debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!

Multitasking


38 Comments

The New Multitasking – Fragmentasking

MultitaskingDoes the word multitasking make you feel energized and alive?

Not the first thing you think of?  It used to be such a cool word when it was the new black.  Kinda like twerking got popular this year (although that word wants to make be barf).  How about selfie?  It’s sorta cute in a narcissistic kind of way!

My form of multitasking is so fragmented, that I wanna coin a new term fragmentasking.  It basically means flipping around from this to that until the time allotted runs out or you go to bed.  Whichever comes first. Fragmentasking sounds like frugal and fraggles so I’m all over that.  Do you fangirls and bros think your tweeps can relate to that?

So on that topic, here’s what my fabulous and frugal days have me fragmentasking about lately, in no particular order, I give you…

THE FRAGMENTASKING LIST

UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna

Home Hardware: UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna – $134.99

Digiwave Digital TV Antenna ANT7286

WALMART: Digiwave Digital TV Antenna ANT7286 – $89.97

1.  Two weeks ago I let you know we were joining the cable cutting club even though, we actually starting discussing this back in March and I even reached out to fellow blogger Kay at Green Money Stream inquiring about what type of digital antenna they got.  The Irishman has been researching Walmart, The Source, Staples and Home Hardware but we still are antennaless, and alas not cableless … yet.  Enough already.  I still don’t know how I’m gonna watch THE LITTLE COUPLE yet (man I love that show! eeek… I forgot to watch it last night!!!  Oh, man, I guess I won’t miss it that much), so that’s on my fragmentasking list to research.

2.  I had a killer week last week – a project Go Live and there was a last minute glitch identified Tuesday that had to be addressed by Thursday so we could run all the batch jobs over the weekend.  Some configurations had to be updated that had not been detected during testing (grrr…) so three twelve hour days later all the work was completed.  I had to really ignore my fragmentasking during this time because I suck at it and apparently Stefanie from the Broke and Beautiful Life does too.  So I followed the advice I gave Stefanie and said “Hold all calls” (in my head, gee I’ve always wanted to say that), until the work was done.  A little bit of fallout this week that I’m dealing with, unrelated to the initial issue, but hey, that’s life my job.

3.  After a nice Father’s Day brunch at one of my daughter’s, The Irishman, my youngest and I actually spent Sunday afternoon working on stage 2 of garage cleanup.  It was easier with three of us doing it together and I was really pleased that my OCD daughter was able to put herself out there and brave the dirty disgusting garage.   We sorted through a bunch of stuff and The Irishman took a load of donations to Value Village.  Weather was great and we were tired and sore by 5 p.m.  A bunch of garbage got picked up today on trash day.  Good riddance!  Stage 3 fragmentask and possibly 4 will be needed, but they should get easier, now that we’ve cleared up a lot of room.  Not the funnest day to spend Father’s Day but he seemed pleased with the progress and I was a happy mama!  Here’s a before picture but you can’t see final until it’s all done!

garage-before-cleaning4.  So needless to say, with Father’s Day and garage cleaning, I haven’t made any progress yet on my stock portfolio tracking to get comfortable with making the big move to a self-managed retirement portfolio.   I’m very meticulous and very nervous so this will take me some time, but I’m committed to do this.  Is anyone else hearing about a stock market correction?  I keep hearing one is coming, but the quick glance at the daily emails I get, so far so good.

chip-system-grocery-saving5.  Another fragment on my plate is dealing with how to reduce our grocery bill which for us is $800/month but it includes pet food, paper products, toiletries – basically anything we buy at Costco, any grocery stores and Shopper’s Drug Mart.  I use MINT so it’s just easier to have all those stores go to our grocery budget line.   We’ve  been eating our pantry right now so that’s all we’ve done in the short term, but still need to delve in it more.  One idea I’ve had (since The Irishman seems to love going to grocery stores ug and we like to use credit cards to get the cash back rewards), is to use a copycat cash system.  I would get 30 poker chips and two baskets – one spent and unspent.  Every time one of us spends $20 of this grocery budget, we move a chip over to the spent basket.  This way there is a visual of how much money is left and we need to figure out how to make it last until the end of the month.

6.  On the topic of savings, Money Ahoy’s Derek is preaching to my choir when he said Turn Off Your Outside Lights at Night.  I don’t believe you need to leave the outside lights on when you go to bed or even later in the evening.  The Irishman likes to leave the back deck light on for security reasons but I think it’s redundant.  We had front yard lights on a few weeks ago when he left his truck unlocked and someone went in and stole his GPS.  Grrrr… laughs on them though because they didn’t take the charger and the dang thing never holds a charge anymore.

7.  I tried been trying to keep up with my blog reading and it’s not that easy.  Wave your hand if you also have that problem.  I can get caught up one day and then fall right back behind the next.  I’m a little anal and hate to miss a cool post so I pretty much scan them all or at a minimum read the title and see if it ‘speaks to me’.  That, coupled with finding new blogs to read and going back to read replies to comments I’ve left leaves me in a big taskfragging heap and we’ll just leave it at that.  😀

8.  In my blog blitz catchup earlier this week I came across The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak from Trent @ The Simple Dollar and I’ve been giving it some thought as I soak in the tub (fragmentasking at it’s best!).   I guess it’s really all about the law of diminishing returns and finding that sweet spot where pleasure is maximized and more doesn’t lead to minimize it.  Confused?  Go read Trent’s post.  It’s kinda cool.

9.   Speaking of momentary pleasures, for a fleeting moment I got to dream about my future after reading Mr. CBB’s Can you picture yourself living the retired life?  It doesn’t mean I’ll be fragmentasking any less, but on my own terms, you betcha!

The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak – See more at: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-addiction-of-momentary-pleasure-and-seeking-the-peak/#sthash.KiE86Cf7.dpuf
The Addiction of Momentary Pleasure and Seeking the Peak – See more at: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-addiction-of-momentary-pleasure-and-seeking-the-peak/#sthash.KiE86Cf7.dpuf

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Prakairoj / Business Man And Post Memo Around Body
Salvatore Vuono / Casino Chips

baseball


52 Comments

Curve Balls – When You Are Hit With Unexpected Financial Events

baseballSpring is here, B-B-Q’s have been lit up and summer’s just around the corner.  Kids are starting their summer activities, whether it be swimming, soccer, football or some form of baseball.  I’ve been thinking about the latter as I review the series of financial events that delivered us to this point in our season.  There were a number of ups and downs that I consider curve balls that we needed to ‘deal’ with and not lose our drive.  So it made sense for me to use baseball terms to relay to you how my winter – spring financial season went.

The Home Team

T-ballMy husband’s income is variable, based on the demand.  He is a real estate appraiser, so swings are inevitable based on the time of year and the market.  Normally, he does receive enough bread and butter engagements to meet a minimum – moderate level of income and that is what I base our debt repayment plans on.  The idea being that it should feel like we’re playing T-ball.  The figure I use for this is $2,400 per month, which gets paid in two installments, the 15th and last day of the month.  He gets paid one month in arrears, meaning he gets paid next month for the work he did this month.  Therefore I know now, what his income will be for June, as an example.

Basically, as part of the battery, all of his income and some of mine goes to debt.  Anything he makes above that budget amount is a bonus baby which we also apply to debt to help us meet our goals even sooner than our five year plan.   Usually, we are able to stick with this as I have all foreseen expenses budgeted (including car repairs, etc.).  However, I don’t move unspent budgeted money that may be needed later into a separate cash account.  Maybe I should, because it can get messy and feels like we have a dead arm, when all of a sudden we do have a big bill, but I’ve already skimmed off the money and applied to debt.

Opening Season

good-baseball-pitcherSo looking back to the beginning of the year, January was a tough month, because he had not one engagement last December – a strikeout.  So there was no money coming from him for January.  That was our first curve ball.  Debt repayment goal could not be met, or at least not fully.  I scrimped together $1,000 from some actual and anticipated expense savings whilst declaring a bean soup and scrambled eggs on toast menu plan would get us through the lean winter months.  That $1,000 payment felt like damage control.  As the umpire, I had to watch the game closely, even if hoping the home team could steal a base to regain control of the game.

Then I got small hit on a curve ball, when he told me he could give me $2,000 he was saving in his business account which was for an upcoming annual business insurance premium of $3,100 due soon.  We decided we could put the insurance on the credit card giving us one extra month to pay and gaining cash back points, and hopefully business would pick up and we’d be in for a bit of slow pitch now that the Christmas season was over.  He never could explain what happened in December.  Normally it does slow down, but it has never come to a shutout like it did for him in 2013.   He did, however, land a large contract for the city which we could count on down the road because it wouldn’t pay out for a few months.

Regular Season Begins

baseball-player-in-the-airWell that softball turned into hardball pretty quick when we saw that January was not looking very good either.  He ended $1,100 short from our minimum goal.  With two away and two down, I was starting to get kind of panicky.  I had slowed our debt repayment, but we were committed on a low rate cash transfer credit card that needs to be fully paid by August of this year.  We had put a $24,700 lump sum against our 2.89% mortgage debt last Sept, planning to pay the 0.99% credit card off at $2,250 for 11 months.  Yes, I know this is just swapping debt for debt, but was at a lower interest rate and with no transfer fee. It seemed like a good idea since we were planning to make prepayments of more than that amount monthly.  Of course, we had no foresight of the earnings slump that was to come.

We were window shopping for strike 3 near the end of February when it looked like his income for that month to be paid in March was going to fall $700 short from our @2,400 target.  Not only that, but now we had an over $5K Visa payment due in early March (remember the $3,100 insurance above) plus $2,700 of first installment of property taxes due in March.  Normally I put $450/month in my Emergency Fund each month to build up enough to cover property taxes.  Well, with robbing Peter to pay Paul, that didn’t happen, and things were getting very precarious, indeed!

The Losing Streak

empty-baseball-fieldAt this point we are $4,200 negative on budgeted earnings plus I needed to find an additional $1,100 to make up the insurance payment for which he had only $2K for ($3,100 – $2,000).

What did I do?  Bring in a pinch hitter? I scoured the internet looking for part-time job possibilities and while I was doing that I turned into a blogger.  Overnight.  Magically.  Just like that.

I had no knowledge of the term side hustle.  I didn’t think I had the stamina to work 2 shifts per week at Shoppers Drug Mart after a brain draining workday.  I also decided early on that making money at blogging would, for me, be undoubtedly very difficult.  And yet, I was incredibly stressed and needed somewhere to unload.  So a blogger I became.

I dug-out our Emergency Fund.  I know JMoney says No Touchy! but we were dealing with a job loss of sorts (hey, where did all the fans go?).  That is what your E-fund is for.  Unforeseen events that you have no control over.  Okay, broken washing machines and vehicles kind of are too, I’ll give you that.  But hypothetically we are supposed to have a separate maintenance/stuff breaks fund to deal with that.   Some of us do not, but choose to keep our E-fund nice and high to cover that as well.   [Future post coming during the championships about how I plan to increase my Emergency Fund and why.]

Regular Season Ends

Batter-upThen we hit two home runs in a row.  The first was a due to a change-up with a family member and it was an out-of-the-park HR.  My husband is a licensed realtor and acted as agent for my sis and BIL to buy a new home and sell their existing home.  He had not intended on charging them any commission and in turn, return to them the fee he received from the purchase of their new home.  They insisted that we keep his earned commission from the purchase and in return for not taking a commission on the sale of their home they wanted to take us on a cruise (which we gratefully declined).

So that $4,000 yacker saved our home game and I started to relax a bit. Our second inside-the-park home run was that my husband’s March income exceeded our target by $1,600.  This was because of the completion of the large contract that he had been working on for a couple of months.  The regular small housing jobs were coming in, but at a rate lower than last year.  It was hard to say if business would increase to the same levels as before.  I might need to revisit my @2,400 / month projection if this continues.

I still kept blogging, as I soon realized I still had a lot to learn and I also had a story to tell as part of the Hot Stove League.   Maybe, just maybe, I could help others and maybe, just maybe, I could develop my blog into a retirement side hustle of my own.

Post Season

slide-into-baseAs we enter the seventh-inning stretch I see that I need to examine my slugging averages more closely because although the actual income has finally caught up with planned income, my Emergency fund is still $2,100 lower than it should be.  I can account for $1,100 of that being the passed ball shortfall in the insurance premium that I had not budgeted for plus $450 of missing tax savings that I did not fund one month when I was doing a suicide squeeze.

If I can continue to play ball, the plan is to pay $2K per month to the low rate credit card to have it knocked out of the park before the interest rate goes up ($6K – 3 more payments to go).  I’m not sure if I will deploy this strategy again, as it certainly has been a nail-biter.  I may just decide to become a patient hitter and just pay any excess towards debt as it comes so I don’t stress myself out so much.

Now I’ve got some good news about breaking balls and some bad news bears to share as we head into the wild-card playoff.  What d’ya want first?  Okay, the bad news it is – as in a grouch Uncle Charlie of My Three Sons curve ball when I received something in the mail yesterday.  I saw the word Justice on the envelope thinking it was a call to Jury Duty as I quickly tore it open only to find a RED LIGHT CAMERA SYSTEM OFFENCE NOTICE for my car which I was not driving on a particular day in a certain area to the tune of $325.  Ya, sucks the big ball$.

So that somebody, who shall remain nameless, worked his a$$ off this month (as luck would have it) and will bring in ticket sales of $3,200 next month which is $800 greater than minimum plan.  So two things we learned here folks – housing market is moving again in Canada and don’t run red lights when you’re debt wrangling or playing a perfect inning.

To mop up this post, I must confess that I knew little about baseball.  Just like me, you can learn how to manage your finances better too!  You just need to get in the game, define your level playing field and don’t stop short when things don’t go your way and you’re down and outHome plate will still be there, even if you need to round the bases a few times.  It’s practice and green lights that will get you the Commissioner’s Trophy and make you a champion of the series in your world.
Home-Game-Baseball

Images courtesy of flickr.com
Baseball glove / Andrei Niemimäki
T-ball / Chris Harrison
Baseball pitcher / Ralph Arveson
First base / Jonathon Assink
Baseball field / JACoxwell
Baseball batter / Eric Ward
Slide into base / Sherri Abendroth
Home field / Sherri B


24 Comments

Worth it Wednesday ~ Dear Debt Letter

debt debs ransom-note-

Debt sent me a ransom note … I’m so ignoring him

Worth-it-Wednesday is here a little early because Melanie at deardebt.com enticed me to write my debt breakup letter.  It is such a great idea but as I started to write, I found Debt was sitting on my shoulder watching every word I typed.  In usual fashion he decided to chime in.  Go on over and check out what I and he had to say.  He’s a gnarly little fellow.  So here is me, writing my taking back my life letter, and this is how it went … Dear Debt …

In other news….Nutcracker by artur84 from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

DD#3_targetsMy #3 daughter gave me the best Mum’s day present on Sunday when she told me her student debt from her Masters degree was all paid off!   About a year ago we sat down and did a Gail Vaz-Oxlade analysis on her expenses to see if it fit into Gail’s guidelines for Housing – Transportation – Life – Debt – Savings of 35% – 15% – 25% – 15% – 10%.    Now, she did have more than could be paid off in a year but she received a very sizable income tax refund so was able to completely extinguish it this weekend.  I was so happy!! 

I didn’t know how serious she was taking it from when we last talked about it and I don’t like to nag.  Well, more honestly, I was probably afraid of being disappointed, so in usual fashion I buried my head in the sand.  (Hey, it’s her debt, not mine!  … even though I did feel partly responsible for not setting a better example on how to handle money.)  She used to be a bit spendy and she likes to travel.  Plus, her once famous quote “I’ll always be in debt” used to make me cringe, so I figured she was going to be a hard nut to crack.

Look the nut is cracked open into a heart shape ... ahhhh!

Look the nut is cracked open into a heart shape … ahhhh!

But I guess Mum’s persuasion and some new found frugalness on her part was just what was needed to crack that nut open.  She thanked me because she said I helped her to see it was possible to eliminate her debt.   🙂   I guess I can really move on from my guilt trip now.  Heeee …

Image Credits from FreeDigitalPhotos.net:
Nutcracker by artur84
Walnuts In Love by Aleksa D

 


11 Comments

Where we are at now at the start of this blog … 2 years after D-day!

rough seasOK so I started this blog with my first posts explaining why I’m here and where we started from 2 years ago.

Now time to give you the current status.  In the early months I cried buckets of tears and lots of expletives were delivered.  Eventually I started putting one foot in front of the other and started to plan and deploy, plan some more and execute some more.

The Irishman pretty much left me to it, rather sheepishly.  I think he was burnt out on it all anyways so he tried to focus on making income and offering some suggestions on things we could cancel and save on.  It really is a process.  There’s stuff in the early days that I couldn’t even fathom doing without.  Now I’m a lot more brazen, in most areas… though I still have a few sacred cows that I’ll save for a later post (I’ll likely need support in order to ditch the bitches!) Continue reading