Tuesday 31 March 2015

Chill Coming, Yet Still Going Camping

Okay, this week is going slow, as I eagerly anticipate this weekend. This long weekend, I am heading out to the campground so I can de-winterize Wanda. That and do some spring cleaning.

I am going out anyways yet I am still humming and hawing about if I should de-winterize Wanda. The weather over the next while looks like it will dip below zero overnight.

So in one sense, logically I should wait and not de-winterize now. Yet it shouldn’t dip down too low and not for too long. In a week or so it should be warmer. If it were something I could do on my own, by the side of the road, I might wait. I need the facilities at a campground with full hookups to do this properly.

Since I have already paid and am going, it is either do it now or make a special trip out in a few weeks, or even (gasp) wait until the May Long Weekend.

I think I can de-winterize now and muddle through a few chilly nights. The risk is not to me, I will be warm and fine, the risk is freezing pipes or more specifically the freezing of my water pump.

One idea is to run a bit of water every few hours overnight. Another is to keep the furnace running overnight. A third is to put a hot water bottle right on the water pump. I know where it is, as usually it is inside and near the sink.

With a few of these tricks I should be able to de-winterize now so I can actually use my indoor plumbing (as in: toilet, sink and shower). I will take it as it comes, but for now the plan is to go ahead and de-winterize now.

Monday 30 March 2015

I Gave Away $5000.00 This Weekend, and I Feel Fine

No, I wasn’t overcome with an overwhelming sense of charity. Nor did a cute little lady charm me with some sob story (this time). I did give away a sizable amount though . . . let me explain.

Back in January of 2014 I put the stuff that I wanted to keep in storage. Then in May – June I put the stuff that I wanted to sell into a second storage unit and cleared out the first. That stuff in that second storage unit I wanted to sell, as it wasn’t crap, just not stuff I wanted or needed at the time. (You know: Bedroom Suite, TV, CD’s DVD’s, etc.)  

After an unsuccessful attempt to sell the stuff myself (which resulted in the only person interested being a scammer) I instructed the storage place to sell the stuff with their next auction. They kept telling me that they were going to have an auction in a month . . . or two . . . and kept putting it off. I will say that they were nice enough to wave the storage fees, as I was selling the stuff through them.

This Friday afternoon I stopped by to see how they were doing and if they ever did sell that stuff. They still hadn’t had that auction and said they didn’t know when they were going to (too busy). After a brief discussion I just gave up. I signed the little piece of paper and with it signed away my rights to that stuff. In essence because they failed to do what they promised, I gave my stuff to them.

I know that I have the right to make a fuss to say that I was cheated that we had an agreement that they never honoured. I fully expected that stuff to be sold and the proceeds split (generously) within a few months. I also know that regardless, I had an agreement to rent that space from them. If I had been paying rent on it, by this point, that rent would have exceeded what I could realistically expect to get for the stuff. It was just time to let it all go; it was a business decision.

Still, it would have been nice to get something for all of that stuff . . . a little pile of cash to help me with my bills at least. In the end, I didn’t even get a case of beer, not even a kiss . . . is this what an amicable divorce feels like? Ah well, such is life, and you just have to move on, move forward and look at the positive in things. (Cue Monty Python’s “Always look on the bright side of life”).

I don’t know what the actual value of the stuff is now, but I do know that at retail value, what I paid for it, it is worth more than $5000.00. Yet, to me this stuff was just an anchor, a dead weight holding me here. As it is now, other than my job, the only thing holding me here, or anywhere, is that post office box. That I can easily give up and get my mail forwarded somewhere else. Now, I am truly mobile, truly an Urban Nomad.

Just because it looked nice this morning, here is your sunrise pic.

Friday 27 March 2015

Pasty Legs Unleashed!

Woo Hoo! It was warm yesterday! How warm was it? It was sooooo warm that I actually put shorts on after work! Yes boys and girls I was able to lounge around Wanda all evening in shorts and nooooo furnace. 

I still ran Jenny to charge Wanda’s batteries, as I do use them (through the inverter) in the morning when using the laptop. It was a bit windy for me to open the windows, which I may do tonight, but the warmth was nice. 

I was nice to put on shorts for the first time in months, but a conundrum was revealed. As you can imagine, with this being the first time since October that I dared to venture outside without at least one layer of pants, my “Caucasian Heritage” shone through in spades. To prove my point here is a shot of my pasty legs.

This is not good or bad, it just is; I see sunburned legs in my near future though. My melatonin content is rather low due to my genetic heritage: English, German and Swedish. As a result I have three colours:  White, Red and Call a Doctor! 

It took all of my life for me to get that “farmers tan” going so I can go outside without a turtle neck. One of the reasons why I wear a wide-brimmed hat is because the back of my neck gets sunburned in summer. I turn into a literal “Redneck” (without the racist attitude). 

Again, this is just me and I don’t let my lack of tanning ability (or very slow ability) to stop me; I just get out there and do what I want to do. In the warmer months I live in shorts and light shirts. I look forward to shelving my pants and thermal undies for months to come.

I will allow myself to believe the delusion that the ice age is over and that never, ever again will the horrible thing called “Winter” return. Come October or November, when that first snowfall hits, I will get angry, throw a tantrum (in private) then just grumble and accept it. I will then morn for the loss of the sun and warm weather, hunker down and get through winter. For now though, the warm weather has returned . . . forever and ever and ever . . . yep indeedie! (I so live in the wrong country).

I will admit that I feel the pull to go visit McLean Creek this weekend. This is silly as next weekend I am going to the campground near Cochrane so I can De-Winterize Wanda. I don’t need the extra expense of the camping fees or two trips out of the city on this one tank of gasoline. I will mumble and mutter through and make it through the short week next week. 

In the meantime I will enjoy the warmth, wear shorts at night and try to get some colour in these pasty legs of mine.  

Thursday 26 March 2015

Turnaround Day is Here!

I have been keeping an eye on the weather and today seems to be the day where things warm up, and continue to warm up. I know that colder weather may return for a bit, but all in all, this is the day that things steadily get warmer (at least in Calgary). 

For me, that means that things will steadily improve from here on out. With the warmer weather comes the need to run the furnace less and less. As well I will soon be able to open my windows and enjoy the light breeze through Wanda. 

Sure, all of this means partly that I will need to use fewer resources and therefore save money, but what it really means is that this is the day that things turn around. For me, this day is the beginning of spring and the delightful warm weather to come! 

Naturally, snow will fall, somewhere in Alberta on the May long weekend, I don’t know why it does, but somehow, it always does. I for one am just deciding to look forward and see the happy positives that this day brings. 

There are many dark thoughts which lurk in the corners and wings of our minds, just waiting for a chance to sneak on stage to shout their poison at you. Look for the happy positives , however small, to keep these dark thoughts off stage. Life can and will get better . . . this too, shall pass.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

No New Spot Yet

Okay, so I did a bit of a drive around last evening but in the end didn’t park in a new spot. I spotted a stretch of road that I thought about trying out tonight, but I probably won’t.

The truth is that I couldn’t put my slide-out out nor, comfortably run Jenny (too built up). It is a bit closer to work and in fact easier when it comes to traffic, so that was a plus. Again, that quest for the right spot, where I can put my slide-out out continues.  

I will continue my search tonight, and see if I can spot that illusive right spot yet. Company parking lots are an easy target, but out of the question for me, as I don’t want to be disturbed in the middle of the night and shooed along. 

The weather is warming up, though and that is good news, also the sunrise this morning was breathtaking, I had to snap this pic.  

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Honk and a Grumble

Okay, so I tried out a new parking spot to put my slid-out out last night. I went a bit further down the block that I park along to a stretch where it gets a bit wider. 

This is where the big rigs park and so I parked behind them and decided to chance it. I was even under a street light (across the street), so you would clearly see me all night. 

I put my slide-out out and measured the distance between it and where the gravel ends. This was what I used to determine the beginning of the roadway. It was at least two feet, so I figured, I would be okay.  All evening as I puttered around in Wanda, things were fine and nobody complained.  

I had the idea to buy reflector tape and put it on either edge of the slide out. That way, when it is deployed, it will reflect some red light back at you, and you know it is there, yet when pulled back in, you don’t see it. 

This morning I got up and puttered around, enjoying the extra space but I got a few honks, so with a grumble I pulled my slide-out in and continued with my morning. Back to shoving my table back and forth I went.

This morning I enjoyed not walking to work towing Ace in his wheely-basket. All I had in my hand was my lunch. 

I will try some other place tomorrow night. This is part of the fun, constantly finding ways to improve what I do. For now, that challenge is trying to find the right spot to park with my slide-out out.

Monday 23 March 2015

That Sucker is Dead, With No Bounce

Yep, it fell flat and didn’t bounce back up. In fact it didn’t even twitch. I am of course referring to Card #2. This weekend I got my E-Statement for Card #2 and I had expected to see a bill of a few dollars. 

After paying a card down to zero sometimes, usually, the next statement is one demanding a few dollars. My best guess his is that this is the interest or other fees which accrue between the time the statement came out and the time you paid it. This time, however, I got the happy bill of zero. 

So Card #2 is officially dead, and tucked away until needed, hopefully not for a while and even then just to book something online, where it will be immediately paid off. 

I did leave the money in the account and seeing my hinny above zero, even to poke an eyeball above zero got me inspired to be silly and reckless. After depositing my paycheque, I: filled up Trea and Jenny’s gas tanks, paid off my cell bill, kept Card #1 happy, bought some groceries . . . and that’s it. 

I have enough to get me through, and so I will hunker down and get through this. If I am able to keep this up, by the time the next payday rolls around (April 7th) I may actually be able to keep said hinny above zero by the following payday (April 22nd). 

If I can manage that, then all of next month can go to Card #1. If by some miracle I can keep this up and pay off Card #1 by first payday of May. Then I may not be so far behind achieving my goal of paying my bills off by July 22nd after all (even without a crowdfunding campaign). Who knows, but I know that I need to keep focusing on one payday at a time one goal at a time, and not get too far ahead.

To be accurate, (above zero) refers to the dollar amount in my main account measured the night before payday. To me, this is simply making sure that I made it from one payday to the next and have maintained a positive balance in that account. The same is true for “Above $500.00”, and “Above $1000.00.”

On a personal note Ace has been relegated to being my emergency back-up power. On Friday morning I measured the time that he kept my laptop running . . . it was little more than an hour. I lug him back and forth to work and leave him plugged in for nine hours. For me, this is not a good return on my effort.

I will now run my laptop through a small inverter and using Wanda’s batteries. It is not winter and I do not need the power to run the furnace as much, so I can get away with it. I still hope to be able to run Jenny every other day, but we shall see how things go . . . so far, so good.

I enjoyed getting ready for work this morning as I had extra space. I stayed in my Western Home and therefore had my slide-out, out. This meant that I had that just a bit of extra space to move about. I didn’t need to shove the table back and forth every time I moved. This actually helped with my mood this morning. It felt like I was actually in a small house and not a submarine.

I have resolved to find a place not far from work, where I can park and: safely put my slide-out out and run Jenny, all without disturbing people or traffic. I will go for a walk (or drive) around tonight to see what I can see. 

Friday 20 March 2015

Cash Flow Vs Credit Rating

So, a friend of mine told me last night that your overdraft habits were reported to the credit bureau. This means that the longer you are in and more frequently you delve into said overdraft will affect your almighty credit score. 

She suggested that I pay the minimum on the credit cards, keep them happy and focus on getting out of the overdraft first. In doing this, this will help increase my credit score. I thanked her, grumbled to myself but resolved that I wasn’t going to do this. 

I knew that this would require me to stop or re-arrange my paydown and thereby take longer. I imagined that to do things her way would take me till November or (Gasp!) longer.

I went over my numbers and with the help of a handy spreadsheet (I made) I figured out that I could do it her way within a reasonable time frame. It would only take me till the end of September, rather than August as it is with my plan. Thankfully, it was nowhere near November, as I had feared.

If I do things this way, I will be out of the overdraft and be building up my cash personal reserves first. Then I will be paying down the credit cards, Card#1 first, and then Card #3 trickle saving all the while. I will still trickle-save, but it will be to get myself closer to that goal of having a minimum of $1000.00 in the account at all times. 

After that goal has been achieved then I will save in a high interest savings account as I focus on paying down Wanda and Trea. Never let it be said that I can’t take suggestions, or admit when I screw up. This was not a screw up but rather just a minor altering of my plans to improve them. 

Remember to always be flexible in how you get to your goals, just in getting to them. 

Thursday 19 March 2015

Woo-Hoo, More Scrimping and Saving Ahead!

Okay, when I got into work, my paycheque was waiting for me. Don’t get too excited, I don’t, as it is still dated for Sunday, and the people at my bank are sticklers as to adhering to the date on the cheque. Ah well. 

What this does mean is I can now do my final budget for the upcoming pay period, as I at least know much I am getting. So then I checked the current status of Card #1, and it is just over $1300.00. 

Don’t yell at me, a good chunk of that was my own doing, fine, but that last bit was the bathtub for Wanda. I had to order and pay for that bathtub, which was cracked when buddy backed into me. 

This affects my budget in that the only way I can pay that all off at once is if I don’t spend a dime I don’t have to anywhere else. I mean: pay my cell bill, pay the Wanda payment and Card #1 . . . and just hope I have enough food to last, enough gas to get me by, and of course enough cash to buy my propane. Anyone else see a problem with this impractical budget? 

So, what this means is that I will pay my expected $1000.00 on Card #1, fund what I have to and just carry the balance to the next payday. It looks as if that paycheque will be a bit larger. So if I save a bit more on that pay period, in a realistic way, I might get that thing paid off by then. If I can do that, then the full $1000.00 of next month can go into the account to lift myself 2/3rds of the way out of overdraft. 

I am still going camping next weekend, so I can enjoy myself, do some spring cleaning and yes, de-winterize Wanda. Things are tight, but looking up, just to prove it, here is this morning’s sunrise pic.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

I Have a Plan!

Okay, so here goes and a bit of fate worked in my favour. Due to an expected upcoming busy time at work I am not able get the exact time off that I needed. So I won’t be going down to the coast as I had been planning. This, coupled with a new way of working my paydown schedule, means that I am not as behind schedule as I had thought. 

If I pay off Visa this month, then put the thousand at the end of next month into the account and carry on with my regular payments on Card Three, I will be done by the end of August. While that block of thousand next month won’t get me out of the overdraft it will get me close . . . closer. I plan to keep saving as much as I can along the way, taking it pay period by pay period. 

This concept is what I call ‘trickle saving.’ It works by spending less every day and leaving what I don’t spend in the account. By doing this every day, each small amount that I don’t spend adds up over time. Each of those little amounts, trickling into the account makes a difference. I hope to be out of the overdraft by June.

I could reverse things, pay down like mad on Card three and still make the July 22 deadline. Then I would still, and for all that time be deeeep into the overdraft. I have lived there for a year and a half; I don’t plan to do that again, it is not a happy place to be. For those of you who have done this, you know what I mean.

There are still a lot of things that could go wrong and all sorts of possible “life events” that could blow me off course. All in all, I have a plan, and I am working that plan, one pay period at a time. The thing to remember is to be flexible and alter what you are doing in order to meet your goals. If for whatever reason you will miss one goal, set a new one and work towards it. The key, is to never give up, never surrender, and keep moving forward.

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Never November

The cold weather has returned this week to remind me that winter is not done just yet. Ah well, after November, I can handle just about anything. (Seriously though, bring on the warm weather).

I have been doing my best to save money and get through this last bit of cold weather and into spring. I am looking forward to that Easter Weekend to not only de-winterize Wanda but also do a bit of spring cleaning. 

I need to look over each and every item that I have and ask myself if I still need it. To do that I need space to put stuff, and the middle of a Wal-Mart parking lot or parked on a street does not seem like the place to do this.

Things are already looking a bit up financially, as if I am good and continue to save as much as I can I may be out of the overdraft by the end of next month, that would be a good thing for me, emotionally, as I hate being in that overdraft and need to feel like I am getting ahead. 

For once I am out of the overdraft, I then will have: card one paid off, card two paid off, as well as my overdraft paid off. That will just leave card three, that last and largest one. If I continue to save as I pay down that card, I will nudge myself towards my goal of keeping at least $1000.00 in my account at all times (for my own overdraft of sorts).

For now though, this means I lead a very dull life. I work, then park not far from work and work on my laptop. It just is what it is and it has to be this way, for my own sanity, I need to get these bills done and dead. As I is, my best estimate puts me two months behind my “debt freedom date.” I refuse to push that till November. I just won’t do it. 

Monday 16 March 2015

Gearing up for Spring!

Now that I have a campsite and a date with real hookups I am looking forward to spring. On the weekend of April 3 (Easter) I will be in a place with full hookups and de-winterizing. I know it is a risk, but I also know how to drain my fresh water lines, quickly, if I need to, for a day or two. 

Some people around here are still insisting on a “Mid-May Freeze,” but I for one think it is worth the risk. I should be fine come April to have indoor plumbing again. 

Another challenge is that one of the people convinced that things will still freeze is the truck stop that I typically dump my tanks. While they will always let you dump your tanks, they have turned off the fresh water and won’t turn their water on until the May long weekend.  

This will leave me with the better part of two months to find some other way to get fresh water. My three little bottles of water coming from work will not cut it anymore. With showering I will go through more than that. I will ask around at other truck stops to see if some place will turn their water on sooner than that. 

I know that I could just pull up behind work and fill up here, like I did last year. I won’t do that, because I promised my boss that I would not bring Wanda on work property, as I don’t want to cause a problem for work. Even for just a little bit in the middle of the night, I won’t risk any problems for my boss or work. 

For the next while (after I de-winterize) I will top up my full water tank with the bottles of water and perhaps haul water twice a day just to keep things going. Naturally I will conserve water as much as I can, but I won’t give up my shower . . . I miss it. 

The other thing I have been doing to gear up for spring is to put my grey water down into my black water tank. This is to have some water down there to slosh about and clean the tank a bit. I will be draining soon and I will not fill it, but about ¾ full. 

They tell me that if your blackwater sensors are not reading right (mine are reading full at all times) then do this trick, fill the blackwater tank with water ¾ of the way full and drive about, stopping and starring. This should cause the water to slosh about and knock loose any ‘items’ sticking to the sides of the tank and perhaps blocking a sensor. 

I have also had fun using the inverter and Wanda’s batteries to run my laptop for hours on end. I will continue my trick of running Jenny every other day during the week, but on the weekends I am home more so I will use the laptop and thus the inverter more. 

Friday 13 March 2015

Energy Saving Plan Working

I didn’t run Jenny or the furnace last night or this morning (save for an hour) and still was able to work on the laptop, by using the inverter and Wanda’s batteries. As expected, Wanda’s batteries are quite drained, but at least I got done what I needed to. I am pleased that I am able to run both the furnace and Jenny less, as this will save me both propane and gasoline.

I was also able to finally find and confirm reservations for the Easter long Weekend at a campsite nearby that has full hookups! That means not just Electricity, Water and Sewer. What I am then able to do is to De-winterize Wanda’s plumbing by using the fresh water and sewer connection at the campsite. This means that as of the evening of Good Friday I will be able to finally shower in my own shower, and poop in my own toilet! Yay, what luxury!

I am doing my best to keep my focus on the immediate term with regards to my cost savings plan. If I look too far ahead I get discouraged. Especially when I see that by most estimates I will not be financially stable until November. It will happen, though, of this I am certain. I need to look at and savour the small pleasures in life as they come, such as: warm weather, using less resources, making progress on my bills, and yes, pooping in my own toilet. 

Thursday 12 March 2015

Electric Experiment Proceeding

Okay, so the night before last, I didn’t run Jenny and instead used the inverter to run the laptop and didn’t run the furnace. Things turned out okay, but by the end of yesterday morning, I could tell that Wanda’s batteries were getting low, but not completely drained.

So I did run Jenny last night to charge up Wanda’s batteries while not running the furnace. I ran the furnace for a bit this morning and it turned out to drain Wanda’s batteries a bit, I am now down to 2 bars. We shall see how that does in running the laptop tonight, with no furnace.

I may end up running Jenny for a bit, who knows, the experimentation is part of the fun. 

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Warm Weather Wonders

With the Warmer Weather here, at least for now, I will need to run Jenny less and less. This is good, as this will save me fuel and therefore money. 

I ran her last night, even though I didn’t need to, just to charge up Wanda’s batteries. It worked, by the time I turned Jenny off, Wanda’s batteries were full, as in completely full . . . 4 bars! You see, there is one little station in Wanda that allows me to check on how full each of Wanda’s tanks are and yes her batteries. It has a simple measuring scale of 4 bars. 

I can use Wanda’s systems even if she has one bar, but then you are risking things not working or cutting out. As in it is risky to operate the slide out with her charge that low, as it could stop part way in. That has happened once and I had to fire up and connect Jenny for a few minutes as I brought the slide-out in. 

The other risk when Wanda’s batteries are at one bar is that if the batteries are too low then the furnace stops working. The same is true if the propane bottle runs dry. Again, no warning, no indicator light, just that it stops and Wanda starts to get cold, you then go to investigate. 

Typically when I am done running Jenny, Wanda’s batteries are at 3 bars and by the end of the morning they are down to one bar or perhaps two. Yet even at one bar still the lights aren’t dim and things still work. Last night she was all the way up to 4 bars, fully charged, usually I don’t see that unless Jenny is running and connected. 

What this means is that I won’t bother running Jenny tonight and may even not run the furnace at all. I may use my inverter to tap into Wanda’s battery power and run my laptop that way tonight. One of the advantages of getting used to the colder weather is that now, anything above 10C is T-shirt weather.

I may have to do some research but I am wondering if Wanda’s batteries actually function poorer in cold weather. I do remember them lasting longer in warmer weather; again I will have to research this. If this is true, if I were to build my own RV rig, I would make sure to heat and insulate my bank of batteries so as to increase their efficiency in winter. Of course this would need to be regulated somehow, so as to not overheat your batteries. 

Monday 9 March 2015

Debt Freedom Day Pushed Back

I have talked long and hard about July 22, 2015, being the day when the last of my credit cards will be paid off. Well, reality is setting in that I will miss that mark by as month, at the most eager estimate. I got my statement for Card #3 on Friday, so I was able to do some calculations based on it.

It now looks like I will not pay off the last of the card until September, but most likely October. If I pay off Card #1 this month and then aggressively pay down Card #3 I could have it done by the end of August. 

This would leave me still mired deep in the overdraft which would take another month or two to get out of. Then another month after that to get myself up to that plus $1000.00 mark in the main account that I want to be at. 

My next option is to pay off Card #1 this month, then next month drop that 1K into my account to get myself near zero in the account, I would then save as much as I can as I go, to get myself up above zero as I pay down Card #3. This would take me until the end of September. 

If I pay down Card #1, then put two months amounts in the account before moving to pay down Card #; that would take me up to the end of October. The same is true if I do take that possible trip down to the coast in early summer. I know from experience that to do any trip like that, I would need to set aside at least $1000.00. 

I am split on this vacation as I just want this paydown thing done and over with. I want to get past this so I can move on to the savings phase which is much more fun. So I am tempted to just hunker down, not go anywhere and get through this. I also know that time moves on and we need to enjoy life as we go. So most likely, I will go down to the coast. 

Again, this is just reality and what I have done to myself. Any way you slice it, it will take another warm season before these cards are done, which means that I won’t be refinancing Wanda and getting to serous saving till November. 

Interestingly enough my savings will start Almost two years after I started this odyssey. It won’t be until at least January of 2017 before I can even start to look for a house or other place to stay.  

Well, deadlines are mostly arbitrary dates we pick. I will pay off my cards and I will get myself out of my overdraft. This much is certain, one way or another I will get off this hamster wheel of living paycheque to paycheque, having nothing left for me. 

Friday 6 March 2015

Warm Weather Conundrum

Okay, so here is an interesting problem that has surfaced. I run Jenny to charge Wanda’s batteries and run the furnace (without draining said batteries) so I can heat up Wanda. 

Due to yesterday’s wonderful weather, when I got home, Wanda was already at 15C inside! So, I didn’t need to run Jenny at all . . . but that was where the problem comes in. 

You see, while Jenny is running I sit down and putter about on the laptop, without draining its batteries or Ace’s. I could have just not run Jenny and saved the fuel, but then I would have to keep the laptop turned off. 

I can’t run the laptop without using Ace’s power up first. If I plug a drained laptop into Ace, Ace will not last that long as the laptop quickly sucks the juice out of Ace to recharge itself.

If I use up Ace in the evning, I won’t have any juice to run the laptop in the morning. So I have to either run Jenny or find a place to plug-in in order to use my laptop in the evening. 

So, I ran Jenny anyways and kept the place toasty warm to 20C until bedtime. In the morning the place was around 7C, and didn’t take long to heat up to 15C. 

I will have to see how to solve this dilemma in the future, as I don’t want to run Jenny everyday if I don’t have to. Every time I run Jenny it costs me fuel. Yet another challenge to overcome, but the warm weather is a welcome change. 

Thursday 5 March 2015

The Batteries Aren’t Dead . . . The Lamp Still Glows

Okay, there is a line somewhere between Working and Functional. Then there is another one between Functional and Barely Operational after that there is only useless fading into death.

The funny thing is that when something slowly tapers off, you don’t really notice it, you just keep getting used to it. When a candle burns down to nothing, it burns out ; there is either light or there is none, there is no in-between.

With battery-operated lamps, they dim as the batteries get drained down to nothing. This happens over time, until you find yourself keeping a flashlight at the ready so you can see what you need to see . . . even though both of your battery-operated lamps are above you and turned on.

But, they can’t be dead . . . they still glow . . . kinda . . . yet in a useless way. Sure, they help you see so you don’t bump into things but not enough so you can see your blessed keyboard to type.

So, yesterday I changed the batteries in my battery-operated lamps and viola I had plenty of light. It was at that moment that they feeling of how silly and stupid I have been over the past few weeks for suffering in darkness hit me.

On a literary front, I was able to get some traction yesterday morning and this morning on Book Two. I have found and crafted that elusive chapter that was needed to move the plot forward. This book will turn out a bit different than the ending of the movie script. I am enjoying it and reshaping things. If I do this right, I can extend what was one movie script into three books, as is my plan.

Wednesday 4 March 2015

You Need to Take The Apple Days, With The Maple Days

Each morning I eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast . . . two pouches as a matter of fact. It is one of the delights of getting older that it is not only a good idea to get your fibre, but a necessity . . . oh joy. I buy two flavours of oatmeal in pre-packaged pouches: Apple & Cinnamon and Maple & Brown Sugar

I know that I could just buy a large bag of “quick oats” and just use that, but I don’t feel like eating something which tastes like soggy cardboard. I am not that cheap . . . not yet.  Though I will admit that as I type this my mind churns on how I could flavour the stuff myself and make my own little bags of quick oats . . . . hmm.

I alternate each day, one day I eat Apple & Cinnamon and the next day I eat Maple & Brown Sugar. The Apple & Cinnamon has a bit of false advertising thing going on. It tastes pretty much like plain Oatmeal with little apple chunks in it . . . bland and tasteless. 

The Maple & Brown Sugar actually tastes like Maple and Brown Sugar . . . flavour . . . who knew. I have thought about just buying the Maple & Brown Sugar, but then that would turn bland over time. With no variety, things lose their flavour, it all tastes the same and just normal, there is no delight in it. 

Our days are like that too. You can’t always have good days. You can’t always be in a good mood, this just isn’t normal. (Seriously, if you are ALWASYS in a good mood I would suspect that you may be benefitting from some “chemical assistance” in that regard). 

Part of the flavour of life comes from the sour notes; the bad times. You need the bland to balance the salt; the sour to play off of the sweet. Variety really is the spice of life (not just for lovers anymore). 

I will admit that there are times that I am frustrated with my little place and all that I am enduring, and doing so alone. Yes, even the fact that I am living this lifestyle, having to do so to get ahead. I shout, yell and scream at the walls at the injustice of it all and just let it go. 

I then pause and focus on the positive things. I look back on how much I have accomplished, and how close I am to my goal of unsecured debt freedom. This causes me to smile so I get up and carry on. 

You need the Apple Days to enjoy those Maple Days when they do come along. 

Tuesday 3 March 2015

Slugging Through

I have been slowing down with work on Book Two. This spot, a third of the way in I have been stuck at for some time now. I have been mulling over just how to shape the story, and which direction to go. 

I seem to have found the way to continue the story, yet keep the tension and drama going. It is a delicate dance to have a number of characters, all with their own desire, plots and ends all in one place. 

As expected the focal point of these plots is Brian, the new, unexpected and involuntary player in this world of shadow. As for Brian himself he feels lost and not sure what to do as everyone seems to want him dead except a group who strike him as evil, fanatical, and . . . well . . . nuts.

(Hmm. That just sounded like the back cover to the book)

I am still hunkering down and getting through this very brief cold snap, then on to warmer weather later this week. The jury is still out if spring will come early to Calgary or not; I shall wait and see. 

I will continue to live cheaply and simply and weather both the cold weather and my budget shortfall. The one thing I know is that both of these troubles shall pass. Sunnier and richer days lay ahead.

Monday 2 March 2015

Paying For Success

This week (and weekend) has been a bit rough, but I have been getting through it okay. I am scrimping and saving where I can, all in the name of my own budget shortfall (not related to the price of oil). In essence I have traded one debt for another, all in the name of achieving a goal early. 

In reality, I haven’t achieved that goal, not really. Sure I have paid Card #2 off and that is to be celebrated and it is a good thing. 

In order to pay off Card #2 I have used up so much of my paycheque that I have almost nothing left for anything but the essential bills. As a result I have been charging what I need to exist on Card #1. This is a step backwards and robbing Peter to pay Paul. I have a plan to solve this though, and that is key. 

Why would I do so? Well, let’s say that there has been a balance on Card #2 nonstop since somewhere in early 2010. Getting that thing paid off was important to me as it has always loomed large and seemed for so very long that it would never, ever be paid off. So to me, this seemingly silly move was worth it, if only to finally deliver the fatal blow to fell that beast that is Card #2.

I have enough food, fuel and after this evening enough (need to buy) propane to last me to payday. I will then lock the cards away and not spend a dime until I get paid. Then when I do get paid, I will use my budget and resurrect my wallets using just them to exist until the payday in late March. 

Then I will pay Card #1 off and leave the extra in the account. I will use the early April payday to pay $500.00 on Card #3. This next payday (Early March) I will do the same thing. I will use the late April payday to leave in the account and get my hinny out of the overdraft. 

This is important to me, for my own sanity, as I hate each day that I am in the overdraft. Each day that I am in the overdraft, to me is a failure. I still like having it, as it is a handy tool to smooth out the financial bumps in life. To live in it though, is aggravating beyond belief. Once again, this is a problem of my own creation, and thus the solution must also be of my own creation.

After the overdraft is paid off, I will carry on with my large payments on Card #3. I will work towards getting it paid off by July 22 but that date is now in jeopardy. I am not sure if I will be able to meet that date, as I am not exactly sure what the exact balance of Card #3 is now. 

I do not have access to the online banking site for it, as the account has been “estated” as they call it (deactivated). . . . Either that or I am truly dead to them. (That means that I have to wait till the paper statement to know the balance, which should come soon). Each time I call they give me the attitude of why are we talking, you are no longer a customer.

For my own sanity, I need to pause to get my finances in order. I need to pay off Card #1 and then get myself out of overdraft before I can move on. I will move forward, but with: Card #1, Card #2 and overdraft all paid off. Then and only then will I move forward in earnest to pay off Card #3. 

That way, when it is paid off, I will honestly be unsecured debt free. It may yet be by early or even late August, but whenever that day comes, I will be out of overdraft and my other cards still at zero.