September 2014 Debt Repayment Update!

wpid-img_20140928_134041.jpgSoooo where did September go? Fastest month all year, by far. Last weekend was a stunning way to end the summer. It was sunny, incredibly warm and the perfect way to say goodbye to summer 2014. After looking at the weather on Saturday my sister-in-law and I quickly decided to figure out a way to get outside on Sunday and enjoy what Mother Nature was gracing us with. We went for a little drive and went for a hike and it was beautiful. A spot I drive by many times but never go to but will definitely be going back before snowfall! The photo was taken at the top of the hill we climbed.

September was a decent month for us. I was able to put a total of $2,100 towards debt. I was really hoping to put $2,200 but came short by just $100 which is about the amount I needed to re-add to our ER fund. An extra $665 is pretty decent though so I’ll take it. I worked a few extra shifts in September and though I hated every second of that five-day work week (hated the time spent at work, not the job), I liked the extra cash. First world problems, I guess.

I had an ambitious goal last October of putting 20k towards our principal debt by end of 2014 but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I haven’t done all the number crunching yet but it’s looking like I’ll be short by $2,500-$3,000. I know $18,000 in principle debt paid is still great but I hate not meeting my goal!

If you follow me on Twitter you probably saw that my new computer decided to crap out on me the other day. We’re still not sure what’s going on but in the process of getting it taken care of this week hopefully. My heart sank as I thought about my forecasted budget being lost…done until February 2015 with notes galore reminding me of stuff. I accepted it may be gone, at the very least I have zero access to it right now, so I re-did the whole thing from scratch (with major help from my husband) and it’s now a Google doc. Why I didn’t do this in the first place. Now I’m just hoping I didn’t lose the 8G worth of pictures I just uploaded from my sD card, 14 months worth of photos. UGH. Fingers crossed the issue is a warranty fix and my darling two-year-old didn’t dump water/juice/freezie/spit on it without me knowing while watching ”Frozen” for the 2828412584 time.

I know Jordann is kicking ass and trying to make that 25k Net Worth by her 25th birthday….How did everyone else do?

How healthy is your credit card behaviour?

Most wallets today contain at least one credit card, but not everyone knows how best to look after the health of their credit cards. They can either be a useful financial tool if handled correctly, or cause a steady deterioration of the state of one’s personal finances. Here’s how to improve the fitness of your credit cards, from faint pulse to a strong heartbeat.

Choosing credit card purchases with care

Try to never use your credit card as a cash alternative. Making petrol, food or clothing purchases on your credit card is the start of a steady slide into debt. Living within one’s means is critical to the health of your credit cards. If you can’t afford a particular purchase today, without a substantial salary increase or unusual stroke of luck, you will not be able to afford that purchase next month or the following. Know the difference between what you actually need and those things that you merely want. Allow this to guide all purchase decisions. Always keep in mind that a credit card is neither cash nor a passport to a lifestyle you wish you had. Most banks charge higher fees for withdrawing cash from an ATM so be aware of these additional charges and try to avoid this temptation where possible.

Just as a person would approach a payday loans supplier – is one such provider – for bridging finance to, for instance, fix a car before the next pay cheque arrives, credit cards can be useful tools if handled responsibility. Credit card users can benefit from cashback rewards for using their cards so look out for deals that allow you to earn rewards for purchases made on a card. Some banks allow a card holder to pay towards annual card fees or bank charges as part of their loyalty programme.

Keep a little in reserve

Never max out your credit card. It is advisable to stay within at least 30% of the limit. It is far more difficult to manage higher credit card balances and could cause you to accidentally exceed your limit which means you would be charged a penalty and could impact your credit rating.

Get acquainted with your credit card statement

Go through your statement each month, item-by-item. You need to know that all purchases were authorised by yourself – this is important in the fight against credit card fraud. It will also allow you to check that your last payment was applied correctly and you were charged the right amount for each purchase. It’s important to report unauthorised charges to your credit card supplier immediately. Also be aware of any annual fees your card may incur.

Always pay more than the minimum repayment

For optimum credit card health, it is not enough to make only the minimum payment each month. To lessen the amount of interest you will pay on your cards, and the amount of time taken to repay them, you will need to pay off your balance as quickly as possible. Look for ways to pay extra on credit card debt each month. This can be done by taking a bagged lunch to work instead of buying, or forgo an evening out each month, opting to rather pay what you would have spent on entertainment into your credit card. Good habits like these have an accumulative effect and you will see your credit card debt continue to improve over time.

Speak up before you skip a payment

Speak to your credit card supplier to let them know if you will not be able to make a payment. Explain why and request that they waive any late fee penalties. If you rarely miss a repayment and have a good payment history, your provider might  understand your predicament.

Bear in mind that the banks make money when you are unable to make your payment on time, so it benefits them to keep rolling your debt over, month after month. This is unlike short term loan provider which only makes money when you repay your loan in full.

If you find you are unable to manage the health of your credit cards, approach a debt-relief company or credit counsellor who will be able to negotiate payment arrangements on your behalf and help you settle your debt over time.

Know your facts before cutting up the card

You’ve worked hard to pay off your credit card debt, but be aware of how closing a credit card can negatively impact your credit score, particularly cards that make up a significant amount of your credit history. You may be better off keeping the cards open. You could keep them tucked away in a safe place and use them every few months to make sure that your creditors continue to update your credit rating. This will keep your credit score in the best of good health.

How Do You Fight Emotional Spending?

My kiddo has been quite  clingy the last few days, I managed to snap a picture of her needing to hold my hand :)

I’d rather just do this.

There was a time in my life where I would spend money on crap I thought I needed but really I was looking to fill some ill feeling. I was never one to shop when I was super happy, only when I was bummed out about something. Usually an emotional thing that I didn’t want to deal with. Retail therapy allowed me to procrastinate with facing the issue and often, temporarily, eased the discomfort. I was always in my right mind to know even at the time exactly what I was doing but did it anyway, often leaving me feeling worse for wasting money.

I honestly don’t know what or when things changed for me but this isn’t something I do anymore. It’s not even anything I want to do. Sure there are things I want but I no longer shop emotionally. I’m going to assume the tiny human I care for has a huge part in this but I can’t say for sure I changed as soon as I became pregnant but I’m sure my lack of free time has a lot to do with it!

I don’t really get trigger happy to buy crap I don’t need, instead I’d rather watch my debt go down. Seeing that number decrease is enough for me to say ”I don’t really want that” and don’t give it a second thought but not everyone is like that. I feel like I’m a minority in my life. Most of my peers would much rather have that new toy than not. I don’t think it’s a keeping up with the Joneses thing, I really think they just want to buy stuff for them rather than to say ”look what I have and you don’t”.

Fighting the Urge

It can be tough to resist your desires to waste money. If you’re looking to spend money on something you need to figure out if this is an emotional purchase. If you’re not in the most sound state of mind, walk away from the purchase. If you still think you really want, or need said item after the emotions have chilled out a bit, return to it but while you’re in any sort of emotional distress, don’t buy anything or you may come to regret it.

Keeping a list of needs with you may help distinguish between a true want and need. Since we’re more apt to spend money when we’re not thinking clearly, having a go-to list may help. This may sound crazy to some but something both my husband and I do. While this list includes wants as well as needs it acts as a good reference, I really need a new pair of scrub pants for work since putting a hole through them, I don’t need a three tier cookie rack for baking. Sometimes I just need to look at the list to remind myself.

Another trick is to just leave your wallet at home if you don’t think you can be trusted. I know a certain sister of mine who would do a lot better if she just didn’t have the immediate access to cash all the time. After a crappy day at work I can guarantee you can find her at some local store looking for something to buy. Even though it may not be a lot of money these purchases add up over time, as do the house full of trinkets you don’t need.

Money is a very powerful in the sense that it can make us feel really good, or really bad. Distinguishing that wasting money on stuff won’t make us feel better for any length of time is a difficult skill to learn. The sooner we do, the better our bank accounts will look. How, when, where and why did you overcome the need for retail therapy?




You Want More Debt? – Try Binary Options

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to get yourself buried in even more debt is to trade binary options. Binary options have been around for several years now but it appears that they only managed just recently to capture the mainstream’s attention.

A lot of people get lured into binary options by the promises of fast and easy money. But what’s the truth behind this business? – I decided to write this article to clear this issue for once and for all.

How do they work?

In binary options it’s claimed that you will have to invest in the future value of stocks, currency pairs and other assets that are commonly traded. However, the twist is that you do not actually have to purchase these assets. You will merely have to bet (yes, you read right) on the future value of these assets.

Like, if you think that the US dollar will plummet during the next few minutes then you can bet on the outcome of this event. Binary options are called like this because each option can have only two outcomes, which are that the value of your asset goes up, or goes down.

Seemingly all you have to do is to predict if an asset’s value will go up or down. This is the reason why so many people seem to be attracted to this form of trading. Literally any person can do this.

But if you stop for a second you will realize that binary options are nothing more than roulette. Up and down becomes red or black and your investment basically becomes a bet. In fact, binary options even seem to be worse than blackjack because they have worse odds.

In roulette, you don’t actually have 50% chance to win in case of red or black because you have the “0” pocket. Your actual winning chances are like at around 47% only. In binary options, brokers generally pay out around 80% of your bet in profits if you win.

This means that your winning odds are not 50% in case of “up” or “down” but more like 35% to 40%. So you basically will have to win around 65% of the time to even make it to breakeven in binary options. This is why I said binary options are actually worse than roulette.

Yes… some will say that this comparison is not realistic, because roulette is a game based on 100% luck and change and that binary options are a form of trading where knowledge and skill is the determining factor and not luck.

The above is true in theory but not so much in practice. Predicting the future development of financial assets is definitely possible over the time span on several weeks and months however nowhere possible in the time span of just a few seconds.

Yes, you read it right in the above paragraph. In order to win at binary options you will have to predict the movement of assets in the matter of SECONDS. I mean, how much more ridiculous can this be? No one is capable of achieving anything like that, not even professional traders.

So, this is why people that binary options are pretty much the best way to lose your money online and get yourself into a huge debt (if it happens you get addicted to it – which is possible, since I already established that binary options are like gambling).

If you really want to lose money in such a fashion, you should instead just go to Vegas and “invest” all your money in red. This statement is actually quite funny considering betting all your money on red actually offers higher winning chances than binary options “trading”.


How Much House Can We Really Afford?

We’re nowhere near looking to sell our current home. As you know our main priority is to kick our (non-mortage) debt to the curb before considering a move, but a move is still within our future. We have no intentions of moving until we can afford the house we really want (within reason) since it will likely be the house we stay in close to, if not, forever.

Out of total fun I started playing around with online mortgage calculators to see what the online ”experts” thought we could afford being hypothetically debt-free. I put in total worse-case numbers (measly 5% down for example even though I know it will be much more on next home, hoping for 20% and current income numbers) and I was blown away at what numbers it spit out at me.

To keep a little privacy within our home I won’t use exact numbers but that doesn’t matter, you’ll get the point. What three different calculators suggested I could afford as a mortgage payment (excluding property taxes which are upwards of $4,800/year in some areas we’re considering) was almost triple our current mortgage amount and five times what our gross annual income was.

Amortized at 25 years (the maximum amortization in Canada) our minimum mortgage payment at this maximum borrowing price would be almost 2.5x our current payment. Holy baby-and-bearded Jesus.

Needless to say we’re not about to work our arses off to pay off debt and go right into being house poor so we’re obviously not going to take on that sort of debt. When our debt is paid off and we do buy a new home there is a 99% chance the mortgage will be larger. The fact is that prices have gone up since we bought four years ago and we’re in a smaller home in an older area of town. That being said though, we’re not looking to increase substantially in size and like the area we’re in.

When it comes to what we are comfortable with I’d like to keep our mortgage and property tax payment to no more than an increase of $400 per month (than we’re currently paying). That may seem like a lot to some but we have to consider we currently live in a cheaper property tax area and most surrounding areas are not so lucky. Of the $400 increase in monthly payments I suspect $150 of that to account for property tax increase. The $400 additional is also accounting for a lower amortization term than we currently have.

I’d like to be totally debt free by the time I’m 50 (total arbitrary number) and given our ages and income prospective I think it will be possible. I also have to consider the possibility of moving into our new home and paying it off very quickly (ten years max) and only then start investing for retirement. It’s a possibility that’s for sure. We have a lot to think about but for now I’ll play pretend on MLS :)

 Do you live in the top of your affordability bracket?

Our DIY Bar and Kegerator

wpid-wp-1411303938689.jpegI’ll never forget the day we moved into our home. We arrived before the real estate agent on closing day to do the final walk through. As we were anxiously awaiting his arrival I was peeking my nose in the widow and noticed something protruding from the wall that I hadn’t seen before. I turned to my husband and pointed to the wall that, during the open house had a large desk against it, and inquired about what was sticking out from the wall in our basement.

While I was formulating a mental plan about how we were going to deal with the removal of these pipes sticking out from the wall my husband had a very different thought process going on. Before I could say anything he turned to me and said nothing but ”wet bar”. Though we weren’t yet in the house to inspect the pipes my husband was fairly confident they were water hookup pipes and we could easily hook them up to a wet bar he now had every intention of building.

Though I was annoyed, he was elated. Like a kid in Christmas morning finding extra candy at the bottom of the stocking. It didn’t take long for our required to-do list (like painting the walls) to take a bit of a back burner to make room for the creative juices to flow about this new project. And so the birth of our bar started.

I didn’t really care what he wanted to do, as long as we didn’t need to spend too much money on it. I also didn’t want something so permanent that future owners wouldn’t be able to easily remove it. With the help of his grandfather my husband created a pretty decent little DIY bar using leftover cabinetry and countertops from our kitchen renovation. Total cost, almost nothing. He did have to buy a few sheets of meranti wood, some extra moulding and few things he didn’t already have for the plumbing but that didn’t set us back any more than $50. After the bar was complete he found a seconds cabinet at a local hardware store for cheap, it was a few years ago now but I want to say he spent another $50 on the cabinet he uses to store all his collective glassware.

So for approximately $100 we were able to build a functioning wet bar complete with running water and storage. Two years after completion we added a mini fridge that we got on after-Christmas clearance for less than $100. Given how often we entertain (we make up excuses to host friends and family) it was a welcome addition but my husband still lusted for a functioning bar tap and kegerator. He had a vision and wasn’t going to stop until the liquid gold poured from his own bar tap.

We’re lucky that my husband’s cousin is an accomplished craft beer maker who is also involved in making home kegerators. He was able to give him a breakdown of everything he’d need to make a fully functional kegerator part-by-part. With the info in hand hubby started to save his pennies. He stashed his extra money and freelance income into his Tangerine account (use my Orange Key if interested in opening an account 40755676S1) until he had enough. Last weekend we tasted the beer from our keg for the first time and I think my husband’s purpose in life is now complete.

The DIY Kegerator cost more than the bar, totaling $500. This includes every single part needed from the fridge to the tap itself and every piece in between. Was it worth it? Well, it was my husband’s money to do what he wanted with but I will say yes anyway.

The Keg holds approximately 50 glasses of beer which cost about $20 to fill. I don’t know anywhere else you can get a glass of beer for $0.40. If we wanted to buy a 2-4 of beer we’re looking at $43 (don’t even get me started on how much alcohol costs here). Four times the amount of our new keg beer. It’s really good craft beer thanks to our hook-up! Hubby isn’t interested in making his own just yet so we’ll continue to fill the kegs when we want it.

Though this is very much a want and not a need we’re going to enjoy having it, especially when we get the other keg set up with my favorite raspberry wheat ale…I forsee more gym visits in my future to burn the beer off :)

Would You Submit a Video Resume?

The other day an interesting article came across my email about the considerations of doing a video resume. I didn’t read past the title before I thought ”why have I never considered this before?”. In 2014 we’re emailing resumes and cover letters in hopes of gaining an interview so why not modernize the whole process a little?

When I was in high school a guy came in and talked about tips for resume and cover letter writing, tips I still apply today. One of the tips he offered to make your resume stand out, if you were so inclined, was to attach a photo of yourself. Since we as humans are very visual learners the interviewer is more likely to remember your resume if they can associate something (ie the picture) with it, gaining you a higher chance of getting the interview.

Your resume gets you an interview.

You get yourself the job.

Once you gain the interview you need to slay it and convince them why you need to get the job.

Video resumes make so much sense in some industries, others not so much. Personally, I am in a field where I could see it being beneficial. It could be edited in such a way where I could include clips of me interacting with patients (fake or real) for the interviewer to see how it is I do my job. I’m in an industry that relies on good patient interaction and rapport building skills. These are skills that though I can put them on paper don’t mean anything until they see it in practice.

Working interviews are popular in my line of work. Where, usually after a formal interview, you are asked to come back for a few hours to a full day (for pay) and work as you would if it was already your job so they can watch you and see how it is you work. Applying the words from your resume into practice so to speak. Though this draws the interview process out a little longer than usual there is, in my opinion, more of an insurance policy with this type of interview as the risk of hiring without seeing how they work is eliminated.

A video resume could, essentially, replace this entire step. Again, using my line of work as the example, if they went right from video interview to formal interview it could save time and money (by not having to pay someone to come in and work for working interview). Interviews are sometimes done via Skype, why not land that interview with a stellar video resume?

What do you think? Would you do a video resume? As someone who may be in a position to do the hiring, would you like video resumes?

The Cost of Dental Care Shouldn’t Keep You Away

wpid-img_20130830_100750.jpgOn Friday past, the Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s national leading newspapers, published a piece about the cost of dental care in Canada and how it is keeping patients away (read it here). There’s no way I was going to read this without addressing it.

First off, we’re spoiled in Nova Scotia with dental care essentially being taken care of (there are restrictions) until the age of 14 (with the intent of increasing coverage until age 16), also being covered if you’re on social assistance. Maybe we as a province are nuts spending our tax payers dollars this way, but in my opinion, if every province followed suit the overall cost of dentistry would dramatically decrease (Ontario, I’m looking at you and the insane rate of childhood caries and cost to fix them).

Prevention is the easiest and cheapest way to keep dental costs down. It starts at home. Brush effectively; floss, more than once every six months- your toothbrush is incapable of getting in between the contact of teeth; drink water and limit acidic drinks (coffee, wine, juice, energy drinks), have a good dental exam and cleaning at a minimum of every 12 months. Some people need more but if it comes down to money, once a year really is better than nothing. If good dental care is initiated early (don’t even try and give me any of the ”my kid hates brushing their teeth” crap), it will sustain their oral health throughout life.

Fact: there are very few congenital enamel deficiencies (ie. you did not ‘inherit’ soft teeth from your dad) which may lead to dental troubles and thus increased costs.

As for the cost involved, having your teeth ”cleaned” (a word I loath) at least once per year, will likely run you anywhere from $125-$225 depending on a few different factors. Paying the $125-$225 per year not only ensures you have a good chance and maintaining a good foundation of oral health, it will allow you to stay on top of any other issues that may arise. Dealing with something when it is small, especially in dentistry, is almost always a cheaper option. If you end up needed a filling or two every few years, dealing with them when they’re first diagnosed (within a 12 month period) it won’t cost you much more than $250 likely.

Fact: assume one cleaning per year and one filling every three years will cost approximately $300 per year or $25 per month, is that a little more doable Canada?

Want to avoid restorative dentistry entirely? I sure want you to. If you do your job, and I do my job, and you listen to me as your dental hygienist, we, as a team, can make it possible (outside of accidents) to never see a dentist. It is possible to never have a filling or other major work done but you still need to have your teeth checked and cleaned at least once per year.

We as an industry are not trying to gouge you. In Nova Scotia for example, a fee guide is issued by our provincial dental board. The prices are not just made up by your dentist. Our equipment and materials are very expensive. There are no Chinese-made instruments. Almost everything you see is made in Canada, USA or Europe, countries where we’re paying people at least a minimum wage to fabricate. Also, we as a team (dentist, their assistant and your hygienist) are all very well educated. I don’t think you’d question paying for a well educated and knowledgeable person vs. not.

If you do need expensive work done look at other options. There are almost always options. Are there dental schools you can go to? Will your dentist do payment plans (a big reason it pays to build and maintain a good relationship with one provider)? Can you hold off of the work with a temporary solution until you come up with the money?

As a person who works in the dental industry I get really frustrated by ignorance and people who are quick to judge without getting the facts straight. So, if you’re one of the six million Canadians who are avoiding dental care, as reported to a ”blue ribbon panel” because of the cost, please don’t let it discourage you. There are solutions, this easiest being to prevent the issue from arising in the first place, a simple solution all too often ignored. A ”cleaning” is so much more than just removing stains and making your teeth feel smooth.

While I’m at it, quit the disgusting energy drinks which are quite literally acid washing your teeth, not to mention killing you and give up the cigarettes (just gross beyond medical and dental issues). Added bonus, you’ll have more money and one less excuse as to why you can’t afford dentistry.

/end rant.

It’s Been a Long Week

I don’t normally do this but I haven’t had time this week to finish any of the blog posts I’ve started! I haven’t been feeling 100% and just didn’t have the energy. I’ll be honest some of my blogging time has been consumed with me reading, a book, which I don’t make enough time for (kids will do that to you!). I’ll be back next week with finished posts, and hope to get some comments up on all your blogs (I’ve been reading just no interactions, sorry) until then have a great weekend! I’ll be stuffing my face with these insane things which are a total and complete waste of money but so weirdy good.wpid-img_20140910_182623.jpg

Can You Get a Graduate Degree Without Debt? It Is Possible

collegeStudent loan debt is a major topic these days. By some estimates, nearly 40 million Americans are carrying student loan debt, with the average balance around $23,000. A significant portion of that debt — about 40 percent — is from loans used to finance graduate and professional degrees, and almost 25 percent of borrowers owe $100,000 or more.
With numbers like those, many prospective graduate students hesitate to seek advanced degrees. Even though earning a master’s degree leads to increased opportunities and earning potential, the prospect of going into debt isn’t a pleasant one. However, it’s possible to earn a graduate degree without taking out massive student loans.

Save Money in Advance
A few fields, like law and medicine, require a graduate degree right off the bat. In most cases, though, it’s better to work for several years before going back to school. Not only does time “in the trenches” give you an idea of what you want to study and help you hone your goals, it always gives you time to squirrel away some funds to put towards graduate school.
Even saving a few hundred dollars per month for two or three years can leave you with a healthy fund to cover the cost of your education. Even if you don’t save the entire cost of your program, if you are lucky enough to work for a company that offers tuition assistance or you earn grants and scholarships, your savings will cover the difference.
Choose Your School Carefully
When it comes to financial aid, not all schools are created equally. Some schools simply do not have the funds available to offer graduate students. As you research schools, look at each program’s track record in terms of scholarships and grants in recent years. How has the school’s endowment performed over the last decade? Schools with healthier, well-managed funds that have weathered the economic struggles of the last few years are more likely to have money to offer promising students than those schools that haven’t fared as well.
Apply for Assistance Early
With so many people returning to school, it’s common for all merit-based aid to be awarded by mid-to-late spring. If you miss financial aid deadlines, you may not qualify for scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, or other programs that can significantly defray the cost of your degree.
At that point, loans or paying out of pocket may be your only options, so pay attention to deadlines, and apply for every source of funding for which you qualify.
Save Money on Prerequisites
While many graduate programs will accept applicants who do not have a background in their chosen field, some will require students to complete prerequisite courses before beginning coursework. In most cases, you can complete these classes through your graduate school, but you might pay a premium for them. If you do have to complete prerequisites, take those courses at your local community college or through a professional education program instead; just confirm that the credits will transfer before enrolling. In some cases, you can save several hundred dollars this way.
Learn By Teaching
Some graduate programs offer graduate teaching assistantships to promising students. In exchange for working up to 20 hours per week as a research or teaching assistant, you may receive a tuition waiver, a stipend, or both. Most of these programs have strict requirements — for example, some prohibit students from holding other employment — but you could conceivably earn a “free” graduate degree this way. You can also apply for fellowships, also known as grants, which will pay for all or some of our education. Some fellowships are conditional; for example, the highly competitive Truman Scholarship requires recipients to commit to a career in public service.
Cut Other Costs
Tuition is just one part of the equation when it comes to paying for graduate school. Not only do you have living expenses as well, but you’ll need to pay for books and fees. Reduce some of those costs via smart planning. For example, if you can, try renting your textbooks instead of purchasing them. Some graduate level textbooks, especially in business and the sciences, can run upwards of $300 each, where a semester-long rental is usually less than $100. Pay attention to fees as well. Some schools will waive fees for health services or student activities for online students, so read your bill carefully to confirm you’re not being charged hundreds of dollars in unnecessary fees.
In a perfect world, you could apply to grad school, get a full scholarship, and ride off into the sunset with a master’s degree and a bright future. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world, but you can get a degree without a mountain of debt if you do your homework and plan.