Friday, May 30, 2008

♥ ♦ ♣ ♠

May Goals in Review

1)Get back on target with regards to school work. Have both papers written for English by end of month and midterm scheduled for mid-June. Have written before I leave for Latvia. Write Quiz two for psychology May 1st and quiz 3 and 4 within month of May. This one, I worked the hardest on all month. I now have one novel left to read for the second unit in English, there is only one paper and I am going to be writing that early next week and I scheduled my midterm for June 14th meaning the paper needs to be done prior to that date. Because I was pushing myself on the English, I fell behind a bit in Psychology. My plan is to have the last three quizzes (quiz 3, 4 and 5) written before I leave for Latvia. I am going to bring a couple novels with me to Latvia so that I don’t fall too far behind on my trip.

2) NO EATING OUT (again, unless someone else pays for it ☺) Create a meal plan on weekend and make lunches night before so ready to go. I am so not good with this goal at all! I have no good excuse as to why I can not follow this except that I need to try harder. I wouldn’t mind so much if it were good food, but I eat so much junk. What a waste of money and calories!
3) Increase income by $200 CHECK! Increased by $411 (two part time cheques and $10 for returning my pop and beer cans)Decrease expenses by $200 No check here. Eating out and when I busted the grocery challenge for Airmiles did not help me in this goal
4) Work on Russian language CDs while doing sit ups, squats, lunges, etc. LOL!! Good thing my grandmother is coming to Latvia with us to translate for me. With school and work, I didn’t have time to even open the Russian book. I should at least attempt to learn a couple key phrases I guess. I am a horrible procrastinator.

June Goals

I figure I am putting too much pressure on myself with all of these goals. This month I am going to try to be a little more specific and not so ambitious.
1) $100 added to Down payment account
2) $200 into Latvia/ Emergency Fund
3) Quiz 3 and Quiz 4 in Psychology
4) Pay Ramada Hotel Charge on VISA ($149.42)
5) Pay Dream Theatre Charge on VISA ($110.25)
6) $75 on groceries
7) Ride bike 9 times for an hour a time

Everything here is measurable. Either I did or I didn’t. And because I am leaving on the 26th, everything needs to be done by then. I hope this month is more productive then my last two months have been. And for my art gallery this month, I am going to visit one in Latvia. I am also in England for two days before I fly into Riga so maybe I will check out one there too.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yummy web browsing

Doesn't this look so good?
I am thinking that for all of the occasions I am invited to that is pot luck, I am bringing one of these Edible arrangements. And instead of looking longingly at flowers at the grocery store, I am going to send A the weblink too! I deserve a Berry Chocolate Boutique! :)

Why gardening is good for the soul

When I realized my goals needed to be funded and my debt taken care of, I started researching frugalness, debt reduction plans, budget tips and tricks and anything else money related. This is how I was introduced to the world of PF blogging and the motivation that led me to attempt writing one of my own. So many others were able to utilize the blog to ignite a motivation spark to clean up immense dollars of debt, build up a cushioned emergency fund, finance futures and feel a sense of satisfaction in life. I wanted all of that too and so I took a plunge and signed into the blog world.
Not everything I write about has to do with finances. Being as, like most people, I am paid bi-weekly my blog would be sporadic if I only wrote what I did with my money when I had it.
One of the frugal tips I read about was growing one’s own vegetables to save money at the grocery store. I have never grown a thing and all the plants I have in my home were given to me mature with deep roots. All I had to do was maintain with water and sunlight and the occasional encouraging word. Any house plants I rescued from the supermarket, I have struggled with keeping alive and I am elated when they come back from the dead. Growing my own vegetables, from seed seemed like a shot in the dark. I thought about it though, and realized that spending $15 on seeds that could potentially reap in savings greater than that was worth the $15 investment. And really I used a gift certificate to buy them so I wasn’t really out any money.
I researched container gardening as I didn’t really have a space in the back yard to grow in. The accompanying pictures were motivating factors in my decision to garden this way. The idea of creating a Garden of Eden on my balcony was appealing to my romantic side. I imagined lush vines filled with tomatoes, a wall of sweet peas, and a soft bed of lettuce. I enjoyed thinking about picking my lunch in the morning to create a salad that all would be envious of. I couldn’t wait to get started. And the idea of entertaining friends in my utopia thrilled me.
My mom offered me all of her old tropical plant containers as she decided to go with silk plants. I planted tomatoes and green peppers that cold March afternoon to get them started and eagerly watched for any progress. I started to include my garden’s progress in my blog.
Besides the possible grocery savings, what did this have to with personal finance? I didn’t think a whole heck of a lot, but this morning I realized that my money is a lot like my garden. I started with small notions that I wanted to be consumer-debt free, in my own house, finished school. I planted these seeds into my heart and brain and began to nurture them by researching and thinking about what I had to do to make these seeds grow. I watered the dreams with sacrifice and watched proudly as my efforts produced the first bit of green. That little sprout encouraged me to give even more love to my goals. I want them to be strong and able to weather any storm that comes their way. I am willing to give up some things I think I need and I want in order to help my little seedlings, protect them and champion them. And in return, they develop healthier, rewarding me with possibilities.
Every morning I look at my developing vegetable garden to see how much has changed over night and I think about my monetary garden and how much is changing there. Both gardens have offered me insight into myself and this triumvirate of improvement is why I think gardening is good for the soul.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My heart is as true as steel

Today, I am imagining my dream wedding. Writing down ideas, playing with themes, imagining a setting reflecting the love in my heart. My friend's are planning a Halloween wedding and it is so much fun to hear her ideas and imagine how I would do it if I chose a Halloween theme. I have so many ideas, concepts, notions for my dream day with no idea when or if this day will occur. But it is still fun to imagine and the costs for what I get are a great bargain.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The old man is snoring

It has been raining for days and days here. I was really hoping it would be gone today in time for the annual 4th Street Lilac Festival, but no dice. Yesterday, my dog had a hair appointment and we walked in the rain arriving soaked to the bone. Is this our punishment for having the privilege of a beautiful May Long Weekend? I knew having no snow that weekend was too good to be true :)
On the financial front, I changed around some savings accounts. I opened a new account especially for my down payment on my house and put $100 in it. I then left the $800 I had for Latvia. I don't think I will spend $1000 over there (especially as my dad is taking care of room, board and transportation), but I would rather be safe than sorry. Whatever I don't spend I will transfer to my down payment account.
I also received my part-time job pay cheque yesterday and this month I working there gave me an extra $400 of income. I put $100 of that into the new down payment account, $200 on my VISA and the rest I left to pay for my dog's haircut, my cat's litter and anything else that may arise in the next week.
What a tame weekend I had because of the weather. I am almost finished another unit in English, so I may be able to complete my May goal of having the first two units completed, as well as the essay by the end of May. I booked my midterm for June 14th so I have to stay focused.
I hope everyone had a nice weekend!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Seeds of Hope

My garden update: I planted everything Monday afternoon into the containers my mother gave me. My mom also bought the soil and the extras too. I can't believe how quickly the radishes and the lettuce have already sprouted!

Snowflaking total so far

$239.75! That's $73.75 more than my minimum payment. Yeah me.

May 2008 Snow Flaking Breakdown

Internet Extra 1.75
Loan Payment extra 3.40
Utilities extra 2.67
Cell phone extra 1.45
Grocery "savings" 49.12 ONGOING
Part-time Cheque (May 22/08) 181.36

Total for Month 239.75

A letter to my ex

Dear C,

Why after a little more than two years did you feel the need to contact me? I was your yo-yo for so long after you broke my heart and I finally cut the string and picked myself up off of the ground. I have made strides in my personal life, my professional life, my psychological life. Things with A are going amazing and I know now that you were never the true one for me. I gave so much of myself to be what you wanted and when you didn’t want the me that I allowed you to help mold (I do take responsibility for giving myself up to you), not only did I lose you, but all of my identity. It has been an empowering journey to get where I am today. I love that A loves me—all of my dorky, goofy, nerdy, worrisome self. Why is it that you drop me one line that states “you just felt the need to contact me” and I am suddenly suffering from uneasiness, anxiety and fear that you won’t accept the person that I am . Why do I even care?
Once upon a time I made you my world and you took everything away from me. I don’t want to know how you are doing, or what you are doing, or who you are doing it with. I don’t want to wonder why out of the blue you messaged me. I want to forget the part of my life that I spent with you. I want to curl up in A’s lap and have him put his arms around me and feel confident again that the world is alright. Why do I allow you to still have this power to take my confidence away?
So C, I do not think I can answer your need for contact. I want to say that I hope life is going well for you, but honestly, I hope that you are miserable --immature of me maybe, but truthful.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Signs of the Times

My weekend was amazing! Friday, we picked up our rental car, loaded her up and headed west to the mountains. We arrived in Banff around three in the afternoon and checked into our hotel. Once settled we went for a walk around town, stopping to have a beer and burger on a patio. The weather was unbelievable-- at least 25 degrees Celsius.
Saturday morning we woke up early, packed our lunch and headed off to Sulpher Mountain. We started the climb to the summit and ignored the avalanche warnings (city folk….). Half way through our walk, we were greeted with four feet of endless snow. It was mostly packed snow, but occasionally while inching along, one of us would fall through a soft spot. We did not dress for this excursion at all. 20 degrees Celsius in town means nothing to the mountains. After two hours of hiking, we arrived on top of the world and it was amazing! The view was more than breath taking. I believed I was in heaven. There was a restaurant up there, so we sat and enjoyed a beer on top of the world. We took the gondola down, as there was no way we could walk safely down the mountain in all of that snow (not in sneakers anyway).
On Sunday, we explored the cave and basin hot springs where the smell of thermal energy knocked us off of our feet. It was really neat to see this stream coming out of the mountain and the steam coming off of the stream. Nothing I would consider relaxing in though as the “debris” that covered the hot spring and the smell were anything but tranquil. We then went over to the Spray river corral where we were matched up with a horse and went on an hour long trail ride.
This was my first time riding a horse (I know, and you thought everyone in Cowtown had been on one!) and I was a little nervous. Our trail ride included crossing the Spray River, and my horse decided he didn’t want to follow in line anymore and possibly knew a quicker way across. Good thing I just let him do what he wanted. He got us across safely and back into line with the other horses. There were other parts of that trail ride that made me anxious too, like going down hills or when the trail seemed too narrow for my horse to get through. But, he was obviously used to this excursion so I let him do what he had to do. I can’t wait to ride a horse again. There is a ranch near Cochrane that has a sunset ride through the mountains that I think would be awesome.
Sunday night we went for Fondue. We started with a cheese fondue appetizer, followed by an entrĂ©e that we cooked on a hot rock. A ordered scallops and beef (scallops are so yummy) and I ordered the hunter’s platter with venison, buffalo, and wild boar…quite delectable. Our dessert was melted Toblerone chocolate and fresh fruit. I am salivating thinking about it. We also had a really nice bottle of white wine with dinner that the waiter picked out. It was a great compliment to the cheese fondue as it contained a white wine in it as well.
Monday, we drove back to reality and got home around noon. I hate reality…I wish I could be on vacation forever. I did get everything planted in my container garden yesterday afternoon though. All of the pots are sitting in my kitchen under a bright light waiting for consistent warm days to be brought outside. I hope my kitty doesn’t think I made him a new play area!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Grocery Challenge

I am out. Safeway had a coupon that if you spent $100 you received 100 airmiles. I stocked up on non-perishables and food for my Banff trip and spent $130. Add this to my $60 already spent and I spent $190. $65 over my budget. Now I am fairly set for a month and will only need perishables like milk. I don't regret it at all. Not only did I get my 100 miles, but I may have also received 30 more for the spaghetti sauce and noodles I stocked up on.
I don't foresee myself spending much in June and July as I am leaving for Latvia for three weeks. My dad paid for the flight and accommodations and told me to bring spending money. I have saved $1000 for this trip, but I can't see myself spending $1000 on stuff. I have never left Canada and not sure what kind of souvenirs I may want, but $1000 seems extreme to me when a picture itself can say $1000 words and the experience is essentially free.
I am off tomorrow for A and my romantic weekend in the mountains. From now until Latvia, I am going to put as much as I can on my VISA. When I get home from Latvia, I am going to really concentrate on my VISA payoff, but use the money I was saving for Latvia towards my down payment fund.

I had to take a cab home from the grocery store tonight, and the driver asked me why I was working two jobs. I told him my goal of owning my own house and we had a really good conversation about goals. When he dropped me off at home, he wouldn't charge me for the ride. What a sweet gesture! I am going to put that money in my snow flaking list. And pay the kindness forward.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Culture Nets

I hate when I am really excited to do something and the week takes forever!!! And the days within that week take forever! I can’t believe it is only 2:30 on Wednesday. This means I still have the rest of today and then tomorrow (where I work both jobs—oh the agony!) to get through before we are on our way for our Banff trip.
I looked at my bank account, and it is still above the $1000 dollar mark in my chequing account. I have never had this before and I don’t want to spend any money in order to keep it there. Usually I spend money like it’s burning a hole through my bank card. Now I am almost afraid to spend it!
I think when I get back this weekend, money I have left over I will put on my VISA and transfer some to my down payment fund. And the snow flaking? I love it! I have so much fun looking for money to put towards that fund. I can not wait till the end of the month to look at how much I was able to “raise” by being more conscience of where my money goes. It’s one thing to allocate a $150 towards my debt, but it’s kind of fun when I am trying to find ways to “make” that $150 plus by giving up things, or buying things on sale and putting the sale amount towards my debt, or budgeting for everything a couple of dollars higher and then applying that amount towards my debt.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cultivate the garden within

My Cherry Tomato Plant
My Green Peppers

Just a quick post to showcase my seedlings growth. And to show off my lipstick plant that came back from the dead to bloom hardcore. Zombie Lipstick Tube Plants Rule!

"A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." --Greek proverb

Little Golden Book about Zogg

Grrr! I hate waiting. I emailed my English Professor this morning to see if the topic I chose for my essay is okay during his office hours. And he hasn’t responded yet! His office hours ended at 9:30. I was really hoping to get the bulk of this thing written today/tonight and have it finished before I left for Banff. I read the tutor letter and he states that he will respond to emails within two business days!!! Well, I will be in Banff in two business days. This is one of the downfalls of distance learning. I can’t really rely on when to hear back the answers to my questions. On a brighter note, I received 80% on my Psychology quiz which isn’t as high as I hoped it to be, but not a bomb either.
Maybe I should just go forth with the topic I chose and hope he agrees…

Monday, May 12, 2008

Reflexive Organism vs. Reflective organism

This was a great weekend for me fiscally. Even though I received pay cheques from both jobs, I only spent $16 (that I had saved from my last pay cheque anyway) on a hip-hop dance class intro. Usually, by Monday morning I have maybe $40 to last me two weeks…and only if it isn’t the cheque that goes towards my rent. And the best part is, I don’t feel as though I did nothing all weekend.
Friday, I planned on working on school work. I came home and had a long debate with myself about ordering in Chinese food. I really, really, really craved Won Ton Soup and sweet and sour pork. I got out the menu and looked at the prices. The combo for two was $30 and I told myself that I could eat the leftovers on Saturday. I could taste the Won Ton. I took my dog for a walk around the block and made the decision that $30 was just too much to spend on dinner at home that was high in taste, and everything bad for me. I settled on making some tuna melts.
I picked up my psychology text book and I opened it. I stared at the words and felt myself nodding off. I looked at my dog and my cat and suggested we go for a nap. My cat opted to go outside and Molly and I curled up. Three hours later, I woke up and let Oryx in, and curled back up with every intention to work on school stuff…but facebook got in my way.
Saturday, I planned on waking up early, getting all of my chores done before my hip-hop class and starting my English Essay. Well, even though the road was paved with good intentions, I spent the morning surfing the web. At 1:30, I walked up to the dance studio and an hour and a half later walked back home with new rhythm. A came over, with a frozen pizza for dinner and then we headed over to Jsquared’s to visit.
Sunday, I worked at the toy store. When I got home, I signed into Athabasca University’s web portal and wrote my psychology quiz. I think I bombed it! I really need to buckle down with school and follow my schedule. Saturday’s are supposed to be spent on school and I only half heartedly attempt it. This coming weekend, we are going to Banff, but the following weekend I am going to put in a full day on this. I had a plan to be finished both courses by the time I go to Latvia, but that is definitely going to have to be revamped now!
And if I focus more on school, I won’t be spending as much money on frivolous stuff.
I do have a question that maybe someone could answer for me. I am part of this grocery challenge and I am wondering when I purchase groceries for A and my trip to Banff, does that come out of my grocery fund or my vacation fund?

Friday, May 9, 2008

I's the b'ys

So A is from Newfoundland and we have been dating two years. His parents are coming to visit in September and even though it’s a long way off, I am still nervous to meet them. What if they don’t like me? What if I say something with out thinking (it’s been known to happen at least twice before)? What if I don’t like them? A tells me that I am worried for nothing and his parent’s already like me (how can this be? I have never even spoken to them on the phone!). I am trying to think of things to do when they are here as this is my hometown and I love it and want it to be in the best possible spot-light (hence why I nixed the tour of crack corner : ) ). It was announced that Santana is playing here the week that Mr. and Mrs. are out, so A bought tickets for the four of us. Because he is the member of some radio station, we were able to buy tickets early and we are sitting in level one, section 108, row 13! I guess if it turns out his parents don’t approve of me, I at least get to watch Santana.
Last night I worked at the toy store and they actually put me to work. Usually, I sort of putter around, straightening stuff and help customers. Last night they had a mother load of product arrive that I had to price and enter into inventory. By 9:00 I was exhausted. I never even realized so many toys for bath time existed!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

Today is pay day from full-time job and tomorrow is pay day from part-time job! I looked in my bank account this morning to pay my utility bill and I was so happy to see that there is over $1000 there after my savings and utility payment came out. The best part is that is all of my money too not the banks from when I was locked in the overdraft trap. I was going to automatically transfer most of it to my VISA, but I may wait as next weekend is our Banff trip, and I may want some cash on hand for little things.

One thing I do have to give this blog props for is I am much more aware of where I am putting my money. I still may not make the best decisions and I still may be splurging when I could be saving or paying down my debt, but at least at the end of the day/week/month I know where all of my money went.

I have to work tonight at the second job too. These days are long, but so worth it. I feel so much more in control and independent. A just received another raise at work and bought a beautiful new camera. I used to get really jealous of all of the toys he could buy, while I was struggling to pay rent. But last night I was just excited that he had this new camera. He always wanted one and he finally bought one. My own financial goals are different from his, and when I can make that down payment on my house and hang up my degree in it, I want him to be really excited for me too! We had a photo-shoot last night which was a blast. He let me dress up in different hats and boas and costumes and pose for him. I love it when we are both silly together. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dream Dollars of Antarctica

This “snow flaking” concept is fun! I am getting so excited thinking about ways I can snowflake and then I transfer right away so that the money isn’t mistakenly “misplaced” somewhere else. And then I have a bar chart that I update on Excel to showcase my snow flaking efforts.

A and I are going to Banff for May Long weekend. We were originally going to go for Canada Day long weekend, but my dad offered to buy me a ticket to Latvia leaving on the 26th of June. So A and I rescheduled our anniversary getaway a month earlier. Because we booked in January, we are getting our hotel room for $400 for the three nights. It looks so beautiful online. The room is a loft suite with a fireplace/living/eating area downstairs and then the bed is upstairs. We also received tickets to the hotsprings with that. We are hiking up Sulphur Mountain on the Saturday, then taking the Gondola ride down and on Sunday we are horseback riding on a trail that takes us across Spray River. I am bringing our own groceries for breakfasts and lunches as there is a fridge in our hotel room. On Sunday night we are checking out this fondue place for dinner. It will be an expensive weekend getaway, but not as much as last year when we decided to stay a weekend in a theme room in the Fantasyland Hotel in Edmonton. Our room alone up there was $800 for two nights. And because my dad is paying for my trip to Latvia, this will be coming out of my vacation fund. Just ten more days till we go!!! :)

As sad as this is, I live only 45 minutes from Banff, yet have only gone twice. A is from Newfoundland and has never stayed in Banff. So all in all, I think it will be a fun, romantic getaway for the two of us.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Strange noises are implying threats...

So this camping thing? Turn out it is all it's cracked up to be! I had a great weekend and it was really nice to be wireless. Meaning no cell or computer. The weather was nice. A little chilly in the mornings and the nights, but during the day was around plus 15.
I do have some issues though. Where we went is a huge quading place. I am not really into these toys although they could very well be a fun time. My issue is watching the ground get torn up by these toys. And listening to the motors rev, I am thinking about the gas consumption and the fumes put into the air. Quads, dirt bikes and other "toys for big boys" are a huge drain on our environment and the extreme team that needs these are probably not reachable by environmentalists. On Saturday morning, over twenty people parked their huge trucks, unloaded their quads and ripped it up for the day. I went for a walk and couldn't believe how badly the ground had been ruined. How did our society get to this point where our getaways into nature from the concrete jungle are spent tearing up Nature's hideaway? Ridiculous.
Other than that, I enjoyed the weekend and spending it with my best friend and my boyfriend laughing. I look forward to going again, but not in such a high traffic area.
A had some kind of Emily Carr moment and was inspired by trees. Maybe when I dragged him to her exhibit earlier this year, there was some sort of effect. This is one of his shots.

Friday, May 2, 2008

When animal meets machine

Tonight we leave for this camping-thing. I am excited to try it out and see what all the fuss is. I also did my reading for school this morning, so all I need to do over the weekend is some brainstorming for Essay One. I have some ideas and need to just find support in the novels, so that on Tuesday I can start writing. And on the weekend I want to review my psychology so I can write the second quiz on Monday.
On Sunday there is a roller derby I want to check out too. I hope we get back in time 
Nothing much to report on the financial front, except that I borrowed everything for this camping trip and I am bringing food that was already in my cabinets/freezer so the cost so far has been about $40 (I am looking forward to sipping wine in front of a fire with my friends and just in case the wine doesn’t appeal to me, I bought some Rye too!).
I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Found Magazine

I have a "website of the day" calendar and this is today's website. It's kind of neat. People send in notes, photos, lists, etc., etc. that they have found and it gets published. It's like looking into another person's life that you may know or may never meet. Perfect for our voyeuristic society!

AND YEAH!!! I figured out how to insert links! ☺