Friday, 29 November 2013

End November Goal Review & Salad Waste

First things first I had to waste the last serving of a wonderful salad because one of the ingredients had gone off. I made a huge bowl of it at the beginning of the week and just kept eating it. The down side is that when one part goes the whole thing need to be tossed. The up side is that I actually ate salad this week. The result being I will make more week long salads and just make sure that I use ingredients that are roughly the same age.

Lets take a quick look at how goals shaped up over the last month.


- Set up RRSP investments with my return of value pension from the military and contribute $359 a month for the year, along with any tax refunds. CHECK [It's on auto pilot and I'm looking forward to more RRSP room next year.]

- Pay off house in 5 years.  I should be able to accomplish this by doubling up every payment and paying a 10% lump sum every year.  CHECK [I put my second 10% principle payment down this month and now own 43% of my house.]


-Start Masters of Science / Masters of Science in Nursing in the fall.  CHECK [One take home exam and one big paper and I will have passed my first semester.]


-Join two new clubs in the local area.  CHECK [I’m actually up to two writers groups plus quilting.] 


-Have my novel accepted to be published.  I plan to have it ready by the end of the month (January), so I can start sending it out. CHECK [Getting ready to launch query letters at people again, plus I'm 48,443 words into my second novel.]

-Become a respite foster parent. CHECK [I’m in the process of being matched up.]

-Finish my current crafting projects.  NOPE [But Christmas break is coming which is usually a very productive time for me in this arena.] 

A respectable 86%. December goals will be (1) getting my school work done in the first half, (2) spend some time on crafts over Christmas, and (3) keep up the good novel writing habits I developed in November. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

I'm Alive

A small note to all my readers that I am indeed alive and well. I do apologize profusely for my absence from cyber space. I have been somewhat busy between my day job and wrapping up my first semester of day classes. On that note I thought I would share a little joke with you.

What do Duplo, a stuffed panda and a TV remote all have in common?

They are all absolutely essential if you wish to explain the Neuman System's Theory to people. Seriously though, if you ever have to do a Graduate Studies presentation bring Duplo. People will laugh and enjoy your presentation instead of falling into a coma looking at power point slides.

Switching to the more fun side of my life I'm still going strong in the National Novel Writing Month competition. I've hit 44,728 words so far this month so I should hit the target 50,000 words by midnight on the 30th. Add to that I've finished all my paperwork for a volunteer position at my local children's aid so that should start soon as well.

In short it's been a crazy wonderful month and I'll try harder in the future to keep you entertained with the goings on around my place.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Keep Busy, Have Fun

I've always been a busy person. My parents can well attest to the fact that as a child I was always launching into great big fun projects (from my perspective) that were guaranteed to eat up all and any free time for the foreseeable future (from my parent's perspective). As a kid I competed in sports every season of the year; went to schools (of course) and spent more time on homework then any other kid in my class; acted in plays; entered math competitions and science fairs; volunteered for different charities over the years; learned to sew, cross stitch and crochet; concocted hair brained schemes with my siblings (house wide elections, our own science museum, etc.); and devoured book by the ton. This turmoil of activity has taught me two things.

The first is to manage things wisely. As a kid my mom was the one who threw on the brakes when she figured I was going to take on too much for me to handle. As an adult I think I've learned to manage my own time fairly well. None of what you're doing is fun when you're to tiered to enjoy it. But I've also learned to prioritize. There does need to be time for the fun stuff that you do just for the heck of it along with all the purposeful activity that comes with being an adult.

The second is that anyone who is bored isn't looking hard enough. That also goes for anyone who has to spend gobs of money trying to entertain themselves. There is so much out there that no one should be sitting idle. Learn something! With the internet you can get info on pretty much any subject for free. Make something! The next time you need something make it yourself. So what if you've never baked your own bread or built a table? There was a time when you had never tied your own shoes, you've managed that eventually. Go outside and look at stuff. There is an amazing, beautiful, absolutely insane world out there.

Sure when you get busy and start doing stuff besides watching TV there are people who will tell you that it's a bad idea. Just tell them Elizabeth said it was ok and refer them here.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Disgruntled Lettuce and Where I've Been

My food waste confessions for the week include half of a slimy green pepper, the tail end of a container of yogurt and some lettuce. I have good reason to believe that my lettuce is disgruntled because I completely forgot that there were a few leaves left and started and almost finished eating a large package of spinach. I am truly sorry for my neglect Mr. Lettuce.

As for where I've been. My regular readers will have noticed that my posts have slowed down a good deal. The irony is that I'm writing even more than I use to! You see there was a reduction in posts so that I could keep up with working 32 hours a week while doing a master's full time. That said my writing per day has increased as I've been involved in the NaNoWriMo competition. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it let me explain. It stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is basically a bunch of crazy people decide that getting together and writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days is fun; of course I thought "why not?" and dove right in.

We're halfway through the month and I have reached 26,360 words. I've also been having a blast. I could expand on all the lovely reasons why my current excursion is a good idea. But that is not for now. Simply rest assured that if my posts are less frequent and shorter than usual it means my main character is having one heck of a day.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Mortgage - The First Year

As I passed the one year mark to owning my own home I got to throw another 10% of my mortgage amount onto my mortgage and can now happily report that I own 43% of my house. (If you're interested it includes my front sitting room, my den, a bathroom and pretty much all of the kitchen/dining room area.) Left to pay off is the second bathroom, all three bedrooms, the family room and the utility room.

Amount of House Owned
Goal:  $191,000 by Nov. 8 2017
Current:  $82,078.92

As you can see from the above graphics I currently have $82,078.92 worth of principle in my $191,000 house. Other interesting facts:

-I started with a 360 month (30 year) amortization period. I now have 195 months (16.25 year) left if I were to stick to the normal payment schedule (ya right).

-The line of credit on my house now has $43,878.92 on it (equity built in the house minus the 20% down payment). Not that I'm planning on using it, but it is fun to watch it grow.

-This should drop my monthly interest from over $300 a month to around $280 which means even more of my payment is going to principle.

-I am bang on my schedule of having the house paid off in 5 years (which is my term, after which interest rates may change)

-According to my calculations and my general understanding of my bank's "mortgage payment vacation" rules I could not make another payment for the next 12.75 years and though I would loose all most all of the gains I have made in paying off my house they wouldn't foreclose

Paying off my house is going to get a bit trickier over the next year and a half as my pay will be decreasing as I take time to do my Masters (which is another big cost). That said it's been good so far and I'll be doing my best to keep the momentum going.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Food Waste - 1 Year Anniversary

The food waste front is in great peril. Though I haven't had to toss anything yet I bought salad makings last Saturday and they haven't been touched since. My solution is to make a big salad this weekend and eat it for the rest of the week. (Because making a salad every night just for me is a lot of effort and as a result it simply doesn't get done.

On a slightly happier note it is the eighth of November today! For those of you who are confused about the significance of this it means that I have been the owner my first house for precisely one year. As a result at some point over the next 24 hours a little button called "Pay Principal Only" will appear on my online banking page. This means that the I can pay 10% of my mortgage amount off in one fell swoop. This of course will be followed by a happy dance and an excited call or e-mail to my parents so that they can join in the celebrations too. Until then let me list the things that I've come to realize about owning my own home:

  • There is a lot of fun and excitement to be had running around fixing stuff up. 
  • The best places in my house are out in the garden in the summer and down by my wood stove in the winter. 
  • Little by little the bird makes his (or her) nest. (Take the time and effort to make double-up payments each month. By themselves they look small but when added together they make a significant sum.) 
  • There is something really nice about coming home from a long vacation to house that you own. Because it is yours and (once all paid off) no one can take it from you unless you decide to sell. 
  • You get to have guests and be proud that the home you are showing them is something that you worked hard for. 
Do you want a list of cons? I didn't think so. (Plus I'm having a lot of trouble thinking of one.) Maybe that the house is kind of big when it's just you there. But I have a cat now, so it's all good.

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Wood Stove

I made it through my first weekend heating with my wood stove. I am happy to report that despite a rather smoky beginning the house made it through intact and I only suffered a small burn to one of my knuckled where it brushed the top of the stove. I could sum up the weekend as follows:


A little too enthusiastic? Perhaps, but I very much want one in all of my future houses. I must admit that I approached this experiment a bit dubiously. The stove cranks up my insurance prices and I have memories of stacking wood as a child in the middle of november while freezing rain is coming down. But I decided to test it out and see what happened.

I've had a bit of a rocky start as a kid when it comes to fire and burns. Namely I once decided that the stove element looked lovely when it was all read an glowy, so I put my hand on it. It didn't go well and I developed a bit of an aversion to anything that was hot. Fortunately, I ended up in the Duke of Edinburgh program with my siblings and as a result went on a number of camping trips. Since I was disinclined to let them be better woodsmen than me I did learn how to start a proper fire and keep it going.

This weekend (despite the burn I sustained) I really enjoyed having the fire. Building on my camping skills was a bit of a challenge but lots of fun. For example initially I had no idea that the little leaver at the bottom controlled air flow, it's not like the camp fires I'd built had leavers associated. Fortunately I figured it out pretty fast (after calling my dad for help). Amazingly enough once the stove got going it kept my entire house at a balmy 21.7 degrees Celsius without the electric furnace. Not to mention the nice smell, the ambiance, the challenge of timing the logs that you add, and the fun of heating stuff up on top of the wood stove.

Like I said, I love my wood stove.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Food Waste - November Budget

No food waste to declare, though the tail end of a head of lettuce is starting to look pathetic. I'm also low on the food front. Milk's all gone, no more fruit left and the only bread I have is in the freezer. I need a big groceries trip Saturday morning. Probably before breakfast because I haven't got much left to make breakfast with.

As for my monthly pay check it is in for a total of $3,615.97 which is a pay raise from $3,598.39.  For the moment I'm going to act like a didn't get a lovely pay raise of $17.58 since my income will be dropping next month as I reduce hours to work on my Masters. Extras that came in were $372.57 from my employer to cover professional fees that I paid and $101.00 in a GST rebate which went to the "pay down the mortgage fund".

Housing 40% - $1,439.35
Mortgage - $646.62
House Maintenance - $315.00
Housing Taxes - $192.00
House Insurance - $72.00
Utilities – $213.73
Total – $1,439.35

Savings 10% - $359.83 – All going to my RRSP

Debt 10% - $359.83

Transportation 15% - $539.75
Bus Pass – $0 (covered in tuition)
Train - $15
Other - $0
Car Savings – $0
Total - $15
Leftover - $524.75

Life 25% - $899.63
Food - $140
Cell – $30
Internet - $55
Health Insurance – $23.52
Clothes - $10
Gifts - $10
Misc - $10
Big Ticket Item - $100
Entertainment - $10
Social/Sports - $0
Financial Planning - $14
Cat - $20
Slush – $477.11
Total - $899.63

Of Note:

-I dropped my food budget because I've developed quite a surpluse in that account. 

-The Cat category has been added with $10 a month being put aside for food and $10 a month being put aside for vet fees. 

-My mortgage payments and the other extra space in my budget adds up to $2,008.31, of that $1,422.56 will go towards my normal payment and the double up and $585.75 will go towards the "pay down the mortgage fund" in order to be used for a 10% principal payment.