Random thoughts of an upbeat mind

Posts tagged ‘finance’

I think I need a corner

So I drag my tail to the mechanic this morning.  I packed a litre of water, a book (The Imposter Bride) I hadn’t started and a magazine with me.  I ate before I left the house so I figured I should be good for 3 hours of waiting.

2 hours in I see they have put the wheels back on my car and it’s coming down from the hoist.

Then I hear the owner asking about the exhaust.

Back up goes the hoist.

A little while later, the owner comes to tell me there is bad news for me and bad news for him.  It seems like he gave me a quote based on a gasket and the flex pipe is also broken … which is attached to the catalytic converter … On my this is sounding familiar.  I was hoping the oil change people were wrong.  If he doesn’t change the flex pipe it will not fix the noise.  Only “lucky” break for me is that the markup on parts at this mechanic is much less and since he didn’t catch it, he is only charging me for the part and not the 3 additional hours of labour.

At this point I figured might as well.  I was tired and hungry and was not in the mood to find somewhere else to fix my car.  So I went for a walk, second one in 2 days. 🙂

I managed to be gone for 2 hours.  In that time I did some banking, found some place to eat and wandered around Canadian Tire.  On my walk back I passed a Dodge Dart sitting all shiny and new right beside the sidewalk.  It had a manual transmission.  It whispered to me.  Unfortunately the purchase price on its side was more than 10 times the price of my repairs.  So I kept walking.

When I got back to the mechanic, they were still working on my car.  The estimate was another half an hour.

I am now half way through my book.

There might have been a few tears when it was time to pay the bill.  But when I got into my car and turned the key and it was silent all I could do was smile.  Billie Jean is back!  She drives like when I first got her. 🙂

Now I think I need a corner … to panhandle on.

Car repairs needed

At my last oil change the mechanic brought to my attention the noise my muffler was making.  Like I didn’t know.  LOL

According to this mechanic the piece between my catalytic converter and the engine was broken.  On my car it all comes as one part.  So I would have to replace my functioning expensive catalytic converter in order to stop the noise. 😦

He looked up the part.  It was $850 plus approximately 2 hours of labour.  Add in taxes and I am looking at $1200.  *cue silent cry*  I asked them if they would be willing to put in the part if I bought it somewhere else and they agreed.

I also inquired about what would happen if I learned to live with the noise.  He said as long as I was not idling long with the windows closed I should be ok. O_o

I called my dealer who told me the part is $810 plus 2 hours of labour.  So I am still in the same price range. 😦

As luck would have it, I was going to my Mom’s when I saw one of her neighbours.  He is a car fanatic.  So I asked him about car parts and he gave me the numbers for 2 different places.

Only one of them had the part.  That place quoted me $285 and then asked if I had a 4 pin or 6 pin model.  LAWD how am I supposed to know that!?!

So I asked one of my friends to look under the hood.  That was an endeavor in its own right.  But if I recall correctly I have a 6 pin model.

Still feeling unsure of what to order I asked my girl for the name of her long time family mechanic.  I took my car there this afternoon.

On the way there my dashboard looked like this.

Warning light

That yellow light caused my heart to flutter.  I have never ever seen it before.  I actually had to look it up in the manual.  When I turn the car off and on the light disappeared.  My girlfriend told me that I should tell the mechanic about it. It is the warning light for my front brakes. Yikes.

On the way to the mechanic the light came back on.  While I was planning to tell him, the light coming back just made it more pressing.

The mechanic made me laugh.  He looks at me quite seriously and with a matter of fact tone told me that light means I need brakes.  He took the car in and brought me into the garage to show me the issues.  I do need brakes and a part on the exhaust system that needs to be replaced.  He said it’s a 3-4 hour job.  He told me to give him a minute to get me some quotes.

He came out and I must confess there was a moment of fear.  I was thinking we would be in the ballpark of $1500 considering just the muffler was $1200.  He sits down beside me and on the paper I see 2 numbers that roughly add up to $1500.  He says you could put in the brakes and fix the noise for $700 with cheap parts or get better quality parts for $850.


I tried to find my poker face.  I really did.  My first mechanic told me to never cheap out on brakes or tires.  While I already knew I was going for quality, I asked him what would he do.  He asked how long was I planning to keep the car.  I replied my car has 128,000 kms on it.   He told me the car could probably go another 10 years.

So tomorrow Betty Jean is getting some love and new quality parts.

Good thing too as I am getting ready for my yearly drive to Maryland.

Based on the price if the work is good, someone’s got them self a new customer. 😉

April Savings Challenge

April Savings Challenge (Source)

Carla is inspiring me to get my money back under control this month.

Last month while I tracked every penny I spent, I did nothing with the information.  I saw that I was going over budget in some categories and did not change a thing about my spending. 😦

This month I have made some changes to my budget.  These changes will hopefully make it easier to stay on budget.

My goals for this challenge are:

  1. Cash only.  I will take out my spending allowance bi-weekly on pay-day and not take out anything else until next pay-day … 2 very long weeks from now.  Dust off my beautiful budget wallet and put it to good use this month. Hide my credit cards.  Hide my debit card.  This girl is going paper only!!
  2. Investigate cutting some of my regular costs.  I’m pretty sure the discount on the internet part of my Rogers bill has expired.  Time to see if I can get another discount.
  3. Get back to meal planning to use up what is already purchased.  My freezer is full.  The only thing I should be picking up from the store is perishables; milk, fruit and veggies.  Nothing else, if I want bread I need to get back in the habit of baking some.
  4. Minimize eating out.  As I say this I realize I have a dinner tomorrow and a lunch on Saturday already lined up.  I will make a conscious effort on both occasions to eat as cheaply as possible.  I don’t want to isolate myself to save money; that doesn’t seem like a good trade-off.
  5. 10 no spend days for the month.

I think that’s enough to try to focus on along with my other April goals.


Family and money

I have to say I think I am blessed.  I have never really struggled.  I have never been in the position where I had to choose between paying a bill or feeding myself.  Granted some of these choices were supported by credit card but I still never went hungry.  In my former wild spending days I always made sure I never maxed myself out.  I am not sure that it was a conscious choice but some how there was always space on my credit cards.

Having said that I was talking to a cousin of mine who is stressing out over possible moving costs.  Her company paid to help her move to a new location and is now crossing their ‘T’s and dotting their ‘I’s.  There is some money that is unaccounted for and this has got my cousin stressed.  It is a hefty sum of $9000 they could ask her to repay if they don’t find in her favour.  My cousin told me that even if she had a year to pay off this amount she could not do it without some of her other debts going into collections.  This has me concerned.

My issue with this whole situation is that my cousin has spent a great deal of time telling me that she makes a lot of money.  In fact, when we hang out together she used to attempt to pick up the bill cause she thinks of me as the “poor” one.  I haven’t yet told her that if you make $100 but spend $101 you are not better off than me making $50 and spending $49.

The fact that this is not the first time she has found herself possibly up a creek without a paddle frustrates me.  Any time something out of the ordinary comes up she is panicking over the cost of it as she really can not afford it.  This is no way to live.  Right now she is Broke with a capital B.  But she is still spending money on non-necessities.

Personally I like being able to sleep at night.  I like having a little something in the bank just in case.  The extra stress and worry is just not worth it to me.

No, I didn’t lecture her about the joys of having an emergency fund.

No, I did not talk to her about cutting out non-necessities for a period of time.

I don’t know that it would be well received.  Right now I think she thinks that she is doing all that she can, but there is so much more that she could be doing.  BUT I think that if she were to make any more cut backs she would possibly have some sort of breakdown.  She views herself as earning well and in her mind, coupon cutting and shopping the sales don’t jive with the salary she makes.

My eight dollar question is should I get involved or just remain mum?


Simplifying my finances

I received an email today from RBC.  I don’t bank with RBC so I thought it was a phishing email.  But something said unblock it.  In the email it said RBC bought Ally car loan something.  Since I don’t have a car loan with Ally I really didn’t pay too much attention.  But again something said click the link for more information.  So I did.

RBC bought Ally and will be closing my (cause you know just me was affected!! ;)) high interest savings account. 😦

I have a lot of accounts with a lot of different institutions.  I use them for different purposes.  As I stated long ago I have to play mind games with myself so I find having multiple accounts works for me.

Currently I have 6 savings accounts and 3 chequing accounts within 5 banks.  Having written it down, it seems like a lot. O_o

Account 1 – future bills account with ING
Account 2 – tax-free savings account with ING
Account 3 – vacation savings with ING
Account 4 – emergency fund with Ally
Account 5 – long-term savings with PC
Account 6 – easily accessible short-term savings with Scotiabank

My very first account was with TD.  I think I started to bank with Scotiabank next as they were the closest physical bank to my house.  Back in the day when you needed to go to a branch to do almost everything.

Over the years I have added and taken away accounts at Canada Trust, Citizen’s Bank, ING, and Ally.  Most of the removals were because the bank was taken over by another bank or closed that division.

Canada Trust was taken over or merged with TD.
Citizen’s Bank decided to issue only credit cards and discontinued its high interest savings accounts.
RBC bought Ally and will be closing their high interest accounts.
Capital One bought ING, I am not sure what that will mean to me yet.

So now I am trying to figure out what to do with my money.  Do I consolidate them into one, two or three accounts or look for some place else to hide my money from myself?

WSR – 2/11/13

So the last time I did a spending report was January 21!?!  Frick. 😦  Where does the time go?

Alright let’s get the party started.

Jan 21 – No Spend Day

Jan 22 – No Spend Day
+2.02 this is what was left for vision care for Diva’s glasses

Jan 23 – No Spend Day

Jan 24 – No Spend Day

Jan 25 – +12.37 returns to Michael’s
$60 gas
$4.24 postage

Jan 26 – $3 sushi lunch tip
$59.89 dinner
$2.26 windshield washer fluid

Jan 27 – $2 parking
$35.41 detox
$22.23 groceries
$10.16 clay mask
$113.67 groceries

Jan 28 – No Spend Day

Jan 29 – No Spend Day

Jan 30 – $57.01 gas
$33.88 contact lens solution
$158.43 groceries

Jan 31 – No Spend

Feb 1 – +$3 survey payment

Feb 2 – $7 parking

Feb 3 – $78.39 birthday gift

Feb 4 – $32.56 groceries
$12.78 groceries

Feb 5 – $22.11 groceries

Feb 6 – No Spend Day

Feb 7 – No Spend Day

Feb 8 – No Spend Day

Feb 9 – $6.15 groceries

Feb 10 – $74.74 groceries
$3.94 magazine

Grand Total: $799.85 – $17.39 = $782.46 NET
9 No Spend Days

Man I spend a lot on food.

In January I was doing well until that last week.  I need to figure out how to make the momentum last.  I seem to be able to stay on track for the first 3 weeks of the month, then it’s like I rebel and break loose. 😦

So far this month I am on track.  I went to cash only and my hexie wallet is getting used. 🙂  I took out most of what I needed for last week and only some grocery money for this week.  Don’t ask.  My thoughts were why am I taking out money when I haven’t spent all of the money from last week yet?  I can already see problems with this line of thinking but for the moment I will go with it.

I have to take the kids to the dentist tomorrow so I will be kissing some more cash good-bye. 😦  Can’t wait until the braces come off.  Thankfully Princess’ braces came off.  So only one kid to pay for. 🙂

On the food front, I bought another hunk of salmon from Costco and baked all of it yesterday.  Diva is really enjoying this fish.  She asked me to continue making it even after I have finished my cleanse.  My “hates anything organic and healthy” child is eating salmon and quinoa for dinner.  It’s a wonderful sight to see. 🙂

This week’s menu looks like this:

Salmon and brown rice/quinoa & broccoli
Salad with salmon for me / cheese pizza for the kids
Chicken, salad, sidekicks & broccoli
leftovers until the fridge is empty



So close

so_close (Source)

I was on a “no spending” streak for the past 5 days.

Until today.

I was very low on gas and had enough to get me to work and back.  My aunt asked me to take her grocery shopping today.  I did not have enough gas for that. 😦  So while my next planned expense was supposed to be lunch tomorrow, I bought gas today.  And since I bought gas I also spent money on postage.  A task I was delaying until I broke my fiscal fast.

Then my aunt cancelled because it’s snowing.

Oh well.

This week-end is looking like a spendy one. 😦  I am out of a lot of staples.  I am going to try to “make do” until the end of the month.  I still have $130 in my grocery budget.

I finally added categories to my hexie budget wallet.  Sunday I will start the week and see how it goes.

My weekly spending looks like this:

Transportation $30
Food $90
Entertainment/Eating out $40
Everything else $30

For a grand total of $190/week.

I think I can make it work.

WSR – 1/15/13

Jan 7 – $57 gas
+$22.50 credit from NSF
$4.36 groceries
+$2 lottery win (from when I was feeling lucky)
$6 bus fare

Jan 8 – $15 sushi lunch
$256 dentist

Jan 9 – No Spend Day

Jan 10 – $180 Diva’s grad trip (part 2 of 3)

Jan 11 – No Spend Day

Jan 12 – $10 lunch with friend
$3.98 lunch at Costco for Princess
$239.98 glasses for Princess (a portion of this will come back to me)
$104.54 groceries
$42.11 drug store

Jan 13 – No Spend Day

Grand Total: $918.97 – $24 = $894.97 NET
3 No Spend Days

Well there goes the no/low spending for last week.  I have not decluttered.  I am spending money like a “baller”.  I have taken my eye off the prize.

I was attempting to do 4 days of no spending in a row but then an old co-worker passed by and we went to lunch on Tuesday.  I semi-forgot about the latest instalment for Diva’s trip.  I knew that the next payment was due, but it wasn’t until Monday.  I decided to pay it early while I remembered.  I really want her to go on this trip.

As for the glasses … well Princess got a new prescription back in September.  When we went looking for glasses we did not find frames we both agreed on.  I bought her contacts at the time which she refuses to wear.  I mistakenly believed that my benefits were $200 each calendar year so I waited until January to get her glasses thinking that the coverage would start fresh.  It doesn’t.  It seems like it’s for each 12 month period. 😦  So I will get money back just not the whole $200. 😦

The saddest part for me right now is that $100+ for groceries did not include any meat. *silent tears* 😦

I am going to take a minute and get back on track.  We will be eating out of the freezer and other than milk and produce I am going to try to stay out of Costco and the grocery stores.

As for the decluttering … during the week is not the greatest time for me.  By the time I come home, work out, fix up dinner then spend time with my kids … it’s relax time for me I have no interest in doing anything else.  So this week-end I am going to have to step up my game.

WSR – 01/07/13

I am still writing 2012 when I am not looking.

OK I am a little in shock as I just realized that my last spending report was 3 weeks ago!?!  I’m blaming the holidays.  They got me all turned upside down. LOL

Since it’s a new month/year, I think I’ll just start fresh with January 1.

Jan 1 – No Spend Day

Jan 2 – $1.13 construction paper

Jan 3 – $2.05 dinner out with Princess (gotta love group buy deals!)

Jan 4 – $45 NSF 😦 (until my account is credited I am recording the full amount)

Jan 5 – No Spend Day

Jan 6 – +$10 pay out from market research company
$19.70 groceries

Total: $67.88 – $10 = $57.88 NET
2 No Spend Days

If I take out the stupid tax then this was a pretty good week. 😉  I have come up with a weekly budget amount of $195.  This includes groceries and gas and anything else not budgeted for.

My plan is to go grocery shopping today and fill up my car with gas and see if I can do a fiscal fast until … I was going to say next Monday but I believe I have a lunch date with an old co-worker on Saturday … so Saturday it will have to be.  I think this is actually better as I will most definitely need milk by then.  Diva drinks it like it’s going out of style.

I think this month will be the start of meal planning for me.  This way I can ensure I use up what’s in my fridge/cupboards.  This year will be the year we reduce food waste, come what may.

Monday: curry chicken and rice
Tuesday: leftover spaghetti sauce and pasta baked with cheese, cause everything is better with cheese 😉
Wednesday: chicken strips and potatoes
Thursday: any leftovers from past nights
Friday: frozen pizza
Saturday: potato and Costco chicken
Sunday: chicken soup

My co-workers and I started doing soup/salad Mondays where we take turns bringing in soup with/without salad for all.  There are only three of us participating so it’s not too overwhelming.  Next Monday is my turn.  I am leaning towards chicken noodle.  Today’s soup is spicy Thai carrot.

January Challenge – 1/5/13

It’s a grey day here in T.O. and as such I should stay in and declutter.

I still have not done more than glanced at my dining room.  I keep hoping that the maid I wished for would show up and deal with it but so far no luck there. 😦

Carla issued a mini challenge of making do on the financial side and decluttering some of the knick knacks/magazines etc that are taking over your home.

Financially, I’m doing pretty good.  I have used up a lot of the perishables in my fridge so as not to go grocery shopping or better yet throw out rotten food.  The amount of food waste in my home is horrible.  I have challenged my girls to use it up before it spoils.  They are aware of my “you are throwing out my time” lecture when it comes to food waste.  This time around I am getting more vigilant.  No more stock piling perishables with the hopes that we will use it up.  We are going to reduce our waste.  I was doing well with the no spending part and was at $3.18 before my NSF fiasco.

For me the magazines are a big one.  The road to hell is paved with good intentions and my intention is to read old magazines. *blush* I have piles of magazines through out my home and the intention to read them all.  Once I’ve read them then they go out the door.  Some are passed on to a neighbour, the others I drop off at the hospital.  I do keep one.  In fact I have every issue every printed of O. 😦  I’m not sure what I am going to do with them all but I have them.

Today I am going to clean my fridge, coffee table and hallway table.

I’ll be back with pictures.