Monday, December 31, 2012

Goals for 2013

Happy New Year!

How are you spending the last evening of 2012? Husband has to work tonight (from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.), so we're doing a faux countdown at 10 p.m. before he goes to work. And I'll likely just watch tv, wish him a happy new year's over the phone at midnight and then head to bed!

I'm not a big fan of New Year's Eve (just another day in my books), and I also don't believe in New Year's resolutions. I don't like the idea that you should make a resolution on the first day of the year and try to stick to it. First off, if you want to change something about yourself, why wait until January 1st? And second, people tend to put a lot of pressure on their resolutions and expect things to change magically over night, but by February 1st, people crash and burn and go back to their old ways. It's a set up for failure, so I prefer to avoid New Year's resolutions.

However, I am a big fan of "to do" lists and goals!  So here are my ten goals for the new year!
  1. Save up enough money for the foundation work on the house (deadline mid-June)
  2. Paint the upstairs of the house (spare bedroom, office and hallway/staircase)
  3. Increase freelance income
  4. Get back to my wedding weight (deadline: May 1)
  5. Successfully complete my shopping fast
  6. Take French classes
  7. Read one book a month
  8. Learn to play tennis
  9. Try a new fitness class/activity
  10. Do something extra special for Husband once a month
Note: some of these goals are taken from my 40 Before 40 list.

Do you have any resolutions or goals for 2013?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

January goals

I rocked my December goals!
  • Finish Christmas shopping. DONE!
  • Decorate our house for the holidays. DONE! And I snagged some great Christmas stuff on sale after the holidays - some outdoor Christmas lights, a wreath for our front door, some cute little Christmas decor and ribbon garland for our tree.
  • Finish second freelance article. DONE!
  • Meet with lawyer to figure out the house stuff. DONE! 
  • Buy the paint! DONE!
  • Read Gone With the Wind. With 1,000 pages, I haven't finished, but I've started and am hooked!
  • Volunteer for two holiday charities. DONE! We volunteered for Operation Red Nose, which helps keep impaired drivers off the roads during the holidays, and delivered Christmas hampers to needy families. 
  • Enjoy the holidays! DONE! We had a nice Christmas! It was busy as always (three dinners, but they were at least spread out over three days). And the 12 Days of Christmas was a lot of fun! As much as I love Christmas though, I want to get away next year and just relax on a beach with Husband - no families, no obligations, no shopping - just us, the sun and a pina colada!
Here are my January goals. I'm hoping to start the new year on a great footing!
  • Stick to my diet. I was doing pretty good before the holidays, so I want to get back at it. Hoping to lose 5 pounds this month.
  • Put $500 towards our foundation savings goal. This will be on my list of goals for the next six months while we save for the big job.
  • Set up interview for my third freelance article.
  • Install new light in our master bedroom. We ordered a new light fixture, as the one that came with the house is a small chandelier that hangs right at the end of our bed and we're always running into it or knocking the beads off and it's driving us both nuts. Plus, it is very dim and casts almost no light.
  • Organize files and receipts. 
  • Paint one room. Doesn't matter which; I just want to get part of it done.
  • Start walking home from work again. I got off track last month - bad weather, I hurt my foot and it was a busy month which meant I was often rushing home from work. But I got some long underwear for Christmas and a new Lululemon top, so no more excuses!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

12 Days of Christmas

Husband and I had a ton of fun with our 12 Days of Christmas! Here is the final list of what we gave/received.

What I gave to Husband:

  1. One Home-cooked dinner (fettuccine alfredo with chicken). I don't cook, so this was a big hit!
  2. Shhhh! It's a secret.
  3. Three packs of Juicy Fruit gum (his favourite).
  4. Four litre jug of chocolate milk.
  5. Five passes to "get out of the doghouse free".
  6. Six socks (three pairs, six socks in total!).
  7. Seven kitty litter cleanings (this is one of Husband's chores, which I never do). 
  8. Eight ramekins.
  9. Nine mini Toblerone chocolates.
  10. Ten things I heart about you (post it notes/love notes around the house).
  11. Eleven dollar gift card to McDonald's
  12. Twelve months of Popular Science (subscription for the year).
What Husband gave to me:

  1. One ride home (I take the bus home or walk, depending on the weather, but he picked me up this day, which was very nice. I was grinning ear to ear for the last 45 minutes of work, after he phoned me to tell me I was getting picked up).
  2. Two homemade sushi roll.
  3. Three taxi vouches (i.e. I can use one if I want Husband to give me a ride somewhere - can you tell I hate driving?).
  4. Four pieces of French toast cut into the number 4.
  5. Shhhh! It's a secret.
  6. Six cute text messages throughout the day.
  7. Seven homemade muffins that had seven items baked in them (cashews, almonds, pine nuts, cranberries, apples and raisins).
  8. Crazy eights (he gave me a deck of cards and we played the game crazy eights that evening).
  9. Nine homemade granola bars.
  10. Ten dollars worth of scratch lottery tickets (and I didn't even win :( ).
  11. Eleven minute foot massage.
  12. Twelve roses!
You can definitely tell Husband loves to cook! And given how much he spent on my actual Christmas gifts, he kept most of his gifts to me homemade or cheap. We both had a lot of fun with this and I think it'll become a regular tradition each year.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Santa was good to me!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We are going to our third and last Christmas outing today, but already Santa has been good to me!

Husband bought me a beautiful Pandora bracelet. I've been coveting one as I think it would be a great way to remember life events, trips or just general good times. I got the typical sterling silver bracelet, along with three charms to get me started:

A graduation cap, to honour me receiving my management certificate earlier this year:
Pandora Graduation Hat Dangle Charm

A cat to represent my fur babies:

And lastly, this gorgeous pillow with gold rings to signify our marriage:

He also bought me two spacers to keep the charms in place. They each have a ruby (my birthstone) inset in sterling silver with a nice etched design.

On top of that, he bought me a PS3 Move and a couple games! He went way over budget, but it's hard to get mad!

Yesterday evening we went to my sister's for Christmas dinner. The food was delicious (my mom's stuffing is the best!).

My sister and her wife bought me a couple of really funny cat books, including The Oatmeal's How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You and the movie Cinderella (my favourite Disney flick).

My mom bought me a new iPod nano in purple! My walks home will be so much better as my current iPod is quite old and the battery keeps dying quickly, especially in the cold.

In addition, she got me a cute bracelet, some more movies, a book, a yoga mat strap, a Lululemon headband and this beauty:

Lululemon's No Limits tank (in white, with a white and black striped sports bra).

We also had our Christmas with Husband's mom and brother on Christmas Eve. She bought us a CAA membership, which we will hopefully not have to use, but may come in handy. She also got me a scarf that will be returned (it's a hockey scarf and I don't watch hockey and I have a million scarves already :P). She's notoriously bad for buying bad gifts. But she did get me a cute pair of mismatched socks:

 My brother-in-law bought us a ton of solid tupperware (it was on our list and it's much needed/wanted) and a panini/sandwich maker. He also got me a gift card for the movies with orders not to go with Husband. :)

Tonight we're heading to Husband's dad's to celebrate with that side of the family.

After that, our Christmas festivities are over, but I'm on holidays until January 2nd! I'm hoping to get in some reading, cleaning and sleeping!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

December goals update

Instead of Thursday's This & That, I thought I'd give an update on my December goals, which basically sums up what I've been doing lately anyway. 

I'm doing really well on my goals this month! I may even complete them all this month (if I can read fast enough!).
  • Finish Christmas shopping. Almost done! I thought I was done until I found out my brother-in-law is bringing his girlfriend to Christmas dinner. So, now I have to go find her something. Ugh! I'm thinking a simple (read: cheap) scarf.
  • Decorate our house for the holidays. DONE! Our house is very festive! We still have more house than we used to, so I want to buy some additional Christmas decor, but I'm going to wait until the post-holiday sales as it's not a must have. I'd like to get lights to put up outside (all we have our indoor lights), a wreath for the front door and just some general decor.
  • Finish second freelance article. DONE! I even got approval on it and sent it off to my editor already too - four months early! The first one is still pending approval from the subject, but I doubt I'll hear anything until the new year now. At least the bulk of the work is done.
  • Meet with lawyer to figure out the house stuff. DONE! The insurance company has denied our claim (which we knew about last month), but the lawyer has had more discussions with them and he thinks he may be able to fight them on their initial decision. He'd like us to hold off on doing anything re: the previous owners until everything with the insurance company is settled as it could impact their decision. So we continue to wait!
  • Buy the paint! DONE! Finally! We got white for the hallway/stairwell, a pale grey for the spare bedroom, along with a deep purple for an accent wall and then a steel blue for the office/Husband's cave.
  • Read Gone With the Wind. I started reading it last night! Not sure if I'll finish as it's almost 1,000 pages, but hopefully I can put a dent in it during my time off work.
  • Volunteer for two holiday charities. Husband and I, along with my sister, volunteered for Operation Red Nose, which helps keep impaired drivers off the roads during the holidays. This weekend, we're planning to deliver Christmas hampers.
  • Enjoy the holidays! So far, so good! Husband and I are really enjoying our 12 Days of Christmas! More on that later!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For the person who has everything

Everyone has one of those people on their list... that person who is impossible to shop for, seems to have everything he/she wants and can't give you any gift ideas other than gift cards or something very expensive. That person for me is my father-in-law.

After peppering Husband's stepmom with questions, harassing my siblings-in-law with various ideas that never panned out and throwing in the towel several times, telling Husband to worry about this himself, I finally found the perfect gift... a powerbag!
(Note: I am not paid to endorse this product. I found this item through good ol' google searches and reading articles and I just love the product!). 

A powerbag has a complete charging system inside, so all you have to do is charge the bag when you're home or around electricity, and then, when you're on the go and can't charge your smart phone, tablet, e-reader or laptop, the bag does it for you! It's the perfect gift for a student, business professional who is on the road a lot, a techie, or someone who loves to travel (like my father-in-law). The powerbag comes in either backpack or sling style, a messenger bag or briefcase. Prices range from $139.99 US to $249.99. We opted for a backpack style and split the cost with my brother-in-law so the price fit our budget.

My father and mother-in-law are going on a trip to Spain in the new year and this is perfect for their trip. Between the two of them, they have a tablet, a smart phone and two e-readers and this will carry and charge all four at once.

I'm really excited for him to get this bag on Christmas!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Night Chit Chat

What are you….

I just finished the last book in the Fifty Shades of Grey series. I had to know what all the hype was about... and I'm still wondering what it is... :P  Next on my list is Gone With the Wind.

I love crappy made-for-tv Christmas movies, so those are filling up our PVR at the moment.

Listening to?
Husband is watching football.

Candy Corn Bark, but using Reindeer Treats (the Christmas version of candy corn). My selected person for Secret Santa loves candy corn, so I figured this would be a great gift idea.

Happy you accomplished this last week?
I finally figured out what to buy my father-in-law and am now done Christmas shopping!

Looking forward to this week?
A much-needed haircut. I haven't had my hair cut since August!

Thankful for today?
My work may be going on strike sometime in the new year. While discussing this and what we would still need to pay for vs. what we can stop payment for (or just pay interest) with my mother-in-law #2 (Husband's stepmom)she said they could help us with buying food. I hope it won't come to that, but it's nice to that would help us if needed.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday's This & That

  • My little girl had her surgery on Tuesday. She's doing well, even though she has to wear a cone for two weeks! She's like Houdini with a tail though and she can get out of it far too easily. We should have the test results in a few days (a week from the surgery date). Keep your fingers crossed that the tumor is benign!
  • Tomorrow I am spending the day at the spa! I'm so freakin' excited! A girlfriend is coming in from out-of-town and we're going out for lunch, then to the spa for a facial, body polish, manicure, and some down time in their mineral pool. Money is tight right now with Christmas, cat bills and house stuff, but with everything that's gone down in the past couple of months, I need this day and Husband agrees. 
  • Husband and my sister and I volunteered for Operation Red Nose this past weekend. It's a service that drives drunk people home in their car. It was really busy - we did 6 rides (about 10 people) and got to spend some time together, which was nice.
  • I am done my Christmas shopping! Stockings and all! 
  • I am re-watching an old show called Breaker High with a very young Ryan Gosling. Did anyone else watch this way back when? I loved the show when it was first on and it's a great blast from the past!
  • Our car battery keeps on dying. It's happened twice in the last couple of weeks. We're taking it in on Friday morning to see what the problem is. Thankfully the car is under warranty, but if we need a new battery, that wouldn't be covered. 
  • Today is the 1st day of Christmas! I am making Husband fettuccine alfredo with chicken. I don't cook and I hate looking at or touching raw meat, so this is a big deal!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

40 Before 40

I am a total nerd when it comes to "to do" lists. I have them littered around the house and on my desk at work. I will even email myself things to add to my lists so I don't forget! So, it comes as no shock that I wanted to write a 40 Before 40 list of things that I want to accomplish before my 40th birthday. It seems like a long way off right now (I'm 31), but better to start now so I have more time to accomplish everything! Without further adieu, here is my list:

40 Before 40
  1. Pay off debt
  2. Pay off car
  3. Learn to cook a few simple meals
  4. Learn to sew
  5. Go on a road trip
  6. Go to Las Vegas
  7. Go to Temple Gardens (the world famous spa in Moose Jaw) 
  8. Donate money to the Winnipeg Humane Society
  9. Improve my French
  10. Go to Europe
  11. Caribbean vacation with Husband
  12. Fix foundation of house
  13. Fix roof of house
  14. Go to the Maritimes
  15. Paint the house
  16. Go to Pittsburgh
  17. Replace light in master bedroom
  18. Go camping with Husband
  19. Hot air balloon ride
  20. Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge
  21. Walk across the Brooklynn Bridge
  22. Go zip lining
  23. Swim with dolphins
  24. Take a belly dancing class
  25. Learn to ice skate
  26. Go on a girl’s weekend/trip
  27. Write a will
  28. Horseback riding on the beach
  29. Get re-trained in CPR and first aid
  30. Read 10 classic books
  31. See 10 classic movies
  32. Have $10,000 in an emergency fund
  33. Own a pair of Manolo Blahnik’s
  34. Read the Bible
  35. Learn to play tennis
  36. Go without tv for one week
  37. Write a letter to Husband for him to read on his 40th birthday
  38. Organize my closet
  39. Send flowers to someone just because
  40. Do something that isn’t on the list, but should be
Does anyone else have a goals list for a big milestone birthday?

Friday, December 7, 2012

12 Days of Christmas

Husband and I are going to be celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas this year! I saw the idea on Pinterest (where I find everything these days) and I immediately wanted to do it. It's a very simple concept, but I think it'll be tons of fun!

December 13th (12 days before Christmas), is day one, so you give one present. The second day, you give two presents that are identical, third day three identical presents and so on. So by the time you get to December 24th, you give 12 presents of the same item. As we're not doing this in lieu of Christmas, we said the 12 Days of Christmas would be inexpensive or free items, so just coming up with the ideas is fun!

Here are a few of my presents for Husband:

Day 1 - a home-cooked meal for him (I never cook or if I do, it only involves boiling water or heating up, so this is indeed a present to him.)
Day 2 - two coupons for "Get out of the doghouse for free"
Day 3 - pack of Juicy Fruit gums (3 in a pack)
Day 6 - three pairs of socks (six socks all together!)
Day 10 - 10 Things I Heart About You (little love notes or post-its around the house)
Day 12 - subscription to Popular Science (12 months of the magazine! This is a bit more expensive, but as it's Christmas Eve, I'm counting this as a regular Christmas gift.)

Does anyone else do something beyond just giving gifts on Christmas?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Thursday's This & That

  • We have bought paint! Success! For the spare bedroom, we got a light grey and a deep eggplant purple for an accent wall. For the office (a.k.a. Husband's man cave), a dark steel blue. Painting won't happen anytime this month, but I'm excited we at least have this done and it's a step in the right direction.
  • We met with the lawyer. I'll post a full update on what's happening in another post. 
  • We put up our Christmas tree and decorated it for the first time! Last year we bought the tree and put it up sans light or decorations, just to see how the fur babies would react (I was worried they would climb up the tree and it would fall over). This year we put lights and ornaments on, and we also decorated our stairwell and I love it! I'll post pictures soon!
  • I am so close to begin done Christmas shopping. Only a couple more gifts to pick up and I know what we're getting them, so I just have to get it!
  • My diet is failing miserably this month.I don't know why I even try to eat healthy in December.
  • I have an appointment for my free microdermabrasion this weekend (see this article for more details).
  • My little girl fur baby has to have surgery next week! We took her in as we thought she had allergies, but it turns out she has a mast cell tumor, which releases histamines and causes an allergic reaction. The vet has to remove the tumor and then run tests on it to see how far along it is. It's small though, so I'm hoping it's as simple as removing it. Apparently in dogs it is more aggressive and often requires chemotherapy, but not usually in cats. Keep your fingers crossed!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

November goals update and December goals

I have been so excited for December 1st! I've really been looking forward to putting up the tree, decorating for Christmas and enjoying the holidays, even more so this year than previous ones. And I think we're kicking off the month on a good footing as I did pretty well on my goals this month.

November goals:
  • Put up wedding photos. FAIL! It seems this one is going to take a lot longer to get done! We decided we want to paint the hallway and stairwell (where the photos will go), so no point in putting up pictures beforehand. 
  • Meet with lawyer to figure out the house stuff. FAIL! But not for lack of trying. Our lawyer was on vacation and he just got back. We have an appointment to sit down with him next week.
  • Write our wills. DONE! I am soooo happy we got this done. It took two evenings and some research on what to include, but they're signed and sealed! I feel so adult and responsible! 
  • Increase Husband's RRSP contribution. DONE! Husband has been making more money over the past few months, so I wanted to make sure his contribution was still a good percentage of his income. 
  • Paint the office and/or spare room. FAIL! We still have to go buy the paint, but the store hours are very limited (closed evenings and the one near our house is also closed weekends). The one further away is open on Saturdays though and since our voucher for cheap paint expires in 2 weeks, I've told Husband it's do or die time! No more excuses!
  • Get 75% of Christmas shopping done. DONE! I honestly don't know if I've hit that 75% mark, but I think I've been pretty successful so far so I'm considering this done.
  • Fix Blackberry. DONE! I had to check out some websites, email some people, but I wound up doing a complete restore and it's all fixed now.
  • Set up interviews for 2 of 4 freelance articles. DONE AND DONE! I actually set up and did 2 interviews, wrote one of the articles and am working on the second! After that I'll wait until after the holidays to tackle the other two.
We also got confirmation that Husband's life insurance was increased through my work as we had sent this request in earlier in the year. Now I have to bug him more to get the life/disability insurance set up through his work! The more insurance the better IMO.

December goals:
  • Finish Christmas shopping. 
  • Decorate our house for the holidays.
  • Finish second freelance article.
  • Meet with lawyer to figure out the house stuff. 
  • Buy the paint! I'm not even going to pretend like we'll get the painting done this month, but we have to buy the paint before those vouchers expire on Dec. 15. 
  • Read Gone With the Wind. A friend of mine lent this to me a few months ago, so it's high time I read it!
  • Volunteer for two holiday charities. Husband and I are signed up to volunteer for Operation Red Nose, which helps keep impaired drivers off the roads during the holidays. I'd also like to deliver Christmas hampers again.
  • Enjoy the holidays!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thursday's This & That

  • Our lawyer will be sending us a cheque for the extra interest paid on our house! When we bought the house, we were told you had to pay interest for the period of time between the transaction and when it closes (or something like that). We were charged a set amount of $1,000 and told that we'd get the extra back when everything was complete. Four months later, we still haven't received it. I finally called and I guess they had been sitting on it for awhile, so the assistant is now going to send it to us. Can we get interest on our interest? :P  I'm not sure yet how much it'll be for yet, but hopefully a few hundred bucks. 
  • We got our first full water bill and it's a low to normal amount, which is good to know. We obviously don't have any leaks anywhere and we're not wasteful.
  • We did up our wills! It took two evenings, but they're all done! 
  • Husband and I saw Argo last weekend and it was really good! I highly recommend it.
  • We splurged and bought some extra Christmas decorations. Now that we have a house, there's more space to decorate, and as we only just bought our first Christmas stuff last year, there was still a lot we didn't have. I'm being forced to wait until Dec. 1 to put up the tree though.
  • The Canadian penny is being laid to rest at the end of this year, so I rolled a jar of pennies I had laying around. I have enough for a (cheap) lunch - $8.53. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

What's better than free?

My mother-in-law donated to a local charity and with her donation, she got a package of various gift cards for local establishments. She has no interest in using them, so she gave me all the gift cards! I get a manicure, microdermabrasion treatment, slimming spa, 2 weeks at Shapes and indoor tanning all for free! Plus, a neighbor/friend of hers also donated and I got her cards as well, so I can take a friend or, if there is more than one location, I can go twice.

Today I went for the slimming spa. I wasn't too sure what to expect, but I figured it's free, so why not! And it actually was kind of fun. You strip down to either a bathing suit or bra and underwear and the technician applies electro pads to your abdomen. The pads send pulses through your stomach, which feels weird, but a good weird. While the pads are doing their thing, you lie in a SOQI bed. The bed has hot houses, which give off infrared rays and warm you up. I didn't get too hot - it was just like laying in the warm sun for 15 minutes.  Then, the pulses are removed and the tech comes back and rubs a cellulite cream on your stomach. She massages it in and you lay in the bed for another 10 minutes. The cream may or may not tingle. I didn't feel any tingles myself, so I think if I had paid for it, I'd feel a big gipped, but it was nice and relaxing.

The free slimming spa that came with the gift card was 30 minutes, but if you were to pay to do it, it would be for an hour and there is more included in the process, including the use of a CHI machine, which is apparently like a whole body massage that oxygenates your system. You can also choose to do another body part, like the thighs or arms. I could have upgraded to the full hour for $30, but since I had no idea what I was getting myself into and upgrading defeats the purposes of being free, I declined and just did the half hour.

I can't say I would do this on a regular basis or pay for it, but it was a fun experience to try. And it was completely free as the woman doing the session owns the shop, so I didn't feel inclined to tip.

And tomorrow, a girlfriend and I are going for free manicures! I <3 free stuff!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gift cards: thoughtful or lazy?

I typically don't like gift cards - giving or receiving. While in some ways it would be nice to take the easy way out and give a gift card for Christmas or birthdays, I prefer to put more thought into giving a gift or having someone put thought into a gift they buy me. However, if someone chooses the right gift card, it can be great. Lululemon anyone?! Or giving a couple a gift card to a nice restaurant they love, but can't afford. Or a massage gift certificate to a new mom. You can put some thought into buying a gift card!

The infographic below has some amazing stats on gift card purchases. The stat that surprised me the most was that 20% of consumers have never given a gift card - I thought this number would be much lower. And really - people buy gift cards for kids?! Kids are so easy to shop for.

Are there any figures that jump out at you?

Holiday Gift Card Survey 2012 - MyPoints
Source: Holiday Gift Card Survey 2012 - MyPoints

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thursday's This & That

  • I got a raise at work! I work in a unionized environment, so I had my anniversary last month and was automatically bumped up in pay. I'm now on level 5 of 6, so next year I'll get another significant raise. 
  • We found out that title insurance will not pay for the home repairs (it was a long shot, but the easiest avenue to try). So now we have to go after the previous owners. There is very little doubt in my mind that they will have to pay, but it's all just taking so damn long! I'm hoping we can do arbitration, which will be faster and easier than going to court. Keep your fingers crossed!
  • We got winter tires on our car! Total cost was $978. This included the tires, rims, warranty, and having the tires put on the car, plus an oil change while the car was in the shop. We opted for more expensive, but higher quality tires with better ratings, so while we could have saved money on cheaper tires, in the long run we'll be better off. And because we bought the rims, Husband can change the tires from now on.
  • Our property taxes are going up. We haven't gotten the assessment yet, but we should know next month how much. I don't think it'll greatly impact our budget though as right now we're paying more each month for our taxes since we got on the program late in the year. I'm hoping that while the overall taxes may go up, our monthly cost will still be lower than they are now.
  • I've started preparing my income tax information already! Every year in March, I scramble to get all my business and personal stuff together and I find I always forget something, so this year I'm determined to be more organized.
  • I finally got all of the reimbursements for our health spending lately. We had quite a bit, including a flight to Toronto for a test that couldn't be done here, new contacts for Husband and I, a massage and prescriptions. All of that spending was sitting on the credit card, so I'm happy the money has come in.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Choosing responsibility

Husband and I have been talking for awhile about taking a winter vacation somewhere warm (see "Can we afford a winter vacation"). In a strange turn of events, Husband has been the one saying we should not go anywhere and instead save our money. Or rather, put the money towards something more responsible, like the credit card, or winter tires, or house stuff. Me, on the other hand... I've been staring at pictures of beaches, researching hotels and trying to find a cheap last minute deal. Every few days I'd mention the winter vacation idea to Husband and we'd debate whether or not we should go.

But finally, we decided last week... no winter holiday this year. I withdrew the vacation savings and instead we bought winter tires. Not nearly as sexy or fun, but very much needed where we live.

And then a couple days later, I was looking at last minute vacation deals again. Ugh! But last night I finally admitted to myself that we just couldn't travel any more this year. Not only is the vacation money now gone, but we have way more important things to do with our money. Namely:

  • Pay off the credit card (there's not much on here and the interest is almost nothing, but having any bit of debt drives me insane)
  • Christmas shopping
  • Home repairs (we're still waiting to hear if the previous owner's are going to pay for the big stuff, but in the meantime we should save our money as we may have to pay up front for now)
Not to mention the fact that in the past year we've been to Hawaii, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Ottawa.

So the new plan is to start saving again and go on nice trip next year. I would love to do a road trip to Chicago and Pittsburgh (I have a crazy obsession with Pittsburgh, although I've never been). Or a trip to the Maritimes so we can continue seeing more of Canada.

Being responsible sucks sometimes, but in a few months when winter is over, I know we'll be happy with our decision.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shopping Fast

I have read about shopping fasts on numerous blogs, as well as outfit challenges (you know the ones where you only wear 10 outfits for a year), and I'm always impressed that people can do these types of challenges. I often ponder whether or not I can do one, but then I quickly forget about it and go on with my clothes-lovin' life.

Not anymore!

I've decided to do a shopping fast for 6 months.

And let me tell you, I love shopping. I love clothes. So this will be a challenge!

I got into major debt in my 20s because I spent way too much money on clothes. When I was in my early 20s, I once counted and had over 200 tops. Yes, two hundred. That included tank tops, t-shirts, sweaters, etc. but really, 200 is a bit obscene. And I probably only wore half of them, if that!

So obviously I have tons of clothes and there's no need for me to go shopping. Any clothes shopping I do is purely a want nowadays.

Starting today

Although I haven't bought new clothes in a couple weeks, I'm setting my official start date as today - November 5th. I am vowing not to spend money on clothes until after May 5th. While I think the month of November and December will be fine, I anticipate the new year will be tough as by January I'm generally sick of my winter gear and wanting to get a few new sweaters to tide me over until spring. We'll see how this goes!

Anticipated benefits:

  • Save time by not shopping
  • Get out and do more productive things with my time (i.e. go for a walk with a friend or pick up a new hobby)
  • Save money
  • Discover a new love for old items in my closet

I'll check in once a month and let you know how this fast is going.

Note: This does not include clothes for Husband. I generally do his clothes shopping for many reasons and I will continue this if/when he asks for something new. He's generally very happy to wear the same old clothes for a long time and only asks for something new when he really does need it, so I imagine I won't have to get much for him over the next 6 months.

Has anyone done a shopping fast successfully? Any tips?

November Goals

It's been over 6 weeks since I last posted. Life has been nuts and not really in a good way. We had some stuff happen that I won't get into at this time (maybe once some more time has passed and more healing has been done). But it has kept me away from blogging as I couldn't really focus on anything else. But I'm hoping now I can use the blog as a bit of therapy to get life back to normal.

And what's more normal than a to do list? At least for me it's completely normal! So here are my November goals:

- Put up wedding photos. This has been on the list for awhile, but I really want to get it done now to remind me about what's important in my life - Husband, friends and family.
- Meet with lawyer to figure out the house stuff. This battle is still ongoing. Will post an update after our meeting.
- Write our wills.
- Increase Husband's RRSP contribution.
- Paint the office and/or spare room. We have a Groupon deal for paint and painting supplies that expires in mid-December, so I want to be sure we use that in time.
- Get 75% of Christmas shopping done. I have 10 people to buy for, so I'm hoping to get shopping for 7 to 8 people done this month so as not to overwhelm the budget and me!
- Fix Blackberry. My phone stopped receiving emails for some reason (I can send emails and send/receive texts with no trouble). I've tried a few different fixes to no avail, so now I need to do a backup and restore.
- Set up interviews for 2 of 4 freelance articles. The articles aren't due until April, but since I have so much time, I want to divide and conquer one each month.

Hopefully I can get these things accomplished this month and go into holiday mode feeling feeling prepared and relaxed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Can we afford a winter vacation?

I've been a bit MIA lately and honestly I'm not sure why. My life is not that busy, so I have no real excuse!

I live in central Canada, which means come winter time, it is freezing! It's generally -20 or -25C (-4 to -13F), but -30C/-22F is a regular occurrence. And then when you add in the windchill, it can even drop to -50C/-58F. While this isn't the regular temperature, we do get at least a week or two of this type of nasty weather at least a couple times in the season.

So what's a Canadian girl to do? Escape for as long as possible. I used to go on winter vacations every year when I was younger and didn't care about taking on debt. But now that I'm older and wiser, winter vacations are not as common. We did go to Hawaii last year for our honeymoon, but that was the first time I'd been on a winter break in four years and the first for Husband ever.

Now that the temperatures are starting to drop and I can't ignore the fact that summer is over, it really makes me want to start planning a getaway. But I'm just not sure if we can financially swing it. We do have a vacation fund that has $638 in it right now. By the end of the year, it'll be up to $1,438, which is a pretty nice chunk of change.

The problem is, we have a little bit of debt on the credit card since the house purchase. I hate having that looming over our heads. On one hand, the interest rate is very low (1.9%) and we're paying it off as fast as possible, but on the other hand, that money from the vacation fund (plus some incoming freelance cheques) could almost wipe it out. So I can't decide what to do!!!

Pros for winter vacation:
- Get away for the winter
- Could be our last chance for a getaway before we have kids
- Is reasonably cheap vacation-wise (we can do it for around $2,000 if we don't go crazy)
- The money is in our vacation fund, so I feel like we should use it for a vacation

- Could use the money towards the debt or other more necessary things (stuff for the house, Christmas, etc.)
- If we go on a winter vacation, we wouldn't be able to do a summer vacation next year and we have tossed around the idea of a road trip through the U.S.

If we do take a winter break, I will continue to use my freelance income to pay off the credit card, so it's not like the card will go unpaid. It will just take longer.

Any thoughts on which way we should go? Any other pros or cons I'm missing?

Friday, August 31, 2012

August Review and September Goals

August Review
Here's how I did on my August goals
  • Have $1,000 saved in our emergency fund - Done! We have just over $1,000 saved up now and we're continuing to put money aside. 
  • Set up our property taxes - Done! I received confirmation from the city and our payments start in September. Thanks to the one-time payment I made in August, the monthly payment isn't too bad.
  • Finish current freelance projects - Done! I did finish all the projects I had at the time my goals were made, but then I got more! 
  • Complete at least six projects around the house - Done! Here's what we did:
    1. Repaired the foundation cracks outside
    2. Fixed bathtub faucet (it was loose)
    3. Tightened bathtub sink (also loose)
    4. Put flooring under the kitchen sink (This was a great idea I saw on Pinterest - put stick-on tiles in the cabinet under the sink to protect the cabinet in case of any leaks.)
    5. Patch ducts (to help save energy)
    6. New roof! All done and looking wonderful!
  • Get Husband more life insurance and disability insurance - In the works! Husband has emailed the contact at his office to get signed up for life/disability and we've filed the paperwork to increase his life insurance through my office. We got a letter back saying they need more details from his doctor about a previous health issue, so he has to go in and see the doc to get that done still.
  • Write our wills - Nope! I keep meaning to schedule a time for us to do this, but something else always comes up.
  • Go to the beach - Unfortunately no! :(  With husband's schedule working nights, sleeping days it's hard for him to get motivated to go anywhere for a whole day. And now that summer is basically over, I don't think this will happen. 
  • Host a games night with friends/family - Yes and no. I had wanted to have host some friends for a games night with lots of yummy food and laughs, but it didn't quite work out scheduling-wise. But I did have a couple girlfriends over for a games night sans boys. And Husband and I did go to my sister's for games night as she can't come to our place because she's allergic to the cats. Not quite what I had in mind, but still fun!
  • Read 2 books - Done! I read Never Let You Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. A bit of a strange read in that the style of writing is VERY conversational and jumpy, but an intriguing story. And I also re-read Life of Pi in anticipation of the movie later this year.
  • Go to the movies - Done! Saw The Dark Knight Rises and Hope Springs. Hope Springs wasn't as funny as I thought it would be, but it was entertaining enough.

September Goals
  • Write our wills. This is going back on the list and it will be done!
  • Finish current freelance projects. I have a 3-in-1 project that I'm hoping to get done this weekend. And then I just got another article due in mid-September.
  • Look into a winter vacation. I'm not sure if we can financially do it this year, but I want to sit down and crunch the numbers to figure it out.
  • Increase Husband's RRSP contribution. So basically harass him until he does this! ;)
  • Walk home from work 4x a week and work out at home at least 1x a week.
  • Start a baby fund. I'd like to have some money set aside for this big, one-time purchases (crib, car seat, high chair, etc.), plus some money to cover us when I'm at a lower income during mat leave.
  • Paint the office or spare bedroom. Either one, I'm not picky!
  • Make 1-2 recipes that I've pinned on Pinterest.
  • Hang our wedding pictures.
  • Plan our 1st year anniversary. Our first year anniversary is October 8th! 'm not sure what we're going to do just yet, so I want to figure this out and make any arrangements now. Maybe just a stay-cation at a hotel, or rent a cabin. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Weekly Money Check-Up

Courtesy of My Pretty Pennies

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our car payment.
2. Today I am thankful for a long weekend! I have Monday off of work thanks to my overtime last week.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was re-read Life of Pi - such a great book! I can't wait for the movie later this year.
4. I will consider this week a success if I get my application in for a freelance job.
5. This time of year makes me want to start planning a winter holiday so I can keep the warm weather around longer.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday's This & That

Wow - you mean a Thursday's This & That post that actually posts on Thursday?! Incredible! ;)
  • The roof is done! It took a lot longer than anticipated (5 days instead of 2, although it rained most of one day). There were a few complications: the roofer found quite a bit of rotten wood that had to be replaced, our bathroom fan/vent was going into the attic when it should be vented to the outside, as well as a few other surprises (there was duct tape on part of the roof!). But now we have an amazing roof that will last us for a very long time. I'm so glad we went with the "cheaper", non-company roofer - he was great to work with and we didn't get dinged for every little thing. Final cost was just under $6,000.
  • An engineer came out to look at the foundation for the addition this morning. He's going to draw up some plans and figure out what we need to do to bring it up to code. Hopefully it's not too complicated/expensive. I'm crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath!
  • Husband got a GST cheque for almost $200! It was a very welcome surprise. 
  • I am taking the next two Mondays off of work with all my banked overtime, so I'll get three long weekends in a row!
  • Still no word from the lawyer... I'm getting very impatient! 
  • Tomorrow is the anniversary of my first date with Husband. Four years! <3

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Confession time

I love personal finances, but I hate budgets. Let me rephrase that - I love making budgets, playing with budgets and crunching the numbers, but I hate following budgets. For someone who claims to be a PF lover, it's appalling that I can't stick to a budget. But I think I've found something that works for us... We have automated EVERYTHING. I'm not sure if this is exactly like the "pay yourself first" mentality, but here's the way we do it: each week we get paid, certain amounts are automatically withdrawn and go into different accounts for various goals. As well, almost all of our bills are automated, so we get paid and the money comes out that day or the next and we never miss it.

 Here's the basic breakdown of where our money goes automatically each month (other than bills):

  • RRSPs (me): $100 (twice a month)
  • RRSPs (Husband): $75 (twice a month)
  • Vacation fund: $100 (twice a month)
  • Emergency fund: $100
  • House repairs fund: $50 (twice a month) 
  • Planned spending: $100 (for things like new furniture, computers, etc.)

Then, we live on the rest. Whatever we are left with is used as needed, whether it's for groceries, hair cuts, new clothes or gifts. We do have amounts set aside in our so-called budget for allowances, clothing, gifts, etc., but honestly I rarely follow that. If we have a birthday coming up, we buy the gift and then that means we probably won't go out for dinner on date night. Lately, we have been spending a lot on the house lately, so we haven't been going out to eat as much.

It all works out in the end, or at least it has so far! And this way, we have savings for almost anything you can think of, the bills are paid and we are still able to have fun.

Do you see any flaws in my system? I'm interested in hearing what other people do budget-wise. Does anyone actually stick to a budget cent for cent?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

August Goals - Update

Wow, I can't believe it's the middle of August already! Why does summer always seem to fly by, but winter is here forever?

Since we're mid-way through the month now, I thought I'd check in on my August goals:
  • Have $1,000 saved in our emergency fund - Done! We have just over $1,000 saved up now and we're continuing to put money aside. 
  • Set up our property taxes - Done! I'm still waiting for confirmation from the province, but I have filed all the paperwork. I even went down to city hall and made a one-time payment so once everything is set up, our monthly payments will be lower. 
  • Finish current freelance projects - I have a few changes to make to the last one before I send it to my editor, but I should finish that today. BUT, I got three more assignments last week! I won't finish all those by the end of August, but we'll see how it goes. 
  • Complete at least six projects around the house - Done! Here's what we did:
    1. Repaired the foundation cracks outside
    2. Fixed bathtub faucet (it was loose)
    3. Tightened bathtub sink (also loose)
    4. Put flooring under the kitchen sink (This was a great idea I saw on Pinterest - put stick-on tiles in the cabinet under the sink to protect the cabinet in case of any leaks.)
    5. Patch ducts (to help save energy)
    6. New roof! The roofing guys have been at our place since Saturday working on this. Rain slowed them down on Sunday, but everything should be done today! 
  • Get Husband more life insurance and disability insurance - I have sent in the paperwork to increase his life insurance through my work, but we haven't done anything else yet.
  • Write our wills - Nothing yet. I keep meaning to schedule a time for us to do this, but something else always comes up.
  • Go to the beach - Not yet. 
  • Host a games night with friends/family - Not yet. We did go to my sister's for games night earlier this month as she can't come to our place because she's allergic to the cats.
  • Read 2 books - I've read one so far - Never Let You Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. A bit of a strange read in that the style of writing is VERY conversational and jumpy, but an intriguing story. 
  • Go to the movies - Done! Saw The Dark Knight Rises. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie! I normally likesuperhero movies, but they're not my fav, but this one I really did enjoy. I'd like to see Hope Springs before the end of the month too.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Weekly Money Check-Up

Courtesy of My Pretty Pennies
1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our TV, internet and cell phones. The bill was higher than normal with the move as we didn't have TV from this particular company before, so we had to pay for 2 months (one for the current month and one because they bill a month ahead). Does anyone ever understand the billing system from these companies? 
2. Today I am thankful for extra freelance work. I have 3 new projects that came up late last week. 
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was went to the playground with a friend and her adorable daughter. We played with her, relaxed by the kiddie pool with our feet in the water and got some sun. 
4. I will consider this week a success if I get through this week! I have a week-long video shoot with long hours, so it's going to be a long week!
5. The last thing I won was our Olympics pool at work! Prize money for 1st place is $55, so minus the $5 entry fee, I'm walking away $50 richer!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our Key Map

 Shortly before we moved into our new house, I saw this great idea for a key map on LearnVest. It's a shadow box with the keys of every place you've ever lived in... a "map" of your homes. I love stuff like this - cute, not overly done (i.e. not everyone has it hanging in their home), it celebrates our past together, and is a nice change from typical pictures.

Since we were still in our apartment (the first place we lived in together), it was perfect timing to get this started and have a key from every home we've shared together. So I got a copy of my apartment key made before we moved out, and then once we took possession of our house, got a copy of that made as well. A trip to Michael's landed me the shadow box and I had the labels already.

It took almost no effort to do this and it was quite cheap (under $15). If/when we move again, we can add to this and years from now, we can look back at the various keys and remember the fun times we had in each home we shared together.

Cost of materials:
Copying keys - $2.81 x 2
Shadow box - $7.84 (I got a great deal at Michael's. The regular price was $16.99)
Labels - free as we already had some.
Total cost: $13.46

Friday, August 10, 2012

Thursday's This & That

Once again this week, Thursday's This & That is being published on Friday. I worked a 12 hour day yesterday, so that's my excuse! ;)
  • Work has been very busy lately. I work in advertising and summer is very busy for us because good weather brings more video and photo shoots. I had a shoot yesterday that went until 7 p.m. and next week, I'm on a shoot from Tuesday to Friday, with a couple of 16 hour days. I love the work, but the hours are rough!
  • I'm afraid to call my lawyer about all the house stuff - if I call him and there's no update, then he'll charge me money for the call and it'll be for nothing. No news is good news, right? 
  • We're getting our new roof this weekend! But that means men banging on my roof at 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, so no sleeping in for me this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't rain. 
  • I got three more freelance assignments yesterday! 
  • I have fallen off the diet wagon big time. I'm hoping I can climb back on this weekend, but with a week of craft services and long hours coming up during the video shoot, I'm not going to hold my breath.
  • I'm going for a bra fitting on Saturday. I am a firm believer in having a properly fitted bra! The last time I had a fitting was 5 or 6 years ago and my body has definitely changed since then.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Weekly Money Check-Up

Courtesy of My Pretty Pennies

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our car payment.
2. Today I am thankful for a long weekend! It's a civic holiday in Canada and I love having the extra day off and the short work week.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was play board games with family.
4. I will consider this week a success if I win the Olympics pool at work - first prize is $55! 
5. I am trying to incorporate more fruits and veggies in my diet. I tend to grab grains and milk products for snacks, so I'm trying to eat more fruits and veggies throughout the day and make it a habit.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Expenses of moving

I thought it would be interesting to see what we've had to pay since we bought and moved into the house, so here's the breakdown:

Actual moving expenses:

$50 - Sublet apartment. This is an administrative fee that the building management charges.
$114.45 - Shampoo the carpet in the apartment, including a pet deodorizer.
$90.12 - U-Haul rental.
$28.63 - Slurpee run for our friends/family who helped us move.
$0 - Food for our movers. My lovely in-laws hosted a dinner for the movers and put us up for the night.

Sub-total: $283.20

Regular, but new to us, bills
$534.66 - Mortgage payment - first one!
$325 - Property taxes. We'll be on a regular monthly payment as of September, but I wanted to bring that monthly amount down, so we did a one-time payment to drop the overall amount owing.
$139.16 - Home insurance. First payment is a double one, but it's normally $70.
$38.33 - Mortgage insurance. We decided to cancel this after the first month as we increased Husband's life insurance through my work and he's going on his work's plan too.

Sub-total: $1046.15

Home updates:
$90.39 - Home Depot and Rona purchases (various home repair stuff - wood, cement, spray foam insulation, wood screws, etc.)
$100 - This went into a TFSA for our home repairs fund - so not yet spent, but I'm treating it like it has.

Sub-total: $190.39

Necessary or not so necessary home stuff:

$75 - Lawn mower and weed eater (got off Kijiji for cheap)
$10 - Shovels. A bit early I know, but two shovels for $10 on Kijiji was hard to pass up.
$0 - Garden hoses. Free from a woman on freecycle!
$11.54 - iPod arm band. I am now walking to work for more than 2 minutes, so I wanted an arm band to easily carry my iPod. Because of this we're saving $60 a month for a bus pass.
$26.97 - An area rug for the living room, a clothes drying rack, a new water bottle and cutting boards. The actual bill was nearly $300, but we had gift cards.

Sub-total: $123.51

Unforeseen expenses:

$166.40 - New box spring. The one piece we had wouldn't fit up the stairs, so we had to buy a new split box spring. Luckily I sold the old one for $80, as the new box spring actually cost $246.40.

TOTAL: $1,809.65

Thoughts on spending: 
It's actually not as bad as I thought it would be. It's only $763.50 if you take out the regular bills (those were put into our monthly budget and replace our rent and down payment savings).

But this doesn't include the lawyer's fees or any actual costs of buying the house like land transfer fees, title insurance, etc. It also doesn't include our new bedroom furniture, which we would have bought regardless of moving, but that was another couple grand.

On the positive end, we did get our $500 or so damage deposit back from the apartment, plus we're waiting on our $50 deposit from the parkade that we used when living downtown.

A few weeks ago I probably would have cursed the house and wished that we had never moved, but now I'm settling in and feeling more relaxed, so I'm okay with the money we have spent. Hopefully this will now taper off and we can stick to our regular budget.

Have a great weekend everyone! Long weekend here in Canada! :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Addition Headache

Because of the leak in the sun room, we brought in a contractor to look at the addition (which houses the sun room), just in case there were unseen problems. Indeed, there is. A big one. 

Turns out the previous owners removed the foundation that had originally been holding up the addition and replaced it with concrete and wood posts. I'm not sure what their reasoning was - if there were problems prior, but whatever the case, they mucked up. The contractor immediately looked at it and said it wasn't to code, the owners had not gotten the proper permits from the city and that this would have to be fixed within the next year or so. If it's not fixed, the foundation will start to sink and the addition will pull away from the house! As we live in a location that gets snow, it's crucial that the foundation be below the frost line, which it is not. The contractor said that chances are, what they took away foundation-wise, probably would have been better.

So the next steps are to get an engineer in who will draw up plans on how to repair this. We then have to get the proper permits from the city and get a construction crew in to do the work. This could be anywhere from $5,000 - $15,000, although the contractor figured it would be about $7,500, so on the lower end thank goodness. It all depends on what the engineer thinks has to be done. Thankfully he said this doesn't have to be done immediately - we can wait a year or so as shifting in one year is not going to change much. A few years though and the repair costs could go up.

So on top of the previous owner's not telling us about the sun room leak, they also didn't disclose this huge issue. Something that they not only didn't disclose, but also something they screwed up. The contractor who saw the addition sent an email to our lawyer stating all the evidence that points to the previous owners have done it.

Our lawyer is hoping to get some money from the previous owners to fix it. We also got title insurance, which the lawyer says may cover the foundation issues not being to code. It's all up in the air now, but our lawyer is taking both avenues to try and get us some money for both this and the roof. But of course, we have to pay the lawyer for his time! Ideally he can get us the full amount for the addition and at least part of the cost of the roof and his costs won't be horrendous. If he can save us $10,000 and we have to pay him $2,000, I'll be happy. Time will tell!

In the meantime, the Option A roofer confirmed he can and will do the work, so that is scheduled for next weekend! We can save a lot of money going with him, so that's great. We will need the extra money to pay for the addition work upfront.

While we do have all these headaches, I am finally starting to feel settled in the new house. I think once I know how much the addition will cost and how much we are able to get from the previous owners/title insurance, I'll feel better.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August Goals

 I can't believe July is over! With surgery, moving and house stuff, the summer seems to be a "blink and you'll miss it" season for me right now. I'm hoping I'll have more time in the month of August to enjoy summer, our house, each other and just relax.

  • Have $1,000 saved in our emergency fund
  • Set up our property taxes
  • Finish current freelance projects
  • Complete at least six projects around the house
  • Get Husband more life insurance and disability insurance
  • Write our wills
  • Go to the beach
  • Host a games night with friends/family
  • Read 2 books
  • Go to the movies

Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekly Money Check-Up

Courtesy of My Pretty Pennies

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our first mortgage payment!
2. Today I am thankful for times when I don't have to walk to/from work. Husband drove me in today and I will have a work car this afternoon and tomorrow morning. While I do like getting the exercise and saving money, the 35-40 minute walk can be a bit much sometimes.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was spend an evening watching season 1 of Lost with a couple girlfriends.
4. I will consider this week a success if I get our paperwork done for Husband's life/disability and finish a freelance article that is due next week.
5. This summer
has been a time of learning and growth. Having bought our first home, there's so much to figure out. Plus the total change in my lifestyle has put me under a lot of stress, but I'm slowly adapting.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Quotes, estimates and expenses, oh my!

I knew buying a house would mean putting in a certain amount of time, effort and money, but wow! This is no joke!

About two weeks after we moved in, we got the first rain fall. It wasn't too heavy, but it was enough to show us one thing - our sun room leaks! Now this room is not something we were planning on using anytime soon. It's not well insulated, so it gets super hot in the summer and it will obviously get really cold in the winter. So for now we thought we'd use it for storage and then update it in the years to come. Well, this leak meant that we had to call in some roofing people to get quotes, as well as look into potentially having to fix the addition (which is where the sun room is).

First off, we called in some roofing guys...

Here's the breakdown:

Option A - a friend of a friend. He is a University professor in his regular life, but he put himself through school doing roofing and does it in the summer when he's not teaching. He quoted us $4,500.

Option B - a well-known roofing company in our city. They quoted $6,500. 

Option C - another well-known roofing company and one that a contractor who looked at the addition recommended to us. They quoted $9,500.

Thoughts on options:
  • Option C is the by far most expensive, but includes everything from changing vents to reflashing the chimney. 
  • Option C has a really good reputation. 
  • Although Option B is cheaper, I think once we started adding the "extras" that Option C automatically includes (replacing vents, etc.) the costs would be similar, so no big savings between the two.
  • Option B has an okay reputation - good, but not as good as Option C.
  • Option A includes everything that Option C includes except reflashing the chimney, and he is half the price. (Husband said reflashing the chimney is not crucial. I'm still trying to figure out what that even means!) 
  • Option A was actually the only one to go up on the roof to inspect it up close. 
So, I think we're going to go with Option A. Obviously money is a big decision factor and I like that we'll be saving several thousand dollars, but I do know that going cheaper is not always better. We definitely weighed the options here, but, this guys seems really good, knowledgeable and friendly. Obviously there could be concerns working with someone who is not with an actual company, but I think working with someone one-on-one has its benefits. He  provides a warranty on his work, the shingles have a manufacturer's warranty for 40 years, and he did our friend's roof and they were very happy.

Plus, Husband pointed out that even if his roof lasts for half as long, it was half as cheap! lol  But I think he would do a good job.

Only wrench in the situation is this: Our roof is very steep and the houses in our area are very close together, which means that when the shingles are delivered, they can't be easily brought up to the roof. This guy is older (45 years old, which isn't bad, but by roofer standards, it's getting up there), so he said he would have to make sure he can get some younger guys to help him in hauling up the shingles by hand. Hopefully he will be able to find that help no problem. He didn't seem overly concerned about that though, but it could be a potential problem.

We did email him last night to confirm that we do want to go with him and now we're just waiting to hear back from him. I'm really hoping he can do it as we would save a lot of money and that money can be put towards fixing the addition.

Welcome to home ownership!

Up next... The addition headache...

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Weekly Money Check-Up

Courtesy of My Pretty Pennies

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on our car payment.
2. Today I am thankful for the ability to dream and actually make those dreams reality. 
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was play board games with Husband.
4. I will consider this week a success if I get all the necessary quotes for the home upgrades we want to do and we make a decision.
5.  I am most looking forward to the end of the Olympics. Honestly, I don't really watch it much and it takes over my precious TV, which usually just annoys me. I do enjoy watching gymnastics and swimming somewhat. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thursday's This & That

I meant to publish this Thursday, but the day got away on me, so without further adieu, here is Thursday's Friday's This & That:
  • I found a $20 bill on my walk in to work on Monday morning!
  • We found out our furnace isn't as old as we thought it was and therefore, doesn't need to be replaced anytime soon.
  • Our sun room is leaking. :( We are in talks with our lawyer as this wasn't disclosed by the previous owner, so they may be liable for part of the costs to repair. Thankfully we don't use this room, but definitely something that needs to be addressed very soon.
  • I sold some textbooks on Amazon for $116.27!
  • We returned our parking pass (from our downtown apartment) and found out we had put down a $50 deposit (totally forgotten about), so we'll be getting that back!
  • Our split box spring came in finally (we had to order a split box spring as the regular one wouldn't fit up the stairs). Unfortunately, the family van we would use to transport it has gone to the lake for a while, but our good friend has offered to move it for us! Hopefully we can sleep in our own bedroom tonight instead of the guest bedroom.
  • I submitted my graduation request for the management certificate program. I will graduate with a 4.0 GPA!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our first home repair (a.k.a We meet the neighbours)

The same day that we were moving in, so to were neighbours on one side of house. While moving, we did a quick hello, but otherwise we went about our business. A week later, Husband and I were heading out to the garage to prep for our first ever garbage day (garbage has never been this exciting before!), and the neighbours were outside with some friends. They came over and introduced themselves. They have two adorable little boys and the family seems nice. A bit rough around the edges, but nice. She's off work on sick leave and he's in construction. Hmmmmm, a neighbour in construction. Convenient, no?

So we go about our business and prep our garbage cans and then go back inside. Husband goes to do the dishes (Mr. Picky Pants won't let certain things go in the dishwasher) and all of a sudden he notices water pouring out of the cabinet under the sink! Turns out our vegetable sprayer came loose, which caused the flood of water. Husband was able to identify the problem himself (I'm so proud!), but as we had just moved in, we had no tools other than a screwdriver and a hammer. My mom had already told me she would give us all her tools, but we hadn't gotten over there to pick them up yet.

So decision time - ask the neighbours, who we just met 10 minutes prior, if we could borrow pliers, or call my mom at 9 pm on a Sunday and ask her to come down with some tools? Husband volunteered to go and ask the neighbour, which I thought was ballsy, but what are neighbours for, right? Husband comes back with the pliers and the neighbour himself, who proceeds to fix the sink for us! Apparently it's very common for a vegetable sprayer to loosen a bit each time you pull it out to use and as you do this repeatedly, it finally loosens enough that it causes a leak. Now that we know this, we can be more mindful and tighten as needed. But we had planned on replacing the kitchen taps for aesthetic purposes anyway, so we may look at getting something where the sprayer comes out of the main faucet to completely avoid the problem.

Then, as if that wasn't enough, our neighbour asks us if there's anything else wrong with the house that he can look at and he proceeds to make suggestions on how we can easily fix a few things that we've noticed since moving in!

Having our own house to look after is a huge change from apartment living, so it's great to know we have someone who can help us out if need be.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Weekly Money Check-Up

Courtesy of My Pretty Pennies

1. The most I’ve spent this last week was on
paying the credit card bill.

2. Today I am thankful for my husband. As often as I get mad at him, he does so many things for me.
3. Money can’t buy happiness. One free thing I did last week that made me happy was .
4. I will consider this week a success if I walk to/from work 8 out of 10 times.
5. One recipe I want to try soon is  No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars. They look and sound delicious! And with the hot weather we've been having, the no bake part really appeals to me right now!