Sunday, November 21, 2010

Signs of Life

Yes, I am still here.  I'm just very, very busy.  And tired.  And bored or frustrated with certain aspects of my life.

I got through all the Jewish Holidays.  I went off to the US to the wedding I talked about before and had a fabulous time.  And I've been exercising pretty well twice a week.

On the other hand, our car was totalled recently.  We weren't in it; a family member was cut off on the freeway.  The family member is okay but we've spent the past while arguing with ICBC over the value of the car.  They did come up from their initial, offensive, offer but we're probably still out about $2,000 over what we'd have to spend to replace the car.

And more things have gone wrong with the house.  If anybody tells you old houses are money pits, believe them!  A leak in the main bathroom upstairs led to a gigantic hole in our kitchen ceiling and another, smaller one.  Our upper cabinets are mostly down (with the contents in boxes) and the bakers rack I keep a lot of our other kitchen stuff on is sitting in the living room.  Basically, the living room is unusable.  We pass through it to the kitchen, bath and our daughter's room.

The floor in the bathroom and through most of the kitchen is laid and part of it is grouted.  We should get our new toilet put in within anywhere from a day to a week, depending on how busy our son-in-law is and how fast he gets around to both it and to putting the vanity back in the bathroom (with the new top on it).  The thought that we might finally have a fully functioning bathroom is exciting but seems slightly unreal.  It will be wonderful not to have to go upstairs to use the facilities there in the middle of the night, however.  I'm really looking forward to that!

Once they finish the work in the bathroom upstairs comes the messy part.  The new drywall will have to be taped, mudded and sanded until a thick layer of white powder covers pretty much everything in the house (including, no doubt, my lungs).  After that the new upper cupboards and new range hood can go up.  If that happens before Pesach I'll be thrillled.

And then there's money.  I'm so messed up there.  My credit card is maxed.  Actually, it was over limit until a few days ago.  Now it's exactly at the limit and I have to make another payment before they add the interest or that will put me over again.  I skipped a couple of transfers to my TFSA, although I still have over $1,000 in there.  And I have a huge cell bill from my trip to the US.  I tried to use it as little as possible but still incurred over $80 in long distance or roaming charges.  A bunch of those calls were incoming ones from my hubby or daughter, so I couldn't exactly refuse to pick up!

What next?  Well, I'm pretty well broke until Wednesday and I'll probably be broke again almost immediately afterwards, once I pay the various bills that absolutely, positively have to be paid.  But we'll technically have money sometime this week, because we'll get the cheque from ICBC.  We still have to decide what we're going to do about a new car.  We have to decide new, near new or very used.  We're still debating over what kind of car to get (since we have to replace it, the only sensible thing to do is to buy one this time that will fit all four kids in their car or booster seats, plus at least 2 adults).  And we have to decide if we're going to do it now or wait until my hubby receives money from his late mother's estate (probably a few months away).

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Quick Catch-up Post Before Rosh Hashana

Okay, today is officially crazy.  Rosh Hashana starts tonight and runs until Shabbat starts on Friday night.  So, between the holiday and Shabbat I'm out of commission for 3 solid days.  I don't have everything I need for the meals and now have to make a trip to Costco (one of the places I really don't like all that much) in order to pick up something I need desperately and couldn't get elsewhere.  Aside from everything else, it's out of my way, I have to take everybody (because my daughter is the one with the Costco card and I'm the one with the drivers license) and it takes forever to get through there.  All for one or two items.

My 3 year old granddaughter has school today for a grand total of ONE hour.  Everybody else is off.  I have to go either downtown or to Richmond to the passport office to turn in my passport application because my documentation finally arrived yesterday and I can't risk waiting until the beginning of the week to do it because I'm going to a wedding in the US at the beginning of October and I'd like to be allowed across the border.

And we're trying to get out a major mailing at work today when the material we're mailing just came from the printer yesterday afternoon and we got a new mailing machine yesterday morning.  As of the time I left the office yesterday the machine was sealing 4 envelopes, then stopping.  We have about 5,000 going out!

So, why am I making my first post in over a month?  Because it's almost Rosh Hashana and I want to start the new year off right.  First of all, Shana Tova to all my Jewish readers.  Have a good and sweet year!  And I feel guilty that I've been so busy I haven't gotten back to this after planning to.

I'm going to try to do better this year but September is full of days when we can't write so the posts are going to be sporadic, even if I'm good about getting back to blogging!  Anyway, I'm off and running.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Halfway Through Summer?

Okay, so when did that happen?  One minute school was letting out and the next minute I blink and summer's half gone.  I said before that things had been pretty overwhelming and they did get significantly more so over the past month.

An older family member who had been seriously ill since the beginning of the year became critically ill, was hospitalized and was then transferred to palliative care for a couple of weeks before passing away.  It's been a rough time for the whole family.  Lots of time spent in the hospital, lots of stress, knowing that the outcome wasn't going to be good and less attention paid to a lot of other things.

Things are slowly getting back on track.  Dear Child has spent one week at day camp so far and goes back for her second week tomorrow.  The following week her nieces come back and all three girls go back to swimming lessons.

I got a big, brown envelope from the school in the mail the other day.  I was thinking that things were all under control on that front because I already bought DC's uniforms and handed in both a series of post-dated cheques for tuition and a separate one that only gets cashed next June if I don't put in at least 12 hours of parent participation at her school.  Silly me, I forgot about the school supply fee, the workbook/textbook fee, the field trip fee and at least one other fee of some kind.  Lovely.  Even better, they all have to be paid on or before September 1st, which is the first day of school this year (early, because all the High Holy Days come early this year, finishing at the end of September).  Since the kids will barely be in school through September they get to start on the 1st instead of waiting for the day after Labour Day.  Lest I forget, there will also be the hot lunch fee about a week after school starts.

I had intended to spend every other weekend and every long weekend at our house.  Needless to say, that hasn't happened.  I finally went for 2 days the other week, Sunday and Monday.  It meant taking a day off work, but I desperately needed to do some yard work and there's tons still left undone.  I hope to go again next weekend.

Friday, June 25, 2010

School's Out...For Summer!

Yesterday was the last day of school.  This summer I'm lucky, in that my Eldest Daughter is home on maternity leave.  That means Dear Child will hang out with her.  (Not sure that Eldest Daughter considers herself lucky, since that leaves her with 4 kids every day, and 5 if my Number One Son's daughter comes too, as she did some of the time last summer.)

Next year will be a much bigger financial burden for all of us, as she'll be back at work and all the girls will have to go to day camp right through the summer.  As it is, we are putting them in a couple of sessions of swimming lessons (necessitating me leaving work to pick up and drive everybody to and fro).  The lessons are 4 days per week for 2 weeks (but only 1/2 an hour per day) and we hope that the sustained amount of pool time will enable everybody to move up at least one level.  Last session (which was 8 classes once a week) nobody passed, although they all made progress.

DC will go to day camp for 2 weeks this year too, as my granddaughters' other grandparents are taking them out of town for 2 weeks.  That will give my daughter the relative quiet of only having her nursing baby at home.

Yesterday was payday. I paid some stuff then and some more this morning.  Right now I'm pleased to say that I'm current on all my bills (paid the water today) and that I have $651.14 in my TFSA, right on track for the year.  Property taxes for the rural house are due next week.  I have to check, but I think I have enough in the rural credit union to pay them.  Yay, me!

I went away to the house last weekend and spent some money, money on myself (gasp!) as well as gas.  But I just have the $50 odd dollars I charged for gas on the way back to pay back still.  And I made the regular $90 payment on the credit card anyway.

So, I have to pay for swimming lessons and I'm going to start some exercise stuff of my own that I'll also have to pay for.  And I only have about $150 left in my chequing account for food, etc. for the next 2 weeks.  But all in all, I'm not doing too badly.  And my hubby should be transferring some money over to me at month end.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Thanks for the Support!

It's very nice to hear back from some of you, welcoming me back and encouraging me to stick with both the blogging and the work I need to do to.

Thanks for being there for me!

Things are very busy right now.  Work is crazy, the school year is winding down and every day seems to bring some departure from the norm (field trips, class parties, sports day, hot lunch, you name it), many people are dealing with the health issues of family members (at work, in our own family, friends) and I'm feeling stretched kind of thin.

I've straightened out some things that had fallen by the wayside, like my cell bill and will take care of the one remaining outstanding bill (the water) by next week at the latest.  I got the property taxes for my rural home and the garbage bill for it.  Both have gone up somewhat from last year, but not horrendously.  And, thanks to the fact that I've been setting aside money for those kinds of things most paydays (and keeping track of when I don't and then catching it up) I have enough money already in my rural credit union account to pay the bills when they're due at the beginning of July!  That's a big improvement from the past couple of years.

I also have been working on slowly paying down the massively increased amount that has gotten charged to my credit card over the past few months.  I have only one charge left to pay back from my Passover purchases but most of the rest are biggies.  There's about $750 owing for kitchen cabinets and flooring I charged at IKEA, the last couple of hundred owing on Dear Child's dental surgery, the $1,300 for my root canal, and about $125 for a new heavier duty weed whacker and replacement reel for the rural house.  Last year we bought the cheapest one we could find and that was a huge mistake.  The reel didn't feed properly (which meant it had to be taken apart and played with repeatedly Every. Single. Time we used it) and the whole thing broke under the usage it was getting.  We hope this one will last much longer.

My hubby is going today to finish his root canal and I already have an appointment booked for July to fill a cavity and discuss the crown I'm going to need on the tooth I had the root canal on.  Sigh.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Shevy, Reappearing

Interesting, no?  One minute I'm here, if a little busy with Life.  The next, nothing.  Two months plus of nothing.

And the answer is: I had a little crisis.  I don't quite know how to describe it.  Of confidence.  Of identity.  Of how I see myself.  Of how others see me.

What brought this on?  The silliest thing, something totally innocent.  Praise.

I've known pretty much forever that I'm not great with criticism.  Who knew a casual line of praise could totally undo me?  Well, certainly not my blogging friend who emailed me a short note that included the following line:

"you are so good at staying committed to your goals".

I read it and a voice from deep inside said, "You don't deserve that praise."  And I quietly fell apart.  Couldn't post.  Couldn't hide that truth.  Couldn't speak it aloud.  And, as time went by, things just got worse and worse.

I originally felt unworthy of praise because I'd just come through the whole financial devastation that is Passover.  I'd charged a lot of food, matzo, wine, you name it on the credit card for Passover.  I'd had to pay for Dog to go on his annual Pesach vacation.  And I was starting to fall a little behind on certain things, while trying to pay off Dear Child's dental surgery.  It seemed ludicrous to say that, because I was diverting $50 a pay period into my Tax Free Savings Account or $10 per week into my Baby Emergency Fund, I was staying committed to my goals.  There were so many places where I was bleeding money.

In the interim, things have just gotten worse and worse (as I said).  I bought the laminate flooring for Dear Child's room (and my Son-in-Law installed it!).  More money, but money well spent.  DC's room is finished except for baseboards.  I also bought four new upper cupboards, IKEA ones, about the week before Passover (because I wanted pantry shelves on which to put my food).  I spent about $500.  If they were in and being used, I probably would also consider it money well spent.  They're sitting in their boxes in my foyer.  Apparently, if (at some point) I put them together my Son-in-Law will demo the existing (mostly broken and unusable) cupboards and hang the new ones.

I started having terrible tooth pain and ended up with a major root canal that now needs to be finished off with a crown.  And my husband has just had pretty much the same thing.  Net result, big increase in the credit card balance.


Despite paying off as much as possible pretty much every payday we owe way more than we did in March or April.  I have a spreadsheet that tracks all the additional charges we've made to the card and when I've made each payment (in addition to the $90 per pay period that is our normal payment).

And I have continued to put money into both the Emergency Fund and the TFSA, as well as restarted deposits to my RRSP.  It just seems like such a drop in the bucket compared to the other.

So, that's my story.  I'm going to try to get back to writing here though, because (for all the embarrassment of having to admit all this) I find it valuable.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

4 Questions (But it's Not Mah Nishtana!)

I've been really busy with Passover preparations and then Passover and just haven't felt up to writing any posts (though I've done some commenting here and there).  Today I started to comment over on The Simple Dollar but I could see it was turning into a novel and decided it would be better here!  I mean, if I'm going to write something of a significant length I may as well make it a post, right?

Trent asked his readers to give their snap response to 4 questions.  The questions were:
What is a wedding supposed to cost?
What is an automobile supposed to cost?
What is a home supposed to cost?
What is a three week vacation for a family of four supposed to cost?

Then he went into how these "mental anchors" determine how much you think you should pay for these kinds of things.  Basically, it was all about keeping up with the Joneses and how you should just think for yourself.  There were only a few responses but so far, they were all along the lines of how great a post it was.

What is it with me that I'm disagreeing with Trent so often these days?

FWIW, my answers were:


Why did I answer the way I did and does that mean I want to or need to spend that much on those things?

For the wedding, the range that gets tossed around the most in the articles I've read is $25 to $35k. And I actually know a bunch of people who spent more.  I happen to think that's a ridiculous amount to spend for one day. I've been married twice. The first time I got married at home, with 25 of us present (including the bride and groom!). We each had one attendant and my dress cost $250 from Sears (1977 prices). My parents sent out announcements instead of invites. It probably cost about $1,500 or less even though we served roast beef!

My 2nd wedding was considerably bigger. We had the ceremony outside at my rabbi's house, with the reception in our synagogue (which at the time was being rebuilt, so it was really in the gym of the day school!) but we only invited about 60 to the meal. The rest of the community was invited to the ceremony and for dessert and dancing (taped music). I actually wore the same dress (yes, the one from 1977)! We spent about $4k.

I've spent about $22,000 to $25,000 a couple of times on new cars (Buick Century both times, and one of them saved my life thank-you-very-much) and I'm comfortable with that as a price for a new car, although my preference is either to buy a year old car or a lease return or a demo at the end of the sales year.  Actually, that's what we did when we bought my hubby's dream car, a PT Cruiser, shortly after we got married.  Of course, the car cost more than $25,000 (about $32,000 in the end) but we did still pay it off early.  And I'm not planning on us buying a car to replace it for several more years!

As for the house price, that's about $50 to $100k over the cost of the cheapest teardown in a bad neighbourhood here!  What can I say?  House prices in Vancouver are high.  My old studio and den condo cost $96,900 (about a dozen years ago, before prices took off) and I sold it at the height of the market for $176,000 (and it was pretty much the cheapest condo for sale in the city at that point).  I used about half my profits from the sale to buy (outright) an older home in the rural area where we plan to retire.  And I put the other half into the house my Eldest Daughter and her partner bought here in the city (where we live with them).

As for the vacation, I figure it costs about $500/day for a family of 4 to take what I would consider a "nice" vacation including transportation, accomodation, food and souvenirs.  I know I could go camping for a lot less but I don't like camping.  Not everybody does.  My idea of a vacation is a hotel where they provide everything and clean up after us.  Or, better yet, a cruise!  I've done a lot of travelling in the past (my dad worked for an airline and we flew for free) and there's a lot of places I'd like to go back to but flying is really, really expensive when you have to pay for 3 people!  Not to mention, the fact that we keep kosher also limits where we can stay and where we can eat!  And eating in kosher restaurants is very expensive.  So, we don't travel much.  And when we do, it's usually driving down to stay with friends in Seattle or something like that.  We haven't even gone to Israel so all our relatives can meet our Dear Child (she has lots of cousins there) even though it would be very cheap once we got there, what with staying with family and all, because the flight would cost between $1,500 and $1,800 each and $5k is a LOT of money just for the airfare!

So, what does it all mean?  First, there is no real connection between my answers to those questions and what I actually pay for those items.

Second, sometimes you do want to pay more for a certain kind of experience.  And that's not wrong!  If the vacation I really want is in Israel or Italy, then camping in a tent in a national park is a complete and total waste of money for me no matter how little it costs compared to the other vacation!

Third, Trent really does have a good point when he says: "The value is what you get out of it. Does it make you happy? Does it meet your needs? Those are the things that matter, not matching what someone else is doing."

Where he was wrong was in trying to correlate the first figure that jumps into your head with what you would tend to turn around and actually pay for the item.
Now, does anybody else want to jump in and answer those questions (and then say what you'd really pay)?
Oh yeah and for anybody who didn't get the title of the post, there's a point in the Passover seder where the youngest child asks the 4 Questions.  It's sung in Hebrew and starts "Mah nishtana ha layla hazeh mikol halaylot?" [Why is this night different from all other nights?]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thinking About TFSAs

I just wrote about my TFSA last week here on my blog and then I got into talking about them over on Trent's blog too.  In fact, I had to deal with a commenter who both twisted what I said and told everybody I was wrong!  Uh, no.  Actually I wasn't.

In case you don't want to go over there and poke around the comments, here's the story.  Trent responded to someone who asked him about opening a Roth IRA and using it as an Emergency Fund.  He was against it, because the Roth has a $5,000/yr limit that expires at the end of each year (instead of being carried forward like a TFSA).  Trent's point was that if you deposit $5k and then use it for an emergency you can't put it back.  You've lost that year's contribution and that $5k is gone from your retirement account forever.

Several others pointed out that you might not have an emergency, and then you'd be ahead whereas if you had the emergency you wouldn't be any worse off than if you hadn't opened a Roth and had just put the money in an Emergency Fund.  I chimed in to talk about how a Roth and a TFSA are similar but different, and how you can take money out and put it back into a TFSA.

I used the example of someone with a $5,000 contribution limit depositing $2,500 then withdrawing $2,000 for an emergency.  I said this person could replace the $2k this year.

Kevin then jumped in to say:

In the interest of avoiding any confusion, I just wanted to correct Shevy’s inaccurate information regarding the Canadian TFSA accounts. Some of his information is completely wrong.

The TFSA does indeed have a $5,000/year contribution limit, and any gains in the account are tax-free, like a Roth IRA. Contributions are not tax-deductible. Shevy is correct that you can take money out, without penalty. Where his information goes off the rails, however, is his suggestion that you have to put the money back in that same year. In fact, it’s exactly the opposite. You CAN’T re-contribute the money that same year. You can put it back, but you have to wait until the next year to do so. Money you withdraw is added to next year’s contribution limit. Unused contribution room rolls forward.

Thus, to correct Shevy’s example, say you contributed $2,500 to your TFSA in year 1, then had an emergency that required you to take out $2,000. Assuming you don’t do anything else in year 1, then next year, your limit will be $9,500 ($2,500 unused contribution room from year 1, plus the $2,000 you took out in year 1, plus your new, $5,000 limit for year 2).

So, of course, I went back to correct all of his errors, starting with where he mistook me for a guy!

First of all, there's a world of difference between being able to do something and being required to do it.  I never said the person had to replace the money that same year but they could if they wanted to.  Why?  Because the person still had enough contribution room to be able to do it.  In my example the person would have used $4,500 out of his or her $5,000 contribution room (and would have had $2,500 in the account at the end of the year).  There are lots of good reasons for wanting to put the money back as soon as possible, interest being only one.  Perhaps the person had to pay for something and then got reimbursed by insurance.  So it really should go back in and, if it doesn't, maybe it will end up getting spent on something else.  It's a way of focusing on savings and making them a priority.

Kevin is only right that you can't repay the money in the case where you've already used up all your contribution room.  For example, if you put $400/mo into your TFSA and then have an emergency in October that costs $2,000 you won't be able to repay it until next year.  Why?  In October you have $4,000 in the account and you have another $800 that is scheduled to go in over the next 2 months.  If you put the $2,000 in you would be over the limit for the year by $1,000 right away and by $1,800 by the end of the year.  CRA charges 1% tax per month on the overlimit amount so that's a very bad idea.

You could put $200 back (bringing you right up to the $5,000 limit) and put the other $1,800 back at the beginning of the next calendar year or you could just wait until January to redeposit the whole $2,000.  In January there's another $5,000 limit, plus anything you didn't use from a previous year, plus the amount of any withdrawal you made.  So, every year the amount people can have in their TFSAs grows by $5,000 and in 10 years time everybody will be entitled to have $50,000 in their account (regardless of how much they actually deposited or withdrew during that decade).

The thing is, how many people are really fully funding their TFSAs?  In fact, how many people even opened one in 2009 when they first became available?  As I mentioned last week, I'm certainly not fully funding mine with $50 per pay period, especially when you consider that I'm one of the ones who didn't open the account until 2010 (so my contribution limit for this year is $10,000).  I think a lot of people who are struggling aren't able to fully fund anything, whether it's 18% to their RRSP or $5,000 to a TFSA or whatever the current maximum to receive the full government match is in an RESP, or even the 1/3/6 or more months we're all encouraged to have in an Emergency Fund.

So what's an average Joe or Jane to do in this circumstance?  I think the first thing is to start paying down debt.  Then open a TFSA and put whatever you can in there.  It could be $10 per week or $416.66 per month or anywhere in between.  If you have a baby, open an RESP right away and start putting something into it.  I pay $50/month into an RESP.  If you've fully funded your TFSA for the year and you have contribution room left over from a previous year, I'd keep going with that.  Otherwise you should start a separate Emergency Fund.  Once there's $1,000 in the Emergency Fund (and your TFSA is still fully funded) you can split the deposits that were going into the EF in half.  Half still goes into the EF, the rest can go into an RRSP.  As you finish paying off each debt, snowball it into the remaining debt.  When you have no debt other than mortgage you can split the debt repayment money between paying down principal and adding to your RRSP (up to your contribution limit, of course).

Sounds so easy, doesn't it?  But I'm still in the very early stages.  I'm paying down debt.  I have a small TFSA and a smaller Emergency Fund.  I have an RESP for my daughter.  I have RRSPs but I'm not putting anything into them at this point in time.  The money in them is still earning interest though.  I prefer the TFSA to the RRSP because of the flexibility inherent in it but I think each has a place in my retirement plans.

Friday, March 5, 2010

February Goal Review and March Goals

Yes, it is a new month and yesterday was payday.  Sounds like a good time to see how I did with my February goals and maybe set some new ones for March.

First of all, what were my goals for February?
1. Pay for Dear Child's birthday party.
2. Pay at least $229.75 to MasterCard
3. Stay current with all the other bills.
4. Get the treatment plan for DC's dental surgery and figure out how to pay for that.
5. Make arrangements for Dog's Passover vacation and pay at least $100 towards that.

Those sounded pretty reasonable.  How did I do?

1. Dear Child's party was held at the community centre with an hour in the gym and then food upstairs.  Given that my Eldest Daughter's baby was overdue at that point and we were doing renovations both upstairs and down at home, it was the only logical choice.  She didn't have a party the previous year and had been promised a nice one this year.  I charged the party on my MasterCard and paid for part of it in February.  I finished paying for it today.
2. I made a number of payments to MasterCard in February, as well as at the beginning of March.  I paid both the $229.75 and $90 (my regular payment) on 17 Feb, then paid $62.50 towards the cost of the party on  the 22nd or 23rd.  I paid another $90 yesterday and $400 today.
3. I am current on all the usual bills like internet, water, credit card, cell, set-asides into my credit union account, ING emergency fund, etc.  It feels good.
4. Dear Child had her surgery and I charged the first of 3 monthly payments for it to my MasterCard at the beginning of the week when the surgery took place.  The total bill was a little under $1,800 and each payment is between $500 and $600.  $200 of the $400 I paid today was towards the dental charge.  I'll have more to put towards it when my hubby gets paid again.  I want to pay each dental charge off before I charge the next one.
5. I wrote to reserve Dog's place today and will send a cheque for $100 once I hear back.

All in all, I did very well!  Now, what do I want to choose as goals for March (bearing in mind that Passover falls at the end of March this year and is both hectic and expensive).  Let's keep it very simple.

1. Stay current on my bills this month.
2. Pay at least half of the cost of Dog's vacation ahead of time.
3. Pay down the cost of the first dental charge before the end of March.

I could add more, but I know just how much of a challenge those will be.

In addition, I'm on track with my TFSA.  I've been putting in $50 each payday and it's currently sitting at $250.18.  I've also got an automatic transfer of $10/week to my ING Emergency Fund.  There's $251.56 in there as of today, close to half the $520 I listed as a goal for the year.  Yes, I realize it's not enough but the money in the TFSA can also be taken out for any reason at any time, so it can also function as a sort of emergency fund too.  I'll be happier when I have at least $1,000 put away between the two funds but right now I'm just trying to find some kind of balance and form regular habits.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Surgery Update

Just a very short post to say that my Dear Child had her surgery Thursday morning and came through it beautifully, Baruch Hashem [thank G-d].  She was nervous as this was her second surgery and she said she felt the anaesthesia line being inserted last time, but she was very brave.  I cuddled her and encouraged her to blow bubbles while they put the line in today (her hand had been pre-numbed by a topical) and she didn't seem to feel it this time.  Boy, they go out fast though.  One second she was giggling and telling the nurses about Dog and the next we were easing her down on the table as her eyes rolled back.

She's doing really well.  We gave her one dose of Advil when the freezing and painkillers they had given her wore off but she hasn't seemed to need any more.  I went out and spent more money than I should have on special soft foods for her (cottage cheese, ice cream, juice, soft fruits) but she can't eat regular food for a couple of days, just a very soft diet.  I'm going to make tuna quiche (one of her faves) for Shabbos lunch and we'll have fish fillets and mashed potatoes for Friday night.

I can't believe Purim starts when Shabbos ends!  At least today was an easy fast (the Fast of Esther gets pushed back to Thursday when Purim is Sunday because we don't fast on Shabbos unless Yom Kippur falls out then).  And Dear Child can say she fasted too!  Normally kids don't fast until the year they hit Bar or Bat Mitzvah but she had to fast from midnight on for the surgery.  Actually, she did have about a third of a glass of water through the afternoon, a sip or 2 at a time, but that's all.  She had a strawberry banana ice cream smoothie for dinner.  And she's looking forward to a visit from the tooth fairy tonight.  She got $5 each time previously when she lost a tooth and they extracted 4 teeth today (among other work).  Hubby asked her how much money she'd be getting and she said $20 right away!  Pretty good math skills for a 7 year old!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Poking My Nose Out for an Update

I feel like the poor old groundhog, scared to look out for fear of seeing my shadow.  My last post was 10 days ago and I talked about the necessity of creating a Pesach cleaning plan and making myself accountable.  Then I disappeared.

Well, life happens.  Specifically, new babies happen!  No, not mine.  My Eldest Daughter's.  But combine a new baby (and one whole night with no sleep while my daughter was in labour) together with 3 little girls who are off school, the Olympics, two kiddie birthday parties, various and sundry family members and close friends traipsing in and out to see the little guy and, well, you get the idea.

What, if anything has been done?

Well, my son-in-law and his dad did get the drywall down, fixed what needed to be fixed, and then put up the drywall again.  It still needs taping, mudding and sanding before much of anything can be done in Dear Child's room.  I did go through the big bin that had been stored but Dear Child was thrilled to see most of the items after 3 years, my hubby vetoed getting rid of certain other items and it's still 3/4 full.  Sigh.  Honestly, I think she could have lived without the baby doll, the baby Cabbage Patch and 2 big stuffed Care Bears at the very least!  I know some will say that I should have gone through the bin by myself or forced her to give away more, but I've been on the other end of it and I still recall how upset I was (back when I was about 11).

Other than that, I've done a lot of laundry and hung up more of DC's things (in my closet) and I started sorting out paperwork that's stacked on the trunk and table (in an area I'm not supposed to even be in yet).  I also started to make a detailed list in excel based on a spreadsheet I saw elsewhere.  I worked on it for about 2 hours and was very satisfied with it.  I just wanted to add another worksheet for Things To Buy, so I did that and tried to edit the tab of the worksheet to say "To Buy" and excel totally messed up on me at that point.  It tried to tell me there was something wrong with what I was calling it (there wasn't), and listed that it couldn't be more than so many characters, no special characters and couldn't be blank.  It wouldn't let me get out of the tab, wouldn't let me switch to another sheet, wouldn't let me save, wouldn't even let me close excel!  It took 2 tries using Task Manager to eventually force excel to close.  Needless to say, I lost the entire thing.  I was not a happy camper and went to bed that night in a huff!  The next day I recreated it from scratch and successfully saved it.  In fact, I improved on the format, but I still didn't like having to do all that work twice!  And, of course, that was a "planning the work" segment.  Still have to work the plan!

As for money, I've been paying my bills and trying to get the MasterCard back down to where it was before.  I did pay off the flooring I bought but then ended up having to charge DC's birthday party, which was held out of the house for what should be obvious reasons!  I've since paid down another $90.  That pretty much covered last month's interest charge ($91.43).  Then I paid part of the money for the party but have to wait another couple of weeks to finish paying that off.  And, today, I charged the first 1/3 of DC's dental surgery.  We're paying it in 3 payments, each a month apart.  I'm hoping that my hubby will get paid the commission on a couple of bigger jobs he's done recently by the end of March.  Then we can pay the surgery off and be done with it.  The good news is that it turned out to cost considerably less than originally anticipated, about $1,700 when we'd been led to expect that it would be about $3,000.

Right now I'm just trying to get through the week until Thursday, when the surgery takes place.  And take baby steps on my cleaning plan until then.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Passover Planning

Okay, this is what I was talking about the other night when I was suffering from caffeine-induced insomnia.  Passover starts the last week of March and it's already almost the middle of February.  My house could politely be described as a mess.  We clean for Passover so that we don't have any crumbs anywhere (because we have to get rid of all leavened products for the duration of the holiday).  Generally, people also do a lot of other cleaning and tidying at the same time because it helps you find the leavened stuff (called chametz in Hebrew).  Right now, I'm hard pressed to even find any horizontal surfaces in my home (including most of the floor) because everything from my daughter's room is all over everywhere.

I have bins of Barbies and stuffed animals, trays of art supplies, boxes of school projects and clothes, her globe, baskets of books, etc. etc. all over my living room.  Most of the bins look like they've thrown up their contents.  Then, I have her little table in the middle of my kitchen, the chairs in the living room, her comforter across the foot of my bed, her hanging clothes in my closet and her laundry on the floor by the foot of my bed. Oh yes, and her lamps on my dining room table.

My Dear Child's room is still empty and taped off.  My Son-in-Law got to the point of replacing the ceiling drywall but found that it didn't all meet up evenly and that he couldn't find a place to sink some of the necessary drywall screws.  His dad was in town for just a day or two, so didn't have time to work on it but the problem apparently also affects the kitchen floor upstairs.  They need to remove the new drywall, do something up above and then replace it.  Of course, after that the drywall will need taping, mudding and sanding (at least a couple of days, what with the mud needing to dry in between).  Then he's going to texture the ceiling (which I loathe, but he says he can't do an even enough job to look totally flat, so the texture is necessary) and repaint some of the upper parts of her wall that got damaged during the process to date.

Unfortunately, his dad won't be back until after Eldest Daughter has the baby (any day now, so he'll probably return within the next couple of weeks) and I can't put in the new floor until the ceiling is finished.  I don't want paint or drywall compound or drywall dust all over my new floor!  And the floor isn't a single evening project.  Did I mention that I can't put anything back in the bedroom until both ceiling and floor are finished?

The original plan I made for Passover had me finishing the floor and refilling her room by Jan 31st, spending the next 2 weeks on the living room, 2 weeks on the foyer and 3rd bedroom (including tiling the floor, moving furniture and assembling a wardrobe we've had for about 2 years already), 2 weeks in the master bedroom and, finally, 2 weeks in the kitchen (and adjacent bathroom) and also included doing tiling and replacing cabinets and counters!

Okay, it was ambitious.  Very ambitious.  I'm now at the point where I should be finishing the living room and I haven't started anything because of the whole situation with the bedroom!  I'm frustrated and that's part of what's holding me back.  Realistically, while I can't do many of the things I'm supposed to be doing (or should have already completed) there are small areas where I could do something.

For example, I could clean off the mantel and a couple of the bookshelves.  I could try to clear off the chaise longue (although I'm not sure where I can put DC's coats) and I could buy the wooden frame from IKEA that is meant to hold her bins.  I could assemble it, empty and clean the bins, then only put cleaned and checked toys back into the bins.  Then those toys would be off limits until Passover (the hard part).  I could also go through her big bin of toys that's been sitting in storage and is currently in our 3rd bedroom.  Most of those toys have been outgrown I think and maybe I could get rid of a bunch of them.  Then any toys I'm not willing or able to clean for Passover could go in the bin.  Those toys could be played with in the interim and then the bin could be sealed shut and sold for the duration of Passover.

On the reno front, I could rip out the carpet in DC's room and lay the DriCore (because it doesn't matter if it gets paint or dust on it).

So, here's a basic revised plan, week by week:
1. Starting Sunday, work on accessible areas in the living room and do the floor prep in DC's room.  Work on the bins and toys.
2. Work on the living room areas that are revealed when I move the toys.  Clean up the part of the foyer where we put the shoes & DC's backpack.  Once Hubby reorganizes the shed, move the boxes that belong there out of the foyer.  Rip out carpet in 3rd bedroom and move big items around in it.
3. Tile & grout the floor in the foyer and 3rd bedroom.  Move the furniture into their final places.  Build the single wardrobe.  Move my grandmother's trunk from beside the table into the 3rd bedroom.
4. Work on the master bedroom.  Do floor in DC's room (by this time the ceiling had better be fixed!) and move all her stuff back in.
5. Finish the master bedroom. Finish the living room. Start work on the kitchen, beginning with table area and corner by bathroom. Clean fridge.  Box up stuff to be sold for Passover (regular dishes, pots, etc.).
6. Continue work on the kitchen, whether I'm doing a reno or scrubbing out the existing lower cabinets.  Do reno the upper cabinets at least so we'll have a place to put the Passover food (since the pantry cupboard is the one that fell apart a few months ago). Clean stove.
7. Finish up the kitchen on Sunday the 28th and start cooking for the seders (Monday & Tuesday nights).

Just looking at all of that is pretty scary.  Remember, we're also going to have a new baby upstairs, I'm planning to go to the house for a couple of days during the 2nd week, Dear Child is off school until the end of the Olympics, she's having dental surgery on Feb. 25th and we'll be busy with Purim on the 28th (of Feb.).  Oh right, and I work!  But I don't have any better ideas.  If I don't at least try to work this plan I won't be ready at all and what will we do then?  Move out for the duration of Passover?

So, plan the work, work the plan.  Rinse and repeat.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thinking Out Loud

Note to Self:  Don't drink Snapple.  No matter how good it tastes.  No matter if you're thirsty and are eating something spicy.  Remember.  Caffeine=No Sleep.

Windows has decided that it needs to do a big update in about 9 minutes, so we'll see how fast I can write a post.  Given that it's a little after 3 am and I haven't been to sleep yet it may not be terribly coherent, but what's life without a challenge or two?

Speaking of challenges, I really have to start writing about my plans for cleaning up the house.  Oh, and I have to actually clean too!  Really, the reason I need to blog about it is that I need to be held accountable.  Things are just really rough right now, work on Dear Child's ceiling is stalled, a lot of other things are happening right now and I'm not getting any cleaning done.  Or any reno work.

I'm trying to decide how best to procede because Passover comes very early this year and I have a ton of work to do.  I'm going to go think about it now (until I can sleep) and write more tomorrow (or later today).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Review Day & February Goals

It was Wednesday.  It was payday.  And my Hubby had transferred money to my account.  Guess what I did this morning before breakfast?  I paid bills, of course!

That made me think about my goals for the year.  How am I doing with those?  What should I work on this month?

Overall, I'm doing well with the money.  Both the Home Depot payment plans are history.  That's just over $1,500 worth of debt we've paid off between about November and now.  I have post-dated cheques for another debt we're chewing away at and I'm on track with that.  I've opened a TFSA and there's already $150 in it.  I have $10/week going into my ING Emergency Fund.  No, that's not a lot but it's going in there nice and regular.  The IKEA account is all paid off and can no longer be used because they changed companies that provide the credit card services.  As of today, I think I'm current on all my bills.  The one thing I still need to do for this pay period is to go to the credit union, take out $45 in cash and then deposit it into my other credit union via the ATM.  That's the set-aside money each payday for my electric bill, garbage, property taxes and fuel oil at our rural home.  Next winter, when it's time for a fuel oil delivery, I'll have the money all saved up.

On the other hand, I've been charging stuff for the city house on my MasterCard.  In fact, Capital One put a fraud hold on my card after the third time I used it in 2 days!  What did I buy?  I spent $20.11 at IKEA on 4 D cell batteries, 10 votive candle holders and a pair of sheer drapes (2 panels).  I bought $129.37 worth of DriCore (including a levelling kit) at one Home Depot and, the next day at a different Home Depot, I spent $229.75 on tiles for the foyer and 3rd bedroom, as well as concealing film for the bedroom windows, a closet pole that will fit Dear Child's closet at the rural house (it's an odd size) and a grouting sponge.  Bad?  Not really.  I had to buy the reno supplies before the end of January to be able to cash in on the home renovation tax credit.  And I needed the supplies to finish important projects that will make our part of the house a lot better looking.  Plus, I've paid down $149.48 of that already today.

The fraud thing was actually pretty funny.  I've barely used the card over the past year or more, so 3 transactions in 2 days was obviously suspicious!  I got that all straightened out with a quick phone call.

What are my goals for February?
1. Pay for Dear Child's birthday party.
2. Pay at least $229.75 to MasterCard
3. Stay current with all the other bills.
4. Get the treatment plan for DC's dental surgery and figure out how to pay for that.
5. Make arrangements for Dog's Passover vacation and pay at least $100 towards that.

Got any goals for February that you'd like to share?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Teeth, Continued

In my last post (was it really that long ago?) I talked about how Dear Child had been to the dentist and lost yet another tooth.  What I didn't mention was that the dentist said he wanted her to have an ortho consult before we booked her upcoming dental surgery!

Accordingly, on Tuesday morning DC and I went to see an orthodontist in her dentist's office (how convenient!) and $35 later the news was that we would extract fewer teeth than originally contemplated.  There's no question that she comes by all her dental issues very honestly.  I blame it all on my father!  He had terrible teeth when I was little.  They were very crooked and so badly abscessed that, when they were pulled, the dentist refused to take more than a few at a time for fear of the infection spreading through his bloodstream and killing him.

It wasn't that he didn't take care of them.  He just had poor teeth and the crowding made cleaning much more difficult.  He grew up through the Depression (in farm country) and orthodontics were just unheard of in that time and place.  Eventually they all came out, he was fitted with dentures and things were much better.

Unfortunately, I inherited the poor teeth and also had a huge mismatch between the size of my teeth and the size of my jaw.  I had a (totally useless) appliance as a child, ortho complete with extractions and headgear as a young teen and ortho with jaw surgery and further extractions as an adult!

DC's oldest brother also had the same pattern of decay, decay around fillings, crowns and loss of crowned teeth that DC is currently going through.  Luckily, his teeth were quite straight and we never did ortho for him but he's only 30 and has dentures already.  (The other 2 adult kids had a normal number of cavities that didn't continue to decay.  My grown daughter needed about $4,500 of ortho in her mid-teens, however.)

Basically, the plan for my youngest daughter is to remove the top 4 baby incisors and shave down the sides of the eyeteeth (canines) to allow as much room as possible for the 4 adult teeth waiting to erupt.  There will likely still be some crowding, which could be eliminated by pulling the eyeteeth as well.  However, that would increase the chance that she would develop an underbite (because the pressure of the upper lip on the erupting teeth would tend to push them back) and we're trying to avoid that.

She's lost both of what will be lower bicuspids on one side and the lower canine is starting to drift backwards slightly, opening up a little room on the bottom.  They plan to take one of the matching teeth on the other side to allow that canine to drift back slightly as well.  When the bottom ones come in, the ortho feels they'll be fine.  They will attach a space maintainer to the 6 year molar on the one side though, to limit the amount of movement.

Finally, they'll fill all four of her 6 year molars, the only permanent teeth she has fully in to date.  Part of the problem with having so much decay in baby teeth is that the permanent ones tend to come in with decay "factory-installed" or to begin to decay while they are only partly erupted (with the decay starting under the portion of gum still covering part of the tooth, where you can't reach with floss or a toothbrush).

The biggest decision is really the material to use.  Amalgam (which does contain small amounts of mercury) is the cheapest and hardest.  If the fillings are still small enough we can also do them in a white material that doesn't contain mercury but isn't fully covered under our dental plan.  I'm seriously considering spending an extra $400 or so to have the more esthetically pleasing fillings.  For one thing, I have a mouth full of mercury based amalgam fillings and I'd rather not have them myself, let alone inflict them on DC.  I'm not at all sure that they're safe over the long term.  But it is more money and the surgery itself is expensive.  I don't have a final amount yet but it will probably be on the close order of $3,000 plus the extra charge for the white fillings.

It's a lot of money and we're in debt already.  But it's a long-term investment in DC's mouth.  If we can reduce or eliminate the need for braces down the line that could easily save us a $5,000 orthodontic fee  (a net savings of $2,000).  Plus, having the fillings done under general anaesthetic eliminates the need for 4 separate office visits and numerous shots of freezing.  This is important when you consider that she's terrified of needles.  I might get her to the office okay for the first filling but the next 3 visits would be horrendous.

So, how are we going to pay for this?  We have a dental plan that covers a lot of the cost but we're responsible for the rest  (the $3,000 figure I used being our portion).  They will work out a payment plan but it's between $600 and $1,000 per month if I remember correctly from the last time.  Luckily my Hubby has had a couple of good commissions recently that will be paid to him over the next few months and that's where the money will come from.  It means we won't be going deeper in debt, which is a good thing.  On the other hand, it means we won't be able to use that money to pay down debt, which is not so good.

I was told that it usually takes about a month to get in for the surgery.  So I pointed out that DC will be out of school for the duration of the Olympics and asked if there was any possibility of getting her in then (as the end of the Olympics is about a month from now).  They're going to check and get back to me.  It would certainly be easier to do it when she's off school anyway, rather than have her off for 2 1/2 weeks, go back and then have to miss several days.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Money, Teeth and Computer Viruses

I'm plugging away, paying bills as I get money (whether from work or Hubby when he gets paid or wherever).  The problem is that sometimes it takes me a couple of days to get money from Point A to Point B.  When Hubby gets paid he transfers money to me for bills but that goes into my old bank account.  I take cash out from there, then have to physically go into the credit union when it's open to deposit it so I don't have a hold on the money.  Unfortunately, the credit union is on a major street that doesn't allow street parking 3 to 6 pm and where it's very busy the rest of the time.  So, it's challenging to get there and be able to find a place to park.

This past week I took some of the money out in cash and used telephone banking to make another payment from the old bank account to my MasterCard.  I finally got the cash into the credit union the other day and made some more payments today.  First of all, I had to take care of my internet bill, which I somehow forgot at the end of last month.  Then I put money towards Home Depot and (yet again) MasterCard.

So far with the MasterCard I've paid off all the stuff I charged in the Okanagan and then made two more payments of $90 each.  So I've reduced the balance to just a little below the amount on last month's statement (because the bedframes were just over $170).  However, the interest charge won't be added to the account for another day or so.  That will push me up by $90 odd but I'll hit it again next week with at least $90.  The net result will be that I won't have reduced my balance over the previous month but I'll have paid for everything I bought.

I've also had some other expenses this week.  Dear Child went back to the dentist and he pulled another tooth that wasn't supposed to come out yet.  It was the crowned tooth next to the one that already came out and its roots had also resorbed.  The tooth was so loose that it was just hanging by a thread.  A dab of topical freezing and the dentist was able to get it out with his fingers.  That set me back by about $50, including the xray.  And then I let my youngest son talk me into buying more RAM for my laptop.  I only had 1 MB, which is really low.  So $60 later I have 2.5 MB.  At the same time he cleaned up my computer, which had acquired a really annoying trojan that was masquerading as a virus checker.  I'm still not sure how I got it.  It just showed up as I was reading blogs a couple of nights ago and was popping up very realistic windows about how this, that and the other file was infected, and did I want to run my antivirus.  I really couldn't make a move without several popups appearing and I didn't want to do anything that involved logging in anywhere using any of my passwords.  Hooray for my techie son!  Well, both my techie sons, since the older one actually works in the IT field, but the younger son was the one that was available.

On top of all that, work has been insane and I've been trying to put in extra hours.

So, that's been my life this week.  How was yours?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Steps Forward and Back

I had some ambitious goals for 2010.  My first payday for the year was yesterday.  How am I doing?

First of all, I took one fairly big step backwards at the end of December when we were going away to our rural house.  I bought discontinued bedframes at IKEA for $170.98 and charged it on my MasterCard.  Yes, the card I've barely used in over a year, the same card that just increased my credit limit by $3,000.  I'm really glad I bought them though.  We've been sleeping on mattresses on the floor at the house and it's not that comfy.  Having the bedframes will really help.  We got them to the house in our car by putting down half the back seat and running them up between the front seats.  There wasn't time while we were there to put them together but I hope to do them on the next trip.

Then we were at the house for the weekend and I charged groceries and birthday presents for Dear Child to the tune of $159.14.  I did have money left in my chequing account but I thought that a cheque I'd written for $162 hadn't cleared yet.  I didn't want to end up bouncing a cheque, so I charged it all.  Turns out, luckily, that the cheque had cleared and I just hadn't noticed.

So, the net result was that my card balance went up from $5,868.52 to (gulp) $6,198.64, almost $200 over my old limit and $330.12 higher in total.  And it will be worse in a couple of days when the interest hits my account.

However, there is also good news on the horizon.  First of all, I got a raise!  Okay, it's not huge, just 2% but there were no raises last year so this is good.  I've paid the $159.14, plus paid the water and made a payment to Home Depot. Oh! Oh, oh, oh!!!! I almost forgot!  I paid off the first Home Depot payment plan on December 31st!  That's one of my goals for the year (because it was due January 1st).

I also took a big step toward another one of my goals today.  I had to go in to the credit union to activate my new, permanent debit card (the temporary card they gave me when my card was skimmed was only good for 30 days) so I opened my Tax Free Savings Account at the same time and put $50 into it.  My goal this year is to get it up to $1,300 by the end of the year.  Yes, I know that you can put in $5,000 per year (and that my eligible amount for this year is $10,000 because unused amounts carry forward from year to year) but let's be realistic.  It'll be a stretch to make my goal.  There's no way I'd ever be able to put $416.66 away each month, unless I did it at the expense of paying down debt.  How dumb would that be?  Ooh, I'll earn maybe 2% on $5,000 of savings while paying 17% on $6,000 worth of debt.  Don't think so.  On the other hand, having an extra grand or so in an account that can be accessed if I need it is a good add-on to the ever-underfunded Emergency Fund.

While I was at the credit union I deposited cash to my rural credit union account (via the ATM).  Why cash?  Well, I pay to order cheques and they take a minimum of 5 business days to clear from the one credit union to the other.  Cash should clear once the amount of the deposit is verified the next business day.  The cash was for all the rural set-asides I've created.  That includes the electric bill, property tax, garbage pickup and fuel oil.  When next December rolls around and I need another tank of fuel oil the money will all be there.  How grown up and responsible is that?

So, all in all, I'm doing fairly well in the financial area.  And I've been walking for half an hour 5 days out of the past 7 (yet another goal).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Starting 2010 the DIY Way

Well, as I was writing in the response I made to RivkA's comment to my previous post, I have to decide whether or not we're going to replace Dear Child's floor once we get access back to her room (since right now it's taped shut with clear tarp over the door, closet and dresser).  I think it will probably cost about $400 for both the DriCore and the flooring itself.  Oh, and baseboards.

It's certainly the right time to do this while all the furniture (except the dresser) is already out of the room.  And there's no question that the horrible carpeting that was here when we moved in should go.  Even if it was nice carpeting I'd want to replace it with wood because of my asthma.  And, believe me, it's not nice.  I had a very large straw mat I got in Fiji probably 25 years ago down over most of the exposed floor surface before and a small sheepskin right by the bed.  Wood would be so much nicer.  Wood is good.

However, it's money I hadn't planned on spending and it would end up going on yet another no interest payment plan at Home Depot.  Now, it's true that it looks like my Hubby's commissions are picking  up somewhat and he has a big job or 2 in process right now but probably won't see money for them for a couple of months.  It doesn't make sense to wait until the money is  in hand though from the point of view of getting our daughter back into her room.  And getting our living room, kitchen and dining table back to normal.

I also have to think about how long it's going to take to actually do the floor.  I'm not the fastest person at these things but I do a good job.  Probably a couple of evenings for the DriCore and about the same for the floor (although if I go with engineered I'll be gluing it, which takes longer and also needs an extra day to dry).  I don't want to do the baseboards.  I hate the mitred cuts.  If my Son-in-Law will cut the baseboards that will be okay.  He did a pretty good job of them in the girls' room upstairs.

So I think I've rationalized myself into an additional reno job over and above the ones I really need to do around here (like finishing the bathroom or redoing my kitchen cabinets, or putting in the tile floor).  And this is after I laid the floor in the girls' room with my Eldest Daughter's able assistance (also not something that had been on my list).  I'd ask her to help me with this one in exchange but I feel guilty about asking someone who's 8 months pregnant to help lay a floor.  My Hubby is totally not handy with renos and my S-in-L has more than enough renos to do in his part of the house right now.  Sigh.

And from a financial viewpoint I do worry to a certain extent about the effect of taking on additional debt just as I'm paying off some from last year.  It's not that I'm worried we won't have the money to pay it off when it comes due.  I'm actually pretty good at that.  It's just that I hate to be moving in the "wrong direction" if you know what I mean.  I guess I just have to be really vigilant about paying other stuff when I'm supposed to, setting aside money for things that will come due later, putting that little bit away every week into the Emeergency Fund, etc. etc.  You know, all those good habits I said I was going to develop this year.

And I did pay off the first of the 2 Home Depot amounts.  On time.  The next one is due in February and will be more challenging but I'm sure we can do it.