November 21, 2014

Achievement Unlocked!

Life, Debt, and Everything In Between 


A picture story

To summarize:  We paid off a total of $4,694.41 ($5,340.00 in payments, then add interest, and a dental visit, which will eventually get reimbursed), and we lowered our credit limit from $20,000 to $15,000. 
All in a month.

I've been blogging on this topic since 2011, and this is the first time I've felt like the work is paying off.  

How we did it
We opened a TFSA back in the spring, and started contributing $200 each per month ($400 total) into it.  It was supposed to be our trip fund, and we were supposed to stop using the visa, but keep making reasonable monthly payments to it.  

After 6 months of this, our savings had grown, but we had continued to use the visa (I know, I know, bad PF'er), and so our balance had hovered around that $19K mark for almost a year. 

My husband spoke up and suggested we'd feel better about all the sacrifices we were making if we could see some real progress.

So we  transferred the first $2,600.00, and left our TFSA's with only $100 each.  We'll start contributing to them again in 8 or 10 months when we get the visa a bit lower, so we didn't bother to close them.

We also have pretty good side-gigs.  Our 9-5 desk jobs pay us well, so our 'side hustle' can be used for fun or for extra debt-kissing power.  The $1,500.00 chunk we paid down came from a music directing gig that Ian did in September.  (it was actually waiting on that cheque that held up this post!).  Prior to starting this post, I paid down about $400 from teaching and gigging, and I'm on track to make another $500 this month (which might go to Christmas presents, so we don't have to use credit OR our overdraft).

Great start, now what?
My credit card is on ice, literally - it's in a block of ice in my freezer, and I can't even see the numbers on it, so no cheating for me.

Ian is much better at not using his card than I am (I frequently used mine for work, which I really didn't need to do), so his card is available for things like flights, online shopping, and concert tickets.  If only one of us has a card, it also means that we have to have a discussion if I want to spend on it, and let's face it: it's usually me spending.  It also makes it easy to pay off purchases right away if there are fewer charges.

We'll continue to pay $1,240/month to the visa, and extra from our side hustle as it comes.  If all goes well, we'll be under $12,000  by this time in December, and under $10,000 by this time in January.

Our ultimate goal is to get the balance on the visa as low as possible, and ultimately lower the credit limit to $5,000.  I anticipate that happening in summer of 2015, in July or August.

After that, we begin to build an emergency fund of $6,000. Now, we live in Calgary so that won't go too far, but it's better than having NO emergency fund, and once that little safety net is set up, we have other debt to kiss off.

November 17, 2014

No post ...yet.

So, sometimes life takes over, and your best laid plans go a little haywire.

I'm still waiting on one cheque to deposit and clear before I send my post live.  I've not forgotten, it's just not ready yet. 

Patience is the name of the game, right? 

In other news, DH and I have been so delinquent with our allowance - we've just been spending and spending, even if we know we're going into overdraft. So back to cash, and learning to say no to ourselves.


November 7, 2014

Exciting things are happening

One of my hangups about personal finance is that the big results takes time.  

You chip and chip and chip away at debt, or save your little pennies for your big dreams, but day after day it seems like there's not much to show for all your hard work, planning, and sacrifice.

Ian and I set our plan in motion back in April, and it's been tough, but results are finally visible!  I'm working on a photo-post to show what we've done, and I am super excited to send it live on November 16th. 

In the mean time, for those of you out there doing your best: take heart.  

It is possible. Keep going. You can do it.

November 6, 2014

Slow and steady!


Trying out meal replacement drinks has been not too bad, actually!  

They give you a meal plan to help you make the most of their product, but here's the thing I've found, especially with my complicated previous relationship with food and tracking: I think that *for me* the 'tracking' of things I do (food, calories, excercise, steps etc) tends to send me a little overboard. (For those who don't know, I did a quick-drop diet (Dr.Bernstein), and it pushed me into a not-so-serious-but-still-definitely-there eating disorder)  I know that over-focusing on things like tracking calories, or even just 'what' i eat brings out my perfectionist side, which brings up this strange guilt (I'm not perfect for myself! oh no!) and then my anxious/mildly depressive side (I can't even track food! I'll never do this!), which spirals quickly to poor eating habits. 

New game plan: Eat better. Move more. Don't fixate. I'm going to ride above the mire of icky feelings, and just do what I know I can do.



September 17, 2014

Silver Bullet

I caught myself in the "Health Aid" section of Shoppers Drug Mart this morning, searching absentmindedly for that "Magic Pill" that will make me thin. All those pretty packages with skinny ladies on them - clearly, if I take this pill, which as been approved by "TV DR." (seems legit) it will create for me that firm, tanned body, and all the joy the lady on the package is experiencing..... right?  Right?? 

So I decided to go for meal replacement shakes instead.
I'm committed to do it for two meals a day, plus healthy snacks and a healthy dinner.

I'm off to a wedding this weekend, so I may not stick to it 100%, but I can get a few days in before I go, AND I can continue when I get back. 
No guilt.

September 16, 2014

Line of Credit

We've had our $5000 line of credit since May of 2008, when we bought our first car (which we sold over 2 years ago), and our piano (which we just recently sold).  This loan has a 6.75% average interest rate. and we've never really tried to pay it down.

Let's take a moment and think about this:

That's about 75 months of interest payments averaging $28.13/month.
On our $5,000 LOC, we've paid over $2,100 in interest.

For debt for items we no longer own.

That monthly interest payment comes out of our account automatically,  Automatic is easy. Automatic is hands-off.  Automatic is idiot-proof.  It's saved me $1000+ in my TFSA since April, and it's paid off $16,000 of our car loan since we bought the car about 3 years ago. 

So why haven't I set up an automatic payment for this LOC?   It's a relatively small amount, so we barely noticed it coming out.  We also haven't taken the time to add up what this loan has cost us to date.


Today I set up the automatic payment system to make this loan start to go away.

September 11, 2014

Where have I even been?

I had a friend visit last night, and she asked me this simple question:

What have you been up to this summer?

Seems like a simple question, but I had a hard time finding an answer for her.  I feel like since the Nova Scotia road trip, I've been really busy, but I couldn't say with what.

I recently read an article about living a BIG life vs living a BUSY life, and while I thought I was leading a BIG life, my inability to articulate what I've been doing over the last two months tells me that I've just been busy.

Anyone else out there feel like you're spinning your wheels?

I'm going to take some time over the next week to ask myself some questions about what I want, and get myself on track to make the last 3.5 months of 2014 really mean something to me.

And, for those of you following along, my 3xweek activity challenge crashed and burned after the road trip, and our budget has been so tight that we haven't been taking allowances anyway.  For richer and for poorer, right?