Friday, 18 September 2020

Winterizing Wanda . . . By Myself

So, it is that time of year, the time of year when I think of Winterizing Wanda, and in this time of COVID (and 2020 being 2020) this year there is a snag.

That snag comes in the factor of the fact that this year the drive through winterizing special that the RV dealership holds (that I go to every year) is cancelled.

Even worse is the fact that they have jacked up the price and require that every trailer is “Quarantined” for seven days before any technician goes into said trailer.

Soooooo . . . that’s not happening.

That means that the time has come to winterize Wanda myself. I know the process, I know what to do, I just haven’t done it yet. 

I will buy the special antifreeze that goes in the pipes this weekend but not actually do the winterizing until next weekend (after payday, of course).

The winterizing will have to be done at a full-hook-up campground, and I want to do it before the one in town closes its hook-ups (if they do) for the season.

I don’t want to get caught with water in my tanks when and if a sudden deep freeze hits us (and it might, because 2020 is 2020).

This is yet another skill I have to learn and yet another thing I have to deal with on my road to my future. 

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

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The New Budgeter!

So, I have been inspired and tweaking my Payday Budgeter in order to update it to reflect how I use it. Take a look . . . 

This means that I am expanding my section on my wallets, and giving them their own section. 

Also I can specify how many of what denomination of bills I want to put into each wallet. This is so I can spend cash and not have to break a twenty.

Also I have added a column to note which credit card (if any) this line item (in either Debts or Expenses) is going on.

That way, the spend is marked as either an Expense or as a Debt, but it is not lumped into a massive line item at “Visa” or “Capital One.”

This way it more truly reflects what I am actually spending it on. 

It does mean that I have to add up those expenses to ensure that it matches the outstanding balance on the credit card. (Yes, I have another spreadsheet for that.)

There are a few other tweaks and updates, including font sizes and column widths and all that. All and all I am impressed with how it has turned out.

I have said it before, master your cash flow and you will master your fiscal destiny. Yes this applies to everyone, no matter how much or how little you make.

For it is how much and where you spend, not how much you make that is the true determiner of your financial success. 

(No matter what, there are always options, if you choose to look for them.)

If anyone wants a copy of this for yourself, let me know.

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

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

The Day The Computer Died

So, this past Saturday, as Kim was working away cooking her shredded cabbage rolls batch, I was working on the computer I bought a few years ago.

I brought it over about a month ago deciding it would do more good at Kim’s place than in a box in Wanda.

So, I got it all setup and all of the updates done . . . all of that . . . got it running nice. 

And then the trouble started. What happened was that at random intervals (with a long gap between, so it didn’t happen all that often) the computer would freeze then restart.

I tried any number of things to no avail, we even tried to do a system restore but that didn’t work. 

Finally I did a fresh and clean install of Windows 10, got it setup and . . . it did again.

It confirms (to me) what I had feared all along, that it is a hardware issue.

Now, with typical computers you could open up things and replace components. One of the disadvantages of an All-In-One computer is that everything is on one board.

Sooooo . . . there is only one board to replace . . . the computer . . . as in the guts and brains of it . . . soooo . . . it’s hooped.

It is still put aside because it may, or the components thereof, may be used for an interesting project along the way.

But for now we are left with Kim using her laptop and part of the reason I wanted this computer setup at her place was so she could have a larger screen.

Thus, I improvised (after she asked to keep the ergonomic keyboard of the All-In-One)

That is us using the HDMI output from Kim’s laptop to use her TV as a massive monitor as she uses the Keyboard all setup on a impromptu table in front of the computer.

While it worked in theory, Kim says she probably won’t do this that often, as it is a bit of a fuss to do this. I just wanted to try to see if it would work, and it did.

So, the All-In-One that I got very little use out of is officially dead.

Ah well.

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

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Cooking Wars: A New Batch!


This past weekend, we (I) attempted another batch of my own bulk recipe, this time, Cabbage Roll Casserole.

My last attempt (at beef stew) did not work out as planned, partly because I have never made such a large batch before, and I feel I had to redeem myself (as well as show that I'm up to the challenge of making cheap food that is actually nutritious as well!)

Seeing as how I am studying Holistic Nutrition, I feel I should be able to put my money where my mouth is... so to speak!

Let the Cooking Wars begin! (Well, not War, so much as Challenge! )

Cabbage Roll Casserole is basically cabbage rolls, but, instead of being rolled in a cabbage leaf, the cabbage is sliced into strips and cooked with the filling. It's a lot less work, just as tasty, and takes up less room in the freezer.

This has been a staple in my kitchen for years, because it's very inexpensive, relatively easy to make, and it's actually fairly nutritious. 

Of course, the fresher the better, and when we get the homestead going, I plan on using fresh tomatoes instead of canned. 

Here's my recipe:

    1 large green cabbage
    5 tins diced tomatoes
    5 pounds lean ground beef
    1 cup red lentils
    2 large yellow onions
    1 bulb of garlic
    2 1/2 cups of long grain brown rice
    Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the beef, diced onions and garlic in a large stock pot until brown. 

Add lentils, rice and tomatoes and stir well. 

Add cabbage on top, along with salt and pepper. 

Simmer for an hour, then stir and simmer for another hour, until rice is cooked. Be careful not to burn the bottom!

This recipe cost $42.71 in ingredients, and we ended up with 33 meals, which we packaged and put in the freezer. Most of it ended up in mine, as Geoff still needs to deplete his canned goods before the weather freezes the cans.

That makes it $1.29 per meal, making it roughly a tie with Geoff's canned stew/chili/KD concoction. Don't worry, though...  I'll bring him over to the Dark Side, sooner or later!  After all, I know how to make cookies...  😉🍪

Monday, 14 September 2020

Changing Seasons And Surviving The Cold

Apologies, everyone - I had some technical issues which delayed this post, which is about camping on the Labour Day Weekend!

As Geoff mentioned in one of his previous posts, we went camping this past long weekend, in Banff. 

While it was definitely a wonderful, relaxing weekend away, it also had a purpose - to introduce me to life in a trailer.

Now, I'm no fragile flower who thinks camping is spending a weekend at the Hilton! I've done my fair share of camping in the past! Even last summer, I was camping in a tent with friends in Idaho.

I do have concerns, though, with managing life in a trailer full-time, year-round. The main issues have to do with access to both water and heat. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed my time this long weekend! 

Friday, we managed to be on our way by around 1:30 pm, and made very good time to Banff. I am starting to learn the routine of setting up camp, and I think Geoff and I made a pretty good team.

We were able to enjoy the rest of the day, and he even showed me his favourite spot for winter camping. The view was amazing!

We also discovered an "ancient artifact"!

Saturday, we played tourist, and walked around the town of Banff, itself. I had been there several times before, with friends, but it was great to see it from another perspective. The weather was sunny and hot at 27 degrees!

Unfortunately, summer came to an end Saturday night. Sunday was quite a bit cooler, though. We even had to turn on the electric heater overnight, and keep it on low throughout the day. We were still able to enjoy sunshine, and a walking tour throughout the campground. 

Monday was another story. With high winds and rain during the night, Monday was quite a bit cooler than the previous days. Monday morning even had the appearance of a bit of snow - although it never stayed long enough to accumulate.

Monday's weather wasn't bad enough to keep us indoors if we were determined to do something, but was enough to make it nice and cozy to stay inside with the heater on. 

The trailer was even warm enough that I felt comfortable in taking a shower, without fear of freezing to death! lol 

We did use a fair amount of water that weekend, but, with Geoff's ingenuity, an extra-long water hose, and a nearby tap, he made sure that we stayed topped-off!

All in all, while the weather did provide some challenges, we still had a great time, and I did feel very comfortable. Comfortable enough that I agreed to the ultimate challenge: Winter-time camping in the week between Christmas and New Year's! 😲😱⛄

Friday, 11 September 2020

No, No, They’re Still Good!

So, I have a set of shoes that I wear around the office. I only wear them in the office or the odd time I have to take garbage out the back.

Here is what they look like . . . from underneath . . .    

Yes, those are sizable holes and this is just a way to demonstrate my dedication to saving money.

I have replaced them with slightly less comfortable shoes that I already had in Wanda.

I will buy better (more breathable) shoes later, but for now, this is what I will do.

As I clearly need new shoes, even though new shoes (even El Cheapo ones) are not in the budget at this moment.

So, I will compromise, be practical yet not break the bank . . . even to the tune of $20.00.

Some may say that I am a bit extreme but this is what I have to do in order to get ahead. 

First of all keep a hold on what you spend. If you can find a way to keep a penny, or a dollar in your account you have earned it twice. 

(Once on your paycheque, and once again when you kept it.) 

So, I will buy new shoes, perhaps after next payday, but for now, I will make do with what I have. 

After all, I have some serious ground to make up in my savings, and I won’t do that by giving an inch on my savings targets.

I will not only meet but surpass 50% (of my savings target) before this year is out.

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

Thursday, 10 September 2020

To Cargo Van Or Not To Cargo Van

So, Kim and I have been debating about the wisdom of buying a cargo van and when to do so.

The thinking is that with a cargo van, we could load up the stuff we are going to bring with us to said property (to start the Homestead) in that cargo van.

You know, slowly acquire tools, seeds and equipment over the next few years as we are also building up savings. Then we can bring those with us in the cargo van along with our personal stuff.

Another thought is that that cargo van would tow Wanda as the truck would be used to run around town and/or be driven separately.

There is some thought about selling Kim’s car before heading out as . . . as nice as her car is (and it is nice) it is a small car and might not do well on back roads or the no roads of the future property.

So, then Kim would either drive the cargo van (driven separately) or drive my truck, if the cargo van was pulling Wanda.

I am leaning towards having the cargo van not pull the trailer, as both would be loaded down with stuff.

Yet the question is, when to buy that cargo van and if it is bought early, as in within the next few months, what to do with it in the meantime?

Yet if we wait too long, then we are in a rush to buy a cargo van and may not get a good deal or leave only to discover that there are repairs that are needed.

So we are both left with the question: do we buy a cargo van now, later or never?

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

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Switching to Cash

So, down the homestretch of this year, and as I barrel towards making 50% before this year is out, I will have to change how I have been spending.

Spending less is one obvious way, but in order to do that, I will be returning to an old, yet effective solution . . . my wallets.

I will enact what spending I have to on payday, but otherwise I will spend what I must out of my wallets and pay cash for it.

Then on payday I will put the cash back into the wallets.

This way I can keep a greater control over what I spend and what goes into savings.

It is far too easy to just “put it on a credit card” knowing that I will pay it off next payday.

I do, my credit cards are kept at a zero balance, each and every payday, as I refuse to carry a balance.

Yet as I do that, it steadily eats away at what I can put into savings. 

People look at me and some say “what a nice bit of savings you have” I simply reply that my money, my savings does not belong to me, it belongs to the future.

It is not available now, it is put away so I can build my homestead and have a nice, sustainable life and help others.

I do what I do for the future, not for the now. If I were living for the now I would buy a condo or some other place and just have a nice life now as I try to pay it off before retirement. 

I want land and I want space, and I don’t want to have debt when I do.

Thus, I will need to put as much into savings as I can now, so I can get there sooner. Thus, I will turn to my wallets.

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

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

The Homestead Fund Update

Okay, so it is that time again, when I update how my progress is going on my “Grand Savings Plan!” (to build my "Homestead Fund") 

Okay, so let’s see how I did . . . 

For review, here is how things looked from last payday . . .

That is 45.4% (of my Savings Target).

And this is how things look like, after the dust settled on this payday’s budget . . . 

That’s right things jumped up to 46.0% of my savings target. 

That means I put away 0.6% of my total Savings Target this payday.

So, that may not look all that impressive, especially when you think that most of that is the rise in the value of my investments.

It was the old song, one type of investment went down, but the other type of investment went up, enough to compensate for the loss and then some.

I was able to get back to a “natural” or “neutral” state, meaning, I am fully funded in my Main and Mid-Term Accounts.

As well I was able to put something into my TFSA, again for the first time since June 7th payday. Which, in my budgeting world seems like forever!

Worse still was the fact that my Mid-Term Account has not been fully-funded (achieved last payday) since March.

So, while there was a bill, and those trips to the campgrounds were not great for the savings, it was worth it, as the warm season is winding down.

I am still on-track to make it to 50% before the end of the year, which will mean that I could (if forced to) run out and start my homestead/town.

Again, this would be in the “insane” range of staring the town, but technically possible but it would mean buying the land, some seeds, and some hand tools . . . that’s about it.

So, I could do it, but I would have to have no other choice. It would still be nice to be able to go out and start something.

So, every penny that I can put into savings from here on out is important, as it is moving me one step away from “insane” to “doable!” to finally “let’s do this!”

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

Friday, 4 September 2020

Last Weekend of Summer

So, here we are, the Labour Day Long Weekend, the weekend that is the last long weekend of the warm season. 

I also take pride in taking my gal out to my Mountain Home, where I get to show her Banff and hope that she can appreciate why I love it so much.

Also we get to spend another weekend together and do so out in nature which is a good thing.

We will be touring Banff as well as enjoying our time as tourists in the tourist town.

Anyways, because I did do my running around last night we will get to dash off right after work . . . sorta.

You see, I got a surprise when I was heating up water for breakfast and my morning “Jug Shower.” 

The water was taking longer than usual to boil. It turns out that the flame under the kettle was out.

I knew at that moment that the propane tank was out. So, I had to switch the tank over and that means that I have to fill the tank that I just drained.

Now, I could wait until later, as in next Friday to fill it up, but I don’t like waiting to fill the tank, that and I do not like going up to the mountains with just one propane tank.

Just in case we get delayed there for any one of a thousand reasons.

So, I will be filling the tank up along the way which will only delay our departure a few minutes.

All in all, it looks to be a great weekend.

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

Thursday, 3 September 2020

The Day Before The Dash-Off

So, this is the second weekend in a row where I will be heading out into nature to go camping. I will even bring my Darling Dearest with me . . . this time to my Mountain Home . . . Banff.

Today is the day before I head out, so there is always the contemplation to do my running around a day early as in tonight, so I can be ready to just book it tomorrow after work.

Since it is a long weekend, it would be advisable to leave as early as possible  . . . as in *cough* . . . *cough* not feeling well for tomorrow *cough* . . . *cough* . . . sorry Boss. 

(It is mathematically and technically possible for me to actually call in sick . . . sometime . . . when and if i am actually sick . . . possible but not likely.)

Yet, having said that, leaving in the early afternoon as in “Wheels Rolling” by 1:15 at the latest is also a good thing.

This way, if I do my shopping tonight, I can take my time to leisurely do what I need to do and not rush around madly tomorrow in an effort to get things done ASAFP!

The main thing is to get to the campsite as soon as possible, so as to enjoy the weekend with my gal in my favorite place . . . Banff.

(So I most likely will be running around tonight).

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

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Mid-Sized Meal Mash-up Measured

So, on Monday after work I made another batch of my Mid-Sized Meal Mash-up. Yesterday I portioned it out into meal-sized portions.

This time I didn’t just leave the batch in the pot and scoop out a bowl full for meals and then freeze it when it had been in there for a week. 

This time I portioned it out right away, as in after the stuff had been in the fridge for 24 hours. 

I ended up with 15 meal-sized 10 ounce portions and one almost there 8 ounce portion. 

Not bad, all told. Again, the recipes will get better once a certain someone who is studying Nutrition and likes to cook gets involved. 

That and when I have a proper deep freezer again.

For now, this is about the right size of a batch for me to make, as I can store the ingredients in dry storage (canned goods or dry pasta).

I then make a batch up and it does not overflow my little freezer. 

All in all it is a good balance between those two desires: storage space, vs. a large number of meals per batch (thus lowering the cost of each meal).

So I can and will make this a couple more times and then I will be on to a different style of meals that are frozen and ready to eat.

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

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

A Weekend Adventure Where Nothing Was As It Was Supposed To Be, But It All Worked Out, Anyways

So, we went camping again last weekend, this time with a very good friend of mine and her husband and son. It ended up being a comedy of errors, but still ended up having a great time!

We went to one of the campgrounds in Cypress Hills (just outside of Medicine Hat). Our adventure began with a journey that ended up being a lot longer than expected! It was still beautiful, though.

When we finally arrived at the campground, Wanda had to have a dump (literally)! lol  So, I learned the finer points of dumping the black and grey water tanks. 

We went searching for our camping site, and ended up on a very "cozy" lane, and a camping site that was not really designed for trailers - certainly not at 11:30 at night! Here is a picture of the spot, taken the next day:

Yup. That was the site. What you can't really see are the scars on the trees from when previous campers had tried (and failed) to back in! We ended up driving back to the (closed) Registration Office, and boondocking in the parking lot overnight.

Fortunately, they were very considerate of us, and left us alone until we were ready to get up in the morning (which was around the same time as the office opened, at 9:00 am). They opened up an emergency site for us, which just happened to be within walking distance from my friend's site!

This was a MUCH better site, with power and water! It was a lot more comfortable for the remainder of our stay! I must say, though, with Wanda being completely self-sufficient as she is, she was perfectly comfortable that first night.

The rest of that day (Saturday) went by just fine. We visited with my friends, enjoyed a fire (propane, due to a fire ban), and had burgers and fries at a Lion's Club fundraiser. 

Unfortunately, at that point, it started to get quite windy and chilly, and, instead of sitting by the fire having a few drinks, we ended up calling it an early night and heading back to our site.

We had decided to leave on Sunday afternoon, instead of attempting the return trip early Monday morning, which Geoff would normally do, as it was quite a lot further away than we would normally have travelled. 

We had a leisurely day, visiting with my friends again, before they headed out earlier than we did. As we were cleaning up, getting ready to go, our final calamity occurred. While washing out an insulated cup, the scrubber got stuck inside it! 

Of course, after we had stopped to buy a new one, we managed to get the old one out! While it's done a good job these last 10 (yes! 10!) years, it was time for a new one, anyways. You're welcome, Geoff! 

All in all, it was still a great weekend. There's some things we would definitely do differently next time, but, we still didn't argue...   

That seals it! I think we're really doomed, Geoff! 💏

As always, come join us in reaching for the future, and getting off of the hamster wheel!


Monday, 31 August 2020

August Is Done

Today is the end of August and so is the official end of summer . . . sorta. Where did the time go?

It seems like only yesterday I was hemming and hawing over whether to de-winterize or not and now I am staring down having to winterize Wanda in just over a month.

The key is to enjoy the time we have now as we find ways to build for the future. When dealing with building for the future you need to be prepared for good or bad.

It is always preferable to build for the happy, sunny, smiling, rainbows and unicorns future . . . but there be monsters and creatures in the world at large, so you have to be prepared for them as well.

Okay, so maybe that was a stretch of a metaphor, but you get the idea. Bad things happen whether we want them to, or are prepared for them or not.

So when building for the future, it would be wise to be prepared for an ill turn of events. This is prudent for anyone but especially for those with people who depend on them.

I choose to build for the future and do it in a way to make sure that my dream of a homestead, and town, will come true no matter what.

If I have to behave a bit like a ‘prepper’ in order to do that, I will. I choose to see the good in the world, I choose to envision a good future, I also choose to work towards that future.

I just plan to do it wisely and be ready to beat off a monster or two along the way.

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

Friday, 28 August 2020

First Off-Ramp Day Drawing Closer

So, as you may or may not know, I am working to buy land and stat a homestead then town, all without debt. 

That is a large chunk of change to raise and so with interest rates being as low as they are, one is forced to turn to the stock market to save cash.

Now, as I keep saying, I am not a financial planner, nor am I qualified to give financial advice. 

I am only doing what I have always done, simply said this is what I am doing and why, then reporting the results. 

With that said, it seems like my instinct with regards to the banks was right and is paying off, their stocks are rising as the hope of some sort of recovery is increasing.

That and they have been reporting their earnings (they do that once a Quarter) and shockingly enough they have found a way to keep making record profits despite the economic downturn. 

So, for them at least life rolls on as usual, though, the poor dears will have to stockpile more cash than usual to “cover bad loans,” and so make less cash than usual.

Don’t get excited or relieved about hearing them wanting to “cover bad loans” because that doesn’t mean that they will actually pay the loan you are struggling to pay off for you. 

Don’t be silly, it just means that they will use that cash to settle the loan, or . . . something internal like that . . . you’re still screwed, but they’ll be okay.

How this relates to me is that the stocks that I have of theirs is increasing in value . . . steadily. 

So much so that my first Milestone Marker Goal is approaching faster than anticipated.

I had always wanted to at least get to a point (as fast as possible) where I could run out and buy the land if I wanted to (yes pay cash for it).

I call that my first Off-Ramp, as in I could exit this living in an RV lifestyle if I wanted to and/or was forced to (as in the fiscal apocalypse . . . personal or otherwise). 

My goal was to have that done before the end of the year, and earlier that was looking dicey. 

Well, thanks to the increasing value of the stocks in my TFSA, I am on track to have that date be October 22nd of this year. (Yes on the anniversary of Total Debt Freedom Day.) 

I will keep looking at that and dip into my Personal Overdraft if I have to in order to make that date (if possible) . . . just because.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have a long way to go and a great deal of cash to save up before I can think of starting the Homesteading Process.

With every dollar I put into my savings I am nudging away from being “total screwed” if I were to be unemployed right now.

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

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Harvesting Water Before The Campout

So, it seems to be a growing tradition to have as much water with me before heading to a campground that is expected to have water available.

Call it crazy, or just unnecessary preparedness, but I like to make sure that I have all eight of my 2-litre bottles filled with water and my two 6 gallon jugs of water also filled.

Not only that, but I like to make sure that I have my main water tank in Wanda as close to full as possible. 

I know that any campground must have running water available, even the no electricity campground that I am going to this weekend (yes, with Kim).

I just like to be prepared for any eventuality, not for me, or the thought that I can’t handle any unforeseen difficulties, but because of Kim.

Now, before anyone (especially my Darling Dearest) freaks out and shouts that Kim is fine and capable of dealing with a water shortage, let me explain. 

It is not because I doubt her toughness or ability to handle difficulties like a water shortage for a weekend, it is because I don’t want her to have to.

I want to do my part to ensure that her life with me is as smooth as I can make it. That is who I am.

So, I will pack water as I drag a 6 gallon jug of water back to my trailer twice in the same morning the day before the last day of work just to make sure I have the water on hand.

Food is well taken care of and the propane tanks are full, and the solar panels are working perfectly. All will be well, at least as far as the things that I can control.

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

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Mid-Sized Meal Mash-up Mega Haul

So, last week I conveyed the recipe for a meal casserole thing that I created in order to make a large meal batch that I can make from dry storage ingredients. 

I made the meal on a week ago Monday, and ate that night as well as I ate well that week. I had two bowls a night, and still had enough left over for a meal each night this week. 

This means that if I made this batch and stored it in my meal-sized portions and froze it, I could eat for three weeks on one batch.

Not bad, not bad at all. Again, I will need to change it up, and do something different, especially when winter comes as trying to open a frozen can of anything, sucks.

For now, though, I have enough food to last me for nine weeks . . . well, I have the canned goods to make three batches of this stuff, with the exception of the one pound of ground beef.

So, all in all, my food bills will be quite low for the foreseeable future, and that is not nothing!

The concept of me making these large batches of stuff and freezing meal-sized portions is to do my own version of industrial food preparation. 

In so doing feed myself, yet at a much lower cost than making a nice meal each time. 

Also, it’s much easier to take a bag out of the freezer (or one that has been defrosting in the fridge) and heat it up, rather than think up what to make for dinner (after working all day).

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

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

The Big, Bad Budget

This weekend, Geoff was assisting me with actually setting up a budget, as well as recording what I actually spend, and where. 

This will be a useful tool as I am working part-time, going back to school part-time (without student loans!), and need to make sure that my own finances are in good order.

Let's just say, it took some lubrication, and even some liquid courage to get the budget whipped into shape!

All I can say, is...  We both survived, and we're still together!  If we managed this, this means we really are doomed! 

It's important to me that I pull my own weight, that I'm a partner, not a dead weight dragging Geoff down. 

I've always felt that, and I feel that it's even more important, now that we have the joint goal of the homestead (and, later, the Town).

I also want to help contribute to the House finances with my own savings, as that will get us closer to our goal faster.

Besides, this is proof that the system can work. If it can work for me, it can work for anyone (with minor tweaks, of course)!

As always, come join us in reaching for the future, and getting off of the hamster wheel!


Monday, 24 August 2020

The Homestead Fund Update

Okay, so it is that time again, when I update how my progress is going on my “Grand Savings Plan!” (to build my "Homestead Fund") 

Okay, so let’s see how I did . . . 

For review, here is how things looked from last payday . . .

That is 45.5% (of my Savings Target).

Okay to be clear, after the dust settled after I had moved things around, I was able to go up one tenth of a percentage point, to . . .

That is 45.6% (of my Savings Target) (Up 0.1%).

And this is how things look like, after the dust settled on this payday’s budget . . . 


That’s right things dropped up to 45.4% of my savings target. 

That means I put away -0.2% of my total Savings Target this payday. (Or I only lost 0.1% of my savings target, depending on how you look at it.)

What happened was that the value of my investments changed. I still put in my almost a full percentage point. A few points shy, so that was good.

One type of investment went up about a 0.5% (also good). Another type went down in value to the tune of almost 2.5%! (Again this is rated in relation to my savings target.)

So what happened was that despite me putting cash into savings the value of what was in there dropped. So it was almost a wash, yet not quite.

Again, this is what happens when you invest, things to up and things go down.

I am most pleased to announce that I did in fact fully-fund my Mid-Term Savings back to its fully-funded state.

I may or may not have seriously dipped into my Personal Overdraft to do it, but that is beside the point.

I will get out of my Personal Overdraft come next payday, which will seriously curtail what I can put into savings next payday, but it is worth it.

At least I can finally start putting cash into my TFSA again. That, and I can relax a bit, knowing that I have my Mid-Term Account back to “normal” again.

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

Friday, 21 August 2020

The Eve of A Historic Payday (Sorta)

Okay, so tomorrow is payday and it is a big one for me, an important payday.

Thanks to the online banking, I can deposit my paycheque tomorrow without going to the bank . . . that is neither new, nor historic.

What is a big deal for me is the fact that my Mid-Term Account will be Fully-Funded again.

Now, looking back over the year so far, my Mid-Term Account has taken a beating, and been less than full more times than it has not.

In fact the last time that it was fully-funded was back on April 29th right before I decided to move some cash around from one investment type to another.

Even then it had only been fully-funded on the April 22nd payday. 

As of tomorrow I will have put back the money that I borrowed from my Mid-Term Account. That means that as of Sept 7th I will be able to resume funding my TFSA.

Having my Main Account above zero (as in more than $1k in there) as well as my Mid-Term Account fully-funded ($10k in there) is important to me.

For it means that I have ready cash available in case of emergencies as well I have a bit of savings I can draw on before having to sell any investments.

The investments are there for future growth as well as to fund my dreams (and I have a lot of dreams . . . expensive dreams).

So, I don’t want to draw down on my “Dream Fund” if I don’t have to, yet I have to be practical, which is why I have cash available to me in my Main and Mid-Term Accounts.

As in, my Personal Overdraft and Personal Line of Credit (the $1k and $10k respectively).

Again, I do not say these things or mention the dollar amounts to brag, as that is not my style, but simply to show that it is possible and to suggest that others (that means you) do the same . . . setup your own Personal Overdraft and Personal Line of Credit.

For me, as of tomorrow morning, when the deposit is made and the cash shuffled around, and after the bills are paid, I can relax a smidgen, for I will have my immediate cash cushions back.

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

Thursday, 20 August 2020

My Mid-Sized Meal Mash-Up Recipe

So, here is a quick overview of the recipe that I use to make this batch of food that can feed me for a week or more, out of food you can store without a fridge.

To be clear, after you cook it you will need to refrigerate or freeze it, but you knew that. The ingredients, before cooking them, most of them, you can store in the cupboard or other cabinet.

So, first let’s list off the ingredients:

1 Pound of Lean Ground Beef (must be refrigerated before cooking)

1 Pound (or so) of Hash Browns. 

1 Can of Chilli 

1 Can of Mixed Vegetables

1 Can of Beef Stew

4 boxes of Mac N’ Cheese

2 Packets of Taco Seasoning

You will also need (equipment):

1 frying pan (Medium to large)

1 pot (the large one . . . nope, the bigger one)

The first thing we do is to brown the pound of Ground Beef in the Frying Pan (duh). Once it is browned and cooked, add the Hash Browns to at least double the volume in the pan.

Then mix in the packets of Taco Seasoning, making sure to add smaller amounts and mix that in before adding more. 

This “dry mixing” or rather “moist mixing” ensures that the Taco Seasoning is evenly distributed throughout the beef/hash brown mixture.

Then add water so as to have at least an inch of water in the pan and simmer for a few minutes. 

Transfer this mixture to the large pot. 

Add in the: Chilli, Mixed Vegetables (draining water first), and the Beef Stew and simmer for a few minutes and then put aside.

Make the four boxes of Mac N’ Cheese as normal and mix into the pot. Ensure that the whole mixture is well mixed up.

Put in the fridge and set it aside for a day. This will allow all of the solid bits to soak up the liquid bits. Thereby giving each solid bit a burst of flavour. 

At this point you can measure the mixture out into meal-sized portions and freeze them or just keep the pot in the fridge and scoop out a bowl for each meal.

Feel free to change it up to suit your tastes, but this way you can store food for a while yet still eat well . . . or at least eat tastily.

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

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Made Another Batch

So, Monday night I made a batch of my chilli-taco stuff. It was another way to have meals all week, and then into the weekend.

It was also a way to use up the canned goods that I have, I kinda need to use them up or store them somewhere warm before the cold weather hits.

Why? Trust me, it’s not fun trying to open a frozen can of . . . anything. 

So, this is my way to save cash on groceries as I draw down on my stash of canned goods.

The only thing I had to buy was the pound of lean ground beef. Everything else that went into it I had on hand.

I had to use my largest pot, not out of necessity, per say, but rather because I don’t have a regular “large pot.”

All I have is a saucepan and a frying pan . . . then my massive stock pot (that is at Kim’s).

I will be able to put it into a smaller container in a day or two . . . which would be nice as I had to take out the middle shelf in the fridge to fit the pot in there.

Again, this is all in my effort to live as cheaply as I can, yet still eat well (sorta) as I continue to build my savings.

After all, my goal before the end of the year is to get to 50% so I could technically go buy the land and start to settle it (if I absolutely had to).

Every little bit of savings helps, as every penny saved is a penny doubly-earned; one when you earned it (income) and once again when you put it into savings.

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

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Focussing On The Future

So, the warm weather is upon us and where I live we are currently in the midst of a heat wave. So, warmth abounds and life is good.

Yet, Fall is coming, with winter not far behind it. So, it is safe to say that colder days are on the horizon, or rather just over the horizon.

While I am mindful of that, that is not the future that I am focussed on. I am ever focussed on the future that sees me driving onto my (our) land for the first time.

I am focussed on that dream of having that land, establishing that homestead and making it a home. A welcoming home for those who need it and wish to call it home.

I am not naive, and know that there will be people who will wish to and try to take advantage of my (our) generosity. 

Yet such people will be found out by their: words, deeds and actions and will dealt with accordingly (banishment).

The fear of being taken advantage of is no reason to not try to help other people. We have all had our good graces and generosity taken advantage of.

Yet if we still continue to give and help others, that is a victory, if a small one, over the darkness that wishes to permeate and cover humanity.

We must band together and help one another as we move forward to build a better future for ourselves, our children and humanity itself.

I am doing what I am doing now, and enduring what I must in the present, so I can in some small way try to build that better future.

I am cheap now so I can be generous in the future. 

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

Monday, 17 August 2020

The Archives Grows

. . . and settles in. So, this Friday I received a new book, (one of the books that I had bulk bought) but that was not the only way that The Archives grew.

The Archives also grew by Kim graciously adding her own books to The Archives. She added 29 books, bringing the total up to 186 books in The Archives! (Thanks Hon).

Now, with the software that I am using to keep track of The Archives, I can easily who contributed what book. 

This is mainly important for when other people contribute books to The Archives, we can keep track of which books they actually contributed to The Archives and not which other books they “want back” at a future date. 

The other thing that was done to The Archives (other than rearranging books into sections) was the addition of bookends.

Thus so we don’t have the books falling over all the time . . . quite frustrating.

It was also good to look at what is there and more easily see which subjects are covered well and which ones are covered sparsely and which ones are not covered at all.

There will be more books buying in my future, but for now I will continue my focus on savings as I push to save up enough to by the land before the end of the year. 

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

Friday, 14 August 2020

Fall Is Already Falling

So, there is something sinister in the air, and I don’t mean pollution (which there is), I am talking about the beginnings of Fall.

I have seen leaves starting to turn and the weather is a little cooler these days. In the mornings I have had to take to wearing sweat pants rather than shorts. 

Things are shifting towards the cooler, not the cold (yet) but the cooler. This is disconcerting to say the least.

I will always adapt what I am doing in response to the weather and the temperature. I am always asking myself “What can I get away with?”

And acting accordingly. I can readily keep water liquid (without effort). I can keep water in my fresh water lines without worrying about them freezing.

I can keep the trailer warm without having to turn the furnace on. All good things, and those good things will continue for some time yet.

Even when things to get cooler and Fall is well entrenched, I will still be fine, even when Winter hits, I will still be fine,

I will be fine because I know what to do to survive and thrive in any weather. I do this so I can build my savings faster and thus get on with the next phase of my life sooner.

So, I will put on sweatpants and wear my toque on the colder mornings, and just deal with it, because that is what it takes to survive and thrive.

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

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Receipts, Budgets And Taming The Chaos!

Well, it looks like it's my turn to get my finances organized!  I know I have many talents, organizing my finances is not one of them! Thank goodness for Geoff! (Thank you, Honey! 💖)

Step One: organizing my receipts. 

Fortunately, I had lots of trays on hand to help organize things. It did make it a lot easier! I still have a few receipts left to organize before I can close out the months. We won't say how far back it goes...  

Step Two: Figuring out an actual budget. 

I've just started a new job, so, some items are unknown, as of yet, like the Gas Expense. I'm working in two locations at opposite ends of the city (I live in the middle), so, I'm definitely filling my tank a lot more often than before!

Part of this step is doing my own variation on Geoff's Wallets. I'm not going to copy what he's done, exactly, as I don't think it would work that well for me. I tend to use my debit card a lot more, especially with Covid-19. I also like the pretty, sparkly colours! lol

I do know my pit-falls, though, and I will use a wallet for those. One wallet is Treats. I am prone to low blood sugar, and, while I do bring food to work, it is oh-so-easy to buy pop or a chocolate bar, or even lunch...  

I also have a Contingency Wallet. This is for use when there's more month at the end of the money, to keep me from robbing from Peter to pay Paul. It still has to be paid back, but, it can help with cash-flow issues.

The third wallet is for car expenses (I am way over-due for an oil change!). This does not include gas, as I think I will simply get a gas card for that, nor does it include my payments or insurance. This is for maintenance only. 

Finally, I have an actual coin purse. Think of the whole "Give a penny, take a penny" concept, but for use between wallets.

By using these wallets, I can keep a handle on areas where I tend to over-spend without realizing it, and I can also ensure that I have money available to spend on areas I tend to neglect. 

This, of course, is also proof that Geoff's methods can work for anyone (with some minor tweaks). If it can work for me, it can work for you! 

I need to do this, though, not only for my own benefit, but, if we are going to reach our goals, then both of us need to be pulling on an oar.

As always, come join us in reaching for the future, and getting off of the hamster wheel!


Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Reflections On Saving In The Market

I am not a financial expert, nor have I ever claimed to be, I am just an average guy trying to figure out the best way to better my financial position.

I do that by managing and mastering my cash flow so that (usually) 80 – 90% of my take home pay goes into savings (no I don’t make a billion dollars).

I save not through a typical savings account, as they are paying crap for interest rates at this point. 

That means that to get any kind of return or growth of your savings you have to look for other ways of saving.

One way of doing that is saving in the market. What that means is to buy stocks, hold on to them until you need to “withdraw” cash from the market by selling them.

The growth you see in this type of savings vehicle is: 1) the value of the stock itself and 2) the dividend the company pays you for owning the stock.

Since the (stock) market fluctuates based on any number of things (mainly investor confidence and other gut feelings) that means that your “savings” will go up and down considerably.

It is far too easy to get caught up in the “what is my savings worth now” game. I know, I have been there and done that. 

I do check my portfolio daily, but mainly this is to see what transactions or payments have gone through and if there are any transactions that are unexpected or fraudulent hitting any of my financial accounts.

If is interesting to see what the value of my various investment vehicles are worth today . . . right now. 

What I have found is that the value of them in the moment is not that important . . . interesting and something to keep an eye on, but not vital.

If and when the value of your stock or other investment vehicle starts to drop, there is not much you can do about it.

If you do try to get online and sell it, typically you will find the system is slow to the point of almost crashing (because every other nervous investor is wanting to sell at that moment too).

So, unless you desperately need the money now, or are certain that the stock will crash, or the company will go bust, hang on and wait for it to go back up.

If and when the stock is down, consider that a buying opportunity.

Again, when it comes to investing and what to do with your money, you make the best decision on what to do for yourself: what are you comfortable with.

I choose to take the longer look at these investments and just try to hold on for the ride. At least that is my philosophy.

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

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Bulk Books Buy Bites Back

So, as you know, I bought a bulk buy of books a couple of weeks ago. Fine, I had also budgeted to pay that all off as of the last payday.

I had budgeted all of that into my budget but when it came time to pay the credit card bill, it was less than I had expected.

I shrugged, delighted in my good fortune and paid what was asked of me, paying the credit card off in full.

This left me with a couple of hundred bucks extra in my budget which I put into my Mid-Term Account, thereby bumping up my saving target amount to 45.6.   

I had also decided to fully-fund the Mid-Term Account again, finally getting it back up to its expected level as of this next payday (Aug 22nd) . . . come Hell or high water . . .or both.

Well, fast forward to this weekend where I decided to buy the bookcases so as to display and house The Archives.

So, that added a bit to the credit card, but still possible to fund the Mid-Term Account and pay the credit card off by this payday . . . still doable.

Then this morning another ding came to the credit card. This time it was in the form of a book that took this long to finally be ready to ship.

The reason that the credit card was lower than I had expected for this previous payday was the fact that the book (that shipped today) had not been billed to my credit card until today (when it shipped).

So, to deal with this fiscal hit I can: 

1. Take some extra cash from my vacation fund at work.

2. Not restore the Mid-Term Account to its expected level.

3. Run a Deficit Budget (Dipping into my Personal Overdraft)

4. *Ghasp!* Run a balance on my credit card for *Ghasp!* three whole weeks until the payday of the 7th.

I am going to try for number 4, but may end up doing number 3, number two is right out of the question, but number 1 is possible.

One way or another I will pay for all of this and get it done. A few weeks of running a balance won’t kill me and the interest will be negligible, if anything at all.

I just don’t like paying interest, or running a credit card balance if I can help it. 

I do like buying the books though, as that is another form of savings, a savings in the form of knowledge.

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

Monday, 10 August 2020

The Archives Have a New Home

So, as you may know, I have been collecting books in what I term “The When You Need To Know It, But Can’t Google It,” archives.

What I have been doing is storing the books in various plastic storage tubs in and around Wanda and the back of my truck.

While it was secure and safe from damage, it was also inaccessible and so, a little harder to see what subjects were covered and what was not.

So, after some talking and discussing, Kim and I agreed that the best place for The Archives to be was up in her place.

So, after having a yard sale on Saturday (there was a community wide “Parade of Garage Sales” thing on that day) where it went surprisingly well. 

Anyways, after the garage sale we found ourselves at IKEA, where I ended up buying two bookcases. 

We waited until Sunday to actually assemble them and as a result of how that went, I have come to the conclusion that we are doomed as a couple.

There really isn’t any hope for us, as we assembled it and everything went well, there were no arguments and any disagreements on what to do next was handled civilly and respectfully. 

It looks like neither of us are getting out of this relationship anytime soon . . . we’re doomed to spend years together. 

Anyways after the bookcase were up and the living room was rearranged (something else that went smoothly) we started putting the book on the shelves.

Me, being the detail person that I am, wanted to cross off a list as to what books were up there and what weren’t. I wanted to make sure that the whole of The Archives were together in one place.

As a result of that bit of what may have seemed unnecessary work, it was revealed that just over twenty books were missing.

After some investigation back at the trailer, one small tub of books was found to contain, what appears to be, those missing books.

So, finally The Archives are accessible, as they should be, with plenty of space around them, so as to continually add to The Archives.

See for yourself . . . 

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

Friday, 7 August 2020

The Homestead Fund Update

Okay, so it is that time again, when I update how my progress is going on my “Grand Savings Plan!” (to build my "Homestead Fund") 

Okay, so let’s see how I did . . . 

For review, here is how things looked from last payday . . .

That is 42.7% (of my Savings Target).

And this is how things look like, after the dust settled on this payday’s budget . . . 

That’s right things jumped up to 45.5% of my savings target. 

That means I put away 2.8% of my total Savings Target this payday.

That is another massive jump and truth be told I had nothing to do with it. It was the increase in value of one of my investments while the other one pretty much went sideways (stayed stagnant in value).

This payday I decided to pay off the large bulk buy of books that I made. As, well that is what I do, I pay off my credit card balances in full each payday

It is important that I stick to my Fiscal Directives and not get carried away with buying things and carrying a balance (not that that will happen, but you get the idea).

I will still continue my savings, but I will pay off the investment in the Archives that I chose to make this payday. 

So, as a result of all that, I put a whopping $200.00 into my Mid-Term Account. Now, I should (and will goshdarnit) fully fund my Mid-Term Account by next payday.

Things will return to savings, but I felt it was important to add to my Archives at this point in time. 

I do plan to add to/start a seed vault, again, like the books, to be used “just in case.” Well, they will be used when the town/homestead is started. 

I plan on starting that town/homestead in a few years, yet I may be forced to start it earlier, by forces outside of my control.

In turbulent and uncertain times such as the times we are living in, all we can do is live our lives the best way we can today as we prepare for what may come.

Achieving that balance between preparedness and paranoia is important for I wish, and choose, to live my life today and enjoy it, yet prepare for the dark times that may (yet hopefully not) may come.

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

Thursday, 6 August 2020

Wonderful Time In The Country, And A First Trailer Experience!

As you all know, Geoff and I spent a lovely August long weekend in Nanton. What he didn't mention was that "we" did this we (me) having a newly-sprained ankle! 

I have to say, Geoff did a fantastic job of taking care of me! He made sure that I was comfortable, improvised something to rest my foot on, helped me maneuver around the trailer (we did the shuffle-two-step) - he was amazing! You definitely earned some major brownie points, Geoff! (632, at last count, was it? lol)

This was my first real experience in a trailer, or, at least, as an adult! 

I grew up with my father being the local Scout Master, so, we ended up doing a lot of camping when I was a child. This ranged from honest-to-goodness tenting to spending summer vacations in a trailer, then later a cottage. 

My first memory as a child was actually in our trailer when I was 4 years old, but I have been camping since I was 6 months old! 

Even when we got our cottage, I slept outside in the tent as often as I could get away with it. Just a few years ago, I bought a tent and accessories, and went camping (in a campground) with friends. So, I am no stranger to camping, and "roughing it" for a weekend.  

This time, though, was a little different. This time, I was looking at it as not just a weekend adventure, but, looking at how it would work, longer-term.

Some things were easy. It was easy to get back into the routine of heating water in a kettle to do the dishes. The small space forces you to be a bit neater, and put things away. I even managed to squeeze into the shower! 

Where I can see some challenges, though, are during the colder months, when you have limited access to water, because it's all frozen.  As many middle-aged women can attest, once the cold air hits you in the middle of the night, you need to make a bee-line to the bathroom! Need I say more? 

My profession (massage therapist) also requires a high level of cleanliness. Can that be achieved with no running water? Gym memberships (for shower access) are an added cost, as well as the necessary running around to get to one. With two locations that I work from (at opposite ends of the city), it becomes a valid issue. 

So, the debate continues! In the meantime, we did manage to hobble around the Airplane Museum, and it was a very peaceful weekend, watching the hawk/eagle.  Definitely something I would do again!

Come join us in reaching for the future, and getting off of the hamster wheel!


Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Books Arrived

It was fortunate that most of the books that I ordered in this latest bulk-buy have arrived, they did so by Friday.

So, one of the things that Kim and I did was to go through the books and check off which ones actually arrived and which ones didn’t.

Part of the reason why the books arrived so quickly was because I signed up for free, priority shipping from the place that I buy most of my books from.

It costs me less per month to have that service than the shipping would cost me, so it’s worth it.

I did this also because with me just saying “send it the cheapest” option has left me with a couple of books taking way too long to get to me, and one going missing.

This way, I am fairly assured that someone will take care in getting my books to me, rather than drop it in the mail and forget about it.

So, while I don’t need to have my books in a day or two, at least if I have them in a day or two, I know that I have them.

I will wait for a few paydays before ordering more books. You see, as a result of this bulk-by it has forced me to pause my savings plan for one payday.

The idea was (as it always is) to put off paying the books off for one payday in order to fully-fund the Mid-Term Account this payday.

Yet, doing that would violate my Fiscal Directives, specifically the directive to pay off debt before building savings.

So, I will put off fully-funding my Mid-Term Account again until next payday (Aug 22nd) and finally restart building my TFSA Account on Sept 7.

As we looked the books over I even noticed the odd raised eyebrow from Kim and a “that’s a good book.” Yet I did get a shaking of the finger and a “tut-tut” about the bulk buying of the books.

I consider buying the books, building the Archives (now at 155 books) as a form of savings. 

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