Back to the full time job today

I'm back to my full time job today for 2.5 days then off for New Year's Day and then back to work on the 2nd.

This new job has turned out to be horribly boring where I truly have absolutely no work and I don't really think it has to do with it being the time of year that it currently is. I know that things usually slow down around Xmas but I work for the CFO and our year-end is right around the corner so it is the busiest time of year for the finance department with the budget, business plan and impending audit yet I have absolutely no work. I sit there for eight hours and do nothing. It's horrible and I am regretting accepting this job. I can't even read blogs or do anything on the internet to pass a little time as our office is a cube farm and everyone can see my computer screen.

The NHL team told me before Xmas that they would be making their decision and contacting candidates after the Xmas break. I really don't feel that that is going to be good news. Who knows what is going on with them internally right now but I really think they would have offered it to me by now if they were going to.

With regard to my Tim Horton's RAOK from Saturday morning, the car behind me in the drive-thru had an order of just over $5 so I paid for their order and I hope they Paid it Forward but have no way to know. My boss at my part time job gave me a $15 Tim's GC for Xmas so this really didn't cost me anything and I hope it brightened someone's day.

RAOK/Pay it Forward

Today I plan to a Random Act of Kindness (RAOK). It is very rare that I go through a Timmie's Drive-thru as I really do not like their coffee at all but today on my way to work I think I will go though and get a tea and pay for the person behind me. I love the idea of doing this and adding a little bright spot to someone else's day. Now, if they've ordered much more than a few dollars worth of stuff I don't think I'll be picking up their tab (I know of someone who did this and the car behind them ordered $17 worth of stuff) but a few dollars worth and I'll get it for them.

Who knows, maybe I'll start a chain and they'll Pay it Forward.

Boxing Day Shopping

I wasn't about to venture into an actual mall today but there is a little strip mall with a Reitman's, Payless, etc, in it right by my house so I did a little bit of Boxing Day shopping today and came home with:

- pair of jeans regular $69.99 30% off @ $48.99 (only had one wearable pair before)
- twin set shell regular $29.99 50% off @ $14.99
- twin set cardigan regular $44.99 50% off @ $22.99
- sweater $19.97

Oy Am I Stuffed!

Christmas Eve was lovely. I hosted and had some family over last night for finger food and presents and it was great. I ended up with a migraine though, which I still had this morning when I woke up so that was not so good.

Today was spent out of town at my cousin's and that was really nice as well. She had a house full and it was very enjoyable. Why I ate dinner tonight at 6:30 I have no idea as I was still full from lunch at 1:30. I guess it was just too good to resist and the saskatoon pie simply was calling my name.

Today was also a successful NSD bringing my total so far to 6 so I'm not sure that I am going to make my goal of 10 but I am going to try.

I think now that I'm back home I am going to change into some comfy clothes, plug in the tree, pop in a DVD and snuggle up on the couch with the cats.

Total NSD: 6

'Tis the Season!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!

Extra Pay Periods

Given the way the pay periods fall this month and next, there is an extra pay period. So, today it felt really good to put an extra $1,200 onto the LOC.

I used the debt calculator on GVO's website and depending on how prime fluctuates (I am locked in at prime), I will be able to have that LOC paid off in 24 months by making monthly payments of $850. Actually, it could probably be paid off a bit sooner as 2009 is a year with 27 pay periods. This is an anomaly that happens every 11 years and there will be three months (rather than two) this coming year where I will get three pay cheques, January being the first. That is, if I remain at this job where I am on this pay schedule (*still* waiting to hear from the NHL team).

I was making payments of $1,200 but feel good with the $850 figure as it won't leave me strapped for cash due to the pay cut I have now taken and the debt will still be gone in no more than 24 months.

A Significant Pay Cut

So I now have received my second pay cheque for the month from my new job and have a good idea of how much I will be bringing home each month and it is almost $1,000 less than the job I just left. That is pretty significant and I am really going to feel it.

I am going to sit down at Christmas and figure out how much I can realistically put towards my travel fund, emergency fund and retirement savings while still maximizing my debt repayment. I had been putting $1,200 toward my LOC (consumer debt) every month and I am afraid now that that may no longer be possible.

Still have a migraine

Ugh. I still have this darn migraine. I've been getting them a lot again lately - usually have one again now 2 - 3 days each week. It's horrible.

So today I went to the doctor after work and he changed the preventative medication I was on to a new one that has shown great success for migraine sufferers.

Today I spent:

$61.04 on Rx (my 20%)

$28.93 Boston Pizza
This definitely was not essential but because of feeling awful from this migraine and not having slept much all week due to it and also because I got home after 7pm tonight and did not feel like cooking, I got take out. It's enough for dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.

Successful NSD

This will be a very short post as I have a migraine and do not feel well at all.

I just wanted to report that today has been a successful NSD.

Total NSDs: 5/10

I Love Free Stuff - printable coupons for free food!!

Some of you may be staying away from Maple Leaf products but I don't feel that there is any real reason to do so. Food is made with batch numbers and different types of food made by one company are not all made at the same place. As such, I have been eating Maple Leaf products for the past few weeks and I'm still kickin'!

Maple Leaf emailed out printable coupons for free food so on the way home from work tonight I stopped and got the following for free:

- Olivieri pasta (spinach and cheese)
- Olivieri sauce (Rose)
- Fresh Entree - Mediterranean chicken somethingorother
- Fresh Entree - chicken & mushroom somethingorother

I think I am going to print more of these coupons and stock up on some more Olivieri pasta and sauce since they freeze well.

They also had coupons for weiners and bread but I don't eat either one (well, bread on the rare occassion but I rarely buy it).

I love free stuff.

Today's spending

It's a mighty cold day and I did not want to venture too far from home. I was hoping today would be a NSD but I decided to put gas in my car as it was getting low and the temps are at -25 and I did not want my gas to freeze. I also had to get my Eagles ticket today so decided to pick up the other things I need, allowing me to do all my spending today and have a NSD tomorrow.

Today I spent:

$233.50 Eagles ticket
$21 gas (67.4!!)
$31.50 booster thingy for my car (better to be safe than sorry)
$3.15 dollar store on gift bags
$17 small gifts
$13 t-shirt
-$15 returned a t-shirt

ETA - additional spending today:

$42 bus tickets for my sister as she is not working and money is tight
$20 - 2 $10 Tim's GCs

$233 for Eagles Tickets - Ouch!

Tickets went on sale 2 minutes ago and I got row 16 on the floor. Cost is $233.50 (ouch) but it will be SOOOO worth it. The Eagles are amazing. This may seem like a lot to pay for a concert ticket but I am used to paying this and more for Bon Jovi so this doesn't really seem like a lot to me.

I normally would not have gotten that far back on the floor as I am really short and it is not that easy to see but I had row 11 on the floor for a Bon Jovi show last year and I could see quite well so I am hoping that a few more rows back will still allow me to see fairly well.

I need to tweak the budget now to cover this unexpected expense.

Never spent so much on groceries in all my life!

Never do I spend anywhere near $100 on my weekly grocery shopping but I had a coupon for 100 Airmiles with a purchase of $100 at Safeway so I stocked up on food for the next 3 weeks (will need to buy more perishables) and on things like bathroom tissue and paper towels.

Today I spent:

$133.30 groceries at SW ($18.74 in club card savings)
$8.38 windshield washer fluid
$3.15 dollar store

I intend to hole up for the next two days and keep warm and entertained by watching DVDs, so it should be easy for the weekend to be NSDs.

-27 for a daytime high??

Yikes, we were doing so well with warm temps and no snow up until a week ago. Since then it has been snowing a bit - still don't have a lot of snow - but this weekend daytime highs are supposed to be -27.

I don't have to work this weekend so am planning to just hibernate with the exception of going out for groceries tomorrow, though I may go for them tonight.

2 NSDs in a row and a little extra cash

It feels great to be able to say that today has been another NSD. I was tempted to stop at Subway on the way to my part time job but didn't and was pleased to see that they had a potluck lunch here today and there was lots left over for us part-time staff to have for dinner.

I also made a little bit of money today as I delivered some Avon orders and made $45. I had a $45 unexepected expense last week so that extra money will go directly to covering that expense.

I am anxious to get my next pay cheque so I will know how much I will bring in every month as I want to sit down and plan out my goals (EF savings, retirement savings, vacation savings, etc.) for 2009 but until Iknow what I'm bringing in each month I can't do that.

Total NSDs: 4/10

A Successful NSD

Today I did not venture anywhere but to work and back home. I was supposed to have a massage tonight (cost would be reimbursed by my health plan) but my therapist called and is really sick so she had to cancel. So, today has been a successful NSD.

Total NSDs: 3/10

The Eagles Are Coming!!

I was so excited to hear the concert announcement today saying that The Eagles are coming. I love The Eagles and there is no way I am not going to this show. Last time the tix were well over $200 each and I presume they will be again but it is not until March and I can tweak the budget between now and then to accommodate this expense.

I love brunch

My birthday was last weekend and my mom took me out today for Bday brunch and it was very nice. Just about broke my neck walking to and from the car though as we had a bit of snow and then freezing rain all day yesterday so it is super icy outside.

I am now off to treat myself to a pedicure.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...

I put the tree up today. Note the cat sitting under it - LOL! After seeing the pic I did a bit of ornament re-arranging but this is the general idea.

Nickelback is coming!

I got Nickelback tickets today and got really great seats. The tix were approx. $95 each. I'm sure it will be a great concert.

Where did all the money go?

I just got paid, received my pension funds from my last company (only 3 months worth of contributions) and my EI payment. This is how I allocated the money:

  • $816.96 to LOC ($400 mortgage principle, $211.96 consumer debt principle, $205 interest accrued in November)
  • $2, 880.16 to rebuild EF

December's living expenses have all been allocated for and I have enough funds put away for January's living expenses so therefore will be splitting my Dec. 19th pay cheque and putting 50% toward my LOC and 50% toward the EF.

I also will still have two pay cheques from my part time job that can be allocated as necessary.

An awesome deal

I went to Mark's Work Wearhouse last night with my $10 off coupon to see if there was anything I could find around $10 for maybe a stocking stuffer or something but there really wasn't anything small that caught my eye. I started browsing the ladies wear and found a fully lined, grey blazer on sale for $39.99 down from $49.99 so, as I need more blazers and such for the office, I decided to get it since with the coupon it would be $29.99. It ended up ringing up at $24.95 so I got it for $14.95 + tax.

I love getting a good deal.

Today has been a successful NSD.

Total NSD: 2/10

The gov't gets you every time

So because I've never been on EI before and therefore knew very little about how it works, due to their waiting period and how they accounted for my part time income, I only received about half of what I had anticipated.

I received my first pay stub yesterday from my new job and the money will be in my account tomorrow. For the past several years I have worked where the employer paid 100% of the benefit premiums so I am not used to having these deductions. They only come to about $50 so it's not that big of a deal and they only come off once per month not every pay.

I also received the cheque for my pension contributions yesterday and promptly deposited it into the bank.

I now need to sit down tomorrow night and go over my budget and determine how much needs to go toward the EF and how much I can put on my LOC.

EI Claim Approved!

My claim was approved and I am quite happy about that. I will only get 6 weeks worth of benefits and some weeks I will not receive the full benefit as the income from my part time job decreases the amount EI will pay (there are weekly allowed earnings but I surpassed the limit 2 or 3 of the weeks). Since I was employed full time again as of last week, my benefits only cover 6 weeks.

They sure don't pay very much. Worked out to an hourly wage, it is less than I make at my part time job. The money will be deposited into my bank account Thursday of this week and I am expecting somewhere around $1,800 if I calculated correctly.

I will need to update my sidebars as I have not kept them up-to-date as my EF decreased. I'm also making a LOC payment shortly so will need to update that as well.

It is 10% Tuesday at Safeway today so I will be stopping to pick up some groceries tonight after work so this will not be an NSD. I plan to pick up some of the things I can buy ahead of time for my Xmas Eve gathering.

EI Claim

I spoke to a lady from EI today and she needed clarity from me on some of the things my last employer told her as to why I quit. I am so ticked off as they blatantly lied.

Oh well, she said she'd make a decision on my claim this afternoon and would call me if the decision was negative. Well, she did not call me back so I am hopeful that means she approved my claim. It would be great to get some backdated income for Oct and Nov to help replenish my EF.

I should be able to log on tomorrow and see if a decision has been made. *fingers crossed*

The month is off to a proper start...

....being that today has successfully been a NSD. I am going to have to figure out what to take for lunch tomorrow as well as dinner as I have to work at my part time job tomorrow night and I would really like for tomorrow to be a NSD day as well.

I looked at my mutual funds online yesterday and they've actually gone up quite a bit since I looked at them last (about 10 days ago). I hope that continues but know it likely won't.

I still have not received my cheque for my contributions into the pension at my last company and wish it would get here. I was expecting it last week.

Total NSDs: 1/10

November's Update and December's Goals

My main goal this month was to not spend money on "crap" (TM GVO) and I am very happy to say that I had no trouble meeting this goal at all. I really had no desire to buy anything I truly did not need and I really was not tempted by anything. I did not venture out to the stores much and out of sight must have been out of mind.

I am going to challenge myself to not spend unnecessarily in December as well. I really do need a pair of flat black dress shoes as I do not have any and cannot wear heels every single day so I am going to allow myself $40 to find a pair in December.

I overspent my November grocery budget by $22.83. December's goal will be to stick to, and hopefully come in under, a grocery budget of $250.

Thankfully today was another NSD bringing the total to 7 NSDs out of my budgeted 10. I will not make my goal as there are only two more days in the month but I may just eek out and 8th NSD.

December's Goals:

  • to not spend unnecessarily on "stuff" I do not need
  • $250 for groceries (not including Xmas Eve food)
  • $75 food for Xmas Eve Party
  • 10 NSDs
  • start building the emergency fund back up now that I am working

Have gas prices ever fallen

Much to my delight, gas prices have fallen by about 60 cents per litre. That equates to significant savings. When gas was around $1.30/litre I was paying approx. $48 to fill my tank. Yesterday gas was at $0.79/litre and I filled my tank for $26.00. Huge savings.


Since the weekend I had intended on making a chicken dish Wednesday night (last night) but forgot to take the chicken out to thaw so being that I really did not want to spend money on take out, I stopped at Safeway on the way home yesterday to pick up chicken. I also picked up breakfast foods and a couple other items I needed. This is going to cause me to be over my Nov. grocery budget.

I'm failing at meeting my NSD Nov. goal of 10 days. I only have 6 so far and I *think* I can probably get away without spending anything tomorrow and Sunday but Saturday is my birthday and I am going out so that will definitely mean spending. If I am successful in not spending tomorrow and Sun., that will be 8 total NSDs.

This weekend I am going to set up my Dec. budget and make up my Dec. goals.

I got the call!!

Today I got the call from the NHL team and I have an interview with the CFO on Wednesday of this coming week. I hope it goes well and I hope I still want the job after the interview. YAY!!

3 pay days in December - YAY!

I was glad to discover yesterday, my first day at my new job, that we get paid three times this December. I was hoping they were on the schedule that would allow that in December and they are. This "extra" pay will go into my "buffer account" to help replenish my 3 month stash of funds for essential expenses.

I also found out that on Dec. 5 I will be paid right from yesterday through to Dec. 5 so there is no cut off date before pay day. It will be one day short of a full two week pay period. This should give me a good idea of what my take home pay will be every two weeks.

Made it through the first day

My first day at the new job was fine. I met a lot of people and had a site tour which took most of the morning and then I had a 2.5 hr. dept meeting this afternoon then an hour later it was time to leave for my part time job. I made it here (pt job) in time for 5pm but just barely and I doubt I'll be able to when the snow hits. I am going to start looking for another part time job that is closer to that end of the city.

Today was NSD #6.

I start my new job tomorrow

Well, tomorrow is the BIG day - first day at new job. I still am not very excited about this job but I am going stir crazy sitting at home and the emergency fund is not going to last forever so back to work it is.

I will now work 10 minutes from home so could even come home for lunch if I wanted to.

I'm quite concerned that I am not going to be able to get to my part time job Tues and Thurs nights in time as my new full time job is further from them than my last one was. Tomorrow I will find out. However, we still do not have snow and when we do, it will make travelling across the city take that much longer.

Today makes only 5 NSDs for the month thus far. Pitiful. I am aiming to not spend again tomorrow.

Last grocery shop of the month

I picked up the items I needed to make chili yesterday as I did not have quite everything on hand and I also picked up a few other items to go with the items I recently discovered in my freezer and pantry. Also, I am a HUGE cheese lover (very bad for the waistline, I know) and Armstrong Old Cheddar was on sale for $6.99 down from $13.98 and there were coupons right there for an additional $0.75 cents off per block.


  • canned mushrooms
  • tomato sauce
  • black beans
  • olive oil
  • Stove Top (for a chicken bake thing I am making later this week)
  • ranch dressing
  • tahini (for the hummus I made last night)
  • cheddar cheese (2 large blocks)

Total: $31.36

Club Card Savings $10.38

Coupon Savings $1.50

I may have to pick up a few dollars worth of produce later this week but that should be it. I expect to come in right under budget on groceries this month. Next month I am going to shop in my pantry and freezer BEFORE heading out for groceries so I expect to do much better with my grocery budget next month and will likely even scale it back and budget a bit less than I did this month.

Cheap Entertainment

I have spent quite a lot on DVD box sets over the years and some may think that was money ill spent and I disagree. I currently have the following full series on DVD:

  • Sex and the City
  • Felicity
  • Queer as Folk
  • Beverly Hills 90210
  • The L Word (one last season yet to air on TV)
  • Party of Five
  • Six Feet Under

I get hundreds upon hundreds of hours of entertainment out of these DVDs and because I love each show so much, I will (and have) watch them several times over.

I did have the Grey's Anatomy and Prison Break DVDs that have been released so far but stopped watching both shows so sold the DVDs on ebay.

Cleaning out my pantry

Man, I really need to go through my pantry more often. I knew I had food in there that I had totally forgotten about. I ended up throwing out of few canned items that expired 3 years ago as well as peanut butter, syrup, honey, brown sugar and power bars and I found that I had 3 open boxes of lasagna noodles, which have now been combined into one box. I also found two unopened boxes of baking soda that I had no idea I had.

Today's Goals:

  • do small grocery shopping
  • make pot of chili
  • make turkey burgers on the George Foreman Grill (love that thing!!)
  • make hummus with chickpeas I just found in the pantry
  • clean out fridge (if not today, then this needs to be done tomorrow for sure)

I've been tagged for the first time ever!!

I got tagged today by Frugal Dreamer to post 6 interesting things about myself and to tag 6 others. I am so new to blogging I don't know if I know of 6 other bloggers to tag.

1. I have four tattoos and a nose ring

2. I live in the northern most city in North America with a population of over 1MM

3. I became a great aunt at the ripe old age of 29

4. I like making jewellery and soap

5. I have watched the entire Sex and the City series at least 7 times

6. My dream vacation is South Africa. It WILL happen!

I am tagging:

Dolly Iris

Frugal Trenches

Canadian Saver

Saver Queen

Frugal Girl

Holly Is Stopping Shopping

I really need to get more organized in the kitchen

Rarely do I ever look to see what is in the freezer or cupboard to eat. More often I just pick up more food from the grocery store. Tonight I looked in my freezer and I have 2 packages of ground round, chicken thighs, chicken breasts, chicken burgers, turkey burgers and veggie ground round. In addition to that I have fresh ground turkey in the fridge that I just bought the other day. With that much on hand I should not have to buy meat for several weeks.

A goal for the month of December and onward is to not eat out so much. I really waste a lot of money on dining out and it is also very bad for the waistline.

Tonight I made chicken burgers and baked perogies for dinner, with fresh raspberries for desert.

Tomorrow I will be using my fresh ground turkey to make burgers on the George Foreman and I will take a package of ground round out of the freezer to make a batch of chili tomorrow as well.

I am tired of eating out so much and wasting food in my fridge to spoilage or freezer to freezer burn.

IA Clarington Target Click Funds

I am seriously considering moving my mutual funds to IA Clarington Target Click Funds. I have a call in to them and will be meeting with them this coming week to discuss these funds.

I feel just sick about losing over $23,000 of my portfolio this past year and need to look at other options.

I knew I should not have looked!!

My mutual funds are down 28.9% year-to-date. They've lost 12% this month alone.

Ugh. This really hurts.

Hosting Christmas Eve Dinner

I was thinking of having Xmas dinner at my house on the 25th but am now thinking of having it on the 24th instead as my cousin wants to have a big family gathering at her house on the 25th. I need to find out what hours my new employer is open on the 24th before I commit to anything. If I do host a Christmas Eve dinner I don't think I will do the traditional feast as we'll all be having that the following day. I am thinking of doing lasagna with salad, garlic toast, etc.

I'd love to hear suggestions for non-traditional fare that would make a good Xmas Eve dinner.

ETA - Now I am considering doing appetizers rather than a full meal. Hmm...

I love saving money on groceries

I buy the majority of my groceries from Safeway, which some people find expensive. I guess compared to Superstore and the like it is expensive but I like it there. However, I no longer buy much produce from Safeway as I can get it much cheaper at my local produce market. As an example, lemons have been $0.99 each at SW for the past several weeks. Today I purchased 5 lemons for $0.99 at the produce market. That is a HUGE difference and only one example.

Produce market:

  • bananas (4)
  • lemons (5)
  • persimmons (6)
  • pink lady apples (3)
  • mangoes (2)

Total spent $7.94


  • 2L Tetley Iced Tea (free with coupon)
  • tin foil
  • garbage bags
  • half and half
  • chicken burgers ($4 off with club card)
  • ground turkey
  • chicken thighs
  • raspberries ($1.98 off with club card)
  • prepared salad (buy one get one free with coupon PLUS $1 off with club card)

Coupon savings: $8.98

Club Card savings $6.89

Total Spent $42.27

Another NSD

Finally, another NSD for me this month - I am only up to 4 and it is the 19th. Terrible, I know. My goal is to have 10 and I have 6 more to go to achieve that and I'm not sure I can pull it off.

Tonight I've been invited to a wine and cheese party at the spa where I get my monthly facials (my facials and my gel nails are the two things I will not give up) and I don't expect to be spending any money there so should be good.

I dropped my signed letter of offer and other paperwork off with the new company and it feels official now.

Total NSDs: 4

I forgot to mention...

...that I received my vacation pay from my part-time job on the Nov. 15 paycheque. We get 4% here and it was just over $313. Not all that much I know but I usually only work 24 hours/two weeks. It went straight into the ING savings account earmarked for my next trip.

I am also expecting several hundred dollars ($550 or so) after taxes from what I paid into my pension at the place I just left. I was only paying into my pension for three months and since it was not a large amount I elected to take it as a payout (tax will be withheld) rather than flippnig it into an RSP. The main reason I chose to do this was because I thought I may need the cash on hand while I was job hunting. Now that I have a job, I am torn between putting that money directly into the savings account or putting it toward my debt (LOC).

I wonder how bad it really is....

I am afraid to look at my mutual funds and find out how much I have lost over the last while. Part of me does not feel the need to look as, even if they are down (and I'm sure they are), I don't know that I would rearrange my portfolio. I am in this for the long haul and have many years yet until retirement and have lots of time for them to gain what they've lost and continue to grow. However, the other part of me feels I should look at them and consider moving them into a less risky portfolio.

If any other Canadians are reading this blog and have thoughts on this matter, I'd love to hear them.

Why can't life ever be easy???

I picked up my letter of offer and though they don't have the Cadillac of benefits I am used to, their package is pretty standard.

I am going to accept as I need a job but I am stressed as I would really like the job with the NHL team to come through and I will hate having to resign from this one if it does. Maybe I won't even get called for an interview and it will all be moot.

Today's spending:

$21 - orange juice, Advil and frozen pizza
$17 - underwear

$3.86 - breakfast at McD's

Total NSDs: 3

My letter of offer

I am off shortly to meet with my new employer and pick up my letter of offer. We haven't talked about vacation time or benefits at all so I have no idea what they offer and I am hoping they have good benefits. I have been fortunate in the past to have worked for companies who offer the Cadillac of benefits so it will be a bit disappointing to take less but it is what it is.

I'll post more once I am back home and have reviewed the offer.

Mid-month Update

Today has successfully been another NSD bringing to total this month to 3, which is pathetic being that it is already the 16th. I am really going to have to strive harder to have more NSDs.

I have been successful in not spending unnecessarily, however, I am still spending a lot on food and I would like to cut that back.

Total NSDs: 3

Holiday Party Season Has Arrived

Tomorrow night is the Xmas party for my part time job and I have nothing to wear. I have been digging through my closet trying to find something and am not having a lot of luck. Due to my gaining weight (which I am in the process of trying to lose) none of my dressy clothes fit. Even if I was allowed to spend money this month, I would not want to buy something in this size anyway as I hope to not be this size for much longer.

Thankfully this company does not throw a really fancy party so I'm sure I'll be fine with whatever I end up digging out.

Rebates are always good

I took advantage of a Red Flag Deal that was emailed to me yesterday wherein if you purchase $50 of Proctor and Gamble products from Wal-Mart (does not have to be all at once) you can send in for a $20 WM Gift Card. I needed to stock up on toothpaste and needed toothbrush replacement heads so this was great timing.

Check it out here.

A job offer!!

There was a long, drawn out saga about a company I had applied with 7 months ago and they not being able to pay the salary I was looking for, which I wrote about here. Today they called and made me a verbal offer. They came up quite a bit in salary and I knew I would have to take a cut from my last position and they offered me the minimum I was wanting to take. I mean at some point in the next few weeks I might have had to take an even lesser paying job but I had my minimum and they met that and it feels great.

Only drawback to this is that yesterday I applied for almost the exact same position with an NHL team and I think the NHL team would be my first choice since the positions are almost identical. I don't know how soon they will be doing interviews or even if I will be invited for one but if I do get an interview and get offered the job, I don't know what I would do as I would hate to accept this other job and then leave after a few short weeks. I'd feel like a total heel. The last two people they had in this position did exactly that and I would hate to do that to them as well.

I also got called today for an interview on Friday for an HR Recruiter position, which I applied for as a long shot as I don't have a lot of HR in my background. I accepted the interview though as the verbal offer is not in stone yet and I do not want to count my chickens before they hatch.

Making Xmas Gifts

Today was not a NSD as I picked up a couple grocery items I needed at Costco and while there picked up a couple things I needed to finish making Xmas baskets for my family. My mom and sister will be getting baskets filled with Sbux coffee, gourmet teas, biscotti and candies all wrapped up in cello and tied with ribbon. Last year I made my grown nieces with families of their own "night in at the movies" baskets with DVDs, microwave popcorn, chocolate bars and other candy. They seemed to really like them.

I am trying to get away from the overbearing commerical aspect of Christmas and do simpler gifts that don't add to a person's household clutter and can really be used. Certainly, my mother does not need more tschochkes, sweaters, earrings or bottles of perfume.

Finally! Another NSD

Today I stayed in and did some housework and laundry, which means it was a NSD. YAY!!

I called a drycleaner today to find out the cost of having them press my duvet cover - not wash it - just press it and he quoted me $20. That seems expensive to me for the 10 minutes it would take them to press it on their large machines. I guess I will just save myself the $20 and continue to hang it over my shower rod and steam it with my clothes steamer as I've been doing. This is a PITA but has to be done as I cannot put it back on the bed the way it comes out of the dryer.

Total No Spend Days: 2

No Spend Days

Well, I have only had one NSD so far this month and today is the 9th. That does not make me feel very good. I would like to have at least 2 NSDs each week.

I was looking forward to today being a NSD but I didn't pick up coffee cream last night on the way home from work so had to go out and get some first thing this morning as I cannot drink coffee without it. Since I was spending anyway, I also picked up yogurt and orange juice as I needed them as well.

I think I will also go out and fill up my car today and get anything else grocery-wise that I might need so I can dedicate the next couple days to being NSDs.

Maybe timing really is everything...

Six months ago when I started my last job and my boss was fired a week after I joined the company I had interviewed with a company and that process went on forever as they pretty much promised me the job but due to all their internal processes determined that they could not pay what I needed and this whole process went on for a couple months.

Well, I was on monster the other day and saw that this same position was posted so I emailed the HR dude (who I know from a past employer where we both worked for over 10 years each) and he called me and told me what has been happening with them. They filled this position a while back and that person was there a week and then left for another job she had been shortlisted for which paid more. They then hired another person who also ended up quitting shortly after starting as her previous employer offered her more money to come back to them. So here they are, needing to fill the position again.

He said that they are happy to hear I am still interested and he was intending on contacting me as well just to see where I am with things and he said that he really thinks they can increase the $$ as they've been proven twice now that their salary is too low and it has caused them to be unable to retain a good employee in that position. He said that it was the VP HR who was concerned with increasing the $$ before as it would have caused internal inequities but he would like me to come in and meet with the VP HR as he thinks that if that VP can talk to me first hand that he will see what I can bring to the table and be more willing to increase the salary. So the HR dude is going to call me back once he gets a hold of the VP HR.

I am feeling excited about this possibility and am hopeful that this can work out. Maybe things really do happen for a reason and maybe 6 months ago just wasn't the right time. This place is a 10 minute drive from my house with free parking, which is great.

It will still be a reduction from my last salary but if they can offer what the HR guy is hoping they can, it will be fine.

I NEED to get back to work!!

Expecting today to be a NSD...finally

Today is Nov. 6 and I have spent money each of the five days of this month leading up to today. Today is half over and I have not spent anything yet and intend to keep it this way. I have to work tonight and will take something for dinner with me from home instead of grabbing Subway.

Actually, I made just over $120 today as I delivered some Avon today (I dabble in Avon) and made a profit, which promptly went into the bank account.

November No Spend Days (NSD): 1

The job hunt continues

I have to leave for an interview in about an hour. This will be my second interview with this company and while I was quite interested in this company before I had an interview elsewhere last week, it is no longer my first choice. However, I have not yet heard from the company I interviewed with a week ago, which now is my first choice.

I'm going stir crazy being at home and really need to get back to work so if today's interview goes well and it gets offered to me, I will take it. The job itself is fine and is what I've done for more than the past decade but the other job, the first choice job, would be a change of pace as it is not the same job I've been doing all these years and that is a big part of why it is so appealing. It's also only a 10 minute drive from home and I would not have to pay the enormous downtown parking costs. Alas, I have not heard from them either way yet so need to continue with the search.

I think this is a rip off

I was just reading about this on Dolly Iris' Blog and it reminded me of how I feel I, and the other part time staff, get ripped off.

I have a part time job where I work evenings and weekends and they deduct $9/month for the Staff Fund. This covers things such as summer BBQs and the Xmas Party. Being that I never get to attend the BBQs as they happen during the weekday, all I get to partake in is the Xmas Party, which really is not my thing. However, I did go last year as I felt since I pay $108 per year into the Staff Fund, I may as well attend the party. Last year the dinner was really nice and I did win a door prize of $25 GC to Sears so I guess all was not lost.

I guess I will go again this year although I have nothing to wear and am on a shopping ban so will have to make due with something in my closet. It's a good thing that it is not a really dressy party.

An unplanned purchase

I use my camera a lot, particularly for taking pix of things to post online such as on ebay, etc.

Something happened to it last night and I think the USB connection on the camera is now damaged as my computer will no longer read the camera and the problem is not with the cord itself. I am going to have to make a $20 unplanned purchase of a portable memory card reader as I cannot be without my camera and the card reader will be far cheaper than fixing the camera or buying another one. I called one of the only camera repair places in the city and they charge $52 just to diagnose the problem and then whatever the costs are to fix it.

This purchase may be unplanned but it is necessary and I have a small budget for household items and will use money from there.

The waiting is killing me

I had a job interview last week and though I was not sure I was all that interested, after having the interview and thinking about it a lot more since then, I really am interested. It is a 10 minute drive from home and I would not be incurring $200+ costs to park downtown any longer. The company has been around for 110 years and appears to be very stable which is important to me as I intend to be with the next company I join for several years to come. It will mean a pay cut but I am okay with that if it means being satisfied and happy with what I do every day.

They said they were continuing interviews last week and that I should hear this week. I know it is only Monday but the wait is killing me. Even if I don't get it I'd rather know than be kept in suspense.

I have another job interview this Wed. but this company/job is not my first choice but I will take it if it is offered to me and the first choice job not. I have been off work for 1 month and though financially I am fine, I am going stir crazy and am bored to tears. I have never left one job without having another before and doubt I will ever voluntarily do it again. B.O.R.E.D I can't even pass the time by shopping.

Planned Purchases

Well, I managed to resist buying anything from Overstock, which fills me with satisfaction.

Yesterday I made a planned purchase of Xmas stocking stuffers and really wasn't tempted to buy more than the few items I needed.

Last night my PC stopped reading my camera. It worked fine earlier yesterday but now when I hook the USB to the camera nothing happens. I am hoping it is just the matter of needing a new USB, which I can get for about $5, and not something wrong with the camera itself.

UGH! Temptation

I just discovered, from reading a money saving blog, that now ships to Canada and they are offering a $20 flat shipping charge currently.

I have always loved and always wished they would ship to Canada. Sure enough, now that I can't spend any money, they do and they are offering great shipping rates.


First Day of No Friviolous Spending

Today was the first day of my month of no spending and it has gone well. I did not feel tempted to purchase anything that was not necessary.

Today I spent:

$33 gel nails (is a necessity and is allowed by the rules)
$25.29 groceries at Safeway
$20.78 groceries at Sobeys

I picked up the ingredients for a pan of lasagna and will be making that tomorrow, which will feed me for a few days and the rest will be frozen for easy meals later in the month.

"Not Buying It"

I took the book Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine out of the library yesterday and put forth a dedicated effort to read it today and after 70 pages I am still finding it dull as dish water. I thought this book would be interesting and witty and would inspire my quest to stop spending but it isn't interesting nor witty and it hasn't inspired anything except boredom.

Well that was a waste of $7

A bird pooped on my car window earlier today so tonight I took the car to a drive thru car wash and it didn't get even a bit of the bird poop off.

That was a waste of $7.

The Buck Stops Here (so to speak)

I have decided that I will use November as a trial month to see how well I can succeed at not buying any non-essentials. Committing to more than a month is too daunting for me right now so I will try one month and see how it goes.

The rules I will follow are:

  • allow myself $20/week for misc items such as buying a deli sandwich, etc. (this money cannot be spent on lipgloss, books, clothes, etc.)

  • allow myself a small budget of $50 to finish my Xmas gift shopping (am very close to done already)

  • allow purchases of essential items that I run out of (though don't really expect to run of anything as I am well stocked)

  • allow myself $50 max to celebrate my Bday at the end of the month

  • allow myself the luxury of keeping my gel nails ($32/month) as my nails would be total shit if I had them removed

In addition to the rules, I plan to stick to my grocery budget of $250 and have at least 10 dedicated no spend days in November.

I want a set of new nesting tables for my living room and if I am successful at not spending unnecessarily in November, I may allow myself to purchase these at the end of the month.

Taking in an exchange student

For some months now I have been thinking of taking in an exchange student. I own a 3 bedroom townhouse so have the extra room.

The agency I have been in contact with has strict rules for their students and they do not have any students younger than 21. The students are not allowed to smoke (unless the family they stay with smokes), drink or have friends over unless they ask 24 hours ahead of time to have a friend over. The majority of these students are here to study ESL.

It would mean an extra $700 cash toward my debt each month but I have never had a roommate and really like my own space and am not certain how well I would adjust. One thing that is a drawback for me is that I do not have two full bathrooms (I have 1.5 baths) and, ideally, I would like each of us to have our own bathroom.

If anyone has experience with taking in exchange students, I would appreciate hearing about your experiences.

My Beacon Score

I wrote a few months ago when I found out my credit score was 740 and I was quite happy with that. I found out this week that it has gone up and is now at 788. I grew up learning about financial responsiblity and while I do have consumer debt, I believe I learned good lessons and I'm very pleased with my credit score.

Giving Up Shopping

I am considering using November as a trial month to see if I can go a month without buying anything unnecessary. I don't buy a lot of "crap" any longer so I really don't think that this would be too difficult of a challenge for me.

I have been inspired by
Holly Is Stopping Shopping who has challenged herself to one year of no unnecessary spending and who is doing great at the mid-way point as well as by The Frugal Trenches who is on a journey of downshifitng and has just completed 6 months of not buying anything that wasn't truly needed.

I need to give this some more thought to determine what the "rules" will be but I really am considering giving this a try. Committting to an entire year of no shopping is too daunting for me but if I take it a month at a time who knows what can happen.

Not a lot of news

Again, it has been a long while since I have posted. I just don't feel like I have much of any interest to say.

I am dedicating my time to job hunting. Last week I applied for a position that sounds really, really great with a great organization. This job is a significant pay cut from what I've been earning these last couple years. However, if it were offered to me, I'd take it. I've learned that money is not everything and satisfaction within my career means more. Sure, I need a certain salary to make all ends meet and while a higher salary would mean I could pay off the LOC quicker, money is not everything. I just left a very well paid job where I was miserable and the money didn't do a thing to make it better.

At the same time, I still have my part time job and will continue to cut back on unnecessary spending as I have been doing in order to put as much as possible toward my LOC each month.

I am putting some things up on ebay with hopes that they will sell and bring in some extra money. I'm selling some brand new, still in the box, Xmas decorations and some cashmere sweaters, etc.

So I am taking a leap of faith...

...and hope I do not land flat on my face.

I have resigned from my full time job and I do not have anything else lined up. For me to leave without having another job around the corner is really unlike me. I have not been unemployed since I was 14 and worked at Wendy's.

A lot has been happening with me lately and after some serious consideration I decided that resigning was best right now for my current situation and I am hopeful that things in my personal life will settle down and that I will find another job soon.

I do have a nest egg to get me through a couple months of not working but it won't last much longer than that and I don't want to have to tap into my LOC for living expenses. I still have my part time position and I could likely pick up some extra shifts there.

It's a bit scary but the market here in Alberta right now is hopping and there are more jobs than there are qualified candidates so I am hopeful.

I anticipate I may have to take a salary cut but I am fine with doing that for the right job with less stress than my current position.

So overall, what this means is that I am going to have to tighten the belt and watch my spending. No more dining out, which is the biggest money waster for me. Less driving to conserve gas as, at these prices, it is too expensive to waste. This shouldn't be an issue though as I will mainly only be driving to job interviews. No new clothes, though I am not much of a clothes horse anyway.

Here's hoping all will be well.

Gosh, I haven't posted in a while...'s almost been a full month since I've posted anything. I guess I don't often have much to say that I think others will find interesting.

I am well on track to meet all the goals I set for September except for the 5lb loss and will post my results at the end of the month.

I am STILL waiting to be paid for my July mystery shopping assignments and have no idea what the hold up is. I doubt I will do many of these assigments in the future as it takes so darn long to get paid.

Goals for September

  • Stay within grocery budget of $200 -- in part this will be achieved by using up food from the pantry and freezer and supplementing that food with fresh produce and dairy
  • Be more disciplined and do not overspend in the "fun money" category
  • Pay at least $800 toward LOC
  • Only use MC for items that can immediately be paid in full
  • Lose 5 pounds


It feels really good to have paid my MC in full. I intend to still use it for most of my purchases since it is an AirMiles card but every day that I make a purchase I transfer the money out of my chequing to the MC and it will only be used for planned spending (groceries, gas, etc., - things that have already been budgeted for).

This could have been really ugly...

So I faxed off my resume today (what company in this day and age does not accept emailed resumes??) and then I went into a meeting. I get out of my meeting and my boss is asking to see me. So I find out that the fax did not go through and it spit out an undeliverable sheet that also shows the first page of my fax being my cover letter stating the position I was applying for and it is now in my boss' hands. I don't know who gave her the fax as she didn't say but at least one other person in our office knows as they are the ones that took it off the fax machine and gave it to my boss. Talk about uncomfortable. Ugh.

She has only been my boss for 2.5 weeks as she just joined us after they fired my boss 3.5 months ago, after I had only been there a week. I am not looking for a big raise or anything. That is not at all what it is about. It's about the work as I'm not really enjoying it. She and I talked and she told me how happy she has been with me these past two short weeks and that she'd hate to see me go. We talked about aspects of the role that I don't enjoy and we decided that some pieces will be delegated to the staff who report to me (I'll be starting those discussions tomorrow). She also asked me to let her know what would make this an ideal position for me and then she'll see what she can do to work toward some of that. She really is a great boss and I told her that my looking elsewhere was in no way a reflection of her.

Still. Uncomfortable!

No Spend Day #2

I set out this day determined it would be a "No Spend Day" and it was and it feels good. If I tell myself the day before or the morning of, that this will be a no spend day, I am really conscience of this and make a concerted effort to not spend.

Since Aug. 17: 2 NSD

First of many "No Spend Days"

I have had many no spend days in the past but never due to a concerted effort. Yesterday I promised myself that today would be a No Spend Day and it was. I really need gas as my car is on empty but I held off and will get gas on the way in to work tomorrow. It felt good to not spend money today after making the effort not to. I cooked all three meals today and that really feels good as well as I very often have take out on the weekend.

I am going to aim for a set number (# yet to be determined) of No Spend Days each month and really strive for it.

Since August 17: 1 NSD

GAH!! I am so mad at myself!

Today I came home to a $120 photo radar ticket in the mail. That is just money down the drain and makes me so mad. I know I have a heavy foot and I recall the day the photo was taken that I was rushing back to work from lunch and was running late so in a real hurry.

I guess I know where my mystery shopping money will be going.


Mystery Shopping Payment

Today I finally got paid for the mystery shopping assignments I did back in June. It's not a lot of money but every little bit in my pocket helps. I won't get paid for July's assignments until September and that will be a larger payment as I did more assignments.

Never realized Safeway was so expensive

The above table shows price differences between Safeway and my local produce market.
I have always shopped at Safeway for my groceries. Over the years people have said to me that they found Safeway expensive and I never really thought so. Now, of course Safeway is more expensive than Superstore but I don't care to buy my fresh foods at SS.

A year or so ago a produce market opened up right down the street from me and their prices are unbelievably good. Sometimes you can only buy small amouts of produce at a time as the items are sometimes very close to ripe, but most things last for a number of days, just like the produce at Safeway.
I can't believe the difference in some of these prices, particularly the organic salad kits and the sugar snap peas.

Dollar Stores sure have come a long way

I find that the larger dollar stores like Everything for a Dollar and Dollarama in particular have some great bargains to be had. Now, of course there are some things that I would not pay $1 for as the quality just isn't there but here are some of the things I regularly buy at the $ Store:

  • generic Woolite/Zero

  • generic Comet

  • coffee filters

  • gift wrap/bags/boxes, cards and tissue paper

  • crushed garlic

  • juice glasses

  • gum

  • plastic baskets to organize drawers

  • bubble envelopes for packing items sold on ebay

  • batteries for my many remote controls

  • brand name DVD-R's (Sony, Maxell)

I am sure there are more items that are not coming to mind right now. I think the biggest savings for me have been on the gift bags and cards as the $ Store is so much cheaper than Hallmark.

One has to be careful though as it is easy to be enticed to buy more "stuff" than what you came for at a $ Store so shop wisely.

Staying on track on the weekend

The weekends are the hardest time for me to keep spending and eating right in check.

Since going to Dinner Revolution Meal Assembly a week ago and bringing home good, nutritious meals that just need to be taken out of the freezer and cooked, my eating has been a lot better. It is quick and for someone like me who works two jobs, quick is of utmost importance. I had thought of trying out these meal assembly places before but always thought they would be too expensive. Then I saw Gail, TDDUP, recommend these places to one of the couples on her show and I knew they couldn't be that bad if she thought it was a good idea. Thanks Gail!

On the spending front it has been a good weekend. I worked yesterday and did buy food ($12) as I just didn't feel like eating the lunch I brought with me. I don't expect to spend much today either as the only things I need to run out for are produce from the local produce market, which is considerably cheaper than the supermarkets, and coffee filters from the Dollar Store.

I'm thinking of maybe taking in a cheap movie at the dollar theater this afternoon for something to do.

Excellent advice from Gale Vaz Oxlade

I was so very surprised to see that Gail from TDDUP posted on my blog with some very sound advice. I respect her so very much and to have her take the time to write means a lot to me. I don't know if she'll ever be back to see my reply.

Her concern was that I may be allocating too much money to debt repayment and not enough to the emergency fund, fun category and savings. I have a large, 6 figure, retirement nest egg and continue to put 10% of my income toward my retirement each month. I have over one full month's worth of expenses in my chequing account at all times as I live on last month's money (month-end pay for July will be for September's expenses as August's money is already in the bank) and I have a misc. emergency account of $1000. I do allow room in my budget for "fun" such as dinners out with the girls, taking in a movie from time to time, spending a fun Saturday morning with a friend at the Farmer's Market with brunch to follow, a monthly facial, etc. I actually think I might allow myself too much "fun" money and may need to trim this back a bit. I also have a savings account that I put $75/month into that is not earmarked for anything in particular, though could become my vacation fund.

I do agree that the emergency fund could and should be larger and this is something I will concentrate on, likely by trimming back the "fun" money, while still allowing myself room for entertainment.

Cracking down on debt repayment

My HELOC has now been funded and I have paid off the other, smaller, LOCs I had and that feels great. I know that the debt is just transferred to another place but it is now at a far lower interest rate. I have formed a plan of attack for dealing with this debt and that is to put a minimum of $1200 toward the debt each month, which will see the $19K paid off in just over one year. I then plan to continue making those payments and snowball them will the payments that go toward the mortgage portion of the HELOC, which would see the balance paid off in just a few short years. Knowing that I could be completely debt and mortgage free in just a few years is very exciting.

It seems silly but I am looking forward to Aug 1 when my first payment is due.

Dinner Revolution

So tonight I tried out one of those meal assembly places I wrote about earlier.

It was enjoyable and quick. Some of the dishes were not worth the cost but most were just for the sheer convenience.

I'll probably do this again.

Eating to Live not Living to Eat

I love food as much, or maybe more, than the next person. However, I am trying to trim my waistline as well as the costs associated with take out and eating at restaurants.

I was quite surprised to see on "Til Debt Do Us Part" that financial guru, Gail Vaz Oxlade, recommended that one couple go to one of those places where all the prep work is done and you just go assemble your meals and take them home to freeze. I always figured that these places were pretty costly but if Gail recommends it then it can't be that bad. I do suppose it makes financial sense as these places, while more expensive than doing it all on your own at home, are still less expensive, and the food more nutritious, than dining out all the time.

I am going to check these places out and sign up. My boss who was terminated a week after I started talked about the office going and doing this for a "fun day" but she got the axe and we never went.

I picked up a few groceries at Safeway tonight and spent $24.27. I saved $4.20 in Safeway Club Card Savings and $6.29 in coupons, for a total savings of $10.49.

Another inexpensive weekend

This was another weekend where I didn't spend much at all. I worked yesterday at my part-time job and did buy lunch and dinner, which came to $30 combined. Last night and this afternoon I did my third mystery shopping assignment so I made money rather than spending it. I am now taking a break from writing up the mystery shopping reports. I have two to go. I've done two rather large mystery shopping assignments and one quick one that only requried me to make one phone call and combined I have made $158.50.

Of all the things I had to buy at this store, I will only be keeping a mascara, which I needed and the assignment will more than cover the cost of. All other items will be returned over the next couple days.

I do need to go out this evening and pick up a few groceries and I expect that to come in at under $30. I also need to take my weekly allowance out of the bank.

Fairly Inexpensive Weekend

Aside from the costs associated with re-doing the bathroom, I had a fairly inexpensive weekend. I didn't venture far from home so saved three days worth of gas (I usually have to fill up on Tuesdays but today still have 1/4 tank which will last two more days). I picked up some great, fresh food at the Farmer's Market Saturday morning and ate that all weekend so that kept me from getting take out.

I picked up groceries today and spent appox. $42, which is well within the budget.

Overall, it was a productive, inexpensive four day long weekend.

I *almost* did a stupid, impulsive thing today. I was thisclose to buying a $650 Louis Vuitton handbag but I resisted. I mean really, do I need another handbag? No. And a $650 one at that? Definitely not.

Home Improvement

Today I painted the upstairs bathroom. It really needed a facelift and I'm sure I will love it when it is all put back together. I already had the paint from when I painted the main floor. Other costs were:

$78 cabinet
$40 another cabinet
$30 light fixture
$32 new towel rod
$9 switch plate cover
$14 towels
$37 shower curtain

$231 Total

This project was not budgeted for but I can take my next paycheque from my part-time job (payday is tomorrow) and cover these costs.

July's Goals - financial and otherwise

My goals for July are:

- pay off remaining MasterCard balance
- pay off mortgage using HELOC funds
- pay $800 toward HELOC (this will increase to approx. $1,200 commencing in August)
- not exceed the $250 I have allocated to groceries
- not exceed the $100 I have allocated to dining out

- start a "new car" fund and put $200 in each month
- start getting more daily exercise

- start going to bed earlier and getting more sleep

Bye Bye Emergency Fund

As I had been thinking of this for some time, a comment by "The Hoss" gave me the kick in the butt that I needed to take the money sitting in my emergency account and put it toward my credit card debt. So thanks, The Hoss, I made the transfer tonight and now only owe just over $304 on my MasterCard.

Having close to $1K in my emergency fund was giving me a small, false sense of security.

Mystery Shopping

I have now completed my first mystery shopping assignment. As I had to visit seven different sections of one large store, I split it up over two evenings. All in all, I probably spent about 2.5 hours doing the tasks, including travel time, and then filling out the forms. It isn't great money but I would have likely just been sitting at home surfing the web otherwise. It was an easy $70 in my pocket. Wonder how soon I'll get paid.

First Mystery Shopping Assignment

Thanks to learning about a reputable mystery shopping organization from "Give Me Back My Five Bucks" (, I have just received my first mystery shopping assignment.

I have to interact with, and make purchases from, 7 different departments in one large store. I am a bit concerned about how to keep track of every sales associate's name in each dept as I cannot take notes and look conspicuous; I have to look like a regular customer. I think I will use my cell phone and call myself at home and leave messages about each transaction.

I will get paid $10 for each departmental review I provide so that will be $70 in total.

This is going to be interesting.

Debt Snowball

I was able to put $778 toward my consumer debt this month and I feel that this is sustainable as on ongoing figure to put toward the debt and that I may even be able to put another $450 or so into the snowball. This is due to the fact that I overspent the budget last month by $250 so started this month with $250 less than I should have. It is also due to my budget this month currently sitting at an overage of $78 but I have one more paycheque from my part time job to put toward this months' expenses and that cheque should be about $300, which is considerably more than my budget overage. Therefore, I will end the month with surplus funds which will go toward the consumer debt.

I'm not sure how clear that is outside my head. Essentially I am saying this:

$778 payments to debt in June 08
$250 money should have had to spend in June 08 but don't as over spent in May 08
$200 surplus from second paycheque from part time job to be received at end of June 08

$1,228* - total that should be available to pay debt in July and future months

* I may have to do a bit of re-adjusting the numbers as I did work extra part time hours in the month of June so my first June paycheque from my part time job was larger than usual.

The above only represents payments to my consumer debt. Once my HELOC is in place my consumer debt and my mortgage will all be combined in one large debt. I intend to continue to put the usual amount I've always paid for mortgage payments on it every month and any extra funds I find myself with will go toward paying off the HELOC.

Beacon Score

I am working with my bank on a HELOC so my lender had to pull a credit report on me. I asked him if he could share my Beacon Score and he told me it was 740. I've always had really good credit though over the last few years my CC and LOC were very close to their maximums, which could have lowered my score. I am quite pleased with a score of 740.

I've Exceeded My Clothing Budget

I have a job interview tomorrow and no shirt to wear with the suit I want to wear so stopped and picked one up after work today along with a necklace. It only came to $42 but that is $42 more than I have available in my clothing budget. I'm sure I can move some funds around within the budget to cover this off so not a real concern.

Small Changes can add up to Big Savings

I have had the full digital cable package with movie channels for as long as I can remember. And you know what? I almost never watch TV. There are a couple shows I watch on Slice, such as 'Til Debt Do Us Part and Jon and Kate Plus 8 or Little People on TLC and that is about it. I don't watch a single sitcom or continuing drama on network TV.

Tonight I called the cable company and had the movie channels removed from my line-up. This will see a savings of $160/year. I know this does not seem like a lot but these small changes do add up over time.

Grocery Update

I went for groceries yesterday and spent:

$13.96 Safeway
$5.14 produce stand
$33.49 Costco

Although it totalled a little more than I had planned to spend, the items from Costco and Safeway are going to last quite some time and not just this current week.

I intend to make a concerted effort to use up some of the food in my pantry and freezer in the next couple weeks and would then only need to pick up fresh produce and dairy each week.

Trying to find the "right" amount for groceries each month.

I struggle each month with knowing how much to budget for groceries. I don't have a good sense for whether I am budgeting too much. Take this month for instance. June has four weeks and I budgeted $250 for the month, which strikes me as being too much. However, the first two weeks of the month have looked like this when it comes to groceries:

Week 1
$10.22 - produce stand
$38.71 - Safeway

Week 2
$17.93 - produce stand
$60.54 - Safeway (this included household cleaners)

I also have a "misc" food category in my budget to allow for things like snacks I pick up outside of regular grocery shopping trips. I really starting to think that I need to cut this category out. I put aside $50/month for this and wonder if I really should be. I'm already over in that category for the month of June. I think it would be better for my budget and for my waistline if I cut this category out and allowed less snacking.

On top of this I have a category for Costco, which has $50 per month in it. I'm not really sure why I have this as it's own category. I need to give this some thought and determine whether or not it should be eliminated.

I also wonder if things like household cleaning supplies need to be taken out of the grocery budget line and put into their own category. I do have a "household items" category and the rice cooker I just bought on sale falls in this category.

This week begins week 3 and I intend to spend approx. $40 on groceries as there are not that many things I need to pick up. I do need fresh fruits and veggies and some lunch fixings for taking with me to the office. I have enough food on hand to make dinners.

My Journey Out of Debt

I started this blog to track my journey out of consumer debt.

I'm not struggling with money at all and have no trouble paying the bills and having money left over for a few luxuries but I still am striving to curb my spending on frivolous things and to stick to a budget allowing me to pay off my LOC sooner. I'm using for my monthly budget and really like this software. It helps you to stop living paycheque to paycheque and to start living today on last month's money (money I earn this month of June is for living on in August as July's money was already earned in May).

Though I have been thinking about making serious efforts to pay off my $19,000 LOC and my MasterCard for a number of months now, I have not really been making any great progress. I have been paying well more than the minimum payments due but could be contributing a lot more.

A week or so ago something clicked and now I am determined to get rid of this debt.

I left a job almost three months ago and received a 2 month pay out similar to severance but I resigned and left on my own accord whereas severance is usually for being let go. This was a nice chunk of change (although after taxes was much less than I had anticipated it would be) and I immediately used $1,000 of it to pay off a "small" CC balance and used another $1,200 to purchase new bedroom furniture. Other than that, the remaining money had just been sitting in my chequing account. Why I held onto it for so long I don't know. I guess I felt like it was security for me.

A little over a week ago I used $2,500 of this pay out and put it onto my MasterCard. I put my last two cheques from my part time job directly onto the MC, which were $400 and $250, respectively. Two more cheques from my part time job should see this card paid off and that will feel great. I will continue to use my MC for most everything as I collect Air Miles with it but it will be paid in full every month.

I was recently faced with the option of applying for a HELOC large enough to pay out my mortgage and have about $50,000 remaining for home improvements (intend to finish my basement) and perhaps for buying a car in a couple years, etc. I mulled that over for some time and decided I did not want to have a HELOC that large as the interest on it would fluctuate with prime whereas if I just renew my mortgage in October when it is up, it will be at a fixed rate of approx 5.1% for the next five years. I felt this was a better way to go. So I applied for a HELOC but for much less than what I was originally thinking of.

Once I get my HELOC in place I intend to transfer the $18K from the existing LOC at prime +1.75% as the HELOC will be at prime -0.51% for the first 12 months and at prime thereafter.

My bank has a promotion on right now where if you get a HELOC in June you will receive a voucher for Totem Building Supply (similar to Home Depot) for 10% off a single purchase up to $20,000 as well as a $50 Totem CG. Since I am planning to have my cousin's husband renovate my basement, this 10% discount will come in very handy when we go to purchase all the building supplies.

I think I've rambled enough for a first post. Thanks to anyone who took the time to read.