I need to get back to posting

Life has been so very crazy and stressful and messed up this year.

My dad passed away at the very end of May and I spent until the end of July packing up his life from his house and then renovating it to sell it. It's been a very expensive year with funeral costs and renovation costs and all the other costs associated with the house as it has not sold yet.

It has been an extremely emotional year (couple years actually as my sister passed away unexpectedly two years ago) and I really am completely emotionally drained. I've lost a lot of weight over these past 6 months and am down 3, almost 4, dress sizes.

I want to start posting again as I've noticed the amount I've been spending on food (groceries and eating out) this month has been way too high and I need to get that back in check. I really have not done much other unnecessary spending over this past year as I have simply been too busy.

I've been at this job now for 9 months and I have had three different bosses (I report directly to the President) and that has brought a lot of challenges and stress on top of everything else I have been dealing with in my personal life during this same time.

I made some updates to my sidebars and added one as my planned retirement savings for 2009 have been exceeded by 73%. What I owe on my HELOC has increased due to funeral costs and the above house expenses. As soon as the house sells, my financial picture will be much different, so while I do have the LOC debt, I am in the process of selling an asset that far exceeds it so I'm not bothering with that bar right now.

I don't know if anyone has kept me on their blog roll since it has been so long since I've posted, but I appreciate anyone who is still reading.

I am such a dunce!

A couple weeks ago I could not sleep (which is the case most nights) so was up shredding a bunch of old bank statements and other papers. I came across an unopened envelope from the bank and inside was an RSP receipt from 2006 for close to $6,000. How on earth did I miss submitting that with my taxes??? I called CRA the next day and then immediately re-submitted my 2006 taxes online. I checked today and they have been re-assessed and $1,987 will be deposited in my account on Apr. 30th.

No time to be spending money

Life has been so busy lately with putting in 11 - 16 hour days most days at my new job and then spending 2 - 3 hours each night at the hospital with my dad (now that he has been moved to a hospital here in the city) that I really have had no time to spend any money on "stuff". I've also had absolutely no time at all for myself or to get anything done around my house.

I have spent a lot on gas over the past 5 weeks when my dad was in the other hospital as it was 3 hours round trip and I was driving out there regularly, so my gas budget is completely overspent.

I am getting his house ready to sell and the first painting quote has come in at $2,600 - OUCH!! I also ordered new appliances at $1,776. I will use either my EF or my LOC for these expenses until the house sells. There will be other costs associated with getting the house ready to sell like purchasing new light fixtures, etc.

It's all so exhausting.

Been away awhile

I have been away for a bit dealing with some very serious family matters.

My dad has had cancer for some time and two weeks ago last Friday he lost the use of his legs as the cancer has caused so much damage to his spine. These past two weeks have been an incredibly stressful time. The day before my dad lost the use of his legs, I accepted a new job and I started that job the following week (a week ago Thursday). It has been a crazy time and a very bad time to be starting a new position. This new job is so busy that I put in somewhere between 15 and 20 hours of overtime this past week and I've only been with this company a week so far. While, I'm happy to be at this new place and I think it will be a good position, it is not a good time in my life to be putting in 20 hours of overtime per week when my dad only has a short time left with us and the time he has left will be spent in a hospital bed.

I've slept very little in the past three weeks as I was stressed out about accepting the new job and resigning from the other one and then this happened with my dad and I've not really slept since. I've also been fighting a bad cold, which finally now seems to be close to gone.

Zenni Optical

I am really hard on my contact (wear only one) and often get tiny little tears in it that really irritate my eye and need to take it out at the most inopportune times leaving me not being able to see very well. I do carry a spare contact but some days my eye is so irritated by the time I take the bothersome contact out a fresh new contact still does not feel great and my eye just needs time to rest.

I have one pair of glasses that I keep at home and I think I am going to order a couple cheap pairs from Zenni Optical that I can keep at work and in the car so I always have a spare pair with me should I need to take my contact out.

If anyone has ordered from Zenni, I'd be interested in hearing your feedback on them. They have great reviews on the internet.

Taxes, job hunting and this and that...

I haven't posted in a couple weeks as I've not had much to post about.

I e-filed my taxes a few days ago and will be getting back over $1200 but that is only because I over paid EI and CPP premiums and not because I over paid income tax. Otherwise, I would owe just under $400 this year.

I'm concerned that I am going to be laid off from my job in the not too far off future as I still have absolutely no work and the other day my boss told one of the directors that if they couldn't find work for me soon he was "going to have to do something about it". Not good.

I am still looking for other work but it is very quiet out there. I had a job interview yesterday and it went really well and based on their advertisement I thought their starting salary was what I would need but it turns out it isn't and the role, now that I know about it in much more detail, is not really what I want anyway.

I was hoping to take a spring vacation to somewhere tropical but now that I am very likely facing being laid off I am not going to be spending money on non-essentials.

No Spend Day

Today has been a successful no spend day bringing my whopping total for the month-to-date to 2. Pitiful.

In fact, I made about $100 extra yesterday/today as I delivered some Avon orders.

I am seeing my financial advisor again on Friday and I think at that meeting we will be setting up the automatic transfers for my new mutual funds, etc. I will update my sidebars accordingly at that time as my financial goals have changed.

Total NSDs: 2

Confessions of a Shopaholic

I've read all the books and was really looking forward to the movie and am now discouraged as it is getting so many luke warm reviews. Movies are rarely as good as the book to begin with and though I was sure this would be no exception, I was disappointed to keep hearing people say how little the movie actually even resembled the book.

I mean, Becky isn't even British?!? What's up with that??

I'll be saving my pennies and possibly seeing it when it hits the cheap theatre.

I am so looking forward to this long weekend

Monday is Family Day and I have all three days off from both jobs and am really looking forward to it. It was my weekend to work Sat. at the part time job but the woman who works opposite shifts of me wanted last weekend off and I told her the deal was that I would take her shift this past weekend, working two Saturdays in a row, if she would work my shift this weekend. She didn't want to but I told her that was the deal - take it or leave it. She agreed.

I have a pedicure and some waxing booked for Saturday and am meeting a friend/former boss for coffee or something on Sunday afternoon. Other than that I have no plans.

Finally! My first NSD of the month.

Well, it only took 9 days but I finally got a NSD today. I almost went to the vending machine at work today for Cheezies but talked myself out of it.

I'm still looking every day for a different job but there really is very little out there right now. I sent off a resume this morning and they called me just an hour or so later and wanted me to come in tomorrow for an inteview but we're not in the same ball park when it comes to salary. So, though I am bored to tears all day almost every day, I cannot leave this job until I find another one that pays at least what I currently make as I am not taking another pay cut.

This time last year jobs were plentiful and I had three generous offers all at once. Unfortunately, the one I accepted turned out to be really awful and I left after 8 months. Well, who knew? Really, they don't tell you all the horrible things about them in an interview so you don't know until you get there. It didn't help that they fired the Executive Director, my boss, exactly one week after I started and did not fill that position for the next 6 months.

Yesterday I went to see He's Just Not That Into You. It was okay. Rather predictable but good for mindless chick flick entertainment.

Total NSDs: 1

What is your credit age?

I am 52
in credit years!
Credit Curious

Credit Age Quiz by SpendOnLife.com

Credit Connoisseur: You are the master of your finances.
You know how to pay off your debts and save for the future.

IA Clarington Target Click Funds & other stuff

If for no other reason than to further educate yourself about mutual fund options out there, I highly recommend Canadians look into IA Clarington Target Click Funds . The concept of these mutual funds is like no other on the market and I found them incredibly intriguing.

I met with my new financial advisor for a third meeting tonight and we've decided what to do with my existing mutual funds that have been performing so poorly this past year and what to do going forward with RSP contributions. We also decided the best plan of action for my TFSA.

He has recommended Critical Illness insurance to me and I am not sure this is something I am iterested in as we have not had an indepth discussion about it yet. If any of you have any experience with this type of insurance I would love to hear some feedback.

2nd Meeting with My New Financial Advisor

Wow! We had a great meeting but I am just astonished by some of his recommendations as they are so completely outside the box. Maybe it's because I have never sat down with an actual FA before and only worked with Mutual Fund people at my bank and this guy is so much more well versed in financial products. Maybe that's what it is. I'm not sure. I was quite taken aback when he suggested I stop paying anything more than the interest on my HELOC. When he showed me what I would be doing with all that money each month instead and I asked him oh so innocently "But when will I pay off my condo?" he replied with "Well, maybe you don't need to pay off your condo." I was quite confused until he explained it all to me and it all made perfect sense. I'm afraid I don't understand all of it well enough right now to explain it to all of you but it did indeed make perfect sense. I'll be learning more the next time he and I meet.

He was able to take my current take home pay and make that money work much more efficiently for me, while adequately planning for my retirement, still allowing for an emergency fund and allowing savings for yearly vacations.

I am now trying to sweet talk my bank into letting me early redeem a substantial amount in RSPs that are sitting in GICs earning pitiful amounts of interest. Hey, I didn't really know any better but now I do, so now I will do better. I don't know if they'll go for it but it doesn't hurt to ask. If they say no, then as soon as those GICs mature I am pulling them out of the bank and giving them over to this advisor to add to my other RSPs.

January's Review & February's Goals

Though I did not set any real goals other than sticking to my budget, I did not do all that great in January.

- I only had 6 no spend days
- I overspent my grocery budget by about $48. This is mainly due to buying many new vegetarian, meatless options I had not tried in the past. These options are quite pricey.
- I dined out too often (Subway, Pita Pit, etc., for lunches)
- I was successful in not spending money on "crap" (tm GVO) I do not need

For February I would like to:

- stay within $250 grocery budget
- aim for 10 no spend days
- take lunch to work at least 4 days each week and dinner on the nights I work at the p/t job
- read at a least one book (just took She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb out of the library)
- continue to not spend unnecessarily on stuff I do not need

I am meeting with my new financial advisor again tomorrow and am really looking forward to seeing what plan he has devised for my money.

No Spend Day

Today is NSD #6. In fact, I actually made a little pocket money today as I delivered some Avon.

I've stocked up on groceries so do not anticipate having to spend for lunches or anything for the next several days so should be able to squeeze in a couple more NSDs before the month is out and before I have to get gas.

Total NSDs: 6

Financial Advice

I met last night with a financial advisor who was recommended to me by someone I work with. I was interested in speaking with him about my declining Mutual Fund portfolio.

Did you know that Stats Canada says that 95% of all Canadians fail to properly plan for their retirement needs? Have you heard a more frightening statistic lately???

It was a very informative session and I learned quite a bit about investment vehicles I knew nothing about (he said most people are not aware that these vehicles are out there). He talked about traditional mortgages vs. HELOCs (I already have a HELOC) and how to make your HELOC work smarter for you (I still need to learn more about this and this will be part of our next session) and he showed me the Rule of 72, which no one had ever shown me before. It is Einstein's Rule of 72, regarding how long it takes your money to double and what that means if you are earning 4, 6, 8%, etc., on your investments, vs. the bank who is lending out your money (that they are paying you the measly 4% on) at 18% to someone else in the form of a credit card loan. The results are staggering.

We also talked about "Open" investments vs. RSPs and the tax advantages on both and I am going to be learning much more about these "open" investments as well as these appear very attractive over RSPs given the tax advantages of open investments. On an RSP you are taxed at 100% when you make a withdrawal but only at 50% with an open investment and you still get the tax break when you put money into an open investment just like you do with an RSP.

All in all it was an educational first session that got me thinking about things I was not previously aware of and I think the next session will make me more intelligent when it comes to managing my investments.

Oh, another thing I liked about this company and their approach is that he is not paid by me. He is paid by whichever company's product I may decide to go with and he is paid the same amount by all the various companies he works with, of which there are many, so there is absolutely no need to try to steer me to any one product over another as he doesn't make more off of one product than he does another. I got a really good vibe from this place.

Download Free Suze Orman Book

Until midnight January 15, 2008 you can download Suze Orman's 2009 Action Plan: Keeping Your Money Safe and Sound.

While much of the content will be geared toward Americans, there should be some useful information for us Canucks as well.

I'm too lazy to post a fancy link so here is the url.


Still just trying to figure things out...

I've been looking into going back to school and into whether or not I have the pre-requisites needed for the programs I am considering. After all these years - and they have been many - I may have to do some high school upgrading. Unbelievable. Before I make any decisions about going back to school and incurring student loan debt, I want to be sure I am taking a program that will allow me to be employed at a salary of at least the level I currently am at as taking a cut defeats the purpose.

I look every day for other job opportunities but there is very little out there right now, although I am going tomorrow after work to find out more about a part time position that pays considerably more than my current part time position and has better hours. Hopefully something good can come of that.

One good thing is that I have really been good on the spending front so far this month and yesterday and today have been successful NSDs.

Total NSDs: 5

So undecided about life in general

I think I'm having a mid-life crisis. Well, not really but I am really antsy and undecided about what to do right now and am seriously considering going back to school full time in September.

I am hoping the program I am considering will accept my previous diploma program as partial credit and that I will be able to start directly in year two rather than starting all over again. I am going to call them tomorrow.

Student finance gives a single person very little to live on and that is a huge consideration as I have to be sure I can make ends meet and still be able to put money toward my LOC. Now, of course, if I am in school full time my LOC payments are not going to be able to be the $850 I am currently paying. Perhaps I should just suck it up and keep working for the next two years until the LOC is paid off and then go back to school. Although, another option may be to do some of it by distance learning (at home study) while I am still working, which would allow me to still concentrate on debt repayment while getting some of the schooling done. Once the LOC was paid off it wouldn't be so bad to then go to school full time for maybe 1 year or so to complete the program.

I have a lot to think about and consider.

I don't think I'm going to make goals for January...

I'm feeling better now after being sick much of the past 7 days but still have no desire to sit down and plan out some goals for January.

I have my standard budgeted amounts for all my spending categories like I do every month but I think that's as far as it is going to get this month. I will track my No Spend Days just to see how many I can get but I won't have a target amount in mind.

I do need to sit down and figure out how much I can put toward my various savings accounts each month (EF, vacation fund, and RRSPs) based on my new, considerably lower, salary. I want to be able to put as much as I can toward each of these accounts while still maximizing my debt repayment and I don't want to forgo my vacation fund altogether as other than short trips to Vegas and California I have not had an actual vacation since I went to Cuba in May of 2006.

Total NSD: 3

Did a little damage at Costco today...

I went to Costco at the stroke of opening today and picked up a few things. Most were on my list but a couple were impulse purchases:

  • yogurt $6.99 (reg $8.99)
  • Greek salad $10.99
  • salsa $6.59
  • cheese strings $12.79
  • half & half $1.79
  • contact lens solution 2 pack $12.44 (reg $15.69)
  • Liz Claiborne Sweater x2 @ $15.99 ea
  • 3 pack fitness DVDs $29.99

Okay, so the sweaters and DVDs were not on my list but c'mon you know how Costco is. It is so dreadfully cold here this winter (today is first day above -25 in the past month) and I have no sweaters to wear so to get Liz Claiborne 100% cotton sweaters for $15.99 how could I pass that up??

Also, I truly do want to get these extra pounds off this year and quit procrastinating about it and I've used Leslie Sansone's DVDs in the past and quite liked them so I think this three pack is a good investment and if I find I don't get around to using the darn things, Costco has a very good return policy so back they will go.

All in all I spent $117.99

Last few days' spending

I've had a few NSDs these past few days, with NYE being one of them. It only brought my Dec total up to 7 though so I did not make my 10.

I also did not spend on NY day. I was sick in bed but nothing here is open that day anyway except for convenience stores. I did venture out yesterday and picked up a few groceries and then went in to work at my part time job today and again did not spend.

I haven't planned out my January goals yet but it feels good to be on the third day of the month with 2 NSDs already (I don't consider transferring funds from my chequing account to my LOC spending).

Total NSDs: 2

Hit a Milestone in My Debt Repayment Today

I made half of my monthly LOC payment today and have hit the 20% repayment mark (sidebar updated). Although I still have 80% to go, hitting this milestone feels good. I will make the other half of the payment later this month.

I've been in bed since Wednesday with the flu and have not given much thought to my January goals at all yet.

A major life change

For quite some time I have been thinking of becoming a vegetarian. I eat very little meat as it is and often opt for meatless options already so I have decided that the new year is a perfect time to make this lifestyle change and become a lacto-vegetarian.

At home in bed with the flu

Ugh. I really dislike being sick and am thankful that I do not get sick very often. I woke up Tuesday feeling like I was coming down with something so went out at lunch and bought some Cold FX and have been taking it for the past 3 days. I think it is helping somewhat but today I have a horrific tension headache and nothing I am trying is making even the smallest dent in it. I have spent most of the last day and a half in bed and will be going back there shortly.

I decided to take tomorrow as a vacation day so don't have to go in to work, which is a blessing as another day of rest will I'm sure be good for me.

Tomorrow I will likely post my goals for January.