Thursday 30 April 2015

Planning for Funtime

I had a realization yesterday as I was running the numbers on that consolidation loan I hope to get this fall (for my truck and trailer). I have started to think and plan out what I want to do post-credit-card-paydown. That period of time is what I call “Funtime.”

I want to balance debt repayment with savings. I want to keep my payments high enough to be able to pay the loan back in a reasonable period of time. I also want to, not only have that contingency fund, but ensure that I am able to handle the payments, if I ever find myself in a lower paying job. 

I plan to literally balance the money that put in savings with the money that I pay on this consolidation loan. That means that I would be saving as much as I am paying down in debt; paying myself as much as I am paying the bank, so to speak. By the end of that loan I would have as much as the original loan amount in the bank as savings, a healthy nest egg, to be sure. 

The downside is that would take five years to complete. So I then got to thinking, what if I structured the loan that way and made extra payments along the way? I would first build up that contingency fund to have the three month’s salary in it (so as to have a bit of “hinny-protection”). Of course I would maintain that no less than one thousand in my main account at all times. 

Then I would put that extra money that was going into savings onto the loan as extra payments to knock that debt down and eliminate it in half the time. After that, my savings would grow insanely fast with all that extra money I would have. The other upside is that this way I would pay less in interest with the faster loan repayment.

In case you are wondering, the period of time that is after all of my debts are paid off I call “Freedom” (or “Giddy as a School-Girl Time”). I will wait to see how things shape up, as there are a few hurdles to get over before here and there. It is fun to think about what to do with something I have never had . . . extra income. 

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Focusing Change

We are used to the quick pace of things; everything seems to happen so fast. We expect the same when it comes to change. We want to see changes in our life happen as one quick montage sequence, where in five minutes we have completely changed our lives . . . it doesn’t happen like that.

Change, real change, happens slowly, little by little, over time. I can say with some authority that to change your life you need to make consistent, small steps and stick with it. Day by day, do things differently, or rather keep doing something that you want to do; keep making the change that you want to make. 

Move towards something, not away from something. Keep yourself focussed on where you want to go, who you want to be. Don’t focus on where you don’t want to go, or who you don’t want to be. For if you do, you will find yourself heading towards that dubious goal. 

Where your focus is, is the direction that you will move your life in.  Focus on the bad things and you will seek out bad things. Focus on nothing and your life will stagnate. Focus on positive changes and you will achieve those positive changes. Okay, enough philosophical yammering.

I have been able to sort out the storyline problems I was having with Book Two over the past few weeks. This means that I can move the story forward into new territory. I have straightened out the storyline so far and fattened up chapters that needed it, with what I hope are interesting titbits. 

This is a good and an important milestone for me, as it means I can get back to writing new chapters, as this story has detoured slightly into new territory. Only time will tell if it is in a good direction. Let’s hope that my life and my writing is as on fire as the sky was this morning . . . Wow!

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Wanting for Wandering

I had this whole blog planned out, I was going to do one on my strategy for a fictitious “Crowd-Funding Campaign,” but decided against it. For one, I have talked about this before, and two, it would just sound like whining. As I have said before, I got myself into this mess, and I will get myself out of it.

As I was thinking about this and why I really desired the sudden influx of cash, the real reason came to me: Freedom. For me, to have all of my debts paid off (credit cards, truck and trailer) and have some cash in the bank would mean freedom. 

The freedom to not only wander about but try out a few of the things that I would like to do, yet haven’t been able to, due to the need to constantly feed my nonstop debts and obligations. I have run the numbers and without paying any debts, I could live on five hundred a month, maybe a bit more with fuel for road trips.

Once I am at a place where I have a (mobile) place to live with no debts and a small nest egg, I can go anywhere, and do anything.  I invite you to pause and imagine yourself in a similar situation . . . just think about the possibilities.

Once again, I have talked about this before, and I only mention it because it is a reoccurring theme with me, the desire to finally be able to try my hand at a few of my crazy ideas. Though, that may be four to five years out, if I stay in this trailer year round. It may be a long shot, but I will get there, sooner or later.  

It is this thought, this dream which keeps me going. I still have my good days and bad days, my up days and my down days, but I stick it out and persevere. There is still the chance that a book will sell or a lottery ticket may actually win something more than a free play.  Time rolls forward and before I know it, I will be finally ready to hit the road and do what I want.  I will likely be fifty by the time that happens, but it will happen.  

Again, for no reason, here are a few sunrise shots.

Monday 27 April 2015

Gained a Water Pump, Lost a Library

On the weekend I filled up my water jug when I went grocery shopping. While this was not supposed to be a large grocery buy, it turned out to be one. Oh well, I have plenty of food and extra cash for water and the essential consumables (Bread, Water, etc).

I pour the water from the large “Water cooler style jug” into my blue “camping style jug” as in, the cube one with a tap on it. I do this for “easy access” to the water, but when the water jug is full, this is a pain. Why? Because this means lugging that full five gallon jug in and out of the bathtub for even the smallest amount of water, as in washing my hands.

I then remembered seeing a hand pump for these bottles and decided to go looking. While I found a hand pump, it wasn’t the one I was thinking of, but it will do fine, in fact better than what I had planned. 

This one fits on the top of the “Water cooler style jug,” the one that I buy the water in (as in refill each time for $3.00). With this thing snuggly secured on top of the bottle, I can get water out of here with a few pumps of the top. 

How it works is like those coffee carafes which you pump to get the coffee out of. You pump air into the sealed container, which raises the pressure inside it and forces the water out of the spout.

This way I can get even a little bit of water whenever I want, yet don’t have to lift that jug. This is important as this will be my solution not only now but also when winter comes around again.

I went to my usual library on Saturday and Sunday with no problems from anyone. I was quiet, I didn’t disturb anyone, nor did anyone disturb me. As is usual, I moved from the library to my western home, so as to not stay overnight in this shopping centre parking lot. They seem to get a bit antsy about that, so I respect their wishes. 

When I got back to my truck on Sunday evening, however, I found the “security supervisor’s” business card tucked into not only Wanda’s door but Treabilla’s door as well. This means that whoever this was from the shopping centre security really wanted to talk to me (I tore up and threw away their cards). 

I am learning that I don’t react well to heavy-handed authority figures asserting their authority or butting into my life. I know that in truth I have no way of knowing exactly what this person wanted, but I doubt it was to give me a pile of cash or a reward of some kind. 

Then there is the niggling thing that I really don’t feel like explaining myself or giving out personal information just to access a public space. So, I will not return unless I can find a nice place to park near the library, yet not on the shopping centre grounds. There are other libraries and other places to study, but I do like this library in particular as it has lots of natural light and wonderful architecture. 

People in this world are just not used to seeing a truck with an RV showing up again and again. Nor is our society geared towards The Urban Nomads amongst us. That is okay, as always, I will adapt and continue forward, and yes do things my way (Cue Frank). 

PS. 10000 views . . . who knew? (yay).

Friday 24 April 2015

Just Stuff it on a Card

I have a lot to do today, and most of it after work. I do like to do my errands after work on Friday as it is an early day for me. I have to: pick up my mail, do my laundry (should have done it last week, but went camping instead), and do some grocery shopping.  

I used to do my laundry once a week, but then I figured out that if I waited an extra week, it would cost me the same amount of money (Two Loads). 

I have more than enough clothes, and, as it turns out, enough clothes to last me three weeks. Yet this will be costly as I will have to wash my sheets too, so I say 3 maybe 4 loads.

I still have plenty of food, as that last batch of taco meat stuff is still in the freezer, being brought out one frozen Ziploc bag at a time. I have a few odds and ends of food to pick up, though. 

I will be working on book two this weekend, as I need to make some headway on it. I seem to be stalled a bit, but I will push through and finish it, (just not this weekend). I will muddle through, if for no other reason than to see where the story goes, as I want to see how it unfolds, myself.

I am going to bring my bike back to the truck so I can go biking and also find a spot to keep it. I hope to have enough space, as I would like to use it, without too much fuss each time.

I will admit to looking at laptops and new phones online and pondering. I have the space on cards to buy said new toys, yet I am resisting. What I have now works and does what I need. I need to resist these urges for the new toys and stick to my guns of getting this debt paid down. Then I can save up for said toys as I go, later. 

I am looking forward to truly having full control and discretion over my income once again. As it is now, most of what I earn is controlled and dictated by others. I keep thinking back to this, each time one of these impulses come over me to buy this or that and “just stuff it on a card.” 

If I know me, I will still check out an electronics store to see what “can’t miss deals” there are on phones, just in case I can lower my monthly phone bill with a new phone.

The sunrise was spectacular this morning,

Thursday 23 April 2015

Said Goodbye To My Wallet For Two Weeks

So there I was, staring at my laptop screen at the end of the day yesterday, when I had that realization. I had: deposited my paycheque, filled up with fuel, and paid the bills online that I had planned to. I then did a quick calculation to ensure that I would have enough money left in the account not only to pay the online automatic payments, but also would have a smidgen left over. 

When the number I came up with matched the expected ending balance in my account, I realized that I would not see or touch my main wallet for the next two weeks. I had my fully-funded groceries wallet and my fully-funded utilities wallet, so I could get what I needed. 

Yet, otherwise I would not touch that main wallet unless it was to spend the twenty bucks I had set aside for personal spends. I have decided to keep putting twenty bucks into my main wallet each payday. Any paper money I have left over from the last payday’s twenty bucks will go into the “Contingency Wallet” to wait with my Canadian Tire Money for use in case of last resort.

I also did a preliminary budget for the next payday and found that for the most part I will be okay, I will pay my bills. There is a catch, however, as due to the fact that Wanda’s insurance is due the middle of next month, I will not be able to pay off Card #1. 

That leaves me with a dilemma. Should I pay off Card #1 with some money from the end of May,( taking it from the expected large paydown on Card #3)? Or perhaps I should shove Card #1’s payoff until the beginning of June? 

While my impulse is to pay off Card #1 right away, I know that I must pay that at least one thousand on Card #3 at the end of May. I can still put as much as I can spare on Card #1 and with a little luck pay it off too, yet that Card #3 must remain on schedule for its paydown. 

I also have to be realistic, there is Wanda’s repairs coming up in the early June, and that will have to be paid for. Since I have to be prepared for the eventuality that all I will get from the guy that hit me is excuses, that repair will go on Card #1. Thus paying it off now and right away would be pointless.

Since I am out of the overdraft and intend to stay there, I can and will make more realistic budgets from here on out. I know that I will not trickle save my way up to leaving more than one hundred in the account. Nor will I put money aside in savings, as there are cards to kill off and every spare dollar will help in that. 

I will still make sure to get out of town, to a campsite on each long weekend, though, and perhaps steal away a bit in between. When things loosen up a bit, financially, I will fund a camping fund, so I can get out of town on a more regular basis, when the mood strikes. 

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Think Twice, Spend Once

Since today is payday and that means that I can nudge my financial plans forward; this also causes me to reflect on paydays. I used to take a more lackadaisical approach to paydays. I would just spend on what I needed to spend on and then leave the rest in the bank, I had no real plan.

Although for the last number of years this was because there were always more bills than money. I just threw a few dollars at the bills that were screaming the loudest and tried to ignore the other snarling bills until the next payday.

Now, I see that a disciplined and businesslike approach to personal finances is best. Sit down and plan out your budget before you get your paycheque. Look at your own financial situation as a business: plan for your future, budget for the present and prepare for unforeseen eventualities.

A key thing to do as payday approaches is to reflect on how your last budget went. How did it go? Was it realistic or did you pretty much throw it out the window and spend like a drunken sailor. Not that I have ever done this . . . nope . . . never . . . always stuck to a budget . . . always . . . yep . . . *nervously looking around.*

Seriously, life and budgeting is a learning experience, so make sure you learn from your past experiences. Be realistic as you plan, because that is the only way you will be able to stick to a budget. Do not be afraid to alter and modify your budgeting process as you go so as to make a budget that you can live with.

For example if you absolutely have to have that cup of coffee from that favourite coffee shop in the morning, budget for it. Perhaps get a prepaid card for that favourite coffee shop and load it up each payday. That way your spending on your morning coffee is predictable and budgetable, but you still get that morning coffee. Seriously, if you are going to do it anyways, budget for it. (Work on altering your behaviour as you go).

Once you get your paycheque, and before you deposit it, review your budget. Look over what you have planned and think it over again. Take into account how much you actually got paid and any bills that just arrived or if situations have changed. In construction the saying is “Measure twice, cut once,” in finances and budgeting I say “Think twice, spend once.”

This little process will not only let you get a hold of your finances but move forward. Only when you are more careful with what resources you have, can you better your situation. Remember to not be so hard on yourself, and budget for your bad habits (as you try to curb them).

As always . . . think twice, spend once.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Anticipation of Payday

Okay, unless I do something silly tonight and tomorrow I will have made it to payday and stayed out of the overdraft, so, that goal is reached. Yet it will not be official until the evening of the 22nd (as in when I deposit my paycheck in the bank).

So the next goal, and while doable is a bit ambitious, is to pay off Card #1 completely between this paycheque and the next one (on the 7th). It looks like that will be the case which will open up the May 22nd paycheque to plunk my first big chunk on Card #3.

Again, we shall see how this unfolds as time passes, but at least that is the plan. One thing is for sure, I will stay out of the overdraft and stay off of Card #1. How? I will fully fund my two key wallets (Groceries and Utilities) and put a bit aside for spending for me. That way when I need a bit of groceries or propane, I can just get it and not worry. As well it will keep Card #1, and Card #2 on the sidelines. 

With Card #1 (and Card #2) completely done, this will mean that all of the extra bits of cash I find here and there can go on Card #3. Here’s hoping that I can actually make that July 22 deadline I had set for myself to be credit card debt free (without a telethon). 

There is still the looming date for Wanda to get fixed and the associated bill. As well my budgeting is based on the assumption that the guy who hit me will pay me what he said, when we agreed . . . the first of June. I try to keep the cynical thoughts out of my mind and just press ahead. Whatever happens, I will keep going and deal with whatever comes.

Again, for my favourite reason, (just because it looked good) here are your sunrise shots.

Monday 20 April 2015

Spring Cleaning Done!

So there I was, standing at the RV dump station at McLean Creek campground, staring at the little sign and wondering what I should do. There, on that little sign politely indicated was the policy that there was no water at this dump station or throughout the park during the “winter season.”

I grumbled and thought that I should just turn around and go back home, but I also knew  that the main reason for me being there is to sort out my stuff and get rid of what I don’t really need to keep lugging around. 

So, with a mumble of the audacity of calling plus 15C weather “Winter” and keeping the water turned off “for fear the pipes would freeze and burst” I went in search of my campsite. I did and in the end this weekend cost me $99.00. At least I got “free” power all weekend and a nice site.

Now, funnily (and ironically) enough I went to bed with a campsite that looked like this . . . 

And woke up to one that looked like this . . .

I decided to make the best of it and take some nice winter shots, here is the best one.

I decided to spend the day Saturday inside and just relax around the house, so that is what I did. Sure enough, by the afternoon and evening, the snow was gone and my campsite was back to looking like this

I did create a culinary sensation that you have to try . . . 

This is a grilled cheese sandwich with that taco meat (and vegies) paste . . . stuff in the middle, wow, soooo gooood. Next time you’re over, I will make you one. It is messy, as in eat it over the plate to catch the stuff falling out, but so good.

The next morning I got up and made sure to get some nice sunrise shots

About mid-morning I decided to finally get around to my spring cleaning. I pulled out every storage container from the truck (not Jenny or the toolbox) and underneath Wanda. I looked over everything and questioned why I had it. I asked myself three questions:

1) Do I need it now or will I in the foreseeable future?
2) Is it unique?
3) Does it have sentimental value to me?
4) Can I buy it again?

If the answer to the first three questions is no and the last one is yes then into the trash that item went. I even had a container full of empty containers! WTF??? I was able to shrink down my stuff by a few containers, thus allowing me to put some loose stuff into tubs and still have a bit of extra space left over. (Probably should have taken a shot of all of those tubs out there with their lids off)

I have tossed out and gotten rid of a lot of: good, useful and practical stuff since starting this journey. This lifestyle forces you to be frugal with space, you can’t afford to let stuff accumulate or keep it “just because.” I have only a limited amount of space and it cost me money to cart around every little bit that I do, so it all has to be practical and useful. (Okay, with a few niceties). 

I still don’t have enough space to practically keep my bike in the back of the truck, but I will try to figure that out soon, as the weather is nicer and it is time to get out bike riding again. 

I did find out that I had some neighbours.

On Sunday night I did get around to my campfire.

All in all it was a good weekend and I am glad that I went . . . still would have been nice to be able to get some water though . . . ah well, such is life. 

After a long break I have now picked up my work on Book Two, I have a good idea where to go with this one and where it will end, as well what the setup for Book Three will be. All three books cover the ground (with detours) that the one movie script did. I am enjoying the process and the evolving story. I hope that the audience at large does to (when they are published).

Friday 17 April 2015

What I Need To Do, For Me

Okay so I looked at my budget and my banking info last night. This was because the last of the automatic payments have come out of the account yesterday; this is always a time of reckoning for me. The good news is that I will make it to payday on the positive side of zero . . . with $31.69 to my name, but it is still above zero. 

Card #1 on the other hand has grown to $1700.00 (my bad). On a positive note it looks as if I will be able to plunk $1500.00 on it this payday and kill the rest of it off next payday (7th of May). (This has been a good payday). That would kill it off and allow me to focus (finally) on the dreaded Card #3. 

I hope to keep this pattern up and stuff as much as I can spare onto that Card #3 and hopefully put at least $2000.00 per month (hopefully more), thereby ensuring to kill it off by August, and hopefully (fingers and toes crossed) by the end of July. 

I know that my choices and setbacks have hampered my progress but at least I have continued to move forward despite them. There have been obstacles and unforeseen difficulties that would have been better handled with a contingency fund or a more liberal budget. 

For me, for my mental health I need to get these cards done as soon as possible; I just need them done. They have been taking so much of my money and resources while giving nothing back.  Sure I have done this to myself (I accept that) and have charged every purchase on them. As it stands now, and in reality, I currently possess almost nothing that I have charged on them.  

These cards are a large hole in the earth into which I throw money month after month, year after year (for five long years). They are an open wound from which I bleed financially. As near as I can figure it, I have spent almost $50,000 over five years to pay back $17,000 in debt. That is a lot of money which I could have done a lot of different things with, to better my life.

So, for me, it is personal, and I need them done, once and for all, sooner rather than later. After all of this money spent on them and sacrifice to pay them off, I will have nothing to show for it, save my pride in a task completed and obligations met; honour satisfied.

Once these cards are done a large weight will be lifted from my shoulders. Then and only then I can relax and move on, but not until then. It may be illogical and most (if anyone) will not understand it, but this is what I need to do, for me. Then I can finally close this chapter of my life and move on to a happier chapter of building for my future, a chapter of saving and deciding what to do with this foreign thing called “extra money.”

Well then, now on to happier topics.

I have checked the weather and this weekend looks like it won’t be so bad, and next weekend looks to be about the same. I know that I need to spend some time to organize and sort through what I have. It is time to complete my spring cleaning. 

While I shouldn’t spend the cash, it looks like I will go to McLean Creek this weekend (thank you Card #1). For me, this is the little bit that I spend on “entertainment” going camping, a return to a measure of civilization, for me. If it wasn’t for the need for water and the unfinished spring cleaning, I wouldn’t go . . . but I will; such is the illogical me . . . I guess that makes me human.

Thursday 16 April 2015

Budgeting and Forecasting is Key

This may be a no-brainer but sometimes the basics need to be mentioned now and again. In order to achieve any sort of financial success you need to be able to budget and stick to that budget. This much we already know and most of us can budget and stick to it. The hidden key is, the next time you sit down and budget, to ask yourself “is this a budget to survive or thrive?” 

We can all hunker down, cut back and muddle through a tough financial spell, but sometimes those “tough financial spells” can stretch out to months and years. That is when you need to plan your way out of it. 

Remember, to improve your financial situation you can do one of three things: 

1. Maintain the Status-Quo and hope things will improve
2. Increase your income
3. Decrease your expenses

After you hash about getting that second, part-time job, and /or trim what you can there is still more you can do.That is when you need to sit down and look at the items in your budget that you had previously considered untouchable, uncutable, and trim them down to size. It is with that extra money you find that you can improve your situation, and move your budget from one to just survive, to one which will help you thrive!

For me, I use an Excel spreadsheet to plan out what I will do with each and every payday. What I have added is an element which not only helps me determine what I need to spend on what, but how I am getting ahead financially. I have added spots to show how much I am spending on my debts, how much on everyday expenses and how much I am saving. 

The idea is that I as I roll along, my expenses will stay the same but I will spend less on my debts and more on my savings. Then I can see and plan for a better financial future, for myself. Message me if you want a copy of this for your own financial planning, and I will send it to you.

For me, it is important to see that I am getting somewhere, that each day is truly a step forward. I do get discouraged and now and again those feelings of “I will never get out from under this debt” or other such feelings of despair return. I need to keep focused on more than just my goal of debt freedom.  I also need to focus on the steps that I can take here and now, today, during this payday, to move myself forward from here, to my goal. 

I had wanted to go camping this weekend but it looks to be a bit chilly this weekend, so I won’t. I had planned to spend most of it outside looking through all of my bins and boxes under Wanda or in Trea. Since I want to take my time and enjoy the process of pairing down and compacting, paying to do this when it is chilly, seems silly (pun intended). I will see how things look and how I feel next weekend, and go from there.  

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Interim Water Solution Found

I have found an honourable source of water, so I will be okay, it is this . . . 

What I remembered is that some grocery stores have those machines that sell filtered water. Now I don’t care if it is super fancy filtered water, just plain tap water will be fine with me. This is how they sell it, however, so this is what I will buy. 

This thing, in case you can’t tell, is one of those 5 gallon jugs of water that you can refill at the store again and again. This will fill my blue jug and that can last me a week, so this is a not too expensive solution to my problem and will tide me over. 

This jug cost me $15.00 to buy, but the first fill was “free,” or so they said. The refill is about $4.00 so that in itself is not that bad. When you contrast that with my typical dumping fee is $3.00 and for that I can not only dump my Greywater and Blackwater tanks but also fill up my fresh water tank and any jug I want, this current solution is expensive . . . but I will survive (and it could have cost more). 

This means that I don’t have to go to McLean Creek this weekend, as I don’t need the water from them. I am leaning towards going anyways, so I can finish sorting through my stuff and getting rid of what I don’t need to carry around anymore.  As well, it would be nice to find a spot for my bike, so I can bring it with me and I can go for a ride whenever I want. 

I am staying above zero and out of the overdraft but I am doing it by cheating. The money that I am spending, I am spending on Card #1. This is because I have no savings; I have no contingency fund to draw from. (Yes boys and girls, having a contingency fund is a good idea.) Since I refuse to go back into overdraft, this is what I am dong. I see now that it is important to set aside some money so you can draw on it when you need to, to augment your budget. 

This of course has always been a luxury for me as I have always had all of my money spent for me, with countless bills and debts demanding attention and payment. Once Card #1 is dead I will start to set aside some money to have a modest contingency fund for myself. 

Again, the overall and long term goal is to have at least $1000.00 in my main account at all times. Then in my savings or “Contingency Fund” I plan to have three months’ salary (for me $6000.00) in it. 

Then after that I will build up a long term, high interest savings account, (Possibly a “TFSA” (Tax Free Savings Account) as my long term savings. 

All the while I will be paying down my truck and trailer in larger payments with a target to getting them done in 3 – 4 years.

First and foremost I must get these cards done and dead. 

On the weekend Facebook irked me yet also spurned me forward. In one of their “Look at this moment from the past” things they showed me a shot of the set for my “Test Pilot” show almost ready for shooting. That shoot was five years ago this month and was the start of my financial troubles. That shoot wasn’t the star, but seriously hastened my financial downfall.  

I can and will get through this and stay motivated to do so. I will admit that that staying positive and motivated is a daily struggle. One positive thing of note is that now, at least I have the necessities of living. This will enable me to continue onward and upwards, always forward, never backwards. 

The one thing to remember if you are thinking of starting a large project like this is that you don’t have to have all of the answers right away, at the outset. It is nice, but not necessary. All you need to do is solve the problems as they present themselves; solve each problem, one by one over the long course of the endeavour.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Out of Water

Okay, I am not technically right out of water, I have some in a jug in my fridge, some in the kettle and some in the bottom of my blue jug, but I am out of water in Wanda’s fresh water tank. This happened sooner than I had expected, but in truth, it is about on schedule.

I know now that I need to find a reliable source of water and fast. I also know that until my dumping station turns their water on (the May Long Weekend) that I will have to seriously conserve water during my own drought.

So that means that no more showering, that eats up water fast, I also know that I will have to conserve water where I can. Already this morning I brewed less of a full pot of coffee, just to conserve.

I did go out in search of water and went to a local franchise of a coffee shop chain. I bought my coffee and sat and sipped it for a bit. Then I went into a bathroom that was indeed private and filled up my water bottles. Well, that was the plan but in the end I didn’t quite fill up one as I felt sick and disgusted with myself for doing this.

I know that it is water and I was only doing what I have been doing at work for the last few months, but it felt like I was reaching into the till and taking money from them. It just felt wrong. I then went to a small branch of a public library with the intention of filling my water bottles there. I figured that since this was a public building, it would be easier on me; I couldn’t even attempt it, I left.

I read on the city of Calgary website that fire stations sell water. I will call the local one up and see if that is the case and if it is not stupidly expensive. Even without this, I have enough water to last until Friday.

It goes without saying that I will be going camping at McLean Creek this weekend and filling my water up there: Fresh Water Tank, Water Bottles and Blue Jug. That is, if Mclean Creek actually has its water turned on. (If not, I won’t bother staying).

If I am careful I should then make it until the May Long Weekend. I should be okay, but again, more conserving, more cutting back is in my future. If I do find a park with a fountain or other public water source then I will try to fill my bottles there. I still know that I will feel guilty, but I will try regardless. I will keep my promise of not taking water from work or any other business again.

Monday 13 April 2015

Water, Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop For Me

As of Thursday, I have decided to not to take water from work anymore. Since work pays for water, and as a business, pays much more for water, I decided that it isn’t fair. As well, I don’t want to risk running up work’s water bill and therefore pissing off my work’s landlord. (Again, this is one of those don’t sh*t where you eat, kinda things).

So that means that I need to find a new source of water. I bought a bit of flexible plastic tubing which will fit into the opening of my two litre bottles and that I have crammed a funnel into one end. This will allow me to fill my bottles from any sink.

Now, just to find said sink; one which I can have regular access too. I know that I could just go into any business and fill up my bottles in the bathroom. It would be best to find a bathroom where you have the whole bathroom to yourself and can lock the door. These types of bathrooms, however, are typically located in smaller business, and therefore to use them in this way would be the same as stealing water from work: unfair. 

It is for that reason that I decided to try to find a park with a similar type bathroom or water fountain. I will say this, parks in this city are not designed to allow you to bring large vehicles; parking was atrocious  . . . for me.  The other thing was that I mostly found just pit toilets, if at all. I couldn’t find any fountains at all. I will keep looking for that elusive public water source not far from work. 

This winter has taught me how to conserve water though, and that is a handy skill. Sure I am still having my showers and using water, but I am being very conservative with its use. I hope to be able to stretch the water I have out until I can find a permanent solution to this. 

I know that come the May Long Weekend (May 15 – 18) the water at my usual RV dump station will be turned on, so the problem will be solved. The trick, the challenge, is to figure this out now, so as to know what to do next winter. I know that for certain, I will not take water from work again.

Speaking of the May Long Weekend, I have reserved my camping site and even then it was a tough go. I didn’t get the spot where I had thought of going (Waterton Lakes) so I reserved a full hookup spot at Banff.  I may or may not go to McLean Creek between now and then, I am not sure. 

The reason is that I still have more stuff to sort through and dispose of and it is nicer to do so at a campsite rather than in a parking lot. This means spending money though and so I will hold off as long as I can. I know that at least, at any campsite I can get access to water, as in the RV dump station. 

An interesting thing happened this weekend, on a whim I checked my credit score and report. My score is up, better than I had expected. While that is nice, it is not really a surprise. I have always been paying my bills. I have paid everyone else’s bills, but never my own. I have always neglected myself and always paid everyone else, always looked after others and ignored me. 

This journey of being an Urban Nomad is about finally getting around to pay myself. I even thought of how nice it would be to be finally paid off (cards, Truck, Trailer) and have a large amount of savings in the bank. Then I could travel where I liked, when I liked, and even pick up casual work now and again, for fun and money.  A nice thought of freedom and adventure (would be better with a woman with me).

The other odd thing was that Card #3 is not showing up on the credit report. I guess is that it is so long dead that it is not considered “credit.” I can’t charge anything up on it, but I am still paying interest on it and still responsible to pay it off. So that little bump of a missed payment on it didn’t show up on the credit report at all . . . odd.

What this means is that credit-wise I could easily refinance my Wanda and Trea loans and roll them into one, ramp up the payments and pay them off faster, starting now. That would be silly, as the point of the low payments on Wanda was to allow me to pay off all of my credit cards, including the dreaded and dastardly Card #3.

If things keep going as they are (LOL) then I will pay them off by August or September. Then I can refinance things and focus equally on paying my last two loans off while saving like mad. 

Just because it was spectacular this morning, here is your sunrise shot.

Friday 10 April 2015

The Odd Routines of Necessity

Routines, we all have them; those little rituals we go through on a daily basis. I have them too, some of them you will be able to relate to: making my lunch, boiling the water for my morning oatmeal, etc.

Then there are the others which you may not relate to, yet are second nature to me. Turning on my hot water tank and water pump fifteen minutes or so before my shower. Checking the weather report before bed to decide if the temperature will dip below zero, so as to necessitate keeping my furnace on for the night to ensure my water pump and lines won’t freeze. 

I change into my thermal undies and works socks in the evening to stay warm as I laze around my trailer and in bed at night. Not to forget moving the water jug and tub of stuff out of the bathtub before my shower and then putting it back into the bathtub afterwards. Who could forget pulling my stock pot out of my coats’ closet before I use it, (as that is the only storage space I have that is large enough to house it).

Then there is taking a last look around my house before I drive anywhere, so as to ensure that nothing will flop over or spill about as I drive. Of course you always put stuff that you don’t want to fly about your house on the bed before you drive, right? This is handy for such items like the: Laptop, lunchbag, filled water bottles (you carry bottles of water home from work too, right?).

Last, but not least there is flipping my dining room table upside-down on my couch and securing it with a strap before I drive anywhere. 

All of these little routines seem normal to me yet to others who see them for the first time, it boggles their mind. Just like when I explain my lifestyle to people, they look at me as if I am nuts. I then likewise look at them and think they are nuts for spending 60% of their net income renting some cubbyhole while wallowing in debt and bemoaning about it. 

‘Normal’ really is relative, and we really are the Master (Or Mistress) of our own destinies. My routines may seem odd and sleeping in a trailer that I park on the side of the road or in parking lots may seem nuts, but I am getting ahead by doing so. Come September at the latest, I will be credit card debt free, and that is not nothing, and certainly worth my odd routines. 

Thursday 9 April 2015

Happily Broke Again

I know that sounds like an odd thing to say but you see, to me, having a little bit in my main account means that I am broke. To be below zero, in the overdraft, means that I am beyond broke . . . so broke I don’t even have a word for it. 

(Let me know your suggestions for a word to describe such a condition of brokenness). 

So for me, the fact that I have (or will once my automatic payments come out) just over $30.00 in the account is good news. 

My next financial goal is to stay out of the overdraft between now and my next payday. (Meaning: Don’t spend a bloody dime!) Then, since I am budgeting what to do with each paycheque, I will (in theory) stay out of the overdraft from now on. As I have said before, I will try to trickle save and keep money in the main account and keep moving away from zero . . . to the positive. 

As far as Card #1 is concerned it is sitting around $1400.00. I have tried to rework my budget so I can pay it off completely this upcoming payday, but no, I can’t. Well, not unless I have a minor crowdfunding campaign of $400. 00 (let me know if you want to contribute). Ah well, I can wait until the 7th of May payday to kill it off, yet still, it would be nice to do so this month.  

For me, it is just nice to be able to use all of Wanda’s systems again and know that the weather is steadily getting warmer. Of course it can still dip below zero for a night or two, but I know how to handle them . . . I think. I can handle being in Wanda at -30C, that isn’t the problem, it is Wanda’s plumbing and the water pump, that is the concern. 

So, for now I will continue to hunker down, be thrifty, and make it to next payday. Things are steadily getting better and slowly my financial condition is improving. A lottery win would be nice and a quick way to get out of this mess, but that would cheat me of my hard earned victory . . . of earning my way out. 

I need to learn to budget and stick to that budget. Not only that, but I need to learn how to not only live within my means but thrive within them. This is the trick to financial security and financial independence. You are not as trapped in your cycle of poverty as you think, regardless of how little you have. As The Eagle’s song goes “Sometimes we live our lives in chains, never knowing that we had the key.”

Now, for no reason other than it looked nice, here is your sunrise shot.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

I Giggled Like Homer Simpson

Really, honestly I did, after I flipped the switch last evening and heard that wonderful, deep-buzzing sound swiftly dropping off to nothing . . . my water pump survived. (Then I did dance The Dance of Joy.) 

We had warmer than expected weather yesterday and I noticed that all of the ice had melted, even what was in that sewer connection pipe.  My curiosity got the best of me so I decided to try out that water pump, to learn my fate . . . thankfully I will not have to replace that water pump. 

So yes, as I realized that I have running water in my trailer I giggled like Homer Simpson (or like a giddy schoolgirl if you don’t get the reference). When I washed my hands after filling up the generator and truck with fuel . . . I giggled.  As I had my shower this morning . . . I giggled. Each time I used any amount of running water . . . I giggled.

I got lucky, that is for sure. I know now that I should have waited until this weekend at least or perhaps yet another week before de-winterizing. I may still pay the price for that decision. It may still get frozen up and be damaged, but it is a gamble that I am left to play.

I would still like to go see the water pump and put some insulation around it and perhaps some heat tape, to help next winter. I will keep an eye on the weather and any night that will drop below zero I will keep the heat on, just in case. 

Yesterday was payday so I did my usual errands and ended up in my western home. I spent most of my grocery budget on yet another large stew creation which I will use as filler for my tacos. I knew from last time that I needed to buy a stock pot so I could make it, properly. (My mom taught me to cook big and freeze dinners. When I get cooking I toss in whatever makes sense at the time, so in review this is what is in this thing.

6 Pounds of lean ground beef
1 Kg Bag of hash browns
1 Kg Bag of mixed vegetables
3 Cans of refried beans
2 Boxes of Kraft Dinner (to thicken and why not)
10 pouches of taco seasoning

As best I can guess I got two months’ worth of food out this batch. I will still need to buy the taco shells and shredded cheese but my dinners are taken care of. Sure I need to buy my oatmeal for breakfast and my stuff for lunch but otherwise I’m good. This will lower my grocery budget for the next while.

I guestimate that each of those bags on the table will last 4 – 5 days. I will freeze all of them and use them to keep filling that plastic container that I will keep in the fridge. 

For me eating these tacos works because I can have a little bite of food now and again, rather than a sit down meal. As long as I keep putting a variety of stuff into this filler, I will be fine. I may buy another head of lettuce and shred it up to add some extra greens. 

I am not sure if lettuce freezes well (doubtful), otherwise I would shred it up and freeze small amounts of it . . . knowing me I may try that anyways, after all what do I have to lose. The lettuce goes brown before I finish it all anyways.

Getting back to payday and what that means, I will pay the last of the bills I need to pay tonight. I will also ensure that I have enough in the account to stay out of the overdraft between now and the next payday. This would get that goal done and let me focus entirely on Card #1 this month (next payday).

If that is the case then next month I will pay off Card #1 in the early payday of next month. If I can somehow manage that, then I can focus on that last dastardly card . . . Card #3. 

In truth I have been paying on it since the death of Card #2 and yes all along. It is now at around $5800.00, down from $7500.00 when all this started. So all in all, some progress has been made on it.

As with all plans, the further you go into the future, the vaguer they become. Life, little details and unforeseen eventualities comes along to mess up your well laid plans. Then of course there is the largest unknown factor when dealing with your plans . . . will you play along and stick to them? 

For me though, for now, I am on the right path and things are doing well. The weather is a bit warmer and I have running water, a luxury that I do cherish and not take for granted. 

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Keeping Wanda from Freezing

Okay, so I am operating on the assumption that the water pump is not dead. I am assuming (and hoping) that all I need to do is to wait until the weather is warm enough to ensure that all of my water lines will be defrosted.  Then I will turn on the water pump and see if it works (and if successful do the dance of joy). 

Until then I am keeping Wanda’s furnace on 24/7. I turn it down to 5C during the day and when I sleep. I have also taken to putting a hot water bottle on the spot of the floor where I think the water pump is under. My hope is that the heat will transfer through the floor and keep the water in the pump fluid and not frozen up. If that happens then the pump will crack and need to be replaced. 

I also turn my hot water heater on for ten to fifteen minutes each evening. Again this is to keep the hot water tank from freezing and bursting. I am still hoping that the amount of water in the fresh water tank and the constant movement is keeping that from freezing up to burst that tank. 

It is possible that all this is for naught, that I have already damaged that water pump, in which case I will likely just wait till the service appointment in June and get it replaced then. The chance of getting Wanda in earlier is slim to none. If I had access to a shop I might crawl under Wanda and see about replacing that water pump myself and insulating it a bit; alas, I don’t. (I really could use an RV dealer/repair shop sponsor).

The good news is that I was able to close my blackwater drain valve last night so at least I can use my toilet. I am still using the toilet and the sinks, as it is warm enough and I can drain them when needed. I am just resorting to using my blue jug for water for now, and back to my bachelor baths. 

I have an idea percolating of using some sort of gardening water jug with a rain head on it with warm water in it to have showers as I stand in the bath and “water myself” between lathering up. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but with a working grey water tank it is possible. It would clean me better than a bachelor’s bath now. 

Once I get that water pump on and the water flowing I will be fine. Even on the cold nights I will just stay awake to run water every half hour just keep a tap going a crack to keep the water pump kicking on every half an hour or so. 

I will try to turn the pump on by Friday afternoon. That should be warm enough, long enough. Then again, knowing me, I may try by Thursday afternoon, as it should get up to 13C that day.

One of the things I am struggling with is just letting this mistake go. I am still angry with myself for (most likely) damaging my water pump by de-winterizing too soon. I will not know for certain until later this week, so for now I am still hoping against hope that the damage wasn’t done. 

The real thing is that I just want this winter over with and this cold weather done. I am tired of the cold, tired of the frost and just tired of bundling up all the time. I want to not have a need to turn the furnace on at all.  I look forward to having the opposite problem, of instead open the windows to feel that cool breeze blowing through.

I also know that I am making progress and that I am getting ahead on paying these bills down. That is what I need to focus on; that is what I need to make a conscious effort to remember: my victories, rather than my defeats.  

At least the sunrise was looking good this morning. 

Monday 6 April 2015

2 AM Okay, 4 AM, Not So Much

I did make it to my campsite and got settled in before nightfall, despite getting stuck in rush hour traffic on Thursday.

I happily made my sewer and power connection, I wanted to wait a day or two and see if I would go ahead with the de-winterizing.

I used my electric heater and again Wanda was toasty warm and I was able to keep my furnace turned off all weekend. Friday’s sunrise was spectacular and I did get a shot of that.

Friday was my plop day as I didn’t do anything. I just rested and relaxed and didn’t accomplish anything. (No pic of me relaxing as I was . . . you know . . . relaxing.)

Saturday I did go ahead with the de-winterizing and everything went well. I was excited and took it slow and sure to make sure I did things right. I was even able to get hot water going well and yes have that shower I had wanted to do. It was nice to do the simple things others take for granted like:

·         Wash my hands in the sink.
·         Do my dishes in the sink.
·         Have a shower.
·         Turn the tap on to have running water waiting for me.
·         Pooping in my own toilet.

I enjoyed and savoured each and every one of these niceties at the moment. After all it had been five months since I have been able to do these.

Sunday morning, my water was flowing, but only through my internal tank. The hose from the tap was frozen and blocked. That was okay, as I wanted to keep my water pump running to ensure that it would be fine and working. It was working, and water was flowing all day.

Sunday was the day that I got around to doing my spring cleaning. I slowly worked my way from the back of Wanda through to the front. I looked in each cupboard and storage space inside and cleaned and evaluated if I really needed this or that. I was able to toss enough things out make space to put a few things away that had been constantly out and beside the bed.

I didn’t get around to pulling out things from underneath Wanda or in the back of the truck, as it was too cold for me to enjoy pulling things out and sorting through them outside. I decided to put that off till another trip to another campsite.

I went to bed with the heat going and yes a bit worried about the water pump, as one of, and (the only one I have identified) of Wanda’s design flaws is the placement of that water pump. The water pump was not under the sink, where I had thought and expected it to be, it was instead under the trailer next to the water tank. By the time I discovered and realized this, I had already de-winterized.

Sunday night I got up a few times and ran a bit of water and all seemed well, the last time I did this was at 2 am. When I got up at 4am and tried, the water pump did not come on. Now this either means that the pump is toast or that a bit of ice has frozen in the pipe before it; who knows . As is the case with hypothermia victims, it is not dead until it is warm and dead. That won’t really be till later this week.

To add fun to this adventure this morning there was a steady trail of ice down my sewer pipe which prevented me from closing the blackwater valve. I was able to get the greywater valve closed though. I will try again tonight and hope that enough of the ice has melted that I can do this. I still need to defrost and drain the ice still in the drain pipe hose. Both of my water hoses are in the bathtub defrosting and draining.

So as it stands this weekend was a bust, yet in truth I don’t know. It may have worked I have left the heat on in Wanda at minimum on hopes that the pump will be okay. If the pump is toast that means that I may be without running fresh water until early June, when I get Wanda fixed. Due to the placement of the water pump, I can’t replace it myself, not without a proper shop and someone who is more tool-savvy than me.  

The one constant is that I will survive and that this too shall pass. I will get through this and push through until my goal of debt freedom is achieved. I have no choice but to move forward and press on. There is no fallback position, there is no cavalry on the way and reinforcements are not coming.

I know that I got myself into this mess and that I must get myself out of it. I take ownership of my mistakes and the consequences of my actions and decisions. I am taking actions to make my life better and get out of this mess.

In life, with choices, you make them and must live the outcome. Sometimes your decisions were good and sometimes they weren’t. All you can do is evaluate what went wrong, learn from your mistakes, deal with the aftermath of them and move on.  

The last challenge is to forget about your mistakes but it is hard when as you look back on your life you seem to see nothing but a string of bad choices and mistakes, some of which hurt and affected only you but others affected other people in your life.

Thankfully this mistake only affected me. In truth I should have waited a week or two to de-winterize, but I was too eager to have that shower, to have running water. 

Thursday 2 April 2015

Departure Day!

Woo Hoo! Today, or this evening rather, I head up to Cochrane and the campsite I have reserved. This weekend I will have not only that measure of civilization that is a working power outlet but water and sewer as well. 

I will be happy to de-winterize Wanda so that I can actually use all of her systems. It has been long few months since November 10th, of last year when I lost my indoor plumbing: almost 5 months.  So you can understand why I am a little eager to have it back. 

I will ensure I have a successful plan to protect my plumbing (water pump particularly) before I de-winterize. I won’t do that tonight, but more than likely I will de-winterize tomorrow; or at worst on Saturday.

I have a few last minute items to pick up this evening, before I head on out to my campsite . . . in search of indoor plumbing! All I have to do is get through work, you know, that thing we do for money.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

The Never-Ending Monday

I swear this week is the longest yet. Short weeks, where you get Monday off are cool, they go fast. This week, where you know that you get Friday off, seems to go slower. I swear it is still Monday and I am staring down that long week till Friday . . . Argh!

I know, intellectually that it is just today and tomorrow to go through until I will be rolling towards that campsite and a measure of civilization: Power, Water and Sewer! Yay. 

I will still see how things look weatherise before de-winterizing, but I will go to the campsite regardless; I have made this reservation after all.  I will also bring my bike along and go for some sort of a bike ride out there and try to find it a home, after getting rid of yet more stuff. 

Since today is April 1st and “April Fool’s Day”, I thought of coming out with some sort of shocking and bizarre announcement (I’m really a Werewolf), only to say “April Fools!”  Seriously, who would believe anything shocking and bizarre today? 

All and all, though, this week has not really been a “never ending cycle of Monday’s.” The week has been good, just a bit slow for my tastes.