Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Would You Tues: Destress

We're about to dive head first back into our bathroom renovation after a very long break, and we're wondering...

What do you do to unwind during/after a major renovation project?

a) When I'm planning a renovation, I save enough to do the project, and to go on a vacation afterwards.
b) Watching Baby Mama with a bowl of popcorn is all I need.
c) I start my next project because I'm not tired at all.
d) Get outside for a jog, or if it's too cold do 100 push ups. Get the blood pumping to give energy for my next feat. 
e) I hire people to do all of my projects so that I don't need to destress. 
f) Fill in the blank with your own creative/unique answer.

This question got me thinking, so I have one more for you...

How long is a good "unwinding" period between major projects?

a) One Week
b) One Hour
c) One Month
d) One Year

Philip & I have learned to prioritize and ignore some of the pressure that comes our way when it comes to renovating. Anyone who has ever delayed a project knows how frustrating it can be when everyone and their talking kitchen sink is asking about your progress. Sometimes we decide to put social activity or church commitments ahead of our renovation, sometimes we make a lot of head way in a week, it just depends on where we're at. Our bathroom took a long break firstly because of Philip's commitment to our church dinner theatre, and then because of the snow causing issues that forced us to wait for warmer weather. To be honest, I'm a little bit glad we got to wait because it gave us some downtime to plan out the project better and to take a break because before the bathroom we'd been working on a lot of things at once. After the bathroom, there's talk of us tackling the kitchen - one of the biggest renovation projects people tackle. The second question here was birthed out of my thinking of how long we should wait between bathroom and kitchen. I suppose we'll decide based on how crazy the rest of our bathroom renovation is and how long it takes, how tired we are, and what our Summer looks like. 

Give us your feedback in the comments, Facebook, or even by shooting us an email (cassondra.wiebe@gmail.com). We love to hear from you and hope that these weekly questions can help us to learn more about our readership, and for you to get to know us a little bit more personally also. Have a happy Tuesday!

Monday, 15 April 2013

More Money Monday: Step 2

Step 2: Launch Your Debt Rocket
NOTE: This is the fun part. This is the part where you get to dream about what you want your life to look like. So if you've gotten rolling on Step 1, this is a sweet reward for your continuing efforts.
Everybody's done cheesy goal-setting exercises before, so it might seem somewhat lame to yet another one just because we said so. But this isn't going to be cheesy because this isn't a goal for your eighth-grade basketball team and this isn't a goal for drinking eleventeen glasses of water a day because Dr. Oz said so. This is a goal for you, for determining what you want your life to look like, and how you can set yourself up financially to make that possible.
Here's a free printable for this exercise, take some time either on your own or with your spouse or fellow budgeteer to sit down and answer the questions. When you're done hang it somewhere visible to you daily as a motivator and reminder.

Keep your answers as direct and concrete as possible. This makes them more measurable and understandable. And a big hat-tip to Dave Ramsey, whose Debt Snowball is a big inspiration for this piece.
First question: "Understanding the richness of my life isn't determined by my bank account or my toys, is there one luxury that I dream of having?"
This is your dream, your aspirational goal. For Carl and Ellie Fredricksen, it was moving to Paradise Falls. For Cassondra, this would be going on regular vacations. For Philip, this would be owning a hot tub or building a media room. Maybe for you, it's having built your own home, paid off your mortgage, sent your kids to college, and/or having built a dozen freshwater wells in Africa. (Sorry, was that a Jesus Juke?)
Second Question: "What are all the obstacles standing in my way of acquiring that one luxury?"
This is your Debt Universe into which you’re launching your Debt Rocket (we’ll kill this metaphor yet!). Here you get to list all your debts (from smallest to largest) and how much you’d need to save to reach your version of Paradise Falls.
A quick word on owing money: Debt is a the single biggest threat to your financial future. And while home ownership might necessitate a mortgage, there's other debt like student loans, car loans, and credit card debt (especially credit card debt) that can kill your dream before it even gets off the ground.
On top of that, debt is expensive. Add up all your debts that are not your mortgage and multiply them by the annual interest rate. For example, if you've got $2,000 worth of car loans at 6% interest, that's $120; if you've got $900 of credit card debt at 28% interest, that's $252/year that you're paying that you won't have to anymore!
So list all your debts, how much you’d need to save to achieve your dream, and get ready for...
Third Question: "What are 3 things that we can do without, starting today?"
Say hi to your Debt Rocket Boosters!
“Wait,” you say, “didn’t you say at the top that this was supposed to be fun?”
“Yes,” I respond.
“Well, I’ll admit the first question (deciding what my aspirational goal is) was fun,” you continue, “but then you had me write down all my debts, and the amount of money I’d need to save, and that wasn’t so much fun!”
“Uh-huh,” I respond.
“And now!” you exclaim. “Now you want me to give up stuff? How is that fun?”
“I admit it’s not all rainbows and lollipops,” I acknowledge, “but bear with me here.”
Look at your aspirational goal. How cool would it be to get there? Very cool. Popsicle Pete-cool. So this is fun, because we’re giving up things that are less cool than your ultimate dream, in order to get you to your ultimate dream faster.
So come up with a plan to put extra money against your debt. Write down "Give up my morning coffee from [insert your coffeeshop here]." Add it up for a year: even just $3 every weekday for coffee adds up to $750/year!
Or write "Cancel our cable TV service and switch to Netflix.” It’s easy to drop $50-$100 a month on cable, but Netflix has tons of shows you can binge-watch to your heart’s content for only $8/month (with a freebie to get you started). Even if you’re on the low end of cable TV costs, you’ll be saving over $500/year with this switch.
For us, a few things we’ve sacrificed include Philip driving to work (he busses), cable TV, and a few games’ worth of our Blue Bomber season seats. With those three changes, a conservative estimate suggests we save about $2500/year. It’s not easy, but when I remember that we’re $2500 closer to soaking the winter blahs away in a hot tub or one day having a “Winter Cruise budget,” it’s a lot easier to stomach.
So what’s your aspirational goal? What are you giving up to get there? Make note of it in the comments so we can all cheer you on!