debt debs

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


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Debt Debs Super Duper Advice

debt-debs-adviceDid you see the great post compiled by Mark @ MoneySavingDude which compiles 50+ Money Saving Tips From Some of The Best Personal Finance Bloggers Today?

There’s a great variety of ideas from lots of great experiences all collected in one spot.  Mark did a great job on compiling that post.  I was so impressed that I took him up on his offer to promote myself add my own.  #growingmyfangirls&homeboys

This got me thinking about all the things I have learned over the last 2+ years of our debt recovery journey.  We’ve made so many mistakes, that I could do a Do’s and Don’ts, but I wanted to keep this positive.   So with the World Cup Fever upon us, let’s just call this the FIFA List (Finance Is Freakin’ Awesome).  So here’s my list of things I wish my former self knew already:
FIFA

  1. Track your spending!  Yes, I know you think it’s boring but once you make it a habit, it is not.  Just start.  Make a plan of what you can afford to spend against your income (a budget) and stay within it.  If you blow some categories one month, just pick yourself up and do better next month.  You can cut back (eat your pantry) on groceries next month or reallocate from a category you are under budget on.   Use a piece of paper, excel, MINT, YNAB… whatever… just do it!
  2. Stop buying stuff! It’s just crap! More stuff to dust, giveaway, throw away later. Live a minimalist lifestyle and put value where it belongs on activities and experiences and people!
  3. Use credit cards for rewards only if they are for things you need and are lucrative.  i.e. Cash in the hand for cash back cards are the best.  Travel can be good if you can work it so that you are saving a lot for planned travel.  Anything else that causes you to buy things you don’t need, or travel a particular way you normally wouldn’t are not what you are looking for.  Look for cards that give you 4% on ‘needs’ purchases – gas and groceries.
  4. Always pay off your credit cards monthly, the only exception being in step 5 below.
  5. Use low rate balance transfer cards with discretion and manage very carefully. Use them to your advantage to pay off a higher interest debt but don’t get caught with your pants on the ground! I can’t stress this enough!  So here are the conditions:
    1. Under no circumstances let anything else be charged to this card while you have an open balance. This happened to us for an annual renewal that we forgot about and we have paid $20 more interest as a result. Hey, you don’t think that’s much? I’ll take $20 any day!
    2. Don’t pay a balance transfer fee. Usually they are at about 1% but sometimes more. Negotiate for a 0% balance transfer or wait for that deal to come along. We were constantly being solicited to do one of these transfers and we said only if they would waive the transfer fee, which they did, and the interest reate is only 0.99%.
  6. Pay off your home in 15 years. How to do this and why?
    1. How?: Take out your mortgage for 20 or 25 years but ensure you have prepayment privileges so you can pay extra throughout the year and with a high enough maximum so that it will be gone within 15.
    2. Why?:

i.      You want to have cushion in your amortization period so that if worst case happens, job loss or illness, you have some buffer and don’t get stressed about it, as you might if you only had an amortization period of 15 years.

ii.      It’s better to be able to pay extra through out the year. Otherwise you need to be very disciplined to save the extra $3K to make the prepayment before your annual anniversary.

iii.      Most people buy their homes when they are starting out and before kids start coming. By the time your oldest is preteen, there’s other expenses to worry about like sports and activities (hey kids are expensive!) and having your mortgage gone gives you greater flexibility and more opportunity to save for university costs and extra for retirement*.

iv.      I don’t advocate skipping your retirement savings during this period of mortgage repayment. You should be doing both simultaneously. Your budget should be tight, but it should be doable. If you can’t, then maybe you should consider that you bought too much house.

Guess which one is featured on 50+ Money Saving Ideas?

Pay-off-Mortgage-in-15

So on the topic of Lessons Learned, although I’m still learning the ropes on blogging, and I might have already shared a thing or two on that too, I like to include stuff as I go along this new journey of PF blogging.
(PF = Personal Finance or Pretty Freakin’, your choice 😉 ).

blogger-carnivalI recently signed up for some blogger carnivals and learned a couple of things I’d like to share:

  1. It is the host’s discretion which posts to feature for that week.  Some hosts seem to cover all posts submitted.  Others just pick up the top ten.
  2. If your host is not picked up, you can try to submit again in the next week.  General rule of thumb is that the post should be less than two weeks old, but I’m not sure how ‘official’ or enforced that is.  I’m still learning, but I’m thinking that you could submit something up to a month old, possibly.  That’s what I’m going to try to do and we’ll see how it goes.  Let’s face it, if you don’t get picked up one week, it’s pretty hard to only submit posts that are less than two weeks old.  That’s why I’m thinking there may be some leniency there but we’ll see.
  3. Some carnivals are not posting regularly per the schedule.  I tried contacting the hosts to see what’s up with that, but have not had much success.  You can contact me directly if you have any questions in this regard.
  4. Keep a record in an excel file or something of what posts you submitted to what carnival.  You don’t get an email once your submission is received and it’s easy to lose track if you are submitting a few at a time.  If it doesn’t get picked up, the situation gets even more confusing a few days down the road.
  5. If you’re post is picked up, then you should receive a ping back.  What I did not know, but Harry Campbell from Your Personal Finance Pro helped clarify, is you are supposed to include a link to the carnival on your site.  Duh!  Makes sense right?  It doesn’t have to be a separate post.  You can just tag it on one of your posts or include in a weekly roundup if you normally have these.

 
So here are the carnivals that I have had posts featured on:

The link above is for PF blogger carnivals but I’d also like to point out Mel @ BrokeGIRLRich did a really great post on blog parties called Personal Finance Blog Hops and Link Ups.  Again, these are PF related, but these are common in the blogging community on many niche areas it seems.

keep-calmLastly, while I’m at it, I would like to shout out to these folks who have featured my posts in the last month.  Okay I’ve never done this before and honestly did not know this was blogger etiquette.  Duh! Again!  Now I understand why people cover this in their weekly highlight posts!!  I won’t be tardy in my backlink love in the future.  Live and Learn …

Can A Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis? – Thank you Brian, John, Shannon and Hayley who featured this post on Debt Discipline – Week End Roundup #33, Frugal Rules –Thank You for Serving!, Financially Blonde –Weekly Roundup and A Disease Called Debt – New Blog Design Soon – Hayley’s had her new blog out for a few weeks and it looks fabulous!
Curve Balls – When You Are Hit With Unexpected Financial Events was in Young Adult Money’s The Weekly Quick Hits Roundup – Thanks DC!

Couple’s Money Conversations to Avoid was link loved in Everybody Loves Your Money –Link Love – 6/6/14

Two Key Blogging Tips to Help Your Brand and Exposure was helpful to The Write Budget – Weekly Wrap Up #18 – Back to the Beach.  Lauren was able to fix her favicon so that it showed up on the browser tab instead of the little navy blue Bluehost squares.  I was really happy that the tips were helpful!

Debt Games – was a guest post I did at Kayla’s site Shoeaholic No More when we did a blog swap and she wrote Debt and the Single Girl here.  Tonya @ Budget and the Beach enjoyed that post as well and featured it in her Feeling Guilty/Link Love.

Father’s Frugal Finances – was liked by Debby aka Little Miss Money aka Ginger on a Mission in Day 246 – Public Transportation: a Comparison.  She’s over in Belgium right now training for her new job and had something to say about New York City versus Belgium transportation systems.  Jason aka Dividend Mantra was long 🙂 on love in his Weekend Reading – June 21, 2014.

Whew!  I just realized this is a combo post, personal finance advice and new blogger advice all rolled into one.  Something for everyone.  😉   Actually, not really, but once I start doing my investment portfolio updates – watch out!  In the meantime, I hope that you found something useful!

“Advice” Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“Funfairs Carnivals” Image courtesy of Nathan Greenwood / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Smile House” Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Top Ten Reasons You Need to Manage Your Finances

Big big post for you here today folks.  It’s time for another Top Ten Reasons à la David Letterman style. This time I’ve brought my good blogger friends to back up my points.  You know, just so you don’t think I make this stuff up and all.

Last time I did the Top Ten I kinda screwed it up. I forget that Dave goes in reverse. What can I say? I was a Leno fan.

Speaking of the Tonight Show, who’s enjoying it with Fallon as the host? I love the opening music (don’t ask why, but if I turn the channel too late after watching the news and miss the opening music I’m bummed up.  Hey hey hey hey….Hey hey hey hey… Hey hey hey hey… hey hey hey hey)

It’s definitely different than Leno. I like the musical numbers he does.  Plus he does a good Vladimir Putin.  I miss headlines, and jaywalking though. Did anyone see it the other night when they had the zoo animals on?  No?  Okay well you’re in luck because I have it for you below.

At about 3 minutes in the trainer pretended the little albino alligator snapped at Jimmy and he ended up in the corner because he got so scared.   Then they brought the big mama albino alligator out and he looked like he was going to run out of the studio. Meanwhile his female guest, Rosario Dawson, was handling the little white baby like a pro.

You can view the video directly on YouTube by clicking here

Also see the follow-on video with Roxie the big big elephant here.  I’m a little reluctant to share these videos because I’m not a big fan of animals in captivity.  Share your thoughts in the comments, if you like.

Anyways, I digress, so back to the Top Ten.

Top Ten Reasons You Need to Manage Your Finances

goats-kids#10.  Your kids – Read this heartfelt story from Vanessa of the Cash Cow Couple who wrote at The Heavy Purse

The Surprising Consequences of Keeping Your Kids in the Dark about Your Finances

Vanessa explains how important it is to explain any ways you are managing money in an open and practical manner, focusing on the positive with your children.  You do not want to create fear in your child which can develop into unhealthy money and spending habits that take years to overcome.  As a mother, I wonder if I’ve made these mistakes, even if meaning well.  All I can do is look forward and help educate other parents about this as well.

Top Ninth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

fast-food-not-frugal#9.  You may end up having to go on a cash diet – Grayson Bell at Frugal Rules is putting himself on one because he says he’s spending too much on fast food.

It is Time to go on a Cash Diet

There’s no shame if you have to go this route, it’s better than letting a problem perpetuate and maybe become an even harder habit to break.  I’ve decided I may need to put The Irishman on a cash grocery diet if the poker chips don’t work.  What is it with men and grocery stores?  Is it just mine?  OK, then, carry on.

Top Eighth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

duck-bill#8.  You may be paying for stuff you don’t know about – Dee at Color Me Frugal found out the hard way when she was suddenly billed for something that apparently was in the contract but they weren’t aware.

Why It’s Important to Check in With Your Billers Regularly

At least through some whining negotiating she was able to cut her losses in half, but if she hadn’t checked her bill closely she would have been none the wiser for that time and going forward.  BTW, the duck named Bill totally agrees with me.

Top Seventh Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Bread#7.  You’re paying for a lot more than the food you order when you eat out according to Karen at Suburban Finance.

Hidden Costs in Restaurants

She reminds us of the extra costs of sides and add-ons as well as the variability across geographies.  What get’s me the most is how these options are always presented in such a way as to make you think they are doing you a big favour, bringing you bread or asking if you like something extra, with no hint that there’s extra cost involved and they’re just trying to up-sell and increase they’re profit margin.  Good marketing for them… bad for you and your pocketbook!  Besides who wants to pay extra for bread that looks like worms?

Top Sixth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

gas-prices#6.  You may be missing out on better opportunities if you don’t do the math and calculate your costs that support your income earning potential or even just your costs to support your family.  How many times have you driven across town to hit a sale but basically blew most of your savings on gas?  Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff discusses how this has impacted her in:

Opportunity Costs at Work

Now with the price of gas these days is through the roof.  I use GasBuddy.com to find the best prices in my vicinity.  $139.8/litre last reported 50 minutes ago at my favourite nearby station (which in US gas terms is $4.915/gal  using these handy dandy Bank of Canada daily currency converter and gas converter tools!)

Top Fifth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Germany#5. What if a great opportunity came along, something you always wanted to do but then you couldn’t because you didn’t have the financial means necessary to support the endeavor?  So like, let’s just say that Erin of Broke Millennial had this chance (she doesn’t) to move to Germany (she’s not) but didn’t have the funds to pay her way over until she could get reimbursed by her new employer?  Ya, that would suck ay?  Well Erin explores all things about why she should move to Germany in … drum roll…

Perhaps I Should Move to Germany?

Basically she proves that she would never be caught with her pants on the ground and not ready to move to Germany or anywhere if the right opportunity came up because she rocks managing her money!!   Besides, who wouldn’t want to move to Germany on a moment’s notice with cool looking architecture like this?

flickr-John-MorganTop Fourth Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

#4.  If you manage your finances then you have extra money to buy important stuff like dividend paying stocks which is a nice form of passive income.  I don’t have any extra money these days so I just drool when I read posts like this from Dividend Mantra.

Recent Buy

So I just follow a long like I’m using play monopoly money so I can learn the ropes and look forward to the day when I have some extra cash and I can write a post call Recent Buy except I will call it Decent Recent Buy, because my name is Debt Debs and I have to get at least one D and some rhyme in there because that’s how I roll.

Top Third Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

Dollar-Store-shopping#3.  Wow, I can’t believe I’m already at #3.  For this one I need to say categorically you need to manage your finances so that you can shop at the dollar store.  Huh?  Yes, you need to shop at the dollar store for two reasons.  #1 you can get some okay things at the dollar store and there is no reason to go buy some overpriced thing when the dollar store version is just fine.  Girl Meets Debt knows about some of these things and also some that you should not buy at the dollar store.

5 Things to Buy (and Avoid) at the Dollar Store

I’d like to add pens to her list of things to buy at the dollar store.  But what’s the #2 reason you need to shop at the dollar store?  You need to remember what it was like when you shopped at the dollar store to get your shopping fix because you didn’t have any money and spending just $10 on some dish cloths, some plastic hangers, a couple of cards and a candle was enough to make you realize, you didn’t need to shop anymore to feel good.  Stay humble…. and never be a collector of needless stuff again.

Top Second Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

standard-poodle#2.  If something is really important to you and you need money for it, it’s not fun when you don’t have the money for it.  Our beloved standard poodle passed away January 2013, and though I still grieve for him, I think I will soon be ready to get another Standard Poodle, this time from a rescue organization like SPIN or SPRO.  It just sucks that we don’t have the money in our budget because pets can be expensive.  But I bawled my eyes out yesterday when I read about LBee & the Money Tree having a really rough week losing her beloved dog, Murray.

For Murray

Her love for that pooch was so apparent in her words and the wonderful pictures she shared.  It reminded me how much we loved and miss Fergus, and know that one day, we will share our love again with a standard poodle rescue.  It’s not a matter of if, it’s when.  And if I had been a better money manager, it would be tomorrow that I would get another dog.

The #1 Top Reason You Need to Manage Your Finances

happy-piggybank#1.  And the #1 reason why you need to manage your finances is an oldie but goodie found on Rockstar Finance from Will at First Quarter Finance.  You may find out that you actually enjoy saving money!

How to Enjoy Saving Money!

Now there’s a novel concept, and one, I myself, can vouch for!  Go figure…

Images courtesy of morguefile except where noted
Monopoly Money / John Morgan / flickr
Dollarama / Michael_Swan / flickr

Happy #FinSavSat folks!  Enjoy your weekend!

Debt Discipline
Multitasking


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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

My-Dad


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Father’s Frugal Finances

The best example I have had for being frugal has come from my father. In fact, we often thought he was downright miserly.  Somehow, it might have backfired, given our current financial situation. There may have been some moments that I thought he was just too cheap for his own good. Maybe this stuck with me and I swung the pendulum too far the other way. In retrospect, he really has set a good example and one which I wish I had heeded a long time ago.

powdered-milk-frugalChildhood Currency

As a child I remember asking him how much money he made. Both of my parents scoffed and said “Oh, we don’t talk about that.” They realized I would blab to all my friends, even if I didn’t realize if it was a good wage or not, it certainly would seem enormous to me. They didn’t get the blabbing part wrong. Look at me now – a blogger!

But my impression was that we were a little poorer than my friend’s families. Not by a lot, and probably not at all, but hearing frugal talk in the household, drinking powdered milk (yucch, I hated that stuff) are things that may have lead me to this conclusion. My mother didn’t work until my youngest sister turned five, and then she took a part-time job in a retail store.  In general, I grew up feeling like money was not to be wasted, in case you really needed it someday.

Teenage Turns

Imagine my surprise when my parents started taking some winter vacations on their own when we got a little older but were left in the care of our aunt. A cruise, a trip to Florida…. well, well, things must be looking up in the Finance department.  It was probably more like miserly intervention.  My Mum had probably had enough and started threatening and there was probably a few “I deserves” on her part thrown in there too!

Florida-Disney-WorldNext thing I know, they bought a house in Florida. Wow! I didn’t see that coming. Of course it was mortgaged, and it meant seven of us loaded into a sedan for a three day 27 hour drive door to door. Disney World, Busch Gardens, the beach, Tarpon Springs… here we come!   We did this for three Christmases in a row.   We had to save up our own money for any extra spending. Truth be told, I think there was a bit of Jonesying there on the part of my mother when they bought the house, and she convinced him it was an investment. I was even allowed to have a friend fly down to Florida and meet us there.  I wasn’t complaining.

Sixteen years of age and a new driver, I managed to convince my Dad to let me have his car to go to the drive-in with my boyfriend. Looking back, he was pretty accommodating, though I didn’t see it as a big deal at the time. What I did see as a big deal was the scratch I put down the side when I parked too close to the speaker and scraped it a good long streak. I was so terrified of his reaction that I did not sleep a wink all night. I heard him up getting the tea and his breakfast and figured I need to get this over with. I told him what happened and immediately started bawling. He didn’t say a word but went over to look at the car in the driveway from the living room window. Eventually he spoke, asked questions, maybe appeared a little annoyed, but nothing like I expected, and nothing that I can recall now almost 40 years later. I don’t recall if he asked me to pay for repair or if he even had it repaired. All I remember now is my fear and his reaction being not nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be. Even though he was frugal, it appears money wasn’t always front and foremost in his thoughts.

frugal-studentTenant, Tuition and Transportation

I went to university but paid my way, tuition and accommodations.  There was never any discussion of money set aside for me for this. For the most part, I managed quite well, being in a Coop program, so I had good employment work terms between every semester of school.

We had an older used second family vehicle, even though my Mum didn’t drive. It was there for when I was at home for my work terms so I could drive to my job. I was allowed to take it the six hour drive to university for the first weekend of every term so I could take all my stuff, but I had to bring it back the very next weekend and return by bus to university. I often wondered why they didn’t let me keep the car with me at school all term, because it just sat in the driveway at home. It was sort of an unspoken frugality that was practiced.

I could walk to university from the various places I rented during my school terms which were at maximum about 2 miles. I didn’t need a car. I only needed a car to get my stuff down there and back each term (my Coop placements were all in my hometown).  Having a car at university was a want. He probably knew I would get lazy, start driving to school, drive all my friends, spend lots of money on gas, possibly get into an accident… . No, needs they could support. Wants would not be supported.

Even though I would have to buy a one-way bus ticket to get back to school after delivering the car back home (bus tickets weren’t that cheap either), and even though we got rear-ended once on the way home (not our fault, but my friend was driving), this was the standard that was expected all through-out my university years. I was envious of some friends who had cars. I would struggle home with my groceries stuffed in my knapsack and two arms breaking as I tried to carry everything the half a mile to my accommodations.   I think I tried renegotiating the terms once or twice, but for the most part it was accepted by me as a no go, for what-ever reasons, and even if it did not make sense to me.  Laying down the ground work for no lifestyle inflation had begun.

ToyotaGraduation Gifts

My last semester, I already had a full time job lined up for after graduation. I think the second vehicle might have died by this point, but that wasn’t needed as a way to get home that term. I was given a relocation allowance by my employer, whereby I could rent a van to bring all my stuff home, including some furniture that I had managed to leave there for the full four years.

I did need a vehicle though to get to work, and decided I wanted to buy my own brand new car. I planned to live at home for my first year to save up to buy nicer furniture and prepare to move out on my own.   I had my eyes on a Toyota Tercel and went shopping for it with my Dad earlier in the semester, so he could help me to negotiate. They asked for a $100 deposit, which my Dad put down on his credit card. (I don’t think I even had a credit card then). I fully expected to pay it back, once I started working full-time, because money always ran a little short by the time I got to the end of each school term.

Imagine my surprise when I picked up my new car in May, and Dad said I did not need to pay him back the $100. It was a graduation present. A very generous graduation present, I felt. $100 from my Dad felt like $10,000 at the time.  Maybe it was a little bit of foreshadowing to how he is today.

downpayment-for-homeHome Homage

Fast forward, and after a couple of years of apartment rental, it’s time to purchase a home.  Dad lent me some additional money for my down payment.   He set an interest rate that was lower than what I would pay but better than he could get in short term interest bearing investments, so it was a win-win!  I actually didn’t even pay this money back until I was married a few years.  He wasn’t asking for it but I didn’t want to be indebted to him any longer, especially now that I was a mother and with many family responsibilities. Since he was money savvy, he saw an opportunity to help his daughter out and himself, all at the same time.

sandwichBread and Butter

He continued to be quite thrifty, was good at repairs etc. so it wasn’t usual for him to bring in any experts. He cheaped out on house painting, leaving it to my Mum to do.  When she said eventually, that was it, she was doing no more painting, she was too old for this, he had to address.  He asked Huey, Duey and Louie aka my husband and my two BILS to help him paint the living and dining room and hallway one weekend, instead of hiring painters.  My Mum didn’t want to be around so asked me to take her out for the day which I obliged.  So by mid afternoon, the guys were getting hungry.  “Do you have anything to eat, Grandad?”  Oh, sure, he said and made them bread and butter sandwiches*.  They still laugh about Grandad’s cooking prowess to this day.  Not only was he frugal on getting the painting done, but he didn’t even have to score for a pizza!

man-on-phoneBrains or Braun

Years later, Dad took ill suddenly and was diagnosed with a brain tumor on his pituitary gland.  After surgery, he needed hormone replacement therapy, and getting exactly the right dosage is always a matter of trial and error.

At one point, he had so much estrogen in him he was calling us to talk on the phone regularly, crying in front of us and shopping up a storm!  I kid you not!  He went shopping for a sports car with my husband once (didn’t buy one, thankfully)!  He bought new windows for their house and my mother was in her glory!  We said to him “Who are you and what have you done with our father?”

Since he was under close supervision in those early days, the doctors immediately spotted the overdose and cut it back, a little too far, and he went back to his miserly self but worse!  Let me tell ya, those hormones play a big part in this I have witnessed!

Single but Satisfied

Life changes in an instant, and he lost my Mum unexpectedly 9 years ago.  7 years her senior, we never expected things to turn out this way.

He is 89 years old, lives in a rented apartment, still drives and comes to dinner most Saturday nights, bringing a bottle of wine for every meal.  He’s still frugal, but he’s no longer cheap and has become quite  generous.  He complains about how much his stock broker is making off him, but still has quite a bit invested in the market even at his age.

He knows we have cut back and are living frugally, which pleases him, I think.  But I could never tell him the extent of our debt, because I don’t want to disappoint him.

I must say that, as much as I miss my Mum (she was always the life of the party), it has been good to get to know my Dad even better in her absence.  I often think about their situation, since The Irishman and I have the exact same age difference.

In retrospect, I think my Dad has the right amount of frugality and I think that at the end of the day, I do too!

* You must go visit Liquid Independence’s Toast Sandwich Recipe.  Who knew that there really was such a thing as bread and butter sandwiches? I guess, Dad did.  Pass the cheese, please.  😉

My-DadHAPPY FATHER’S DAY to all you Dads out there!

Just remember ~

Time is money, but money also takes time!

 

 

Images courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
milk – imagerymajestic
Disney – David Castillo Dominici
student walking – Ambro
Toyota – tiverylucky
helping hand home – jannoon028
bread and butter – rakratchada torsap
man on phone – stockimages
My Dad – Simon Howden

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The Thrifty Issue
no-ring-not-engaged-or-married


44 Comments

Worth it Wednesday ~ Debt and the Single Girl

Please welcome my pal, Shoe, whooops 🙄 I mean Kayla, who is guest posting here today.  I’m posting over at her site, so head on over there when you’ve finished reading this great share.  Without further ado, or should I say “I do”, I give you … Debt and the Single Girl.


 

no-ring-not-engaged-or-marriedLast week would’ve been my 4th wedding anniversary, if I’d have stayed married. But since I didn’t, June 5th is just a day like any other.

June 5, 2010 was my wedding day. I wore a gorgeous dress and got married to a man I, apparently, didn’t really know. When it came time for my trip down the aisle, I looked up at my dad and bawled.

Talking to my friends and family later, they thought I was crying “happy tears” but in reality, I was terrified and didn’t really want to go through with my wedding; if I had known then what I know now I wouldn’t have said “I do” to that cheater.

Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to go and get all sentimental and weepy on you! I actually learned a lot about myself and what I want in life by going through that experience. I know it did me good and I’m a lot stronger for it now. Plus now I’m comfortable and I actually love being single!

With that said, I think it’s important to note that paying off debt while single has its own set of advantages and disadvantages when compared to paying off debt while married or in a long-term relationship.

Advantages of Paying off Debt While Single

Because I’m single, I have the advantage of being able to set my own financial goals and budget. I’m able to decide independently how much money I’ll spend on entertainment and fun each month. Along those lines, I also get to decide how to use the money I set aside for that purpose. I’m never going to end up spending my hard earned and sparse entertainment budget on something I don’t want to do, like going to a football game or going to a movie at the theatre that I don’t want to see.

Another thing I love is that my free time is my own to do with as I please. This may not seem to have much to do with paying off debt, but because of my side hustles, (weekend job, cleaning the office building I work in, etc.) not only is my money a luxury, but my free time is valuable as well. If I want to watch chick flicks on Netflix for 10 hours straight while stuffing my face having a snack on my (rare) day off, I can! There’s no one there to stop me or complain about my choice of entertainment.

All you mother’s out there, please don’t take offense to this one. As a single girl without the responsibilities of marriage or children, I’m free to dedicate as much “extra” time to my career and side hustles as I please. I never have to worry about being home to spend time with my husband or pick my kids up from school or day care because I don’t have any! I truly respect those of you who are willing and able to do both – dedicate time to your side hustles/career and your family – to get your debts paid off, but I truly believe I have it easier since I don’t have both demanding my time.

Disadvantages of Paying off Debt While Single

It may seem crazy, but being able to set my own financial goals and budget is also somewhat of a disadvantage of being single. I’m still working hard to increase my self-discipline when it comes to my eating out and shopping monsters! Having another person to provide for and share financial goal with each month would give me some additional accountability, which isn’t a bad thing.

Being single can also be lonely. I’m not trying to make you feel bad for me, it’s the truth. Like I said before, I truly love being single and living on my own, but sometimes I feel lonely and end up spending a bit of money to get more human interaction. Usually I end up paying for a meal out or a drink with one of my girlfriends. The other down side is that the majority of my girlfriends aren’t single so they only have a limited about of time to spend together before they go home to their husbands. Luckily, I have my pets at home to help this loneliness happen less frequently. I highly recommend having a pet if you’re single even though they do cost money!

Sometimes I find myself feeling jealousy toward my married friends, not because I truly want to be married, but because they have the luxury of not having to work at all or at least not as long or hard as I do. Of course this could also be because they managed their money better and didn’t get into debt, or aren’t actively working to get out of debt. I have a lot of friends who I know are in at least some debt and yet they are able to only work part time because their spouse brings in a larger income. I try not to be, but sometimes I am jealous of their free time and flexible schedule.

Having children or getting married is a great motivator. There are lots of people who choose to get out of debt before getting married or having kids. These are great milestones to hinge your debt freedom on, since they are big motivators for most people. Knowing that I love being single and that I don’t plan on having kids means I don’t have those built-in motivators along my journey. Spouses are also great to lean on and bounce ideas off of. Because I’m single, I don’t have that built in support either.

What do you think? Are there additional advantages or disadvantages of paying off debt while single or married? Which do you think is easier?

Shoeaholicnomore (Kayla) is a mid-20s single girl living in the Midwest. She is focused on paying off her consumer and student loans, while simplifying her life and closet. You can join her on her journey at Shoeaholicnomore.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


 

Happy Hump DayDon’t forget to check out my post at Shoe’s site on Debt Games.

Lotsa crazy going on there, but it kinda works!!!

Hope you’re all having a good week!

Happy Hump Day!

~debt debs~

 

debtdebs.com-debt-graph


48 Comments

Debt Deliberations

debtdebs.com-debt-graphI said I would do my debt updates on a regular basis to have good comparatives, so since it’s been a month since the last update, I aim to please!

Speaking of which, I wasn’t too pleased about the chart format that I’ve used in my debt updates so far.  I decided to change it up, but what with getting distracted analyzing the numbers, having 2 (only 2!) glasses of wine last night and spending time researching alternatives for front lawns (other than grass!), I’m still not sure if I like what I’ve got.  But anyhoo, here goes…. and I may exercise my women’s prerogative to change her mind later.

Debt Decline

The colourful graph above is based on the figures in the chart further below for actuals this year up to June, combined with a projected forecast for the remainder of the year. Since I just created this forecast by type of debt today, I don’t have any past forecasts, but I plan to chart the actual achievement against the above forecast, so I can see if we are on track for debt repayment.

We actually averaged just over $60K annual debt repayment for the two years ended March 2014, which was pretty awesome.  I wanted to compare how we are doing so far this year, and was wondering if we will be able to similarly, pay off $60K for this year.

On a fiscal year 2014 annual basis, my forecast shows us just shy of this at $56,871.   The next topic will give you a little clue as to why that is.  Still, it’s in the ballpark, so I’m not going to fret about it too much.  So we will push to meet the $60K and also set a stretch goal of $65K.  Now wouldn’t that be awesome?

Debt Increase

See the little dip up in March?  You almost missed it, didn’t you?  That is due to an extremely large credit card bill of $5K which included $3K for The Irishman’s annual insurance premium.  This, coupled with the fact that due to his lower than normal income in Q1, meant we could not pay as much debt off as planned.

But looks like we are back on track!  After only one week in June so far, he’s earned $900 which is only $300 short of his biweekly target of $1,200.  Any extra that he makes above the monthly minimum of $2,400 goes into debt repayment, over and above what we have already planned.  If that works in our favour, the future graphs that you see like the one above should show the forecasted debt repayment diverging from the actual debt repayment.  One can only hope!  And pray!  And work hard!!!

Spending impacts on Debt

I also watch our monthly spending against budget, as this is one of the key elements to be able to make debt repayment as planned.  I’m not going to do a budgeted expense analysis here today, but that could be something I cover in the future.

Bugs-expert-adviceI got  a lot of great feedback in my last post asking about what we should focus on next in our debt repayment journey.   Thank you all for your responses!  🙂    I really appreciate you taking the time to do so.  Sometimes, you just need an outsider’s perspective, when you get so embedded in the muck and can’t see the forest for the trees and start floundering, as I like to say.

So many said to lower the grocery bill and cut the cable.  My investing buddies were also big on opening our own investment accounts and managing our portfolios on our own.   Well guess, what?  We’re going to do all three of them!!  Look for more on these topics, which for us, will be quite challenging for various different reasons.  Of course, some will take more time than others to execute, but that’s why we call this a journey!

Detailed Debt Analysis

We’ve paid down debt to the tune of $28,771 this year so far and the trend of decline of debt continues since we first started our debt recovery journey.  The figures below show every month this year and the first column is from our D-Day.   Yesterday was the 70th anniversary of D-Day and I had it on my mind all day.   There’s nothing that can be done about the past, but we need to learn for the future, and remember all those who fought for our freedom.  I mean no disrespect calling our Debt Discovery Day our D-Day.  It feels both catastrophic and liberating, which could also be said about June 6, 1944.  For this reason, I felt it fit, and, let’s face it, there’s a whole lotta double ‘D’s’ going on here and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Onward to the analysis, our freedom awaits us!

debt-repayment-journey

Notice there is a big time gap between Mar 2012 and Dec 2013. I wasn’t tracking in the same manner so I don’t readily have those figures. It was only when I started this blog in March 2014, that I pulled together the ‘big picture’. It was quite satisfying actually to look back at the progress.

Normally we are scheduled to pay approximately $1,600 biweekly towards debt.  Although not all of it goes to principal, it’s all at low rates, the highest being 2.89%.  In addition, we also pay $177 biweekly for a car payment at 0% interest.  So I guess you could say we pay in total about $1,750 every two weeks.  In addition, we try to pay an extra $2K per month, on top of that, but that is being extremely aggressive and assumes that The Irishman makes more than the minimum $2,400 budgeted per month.  So in a low month we would pay $3,500 towards debt and upwards to $5,500, but even as I write this, that seems surreal, so don’t quote me (yet! 😮 )  Notice how in February and March the reduction was not even meeting the $3,500, due to the lean Q1 period!

Diversion

I know that some of these figures may seem quite high to some readers, and you may think, gee, I wish I had that much money to throw at my debt.  I even wince sometimes when I present these numbers, because I think that people will say “Meh!  First world problems”.

Let me just say this, it’s all relative.  Meaning that my debt numbers are a lot higher than most of what I’ve seen publicly out here on the internet.   In addition, I think at $2,400/month, The Irishman is more middle to lower income, or certainly is not paid enough for how hard he works!

We are a lot older than most personal finance bloggers and should be retiring soon.  He is 61 and I am 54.  Yes, I know, with our income level, we are stupid to even get into this mess that we’re in.

But here’s the thing.  If we can get ourselves into this state, there is a whole lotta other people out there who are probably dancing at the devil’s door too.  Lifestyle inflation, wants not needs, call it what you want… but I’m here to tell you that if you take your eye off the ball and say “I deserve”, you will be facing the music at some point too.   My message is to prevent people from making the same ridiculous mistakes and help those who have fallen like we have.

Delta Dialogue

Okay, sorry for that diversion.  I just felt I needed to get it out there.  So back to my analysis.  The decrease from March to April, was due to payment of the big credit card bill mentioned above ($5K).  In April, The Irishman got a big commission, so we were able to play catch up and pay down our low-rate credit card to the tune of $6K, which is why the May figure is so much lower.  In May, we were able to ramp the payment back up on the low rate balance transfer credit card to $2K, on top of our normal debt repayment of $1,750 biweekly.  There is also one extra $1,600 mortgage payment in the June 6 balance, as our mortgage was paid yesterday.

So all in all, I think we are back on track.  The annual target of $60K is not in the bag by any means at this point.  We’ve still got 4 years to go.  My planning has us at May/June 2018 having it all paid off.  My stretch target is December 2017, but that is only a pipe dream at this point.

Diatribe on Dialect

I was cleaning up some things on my blog and noticed I should review my SPAM folder in case any legitimate comments got unintentionally put there.  But, nope, all SPAM and I decided I should delete all comments there because there was getting to be quite a few, and it would make future reviews much easier.  Before I did, I saved a few gems that are pretty representative of most of them, but some genuinely more humorous than others.  Url’s provided have obviously been removed by moi, some pointing to running shoe sites, or lewd sites and other things I can’t even recall.  It’s so obvious with most of these comments that English is not their first language, and some genuinely try and are better than others.  Anyways, I will dissect these comments in my own snarky manner, just because.

how to grow taller when your 14

An intriguing discussion is definitely worth comment.
There’s no doubt that that you ought to write more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people
do not speak about such issues. To the next! Kind regards!!

how to grow taller when your 14”  Oh, the poor guys who googled this phrase.  Doesn’t your heart just melt for them?   This English in this one is actually probably the best I’ve seen in SPAM, even though the words and sentence structure is rather awkward.  I just love the the second last phrase though “To the next!”  Like ‘onward and upward‘ or ‘high ho cheerio!’.  Had me giggling. 😀

Richardsamuelmd.com/2011/11/22/how-to-treat-mild-Eczema/

It is the best time to make a few plans for the long run and it’s time
to be happy. I have read this publish and if I may just I want to counsel you few fascinating things or advice.
Maybe you could write next articles regarding this article.

I wish to learn more things approximately it!

Oh, a medical related one.  I’ve probably googled “How to treat mild eczema” myself once.  Oh, I hope I don’t invite the SPAMLORDs in now.  Again, this one is not too too bad, until the end when he says “I wish to learn more things approximately it“.  Good sword, I can’t even think what word the good doctor even meant to use here.    Anyways, you keep learning new things there on your {internet} rounds there, Dr. Samuel.  Don’t come by here though.  Nothin’ to learn here.  Glad I’ve got my good buddy akismet on my side!


40 Comments

Couples Money Conversations You Want to Avoid

Couples-Money-Conversations-You-Want-To-AvoidTime to kick up my heels and get a bit crazy.  Things have been a little too serious ’round here lately and I’m ready for an all out silly laugh out loud (or at me) poke fun tirade like I promised in my first post How did I get here?

To start off the fun, I refer you to this little gem I came across when I first starting blogging from Joe Saul-Sehy at Stacking Benjamins (go check out the picture, it made me LOL):

Struggling With Money? Steps to Help You Avoid Divorce

Well y’all know we have averted this D-word (so far – touch wood, touch my head, turn around three times fast, don’t step on a crack – hey OCD runs in my family, I’m allowed to do this!) but that doesn’t mean we didn’t and still do come across many delicate money moments.

You may have your own situations you can recall.  Give yourself 2 points for every item you can relate to on this list!

Couples Money Conversations You Want to Avoid

  1. You spent how much at Future Shop and for what?!  😕
  2. The car repairs from your accident are going to cost $650.  No more pedicures for the next 7 years.  😦
  3. Honey, you know I love your homemade bean soup, but can we just have some meat after 3 days?  😎
  4. You know how the bumper on the truck is starting to rust?  Well I found a good deal on a replacement at a car parts dealer for $150….. Oh ya, I forgot to tell you, I dented the bumper the other day in a parking lot.  😳
  5. I need $20 cash for my annual membership dues.  “I gave you $20 last month.”  Oh yeah….   😐
  6. I got a great deal on salad dressings, they were on sale for $1/each so they’ll last all summer.  “Did you look at the expiry date?”  Ya, they’re good until Dec 6.  “Um, no, that is Jun 12”.  😥
  7. Did you get your hair cut?  “No, I just brushed it differently”.  You should get your hair cut.  😉
  8. I’m so happy that Dairy Queen Customer Appreciation Days falls right around S’s birthday.  I got her a 50% off birthday cake.  “Um, she’s the kid who doesn’t like ice cream cakes”.  😥
  9. Oh, look at the price of gas here, we should fill up.  “Oh, no, they’ll be cheap ones once we get out of the city”.  I told you we should have filled up.  😡
  10. Did you deposit your cheque?  “Ooops ….”  😮
  11. I have a surprise when I pick you up from the airport.  Look for a white truck.  👿

Now I’m not saying that any of the above conversations happened in Debt Debs’ household and I’m not saying they didn’t, but since I pretty much tell it like it is on this blog, you know there’s at least an element of truth in every one.   :snarky eye roll:    Except for #11, that is 120% true.  He bought a truck when I was out of town on business without my knowledge or even discussion.  *I see your mouth gaping open*  But we’ve moved on from that and keep on rollin’.  😀

Next Topic – Time for Your Input

Ahem, in other news, I’ve got a lot of things on my Financial To Do List and having trouble finding time prioritizing for what I should work on first.  I’m gonna let you vote on what you think my priorities should be.  And then I’m gonna do whatever I feel like.  Ha ha ha.  Not not really, I will heed your advices very carefully, and then I will do whatever I feel like think best.

I’m probably forgetting things so feel free to add your own.  Also, some things are meant to build on another thing, so for example, I kinda have to do 1 before 2 and 2 before 3, for example.  Others are completely unrelated.  So here’s the list:

  1. Create a spreadsheet of all my investments in my retirement portfolio and start tracking the stock prices, EPS and dividend payments daily.
  2. Add to the list potential other buys and track and understand their metrics to determine if and when I should acquire.
  3. Open a self-directed stock account and move all of the equities in my retirement portfolio there, making all future decisions myself.
  4. Figure out how to get my grocery budget down from $800 / month (for three people).
  5. Move my blog to a self-hosted site.
  6. Take steps to monetize blog.
  7. Cut the freakin’ cable and save $83.56/month minus the cost of a good quality digital antenna.
  8. Fill out an application at Shopper’s Drug Mart for a job starting in September.

I felt like a fish flopping around on the boat deck, as wrote the above list.   You can tell I’m floundering a bit, ay?  I’m gonna put the above in a poll format too, because I like techy things.  You can either vote in the poll, put your answers in the comments or do both.  No pressure.  Do whatever you want.  Or not.  But if you want me to beg …. pleeeeeaaaazzzze tell me what you think I should do.

I very much appreciate your inputs!!

Call me Flounder.  (But call me.)

Random useless bonus question:  What would you prefer to be called pretty or cute?

flounder-fish

Real Flounder Fish – Pretty

Flounder-character

Fake Flounder – Cute

Images courtesy of flickr.com
Couple Arguing / Erin Nekervis
Flounder Fish / Steve Jurvetson
Flounder Stuffed Animal /The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek – Doug Kline