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?

Hello Rock? Hard Place? How ya doin’?

Bah! That is all I would like to say on this topic, but apparently I need to get it out because if I have this cyclical argument with myself one more time I might just scream. No. I will cry. Yes, that’s much more accurate, I’m a total crier.
Do you know what I hate about being a grown-up? Decision making. Decision making and money. “Managing finances” is something that I am neither good at (that’s not true we actually do very well) nor interested in. BORING. Here’s a little fun fact about me, I like need to feel like I know what I’m doing before I make a decision. It requires a lot of processing on my end, but once I’ve made that decision I get INCREDIBLY frustrated when the universe does not listen and allow me to move forward with my decision. Hence – BAH!
So, here’s how it is. The Boy and I have been married for just over 7 months. (Can we take a moment and say – seriously the wedding was 7 months ago! OMG it seems like yesterday). I’ve been working at my new job for 6 months, the Boy has had a very steady year of daily supply teaching and has basically worked almost every day. Yay! We have banished ourselves of credit card debt, we have a savings system in place, we have a rough plan as far as when we would like to start thinking about thinking about expanding our little family (it’s not any time soon so calm down). And we actually have money in savings.  Great.
We also have two expensive brains and that means school debt. We live in a tiny 1 bedroom apartment. We live in an area where real estate prices are ridiculously through the roof.  Seriously, we saw a cute tiny little 2 bedroom house for sale on a walk the other day, we came home to look at it on MLS and it’s listed for $499,000. Sure it’s a monster lot, but come on. That’s absurd. Do you know what’s even more absurd – the bank would probably give us the money and probably take 5% down because it’s our first house.  Hey banks in Canada! Have you learned nothing from our neighbours to the south?  This can’t go on. It can’t.
So the Boy and I made a decision.  We would look for a rental that we could feasibly stay in for the next 3-4 years. We’ll wait out the market figuring it has to crash eventually, and if Macleans magazine is anything to go by (and it typically is) something like 30% of people cannot afford to stay in their homes if interest rates go up by 1-2 percent. Ideally, they will need to sell at a reasonable price and we will swoop in to pick up our very own home for what it’s worth instead of some ridonculous amount of money.
Sounds like a great plan right?
We thought so – so we made a list of our must haves (just like on TV)
  1. 2-3 bedrooms
  2. Laundry (preferably private)
  3. Pet friendly
  4. Outdoor space
  5. Utilities included – or a reasonable amount for rent if they are not included – or willingness to negotiate.
  6. In our neighbourhood or at least South of highway 9.
Do you know what we’ve found?  Nothing. No, sorry not nothing. Dog patch.
We find semidetached bungalows that are everything we want except they are north of highway 9 which is affectionately known to locals as “The Dog Patch.”  I don’t know much but I know when you mention “The Dog Patch” to locals, they make BIG EYES and say “Meaghan YOU CAN NOT LIVE THERE!” I know of people that have lived there who witnessed people involved in a fist fights on their front lawn on a regular basis.  And I know when I drive through and look at the houses and think “it’s not that bad”  something inside me says “Sure it doesn’t look that bad – but I’m pretty sure one of these sketchy people is going to steal your stroller one day”
This week we found a BEAUTIFUL apartment, 2 bedrooms, private laundry, pet friendly, outdoor space, rent + hydro (water and heat and cable included) and in our wonderful neighbourhood.  Sounds perfect right? Right! It is! For now.  The Boy and I would be blissfully happy there, but if we were to bring in a little, I think we would be falling over each other quite quickly.  The bedrooms are teeny tiny. And I’ve heard a rumour that kids come with a lot of stuff. BAH! It’s not somewhere that I think we can stay for 3-4 years. More like 1-2. And then, what’s the point?
So what do you do when you live in a shoe? Move to a boot? Or go back and forth a million times on whether you’re making the right decision or not, and whether what you want actually exists.  Right now we’re experiencing the latter.  If we could find somewhere to stay long term, we could put the contents of our savings account and pay off a  chunk of school loan. But if we can’t, we’re going into a mortgage that is inflated or with a weak down payment only to feel financially strapped for the rest of our lives. We just got off that train, we’ve taken that tour and I’d rather not get back on for a while – ever if I can help it.
So now what. Tell me universe what is your brilliant plan? Are you saving the perfect rental for us until the summer is over? Are you telling us to forget it all and go to New York for a splurgey vaycay? Maybe we should just go to Europe? Forget our cares, live in our little space for a little longer and then your master plan will unfold when we least expect it?

Only one problem with that brilliant plan.  I suck at patience.  And I really suck at “the universe will take care of it when it’s time.”

We’re planning on revisiting the only possibility we’ve seen next week.  Cross your fingers we come up with brilliant storage visions.