What Does $1000 Look Like?

Recently I finished a set off doors for our home. I’m really happy with the results. But it got me thinking about how $1000 can look differently every time. With each and every purchase or experience being worthwhile.

I treated my wife to a night out on the town at a spa and hotel. We needed that time off. Wedgewood Hotel and Spa

We bought tickets to Queen for the five of us. Such an amazing show. Queen

We now have a back up generator for when the power goes out. Like it does every year… sometimes for days on end.

My son got a pair of Long Track Speed Skates. Chasing that Olympic Dream! Fastest Ice

We bought a couple of kayaks and accessories. Gotta stay in shape as we grow older. Kayak Adventure

That’s all from this year. In the past- a thousand dollars bought three iPad Minis, or a video game system and accessories, or tickets to Disneyland, even a new mattress…

Like they say, a thousand here and thousand there- pretty soon it adds up to real money.

I’m starting to feel broke. Maybe it’s time to slow down on the spending. The kids need a post secondary education. A thousand bucks might buy a couple of textbooks.

Work vs Vacation

I make the most of my vacations. My days off are full of fun times and experiences. I came back to work after ten days off this past vacation to find an abundance of emails.

That was probably the hardest part of coming back to work. I enjoy the job itself, but there is often excessive emails that I need to sift through to find what I need to do my job.

Coming back to work and I’m already thinking towards my next vacation. Planning ahead is tough when you’re not sure how much you could spend.

I’d like to try and not go into debt to enjoy some time away from home. Pinching pennies and returning empty bottles for refunds may be how I pay for our next bit of fun. Back to working in order to afford my vacations I guess. Like a vicious circle.

Wealthy Ego

Is it at a certain age or a level of income that people begin to feel comfortable financially? I feel like there are times that I’m chasing a dream- just not my dream. Is there a point where being financially secure is equal to the lifestyle I want? Or will I keep dreaming bigger and grander?

For the most part- I love where I am in life. Sure, I could lose a few credit card bills and have more money in my savings set aside. Will that day ever come? I dunno.

Have I hit rock bottom before? You betcha. But it was my rock bottom. A place I didn’t like and got out from it. I hope to never lower the expectations of myself again.

Do I have an ego? Maybe a bit. I’d like to think it’s more a sense of pride. Proud of my family and friends as well. They look like their lives are doing well.

But shhhhhh, we don’t ever discuss wages. We can talk about drugs, alcohol, sex, racism, politics or religion. But how much money we make? Nope, that information stays locked up in a box. Instead people show off their toys, adventures, and purchases to the world. We all know the cost of a new car or tv because of “The Price is Right.” Going into debt overspending isn’t smart though.

Finding a healthy wealth balance is tough. I want to make enough money that I forget that it’s payday and that my bills are covered. Maybe a little extra for a nice vacation.

What are your goals?

Bonus Money

Today my bank account was bigger than it’s been in quite some time. All because I received my work bonus!

I was excited to see it until I looked at my paystub statement and realized that nearly HALF disappeared in taxes. Ouch. No wonder they call it Gross Income. It’s gross to see how much I should’ve had. But money is money and I knew exactly what to do with my bonus this year.

I paid some bills.

With a few clicks of the mouse button, all that “extra” cash was gone. In part I am relieved. The washing machine that I threw on my credit card is paid off. As well as our trip to Disneyland from last October. I also set aside money for our property taxes this year instead of cashing out my shares. This last one is a game changer for me. It means that my shares will remain untouched for longer.

Financial freedom is getting closer. Our mortgage renewal is due in the next few months. Only 20 years left until that’s done. And only a couple years left on my car payments as well.

As they say, “Everything’s coming up Milhouse!” Or they don’t say that. Whatever. Things are starting to look up. Bye bye money…

Trust and Kindness

Trust is something that you can’t come by easily. But to have a complete stranger trust you is even more scarce. Especially when it comes to money. My story here is a simple one, but made my heart smile nonetheless.

Yesterday as I was driving home from the school with my kids, I stopped at a person selling flowers on the side of the road. She has set up in the same location for a couple of years now selling flowers out the back of her van. We often drive past without thinking twice. Yesterday I finally decided to stop and surprise my wife with a bouquet of flowers.

As I was talking to the lady, I realized I had no cash on me. So I asked if she takes debit or credit cards. Since I’ve worked conventions- many people set up a Square account to be able to make such transactions, which seems to be the trend nowadays. Unfortunately, this lady did not have a card reader. I was ready to thank her for her time…

Immediately she asked me which bouquet I wanted and told me to pay her back another time. Even with my repeated objections, she insisted. I chose a lovely full arrangement of flowers. The flowers looked great when put them on our table at home.

But it gets better.

My daughter this morning texted me that she put $20 in my wallet to cover the cost of the flowers. I was not expecting that from her. It seems that kindness can rub off on people. Seems like our parenting skills are paying off.

But wait there’s more!

I returned today to pay the flower lady the $20 for the bouquet (which is a good deal for the amount of flowers btw). She was smiling and thanked me for the payment. Before we walked away, she handed my son a large yellow daisy.

Just because.

Kindness is contagious. This stranger trusted me. I could have chosen to not pay her back. But the guilt would have eaten at me every time I drove past her. Because I’m not that type of person- I could never have done that.

Instead, I will have a smile in my heart when I see the back of her van propped open and buckets of flowers placed around her feet.

More Than Just Making Dinner

Last night our middle daughter helped me to make dinner. She peeled and cut the potatoes while I prepped the schnitzel. During that time we did more than just prepare dinner. We talked.

She had questions about credit cards, loans, mortgages, interest rates, RRSP’s, and taxes. Interesting topics for a girl about to turn 14. But ones that I tried to explain over dinner prep.

It made me realize that money is a topic that isn’t taught as well as it should be. Even I don’t always think clearly about my spending.

Sometimes I spend frivolously. Other times I save pennies. But the hunt for big payouts and wads of cash are long since behind me. I work because I enjoy my job and it pays very well. Our mortgage is being paid down and one day we should be debt-free.

Explaining to our daughter that some debt is “good debt” was important. Telling her to save up and buy products without going into debt is also important. Having to explain taxes, sucked, but is important as well.

I hope that our daughter understands a bit more about finances now. As well, she made good mashed potatoes for dinner.

I Wish I Was a Sellout 

The idea that people work hard to become successful isn’t something new. What I find frustrating is people who call them “sellouts” when they do become successful. 


I have zero chance of becoming a “sellout”. I work hard at my job, but that’s so I can pay my bills. I enjoy my blog posts, but I don’t think I could make money off of them.  Mostly because I’m not trying to sell anything through my writing. My posts are mostly for me- like a diary of sorts.


Occasionally I add in a link or a reference to a company or show that I like. I’m not expecting kickbacks or money. But I wouldn’t say no… you gotta start somewhere. Maybe I can get promoted by Swiffer? I may have to change the title of my blog post though. 

Swiffer presents: Cleaning It Up As I Go.

It’s doable.

What is the Balance of My Time?

Time is precious.  My time is extremely valuable to me and especially to those I care about. My children, my wife, and my friends all get a piece of my time. Work also gets some of that time. But have I achieved a balance?


I have 168 hours a week to offer up.

Work gets 48 hours a week of my time. Two full days out of the seven.

8 hours is devoted to driving to and from work as well for the week.

56 hours is spent sleeping. Maybe more. Maybe.

That leaves 56 hours for my friends and family. That is exactly 1/3 of my time. That time is extremely valuable to me. In fact, I cannot think of a price to put on it. I would gladly give up my job or sleep before I give up the time I have for those I care about.

At the end of every week, my family comes first.  At the end of every workday, I walk away proud of what I did that day. At the end of every sleep, I am ready to do it all again each and every day. 

I feel I have created a healthy work/life balance.

Six

It happened suddenly and without warning. It wasn't until I looked at my salary that it actually hit me. After all is said and done, I somehow make six figures a year. No, it's not a brag in this day and age either. It's just an observation really. A fact I never tried to accomplish.

I am far from educated so that never got me very far. Life has always been a push or even a struggle to get up that hill into adulthood. Pinching pennies, spending long hours working, having a plan, sticking to a budget. All of it with goals in mind. Not all of the goals involved money.

I never sought money as a reason to work. Of course money is noice and affords me the lifestyle I want to live. But working for money? Not my thing. I have been enjoying work because of the challenges it presents me. Jobs lose their luster and thrill after a while but my current job has so many avenues available to me, I really don't know where I may end up.

So, I set my goals. Next year? Travel as much as possible. The year after? Put money into upgrading the home. The year after that? Help our oldest with post secondary education. The year after that? More travel. The work I get paid to do helps promote my plans. Sixth year? Seems like it will hit me fast.

Work goals? Learn as much as possible whenever possible. Share my knowledge with others. Help others achieve their goals. Make a difference in how the work environment feels. None of that sounds too lofty. Nor does it feel like a corporate ladder to climb. I figure if something interests me, I'll work towards it.

Debt Shouldn’t be Embarrassing.

On my drive home from work tonight I was listening to SiriusXM Insight and they were talking about student loan debt.  I caught the last 30 minutes of the program, but the stories all shared a similar tone.  Debt is embarrassing and really hard to get out of. Which holds true for the majority of us who have debt.

I never took out student loans.  But I also never *really* attended post secondary school.  I had started, but was in a car accident a couple of months in and fell behind.  That’s my excuse that I tell people. The real reason is that I couldn’t afford to go to school.  My parents hadn’t set aside savings for me, and I didn’t see the need to go into debt.  Quickly in the first semester I realized that the instructors wanted us to buy their $200 books and then regurgitate their thoughts back at them in order to get a diploma or degree. I wasn’t ready to conform to society at that point.


So I left post secondary school to work and have fun.  But being a gas station jockey didn’t bring in enough money to live and have fun. I wanted to see friends and party whenever possible.  So I did the next logical step.  No- I didn’t become a drug dealer. I got a VISA card.  I even wrote about debt a while back in Monday Money. Accumulating debt isn’t fun.  Maybe for a brief moment as you enjoy a new toy or experience.  But paying it off years later sucks.


My wife and I have debt. Some of it I consider “good debt” like the mortgage on our home. Some is “necessary debt” like needing to replace the roof on the house. Most debt isn’t good.  We could have done without a new piano ten years ago.  Even though we took out a loan for it, it was paid in full only two years later.  We tend to buy a new vehicle every few years. We would take out a loan for 5-8 years but pay it off in 3. But we carry credit card debt from time to time.  And that sucks. Compound interest sucks.

But why can’t we talk about debt with our friends?  Why can’t I tell people about the times that I’ve felt overwhelmed?  Is it pride?  Is it a fear that I’ll be found out?  Is it that I fear that I’d appear to be a disappointment to my children and family? I don’t know.  Debt sucks.  I don’t care if I die in debt.  It’s not a goal mind you, but if it happens, oh well- I’d be dead.


As I write this up in my bedroom, my daughter is playing on the piano downstairs.  She is playing near perfection a song I’ve never known her to play.  And I love it. A song I recognize as “Take That Look Off Your Face” by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It resonates through our home.  It pulls from my memory all of the wonderful things I have done and bought over the years. If the cosmos had aligned properly, she’d be playing “Memories” instead.

So I stand corrected, sometimes going into debt is good for you.  I bought an Andrew Lloyd Webber CD as a young adult. We bought the piano years ago. And now, I am typing this post on a cellphone (that I wanted because I love technology) I’m completely in love with everything about this moment.  All of this accumulation of my feelings isn’t embarrassing debt.  

So why should we be embarrassed?