Tag Archives: Total Money Makeover

Partying “Inside the Lines”

halvahLast week I wrote about the party tithe and how I was going to take 10% of my net income and use it for whatever would give me pleasure.  As it turned out, there wasn’t much that I wanted to spend my cash on.  Suddenly the muffins I’d been buying quite regularly – with debit, credit or gift cards – lost their appeal.  It was kind of weird.  I’d walk by the Local Roast, look at what was on offer and walk on.  The only thing that I ended up buying all week was a bar of Halvah.

I like halvah and it’s relatively good for you with all those sesame seeds, but I am trying to remember that too much of a good thing is not good.  So I only buy this at my local Planet Organic store – and only when I need to get things there.  (This week Kefir starter was the draw!) .  I have to say that I really enjoyed it – but I know that’s because it’s not something I buy every day.

So, what happens to the leftovers of the party tithe?  In the Bible, the party tithe was used only once a year.  I’ve opted to keep the change in my wallet and I put the bills in my suitcase.  That way I’ll have some “party money” for my next trip, which is coming up in April!

Part Two: (January 17, 2013)

I wrote this post last week, just before a huge paycheck which included a great many holiday hours.  Let me tell you, its been a while since I had a paycheque over a $1000.  Because I have two jobs, I do have the luxury of  getting something in my bank account every week.  This week that second paycheque was very small because I didn’t work over the Christmas break.  Still, I am able to give, save and celebrate!  For example, this week I matched the amount I put into my “Savings Game” account.  The “party money”  is only $24 this week, but since I haven’t been spending most of it anyways, this is not a big deal.  It’s nice to be saving some of it to enjoy later when I visit my family!

All I can say just now is that I am enjoying this financial discipline.  And I’m enjoying the benefits of being debt-free and able to do the things I really want to do.

If  you have debt issues, here’s the system that helped me: Dave Ramsey’s Snowball  I’ve also read and re-read his book, The Total Money Makeover which helped me create an emergency fund and continues to encourage me day to day.

What I’m learning now is to “party inside the lines” – using the 10% figure in cash to help me.  It’s easy to go way outside the lines with lattes, smoothies from Jugo Juice and snacks here and there when they go on a debit card or plastic.  This way I know where I am and what I want to spend it on!

Have a great day!



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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!


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Filed under GREEN: Money matters that matter.

Where does all the money go?

Today was payday, and of course all my bills are now paid up and I’ve got a little bit for groceries.  Actually, compared to some others in Calgary I’ve got a lot. It just amazes me how fast it all goes!

So here’s a bit of a breakdown.

$200 a paycheque goes to paying down the debt.  Praise God, there’s only one left and thanks to the debt snowball, it’s being brought down nicely.  If all goes according to plan we should be done with that in 21 paychecks.  I do want to have this paid for before my cruise!

$550 a paycheque  goes to short term savings.  That includes half of my rent and money for next week’s groceries.  This is probably my best money strategy.  Unless there is some major emergency in my life, I am rarely broke.

I have three savings accounts that get fed $20 each as well.  These are the Christmas fund, the vacation fund and the Long Term Fund.  I’m not exactly sure what that is for just now – just recently it paid my course tuition. Maybe it will go towards grandbaby needs.

My biggest challenge this week is to save on groceries while increasing the purity levels of the foods I eat – made from scratch with as much organic food as possible.  Here’s a blog post from Get Rich Slowly that I’m going to be following.  I also intend to check out this vendor at the Kingsland Farmers Market.  Probably next weekend, when I’m off!  Looking forward to that!

This isn’t a “detailed, itemized” spending report.  It’s probably a way for me to focus on the realities of my own finances in the hope that it helps someone else!

Have a great day!


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Looking Back – and some Oopsies!

Last payday I accidently sent a payment to a wrong account – all because I didn’t delete the company from my list of bills.  I’ve learnt my lesson from that and today I got to delete another bill.  This is important, as I usually pay bills while drinking my first cup of coffee, not after!

Today I made a different mistake – and again I’ll blame the coffee.  I paid a bill twice.  Fortunately it was a credit card, but it temporarily deprived me of downsizing another debt – one of the last ones!

I solved the problem by using the credit card to purchase a gift card at Co-op, which I have used for buying my bus tickets and will use for groceries on Monday.

What I failed to do was plan my “bill paying” which I usually do before pay-day.  If I had looked back, I would have realized that I did cover the transaction I used the card for.  Then I would have paid the right bill.

What I learned:  There’s always a way to solve the problem.  My first mistake cost me $10 to fix.  This mistake actually gives me some rewards points.

However, as the year comes to a close, I am pleased with my results.  Back in April I paid off my oldest debt.  Take one bill off the list.  Paying off this debt was counter-intuitive – it had the lowest interest rate and the lowest balance.  But PSYCHOLOGICALLY it was the most burdensome.  I’m glad it’s gone.  In August I paid off my riskiest debt – one of those “No interest for 2 years” kind of deals.  Now I’ve paid off my other credit card and I’m working soley on the Line of Credit.

The nice thing about being at this phase in the process is that the bites are getting bigger – about $200 per pay check.  I’m hoping to be finished this process by the end of the year – and paying off my cruise as well.

I’ll continue to keep you posted, mostly on Fridays, but I can tell you this – Debt Snowballing, in whatever order you chose to do it, is very exciting!

So, don’t give up.  Keep working at it.  There will be a light at the end of the tunnel, even if you don’t see it just yet!

I will probably write some kind of reflective post – it’s kind of the thing to do, but in case I spend more time quietly reflecting than I plan, I do  want to wish you all a wonderful New Year, full of grace, blessing and growth.  God has been very, very good and I am grateful.


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Debt Avoidance…and the Debt Snowball

Yesterday’s post was supposed to be more financial in nature because it was payday, and well, it was a money day!

In addition to my pay cheque I also recieved my annual staff discount – $228, based on my spending at Calgary Co-op, where I also work!  What to do with that windfall?

As you probably know – I have debt, debt that ties up $200 of each paycheck as I pay it down.  That’s about one fifth of my earnings – not fun, but it’s nice to see the size diminish!  So, putting all of that to my debt would mean paying it off two weeks earlier!  A thought – a “gazelle intensity” thought.  Possible.

I also have a life – a life that could be long.  It could also be short.  I want to enjoy it.  In October I flew to Ontario to visit family and attend the wedding of close friends.  It was good.  My determination was to keep my credit card in my wallet.  If it needed to escape, which it did on one occassion, I paid that amount ASAP – like before I even arrived home!  Sure I could have put all that money on my debt, but then I would have missed finding the rubber chicken with my nieces!  And the wedding.

In January I start the final course towards ESL certification.  This costs $550.  I’ve been saving here and there, and today with the “staff discount” I was able to put “paid” on the account.  I will pay the bill on January 4th, when the course starts!  Yahoo! No additional debt.

I also did something else that is kind of wild and crazy!  Last weekend, with full approval from my dad, I booked my mom and myself on a Caribbean cruise for a week.  Part of me says – “What are you thinking?”  Another part of me says – “Start saving!”  The cruise ship doesn’t leave until March 31, 2013, so I have some time – but I do have to come up with $250 by December 27th of this year.  While I can and will put it on my credit card, I must also be able to pay that amount at the time that I charge it.  That’s the new game rule for the credit card!

These are the 99 steps (although I’ve read that it’s really 103 – I’ll have to check when I get there) that I hope to climb with my mom and whoever wants to join us!

There was some extra money available after I “paid” for my tuition.  That has been moved into the vacation fund.  I’ve also squirreled away some change and extra savings if I need to.  In a sense the money is already in the bank.

Whether you are trying to lose weight or lose debt (and I’m trying to do both) it’s important to remember that life goes on.  We just have to be prepared for new adventures and unfortunately tragedies as well.  That’s why I’m not touching my emergency fund!  But I’m looking forward to finding a pleasant place to sit and think – in San Juan, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas!

This blog is a place for me to share my journey – towards health, towards fulfilling my life’s work, towards financial peace and to give birth to the ideas my creativity brings me.  This is part of the journey – as crazy as it seems!

Oh, and before I forget – the next part of the adventure:  “The Inkaboos” and thanks again to JD Roth at Get Rich Slowly for posting the links.

Have a great day!


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Filed under GREEN: Money matters that matter., RED: Losing weight, gaining fitness, strength and new cooking ideas

“Overcome Fear to Reach Your Goal”

That’s the title of last weeks Napoleon Hill article.  It ends with the statement from God’s word, which I found kind of hard to find this morning, but here it is:

Fear not, for I am with you always!

The closest I came was Isaiah 41:13, where I am reminded that God wants to take hold of my right hand, while He encourages me to fear not, but trust Him.

To tell you the truth, I’m a big chicken in this respect.  Here’s one example.  I like going to church.  Because of my job I work two weekends and have the third one off.  If the scheduling is good, I can start at 11 am, and attend a service at the Presbyterian church.  The other Sundays I attend a church in my neighbourhood, Hope for Life.  Things get so disjointed this way.  I don’t connect with anyone and I’m not involved, except when I can manage to flit into the pew.

Here are the options, the way that I see it right now:

  • I could quit the job, lose the benefits, and trust God to provide work that would allow me at least Sunday’s off.
  • I could cut my hours by taking another position.  This might or might not affect my benefits, would make my work physically less demanding, but would help me pay my bills.  But working less hours would give me more flexible scheduling and perhaps I could attend church more consistently.
  • I could continue as I am and …

At this stage in the game I’m choosing the latter but pursuing choice number 2.  I’ve just had a cortisone shot in my elbow to relieve tendonitis.  It seems to have worked well, but I’d rather not do it again.  (It wasn’t painful but still it’s not the way I want to deal with pain in my life.  I would rather prevent it from happening again.)

Choice number one is possible, but … well that’s where the fear comes in.  My financial safety net consists of an almost zero balance on a credit card, a small emergency fund and my ability to teach ESL.  Ultimately the first option is the destination I would like to reach.

Writing this blog post has been helpful for me, as I thought it through.  Maybe the options are the milestones – moving me towards the destination.

In the meantime, I couldn’t find this book at the library, but I found one called Fearless by the same author.  I guess I’m not the only person who struggles with this, as two others have holds on it as well.  Fortunately there are 10 copies.  If it comes in time, I will be reading it on my vacation!

One little GREEN comment:  Because I have been able to put more than the minimum payments on my debts, those minimum monthly payments are now much smaller than they were a year ago.  And there are a lot less of them.  This diminishes the “fear factor” significantly!

On the RED SIDE of things, I achieved another mile marker, 223.5 pounds, which means I’ve lost 30 of them.  My next “pebblestone” is 4 pounds from now.  Can I do it before I head east? 

Have a wonderful day!



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Filed under WHITE: Thoughts, mostly of a spiritual nature

Pebblestones and Milestones

How far is it still?

Well, it’s one mile to Holt.  Milestones answer questions about destinations.  Where will I get to if I continue on this path?  I’ll get to Holt and I’m only a mile away.  Important information if you have to go to the bathroom, desperately need a coffee, or have a mortal enemy in said town (in which case you might want to turn around!)  What’s your destination?

My cousin Christy is on the same journey that I am on.  We are both on the road to “Smaller Clothes”  So is my friend Terri.  We have milestones along the way.   Christy gloriously posted on Facebook that “Her first number is officially a 1”  That’s a mile stone I want to get to.  It’s big and it’s significant in that I haven’t been able to say that for too many years now!  I want to say it and it’s only 25 pounds away.

Yesterday at the gym I learned that most Albertans plan to retire debt free at 62.  That’s a milestone goal too. I’ve got about $5000 to pay off and 10 years.

Any journey has a destination.  Some journeys are long and some are short.  But they all have stops along the way.  These are your milestones and they are usually big and significant, to you if no-one else!

I am reading (Thanks to a post at http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/) SWITCH  – How to Change Things when Change is Hard  While many of the examples relate to business, they all relate to people and that makes for interesting reading.  Right now I’m reading about making small changes to reach for a big goal.  (Think Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball or Flylady’s 5 minute room rescue or 27 fling boogie!)  Fred Heath (the father of the authors of the aforementioned book) used to tell his IBM teams this:

When milestones seemed too distant,look for inch pebbles instead.

(That’s on page 136 in the book!)  Inch pebbles, or “pebble-stones” as I call them are the little things we do on a regular, consistent and daily basis to get to our milestones. 

Financial Example: Every paycheque I feed my debts $200.  This makes them smaller.  I am that much closer to being debt free.  Each debt paid off is a milestone.  So far I’ve knocked off two of them.  I have a chart on my bulletin board that tracks my pebbles – every $100 I pay down equals a smiley face!

Weight-loss Example: My destination is of course to weigh about 150 pounds and reach my goal.  In TOPS lingo I want to become a KOPS who “keeps off pounds sensibly”.  Every 10 pounds I lose (“the second number is a  ___”) is a mile marker.  “My first number is officially a ONE is a mile stone.  Every loss in between, every visit to the gym, every sensible morsel of food – those are the pebbles along the way – all important because without them I’m not going to get to the destination.
One thing I don’t always like about self-help books is that they give you “homework” so this is optional, but helpful:  Pick  a destination.  Then find some milestones along the way.  Then find the  pebbles (actions) that will get you there.  Have fun.  Find some rocks and put them on your counter!

Here’s a link round-up for this blog.  Not all my posts will have them, but I thought it would be helpful.  I hope they work:

Get Rich Slowly: http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/ and the post that made me read the book: http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2011/09/20/logic-and-emotion-why-smart-money-management-isnt-just-about-math/

Fly Lady http://www.flylady.com/index.asp  Marla Cilley is a pro at helping to create pebblestones.

Dave Ramsey and the Debt Snowball: www.daveramsey.com Dave’s Total Money Makeover is very helpful for setting the financial mile and pebble stones!

More about the authors of Switch?  Check out http://www.heathbrothers.com/ where you’ll find their blog, freebies, and more.

See you somewhere!


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Filed under GREEN: Money matters that matter., RED: Losing weight, gaining fitness, strength and new cooking ideas