Monday, May 30, 2011


I think retailers and the travel industry are hurting a bit.

I got a great deal on my recent bookings. D and I took a day trip to a shopping mall yesterday so I can look for a few things and we found some amazing offers.

My work clothes mainly come from Mexx. But yesterday, I didn't find anything great there but completely lucked out at Banana Republic -- A store I haven't shopped at much since my personal budget cut backs.

It felt like shopping in the States. I got 25% off everything and they gave out an extra savings coupon worth 30% off the total. To get good quality things at that much of a discount was amazing.

I bought a top, skirt and dress for just over $100 taxes in. Normally, that is what it would cost for a pair of pants. It was worth the gasoline to get there.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saying No

D and I decided to opt out of an event scheduled for today because he is just pooped. It's usually me as I have come to expect unlimited energy from D. We all have our limits.

I'm a bit disappointed to be missing out on this particular event because of the potential fun factor. Got me thinking of all the times (lots!) I've said no to things because I didn't want to put myself over the edge energy wise.

One of my girlfriends has great difficulty saying no. She will burn the candle on both ends to make things happen. For the longest time I was wide eyed with wonder at her endurance.

Unfortunately she has developed health issues recently that is hopefully going to have her slow down a bit in order to heal. Not surprisingly, she is not happy and is fighting it.

I see a lot of myself in her. I think we all can to some extent.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's All Coming Together

Can you believe it? We actually got a quote from a roofer at exactly the time he said he would get it to us! I can hardly believe it. And to top that, we met another roofer yesterday. Maybe spring is just slow to spring this year?

The first quote is for the cottage. And I had just called on Tues. When we were up there for the long weekend, D and I decided it was time. We've owned it for 8 years now and it had been replaced 2 owners before. It was a do it yourself job and I humbly would suggest I could have done much better. Even the roofer called it a bit of a mess.

So it is time. I don't have confidence it can make through another winter. The quote is in the $4500 range for a one floor 700 square foot property. We have $6000 set aside for it so am happy to come under. We are going to confirm the job tonight and it should be done within a month.

The roofer we met yesterday was for the sun room and we were told the quote will arrive via email. It hasn't gotten here yet but D has worked with the company before and he is optimistic. We also asked for an entire roof quote as a fyi to see if what we've put aside is on target with current rates. They are hopefully going to be replacing a window or 2 for us as well.

If this quote is reasonable, they've got the job. I'm not going to chase the last roofer who was here 2 1/2 wks ago for his quote if they are not interested enough in the job to reply.

I did book the cool trip to Scandinavia and Russia for later this summer. It more than makes up for my cancelled one to Iceland and Stockholm last month as well as my cancelled time off last summer due to my office move. I'm a bit overwhelmed from the excitement and scope of it. Time to look into getting a Russian tourist visa.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


D and I have decided to give a couple of those daily deals a try. One is for a Japanese restaurant and the other a fun day out at an amusement park.

We are hoping our experiences will allow us to save on our usual monthly outings and get us out to new places. Guess exposure is the point of the deals. Maybe we'll find some new favourite spots.

For some reason, I've caught the moving bug. It's not like me to feel this way. I tend to enjoy buying places but selling them is a nightmare for me.

I think I just like the exercise of wondering what type of house would I like now, knowing what I know now? In reality, it is more accurate to say what else would I like in addition to what I already have?

My current answer would be a larger garage and driveway. A finished basement preferably with a walk out to the back yard. A larger, more private lot, perhaps in the country.

Of course that would mean I would have a larger commute again. And the price tag for those additional features translates into an extra $150K than what our home would be worth. And depending on where we go, property taxes could skyrocket. Country living can also mean well water and septic systems.

On a travel note, caught wind of a great trip to Scandinavia and Russia this summer...I'm giving myself 24hrs to sleep on it...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Extra Long Weekend

After what has felt like getting one's teeth pulled, I have gotten one contractor to look at our sunroom roof and window. No quote yet, didn't bother to get up on the roof and it has been 1 1/2 wks.

Next week is our third quote attempt. (Remember our first quote never materialized with no phone call.) Hopefully this company will be a bit more professional. Otherwise D and I will be learning how to do it ourselves...and I'm serious about that.

I updated our NetworthIQ listing this morning and the numbers have dropped by about $11K as the markets have taken a bit of a beating. I had no real sense of the size of the drop until I plugged the numbers in. Numbers can be so harsh!

We haven't been up to the cottage since our dead tree was removed (hope that has been done too!). This is a long weekend for us Canadians and mine starts today as I'm off til next Tues.

It is also D's annual attempt at opening it. Crossing fingers and toes! Also keeping them crossed for decent weather. We'd like to go to the drive in one of the nights...yummy french fries and onion rings...

Have a great weekend everyone!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

All Kinds of People

I spent the morning putting out all the various "fires" related to my business. None of it too crazy, just time consuming. Stuff that would fester if I left it for later.

D and I were at a casual meet and greet the other night at our local business association and one of the couples we met (not sure how they got invited) stood out in our both of our minds for different reasons.

There is an age and generation gap between the couple of 11 yrs. You can think of the older of the 2 as young for her age and the younger one as really young for his age. The 2 of them together made for an interesting combination.

The girlfriend is educated but is tired of her job. She has no passion for it and am hoping for a quick buck online. So she has started a blog and has heard that through advertising, you can make enough to pay rent.

The boyfriend is not post secondary educated and works in a factory. His social life (now hers too) and conversation comprises of his friends' accomplishments and perks.

This couple basically goes around to neighbours and friends for free meals and "weekend away" trips. They have no problem sleeping in garages or basements or floors or using someone's hot tub when they are not there. And they are proud of their very full social life and who they know.

What do they offer in return? From what we heard, not much, maybe leftover wedding wine...

The crazy thing, is that they seem very happy!

Call us jaded or whatever, but we cannot relate to that type of lifestyle. The girlfriend is a year younger than me. I guess if the people they hang with don't mind it, then what is the problem?

It is hard for D and I who are self made to consider the idea of "couch surfing" or going over to someone's house at supper time to get invited for a meal. I know how it can take a community to raise a child, but really?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cost of Liquids

A lot of our local news has to do with the price of gasoline. People are getting pretty outraged by the high prices.

When you compare the relative costs of the various types of fluids we consume, it turns out gasoline isn't the worst culprit.

Check out this fun list.

D and I do not have a water dispenser at home. We are good with tap water and will use a Brita filter.

I'm not much of a drinker so alcohol is purchased for entertaining. D will have the occasional beer but you will not see it in our fridge often.

Can't say I'm much of a milk drinker either. D is, so we buy it in the 4L bags.

Coffee is one area D will spend on. Whereas I will buy nail polish and lotion. We spend as little as we can on decent shampoo. I do own a couple bottles of perfume but rarely use it.

When you look at liquids this way, all of a sudden paying for premium gas doesn't seem too bad!

ps. I too have lost my replies to comments from the last Blogger update.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Daily Deals

A friend introduced me to all those "deal" sites and now I get daily "deals" sent to my inbox. They are pretty tempting but I've yet to buy anything even though some of the deals are ridiculously cheap.

Why is that?

I haven't figured it completely out but I'm thinking a lot has to do with loyalty. For example, one of the first ones I got was for a spa. You can go get a facial, a few other things for $39 or thereabouts.

That is crazy cheap. My facials cost $115. I've tried other places in the past and they have not come close to what I get at my usual spot. Ditto with hair salons.

Thanks to google street maps, I can see what and where this new deal location is all about and this time, it was located at a seedy strip mall with terrible parking. Not a location I would go to and certainly no where close to where I go now.

I can see myself buying into one of these deals for a restaurant I haven't been to yet. But, as a person of habit, I have a core group of places I frequent. Now I'm sounding old and inflexible!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Live For Who?

We know someone who is separated. She owns a large property in the country and has 3 grown kids.

The marital home (above) is in the midst of being sold for a nice sum. The dilemma is, should she buy or rent at this stage of life -- over 60 yrs old?

In order to buy, it would cost 50% of the proceeds of the sale. It is important for her to have enough room to house family when they visit.

Having come from a generation where RSPs were not as mainstream as it is for D and I, she has no significant retirement savings. Her own mother, when she passed on, left her $10000.

It is also important for her to leave money to her kids. Two of them are self sustaining. One is struggling still in their 40's. There is a chance they may have to move in with her.

I think she ought to rent first and decide later, rather than buy the first place that comes up. It is important to ensure there is enough money for her first as one never knows what health challenges may crop up.

What if there is need of assisted living? Those types of living arrangements do not come cheap. Elaborate family dinners can be held at someone else's home.

She has spent her life working around everyone else. I'm not sure she has it in her to start living for herself first. I'd hate to see her financial stability weakened because of this.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

No Plan

Neighbours of ours got talked into converting their mortgage into a line of credit. I'm not sure it was such a great move for them.

The reason being, they are both spenders and in the short 2 months since it was set up, they have managed to max it out.

When it was set up, they asked for some extra money in order to pay back debts owed to other creditors as well as a bit of leeway "just in case". There hasn't been an emergency but the credit room is now gone.

The worrisome thing is their focus has been completely on the minimum payment being so much smaller than their previous mortgage as the only thing required is the interest portion only.

If you pay it, it makes you feel like a responsible person. When in reality, you'll never pay it off and that is what I think banks are hoping for.

There is some peace associated with a mortgage payment plan. When it is done, it is done. All you have to do is pay it when you're supposed to, just follow the plan.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Prudent Decisions

I've decided to delay the start of my dance lesson due to work overload. On one hand, my brain tells me it will help me neutralize the work effects.

My other side of the brain tells me to just allow yourself to recover and catch up instead of always going and doing. It's quite the fight up there.

So the right side of brain won out this round. I'm sticking with the basic exercise and rest and good food. That will mean sushi tonight!

The first long weekend "of the summer" for us Canadians is coming up in another 1 1/2 wks. It will also be the first time D will be using the turbo hub on the Friday, working remote from up north.

We will get to drive up on the Thursday night, hopefully avoiding the crazy summer cottage traffic from now on.

As we tend to go twice a month, I'm taking the Fridays off those weeks throughout the summer cottaging season. Might do that into the fall as well, haven't decided yet.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Not Reliable

Well, the roofer, who said he was going to come give us a quote (again) didn't show again with no phone call! So he is officially off the roster. It is a shame because I believe he does good work when he is here and we've worked with him in the past.

Unreliability makes it hard for me to want to do business with someone. Plus it is hard to grow a business that way. D says this is an endemic problem amongst roofers in his experience. So off to the next company on the list.

I'm in the midst of working out my summer work schedule. Last summer I took Fridays off. This summer I think I'll have to work 1 Friday a month in order not to have to shift all of my home visit clients. The change may not be worth the hassle.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Car Accessories

I've been spending a bit on car accessories. New mats ($282.50), cargo liner ($209.29) and perhaps a trickle charger so my battery doesn't die when we are away for 2 - 3 weeks ($189.84).

A big expense may be coming in the form of 3M film protection of the front end. If I go for it, it will come to around $2300 taxes in. I'm considering it piece by piece.

These are all one time "set up" expenses. That's what I'm telling myself. The last time I went through this (at a much lower rate) was 14 yrs ago for a much simple machine.

Finally, I'll be saving up for new wheels and winter tires. If I get them from the States, they will be cheaper ($2500). In Canada, likely closer to $3600 - $4000.

And here I thought target shooting was expensive! I'm also telling myself it is much cheaper than what my parents paid for a year of piano lessons. It's been fun and I'm enjoying the process more now that I seem to be over my sadness.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fun Times!

I'm at an interesting financial cross roads and will be taking the month of May or beyond if needed to feel things out a bit.

My "annuity" from D is scheduled to start next year. For new readers who may not know what I'm talking about, it is the amount of money that D needs to fully own 50% of our properties, to be a true partner. As it is important for him to do so, we have come to call the equalization payment my annuity.

The value of it sits at around $133000. So, what that means is that I've overpaid by that amount and have continued to pour in mortgage prepayments weekly with the hopes of ending our ties to the bank earlier. What that also means is my annuity starts earlier.

I'm asking myself whether it matters to me to have my annuity start earlier? Or would I like to start saving again and stop right now?

If you ask D, his answer would be stop right now. That I've done enough. Cut that stressful part out of your life. He is fully capable of handling things from here. Just back off.

Guess it isn't much in my nature to back off. It has gotten me this far in life, not without some health costs though. Being somewhat of a control freak still, I worry about things falling apart if I don't keep my finger in it.

The interesting part is even I have to admit we are close enough to the end. More importantly to D, it is a symbol of my confidence in him and his career to carry us through the rest of it. So he is taking my controlling behaviour personally.

I will not be making additional prepayments this month. Instead I will put the monies into a savings account and letting it sit there while I ponder if I can be done with all this.

In other news, I just receive the last of my trip refunds. It totalled more than I expected which is always exciting. I was supposed to receive only 50% back from Icelandair and they must have added some airport taxes into it mix as I received 72% back. Cool!

The funds have already been spent again as D and I just confirmed a trip to Italy (Venice) together in June. I've been harping about us going since my short stay there last Nov and I'm really excited we can do this trip together.

He has some strong ideas about travel destinations due to his limited holidays ie. I couldn't pay him to come to Iceland and Sweden with me. I'm fortunate I have time to do both.

Finally, it has been impossible not to drive with a smile these days. I'm really happy with my new (to me) vehicle. It is a true indulgence and not about going green. I couldn't go down to pick it up myself because I was too upset about letting go of my old car. That didn't bother D too much as he loved driving it home.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On Frugality

Having bumbled and mumbled my way through this blog since Sept '08, I've found my identification of frugality has changed.

I spend some time reading through a blog I had found in my early blogging days but had stopped reading because it made me feel guilty I wasn't doing more to be more frugal or environmentally friendly.

I realize that other people can only make me feel what I allow. My competitive nature can get me into trouble as I like to challenge myself to see if I can it too.

Some changes have been great. Others made me feel unnecessarily miserable. If you look hard enough, you'll find someone out there who is more extreme than you.

Part of the art of living your life is finding how the way you live falls within the spectrum of life.

It would certainly be neater and easier if we all started with say 100 units of "life energy" which we could use to create our life. Some of us may choose to have a larger house, others may choose to have to spend it on a larger family.

Life isn't compartmentalized so neatly. There will always be those with more and less than you. And no one is 100% right or wrong in how they choose to live.

We may be able to agree on some facts about global warming or peak oil and modify our lifestyles accordingly. Some may choose to ignore it.

That's where the consciousness part of living comes in. If you choose to live a certain way, act a certain way, own it and the consequences that come of it. Isn't that what being an adult is all about?

I'm happy to report I've matured since 2008.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Getting Ready

D and I have a few exterior house maintenance jobs on tap this summer. The largest one involves painting -- Garage door, exterior doors, trim and sunroom. We've decided on the colour so it is now a matter of weather cooperation to mark the start.

Eventually we will have to replace the garage door and opener but I hope it can hang in there for a few more years yet. The current door is made of wood. I will go with a metal one next time as it is much lighter and easier to maintain.

May 1st is the start of our time of use electrical billing in our area. We have already started doing laundry on weekends. Drying laundry is usually outside during the summers.

We finished installing blinds on all south facing windows and they will be closed during the day time to help deflect heat away as to lower the amount of AC usage. I'm curioius to see our first bill as we believe ourselves to be quite conservative already.

I've found someone to take down the dead tree at the cottage. No reply yet from the prospective roofer for the sunroom.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Cost Per Use

We have been gliding along with double the food account money for the last couple of months. Today we did a larger Costco shop as our membership expires April so that we don't have to renew for a few months.

That is one reason I don't have the "Costco American Express" card as you then have to renew right on time. Last year we bought gift cards so that we could still purchase without renewing yet.

Our cost of membership goes down per month this way. Being just the 2 of us, we don't shop there as often as full size families do but find enough savings in what we do buy to justify continued membership.

The last week off has been great. I was pretty productive and got 90% of my list of clean out/organization stuff done. Am a bit tired heading back to work this week and as usual, will need a couple of days before I am revved back up to full frequency.