debt debs

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

sciatica-x-ray


25 Comments

B-A-C-K-S (Break50.com, Anti-spam, CNAFinance MVP, Kisses & Kudos, Self-hosted)

Hi folks

I had a good Canada Day weekend, after a rough start, which is why I’ve entitled this post BACKS!  The Irishman tried to change the front brakes on the truck himself.  We had paid $754.76 parts and labour, earlier in the week to have the rear brakes done.  He decided to do the front himself because they are less complicated and he figured he could save the labour charge.  Parts alone were $395.27!  Yikes!  It’s been an expensive week.

sciatica-x-rayAnyhoo, he struggled to get the rotor off because there was rust and corrosion and then couldn’t get the brakes on because they gave him the wrong brakes!!  They gave him rear brakes!   So he rushed to take them back and get the right parts before we needed to babysit and then he didn’t have the right receipt.  So he dropped me off at my grandson’s, so my daughter could leave to go to a wedding and ran back home to find the receipt and get back to the dealership before the parts department closed.

He ended up having to finish the job on Sunday morning and it was a lot of work.  Consequently he is complaining that his back is sore which isn’t good since he had back surgery 7 years ago.   This is his x-ray before his surgery where they put two titanium rods in his back.  I have another photo post surgery of the incision but it’s too gross to show you.

I told him to go to physiotherapy.  I hope he listens and I don’t have to nag him.  Every time he complains about it I’m going to hold up a sign with PHYSIO on it.

Short post (sure you say! 😉 ) today, with various updates on some topics.  So I’ll get started real quick, continuing with the BACK theme.

Break50B – Break50.com Interview

Speaking of brakes (breaks), I was very pleased to be interviewed at Sov’s site, Break50.com,  The Personal Debt Wrangler – an interview with Debt Debs.   Discussions of net worth and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (which I’m currently reading) over there.  Worth checking out as there’s information I have never yet disclosed on this blog.  A big thanks to Sov, for his hospitality.

Canada-anti-spam-legislation

flickr: janet galore

A – Anti-Spam Legislation

Canada launched new anti-spam legislation on Canada Day, July 1, 2014.  In order to comply, I believe I have to get express permission from people in Canada who subscribe to my blog via email.  I also need to remind them how to opt of receiving emails, at any time.  Since this is a fairly new blog, I don’t have  a lot of email subscribers, 9 to be exact (most subscribe via WordPress reader or blog reader tools (Bloglovin’ or feedly).  In addition, I don’t know if my email subscribers are Canadian or not.

But in order to be compliant, I did managed to send out an email using Google Forms to get their express permission to continue to receive my blog posts via email.  Google Forms was actually pretty easy to use, although I made a boo-boo with my first email out and forgot to ask the subscribers to identify themselves.  I was getting confirmations back that they still wanted to subscribe to my blog, but I had no way to know which of the 9 subscribers was responding.  So I sent out a second email.  Since then I have received responses back from 3 subscribers with their email (Thank you! 😀 ) and another 4 affirmations but with no email indicated.  But I’m suspecting that the four are from the first mail out, so theoretically I have only received 3 out of 9 responses and I should be unsubscribing the other 6 from my blog (Boo Hoo! 😦 )

I wanted to do a blog post about how to use Google Forms to do this.   I may still, or I may update this post afterwards, but basically, here is the content of my Google Form:

Anti-Spam Consent

I would like to send a very sincere thanks to all of you who have subscribed to my blog debtdebs.com.

Canada is launching a new anti-spam legislation on July 1, 2014 and to comply with this I would like to obtain consent from you individually by confirming that you agree to continue to receive messages from me whenever I post a new blog entry at debtdebs.com.

You may unsubscribe to receiving these messages at any time by selecting Unsubscribe at the bottom of any email you receive from debt debs or by contact me at debtdebs@gmail.com.

If I do not receive a response from you, I will remove you from the mailing list.

I’m looking forward to continued sharing of my personal finance related stories with you.

Thank you and best regards,
Debs

For more information about Canada’s anti-spam legislation visit.

http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home

* Required
Do you provide consent to continue receiving emails from debtdebs.com? *

By selecting

My email address is *

This is needed to match responses with responders

 

CNA-Finance-PF-MVP-Award-Vote-for-meC – CNA Finance Personal Finance MVP Award Nomination

As I mentioned last post, my blog has been nominated for the CNA Finance MVP Award.  I was quite tickled given the caliber of the other two nominees.  If you like what you are reading here, there is still time to vote until the end of the day Wednesday.  The votes will be counted Thursday morning.  You can vote by leaving a comment in the post or send an email to CNAFinanceHelp@gmail.com!  Thank you so much for all those who have voted so far!  It’s a long shot for me, but I really appreciate the sentiment, very truly.  🙂

kiss-kiss-gifK – Kisses & Kudos

Since I’ve been away and not near the internet for a few days, I have a lot of catching up to do.  I see many have re-tweeted my post from Saturday and left some nice comments.  Thank you very much!  I’ll be around visiting blogs for the rest of the week.

S- Self-hosting (Moving Blog from WordPress.com to Self-hosted)

I’ve decided to move my blog from the awesome WordPress.com hosted site to a self-hosted site and that will be happening this week (all things going well, crossing fingers and toes!).  There’s a few reasons behind this, most pressing reasons listed first:

  1. I’ve been asked to participate in an event that will utilize Rafflecopter, and this plug-in cannot be deployed on WordPress.com hosted blogs.
  2. I found out when co-hosting a FinSavSat blog hop in May, that I couldn’t display the other blog posts that were participating in the usual nice format that shows the post and associated picture.  Instead I had to have this dumb little frog’s head, that readers would need to click on to see all other linked posts.  Since I would like to co-host that blog hop again and maybe others, I need to be able to install plug ins on my site.  Full stop.
  3. Initially I did not want to pay anything for my blog, since I felt I was being hypocritical, since our large outstanding debt was the primary catalyst for starting.  I finally got fed up with the annoying WordPress word in the blog url (debtdebs.wordpress.com) and bought my domain name for $26 after I realized I wanted to continue to devote my time and grow my blog.  Now that I realize how much work is involved and still want to continue, I need to set myself up for potentially monetizing my blog down the road.  My initial intention was to grow my readership first, and then decide.  Now I realize that delaying the move will only result in more work down the road.  So that, in addition to the above two factors makes me realize that I should do this now and not delay.  If I had known this before, I probably would have started out as self-hosted.

Happy-4th-July
I must admit, I’m a little nervous.  I’m not technically inept, and I like troubleshooting, but I would rather that things go smoothly because who needs the hassle?  I would rather devote my time to writing and reading other blogs.

So despite my good intentions above, if things seem a little quiet here and from me for the next few days, then you will know why.

Wishing all U.S. based readers and bloggers and very fine Independence Day!  Happy 4th of July!

Be back later.  😎

B – Do you ever do your own brake jobs?
A – Any Canadian bloggers done anything similar for the Anti-Spam legislation?
C – Can you vote for me?
K – What are your plans for Independence Day?

S –  Share any words of advice for moving from WordPress.com to self hosted?

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51 Comments

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

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!

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

Lop Bunny


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Debt Update – The Bears are Beating the Bunnies

Is this how you feel while clawing your way up while paying off your debt?

*To view this video on YouTube Click here

Sometimes it does for me too.  When it does, what better time to do a recap and look back at your progress?

This gives me a lift.  Plus, I get to write snarky comments for each of my piles of debt which is funny in my head.   They have taken on animated caricatures as I wrestle with them month over month.  They cannot try and hide and multiply like a bevy of rabbits anymore.  Not that I don’t think these are adorable, but I know because my daughter has one, rabbits can do a lot of damage.

So ya, I’m da boss now, clawing like a bear.  Bunnies go forth and multiply somewhere else.  😀
Lop Bunny*Image courtesy of SOMMAI / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Continue reading

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADavid_Letterman_2.jpg


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Top Ten List – What I Don’t Like About My Investments

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADavid_Letterman_2.jpg

By Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from Washington D.C, United States (110613-N-TT977-230) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

From the personal finance information I’ve been reading (including many great blogs out there!), the importance of balance in your financial strategies cannot be stressed enough.

What do I mean by this?  Balance in debt repayment and investment savings for long term needs (retirement) to obtain the advantage of compounded growth.

In my travels (around the internet), I realize that I need to do more about ensuring our investment portfolio gets attention and not just our debt.  My head is not quite there (yet) because when I look at the stock market I get confused about yields and price-earnings ratios, and ex-dividend dates and common-law dividend dates… ah er… well you now understand my point.

So my former self would run and bury her head in the sand so she could ignore it.  I’ve perfected burying.  I have red scratchy eyes because of all the sand in them, but I claim the prize for ignoring bells and whistles (Note to self:  Blog about all the red flags I ignored over the years).

But with the motivation of some recent reads, I decide to start to really analyze my net worth, not just update it on my spreadsheet.  I’m gearing myself up to doing a Net Worth disclosure,  even, on Rockstar Finance.

These blogs gave me something to think about, as I work up my courage for Net Worth divulsion (egad that word sounds scary right there):

Debt Discipline – Net Worth Update: February – Brian shamelessly blogs his family’s NW, so what can’t I?

Cashville Skyline – Quarter 1 Update: My First Net Worth Overshare – Addison acknowledges that sharing NW is personal and can be difficult but has decided to for the greater good.

Ree @ Escaping Dodge – My Crazy Method of Determining Property Values for Net Worth Calculations has me thinking about whether I should include my home in my net worth calculation or not.  Note to Canadian readers:  Zillow does not seem to be available for Canadian properties, so I found  www.realtor.ca would be the closest Canadian equivalent (or local city sites can usually be found).  These sites give current listings and may not be reflective of actual values.   Due to privacy laws, real estate agents are not supposed to disclose sale amounts of properties, so use listed amounts with caution.

Financial Samurai – How Much Should My Net Worth or Savings Be Based On Income? – I’m way far behind if I base my evaluation on my current income, however if I lower my living standards (which we have done in the last two years), then I’m not doing too badly.

So in homage to David Letterman who announced his retirement this week, some say because his net worth is declining (he’s worth $400 million and makes $20 million / year, but I think he suffers from what Financial Samurai calls ONE MORE YEAR SYNDROME since he’s not retiring, like, tomorrow),  here is the TOP TEN LIST of WHAT I DON’T LIKE ABOUT MY CURRENT INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO:

  1. I’ve got two losers in my portfolio, CAG and CPG.  (The fact that they both start with C and I am Canadian is purely coincidental)
  2. I don’t have the requisite 30% in low risk investments per Financial Samurai – Recommended Net Worth Allocation By Age And Work Experience (I need to calculate but I would estimate it’s around 10%)
  3. My portfolio is spread out between 4 different institutions (Hence the difficulty to calculate how much I have in low risk funds above.  It was worse, at 5, so I guess I’m making progress)
  4. My growth is not locked in.  (On my largest account, there is 48K of growth in market value which could disappear overnight in a free-fall market)
  5. I pay too much in investment fees. I paid $2574.97 last year on one account alone, and $849.23 on that same account first quarter this year.  That doesn’t include The Irishman’s account fees and other accounts.  I estimate that we pay between 6-7 grand per year on investment fees.  (Feels like paying a drug dealer for the small amount of work that he does for me).
  6. I have no clue how to interpret the P/E ratio when I look at a stock value. (It stands for Price / Earnings ratio but may as well mean Pimp / Escorts for all I can figure out).
  7. My investment advisor does not have a picture of my family on his desk (I have no idea why spell-check does not like advisor.  Does it want me to spell it the Canadian way? ADVISOUR)
  8. I have too many watch lists on my portfolio.  I’ve got Consolidated, Potentials, Hypothetical, Bad News, The Irishman’s Picks, IA Picks.  (OK, I realize you’ve got me on a technicality, because this isn’t my portfolio per se, but how I (try to) manage it.  Ya, it’s all that and a slice of loafed bread.  That’s how confused I make myself am)
  9. I have no stock in Coach, Mazda or Costco. (Products/Services I own or use, except in my case the first one would be COUCH)
  10. I don’t trade my own stocks. (Because I’m too chicken, due to #6 which results in #5)

 

So, there you have it.  This has helped me figure out what I want to focus on.  In preparing this list, it has also made me realize some good things about my investments but I’ll save that for another blog post.

Oh and for my Net Worth extravaganza … that’s coming too.  I think I’m becoming more confident about sharing.  I just need to wait for my stocks to go up some more get it together .  😀

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts too!
Oh, and again I’ve linked this post to @femmefrugality’s Financially Savvy Saturdays. Go check out some others participating in this blog hop for personal finance writers by clicking on the pic below. Enjoy!

Stapler Confessions

 

"Alcohol and Ulcerative Colitis" by Kimery Davis Attribution License


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Booze Budget

https://flic.kr/p/jWkzYF

“Alcohol and Ulcerative Colitis” by Kimery Davis
Attribution License (from flickr)

When spending needs to be lowered to match income, usually cell and home phone plans are renegotiated, brown bagging of lunches begins,  eating out is well curtailed …. ya da ya da ya da.

We’ve all been there right?  OK, well some of us have been there.  Any frugal readers retiring early out there…. I’d love to know your take on this.

So Debt Debs and The Irishman have done their bit.  Well Debt Debs has done a lot and The Irishman has grudgingly been pulled along.

I have the numbers along with graphs, people!  I know you want it!

OK, I need to clear up something first though.  I was working on a brilliant post to educate everyone me on the Power of 72 (hands up if you’ve heard of that :ponder:).

I thought I’d change things up a bit from the focus on debt and look at a$$ets for a change.  Oh, big mistake.  Apparently, I have none.  Well that would actually be lying, because I do have some but not ones that fit well with the Power of 72… or is it the Rule of 72?

Ya, I had negative numbers, and upside down numbers and way up numbers to oh so low numbers.  So I decided to show you my a$$ets per the rule would be more embarrassing than showing you my a$$.  At least not until I go to Class of 72 training.

Ahem… since there is no money in my budget for “72” training, you will have to wait until I self teach myself and then you can all yell at kindly point out to me as to how I’m doing it wrong.

So for today, we are going to focus on Booze.  Pretty hard for a Monday, right?  Ya, well sometimes it’s the hangover we need to cure us of our ills.

Why do I want to focus on BOOZE you ask?  Well, I was a bit miffed on Friday when the Irishman spent almost $70 on it,  which is almost all our total monthly budget of $75 in one shot.  This, coupled with a perception that spending in this area has been going up recently, made me decide to launch an audit.

$75 / month may seem high or may seem low to some of you.  Generally we tend to consume more in the summer, so I like to underspend this budget in winter so that we’ve got lots available come cottage weather.  Well actually I’ve never done that, but a goal is a goal, right?   Like I’m not gonna spend it in summer ….

We started last year making our own wine at a wine making store.  That has helped costs a lot (and increase consumption somewhat but we won’t go there).   However, we have run out and recently have resorted to lovely bottles of Jackson Triggs Pinot Grigio, high quality wines like that (actually, they’re not bad).  I have resorted to nagging The Irishman to starting another batch of ferment-your-own.  I may have to step up the pressure.

So first I check the actuals versus budget this year from MINT:  Mint  Budgets - Alcohol

Hmmm… not bad at all, but this does not include the $70 above which has not hit my credit card yet and thus not in MINT.  However, there is not a lot of savings so far to carry us into the high usage summer period.  Generally I like to see this number quite negative at this time of the year.  Better do some comparison to previous spending.  Just so you can audit me auditing my figures, I present you now, THE NUMBERS (if you can read them):

2012 Booze Spending

2012 Booze Spending

2013 Booze Spending

2013 Booze Spending

2014 Booze Spending

2014 Booze Spending

Don’t worry about the colours.  They represent spending on different credit cards.  Ya, I’ve now standardized on one that gets me big points because I’m a smart cookie.

So a visual glance shows things don’t look too bad in 2014.  Definitely improving over the years.  Need to do a deep dive.  Let’s look at the pretty graphs:

Booze Trends

Jan_Mar Comparison
Oh my… look at March 2012.  LOL That was the month of D-Day (debt acknowledgement day).  Lots of tears folks… lots of tears… (and apparently lots of booze).

Look at those trend lines!  Are they not a work of art? How predictable are we ay?  Like a pair of synchronized swimmers, we move effortlessly through the water (booze) with every turn (gulp) in perfect harmony.

And the pie chart sure shows a lot of year-over-year progress… yay us!

Wait, I spotted something.  Look at the little orange trend line for Q1 2014 above.  See how it perkily points up to the right?  There’s definitely a wayward habit starting there.  Better nip it in the bud before it becomes a run-a-way train.

Note to self:  Talk (plead) with the Irishman and show him these graphs.  Wait don’t show him the year-over-year graphs ’cause he thinks that gives him license… you know how he thinks.  Use your psychology.  OK, just focus him in on the little orange Q1 trend line and remind him how we like to party-hardy at the kot-kot.   And remind him to get that wine on!!  Whew!

Now I know that you’re dying to compare your numbers with mine.  Sounds so dirty, doesn’t it?

Go dig ’em out and give it to me.  Is your booze budget more or less than mine (2 people)?  I got my big a$$ panties on so don’t be shy.

BTW, I did not drink the 1.5 litre of Jackson Triggs this weekend.  It is hidden. 😉

P.S.  Had a good laugh when I noticed something  See the red negative number in the 2012 chart in October?  That is when I made him take some booze back.  I kid you not.