CalendarBudget Blog

Personal finance matters as they pertain to saving money, living within your means and using CalendarBudget to solve your personal finance problems and to manage your money online.

Does it Hurt Enough To Cause Change?

Does it Hurt Enough To Cause Change?

I heard a story with a meaning about a year ago. It goes like this:

A man started walking home from work and walked by a bunch of houses, each seeming to have a dog. As he walked by each dog would bark at him, except for one dog. One house had a dog that just whimpered and moans all the time, the kind of sound like it was in pain from something. He dismissed it and continued walking. The next day the same thing - all the dogs barked at him except this one dog who whimpered, howled and moaned. This continued for a week. Finally the man became very concerned and knocked on the door of the whimpering dog to find out what was wrong. He asked the man who answered, "What's wrong with your dog?".

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Using Money Wisely - How Pennies Improved My Shower Experience

Using Money Wisely - How Pennies Improved My Shower Experience

I really dislike a standard household shower. You know the kind - you probably own one too - a straight metal bar holding up the shower curtain. The curtain is so close to you during the shower its constantly touching you, or almost touching you so you have to manipulate yourself in such a way as to avoid it... Its cold, soggy and clings if you touch it with you leg or side or whatever... Anyway, if you're like me, its bothersome.

One time I had the fortune of being in a "nice" hotel they had an arc curtain rod. Its a rounded rod that curves out so the curtain is away from you, but the bottom is still inside the tub. It was wonderful.

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Time is Money Mondays - Time is a Limited Resource (but can be increased)

Time is Money Mondays - Time is a Limited Resource (but can be increased)

We all know time is a fixed resource we all have. However there is a way to increase the amount of time you have. No, not by sleeping less and not by messing with the Special Theory of Relativity and time travel.

Think about how much time it takes to do a routine task. What if you could reduce the amount of time it took to do that routine task and cut the time in half by being more efficient, or by using a tool or technology. You would have effectively doubled your time. The time resource hasn't changed, but the act of being more efficient by organizing or using a tool/technology has effectively doubled your time (for the period of that task).

Take stock of what routine tasks take up time in your day and how can you perform those tasks more efficiently in order to "increase" your time. Think of all the things you could get done with just a little more time. Its definitely worth the effort.

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Post-Christmas Blues (due to debt)

Post-Christmas Blues (due to debt)

There's nothing like having a great Christmas full of happiness, family and giving and then having that fire dowsed like a sugar high crash by the realization that you have a big debt that's been multiplied by Christmas gifts.

Often it won't manifest itself until after New Years since we're still in vacation/party mode. But don't let a looming sense of debt ruin your vacation and dampen your spirits. The way to overcome that feeling is to put forth at least a minimal effort to understand where you stand financially, what your plans are for the immediate future and be on a plan to execute those plans.

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Time is Money Mondays - Getting a Second Opinon Before Getting Started

Time is Money Mondays - Getting a Second Opinon Before Getting Started

A second opinion may have helped.

Have you ever started a project and realized half way through (or worse, once its "completed") that a better design would have either saved you time or done a better job? This has happened to me countless times. Now, I try to get a second opinion, preferably from an expert, but even from a non-expert person, to validate my plans *before* starting the implementation. Often, my plans will change with someones opinion - and on occasion I'll change the entire concept, or even not do the project, due to someone's opinion.

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Extreme Regifting (Stealing Candy From Your Baby)

Extreme Regifting (Stealing Candy From Your Baby)

Is this pushing regifting to the extreme?

While cleaning out our food storage area tonight, I noticed a (rather large) stash of Hallowe'en candy that we separated from the rest. We always do this at Hallowe'en to ration the amount of candy our kids have at once. This year (like years past) we forgot about the stash since we rarely go to the food storage area. Now that Christmas is upon us, here's my devious plan....

Use most or all of that candy as part of the kids gifts/stocking stuffers. It will save us between$30-$50 easily. Our kids never knew that we kept some of the candy apart from the rest anyway, so its perfect. They are young enough to not know better.

Its perfect I tell you, PERFECT!!! MUAA HA HA ha ha haaaaaaaa.!!!

[dashing off into the night with a black cape and bag full of candy]

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Time is Money Mondays

Time is Money Mondays

I have a wall clock hanging in the main room of my house. The clock was custom made as given as a gift for my graduation from college. Its an elegantly framed computer keyboard (on the bottom, and on the top is a centered clock fixture, on the right side is a small brass abacus, and on the right is a small printed circuit board. Behind the clock fixture is inscribed on a brass plate, "Time is Money". It fetches lots of great reactions, but its message is singluar.

We're all familiar with this saying, and I think we intrinsically understand it without a detailed explanation. However, I think we often fail to apply logic in correlation with this understanding (me included). Here are a few things that we commonly waste time with, that if changed, will win back precious time, reduce frustration, increase focus and ultimately increase the amount of money we can earn.

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Time is Money Mondays: Computer Shortcuts

Time is Money Mondays: Computer Shortcuts

 

In the spirit of Time = Money, I'll post some time saving tips on Mondays to hopefully give you back some time to spend either managing your money, or perhaps something even more important, like spending time with your family.

Watching my wife work on a computer drives me absolutely crazy. I know lots of shortcuts and time savers and my mind is usually way ahead of the computer interface. When I watch her use the computer, and see her not using the shortcuts I've become accustomed to, or worse, see her dwell on a screen when the next step is (to me anyway) obvious, frustrates me to no end. I'm still learning patience on this one... try to teach rather than always do... but for the rest of the world, here are just a few of the time saving tips that will give you minutes and possible hours of your day/week back. Some of the following tips apply to windows machines only (sorry Mac friends - please post your tips as a reply):

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When You Should Buy a New Car

When You Should Buy a New Car

First of all - the rule of thumb is NEVER buy a new car unless you have money to burn. Vehicles devalue so quickly, the financing usually leaves you paying for something that is not even worth the remaining balance you owe. In fact, as soon as you drive the car off the dealers lot you can take a few $1000 off the price you just paid. 0% financing may make is look more tempting, but its still a bad deal.

Now, having said that, I just bought a new car :) But I did so with my eyes wide open. You may recall from a previous blog that my van died. We decided at the time to try living without owning a vehicle. We tried the experiment for 3 weeks. The money savings were great, but here's what we found. We were spending up to 1 hour/day trying to arrange for borrowing a vehicle to get our family (7 of us) to the places we needed to be at. That time (and to a less degree, the stress of feeling like a burden to those we were constantly asking) was something we didn't fully consider.

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I'm Trying a New Grocery Shopping Technique

I'm Trying a New Grocery Shopping Technique

The technique involves the following rules:

  • Buy only items on sale. Buy nothing that is regularly priced. Make short route around local grocery stores and spend a few minutes in the weekly flyers to see whats on sale.
  • Stockpile items that are super sales. These items may take me over my regular grocery budget in the immediate week, however, they will save me lots in the long run.
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Frugal Child Birthday Party

Frugal Child Birthday Party

 

So our oldest daughter (who just turned 7) had a birthday on Nov 19th. We have a family policy - big birthdays every other year only. This year was the off-year, so we told her just 3 people. We still wanted them all to have lots of fun and rather than just have a small party, we piggy-backed an activity that was already scheduled at our church. The Primary organization was having a craft day on the same weekend as the party. So, naturally we just turned that INTO the party :)

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To drive or not to drive, THAT is the question

To drive or not to drive, THAT is the question

Last week, our van died. It was a cruel, fast death. The head gasket blew, engine light was flashing and the van produced a noxious smell with fumes and smoke. Not pretty. Luckily a friend was able to help me get where I needed to go. Once the dust settled, we got the van towed to a repair shop for an estimate. They estimated $2050. My goodness! Having looked up the selling price of the van, I knew that this repair would cost more than the entire value of the van.

We had some options to weigh:

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News Flash: CalendarBudget has gone into a FREE Beta period

News Flash: CalendarBudget has gone into a FREE Beta period

Here's a portion of the email sent to existing users:


We at CalendarBudget love you and your feedback.

We are happy to announce that we have entered into a Beta period (for a few months) during which time access will be completely free.

We are making this move to introduce a number of new features such as auto-consolidation from bank transaction exports, tutorials and other great things that will make managing your finances even easier. The home period will give us sufficient time to ensure that these important features are working properly and to incorporate your feedback before charging you for them.

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Financial Planning Process - Step 2: Develop Financial Goals

Financial Planning Process - Step 2: Develop Financial Goals

What is a financial goal?

Typically these include things like:

  • What is important to you financially?
  • What age would you like to retire?
  • What do you want to do when your retire and how much will it cost?
  • How often would you like to vacation, and what will you do on vacations?
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Financial Planning Process - Step 1: Determine Current Financial Situation

Financial Planning Process - Step 1: Determine Current Financial Situation

The first step in planning your finances is to figure our where you really are today.

One of the best ways to get started is to complete a Net Worth analysis for yourself. A Net Worth analysis is a snapshot of how much you are worth financially right now. To do this, you should list all of your assets and liabilities with their associated, realistic values.

Assets are anything that when turned into cash gives you some money. Common items are: your home, vehicle, bank accounts, retirement savings (401K/RRSP), investments.

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The Financial Planning Process - Simplified

The Financial Planning Process - Simplified

I came across this diagram today, depicting the process of financial planning. Following these simple steps you can ensure that your current and future finances are and will be on a firm foundation.

Its sooo important to have a plan first. Most people fail financially because they just don't have a plan or even clear goals. Once you have those, CalendarBudget helps IMMENSELY with steps 5 & 6.

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Automated, Cheap Movie Rentals

Automated, Cheap Movie Rentals

The days of the traditional, expensive movie rental store are numbered.

New, automated, ATM-style systems now available are replacing the need for a regular store. In my neighborhood, we have such a store, called Original Video. The store is open 24 hours a day, and anyone who is a member can go and rent/return a movie whenever they want. The system has the ability to browse movies on the spot by genre or new release. You can recharge your account at the machine (which accepts cash) or with a debit card during "business hours". The web site allows browsing of titles and reserving of movies.

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Six House Energy Savings Tips

Six House Energy Savings Tips

From the Oct 2008 issue of Money Magazine:

  1. Insulate your attic
  2. Cover the ducts
  3. Use a programmable thermostat
  4. Seal cracks in basement
  5. Wrap your water heater
  6. Service your furnace/air conditioner
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Can Financial Planning Cure Depression?

Can Financial Planning Cure Depression?

In some research done by Northwestern Mutual and LLuminari, results say that people tend to feel better about life in general when they are preaapred for their financial future.

It makes complete sense to me. How many of us worry about money issues on a daily basis? Its just sensible that those who don't have to worry about those things, because they have a plan in place and are excuting that plan, are happier people without that stress.

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Fuel Efficient Tires?

Fuel Efficient Tires?

I recently saw an advertisement for "Fuel Efficient Tires" and have been trying to figure out if this is just a marketing gimmick or if somehow its true.

The ad claimed that Michelin HydroEgde tires would save about $130 (or 33 gallons of gas) over the lifetime of the tires. For Michelin Latitude tires (for SUVs) you would save $300 or 77 gallons of gas. I just couldn't understand how this could be.

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