Sunday, September 26, 2010

Money, money, money

I hear a lot of people complaining about money (specifically, the lack of it), and yet they do things I would never do - like buy lunch every day or trade in a car that is less than 3 years old (and still has a car loan) for a new vehicle. (Admittedly, I used to buy lunch every day, but that was before the layoffs started at the big telecom company in 1998. I didn't get laid off, but I did start bringing my lunch.)

That made me wonder - what financial decisions do I make that seem like poor decisions?

The first big one is that I bought a house, on my own, when I was 28. (Well, actually, I started the process when I was 27.) Don't get me wrong, I love my house, but it would have been a lot cheaper to keep renting. My mortgage is more than my rent was, and that doesn't include property taxes, repairs and upkeep. Buying is a lot more expensive if you're only looking at it from a financial perspective.

Related to the house purchase is snow removal. I pay for a company to plow my driveway every time it snows. Yes, I could do it myself - in theory - but you have to remove snow when it snows (you can't wait until you have time) and doing it myself would have a negative effect on everything from getting to work on time to leisure activities.

Boxing is another one. I love boxing - it's good for me physically and mentally - but boxing for the year costs around the same as my gym membership for the year. The difference is that for that money, I can go to the gym as often as I want, but I can only box once. (For that matter, I don't need to go to the gym - but I do value it, so I'm willing to pay for it.)

There are little things too - I've mentioned my newspaper issues, but I could also save money on my phone bill. I could get rid of cable TV. Theoretically, I could get rid of my internet access (although that is unlikely to make it to the top of the list anytime soon).

Should I change any of those things? Well, I probably could check into making changes to my phone bill (and I should definitely cancel the newspaper), but hopefully I won't be in a financial position where I need to make changes to the others.

A new car every 3 - 5 years isn't my priority - but that doesn't mean that it's the wrong decision for other people. If you drive a lot or really dislike having to get your car repaired, maybe it's the right choice for you. The key is to spend your money on what you value. For me, a new car is lower priority than my other choices.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Road trip

A couple of months ago, Wanda and I started talking about going to Toronto for the weekend. Originally, we were talking about going the weekend after Labour Day, but that turned out to be the community corn roast weekend, so we decided to wait until this weekend.

Last week I started to think that Toronto was too far to go for no particular reason. We talked about Montreal instead (since it's a two-hour drive instead of five), but decided on Kingston (also two hours).

Everything was set until I hurt my ankle on Wednesday.

The annoying part is that I didn't even do anything - I just got up from my desk at work and walked towards the kitchen and thought "gee, my ankle hurts". Since I didn't do anything in particular, I went to boxing that night anyway.

By Thursday morning, it was clear that boxing was a mistake. (I figured that out when I had to hit the brakes and almost screamed from the pain.)

My ankle rapidly recovered, though, and although it's still a bit tender, we decided to go to Kingston yesterday.

It was a beautiful day for it - the sun was shining, but it wasn't super hot. We walked through the farmer's market and around the downtown area. We went down by the water. We wandered in and out of the different shops and stopped at the Mug and Truffle Chocolate Cafe.

And we went to Indigo, where I bought Wanda a Kobo electronic reader as a thank you for trimming the hedges this year.

She was ridiculously excited. When we got home, she plugged it in and immediately downloaded some books. When she came upstairs this morning, she had already finished her first book.

The only problem is that now I want one too.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To the woman behind me

To the woman behind me at Preston and Carling at 4:40,

Look, you're busy.

I understand. We all are. I left the house at 7:30 this morning and won't be home until 9:30 tonight.

And when you passed me immediately after the light turned green and spent the next few blocks weaving in and out of traffic, I'm sure it was just because you were in such a big hurry to get to ... well, where ever you were going.

(It wasn't the Civic Hospital - you drove right past that.)

Don't worry, I wasn't at all laughing at you when you ended up behind me again at the lights in front of Westgate.

But ... I do have to say, if the car in front of you stopping at a red light causes you to wave your arms and beat the steering wheel like a two year old having a tantrum, you need a time out.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Beautiful Fall Day

Yesterday was the annual community corn roast. It was a beautiful day for it - sunny with no rain. Since it has rained pretty much daily for the past week or two, that was a nice change.

I worked in the kitchen as usual. It was incredibly busy - we had a line from 5:30 - 7:30. The big problem was that we only had one barbecue (instead of the two we normally have). Still, everyone was understanding and eventually we caught up.

Before the corn roast, Wanda and I finished trimming the hedges. (Well, ok, she trimmed the hedges and I moved the ladder / cleaned up / laughed when she fell off the ladder.)

Unfortunately, in order to get the ladder in the right place to get one part of the hedges, I had to stand in an evergreen bush that I'm allergic to. And, of course, instead of coming inside to wash my legs immediately, I waited until we were done.

That's right, I have a rash up to my knees. I really should pull out those bushes. They're pretty, but it's really not worth it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Newspaper Problems

I've had the Ottawa Citizen delivered for years.

I've had the odd problem (paper delivered when it shouldn't have been, paper not delivered when it should have been, newspaper carrier walking across the lawn and knocking snow onto the walk) but for the most part, those problems have been easily resolved.

Lately, though, I'm having a different kind of problem.

You see, the paper is being delivered, I'm just not reading it - at least not until I have a formidable stack of 3 or 4 papers to read.

Part of the problem is that I read news online. That is mostly national/international news, though - there's not much specific to Ottawa. If I want to know what's going on in Ottawa, one of my major sources is the Ottawa paper.

Well, it would be, if I read the Ottawa paper.

I'm not sure what the solution is. Do I make more of an effort to seek out Ottawa news online and cancel the newspaper? Do I make more of an effort to read the paper every day?

I'm not sure, but I'd better figure it out, because this is a little ridiculous.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sparkling clean

When my mom was here, my dishwasher broke.

(There should not be a gap there.)

It still cleaned fine, but the piece that connected the rack to the roller assembly broke.

For a few days, we just manually put the two pieces together to move the rack, but obviously this needed to stop, so we stopped using the dishwasher.

I googled it (is there any other approach?) and found Indestructible Parts. Those were exactly the parts I needed, and I liked the idea of replacing the broken hub with something a little more robust. I placed an order and was notified quickly that the order had shipped.

I waited.

And waited.

After a few days, I e-mailed them and asked about the package - I hadn't expected it to have arrived, but I had expected it to be at the post office, and USPS was still saying that they were expecting the package.

Amy replied to my e-mail. She contacted the postal service and confirmed that the type of shipping they used wasn't trackable, but that my parcel was in the mail. It should arrive in 8 - 10 business days. She asked me to let her know if it hadn't arrived by August 31, which, if I remember correctly, was 12 business days from the order.

Yesterday, I still hadn't received the package. I e-mailed her again, and she made plans to send me a new shipment.

Can anyone guess what was waiting for me when I got home today? Anyone?

That's right, the package with my new hubs.

I checked my e-mail and had a message from Amy saying she was looking into it and she would mail me a new set if she didn't have an answer by Friday. This was a reasonable response - and not just because my package arrived today.

I took the rack out of the dishwasher (after first figuring out how to take the rack out of the dishwasher) and removed the old hubs.

This is a poor picture, but the top hub is the replacement, the bottom hub is the original (unbroken) one - while I was at it, I replaced all four.

The dishwasher is now reassembled and ready for a load of dishes. Total time spent - half an hour, but that included looking for the right bit to remove the old hubs, figuring out how to remove the rack from the dishwasher, and the actual work.