Sunday, February 22, 2009

Update To My Goals For This Year

I thought that this would would be a good time to udate my resolution list for the year. I'm actually making pretty good progress for seven weeks! What do you think? How are you doing with your list?

  1. Continue paying down that mortgage as fast as possible.
    We have decreased the tax portion of our bi-weekly payment by about $40 while increasing the total we are paying by $30 which means that we are paying about $150 extra per month on our principal.

  2. Buy skates and use them.
    I bought a used pair from the old guy at the skate shop. I felt very sorry for him as it seems that he is not very well-off. I think that I will buy him a meal sometime as it looks like he may need it. As for the skates, now that I have them I'm afraid to use them in case I fall and break something.

  3. Buy a Kayak and try and get over my fear of the water with a life jacket of course.
    No kayak yet and that water still looks scary.

  4. Learn to play poker and get a good poker face.
    No poker yet either and I guess I'm sticking with the face I've got.

  5. Smile more often (maybe that will be my poker face).
    I haven't been laughing too much lately because they have been "5 S"ing my shop at work. You'll know what I mean when the program comes your way.

  6. Drink more water at work and home.
    This one has been easy and I'm loving it, even though I gurgle now when I walk.

  7. Try new recipes.
    We have tried a few but no real winners yet.

  8. Exercise more often, and use my hand weights.
    I am still just doing the walking thing, a couple of kilometers per day.

  9. Lose 10 pounds (I have to weight myself first, so I may need to buy a scale).
    I haven't gotten around to getting the scale yet so I well on my way to achieving this goal (go ahead, prove me wrong!).

  10. Open a TFSA account and try to max it out if the rates are worthwhile without those darling bank fees attached.
    I'm proud to say that I opened my TFSA two weeks ago and maxxed it out for the year. This will be our emergency fund for now.

  11. Take a real vacation somewhere in the Maritimes.
    Vacation is still a long way away but it will happen.

  12. Try to let go off the past and learn to live in the moment.
    This one is not so easy but I'm trying.

  13. Make more time for myself.
    This one ain't easy either, always too much housework.

  14. Read more books.
    I'm on my third book now.

  15. Have more dinner parties and play some game boards.
    Not yet.

  16. Get a complete physical.
    Coming soon to an examination room near me.

  17. Learn more about my computer and what it can do for me besides surfing the internet.
    I'm sure it can do lots but right now it's too easy to ask Hubby.

  18. Continue to declutter.
    This will be an on-going process.

  19. Continue to work on our basement renovations.
    These are on hold for now, there's just too many other ways to spend the money,

  20. Paint our t.v room and maybe buy some new furniture for it.
    The painting will happen soon and the search for new furniture continues.

  21. Tweak the budget throughout the year.
    We have done some tweaking already and we will continue to maximize our savings where possible.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Valentines week

All week I have been cooking and preparing for the big day when I can surprise Hubby with my amazing Valentine's Day cookies for him to enjoy, (I hope). They have taken a total of three days to prepare and decorate but he is worth the effort. On top of that, I had to hide them for the finally viewing. Not a easy thing to do when you have a cookie hound around.

I hope you all enjoy the pictures. Look good, don't they?!!! Martha I'm still waiting for you to discover me.....

Hubby got a hair cut today and then we cleaned the house from top to bottom which is a regular Sunday chore. Have I told you how much I hate Sundays for this very reason? Plus, you know tomorrow is back to work. Where do the weekends go?

Today, I'm making a big batch of chilli and then we are also baking a pork loin roast in a honey garlic glaze and some rice. It's a Sunday power cooking day here which will make it easier through the week if one of us has to work late.

We have lots of snow down and it just keeps on coming every day. What's up with that?! I want Winter to be over NOW, YES, RIGHT NOW! Damn, nothing happened, the white stuff is still here. I do have to admit though, that in the mornings going to work it looks like diamonds on the road and I really like that effect. What girl wouldn't like diamonds and plenty of them.

This week we have to go into the Credit Union and deposit some money into an RRSP so we can lower hubby's tax exposure and then take the refund to pay down the mortgage. We have also increased the mortgage payments again slightly by lowering the tax portion and increasing the total amount we pay every two weeks, so hopefully we can get closer to our 5 year goal of paying this off. YAAAAA!!!!!!

I also want to max out my TFSF. I just need $400.00 more and our emergency fund is in place. Out of sight and out of mind. Then I want to start saving for a vacation this year. It will probably be in the Maritimes somewhere because it is really truly a beautiful part of Canada. We are very lucky to be living here.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

100 Questions

1. Started your own blog - You can read it here if you want.

2. Slept under the stars - Ask the better half about the time he locked himself out of the new house.

3. Played in a band - no musical talent at all!

4. Visited Hawaii - no, but even better, we have been to Vancouver!

5. Watched a meteor shower - my neck still aches when I think about leaning back that long to watch.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity - on occaision.

7. Been to Disneyland - no, but we have been to Canada's Wonderland, all the rides but no scary mice.

8. Climbed a mountain - Grouse Mountain in Vancouver.

9. Held a praying mantis - amazing the things you will pick up when you are a kid!

10. Sang a solo - see item number 3.

11. Bungee jumped - not in this lifetime.

12. Visited Paris - Paris, Ontario... that's what you meant, right?

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea - no, but watching lightning on the internet is much safer!

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch - yes, several different types of handicrafts.

15. Adopted a child - nope, is this in the same category as holding a praying mantis?

16. Had food poisoning - and not that long ago.

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty - we live in Canada, we have been to the top of the CN Tower!

18. Grown your own vegetables - every year for the past 25 years.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France - we are waiting for her to show up here in Atlantic Canada.

20. Slept on an overnight train - yes, back when it used to take 2 days to get here.

21. Had a pillow fight - come on, what kid hasn't done this?

22. Hitch hiked - all the time, before we could drive, and while it was still(?) safe.

23. Taken a sick day when you were not ill - it is called "playing hooky"

24. Built a snow fort - as a Canadian citizen, it is required by law.

25. Held a lamb - no, but I did pet a goat last year. Does that count?

26. Gone skinny dipping style - you should have seen Hubby's face go red when he heard this!

27. Run a Marathon - no but, I do walk a couple of kilometers every day and I did carry the torch in the cross-country run for the 1988 Olympics.

28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice - nope, never been to Italy.

29. Seen a total eclipse - we watched it through pinhole cameras out in the backyard.

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset - both, actually.

31. Hit a home run - sure, but it was a long time ago.

32. Been on a cruise - we used to cruise up Yonge St. every weekend.

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person - yes, both sides, in summer and winter.

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors - yes, we're living here now.

35. Seen an Amish community - bought a beautiful quilt there that's still on our bed 30 years later.

36. Taught yourself a new language - html counts, doesn't it?

37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied yes, but there's always something else to buy.

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person - see item number 28.

39. Gone rock climbing - climbed a glacier once, too.

40. Seen Michelangelo's David - sure, there's pictures of it everywhere.

41. Sung karoke - see items number 3 and 10.

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt - only on TV.

43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant - I have bought some strange meals in restaurants though.

44. Visited Africa - I was in the African Pavillion at the Toronto Zoo on several occaisions.

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight - lots of times.

46. Been transported in an ambulance - no, thankfully.

47. Had your portrait painted - not painted, but it was sketched once.

48. Gone deep sea fishing - oh, yes! I jigged alot of cod in my days.

49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person - see items 28 and 38.

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris - haven't been to the top of any tower in Paris.

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling - evry time we go to the beach in the summer.

52. Kissed in the rain - lots of other places, too.

53. Played in the mud - and my mother was not happy.

54. Gone to a drive-in theater - yes, while we were dating. Don't remember much about the movies for some reason.

55. Been in a movie - I'm still waiting to be discovered.

56. Visited the Great Wall of China - no but it is on my to-do list for this week.

57. Started a business - we did have a craft business for a while but it was pretty small.

58. Taken a martial arts class - I'm saving this for my retirement.

59. Visited Russia - nope.

60. Served at a soup kitchen - not in the kitchen but I did volunteer at the Salvation Army for over 10 years.

61. Sold Girl Scout cookies - no but I did buy a lot of them.

62. Gone whale watching - it was on the itinerary for our trip to Nova Scotia two years ago but we skipped it.

63. Got flowers for no reason - yes, lots of times.

64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma - yes, but let's not talk about needles or I'll get light-headed.

65. Gone sky diving - I find that the airlines frown on jumping out of their planes.

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp - no.

67. Bounced a check - I'm way too financially responsible to do this.

68. Flown in a helicopter - no but I'd like to.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy - Ben, the growling teddy bear is still in my bedroom.

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial - no.

71. Eaten Caviar - no but I have eaten lots of lobster roe and tamale in my days.

72. Pieced a quilt - I haven't finished them yet but, yes, two.

73. Stood in Times Square - nope.

74. Toured the Everglades - never been to Florida.

75. Been fired from a job - I've had a lot of different jobs but I've never been fired.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London - never been to England.

77. Broken a bone - dislocated my shoulder, too.

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle - no, but I have sat on one parked in my driveway.

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person - I do know people who have, does that count?

80. Published a book - I'd have to write one first, right?

81. Visited the Vatican - see items 28, 38 and 49.

82. Bought a brand new car 1980 Chevette, 1980 Z28, 1990 Firefly, 1996 Ram and 2000 Civic. Damn, that's alot of money!

83. Walked in Jerusalem - haven't done anything there.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper - it didn't bring me the fame and fortune that I was expecting.

85. Read the entire Bible - I'm not into bestsellers.

86. Visited the White House - I'm waiting for my invitation from Barrack.

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating - cod and mackerel, both were pretty tasty.

88. Had chickenpox - still have a faint scar on my forehead from one.

89. Saved someone’s life - only my own.

90. Sat on a jury - no, thankfully, the pay sucks.

91. Met someone famous - met Joe Clark, onetime Prime Minister of Canada in a shopping mall once. Someone had to tell me who he was.

92. Joined a book club - nope, not much of a joiner.

93. Lost a loved one - several, but Reggie and Spook are in my thoughts every day.

94. Had a baby - had a baby what?

95. Seen the Alamo in person - no thanks.

96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake - salt makes me bloat.

97. Been involved in a lawsuit - who would want to sue me?

98. Owned a cellphone - still got it though it only gets used 1 or 2 times a month.

99. Been stung by a bee - little bastard got me right between the toes.

100.Read an entire book in one day - does 'Horten Hears A Who' count?

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Conversation With Gail!

I was surfing this morning and I happened to land on a site where I noticed that they were going to have an on-line discussion with Gail Vaz-Oxlade titled "Keeping your head above water in a recession" and they were inviting readers to send in questions for her to answer. Well, all week we have been trying to decide if putting money into RRSP's was a smart idea this year and now here was my chance to get some advice from a real expert! So, I fired off my question to the comments section...

Hi Gail, I listen to your advice all the time and I love your show.

We have about $10,000 in our savings (thanks to you, in part!) and we want to take the most advantageous use of the money. We want to put it into an RRSP and then use the tax refund to pay down on our mortgage. The question that keeps us up at night is, with the financial state of the world right now, is this a good time to be buying into mutual funds? Would we be better off applying all the money to the mortgage this year and waiting to see some recovery before investing in RRSP's next year?


Two hours later I checked back and, wow, they'd added my question and Gail wrote a response!! I was so excited.

Gail Vaz-Oxlade: *, you're asking me if I think market timing is a good idea and my answer is absotively, posolutely NOT!

Since the markets are down, the money you put in now will actually buy you more units of the mutual fund of your choice than it would have a year or two ago. And that's the beauty of a commitment to regular investing. You don't have to worry about timing the market, you can focus on just doing the right thing. Your plan to maximize your RRSP and use your refund to pay down your mortgage is a good one. Go with it. If the markets scare you, consider an index linked GIC that will tie your return to a positive move in the market, but keep your principal safe. Good luck. G

Wow, what a day!!!!!

That's not all. After lots of discussion, we decided to open a TFSA today and I nearly maxed out my contribution room for this year at $4,600.00. Yay, today was a really goooood day! Plus hubby surprised me and he took the day off work,too. Life doesn't get much better than this.

We are also going through with the above mentioned RRSP some time this week and when we get the tax refund it's going straight down on the mortgage. With all the extra money we have put down over the last 2 years it is starting to drop quickly. My side bars are now adjusted to show this.

I bought a Sandisk Fuze MP3 player on the weekend and hubby and I are trying to figure out how to use it. Actually, it's just me who is having problems, as I've mentioned before, I'm not the most techy person around, but I'm learning. I know that it's not an I-Pod but I really counldn't justify the price of the I-Pod over this unit. With taxes in it was just under a $100.00. I'll let you know what I think of this new purchase in the upcoming months.

I've added some more pictures of my baking which I did last week.
Banana muffins and chocolate chip cookies. Yum, and they didn't last long either so I guess there is no taste testing.

Oh, and here's a picture of the delicious Chinese fondue we had this weekend. This is one of our most favorite meals.

I got my paycheck last week with my retro pay and new raise. It works out to be about $120.00 more a month so now I will have to budget as to where this new found money should go.

Today is Ground Hog day and yes, the bugger saw it's shadow, so another 6 weeks of winter for sure. Plus, I just heard on the news that we are supposed to get another storm and 10 centimeters more of snow. Urg. Poor Hubby as he is the one who has to blow out the driveway each morning and night before we can get in or out. (He is my hero).