Monday, January 28, 2013

Being proactive with debt repayment and cost minimization

Despite being not as far as we’d hoped with debt repayment this month we’ve been kicking ass in other areas. For starters, I got a 60 cent raise on my hourly wage. I also found out that my contract has been renewed for another 6 months, which will take me to September. My boss was also nice enough to renew my contract at the next pay scale up! I’m going to commit the additional earnings to debt repayment.

I say we’ve been kicking ass in other areas because this month some of the things we’ve done to reduce our costs/avoid expenses were:

- Borrowed a crockpot from a friend for a work party rather than buying a new one (kids broke ours). Expense avoided!

- Got our phone, internet, cable, wireless provider to shave $40/month off our bill simply by calling to ask saying that I noticed rates were going up.

- Rather than buying new energy efficient bulbs, we simply switched out the less efficient bulbs in areas we use frequently of the house with the more efficient bulbs and put the less efficient ones in rooms we don’t use frequently. Additional expense avoided.

- I phoned our water heater rental company to ask about our water heater since we assumed the lease when we bought our house 1.5 years ago and hadn’t given it any thought at all. Turns out it is 2 years old and highly efficient. I lowered the heat a notch so hopefully we’ll save a little energy there.

- Made an appointment to speak with our insurance provider about lowering our monthly payments (we have house, life and car insurance with the same provider)

This year I really want to make a dent in our utility bills. Each month we use between 500-600 kWh on average. Most of our usage is during non-peak times so we're saving there but we'll need to do a bit more in terms of cutting back on our actual usage in order to realize more significant savings. Realistically, 400 kWh would be fantastic. 

What are others doing?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

My Yogi

I haven't practiced yoga in a long while but B has a fascination with my mat. Over the weekend he was following me from room to room with the mat asking how to do yoga. Then he got the idea that he needed his baby brother since he "knows" that for yoga you need a baby (the last class I took was a mom and baby class with N). So off he went to get brother to practice yoga.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Month 3 Debt Repayment Progress Update!

Month 3 was slightly more challenging in terms of debt repayment. With Christmas last month and the holidays, we've spent a lot of January playing catch up as we collectively missed out on about $1700 during our time off since of course we both don't make money if we don't go to work. Thankfully, I do get statutory holiday pay. We also decided awhile back to stop putting away money for savings until we have the debt all paid off since we could be saving money in interest by applying that money instead to debt and then dipping into credit when we absolutely needed to. Three months into our project to wipe out $64,000 of debt before DH and I reach our 30th birthdays and...

We're down $74.00 from last month which brings us to:


I was thinking about delaying this post until next week when a couple more debt payments will have gone out so it didn't look like so little progress but in the end, I guess we can be happy that we did achieve some progress no matter how minimal. Another reason why this amount was so low was that the opportunity arose for us to purchase a new vehicle to replace the VERY unreliable vehicle I have been driving. Consequently, we had a few additional expenses that went along with that. Having a reliable vehicle is important and I'm optimistic that we'll save a lot of money on gas with our new to us 2009 Prius! We did take out a loan for this car but it will not affect our debt repayment as we have enough cushion money in our budget to cover the payments without trimming down our debt repayment. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Breakfasts and breakfast dinners

In our house sometimes we have breakfast food for breakfast and sometimes we have breakfast food for dinner. Sometimes even for lunch.

Some time ago.. I used to be pretty high strung and particular. I let a lot of little silly things bother me like when my stuff broke or things didn't go my way. I'd dwell on it. After the first baby came along, I found my attitude dramatically changed. At first, I was very into instructing DH on the particulars of how to care for the baby. We'd both get frustrated. I'd commiserate with friends of mine who were just like me.  They would declare that their husbands too weren't hard wired the same for looking after the house or kids and just couldn't do things the way they did it. I started to notice a pattern after a bit. While I was still having the same arguments with my own husband, complaints from others dwindled. My friends had thrown in the towel and decided to just take on all the "work" themselves. I had to make one of two decisions.. follow suit and stop complaining or just stop complaining.

I opted for the second choice. No way did I want to have to cook the meals every night just because DH isn't as creative as I am in the meal department or do all the laundry because I think that I fold more neatly. Nor did I want to have to put the toddler and the baby to bed just because the toddler liked my bedtime routine of 2 books better than DH's 1 book (he's not a reader). It was taking so much effort to micromanage that I was miserable even when the tasks were getting done in the way I wanted them to. I was resentful that I was doing the majority of the "work" while DH got to have "fun" with the kids. I don't love cleaning.  I don't love doing everyones laundry on my weekends off. And I don't particularly like coming home to hungry kids after work and starting dinner late just because I like the way I make a meal. So... I let DH do half of it and I don't complain if we have to eat grilled cheese and pizza because it is his night to cook or the laundry isn't perfectly folded. I just shut up because at least I didn't have to do it and in the end, everyone is happy, healthy, and safe. Bonus: my new motherhood "meh!" attitude has meant that I no longer have many complaints at all when the girls complain about the tolls of being an overworked mother and wife. DH and I split most of the household tasks pretty evenly these days (lately he has been doing more with the house and the kids because of my schoolwork) but only because I let him do things and don't complain about it.

Also, being more easygoing has meant that I tend to see the humour or the bright side of things a lot more. Imagine my surprise the other night when I mentioned I wasn't feeling well and DH offered to pick up groceries if I gave him the list. I was so happy with a) the offer and b) when he told me that he had picked everything up on the list and then some for less than the budget I given him. Of course letting go a little bit means that on a Sunday night when you're preparing the ingredients for quiche and realize that you don't have pie shells because it turns out DH didn't get EVERYTHING on the list then you might need to get a little more creative. We just made loaded scrambled eggs and grilled cheese with bacon and avocado instead. The boys probably liked it better than the quiche anyway.

 After going through a big phase of decluttering and getting rid of unnecessary small kitchen appliances, I was a bit disheartened to end up with a waffle maker in our family Christmas swap. But you know the old saying, if life hands you lemons make lemonade. Life handed us a waffle maker so waffles we made. This particular waffle maker came with sticks so you could make waffle sticks for dipping (pictured above). It wasn't too much of a pain to clean and I just used the store bought Presidents Choice Organic Pancake Mix. Looks like a much healthier alternative to the store bought freezer waffles the boys have been eating lately. I could even make a double batch on weekends and freeze the waffles to make our very own toaster waffles.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Goals for 2013

I've been delaying writing this post. I was waiting on my new iPhone in the mail. I was eligible for an upgrade and opted for the 4S which I got for free (didn't want to pay $150 for the iPhone 5). My Blackberry photos just weren't cutting it and I rarely carry a camera around. I gave my first iPhone (4) to DH and opted for the Blackberry a couple of years ago since I liked the keypad. I still miss the keypad but I think I'll adjust.

Last year, themes from "The Happiness Project" seemed to resonate with me a lot. This year, I think I will be inspired by Mr. Money Mustache.  Here's what will go down in 2013:

- I will finally graduate from my Masters Program - hopefully in April (woohoo!)
This has been such a long time coming. I started in the Fall of 2010 (around the same time I became pregnant with N). He'll be 2 when I'm finished. I feel like I have grown so much since then and have a much clearer idea of my career ambitions a.k.a what I want to do when I grow up.

- I will find secure and meaningful employment
I was so lucky in 2012 to find a really wonderful contract job which relates to my studies and that I'm loving. My contract is up in March but could be extended. Things are still up in the air so we'll see. I'm really hoping for the security of something permanent with paid vacation and sick days.

- I will continue to pay off debt (at least $15,000) this year while at the same time taking a family vacation in the Summer and buying a newer reliable vehicle
It CAN be done! In order to keep on track with "the mission" we'll have to pay down $15,000 in debt this year. However, I also need a reliable vehicle - more reliable than the unreliable s*** box I've been driving for awhile now. Last year, DH and I vacationed separately and did a couple weekend trips with the boys. Since neither of us have paid vacation time, it is hard for us to both take time off since we have to put aside money for the trip and the foregone wages. This summer we want to take a family vacation for at least a week.

- I will make our house a home
This year I want to actually get around to hanging pictures and artwork and decorating. Besides a couple of framed photos of the boys on a few tables throughout the house, we really have nothing on the walls. In our old house we were always in renovation mode and then were preparing to sell so we never got around to hanging things on the walls. Since we plan on staying here for awhile, photos would go a long way in making our house more homey.

- I will make an effort to be healthy
This year, I finally started to feel like myself again. No panic attacks, no body aches/pains, hyper sensitivity (allergies/eczema) or extreme stress. I think I might have even put back on a wee bit of weight. I want to focus on eating a balanced diet and get outside more often. I want to make less car trips.

A lot of our holidays were spent outside - a lot of backyard fun: