Friday, March 22, 2013

No More Later! Think about retirement NOW!

If I had to pick one thing I've learned on my recent Personal Finance journey, it would be....

Don't wait.   Start now.

The world doesn't wait for you to sort out your problems, the credit card companies won't wait for you to 'get caught up', they will just continue adding interest.  Retirement will continue to get closer and closer whether or not you pay any attention to it.

Pay attention to it.  Pay attention to the important milestones in your life.  We seem to live our life focusing too much on the secondaries of daily life, putting off the focus on the important things.  Retirement is a goal and dream for many, no matter when it happens... the earlier someone focuses on retirement, the better their retirement will be.  Hands Down.  Someone that starts thinking about retiring at 23 will be lightyears ahead of someone that starts at 45.

If you're young, THINK ABOUT IT!  This is NOT something that is far in the future that we can deal with later!  NO MORE LATER!   By the time later comes, it will be TOO LATE!  There's a reason it's called "LATER", it means LATE!  R! 

Lets spread the word... anyone in their 20's should be actively planning and thinking about retirement.  There should be funds going into retirement accounts from the first paycheque.  Why this isn't mandatory is beyond me!  I know it will be for my children!  Once they get a job, 15% of their income will ALWAYS be going into retirement!

If I was taught that simple fact, I would be well on my way to creating a wonderful retirement fund... Instead, I am sitting here at 27 having an epiphany about what I should have been doing for many many years already!

Good luck and happy saving!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sell. Your. Junk!

This post is long overdue, no excuses, I feel busier than I really am.

Lets talk about clutter.  We probably all have it.  What do we do with it?

This weekend I went crazy with my camera, started taking pictures of everything sitting around the house that I either haven't used in a year or more, or have no need for.  I managed to find 15 things around the house that I could list on Craigslist (or castanet where I live).

Let me tell you, there are things you had that you know are worth *something* but how much and to who?  I listed 15 items Sunday at 3pm, and by Monday at 6pm, I've already made $290 getting rid of things taking up space.

A brief list of what I've sold so far:

Room Divider: $100
Vanity Mirror: $50
Gamecube: $60
Espresso Maker: $50
Assorted DVDs: $30

Tomorrow I have two people interested in my cross-country skis that have been sitting under the deck since I moved here in 2007.  Me and the wife have snowboards we haven't used since 2008. 

Looking forward to the spring when I can empty out the shed and list forsale all the things taking up room that I just don't need anymore!

All of this $$$ will be going straight to the emergency fund, once my $1000 mini e-fund is complete (75%) I will begin throwing every dollar extra towards our debt.  With no extra hours worked, I've managed to put a full 25% of my emergency fund in place. 

What extra stuff do you have laying around that could fetch $$$?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Auto Detailing - a useful skill!

Torn on what to post about before and after Christmas, I've decided to go completely off-topic and not talk about Christmas at all!  In fact, I'll be talking about something that I'm not even doing this time of year!

Spring-time is best for detailing, when cars are dirty, floormats are muddy, everything is caked in road grime from a winter full of driving without regular car-washes.

Automotive Detailing is both a useful skill for maintaining your own vehicle, as well as the ability to make some extra dollars on the side as a mini-business!  I ran a successful business out of the trunk of my car back in 2004 with only an electric pressure-washer, a vacuum, a bissel carpet shampooer, rags & microfiber, jar of wax, and some cleaners.  After I made enough money doing that, I purchased a Van, upgraded my tools, and learned to use a power-polisher to really make cars shine.

I am now able to take care of my vehicles to the point where they always look better when I sell them than when I got them!  It hit home today when I realized that my wife has been driving her car for almost a year now, and I am able to sell it for MORE than what I paid, after a year of use!  

I'll write down a few simple tips for anyone that wants to get into detailing their own or other's vehicles.

Some tools/cleaners you'll want:
Wash bucket
Wash Mitt
Car Soap
De-Greaser (Like Castrol Purple)
At least two Spray Bottles
Scrub Brush (Like a kitchen scrubber)
Interior Detailer Spray (Meguiars #40 is great)
Vacuum
Car Wax

In two spray bottles, dilute the DeGreaser 10-1 for interior bits, and 4-1 for wheels and engine bays...

1) Washing
Start with the wheels, spray the strong degreaser solution onto the wheels & tires, agitate with brush.. rinse!
Soak the car, top-down, and wash as normal, wash wheels last to remove any extra degreaser.

2) Interior Cleaning
Vacuum first to remove as much debris as possible, then spray down all surfaces, dash, doorpanels, etc, with the weak diluted degreaser, agitate with brush and wipe off with microfiber or terrycloth rags.  Then spray the interior detailer on all surfaces and be sure to coat evenly!
 
3) Waxing
Once the car is dry a coat of wax will protect the paint and make it easier to wash next time, I recommend Meguiars #26 High-Tech yellow Wax, it applies extremely easily.  If it doesn't come with an applicator, grab a pack of those round foam applicators.  Apply sparingly, and then wipe off one panel at a time.  Avoid getting any on plastic bumpers, mirror covers, or doorhandles!

After that feel free to use one of the microfibers to wipe down the doorjambs, clean all the windows, etc...

The process should take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours, it will get faster the more you do it... a simple cleaning and wax like this is ~$100 in my area, depending on the type of car.  It keeps my own cars looking spiffy as well :)

Hope this may encourage some to keep their own cars looking great, as well it's a GREAT way to make some extra money to help pay off debt with very little investment!

Any questions feel free to comment!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Keeping a local Christmas

A deep conversation with my Dad a week ago really got me thinking about what types of gifts I should be buying this Christmas.  Too many people, myself included, wander up and down the isles in London Drugs, up and down the corridors in the local Mall, and scratch our heads wondering what this person needs or wants...

The main problem is, we almost always end up deciding on a peice of 'stuff'.  Christmas has really become a day of trading 'stuff' that we hope the recipient can use or wants.  Look around your house, how many things are filling your closet that you thought you'd want or need?

And how many of these things are actually made in Canada?  Or made in USA?  90+% of the Christmas gifts that I have received or given in the past were made in China.  We are giving 90+% of our Christmas money to china-made products, keeping very little of the money in our local communities.  We support the staff and the business's profit, but not the person actually making the product we want to buy.

This year is different.  I want to support my local stores and buy their locally made products, not their profit margin.  Problem is, I'm also trying to cut back and budget the dollars I am spending and keep myself on track to get out of debt...

My solution:  Gift Baskets.

I found locally made spicy Habanero Raspberry Jelly, and I was blown away at how delicious it was.  That got me started on thinking Jelly/Crackers are the basis of my gift baskets, and from there I just thought of all the local markets, bakeries, and butchers that I could use to fill a gift basket...


All locally made:
Cheese
Jelly
Crackers
Cream-Cheese
Pepperoni
Beef Jerky
Wine


All in a nicely-wrapped basket with shredded paper :)


Total cost per basket should be roughly $40, which almost half of which is the wine...






The sheer amount of times I've said and heard "What do you get someone that has everything?" makes me feel silly for realizing FOOD was the answer!  If they have all the 'stuff' they need, don't get them 'stuff'!  Something decadent or savory, food can make anyone happy!


I've had a request for home-made Nanaimo Bars, so I'll be making those this year as well.  Make them one year, and everyone expects them forever!


This was a bit of a scattered post, I've stolen one of the bottles of wine, so forgive me!  I'll re-read this tomorrow and perhaps make some changes, or just let it ride...


Have a GREAT weekend, and I'll see you again next week!


Over and Out!




Sunday, December 2, 2012

December, the Christmas month.

December is here, and I've started preparing gifts for family & friends.  Since starting to budget, I've thought long  and hard about what I am willing to spend my money on this Christmas season.  Not on a bunch of useless clutter, I can tell you that much!

The best idea I've had so far is to build gift baskets comprised of locally made goods.  I found some Raspberry Habanero Jelly made locally here in the Okanagan, and when I thought about it, we have an amazing area for locally grown fruit.  But why stop at fruit?  With a bit of searching, there are a TON of locally made goods, from candles, books, trinkets, food, drinks, etc...

Some baskets will have the Okanagan Habanero Jelly, with locally made crackers, some locally made candles, home-made Nanaimo Bars, and either a bottle of Okanagan wine, or a 6-pack of Kelowna's Big Surf beer... All wrapped in a nice basket, it is something that has heart, feeling, and thought put into it, and not just an item off a shelf.

I'm actually having quite a bit of fun Christmas shopping this year, mostly due to the challenge of keeping all the items locally made/grown, but partly due to my recent foray into budgeting.  I've told myself that I'm going to keep my Christmas spending to under $200 for all family/relatives, without compromising gifts.

I will update with photos of the gift baskets this week as I finish putting them together, excited to see how they turn out!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Greetings


Greetings.

My plan for this blog will be providing personal accountability & information regarding my own financial struggles & victories, as well as useful information for anyone looking to improve their personal financial situation.  Lets move forward, improve our situation, remove all debt from our lives, build wealth, and plan to live life to it's fullest!

I have recently become an active podcast listener, there are a few that I am subscribed to that I would suggest for anyone looking for a financial podcast:

Steve Stewart @ MoneyplanSOS
www.moneyplansos.com

Jesse Mecham @ YouNeedABudget
www.youneedabudget.com

Jon White @ JW Financial Coaching
www.jwfinancialcoaching.com

Dave Ramsey @ The Dave Ramsey Show
www.daveramsey.com

Feel free to leave any recommendations in the comments for a podcast with a financial focus!


We'll talk again soon!