March Break!

Last Friday we drove to my Moms place in Laval, Quebec.  It was another reason why our budget went to hell, but I will get to that later….  Anyhow, gas prices are ridiculous and I did hesitate (briefly) before taking the trip because I knew it was extra $$$, but visiting family won out (this time).  It was a nice visit, got to see my mom, brother, nieces, nephews and luckily my sister got back from being in Europe the day before we left.  Overall, a short visit, but a nice one.

Soooo, what has been happening in the past month? I did, in fact, start a budget and we worked the jars for about two weeks before it all went for a crap.  Yup, I forgot to factor in property taxes which arrived in my mail and are due before the end of this month (eek!) and I also forgot the quarterly insurance payment (house/vehicles).  Ultimately, I need to rework the plan.  I also realized that working a budget was not enough.  I booked an appointment with the local rep for Edward Jones and Mark and I went there today.  We walked in at 1:00pm and walked out at 5:20pm and it’s official, we have a financial visor.  She looked at all our paperwork, we discussed a lot of options specific to our family’s needs and of course, plans for the future.  She is going to come up with a plan for us and I personally believe it is the first step on the path to fiscal responsibility.  I just wish I would have realized how important it was 20 years earlier!  Two of my priorities for the remainder of this month are to (1) get our emergency/vacation fund sorted out and (2) work on our budget worksheet so that I can get a workable budget into place for next month.  I also plan on reading some more blogs that deal with personal finances/frugal living, there are always ways to improve right?  That being said, I will share two articles from SquawkFox, the first is How to Save Money on Laundry and the second, 50 Ways to Save $1000 a Year.  Enjoy!

So, I haven’t been completely lazy all month.  I have slowly been sorting through closets, drawers and storage areas (not done yet though) and trying to organize our “stuff”.  So far we have donated a fair bit to Value Village (another 3 boxes today!), brought a box of clothes to my sister this past weekend and we listed several items on Kijiji.  It really feels good to purge a lot of the stuff that we have been keeping and not using.  I like that our home does not feel cluttered and combined with the budgeting, we are starting to make wiser purchases.

And finally, on Carla’s blog, she is giving away an awesome mug rug that I would love!  So, to get my name thrown in the hat I will provide the name of a creature that makes my skin crawl:  this one is easy….cockroaches…. nasty!

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Apparently I am a slacker…..

Yes, not posting as often as I should.  guilty 😉

Thanks for pointing that out, Carla…..

So I guess I’ll start with what I accomplished since my last post:

1.  Budget:  Although I have been more conscious of my spending, I haven’t done the actual budget (yet).  That will be my priority for the weekend.

2.  Money Savers: I did go ahead and make the changes to my Cogeco account so that will be a savings of $80/month.  I called about our line of credit through CIBC and they are willing to drop our current interest rate (andf change us to a “secured” line of credit) from prime +3.25% to prime+ 1% but the kicker is that you have to maintain a 30k balance for 4 month and only pay off the interest and they would waive the $499.00 administration fee.  It doesn’t feel like they are actually waiving anything….  I also called MCAP, who we have our mortgage with, and they offered prime+0.5% BUT there are one-time admin and legal fees that would cost us approximately $1200 (give or take a hundred).  Soooo, I am still searching, in the meanwhile I will concentrate on getting that sucker paid down.

3.  Decluttering challenge:  I did A LOT better on this one!  I went through all my paperwork and sent Mark to work with a box of papers to shred.  I apparently am quite the paper hoarder, I had credit card bills, utility bills and bank statements dating back to 2002!  So all my papers are organized in a bankers box with a separate box each for Ryan and Evan (to keep their special papers and stuff).  I also managed to get a few items listed on Kijiji and sold a couple already.

4.  Random Act of Kindness:  I did drop off the non-perishables into the food bank basket at a local grocery store.  I also dropped off a bag of items to Value Village.

5.  Menu Planning:  I started a binder with some of our favourite recipes and threw out a huge pile of recipes that I had ripped out of magazines and never actually tried.  I didn’t actually get around to getting a menu planned but Mark and I have been discussing meals in advance so that at least we have a plan in place.  I think this weekend I may actually try to plan for the week and see how that pans out….

I had to stop by Toyota because there was a recall on the spare tire holder.  They fixed that for me and I had them look at my door because it makes a weird clicking/clunking noise when I open it.  Bottom line, to fix it will require a part, a body shop and about $350.  Ugh.

And that’s been my week so far.

February Challenges

I just got home today from Toronto.  I drove there on Monday to complete some “zoo training” which is a requirement for deploying.  In a nutshell, it is learning how to safely handle venomous snakes and other creepy crawlies.  I had a lot of fun, very interesting stuff, for sure.

So, it’s February!  I officially start with our budgeting and other measures to help save a buck.  Actually, any pennies saved are going directly onto our line of credit so the better I do at being “frugal” the quicker that sucker gets paid off!  Here are some of my goals for this month:

1.  Start Budgeting

I know that this stuff doesn’t happen overnight, at least not for me.  I plan on getting my numbers on paper, setting ourselves up on the jar system and going from there.  It won’t be perfect but over the next few weeks we should be able to work out the kinks.  In the meanwhile, will be tracking purchases and still try to make better choices when it comes to spending.  Fingers crossed!

Note:  today was a no-spend day, hopefully I can do several of those.  I know my willpower suffers greatly once I walk into a store….

2.  Money savers

Where can I make changes that will save us money?  I already called Cogeco today to see if we could get a promotion since our phone/internet/tv is all with them.  I dropped a couple of services and with their promotions we will be saving about $80 a month.  I am also going to try and negotiate a better interest rate on our line of credit and will look into PC Financial line of credits, often you can get zero interest (or close) with balance transfers.  I know there other cost saving measures, and I will be considering all of them this month.

3.  Decluttering challenge

 I really wanted to start on our “utility” room but I know I should really organize all our bills and get our paperwork in order.  Because Carla’s first challenge is “personal space” I am going to work on the  paperwork.   I won’t take any before/after pictures because really it is just about filing everything and tossing out stuff that is no longer needed.  If all goes well, I may move on to organizing my external hard drives.  I have tons of pictures in hundreds of folders, it requires serious attention……

4.  Random Acts of Kindness

Carla is once again challenging us to give back and be better people.  Her challenge this week is to donate food to the food bank.  I already had a bag of non-perishables in the van ready to go but I did go into the pantry and grabbed a can of beets that I *knew* we wouldn’t eat.  So tomorrow I will be dropping the goodies off at our local independent grocer.  As for the item today that I had to toss, donate or give away:  I was preparing my nieces birthday parcel and tossed in a Halloween costume that the kids have outgrown.  That counts, right?

5.  Menu Planning

I am always flying by the seat of my pants and exhausted every evening.  I would like to start a recipe binder with out favourite “tried and true” recipes.  To add to that, I think that by planning menus you can better organize leftovers, make better choices when grocery shopping, and use time more efficiently.  Hopefully by the end of the month I will have recipes in the binder and some meal plans in place.

Hoping to be able to post more often.  Goodnight,

Heidi

Time to Budget

Buying a new house is no cheaper than renovating an older one, at least in my opinion.  So many things we had to do once we moved in:  build a rear deck with wheelchair ramp, eaves-troughs, pave the driveway, front porch – the list goes on.  Anyhow, I would really like to pay off all the debt we have sitting on our line of credit so I have decided to try and tighten our belts a little, follow a budget and join Carla’s budget challenge here.  She also has a February de-cluttering challenge that I could certainly use too, so double the fun I guess….

I have to start by calling and trying to negotiate better rates for our TV, internet and phone.  I also want to try calling the bank and seeing about lowering the interest rate on our line of credit.  We have had it for years and the bank loves to increase our limit but they have yet to decrease the interest rate – go figure.  None of these changes will happen overnight so I guess my big goal for February is to get our budget started, make some changes that will save us money and start using the jar system (cash only, no debit/credit).  As far as de-cluttering goes, I did a lot of that over the holidays but there is always rooms to purge a bit more and between Mark and I we have tons of military kit so I plan on going through several rubbermaid containers and getting that sorted out.  Mark has been promising to get some bookshelves built so that I can unpack the rest of my books, I’ll start bugging him about that too.

I have still been practicing sewing and with a lot of help, managed to make Ryan a set of fleece pajama pants.  I also tried out some oversized coasters and plan on making some rug mugs and trivets.  I have a few patterns I bought on sale at Fabricland so I hope to make a tote bag, a set of curtains for our dining room and a utility bag for Evan’s wheelchair.

 

These oversized coasters were made using fabric from the MODA – Circa 1934 by Cosmo Cricket.  I bought the charm packs here.   I think I may try a simple table runner for our living room next, will post again when it’s done.