Thursday 31 March 2016

Risks Are Worth Investigating

Okay, I don’t meant to run out and be reckless or necessarily do risky things, but giving a risky move a looksee is worthwhile. Why? Because it is by taking risks that you can get much further ahead.

I have been investigating the real estate market in my area, just so as to educate myself of what is out there, where it is and how much people want. 

Yesterday I stumbled across what looks like a steal of a deal, as in “Too good to be true.” This is where most people turn and walk away, but this is where I nudge closer to take a closer look.

The property is six acres with a creek and couple ponds lazily winding through it. It is near the mountains with a fantastic view. It is out in the country, yet still in commuting distance to the city and work. 

The price is fantastic, as in way cheap, and there is a house on it, a nice house, beautiful house with large windows. So what’s the problem, right?

Well, the add says that the house “needs work” and the property is being sold at the land value alone. The problem is that in the pictures the house looks fine, so this makes me wonder why this is and curious to know.

My best guess is that this was flood damaged or some other structural damage. If it was flood damaged and it is on a floodplain then I am outta here. 

If it is not flood damaged or not on a floodplain but the house is still hooped, then perhaps it is worth it. If I got the property for even less than they are asking, I might be able to afford to build a new house by salvaging as much stuff (windows, appliances, fixtures, counters, etc) from the existing house. 

There are many questions still to be answered and I will not be foolish or rush in. I will not dismiss something outright just because it looks hard or risky. It may yet be worth it, or it may not; I will never know unless I investigate the risk . . . cautiously of course.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!

Wednesday 30 March 2016

The Result of the Numbers

Okay, so yes I made a spreadsheet yesterday and had fun running a few different scenarios. 

I find that spreadsheets are a good planning tool to see just what will happen if you do this, or if you do that. They allow you to explore different options without actually doing them.

Each of my scenarios were based on the assumption of starting them this August (Aug 2016) and ending two years later in August of 2018. 

My goal was to pay off both the truck and trailer loans and have some cash left over afterwards. Below is a chart which shows my various options and what the result was.

1) Camping and a Room: This was the idea of renting a campsite at a local campsite during the warmer months and staying in Wanda, yet renting a room during the cold months. If I did this I would have my bills paid off and $2800.00 in my pocket left over.

2) No Camping This Year But Camping and Room Next: This is the same as the above but I continue the Urban Nomad thing this year but rent a room this winter and camp next summer. This would save a bit and I would end up with $4200.00.

3) Cheap Ass Bugger: This is me continuing my Urban Nomad ways and just tough it out without renting either a campsite or a room. Sure I end up with $16,000.00 but I sacrifice any semblance of a life.

4) Camping Year Round: This financially disastrous plan is probably the most desirable, lifestyle wise. This would entail renting a campsite and living in Wanda year round. It is a nice campsite but after two years I would still be $1500.00 short of paying Wanda off and have no savings.

5) Room Year Round: This would mean toss in the towel and rent a room for the next two years, only using Wanda on weekends. This one is nice, lifestyle wise, but not that great financially, after all, I only end up with $3300.00 after two years but I would have a life.

6) Room for Winter: is the option that I most likely would go with, if I were to do any of these plans, what this does is that I just rent a room for the coldest 6 months, and thereby not freeze my butt off in winter, yet still save cash. At the end of two years I would end up with $10,000.00 not bad.

7) Buy a House: Then of course there is the option to just buy a place (not a condo [spit]!) and make it work. Housing prices are low, or as low as they most likely will go, so the time is right to buy. I have a steady job and with any luck things will bounce back. When that happens I will make a profit on the sale of the now worth more property. With a portion of that equity I can pay off Wanda.

The problem with this one, as I have said before, is that I would have to drain my cash reserves to do this. After which I would be pretty much tapped out financially for the next year and a half at least (until Treabilla’s loan is finished). 

The furniture is something that I can buy one piece per payday and furnish the house over time; even I know that. As I have said before, I will carry on my savings plan and see what happens come August. (That is unless the large upwelling of generous people crowdfund my Down Payment before then . . . I won’t hold my breath.)

I thought that I would share this with you just in case anyone else was pondering different cash saving ideas such things. If, for any reason, you would like to look at or use, this planning tool, feel free to download it here

For fun, feel free to comment on which plan you think I should do.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Running the Numbers

I find myself mulling over various schemes and scenarios which will improve my standard of living yet still get myself totally debt free by January 2018. This is the date when Treabilla’s loan will be over and done with naturally.

This involves renting a room for six months and living out and about in Wanda for the other six months. I even mused about renting a spot at a not too distant campground for the season so I could be stationery for pretty much year round. 

There are still more numbers to crunch and I may end up buying a place but as long as I am single and saddled with debt, I just don’t see that as a viable option. 

After all I would be back to where I was three years ago, with a maxed out budget and no savings to speak of. This is what gives me the most amount of pause in buying a place right now. The no furniture thing is just a chuckle and future embarrassment when people come over.

I will keep my options open and keep running the numbers as I will say this: planning and forethought are wise investments of time before any endeavor. I should have done so before embarking on this Urban Nomad venture, but I learned along the way.

As I determine and plan my next step I will say this, I will make sure to think things through beforehand and make sure that whatever move I make is the right one. (yes I see another spreadsheet in my near future.)

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!

Monday 28 March 2016

The Tango of The Tangible and The Intangible

I will get this out of the way up front as this happened this morning and in a way really touched off this debate. In truth I had been pondering these thoughts all weekend regardless.  . . . I have lost my Western Home. 

When I got up this morning and was about to start packing up at the bonny time of 4 AM I saw a note taped to Wanda’s door. I thought about taking a picture of it but I had already ripped it out of anger.

In essence it said that the management of this [big box retail store] doesn’t allow RV units to camp longer than 24 hours. (This must be a very new policy, as I had no problems last weekend.)

The words of the sign were in large bold font and the paper was bright red, you couldn’t miss it. It was taped to the door with packing tape, to make sure it stayed. This was, in actual fact, an eviction notice from my Western Home.

I will move on, I will be okay as there are always other places to park. This place had been my weekend home for the last year and a half, nay almost two years. 

I have dutifully shopped in that store and tried to be as considerate as I could while there, every weekend for the length of time that I have been there. 

It would have been nice to have been told politely in person, but this way there is no confrontation, unless I storm in there and seek one out; that is not my style and in any case, wouldn’t change anything. 

I understand and respect that it is private property and that they are within their rights to decided who can park there and for how long they can do so. I have no claim to my favourite spot in that parking lot, no matter how attached I may get to it.

It did remind me of the fact that in essence, I have no place to belong and no right to be anywhere. I have no claim to any particular spot and so I can be shooed along from any space at just about any time; for pretty much no reason at all.

This is why the thought of home ownership is appealing, a place that is mine and a place to put down roots. It is the financial aspects of this plan, however, which gives me a moment of pause.

Let’s say I buy a place and the mortgage is at my target of $1000.00 per month. Okay, assuming it is not (a dreaded and dastardly) condo [spit] then I will still have an estimated $500.00 in taxes and utilities per month. 

Those two things combined will take up all of the cash I have freed up I my budget for first debt relief and then savings. This will leave me with nothing left over for anything else . . . like furniture. 

Even then I will be left scrambling to scrimp and save in order to pay my now much higher fuel costs driving back and forth between the city and my house. As any house or acreage that I could afford would be at least an hour away from work.

The flipside is that if I keep living in Wanda then by August of next year I could pay Wanda off and then by the following January (January 2018) the Treabilla loan will be done. 

That will leave me fully and completely debt free with an estimated $8 – 10K in savings. Not bad for freezing my butt off through two more winters. 

Then again, I hate the cold, so there is that. Add to that the fact that I have no life and am a constant wanderer, there is that too. 

So you see that logically the best thing is to wait and pay everything off in a little more than year and a half.  Yet, contrasting that is the fact that I am tired of this constant wanderer, constantly cold, lifestyle. 

This is the dance of these two often conflicting impulses: the practical things we can see and touch and the things which we cannot see and touch: our thoughts, feelings and desires. In essence and at its core this is logic dancing with the heart.

We need to dance this dance, as we have no choice, but we can direct where this dance goes, and after all, we chose what we do, nobody chooses that for us.

I have thought about renting a room again, at least when it grows cold this fall. The problem with that was the fact that I never felt comfortable not having my own entrance. I always felt like a constant houseguest. 

In any event, as it sits right now, I am still not sure what I am actually going to do, but I will keep my savings plan going and see what happens come August. 

Who knows, I may find the perfect house, in the perfect location and have already met the right gal to help me make that house a home. 

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Thursday 24 March 2016

The Gopher in Springtime

Okay, as is usual, after finalizing then enacting my budget for my payday on the 22nd, I did another budget for the following payday, of April 7. This lets me see how things are going to (or should) go. 

I get to see things a month out and look at how things I do now, will impact that next budget. I find it a good motivational tool, as well as a good planning tool.

Again, at this stage of the payday cycle my “Next” budget is based on a lot of assumptions.  For one, how much I will have left in the bank come my next payday. For another, how much my credit card bills will be. Finally how much my paycheque will actually be. 

As I get closer to the payday, things get clearer, so I can adjust it and bring it in line with what is actually happening and not just my best guess. This does let me set out a few goals and targets to shoot for.

This time as I looked at my next budget I saw that thanks to a slightly higher (next) paycheque and a few other things I will not only fund my Contingency fund up to my target of $1000.00 but I will also be able to put a bit in there towards Wanda’s insurance. 

Her insurance is due in May and I am putting aside $400.00 for that. Any excess over and above that will go, you guessed it, into my Down Payment Fund.

As I sat there after checking the budget over twice I started to get that feeling of “Hey, things really are working out, I’m not screwed after all. Hey, I’m gonna make it! I’m really gonna do this!” 

Right about then I got a different feeling, one that I am sure that most, if not all, of us have had in similar situations, that feeling of looking for where and when the other shoe to drop. A good analogy for this is a gopher in springtime, let me explain.

You see out here on the prairies there are these tiny furry rodents that live in dens in the ground. Okay, technically they are called Richardson's Ground Squirrels but trust me they live in dens in the ground with many tunnels and more than a few of these go up to the surface. Farmers hate them.

Why do farmers hate them? They burrow and make holes in the ground, that’s why? Why is this a problem? Because cows are not the most careful of walkers, and have a tendency to step into the hole, trip and break a leg. When that happens the cow must be put down and that cost the farmer money; not that it’s all that good for the cow either.

So the tradition of “The Gopher Shoot” was born. This is where you grab a few buddies, each take a 22 caliber rifle and lots of ammo out to a vacant farmer’s field and shoot every gopher you can find. This is not only a fun way for some to spend an afternoon, but also this eliminates, or reduces the holes in the ground. 

At one point there was a bounty on these little fellas (not sure if there still is). Thankfully, The Gopher Shoot has not escalated to include: mortars, grenades and artillery. They would make larger and more messy holes than the gophers . . . but it would get all of the gophers (and be fun) . . . but I digress.

So imagine that you are a furry little gopher who has just woke up your winter hibernation. You stretch look around and feel peckish so you decided to go up to the surface to see what you can see and what food you can scrounge. 

At the surface you look around pause to smell the sweet spring air and marvel in the fact that you have made it through winter. Something catches your eye so you turn to look, there is a flash, a bang and then . . . nothing. (Oh the gophanity!)

It is interesting that we can start to doubt ourselves when things start going well. We are so used to misery and disappointment that when things start rolling our way we doubt it. 

We actually start to think of ways that this good streak can end and turn to crap. We have a hard time believing that things are actually turning around. This is due, of course, to the long line of misery and disappointment that we have already experienced in the past. 

The key to getting past this, is to believe in yourself and know, really and truly know that the past does not equal the future. 

Just because you have been let down in the past does not mean that you will be let down in the future. Just because things have turned from good to crap does not mean that it will turn to crap now. 

There is still the unknown and you may be let down, and things may turn to crap, but do not live in fear or the expectation of misery and disappointment. Seriously, what kind of fun or life is that? 

I for one will press on and expect good things to come and continue to believe that things will work out as I have planned, better even. Be cautions, be prudent, yet still . . . Stay positive, keep your head up and keep moving forward!

Wednesday 23 March 2016

One Third Down, Two Thirds to Go

In the interest of staying positive, and not bragging, as of this payday I am one third towards my down payment goal. I am still on track to having my contingency fund topped up to emergency levels ($1000.00) in two paydays. 

Things are slowly moving forward and going better than even I give myself credit for, most of the time. 

There are areas of my life that are still stagnant, but, I can only fix one thing at a time. First get a home, then feel settled, then look to build a life, for now, hunker down in my foxhole. 

I am steadily looking for ways and things in my life to be happy and proud about. I look for ways to give myself kudos. 

I try to look and appreciate where I am doing things right and stop to notice that. In that way, I can try to help the positive and good outshine and diminish the negative and bad.

So it is in that light that I put it forward that I am one third towards my goal. It may be odd then, that I still consider myself broke. 

Sure, I may technically have a modest nest egg building up, but that money is not mine, not really. I consider it to be just another debt that needs to be paid, this one to myself, my future self. 

In that way the money that I have set aside for my savings plans are therefore not negotiable, and can’t be touched. 

The only way it could be touched is if I were suddenly unemployed, then all bets are off and we are back to survival mode, not savings mode.

If I were to borrow from any of my savings now or touch that cash in anyway it would derail and delay my savings plans and possibly push me to wait to buy a place till next year. 

Whilst waiting till next year to buy a house is a financially advantageous option, it is not a desirable one . . . I hate the cold. 

I do not frolic in the snow I watch it fall on the open prairies from the warmth of my house as I sip on a hot beverage whilst snuggling with my darling dearest. At least that is the happy thought keeping me going.

As always, keep your head up, stay positive and keep moving forward.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Technically Right, Yet Still a Fail

I am not one to complain or whine, not really . . . at least I don’t think so. I get frustrated and I do vent a bit on here, but it is only to let people know what I am going through, and how I am getting through it.

Yesterday morning I had an interesting experience, from which I think we all could take a lesson. I didn’t blog about it yesterday, because yesterday’s blog needed to stand on its own.

I decided to treat myself to a real shower yesterday morning. You see, sure in this warmer weather I do clean myself with a pseudo-shower, a “Jug Shower” as I call it. 

I warm water up in kettle, pour it into a 2 litre plastic “Juice Jug” (you know the type) top it off with room temperature water and voila I have a jug of warm, yet not scolding, water. 

I stand in my bathtub/shower, pour a bit of water over my head and body to wet myself. Then I lather myself up with soap and shampoo before pouring the rest of the water over me to rinse off. 

The added fun is stepping out of the shower all wet and into the cold air of the morning where I briskly dry off and curse about the experience . . . a fun time all around, oh joy.

Every once in a while (Once a month to a month and a half) I like to treat myself to a real shower. Just to have that moment of standing under the shower and feeling the warm water cascade down you as warmth envelops you; to feel the steam and the heat penetrate sore muscles. Then to dry off in comfort and WARMTH!; A nice luxury, to be sure. 

So yesterday morning, before work I decided to do just that and pay the $13.00 for the privilege at my local truck stop. At first everything was going fine, got in the shower room, got undressed, turned the shower all the way to the hottest setting and let it run to warm up.

And waited . . . and waited . . . I managed to get it to be just off ice cold yet not quite lukewarm before I decided to brave it and just get clean, as time was ticking. 

Dealing with cold while bathing is nothing new; paying for the privilege, however, is. I scrubbed and got myself clean in record time while cursing and grumbling about the injustice of it all and the monumental letdown this experience was.

It wasn’t until I was drying off that I saw it, out of the corner of my eye I spotted the sign. It was laminated and put up at the entrance to the shower itself, but on the outside wall. In essence it said that the taps had been reversed and sorry for the inconvenience. 

This meant that the hot tap was actually the cold tap and the cold tap was the hot tap. So, to get a hot shower, you had to crank the dial to the cold (who the heck does that!) So when I cranked it up to the hot, I was turning the water directly and fully to the cold.

It wasn’t on the back wall where your eye would naturally fall on it as soon as you entered the room. Nor was it in some other conspicuous place. No, this thing was on the wall away from the shower, the very last place you will look. 

When entering the shower itself you are turning towards and focused on the shower controls. So your back will be to this sign, and unless you are paranoid (looking for cameras or assassins everywhere) or intentionally looking for it, you won’t see it. 

As I was leaving I brought this to the attention of the clerk on duty and his reply was “Nothing will stick to the back wall, so that’s the only place to put it.” Case closed, no apology, compensation or free shower was offered, the best I got was a shrug and dismissive look.  I just left; I didn’t have it in me to put up a fuss over what felt like a matter that nobody would care about. 

This brings me to the lesson of today’s blog, folks, if you do something, do it well and think it through. Sure the plumber fixed the taps but he got the taps reversed; done, yet not right. Sure the clerk put up a sign to warn people, but it was in the last place you would see; done, but useless. 

The whole point of doing something is so that it will do some sort of good, even in some small measure, so make sure that it makes sense and is done properly. What is the point of doing something that is just not right or poorly thought through? If you say to yourself (or others) “Meh, it’s done, so what?” that is a signal to go back, do it again and do a better job! 

As always, stay positive and keep moving forward!

Monday 21 March 2016

The Not Doing So Well Neighbours

It is funny how we humans are creatures of habit. We like to set our lives in patterns and desire consistency. So too is the case when it comes to where we bed down for the night. 

As for me I have a particular spot that I park in when I am at work. I have another particular spot that I park in during the weekday evenings. I have yet another spot, my favourite spot, that I park in during the weekends. 

This last spot is in my Western Home, and I like it because I can put my slide-out out, my stabilizer jacks down and in the evenings even put my awning out to block the evening sun. Ah yes it is a nice little spot, not too noisy and yes very continent for shopping.

There are two others who have a similar idea to mine as they park in this end of the parking lot, both in exactly the same spots. They are not sleeping in RV’s, however, but in vehicles; one is an old SUV and the other is a not so old car.

I do notice these things as there are telltale signs if someone is living in a vehicle. They come and go and tend to spend hours in their cars and return to the same spots. The fella in the SUV puts some storage boxes on his roof or behind his SUV at night. No doubt to make room to sleep in the back seat.

The guy in the car is not so lucky as it is a car but not a large old boat that has a backseat that goes on for miles. I actually had a chance to talk to him this past weekend. His life, like so many in this province, has recently taken a decidedly downturn in recent months. 

He was working but was laid off. When he went to claim EI, however, he didn’t qualify because the company simply denied that he ever worked there, despite having worked there for the last year and a half. 

Now he is locked in a legal battle with them and still out of work. So living in an older car is what is left for him. I don’t know what he did, as I didn’t ask, but it must have been good as he did lament the loss of his Prius.

The other gent I didn’t talk to at all but he seems to be working in one of the trades (I think). Both of these guys seem to be survivors and are not looking for handouts, just dealing with what life has tossed them and doing what they can to make their lot in life better. 

A happy note is that last week I caught a glimpse of another fellow I had met out here. This was the guy who moved here from Montreal and was living under a bridge, then in an old truck, and finally in a string of old RV’s. He seemed to buy them, then sell them after a bit. He even got a job at a moving company whose offices are not far from where I park at night during the week. 

The happy note is that I saw him driving a new small car with a lady (not looking terrified) in it as he drove away from work; he waved and so did I. It seems that he has finally got his life back on track and into some sense of normalcy. That is good to see; as there is hope for all of us, my not doing so well neighbours and me.

For no reason, here is a sunrise shot from the weekend.

Friday 18 March 2016

Point to the Bleachers

The following is an excerpt from a Wikipedia article, (found here):

Babe Ruth's called shot was the home run hit by Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, held on October 1, 1932, at Wrigley Field in Chicago. 

During the at-bat, Ruth made a pointing gesture, which existing film confirms, but the exact meaning of his gesture remains ambiguous.
Although neither fully confirmed nor refuted, the story goes that Ruth pointed to the center-field bleachers during the at-bat. It was allegedly a declaration that he would hit a home run to this part of the park.

On the next pitch, Ruth hit a home run to center field. The home run was his fifteenth, and last, in his 41 post-season games. It was said to be one of the greatest home runs in history.

(Excerpt ends)

The point of that is to illustrate the importance of publicly stating your goals and objectives. I could have gone with Kennedy’s speech about landing a man on the moon, but we all know that one. This has a few benefits to it for you, the one stating the goals and objectives.

1) It commits you to follow through.

You would look, and feel, pretty silly after boldly telling your friends that you are going to do something and then chickening out shortly thereafter.

2) You gain confidence and determination.

It is pretty gutsy to stand up and tell everyone that you are going to do some grand and bold thing. These goals are usually lofty and not what we usually do, so it is safe to say that you will be out of your comfort zone here.

Merely by standing up and declaring to others that you are going to do something, you gain confidence in yourself and determination to see it through.

3) It elicits support from others.

This is not always the case, but at least your genuine friends should wish you well and enquire about how things are going with regards to your goals. They can, and should, even offer suggestions and advice.

These reasons are why I started this blog and one of the reasons why I continue to do this blog. I also do it to help others who may be in a similar situation to where I was. I wish to inspire others into action, that you can take your life and your paycheque back.

As for me, I am going to buy my acreage and then start a family. That one is for me, and in truth for my future family. I will do that this year, before the summer is out. (The family . . . may take a bit longer.)

Thursday 17 March 2016

Daily Victories

I saw a picture of a T-Shirt on the internet which read “I pooped today!” While I am not advocating celebrating absolutely EVERY of your daily accomplishments, it is important to pause and reflect on what you are doing right.

What I mean is that acknowledge each step that you take towards your goals and dreams. Remind yourself that you are making progress; that you are getting somewhere, however slow the pace of that progress may seem.

As for me, this is a lesson that I repeatedly need to teach myself. I seem to need to remind myself of my long list of victories and achievements. 

When compared to those of other men, they may pale in comparison, but these are mine and each one is hard won. 

I try to not compare myself and my life to that of others, for each of us do not know what their life is really like, from the outside looking in.

Each day that I am out here, each day that I tough it out and don’t opt for the comfort and “Normalcy” of a fixed address, is helping me get ahead financially. 

I can do this; I have already made it through two winters in Wanda. I can make it through spring and summer in her as well. I will earn my home, my acreage. 

I simply need to keep in mind what I have already achieved to stave of the sensations and feelings of being a complete and total failure in life. 

So remember, as I must, to focus on the positive and try to filter out and ignore the negative. As always, keep moving forward.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

The Duality of Time

It is interesting how time can flow both quickly and slowly at the same time. I can still remember sitting in my truck at the moment of choice as I decided to start this Urban Nomad Journey almost two and a half years ago.

I still remember a lot of things from long ago and they seem like they happened only yesterday. I also look forward and my goals and self-imposed deadlines seem like they are a lifetime away.

At the same time, time flows both shockingly quick and painfully slow; that is in essence is the duality of time. In truth, time itself flows at the same rate; it is just our perception of it which changes.

As for me, while I am liking the warmer weather, I can’t wait for the warm weather, as in warm enough to wear shorts, open my windows and doors. I also can’t wait until I start shopping for a house.

Yet at the same time, the saving up for the down payment is taking forever, and seems like it will never be done. I remember this feeling from the paying off of my credit cards process. 

I know that this is just my anticipation, anticipation of finally owning a home for the first time in my life. This too will get done, and I will be owning my house soon enough, of that there is no doubt.

Time is funny, though and it goes by quicker than you think; all the more reason to get out there and enjoy life. I will try to do that as I continue to spend nothing that is not essential. Again, another delicate dance to do, yet I will try regardless.

Monday 14 March 2016

Hunkering Down and Getting Restless

I have been on a greater than usual “miserly binge” lately . . . and that’s saying something. I know that tight budgets will be the norm for some time to come. This has just become my new reality. 

In truth this is the last sprint down the homeward stretch of this Urban Nomad journey. At least, that’s what it feels like. 

I have been lounging around in my warm clothes and haven’t turned the furnace on all weekend, and most of last week. In fact, I don’t plan on turning it on again, not if I can help it. I will muddle through just fine.

This weekend I even had an argument with myself over if I should splurge an extra dollar on breakfast to get some pancakes with it. I was going to do it; I was going to splurge . . . until I saw the size of the pancakes and decided they weren’t worth the extra cash.

Intellectually, buying a place now is a bit of a risk for me. I should wait three years and buy the place once Wanda and Trea are paid off, that would put me in a much better position cash-flow wise. 

I would, however, then be 49 and getting a mortgage for the first time. If it is a standard 25 year mortgage, I would be paying it off till I was 74. 

Whilst I may joke that I am on the “Freedom 85” plan, I don’t intend to work that long, or rather, half to work that long. That and it would mean three more winters in Wanda, which is not an enticing thought. 

Nope, the time to buy is now, or rather, in August, the time will be right by then. For that to happen I need to stuff as much cash into my bank account as possible. 

In order for me to do that, I need to save and conserve as much as possible. So off I go on one last push of savings, savings, savings, all for a home . . . home, home on the range  . . . 

Friday 11 March 2016

Dueling Spreadsheets

As I have said before I use a spreadsheet to plan out exactly what I spend in which area. I set aside cash to go into my wallets. I decide how much is to go on each bill and what goes into each savings account.

This is a handy tool, but what I have been doing is shortly after enacting this plan I revamp it as I look forward to the next payday.  This then tosses out the plan as I look to the next payday. 

It has worked because I have reached a place where I pretty much leave my wallet locked away after payday and leave it there. 

I have decided that moving forward I will keep two copies of my planner spreadsheet and keep renaming them. I will keep changing the last bit of the name of both files to reflect its current status. 

The one for the pay period that I am currently using I will end with “- Current.” The one that I will use to plan out the next payday I will end with “-Next.”

This way I can keep my plan in place, and in my face for this payday to ensure that I stay on track. At the same time, however, I can lay out a preliminary plan for the next pay period. I can and will keep tweaking that plan, the closer that I get to payday in order to reflect the realities of the situation.

My goal in doing this is to keep myself on track and ensure that what is supposed to be left in my main bank account come the end of the pay period is actually there. At the same time I can plan and look and plan ahead as I work on the now. 

Just in case anyone is interested, here is a blank copy of my spreadsheet for you to download and use.

Thursday 10 March 2016

Goals to Happiness or Despair

I have learned that goals are powerful things, they can motivate you or they can also crush you. It is all in how you craft them. 

For example if you set your goals too high, so lofty or stringent that can never possibly achieve them, they will only serve to be a reminder of what a failure you are for not yet achieving them.

This is why I set my grand goals in “Dreams,” wishes, aspirations, of things that I want. These are my lofty goals but I don’t set them in stone nor am I specific about exactly when or how I will achieve them; just that these are things that I want to do. 

I just put my dreams out there, let them sit and serve as targets to move towards. I may achieve these dreams this year or I may not. In fact some dreams I may never achieve, that’s okay. By not attaching concrete dates to them, I can’t fail at them.

My goals, the goals that I set for myself, are ones that I can achieve in the next few months. An example of this is putting a certain amount in my savings account by a certain date. 

These goals are things that I can measure and control. In achieving these goals I am working myself towards my greater goals, my dreams.

In this way I use my lofty goals to motivate me, as I envision myself having already achieved them. In this way, they serve as a positive motivator and not a long list of goals and deadlines missed.

I have made the mistake of setting a deadline for a lofty goal before. I missed that one, and it is a goal, a dream yet to be achieved. It still stings to think of it.

This is why I say “Dream for the future, Plan for the mid-term, but work on the now.”

Your dreams are what you are working towards, but you cannot be certain or plan out anything further than the next few months, after that there are too many variables for you to ensure success. 

At the end of the day, all you can really do, all any of us can really do is do what you can do today, here now right now, today that will move you towards your goals and dreams. 

All any of us have is today, as long as you are doing something, however small, towards your goals and dreams, this should pick up your spirits. For then you can pause and reflect on that goal and know that you are moving towards it. That should make you smile and be proud of yourself. 

Wednesday 9 March 2016

When Goals Collide

I have previously stated that my goal is to get out of town for each and every long weekend. This is a nice goal and one that I would like to achieve; “like” being the operative word.

As I look at my budget and working towards my very tight deadline and lofty goals, I am forced to rethink this policy.

In order for me to stay on schedule, I just can’t afford, at least for the immediate to Mid-Term, such an expense.  I need to conserve as much cash as I can as I move my goals and dreams forward.

In order to do that, dropping $120.00 on a weekend away right now just doesn’t fit with that plan. (It is good that I have already paid for my May Long Weekend spot in Waterton Lakes.)

That, my friends, is where the rub is, when two competing goals collide, you need to choose the one which is more important to you.

I could say that getting out of town is important and that I must still live and all that and just go camping.  That would put a hole in my budget and derail my plans to get that down payment in place in time to start my buying process.

I could also just stuff it on a credit card and pay it off “down the road”. This will lead to putting other things on the credit card only to pay it off “down the road”. We all know where that leads, and that choice conflicts with my goal of maintaining a zero balance on all of my credit cards.

So here we have the rub one moderate goal competing against a higher goal. While I do want to go camping at least on long weekends, it would conflict with and hurt my more important goal of saving for that down payment.

Life is never easy and full of difficult choices, when you are faced with them, look at them in terms of how this would help or hinder your goals.

Which goal would each choice help and/or hurt? Which goal is more important for you further? Once you have answered those questions, your choice should be made all the clearer.

As for me, any salvaged money that I can garner in my budgets will be put towards first building up my contingency fund and then that Down Payment Fund.

I still would like (and this is a Hail Marry, longshot) to have $13,000.00 in that Down Payment Fund for Aug 1. That would give me the downpayment for a property in the $250,000.00 range (as in 5% down).

As it is I will be lucky to stuff $11,000.00 in there, but that will get me close enough for me to work some magic from there. I have yammered and lectured enough, so for no reason at all here is your Sunrise Shot of this morning.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

The Slow Road to A Home

As is traditional on the morning after payday, my thoughts turn to the next payday. 

In times gone past I would limp into payday, only to throw scraps at the wolves so I could evade them as I limp into the next payday. 

These days, as I look to the next payday I seek ways to build on what I have accomplished with this paycheque. 

I look to see if I can do a bit better and get myself another toestep closer to the goals that I have set . . . it’s quite fun actually . . . yes I’ll say it, payday has become fun again!

It is frustrating that things are not going as swiftly as I had hoped, but things are progressing nicely forward. I have also determined that if I set aside an additional $200.00 per payday that I can get what I need to done, done.

With this plan, by the end of April I can have my Contingency Fund Topped up. By the end of May I can have the cash ready for Wanda’s Insurance (due by the end of May). After that I should have $800.00 extra set aside for my Down Payment, by Aug 1. 

So I will need to salvage an extra $200.00 between now and the end of July in order to have an extra $1000.00 in that Down Payment Fund. With my personal overdraft that should put me in the range of where I feel I need to be to buy a place.

All small steps down a daunting road, but all of the things that I need to do to get there are doable. After all, I have done all this before, but done them for others. 

Now I do this for myself, but in a way others too, after all, a man does not buy a house, or an acreage, in order to be alone, but have a family. 

As always: Dream for the future, Plan for the mid-term, but work on the now.

Monday 7 March 2016

Payday Pondering

Today is payday and as of yet I don’t know exactly how much my paycheque is. On paydays gone by the boss would make out the paycheque and leave it on each of our (the employee’s) desk the night before. 

That way, on the morning of payday I could spend a few minutes in the morning finalizing my budget for this next pay period before the workday started. 

As, after work, I dash off to the bank and then do my errands that I do on payday, so I like to have it planned out, and finalized, beforehand. 

As it is I have an idea what will go where, and the budget is done, per-say. The final budget always depends on the exact dollar amount that my paycheque is; yes my budgets are that tight.

Since the boss took Friday off to spend a day with his son (privilege of rank), that didn’t happen. There have been a few paydays where near the end of the day he hurriedly makes the paycheques out. 

Once, even it slipped his mind and he forgot. Since payday fell on a weekend I waited until Monday . . . still nothing. It wasn’t until the end of business Monday that I politely spoke up. 

I think after then he has put some sort of electronic reminder in place to avoid this. In any event it has never happened again. 

I should point out in all fairness that I have never had any trickery or other games with regards to my pay. All in all he is a good boss, yet fallible like the rest of us, after all he is human.

My payday pondering is just how tight to work my budget and still manage. Sure with the “discounted” tax return I was able to advance my financial plans along.

I was able to get my butt out of overdraft and just under half-way to funding my contingency fund up to $1000.00 for my vacation. 

I recently realized that come May I will have Wanda’s insurance bill and so I had better put some cash aside for that. I plan to put at least $400.00 in there for such an eventuality. 

What this means is that unless I have a large windfall between now and August 1 (doubtful) that at best I will be able to squeak out an extra thousand for my Down Payment fund. 

It is better than nothing I suppose and the real victory is that my finances are on track and that I am employing the hard learned tools to get myself ahead and stay on budget. 

The cost, however, has been any sort of social or romantic life at all. I don’t spend a dime on anything that is not required to keep me alive and therefore working (and earning). 

I guess I have become my own slave driver. I am a horrible boss to myself but I know that I would never ever dream of doing this to anyone else. 

Nether, I suppose would dream of anyone living this lifestyle with me . . . again I digress.

This too will end, this phase of my life will be over and I will once again live in a house, my house, on my acreage. 

Then I can start to socialize again, and perhaps spend on an extravagance or two (like furniture for a start). Until then, I will continue my miser/hermit ways . . . 

After all, it is working to get my butt ahead and that ain’t bad . . . “Discounted Tax Refund” or not.

Friday 4 March 2016

Weather: A Matter of Perspective

Today I have an example of the interesting aspects of the weather this time of year. Yesterday it was warmer than usual, and all was good. 

So good in fact that when I got home, the temperature inside Wanda was this . . .

I didn’t turn my furnace on all evening and had a nice relaxing evening. This morning, however, when I got up, the inside of Wanda was this . . . 

This pretty much sums up the weather at this time of year, warm during the day but chilly at night. 

I will say that at least I don’t have to worry about everything freezing up. I also like being able to use my own: toilet, sinks and bathtub again. 

At least I can wash my hands and dishes in the sink and yes wash myself in the bathtub. Well, stand in the bathtub and pour warm water over myself. 

I know it sounds primitive, but it is a step up from what I do during winter, let me tell you.

I am entering the time of year that is a transition, where I use less of some resources yet more of others. 

For example I use less propane and electricity because I need to run my furnace less and less. Yet I use more water, as I can bathe and wash my dishes now. 

When I can get water from a RV dump station and can use my shower and taps again (oh happy day) I will use much more water than I do now.

For now, I will enjoy the sunshine and the nice weather yet still bundle up at night. I will see the good in this time of year and indeed endeavour to see the good in every day.

There really is more good out there in the world than bad, but you have to choose to see it. That is a choice that I choose to make, and I suggest you do too.

Thursday 3 March 2016

Tax Refund Update

So, good news, bad news. The good news is that I got my tax refund back. The bad news is that it was less than anticipated, as in less than a third of what was anticipated.

In essence it seems that they ignored all of the education credits and basically just decided to give me less than what the tax software said I would get . . . because they could.

On the positive side, this did pull me out of my personal overdraft. So, that is a good thing, and my stress level has dropped because of it. I am also now just under half way towards filling up my travel/contingency fund, so that is another positive. 

Sure I will talk to the guy who did my taxes and we will file an appeal or what have you. I don’t hold out any hopes, after all it is the CRA we are talking about. 

I choose to look at this as I got something back and I am now in fully in savings mode. After all, I am now putting money into my: Contingency Fund, Down Payment Fund, and my RRSP all at the same time, every payday.

I will adapt and carry on, sure this puts a big dent in my down payment plan, and now I am back down to my original target $10k saved up by August 1.

By the first payday of April, however, I will be into putting all of my salvaged money into the Down Payment Fund. So in the end, I will achieve my new goal of $13K in my Down Payment Fund one way or another.

I am disappointed and this is a let down, but I choose to look at the positive side of this. I will roll with the punches but keep on moving forward and yes, do so with as positive an attitude that I can muster.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Never Accept Mediocrity

I will be the first to admit that my life and in particular my current lifestyle is stellar or fantastic. I view it as a means to an end, and not an end unto itself. 

It is the journey as I move towards a better lifestyle, one that would not be possible without the pain and hardships that I have and am currently going through. 

I have had a few people tell me to just rent a room, buy a condo or otherwise, in other words, just give up . . . just accept the “okay,” the mediocre. 

I want what I want, and I did not turn my life on its head just to live in an apartment again. I want a house, I want land, I want space, I want a workshop, and possibly a makeshift soundstage. 

This leads me to what this blog entry is about. When it comes to your life and your dreams, pursue them and don’t give up. Challenges and hardships will be a part of the process and in your path. 

Do not fear obstacles, for they shape and mould you. Challenges and hardships turn a timid mouse into a lion, into a survivor. 

With each challenge that you deal with, the more determined and yes, capable you become. So take aim at your goals and get moving on them. Always remember to keep moving forward and yes, never accept mediocrity. 

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Made Food for Months Again

I made another batch of my Taco-Meat-Stuff on Sunday, so last night I measured it out into bags to freeze. I do this so I only defrost a small amount at a time. 

This way I can actually keep this stuff for months and feed myself for relatively little money. If I had a larger freezer I could, and would, make a wide variety of batches and therefore always have a choice of what to eat. 

Since I have a small freezer, it is enough to squeeze one batch of food for dinner, and another for lunches. In a week or so I will make another batch of my stuff for lunches. 

The last batch that I made for dinner turned out a bit bland and a bit too liquid. Those were two things I corrected in this batch, as I added 4 cans of hot chilly into this. I increased the meat and yes the vegies and hash browns as well. 

I simmered this stuff for at least three hours on low heat (once simmering). While it was cooking I thickened the mixture by adding a couple cups of pancake mixture. I know it is traditional to add flour, but I had none on hand. It worked, this stuff was very tasty and yes, thick. 

This time I ended up with about 36 pounds of food, so yeah I won’t starve anytime soon.

Each bag is one pound and that is double stacked and five stacks are three bags high. The last bit is in the container in the fridge. 

This little trick is something that I have learned along the way to help keep my food budget down. As well I get to choose what is in this stuff yet still get convenience of a quick and easy meal. 

Getting and keeping control of this part of my overall budget is one key way that I have been able to be successful in this Urban Nomad endeavour. 

I used to either eat fast food take-out or just eat pre-processed convenience food. Both of which were expensive and just not good for me. I don’t know how exactly good this stuff is for me, but I have lost a lot of weight, and that’s not bad.