Sunday, 26 July 2015

Using the Emergency Fund

Rereading my last post, I can't help but to laugh: I totally jinxed myself... We had to use our emergency fund, there was no way around it.

Lets catch you up to speed here. G took Mocha for her appointment last week and the results where good and bad. Good: no masses besides the one on her leg. Bad: cancer cells were found in her liver and spleen. They had her in for surgery the next day. She has been recovering well from her surgery even though they had a remove a large amount of skin from her leg. But the fact they were able to do the surgery at all is good news as they told us they may have to remove her entire leg: which is where, given her other conditions, G and I were going to draw the line (that was a really really tough conversation for the both of us to have). We are expecting to know what stage cancer she has sometime this week, to which they will recommend the next steps for her recovery.

We spent a little under $3000 on our dog this month, I had budgeted $500. Yes, this is an extremely bitter pill to swallow but it could have been worse. First thing 'extra' to get cut from the budget was our LOC payment, we moved over the minimum amount due so that was out of the way until next month - it is sitting at $9500 at the moment. Next thing we needed to get taken care of was about $1000 worth of expenses from G's trip up to La Ronge. He was in charge of paying for his hotel, which we were not expecting until he got there. Yes this will be 100% reimbursed but it was still not budgeted for and was sitting on a credit card. We paid this off, being able to cash flow this expense from our account (which was our plan since learning about this curve ball). Last but not least was the vet bills. This is were money was starting to wear real thin in our account and I knew no matter how I looked at it or calculated there was no getting around taking from our emergency fund. So we moved over $2000 from our $5000 EF. That on top of the $500 I already had budgeted and cash flowing the few hundred we had left, we were able to pay off the vet bills in full. Our chequeing account is sitting just a little below $700, so we still have a little bit of a buffer as the month is not over yet.

I will say during this really difficult time, I am so glad we didn't have to worry about money or the cost of getting her healthy. We just sort of rolled with the punches and stayed strong. It wasn't until we had Mocha in the backseat of our car and were on our way home after the surgery that I started bawling. All the emotions I was able to keep in check over the last few days came flooding in all at once. But once I let out all that emotion I could finally listen to G saying how good Mocha is recovering and financial, we got this. The emergency fund served its purpose, and we will begin to rebuild it once again so when the next round of punches comes our way, while its kicking our ass emotional, it won't be hurting us financially.

Mocha and her cone of shame :P 

- M

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

EI and CPP Max

This month we had an increase to our income. G has maxed out both his EI and CPP for the year, freeing up about $200 per pay. Excellent timing as our dogs medical bills keep climbing and this little boost in our cash flow will help us thru the rough patch. We've been able to cash flow all her medical expenses thus far without going into debt nor having to touch our emergency fund - although I am very glad it's there. This should free things up a bit more while at the same time not effect any debt repayment. G is taking her to Saskatoon this week for an appointment, I'm hoping for good news.

- M

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Living Within Our Means

I had a weird thing happened to me the other day. As I've talked about before, I work at the Credit Union here in town and with a job like that there are certain perks. One of those perks is a better interest rates on loans. For curiosities sake, I asked the loans manager what the interest rate was and explained the situation with our current LOC. I let him know how much was owing and by the Fall we would have it paid off - so that if we did get a loan thru my work I needed it to be open/flexible and not fixed with penalties for paying it early.

He kept repeating the amount and our plan to pay it off by Fall, and I kept confirming that yes, that was our plan and what we are on track to do. Then he said something I have never been asked: "Well, what do you live on?" There was kind of this awkward silence and then I said "We live within our means". That was followed by a blank stare.

I don't know why I was so taken aback by this question. I may be looking way to far into it but his tone was so judgmental, I felt embarrassed and sorry for bringing any of this up. And that is crazy! Why should I feel embarrassed for making our debt a priority? I understand it's not the norm in todays society but why make those that do feel bad about it?

G and I make good incomes but we live a lifestyle that is very balanced and actually well below our means. We weren't always there but have definitely smartened up over that last two years. So why not get rid of the car loan if we can pay it off early? Why not start thinking about paying off our mortgage when we are still only 24 & 25? That's something I shouldn't be embarrassed about.

For the record though, I don't share our financial snap shot to people or rub our situation in their faces because I know not everyone is going to be in the same circumstances. Only when I am ask specific question by close friends or family would I share the information I feel comfortable sharing. Or if you are reading my blog, lol; but my blog is anonymous so I feel more confident with sharing actual numbers and plans. What else did you expect from a financial blog though? :P

Have any of you been in an awkward situation such as mine? How did you handle it?

- M

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Incidentals & A Forgotten Claim

G left yesterday to go assist in LaRonge. He is getting seven days of meals and incidentals paid for which will be a little under $650 but we both knew that we would way over what he would need.

The incidentals we had covered at home so we knew he didn't need to purchase those. The food however, we knew he was going to have to purchase some of that. Being a bit more frugal and trying to keep costs down as much as possible we shopped our panty! We found him a few soups, crackers, tea (he brought an electric kettle), trail mix, a few granola bars, juice, plastic cutlery, napkins, etc. He only spent $107 in Prince Albert stocking up on more protein rich foods, fruits and things for sandwiches.

So we are left with a profit of $543, which will be a nice little snowball to our LOC. Once the expense finally gets paid out that is...

Speaking of snowballs. I was going thru some paperwork this evening and found a dental claim form from January I had forgotten to send in! That's another $150 coming in the mail once it finally gets processed.

Not a bad start to the week!

- M

Sunday, 12 July 2015

A Home-Made Weekend

Yesterday, G got all the information about his shifts up north. He will be going to La Ronge and policing the town as there have been quite a few break and enters – people taking advantage of a shitty situation. He needs to bring a weeks supply of water and food, but I’m not going to consider this part of our food budget as it will all get reimbursed. Oh and they warned him about the horse flies, I guess they are pretty bad up there so bug spray is also a must.

We talked things over and any extra money he will be making while helping up there will be going to our vacation fund. He has a minimum of 20 hours of overtime plus full incidentals for 7 days so it’ll be a nice bump for our Vegas trip in October. Work hard now to play hard later, lol. Joking of course, G and I don’t even drink alcohol.

Budget wise this week has been very good. Groceries are at $147 currently but I need to make a quick run to the grocery store tomorrow to stock up for the week. Although now that it’s only going to be me to feed it’ll be cheap. Tonight I'm making Beef Stroganoff for dinner– all ingredients we had in the house except onion soup. G is currently making a rhubarb pie for dessert – rhubarb was picked for free from a friend’s garden and we had the piecrust in the pantry! So it’s been a very inexpensive and ‘home-made’ weekend.

- M 

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Forest Fires

G volunteered to go up North to assist with the wildfires (and now some arson fires - seriously wtf is wrong with people?) that are having a huge impact, not only in the immediate areas, but smoke is traveling far into the US aswell. Today we learned he's going. He leaves next week for 7 days of 12 hour shifts. I am so proud of him. Nervous, I won't lie, but so freakin' proud. No one else in his detachment put there names on the list to go. We aren't 100% sure where he will be helping. La Ronge I'm guessing, but there are so many fires burning, he said he would go wherever they need him.

ND Chic asked in my last post what the air quality was like where we live. Although the fires aren't any where close, the smoke is horrible. There is also a lot of ash falling from the sky, which on my walks to work I've been coughing a lot more. That smokey smell has been giving me a pretty bad headache too and I find it's best to keep all the window closed. Here are some photos my husband took just outside of town:

It's so bizarre, G says it reminds him of Fallout (the video game). There have been many days where the sun is a blood orange colour from the smoke. I can't imagine what it is like up there for them, but I guess G will let me know...

Please keep rain in your thought as well as all those that are helping with the efforts and those that have been evacuated from their homes. I hope it doesn't continue on for much longer.

- M

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Mini Goals

In June, I set my very first mini-goal: trying to keep our grocery budget below $250 for the month. I am extremely proud to say that I was able to accomplish that! My final grocery bill for the month was $242.79. Only $7.00 under budget, but still, under budget.

Since I had such success focusing on a single goal I’m going to try to do it again this month. This month I have a similar focus and will be trying to keep our grocery budget under or at $350. I’m adding more just because last month G wasn’t home for 2 weeks, and I didn’t have to worry about feeding him (and he really enjoys food).

The cool thing about this mini-goal is it is helping me with my annual goal of trying more recipes! I haven’t been counting the exact number of new recipes I’ve tired but I know I’m up there. I guess the point was getting comfortable and confident in the kitchen, which I’ve definitely done. Planning our meals every week has been the biggest factor, and in turn it has helped keep our grocery budget down because I only buy what we need for the week. I also organized our cookbook/recipe binder so things are easier to find. All the pastas in one area, things with chicken, beef, etc; it’s not overwhelming to find a recipe idea anymore!

Here’s hoping I can do well this month J

- M