November 6, 2011

If You Thought You Were Financially Savvy - Here's Your Test!

Okay. So lots of people have offered up thoughts and opinions. And let me preface this money management moment with a compliment to all my friends: while it doesn't take much YOU ALL ARE BETTER AT MONEY MANAGEMENT THAN ME.

However, the BEST Money Manager Award goes to...HRL - and, besides being the smartest and most disciplined person I've come across, she's also the most generous, as she shared MANY tips with me (they ALL blew me away and made me realize that I need to really work harder at this new approach or dollar diet. Because it's a lifestyle not a diet. blah blah).

he he.


She is willing to let me share her tips with y'all!

And to be sure you are aware, although I think it is VERY evident: her family does not do without and her children and hubby are VERY happy with the disciplined choices she's made - she is teaching them all so much about worth and being thankful and consciously planning rather than mindlessly spending: these are invaluable lessons, I think. I wish she had taught me a long time ago!!! ps. I ASKED her for these tips - as I ask all of you for yours. I figure I cannot go it alone, since I am clueless.

Alright - enough said. - Enjoy and please leave your thoughts and additions!

Note: it's all in bullet-form.

*Okay, so when I bought my house, I loved the house but was feeling very overwhelmed with owning a house all my myself and being the only person responsible for paying the mortgage. So I was determined to pay off the mortgage as quickly as possible. I had a 25 year mortgage, I have lived here for just over 4 years and my mortgage will be paid off by January 2013 (at the latest). After that I will think of myself as having financial freedom.

*Keep in mind, I had nothing when B and I separated.

*So, I bought my house and I literally lived with no new furniture for 2 solid years. All my appliances were bought used and knock on wood, they all still work. I had one chair in my living room from my parents, an old couch from my sister. I had a kitchen table that my grandparents were throwing out (still use that table every single day.) All bedroom furniture was either given to me or I bought at garage sales. Same with tv's, cutlery, dishes, etc. I literally had nothing when I left B except for my clothes, half of C's clothes, and half his toys. Everything else I left.
*Okay, so then I made a list of all the things I really, really wanted. To do to the house, to buy, etc. And I prioritized and set goals. So the number one thing I wanted was new kitchen cupboards and furniture for my living room. So I saved for that for 2 years and yes, it was kind of embarrassing that I had nothing but disgusting hand me down furniture but I didn't let it bother me and still had people over. When I re-did the kitchen I realized that I couldn't afford new appliances or granite counter tops but that will come someday.
So I still have a really long list of things I want but like I said, paying off my mortgage is my priority.

*Okay, so when C was little I found a girl who was willing to sell me her second half clothes. C gets a new outfit for back to school, Christmas, and Easter. Aside from that, I LITERALLY don't buy one single thing new for him. It's hard but it has also made it very exciting for him to pick out something new and realize that that's special. And you know what, the second hand clothes are pretty nice. It's not like he ever gets made fun of or looks like a rag-a-muffin.

*Also, by the time they REALLY start caring about name brands and stuff like that, I will have 'financial freedom' and will be able to spend more money on their clothes.

*My best advice on kids bedrooms is this:
Pick a nice bland colour for the walls.C 's is pale blue, C.L's is pale pink and blue, S 's is yellow. Each kids room has a nice generic bedspread. C's is a nice blue quilt with deep maroon sheets. (he has deep maroon curtains) Then when we want to "re-model" his room this is what we do: He has had a Thomas room, a Lightning McQueen Room, and now a Spiderman room. So instead of having to buy new bedding, curtains, and decor, we buy those cling-on things and a new pillow case. Then when anyone asks what they can give him as a gift for b-day I say, oh a Spiderman calendar or a Spiderman picture, or a Spiderman pillow. Whatever, things like that.

*kids toys
Honestly, I am not a big fan of garage sales BUT I go. I look for great deals on toys, buy them, clean them, and put them away for GIFTS for the kids. When I was pregnant with SI didn't buy one single new thing. I got a gorgeous bassinet for $30, a jumperoo for $15, a really nice high chair for $25, etc, etc. All these things I will either give away or re-sell at a garage sale next year. (I have only ever had one garage sale as I"m not a fan but it's a great way to unload toys and baby stuff and get your money back... literally!)

*Anything else my kids want they really have to earn. I might sound mean but C really wants a DS. He tells me he is the only kid in his class who doesn't have one. I could have bought one for his b-day last year but when I saw they are about $150 I just about shit. So I made him set out a plan of how he was going to save for it. He is not allowed to put b-day money towards it b/c that goes into his savings bank account. But he is allowed to use allowance money or any extra money he's earned. Anything that is ABOVE what he is expected to do he gets a little bit of money for. So he's been saving for a DS for a year. Upon realizing that a new DS with games, case, etc is now going to be over $200 we made a diff't plan. I e-mailed friends and family and asked if any of their children was contemplating selling an old DS. We hit a goldmine. For $70 C bought a used DS with a tonne of games, a carrying case, extra pens, the list goes on. He was literally doing jumping jacks around the kitchen, he could NOT contain his own excitement. And he earned every penny... it took him about 13 months to save for his DS and I even debated surprising him on his b-day and just buying him one but now I'm really glad I didn't. There is nothing quite as sweet as the feeling of buying something because you know you earned it and that is something I really want him to know.

* All my kids have 2 bank accounts. An "I can't touch this money account" and a "I'm saving for a ______ account."

* One more tidbit... because everyone is good at something my friends and I do lots of "trades." eg. My sister takes our family photos (individual and family shots), she edits them. In turn I take her FOUR kids for an overnight so she and her husband can go out together and have a sleep-in the next day. I have another friend who (like you, SB) is really good at doing hair and make-up so if I have something special to go to I get her to do my hair and make-up and I, in turn, tutor her child for that same amount of time. (this is NOT my hairdresser, I still have my own hairdresser, but I can't afford to get my hair and make up done every time I want to look pretty). Another friend will give me a pedicure every few months and then I make a meal for her family b/c she hates to cook.

*My mortgage payment & property taxes is every other week. (always do the every other Friday payment if you can b/c it takes 3 or 4 years off your mortgage as opposed to the twice a month payment!) But every Jan 1st, I up my mortgage payment by 20% and have since I bought my house. It makes things tight but it's SO worth it. I save up the max I can put down on my mortgage each year before I put ANY money on renovatiMy parents also took half my pay cheque when I was younger, and although it PISSED me off like CRAZY when I was a teenager I wasn't complaining when they gave me $12,000 throughout my university years.ons.

*I also will not ever own a new vehicle until I am I don't know how old. Like I said, my parents were great examples to me. I grew up with nothing (I'm not kidding, if you saw the house I grew up in, you would want to call CAS). But when I was 14 my parents built a beautiful new house and it was so worth it! Also, my parents both turned 60 this year and my dad bought a brand new truck. They are 60 years old and this was literally the first new vehicle they have ever owned. It's fully loaded, they LOVE it. My mom retired 2 years ago, my dad still works. But my point is that my mom was an A-4 level teacher, my dad works in a lab making about $110,000 / year. But they never chose to spend their money on vehicles. Their vehicles weren't falling apart, they were reliable, but they just weren't flashy. So I have never bought a vehicle in my life that I couldn't buy straight out. I have literally never made a car payment in my life and I never will.

*All money from the government (child tax benefit, baby bonus) goes straight to the kids RESP's. I actually stopped putting money into RRSP's after I bought my house and re-directed that money to my mortgage. HRL is a teacher and therefore has a pension. That being said, though, I do have about $40,000 in RRSP's already b/c my parents drilled it into me to start when I was 18.

*My parents also took half my pay cheque when I was younger, and although it PISSED me off like CRAZY when I was a teenager I wasn't complaining when they gave me $12,000 throughout my university years.

* They wanted to show me just how much money I was squandering and sometimes TOUGH LOVE really is the answer.
By letting E pick things out already "just because" you're honestly not doing her any favours. Again, maybe this sounds mean but when I let C buy a 'treat' at the store, like a pack of gum, he is thrilled for weeks and saves that gum and makes it last for two weeks and well, you get the idea.

* Oh, and C only gets half of his allowance, the other half goes into the bank. He has his own bank account which he is quite proud of.

*Oh, and we really do fun things too! I promise! It's not that we NEVER spend money. Next week we're taking the kids to a hotel in T. that has a pool and a water slide as a "just because" vacation.
Plus Mexico and Disney - all because I could pay for them.
*Oh, and I also don't buy many new clothes (as you know). People like you and love you no matter how you dress for the person you are.

*I also love your Friday night dinner as that's what we do here. I get a chicken from SuperStore or cook something from a box. Something with little prep and minimal clean up.

*JL and I also do "date night" once a week which means we put the kids to bed early, make a special meal together and eat it. Then we watch a movie that we have rented from the 99 cent shelf at our corner store. When you never watch new movies, the 99 cent movies aren't reruns. ; ) Sometimes we splurge and get a new rental.... and then we joke about how crazy and reckless we are.

*And we go out for supper with the kids once / month and try to say it's for a special occasion: We take turns picking the restaurant so sometimes it's a nice restaurant and sometimes it's McDonalds.

*Also, all the "art" on my walls is family or friend pictures or art that CL and C have drawn and I've framed. I know that sounds silly but I don't spend money on things to decorate the house. Then, too, when you get tired of the decor, you can just change the pics. Plus it makes the house so much more homey and personal and it reflects me so much more than any real art I could find. I do have a few things hanging up that I received as gifts but I have never spent money on wall hangings.

*Oh, and something else you can put in your blog (if you want) is that I do NOT shop in the States, I don't coupon clip, I don't buy in bulk (because I don't like clutter) I shop LOCAL (aka more expensive) every chance I get. Supporting my own country but especially my own town and spending more money doing it is worth it to me. (but I do buy somethings on-line that I realize is out of the States... like shutterfly)



  1. Anonymous7.11.11

    I'm totally impressed. Thanks for sharing these tips. I love the idea of instilling financial prowess in your children. Sure, it's nice to get whatever you want, when you want, but earning it, saving for it, getting it only once in awhile is so much better. When should I open a bank account up for my 4-month-old? At this point, any of his "savings" are going ino a RESP.


  2. Anonymous7.11.11

    Now if I could be this disciplined when it comes to weight loss! ; ) We all have our downfalls, that's for sure!

    le, the way I do it is have my kids open a bank account when they are old enough to understand and they have a bit of money saved (anywhere from 10 - 30 $). And it is money they earned on their own from doing little jobs like making their bed and setting the table. With C, that was when he was about 3 1/2 I think, with CL (because she's my stepdaughter and wasn't a part of my life until later) it was when she was almost 6. I have a 4 month old also and I just put all her money into RESP's as well.


Thanks for your thoughts!


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