The perennial subject of selling the cottage came up again while we were away. I think it is time to let go so that the next cool thing will have room to come in. D would like to keep it for a couple more years.

We have agreed that should I wish to list it on the market in the spring, he would not interfere. Second, he will head up while I'm away next to finish up all the odds and sods so as to be show ready for next year.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

3 am

It is the 2nd day in a row I've awoken at around 3 am ready to go. Gotta love the time zone changes. Not sure our time change this weekend will help or not. I'm expecting to be fully integrated back by then.

I've gotten to the point where I can forgo sleep on an eastbound transatlantic flight and be pretty functional on arrival. I never sleep on the way home as I look forward to watching 3 in flight movies.

Plane food is hit or miss for me. We've gotten into the habit of eating before we get on a long flight and either forgoing the meal or just taking the dessert. Beats starving because of a particularly bad meal.

I'm tempted this morning because of a 2 day Lufthansa sale. The destination? Stockholm, for my birthday. Lucky for me it is only for 2 days so I'll have minimum time to stew on it.

My first day of work went smoothly with just a minor fluctuation of energy level. I was quite proud of myself for pulling it off well. The rest of the week will get easier. And no, I didn't buckle when I got extra requests beyond my maximum for the day. Small victories!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Way to Work?

Back to work for me today. France was as great as we remembered. We chose to stay at the different location (Old Town) in Nice this time as the apartment in the area we usually stay in (Port) was unavailable.

As neat as it was being amongst all the old buildings (I guess technically they are all really old) it was much noisier than we were used to. After a couple of days, the novelty wears off and the music and young people singing started to get on our nerves.

Despite that, we were really happy to be back and away from work for a small while.

I'm reminded of the concept of enough whenever I go to France. Store keepers for example will sell all they have made that morning (I'm specifically thinking of the lady who I go to for fresh pasta, stew etc) and call it a day.

It is an adventure wondering what we are going to eat each day as there are no hours posted at our favourite butcher. Coming from North America we are used to "service at convenient hours" and lots of choice.

We have concluded shop keepers do close whenever they feel like it and do not feel obligated to tell anyone. Gives us an excuse to try another restaurant for lunch or dinner.

I am working on applying some of this thinking to my business as I know how much business I need to do each week to sustain my life well. Before I left for vacation, I already knew I was there for this week.

So the question is, do I stick to my guns and not add anymore appointments or do I try and do as much as I can? We'll see if I'm strong enough this week to resist.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Vacation Begins Soon

In a few hours my last work day of the week will begin and so will my weekend and week's holiday to France. Yeah, we made it!

D passed his exam yesterday! He is so relieved to wrap up 2 months worth of studying and review. This designation he has earned is recognized worldwide so who knows where it will take us someday?

A colleague of his has done that line of work in Greece, Brazil and Portugal. I say bring it on! I'm ready to give living elsewhere a go!

When we were in the States for D's marathon last weekend, I used my Blackberry to take some pictures. You probably know where I'm going with this. I saw a charge online for roaming. So I get on the phone to get some explanation about all that as I'm a neophyte.

Turns out I can turn off the roaming if I wanted and because my phone received a voice mail and some emails, I was charged for that. Then he proceeded to give me the prices for all the different data and voice options when I'm out of Canada.

This was an important phone call because I do not want to get charged just for using the camera on my phone. Now that I know how to disable it, we are good. The emails and voice mail that got loaded in the States will probably cost less than $1. Cheap enough lesson. I wouldn't have wanted to learn that lesson in Europe.

Back in a week and a bit! Have a great weekend Everyone!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Busy Week

I'm pretty decided I will not be taking my laptop with me on my upcoming trips to keep the over all travel weight down. I've started my novel writing early to make up for the 2 weeks I'll be away. It will be Carry On only for me.

The week leading up to time off seem to bring people out of the woodwork. Half of them didn't know I was going to be away, they just managed to have chosen this time to call or inquire about stuff. So work wise this week has already shown itself to be a bit of a zoo.

I'm not complaining. I'm not even drinking caffeine to get through though last night I wished I had because I could barely keep my eyes open at 9 pm so no writing for me.

D is off on his course until tonight. It'll be great to have him home again. He has a big exam to write on Thurs and from what I hear, he is feeling pretty positive about it. It has been a big week for both of us.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Shocking Situation

One of my friend's friends works in banking and told me a shocking story. Back around when unemployment in our area was really high, they would routinely get 3 -4 people come into the bank each day to try and re-negotiate terms on their mortgage and other loans.

It was very common to see people with $200000 to $400000 in consumer debt (not including mortgage)!

I would have a hard time trying to spend that much money on non real estate stuff. Maybe a lot of that is compounding interest. Either way, we were shocked at the numbers. Considering I stress out and tired with owing $100000 or so in mortgages.

A lot of those people did end up losing their homes, declaring bankruptcy or negotiating a consumer proposal. The average age of those folks were in their high 30's to mid 40's.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Busy Weekend

A couple of sets of tires got bought and sold lately. D found a set of used snow tires and rims for his wagon online and bought them. D sold his snow tires and rims for the Civic online yesterday. He made money on the sale and and overall spent $25 more in his buy.

We are both glad to be rid of the tires. I feel it is always tougher selling than it is buying. Thus the need to think before buying so you wouldn't be stuck selling or worse, selling at a huge loss.

I have been asked to do a work presentation next week. My first one in a long time. The handouts are done and I think it will turn out to be more of a question and answer hour. That ought to go by fast and I'm happy to do it. It is a change of pace.

D did great at his marathon this weekend. It wasn't his fastest time but he had the most fun and walked away after barely sore. He is really pleased with the whole experience.

We had a chance to sample a few new restaurants while we were there and I'm pretty sure I've gained a pound. Next time we are going to take another day off so we don't feel so rushed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Don't Use This!

The office photocopier for all intents and purposes is "done". It needs a couple of parts when you add in labour isn't completely worth it. What's holding me back is a couple of new toners and it is a shame to me to not use them. Maybe they can be sold, I'm not sure.

Those of you who also own an old house where the wooden windows open, you'd likely know all about weatherstripping. We decided to use a caulking like product this year that is supposed to peel off easily once it is dry.

What it didn't say was how much it would stink. Holey smokes, it nearly burned a hole in my throat and nose. Vanilla smell my behind! I had D tear that stuff off after midnight because I couldn't breath. We are going back to using foam tape and returning the remaining 2 tubes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yeah! Another Trip!

Life is about to get a lot more fun.

I've decided to take another week off for health purposes (I mentally and physically ache when I don't get enough time off) and for exploratory purposes (I have some travel ambitions waiting).

I'm going on a quick 1 week jaunt to Greece, Turkey and Croatia. It will be a whirlwind tour but I see it as reconnaissance for future longer term travel. Plus I'm aching to see new beautiful places even if it is in the off season.

Not sure just how much language I'm going to able to learn. Maybe a few phrases. I leave in a month. France in a 1 1/2 weeks. It's going to be great.

I'm reminded that no matter how I push myself, I cannot seem to be able to completely cheat myself out of time off even though my left brain believes it would be best I stay put and wait til next year. With this I've made up 2 of the 3 weeks I didn't take in the summer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wanting More

I spoke to a couple of frustrated people recently who are frustrated because they want so much to help others but haven't gotten the reception or participation they were hoping for.

They see the potential in their friends/clients/family members/spouses and believe if the right support could be provided, those people would see the light and good things will happen.

Their hearts are in the right place. It is hard when you get emotionally involved with someone and want the best for them. The recipient of all the good thoughts must want it too.

All the wishing in the world won't make someone eat better, work less, exercise more etc. etc. They have to be in a place to want to take action.

It just causes undue hardship wanting more than the other can give. Be there when they are ready and you'll have more peace of mind in the meantime.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Stream of Consciousness

The month is clipping along. Hoping the roofer will be stopping by to give us a quote today. I'd like to get it done before we leave for France.

We saw The Social Network yesterday. I really liked it. It also brought back some deep desires I had for going to Harvard. Didn't realize I felt so strongly sad about not having an opportunity to go.

I remember sitting with the secretary in admissions at Radcliffe talking about requirements and application procedures. I remember studying for SATs.

Alas, my dream never did materialize and I never got the experience I longed for. I surprised myself and D with the level of disappointment that came out of me.

Something good did come out of that emotion. I started writing my submission for the novel writing month I'm participating in. I figure it is as good a place to start as any and has turned into a stream of consciousness piece.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Can Still Learn

I did 2 things new yesterday. I finally discovered the benefits of the search bar at the top of my Windows Live Mail. I cannot believe how much time I've wasted scrolling down my email list looking for a particular note.

The second new thing was an online crossword puzzle. I don't usually do cross words but who know why I felt inclined but it was great and a lot of fun. Didn't get through it all but enough to want to play again sometime.

I had an opportunity to see "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" last night. It was much better than I expected. Made D and I want to cash out everything and opt out of the investment game though...

Our Thanksgiving long weekend is here. Back on Tues.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


It has been amusing to see how people/clients' perceptions have changed since we moved our work to our own place.

The assumption has been we would be willing to work extra hours extra days all of a sudden. Why would that be?

My work hours and days have been relatively unchanged (give or take a few hours) for the past 3 yr - 4 yrs now. When I tell people that now, they seemed surprised.

Maybe it is because I am handling all the administrative stuff it is easy for people to think that I would be willing to go all out and do some extra work, while I was at it anyways. After all I would be getting paid.

The concept of work boundaries comes to play here. I can see the slippery slope that would ensue if I said "sure, come on by".

If anything I have to work harder to maintain my down time more than ever because it is in danger of getting phased out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


My office photocopier is on the fritz. I'm hoping D will be able to get it going again. We have an ink jet all in one fax, scanner, copier machine for home use that can handle things for the time being but not a sustainable option long term as it is not built for volume.

I really don't want to buy a new one as I have lots of toner left but I have been looking online just to get some ideas on pricing in case it turns out my machine is not worth fixing. I bought it used from an engineering firm 4 years ago for $300.

With my increased administrative duties at work, I've found I have less energy to do the paid part of my work. I'm sure that is no revelation to most of you out there.

Technically I am getting paid some for the admin part, not nearly as much as my paid part but you can't have one without the other.

This week after a too busy last week, I am taking a count of how many clients I see weekly and start tracking how I feel by the end of the week. I already know one thing. I don't wish to feel like I did at the end of last week. It was too much. And making more money didn't make me happier about it.

We'll see what the stats say in the coming weeks.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Crazy Rule

D ran into a weird quirk with our local gasoline station when he brought our cars in for some gas. It was one of those automated pumps where you pay by credit card.

When it came to the second fill up, the machine rejected his card. After a few attempts he went into the station and asked what was going on.

Apparently there is some rule that you cannot use the same credit twice in one day at the same filling station.

What type of craziness is that? The fellow didn't explain further. D just used another credit card to pay.

We were trying to come up with reason why that would make sense and could not think of many. Was that supposed to help reduce fraud? I don't know.

Can you imagine if department stores enacted that rule? They would lose so much business.

That happened to me this weekend. I was at Chapters buying gift cards for my clients and realized just as I was leaving, I needed one more. Imagine my surprise if I wasn't allowed to use my credit card?

I know people who only have 1 credit card. What a crazy rule. If anyone has any idea or understanding as to why this exists, I'd like to know.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Weekend!

Yeah Friday! We are home this weekend and have some house and office errands to run. And some books to read as they are close to being due back at the library. And a movie to see as we have a coupon getting close to expiry. All good stuff.

The cottage roof is starting to show its age at 11 yrs old and we noticed a small leak in one of the bedrooms last week. Not enough to drip but a stain. D got up there and patched suspicious spots so when we are up next, we'll be able to see if the stained area is still damp or not. While he was up, he saw some other areas that he will patch, just in case.

We have the money put aside for a replacement roof. I just don't want to be interviewing roofers right now. Ditto for the tree in front of the cottage that is dying. That one is easier because it can be taken down quite quickly and with literally one phone call. Will likely cost $500 - $600 though.

Glancing at my calendar for Oct, this month is shaping up to be a lot of fun socially. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Everyday Stuff

We picked up our snow blower yesterday. Didn't end up getting the one from Costco but found an online ad for a used one (same price -- $800, better machine).

It is a 3 yr old 9 1/2 HP 27" Sears Craftsman in fantastic shape. I joked with the bank teller that my buying a snow blower will virtually guarantee a mild winter. She said she was going to hold me to that.

We complete our first business quarter in our new location after today. Can hardly believe it. Things seem to be clipping along at a good pace. Sept income is higher than projected so really, no complaints.

D was working from home most of this week because he has been suffering with a bad cold. I believe it is due to him overdoing things and it caught up with him. His marathon is in a couple of weeks. He is studying for an exam for work. And he has been working his contract side job as well as his regular full time job.

Luckily, the contract side job has been completed for now as the project work comes in chunks. He is committed to the company for the remainder of the year though.

The exam will be a biggie. Passing it will allow him to move to the next pay band at work and it was an expectation of the company during the transition from contract to full time that he completes it. Plus they will only pay for the course and exam if he passes. The 3 day out of town course starts the day after the marathon and his exam is later that week. Busy times.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tough Times

A new acquaintance of ours revealed to me yesterday why they have been absent from our get togethers over the last couple of months.

Her husband lost his job of 12 years. They have 2 young school age children and she is a stay at home mom.

Then the going was good, it was really good. When there was 2 incomes, they have been able to afford to manage 3 properties, total real estate holdings close to 1 million with one being an income property.

When 2 incomes became one once the kids got here, things got tighter but still manageable.

She didn't mention whether they would have to sell anything to keep things going. I could see the exhaustion in her eyes.

The good news is her husband is kind of an expert in his field and they are confident he will be employed again soon.

There wasn't much I could say that she didn't already explore. She just wanted someone to listen.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I know someone who is finishing the last year of a 4 year teaching stint whereby next year, the 5th will be sabbatical year.

How it works is that they chose to live off of 80% of their salary for 4 years and the 20% got banked so that the 5th year is funded 80% as if it was a regular year.

In theory, with some discipline, anyone could do the same. I'm not sure I could. There is debt to pay off, savings that could always need boosting. I'm holding off until I am free from all that.

Come to think of it, my thinking doesn't make me sound very serious about wanting to take a year off when I've been dreaming of it for years! I may have to revisit my thinking on all this.

The family who is taking the sabbatical has 2 children and plan to use the time to do a bit of road tripping. I love the concept and am seriously envious of the time they will have.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Much Lighter

This was one of those weekends where I remembered just how fun it was to be spontaneous. It also meant some money got spent. Nothing really grand got bought, just some clothing, shoes, sunglasses, dinner out, all reasonably priced.

My allowance money has been building up the past couple of months as I've had no time to do anything fun and exciting outside of eating out.

I bought a pair of classic black leather pumps. Something I've been keeping an eye out for over the last year. I saw them at Nine West, tried it on and bought them in under 5 minutes. It was one of those things where I just knew. If all shopping could be so easy and quick.

D got some great deals at Mexx and a pair of sunglasses suitable for running to replace his ailing pair.

We are planning to go to an amusement park next. Maybe some roller coasters could shake the kids out of us! It has been years and I cannot wait to eat all the junk food!

The fall colours were starting to show up in cottage country. We will be back up for Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks and will take a drive to take them in. It had gotten down to single digits (Celsius) this weekend and I actually had to turned the gas fireplace on.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Very tired the last couple of days. I'm blaming it on the moon because I don't know what else it could be.

Most realistically, it is likely my feeling the exhaustion of the changes with work now that my guard is down. Plus some extra administrative issues that have cropped up.

So I have a real strong desire to take off somewhere. D calls it my escape mode. I've been trying to find an inn in Vermont to take in some foliage and good food. I'm too late, places are long booked.

Work has been steady so I cannot complain. Not getting enough exercise so need to to step it up. The food part has been good. We have been eating well and cooking more again.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Deja Vu

Having been in a relationship with a significantly older man long before I met D, I find myself protective of a cousin of mine who is engaged to an older man, especially when she cites my previous experience as the reason why the rest of the family has accepted her situation easier than I had it.

We have just gotten back in touch after a decade or so of separation. I haven't met him yet but the parallels to my past are glaring. He is very successful, has kids from a previous marriage, multiple homes, long engagement, great lifestyle and giant diamond?

Don't know about the diamond part but mine was beautiful and had cost $15000. I gave it back to him when I couldn't bring myself to marry him after being engaged for almost 3 years..

I've told her a bit about my experiences as she had assumed we were still together. Hope she will not end up as disillusioned as I was. I have been trying to gage how financially independent she is as she doesn't seem to be working very much right now.

I feel it is important to continue building your own career and not get too swept away with all the lifestyle perks that come with being with a successful older man...trips abroad, dinners out, weekends away, no mortgage (in my case) etc. etc.

It was because I kept building my career that made it easier to leave an satisfactory relationship, buy my own place and move out without having to wait out a long separation. In fact I juggled expenses of 2 homes for 7 months.

I know I'm projecting here when I say I hope he is as financially sound as his lifestyle displays. An ex wife and 3 kids worth of education doesn't come cheap. There is one in university and 2 about to go.

Perhaps my cousin has truly found her soul mate and their individual financial situation is as solid as can be. I am just experiencing a huge wave of deja vu, that's all.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Turns out the seal issue with D's wagon is some drain hose that had come unattached. He was able to fix it himself. Isn't Google wonderful for stuff like this?

We are starting to convert monies into Euro in anticipation of our upcoming trip while the exchange is good. I've declared my Friday income as "bonus" money day as I am so far able to manage expenses with income from the other days.

We finally got our smart meter installed at home. The new time of day rates will start May 2011. Not looking forward to the increased rates during the day but it is a truer and more realistic indicator of use and cost.

My car was overdue for its oil change. It got done today along with the rear wiper replacement. D's vehicle will require an oil spray before the winter arrives.

The house is going to need its annual weather stripping as will the cottage. It seems like there are all sorts of maintenance like stuff cropping up lately and all at the same time. Guess that's why they call it seasonal.

Oh yeah. We scouted out the snowblower we are planning to buy -- from Costco, a 24" one. We will pick it up one night in the next few weeks during a slower time at the store.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Here We Go

For better or for worst, I've signed up for this. A girlfriend of mine participated last year and had a great time so I'm going to give it a go and see if I can make it.

On a irritable note, I think my computer has acquired a virus that makes typing a pain. The cursor keeps jumping back to an earlier part of the sentence...

Not helpful to the writing process. I've asked D to take a look into it for me. I've ran a couple of scans and nothing is showing up so far.

It appears we have a seal problem around the back hatch or sunroof of D's wagon. Just noticed it this morning in the form of a couple of drops of water. Hope it will not cost an arm or a leg or both to get it fixed.

If it is a simple fix, we won't bother bringing back to the dealer who is 1 hr away. If it turns out to be a big ticket item, then we will. D's pretty upset as you can imagine. He loves his wagon and sees it as a personal affront when things like this happen.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Some Savings

One of the perks of D's new job is auto club membership courtesy of a credit card benefit. This will save us around $175 a year. The cost of the card however is about $75 a year so we come out on top by about $100. Neat.

He hasn't cancelled our current membership with Canadian Tire until he has the other system set up and registered. We think we'll get a prorated amount back as a refund.

D just got our benefit cards in the mail as well. I'm coming due for my dental check up so I'll be the first to use the dental benefits.

On a similar benefit vein, we now have a small amount of life insurance again. It was supposed to cover the what is remaining of the mortgage. When all of the decision making was going down, I wasn't too involved with it as I was going a bit crazy with my business.

So, the amount of life insurance ended up too low as a result of no QA of the process. We have another chance in January to make changes so it will get bumped up.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Noise Makers

We have 3 neighbours who consistently (in my opinion) have poor timing with when they chose to mow their lawns.

It's like they take turns bothering others (us) who enjoy sitting outside to eat their meals or have end of day catch up conversations.

Seriously, who outside of D and I consider making a whole lot of machine noise at dinner time on a Sunday afternoon not a nice thing to do to your neighbours? The bonus part is 3 of them are young and slow!

Hey, I'm all for taking care of your property. The last one of the 3 neighbours is retired so in my mind, what's their excuse when they are home all week?

We will mow late morning or mid afternoon when we know most people are up and moving. I wish our country was more like Switzerland where they take sound pollution very seriously.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Some Thoughts

There is a house nearby that has gone up for sale. From the mls pictures, I like it a lot. If I was in the market, I'd for sure look at it. It is listed for $60000 less than ours was listed at 3 years ago. It's also smaller but I've changed a lot in the last 3 years and the smaller size makes sense now.

I emailed the link to D and asked him if he'd be interested in moving. The answer was no. He has moved enough time in his life that he would be happy never moving again.

Then I started to think about housing in terms of cost per person occupying. When I divided our house purchase price by 2, the number that came up was less than what it would cost if we were to be buying homes separately in today's market.

Sure, I can find a house/apartment/town home/condo that costs half of what our house cost but would I want to live in the area where these homes would be found? So I concluded that we are doing OK with respect to cost per person housing.

Now, let's say our house cost $700000 and the 2 way split would come to $350000. I'm pretty sure I would think long and hard about taking on a solo mortgage for that amount. I know D would as well. Even if we could afford it, I'm thinking of how that level of debt would impact cash flow and lifestyle.

Following this logic a bit further, wouldn't it be prudent for couples to think about this when entering the housing market? Or better yet, spend double what the lowest earner can afford?

Monday, September 13, 2010


Another week starts. I've revamped my spreadsheet to reflect a more moderate approach to my mortgage prepayments. I'll still reach my goal of maxing out the allowable but it will be spread over evenly throughout the year. Not a novel concept albeit a more balanced and cash flow friendly one.

There are a few projects around the house we have added to the wish list. I've already mentioned the roof over the sun room. There are a couple of small windows we'd like replaced. One in the basement and one in the lower level bathroom.

The basement one doesn't open and it would be nice if it did. The one in the bathroom would work better if it was a slide mechanism vs a handle turn one. Otherwise the window works.

I've finally purchased a laptop desk. After using laptops literally on my lap (yes, I ought to know better) for over a decade, I've had enough of the neck strain. It is working really well! I highly recommend not waiting over a decade...

Our increased variable mortgage amounts have updated after last week's interest rate announcement. We will be paying $5.89 more biweekly so close to the $12 a month I had predicated. Our current rates are 2.10% and 2.25% respectively.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Remember how I had made a mistake in my bank deposit and was happy to find I underestimated by $70? Having the bank correct your mistake cost me $2.35. They called it "interest charges - cash". Not pleased about it especially when I underestimated.

I had an issue with my Blackberry yesterday and after 40 mins on the phone with my provider, everything was cleared up. For some reason I stop getting notifications re: messages and the indicator showed I had voice mail all the time when I didn't. I don't text but when they tried to send me one, I didn't get it either.

It was amazing to me how much they were able to look up on their end. I thought they were going to tell me to go back to the store. How much things have progressed since my "pay as you go" days. I was impressed. I was also happy it wasn't something I did inadvertently.

Some fun news. D and I just put a deposit on a houseboat rental in Amsterdam for the spring. I'm really excited about it as I'm been hankering to go for a year now. D gets another week holiday now so it will make taking trips together easier.

We are still waiting for the "big sale" to happen so we can secure our flights out west for Christmas this year. I had a meeting with my colleague about taking over the administrative work when I'm gone and how it is important for me that they are willing to do it or else it would be much less stressful for me just to close down shop when I'm gone.

I got an affirmative answer about it as they would like to continue working so we'll hammer out a list of opening and closing procedures so that I won't come back to a $600 heating bill or something!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I am currently experiencing a bit of debt fatigue with respect to my somewhat insane mortgage prepayments. Total principal reduction last month on both mortgages amounted to $7094.

I'm happy to see the numbers go down dramatically but I'm thinking a more balanced approach this month will make my other accounts and me happier.

We would like to make up for the amount we spent on D's Subaru as well as the chunk we just spent on our new patio set. Both were paid for with existing funds leaving a bit of hole in the accounts.

D doesn't think I'll be able to back off of the prepayments for long. He knows me too well I suppose. It's a game to me. Guess I'm taking a time out for now.

The Bank of Canada rate got raised today by another quarter percentage point. I'll know in a couple of days how much it will affect our mortgage. Shouldn't be too much -- around $6.00 each payment.

When we were in Ottawa over Easter this year and walking towards the market, I hadn't realized until D pointed it out, at one point we were standing right outside the Bank of Canada.

You should have seen me. I freaked out. D couldn't stop laughing at me. (We came to Ottawa so I could take driving lessons from an ex-rally car driver--a subject for a future post.)

You'd think I'd seen some celebrity or something. To be honest I probably wouldn't get that excited if I had but it was the Bank of Canada and my life has been linked with interest rate monitoring for so long that I revere the place where it all goes down.

Next time I going to get a picture of myself standing in front of it. I know what you are all thinking...geek....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Patio Blues

I did it. Managed to get a last minute appointment to get my hair cut. The 8 inch braid is in a bag destined for the affiliated cancer society program. My head feels much lighter and the clock has started for the next donation.

It felt strange for me to be in a salon. I didn't fit in with the chatter that was going on around me. Everyone seemed to be taking their hair very seriously except for me. I was happy to pay just $20 for my cut for my asymmetrical jaw length bob. That's including tip.

Remember the patio set we bought last month? (not sure if I had mentioned or not, come to think of it) Well, it has some problems. Mainly rust where there ought not to be rust. We thought we had gotten the deal on the season when we bought it but now, we're not so sure.

The store we got it from stood behind their product and ordered us a brand new set that just arrived today, 2 days after I placed the phone call explaining our situation.

We just picked it up. It's a good thing we now have 2 cars that can carry stuff because it only took one load. When we moved the first set, D still had his Civic and it wasn't up for the job of carrying a 6 seater patio set.

I've just come back in because I've noticed some potential defects again. We are going to use it for now as it is a long weekend and nothing is going to happen to rectify anything. They told us that should we encounter a problem again, then we'll get a refund and I'll get to go to where I was going to go in the first place to pick out something that will last.

Friday, September 3, 2010

End of Week!

According to plans prior to my work shake down, I was supposed to be in Maine right now.

As you know, hurricane Earl and its associated tropical storm is currently tracking up the east coast of the continent and closing into where I would have been going to shortly --Nova Scotia.

Friends of mine in that province are taking precautions this weekend. Crossing my fingers that everything will be alright.

I awoke to some online banking news. My Tues work deposit got reversed. So of course I freaked out until I found out there was a re-deposit. And the re-deposit was $70 larger.

Guess that means I added wrong. Nice surprise!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not For Me...

First working day of Sept for me and last working day before our Labour Day long weekend.

A colleague of mine was recently bemoaning the fact that his son insists on spending every available holiday at home instead of elsewhere. As neither D and I come from a close family, we find it hard to relate.

I cannot imagine being 45 yrs old and wanting to hang out at my parents' home for 8 weeks a year. That would not be my idea of a good time. Sure, you get your meals provided for and you do not have to pay for your room but seriously?!

Not only that, my colleague says he brings his girlfriends too and neither of them contribute to the groceries (getting or paying) nor help clean up.

My thoughts were that my colleague and his wife has enabled this behaviour from their son. If they don't speak up and lay some ground rules, than their house will continue to be an all inclusive resort for 8 weeks each year.

I still don't get it but maybe saving a buck is so important to their son that it overrides seeing any new places. I'm not sure I'd be loving it if I was his girlfriend either. To each his own, I guess!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Surprise Sighting

I was at a get together the other day hosted by someone I didn't know. They had a modest home in a so - so location of the city.

What struck me when I entered was a stack of bills, over 1 foot thick on a chair in the middle of the dining room.

The top bill was a tax bill which was in arrears to the tune of almost $4000.

The host did not seem to be bothered that the group of us were talking and moving around the chair that had all those bills on it.

I pretended I didn't see it. If it didn't bother them, then it isn't a big deal.

D was there and he felt that if he needed to fall behind on bills, the tax bill wouldn't be the one he'd mess with because you can get your home taken for non payment. When you have 3 young children under the age of 6, that is a huge consideration.

Obviously we don't know the whole story. This family could be working with a debt counsellor and everything could be consolidated so they pay one fee each month which would include a contribution to the tax dept.

I just find it unusual for that many bills to be placed in public view, that's all. Maybe they wanted to talk about it but the rest of us were just to polite to bring it up.

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!