Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween - It Ain't What is Used to Be


Did I scare you?? No? Oh.....rats...

Halloween isn't scary anymore and that makes me sad. When I was a kid I used to get scared out of my wits on Halloween night, and I LOVED it! I lived in a small village and we were able to roam the streets freely, no parents following us around. It was a night of almost unimaginable freedom - knocking on doors and people giving us candy - for FREE!! Mingling with witches, ghosts and goblins, dead leaves whispering as they blew across our path, REAL bats flying overhead - it was the most magical night of the year! We would bravely take shortcuts through vacant lots, get about halfway across and then run screaming, terrified til we were back on the sidewalk again! 

There were always a few of those houses, the ones you ran past or crossed the street to avoid. The shabby unpainted houses with those strange people who didn't "neighbour" like everyone else. Who were they really?  

After a few years we knew what treats to expect at every house. The Lossings made homemade sticky popcorn balls in every colour! Our school principal gave out FULL SIZE chocolate bars! My neighbour used to make a special goody bag just for me - she would have to walk to the kitchen at the back of her house to get MY bag full of homemade fudge and cookies. Once we got older we found out that those people who lived in those houses gave out amazing treats: cans of Coke and big bags of chips...who knew???

This year some schools didn't allow scary costumes. Kids were encouraged to wear "caring" costumes. What the hell is a caring costume?? Other schools held an "orange and black" day and kids were only allowed to wear orange and black clothing. WTF??

C'mon people, what is going on here?? Don't they understand how absolutely thrilling it is to be (safely) scared one night of the year? To run around freely with friends sporting vampire teeth and fake blood dripping off your chin? To wrap your entire body with toilet paper and stagger off down the road dragging a pillow case behind you? 

Sometimes I miss the "good ol' days". Sometimes I get really sad that I'm old enough to remember the good old days but my daughter isn't. Living in the city in this day and age means kids aren't allowed to be out on their own. They'll never know how delicious it feels to see a clutch of witches standing on a dark street corner watching you approach...and you don't know who they are....

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Homey Oatmeal Recipe & Halloween 2011

A couple of you requested my oatmeal recipe so here it is. I just cannot say enough good things about oatmeal. With the addition of milk or yogurt it is a complete protein. It is low on the glucose index therefore it breaks down slowly keeping you full longer. It also helps lower your bad cholesterol AND provides much needed iron.  Depending on what you add to your morning oatmeal it can be a near perfect "superfood"!

Homey Oatmeal: (I especially like this recipe because the oatmeal is cooked in skim milk as well as water adding calcium and protein but few calories! AND this recipe makes enough for six days, at least for me.)

2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt (optional - I only add a dash of salt)
1 1/3 cups large-flake oats
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup chopped almonds
3 tbsp. sugar substitute (optional - I don't add this, I get my sweetness from adding dried fruit and/or non-fat vanilla-flavored yogurt)

In a large pot, bring milk, water, cinnamon and salt to boil.  (Watch it closely so your milk doesn't boil over - yes, I learned the hard way!) Stir in oats and wheat germ and return to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, for about 8 minutes or until thickened. (DON'T overcook!) Stir in almonds and sugar substitute, (if desired).

Makes 4 servings. (I pour it into a tupperware container, let it cool, then slice it into 6 servings - I find 1/6th of this recipe PLENTY but then I add other stuff to it.) Store in fridge.

There is such a variety of stuff you can add to oatmeal to mix it up a little. Some of the things I add are: dried cranberries, raisins, blueberries, pomegranate arils, chopped fresh apple or applesauce, any kind of nut, flax seeds or ground flax, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, plain or flavored yogurt, you are limited only by your imagination - it can be different every day!

Your body will thank YOU!

Also by popular request - last night's Halloween costumes! I was going for a 70's vibe - long dress, long black hair, pale lipstick...Michael was the Man in Black (Johnny Cash) but wigs/hats got traded during the evening...

 This is pretty much how I looked circa 1974! (minus a few wrinkles!)
 My cowboy!
 Cowboy and friend (our "friend" turned out to be the life of the party!!
 Having TOO much fun!!
 That blonde wig made the rounds - it originated on the hostess who was dressed as Alice in Wonderland.  Now I'm wearing the cowboy hat!
 Michael rocking the "Carol Channing" look!

Taking a break from dancing to enjoy a REALLY good single malt.

Happy weekend everybody!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Month End Update: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!!

Sometimes I like to type something into "google images" and see what comes up. I just typed in "end of October" and this "momento mori" appeared. I thought it captured how I'm feeling this week. A momento mori was a work of art which was supposed to remind us of our mortality. Here we see the grim reaper extending a welcoming hand to a somewhat elderly woman. She looks a bit stunned by the invitation...I guess she's not ready to go! 

Well, hell's bells neither am I. On the one hand I'm ready to say goodbye to October, an expensive month...yet on the other hand I'm not ready to say goodbye to trees covered in gorgeous colour, the last snapdragons in the garden and the warm sunshine on my shoulders. However, I don't have a choice - time marches on - this morning my car was covered in its first frost of the season and the temperature registered at -2c. When I came home from school it was a chilly 17c inside my house...I covered up with two afghans and made some chai tea but it wasn't enough. I ran the furnace for the FIRST time (I tried to make it to Oct. 31st) but just for a few minutes then I shut it off again. It's still a toasty 22c and I've pushed the afghans aside...for now.

Financially I'm saying goodbye to October. I've been a little lot preoccupied with numbers this week as retirement draws ever closer. It seems like just yesterday my countdown widget dipped below 1000 days, now it reads 975! Sometimes time DOES fly! I did some calculating and found we're living on 34.6% of our income, that's a good sign that we'll survive on a 50% income drop once I retire. Ok - now for the month end numbers...

The Good:

  • the "no grocery shopping" for the last two week of October was a success! - in spite of major over spending for Thanksgiving we came in $12 under our $400 monthly food budget
  • Kazi gave me $50 to cover her share of the monthly car insurance bill:)
  • Michael directed $1000 my way to help cover monthly expenses - thanks honey - it sure helps out!!
  • 4 No Spend days this week (would have been 5 but I spent $1.80 at Timmy's this morning for a much needed coffee!)
The Bad:
  • slightly over our $200 gas budget but Kazi chipped in thank goodness or I would have been WAY over which was only right since she did a lot of practice driving to prepare for her final road test which she PASSED
The Ugly:
  • way overspent on the Misc budget line and Entertainment budget line which includes a couple of trips to Talize (second-hand clothing) which I totally didn't need to do!! This meant less $$ into Savings...BAD Jane BAD!!

November Challenges:

  • I am almost back to 100% health-wise so time to ramp up the exercise again, especially the scissors challenge with Sarah!   Ya hear me Sarah? I am going to start cutting up the air again with my razor sharp legs!! 
  • For the first time ever I am going to plan a few meals for next week so I don't waste money on extra food. Our fridge looks so much less crowded now after NOT grocery shopping the last two weeks- we had to get a little creative with our cooking in order to just use what we had instead of making numerous trips to the grocery store - this was a great learning experience!
  • Must stay out of TALIZE!! If I feel the need to shop I will start my Christmas shopping:)
  • I am going to try for 3 No Spend Days per week for a total of 12 for the month!
Are YOU finished with October yet??

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Merry Bloggy Christmas

Serendipity is having another Bloggy Secret Santa exchange! Head on over to her blog if you would like to join in - I am!!

Things to know about me:

  • I love to read and have a Kindle that goes with me everywhere (though I also still read lots of REAL books and always will - most of the books I read are crime novels:) nothing like murder and mayhem to lift one's Christmas spirits lol!
  • I have a sweet tooth for things like milk chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel and pecans, roasted almonds, cashews - actually any nut will do!! 
  • my extremities are always cold - I love warm woolly socks and mitts, hats and scarves - yes, it gets pretty cold around here! 
  • I'm a big coffee/tea fan: Starbucks, Timmies, green tea, rooibos, chai, and oh yes, hot chocolate! In fact I'll drink pretty much anything that'll warm up my insides:)
  • I love handmade jewelry  made from "seed beads" - earrings, bracelets - any colour at all
I'm so glad Serendipity is doing this - now I'm actually starting to get excited about Christmas!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Can it Get any Worse?

There are worse jobs than mine!

There's nothing like a bad day at work to get a person (me) crunching the ol' numbers into the retirement calculator!! Yup, it was one of those days when one of my staff members crossed the line into work refusal and insubordination - not directed at me, no even worse, directed at the Dep't Head of special ed at our highschool. Oh yeah, it wasn't pretty. 

So for the past couple of hours I've been checking out my teacher's pension, creating scenarios to see if I really can afford to retire two years early (June, 2014). Then I went on the CPP site to get an estimate on my monthly Canada Pension as well as OAS (Old Age Security). Add it all together and it works out to approximately half of what I'm earning right now. 

As luck would have it we are currently living on 34.6% of my income. The rest goes to savings and debt repayment. So it is doable. With some to spare. The lowest amount would be the two years between when I'm 58 and 60 as CPP doesn't kick it until age 60 at the earliest. However I have RSPs and savings too. We certainly wouldn't be taking trips around the world every year but we could afford to come and live with YOU a few months out of every year tee hee!

Not only was I plugging numbers into the calculator at a furious pace today I also registered at our board website so I can see available postings in case I want to quickly EXIT, STAGE LEFT!! I don't really want to transfer but I do want to keep my options open and be ready if something interesting comes along. 

My motto has always been: BE PREPARED!!  and no I wasn't a Girl Guide or even a Brownie...I only made it as far as being a "Spark"! I used to be pretty mouthy as a child...sassy I think my Dad called it, as in "don't sass your mother!" Oh I am rambling on tonight! It's a sign of my disturbed mind. The worst thing about today was when 2 of the EAs said that some of our students don't belong at school (kids with autism can show some aggression from time to time but we've had NOTHING even remotely serious so far this year)!! I was actually ready to smack somebody! (and NOT the students!!) I'll show ya who doesn't BELONG!

Now I better get on my bike and ride my stress away!! It's either that or drink a bottle of wine and it's too late to go buy any and anyways I'm on my 3rd NO SPEND day and don't want to spoil it now. 

I'm not even going to go back and edit this so please disregard any typos!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Hunt for Red October

 Oh, there it is...I guess the "hunt" is over:) I'm ready for October to be OVER actually as my wallet just has a few pennies in it and some Canadian Tire money. We are doing REALLY well on our "NOT shopping for groceries challenge" (well, the grocery store doesn't take Canadian Tire money now does it?!!), though I noticed we are on our last bag of milk. So I will be buying milk, bread and salad greens this week - nothing else. Dinner tonight? Succulent ribs and bean stew - yum yum! The fridge and freezer still look pretty full so I'm going to see how long we can go before I break down and do some shopping!
Yesterday was such a gorgeous fall day so of course we went hiking (in my new boots!)! Perhaps these luscious looking berries would go well on my morning oatmeal??  Yes, being of Scots origin I lurve my oatmeal and make a big batch every Sunday to get me through the week. It's a complete meal in a bowl as I boil it in skim milk and cinnamon along with some wheat germ, then add dried cranberries, ground flax seed, almonds and sesame seeds or whatever else is hanging around. It's also really good mixed with apple sauce or a small container of yogurt.  Very thrifty and if you know us Scots we love to be thrifty!!

My favourite pic from yesterday's hike. Isn't she just so precious in her yellow boots, they're almost as nice as mine! Those two geese at the top of the picture don't look real, they look like a pair of bookends but they're real, I swear! The little dumpling was crumbling up a bun and dropping it in the water for the ducks and the geese...she was really popular:) I love her nonchalant pose and mop of curls - so cute!
Almost as nice as mine, but not quite!

I had this post ready to go last night but then lost my internet connection so here goes today, hope it works! Made it through another day without spending - I'm going to try for 5 no spend days in a row. Saturday I'll have to part with a little cash as its our annual Halloween bash - I have no idea what I'll dress up as yet but "biker chick" comes to mind....

Do YOU dress up for Halloween?? What about that "Witch" out in PEI???

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Weekly Wrap & Other Crap (How to get Great Stuff for FREE!!)

Only one week left of October - that's CRAZY!! Where did the month go?? Well, I slept the last week away in a kind of daze, that's why I've been MIA for the last few days. (daze - days - I'm a poet!!) I have been feeling VERY TIRED, can't get rid of my cold, and work has been crazy-busy what with progress reports, IEPs, parent/teacher interviews, for a few nights I was going to bed at 8 or 9pm.

"Ok - Exhibit A" (maybe I missed a career as a rapper!)
The Good News: I did NOT go food shopping yesterday! And yes, it wasn't easy to stifle that habit but I did it! Even so I'm still very close to my $400 total monthly food budget due to overspending on Thanksgiving. Our fridge/freezer is definitely less packed but there is more than ample food to get us through to the end of the month. Sharon and Laura - how are you doing on this??

Other good news - DEBT and SAVINGS columns dominate my Spending Diary graph. Sometimes (ALWAYS) I feel guilty about my MISC purchases (read unnecessary purchases) but when I see the height of the MISC column compared to the DEBT and SAVINGS columns I can actually smile, laugh at my silly self (ha ha ha ha) and cast off those dang guilty feelings:)

The Bad News: I wish I could say there wasn't any bad news but there is a wee bit. I won't be able to make that extra deposit into my EF this month as planned because I had a few other expenses to cover and used that money up. You could say that's also Good News since I didn't have to take money out of savings to cover them. I had to buy a bulb for one of my headlights this week (well the car's headlights not MY headlight AND that's a whole other story!!) and I also took the car in for an oil change which always ends up costing way more than just the cost of the oil change - a brake light was not working, a filter needed changing etc. So the extra EF money was spent on the car instead and I am OK with that.

The extra expenses this month were more than balanced out by TWO GIFTS I received this week; one from Michael and one from Kazi. 

This gorgeous leather jacket is a gift from Kazi.  She works as a bartender for a popular club in London. Every couple of weeks unclaimed coats left in the coat check are given away to the Goodwill.  This one she nabbed and brought home for me - it fits perfectly and goes really well with Michael's gift:

Michael gave me an early Christmas gift this week - my first pair of Blundstone boots! Now that he's working at Fodemisi's he gets a great discount making these unaffordable boots affordable!! They are the most comfortable boots I've ever worn and I never want to take them off - EVER!!

Aren't I lucky?? All I need now is a Harley!

Other Crap:

  • Sarah - I've fallen off the Scissors wagon but I do plan to get back on. It's just been one of THOSE weeks.
  • After much taste testing Michael and I agree that the best chicken wings in London can be found HERE!  However, just to be sure we'll need to try them again....and again....
  • the SMARTBOARD that I received for my classroom in September has finally been hooked up!! It's so much FUN!! My students will be using it for the first time tomorrow - I can hardly wait!! More about this in a future post!
I think that's a WRAP

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Making a Dent

No photos, fridge looks about the same. Kazi and I have eaten 3 containers of soup, the leftover pad thai is gone and a salad container is almost empty. So there has been a bit of space created but it's hardly noticeable at this point. That's ok though, nothing NEW is going in there for at least two more weeks! Well, Michael hard-boiled half a dozen eggs but that doesn't count...they are the same eggs that were already in the fridge - they've just changed from liquid to solid.

This Saturday, my regular marketing day, I'm going to chain myself to my stationary bike (now there's a picture) and I'll bike all of my food shopping impulses away and make myself really hungry so I can chomp my way through a few more fridge layers of food!

Today I did enter a grocery store, I am compelled to confess, but I only bought a loaf of bread and some bags for the vacuum cleaner. Then I left...honest!!  Oh, and I had to buy a bulb for one of the headlights on my car, so off to Canadian Tire to make another necessary but non-food related purchase. 

So far so good!!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Looks Like It's a Challenge!

Before I get to the CHALLENGE I'd like to show you what I bought from Novica. Yes, I'm a WINNER, but then you already knew that! Recently Judy had a give away on her blog which was a gift certificate for Novica and I WON! Let me just say that I have worn "le scarfe" every day since it came in the mail (Friday). 

It is drop dead gorgeous!! (I call it "le scarfe" because a friend of mine a while back spelled scarf with an "e" by mistake and it became quite the inside joke...personally I think "le scarfe" is a big step us from an ordinary scarf...and THIS is no ordinary scarf!! (I have strange friends)

Yes, it's true...I love it...thanks Judy! And folks, you should go and check out Novica's website, after all...Christmas is coming! And I can give you a few hints about the other stuff I really want...

OK, the  CHALLENGE.  It seems that there are a few of us who would like to get to the end of October without spending any more money of food (other than milk, bread, produce).  There's Laura, Sharon and me! (and you too, you just didn't know it until now!) Some of us need to save a little extra and some of us (like me) already have enough food to last til the end of the YEAR!!

I am a little (ok a lot) embarrassed to show you the state of my fridge but it's just gotten so out of hand I just had to do it...sometimes you have to shame yourself to get something here goes...are you ready???

The freezer portion of our fridge: I made soup on Saturday, guess who made soup on Sunday?
Yes, Michael, so some of it had to be put in the freezer.
Soup anyone?

Even the door of the freezer is overloaded!


There is not an extra square inch of space anywhere!! Only buy the really huge bag of carrots it you have fridge space!! And wouldn't it be nice if we all like the same kind of juice??
My daughter is famous for putting her leftover takeout cartons in the fridge
swearing she'll eat them and of course several days later I chuck them out.
I've even thrown out the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers and it's still jam packed!!
Needless to say my head is hanging low. I promise to do no more shopping until November, except for bread and milk. Now I'm going to go do my scissors exercise for the first time.  Wish me endurance!! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekly Wrap & Other Crap

So October is officially half over. Which means in only 2 more weeks it'll be November...quick aren't I? I have a gift for stating the obvious. Bet you're jealous! 

I was happy to be paid on Friday...very happy. How happy was I? I was so happy that I went out and bought MORE FOOD! And you know what? I think we could have managed very adequately with what we already had! But old habits die hard and like a little robot I trotted off to the farmer's market and the grocery store, not to mention the gas station. 

When I came home I squished all of that food into an already full fridge. Then I made soup, ladled it into plastic containers and squished that into an already full freezer.  Then I thought to myself..."self? who's in charge here, who exactly is sitting in the budget director's chair?"  "Me", I answered, "oh please, let it be me!" So, acknowledging to myself that I am indeed in charge of my budget, I am going to challenge myself, no direct myself, to purchase no NEW food until November except for the following items: 

  • milk
  • bread
  • salad fixings
Perhaps I won't even buy any more salad fixings as we have so many veggies in the fridge that need to be eaten up. So that will be my personal challenge for the remainder of October. 


Because you know what happens when you purchase more food than you can possibly eat - WASTE AND SPOILAGE!! And that makes me sad. AND MAD!! If successful,no, when successful, I'll have $100 extra that I will put into my Emergency Fund as I really really want to get it back up to $2000 again.

I am also going to challenge my wee family to keep the furnace TURNED OFF for two more weeks. That won't save me any money this month as I've already paid my Union Gas bill but it will help with November's bill. Oh, by the way, I decided to NOT go with Superior Energy for my natural gas for the coming year. Their fixed rate was way higher than the market price that Union Gas is offering. I'm taking a wee risk in that Union Gas adjusts their rate every 3 months based on the market but right now the spread between Union Gas and Superior is wide enough to make me  think that it'll be cheaper in the long run. Time will tell.

Since I just posted financial charts on the 12th I'll spare you that today. I am still out of rhythm on my blog topics so will try to get back to doing my Friday Weekly Wrap on Fridays!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

RERUN! Ratatouille Part Two!!

Today was pretty cold and rainy, only 7c when I took Michael to work at 8:30am. It was a really really good day anyways though because the cold reminded me of all the things I enjoy about winter! I bought BOTH the Globe and Mail and the National Post newspapers early this morning and enjoyed a nice cozy read INSIDE in my lazyboy!  Lest you think that's all I did today I also did the laundry and made my first pot of Ratatouille of the cold season. Nothing better than reading the paper with a great cup of joe, the smell of soup cooking wafting through the air and the rattling of the dryer in the background. The only way the day could have been ANY better was if Michael was home with me too! He's one hurting unit today let me tell you but that's a story all it's own for another day:)

In honour of "soup season" I am rerunning a post I wrote 2 1/2 years ago in March of 2009:) Yup, I've been blogging for quite a while, since 2007 I think. Tell me what you think - is my writing style the same? or different?

OK, the miracle is that we still cook (some of us anyways) even though we're surrounded by the convenience of pre-packaged, processed, partially & fully cooked, vacuum-sealed, individual serving sized "food". For those folk who care about what they put into their bodies and care about what all that packaging is doing to the environment this post is for you. This soup is also meatless and therefore kinder to our land and our water. And a lot CHEAPER!

Shown above are the ingredients for a mouth-watering ratatouille, a recipe given to me by another homemade meal maker, my sister-in-law Pat, but with a few variations of my own.

You will need: a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, a 19 oz can of red kidney beans (or any legume of your choice - I've used chickpeas too), a couple of onions, fresh or minced garlic, a handful of carrots, 2-3 medium sized zucchini, and a nice plump green pepper. You'll also need a few spices: salt and pepper to your taste, oregano, Mrs. Dash and a couple of All Vegetable Bouillon cubes, either beef or chicken for body and flavour. Plus any other spices that you like in soup.

Throw a dollop of olive oil in a soup pot, let heat on medium-low for a few minutes and start tossing things in: diced onion (this recipe is great for getting rid of wilted veggies in that bottom drawer you dread looking in - today I used up some old green onions, previously I've used up mushrooms, broccoli and cauliflower).

Toss in chopped up green pepper once the onion is looking brown and yummy.

This recipe doesn't call for carrots but I threw in some old ones once and now always include them as they taste so good. Cut up the zucchini (wash but don't peel). Add in oregano, salt and pepper, minced garlic giving it all a good stir.
Dump in the cans of tomatoes and kidney beans, don't drain the beans or you'll lose good flavour. Fill the tomato can about 2/3's full of hot water and dump that in too. Add bouillon cubes. Stir, stir, stir. Your veggies should be just slightly submerged in liquid so add more water if needed.
Give it a taste test and adjust spices accordingly. I also add in half a package of onion soup mix too if I have it on hand, adds flavour and body.
Cover and bring to a boil, then lower heat, uncover and let simmer about 20-30 minutes depending on how soft you want your veggies. 20 minutes if you still have all your own teeth!
Add an ancient grains bun (from the Real Canadian superstore of course!) and a piece of fruit and you have about a 300 calorie meal that will keep you satisfied at a cost of less than $1.00 a bowl. Put the $30+ you would have spent on buying your lunch into your RRSP. Or, if already retired you will need cheap, nutritious eats! (You want to stay alive as long as possible to get the most out of that pension!) You will have satisfied your needed servings of vegetables in one meal, you'll have lots of protein without resorting to a bloody piece of meat, and you'll have great fibre from the soup and the bun. And God knows you need fibre!
I make this soup about once a week and take it for lunch at school everyday. I swear that it keeps me from succumbing to all those germs my runny-nosed kids bring with them as I haven't had a cold for 2 years or more.
You're welcome!

(*I'm blaming my current cold on the fact that I wasn't eating my soup!!!)

Friday, October 14, 2011

GOALS 2011-2012

One thing I noticed about my 2010-2011 goals review was that I had too many of them - some of them I had forgotten about so I'm going for simplicity this year. I do better when I keep things streamlined, when they get too complex I totally tune out. So here goes.

Financial Goals:

  • Increase total savings from $56,398 to $67,000 over the next 12 months (this is long-term savings only: RSPs (interest only) and TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account)
  • Save $600 towards the purchase of a new camera
  • Save $1200 towards condo redecorating
  • Save $1200 to add to my Emergency Fund currently sitting at $1527
  • Save $960 to pay for Crofters Lane house insurance and property tax currently sitting at $160
  • Save $1500 for Christmas and Birthdays for 2012
  • Save $2880 for Crofters Lane maintenance and travel expenses next summer currently sitting at $480
  • AND decrease my Line of Credit from $34,300 to $9,700 over the next 12 months
  • continue to follow my current zero-based budgeting style (it works for me...most of the time:)
All of these accounts are already set up with automatic deposits/payments. All I have to do (HAH!) is not overspend because if I do then it reduces either savings or debt payments and I don't want that to happen because I am working towards:

Yes, ladies and gents, I am talking about being debt-free in 16 months at which time that $2,000 per month currently going towards debt repayment will then be channeled into my long-term savings. Hopefully by then Stephen Harper will have increased the limit on our Tax Free Savings Accounts to $10,000 per year from its current limit of $5,000 but I won't hold my breath, damn politicians!!

My personal goals are also going to be plain and simple - not simple in that they are easy to achieve, but simple in that they are clear and straight forward.

Personal Goals:
  • Get my weight back under 130 lbs. Folks, I'm barely 5'3" and I'll be damned if I'm going out and buying all new pants to replace the ones that fit just fine up until a year and a half ago! Yes, menopause does wreak havoc on the waistline but I'm not giving up yet. What I won't do is put a deadline on it - that's just a recipe for failure. And I'm NOT buying pants with a stretchy waistband - that's just a cop out! 
  • Exercise everyday. Lunchtime - 30 minute power walk 5 days a week, work out in my school's cardio/weight room 2 times a week (Tues. and Thurs.), ride my stationary bike at home 3 times a week (Mon. Wed. and Sat.) and go hiking every Sunday. I know this looks complex but I'm already doing it so it's easy peasy. Do the scissors exercise once a day - see Sarah's instructions HERE!
  • Find reasons to be happy every day!!  
  • Tell my wee family I love them every day!!
  • Find a reason to laugh every day!!
  • Be grateful every morning that I woke up!!
In my next post I'll expand on my personal goals to show you the thinking behind them. How are YOUR goals coming along??

Thursday, October 13, 2011


You’ll never reach a financial goal you never set.

How profound! Wish I'd said it. But no, I snagged it from "We the Savers - The Official Blog of Savers".

Here are the goals I set last October...I wonder how I did!

Financial Goals 2010:
I'll start with the goals that are easy to measure (with a calculator in hand).
  • Save another $5000 for my TFSA (at $650 savings/month this should by attained by August, 2010) - Will be achieved TOMORROW!! Late but I will still count as a success:)
  • Save $2400 for RRSP contribution (at $200/month beginning March 1st this goal will be reached in time for next year's taxes (Feb.29/12)- Changed this goal completely! I am no longer contributing to an RRSP - see this post for the reasons why!
  • Save $2250 to add to my Emergency fund bringing it to a total of $3000 by year's end - well...yes and no...I have added more than $2250 but had to use some for car repairs and new tires!  Partial success!
  • save $1500 for Christmas by Dec. 2011 - YES!! Success!
  • Pay a total of $17,400 towards debt by Dec. 31/2011 (this includes $1200/month on Line of Credit and $250/month on PEI mortgage -major success - will have paid $26,550 ON LINE OF CREDIT by Dec. 31st!! That's where my RRSP money went to!   AND INCREASED MY PEI MORTGAGE PAYMENT TO $300 PER MONTH REDUCING THE AMORTIZATION FROM 25 TO 16 YEARS!! 
  • maintain $100/month to World Food Program (now on automatic withdrawal so I won't miss a month due to forgetfullness!), and make six NEW Kiva loans this year ($150) in addition to reloaning the $$ that is repaid to me from previous loans (Sadly no, this will be a post in itself!)
  • TRY to spend a maximum of $225 twice a month on groceries Success - actually spending $200 twice a month woo hoo!
  • TRY to spend a maximum of $100 twice a month on gas (this will work out til the end of June and then will have to adjust due to doing a ton more driving in the summer - like to PEI!!! My Crofters Lane jar will help to cover summer driving. SUCCESS!! sticking to this amount even though gas prices continue to rise!!
  • Through a variety of methods (snowflakes, budget leftovers etc) increase amount in Crofters Lane jar from $360 to a minimum of $650 by June 30 -actually had about $1500 so major success!!
Personal Goals 2010:
  • ride stationary bike 3-4 times per week and record mileage in sidebar YES!!
  • lose 10lbs by 2nd anniversary (April 18) NO!! a little late on this one!! I have lost those 10lbs now and am looking to reduce another 10lbs. but not setting a date!
  • list books I read in my sidebar; read one non-fiction book for every five non-fiction books I read (increase learning) YES, but I forgot to add them to my sidebar...removed sidebar after awhile :(
  • plant 50 trees at Crofters Lane this summer NO - more like 20
  • organize my cajillions of digital photos by the end of January - SUCCESS!! HOWEVER I HAVE A CAJILLION MORE TO ORGANIZE!!
  • make at least one person laugh each and every day - PROBABLY NOT EVERYDAY BUT PRETTY DARN CLOSE!!
  • use daily to track my spending - FELL OFF THE WAGON OVER THE SUMMER BUT BACK ON NOW! 
  • get out into nature a minimum of once per week - yes!! SUCCESS!!
I feel pretty darn good about how I did over the past year, especially with paying down debt. My line of credit was at an all-time high of $56,250 after purchasing my house in PEI in August 2010. I exceeded my debt reduction goal by almost $10,000 - that ain't chickenfeed my friends!!

That was the first time I ever put my financial and personal goals down on virtual paper. I'm happy with the choices I made but after living with them for a year I can see where I went wrong, where my priorities were a bit confused and now know I can zero in on more precise & more relevant goals for the upcoming year. 

After I sleep on it I'll get busy.

Part Two Tomorrow!  SETTING GOALS FOR 2011-2012!!
  • PpppppppppppppSave another $5000 for my TFSA (at $650 savings/month this should by attained by August, 2010)
  • Save $2400 for RRSP contribution (at $200/month beginning March 1st this goal will be reached in time for next year's taxes (Feb.29/12)
  • Save $2250 to add to my Emergency fund bringing it to a total of $3000 by year's end
  • save $1500 for Christmas by Dec. 2011
  • Pay a total of $17,400 towards debt by Dec. 31/2011 (this includes $1200/month on Line of Credit and $250/month on PEI mortgage
  • maintain $100/month to World Food Program (now on automatic withdrawal so I won't miss a month due to forgetfullness!), and make six NEW Kiva loans this year ($150) in addition to reloaning the $$ that is repaid to me from previous loans
  • TRY to spend a maximum of $225 twice a month on groceries
  • TRY to spend a maximum of $100 twice a month on gas (this will work out til the end of June and then will have to adjust due to doing a ton more driving in the summer - like to PEI!!! My Crofters Lane jar will help to cover summer driving.
  • Through a variety of methods (snowflakes, budget leftovers etc) increase amount in Crofters Lane jar from $360 to a minimum of $650 by June 30
  • ride stationary bike 3-4 times per week and record mileage in sidebar
  • lose 10lbget out into nature a minimum of once per week

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Weekly Wrap & Other Crap

It's a blah kind of day and I'm feeling...well...kind of blah. This is the kind of day that makes me want to stay in bed. Or, at 5:30 in the afternoon, get back into it! I'm so tired it took all my effort to hit that exclamation nose is still running (I know, TMI), my head is achy (blame the low pressure system currently dumping drizzling rain and millions of leaves) and, sadly, the numbers don't add up.

You know what I mean? Just bring on Thursday and let's get this week over with. I'm feeling glum chum. And I'm at a loss to think of anything good to cheer myself up with...lemme hockey team sucks (Montreal Canadians...well at least they beat Winnipeg but that's not saying much), I'm all alone (kinda good, kinda not), I'm hungry (when am I not?) and I'm afraid to step on the scales (thanks Sharon for your kind "skinny"'re a dear), I should go make myself supper but all there is is turkey and I'm tired of turkey after eating it Saturday, Sunday, Monday and knees hurt (tried a little jogging on the treadmill...yes, I'm that desperate), and I feel like going shopping.

OK, now I should look at the bright side of things: I finished my students' progress reports today, I am almost finished my last IEP (Individual Education Plan for my special needs students), Michael's taking me out to dinner Friday night (it's for his son's 24th birthday but he said he'd buy mine too, only two days left in this short work week, I get paid Friday, I have free library movies to watch, people actually love me, I HAVE food to eat and I HAVE shelter from the rain. And if I really DID go shopping I could afford it.

Isn't it great how a little review of one's life can put everything back into proper perspective? Not that I'm feeling all cheery and perky now but I am sitting up a little straighter.

Here are the numbers for the first twelve days of October, read 'em and weep!

It doesn't look too bad laid out like this but what you don't know is that my food budget of $200 was supposed to last til this Friday's pay and I'm over already by about $73.00. Like I said yesterday, I need to budget more for food when there is major feasting going on. 

I had $150 for misc spending til this Friday's pay and am over by $54. Oops. I still have $25 for gas and I will use it up before Friday.  And I had $0 set aside for entertainment and I spent $61 - do I sense a pattern of overspending here? After all the whining I did in Sept. and all of my vows to keep my spending in line I can plainly see I haven't taken those lessons to heart...yet.
What I've had to do to make up for my overspending is reduce how much I had planned to put into savings.  That affects my long-term goals. Somehow I need to keep my long-term goals in the forefront of my mind - I'll have to think about that and see what ideas I (or you!!) can generate!  HELP!

I think I need to set my goals for this coming year. I've been talking about it but haven't actually gotten down to the nitty gritty yet. Such procrastination! School has kept me super busy and I'm afraid I've neglected other important stuff - like finances and goals. I'm just sort of wading through each day hoping the money will take care of itself.  It rarely does as you and I both know. 

I'll try and find some motivation and see what sort of plans I can come up with, but it's so NOT happening today. I plan to procrastinate a wee bit longer...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lesson Learned

 I had a pretty tough holiday weekend as you can see...
 My nephew and his partner invited us to their cottage for Thanksgiving.  The sun was shining, the temperature in the mid 20's (celcius!) Lake Erie was calm and soothing...
 The martinis flowed...
 So did the wine...
 After a wonderful dinner of roast turkey, stuffing, carrots, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie and whipped cream we sat outside and listened to the waves...they have a chiminea so we sat outside late into the evening...
 We played Taboo (my nephew and I won); it was hilarious. Here I'm peering over Dave's shoulder to make sure he doesn't use any words that are "taboo" in his bid to have his partner (Michael) guess the  correct word. More martinis...
 Monday morning, sitting on the beach...
Monday afternoon, hiking through the conservation area...
A picture of Michael taking a picture of the glorious fall colours...
 What a gift to be able to capture fall's glory on a warm October day...
 We ended up here! What are those you might be wondering?! Well, this is the latest trend in camping...or should I say "glamping"!! Putting the "glamour" in camping! YUP! What's next I wonder? There are a series of tents under those awnings complete with outdoor shower at the back. Each tent is on a hardwood platform and comes equipped with a king-size bed, running water, toilet etc. There is a large central tent for dining and group activities! 

How civilized!!
Seeing this helped me figure out what I am going to do for Michael's birthday in January - we're going WINTER CAMPING!! YESIREE BUB!

At the Pinery, a popular camping destination on Lake Huron, they now have YURTS for winter camping. When I suggested it to Michael he said YES!! He said it just like that - a really BIG YES!! He's been wanting to try it for a while now. I'm pretty excited about it!  

Oh yeah, today's post title reads "Lesson Learned." I don't have the numbers for you tonight as it's almost my bedtime (not even kidding!) so suffice it to say that the lesson I learned is that when there is a major feast day in the month I need to have a larger food and beverage budget than usual. I thought I had everything under control but no...several impulsive purchases put me over the top by around $150 (this is a rough estimate). 

So tomorrow I will input my data to so I can see the bad news in black and white. 

Nighty night!!