Wednesday, December 16, 2009

a taste of what's to come . . .

After thinking long and hard about a lot of things on a lot of levels, I have decided I need to be putting my blogging energy somewhere I feel is more productive. Come 2010 January I'll be launching a food blog called Deconstructing the Muffin Myth (url to come) where I'll be posting weekly food related rants, adventures, and recipes.

It seems these days that developing a following on the blog-o-sphere is one of the first steps to becoming a well known foodie, and ultimately getting into the cookbook or cooking show or other food related world. The efforts I put into blogging my personal life will soon be put into my food life, which is, I think, where more of my energy needs to be (as opposed to so much complaining about how much I hate school).

If any of you have any recipes you're itching to see featured, or want re (or de)-constructed, fire them in my direction. Any if any of you are blog-tech whizzes and have some advice (Nicole - how the heck did you create that 'about' page?) send that my way as well. And if you have a D-SLR camera collecting dust that you want to loan/barter/sell me, let me know.

I'll post a link to the new site when it's up and running.

Monday, November 30, 2009

the future of this blog . . .

Is in question. I've been debating shutting 'er down for quite some time, and haven't largely because this is the only way I keep in touch with some of you. There are some things that bug me about the blog though, and I think it may be time to put my energy somewhere I feel better about. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, November 02, 2009

wedding slideshow

We just got the first batch of wedding pictures from our amazing photographer. Its a little slideshow of the highlights, and is set to music, some of which is my very talented friend Harmony, who was kind enough to sing at our wedding, so watch with your sound turned on. You can see the slideshow by clicking here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

and the winner is . . .

Stockholm, Sweden. See ya!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

get with it

Shake is out, pound is in. Get with it.

Is anyone else tired of hearing about H1N1?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


It's raining, which is sweet 'cause I just dropped a wad of cash on rain gear for my bike. I was going to buy new jeans, but rain gear trumped fashion. Such is life. So my lower half is pretty water resistant - I got neoprene booties for over my shoes, which, I have learned, keep your feet dry-er, not dry; and a stylish pair of water proof pants (you need to wear something under them, I also learned). My upper half needs some upgrading, but will do for now. A new actually water proof, water proof jacket, and a pair of gortex over mitts are in my future.

Biking is the way to go. It is a guaranteed hour and a half of exercise a day, and kicks the shit out of riding the dank fogged up bus full of damp coughing UBC students. Even in the rain the bike is better than the bus, fo sho. And I get the triumphant feeling of making it to the top of the bloody hill each day. Except that I keep getting passed on the way up by a guy on a unicycle! A unicycle! No fooling! And having a bike on campus rules when you have a class in Anso and then 10 minutes later a class in MacMillan. There is no other way. I'm sure at least one loyal bloggee can back me up on that one.

Biking in does have it's limitations, for sure. Being that I bike in full gear and arrive a sweaty mess (giant hill), I have to lug in a change of clothes for the day in addition to my 800lb organic chemistry text book (I have now attached panniers for text hauling, and on Fridays I attach my basket and truck in my compost bucket too). And I have to get there early enough to facilitate my Mr. Rogers wardrobe change before getting to class - that doesn't always happen, I do end up getting to class a dripping mess and trying to carry my backpack and two panniers and maybe a bike basket full of compost, and then have to climb over 20 immaculately dressed second year science students (what time DO they get up to do that?) to get to the one shitty seat in the centre of the row. But I digress. I've been working on this situation and I think I may be getting it down. First I commandeered a second locker in the staff section of the public changeroom at the pool. Ha! Lockers on campus are mint, my friends, and not only do I have two for FREE, but I have keys to the building still, so I stash stuff all over the place. Mwahahaha. Not like I don't deserve it after what I put into that place, and the help I continue to give ("umm, you may want to go down and check your filter tank, it doesn't sound right . . .", "you can tell that from HERE?"). In one locker I have all of the usual accoutrement's - deoderant, shampoo, lotion, towel, that kind of shiz. In the other I have a pair of pants, change of shoes, socks, and a sweater. I bring in new tops each day because they are the lightest. Then I change and hang up my dank bike gear in there. It is still wet and dank when I get back 8 hours later. I may take a third locker for text books.

Just how dire is my rain jacket situation (this paragraph seems out of place, but I like it like this, so shut up, okay?), you ask? Okay, the one I bike in I bought about 7 years ago. It's not waterproof anymore. And my goretex one for every day use? I got that in grade 7. I'm not kidding - my name and phone number are written on the inside with indelible marker. I recently tried treating them with waterproofing stuff, and I think it actually wrecked the old one a little. Then, I think nearly 20 years is pretty impressive for a rain jacket. You?

Sunday, October 04, 2009


Maybe Sweden. Or maybe eastern Canada. Time will tell.

Friday, September 18, 2009

change . . .

Last night I was waiting with Harmony for the bus, making sure she'd make her way home. After, during the 1/2 block walk back to my apartment, I thought to myself, some things never change. (those who were at the wedding will know what I mean)

And change has come. Here it is:

Paul and I are moving to Scotland. Indeed, it is official.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Well, that's it! Done! Paul and I are married!

We had an absolutely fantastic day. It was threatening rain, which was stressing me out, but we added an extra tent and walls for the big one at the last second. The brooms in trees did their job, the rain held out, and we had a marvelous day. The ceremony was quick and lighthearted, and the celebration was fun. We'll be waiting a while for our professional pics, but here are a few teasers sent to us by a neighbour . . . including the day after waterskiing in the wedding dress.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

2. Saturday mornings with Kimmie

My first week at the UBC AC I was told that on Saturday morning someone named Kim would show me the ropes with backwashing the filter tank, and I thought to myself, oh, I hope she's nice. Later that day I was introduced to this big tall hairy manly dude named Kim, and a beautiful friendship was born. In the early days I treaded carefully around the fact that he had a girly name, but that was short lived. Now he's Kimmie or Kimberley or Kimberley Anne (his middle name is Andrew) all the time.

One can't really describe Kimmie so much as experience him, so I'm not going to try that hard here - those who have met him will know what I'm talking about. Kimmie is the person with whom I've laughed the hardest and possibly had the most fun with in my entire life. He's a marvelously complex human being - tall and rugged and manly, yet collects african violets (I think he's got a bit of a problem actually). I took him to the african violet show at Van Dusen Gardens one year, and I'm not sure the blue rinse crowd knew what to make of him. He doesn't really drink, yet when he does he makes sure it's Jagermeister. He loves Star Trek, and any and all musicals. He's hands down the funniest person I've ever met, yet can also be the most serious. He's got one of the biggest hearts of anyone I've ever met. And he can clap the loudest. He for sure holds a permanent spot on my list of top 10 favourite human beings of all time.

So Kimmie and I worked the Saturday morning early maintenance shift together for about five years. When it looked like he was going to lose the shift due to seniority reasons, I changed the criteria for working that shift (makes much more sense, but I did have alterior motives) so that he'd be sure to secure the shift for the duration of his tenure at the UBC AC. We had fun. We made dirty nasty pool maintenance work a hoot. And we hold the record for the fastest backwash ever, at just 20 minutes and change (this job normally takes two people close to an hour).

Many of my other favourite UBC AC memories feature Kimmie, so he'll show up again, but he for sure deserves to be in a category of his own. Yay Kimmie!!!

Saturday, July 04, 2009

1. The Katie and Christa Years

Seriously, those were the best.

Before I started working at the UBC AC I had met Christa very briefly one time at some sort of a workshop - an NLS recert examiner's clinic, or something like that, I think.

I had been working for a few of the municipal pools, but wasn't getting the hours or recognition that I wanted from them, so decided to give up my shifts and spend the summer doing nothing but contract work (full circle now). Contract work is abundant in the summer months, but I was worried it was going to dry up come September and wasn't really sure what to do. Then Nicole pointed out a job posting for the Head Lifeguard position at UBC. I was teaching an NLS course in North Van at the time, and asked the programmer there if I could use their fax machine to send off my resume (which, which I looked at it years later, was terrible) for the job. Later that very night I saw Christa on the pool deck with her water polo team. She came over and asked what I was teaching, and I told her NLS. She asked if I was interested in teaching courses at UBC, and I said funny thing, I just applied for the Head Guard job there. She said, oh, you must be Katie! So we chatted for a while about the job, and I asked her to put in a good word. A few days later I got a call for the interview, and needless to say, I got the job. I found out later that since my resume was so terrible (not my experience, but my actual resume) they weren't going to bother contacting me. But Christa went back to them and said she had met me and I seemed really keen and passionate, so they decided to give me a call after all. Thanks Xta!!!

So I started working there, and immediately Christa and I started getting along famously. I remember the early days one of us would pull out a bottle of lotion and the other would go, "oooh! I use that one too!!" and then one of us would talk about heading to a yoga class, and the other would go, "yay! I do yoga too!!". And so it began. I have never worked with anyone else who I saw so completely eye to eye on how things should be done. We were a team, Christa and I, no doubt about that. We understood that the workload was shared, and when one of us was bogged down, the other would step in and help out. We taught courses together and each complimented the others teaching and evaluation style. When I threw my back out and couldn't stand up straight, Christa came and helped teach my NLS class in North Van. We amused ourselves by terrorizing the swim coaches together (I so miss those Steve and Derrick days). We bartered tasty food for jewellery making. We brought out each others inner crafter - Christa taught me to knit at work, and once I got the knitting bug we would regularly 'compromise the integrity of the facility' (according to our then manager) by knitting under our desks, in the classroom, on our breaks . . . it was good times. Christa is also one of the small handful of people I've met in my life who I have always felt I could talk to about anything, anytime, without any judgement whatsoever. It's a real gift to find that in a friend and a coworker.

I was sad when the Katie and Christa years ended, but she needed to move on, I understood that. I'm so glad we've remained friends, even though we don't see each other quite so often anymore. Christa has stayed a source of inspiration in my life, and seeing her leave the good benefits and regular paycheque life of the UBC AC and enter into the unreliable realms of contract work and self employment and succeed, helped me make the decision to take the plunge myself.

Thanks Christa, you rule! Real hard!

(and she really liked working with me too!)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

the end of an era

This past Saturday was my last day in official capacity at my job at the old UBC AC. I'd use the word 'work' pretty loosely for what I've been doing the past couple of weeks - my replacement started three weeks ago, and after a week and a half or so of training, I pretty much sat back at let him do everything, just being there to answer questions and intervene in absolute emergencies. With a little more than a week do go, my alarm went off at 4:35am for the last time. I rolled over and looked at the alarm and then said to my self, "fuck that." and went back to sleep. Anyways, it's all done now, and the staff did their best to send me off in style. I used to always make breakfast for the staff on Saturday mornings, and so for my last Saturday they put on an extra deluxe breakfast for me . . . pancakes, waffles, scads of fresh fruit, whipped cream, tea, and I drank four mimosas before 10am. It was pretty much one of the best days at work ever. Sunday I went in for my last staff inservice, and that was quite the fiasco. The staff presented me with some tokens of their appreciation - a cookbook they had made with recipes they had contributed with personal messages written on the backs of each recipe, one of the UBC Lifeguarding shirts that the staff had made (not uniforms, just shirts they wear around. it's weird, I know.) with my nickname 'the enforcer' put on the back, and a gift certificate to the campus bookstore to help with my texts come September. One of the staff brought me a 'special drink' in a water bottle which definitely wasn't water . . . and so it began. I knew there was a very high probability of getting tossed into the pool (it's just what happens on your last day) and so I had been carrying around a spare change of clothes for my final couple of days, and since inservice rolled around and I still hadn't gone in, I knew that was the day for sure. And tossed in I got. Twice. Well, once tossed and once carried in officer and a gentleman style. My strategy of just lying down on the ground and going completely limp when I saw them coming for me wasn't so good. Well, maybe it would have worked if it wasn't three buff young fellows doing the tossing.

Then things got ugly. The staff went out to a nearby watering hole for some drinks and appys. This would be the first, and last, time I went out with the staff. It all started out innocently enough with Dan, my replacement, buying me a 'muff dive' which I finally agreed to do from Xta's crotch (thanks for stepping in!). Next was the 'mine field', 10 shots of clear liquid lined up, 5 of which were water, the other five gin. They were shot 30 seconds apart from each other. It was awful. I did have a few pinch hitters, thankfully, but I think they mostly took care of water shots, not gin. Then were a few tequila shots, some other shots, more shots, and oh, did I mention the shots? I think it was the mine field on the nearly empty stomach that started the badness, but the thing that really tipped the scales was when they put a pocket mask in my mouth and used it as a funnel to pour beer down my throat. Huge thanks go to Mike Belly for finally sneaking me out there (and by finally I mean at 8pm) and to Tia for not only driving me home, but for pulling over so I could puke on the way. Needless to say I spent the remainder of the evening and the better part of the next morning wrapped around the toilet. This served as a good reminder of why I am glad my twenties are over. And thank god for Gravol.

So that's it, I'm done. The end of an era. I was 23 years old when I started that job. I owe a huge gratitude to my years at the UBC AC for so many things. I made some of the best friends I have, met the man who in just five weeks will be my husband, got inspired to go back to school and was supported hugely by both of the managers I worked with, got amazing experience and leadership opportunities in the industry, and learned an amazing amount from the people I interacted with. I learned things about pool chemistry and the ins and outs of filtration (like which side of the filter tank produces the biggest hairballs, which are better for throwing) that I never imagined. I learned to become a morning person. I dealt with spinals, heat stroke, broken hips, dislocated shoulders, and more heat exhaustion and hypoglycemia than I knew possible. It was all in all a very good experience.

Staying in my position for seven years is the stuff that legends are made of. The job obviously had it's challenges, and there are certainly parts I will not miss, but I'm glad to have gone out on a positive note. For that, I am going to blog my seven favourite things/memories about the UBC AC. Seven things for seven years . . . coming soon . . .

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jude Taro

My first nephew, born Saturday June 13th 2009, 7lbs 14oz. Cam, I love you, you are a warrior!

Welcome to the world, Jude!

Friday, May 29, 2009

bad bad bad

Yes, yes, I know. I've been a bad blogger, a bad money dieter, a bad eater, a bad runner, definitely a bad worker. Just bad. But I've been having lots and lots of fun!!! (except for the week where I was home with the most awful case of vertigo, that was not fun in any way)

Over the last two months I haven't accumulated any debt, but I haven't saved much either. There was the new computer, the trip to Calgary, the extravagent weekend away in Whistler, the great deal on wine for the wedding which couldn't be passed up, and now that summer is nearly upon is, the weekend getaways to the Sunshine Coast. And so many expenses looming . . . it gives me chest pain to think about it. I need to reevaluate the money diet and figure a way to work it for the summer months that has me saving some money, prevents me from cheating (as I have been lots over the last two months), and doesn't leave me feeling deprived. $60/week just isn't going to cut it when there are things like ferry fare and sipping cold beer on sunny patios to think about. I'm trying to put my thinking cap on and figure out a workable system to implement for June 1st.

Monday, May 11, 2009

week 18

I'm too busy to spend money these days. That is until I get a free afternoon or evening, and then watch out! I didn't even withdraw my weekly $60 from the bank until Friday afternoon but there isn't much of it left after the weekend, and every single shred of it was spent on hooch. Fun times though.

My lovely bridesmaids informed me that I had better get my ass in gear and deal with bridal registry since they had already put the information out there. Yowza. I've struggled with the concept of registry and have been putting it off, but I guess it had to be done. So Friday afternoon I spent meandering through a kitchen store picking lovely things and Saturday afternoon saw me walking around the Bay zapping bar codes with a scanning gun. Interesting times. I second Nicole's recent rant about registry (baby, in her case) and how it's a big old load of bo-shit that you can't register online. Why is it that I can't go on the online catalogue from the comfort of my own home (office) and register on my own schedule (company dime)? More annoying is how if you don't want to be hit with a schwack of spam from the Bay and other companies they affiliate with, you can't just tick (or untick as it were) a box indicating your privacy preferences, you have to actually contact their privacy department and ask them to take you off the list. Bosch.

Anyways, after all the bar code scanning was done with, Tatjana and I headed upstairs to ladies wear where I was happy to find that my favourite bra (the T-shirt bra by Triumph) was on sale 25% off. I've been in desperate need of a new bra for MONTHS, so obviously snagged one. While we were up there we also checked out shoes since I need a pair to wear under my wedding dress. I saw some cute white flipflops with a flower on the front that I think will do if I find nothing else. Outdoor wedding on a very uneven lawn/beach = the most comfortable sensible pair of summertime flats I can find. So then we poked around the dresses since Tatjana still has yet to find her bridesmaid dress and has a very specific vision of what she wants to wear (I told them they could wear any black dress they wanted). She wants a halter dress with a deeply plunging v-neck, some paneling, and a skirt that goes just below the knee. So we're perusing the dresses and I happen to stick my hand into one of the racks and pull out a black v-neck halter dress. The only one around, and we couldn't find any more on nearby racks. She tries it on. It fits PERFECTLY, looks stunning, is EXACTLY what she wants, AND is on sale from $125 down to $25. How awesome is that? Defo the find of the day.

Obviously even though we were still out half an hour later than I said I would be home, we continued shopping. With my strapless wedding dress I am in need of a strapless bikini for the summer, and we just so happened so walk by the bathing suit section and find just that. It wasn't so bad all in all, I got my new bra and a new bikini all said and done for around $80. Doesn't beat Tatjana's $25 bridesmaid dress, but its the first shopping I've done in a very long time, and although I hadn't planned for it, I kept things under control.

This weekend is a long weekend and also Paul's birthday. Being his last birthday while I'm a working lady, I've decided to whisk him away for the weekend. We're going to Whistler, which we've been talking about doing for YEARS, staying here and going for dinner here. It's going to be a pricey weekend, but I've been planning for it for a while so I can absorb it. Yay!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

weeks 14, 15, 16, 17, and month three wrap up

I apologize for the blogging hiatus. It was finals, you see, and I decided to give up the interwebs in an attempt to increase productivity. It worked. I, Katherine Elizabeth, passed physical/organic chemistry all by myself. All. By. My. Self. Seriously people, do you know how awesome that is? Don't get me wrong, I didn't do shit hot, but I friggen passed, and not too bad. A solid pass, and I'll take it.

Okay, so you know when you go on a diet and you reach your goal weight and you feel invincible and start eating anything you want and gain a bunch of the weight back? Month three wasn't quite that bad, but it was up there. The money diet me knows that I should have waited until I had the cash money to pay for the new laptop, rather than assuming I would have the cash money and just going and buying it one day. I'll have you know though, that the laptop rules. I spent a little crazy month three, but I didn't acquire any debt, so I think I came out okay. The mastercard bill is hefty due to the laptop (which rules) and the trip to Calgary (which ruled hard!)

I set myself a cash budget for the trip to Calgary, and I'm pleased to report I stuck to it (thanks in part to easy access to Tim's debit card . . . heheh) and managed to come home with $20 still in my pocket (I stole that from your sock drawer). It was my adorably pregnant sister in law's 30th birthday, so I took my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook with me, and told Cam she could pick any cake out of the book, no matter how elaborate, and I'd make it for her. The winner was a devil's food cake with mint chocolate ganache, henceforth referred to as ganny. Soooo much ganny was consumed. Plans are in the work for future ganny creations . . . raspberry chocolate ganny, triple chocolate ganny cake, just a plain ol' cup o' ganny . . . Luckily we did a stairs workout and two killer abs workouts over the weekend as well - well I did the abs, Cammy watched. It was my punishment for getting to drink more than 1.5 glasses of good wine over the weekend. But I also got an incredible hot (stone massage from a wizard named) Carl. I mean Curt. If you're ever in Calgary you should go to the Oasis Spa and ask for a hot Carl. Curt, I mean Curt.

So now on to month four and I'm back on track. I'm working an insane amount over the next two months, but if everything goes according to plan (which it surely won't) I should be able to squirrel away a good chunk of money. My goal is to have enough to pay for the other half of my wedding dress (plus alterations), the photographer, inevitable extra wedding expenses I haven't yet thought of, and tuition for September.

Week 17 went okay. I made a stupid excuse to use my credit card for a dumb $10 purchase, which I won't do again. Otherwise I stuck to cash - I did dip into my $100 monthly money already, but hey, that's what it's for. I think week 18 is going to go much much better. My fingers are crossed.

Monday, April 06, 2009

week 13

Remember that $10 I was trying to make last over week 13? It was still in my wallet on Sunday morning when week 14 begun. Natch I blew it on treats on Sunday evening, but still, it lasted the week! Being off the hooch is such a money saver - but it is harder than I thought. I think because I'm depriving myself of it, I'm thinking about booze constantly, but I'm glad for the challenge. We went out Saturday evening and I volunteered to be designated driver. Not only did I get all the free soda and lime that I wanted, I stayed out not unreasonably late, had fun, had a decent sleep, and had a productive Sunday. Not the way it would have gone had I been drinking.

This week isn't going to be quite so frugal. With the long weekend coming up we plan to hit the Sunshine Coast for a relaxing weekend (packed full of organic chemistry studying, but still) which always entails extra treats and extra spending. I've set aside $100 cash for the weekend, and I plan to stick to it.

And can I just tell you all how awesome my new computer is? I just finished transferring all of the files over from my old clunker, which I'm about to send the way of the neighbourhood hobos. I'm currently downloading music from itunes and working at the same time, and it hasn't slowed down any. Duo processors rule! Money is going to be a bit tight this month due to the purchase, but it was totally overdue, and totally worth it.

Currently downloading: Chambermaid Swing by Parov Stelar. Check it out.

Friday, April 03, 2009

home cooking

This money diet tip should be super obvious - cook yer own darn food! You can cook fabulous meals at home for a fraction of the price you would pay going out, and have fun too! Paul and I eat out a handful of times a year - typically on our anniversary, and maybe one or two other times. We really love cooking together, and lately we've been on a kick of trying all kinds of new recipes and building a bigger repertoire. Last weekend on Sunday we made a delish and healthy lentil soup with kale and tomatoes, and as an accoutrement we made these awesome baked polenta fries, and whipped up a chipotle lime sauce for dipping them in. OMFG were they ever good. One of our neighbourhood watering holes has polenta fries, but these home made ones were thinner and crisper and healthier being that they were baked and not deep fried. And they were so easy! I made the whole batch of polenta but we ended up making only about half of it into fries, and freezing the rest for future polenta fries emergencies. I'm sure the recipe could be easily veganized, but I did use the milk and Parmesan as specified. Try them out! Easy! Tasty! Gluten free! And polenta is cheap cheap cheap!

C&T - these are soooo going to make a hockey night appearance in your pad when I'm visiting!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

week 12 and month three

Suffice it to say the money diet is going well, and it felt fabulous to finish month three with a zero balance on my line of credit. I'm going to keep plugging away and now the big focus will move from debt repayment to saving, which is going to be cool. A few big ticket items on the horizon . . .

First of all, I'm typing this post on my brand new SHINY lenovo thinkpad laptop. It was high time I joined the new millennium and got myself one; my desktop at home (which I got five years ago as a hand me down from my brother) has been chugging along and getting slower and slower, a lot of the advanced level courses I teach now require powerpoint presentations, and it was getting not cool to try to borrow laptops all the time. I did some searching around and eventually found what I wanted at a good price, and now I have it. And it's shiny. My tax return will pay for about 1/3 of it, and the rest will come from some upcoming courses I'm going to be teaching and the inevitable end of semester rush of nursing student CPR renewals.

Next I've got an ever so important birthday for an ever so important soon to be legitimate sister in law coming up, which necessitates a weekend visit to Calgary. I've got to plan for the flight, and for the fun while I'm there.

After that another someone special has a birthday coming up, and I've got something extra special up my sleeve, since this will be the last birthday he will enjoy with an old lady who has a full time job. Once I become a hobo, I doubt I'll be forking over for special events like this one. More to come on this after, say, the May long weekend.

Then there is the minor detail of the wedding, which looms just four months away. FOUR MONTHS. Warm socks, anyone?

And after that, the supporting of myself through school without a reliable full time income. So the savings becomes so uber important.

For a variety of reasons, one of which is certainly the money diet, I have decided to go off the sauce for about a month (or until finals are done). While I'm not drinking I can do EXTREME money diet, like this week for example, which I'm attempting to get through on just ten dollars cash. Anyhoo, more later. I have a chemistry pre lab to get through (last one of the semester!!!) and a SHINY new laptop to play with.

Monday, March 23, 2009

week 11

I was lying in bed last night and had a light bulb moment - I should just transfer the remaining $261 out of my savings account and pay off the line of credit once and for all, rather than waiting for new money to come in. Duh. So I woke up this morning and did just that. That's right ladies and gentlemen, the line of credit has a balance of $0.00. Shazam!!!

I went through my account history to figure out exactly how long I had been dragging that debt around for, and as it turns out I opened the account March 21st, 2006, and borrowed $4,290.00 to pay off my out of control credit card debt. The balance has gone down and up a few times over three years when I borrowed to pay tuition or another hefty credit card bill. And now it's gone. I seriously can't believe I dragged that debt around for three years and when I got serious about paying it off and got on the money diet it took just three months. Gah. Oh well, what's done is done, the debt is history, and now I can move forward.

Of course I'm not completely debt free yet - I still have three more monthly payments to make on my car, and there is the matter of the $3000 I owe to my mom. The car loan I'm not worried about - that was a $21,000 loan paid off over five years. It feels good to be at the end of that, and knowing the last payment will be done with before I leave my job. Whoohoo! The loan from my mom - well, that one is interest free (if it was from my dad, it would be another story) and now, facing paying for the wedding and paying for school, isn't the time to start paying it down. She wouldn't let me if I tried. One day though, when I'm in a better financial position, it'll get paid back. She knows I'm good for it.

So now I move on with the money diet now completely focused on SAVING moolah, rather than paying it back. OOOOOOOOOOOOOhhhhhhhhh Yeah!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

week ten

Do you know what the balance owing on my line of credit is after week ten? $261.49. TWO HUNDRED SIXTY ONE DOLLARS AND FORTY NINE CENTS. I paid off $800 in week ten, thanks in part to my mid month paycheque now having sufficient padding after I pay bills, and in part to the last of a series of courses I have been teaching.

So freaking close.

Check out the trailer for Maxed Out - a documentary about credit card debt in America. The Vancouver Public Library has five copies availble for loan.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

be scentsible

I like to smell nice, but perfumes give me a headache and make me stuffed up and sneezy, so I typically opt for the more mellow aromatics of a nice scented lotion. I used one for nearly a decade with patchouli and ylang ylang, but these days I like to smell like dessert - vanilla, coconut, and chocolate are my smell poisons of choice. Scented lotions can be pricey, and they can also be thick and strong smelling. I like to cut mine 50/50 with an inexpensive unscented lotion like Vaseline Intensive Care, which has the two birds with one stone effect of both cutting the scent to a level I find tolerable, and stretching the scented lotion twice as far. There be a scent savvy money diet tip for ya!

Monday, March 09, 2009

week nine report

March may turn out to be a tough month for the money diet.

Week nine started out well - come Friday I still had all of my $60. Then I started spending money like it was 2008.

Poor Paul, on top of the twice weekly physio appointments for his being hit by car injuries, now has sustained a running injury which is quite serious and is having to attend twice weekly massage and physio appointment for that as well (plus ultra sound and bone scans to try and figure out what is going on). All of the user fees he's paying for the car accident physio will eventually be reimbursed when he settles his claim, however, that could take years. And we do have extended benefits that will cover 85% of the other physio and massage, but he's paying user fees up front. In short, he's extra broke, I feel sorry for him, so I started dishing out cash for feel better treats.

Friday afternoon, with $40 still in my weekly fund, I had lunch with my friend Ryan. It started out well, as we headed somewhere for which we had a two for one coupon, but took a turn when my friend ordered a beer, then I thought oh what the heck, I'll have a beer too. Then he ordered a second beer, and even though I was still only half way through my first, I went ahead and ordered a second one as well. All in all, a lunch I thought would only cost me around $10 ended up costing $27. But it was a fabulous lunch and I hadn't seen Ryan in ages and it was a great vent session - he got married in October and had all kinds of things go wrong. Their caterer went out of business, their ceremony venue burned to the ground, their shuttle never showed up to take guests to the reception site. Shit ain't so bad for me right now.

Friday evening, a little bit tipsy, and I thought you know what, fuck it. I've had a shitty week, Paul has had a shitty week, I'm going to go get us some nice wine and a few other weekend bevvies. I headed to the liquor store and dug into my $100 spend on anything monthly money and did just that. And so it continued. By the end of the weekend I had nothing left in my weekly money, $40 left in my monthly money, and had wiped my slush fund (which only had $35 in it anyways) clean.

Yes, I shuffled some cash around. But I did not use a credit or debit card, and I did not withdraw any new cash. Failure? I think not. I'll just have to be a little more frugal for the rest of March.

And, fueled with weekend treats and with the assistance of my good friend Tatjana, we got our wedding invites mostly done. It involved a lot of cutting, folding, sewing, and taping. Still one more step to go before they are done, and then we can start addressing and sending them out. I also taught another big CPR and First Aid course to a parents group, and made another big payment on my line of credit, which now has less in it than my savings account does! That feels pretty dang good!

Now, because I postponed my Sunday morning long run due to a bit of a hangover, I have to go do it in the snow. Ugh. I suppose I deserve that.

Friday, March 06, 2009

dissapointed in humanity

I have come to believe that I must expect too much of people.

When I send out an email invite to an event, say, a girls night or a birthday party or any other kind of shin dig, I expect that the recipients of said email will take the one or two minutes out of their day to reply whether the answer is yes, no, or I don't know.

When I send an email to my staff trying to cover a shift or get a training session organized, I expect a reply whether they are able to work the shift or attend the session or not. Common courtesy, no?

When I send a text message to a classmate asking whether they'd like to meet for lunch in a patch of sun, I expect them to reply whether they want to/are able to or not. I don't expect no response whatsoever, and then a cheery, "How was your lunch? Did you find a patch of sun?" when I get to class.

And when I book a caterer for my wedding a whole year in advance, and then contact that caterer six months away from said wedding to start working on menu planning, I expect a) the caterer will return my calls and emails in a timely fashion, b) I still have a caterer, c) when said caterer FINALLY responds to me and bails on catering my wedding, they will APOLOGISE and then provide a list of alternate contacts for catering a summer weekend wedding just five months away.

My expectations must be unreasonable.

Monday, March 02, 2009

week eight report and month two wrap up

Looking back at month two I have just one question for myself: why haven't I been doing this for longer?

Month two I took to heart the comments I had heard from a few people about just paying off the line of credit rather than trying to balance debt payments and savings. I have an automatic deposit set up for a contribution to my TFSA every other week (just $50) which still happened, but other than that, every extra penny that came in got dumped into debt repayment.

Month two was also cool because it was the first month that I got a money diet style credit card bill; a small one. Rather than relying on extra income to have enough money to pay the bill, I paid it off with my mid month paycheque AND had surplus to put into debt repayment. That felt so freaking good!

In month two I added $100 to my TFSA, paid off $450 on my line of credit. I also paid an $850 deposit on my wedding dress which isn't so money diet friendly, but in a money diet style victory, I did it without relying on credit. Sha-zam!

When I started the money diet in January, I was hopeful I would have my line of credit paid off by the time I left my job at the end of June. Now I'm quite confident I can have it paid off in full by the end of March, a full THREE MONTHS ahead of schedule. Look at me go!!! Now that wouldn't be possible if I hadn't booked this series of CPR and First Aid courses through February and March, but pre money diet I would have put some of that extra income towards debt repayment and spent most of it gluttonously. Three cheers for the money diet!!!

Week eight was a good one. I spent nothing until the weekend and then spent all but $5 in one shot. We had a fun Saturday afternoon riding our bikes around and picking up some ingredients for dinner. We decided we were in a weekend food rut - though we're committed to our weekday food routine, on the weekends when we like to make gourmet treat dinners we realized there were only six thing we made: pizza, risotto, cheesey baked pasta, potato thing, green rice (which can also liaise as a weekday dinner sometimes), and since the advent of my pasta rollers, a tasty fresh pasta dish. Of course there are infinite variations on the above six dishes, and they are fantastically tasty, but we were craving change. So we busted into some of the many cookbooks on our shelves, and tried some new things. And drank some great wine.

And now I feel like I need to go on a cleanse.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

this study break is brought to you by p-corn

I've been meaning for some time to start blogging my favourite money diet tips and tricks, and seeing as I'm deep in the thick of midterm studying, there seems like no better time than the present to start.

Popcorn, or p-corn in our house, is not only one of my favourite money diet tips, but one of my all time favourite snack foods. Zea mays averta is one of the most economical choices you can make in a snack food. In fact, according to the folks over at, popcorn gained popularity during the Great Depression since at only 5 or 10 cents a bag, it was one of the few luxuries down and out families could afford. These days for the price of a bag of chips you can buy a 2kg bag of popcorn kernels - that's a whole lotta p-corn!

Because I am a glutton, one of the best things about popcorn to me is that I can eat an entire (large) bowl of it without feeling disgusting. I cannot (and will not!) say the same for a bowl of chips. In fact, popcorn is so popular in our house that we recently bought a bag of chips on a splurge day and a few chips in decided to pop a batch of corn instead.

Please note I am NOT talking about nasty microwave popcorn. That shit is a) expensive, b) disgusting, and c) packed full of nasty chemicals. Stay away! We pop our corn stove top. We have a special stove top popper where you turn a crank that keeps the kernels moving at the bottom of the pot. It pops a nice tub of p-corn. Then we divvy it up. Paul likes his traditional style with butter and salt (in moderation, my lovelies) where I go a little left wing with nutritional yeast and Old Bay Seasoning. Yum!

For mere pennies (yes, pennies!) a bowl you've got yourself a snack that is naturally high in fibre, low in fat, and low in calories. Top it sensibly (or not, whatever you're into) and you're being nutritious with both your money diet, and your eating habits.

Horray for p-corn!

Monday, February 23, 2009

week seven

This glorious week was reading week which meant I had the week off school. I also took the week off work since I have a load of vacation time to burn through before I leave my job in June, and I needed a mental health week. I also needed to learn six weeks worth of my chemistry course before the midterm, which is coming up this week. Additionally, I took the week off of running (I think I'm ready to get back at it now, my feet don't hurt much any more) and off of the healthy eating program. All week long I slept in (till like 7am!), stuffed my face with whatever I wanted, and studied. We hit the Sunshine Coast for the weekend and while I studied for most of the days, we made some super gourmet dinners and enjoyed some tasty Gibsons apple fritters. Mmmmhmmm.

I knew in advance with the nature of the week that this would likely be the week I cracked into the $100/month spend on anything money, and right I was. We enjoyed some bevvies at home and also did a bit of a neighbourhood pub crawl one night. And we needed more bevvies and lots of treats for the Gibsons weekend. It was all totally worth it.

This week we also went and bought all of the materials with which to make our wedding invites. I spent an afternoon with a family friend formatting the invite part, and now they are printed and ready for assembly. After the chem midterm we'll get cracking on putting them together. Most wedding magazines say that you should put aside 10% of your total budget for invites. Pfft. We've spent $50 so far on paper (and nice paper at that, cool textured stuff). We still need to get some pictures printed to go on the front and pay for postage to send them all out. I'm optimistic that we can get them all out for less than $150. We're doing an email RSVP rather than putting in reply cards with postage, and I re-sized the invites to fit conventional envelopes you can get a box of 100 of for a couple of bucks, rather than using the funky sized envelopes for $0.75 each.

And lastly, this weekend I taught the first of a series of four courses to a group of parents of small children who wanted custom CPR/First Aid courses put together for them. These courses, if I'm aggressive about it (which I plan to be), could see my line of credit all but paid off by mid March! Ha-za!

Monday, February 16, 2009

week six report - and the first half

The money diet continues to work well for me. I won't bore you with the minute details of what I spent on what - other than that I made a stupid impulse buy this week of an $8 bottle of nail polish I don't really like. Impulse purchases are far and few between these days. I find that having a fixed amount of cash for the week forces me to think carefully about where my money goes. Wanting to get to the weekend with money left over for some cold brewski's keeps me on track so I'm not spending money all willy nilly during the week.

So I made it to the end of the week with $30 cash remaining. Ordinarily I would bank that $30 into my clothing/gifts slush fund, but not this week. Nope, this weekend I ran my very first half marathon and I felt as though I deserved a little extra pampering (ie, beer and greasy food) when it was said and done. So I rolled that $30 into the new week's fund to beef it up a bit. I've always believed that planned indulgences keep me on track the rest of the time, and I've been planning this indulgence a while.

In other money diet news, I got my mid month paycheque last week. I paid all the bills (phone, cellphone, car insurance, hydro, and mastercard) and had money left over to dump on the line of credit. That felt pretty freaking good. I think it was the smallest credit card bill I have had since having a credit card. I'm still spending on the credit card, but anything other than gas or groceries that goes on the card gets paid off right away. Like that very day. That I have now got myself into a financial position where I can pay an $800+ deposit on my wedding dress without having to rely on credit feels pretty awesome. I just wonder why I haven't been doing this all along . . . better now than never though, eh?

Okay, so and THEN I ran my very first half marathon (21.1km) on Sunday at the Pacific Road Runners First Half (first half marathon of the season, that is). It went okay. The first 15km were awesome, I was flying along, feeling pretty good, and on pace to go sub two hours which would have been INCREDIBLE for a first half. Things started to fall apart after that. I got some major cramping in my hip flexor which grew into searing nerve pain all down my left leg, which reduced me to a pace just short of a crawl for a few km. My friend Janice appeared like an angel out of the darkness (definitely the darkest moments of the race for me) biking along the course, handing me a water bottle, taking my jacket, and dishing out encouragement like nothing else. I'm not sure if I've ever loved anyone as much as I loved her right then.

Finishing the race was a total mental game, just convincing myself to push through the pain and keep going. I had to stop and stretch a couple of times which cost me a few min, but it was extremely necessary. I ran the whole thing though, didn't walk any of it, and finished with a respectable time of 2:06:52. It was a big learning curve (next time I'll wear my water belt so I can have a sip whenever I want to, not have to wait 20 min for the next water station, and I'll also start some hip flexor exercises), and although those last few km's were brutal, I'm kinda sorta looking forward to the next one.

I'm staying off my feet a few days though. Things hurt.

Paul also ran and placed 9th overall with a personal best time of 1:10:48. That's crazy fast, but hey, he's a crazy guy.

Friday, February 13, 2009


In very un-money diet related news, I bought my wedding dress today!

I swore I wasn't going to wear white, I wasn't going to wear a strapless dress, and I didn't like sweetheart necklines. This is white (well, ivory, but shame shiz), strapless, and has a sweetheart neckline. And most infuriatingly, my mother picked it. But I love it, and I feel amazing in it.

If you want to see what I'll be walking down the isle in (and water skiing in the next day) click here, and search style 3906. I won't be wearing a veil, or that dopey look on my face, fear not. It's super simple, no beads, no sparkly crap, not poofey in the slightest. 100% silk, Canadian made and designed.

And I talked them down $200. Yay me!

Monday, February 09, 2009

week five report

I had a pretty cranky week, but the money diet went well. I managed to not do any emotional spending, though I wish I could say the same for eating.

I spent $10 at the beginning of the week on chocolate vaginas. Chocolate vagina time is my favourite time of year at UBC, and trust me, buying only five of them was seriously holding myself back.

I was battling crazy foot pain all week and spent $5 on one of those flexible gel ice packs I can keep in my office fridge freezer so I can more easily ice after every run. Near the end of the week I figured out that the cause of the crazy foot pain was my shoes so had to go out and drop $180 on new ones. That was AFTER discount. But I just went for a pain free long run with tempo pieces, so totally worth it. That clearly didn't come out of the $60/week. I'm still not sure how to deal with those kind of purchases on the money diet, but I did teach a course on Friday afternoon that will more than cover the new shoes and I'll just put the money on my credit card right away.

One of the people in the course I taught on Friday was a girl on my staff whose family has an organic dairy in Creston and is in their first year of producing their own amazing organic cheese. She had a big shipment of cheese to sell at the farmers market and I told her I'd be happy to work on the barter system, so she paid her course fees in cheese. Horray!

$20 went to a Saturday night bottle of wine. Our first bottle was a great Portugese, and our second was a Malbec I was given for my birthday. Both delish. Friends of our popped by and dragged us downtown to the Saturday night spot our DJ friend plays at. Paul and I agreed to each take $20 and get in early, get out early. We stuck to our money budgets and left at our previously agreed upon time.

A super cranky week ended well.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

everyone . . .

Meet Beatrice!

Isn't she pretty?

Beatrice is a combined Christmas/Birthday/Birthday gift from my parents and Paul. She has replaced my old clunky heavy bike that I never rode, but which just made some hobo very happy. The new steed is a light weight ladies hybrid by Trek which is a joy to ride and easy to carry up and down the stairs. And so pretty! It's hard to see in the picture, but the champagne coloured frame has funky flowers all over it. And I got a helmet also with flowers. Important stuff, you know. I look forward to a future filled with sunny afternoon bike rides!

Monday, February 02, 2009

week four report and month one wrap up

Week four was easy. I got sick yet again, so spent a few bucks on cold medication, which was a waste of money - it made me feel worse than the cold. Another few bucks spent on eggs, and a few on a coffee date with a long lost friend, and that was it. I had over $40 left at the end of the week. I gave $20 of it to Paul to spend on weekend treats and the rest got banked in the slush fund. Yay! Of course having lots of leftover beer and wine in the house meant we didn't have to spend anything on booze this week at all, and that really helped. I'm not sure its all going to last as long as I had initially hoped, but the point is we're not spending money.

All in all I think month one of the money diet has been a success. I think the impact is really going to be felt more in month two. I still had the December credit card bill to contend with in January, but now that my credit card use has been drastically reduced change will be felt. My mid month paycheque did not normally cover my entire credit card bill. I would have to make sure I had some reserve or that I taught a course that would add extra income or dip into the line of credit or my overdraft in order to pay it off in full. I just got my statement for the bill due Feb 15th, and it is less than half of what it used to be. After I've paid all of my bills this month I should have a nice chunk of excess just from my regular paycheque, which never ever happened before. Feels pretty good.

In January I paid off $300 of my line of credit, and added $200 to my tax free savings account. That was all from the extra courses I taught on the side. In Feb I should be able to pay off more than that BEFORE taking into account extra courses. If only I could be this diligent when it comes to studying chemistry.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

it happened

Yup. It happened. I went and turned 30.

If someone had told me when I was 20 that I would spend my 30th birthday doing chemistry homework and going for a 17.5km run, I would have punched that someone square in the face. Then I would have sat back down on the couch to my meal of smokey barbecue Doritos and peanut butter m&m's, and spent a good day trying to conquer the legend of Zelda on SNES. My how times have changed. I also renewed my drivers license (now you're not allowed to smile for those pictures either!), had brunch with my sister Pamela, and had a good talk with my sister Emily, calling all the way from London.

We had a great soiree on Saturday night, packing our apartment with party goers ranging from almost two, to almost 62. The almost two year old was a great help in showing us all the simple joy in blowing out birthday candles and playing with helium balloons. We had a great tea party spread including mini cheddar and green onion scones with roasted red pepper and cream cheese in the middle, little canapes with chickpea mash and sliced radishes on top, and mini veggie Jamaican patties. Several varieties of dainty tea sandwiches cut into little wedges (no crusts obviously - my good friend Kimmie took care of eating them. Waste not!): egg salad, cucumber, roasted miso glazed tofu with roasted red pepper and spinach, to name a few. We also made pizzas and cut them up into little squares to fit the theme.

And the food that other folks brought was pretty spectacular too, from potstickers to cream puffs to home made crackers and cheese to strange little marzipan pigs to mini cupcakes. Oh so good. And (save for a few of the pigs) there was practically nothing left at the end of it all.

I made pink lemonade/vodka/soda cocktails which I served from my teapot, and my friend Chris made an insanely good celebration cocktail with champagne, soda, and St. Germain. Paul used the left over St. Germain to whip up a few (several) rounds of tasty shooters which came out towards the end of the night (after the almost two year olds and almost 62 year olds had left). Best of all, those who had been threatening to bring copious amounts of Jagermeister respectfully left it at home. Maybe my counter threat of making them do shots of Robitussin were heeded.

Red wine was spilled on the carpet, glasses were broken (not the good ones - we kept those locked away), and I'm pretty sure a new romance may have been sparked. All in all a great party!

I got some great gifts, the very best being a list sent to me by my sister Emily of 30 favourite fond memories / things she admires / things she thinks make me kind of unique, and my SIL Camilla sent me 30 text messages over about 24 hours with her 30 favourite memories of us together. Just goes to show the best things in life are free. Adding another Le Creuset piece to my collection was pretty sweet too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

week three report

Okay, so you know when you're on a diet and you have a few drinks on a Saturday night and then all of a sudden that order of poutine seems like a great idea and you blow all of your careful calorie counting? A similar thing happened with the money diet this week.

Sunday morning I headed out for my long run, and having learned my lesson the week before, stopped to buy some gels. And Sunday night is treat night in our house, so obviously I had to buy some Ben and Jerry's. On Tuesday I dropped some cash on a new terra cotta pot for re-potting my ailing jade plant. It had better start getting healthy in it's new home! Little bits and pieces were spent through the week, I can't remember exactly on what, but I do know that come Friday I had only around $20 left in the weekly fund. I ditched out on work early on Friday to do some shopping for ingredients for the upcoming birthday festivities, and spent very nearly every penny of the remaining weekly money, the spend on anything monthly money, and (here is where the cheating begins . . . just one fry won't hurt, will it?) $30 I got from returning a text book. That worked out to quite the spread, but I'll save the details for another post.

The soiree was fabulous (again, another post) and good times were had by the many, many people who packed into our apartment. A handful of us headed downtown as the festivities were winding down, and I made an inebriated grab for that moolah (poutine, full order just for me) I got from selling my accessory pack last week. Meh. So there. I done cheated. On my 30th birthday party. Sue me.

The very good news is that a) a new week is beginning, and I'm not going to let a relatively minor slip up ruin the whole diet, and b) many of the very generous people who stopped by last night gifted me with bottles of wine and other assorted hooch. I don't think we'll have to buy a bottle for at least a month, maybe more. That'll really help me stay on track, and maybe tuck a little away into the slush fund.

Tomorrow I will be 30.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

is it worth it?

I've been planning all along to take a summer class this year in May/June to take advantage of the free tuition credits that are a part of my benefits package. But I've been feeling right burnt out about school and the thought of a condensed summer course is just horrific right now, so I did some more thinking about it. Here is what I came up with:

Yes, taking a summer course and getting that one last course out of the free tuition credits would save me around $500. It would also prevent me from teaching several courses on contract that would earn me potentially thousands (above and beyond my full time job). Hmm. Save $500, or earn thousands, pay off debt, save for school in fall when I have no full time job, pay for wedding, save for future.

I've made my choice.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

week two report

Week two wasn't quite as thrifty as week one was, and I didn't manage to bank anything into the slush fund, but I'd still call it a success. I managed to get all the way to Thursday without cracking into the weekly $60, and being that Thursday was the hump day of what was turning into a pretty meh week, I felt like a couple of Thursday night bruskis, so picked up a six pack on my way home. I also went out and got the ingredients for my $10 lunch date on Friday, which also included some pilfering from our fridge since I blew $9.11 on specialty cheese for our gourmet grilled sandwiches (they were gooood). A few bucks on dish soap, and renting two DVD's (for the price of one thanks to the awesome coupon pack we got as a Christmas gift from my parents) saw me with $30 remaining on Saturday evening. Paul and I agreed to pool our resources and get some gourmet dinner ingredients and a nice bottle of wine. We made an incredible home made basil linguine (I freaking love my new pasta rollers, also a Christmas gift) with a simple but incredible tomato basil sauce, and had a young but great bottle of Portuguese wine ($40). We did not budget for the bottle of white wine necessary for the pasta sauce, so I cracked into the $100 spend on anything monthly money for the first time, but that bottle will last us a while for sauces and risottos and the like.

This coming week will be a challenge since I've got a birthday coming up. I figure the remainder of that monthly $$ will go towards hooch and ingredients for the little soiree we're throwing on the weekend. This week I also sold an accessory pack I had for my mixer that I never use for $100. I'm contemplating throwing that money on the birthday pile too. I know it's breaking the rules, but I figure if ever there was a time for rule breaking, it should be on a girl's 30th birthday. We'll see.

I did also teach a big course last Sunday, and after I had paid a second instructor and paid off my out of pocket expenses for that and a future course, I had $300 in my pocket. I am paying 5.2% interest on my line of credit, and earning 3% on my tax free savings account, so I figured that the split should be 2/3 debt repayment, 1/3 savings. I paid off $200 on the line of credit, and banked $100 in the savings account. That is going to be my strategy with extra money coming in. Lastly, I paid off what I hope will be my last big Mastercard bill. Now that I'm using it only for gas, groceries, and business expenses (which get paid off right away) the monthly bill should be significantly less than what it has been. I do face some expenses shortly though, having to renew my class 4 drivers license next week, and there is the matter of purchasing a wedding dress, which needs to be taken care of by mid February.

Okay, I can't put the long run off any further. Off I go.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

the list book

I was doing some tidying in my home office this week, and found an old notebook shoved into the back of a drawer. I couldn't remember what was in it or why I'd stashed it away at all. It is a pillow book (inspired by the 1996 movie of the same name) where I (and some of my friends of the time) wrote all kinds of lists. I got a good laugh reading through most of them. This one in particular (dated 1998):

Luke, Dad, and Mister's list of words or expressions that should be drinks:

-A Good Shag

-Lady of the Night (aka the Pink Prostitute)

-Headboard Handlebars

-Monica Lewinsky

-Fart Putty (shooter)

-Assfucker (very expensive drink)

-Sweaty Thighs (has salted rim)

-Sweatshop Factory

-Son of a Bitch

-Robert Miles

Luke, Dad, and Mister were all nicknames. I'll let you guess which one I was. The only drink we ever actually made was the Pink Prostitute. It went something like this:

1 1/2 oz Gin
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz orange juice
1/2 tsp grenadine
Shaken over ice

I'll put the challenge out there to invent (and make me) the rest of them for my birthday. After all, my 30th is just around the corner. I'm particularly intrigued by Headboard Handlebars.

Friday, January 09, 2009

week one report

The $60 money week goes Sunday - Saturday. It's Friday morning and I still have $40 in my wallet, and I haven't dipped into the monthly fun money either. I spent $20 at the Canucks game on Sunday (tix were a Christmas/birthday gift from my brother to my sister and I) on beer and snacks. Today I'm going to pick up some UBC Farm eggs that are back on sale in the SUB (just in time!), and Saturday night we're going over to my parents for dinner to teach my mom to use the pizza stone and peel we gave her for Christmas, so free meal for us. Of the $30ish I'll still have on Saturday, we may spend a bit on some hooch to enjoy after dinner with the parents, but then we'll have some wine there and I've got to get up early on Sunday anyways, so we may not.

On Tuesday I bumped into neighbour and fellow oenophile Liminal Me (who learned that you should look before you lip off the person honking at you, they may just be offering you a ride home ;) !!) who had read about my spending plan and asked if that $60 per week includes wine. Yup. But don't think I'll be lowering myself to drinking plonk. If I want to drink something really nice on the weekend I'll just have to be more careful about where that $60 goes during the week. Paul is also trying out the spending plan, so collectively we have $120 per week. We can combine forces and do pretty well, me thinks. We've also been exploring some less expensive (under $20) wines from the old world, and there are some gems for sure.

Paul and I have for the first time started talking more openly and frankly about our spending and saving plans, which is a good thing. The first conversation got pretty tense and ended in tears, but now the air has cleared and the cards are on the table and we're working towards a common goal. Our finances are very much separate, we have no joint account or anything at this point. I pay the bills, he sends me his share via email money transfer. I take care of the big once a month grocery shop of staples and household items, he takes care of the once a week produce and perishables. He spends slightly more on food than I do, but he eats waaaaaaay more (endurance athlete = 6000 calories a day). It has worked for us thus far. So I said that at the end of the week whatever money I had left over was going to go into a slush fund for clothing and gifts. We talked about instead splitting that money up. Half will go into a personal slush fund for whatever we deem it, and the other half will go into a joint slush fund for things like vacations and wine to cellar.

Like a food diet, when you're on a money diet your success depends somewhat on the support of those around you. If people help you cheat, it doesn't help in the long run. I was talking to a friend yesterday and setting up a time for a business meeting (watch out SAFE, watch out LIT, CPR First is coming to get you!!!) and he suggested that we go to one of our favourite Indian restaurants. I explained how I was on this money diet and the restaurant may be out of my price range, and he replied that he wasn't on a money diet, so he'd just pay. That's not the point. I don't want people around me to feel like they have to cough up just because I'm doing some belt tightening. So we agreed on a $10 date. We'll either spend a max of $10 each on ingredients and make a killer lunch together (my grilled sandwich maker may be called into action) or we'll combine our dough and go somewhere that we can eat for $20 or under. I'm rooting for option 1. Although I do have a coupon for the a fore mentioned Indian restaurant, so it may work out as a part of option 2.

Now to hit the books.

Oh, and the holiday fat is nearly gone. I stepped on the scale this morning and four of those five lbs have vanished. Horray!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

spending plan

I don't know if you're supposed to work out a savings plan before a spending plan, but I figure getting my spending under control will be the first step. Once spending is under control I should be able to figure out how much I have available for debt re-payment and savings, without feeling deprived or having to dip into savings or depend on credit card use because I've over extended myself.

The plan:

I'm going to continue using my credit card for gas and groceries (groceries do NOT include specialty foods or treats) because they are fairly constant and I can earn airmiles on those purchases. I always pay of my credit card in full each month, never every carrying a balance (even if it sometimes has meant dipping into that line of credit), and will continue to do so (without dipping).

I am going to give myself $60 cash each week for day to day spending including any specialty food items, treats, wine, coffee out, etc. I am also going to allocate $100 cash each month for 'fun money' which I can blow on anything . . . drinks out, contraban, what have you. When on a food diet I've always believed that planned indulgences help keep you on track the rest of the time, so I don't see why a money diet would be any different. This $100 that I don't have to be accountable for is my indulgence money. Any cash remaining at the end of the week or month I am going to stash away in a fund for clothing and gifts.

The point is not to feel deprived, but to have some control and awareness of my spending. I'll try this out for a while, and re-evaluate.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

2009 - trimming the fat

The holidays are dunzo, and I trepidaciously stepped on the scale this morning to assess the damage. Miraculously, I appear to have only gained 5lbs. I'm not sure how that is possible with the copious eating and drinking I packed in, and the sorrowful lack of exercise due to snow and sickness, but there it is. Hopefully it'll go away quickly and my fitness will bounce back, cause that 1/2 marathon ain't getting any farther away.

But that is not the fat I speak of trimming. I am speaking of the money fat. I want to eliminate my consumer debt, increase my savings, and generally learn to manage my money in a more balanced manner. I am working my way through the Smart Cookies book, and I'll share my successes and slip-ups here so I am accountable to the blogosphere. Additionally, I'm thinking of trying to form a ladies money group so that, much like a weightwatchers weigh in, there will be a group to report to, be accountable to, and help each other along.

So now it begins . . .

My financial fears:

1. I do okay paycheque to paycheque (supplemented with the courses I teach on the side, otherwise I would not be able to make ends meet some of the time), but I don't have any reserve to deal with something unexpected, like a car repair.

2. My full time employment ends in just less than six months. I'm afraid I won't be able to earn enough or save enough to support myself and pay for school next year without going into the hole. I've also got to come up with money to pay for some of our wedding this summer.

3. I'm afraid I won't be able to save enough for Paul and I to buy a home down the road.

A money blunder I've made:

Paul and I moved in together effectively tripling what I was spending per month on housing, food, bills, etc. I had some savings which I blew through buying furniture for our apartment, and a down payment on a new car. I was not in any way living within my means, and quickly racked up around $3000 in credit card debt I couldn't seem to pay off. I swallowed my pride and went to my parents for a loan to pay off the card, and then promptly racked up nearly the same amount. I couldn't face telling them I'd done it again (and still haven't, so keep your mouths shut!) so I ended up taking out a line of credit at a drastically reduced interest rate (down to 5.2 from 18%) and transferring the debt there. I'm still chipping away at it, and truth be told I've dipped into it a few times to make tuition payments or even credit card payments, so the debt still sits at around $2500, PLUS the $3000 I plan on paying back to my mom eventually. Ugh.

The fact is, I spend more than I make. The extra work I do on the side is allowing me to break even and not accumulate more debt, but I'm not paying it off and I'm not saving. This changes now.