Category Archives: GREEN: Money matters that matter.

This originally started as a personal finance blog but it’s expanded over time. During that time, my debt and my waistline has diminished, so we’re about even. The blog(s) grow, and my debt and I decrease.

April 7, 2017

I won’t be able to think of brilliant titles every day or so, so sometimes, the date will have to do!

Health! It’s been wet, chilly and today there is snow on the ground.  While I enjoyed two walks on Wednesday, yesterday I stayed indoors all day.  Not a great choice and one I need to change.  Today the wind is blowing and I know my coat is not built for this challenge.  On the plus side, I am enjoying my daughters tomato soup (from scratch) full of healthy vegetables, including a whole head of garlic (not just a clove or two!)

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Wisdom:  Somehow this moved to the middle part, so I’ll leave it there.  I’m learning to see my life as a process that I move into.  Still working through Designing Your Life.  I’m reminded that life is flowing, changing, and navigating it is a process.  I will never be done with it.

Personal Finances: They are depleting!  I need to start my employment search now.  One of the challenges is the needs of my family.  They need to be considered when I’m applying and interviewing.  I suspect online teaching and being a substitute, or something totally different will be the end result.  We are working hard to eliminate waste in the kitchen – and garbage.

 

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Catching up!

I haven’t paid this blog much attention for a while, and it shows.  I’m not sure I’m getting healthier (at least my knees are complaining more than usual), my savings are going down a little too quickly for my liking, and wisdom – well, according to Designing Your Life failure is part of the journey of life.  It allows you to reframe and try something different.

April 4, Health:  I ate reasonably well, starting with a smoothie for breakfast.  We brought a snack for “running errands” time – an apple and a banana.  Lunch was rice pudding left over from breakfast.  We are trying NOT to throw food away, but I don’t want to have two breakfasts!  Supper was a “butter” chicken recipe without butter. We used coconut oil instead.

I took the dogs for a walk – each one individually, so that added some steps to my day.  While my goal is to get over 10000 steps, I made it to just over 7000.  The lesson I have been learning over the past month is that I need to be more intentional about what I eat AND how much I move in a day!

WEALTH: Since arriving home from China, I have been spending my savings.  I needed some time to regroup, but now the job hunt is on.  As a family we are collecting our receipts so that we can see just exactly what we are buying.  I’m enjoying access to Value Village again, just to get clothing in my size.  

WISDOM:  From Designing Your Life, try stuff.  Take a chance.  Fail. Try something different.  Test alternatives.  But never, never, never stop moving.  

See you tomorrow!

Marcia

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Dramatic Changes!

 

These pictures were taken on a  hike in October 2015.  The sky is blue, the scenery is beautiful and I am in China – Miyun to be exact, just north east of Beijing.

After years of “talking about it” and lots of time spent loving my two grand-daughters, I left my home of 28 years and my homeland of 56 years and came to China to teach English.    I know many people didn’t believe I would ever leave my family behind, especially as grand baby #3 was due to arrive in October, but the end of August saw me bidding farewell to my daughter, son-in-law and three precious little people, knowing it would be a long time before I could hug the newest little fellow.

Although I had planned to combine my three blogs into this one blog, that hasn’t materialized.  My health journey, which has drastically changed since leaving Canada, will be recorded at One Year, One Week, One Pound .

Here I will try to share with you some of the things I am learning about money and money management as I live outside of our country.  I haven’t thought much about taxes, but I’m sure some will have to be paid.  There are also other considerations that I hadn’t thought of, but may be helpful to others considering the “ex-pat” scene for a season of life.

In the meantime, I wish you a wonderful 2016, God’s richest blessing, and joy on the journey!

 

 

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Rethinking Things!

I talk a lot about savings – so much so, that my daughter tells me to stop.  I talk to my friends about it – and they do me the courtesy of NOT rolling their eyes.  This is how daughters differ from friends!

Anyways, last Sunday – the 28th I was visiting my dear friend (I’m blessed with two of them!) in Irricana and talking a bit about being debt free and lamenting about my lack of savings.  What I wasn’t really lamenting about was my lack of giving – and that too had suffered while I was so focused on the debt repayment plan.  That realization just thunked me on the head like a hammer. MB900336372 So, over the last few days I’ve been pondering my behaviour – and my savings plan.  Because while they sound good on paper and on Facebook – there’s a dimension of my life that’s lacking and I was too blind to see it.

So, why not go back to the beginning of things – and the Bible is a pretty early document, readily available online, at the library, in a hotel room. or if  you’re close by, you can even ask me for one.

God has a lot to say about how we manage our wealth.  In days gone by it might have been stuff rather than money, but since that’s how I’m paid, that’s how we’ll look at this.

The giving part is what churches call a “tithe” – 10 percent of your wages – gross or net, you pick.  But since this feels a little like stepping on thin ice for me, I’m going to start with net and work towards tithing on my gross.   That in itself could be an interesting journey.

The next part is the “party” part.  Tony Campolo introduced me to this idea, found in the middle of that long drawn out book of do’s and don’ts called Deuteronomy (chapter 14:22-26).  The idea here, is that once a year, you take another 10 percent and blow it – rejoicing before God – and enjoying it with Him.  How about that?  Fine champagne? a haircut in Paris? A one inch thick triple A dry aged steak from the Co-op?

And then, another 10 percent for savings.  Because, I’m me and I’m Canadian, and really, saving for the future is good stuff.  I might get old – and a bit of money might make it easier in the long haul.

 

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Now that it’s Friday, I’ve got an opportunity to put this into action.

The net deposit from the YMCA was $302.14.  This means that $31 goes to the party tithe (Which I will take out in cash).  $53 went to that crazy savings plan.  And $53 is going to giving.  I already made one donation to a program I like to listen to.  The rest will be given at church on Sunday.  Actually, when I actually did it, the amount came out a bit higher.  Not to worry – God has never rounded down on me!

Today was a kind of different paycheck.  I didn’t have a credit card balance to deal with.  Usually I use my credit card and then pay it off once a week.  Not having that made a huge difference in my ability to move money where I wanted it to go.  It was very freeing actually and I think I will keep on keeping my credit card at home!

 

 

 

To make this long story a bit shorter:

  • Party tithe:  Keep it in cash and see how I use it.
  • Giving tithe:  Keep it at the same amount as that savings game I’m playing (at least)
  • Credit card:  Don’t use it, or pay it before I use it so I don’t have a balance!
  • Use the rest wisely, setting aside funds for rent, bills, and upcoming expenses (tuition for my course, flights to Toronto in April and August)

I don’t know if this is helpful to anyone else, but it’s been helpful to me!

Enjoy the fruits of your labours!

Marcia

 

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A Toast to Payday!

About a year ago I had almost $3800 in debt.  Of course it was in my line of credit – which has a lower interest rate than a credit card.  None the less, it was a debt and I owed it.   Mom, if you are reading this – no comments.  I know that’s hard to do because I have a daughter too, and I make too many comments to her.  Just saying that I know what’s on the tip of your tongue.

To be honest, I’ve been working on the debt issue for several years – especially motivated by Dave Ramsey and his Debt Snowball and the blog, Get Rich Slowly – and I finally managed to get rid of the whole kit and kaboodle this summer.  I’d been steadily whittling away at the sum, paying a chunk every pay cheque, observing the total diminishing, as did the amount of interest I was paying on the debt.  It felt good.  Finally, this summer I had to make another work adjustment at Co-op and they paid out my vacation pay!!!!!!!!!!!!  It was a huge chunk of change and enough to bring the figure under $400.  By September it was done.

Now in theory the amount of money I was no longer feeding to my debt account should have gone into a savings account.  I mean, after all, the next savings step is 3 – 6 months of expenses, right?  Well, let me tell you that it didn’t and probably for many people doesn’t go quite as planned.  There’s a sense of freedom and release when everything is in the black – and somehow saving gets forgotten – or at least it did by me.   And then this picture started making the rounds on Facebook:

52-week-savings-planIt’s pretty basic and it’s been shared by several blogs, but I got this image from Survival Mom.  Several of my friends posted it, and I sure hope they follow through.  There is a lot less stress when you have savings – even when you are in debt.  However, I wanted to crank up my savings rate just a little, so about two weeks ago I opened another savings account.  (I bank with President’s Choice so this is pretty easy to set up online).  And because I am fortunate not to have any debts at the moment, no young children at home, and no major expenses in the future, I am starting at the top of the chart and staying there.  $52 per paycheque gets transferred to my “pay yourself first” fund and because I usually have a payday every Friday, I can do this every week.

I am sure that many people want to save more money than they are currently saving.  Starting small and working your way up is a great way to start.  Maybe I should even start adding a dollar a week in the new year.  Just thinking of saving $100 per week is a little scary for me at the moment- I need to think about that.  On the other hand we could just keep increasing that dollar a week or paycheque until it was just too hard and stay at that number for a while.

I’ve set a goal of saving $5000 this year – and flying to Toronto twice.  I’ll keep  you posted.

I wonder if I could add a savings thermometer to this blog!

Have a wonderful day!  And a Happy New Year!

Marcia

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Happy Birthday #54!

Birthday Greeting 1910http://treasures-n-textures.blogspot.ca/2010/04/vintage-birthday-wishes.html

This is the site where I found this lovely card and it quite suits the mood I’m in at the moment.  It’s been a lovely day for the most part, although I did a  lot more walking than I had intended.  But that’s a story for another day.  Thankfully, it was a sunny day, and I had time to do some thinking.

I turned 54 today.  I had to think about that a bit – I guess part of the aging process is that you forget how old you are!  I just seem to forget that I’m getting older.  The days go by, most of them fairly similar in tone.  Work gets done, bills get paid, a few books get read, something gets knitted on…. and so it goes, all in all a fairly mundane kind of life!  With a cruise thrown in for the fun of it – and I guess lychee martinis aren’t that mundane either!  Delicious though, one at a time.

As I was walking, I reflected a bit on the progress I was making in my life, dividing it into the 5 colours that I’ve chosen to represent it – and that’s what I thought I’d share while the last minutes of this delightful day wind down.  I also have to finish this lovely glass of wine!

WHITE:  I always feel that my relationship with my God is not all it could be.  I’m not consistent in so many of the things I want to do – reading, studying, praying, contemplating, meditating.  Something always seems to get in the way of that.  Mostly Facebook, I suppose, but I love the community I share there – and sometimes someone shares something that speaks to my soul and makes me think about my own relationships with people and creation.  I guess I’m just wishing it would be more than it is – and that comes with time – not just time as it passes, but time being active and aware – mindful time.  Something to strive for in the coming years.

BLUE:  My creative pursuits are not the priority they once were.  I find I can go for a few days without yarn in my hands, but I do enjoy the glass jars full of yarn.  I still haven’t written a  pattern for something, but I have been playing with dishclothes and making those “easy squares” more interesting.  And I finished the shawl that I’d been working on for 5 years.  My goal over the next while is to finish more projects than I start – and that will be tought!

GREEN:  Green is my money management – both earning and saving/spending.  Most of the last year and a half was spent saving for a cruise.  I’ve written a bit about that – but the reality was that I came away with no debt – and wonderful memories that I was able to share with my mom, aunts and cousins.  I still have one smallish kind of debt – my line of credit.  This was sitting at around $5000 last year, and even with the cruise, that’s diminished to just over $3000.  I’m planning to be debt free by age 55!  And earning more money!

Which brings me to YELLOW:  I’ve spent the last 5 years busily becoming qualified to teach ESL.  Last year I completed the CERTSEL program at the University of Saskatchewan.  I volunteered at the YMCA, subbed at the Y and this week I started teaching a regular class at the Y.  I am so excited.  While I had planned to be teaching overseas somewhere in September, family keeps me in Calgary for a while longer!  But it is exciting to be moving forward and gaining experience.  (And I have to start preparing for a Masters in TESL in a few years – money and experience)

Finally there is the RED.  Most of my ramblings on my blogs have been about the RED side of life – my health.  I’m still taking the blood pressure medications.  I still weigh over 200 pounds. I still struggle with eating late at night.  And…believe it or not…I still struggle with going to the gym.  It’s even worse lately, and the only positive thing is my commitment to moving at least 5 minutes every day.  That I can do – even if I can’t make it across the street to the gym!

So there you have it!  A bit of a review and a bit of goal setting for the future.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all facets of life moved forward at the same pace?

But it is bedtime, and my wineglass is almost empty.  If it’s your birthday when you read this – have a good one and I hope it inspires you to make some plans for the next year.  If it’s not – have a happy un-birthday kind of day and make some plans anyways!

Goodnight, rest well, and may God bless and keep you!

Marcia

 

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What’s the Point?

Tulips

Tulips (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you can tell, I’m feeling a tad discouraged and frustrated with my life right now.  I like to set goals and I’m really good at setting SMART goals.  The problem is…doing the required bits in between that will help me attain those goals – and doing them consistently.

I started another blog to chronicle my weightloss – and sad to say, there hasn’t been any this year.  While I was really diligent about showing up at the gym in 2011, that hasn’t been true this year.

Financially I’m being kind of “off the wall” as well.  Too many visits to Value Village I think – but hey…isn’t that what grandmas do?

No it isn’t.  Oma’s and grandmas should not be spending wildly on their grandchildren – even at a discount!  It really is time for me to give my head a shake – dislodging all the sand and seeing clearly.

Sometimes I do this Three Minute Retreat.  Even though it comes to my Facebook profile and my in-box, I don’t always make the time.  This morning, with my bird on my shoulder and coffee in hand, I took the time and was reminded again…

I believe that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

  Psalm 27:10

Today the sun was shining as I walked to the gym.  My friends were there to greet me.  With coffee and breakfast I found money in my bank account that I can use to fund the daily details of my life – including becoming Oma! 

Today I am reminded that I will see the goodness of the Lord this day – and that I have already seen it.  I will remember that I will also see the goodness of the Lord tomorrow as I continue to move towards my goals in all areas of my life.

And that’s the point.  My goals are reminders of the Good that my God wants to see in my life.

Have a good day.  Enjoy the flowers and the birds and the changes that are coming into our lives!

Marcia

 

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