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.