Wednesday 23 December 2015

One Day to Go

I only have to get through today and tonight and I will be on my way for my much needed winter break. I am looking forward to the simple things, like:

Not having to melt the leftover coffee in my coffee cup so I can toss the frozen coffee out, before my morning coffee.
Not seeing my breath in my house.
Not taking “Mitten Breaks” in my typing (as in pause to wear mittens to warm up my hands).
Real heat around the clock in my house (as in 20C)
Not wearing three sets of long johns all the time at home.
Sleeping in sheets and not in a -40C rated sleeping bag.

I am managing in the cold, but I need a break, I will persevere and I will get through this. I will achieve my goals and get ahead in life . . . I just despise the cold.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

The Longest Days

I find myself limping into the final stretch before I head out of town on my Christmas Break. The prospect of the nice scenery along with being warm is a very tempting prospect. 

This is particularly true when I am cold and huddling in my trailer as I have been these past few nights. This is yet another reason why this trip is a necessary break for me. 

I also find that my motivation to do just about anything has been draining away. I most certainly will enjoy relaxing for a few days and the delight of not having to move anywhere for ten days. 

Once again, I need this break, I fully intend to come back rested and refreshed.

Monday 21 December 2015

Warm Winter Ways

This weekend got a might chilly, but nothing I can’t handle. After all, I have seen worse before, and I will surely see it again. 

I bought a new electric heater this weekend and I found out something interesting. I discovered that at a lower setting I can use it while my generator is running. Even more interesting is that it is more efficient than my propane furnace. 

This electric heater was able to get my place up to 10C even though it was -15 or so outside. Not bad, I was able to turn my furnace off completely and save the propane. 

I had to buy a new one because I threw out my old one. I had it stored in the back of my truck all summer long. Why was this a problem? 

It had absorbed the exhaust from my generator. So, when I turned it on it smelled like exhaust. I will not make that mistake again and now I have to find some place to store it inside Wanda. 

It was good to find a way to get warm even in the cold weather. It is figuring out these little tricks that make life interesting these days. 

I am looking forward to my time at the campground in Banff and my Christmas break. Okay, that and the glorious power plug into come . . . ah unrestricted access to electricity.

Friday 18 December 2015

The Good and Bad of the Cold Weather

Just for fun, I thought that I would make a list of some of the positives and negatives of this cold weather and how it relates to living in an RV. Here goes.

POSITIVE: I don’t need to run my fridge at all. 
NEGATIVE: My house is a freezer when I sleep and a fridge when I am awake.

POSITIVE:  I get to relax each evening surrounded in candlelight as I listen to soothing music.
NEGATIVE: If I don’t do everything I can to conserve every electron of electricity I won’t have power in the morning for the furnace . . . or laptop.

POSITIVE:  I get to change into my “pajamas” as soon as I get home.
NEGATIVE:  I have to change my clothes in a deep freeze.

POSITIVE:  I don’t have to drive in the snow during rush hour.
NEGATIVE: I have to try to find parking in parking lots for something longer than a bus during the mad Christmas Shopping Season.

POSITIVE:  I don’t heat my house when I am not there, thereby saving: propane, electricity and cash.
NEGATIVE:  I have to wait as my house warms up to the temperature of a refrigerator. 

POSITIVE:  My chilly house at night would encourage that special lady to snuggle with me.
NEGATIVE:  No woman in her right mind would date a guy living in an RV only to freeze her tuchus off all winter.

There you go, just a bit of fun before the weekend.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Run To The Hills! . . . (Again)

It got down to somewhere near -20C last night, but I was okay, as I know how to handle the cold. I don’t like it, but I can handle it.  I have said it before how much I hate the cold, and I do. I will endure though; I will get through this, and eventually leave the cold behind for good.

I did make some progress on the Urban Nomad Book, slower progress, but it is still moving forward nonetheless. As well, my new generator started up and ran fine last night, so that’s good. 

This month has been a bit more expensive than I had planned, yet then again, not. I had planned that my trip to the coast would take up my spare cash from this upcoming paycheque, and these unforeseen expenses will do just that. I will still get out of the month with my cards paid off, and that is something.

I am learning that there are times when a small extravagance is okay, especially after achieving a large goal, as I have just done.  I also know that I need a break, so my (seemingly) annual Christmas break in the mountains of Banff will do me good. 

It has been a hard year and I need to unwind and relax as I get ready for this next phase in my life. I also need to pause and reflect on what has happened and prepare myself for what lies ahead. I have been miserable as of late and my attitude needs adjusting. This trip is something that I need to do, for me.

I plan to get out of the trailer more this time around, and actually see the town of Banff or explore some hiking trails around the area. I will be able to keep myself warm though, and that is a nice thing, oh to have that glorious 30 Amp service and my electric heater.  

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Loan Clarification

I didn’t blog yesterday as it was a busy morning; sorry about that. I did have a talk with my local banker last evening about a few things. Not only did we talk about RRSP options, as it is that time of year, but also about the Trea and Wanda loans. 

To put it simply, I can’t or shouldn’t rather, merge the two loans into one. The reason is that the rate I would get would be worse than what I have now. This is due to the fact that at time of refinancing, the truck and trailer would not be “new” and therefore classified as “used” and as such, the rate is higher. (Even though I am not buying them again).

I did learn that Wanda’s loan does not have a large balloon payment at the end but simply it is structured like a mortgage. That means that I could take the next twenty years paying the Wanda loan off. 

While this is a relief, I am not about to spend the next twenty years paying Wanda off. I will continue with my plans to save up my contingency fund and crank up the payments on Wanda to $400.00 bi-weekly in April.  

This will mean that Trea and Wanda will both be paid off in 3 years’ time. I will not touch Trea’s loan, and just keep paying on it as I have been. It is possible to convert it to Bi-weekly payments as well, and that is something to consider, as this would even out my financial demands and savings between the two paycheques.

I will also continue to save in both an RRSP and non-RRSP style with a mix of different saving/investment vehicles.  This is something new to me, as savings and having extra money is not something that I am used to; so this is fun for me.

I could continue my massive saving ways now and build up a nest-egg quicker, but I want to balance paying off my debts altogether with saving for my future. Three years is a good enough time frame to be debt free. 

In the summer I can start to look for a patch of ground to park Wanda on. Who knows, something might come up, something that I can afford. For now, I will relax knowing that the pressure to refinance is off and that things are really and truly looking up.

Monday 14 December 2015

Christmas Plans Gone Awry

This is where I admit another one of my mistakes. I had been so focused on paying my credit cards off that I didn’t think of anything beyond achieving that glorious goal. 

As far as I was concerned, Christmas was a thousand years away and I was going down to the coast for it. There were a few wrinkles in my plan that my lack of forethought brought into being. 

For one, my family out on the cost is scattering, everyone going their own way. So, even if I did go down I would be pretty much on my own for most of the ten day visit (save my mother).

For another, I can’t drive down because the Provincial Government of BC has made it illegal to drive through the mountains in winter without winter tires. I have never owned a set of winter tires in my life. 

I have even driven in a small car with bald tires in a snowstorm and have been okay.  I am not about to spend $1200.00 to get winter tires just for one road trip. 

Risking it and driving down anyways is silly because being the only guy towing a trailer down the highway through the mountains would make me stick out a tad.

So then I thought about flying down.  Well, let’s just say I could probably get a good deal to Mexico for the price of round trip ticket to Vancouver. So I will be staying in Calgary for my Christmas Break. I may go to the mountains or some other Campground, who knows.

I decided to buy a few new clothes and dress a bit better; nothing extravagant but a few sweaters and socks and some new shoes. While T-Shirts are comfortable I kinda wanna up my game with regards to clothes.  

Call it an early New Year’s Resolution, but I kinda figure that I should dress better and not look like the hermit in the RV.

Friday 11 December 2015

Settling in to Winter Okay

I am finally getting over my winter tantrum. I have just accepted that winter is here and thankful that the REAL winter hasn’t arrived. 

I don’t need a reminder of how bad that winter can be out here on the Canadian Prairies, thank you very much. Last year’s bout with -20C to -30C was good enough for me. I can handle this -10C stuff till spring just fine, thanks.

I am, however, settling into my routine that I have when into my winter hibernation mode. I can muddle through just great and the various tricks that I need to do and the quirks that I need to adopt don’t bother me that much. 

You just adapt with the season and do what you need to do to survive and get by. I know what to do to not freeze yet not spend too much. I am not comfortable, but I am okay. 

Spring and summer are much nicer for me as it is much nicer to be lounging around in shorts with my windows open and that light breeze drifting through. 

I do okay in winter, though. Relaxing in my little home on wheels as I listen to light jazz by candlelight is nice too. Of course it would be nicer if I couldn’t see my breath while doing it.

I just look at my goals that I have accomplished and those yet to be accomplished and I muddle through. I am on the path to a better place in life, and ultimate freedom that will come with all of my debts paid off. 

Thursday 10 December 2015

One Last Urgent Bill

I have been doing some budgeting and trying to determine my future plans. What to save, and when to refinance my truck and trailer loan. 

I signed up for a credit monitoring service, mainly to see how my credit score is doing. I always decided that this would determine when I would go in and refinance. 

Well, I am now well entrenched in the Excellent credit score range, and it seems that I am in a position to refinance.  I am taking a moment to pause and wonder if now really is the right time to refinance.

Sure, I have my credit cards paid off and am maintaining a $1K balance in my account at all times. As far as fiscal reserves go, that’s it, after that it’s back to the bank overdraft and credit cards; then I‘m back where I was two years ago. 

I have decided that I need to maintain the status quo until one final bill is paid, the one to me, as in that contingency fund. I will wait before refinancing my loans (and cranking up those payments) until I have achieved that goal of having $6K in my savings account, as my medium term savings/contingency fund. 

This way, if a small emergency happens, I can take care of it with that and not use my credit cards. I will still use the credit cards as a convenience but I will pay them off every time I get paid, as I do now. 

I have been in Survival Mode and then in Conserving Mode for so long that I have forgotten to plan ahead for the possible curve balls that life throws at you. This is a necessary bill that needs to be paid, if I don’t I will risk undoing everything that I have worked for these past two years.

I will still refinance and I will still buy that new laptop, and yes I will splurge and buy a fancy top of the line one, because I want it and have earned it. 

I will do those things after I have paid myself, and in so doing, give myself that piece of mind that I need. Then I will work on building my savings up while paying off my truck and trailer in a timely manner.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Nostalgic Writing Going Well

My work on my book about this journey is going well. I have tried to make it more than just transposing or boiling down the contents of this blog. That would be cheating and not worth anyone buying. 

What I am trying to make this book, is an overview of what I did and why yet mix that with lessons that I have learned and yes, what I would have done differently if I had to do it again.  

I have been getting steadily inspired during the day and clearly my creative energies are focussed on this book, finally. The chapters are much smaller than those in my novels that I have written but it seems to fit the emerging style of this book, small bits of information doled out in each chapter.

I made sure to include my mistakes and inaccurate assumption, not simply for the smug humour of the reader but so others can learn from my mistakes. I am not sure how long this book will take to write or how long it will be, I will just write it and let it be, what it will be. 

Tuesday 8 December 2015

Payday is Fun Again!

I know that some, most of you, are going to hate me for this, but here goes anyways. For the longest time, as in over the span of a few presidents I have hated payday as it always meant that the money flew through my account in the span of a few hours as I paid everyone else.

I had decided that no matter what I would achieve my second goal of keeping one thousand dollars in my account at all times, well I did that. Not only that but I was able to pay both credit cards down to nothing and put a couple of hundred into my savings account. 

It was fun! The really cool thing is that I get to do this again and again and again! I get to sit down and figure out what I am going to do with my money, what I choose to do with my money. My money is not already spent for me, my paycheque has not been predetermined where it is going to go.

I am on the side of things where my finances are getting better and better. I am nowhere near being well off, but I am steadily improving and doing much better than I was two years ago. This is the fun side of this journey, trying to type while I can see my breath inside my house is not the fun part, but it is that which got me to this day.

I have begun working again on my book about this journey. So far, it is going well and I am averaging a small chapter a day, so far. We shall see how it goes, but it is good to be writing it.

Monday 7 December 2015

Jenny Died, but She Shall be Resurrected.

So, there I was, typing away on my laptop, Jenny was running when she started to make a scraping noise that didn’t sound healthy. I ran out there to see what the matter was and certainly knew this was not right so I shut her down. 

I inspected her to see if I could see anything bad, I checked her oil and then decided to start her up again, to see if the matter had corrected itself. That was when it happened, the pull cord came out in my hand. Jenny had melted and broken her pull cord. 

I sat there and decided what do to; here is what was going through my mind. Technically this is a relatively simple repair. You pull off one cover replace the nylon cord and put it back together. 

The trouble is that there is a large clockwork spring in there which must be wound up and held in place as you close the cover and hope that it all stays together (under tension) as you seat and screw down the cover. 

Anyone has done this repair they will relate how much of a pain in the butt that this is. These engineers don’t design the unit as a sealed unit so you could put it together on the bench and then attach it to the motor, no, that would be easy (and cost a bit more).

I have done this repair on a chainsaw that I once owned and did not look forward to doing this to Jenny with a larger spring and larger pull cord unit. I thought about paying a repair shop to do this for me. That would take days and even then the cost would be almost as much as buying a new generator. 

So I made the choice to buy a new generator. I decided to think through which size of generator I needed.  I figured out that I only need 2000 Watts to do what I need to do when Jenny is running. If I bought a 4000 Watt generator then I could run everything, from my air conditioner to my microwave. 

I don’t need the extra expense of a generator of that size so I bought a 2400 Watt generator for $350.00. Saturday and Sunday she ran fine. The next question was what to do with Jenny? I had originally thought to buy a small baby generator and fix Jenny but quickly realized that a baby one would not work and I didn’t have the extra space to cart it around anyways.

So, I talked to a neighbour and somewhat permanent resident in my Western Home and offered him Jenny as she was. It was either this or toss her out, literally. I don’t have the space to lug a broken generator around and even if I sold her, broken I wouldn’t get much for her. As it was he told me that if he got her running he would give me something for her; a nice gesture. 

Why the rush to replace Jenny? In this cold weather, I need a working generator. That generator charges my batteries; those batteries run my furnace, my fridge and yes my laptop. With a generator I can function and not freeze. Without one, things get cold and dark fast. As it is I need to run Jenny once a day on the weekend and once every two days during the week. 

The trouble is that when you name things you tend to get attached to them and feel bad when you discard them. Let me say it plainly, Jenny was a generator, a thing and in that it can be easily replaced, this was a financial and non-swearing decision. 

If Jenny was a person or even some sort of self-aware generator then the cost or bother to fix her would not be an issue or consideration. I got a year of weekly use out of her and I know that I need to figure out a new way position the generator while it is running so as to not contain the heat. 

It is my guess that running Jenny in the back of the truck with her tailpipe pointing at the inside of the box was not the best decision. Perhaps a detachable snorkel type tailpipe may be in the works. For now I will just point the new one towards the open part of the box.   

Thursday 3 December 2015

Aim High, Hit High

I didn’t blog yesterday because I was busy an, to be honest, I couldn’t really think of what to say. 

In an interesting bit of news I had to defrost my door-lock with a candle again. I did have propane and electricity, so no dangling my butt out of my emergency exit this morning. 

This morning I decided to sit down and make new goals for myself to spur myself forward to ever greater things. 

I have long ago heard the saying, “Aim for the stars, cause even if you miss, you’ll get the moon.” So, I have now decided on new goals. 

1. I will put and keep $1000.00 in my main account at all times. (Done this Monday.)
2. I will consolidate my truck and trailer loan, and configure it to pay it off in 3 – 4 years.
3. I will buy myself that new laptop that I want (and have earned).
4. I will save $10,000.00 in my contingency fund (with incremental goals of $2000.00.
5.     I will pay off my Truck and Trailer Loan!

After I achieve these goals, I will set new ones, I will keep on moving forward, going onward and upwards. There are other things that I want and other side goals that I am always trying to figure out how to achieve. 

I still want a relationship, some little piece of land to settle down on, at least temporarily. I will work on these as I go, but as far as my finances go, I will keep moving towards these ones. 

If you don’t set goals, you will achieve nothing, because that is what you set out to do.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

December Is Here, Yet So Am I

December has finally arrived and yet I have only had one day of -20C weather. For me this is a good thing, and I am still working to convince myself that +10C in my house is warm . . . still working on that.

There really is nothing to wake you up better than changing from warm clothes to street clothes when the temperature is around or slightly below +10C. Let me tell you, you change quick . . . grumble, but change quick. 

This is the price I pay for living in an RV on the streets of Calgary in winter. I will live though, I will get through this and the warm temperatures will return. 

I took a picture of that candle that I mentioned just to show you how much light one candle does give off. I can work by this candle and be fine doing it. 

I am looking forward to my trip down to the coast this month yet I have yet to book a campsite yet, I suppose that I should do that, lest I want to park in my brother’s driveway or tow Wanda all around the Vancouver area . . . not desirable. 

It is not lost on me that this year is warmer than last year. This time last year -10C was considered a warm day, and typically it was near or below -20C. All I remember is the cold, the really, really cold weather. 

I survived though, and that brings me to the purpose of this day’s blog entry:

With each hardship I face, I gain a small measure of determination, just for facing it.

With each hardship I see through, I gain a small measure of resiliency, for enduring it. 

With each challenge that I face, I have gained a small measure of courage, just for facing it. 

With each challenge that I have overcome, I have gained a small measure of confidence in myself and my abilities. 

With each problem that I have to solve, I gain a small measure of ingenuity and yet another tool in my problem solving toolbox.

So you see, the: harder, more challenging and problem filled that my life is, the better person that I become. So in that, I am blessed to be living in an RV on the streets of a cold prairie town in winter.