Friday 23 December 2016

Frozen Pants

So . . . my pants are frozen. I have to admit, I kinda saw this one coming, but didn’t have much of a choice. 

I had to wash them and then had to dry them. Drip drying was the best way to get the bulk of the water out. Well most of it got out but the rest was frozen in place.

This is not the best shot but they're not frozen enough to stand on their own, but you get the idea.

They have the consistency of a frozen sponge (yes I have seen that freeze too). I have a backup plan, so don’t fret.

I plan to be in my camping spot tonight with my electric heater cranked up for the next ten days, so those pants will be nice and dry (and unfrozen) in no time.

It is just one of the adventures and challenges that crops up when you live in an RV even in winter. 

Heat is an issue at the best of times but when you have things to dry, even more so. 

The key to success in this life is to just take things as they come and solve the problems as they come up one by one. 

So, when you have frozen pants, don’t get mad, just heat them up (without melting them or setting them on fire. 

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

Thursday 22 December 2016

Drawing Out Departure

So, as you all know I am heading out for my Christmas Break on Friday after work. Exactly when I leave is yet to be determined. Why?

Well, because the boss informed us that instead of our usual quitting time of 2pm on Fridays may be extended to 3pm just in case some customers want some last minute items.

Tomorrow is payday and so it usually my running around day, which includes grocery shopping. I figured why pack all that into one day, so I did my grocery shopping last night.

For one, it gave me something to do, for another it let me do my shopping at a more relaxed pace as well as get me that one more step towards being ready to shove off.

Tonight is also packed as I have my banking and gas fill up to do, but I also have to renew my vehicle registration and of course pick up next year’s park pass when I get to Banff. 

I am still looking forward to this break and eagerly await being on the road. These diversions help pass the time until that wondrous hour of departure and freedom.

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

PS: the pants are still not dry.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Pants Problem

So, the inevitable happened last night, clumsy me spilled something on the pants portion of the stylishly fashionable Quad-Thermal Underwear contraption that has been a stable of my wardrobe for the last month (or two).

This means I have to wash them, but since I have sewn the cuffs together that means washing the whole thing, rather than just the affected layer.

Cheap me, decided not to do a special laundry run just for this (since I just did laundry on Friday). So this means scrubbing with a brush, some soap in a bucket before leaving it to soak overnight.

Funny thing about thermal undies, particularly when they are in grouped together is that they are an effective sponge. Sooo I have a very heavy, damp pair of thermal underwear pants.

In order to dry them, these will take a few days in this weather or a nice hot summer day in the sun. The trick is that they are too heavy to just hang over a wire rack, as they will flop down.

So the compromise that I came up with was this . . . 

The wire thing is the wire rack laundry rack that I bought from a large discount retailer. It is built just like a scissor-lift and takes a bit of doing to get into my small bathtub in my micro-bathroom.

Up top I have two “pants hangers” or “skirt hangers.” I find them handy in such cases to use as large clothes pegs. This way there is a bit of air getting the inside and the whole thing can drip-dry over the next few days.

Thankfully the weather is not too bad these days, so I can just go back to wearing a couple pairs of sweat pants and sweat shirts. Once again function over fashion. 

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

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Countdown to Christmas Break

Okay, so while the nice weather is a nice break, it is not the break that I need. For some reason I find the dragging drudgery of work and the cold weather of late has taken its toll on me.

I need: warmth, space, peace and quiet, lack of rushing traffic two feet from my door and yes free-flowing electricity.

So I find my thoughts drifting and planning for the wondrous and delightful days that are coming, the ten days and eleven nights that is my Christmas Break in Banff.

Sure it is a break where I am by myself at a time when one should be surrounded by family, but this is my life these days. 

I do plan to have a family and all that, I know that time is just not yet; first things first things first: Get debt free, get land, then start family (but I digress).

I will make it through this week that seems to tic by much slower than most, due to the wonderful reward that lies at the end of it: peace and quiet.

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

Monday 19 December 2016

Hibernation Halted (For Now)

Friday night was spent first running around, then hibernating. Saturday was spent at the library, so as to use someone else’s heat and electricity for the day. 

Saturday night found me retreating ever further into my sleeping bag. I found myself curled up somewhere in the middle of it. 

I still turned my face to face the opening of the bag so as to ensure that I could still get fresh air, yet not stick my face out in the sub -20C temperatures of the trailer. 

This changed Sunday morning when finally the cold snap lifted and manageable temperatures returned. This meant that no longer needed to hibernate.

I was even able to run my furnace and get the temperature above zero, by noon I could push things to a balmy 10C. I was even able to keep this up until I went to bed.

I spent a lot of time wiping things down as the frost that covered most surfaces of the insides of the trailer melted. 

Such is life, but I am just happy that I was able to defrost my trailer and even use my deadbolt lock again. For the past few weeks it has been immobilized by frost in the open position. 

This meant piling things up in front of the door, so as to ensure that if anyone tried to enter, they would make noise and wake me.

That is all changed now, for the foreseeable future at least. I should be able to keep my trailer above zero, for the foreseeable future. 

I am still looking forward to my Christmas Break in Banff that is set to commence this Friday afternoon. 

I will do whatever shopping and running around that I have to do Thursday night (which is payday) so I can just run to the hills, as soon as I get off of work Friday.

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

Friday 16 December 2016

Random Act of Kudos

Last night I had a visit from a stranger, but it was not an unwelcome visit.  This individual had apparently been driving past my trailer (in my Eastern Home) for months and wanted to stop by, yet never did.

Last evening this guy did stop by and the only thing he wanted to say (apart from hi) was the fact that he respected me for what I was doing. 

He also said that I had more courage for living in my RV and actually tackling my debt rather than just give into it. This is one of those things that I have never really given much thought to (how “courageous” I am).

I, for one, just see this as a path that I must walk, because I want greater and better things for me, most of them revolve around and require freedom. 

For me, that is what total debt freedom is . . . freedom, the freedom to do what I want, and go where I want. 

After all, I will not only own (outright) my little home on wheels, but also know how to live in it in any climate. 

That will mean that as long as I have cash to cover my living expenses, (Say $600.00 a month) I can truly to where I want and do what I want.

It was nice to hear from someone and hear that not everyone thinks I’m nuts or the local hobo. It was also nice to remind myself of why I am out here . . . freedom. 

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

Thursday 15 December 2016

Winter Water Woes

Okay, so with the deep freeze still with us, for a few days yet, I thought I would let people know how I have been keeping my water liquid. 

There are a few options, one is to store water in metal containers each one able to contain a gallon. 

Why? Well you can put the metal container on your stove and melt the solid block of ice, yet it is not too large or heavy to handle.

I have not found those yet, so I will go with my backup plan which is to have a number of smaller water containers, such as 1.5 litre water bottles. 

I keep filling them up at work and taking them home each day. This way I let work keep my water liquid during the day for me.

At home I fill up a hot water bottle and snuggle my bottles of water (and coffee creamer) in a bag wrapped in a towel.

This way the water (and coffee creamer) will stay (mostly) liquid by morning (mmm, coffee cream slushie). 

I still do my trick of filling my coffee percolator and kettle the night before. Logic and experience have taught me that one. 

This way it doesn’t matter if the water in them freezes overnight as I can simply put the kettle or coffee percolator on the stove . . . they’ll defrost quickly enough.

When the weather is warmer I can go back to filling my five gallon jugs of water at the grocery store, as I prefer. 

When I have water in them I shake the jugs up like a martini shaker. This is to break up the ice in them as at least you can pour out shards of ice into the kettle to melt.

With the weather in the deep freeze, though, my large jugs can and will freeze solid in no time flat. This makes them ineffective to use south of -20C

Just try defrosting a large block of ice . . . it may freeze fast, but it won’t melt fast. At least not without the heat of summer (which is a long time coming.)

My trick these days is to only bring home enough water to last me the night and morning. That way I can function yet not have useless blocks of ice. 

The absolute backup plan is to melt snow, but I haven’t done that yet, as I would prefer to do that and then put that melted water through some sort of water filter.

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

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Bucking a Disturbing Trend

Statistics Canada released a report today that stated that household debt has risen in this country to a point where the average person owes $1.67 for every $1.00 earned 

Technically they said “Disposable Income” but nobody elaborated just what that means, is that after tax income, or what?

Anyways, the trend is that people are piling on debt at an alarming rate. I, for one, have no illusion as to why . . . 

People are tapped out and just can’t make ends meet, so they turn to credit cards, lines of credit and other forms of credit to keep going.

Sooner or later this will run out and people’s fiscal house of cards will collapse. This is why this blog entry is for anyone reading this to seriously consider tackling your own debt.

Once again, you don’t have to go to my extreme to get your debt under control, and eventually eliminated (yes it is possible).

What you do need to do is to downgrade your lifestyle in order to free up cash in your monthly budget and put that cash towards your debt.

You can do this in a number of ways: rent a room, rent a house with another family, or even move in with family. 

There are a thousand ways to do it and the best way to start would be to imagine what you would do if you were suddenly unemployed.

That will get you thinking of the drastic ways that you could downgrade your lifestyle to balance your shockingly drastic reduction in your monthly income.

Just think about it, because being mired in debt is not right, nor acceptable, even if it has become “normal.”

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

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Budget Alchemy

Okay, with time ticking down to payday, and my Christmas Break, my thoughts turn towards my last budget of 2016. 

Specifically, me finding a way to pay for what I need to pay for and still end the month with my three accounts fully funded. To make a long story short, I have managed to do it.

Sure it is an arbitrary dollar figure that I have put on myself but it is a target that I have set for myself and, if I must say, a good target. 

This is key for me moving forward is to build up an “Oops Fund” into each and all of my three accounts. 

This is because I will be doing the unthinkable . . . handing over large wads of cash to the bank when they are not asking for it.

Again, this goes back to my experiment that I will commence next year so that I can pay the Wanda Loan off faster, by paying the bank directly.

The plan that I did for the truck was to save the principle up in my long term savings account. This is a bit dangerous as I can start seeing things (or property) that I could by.

With all of the fuss that I have made about Total Debt Freedom Day: Nov, 7, 2017, anything less than sudden and unexpected unemployment would be allowable in order for me to miss that deadline.

The key today is that I have a plan to fund my three accounts back up to what I deem the minimum acceptable levels. 

Remember, you can’t control the future all you can do is control the present and in so doing, direct your future. 

What that means is you can shape your future by managing your money wisely, here, now today, as in this payperiod.

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

Monday 12 December 2016

Cold Snap Snap

Okay, so I did run to the hills this weekend and I will admit that it was just to give myself a break from the deep freeze.

All in all it was a good weekend and I was able to warm the trailer up and defrost most of my belongings. 

I have seen things freeze that most people don’t think could/would freeze. Did you know that dish soap turns to a foamy consistency when it freezes? I do.

Now I am back at it and after that little break I know that I can and will hunker down and continue to make it through winter as efficiently as possible. 

Again, another twisted game in my near future is to see how much cash I can save even in the depths of the deep freeze that is this latest cold snap. 

After all, all I really have to do is heat me, as in my body, not my trailer . . . I see a lot of my Bear Mode in my future.

As in just not bothering to run the furnace and spending as much time as possible out of the trailer and in a building or in my sleeping bag when I am in the trailer.

Ah yes, that wonderful place called the library is calling me next weekend. I can think of a number of things and projects that I should be working on that can take up my time.

The break this past weekend was needed and did not cost as much as I had thought that it would. I will have to break down and take more of these breaks in the future, as it is necessary.

I will make it through winter and quickly put my budget back on track and top up the Mid-Term Savings Account that I raided for this sojourn.

The view was fantastic, though, due to the fact that I was able to get my favourite spot.

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

Friday 9 December 2016

Bear Mode Engaged

Okay, so I find myself hibernating this cold snap away. Oddly enough it has been saving me on resources . . . so there is that.

Essentially what I have been doing is just not heating the house during the week . . . in this sub -20C cold snap. Here’s why.

Everything in the house is not just frozen but in a deep freeze, so at least none of my food will spoil J

Anyways, what I have been doing is chaining in and out of my cold weather getup at work. That way I change in a warm environment and not in the frozen house.

I will move the house to my evening parking spot, have my dinner, relax for a bit with a cup of herbal tea as I listen to a bit of radio.

After that, I just turn in, as in tuck into my sleeping bag. I can still do some stuff or even listen to the radio if I want (I have a remote.) All from the warmth of my sleeping bag.

In the mornings I don’t get up when I used to, nope, I stay in bed until I have to get up to get my morning rolling. Other than that I am hibernating this cold snap away.

In the end, all I really need to do is heat me, myself, my body and not the rest of the house. So far it is working and I will see how things go in the future.

I will admit that I am taking a cold-snap break by running away from the cold for the weekend by going to the hills and my Very-Western Home (Banff.)

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

Thursday 8 December 2016

Wanda Loan Update

So, last night was a regularly scheduled Wanda Payment. That means that I logged in this morning to see just how accurate my estimations were. 

Well, wouldn’t you know it that the pattern held true and so my estimations were right on track. In fact the amount taken off of the principle of the loan increased by $0.10. 

Furthermore I was able to accurately predict the balance amount, to the penny! So this means that it is possible to predict what is going to come on these loans.

This is important so that I can see and establish a regular pattern if I do nothing out of the ordinary (control) and compare that to what happens when I make my various payments (experiment).

So, things will get quite interesting over the next few months on the Wanda Loan front. As I will study what effects my various payments have on the loan.

This is so I can predict going forward what is going to happen on this loan and estimate when it actually should be paid off.

That way I can tweak and adjust what I am doing in order to ensure that I pay the Wanda Loan off on that glorious day, known as Total Debt Freedom Day! (Nov, 7, 2017).

With as much fuss and fanfare I have made about that day (that I have picked) I had bloody-well better make that day!

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

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Back to Mother Nature’s Deep Freeze

I am not talking about the weather, although it is cold, sure. I am talking about my fridge and freezer, as in I can’t run them when the weather gets this cold.

Without going into details about modern refrigeration, the back of your fridge is not only supposed to get warm, it needs to get warm, in order to keep the insides cool.

Since the back of my fridge hangs its butt out in -20C weather these days, it is safe to say that it is as warm as I am. 

That means that if I run the fridge now, I risk damaging it. So what do I do? I do the most counter-intuitive thing anything could imagine: I leave the doors open.

Yep, since the weather is actual deep freeze temperature the best thing for me to do is to let that cold air into the house and further into the fridge and freezer.

The fridge came with these plastic attachments to prop the fridge and freezer doors open when you are storing the trailer. I simply use them to prop the doors open, while I am at work, in order to keep my stuff frozen.

It works, a little too well as it happens, but at least nothing is going to spoil. Water is another issue for another blog entry, but at least I know how to keep my fridge cold even when I can’t run it.

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

PS: I was interviewed by Bill Macfarlane from CTV News Calgary, in case you are interested, here you are: 

Tuesday 6 December 2016

I Cuddled my Laptop Last Night

I do like my laptop, but not that much. After all, it is a cheap laptop, but it does get the job done and I don’t have any payments on it.

The reason I was “cuddling” my laptop is an old trick that I had to get back into the practice of: sleeping with my electronics.

What happens is that when the temperatures drop into the definite deep freeze overnight your electronic devices: laptops, smart phones, tablet computers, etc need to be kept warm. 

Trust me, your electronics do not react well to being frozen. There is a serious risk of damage, or at the very least them just shutting down or acting screwy. 

So, the simplest solution to this problem is to take them into your sleeping bag with you to allow your body heat to keep them warm all night long.

What about in the morning? The electronics I am not using I just leave them in the still warm sleeping bag. (It’s better that way.) Why?

Well, when I am up and about in the morning the heater is going so the place warms up, somewhat, as in near zero. 

(Near zero being the operative word . . . Zero is the target to get up to.)

What do I do during the day? I cheat by taking my electronics with me to work to let them stay warm during the day.

For the evening, I put my electronics that I am not using in the sleeping bag with a hot water bottle. That does the trick of warming my sleeping bag for me and keeping those electronic devices from freezing up.

This may seem silly, but trust me you don’t want to push it with your fancy electronic devices. 

The real problem isn’t in the freezing them . . . it’s in the turning them on and using them when they are frozen (trust me.)

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

Monday 5 December 2016

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Okay, so it is that time of year again, it is exactly three years since I started this journey of being an Urban Nomad and yes started this blog.

It has been a long three years filled mostly with me figuring things out as I went. I most certainly did not have all of the answers, and I certainly don’t now. 

Life is a process of constantly revising and honing what you do, of constant improvement. 

Last year I set out five goals for myself let’s see how I did?

1. I will put and keep $1000.00 in my main account at all times.

Okay, this one I have been very successful at and indeed have expanded this policy to all three of my accounts. 

I now vow to have at least $1000.00 in all of my accounts: Main, Mid-Term Savings and Long-Term Savings. 

(So, count this one done!)

2. I will consolidate my truck and trailer loan, and configure it to pay it off in 3 – 4 years.

Okay, this one did not pan out, as it didn’t seem possible, but I did pay off the truck loan (October) and I do have a plan to pay the trailer loan off by Nov 7, 2017. 

So all in all I will be ahead of schedule. In fact even earlier than my most generous estimates (As in both paid off in 2 years rather than 3 to 4) 

(Count this one as half done and in fact on track to being done.) 

3. I will buy myself that new laptop that I want (and have earned).

This one is done, sorta. I did get a new laptop, but nowhere near as nifty or advanced as the one that I had hoped for. 

Fiscal prudence won out and I got what I needed, not what I wanted. This seems to be a reoccurring theme in my life.

(Regardless, count this one done.)

4. I will save $10,000.00 in my contingency fund (with incremental goals of $2000.00.

Seriously not even close, and I won’t even start on this one for a year. Even then it will be trickle savings as I build up the Homestead Fund. 

(Count this one . . . delayed . . . seriously delayed.) 

5. I will pay off my Truck and Trailer Loan

As I said before the truck is paid off and the trailer loan is the current focus of my fiscal efforts. 

(Count this one as half done and in fact on track to being done.) 

So, what are my goals for the next year? 

1. I will, at all times, maintain a balance of at least $1000.00 in each of my accounts: Main, Mid-Term Savings and Long-Term Savings.

2. I will pay off the trailer loan (Wand Loan) before the end of next year with a target paid off date of Nov, 7, 2017.

3. I will maintain all of my credit cards at a $0.00 balance, paying them off in full each and every payday.

Those are big ones and so that is all of my goals for next year. This will be the year that I claw my way to total debt freedom. 

Beyond that, I will work towards getting my own place and paying cash for it. That is next year, though as I have my work cut out for me if I am to do keep all of my three goals all year long. 

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

Friday 2 December 2016

In Training

So, the cold weather cometh, thus I must be prepared. I am not talking about breaking out the winter clothes or the -40C rated sleeping bag (that’s the easy part.)

No, I am talking about getting myself prepared, and re-adjusting what I deem an acceptable interior temperature. These days that is a balmy 5C . . . inside the house.

The lowest setting on the thermostat is 4C but I find 5C to be okay and I can handle it. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am bundled up in my winter clothes, complete with gloves and sleeping toque, but I am okay.

These days I could push the interior temperature to 10C or perhaps up to 15C. Warmer is nicer, so why not do that while I can, right?

The trouble with doing that is that the higher you go, the more the furnace runs. The more the furnace runs the more propane it burns and the more electricity it uses. (Thus warmer = more expensive.)

It can also mean that come morning (when I reeeeeealy want to run that furnace to take the bite out of the air) the batteries are dead and the furnace won’t run.  

The other reason is that when the really cold weather arrives (and stays) I will need to be ready and in full “Polar Bear Mode” to not just handle it, but take it in stride.

This is more for my mental and emotional well-being than anything else. In order to be in a well-balanced and non-agitated state of mind all winter long, I need to just accept the new norm.

I know from winters past that I will never have over 20C temperature in my house unless I find some place to plug in (as in to the electric grid). Thus a weekend camping is a nice retreat to warmth with a view.)

I will have a cold house and that is that, there is little I can do about that fact. I can, however, change my attitude towards it.

This winter I am determined to just change my expectations of what a “warm” house is and in so doing, improve my winter.

This is my life and the lifestyle that I have chosen, so I had best make the best of it. Once again, this is not forever just for now, say three years? 

I will have a warm and cosy home again, just not for the time being. I will, however, have a greatly improved cash flow, and that is something worth bundling up for.

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

Thursday 1 December 2016

Christmas Break Still Unsettled

So here we are, December the 1st and the deep freeze is upon us, or rather it should be fully entrenched come Sunday Morning. 

It has been dancing above and below zero for the last little while, but that is supposed to come to an end come Saturday night. 

For once it cools off Saturday night the temperature will not poke its head above zero for some a few months (Chinook notwithstanding). 

This is neither here nor there and certainly nothing I haven’t seen before or can’t handle. Don’t get me wrong, I am not enthused that the deep freeze is nigh, but I can deal with it.

Since it is the 1st of December, I had hoped that what the man at my favourite campground in Banff was true in that at least a few campsites would be up on the reservation system today.

This is not the case, and while I will check daily, it looks ever increasingly like I will be driving to the mountains with blind faith and trusting in dumb luck that a spot will be available. 

That is something I hate doing, as I will be driving after work and the last thing I want is to find out that nothing is available or that the park is closed for whatever reason. 

I have been assured that it will be up and running, but you never really know and when it comes to my Christmas break, I don’t want to leave anything to chance. 

Ah well, there is little else I can do, as I don’t want to go anywhere else, that is my mountain retreat. No matter what happens, I will be okay, and I will deal with it, I always do.

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