Wednesday, November 25, 2009

How to Spend Money

What's that you say?  You don't have any problem spending money?  Well, neither do I.  Sometimes I spend it intelligently; sometimes not so much.

Today was a good day, moneywise.  I got paid and promptly turned around and paid a whole bunch of bills.  I paid my cell, water, internet and IKEA in full and am totally current on those.  The IKEA card is closed now because they switched providers and I haven't filled out another application.  I paid $90 to MasterCard, which covers the interest with a dollar and change left over and I'll keep paying them $90 every payday.  (My big problem with them has been that I've only been paying once a month when money has been tight and, at that rate, I should have the card paid off in 500 years or so!)  And I paid Home Depot $106, right on track to have the first of two purchase plans paid off just before it comes due at the beginning of January.

There's a few things that come out automatically, either as pre-authorized charges or as post-dated cheques and the money is in place for all but one of those.  My hubby will have to transfer money into my old bank account when he gets paid at the end of the month and that will cover the service charges and that pre-authorized payment.

Then I went out after everybody got home and bought $50 worth of groceries to last us until Monday and $25 worth of gas.  I'm pretty much broke again but it feels really good to have taken care of all the important things.  I feel today was a success.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Debit Card Woes

My debit card was skimmed the other day and the credit union called me to tell me they were mailing me a new card.  If I needed one faster I could go in to my branch for a temporary one.  Friday was such a short day that I didn't have time to go in and they were closed for the remainder of the weekend by the time Shabbos was over.

This kind of messed me up in a couple of ways.  First, I was supposed to transfer some money from that credit union to the one in the Interior that I pay bills for the house out of.  No card, no way to withdraw cash (and I wanted cash rather than a cheque because I think the hold comes off faster for cash than a cheque).  Second, I couldn't get any groceries, even essential ones without a card.

Anyway, I went in today.  They gave me a new card, a copy of my statement for the past month (no money missing, Thank G-d), I withdrew money from my city credit union, deposited cash and a small cheque (really small, like about $13) into the rural credit union, then went to the grocery store on my way home from work.  I only bought the bare necessities: a protein drink, sour cream, a minestrone soup mix, a box of 6 year old approved cereal, a bag of chips and a bag of cookies (the last two for use in Dear Child's lunches this week).

We had latkes with sour cream for dinner and tomorrow will be minestrone soup.  I'm falling asleep at the keyboard, so that's all for now.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Still Trying to Fix the Blog Feed!

So far, I've asked for help from Google and haven't heard anything useful.  The only response was from someone else who is having a similar problem and also wants to contact someone at Google but couldn't figure out how!

I tried deleting the feedburner feed and redoing it, then deleting my subscription at Google Reader and resubscribing.  It showed me the same thing as before and said that I hadn't yet subscribed, did I want to?  I clicked on "List" (which shows the list of posts instead of the posts themselves) and FINALLY my 2 latest posts appeared at the top and showed as unread.  However, I have no clue how to get rid of those 25 or 30 posts that aren't mine and no way to be sure that more of those fake posts won't appear!

In other words, I still need help!  I can't just contact the person whose blog is attached to mine because when you try to open it you see a home page for a few seconds then get redirected to something called blogpop that says the domain name expired back in October.  Yet all those spammy posts were from as recently as November 15th.  I'm so confused and frustrated.

Sooner or later I'll actually get back to blogging about personal finance and my life.  Depending on how crazy things are around here (my Eldest Daughter is out of town again for a week) it may not be until Wednesday, which will also be payday.  I'm very grateful that this will be a normal cheque but I still probably have more things to pay than money!  The biggest thing I'm worried about right now is the fuel oil situation at the house (and how I'll pay for it, of course).  I was down to 7 or 8 inches of fuel in the tank the last time we were there and it's been pretty cold at night ever since.  Even though the heat there is set at 10 Celsius (and I shrinkwrapped the drafty window) I know the heat has been on a lot.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Insurance Chat

Yesterday wasn't payday, so I didn't have any money to throw at bills.  I'm just hanging on and waiting for next Wednesday.

Today after work, Hubby and I went to meet with someone at our Life Insurance company.  They called him and asked for the meeting and it's good to go occasionally because he also has RRSP stuff with them.  So the big reason for the meeting was that this guy wanted to sell us on switching from term to permanent.

Yeah.  My premiums only change every 20 years.  I'm very happy with the $32 I'm paying per month, thanks.  Not so interested in changing to a $141 premium, especially since I'd have to live to be 76 just to get my premiums back.  Here's a tip: buy term, invest the difference!

It's even better (ha, ha) for My Husband the Smoker!  His premiums go up every 10 years, but even at the point where his term premium would go up to around $200 switching to permanent would double that!  That's insane.  We don't have that kind of money to spend and, if we did, I'd far rather put it into an RRSP so we could enjoy our retirement a little more.

It was nice to get a printout of the RRSPs though, with their interest rates and when they mature.  The rates are actually very competitive, so that's good.

And the other item he talked about was critical illness insurance.  Now, that's something that might possibly make sense for Hubby, depending on how much it costs.  At least there it doesn't count against you if you smoke.  Strange, but true.  He gave us some material on it.  I'll look it over and see if it's worthwhile or not.  This isn't medical insurance, we pay our $108 MSP premium every month and that covers all medical expenses.  This is a lump sum payment if you're diagnosed (and survive for the specified time period!) with one of the illnesses on their list (things like coma, dementia, stroke, multiple sclerosis, etc.).  Presumably it's because then you or a family member taking care of you can't work and this gives you money to live on.  Apparently cancer is the big one they pay out on the most and Hubby has a 1 in 2 chance of dying of cancer.  I could hope all this might push him towards quitting (again) but I didn't see any sign of that so far.

Anyway, as far as I can see, the whole reason for this meeting is that the guys at the insurance company aren't making enough money and wanted to see if they could open up a whole new commission for themselves.  I've read that the commissions on permanent insurance are great for the agent who sells you the policy.  No thanks.  I have other uses for my money right now.  They include paying bills and buying food.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Okay, I'm having some trouble with my blog, specifically with the feed.  I set it up through Feedburner about a year ago and I think it's been wonky since then although I didn't realize it for quite some time.  People have complained that they couldn't see any more recent posts than what must have been the last one I did before I set up Feedburner.  I had noticed that when I commented on sites that have Comment Luv enabled it always pointed to that same old post.

Finally I spent a bunch of time playing around with it last night and it looked as though I had it working.  It was a pretty basic error.  I wasn't pointing it at the right URL, which was supposed to be the one Feedburner specified.  I fixed that and it looked fine.  Better still, all my posts appeared in Google Reader.  I went to bed happy.

Sigh.  Then today I tried to comment on a post made by someone who uses Comment Luv.  It pulled up a post okay, but it wasn't my post!  It refers back to a blog called Beckhans Blog and worse, when I clicked on the link it redirected me from there to something that I think was called Blogpop.  It all looked really spammy and I couldn't figure out what was going on.  Now, a reader has informed me that this (bleep) is showing up in Google Reader along with all my missing posts.  I checked and, yes it is.  It's what shows up first and, if you scroll past it all, you finally get to my stuff.

I'm definitely in over my head here.  I don't know what's wrong and I'm looking for advice from my fellow bloggers.  Has my feed been hacked somehow?  Did I set it up wrong?  How can I get rid of this junk so it doesn't appear with either Google Reader or Comment Luv?  At least the spammy posts don't appear when I just open my blog directly!  But I'm really, really frustrated and I can't seem to find an answer.

Hence, my cry for help.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Won't Wait Wednesday, Remembrance Day Edition

Today was Remembrance Day.  It was nice to have a day off in the middle of the week but it's serious business as to why we have the day off in the first place.  I hope you took time today to think about the brave men and women who have fought on your behalf through the years.  Here's a link to last year's Remembrance Day post.

Today was also Wednesday and payday, although it was a pretty sad cheque.  I really hated taking that time off being sick because I knew it was going to hurt all over again come payday.  And it did.  The money came into my account.  I logged on, paid as many of my bills as I could and I'm broke again.  If I'd had a full paycheque I'd have been okay.  I mean, it wouldn't have been tremendous but it would have been enough to get by on until my next cheque.  As it is, we'll just have to see how things go over the next 2 weeks.

I'm really pleased that I'm getting all the bills under control again.  I'm really frustrated that this cycle keeps repeating.  I think it's important that I keep picking myself up and starting over.  I mean, it would be great if I could finally figure out why I keep finding myself back in the same place pretty much every year but at least I don't give up.

I haven't posted in the past couple of days because I've been really tired but I was pleasantly surprised to see that Trent quoted a comment of mine in his Monday Mailbag.  It was about being PC (or not) and was the part of the post this week that was clearly intended to generate a lot of comments.  And it did.

I'm tired again so I'm heading for bed.  Sorry if this post sounds disjointed.  I'm still not 100% and I spent a couple of hours out with my Eldest Daughter today, buying baseboards, a rug and some smaller items.  I think it just wore me out.  Oh, if that wasn't clear, I didn't buy stuff.  She did.  I drove and carried things.  My big luxury today was getting a 2 piece covered butter dish at IKEA.  It was discontinued and cost a whole $1.50.  I love it because it's just the right size for the sticks of butter we use.  We always keep a stick out so it's soft and I really like having a cover for it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm Recovering, So it Must be Time to Overdo

This was another typically crazy Sunday.  I spent about 6 and a half hours laying a laminate floor (including putting down underlay) in my granddaughters' bedroom with my Eldest Daughter.  Hubby took Dear Child and the older of the 2 girls to the movies, which kept them out of our hair.  The "baby" on the other hand was at home and we tried to keep her occupied with videos and dressing up.  There were still a lot of interruptions and she managed to put off her nap for literally hours.  What we wouldn't have done for a typical day where she sleeps soundly for 2 1/2 hours right after lunch!

However, we did almost finish, except for the last row where about half a dozen boards need to be ripped.  We felt 8:30 pm was a little late to be using the power saws outside.  I think we can probably finish up tomorrow after everybody is done with work and school.  If not, we're all off on Wednesday for Remembrance Day.  There's still a new heat register to buy and the baseboards to buy and install.  Luckily they have a nailer that takes both staples and brads.  Equally luckily, I don't have to pay for any of this because it's not my part of the house.

Afterwards I sat down to look at my bills and my bank balances again.  Yes, I had to pay some more bills and still have more to pay.  I have money for some of the remaining ones, but not all, and it's not going to get any better on my payday because I'll be getting just over half a cheque.  Darn being sick anyway!  Once I update my bank book and transfer some more money to the credit union I'll be able to finish paying as many bills as possible.

I'm mostly recovered from the flu now, although I'm still coughing and having some difficulties breathing.  And I'm tired a lot.  By the end of this afternoon I could barely get off the floor to go cut boards and I got kind of shaky but I made it.  Oh yeah.  Remember when I said maybe I'd lose some weight?  I dropped 6 pounds and ended up at 125 (my goal is 120) and I've only gained back one pound since I started eating normally again and getting better hydrated.  I bet my upcoming book, entitled "The H1N1 Diet" will be a best-seller!  No calorie counting, no exercise and you can lose five pounds a week.  What a deal!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Well, I have to say I was surprised to read this excerpt from an email ING sent me on Friday.

"We recently conducted a Twitter survey asking parents what they were least prepared to discuss with their children: sex, drugs, or finances. We heard it straight from Savers – ‘finances' was the hardest to cover with their little ones."

Really?  People would rather talk to their kids about sex or drugs than talk about money?  I mean, it's just money.  You have to deal with money all the time, every day.  If you're going to work you're earning money.  If it's payday you have money.  If you're going to the grocery store you're spending money.  Kids see you doing this stuff all the time, constantly interacting with money.  They're there with you when you're at the ATM or when you swipe your debit card at the gas station.  They see you write the cheque for their school pictures.  Presumably they don't see you in intimate situations or see you turning down people on Granville Street offering to sell you drugs (please G-d)!

So, how can it be easier to talk to your kids about sex?  They don't want to have to entertain the possibility that this is something you've ever done (well, except that once in order to have them, and once for each of their siblings).  And, as for drugs, well whatever they've read on the Internet must be more accurate than what their folks know about drugs, right?

But money is something they know you handle every day.  How terrifying can it be to say "Well, let's look through the Scholastic flier and pick out some books.  I can afford $10 this time.  Do you want the Dora book and the book about ladybugs, or do you want the princess book with the beads you can make bracelets with?  No, you have to choose because the princess one costs $9.99 all by itself."?

Or how about, "I wish we could go to Disneyland, but we don't have the money.  If that's what we all want to do this summer maybe we could start saving for it now, but that might mean we can't pay for swimming lessons this spring."?

Or even, "I know you want a lot of things for the holidays but why don't you make a list of the things you want the most and I'll let your grandparents and Aunty Sue know too.  Just remember, you won't necessarily get all of the things on the list because we only have so much money to spend."?

I mean, how scary was that?  How tough is it to ask your teenager if the benefits at their first job include a pension fund and to suggest that they open an RRSP?

This is almost like the people who say they're most afraid of public speaking, more so than of fire or jumping off a cliff.  Sorry.  My mind's just boggling right now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Thinking About Hanukkah

I was reading Abby's post about Xmas and started to post a long comment.  Then I realized the best way to do justice to it would be as a post of my own.

So, what's the deal with Hanukkah?  It isn't really a major holiday in the religious sense, although it seems to be becoming bigger all the time as a lot of Jewish parents try to counter the influence of Xmas, which always falls out within 2 or 3 weeks of Hanukkah.  Religiously, it doesn't rank up there with holidays like Passover or Sukkot.  They're all 8 days long but none of the days of Hanukkah is a Yom Tov (a holiday with restrictions similar to Shabbos).  Of course, there's always a Shabbos during Hanukkah (duh, considering that it's 8 days long) but Pesach and Sukkot have a Shabbos too, in addition to 2 Yom Tov days at the beginning and the end.  Those holidays are also freakishly expensive, just for food.

Hanukkah, on the other hand, is pretty easy foodwise.  I buy 10 lbs of potatoes, some applesauce, some sour cream and a couple of dozen sufganiyot [jelly donuts] and I'm good to go.  Everybody comes over for latkes and sufganiyot one night, we have dreidels [4 sided tops, used in a game] and chocolate gelt [coins].  We all light Hanukkah candles, sing a couple of songs and open a few presents.

Ah, presents.  So, how is Hanukkah different from Xmas then?  First of all, people generally only give to their kids, not to all their friends, relatives, service people, etc.  Second, a lot of folks don't give gifts.  They give gelt, the metal kind as opposed to the chocolate.  Some give a dollar a night, others $1 on the first night, $2 on the second and so on.  Sound expensive?  Doing it the second way adds up to $36 per child and multiples of 18 are all significant because 18 is the numerical equivalent of chai [life].

When my big kids were little I used to give actual gifts, but I usually held it to under $5 for all but the first and last nights.  I'd give about a $10 gift the first night and finish up with one around $20.  Even that is a maximum of $60 per child.  How many people spend that little for Xmas?  I see folks lining up with Playstations and skateboards and CDs and giant Lego sets and Barbie Dream Houses, ad infinitum.  And the kids don't get one big gift, they get a bunch of fairly big ones.  My nightly gifts were more like cool stocking stuffers.  I think it's more fun to get it spread out over 8 nights though, than to get them all at once.

What do we do now, when there are 3 adult kids, 2 partners, a roomie, 1 little kid and 3 grandkids?  Well, we don't really give to the grown ones.  We do a modified gift giving where every adult (including me and Hubby) picks a name and gets that person something because the kids like to do that.  The adult kids each give a gift to their little sister and we started off giving her and the grandkids a gift per night, but it's getting difficult.  First of all, the number of grandchildren (Thank G-d) keeps increasing.  We're up to 3, with a 4th expected early next year.  Second, they all have a ridiculous amount of stuff already.  Third, prices keep going up.  You just can't get the same kind of things for $5 now that you could 20 years ago.  And I'm not crazy about going to the dollar store to buy a bunch of cheap junk just so they each get something every night.  I don't want to give them a piece of plastic that will break tomorrow or just be clutter in a bin somewhere.  I like giving them things I know they'll like and actually use or play with.

A year or two ago we started giving the grandkids less, maybe 3 or 4 or 5 gifts.  Combined with what their folks were giving them, they still had at least one gift to open per night.  Dear Child has continued to get nightly ones from us.

What's going to happen this year?  I don't really know yet, but I think it's time to sit down and figure it out.  I'm probably looking at somewhere between $200 and $300 all told if we do things as usual, and then Dear Child's birthday rolls around at the beginning of January.  And that will be another $200 or so, including the party.  Let's see.  I don't really have an extra $500, so it could be interesting.  There's just over 5 weeks until Hanukkah and I get paid 3 times before then.  I don't think I'll have an extra $100 to put away off each cheque, given that I'm already putting away $106 from each one to pay Home Depot at the end of December.  I'll have to do what I can and see where that leaves me.  I have a $5 certificate from Best Buy and I should check my Ipsos account to see if I have enough points for a reward card from somewhere useful.  I'll plan to write a followup post when I get things figured out a little more.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Still Sick

Well, we had a quiet day at home today with only a brief foray to go to the bank (still moving money from A to B and back again to make sure everything that's coming out is covered).  Came back wobbly and shaking.

Dear Child managed cereal, oatmeal and soup today.  I had tonic water with my Tamiflu.  For dinner I got really daring and had tea and toast.  It stayed down, although I did have a few bad moments about an hour after eating.

We're definitely still staying home tomorrow as DC has to be temperature-free for at least 24 hours before she can go back to school.  Hubby will have to go by the school tomorrow to hand in the picture order because it's due.  I learned my lesson today.  I'm not going anywhere until I'm able to eat properly.  I don't want to be worrying that I'm going to pass out when I stand up.  It's just that I had to make the deposit in person, at a teller, in order for it to go in right away.

And Eldest Daughter has declared us to be "in quarantine".  Her kids aren't allowed down, we don't go up (not up to climbing narrow, twisty stairs anyway) and she talks to me on her cell.  She has things planned out for the duration of the week with the little girls and school, etc.  All I can say is "Good luck".  If the girls don't get it from us they're likely to pick it up at school where lots of kids are already away.  I understand that she wants to minimize the risk, of course.  And frankly, neither of us feels up to seeing anybody at this point anyway so it really doesn't matter.

I'm reading blogs and playing computer games when my eyes and head aren't bothering me.  I always use my laptop in bed anyway.  And DC has been watching TV and sleeping.  I guess it's one way of not spending money.  And maybe I'll lose some of that 10 pounds I've been trying to get rid of (though I'm not holding my breath on that).

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Flu Comes Home

Well, it's official. Dear Child and I have the flu. Today was pretty rough. I took our temps around 3:30 pm. Dear Child was 103.7F and I was 100.2F. I found a clinic near our house that was open and called to find out if we could get in. They said there was a 2 or 2.5 hour wait and aked if someone could come in and sign us up. Then we could turn up closer to the time we'd actually be seen. So Hubby took our Care Cards and did that. Then we all went back about 6 and were seen between 6:30 and 7 pm.

The good news is that DC's chest is clear and the doc feels she will recover okay on her own without anything. He gave me Tamiflu (which I picked up totally free at London Drugs, as one course of Tamiflu is completely covered by the provincial government) and I've started taking it.

Of course, it didn't stay down more than an hour or so. I'd been avoiding drinking (yes, I know that puts me at risk of dehydration) because I knew how close I was to throwing up and that drinking would tip me over. DC, again, is doing better than I am because she's been able to take sips of water every 5 or 10 minutes through the day. She even had a little soup for dinner. Me, I'm warily sipping Tonic Water (my standby when I have the flu as it stays down better than anything else) but I'm not at all sure how things are going to go.

Right now, the only thing that's clear is that she's not going to school and I'm not going to work for the next few days. Not sure what Eldest Daughter decided about tomorrow. Understandably, she's not too keen on her 2 catching this, not to mention that she's expecting too and should be careful. She thought it was all a lot of media hype. Not sure if she feels differently now that it's hitting closer to home. I haven't felt well enough to talk to her more than momentarily a couple of times today.

I really, really wish I'd been able to get my H1N1 shot. Giving a doctor 80 doses is just ridiculous and I'm willing to bet that some people who didn't fit the earliest set of criteria managed to get the shot, because most doctors were only discouraging others from line jumping, not preventing it. If I end up in the hospital I'm going to be royally ticked off.

How does this affect me from a PF viewpoint? Well, I'm not fulltime so I don't get sick days. If I don't go to work I don't get paid for those hours. Just what I need at this point.

'Tis the Get Sick

Dear Child came home from school on Friday complaining that she felt warm and achy and had a headache.  She's been just a little warm since then and pretty much herself, only a little toned down.  We had a quiet Shabbos, just stayed home, napped a lot and hung out on my bed.  I read her a whole bunch of Curious George stories and we played some games.  She didn't hang out upstairs at all today.

Tonight I let her go out with her big sister and the girls to a party for a couple of hours and she came back fine but then got hotter.  I know.  I'm probably a bad mother but she begged and Eldest Daughter didn't have a problem with taking her.  I feel guilty now though.  She also started coughing since she came home.  I gave her some Advil and she's asleep but sounding a little hoarse.  She's also giggling like a maniac in her sleep!  I want to know what she's dreaming about because it must be pretty darn funny!  It's been going on for several minutes.

I'm also coughing and feeling a little hoarse but otherwise I feel fine (bli ayin hara, no evil eye).  I just hope we're not coming down with Anything, if you know what I mean (pooh, pooh, pooh).  I still haven't had my H1N1 shot and now they're talking all over the news about how the lineups are huge and there isn't as much vaccine to go around as there was supposed to be.  I'm very frustrated that they didn't have it when I went in the 2nd day it was available.  I'm a high risk person.  I'm supposed to be able to get it.

Anyway, we'll see how things develop over Sunday.  Who knows if we're all going to be going to work & school on Monday or not at this point?  I just keep washing my hands but that's probably not a huge help considering all Dear Child wants to do is curl up and snuggle with me!  I should go and take my FloVent though.  It's supposed to reduce the inflammation in my lungs but it takes several days to really work.  Then I have to rinse out my mouth and gargle because it makes you susceptible to thrush.  Yeah, that would be fun.  Not!

PS Did you turn back your clocks tonight?