Dollars and Sense

I know, I fell off the planet again. Sorry. But hey I’m back and ready to talk about everyone’s favourite topic – money! YEAH!

The Boy and I thought we were having a nice quiet nothing weekend. What did we do instead? Almost looked at buying a house. I know. This is crazy right?

We didn’t. Unfortunately the adorable little A-frame house we found online was already sold, on May 13th. Our Realtor (OMG we have a Realtor?!) informed us that it sold in 16 days for right around the asking price. Shoot. But for most of Saturday while the Boy was planning where Stevie the TV would go – I was having a mild panic attack.

What’s really curious about the Boy and I is that despite his OCD tendencies – I am the planner. The Boy is the one to always say “Meh, what happens will happen – why stress over it, or worry about it. We’re good people, good things will happen.” As a side note – this drives me crazy. What drives me even crazier is that my plans never go the way I think they will and his good things happen when you are good seems to pan out more often than not. Boys.

So needless to say, the let’s buy a house plan is NOT in the immediate, “let’s do that next weekend” plan. You’ll recall that we’re trying to find a different rental – that’s the plan, and live there for another 3ish years. Good plan. And then buy a house. Solid plan. The one issue with this plan – there is only 11% rental availability in our region’s housing stock (that’s very low) and 5 of those 11% are social housing (we definitely do not qualify – and it’s a 20 year wait list even if we did). So while I’m still holding on to the plan – the Boy has been looking at houses to buy. And then we almost went and looked at one. And I’ve never felt more grown-up in my life. Or more clueless.

Nonetheless, when we did the numbers and realized that while it’s not ideal it is possible for us to buy if the right thing comes up – it got us moving. We’ve booked an appointment at the bank to get pre-approved so that should the right thing come up – like the next-door neighbours of the house we found decide to sell – we’ll be ready. I like to think of it as Plan B.

HOWEVER, this is not actually what I was planning to write about today (of course). Today the plan was to write about that annoying time in a young couple’s life when you’re both working and you’re trying to save as much as you can so that should your housing plan not work out you can buy, or if it does work out you can get rid of some serious school debt. That time when you haven’t gone on a honeymoon – because the weekend at your sister’s house does not count, and you are making more than you ever have and the number in the savings account is increasing at a decent pace but you still feel poor. You know – that stage? I assume everyone goes through one? Yes?

That’s the stage I find myself in these days. I am there alone since the Boy once again does not stress about the plan and thinks we’re doing great (which we are) and feels we get to do everything we want to do (which we do), except for when things come up that cost more than our average week’s expenses – then we both agree – we’re poor and can’t afford it.

And it sucks.

But then I start to think about it.

About what my income is, what our combined income is, and the relatively little time that we have left to pick up and go, and spend money on completely selfish things.

And how few good friends I have and how I don’t mind that I don’t have that many – because I like to think I’m a good friend to those that I have.  And how those friends are really good to me too, and how they’ve spent money that they’d probably earmarked for something else on doing things for me without question, and how I loved them for it, and how awesome they are.

And how we haven’t bought a house yet. And how I like to really hold onto the hope that this time my perfect plan will work out just the way I want it to so I shouldn’t worry about it. And how we do have the money, and how August is a five pay-cheque month. And how we’re really not poor at all.

And how we can afford it.

And I tell the Boy all these things…. And in a move that surprised everyone, he agreed.


And then we thought about maybe buying a house and in all the hoopla and panic attack I turned to the Boy and said “if we do this does that mean I can’t do what I wanted to do?” and he said, “Of course you can. We’ll just figure it out. We’re good people and it will all work out.”

And I suddenly love his relaxed attitude.

And I think sometimes when you’re thinking about dollars and cents, you need to use not just your head but your heart too. And then it all makes sense. Dollars and sense.

And I love BFF Kate.

And I’m going to Vegas in September to celebrate her 30th birthday.

English: Vector image of the Las Vegas sign. P...

And it’s going to be awesome.

When do you know it’s time to throw the Plan out the window?

Any tips on Vegas?

Raffle Tickets Anyone?

When you work for a not-for-profit you get hit up to help out with fundraising pretty frequently.  “Tell everyone you know about {fill in event name here}.”  I don’t typically send out the email, unless I know that the people I know might be interested.  Like golfing for example.  But this one… I’ll participate.  I’ll advertise.  Because for this… I’d love to see someone I know win, (I might be kind of hoping that they’ll share with me… shhh it’s a secret).*

It’s the Magna Hoedown.  The beneficiary is 20 different charities in York Region.  The one I work for is Women’s Centre of York Region.  You have to be a resident of Ontario, tickets are 3/$20.  Here’s the kicker… this raffle is all. cash. prizes.

First prize: $50,000

Second prize: $15,000

Third prize: $10,000

Fourth prize: $5,000

Finite number of tickets – they are only printing 60,000 tickets.  And you could be the winner!

All those peeps I’ve got in London – you can win too! Any peeps in Toronto – this opportunity is all yours.  At my staff meeting this week, my boss said “Now $50,000 isn’t life changing, I mean you’re not going to quit your job.”  Apparently we have very different lives, because I don’t know about every reader – but I’m guessing my fellow twenty-somethings would feel that $50,000 would be VERY life changing.  For me, I’d be debt free.  Debt Free! Can you imagine!?  Sure I wouldn’t quit my job, but debt free… that’s pretty life changing.

So if you’re interested in tickets leave me a comment and I’ll set up the details by email. This raffle is going until SEPTEMBER 14th the draw will be on SEPTEMBER 18th. So you’ve got lots of time to buy tickets.

Think about it 50,000 smackers!

*if you do win, I won’t turn down a 10% finders fee.

7 hours in the car beats $3500 anyday

Well, the boy and I went and talked to Mr. Midas on Saturday.  He was once again extremely helpful.  Beyond helpful actually, he didn’t even charge us for the work that he did! Awesome.

The boy asked Mr. Midas, “Will it make it home?”

Mr. Midas – “Oh yeah it’ll make it home.”

Me – nudging boy “you might want to tell him that home is 2 hours away!”

Boy – “Oh yeah, will it make it to St. Mary’s – it’s about 2 hours away.”

Mr. Midas – “Off the record – yes.  But maybe write down some tow truck numbers along the way… and take the back roads.  Don’t get the RPM’s too high – maybe 80km or so.

Boy and Meaghan = Happy.

You see, Boy’s dad has a friend that likes to take apart cars and put them back together.  So instead of paying Mr. Midas to tear apart the engine and find out it’s total garbage – $1500 for figuring that out – we drove it to St. Mary’s for friendly Frank to figure it out.

So we crossed our fingers and we drove… and drove… and drove.  I hate the back way.  It’s SO long and there are no landmarks!  Just fields. At least when I’m on the 401 I can break my 2 hour trip into 20 minute segments… not the case taking the back way.  Just long and flat and boring.

But we made it.  I gave the boy a thumbs up about halfway there, and he gave it back.  He said he was going to give it to me earlier – but he was afraid he’d jinx the car and as soon as he put his thumb up it would die… or explode.  Happily it didn’t.

So now Friendly Frank has the car.  His initial assessment is that the oil was changed on April 1st – but there is some sort of crack in the engine or something somewhere – so something is leaking in, and it’s making it dirty.  Also the ticking stops after about 10 minutes… this apparently is a good sign.  He thinks he knows what’s wrong – and he’s hoping it won’t need a completely new engine.

We dropped it off, stopped in at Boy’s parents, no one home, left, forgot the tent – turned around, left again.  We stopped in Stratford for some lunch and got back in the car and went home – thankfully taking the highway!  Total time round trip – 7 hours. Total time in the car – 6 hours.

We’re hoping that this is the Love God’s effort to see us through.  Keep your fingers crossed too please.

They say it’s your birthday…

Happy Birthday To Me!

I’m 28 today, and I’ve been thinking about some goals for the year… you know like my own “New Year’s Resolutions” since my January ones have clearly gone to the dogs.

  1. My doctor told me recently that I need to make myself an exercise program.  Something that I like to do, that I will commit to, that I will eventually feel lost without.  Apparently if I don’t create this love affair with exercise now, when I have children I will never make the time and I’ll become morbidly obese (that may have been my addition, but you get the idea).  So I’m committing in writing to seriously getting on board with this plan… I don’t know what I like to do, which is a small problem, but only an obstacle to be overcome. I’m taking suggestions – so if you’ve got some bring it.
  2. I would like this to be the year I get a puppy.  There has been a great puppy debate in my apartment lately.  Both the Boy and I would like one, but we’re both hesitant that it might not be the right time, ie. are we too poor to get a puppy.  So in order to get a puppy I need to a. win the lottery, or b. gain access to more income in some other way – see the career search post. So that’s kind of two goals – but if the puppy somehow happened without the increase in income, I’d be okay with that too.
  3. Continue blogging regularly.  I’d say I’ve done pretty well since April, so I just need to keep it up.  I know I’ve mentioned my goal of being featured on Freshly Pressed, but that’s not really why I’ve started blogging… well, it’s not the whole reason.  I like to write, it’s something that I miss about being in school.  Writing is one of those things that I’m pretty sure if you don’t use it you lose it… I don’t want to lose it so I need to keep writing.  Who knows, maybe I will be featured on Freshly Pressed, and maybe Oprah will come calling.
  4. Pay down some debt and build a savings account.  This may seem like something I should have been doing long before 28, but I’ve been in school a long time… so I haven’t really.  No day like today, right? I am officially credit card debt free these days, so my goal is to keep it that way and “Save [my] money” as the guy in the suit says.  You never know what I’m going to need it for…
  5. I have a couple of other goals for this year, but they require someone else to get the ball rolling… so I don’t think its fair to write them here.  But someone else knows what they are, and I’m confident someone else is working on it.

That’s it. I’m spending the day at work (boo!) doing a small arts and crafts project (yeah!), followed by my last birthday in my childhood home (tears).  I’ve been promised a delicious meal, and of course cake.  I’ll spend the evening with my favourite family, and my favourite boy, and that’s super cool if you ask me.  Saturday, I’m Happy Mother’s Daying early with a Ladies Day Out with my Mom and Sister, all in all I think I’m in for a great Birthday weekend.

Happy Birthday Friday!

Pictures from ME!

What do you mean “tax-deductable?”

For anyone who may have read my old blog, you will know that I have a love/hate relationship with my debt. And you will know that I make new financial plans every pay day.  And you will know that a few months ago I tried to track what I spent in a two week and then 1 month period.  What I didn’t share was I made it through 2 weeks, but I didn’t actually do anything with that information. Oops.

Recently I asked the boy if he thought we needed a financial plan – you know like adults.  He said, “We don’t have any money, so no we don’t need a financial plan.  Just save as  much as you can.” I figured, fair.

Well the tax man came after a little confusion I ended up with a lovely cheque and I thought, since I’m an adult now, I should be responsible with this money.  Miraculously I was. I put a fraction of it into our Puppy fund, (more on that plan in a post to come) I paid off my credit card COMPLETELY, (this would have actually been done sooner, but living on one low income this winter made it take a little longer than I had anticipated) and I wanted to put the rest of it toward my debt.  But which one should I choose?

I may not have shared this but not only do I have a Line of Credit, that I paid for school for, I have a (comparatively smaller) OSAP loan.  Originally I was thinking I should put this chunk of money on the smaller amount, you know fight the molehill and then the mountain.   So I asked my dad to look up my account number in my file – our apartment is small and all such important documents reside with him.

Good thing I did, I learned something that I thought I’d share here, since even though I don’t really know what it means, it was useful for me and might be to you!

Dear old dad told me that as far as he could tell the interest on both of my loans is about equal, but that the government one is “tax deductable” and the bank loan is not.  So it actually makes sense to tackle the mountain before the molehill.  Huh!  While I really have no idea what tax deductable  means, I do know that it’s a good thing so I took that to mean that my efforts should go to my bank loan first.  Thanks dad!  This was brand new information to me.

So still no financial plan, but a slightly better understanding of how to attack paying things off.

I feel so financially responsible!

Must be time to go shopping.

Pay Day!

I’m not sure if there is a better day of the week than pay day. It offers you a fresh start, and a new promise of fiscal responsibility. And yet, no matter how often I re-jig how I’m going to save more in the next two weeks, I seem to find myself making new promises next pay day.

I’ll share my first secret… I’m terrible with money.

It’s not that I spend what I don’t have… well I do, but not too often. And it’s not that I don’t pay my bills… I’m only late when I’ve completely forgotten about them, which in my defence is not that often. It’s just that I have no idea what to do with money.

I was raised by a strong and beautiful woman I call Mom; and if I had to pick a few things she drilled into me over the years, they would be the following:

  1. You can do anything you want to do
  2. Get through all of the formal education you want before you have children, but never stop learning
  3. NEVER be dependent on anyone, even your spouse… since you can’t control their actions, you just never know
  4. NEVER sign your pay cheque over to anyone

I am deeply grateful for all of these lessons, and I try and live them daily. There’s just one problem, Mom never told me what to do with that pay cheque I’m not handing over. The only lesson I got there was – “don’t do what we’ve done.” Thanks Mom that’s really helpful…

Like many twenty-somethings who have had the wonderful experience of post secondary education I have debt. A lot of debt. The number isn’t important, but let’s just say I told the boy recently and I thought he was going to drive us off the road!

Where I work we offer financial planning workshops for women on occasion, unfortunately another isn’t scheduled until February, and that’s a lot of pay cheques from now. The good news is after sharing my money worries with my colleague and friend, I was sent Credit Canada’s website. Step #1… figure out what you are spending money on, and track your spending for an entire month.

This may sound easy, and perhaps for some it is, maybe even for the majority, for me it’s a daunting task that I am not in the least looking forward to. I already know what it’s going to tell me… you don’t make enough to meet your financial goals, and you are a victim of “the incidentals.”

I have a love/hate relationship with my debt. I appreciate what it got me, and I have faith that it will pay off eventually. But deep down I hate it and I want it gone, in full, tomorrow! To this end I have taken the “save your money” tips to heart and I have a certain amount of money that is directly withdrawn from my account the day after pay day. Then I take 1/2 of my rent and put it in a rent account, GONE. Last, I pay any bills that need to be paid. The problem is, this ends up being a substantial part of my pay cheque, and as Cliff told Theo – “You haven’t EATEN yet!

The two weeks creep by and I end up with “incidentals” – things I forgot I need to spend money on, like bus tickets, food, small things for my apartment, and BINGO at the end of those two weeks I’m really looking forward to Pay Day!

But today marks a new dawn on my road to being debt free, while still planning for far away things like “the future” and “retirement.” And to that end I am going to take Credit Canada at it’s word and track what I spend in the next two weeks. And I’ll spend the next two weeks preparing myself for the inevitable shock… I don’t think that debt is going to disappear tomorrow!