Thursday 29 September 2016

Desirous Disaster

No, this is not a story about an ex-girlfriend, nope but instead about something else, that recently tempted me almost into disaster.

As you all know, I have been keeping an eye on the housing market, usually out of the city limits of where I am living and typically looking at large tracts of land or acreages and yes even houses. 

Basically I am looking for the most I can get for the least amount of cash that I have to spend (go figure).

Well, a tempting little place just turned up: out of town, within commuting distance to where I work an actual house on what it said was a two acre lot (remains to be seen). All that for just $100k asking price.

It is an older house but still seemed to be in good shape, and all in all worth a look, or at least considering.

I am now in a position to buy it, after all I do have the cash for a down payment. Then I got to thinking what it would all mean, as in after I am standing in the living room of my own house.

This would mean that paying off the truck next week would not happen. So then I would still have that payment for the next two years.

Naturally I would have a reasonable mortgage payment, but then I would have utility bills. Those, when combined with the extra gas that I would spend driving two and from work would pretty much eat up the rest of my budget.

So there you have it, in essence, buying anything now would be a fiscal disaster, as I would be back to having a maxed out budget and no room for savings and yes Wanda payments for the next decade.

While I do want, and will achieve, home ownership I will not shoot myself in the foot with a nail-gun that is debt. I must get debt free, and then work towards some sort of land ownership at least, all while trying to remain debt free.

My emerging motto is “Freedom first, comfort second!”

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward (preferably towards freeeeeeedoooooommm!!)

Tuesday 27 September 2016

Water Woes

This weekend I went to a grocery store in my Western Home, which has one of those machines that you can fill your water jug with their filtered water.

Easy-peasy, or so I thought. Thankfully I was smart enough to walk over first without my jug to fill. This is because their machine was broken and there was no word on if or when it would be fixed.

I was down to my last gallon or so of water and so would need water soon. The other grocery store in the area didn’t have any machine like that or any large bottles.

To tide me over until Monday I bought two (no name) gallon bottles of water.

Yesterday after work I went to the outlet of that same grocery store chain that was not far from work.

Thankfully they did have the machine and it was working. I was able to pay for two jugs to fill for
just over six bucks.

Me, being the thrifty person that I am, wanting to get the most for my money, took my typical water jug but also my square blue jug as well.

They said nothing as I filled both of them to the max, as in to just overflowing. This means that I got a little over eleven litres of water for just over six bucks.

This should last me the better part of two weeks, but we will see how long it actually lasts. At least I have a source of water that is available and not insanely expensive.

For no reason whatsoever, other than the sunrise was amazing, here is your sunrise shot.

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

Monday 26 September 2016

Stopping the Spending

I have said before that I have grown into a habit where I will spend a bit here and there and put it on a credit card.

Typically I will do this on the weekends, as I am literally staying in a big box store parking lot.

With the card that is paid down to zero, I make sure to keep this at zero, by paying it off each and every payday.

This is not the problem, the other payday is the problem, the one with a balance. This one I put stuff on, knowing that I won’t be paying it off just yet.

I make a payment on the card each and every payday, sure, but I will then turn around and charge things up on that card. 

Sometimes the amount that I have charged is more that the payment that I put on the card. Needless to say, this is not good. 

The days for this card are numbered, however, and so I need to stop my spending and correct my bad habits.

I have stopped my spending on the card which is down to zero and got from one payday to the next without charging a thing on it.

I need to do the same with the other card, since I am looking beyond next payday and on to my next target: paying this card off.

So, I will redouble my efforts to stop my spendthrift ways so as to not shoot myself in the foot. 

We all stumble, we all make mistakes, but it is what we do to correct those mistakes that counts.

I will not beat myself up, I will just move on and do better from here on out. I have a bright future to move towards and sabotaging myself will not help.

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

Friday 23 September 2016

Paydown Plans Progressing

So, earlier this week I moved the money that I had in my Long-Term Savings over to my Mid-Term Savings. Why?

Simple, since I am planning to pay the truck off next payday (exactly two weeks from today) I needed that cash to be accessible.

My Long-Term Savings is not a regular bank account, so it can take a few days to get the cash out of, or so I was told. 

This was the first time that I had withdrawn anything from it, so I wanted to know exactly how long and what surprise limits there were on withdrawals.

For example, what if there was a certain dollar amount limit combined with a certain number of days mandated waiting time in between withdrawals? 

I hate surprises, so I decided to make my withdrawal early since this was my first time. It worked fine and all in all it took just over one business day to complete. 

In the future I will allow at least two full business days for any withdrawal to take place. At least I know what to expect for next time (as in when I pay off Wanda).

This means, however, with that cash in my Mid-Term Savings I was able to factor that into my budget for the upcoming payday.

With real numbers on a real budget I was able to work it so that I could not only pay off the truck but do so without decimating my fiscal reserves (in the Mid-Term Savings).

I have decided to just keep my Mid-Term Savings at its minimum acceptable $1k level. I came to this conclusion after my thoughts were to trickle fund this back up to my previous target of $2K.

I had originally intended to put cash in there and steadily draw down on that account by transferring it over to the main account when my budget needed to be topped up. 

That way my savings plan of $1500.00 per payday would remain on track and operating like clockwork. I have decided on a slightly less ridged plan. 

After paying the Low-Interest Credit Card off by Nov 7th I will just move on ahead with my savings plan, one payday early. 

My target will still be $1500.00 per payday going up into savings. If I just can’t do it, I will not fret, because I know that there will be other paydays when I can put in a bit extra. 

Hopefully I will still be able to make the day of Total Debt Freedom Day on Nov 7, 2017. 

It would be nice to be able to pay things off earlier, but I will not fret, even if I somehow had to push the day back a payday or two.

The important thing is to save and to get debt free, target dates are nice, but in the end, they are just another day . . . no matter how momentous they may seem.

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

Thursday 22 September 2016

Adjusting to Fall/Spring Mode: Hygiene

No pictures today I swear; as today we will be talking about how to keep yourself clean without running water. 

I know that there are all sorts of people who are have much more experience with this type of living than me, but this is my experience.

First of all, that juice jug (yes your typical 2 litre or half-gallon jug that usually contains juice) will be quite handy during Fall/Spring and into Winter Mode.

This is because this makes your potable water, portable. You can pump water into it and take it elsewhere around your trailer without having to lug the five gallon jug around.

Washing your hands is a necessity and still somewhat convenient in Fall/Spring Mode. What you do is pump some water into your juice jug and go to the sink.

First, pour a bit of water onto each hand, one hand at a time. Try to cup your second hand so as to retain a bit of water. 

Wet your hands by spreading that water around both hands. Now grab the soap and lather up (or pump the soap and lather up) and then scrub your hands.

Next grab the juice jug (yes with a soapy hand) and pour water over one hand. Then switch hands and rinse that hand. There, your hands are clean.

I say that this is convent because you can still use the sink and just let the water go down the sink drain . . . how convenient.  

Okay, now on to showering. To shower you first must boil a kettle of water. So get to it and boil a full kettle of water.

Since you have no running water, you have no hot water tank. As such, all of your hot water comes from a simple kettle that you can put on your propane stove. A whistle kettle is recommended.

With your boiling hot water in hand, now pour it into your juice jug a little less than half way. Fill the juice jug to an inch below the rim with room temperature water from your five gallon jug.

Next dip a finger in the water to see if the temperature is to your liking. If it is too cold, add more water from the kettle, if it is too hot, add more water from the five gallon jug. If it is just right, add an equal amount from each but fill the jug, regardless.

Next strip and take your: jug of warm water, shampoo and soap into the shower. Stand in the shower/tub area and first wet your hair then your body.

Keep your thumb on the lid to prevent the lid from coming off and so spilling all of the water (trust me). 

It is important to be sparing with the water so when pouring the water, pour as little as possible to get yourself wet, as you will need water to rinse off.

Next, lather up your hair with the shampoo; once done lather up your body with soap. Now rinse off your hair first, as the water will flow down your body and rinse it off, sorta.

Again, be sparing with the water and once your hair is rinsed, move on to rinsing off your body by pouring water over each part. 

If you have done it right you should have a bit of water left over to go back and rinse off whatever could use a bit of extra rinsing.

Now on to the least glamorous, yet essential parts of hygiene . . . the toilet. Okay, so you still can use your toilet, yet when you push the lever no water comes out to flush.

These RV toilets are essentially a bowl with a door on the bottom that pulls away letting whatever is in there just drop straight down.

To help the process, pour a bit of water into the bowl first from your trusty juice jug. Then push the lever to flush the toilet.

However, Star Trek is not the only place you will find Klingons . . . so use a typical scrub brush to scrub and nudge any bits that didn’t go down, to go down.

Rinse both the toilet bowl and the scrub brush clean with a bit of water from the jug an you are done. 

These RV toilets are not well designed and pale in comparison to typical house toilets, but they get the job done and guess what, it’s what you have, so do what you have to do to make it work. 

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

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Adjusting to Fall/Spring Mode: Heating

Okay, so it is getting a little chilly and thus our thoughts turn to turning on that furnace to keep our trailer toasty warm. 

I advise against this just yet for a few reasons. The first of which is the fact that colder weather is coming, oh yes, trust me. 

Why this is important is that your body needs to adjust to that colder weather. By not bundling up right away it forces your body to heat itself up. 

I don’t mean run around naked in the snow or anything like that, but just hold off on the sweaters or thermal undies just yet.

The human body is an amazing thing, we can live in a wide range of temperatures and be somewhat comfortable, if we are smart and if we let our bodies acclimatize to these temperatures. 

In the interest of prudence and as a systems test I trotted out my electric heater and used it last night.

Last evening I had to run Jenny to charge Wanda’s batteries so I took the opportunity to use my electric heater to warm the place up a bit.

The electric heater I use is essentially an electric radiant heater put in a box with a cord attached. This has no fan and so is silent (except for a slight hum).

This way I can (when I am at a campsite and plugged in) can leave this on and sleep with it going all night. Try that with those little boxes with a fan.

So last night as I was running Jenny I had my heater going, but there is more to it. With Jenny being a 2000 Watt generator she is essentially the equivalent of one 15 Amp circuit breaker

So I can’t just crank the heater to max as that will trip the breaker on Jenny. As well the main reason that I run the generator is to charge Wanda’s batteries so I want most of the electricity to go to the charger.

What I do is I put the electric heater on the lower of the two wattage ranges and set the variable dial to the mid level. This way I get some heat coming out and still charge my batteries. 

You may be asking why I don’t just run the Wanda’s furnace? The answer is that when I run that furnace it takes propane and electricity. 

Sure I am using electricity that Jenny is generating but the propane is an extra resource that I am using when I don’t have to.

I am running the generator anyways so I am not using more fuel, of if so, it is negligible. 

This way I can run the furnace during the mornings or evenings when I don’t have Jenny running. 

I will bundle up before I run the furnace, so as to lower my utility budget. Every little bit that I can do to conserve resources is a way to conserve cash. That conserved cash will nudge me further down the road to Total Debt Freedom.

I do look forward to a house, a warm house a house with a furnace that I am not afraid to run for fear of cost. Ah such days that lie ahead, if only I stay the course.

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

Tuesday 20 September 2016

How to Adjust to Fall/Spring Mode: Dishes

Let’s suppose that you are considering living in an RV (like me). Let’s suppose that you plan to do the smart thing and begin to live in it in Spring, or rather the warm weather.

That’s great, but sooner or later you too will end up having to Winterize your plumbing. Trust me, this is unavoidable.

While it is possible to keep your plumbing active during winter, you would have to be parked somewhere with an electrical connection. That way you can do a few extra tricks, all of which require a 24/7 AC electrical connection.

So, that means that most likely you will have to kiss your water pipes goodbye until at least the May Long Weekend. 

This means that water conservation starts in earnest now. One of the first ways to conserve water is to re-examine how you wash your dishes.

My solution is to use the largest dish/pot to hold the water, and not the sink. This seriously cuts down on how much water you use, yet still you get your dishes done.

So for me, what I do is put some dishsoap into the frying pan that I dirtied, pump some water into the frying pan and heat it up.

This way I not only get hot water (now that I can’t use my hot water tank) but it also helps to heat and soak that frying pan. 

Then I use the scrub-brush to scrub the dishes one at a time, primarily using the water in the frying pan to wet the brush and thereby the dish. 

I typically scrub the dish whilst holding it over the water.

To rinse off the dish I use the water in that (very useful) plastic jug by pouring a bit of water over the dishes into the sink. For cutlery I stack the cutlery in the sink and rinse them all at once.

The washed and rinsed dishes I lay out on the other end of the towel. Once done I dry the dishes off and put them away. 

All in all I guess that I washed my dishes with about 3 litres of water. If pressed, I could use less, for that you use a small bowl and do the same thing.

The next way to really help conserve the water you use is to make it a bit harder to get. For me that is using my water pump on top of my jug.

The more water I want out of this thing the more I have to pump. This tends to get me thinking, okay, can I get away with just this amount of water?

Since I have to go find, or as a result of my recent resolution, buy my water, water is at a premium. I still do what needs to be done, but I just don’t waste water, I can’t.

After all, for me, my taps don’t give me as much water as I want just by turning the tap. Right now, they don’t give me any water at all, and won’t until late spring.

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

Monday 19 September 2016

Fall Mode Hath Fallen

I had a good weekend, for the most part. All was well, I did my shopping, the weather was decent, and I had no noisy, obstinate neighbours.

This morning, as I have been doing since the first of June, I drove to the gas station with the free dumping station to fill Wanda’s main tank with water. 

As I drove up, I had an inkling that this was going to be morning were I was suddenly out of water and thereby thrust into Fall/Spring Mode. 

You see, their gas pumps were surrounded by construction fences and it seemed that some sort of renovations were about to get underway. 

The store itself was open and so I had a slight hint of hope as I pulled up beside the water faucet that had been my lifeline all through the summer. 

Yet, as I turned the tap, no water came out. It had finally come, I was out of water, at least for Wanda’s main tanks.

The main difference this makes for me is no more showers in my shower. I can still shower, sort of, it is now by pouring water over me from a jug of warm water.  (Yes, one half gallon per shower).

The other change is that there is no more water out of my faucets so washing hands and flushing the toilet is also done by pouring water out of a water jug. 

I still have my two five gallon jugs of water and so I will not go thirsty or not be able to cook or bathe. 

All of this water is pumped out of my five gallon “water cooler style jug” that I have a manual pump attached to. 

As is normal, that main jug (that I pump water out of) is a short ways down and the spare jug is now bone dry. 

I did what I did all last winter: I drove to work early, pulled out my fold up cart, loaded my five gallon empty jug, put it in the cart and grabbed my hose with a funnel attached.

I walked to work to fill my water this way, the way that I have done it for the last couple of winters, yet this time it felt different, it felt wrong.

My boss had long since told me to come and do this, to fill my water jug here, so there was nothing wrong with what I was doing. 

I don’t do this routing when others are around as I don’t want to look foolish dragging a jug of water up and down the street. 

I used to buy the water from a grocery store that would sell you water from their filtered tap for $3.00 for five gallons.

I have decided that I will go back to doing that. It may seem silly, but it just feels better to buy the water and not drain it out of work’s tap, like a thief. 

I am not a thief, as I still have my boss’s permission, yet I don’t like handouts or skulking around in shadows, but water is a necessity and how I get it feels . . . personal, private.

I am in a better fiscal position this year, so I will just spend out of my Utilities Wallet (or Groceries, depending) that $3.00 a week, so I can hold my head up high, knowing that I pay for everything I get.

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

Friday 16 September 2016

The Extra Payday

My payperiods actually run from the 1st to the 15th then from the 16th to the end of the month. So there is zero chance of an “extra payday in a month.”

Come the end of the month and the middle of the month, however, I have a good bead on what my upcoming paycheque will look like.

With my payperiod entering its half-way mark, this also means that most of my automatic payments have already taken place.

So, by this point in my payperiod I can I can accurately predict what my bank balances will look like (fiscal disaster or personal stupidity notwithstanding).

As I close in on my next payday (next Thursday) I see that my plan to pay off the truck one payday early is a real possibility and therefore I am facing a conundrum.

I had planned to pay the truck off on October 22, yet as my budgets got closer and shored up; it became clear that it was possible to pay the truck off on October 7th.

So, this means that I will pay my low interest credit card off one payday early as well. Then there will be something unheard of in my plans . . . an extra payday. 

The question then becomes, what to do with it (no, I will not give it to you). 

I could just shift my savings plan up and charge on ahead, thereby paying Wanda off one payday early.

Or I could splash out and buy something impulsive, like a new phone or some other toy. What I have decided to do is a bit more prudent yet closer to the first option. 

I will fund and keep my Mid-Term Savings account up to $2k and trickle-save it higher, whenever possible. 

When that fund gets to just over $2.5K I will then make an extra $500.00 payment into the Long-Term Savings Account.

I will keep my savings plan of $1.5K per payday on track no matter what. 

If I need a bit of extra cash to balance my budget on a particular payday, I will draw a bit from my Mid-Term Savings Account. 

When I have a bit of surplus in my budget, I will put that into the Mid-Term Savings Account. This way it should enable me to keep up this ambitious savings plan.

When the end of October comes around, I should still (I hope) have that $2K still in the Mid-Term Savings Account and use that to pay off Wanda, one payday early.

This plan should level out the ups and downs of expenses and paydays yet enable me to keep my plan to achieve total debt freedom in about a year’s time.

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

Thursday 15 September 2016

The Afterburner Candle

Okay, this was one of those accidental discoveries which turned out to be both cool and disconcerting at the same time. 

I found that the latest batch of tall white candles were tapered at the bottom of it and so wobbled a bit in the candleholder.

I decided to wrap the bottom of the candle in some Kleenex to make it sit more solidly in the candleholder . . . it worked.

Now, I figured that the bit of Kleenex would just burn a bit when the candle got down there, (the way that Kleenex always burns, quick) no big deal . . . it didn’t work out that way.

What happened was that the wax that dripped down the candle while it was burning its way down to the bottom was absorbed and spread equally throughout the Kleenex. 

So, when the flame burned down to the level of the top of Kleenex, things got interesting. 

The heat from the flame actually ignited the now wax-soaked-Kleenex-ring. It lit up like the circular wick that it had become. 

This ring of fire (cue Johnny Cash) combined with the centre flame (the one that was supposed to be burning alone) and they became one large flame.

This flame then heated up the wax even more and became a captive pool of hot wax. This pool of hot wax happily fed both the centre wick and the wick ring. It looked like this . . . 

While it looks cool, it is also very dangerous so don’t try this at home, or if you do, I’m not responsible. I blew the candle out shortly after this picture was taken.

Needless to say I won’t use Kleenex to secure a candle again. Oops.

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

Wednesday 14 September 2016

The Phone Company “Friendly Call”

Okay, so a couple nights ago I got a call from a representative (who was calling from a large call centre) on behalf of my mobile phone/internet provider.

The rep was friendly and professional and in essence wanted to “review my current plan to ensure that it was still meeting my needs”. 

What they really wanted was to get me onto another package, any package other than the one that I am now (the one that I had to put up a fuss and go to tier two of customer support to get).

At first I tried to brush them off, but they were persistent so I let them review my package and go through the motions. I was curious what would happen.

After a few clicking and clacking they announced that they could get me two more gigabytes of data per month for the same price (wow what a deal).

And I could have access (free for six months) to:

Live streaming hockey games (which will chew up my data, fast)
Live streaming movies and TV shows (which will chew up my data, even faster)
View magazines online (I mostly read news websites)

In any event these are hooks where you get it free for a bit, but then end up paying after you get used to using them. They are ways to sneakily up your bill down the road.

Apparently I couldn’t say no, but to activate them I actually had to go and download the apps. If I didn’t download, then no counter would start and no increased bill in six months.

After all was said and done they said, there you go, all this for just $125.00! I’m thinking, okay great since I pay 127.16 now, you have actually given me more for less.

Then they added, in passing, there is the additional $10.00 for each additional device in the data sharing plan. To be fair these charges are already on my bill now and are a part of that $127.16.

I did the math in my head and said “congratulations, you just increased my bill by twenty bucks, I’ll stick with what I have.” 

If I had gone with their plan I would have seen my cell bill go up to $145.00! All for an extra 2 Gigs of data that I don’t really need and other stuff I can’t use.

The trick to dealing with this type of phone call is to know exactly what you are getting and how much you are paying. 

They will try to sweet talk you and make you think that what they are giving you a great deal. 

In the end, if it is not giving you more of what you need for a price that you want, then it is not a good deal, it is a bad one.

Stick to your guns, don’t be afraid to question what they are saying and yes don’t be afraid to stick with what you have, they can’t force you to change or upgrade. (Be firm but polite.)

For me, my plan does what I need and if I get too close to the data roof, I just turn the data off and seek out free Wi-Fi for the last few days of my data month.

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

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Fall Preview

Yesterday evening was a bit cooler and last night and this morning was chilly, with frost on my truck windows even. (Yes, there was grumbling as I scraped this morning).

What I did was try out my thermal undies contraption to not only stay warm but also stretch out the time before turning the furnace on.

The longer I can go before turning my furnace on, the more cash I save in both propane and gasoline.  Why is this?

This is because the propane is needed to burn in the furnace but the furnace fan uses electricity for the fan which will drain my batteries thereby requiring me to run the generator more often and thus burning more gasoline.

So anyways, here is me in my thermal undie getup.

Sorry for the not great angle but it was hard to get it setup to take me from head to toe all in the same shot. As it was the camera was resting on a few containers.

On my head is my “Sleeping Toque” as I call it. This is a knitted toque that covers the ears and has a string that ties under the chin.

This way my head and ears are warm and it will stay on my head as I sleep. Since your head is always poking out of your bed or sleeping bag, it usually stays cold, this way your head doesn’t.

On my feet are actually two pairs of socks, the outer pair, that you see is actually a high-tech, overpriced pair of socks I bought in a hunting store. They seem to do the job, though, namely in keeping my feet warm.

The weather is expected to warm up slightly for the rest of the week, but I wanted to be prepared.
Speaking of which, I phoned up the RV Dealership to find out when they are having their Winterizing Drive-Through special day.

That day is on October 1 and so that is they day that I officially go from Summer Mode to Fall/Spring Mode. That means no more water in my fresh water tanks, so no using the taps or the shower.

In Fall/Spring mode I can still use the drains and toilet, so I can stand in my shower and pour water over me and have a “Jug Shower.” This is not that bad, and something that I am used to.

This will last until the first time that the weather turns cold and I have to dump my tanks fast to prevent water from freezing in my Grey or Black Water tanks.

Then I am in Winter Mode, where all water goes into a plastic tub and tossed out under a tree or bush, and of course I can’t use my toilet. More on Winter Mode when I am in full-blown Winter Mode.

For now, I will just enjoy the weather as best as I can and enjoy things like the sunrises

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

Monday 12 September 2016

Prepping For Fall

This weekend it got a bit nippy, cold even. Nothing too cold, but cold enough, overnight, so as to cause me to think about the cold weather to come and how to deal with it.

What I did was get out my two other quilts and put them back on the bed. I also trotted out my safely stashed away cold weather clothes and looked them over. One of these was my set of thermal undies.

I did what I said I was going to do and bought another pair and one other item (more on that later). This meant that I now have four pairs of thermal undies, all one size larger than the other.

Why I do this is so I can wear one pair of thermal undies after the other, all at once. As in, I wear the Medium right next to my body, then the Large, then the Extra Large then the 2 x Extra Large.

Why I do this for layering and more importantly trap yet more air. As we all know insulation is in fact trapping dead air. Still air can be heated radiantly and just by your body or the heat from the house.

That is why thick pink insulation or puffy jackets are so good at keeping your warm, they are in great at trapping air.  Yet this many layered thermal undie garment has one downfall to it.

What that problem is manifests itself anytime I take on or off this garment. As you can guess, lining up the cuffs of each of the layers so they are all at the same level takes a bit of doing.

So this year, I decided to just sew the ends of the cuffs together and be done with it. Sure, this means that when I put this garment on, I can no longer just put on two layers or three layers.

History has taught me, however, when I put this thing on that I don’t put on only one or two layers it is all or nothing!

So here is me half way through sewing up one of the cuffs.

The process is a simple up and over method making sure to keep going up and over the top again and again.

I made sure to get every layer at once by constantly pulling them up and reaching down at least five to ten millimetres on each pass with the needle.

Eventually I was done all four cuffs and this is what it looks like.

The other thing I did was buy a new pair of sandals.

They look big don’t they? They are the perfect size, as far as I am concerned. Why? Well, they are going to be my winter sandals . . . yep winter sandals.

You see, once I am all dressed up in my warm clothes with about 5 – 6 layers, including at least 2 pairs of socks, my feet get fat. At that point the only footwear that fit are my winter boots.

If I just have to pop outside to switch propane tanks, or get something from the truck or even just do my evening walk around, this is tedious and overly time consuming.

So, what I did was buy the largest set of rubber sandals that I could get my hands on Size 13. I usually take a size 10, so these things should fit my fat winter feet.

This ways I can just keep them by the door, slip them on, pop outside, then back inside without the fuss of the boots.

I can still put the boots on when I need to go to the store or go outside any distance or for any length of time.

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

Friday 9 September 2016

Curious Caller

I was recently contacted by someone who was more than a little curious about my lifestyle. I actually met them face to face this week and it was a pleasant experience (at least for me).

They messaged me explaining that they were looking for tips and answers to a few pertinent questions on what is required to be an Urban Nomad.

We arranged to meet in my Western Home as that is the best place to see Wanda and be able to show off all over her various nooks and features without being buzzed by cars.

It was an interesting experience for me to seem like the “experienced hand” at this and not the clomping bubbling fool that I feel like most times (okay less so these days).

It was essentially me wandering about pointing out this or that and saying stuff like “You’ll want one of these,” or “Do this, don’t do that; trust me,” and so on in a most non-sequitur way.

Essentially I was trying to remember all of the titbits of good advice that I would have liked to know going into this and spitting them out of my mouth as they came to me.

I’m sure that I forgot more than I said, but at least I helped their research along and pointed them in the right direction. 

They are someone whose upcoming vocation will require them to travel about quite a bit and decided to do research and talk to someone who’s done it first and not just jump in there. (Sure bring logic and good sense into this.)

Anyways, it was good to talk to someone and know that their reason was out of sensible necessity for exploring this lifestyle and not a more distressing need. 

I will note, however, that in recent weeks I have noticed more and more people on the streets and parking lots living in RV’s and I am forced to wonder, are they people like me, trying to get ahead, or desperate people trying to survive? 

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

Thursday 8 September 2016

Payday Projections

Okay, yesterday was payday so effectively I am broke . . . nothing new for the last decade or two. What is different is that I have started moving in my new direction.

This is the first payday after my epiphany this last weekend in order to make Total Debt Freedom Day November 7, 2017! (Sorry, had to brag.)

One of the changes that I made was to no longer put any cash in the Long-Term Savings Account and instead put that cash into the Mid-Term Savings Account.

This is because in six weeks I plan to drain the Long-Term Savings Account as I use it and what I have saved in the Mid-Term Savings Account to pay off the truck loan.

Why paying the truck loan off early is so key to my getting debt free early, is because that truck payment is by far my largest single expense each month. 

As four and a half times that of one of Wanda’s payments! Okay, technically there are two Wanda payments a month, so the truck payment is technically 2.2 times my Wanda Payments.

I don’t budget for the whole month, however, I only budget for a half-month, as in each pay period. So freeing up any cash flow is important.

By paying off the truck loan and my low-interest card, along with keeping my other card to zero, I will be able to manage doubling what I can put into savings each month. 

That is what will enable me to pay Wanda off by November 7, 2017. That is, unless I see an absolute steal of a deal that I can’t pass up. 

If I do, see a property I can’t resist, I will buy said property and sit on it as I keep up my plan to pay Wanda off and have a bit of a cash cushion before considering moving. 

Into the new year I will really be moving into a freeing and time of great possibilities. I will keep focussed on being debt free, but I can’t be blind to property possibilities.

We shall see how things shape up, but for now I need to focus on living as frugally as I can and stick to my budget. 

All in all, things are looking up for me, despite the expected cold winter that is coming.

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

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Lunch for Three Months for $100.00

A little trick that I have been doing to save cash for a few years is to make a large batch of food and freeze it in meal-sized portions. 

This way I know that I am going to have a good hot lunch at work yet it doesn’t cost me that much. 

This batch turned out to be the most expensive yet but it also was the tastiest. It came out to be 53 meals at $2.00 a piece. 

My last few batches came out at about $1.25 a meal but what the heck, I will be more careful next time. Here is the food that went into this batch.

The major difference was the fact that I did my double-boiler idea for my stock pot. Finding a pot large enough was a challenge but I found a canning pot.

My idea was to boil water in a large pot and put my stock pot in it, therefore it would get indirect heat so as to not burn the bottom inch of food in the stock pot.

This means that I needed something to support the weight of the food-laden stock pot so only water and not to bottom of the larger pot contacts the bottom of the stock pot.

To do this I used the metal frame that came with the canning pot intended to let you get your mason jars in and out of the pot. I turned it upside down and used angle braces turned on their side to add support.

When it is all together it looks like this.

What I do to make this batch is to first of all take the mixed vegetables and simmer them in enough water to cover them and toss in the onion soup. 

While that is happening I brown the ground beef a chunk (whatever will fit in the frying pan) at a time, letting the grease drain into for a moment afterwards before putting it in the stock pot.

Once the beef is in there I toss in the hash browns as in the whole bag. I treat this as meat substitute. 

I then dry mix the taco seasoning (for flavour and kick) in one packet at a time. This way the dry powder sticks to the moist beef and hash browns thus ensuring even flavour distribution.

Then the noodles from the hamburger helper gets added and mixed in. After that comes the hamburger helper powder, again dry mixing to ensure even flavour distribution.

Then I toss in the (simmering all this time) veggies and onion soup and mix again. Then I add the beans (for fibre) and since this is a lasagne mix tomato paste to thicken the sauce and yes mix again.

After that I pour in water to cover this massive mixture. This time it was to the top of the stock pot as in just about at the brim.

Then this thing gets heated, so on the stove it went.

I soon realized that I needed more heat to get this thing going, so I moved it to straddle all three burners and let ‘er rip. 

After that I let it go, it took half an hour for the water to boil and I had to keep an eye on the water level and keep adding water to it so as to surround the stock pot as much as possible with boiling water.

I wasn’t able to get the stock pot simmering or to a rolling boil, but it was essentially like a large slow cooker. So I let this go for four hours (about five hours on the stove in total.) I used a lot of propane, I usually do. 

After that I let this concoction sit for one full day, as in 24 hours. This lets it cool but also allows the flavours to mix together. 

After that I portion it out, I use a food scale so I can measure out and weigh each portion, for me each meal is 10 ounces, so a bit over half a pound.

I use Ziploc type sandwich bags, fill them as I weigh them, once the right amount of food is in it, I squish and squeeze the food so all the air goes out, usually working towards one corner. 

It worked and I was able to use the whole batch with nothing burned on the bottom of the pot!

Then I stack them flat in the freezer (this is important). Make sure to leave room for swelling of the food once it freezes (trust me on that). Once they are frozen planks of food then you can stack them vertically if needed.

To serve just take one out of the freezer, rip the bag off (to ensure that all of the food comes out of the bag) then put it on a plate and microwave for five minutes and you are eating. 

For lunches I put them in a Tupperware type container and break it in two to make it fits. It is frozen thin enough that you can do this.

There, that is how I make a lot of lunches for cheap. When I have a larger freezer available I will make a few batches of different flavours for variety. Since I only have this small freezer, I just pack it full of one batch.

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

Tuesday 6 September 2016

Total Debt Freedom Day Update!

Okay, it was a productive weekend where I not only cooked another batch of food for three months (will blog about that tomorrow) but I also reworked my paydown plan, and in the process moved up my Total Debt Freedom Day.

It all started with me putting up that countdown board that would let me count the weeks and months until my Total Debt Freedom Day of January 16, 2018.

Why that day? Well, my last automatic payment on the truck will go through on midnight of the night before, so I will wake up totally debt free.

This weekend I decided to check the actual date of the last payment on the truck loan. Well, I got a shock, it wasn’t until January 15, 2019, two years away.

This pushed my Total Debt Freedom Day to January 16, 2019. I figured that I would still carry on with the plan and just save up what I could after the trailer was paid off.

This got me thinking and then calling the bank to explore the possibility of paying off the truck first. I realized that I could pay off the truck by the end of October then spend one month to pay off the visa.

After that and then split my savings equally between building up my Mid-Term savings account and saving up to pay off Wanda. This put my debt freedom day to April 22, 2018.

I then wondered what if I was to throw caution to the wind and after paying the truck and visa off that I focussed on saving up to pay the trailer off. This then moved that paydown day up to October 22, 2016.

Not to get caught again I phoned the back that the trailer loan is with and had them tell me approximately how much of each payment went to the principle and how much was interest.

With this it was just a spreadsheet later that I was better able to estimate when I would have enough saved up to pay that loan off, this pushed the date that I would be able to pay the trailer off back one payday.

Thus I can now officially say that my Total Debt Freedom Day is now November, 7, 2017! Just over a year from now in fact it is.

Yes, in less than 14 Months and one week I will be totally debt free!

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

Friday 2 September 2016

Total Debt Freedom Counter Activated!

Okay, so this may seem silly to those of you out there and they may not get it, however, to me, this works.

I have completed a simple Photoshop edit of a photo I took (if you look closely you will see a rainbow there) so I can mark down the months and weeks until I achieve my goal.

Again, this is just so there is a daily reminder of the constant progress I am making towards my goal of total debt freedom.

After that, I will change this into some other nifty counter, counting down or counting up towards the next lofty goal. So, without further ado, here it is.

(I have done the math and it is actually 16 months and 2 weeks to Total Debt Freedom.)

All I have done is buy a 5 x 7 picture frame, then using a Photoshop-esque program that we have at work I created this picture to put in it. I may or may not have used the colour printer at work to print said photo.

Since the face of this picture frame is glass I can use any old dry erase maker on it to actually make the dates. Voila I now have my own custom countdown/motivational counter.

I encourage you to do the same thing,  as you work towards your own goals. A plain old picture printed in black and white will do just fine, this was what I did, because . . . well . . . I could.

This will serve as a reminder to me to keep going and keep edging towards my goal, my current goal in the overall path that is to improve my life. The current phase is to become totally debt free.

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

Thursday 1 September 2016

Focus and Anticipation

It is true that I am a goal-oriented person, at least at this point in my life. I will also say that it works, setting a goal and working towards it actually does improve your life.

Sitting there with a positive mindset and wishing for things to be better won’t help a thing. Chanting mantras (alone) won’t do anything to better your situation.

Neither will sacrificing a chicken to the gods of the universe . . . then again I have never tested this theory so in the interest of honesty and transparency it may in fact work, but I don’t recommend it.

It is easy to set a goal, we all know that and have done it. We can sit there and say “I want to be rich!” The next step is to actually come up with a plan on how to do that.

Let’s say you devise such a plan, now what? Now you . . . wait for it . . . actually work that plan. (Go figure.)

Yet, we have all found, myself included, that frustration sets in and we can lose momentum and eventually give up on the pursuit of our lofty goals.

The trouble is that we lost motivation from our lack of focus and anticipation. You need to keep focussed on that end goal and stay hungry for it, anticipate it, so much so that you can almost taste it.

That is what I forgot; I got lost in the frustration and lost sight of the end goal “Total Debt Freedom.” I didn’t see myself standing there with no debts and a 83% of my paycheque back under my control.

To prevent this from happening again, I am going to put up a countdown board on my wall so I can keep an eye on how long (how short rather) I have to go until my goal is achieved.

This way it gives me something to change and something to look up to and see what I am doing this all for. This should help keep me focussed and on track.

It is my hope that this will help keep my attitude positive and therefore keep me motivated and perhaps help the time pass quicker.

After all it is almost hard to believe that the three year mark of this Urban Nomad Journey is coming up (December 5th). So what are a few months (17 months) before I take my paycheque back!

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