How We Ended Up Over $300,000 In Debt

Source

Source: Noahpinion

I should start from the beginning. When we were both in first year university we, like many students, were offered a credit card. A really pretty one with a picture of our campus on it. It was great, personalized just for us, sign us up! And so it began…

Her Story:

I wanted to go to university, actually it wasn’t an option, I was going to university, I just didn’t have any money to pay for it. Or maybe I should say there was money at one point that was left in an estate that didn’t get executed properly, leaving us to scramble to pay for said education very last minute. When the time came for post secondary every single penny went on some form of credit, be it line of credit, student loan or credit cards. I had a part time job but not enough to pay for anything more than my books. By the end of my undergraduate degree I managed to rack up $32,000 in student debt and probably $2,000 in consumer/credit card debt. By the age of 21, I had $34,000 debt.

What’s even worse is that, although no education is wasted, my degree wasn’t going to get me much beyond a minimum wage job, the only option I had n my mind was to further my education. Back to school I went and although I have  a great career now, and zero regret, by the end of my second degree I managed to add another $20,000 in student loans, another $10,000 in lines of credit and about $13,000 on…credit cards…Yup. I put over $10,000 on credit cards to pay off tuition and books that my loans and LOC’s wouldn’t cover. My program was over $13,000 per year, not including books and other incidentals and maintaining a part time job while in this program was not optional. I couldn’t do both and focusing on my (overpriced) education was priority. By the end of my second degree, before my life had started, I now had $77,000 in debt.

His Story:

His story is a lot less scary. Hubby went to university, then college, racking up a total of about $12,500 total in line of credit and student loan debt. He had a credit card maxed at $2,000, not a huge deal. Then he went and married me and my $77,000 deficit bank account, he must really love me!

Our Story:

To top off my $13,000 in ‘school credit card’ debt, his $2,000 credit card, together we also owe another approximate $5,000 in various credit that we can’t really account for, overspending if you will. We have a vehicle loan together, outstanding at approximately $29,000 and a mortgage currently outstanding at about $233,000. We both have good careers and are now working on getting this debt paid off.

Join us on this long journey to freedom and no longer worrying about money!

Budgeting In Items For Work Usage

Hubby’s cell phone bill is an average of $115.00/month that we have to pay. Insane right? If we didn’t pay for the minutes that we do, the bill will get to well over $200.00 (and has many times). Hubby’s phone starts  ringing and beeping like crazy from the time he wakes up until the time he goes to bed at night because of his job. He talks to many people all day in different locations around the province for varying companies. Given that his phone is a necessity for his job, don’t ya think he should be comped for it? 

If he didn’t have the phone/email requirements that he does, his phone bill would be a much more respectable amount (under $50.00/month). This sort  of makes me crazy. There has been ‘talk’ in the past about him getting some compensation for work usage (90% of his cell phone time) but it never comes to fruition. Friends of ours, who are on their phones a whole lot less than hubby is, are comped which adds to my frustrations.

He does gain gas mileage for work out of city which ends up working out to more than we pay for gas (we make money when he goes away from mileage vs reimbursement for gas dollars spent).

For me to work, I (legally) have to pay an annual licensing fee to maintain registration with my provincial regulating body (which gives me my malpractice insurance and registration with the national regulating body). This sets me back $625.00/year. Although it’s income tax deductible I still hate that I have to pay it, in my mind, it should be an expense my employer pays on my behalf, I’m sure he probably benefits from the tax break more than I but it’s not something he does, this goes for most of my classmates too.

Who has their job compensate part(s) of their monthly budget items? Am I alone in thinking we shouldn’t be paying for these things?

Curb Watching and Ways to Get Free Stuff

This is a guest post from the infamous (and very mysterious) Mr. CBB. He is one of the nicest and most helpful bloggers out there. I can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done for me and this little ‘ol blog of mine. 

One way to get free stuff is what I like to call “curb watching” and I’ve scored some great items that have saved us money in our budget. Have you ever been in your car driving and randomly see items placed at the edge of the road with a “Free” sign? Well, homeowners are telling you it’s ok to take this item home if you want it.  Some Canadian cities may have a by-law so you should always proceed with caution if it doesn’t say free. When you do see the lucky words “free” and you need it, get it while you can, free is free and these items can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars. They don’t normally last long as people snatch up these items in an instant.

I don’t go out looking in my vehicle as that would be wasting gas to me although there is a bloke who travels our area in his truck once a week to gather what he can. I suppose if you are picking up electronics and antiques or items you can potentially sell it’s a big business and worth the time and gas money for some. It’s no different than storage wars it’s just you don’t have to pay for it. This is also a great way to save items from going to the dump whilst helping the environment.




You may also find after a homeowner has a garage sale that they may put what doesn’t sell “free” on the curb or on recycle day is another great time. Some home designers or even home stagers find free or cheap furniture at vintage shops, reuse/recycle shops and you guessed free online or the curbside. They may use what they can find to repurpose for a design project they are working on. What better way can you think of especially if they can get it for nothing out of pocket. We also tend to see computer monitors, base machines (computers), printers etc on the side of the road. Sometimes refurbishing items like computers if you are tech savvy and donating them to people in need for education purposes will help them in many ways they would have never dreamed possible. Books, clothes, paper, pencils, pens etc can be donated to churches, family groups, overseas, babysitting clubs etc rather than tossed in the garbage.

We also have friends who participate in their city-wide household recycle day program. We like to get rid of items we no longer use or haven’t used over the course of 6 months to a year. De-cluttering is not a bad idea especially if it is crowding your space. Sometimes less is more and less to clean up and keep organized. The program will give you specific times to put it on the curb with a free sign and then you sit back, relax and someone who fancies your stuff will pick it up at no cost to them or you. If you are in the mood to score some great “new to me” type deals head out to see what you can score for free.

Tips for Scoring “Free Stuff”

  1. Always keep your eyes open when you are driving, be aware of your surroundings looking for free signs.
  2. Go for walks on recycle day in your neighborhood or after Garage Sales.
  3. Check online Kijiji, Craigslist, Facebook or Freecycle for free stuff.
  4. After someone moves house they may put lots for free on the curb so watch who’s moving in and out of your area.
  5. Don’t be shy to poke your head in a garbage bin in the park, camp ground, beach or scour the ground, ditches or recycle bins for beer cans or bottles all worth $$$$ If you live in a Student City watch when the students move in and out as they normally don’t like to take what they brought home or buy while in school.
  6. Your friends and family might have something they no longer need and want to donate it or get rid of it. Don’t be shy to ask or say that you might be interested in it.

What have we found? This is only a few of the items….

    • Sears Craftsman Lawnmower that ranges in cost around $350 and all it needed was a cleaning and a new filter under $10 (waving to neighbor as I mow the lawn now with his supposed “junk mower” chuckling… ha!
    • Lawn Roller which would have run me around $100 to buy in perfect condition
    • Patio Stones to hold our rain barrel in the back yard
    • $16 @ Ikea  outside Garbage Can for Dog Poop in perfect condition
    • Lots of clothes on freecycle that I can use to get dirty in (get your minds out of the gutter, I meant gardening and working around the house)
    • Free Vacuum on Freecycle all it needed was a $12 filter works perfect
    • Canarm Fan remote and controller $35.99 @ Costco

If you see something on the curb and you are in doubt don’t be afraid to get out and ask the homeowner. Most likely if it is on the curb than it is for free but just to be safe if there is no sign, I’d ask. The last thing you need is Aunt Thelma running out the house with her broom stick chasing you down the street for trying to make off with her weed eater.

What have you gotten free from the curbside, online or from friends or family?

Note from Catherine: Here in HRM (the municipality I live in), twice a year on non-garbage collecting days, we have a ‘Curbside Giveaway’ where residents put stuff at their curbside and people drive around picking up what they want! My sister-in-laws best friend furnished her entire first apartment this way! We also have a few regulars who drive around the neighborhood looking for people throwing out any metal containing items to recycle as scrap metal. It’s a lot of work for little return but kudos to them! Thanks again Mr.CBB for being my very first guest post, it was a great one!

Author BioCanadian Budget Binder is a blog about a Young Canadian Couple’s Journey to Debt Freedom written by Mr.CBB who moved to Canada from the UK. You can Follow Mr.CBB on Twitter and Facebook.

How We Eat On $300.00 a Month: My Meal Planning Guide

I’m surprised by how many comments and e-mails I’ve received about how, and what, I eat for $300.00 a month. I’ve always loved cooking and finding recipes that can make inexpensive foods taste great so I will start posting some budget friendly recipes for anyone who is interested.  For now I will give an example of our meal plan/grocery trip.

I don’t worry about breakfast or lunch too much. We eat basic cereal or toast/bacon for breakfast and usually a sandwich/yogurt/fruit for lunch, I only worry about dinners.

Organization

I use a list very similar to this meal planner made by Life in Yellow (which you can download for free! so head on over to her site!)

I make my plans up on Sunday and shop Tuesday bringing my trusty planner along with me.

If I have meat in the freezer I will usually try and cook around that first. I had some pork loin chops left this week so one meal will include pork. Once I look through the freezer, I go to the weekly sales and see what meat is on sale. This week boneless/skinless chicken was on sale, as was oven roast so this will act as our starting point for meals. I always have ‘side staples’ on hand and buy as we run out  (long grain rice, potatoes, salad ingredients and frozen corn or broccoli). I only buy what I need for the week so if I’m out of rice but don’t include rice as a side for any of my dinners I won’t waste the $4.00 buying it this week if I’m not eating it until next. I don’t like to have money tied up in food.

In terms of chicken specifically, hubby and I share a chicken breast when cooking. I don’t know about where you live, but the size of the chicken breasts(and almost all meat for that matter) at our grocer are more than twice the recommended portion size for meat so 90% of the time I cut it it half. The exception being if we BBQ the breast then we tend to have our ‘own’ although we never finish them and the meat usually ends up in a salad for a lunch next day.

I plan meals and after looking through the cupboards and my recipe book, I only write down what we need (down to every tiny spice), if it’s not on my list I have it at home.

Meal 1: Sweet and Sour Pork Chops (with rice)

Need: 1 can of pineapple tidbits, cornstarch, 1 can of chicken stock 

Meal 2: Spicy Grilled Chicken Sandwiches (with fries)

Need: 1 Chicken breast, 2 buns, fries 

Meal 3: Grilled chicken salad (with garlic bread)

Need: 1 Chicken breast, salad kit, loaf of french bread

Meal 4: Dinner out with family-separate budget from grocery funds.

Meal 5: Greek Chicken Wraps (with my roasted potato)

Need: 1 Chicken breast, tortilla wraps, garlic/sea salt spice grinder

Meal 6: Chicken Divan (with rice)

Need: 2 Chicken breasts, broccoli 

Meal 7: Slow Cooker Roast  (with corn and mashed potato)

Need: Roast, 1 can cream of mushroom soup, bag of frozen corn.

Next I make my list adding the other necessities I need like milk. I also try and estimate the prices so I have a general idea before I go what I expect to spend at each store (I shop multiple stores chasing sales), so my grocery list will look like this:

Store #1:

-1 package B/S chicken (~$10.00)

-Milk ($3.50)

-Cereal ($2.50)

-Bread ($2.50)

-Salad Kit ($2.00)

-Tortilla Wraps ($2.00)

-Buns ($2.00)

-1 box of Kraft Dinner (Canadian staple, I love it!) (.65)

Total: appox $23.00

Store #2:

-3lb Oven Roast ($6.00)

-2 cans of soup ($2.50)

-pineapple ($1.50)

-Box of cornstarch ($3.00)

-French Bread ($1.50)

– Bag of frozen broccoli and corn ($2.00/each)

-Spice grinder($4.00)

-Fries ($3.00)

-Nutella (my weakness so only buy on sale) ($3.00)

-Chips ($2.50)

Total: approx $31.00

Store #3:

-Diet pop ($5.00+bottle depo $1.20)

-5lb bag of apple ($4.00)

-Bananas ($2.00)

-2x Granola bars ($2.00/box)

-Yogurt {This week a local grocer had a huge overstock of yogurt and was selling it for 0.25cents/4pack, Score!}

-Eggos ($2.00)

-Eggs ($2.00)

-Bacon ($4.00)

-Ketchup ($3.00)

Total: approx $22.00

Weekly Total: $83.00

Not included in my grocery money is cat food and cleaning supplies/toilet paper. We budget for the cat food separately and I started setting aside a few dollars each week for toilet paper and cleaning supplies since they’re so sporadic.

So there ya have it, an example of my weekly spending on food. Some weeks are more expensive when I run out of all ”basic” cooking stuff (always at the same time) but that’s usually only once every few weeks for stock ups. I try and keep my weekly spending between $65.00-$85.00.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with Canadian Budget Binder but if you’re not, check out his weekly grocery store challenge to see how other bloggers stick to their budgets!

How Losing $1500 in Monthly Income Changed Us For The Better

I’m currently on maternity leave. In Canada, through the Employment Insurance program (EI), you’re entitled to maternity and parental leave for a combined 52 weeks at the rate of 55% of your gross income to a maximum of $457.00/week. Some employers then give you top-up bringing you to 75-100% of your income, so for some, being on mat leave has little to no financial change. Not so much for us.

I work as a Dental Hygienist for a family practice. The dentist doesn’t provide top-up, one of the downsides of private industry. There are only a few employees and he needs to pay someone to fill my position while I’m off.

On EI I’m receiving $838.00 every two weeks. Pre-baby my net bi-weekly income was around $1600 every 2 weeks (I’m paid hourly so it varies a little depending on my patients). That’s about $1500 a month in lost income. My question is, how the eff did we ever have money problems?

I’m so mad at myself when I think about how much money we were wasting rather than getting serious about our debt. It took us having a baby to really get serious about our budget and paying debt off. We always paid the minimum requirements but when I think about, what I now know we’re capable of, it sickens me.

Where The Money Was Going

  • Groceries. In all honesty we were probably spending $600/month in groceries throwing anything and everything in the cart when we went…for two people! Now we spend about $300/month and don’t want for much, we’re just much better at planning.
  • Bank Fees. We were spending between $30-50/month on bank fees. Since switching to PC we pay nothing. It’s great.
  • Eating out. This was huge. Between hubby and I, we were probably spending $300/month in lunch and dinners out. Mostly lunches when we, again, didn’t plan and would end up eating out at work. I’ve always cooked most all our dinners, we’d usually just have one dinner out-usually pizza or something when I didn’t feel like cooking Friday night after an exhausting week of work and long commutes. Now we budget for one meal out per week and we’ve been pretty good about sticking with it.
  • Hobbies/Life/House. We have never been big shoppers/spenders on ourselves for clothes  and alike but I’d go to Michaels/Home Depot and drop some cash for my newest craft or DIY project. Hubby and I both love tinkering with house stuff and playing with tools. Not that I would consider this money wasted per se, we just cut it out entirely when I went off work.

How We’re Managing

  • Given our huge debt load, losing the $1500/month was really hurting us. Our minimum monthly debt payments alone were about $1500. A huge help was hubby getting a very generous and much needed raise, it was great timing.
  • Consolidating some of our student debt and getting serious about budgeting and honestly, growing up when it comes to our spending habits. We now think about every dollar we spend. We were never really crazy racking up credit cards or spending beyond our means we just didn’t allocate the funds properly or responsibly.
  • Paying interest-only for my student loans. Of my debt, most of it is in the form of student lines of credit which offer no relief should you lose your job/mat leave etc. For government issued student loans, in Canada at least, you can apply for interest relief where the government makes payments on your behalf for a period of time, I didn’t qualify for this because I made too much money last year and they don’t take current financial situation (me being on mat leave) into consideration. I am however making interest only payments for the current time saving me about $180/month.

When I Go Back To Work

I will be working four instead of five days a week so I can be home with baby an extra day. I’d love to say me being home would save us money with the cost of childcare but it won’t. Daycare shouldn’t cost us more than $30-35 per day and after taxes I bring home just over $175.00 per day. Not to mention we simply couldn’t live off hubby’s income alone. I love my job and am excited to get back to seeing my patients but I also hate the idea of her being in daycare, without me. We’re hoping hubby can work from home one day/week so she really only needs daycare three days/week. Finding part-time care is a challenge though…

On top of the childcare expense we need to start buying bus passes for me which set us back about $80.00/month we only have the one vehicle and can’t justify the money for a second one when it would only be for me to drive to and from work which would cost probably $200/month in gas and another $200/month to park the stupid thing for the 8 hours I’m at work, no thanks. Public transportation is fine for me.

I do struggle slightly with giving up my one day/week. I desperately want to be home with baby girl. My mom worked so much when we were kids I hardly saw her and I knew when I had a family I would be home more and involved in her life more. A huge reason behind my career choice is that dentistry is usually a M-F, 9-5 type of job, important when it comes to family life. When I think about the extra debt I could pay off with me working that day though it kills me a little. In the end though I think she’ll only be young once and our parental influence is probably most important now. Once she’s in school full time and not care so much about her parents maybe I’ll go back 5 days…we’ll see!

When I started my mat leave and realized just how tough things were going to be we were panicked but in the end it was probably one of the best things that ever happened to us. It was the kick in the ass we really needed!

Do You Really Need Dental Insurance?

As a dental hygienist I have quite a good understanding of dental insurance based on the dental fees and codes I use every day at work. I realize I’m in Canada and insurance in Canada vs. the US is different (medical anyway) but my main points can probably be generalized no matter where you live.

If you’ve ever looked at the breakdown of your healthcare insurance premiums, the dental insurance portion is usually substantially more than your medical portion (again, in Canada). I know for instance my sister-in-law has the option of paying something menial like $30.00 bi-weekly for medical, only or $100.00 bi-weekly for medical+dental. This is a pretty huge difference. I realize all plans are different but in general, dental is more than medical, maybe not by this much but by some percentage.

Having insurance is a very comforting thing for people. Dental insurance in particular because there is a notion that dentistry is outrageously expensive. I won’t argue dentistry is expensive, for some people though they end paying more for insurance than they will EVER use in a lifetime of dentistry.

Who Needs Dental Insurance?

Before explaining why one may not need dental insurance, I will explain who probably will need it. Dentistry has changed substantially over the last 40-50 years. The focus has shifted 180 degreees from ”restorative” to ”preventative”. It use to be that you only went to the dentist if you had a problem, they dealt with that one problem and you were on your merry way. This is still the way for a major portion of the world, but in (most of) North America, Europe and parts of Middle East, the focus is on prevention, especially starting at an early age. With all this in mind, if you’re over the age of 40 or so, it stands to reason that you grew up in the ‘older model’ of dentistry regardless of where in the world you are from.

From this I will make some assumptions. You probably:

  1. Don’t have the best memories of childhood dentistry
  2. Have some form of restorative work done in your mouth (fillings/crowns/root canals)
  3. Have, over the past 40 years had to maintain your restorative work (repairing fillings, fixed broken or cracked teeth/fillings, replaced bridges/crowns etc).

If this is the case, you should probably keep your insurance. If this is not the case, you’re a minority.

Source: Turner Pediatric Dentistry

Who Doesn’t Need Dental Insurance?

I’m happy to say I am 100% dental-restoration free. I have no fillings of any sort. Luck?, No. The fact is, is that I grew up in a city with a fluoridated water supply, started seeing the hygienist for bi-annual cleanings at a very young age, brush and floss regularly and had dental sealants applied when I was a child. I am thankful to say this is a more common trend among children these days. Not that early childhood caries (baby bottle decay) isn’t still a rampant global problem (dental caries is the number one bacterial infection in the world) but there are more cavity-free children and adults in the world because of advances in dentistry, regular fluoride usage, overall knowledge and prevention and cavity prevention for infants and young children.

If you are like many people I see every day in my chair, you come to the dentist every 6 months for a ‘cleaning’ and may need the odd restoration done (small cavity), but in general, the need for major restorative work in younger populations is decreasing. Based on general dental fees in Canada let’s look at what you’re paying for (all very approximate prices):

Bi-Annual Cleaning:

  • Scaling (the ‘scrapping’): $70.00-$120.00 depending on time/amount of deposit present.
  • Polishing: $20.00
  • X-rays once/year: $15.00-$30.00
  • Fluoride Treatment: $12.00
  • Check-up with dentist: $50.00

Total: $217 (based on $120 for scaling) and since usually you only ‘need’ a check-up, assuming everything is fine, every 12 months, as well as x-rays, your second bi-annual appointment will only cost $152.00. An annual total of $369.00. That’s less than $31.00/month. I can’t say I know anyone who pays less than $31.00/month in dental insurance premiums. Even if you break a tooth and need a filling every 5 years of $250.00 (healthy cost assumption) or God forbid, a Crown once in your lifetime of $1,000…still much less than most dental insurance premiums.

Setting aside $50.00 a month in your budget to pay for dentistry in CASH is probably cheaper than paying for your dental insurance portions.

My job as a hygienist is to do my damnedest to prevent you from ever seeing the dentist outside of regular check-ups. If I do my job, and you work with me by keeping up with your home care, following my instructions, you shouldn’t need to see a dentist unless an emergency happens. I realize every case/patient/mouth is different but I wanted to give everyone something to mull over and offer insight that may not have been thought of before.

Did you know, in Canada you can claim dental fees paid as an income tax deduction?



Honesty: Why Most Budgets Fail

This week was a good reminder about being honest with myself when doing up our budget. While I’m all ”gung-ho” about paying our debt off, I have to be realistic about our spending habits and life needs before throwing all our money at bills and debt.

When I started budgeting I went a little cutback crazy in order to find as much money as possible for debt repayment. I was happy with some savings we made by cutting back in necessary areas but then I started lying to myself by saying we wouldn’t need to budget for things like eating out because I saw it as an unnecessary expense. With me being on maternity leave (and subsequently losing about 55% of my take home pay) I’m as frugal as ever.

Even if money wasn’t an issue, hubby and I were never big spenders on clothes/beauty stuff/toys etc but before baby we did love to eat out/order in. While we have cut back significantly, me not budgeting any money is setting us up for budgeting failure. If I’m being honest, we will probably eat out once a week, whether it be grabbing a quick lunch while running errands with baby, picking up a pizza on the way home or *gasp* actually going out for dinner, there is a 99% chance one meal/week will not be cooked by me.

This week made me realize that if I’m not honest about how our money will actually get spent; at the end of the day/week/month I will be scrambling for changes in the budget to accommodate this little white lie.

To keep me honest, here is a list of things that despite what I may think, I know will spend money on eventually:

  • Eating out once/week.
  • Haircuts every 2 months.
  • Clothes. We both need them before I go back to work in a few months, there is no realistic way to avoid this.
  • Razor Blade. It may seem like a small item but it KILLS MY SOUL to fork out almost $20.00 for blades. I’ve used crappy ones but I can’t do it anymore. Having said this, I use every blade like it’s my last one-I haven’t changed it in like 3 months haha.
  • Birthday present/Christmas presents for each other. In the past for Christmas hubby and I usually didn’t buy anything much for each other, rather buy something for the house or money towards a trip if applicable plus maybe do up a small sock. The fact remains if I don’t budget anything for us (to buy for each other) I know we will end up spending a few bucks on something for the other person; we do every year despite our intentions. Same with birthday gifts, I can tell hubby a million times not to buy me anything but I know he will (as would I for him). It doesn’t have to be extravagant or expensive but every dollar needs to get accounted for.

I know there are probably more things I need to think about in terms of how my spending habits are then and re-account for them but these are some of my budget lies. I think I just need to budget in a weekly allowance for ourselves to account for stuff like the above mentioned (minus Christmas as we will be budgeting for annual gifts/Christmas separately).

How do you deal with keeping your budget on tract and honest?

We're Switching To Cash! (Our 'A-Ha' Moment Weekend)

This weekend hubby and I decided, together, that we’re switching to a cash budget.

I’ve always taken care of our family’s finances. Not that hubby didn’t know what was going on, but he didn’t really know. For example, he knew we paid the mortgage sometime around the end of the month and knew the amount, but because he’s never really sat down with me all looked at the nitty-gritty of our budget, he couldn’t really appreciate the frustrations I was having with balancing the budget. We have more than enough money coming in every four weeks but I was struggling, mostly due to the fact that like 75% of our bills are due within 10 days of each other. I needed his insight to help me figure some of this stuff out.Two heads are always better than one.

He trusted me to manage the money and quite frankly, he didn’t have any desire to manage our budget. He works as a project manager by day, managing million dollar projects for a living, he didn’t want to have to come home and then deal with more budgeting. At first I didn’t mind but as things got tighter (me being on mat leave) I started struggling.

We previously had it set up separating all bills from variable living expenses (food, gas, our cat, entertainment, prescriptions etc) so basically if there was money in the chequing account we could spend it. He’d see the amount and know that’s what we had for the week (gas, groceries, cat all included). This only works so well.

If one party in a relationship doesn’t understand why we only have ‘x’ dollars this week because of ‘x’bills being due, it’s easy for frustration and resentment to start.

Questions start, even if done in a loving way; What did I do to only leave us with this amount of money? Why does it seem like I’m nickle-and-dimeing every purchase?

Because both parties weren’t 100% on the same page, it was difficult to make things work. I was feeling guilty about managing money a certain way, especially when I had to constantly say ‘no’ at a purchase.  I found it easier to say ‘yes’ and scramble to make the money up at the end of the month some magical way. This only works for so long.

When I realized permanently changing our mortgage billing date by a few days would help in the way that our paycheques fall, I called and changed it, even though we had to pay the adjusted interest amount to account for those days. When I tried to explain to hubby why I had to make the change he wasn’t understanding at first, all he knew was that we had enough money coming in every month and didn’t think there should be any issue. It was in this discussion that my hubby finally realized I may be in over my head managing it alone.

Yes I may be university educated 2x over; Yes I write a PF blog and read everything to do with money all.the.time; Yes I stay home on my birthday to watch a DVR full of ‘Till Debt Do Us Part’ but No, I couldn’t make our budget work the way I knew it could work…alone.

He sat down with me on Friday night after a monster work week and together, for 4 hours, we managed our budget, week-by-week for the next 3 months. I haven’t felt this relaxed about money in a LONG time.

I don’t think money is evil. I think ignorance around monetary issues and not addressing them can cause people to be evil though. I’m so glad I don’t have to think about money for the next while and when I do I know hubby will be there with me to fix any bumps in the road.

After we got the budget worked out and balanced, he made a to-do list, included on it was for me to buy/make/whatever a money envelope/jar because according to him, we were now on a strict cash budget (music to my ears)! Did I mention we also figured out and budgeted for a pretty kick-ass CASH CHRISTMAS?! I have so much relief knowing where the money is coming from and how we’re paying for stuff and when.

2012 isn’t over yet but has been a monumental year for hubby and I in terms of growth as a couple.  We’ve been together since high school, spending our lives growing up together. I’m so proud the we’re able to acknowledge that we’re not perfect and address areas we know need help. Reminds me how much I love him.

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Photo Source

Did My Education Fail Me?

I have two university degrees. I consider myself well-educated and am grateful for the education I have received. Yet how is it that in all of my years of education (primary, secondary or post secondary)  I was never once taught a single thing about money or finances?

When I was in grade one, a local Credit Union came to our school every Friday where we would hand over our pennies from our piggy bank and they would deposit it into a bank account opened by them with permission of our parents. I had no concept of why I was giving the lady money, where it was going or when I would get it back. It took a lot of explanation from my mom, not my teacher or bank teller volunteer, for me to sort of understand bank accounts and savings. Even then, my six-year-old self didn’t really grasp it, nor did I care to; I was busy with my Barbie dolls and coloring books.

This is my only recollection of anything to do with money until high school where I was ‘taught’ how to file a basic income tax return. That is the total extent of money education.

I didn’t learn good budget skills until after I graduated with my second degree and had a boatload of debt and even then it still took a lot of mistake-making before I got serious about it.

Don’t get me wrong, as a consumer there is an onus on me to go forth and educate myself before buying into a product (be in a credit card, student loan, mortgage) but at what point or age should that responsibility be put on one?

Should our teachers or education system have some responsibility to make sure we are equipped with some basic skills or knowledge before we’re tempted with those shiny credit cards when we come of age? Or is it our parents responsibility?

Some universities actually mandate a ‘basic life skills’ class in your first year where you’re taught money management, budgeting, or even how to do laundry. Why should students have to, at this point, PAY for this knowledge? Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that courses like this exist but not at the cost of one university course (hundreds of dollars).

By the end of my first year university I had two credit cards in my name with a total credit limit of $5,000, way too much money and temptation for a self-confessed financially uneducated 19-year-old.

Am I totally alone here? Were other people better educated in the area prior to high school graduation?

{For the record, out of curiosity I went to my local Credit Union when I was 16 and withdrew the $17.98 I had deposited 10 years earlier, and immediately spent it on something stupid like flavored lip gloss or lunch with friends}

Teaching ''Honey Boo Boo'' Some Budgeting Skills

The very fact that a show like this exists on TV kills my soul. Are we a society so insecure about ourselves we need to watch crap like this to make our lives feel more nourished? Anyway, what’s got me all hot and bothered is that apparently Ms Rosie O’Donnell wants to buy poor Honey Boo Boo a house.

If you’ve never seen this show, do your brain cells a favor and don’t bother. All you need to know is that it’s aired on TLC via a spin-off another winning show called ”Toddlers and Tiaras”. Millions of people are watching this show every week and apparently the main 7 year old star is making $2,000-4,000/episode for 10 episodes (to start).

She’s getting $40,000 to basically do nothing but have cameras follow her family’s insanity for a few weeks and Rosie O’Donnell thinks her money is best invested in a house for them? I’m fairly confident that with millions of people continuing to watch every week (shudder), this kid will be just fine without your charity. But if you’re just handing out cash, HELLO ROSIE I NEED MONEY TOO!!

With some proper budgeting skills, Honey Boo Boo should be able to afford her own house just fine. Not the kind TV watchers want to see (a million dollar mansion) but a modest home for her family (extra finger space and all). Is it really fair that a family in financial troubles is handed buck loads of money with no skills to properly manage it? Let them spend it frivolously and hand them everything they need for ‘free’ (ie house). When the TLC money stops pouring in what are they to do, maintain the lifestyle Ms O’Donnell set up for them? Good luck.

I admit to being totally ignorant in this post, I obviously have no idea how the family spends their money or if they really are in any trouble financially (because let’s be honest, normal people without issues don’t make great TV do they?). Maybe it’s all part of the act and the family really does have their crap together. I hope they do, I hope they have funds built up for proper food so they don’t have to eat ketchup and spaghetti noodles for supper, so they can fix their teeth and enough money set aside to buy a house without a train track running through the property. If they don’t, maybe TLC can reach out to someone to teach Honey Boo Boo some money skills to go along with all the fancy beauty pageant crap she’s being fed. I’m willing to do it for cheap if they’re looking to hire.

{FYI: Yes, I have watched the show. It’s like a train wreck you can’t look away from. I only did it once and I vow to never do it again. This is a public apology to my brain and all forms of books and academia I may have pushed out of my brain or un-learned because of said action.}

PS, does anyone remember when TLC (THE LEARNING CHANNEL) use to air quality TV? Yeah, me neither.

{Photo Source}