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Cha-Ching! Tax Refund!

April 3rd, 2006 at 01:39 pm

Woohoo! $1,622!

I put $622 into my "fun money" account, and divided the rest as follows:

Household Maintenance Account: $100
Emergency Fund: $450
Mortgage Prepayment Fund: $450

Of course, my ex has not yet given me the child support cheque yet, but that should be coming soon too.

And I had budgeted $10 to take the puppy to the vet in a cab, but decided to walk him instead this morning, and so I saved that money. Smile


Also, recently I've become aware of something else that seems normal to me and weird to many others. I get paid once a month and I am always amazed at the number of people who are in awe that I manage to live that way. I didn't realize I had such self-control.

Living Well on Less

April 2nd, 2006 at 06:57 pm

Have you seen this before? It may be old hat, but I thought I'd share it just in case you hadn't seen it.

Someone posted this at the weight loss site I post to. I had expressed how much happier I'd felt since I'd abandoned such a fast-paced, rat-raced lifestyle, and one of the other posters shared this. I love it.

Although it speaks to the unhealthy gluttony of "first world countries," really the lesson transcends nationality.


A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

"Not very long," answered the Mexican.

"Then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life."

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat."

"And after that?" asked the Mexican.

"With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise."

"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican.

"Twenty or twenty-five years," replied the American.

"And after that?"

"Afterwards? Well my friend, that's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing. "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!"

"Millions? Really? And after that?" said the Mexican.

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."

And the moral is: Know where you're going in life ... you may already be there.

How I Will Save This Week and How it Will Impact Me Little Now and a Lot Later O

April 2nd, 2006 at 06:37 pm

1. Milk will be my only grocery purchase.
2. I will not eat out this week.
3. I will "smuggle" some money from my chequing account into my Mortgage Prepayment Account. I will try for at least $50.

I've decided that I can pay my mortgage off in ten years even though I'm working parttime. I will make it into a game.

I plan to do more of my own cooking, and less eating out.

And then, as a 50th birthday present to myself in a little over 12 years, I will buy a cottage on the water. I can do it.

Weekly Financial Goals

March 29th, 2006 at 01:14 am

I'm just a tad late with this but am assuming the site was down for a while on the weekend. So glad that it's back!

Okay. Last week I submitted my income tax return and I'm getting $1600 back! Hooray. I will divide it between my emergency fund and my mortgage prepayment fund.

I was good about my goals for last week except for the RESP one. I'll have to wait and do that next week now.

For this week I will save money by buying my groceries on Friday instead of Wednesday. I will "make do" for two days. I can do it. Too often I let food go bad while I've been buying more.

Financial Goals for the Coming Week

March 18th, 2006 at 05:22 pm

1. Other than milk and bread, I will not spend any money on groceries or eating out. Oh and I have to pick up a strudel for my son's social studies project. (He needs to bring in some food that represents his cultural background. The fact that my German grandfather spoke worse German than I did and prefered store bought cookies to strudel is not really relevant. lol) Really my family and his father's family has been here so long we don't know very much about our cultural background. I could just say, "You're Canadian" and send him in with donuts and back bacon and beer. Smile

2. I will finally submit the information to get the Canadian government to kick in 20% toward my daughter's Registered Education Savings Plan. I have been putting this off for too long.

3. I will send away for the last of the information I need in order to do my taxes. This includes contacting Queens University for my education and tuition deduction for a course I took last summer, and contacting the Ontario College of Teachers to see what I paid in membership fees last year. Then I will complete and send in my income tax return. I am estimating my return to be about $1000 (which I will add to my emergency fund).

4. I will try to see if I can afford to increase my mortgage payment by 20% each month. If it seems a little tight, then I will review it again in 6 months. It may make more sense to put more money into my emergency fund for now. Thankfully, I am able to pay off my credit card debt every month.

I don't know why I've been procrastinating about numbers 2 and 3. Just laziness, I guess.

I can and will do this!!!

Biting the Library Bullet

March 17th, 2006 at 04:50 pm

This weekend I need to drop off way, way, way overdue (like at least a year) library books and clear up the fees, so that the kids and I will have a cheaper alternative to buying books (it was getting out of control and I'm running out of room).

I have no idea how much we will owe. We have about 5 books to return and I'm afraid that maybe we've lost one and will need to pay for it.

Sigh.

Still in the long run it will be cheaper than buying and we can see the library from my son's bedroom window, so it's a shame not to use it.

Also, tomorrow at 9 am I have to register my kids online for swimming lessons. They love their swimming lessons and it's definitely $100 well spent.

I will STOP putting off going to the library. This will all be taken care of in less than two hours.

Washer and Dryer Blues

March 17th, 2006 at 02:48 am

My washer and dryer are probably as old as my house (29 years), and are on the way out. Only one cycle works on the washer and the dryer is a bit of a clunker and is likely near death too.

I'm wondering what others' ideas about buying a new machine should be. Here's what I'm trying to decide:

1. Do I look for great deals on a set (since I can get those cheaper) in the next little while?

2. Do I let it go until the washer dies and then buy? (Not a good decision maybe if I can't get a replacement that is reasonably priced, but my washer could last another year or so...who knows?) I've been watching the ads though and chances are some place will have a decent sale when I need one.

3. Do I buy a front loading washer? It's way more money, but it should save me in the long run.

Since I don't have a car, using a laundromat until I see a really good deal is not really an option. And (this might sound wimpy) I am really reluctant to buy something used out of the newspaper since I've had friends get the run around this way.

I also rarely use my dryer.

Perhaps I could wait until I've got more money in my emergency fund first. Hmmmm.

Daily Spending: Build A Bear Breeds Greed

March 15th, 2006 at 01:48 pm

I haven't spent any money in four days, but today will be a biggy.

So, here is my budget for today:

1. Grocery order will be delivered: $92 + $4 tip. I used to cringe at the thought of using an online grocery store, but since I don't have a car and there isn't a discount grocery store near where I live yet, I figure that I'm actually saving money.

I used to spend the same amount of money or more at our local grocery store, and then have to pay for a cab home. That cost an extra $14 each time.

2. $100 for a birthday present for my sister.

3. Check out the prices for backpacks (since my son needs a new one) and running shoes for both my son and myself. I've learned the hard way that better quality shoes are worth the investment when it comes to my son: they last longer and don't start to stink. Smile

If the prices are reasonable (ie

Healthy and Frugal Living

March 14th, 2006 at 08:32 pm

I thought I'd share some of my current strategies for exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

My personal health goal this year is to lose 25 pounds, so that I will be at a weight I feel comfortable with. Because I have children to take care of, I find that not only are gym memberships expensive, they are also impractical. So, for exercise I:

1. Ride my exercise bike. It's four years old and cost me less than $100. I could have gotten it cheaper at a garage sale too.
2. I use the Walk Away the Pounds workout dvd that a friend gave me. I love it!
3. This just arrived today: Dance Dance Revolution for xbox! Okay. I probably paid too much for it, but the kids and I will have so much fun and it won't seem like exercising.
4. I walk an hour a day total (to and from work).
When you consider the price of a gym membership, I think that these are fairly frugal options.

Also, for eating and activity tracking, check out fitday.com. It's free and I really like it. I do think it overestimates my metabolism though.

Does anyone else have any frugal exercise/weight loss tips? I guess just eating less=savings. Smile

Excited About Blogging and Saving

March 14th, 2006 at 06:32 pm

After a few months of lurking, I've decided to leap in.

I am a part time teacher and mother to two awesome kids.

Originally my plan was to work full time, pay off my mortgage in 10 years, and then pay for my children's college education without a mortgage to worry about. However, in the last few months , it has been necessary for me to review my plans.

I found working full time and raising the kids on my own so exhausting that I was starting to think I wasn't going to live to see retirement.

So now I'm working part time (2/3 of my regular timetable). Suddenly I have energy and love my life again.

I am in the continual process of developing strategies that will enable me to work parttime for as long as possible. I love being able to take my children to school in the morning and pick them up too.

I think I've made some good decisions: I bought the "cheapest" house in a nice neighbourhood near where I work. Since I can walk to work in half an hour, I no longer require a car or even the bus. Some of my friends and colleagues think I'm nuts, but I save hundreds of dollars a month this way.

I don't have cable, never use my dryer, and shop specials whenever possible. My children and I rarely eat out.

Perhaps it will still be possible to pay my mortgage off early. This place is a great source of inspiration.

I have enjoyed reading the various blogs over the last few months, and look forward to saving along with everyone else.