Monday 29 February 2016

Tangible Turnaround

Dateline Calgary, Friday the 26th of February.

Fifteen people were taken to hospital suffering from what turned out to be temporary blindness due to staring into two cylinders of intensely bright light. 

After subsequent investigation it was determined that the sources of the light were in fact one man’s white and pasty legs. 

It seems that with the plus 17C weather he decided to wear shorts outside for the first time in months. The sun was reflected off of his legs and caused the blindness. The man has since apologized and put pants back on.

*   *   *   * 

The weather is steadily getting warmer and my bank balance is steadily getting bigger. It is safe to say that things are moving in the right direction. I say this not to brag but more as a mantra and confirmation to myself.

I do see things getting steadily better from here, because I choose to. I will be the first to admit that it is a struggle, a daily struggle, to stay positive and keep moving forward, but it a struggle worth fighting. 

I have many reasons to be angry and frustrated but I also have many more reasons to be positive and proud. 

Even if we just look at the past two years and all that I have accomplished, that is and should be enough to keep going and do so with my head held high and proud. (Not arrogant, mind you, but proud).

As I was grocery shopping for another batch of my Taco Meat-Filler-Stuff I found myself getting nostalgic and remembering the foods that I used to buy and enjoy, ones that I can’t now, 

Such as Cinnamon Waffles fresh from the toaster. I used to love those things, either with maple syrup or yes peanut butter, and melted marge of course.  

Now the only way I get toast is to lay it flat in the middle of the frying pan and keep flipping it, not quite the same thing as stuffing it in a toaster and I don’t even want to try a frozen waffle. 

I am well entrenched in “I can’t spend a dime” mode, and will be for a month or two . . . (pause and think on that for a moment).

I will get myself into a financial position where I am more comfortable, I will get there and more importantly, I will have my down payment and I will get that acreage that I want.

My goal is to get from one payday to the next without spending a thing out of the account that I haven’t planned to. As in, nothing, not a dime of “oh what the heck” spending. 

I realize that this is kinda nuts considering the amount of money that I am putting into savings each month. This is needed though, as if I don’t I will have to wait till next year to buy a house. 

That is not acceptable as I reeeeeeeaaaaaaalllllyyyy don’t want to endure another Winter (or Fall, or even Anti-Fall) in an RV. 

(Have I mentioned how much I loathe the cold?)

So, yes, I will continue on, and I will do so with a proud and positive attitude.  

P.S. Yeah it was warm on Friday so I did wear: shorts, sandals and a loose shirt, but no, nobody was blinded.

Friday 26 February 2016

My Personal Budget Shortfall

I am about half way through my payday budget cycle and my bills have been paid or the money allocated. It is about now that I start to look towards my next payday because it is at this point that I usually have a good idea as to what my paycheque will look like. 

My paycheque varies greatly due to the amount of workdays during a specific pay period and the bonus that I get from our website activity. 

My timesheet is a spreadsheet that I submit just after the pay period ends. For me my pay period ends on Monday. I have created an extra worksheet attached to this spreadsheet that guestimates what my paycheque will look like. This coming paycheque will be less than stellar. 

What complicates this is yet another bill cropping up, as in my renewal fee for the local motor association. I get my vehicle insurance through them, so I kinda have to pay that one.

So this leaves me with my own budget shortfall, and a few options on how to face it:

1. Run a deficit (just pay things as usual and dip further into my personal overdraft)
2. Defer Expenses  (just put the extra expenses on a credit card and pay it in a bit)
3. Pause my Down Payment Savings Plan. (Using that money to sure up my operations budget)
4. Slash, Cut and just muddle through.

I have opted for Option 4, because I have noticed a pattern recently, a pattern where I have opted for Option 2. I seem to have liked to cheat a bit and just put an unexpected expense on the credit card and pay it with the next paycheque. 

This is silly, as guess what, next paycheque will look not much better than this one. Even still, even if it is better, I have to pay this bill then, rather than now. All I have done is to kick the can down the road a bit. I mean, this expense is not going away. 

From here on out I have decided to make a few rules with regards to my budgeting and financial forecasting. These are rules that I will stick to unless it is deemed a genuine emergency.

1. Run a Balanced or Surplus Budget.
2. Pay expenses and bills now, no deferring of expenses.
3. Continue the savings plan (in full) no matter what.
4. Maintain  no less than $1000.00 in the main account at all times
5. Build up the Contingency Fund to the equivalent of three (3) month’s salary (to be used only in emergencies)

With these rules in place I should be able to weather any financial storm and therefore secure my financial future. I am working on items 4 and 5, but the others I can implement now.

Thursday 25 February 2016

I Miss My Shorts

I do, I miss living in my shorts, or more specifically having to wear shorts . . . I miss being warm. I know that the weather is much warmer than it should be this time of year and much warmer than our friends out east.

I look at the weather forecasts and see the highs that are coming but still wake up in the cold. I still grumble but almost don’t bother to turn the furnace on when it is zero in my house. I do though and it warms up.

I know that nobody likes to hear anyone bitch and moan, and I try to keep that to a minimum. I find that it is during this time of year that this lifestyle gets to me the most. 

It is when you can almost feel the warm weather coming, you know that warm temps are around the corner, yet not quite here. That is the hardest to take. 

In the darkest depths of winter you just accept it, you kinda tell yourself that the world will never warm up, that this is just the way that it always will be. Summer seems so far off that you just accept it.

Here, on the cusp of summer and the unleashing of pasty-legs on the world for another summer season, I am still frustrated and lounging around in my three layers of thermal undies. 

I will get through this and, if I have anything to say about it, I will be in my house next winter. Mayhaps without furniture, but I will have a house nonetheless. 

First things first, make it to the warm weather then get the house and finally, don’t freeze next winter.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

The Laptop Coughed up Blood

Okay, not really, but in a manner of speaking it let me know that its outlook was not good. I turned the laptop on this morning and got a warning from it that the condition of the internal battery was not good and asked me if I still wanted to boot up.

This confirms what I have known for some time now, that my laptop (specifically the battery) is pretty much toast and must be plugged in at all times. Sure, this may be just the small internal battery that runs the clock, but I don’t think so, as the date and time were fine when I booted up. 

I will run this laptop until it finally: clutches its chest, stagers around while shouting obscenities in a very theatrical and Shakespearean scene, before  falling to its knees, screaming then gasping its last breath while collapsing over, dead . . . not just dead but Smegging Dead.

I have the credit to either buy a new laptop on some store payment plan or to buy one and stuff it on a card. I could also pay cash and in so doing either pause my down payment savings plan or my personal savings plan. 

I won’t do either, I will run this laptop as long as I can and deal with replacing it when the time comes. I do have my back up netbook, as in a tiny little thing which runs Windows XP . . . I think. 

This is just another of those little obstacles that life tosses in your way. I will continue with my plan to spend nothing that I don’t absolutely have to. Why?

I will do everything that I can to buy a place before winter. Why?

I had the joy of drying off while cold in my cold house this morning (below 10C) As I was doing this I again dreamed of actually living in a warm house and not freezing my butt off next winter. 

I can do it, I can live in this RV on the streets of Calgary during the winter. Sure, financially it would be advantageous to wait another year. At the end of the day, however, I just don’t want to be cold anymore. Truly, I’m done with all of this . . . well, almost done; just a few months to go.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Hurdle Financial Management

It is troubling how niggling little things keep cropping up and attacking my budget. I do, however, still make things work and still pay my bills. 

What doesn’t seem to happen is that as much money gets put aside as I would like, or intend. While it is tempting to see this as a failure on my part and just focus on the negative aspect of this, I chose not to.

It would be also easy to say that the world or the universe or whatever you choose to believe is out to get me. I also reject this thinking. 

I choose to see these bumps in the financial road as hurdles that I must jump over in the long distance race that is life. 

Life is like a race that you run against yourself, you are a runner and there are obstacles that you must overcome, hurdles you jump over. 

I keep my eye on what matters, my goal, and keep moving forward, keep jumping hurdles. For me, I envision myself standing proud in the centre of the compound that is my future home and acreage. 

In my mind I look around and survey all that I see that is mine: house, fields, outbuildings and all. It is this image that keeps me going now . . . well, that and not freezing next winter.

If I happen to hit a hurdle and stumble, I get up, and yes, keep moving forward. I try to learn from my mistakes but not dwell on them.

Why am I telling you this? I am telling you this because it looks as though I will not be out of my personal overdraft until the end of March. This is slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

It also looks as though, without a larger than usual paycheque or two, that I won’t quite have my target of $1000.00 in the contingency fund set aside in time for my trip. I will still go, don’t worry about that.

Again, I will keep moving forward and keep doing what I can to reach these goals that I have set for myself. 

Progress is not flashy or daring and life is not a montage but the boring bits that are cut out of a montage. I will somehow pull this out, I will somehow make this work, that much you can be sure of.

Monday 22 February 2016

Cautiously Optimistic

I had a good weekend and a number of interesting things happened. First of all I did have a warm weekend and during the day I was able to splurge and have the heat up to a balmy 20C inside Wanda . . . Ooo, having a heat wave!

Late this past week I got my T4 from work. I had already received the tax receipt for my RRSP contribution.  I decided to file my tax return early in order to beat the rush and perhaps get my (modest) refund a bit earlier.

So I sat down and used online tax software to complete my return. It told me that I would get a fairly decent tax refund, nothing stellar, but a help towards my house purchasing plans. 

When I got to the end to click the “file your return” button, it was greyed out. There was a problem with their software, something to do with finalizing the information in the software with the tax man. 

I sat there and thought about waiting a week or two, but then remembered that last year I couldn’t file it electronically due to the fact that I had changed my address (or so they said). That meant mailing it in, and even then I didn’t get an answer till June. 

I then decided to go to a tax professional and have them prepare and file the return. I was unsure about this, as I know how to put numbers in a box, I mean they make it easy. The contents of Box 1 goes here, Box two goes here, and so on. 

I did go and sit down and the tax guy was rather eager and professional. He sat there staring at his screen clicking away as I sat there wondering what was taking so long. 

In the end he discovered some tuition tax credits that I hadn’t used (or knew about) from when I went back to school. Well, with the application of those combined with my RRSP contribution he tripled the tax refund that the online software said that I was going to get.

I decided to wait for the refund rather than do any “instant cash back” schemes. For one, they cost money, and for the other, if this refund turns out to be less, then I would owe the money back. 

Since all I am going to do is stuff this refund into the bank, instant cash back just seems silly. After all, he said that I should see the cash in my account in a couple of weeks. 

Again, I will wait and see, what I get and when. When it comes to the tax man and tax refunds I have learned to be very Missourian (as in “show me”). 

I know that I could use this to top up my main account and also my contingency fund, but I won’t. I could even buy a killer laptop, but again, I won’t. I will pretend that this money doesn’t exist and stuff it all into the Down payment Fund. 

If things keep going like I have planned, then it looks like I will have saved up what I estimate that I will actually need for a down payment.  Since my comfort zone ends at about $250,000.00, that means that I will need a down payment of at least $12,500.00 rather than the $10,000.00 that I had planned to save. 

The other interesting thing was that I got mistake for a Hutterite again. It seems that my: black hat, black coat, beard and my “Northern European Ancestry and appearance” seems to add up to this one conclusion (regularly). 

You see, I have been parking in a parking lot of a sporting goods store that is in the northern most parking lot of my Western Home. I don’t like to be parking in this parking lot as it is smaller parking lot. 

Due to the fact that all of the other spots to park my RV (and not be inconsiderate) are taken, I am forced over here. The main downfall of being in this parking lot is that I can’t run my Generator during the day, or at least while the hot dog guy there. 

You see, there is a guy who runs a hot dog stand in this parking lot. He is there every weekend at least; I am not sure if he is there during the week, but perhaps he is.

Why can’t I run Jenny with the hot dog guy there? Well he has his flags up and his umbrella, but he also shouts and calls people over to his stand. Well, since Jenny is not a fancy and expensive generator, she is not quiet, so she would drown him out and impact his sales. This is not something that I want to do, considering my live and let live (and be considerate) attitude.

Yesterday he came over and asked me, without actually saying it, if I was a Hutterite, as he was looking for trades people in order help him finish his food truck. As it turns out he is an expert chef and decided instead of opening a restaurant to build a food truck.

He has most of the materials but is half way done and needs trades people to finish it but is mired in debt. I bought a hot dog and we had a talk about how to pay down debts and his food truck. It was good to visit and finally talk to this guy that I had seen there on a regular basis. 

In the end, I am still cautiously optimistic, for the future, but optimistic nonetheless. 

Friday 19 February 2016

The Good Side of Anxiety

As I expected, as payday draws near it has become clear that even with my super tight budget, it looks like I won’t quite make it out of my personal overdraft. 

As it stands I will be a few hundred dollars short of my target of keeping $1000.00 in my account at all times. 

I will, however, be out of my overdraft with a moderate and sensible budget on my next payday, the 7th of March. 

It is the frustration and agitation that I am feeling having less than that $1000.00 in my account that I am blogging about today. 

For me, this is the same feeling that I have felt when I was actually in my overdraft, as in the real one, the one I have with the bank. 

It is a feeling of being in a risky and even dangerous position, more specifically a place that does not feel “normal” to me.

What this means is that I have successfully trained myself that “0” in my bank is what other people would see as “$1000.00.” All of my instincts tell me to get above that mark as soon as possible, and stay there.

Yes, I have actually mused stealing a bit of cash from my savings plan just to do that. My savings plan is on track and shall remain that way. 

My savings plan is not something I am going to mess with, just to get out of my own overdraft. Some things are non-negotiable, and for me, this is one of those things.

It just goes to show that “Normal” really is relative, and you can (and do) teach yourself what is “Normal” for you. 

If you see and accept that being mired in perpetual debt is normal, then you shall remain in perpetual debt, never to get out of it, because that has become your normal and natural state.

So, I shall leave you with this, take a second look at your debts and financial picture, and feel free to get shocked, outraged and yes, anxious about it. 

Scare yourself into action by imagining what would happen if you lost your job.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Back In The Fall Mode Groove!

Okay, I know that I may be tempting fate, as I know that that one last great winter storm of epic proportions is lurking around the corner, just waiting for the right opportunity to pounce on me and pummel me with -40C temperatures and blowing snow, but . . . I have switched to “Fall Mode” 

So far that storm has decided to take up residence in the eastern part of the country (giggle and snicker).

With the weather (around here) being much nicer than it should be for late February, and looking like it will be for some time to come, I have altered what I am doing. I know that the weather can turn in a day and I may well switch back to “Winter Mode” in a flash, but Winter Mode sucks, so I like to avoid it when I can.

I have started using my 5 Gallon Jug for my water, rather than my six 1.5 liter bottles. Since I don’t have to worry about everything freezing come morning or after work, I can get away with this.

I have also started using my sinks and yes my toilet again . . . this is a luxury that I have missed. Oh the happy joy of pooping in your own toilet. 

I still don’t have water in my fresh water tank and won’t for some time to come. I will not make the mistake of de-winterizing any time soon. The main reason is that I don’t want to risk my pipes or water pump freezing and cracking with the onset of a sudden drop in temperatures. 

The other reason is that there is no point in de-winterizing until I can get water from a dump station. If it gets to a point where it looks that the plus-zero weather (even overnight) is here to stay, I may do it anyways, but we shall see. 

I have put my -40C rated sleeping bag into the cupboard and have taken to sleep in actual sheets! Oooh, Luxury. I still lounge around in my three layers of thermal undies, and that helps keep the heat bills down.  

I am adaptive and will roll with the punches. I may yet have to dump my tanks in a hurry before a winter storm. Until then, I will enjoy the simple pleasures of what I can get away with now that the weather is warmer than it has been. 

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Looking for the Positive in the Insane Budget

So, in my effort to “Always look on the bright side of life” (Cue Monty Python) I am choosing to look at my current and most insanely tight payday budget yet in the best light. 

As a result of this upcoming budget, which will pretty much spend nothing that I don’t absolutely have to, I should be able to realize two goals this payday. 

The first goal is just one that has remained on schedule. I should be able to put at $2000.00 in my “Down Payment” fund. 

If things continue on track I should be able to achieve the next goal on this track of $4000.00 in that fund by the end of next month. 

The other goal that I should be able to achieve is getting my butt out of my own personal overdraft. For me, that means putting and leaving $1000.00 in my account at all times. 

Once I do this, then I can work on building up my contingency fund to at least $1000.00 so as to have a bit put aside and pay for my road trip to the coast this summer.

This will be a bit tough but I can get through it and for me, being above zero in my bank account is what I must do. Even though it is just an arbitrary number that I have set for myself, it is important to me. 

I have long since dipped into my real overdraft. This in itself is another accomplishment to be proud of. For years I had lived in that overdraft, somewhere near bottom, so I want to stay as far away from it as possible. 

The housing front is still clouded and murky and in truth I don’t know what will happen or when. All I know is that I want a place that I want, not just what take what I can get . . . or a dreaded condo. 

I also want to be able to comfortably afford what I buy on my salary. I refuse to be so overstretched as I have been, ever again in my life.

That way when the: magical/mystical/mythical woman shows up and enters my life, we can actually have a nice place and . . . wait for it . . . still get ahead.

As I always say “Dream for the future, plan for the mid-term, but work on the now” I dream of having a place of my own, with land, house, workshop and yes a family. I plan to start looking for that place to buy August 1st. 

All I really can do is work my plan right here, today, doing what I can to make sure that I am ready to start looking Aug 1. Achieving goals is as simple as that, work towards them but remember that the future is not set, so be flexible in your plans, but not in your goals.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

The Resurgence of an Old Idea

I had a good weekend, and I am now well rested, ready to face the shorter workweek. In fact I had such a great weekend, here is a shot of me gloating about the view from my front door.

On Saturday morning as I looked out my window while the coffee perked away, I saw that I had some neighbours. 

They were casually grazing and that is shot while standing in my open door. That box in the bottom of the shot is the power box where I plug Wanda in. 

I was able to stay toasty warm and even broke out shorts (don’t worry, now pics of that). All thanks to my electric heater. I even had to turn it down . . . Woo Hoo! 

I was even able to use my black and grey water tanks and yes dump my tanks twice, once on the way in and once on the way out.

With the “Fall like” weather that we are experiencing now and (looks like it will be for some time to come) I plan to continue using them. 

I won’t de-winterize, as there is no point even if this weather is here to stay, until I can get fresh water at a dump station. I will accept the little blessings like being able to use my sink and yes my toilet.

The old idea that I spoke of in the title came back to me as I was pondering just how to make this buying a property work. I am still not sure if I really should buy a place and even if I should do so this year. Here are a few of the reasons: 

Don’t have the cash for Closing Costs (those legal and other fees that you are charged to complete the real estate sale.)
No cash for furniture or other equipment needed to run an acreage (tractor, riding lawn mower, snow blower, etc.)
Could possible end up stretched for cash . . . again. (Mortgage, utilities, power bill, gas bill, other unforeseen expenses.)

For now I will keep saving cash and just take it slow and be careful, even when I do get out there into the real estate market. Just because I am starting to look and CAN buy, doesn’t mean I HAVE to buy.

How this lead to my old idea was me wondering if I could get a roommate or two to help with expenses. That led me to wonder if I could somehow do something to help not just myself but others as well. 

I am pondering the idea of putting a few cabins on the land, say ten cabins in all. Five of them would be single room “Bachelor” cabins about the size of Wanda.  The other five would be two bedroom cabins, again small. 

The Bachelor Cabins would be for single people to rent, the Two Bedroom Cabins would be for a family to rent. This idea is to let other people do what I did, without the freezing your butt off on an Industrial side street. 

I could charge people something ridiculously small, like say $500.00 per month (all utilities included) and give them a two year time limit. You could stay there for two years and in that time frame, get ahead on your bills. 

This would allow people to do exactly what I did, but with more comfort. Yet they would still be seriously downgrading their lifestyles yet there would be an end date. 

Any money over and above that needed for bills could be put back in to expand and enhance the place. As in: meal hall, Self-storage storage building (with lockers). A small RV park so people could stay in their own RV. 

My initial guess as to what this option would take to get started (properly) would be around $500,000.00. That is apart from me letting a few people stay at whatever place I do get. 

I think that this idea is one that could actually stand a decent shot at crowdfunding  and/or raising money for. If anyone thinks that this is a good idea, and wants to help out, let me know.

Friday 12 February 2016

Make The Day, or Push The Day?

During my researching and familiarizing myself with the real estate market, one thing I have been keeping an eye on is the financials. 

As in, what is the estimated mortgage payment and what would the required down payment be? While on one hand the mortgage payments seem a bit tight (for someone who hasn’t paid any rent in two years) they are doable. 

What keeps coming up is that the down payments are more than my target of $10,000.00. That figure was based on buying something for $200,000.00 or less. 

The prices I see out there are around or just over $300,000.00. What that means for little old me is that I will need an extra $5000.00 for that down payment. 

I know what will likely happen is a bit of financial trickery, where the financial institution “Gifts” you the small little bit to top you up to the required 5% down (for properties worth less than $500,000.00).

It would be nice to have that total amount in cash rather than rely on this. Then there is the niggling fact of having no furniture and no cash set aside to buy any. 

This leads to me pondering the wisdom of looking to buy now. Should I press on ahead and hope for the best, thinking that now, or rather August will be the most opportune time to buy? Or should I hold off until I have more cash saved up? 

Say, wait a year and look to buy next spring? That, of course would mean yet another year in this limbo that my life seems to be in. Not to mention that would mean yet another winter freezing my butt off in Wanda. 

With that in mind putting things off doesn’t seem appealing. Even if I were to put things off a few months until I saved up my $15,000.00 would put me until the end of November. 

That, of course would mean waiting until spring to buy anything, as nobody sells houses (unless they have to) in the winter . . . (Cause nobody wants to move in the dead of winter).

I will do what I always do, keep plodding forward and solve the problems one by one over the long course of the endeavor. For now that means keep my savings plan on track. 

I will deal with the details of buying and down payments once August has arrived; one thing at a time, one problem at a time. 

It is wise though, to look ahead and see what challenges and problems are coming your way. Who knows, prices may come down enough so I can get what I want for the price I want . . . it is possible.

I just want a place to call home, a piece of land with a workshop, space, peace and quiet and in time perhaps a greenhouse to grow my own food year round (why not).

Thursday 11 February 2016

Back To Banff

I have just today and tomorrow to get through before I am once again in the calming quiet peace that is Banff. I look forward to not having cars zoom by, two feet from bedroom window doing 70 KPH.

I always get more and better sleep out in Banff. I have no trouble sleeping out in the country, yet I do have trouble sleeping in the city. I suppose that’s why I’m looking forward to buying an acreage. 

Not only for the workshop, storage shop and other outbuildings (either there now or will be) but also for the peace and quiet, the big sky and the fresh air. All this while still being within commuting distance to the city. 

I have been regularly checking the real estate website, and will continue to do so. This is to see what is out there and what the prices they are at. I will keep an eye on things to see if and how much prices come down. 

I will also see what new properties come on the market and what ones go off the market. This should give me the familiarity of the real estate market in the area that I am looking to buy in. 

I don’t want to get taken advantage of and I want to get the best property that I can afford. I don’t want just a starter home or one that is good for the next few years, but for much longer. I want a place that I could see myself staying in for some time to come. 

The closest thing I have now is my trips to Banff on each long Weekend, (the treat that I give myself). While the house is seven or eight months away, Banff is only two days away yet only one sleep away. 

Wednesday 10 February 2016

My First Pledge of Support!

I got a surprising, yet very welcome, phone call yesterday. A friend of mine was so impressed that I had turned my life around that she decided to contribute to my Down Payment Fund!

Yep . . . 

Really . . . 

Honestly . . . 

No kidding . . . 

ALRIGHT!  She actually called to say that she was paying me back the money she had borrowed . . . sheesh. 

Don’t look at me that way, I didn’t lie . . . It IS money that she is sending me, and it IS going into my Down Payment fund . . . so it’s kinda true, right?

Well, one thing’s for sure, there goes me spinning this into the start of a grass roots crowdfunding campaign.  

You know where so many people want to help me succeed so they donate so I can not only buy a house but actually buy some furniture too.  

(As it is now I plan to buy a coffee maker and a camping cot on move in day.)

Anywhoos, the other bit of happy news is that I ran a very preliminary budget for my next payday (on the 22nd). 

As it stands, it looks as though (Fingers crossed) that I will be out of my personal overdraft and actually start building up that contingency fund back up to $1000.00.

Once it is at $1000.00 then every spare dime (including the illusive and rumoured yet heavily doubted “Tax Refund”) will go into the Down Payment Fund. 

So I am on my way to getting that house, coffee maker and camping cot (crowdfunding campaign or not).

Tuesday 9 February 2016

New Game Plan

Okay, after finally deciding that I will buy a place, with said process beginning in earnest in August, this means that my financial plan needs to be tweaked, yet again. 

Since I am not working to pay off Wanda and Trea in order to wander the earth like an extra in some post-apocalyptic movie, my plan must change to match my priorities. 

I have decided that I will be ready to commence this purchasing process as of August 1, 2016, so that means that two things need to be done before then: 

1)  Mortgage Pre-approval. This I will do in July, so as to have time to get this in hand, ready to go. 

2)  Down Payment Saved up. This one will take some doing, but can be done. 

I have decided on a target of a down payment of $10,000.00 and it can be done by utilizing what I have been using to pay off bills ($1500.00 per month). 

If I just put aside $1000.00 for January and $1500.00 for each month from February through July, that will give me my $10,000.00.

In order to get back on track, where I should be at this very moment ($1500.00 in the Long Term Savings account) I had to shift money around. 

What this means is that I had to wipe out my contingency fund of $1000.00 and steal $400.00 from my personal overdraft. 

When I added this to the $100.00 that I put in the Long Term Savings Account when I opened it last month, this brings me up to my target of $1500.00. 

This also leaves me with a hole in my personal overdraft and no Contingency Fund. Technically the money I am putting aside for the down payment is a contingency fund, but one that I really, really, really don’t want to touch. 

I will do what I have always done, look for ways to save and use that salvaged money to repay my personal overdraft and then build up my contingency fund again. I expect to be out of my personal overdraft by next month.

I am treating this savings plan like yet another credit card, in so far that the payments into it are non-negotiable. The other thing that is non-negotiable is that my credit cards are maintained at a zero balance. I also plan to stay above $1000.00 in my main account; this is also important to me and non-negotiable.

We shall see how much actually ends up in my Long Term Savings as my down payment come August 1. It goes without saying that more would be better, but at least I will have my down payment, and eventually, my house.

Monday 8 February 2016

I’m Tired

I’m tired of this existence, no not this mortal existence, but this living in an RV as an Urban Nomad. I can do it, I can hack it, I can and could live the rest of my life in this RV, but at the end of the day, I just don’t want to.

Sure, it is possible that in three years I could be totally debt free. That sounds nice and all but you know what happens after three years? My ass is still living in an RV, still sleeping in Walmart Parking lots (as a treat on the weekend). 

When I started this journey, and this blog, it was to TEMPORARILY downgrade my lifestyle with two goals: 1) getting my credit card debt paid off, 2) getting a house. 

With #1 done, it is time to work on #2.

No, I am not running out to buy the first thing I can find; I couldn’t even if I wanted to. Nope, I will work on saving up my down payment ($10,000) and getting that mortgage preapproval by Aug 1, 2016. 

Don’t worry, I will not be staring any “crowdfunding campaign” not only because I know how those go over for me, but also because why should anyone else help me buy a house? Sure the real estate agent, but I‘m paying them. 

(But hey, if you somehow feel motivated to contribute to the down payment fund, go on and send the money my way.)

You may be curious just what kind of place I am looking for. Well, let’s start with what I am not looking for. I am not looking for a Condo or townhouse (I wise man once told me “no strata living”). 

Also, for me, one of the reasons that you buy a place is to not have neighbours right next to you (or on all sides of you). 

I am also not looking to buy in the city, as even living in a typical suburban neighbourhood seems claustrophobic to me.  

What I am looking for is:

A house (not necessarily fancy).
Preferably with a basement. 
Somewhere east and/or south east of Calgary.
Out in the country, not in a village or hamlet.
No more than an hour’s commute to my work (preferably half an hour or less).
On no less than 2 Acres of land (the more the better).
Garage and/or workshop optional (but will be built eventually).

One of the reasons that I like living on the Canadian Prairies is that buying such a place is possible.  You can live on an acreage in the country and still have a reasonable commute to work. 

What actually unfolds remains to be seen and what place I actually end up with is also unknown. The two things I do know is this 1) I am buying a house, and 2) moving day will be quick and easy, as I have no furniture and few possessions. 

Friday 5 February 2016

The Savings Game

Okay, I know this is a backtrack, but it is okay, this move that I made, makes sense, at least to me. First of all, no, I didn’t go make a big purchase or spend any money. 

What I did do was transfer $1000.00 from my Savings (Contingency) into my Main Account. This topped my personal Overdraft back up to what it is supposed to do.

As I have already said, December and January were expensive months for me, but I am now on track. This is a bit of a financial reset and I am treating it that way. Things are looking ever better from here on out.

My credit cards are maintained at a Zero Balance, and those minor incidental charges are paid off fully each payday. This is working for me and they are tamed . . . for now. 

Since my Main Account is now back up to “Zero,” I was able to use this payday to not only pay my bills, put the expected $500.00 into savings, and the $50.00 into the RRSP, so that is back on track. 

This way, with the way things are now I can focus on funding the Contingency fund. I will fund it up to $7000.00. This will give me my planned and expected, $6000.00 for the “OOOPS Fund” and the $1000.00 for my trip to the coast this summer. 

This way, with money saved up and put aside AHEAD of time I can relax and enjoy the trip and not stress over every expense . . . what a concept. 

I can now look to save whatever I can and see how much extra I can put into savings each payday. Once my Savings/Contingency is fully funded, then I can move on to the Long Term Savings, my TFSA. 

They way that I am doing things now, it is in a more positive and less stressful manner. I am not stressing over if I will be able to scrape by and save up enough to hit my targets before summer (Putting the $1K back into the main account and the $1K in savings for my trip. 

I may or may not have that $10K put aside by August, but overall I will still make my two year target to have enough to pay Wanda off. That is, unless life tosses me another cure ball (or curve cannon ball . . . who knows.) 

At least I have turned saving into a game, and made it fun and hopefully a way of life.

Thursday 4 February 2016

Good Day, Made Better

Yesterday was a day to prove that your attitude is everything. I had a typical day with the typical frustrations that we all encounter on a daily basis. 

Yet I was determined to prove my theory to myself by looking for the positive, and it worked. I was able to overlook the small things and instead notice the overall pattern of the fact that I was getting things done. 

That sense of accomplishment did help the day to pass quicker and me to have a better feeling by the end of the day.  Sure my job is relatively minor thing that is my job in the greater scheme of things, but it pays the bills. 

I plan to keep this up, to try to build on this day so I can set a pattern of good days for myself. After all it is my life, so I might as well make it a good one!

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Mental Focus, Determines Your Reality

It is a lesson that I seem to keep reminding myself, but where your mind wanders, so to your attitude will. 

So it stands to reason that if you focus on the negative the filter that you see the world through will either be skewed through it. 

Rarely do we see the world in the neutral or unfiltered state. We tend to see the world through glasses that are either negative or positive in nature. 

Once again this depends on our mood but we do have both sets of glasses in varying strengths. As things happen to us we either see how they are good or bad. 

We can either really believe in the natural goodness of people or we can see how the universe is conspiring against us. 

These attitudes are a buildup and manifestation of all of the little things that happen to us as we go through our daily lives. If we tag enough events as “good” then we tend to have a “Good Day” and see more things as good. 

The same happens when it comes to “Bad Days.” We string together various random events and attach a label of “Bad” to them and if we start to see a pattern then we tell ourselves “this is going to be a bad day” 

After that, guess what, we start to see more and more things as bad, and this cycle of negativity continues to spiral downwards. 

Remember boys and girls, you are the only person who has to live with your bad mood . . . Everyone else can walk away from it, but you’re stuck with it, carrying that thing around like a ball and chain.

My advice (to myself most of all) . . . Since you’re going to have a day anyways, why not choose to have a good one?

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Groundhog Day, Smoundhog Day

I don’t know what one furball says about things, I predict six more weeks of this kinda winter, kinda not, so in that respect, perhaps early onset of Anti-Fall.

It is a fun and interesting tradition dating back to a more superstitious time. I don’t know anyone who puts much stock in this day, but it is fun to see what a woodchuck has to say about the weather. 

All I can guess about its origins was that you were bored, cold, and tired of being cold, so you would look for any indication of when the seemingly eternal coldness will end. 

So why not a woodchuck, it kinda has a bit of style to it, as far as odd traditions go. At least we don’t sacrifice that woodchuck on a stone alter to appease the “gods” of winter, hoping they will let spring come early. 

In comparison, waiting to see if a woodchuck can see it shadow or not is a much more humane and less terrifying for the kids tradition. 

All I know, is that it will still be chilly for the next few months, it only needs to be seen just how chilly it will be. I won’t break out the shorts, just yet.

Monday 1 February 2016

Good Weekend

All in all I had a good weekend, if quiet that is. It was a little cooler than it has been the previous week. It also is looking to get cooler this week as well, starting today. 

I will be okay though, this is not the first cold spell that I have been through and nowhere near the coolest either. 

Still, it was a nice and pleasant delusion to think that the warm weather of spring or “Anti-Fall” as I call it was here to stay. 

(I call Spring Anti-Fall because to me it is the same damn cold miserable weather, as fall, just happening in reverse.)

No matter what, I will persevere and in so doing, improving my financial situation each and every day. Now . . . if I could only say the same about my love life . . . hmm . . . have to work on that.