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Hello 2020! Opportunities For Success And Growth

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Well, hello there! I am so sorry for the absence. This might end up being a long post as I catch you all up on what’s been going on since my last life update. I fell off the face of the planet for a few weeks. Guess who ended up working quite a bit through Christmas (despite having booked two weeks off…)? This lady. I did end up making it to my dad’s for five days of pure Canadian winter bliss before spending Christmas day alone (which I quite enjoyed).

My Holiday Up North

We curled inside and outside. My dad and his girlfriend set up an outdoor curling rink! Very cool. I am an amateur, hence the helmet and stabilizer.

 

We spent every day outside. It was mild and snowy, the best combination. My dad and I went for lots of hikes, visited the brewery on the lake, made a giant snowman, and watched some old tv shows. It was truly wonderful.

 

When I got home on Christmas, I ended up being very run down and didn’t want to go to my aunt’s house for dinner. My dad had dinner plans many hours away and had invited me, but I didn’t feel like further travel. It was restful to be alone and reflect. I made myself a tasty dinner and watched Christmas movies with my dog. It was nice to remember my dear cat, to reflect on my family moving away, my accomplishments at work, my failures at home. I also replanted a bunch of houseplants and propagated some others. #PlantNerd

(No, my kitchen is not normally completely covered in plants).

All in all, it was a nice holiday. I spent the time between Christmas and New Year’s visiting friends. I stayed up until dawn a couple of times talking with girlfriends, which is totally unlike me. Personally, I love being in bed by 10PM because I get up at 5 most days. I ended up having a quiet NYE with Mike, my best friend Rose, and her family. Call it cheesy but eating Chinese food and watching the ball drop with Ryan Seacrest is my idea of a cozy New Year’s Eve.

The holidays were spendy…

I 100% blew my budget over Christmas, to the tune of an additional $350 spent (over the $760 I budgeted). The card was paid off out of my savings account. I got my parents Alexa devices and created a Spotify family subscription at $14.99/month (but I set aside the money for the monthly charges already, so it’s all paid for, essentially). Overall, I feel good about the purchases (for what it’s worth).

I also had some work expenses denied because I have to provide more documentation, so I covered another $450 out of savings as a temporary measure to avoid credit card interest. It has to be considered a good thing that I am terrified of carrying a credit card balance these days! I never want to go back to carrying a card balance. My savings account is now at $1000 but I should have some extra money coming in this month to cover the hits. My card balances remain at $0.

So, what’s the new plan?

The topic of this blog is, of course, getting out of debt. I’m planning on doing that in 2020. I’m now using a budget from Liz Morris of One Twenty Five.  She’s a Toronto blogger from the early days of blogging, and she’s really inspirational to me when it comes to personal finance. I like this Google Sheet because it’s completely customizable and I can make space for every spending category in my life. I’ve been tracking my spending dutifully and trying to only use cards so that I can add my purchases up every couple of days.

I plan on sharing the new budget with you on Friday. I’m hoping to find out what my bonus and compensation will be for 2020 today, which will then guide me for finalizing the numbers.

One tip I’m going to implement on my next paycheck is the separate account for spending money. This tip came via a comment from Jewels and I’m grateful for the suggestion. The blogger I Pick Up Pennies does something similar with her weekly spending allowance. I’ll try anything at this point! I already have a second free checking account that I don’t use, so this will be easy to implement.

Staying motivated

I feel very motivated to pay off my debt right now. I’m still carrying some anxiety about housing security. I hate renting with such a precarious rental market in Toronto. I’m going to need to budget tightly in order to pay off debt and afford the things I need to do this year, including saving for a down payment on a place of my own.

There are some trips I need to take this year:

  • I’m (hopefully) flying to Nova Scotia tomorrow to see my family. However, the weather is looking horrible. Heavy winds and snowfall are predicted. Wish me luck!
  • In May, my grandfather turns 80. Family from Norway are flying in for the party, so I’ll be back in Nova Scotia.
  • I have a travel voucher worth $500 for SAS, so I’m waiting for a seat sale to head back to Norway in the late summer or maybe fall. 2019 was the first year of my life I didn’t go anywhere for a vacation, and I’m okay with that. It remains important to me to see my very old relatives in Norway, and many are too old to make the trip here in May.

And as a final piece of financial news, I’m canceling my two credit cards that have yearly fees. I haven’t used either of them in a few months, and the fees are due in the spring. Last week, I applied for a free card with a Canadian grocery store company. I had this card many years ago, and it’s the BEST for points. It’s easy to get $40 of free groceries every month – seriously, without even trying! So, I’m hopeful that application goes through.

I’ll have another personal update for you on Friday, written just a couple minutes from the sea in Little Harbour, Nova Scotia. I can’t wait to share some screenshots from my new budget!

Preparing for a Challenging Week or so

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I truly am starting this year off in a completely different head space then I have ever been, or at least in the last 16ish years. I am working very hard to be very deliberate in my actions and plans and more importantly to STICK to them.

In the past, a week like the one coming up would send me into a tailspin…which would end up with lots of eating out, maybe some emotion induced spending and an unproductive day or two recovering. But not anymore…

What is Happening

  • My mom will arrive in town without a caretaker. My mom has Parkinson’s and definitely a touch of dementia, previously diagnosed as Lewy Body Dementia. While the Parkinson meds have definitely helped physically, she still needs a caretaker or supervisor most of the time. She will be staying at my grandmothers, and is not open to the idea of moving to my house.
  • My grandmother will undergo surgery to remove the cancer in her mouth. While I have been relieved of hospital duty this time (I stayed with her when she had her pacemaker put in earlier this year,) I will be the primary caretaker when she returns home. We believe she will also have a home healthcare provider for at least a short period of time so that will definitely help.
  • Same old routine with Princess back in school for the holidays…driving to and from school every day.
  • Same old routine with work, working 60ish hours a week these days. While I certainly have some flexibility with when and where I work, I can’t really take time off, I am working on launching some pretty big products over the next month or so for various clients.

Getting Prepared for 2 Patients

I am planning now. I am working on freezing some meals. Getting all the normal things I do for my Grandmother done in advance…groceries for my mom, undergarments and bed protection supplies and trying to look at the house from the perspective of “I just had surgery” to see what if any changes we need to make.

I will essentially have two patients to care for once my Grandmother is released from the hospital. And I’m not sure how long my mom will stay. (A week is normally her max, but I understand why she wants to be here while her mom is fighting cancer.)

I imagine if it goes on for too long, my dad will come to help with my mom or help convince her its time to go home. But I certainly respect and support his need for a break!!

Microwave to the Rescue

One thing that is going to help tremendously with this on my home front is that for Christmas, I bought a microwave as the family present. (We haven’t had a microwave in 5-6 years now.) It was $64 and on a smaller side since we don’t have a great deal of counter space. The kids love it!

As a result, I have added some frozen meals to the grocery order this week, those $1 Michelina’s meals, so the kids can feed themselves in a crunch without having to really cook or go out. Score!

I feel like I’m as prepared as I can be. And committed to not spiraling from the stress and overwhelm this type of situation can bring on.