2011 New Year’s Resolutions!!!!

Here’s the entry where I talk about my new year’s resolutions and no one cares but me. Weeeeeeeeeee!!

Oh god, I love the New Year! It appeals to the very core of my being. A fresh start! New beginning! Love and joy and jam sandwiches and all things that are good. Mmmmm New Year. Huzzah!!

Naturally, I have a ton of resolutions. I decided to limit myself to a manageable 3. In 2011, I will:

1. Find  a good home for my dog, Dexter. In the meantime, I will walk him, train him, fix him, school him, try not to kill him.

2. Pay off my HBC credit card in full, and reduce my Mastercard debt by $500.

3. Get my driver’s license (G2).


Other miscellaneous goals (which are not part of my official list, and therefore cannot be held against me when I forget about them on January 2nd), in no particular order,  include adopting a better, more positive attitude, being kinder to myself, thinking more of others, blogging more (at least 2 times a week), vlogging more (hopefully every day?), becoming a better mom, friend, partner and employee, showing the bloggers and YouTubers I stan how much I appreciate them by commenting instead of hiding in the shadows like the creepy lurkie loo that I am, being more financially responsible, quitting my nasty procrastination habit, smartifying myself, spending less money on junk food and more money on the clothes and household items I desperately need (when it is responsibly budgeted, of course), swearing less, making more meals at home and experimenting with different foods, etc. etc. I could go on for days. But I won’t. Not because I’m afraid of boring you, but because I’m tired, Chase is passed out in the chair next to me, and it’s time for both of us to get to bed. Night chachies!


Debt Serious

I have been thinking about money constantly since Friday when I discovered that the minimum payment on one of my student loans, which I could barely afford to pay, jumped by $160 a month, bringing my total payment to $495.41. Whaaaaaaaa?!

I know that I signed up for that debt. I know I agreed to the terms when they told me that my interest and minimum payment would climb every year. But I wasn’t expecting to pay $500 a month on the thing. Do you know what I could do with $500? And that’s just ONE of my loans, guys. I am still paying for OSAP. Not to mention my credit cards (both maxed out).

I am soooo angry. Angry with myself for not saving any money. For getting into debt. For investing in a useless university degree. And I am soooo angry with the bank because they have all of my damn money!

I am going to claw my way out of debt (literally penny by penny because as it is now, I can barely afford to eat let alone pay off my student loans and credit cards), and then I’m never ever going to give the bank any of my money (above and beyond keeping a checking/savings account) ever again (I MIGHT make an exception for a mortgage, but only if I have at least 30% to put on a down payment). I’ll be making regular posts about my progress.

So far, I’ve signed up for my baby bonus (9 months late, but hey. It’s a start!), which is basically free money I get from the government to help pay for some of the costs that come with having a child. Here are some of the other things I’m going to do:

1. Do my taxes so I can get my GST cheques (more government money I qualify for because my income is crap).

2. Keep the house well stocked in groceries and easy-to-make snacks so eating out (or ordering a pizza) is less tempting.

3. Pack Chase a lunch every day so he doesn’t have an excuse to buy one while at work.

4. Spend some time on Weebitz so I can make some extra money (yeah, yeah. But I might actually do it this time!).

5. Limit my social outings (where money is required) to twice a month. This is going to be the hardest thing for me, I think, because I have already had to limit my outings so much. Since we moved into this new place, I haven’t been able to afford subway tokens to get anywhere, so I just don’t go out. And it is so boring and isolating being on maternity leave. This past month has been especially so. I feel the baby blues closing in. But maybe we can get out for more walks or something. More trips to the park? Lots of stroller rides to the grocery store? I dunno. Something.

Ways to Save Money: Make Gifts For Your Friends

Whitney went to her friend Maya’s first birthday party on Saturday (so cute!). I couldn’t afford to buy a gift so I tore all of our boxes apart searching for my fabric stash and sewing machine (it took hours) and came up with this blanket for the birthday girl:

This may be my favourite quilt yet. I hope I have enough of the mushroom fabric left to recreate it for Whitney.

Maya’s blanket was my first FO in a long while, and it made me miss being crafty. I’ve been thinking a lot about getting Weebitz up and running again so you may see many more sewing posts in the coming days and weeks.

Whitney enjoying herself at her first birthday party experience.

Ways to Save Money: Taking Stock of Your Kitchen Cabinets

Hungry and too broke to do groceries? Take stock of your kitchen cabinets! That canned soup you previously overlooked as a bland  side dish now becomes a bland meal. The jar of cheez whiz you shoved to the back of the fridge? A rediscovered love for processed cheese on toast! Humongous jar of peanut butter? Relive your childhood with a PB sammy. A dusty can of peaches isn’t really a viable chocolate alternative, but it’ll do in a pinch. Plain minute rice isn’t so bad and Chef Boyardee is practically edible. Stale cereal just has a different texture – it still tastes the same as the fresh stuff (for the most part). Homemade coffee and tea is almost as good a Timmy’s and no one will give you a dirty look when you dump 5 sugars in your drink.

Don’t think of it so much as desperation as an opportunity to clean out your cupboards and avoid public ridicule by snotty coffee shop workers who think they are better than you. Awesome!

Cheap Entertainment Idea: Church!

I have more or less spent the past 15 years turning my mockery of Jesus from a mere gimmick into a full-blown personality trait, so you might be surprised to find that I have some very religious friends and family. I try to tone down my disdain for organized religion while I am around church-going folk. As long as they don’t try to impose their beliefs on me (or explain why their god legitimizes prejudice and homophobia), I don’t try to impose my beliefs on them (although, if they bring up the subject, I’m not going to pretend like I believe in God, just like I don’t expect them to pretend they don’t).

This is all a very long-winded way of saying that my religious friend, T, convinced me to go to a Christianity 101 course at an Anglican church. She wanted to go because she’s having a crisis of faith (I maintain that consulting a priest because you are having doubts about Christianity is like going to a Nazi because you’re doubting that whole racism thing; you’re not likely to get an unbiased answer, but you’ll probably feel reassured in your belief system for a little while); I wanted to go first and foremost for the lulz, but also because it was social, cheap, and I was promised a brunch and free childcare.

I missed the first class, but T went and, as I understand, tried to get all philosophical in her discussion group – asking questions like “If God is so good, why is there suffering in the world?”. You know, the type of question that can’t  be satisfactorily answered because, really, the Bible makes no logical sense? That type of question. I wish I had been there!

I thought it was hilarious that the second class began with a disclaimer that this course is not designed to answer any of the big life questions, rather it’s just an introduction to what Christianity is all about. I swear I saw the priest look in T’s direction while he was saying it. Point for T!

I didn’t go with the intention of questioning the Anglican faith at all. The course is taught by people who believe in the bible enough to teach it on a volunteer basis every Sunday. Going into a class knowing that it’s obviously designed to recruit followers and announcing that I don’t believe that Jesus is God incarnate seems a little disrespectful on my part. I didn’t want to be rude. I just wanted to check it out and support T.

The class istself is okay. I went to Catholic school for 10 years and took every religion course offered – even the optional ones (although, in all fairness, I signed up for one because it was billed as a philosophy course and I ended up studying the catechism  instead). It certainly isn’t anything new to me, but the priest is kind of cute and my group members are nice enough. I especially like the Jew and the chick who knows nothing about Christianity because it’s neat to see their perspectives.

The class consists of a small talk from the priest, explaining some “fact” or concept, and then we have a directed discussion session in our assigned small groups. I took part much more than I thought I would, and in a sort of constructive way (I found myself explaining concepts like the trinity. It almost sounded like I was one of them!), although I did feel like a total tool when they asked “If you had to describe Jesus, how would you do so?” and I said he was a dude with a beard, while everyone else answered with adjectives like “nice,” “kind,” etc. I didn’t mean to sound flippant – I’m just a douche. My second class is tomorrow. I’ll try to keep a running count of all of the ways I manage to embarrass myself.

For those of you who are looking for cheap entertainment, I would totally recommend hitting up your local churches (or other places of worship). You can check out the architecture for free (it’s genuinely beautiful), attend a service (also free), or take some of the classes they offer (the one I’m in right now costs $10 for something like 5 weeks, and the fee is there basically to cover the cost of brunch. Also, if I wasn’t paranoid about letting some stranger employed by an institution known for kid-diddling take care of Whitney, I’d get free childcare for an hour).

Don’t Think of it as Being Poor; Think of it as Inspiration to Blog More!

Chase and I have been spending all of our free time at the new place – mostly doing laundry and watching Dawson’s Creek on the iBook (a guilty pleasure on both our parts. We are rapidly making our way through the series), with a little cleaning and painting in there, too. Now that Whitney has a room of her own, we’re engaging in the age-old parental rite of passage known as decorating the nursery. It would be going much more smoothly if we had some necessities like a crib, artwork, linens… MONEY! We are so poor, we are waiting until I get paid again to buy a second can of $15 paint for her bedroom (we were fools to think that 1 coat of lime green paint was going to do it).

Our early move and subsequent overlapping leases (we’re paying for two apartments this month) has set us back in a big way and we were never ahead to begin with. I foresee a lot of kraft dinner and ramen noodles in my future… Stay tuned for some posts about living on a tight budget (going on a shopping spree with your HBC credit card not included, mainly because you’ll get home from Zellers and think “What did I just spend $150 on?!” Also because adding to your already astronomical debt is a bad idea). I was thinking I could share some cheap meal ideas or other thrifty ways to live below the poverty line in the upcoming weeks and months while I play catch-up with my budget*.

*Oh, who am I kidding?! Budget?!!

If you have a super cheap recipe suggestion, leave it in the comments. If I make it, I’ll post about it.