Sunday 27 April 2014

I Went to an RV Sale Today

Don’t yell at me, let me explain. As I looked down that long road to financial health, I started thinking about how I could save cash. I kept coming back to the thought of buying an RV and living in that. 

I know that I already dismissed that and went with the room, but as I stood in a small RV that was 1) larger than my room and 2) had more amenities I was tempted. 

If things got too cold, I would just drain the fresh/gray/black water tanks and just use a portable container for water and perhaps a small portable chemical toilet. With global warming and the warmer winter they are saying we should get this year, it is still a possibility.

Even worse was when I saw the price $91.00 Bi-weekly. I seriously considered it and almost did. As I drove away, I just knew that I was not ready to truly be that ‘nomadic.’ I didn’t want to tell my boss that I was living in an RV trailer that I am towing everywhere I go. I am not ready to have to always look for a place to park for the evening/night and hope that I don’t get harassed. 

It was enough to know that the deals were out there. If Landlady raises my rent even by a dollar, I’m out of here. I mean, I like her and my room and all, but if I can save that much right now, I am not paying more for a roof. 

The other thing I did today was update my accounting system. I keep hold of all of my expenses and once each payday I sit down and enter it all into it. I gotta tell you, it was eye-opening to gather up and organize all of those receipts.  

If I hadn’t already locked away my debit card, this would have made do it. There were a ton of receipts, (pre-card lock up) and like 4 after card lockup. Take it from me, this little trick works. 

I will warn you, however, that it doesn’t take care of the times you decided to go spend. You know, I need to go get groceries, or this or that . . . those spending habits it will not protect you from. It will give you a moment of pause, each time you have to retrieve it from its hiding place. 

Thursday 24 April 2014

Staring Down the Long Road Ahead

The day before yesterday was payday . . . yay. That meant that I was able to get what I needed and pay a chunk down on my first credit card, once again . . . yay. 

Yesterday, however, as the giddy rush of the achievement wore off, my thoughts turned to my next paycheque and what fun I could have with it. Nope, that is the first paycheque of the month, that one is taken up by: truck payment, insurance and credit card minimum payments. 

Hmm . . . what about the paycheque after that? Can I have fun with that one? Nope, that one is my next credit card payment, and rent.  If I was a good and conservative spender I may be able to make a larger payment on this first credit card.

Then it hit me, my goal, my whole life was now to spend as little as possible on myself and give as much as I could to banks. Every cent of every paycheque for the next year at least was predetermined and pre-spent. 

This is a situation of my own creation, and for the best, that I know. This is what I signed up for, something I need to do in order to get rid of my credit cards. 

$20.00 a paycheque was mine, the rest went to everyone else. It would be easier to go through this with someone else but I know the answer to that one. Not happening, not until I have some discretionary income; thus companionship is a year away, at least. 

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Yep, Happily Broke Now.

I now have less than a hundred bucks in my account (to the positive), so that is a good thing. I have paid my usual bills, topped up the tank in the truck. 

I even put a bit of cash aside for groceries and yes a bit in my wallet for personal spends. I was happy to be able to drop $500.00 on my first credit card.

In the end this month was not a write off and it is some progress. I hope to keep my spending in check and pay more on the card next month. 

I will get this going and make greater progress. It felt good to pay down a card; even if it was two months later than planned, such is life.

Monday 21 April 2014

I Rode My Bike Yesterday

Sunday was a nice day and warm enough that I finally put off going for that first bike ride. I didn't go that far, as it was more of a ‘see if everything is working’ ride. That  and I realized as I pulled my bike out that I had thrown my helmet away back in January (it was falling apart).  

I decided to go for that ride anyway, just to get out there and remind myself how much I like riding through a park. It felt odd riding without a helmet or any kind of hat, (don’t do that at home kids). 

I plan to pick up a helmet before my next ride but I do hope to get into the habit of a daily ride. It doesn't have to be that long but a simple jaunt down in the park would do me good. 

I had Easter Dinner with the landlady and some of her family. It was nice to have some sort of family gathering and chat, even if they weren't my own.  

After that I went out for a soda with a friend of mine who happened to be in town for Monday for an appointment. It had been a while since I have seen her and it was nice to catch up. 

The ‘keeping the bank card locked up’ plan is sorta working. On weekends or after I get home I can still pull it out and go shopping. My spending has been reduced but not eliminated.  I am a work in progress. 

On the happy note, tomorrow is payday and I should be happily broke by midnight tomorrow. I plan on depositing my cheque, pay a few bills and make my first lump payment on a credit card. A start is a start.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

I Did it Yesterday and Felt Naked . . . All Day

I actually did it and the world didn't end . . . I left my credit and debit cards at home. Yep, I have started to simply carry a few bucks in cash with me and leave the credit and debit cards at home.

The plan is to limit my “F*ck-it Moments.” You know, the ones where you simply buy something on an impulse. I don’t live that far from work and I have both AMA and Roadside Assistance from Ford. So if anything happens I can make it home since small amount of cash means I can still bus it home, if I have to. 

I almost didn't do it as I said to myself . . . hmm well I do have to go get groceries . . . maybe tomorrow. I then mentally smacked myself and said that all I have to do is get lunch meat; I can do that with a few bucks cash. 

I knew that I had to start this to get my spending under control as most times I spend and don’t realize it. You have an impulse and pull out that card and tap it, now you don’t have to push any buttons. 

I plan to take the debit card with me on days that I get my paycheque. That is the day where I go to the bank and buy what I need, such as fill the gas tank, get groceries, etc. After that, back in the firesafe the debit card goes. 

I looked at my bank account again and things are not as bad as it seemed yesterday. I have been in the overdraft for so long that literally I assume that I see brackets around the bank balance. That indicates that the number is negative (in the overdraft) and not in the positive (out of the overdraft). 

There is a huge difference between being a few hundred to the positive and my truck payment has not gone through yet and being a few hundred in the negative and the truck payment not gone through yet. Don’t get me wrong, due to my spending habits I will still be in the overdraft before my next paycheque, but it isn’t as bad as I had originally thought. 

I will not pay as much as I had hoped ($1000.00) on my first credit card, but I will still be able to put somewhere around $500.00 on it. This is a start and my goal is to pay something on a credit card and stay above zero by the end of the month.  It may be small, but a start is a start.

Monday 14 April 2014

I am my Own Financial Worst Enemy.

I keep trying to save but I get discouraged or by something that I don’t really need. It starts when you are already below zero in the account and say, “What the heck, what’s a little more gonna hurt.” I keep trying to save but I end up trickling money out of my account.

This month, like the last one, will be a wash. I need to learn and stop this behaviour or a year from now I will still be in the same boat. I had planned on the tax refund to allow me to spend a bit that I didn’t have, true. The real problem is my own self spending and not really thinking about it.

I get the impulse and I go spend. I may try to keep only a limited amount of cash on me and lock my credit and debit cards away at home. That way, I can’t spend. The truth is that I need to focus and control my thinking, these days there are a thousand ways to pay and it is easy to cheat that system.

They say the first step in fixing a problem is to identify it, I spend habitually. It is almost a reason to get out of the house. With the warmer weather I hope to get out of the house to ride my bike or do something, anything that does not involve spending money.

I could say that I am just spending  because I can now after so long being financially restrained but I would have to be fair and say that this has been a constant problem, one which we all should: look at, identify and fix if we are to move financially forward.

Monday 7 April 2014

The Kayak That Almost Was

I won’t touch on the whole tax-return business as I have succinctly covered it and proved why you do not blog when angry, but I hope that at least it has made for interesting reading.

My boss seemed to feel for me and gave me a bit of a bonus. Not a great amount but it was a nice lift. I didn't realize it until I had left the building on Friday, so I will thank him when I see him this morning.

He had mentioned that Costco has a particular Kayak (that I had been interested in) on sale. I know that he wanted me to get this and it would be fun to paddle about in my spare time.

I even asked the landlady if I could store it here. She agreed but seemed a bit nervous to have something so tempting in her yard. I knew that it would be best not to press my luck.

While I was tempted, I know that now is not the time to acquire assets that I can store with me. If anything happens and I must find another room to rent, I don’t want to ask “Where can I store my Kayak?”

While even the cheapest RV Trailer may seem like a bad idea, I could excuse it as “Plan Z.”

I busied myself with redesigning my improvised tie-downs on the truck. Let me say that the key rings were a bad idea . . . really bad. They stretched and deformed in ways that key rings shouldn't.

I replaced them with U-bolts. In the end I had to buy two of them, just so I could get an extra crosspiece. I wasn't complaining as at $1.54 a piece, buying 12 instead of 6 was did not break the bank.

With my bonus and not buying anything, I will be back on track this month. This will pull me out of the overdraft and let me put the extra money this month towards making an extra payment on my first credit card.

While it may be a bit of a dull existence, I need cheap for now. I am doing this so I can get those credit cards off my back and then do what I want to do. Once I am at a place where I only have my current expenses (and truck payment) I can take a bit of a risk and do something I want. First things first, stay the course and pay down my credit cards . . . . and take a bike ride down by the water.

Tuesday 1 April 2014

The Beancounter’s All Agree . . . I’m Screwed

I went to my local H & R Block office and talked to a very nice and knowledgeable Tax Associate there. She happily looked over my Tax Return (at no charge) and found that I had erred (Let it never be said that I don’t admit my mistakes).

Apparently I had shall we say, dropped a digit when I entered my CPP paid. That was what generated the false Tax Refund of $2000.00. I can only guess that bonuses throughout the year had bumped up what tax I was supposed to pay and sucked up the modest over-payment of taxes I apparently paid.

This does not eliminate my feeling of complete powerlessness when it comes to this current government. Nor does it explain why I must pay a full 25% of my income to one level of government or another for one form of tax or another (not counting: Sales Tax, Gas Tax, etc).

I am tired of the attitude from governments that as a taxpayer, I don’t need to eat or sleep indoors but I must pay whatever tax they dream up and eventually die.

Uncle Stephen Told Me, “It’s Fair, Now Shut Up!”

Once again, I say don’t blog when angry, once again I ignore my own advice.

Note: Uncle Stephen is a character representative of the machinery of “The Government formerly known as The Canadian Government” and not any individual person living or dead.

I called Uncle Stephen back to ask him exactly why my estimated $2000.00 tax refund turned into a $16.20 bill. Why, I asked, did I have to lose that much of a tax refund and pay more when I had already paid extra tax all year on my paycheque?

Uncle Stephen then brought out: graphs, charts, pictures and diagrams. All of it helped to explain how I (or the tax software) had erroneously put down that I had over paid, or shouldn't have paid as much as I had on the CPP.

Well, naturally old Geoffie is fully CPP tax payable, which means I pay the most you can pay on CPP even though I can’t use it for years and even then it may not be there for me.  (Don’t get me started).

It was at this point that I reminded Uncle Stephen that I had voluntarily paid extra taxes this year and so I should at least get that back. To this Uncle Stephen replied that it was good that I had paid extra taxes all year, or my bill would have been bigger. . . . I should be thankful.

I then explained how I was looking forward to that tax refund and had plans to pay off a credit card, on my way to fiscal health. I humbly asked if he could help me out somehow. Uncle Stephen looked blankly at me for a moment; he was stunned at my audacity.

“Why should I help you?” Uncle Stephen asked with a scoff.

“Because I am a Taxpayer, a Citizen,” I replied with shock and dismay.

“So? What’s in it for me?” Uncle Stephen replied with a shrug of his shoulders.

“What? Why won’t you do anything to help me?” I asked, my anger rising.

“You don’t merit my assistance,” Uncle Stephen said with a smirk as he leaned towards me.

It was my turn to stare blankly at him.

“Let me explain, “Uncle Stephen started out, “You don’t have a team of lawyers so you can’t make me do anything I don’t want to do. You are not rich enough to help me out, so we’re certainly not friends. You are not poor enough so as to at least give me a nice Photo Opportunity if I do help you out. You are in that sweet spot where most of my income comes from. You have now started to do okay, you are not rich and you are not poor. Heck most of your money goes to other people, with little left to you. We both know that you couldn't even afford to talk to a lawyer to even discuss the possibility of suing me. So why would I do anything to help you?” Uncle Stephen said with a wry smile, finishing with a chuckle.

“I am also a registered voter. . . I am your boss!” I shouted back, angry.

“My Boss?” Uncle Stephen laughed and laughed and laughed some more. “Let’s get something straight, I run your life, you don’t run mine. I tell you how much to pay me and when. I tell you what you can do and what you can’t. If you don’t like the way things are now, don’t even think of making me look bad because I may just demand more money or change the rules just to prove that I can,” Uncle Stephen said with a sneer and leaned in once more  towards me.

I was angry, yet silent.

“You’re not my Boss, you’re my Bitch,” Uncle Stephen said with a chuckle as he patted my face.  

Uncle Stephen Sat Me Down Today.

As I write this I am angry and logic would tell you that now is not the time to blog . . . so much for logic.

It has been a month since I filed my tax return and according to the tax software I was supposed to receive a little over $2000.00 back. I even voluntarily paid more than I was supposed to, in order to ensure that I would get a tax refund.

I just got off the phone with Revenue Canada and after updating my information with them and proving that I really am who I say I am (so far, so go, I have no problem with this).

I then asked why, if my return was processed on March the 15th that I have not received my notice of assessment or my refund. I was then informed that when you file electronically your address does not show up and is not updated (thus why the assessment did not get to me).

As to why I did not get my tax refund deposited to my account, I was told that was because I had balance owing of $16.00. When I asked how this could happen the phone system crashed and when I called back it was still offline. As of now I have no idea what happened or why.

That’s right, apparently I don’t pay enough taxes; I need to pay more. Those new ships won’t pay for themselves. All of that foreign aid money has to come from somewhere. Those senators and other politicians need to get their cash from somewhere, so why not from me.

I don’t need the money, I was just going to pay bills with it. After all, I am and always have been the one stuck paying the bill, I might as well pay this one.

Yes I will be going to H & R Block to find out what happened and demand a reassessment (I used their online tax software).