Cents of a Country Girl is moving!

Two weeks ago I was at CPFC12; it was a blast. I had lots of fun, met a great bunch of people, learned a great deal and was essentially told to get off my lazy ass and go self-hosted (but in much kinder words, of course). After a bit of humming and hawing on my part, Simon, Nelson, Marissa and Vanessa finally convinced me. With lots of help from Marissa and the google machine, I have managed to carve out a new place for myself. Brace yourself:


There you have it. Please check it out, update your RSS and blogrolls and spread the news. Also, let me know if you see something totally wonky or weird. It’s new, so there still might be some glitches but I’m doing my best to fix them all.

Hope to see everyone over at the new place.

Categories: About Me | Tags: | 6 Comments

No side-hustle here

melodramababs / Free Photos

For the last couple of weeks I’ve had side-hustles on my mind. There are lots of people out there who have another job (or two) in addition to their full time work. It’s a great way to get some extra income, which I would love to have. Every once and a while I’ve thrown around the idea of getting a side hustle, but I can’t seem to bring myself around to actually making any sort of plan or commitment.

I could certainly use some extra cash. I’m not in dire need by any means, but it would be nice to maximize my earning potential. Extra cash would help me pay down my mortgage, save up for my retirement, do more renos around the house and just give me some extra leeway in my budget. Unfortunately, the siren call of more moolah isn’t loud enough to drown out my brain conspiring against me. Here are my reasons (excuses?) for not having a side-hustle.

1. I have no idea what I would do. I’m a geographer by training and my geographic skills don’t seem to translate really well to a side-hustle, unless there is a demand for soil moisture modelling/analyzing that I don’t know about. I’m handy with computers, but not handy or creative enough that I could design wedding invitations or anything like that. I suppose the most logical idea for a side-hustle would be trying to make money off this here blog, but at the moment, I don’t feel like I’d be a very successful money-making blogger because…

2. I’m kind of busy. I work full time. I have two significant volunteer commitments – one a local history book project and the second working on exhibits for a local museum. This is in addition to weekly yoga and curling, a house to maintain, and oh yeah, blogging. I really enjoy my volunteer work, my sports and blogging. I already feel like I don’t give enough time to my blog, so it’s hard to imagine having something else on my plate to take up more of my precious time. I suppose I could always be better at time management, but when I’m out of the house for work for 10 hours a day, five days a week, it seems to leave me a bit short of time already.

3. I’m kind of lazy. There I’ve admitted it. I could be more efficient with my time, but I’m just not and right now, I’m not willing to put the effort into squeezing everything else so I can have more work to do. I like being able to sit and visit with people who stop in for a visit and not have to shoo them away because between 7 and 8:30 I’m supposed to be working on this, that or another thing. I can’t help but feel like I would burn out before too long.

4. Part-time jobs out here are few and far between. Working at a local shop is pretty much out of the question as everything but Tim Horton’s shuts down at 5 PM. Even the hours of a hired-hand on a farm wouldn’t fit into my schedule, unless I did an evening shift in a dairy barn – but that conflicts with my volunteer and sport stuff.

There you have it, my excuses for not having a side-hustle (I hope this doesn’t make me a bad personal finance blogger). Right now, a side-hustle just isn’t in the cards for me. I can’t motivate myself to change into a super efficient money making machine, so I’ll just have to accept that I have to make do with what I currently earn (that, or win the lottery or become a super-duper savvy investor). I feel a little guilty for not wanting/being able to convince myself to get a side-hustle, and as great as extra cash would be, I can’t seem to justify the time and effort it would require.

Do you have a side-hustle? Why/why not? What motivated you to get one or conversely, what are your reasons for not having one?

Categories: About Me, Personal, Work | Tags: | 17 Comments

Running for Retirement

Thomas Hawk / Free Photos

Lately, I’ve had lots of discussions about retirement with my boss. He’s getting to the age where retirement is too far away for him and his wife, and many of his peers are starting to retire. We’ve talked about how he’s planned for his retirement, how he has forecasted his cash flow for 10, 20 and 30 years from now, the company retirement plan vs other pension plans, as well as the doom and gloom reports and articles outlining how my generation isn’t saving enough to cover our retirement expenses.

I hate hearing my boss talk about retirement, because frankly, I’m not ready for him to retire yet. The man is really good at his job and has years of experience behind him, so there’s not much he hasn’t come against. Being only three years into the job, I feel like now I’m only starting to get a handle on the profession of environmental planning. If my boss were to retire tomorrow, I would ask if him to leave his brain, so I could experiment on a way to extract all his knowledge.

In our retirement discussions, we often talk about the timing of retirement, whether it’s better to retire early or late. The timing of your retirement has a huge impact on how much you need to save, if I were to retire at 50, it almost goes without saying that I would need to save up way more than if I continued working until 65. It only takes a casual glance around the pf world to find people promoting early retirement, for lots of different reasons: to spend time with family, travel, follow a passion, and even simply just not work anymore. I’m not sold on early retirement though. I really enjoy working – albeit I’ve only been working full time for three years, I’ve always been a worker. I like having something to do, I’m not the kind of person to sit around, I like being busy, being occupied and having tasks to complete. Thankfully, my job is the type of job that has a fair bit of variety, so I’m not likely to get bored. Sure, early retirement gives you more time for traveling, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to travel even if I retire at 60. Hell, my grandma went to Alaska when she was 75.

While money is an important consideration for determining age at retirement, I think something that also has to be considered is health. I want to be a healthy senior. I want to be able to work until 60 without being sidelined by health issues. I want to still be able to travel if I retire at 65. With that in mind, I’ve started running and I’m pledging to get my arse back in the gym at lunch. It’s too easy to just sit at my desk or on the couch and be sedentary. I have to invest in my health now, before it’s too late, just like I have to invest financially for my future now. Maybe I should toss a dollar in a jar for every kilometer I run, and look at my gym membership and cost of yoga classes as an investment instead of an expense.

Do you consider your health when planning for your retirement? How do you invest in your health. Also, anyone have any suggestions for my running playlist – I’m open to anything.

Categories: Goals, Personal | Tags: , | 15 Comments

Fall Top Five

Aaah, fall. My favourite season. I love the cooler nights, smell of the wheat and bean harvests, and quieter nights. If I spend an evening inside during the summer I feel guilty, like I’m wasting the good weather. No such guilt with fall, I can have a quiet night in, curled up on the couch with a book totally guilt-free. I will also thoroughly enjoy the absence of mosquitos, which were horrendous around here this summer. It’s a miracle I didn’t end up with West Nile disease. This weekend will be my summer wrap up. The last slo-pitch game of the season will be played and despite what the calendar says, that is the true end of summer. I’m really looking forward to a slower pace as I gradually work my way towards my winter hibernation. Everything just seems to slow down and go at a much gentler pace once September rolls around, which is awesome. My summer was hectic at times, so I’m really hoping to get into a calmer routine this fall.

In honour of the awesomeness of fall, here are the top five things I’m looking forward to this fall:

  1. Work slows down. Summer is my busy season at work and once the construction and field work season is over, I can finally take some time off. This fall, I’m looking forward to taking a week off and working on my deck, painting the other half of my new she,d and finally organizing my filing cabinet.
  2. Yoga classes starting again. I really miss yoga during the summer. I know, I could do it myself, but I have a horrible memory for poses (Off the top of my head I can recall: downward facing dog, child’s pose and tree and that’s it) and I really enjoy going through the poses guided by the instructor.
  3. The local fall fair. I love our fall fair: the parade, the midway, the dance, the exhibits, the food (ohgodthefood), and catching up with everyone. It’s so much fun. I’ve got my list of things to bake for the fair all ready and booked off the day before the fair so I can do all the baking. My friend and I always get together and bake for the fair and we have a blast, so it’s something I really look forward too. Last year we won a couple first prizes, so hopefully the winning streak continues!
  4. I typically spend less money in the fall. Summer is all about going out, getting ice cream, going places, seeing people and that adds up pretty quick. Things around here pretty well lock up once the first of September hits and everyone, generally, hangs around home more often. There’s fewer shopping trips to the city and fewer local events happening. It’s a good rest for the ole pocketbook.
  5. The Canadian Personal Finance Conference. I’m excited (and ok, nervous) to meet some fellow Canadian pf bloggers. It should be a great learning experience and chance to show off my horrid bowling skills during the Friday social event. Fellow attendees, if you really want to guarantee yourself a win in bowling, all you have to do is challenge me.

Are you looking forward to fall?  

Categories: Personal | Tags: | 15 Comments

The Surprise Shed

This past weekend I was happily munching on my Shreddies when I noticed a truck drive across the neighbouring vacant lot. Shortly after, it was followed by another truck. I near inhaled my Shreddies and ducked around my back patio door to see what was going on. Lo and behold, the previous owner of my house was clearing out the shed that is sitting on the property line between my place and the neighbouring vacant lot. The lot had been put up for sale and sold in a week, so they were there to clean the lot up, including the shed. I had reached out to the real estate agent to ask about buying/moving the shed, who told me the owner would contact me, but I never heard anything more about it.

Curious as to what the fate of the shed was, I wandered out to ask. I introduced myself and once the owner heard my name, he asked me if I was still interested in the shed. The sale of the lot was closing in two weeks and he needed to move the shed (and little wood lean-to) before the closing date. I asked what he thought the 16×13 shed was worth. He said $3000. I replied I would give him $2500 for the shed and the lean-to (including the wood in it) and I would take care of moving it. Just like that, I found myself the proud owner of a new shed.

I called up my Dad and told him I bought a shed and that it would need moving sooner rather than later. Before long, he was down at my place taking a look at the shed. It’s a solid, well built shed, with a work bench and lots of cupboards in it, so it got the all important Dad approval. After the previous owners got it all cleaned out and left, Dad nodded at me, smirked and told me I worked a pretty good deal. I think my Dad is pretty proud of me for getting a deal like that, which makes me feel great, but also makes me want to negotiate everything. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Township will be willing to negotiate on my upcoming tax bill. Oh well.

Moving the shed took up the rest of my weekend. Luckily, Dad had a pile of extra gravel (it pays to let contractors doing road repairs use your land) to level off a spot in the back corner of my lot. We got the shed’s landing spot all flat and smooth and then began jacking up the corners of the shed so we could put the beams and rollers under it for the big move. It’s never fails to amaze me what a loader tractor is capable of lifting. Once we got the rollers under it, we could push the shed with the loader over the rollers. The hard part was getting the shed turned around so it was square with my driveway. Thankfully, my uncle stopped in and between the three of us, we managed to get it into position and then set it down on the cement blocks. It was hot, dirty work, but do I ever feel like I accomplished something.


Of course, today when I noticed my bank account was $2500 less. Not having that money sucks, but having a solid, large shed adds to the value of my property and provides desperately needed storage space. I no longer have to worry about raccoons taking my lawn mower out for a joyride! I wasn’t exactly expecting to spend $2500 on a shed, but when the lot went up for sale I figured I might ask about the shed. Thankfully, I’m a saver, so when the opportunity came up, I was able to jump on it. Had I not had the money saved up and being unable to buy the shed, I think I would be kicking myself. Take it from me – it’s good to have money saved up, whether or not it’s a last minute trip or a shed, it’s good to be  able to take advantage of opportunities as they come along.

Have you had any big unexpected purchases come out of the blue that you could pay for because of your savings? Anyone want to come paint half a shed (the other half faced the road, so it warranted some paint apparently)?

Categories: Spending, Weekend | Tags: , | 8 Comments

Country Girl on the Debt Free Living Podcast

I’ve been podcasted! If you’re itchin’ to put a voice to Country Girl, head on over to JW’s Debt Free Living Podcast to hear me talk about my experience with debt.

A couple weeks ago, Jon contacted me about doing an interview for his great series on living debt free. I agreed, and before too long, we were chatting about how I become debt free and how it’s affected my life. Jon is a great interviewer, so I highly recommend that you go check out his podcast series. He’s done some great interviews, with people who much more coherent than me, so be sure to have a listen sometime.

It was a fun interview and a first for me. I’ve never done an interview about being debt free or my blog, so I was a little nervous – mostly because I didn’t want to end up sounding like a total knob. I tried to keep my country drawl to a minimum, but I guess we’ll see how much came through.

Have you ever been interviewed about personal finance or your blog? What was your experience?  

Categories: About Me, Budget | Tags: , , | 9 Comments

Please don’t tell me about sales

Through the day, I usually get around half a dozen or so emails from different retailers advertising something – free shipping, clearance sales, or new items. Some retailers seem to send daily emails (ahem, lookin’ at you Dell) while others come once a week or once a month. Most of the time, I barely glance at the emails aside from deleting them. Something has to really catch my eye for me to open the email, even if the email is from my favourite retailer.

While email advertising isn’t very effective on me, word of mouth sure is. Last week, my coworker came back from lunch and told me about towels, sheets, picture frames and other household items being on clearance at the local Zellers. The next day, I was at Zellers shopping for frames, towels and sheets. This weekend, my sister was telling me about the summer clothes clearance at a local clothing shop – today, guess where I found myself (I only bought a tank top – I somehow managed to restrain myself). I feel like hearing the word ‘clearance sale’ from someone results in a Pavlovian response.

It seems as though hearing about a sale from someone I know gives credence to the quality of the sale. It’s almost as though if the sale was good enough for someone to tell me about it, I have to check it out. Weird ‘eh? I don’t budge when retailers email me extolling their clearance sales, but get someone I know to tell me about it and I’ll be all over that sale. When someone tells me about a sale, I need to work on treating it like an email and delete it.

What kind of advertising works on you?


Categories: Shopping | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Renewing my sense of place

This past long weekend I had an old friend, who now lives many many miles away, come for a visit. We had a great time catching up and laughing over new and old stories. We didn’t get up to anything too crazy, but enough that yesterday was pretty much a write off. Nothing says ‘it was a good weekend’ like needing a full day to recover from it.

My friend was pretty amazed by my little part of the world. She’s a city slicker and hadn’t ever visited southwestern Ontario until she came to see me. It was really interesting hearing her contrast her city to my country. She was amazed at how big my house is compared to her condo, how big my lot is, how quiet and dark it is at night, how many seniors there are around here, how many baseball diamonds there are and how lucky we are to live alongside a great big lake with awesome beaches.

Hearing what she thought of the area I call home was a good reminder of just how fortunate I am. All I have to do is walk 10 minutes and I’m at a great beach. Walk 10 minutes in the other direction and you’re into beautiful farm land. Of late, I’ve been taking my surroundings for granted – it’s just so easy to fall into a routine and not really see or take advantage of what’s surrounding you. I know even when I lived in the city, I never explored much – I stuck to what was comfortable and familiar for the most part, which looking back, I regret.

I think it’s time I renew my sense of appreciation for the great place I live: I’m going to go for more walks on the beach, admire the stars at night and quiet back roads. I think I’ll visit the local museums too (haven’t done that in ages) and marvel how my ancestors carved homes and farms from the vast woodlands.

What do you love about the place you live? Have you ever needed to be reminded of how awesome it is? 

Categories: Personal, Weekend | Tags: , | 10 Comments

How the lockdown is going.

You may recall that back in June, I challenged myself to have a No-Spend July. I felt that I had been spending a little more than was necessary, so instead of hiding my debit cards I thought I would do a little test of will power. Now that it’s August (ohmygod, where has the summer gone?!), it seems like a good time to evaluate how I’ve done. Here were the rules I gave myself and how I did:

  • No jeans, shoes, scarves, tops, sweaters, jackets, skirts, dresses from hence forth. The only clothing item I’m allowed to buy until the end of July are socks. PASS – I did buy some new underwear, but I didn’t buy anything else (even socks), so I’m going to give myself a pass on this.
  • No home decor items shall be bought. Only necessary home items allowed: lightbulbs, batteries, etc. FAIL – while I did buy some lightbulbs and batteries, I also bought a deckbox (I couldn’t handle earwigs in my deckchair cushions) and a solid oak tv armoire. I really wasn’t expecting to buy an armoire, but some elderly neighbours are moving and offered me their beautiful solid oak armoire for $250. It was hand made by a local mennonite and is in amazing shape, so I just couldn’t say no. Now, I just have to decide whether I’m going to use it in my office as a bookshelf or put in living room and use it as a storage pantry. (Now that I’ve gone on and on about this armoire, I feel as though I should post a picture. I will as soon as I get where I want it!)
  • I will allow myself to print 15 photos for two frames that I have recently purchased. PASS – I didn’t actually get this done. Heh.
  • No makeup. I have more than enough make up. – PASS. No new makeup. I didn’t even step foot into a pharmacy!
  • Exception: sunscreen and bug spray. I allow myself to buy in bulk if necessary. PASS.   Had to restock on my sunscreen. I should have enough to get me through the rest of the summer.
  • Gifts are exempt. This shouldn’t be too bad though, no upcoming July birthdays, just a couple bridal showers. PASS – I actually didn’t buy any gifts. The bridal showers I was planning on attending were cancelled.
  • No DVDs/games. I really really want Season 2 of Justified, but I will restrain myself. PASS – but I do have a bunch of DVDs for my Christmas wish list.

There you have it. I did manage to keep my non-necessity spending to a minimum, but I did have a two big slips with the deck box and armoire. The deck box was a result of a ear-wig driven freak out – but at least I found a deck box on sale. I know that next time, if I have a freakout, I will have to basically hide my car keys and wallet, otherwise I will end up going out to buy a solution immediately, when I really I could have waited for an even better deal at the end of the season (or at least waited another week for all the earwigs to die off).

As for the armoire, it was a deal that came up last week and I couldn’t say no. I have a weakness for solid wood furniture and when I think I’m getting a really good deal. If there’s one thing I learned this past month, it’s that I have a hard time saying no to what I perceive as deals. I think in the future, I should make a better attempt to think about deals and maybe ‘sleep on them’ instead of making snap decisions.

Despite a couple of slip ups, I think I did ok. I’d like to continue my shopping lock down into August. I think I can stick with pretty well the same rules, but I am giving myself an exception to get a print made of my great-grandfather’s farm auction poster for my office. It’s a great piece of family history that was recently discovered, so I’m going to get a print made so I can include it in my family-history themed office (ah, I’m such a genealogy nerd).

I’m curious, what have you learn about yourself through attempting careful and controlled spending?  

Categories: Goals, Monthly Summary, Personal, Shopping, Spending | Tags: | 7 Comments

Showing it off: money and status.

This weekend I played in a co-ed mushball tournament – for those unfamiliar with the sport of mushball, it’s 3 pitch played with a big, squishy ball. It was a fun time. I even managed to earn myself a free breakfast (and title of game MVP) and the team won some money and t-shirts for being division champs. Sitting in the beer tent with a cold one, I glanced around at some of my fellow ball players and noted quite a few of the gals wearing pretty darn expensive clothes and sunglasses.

Obviously, they have never caught a ball with their face or slid into second. If the expensive clothes wasn’t telling enough, the ten pounds of foundation gave it away: lots of the girls were dressing for show. I can’t help but think they were trying to show off their financial status by wearing really expensive and flashy brand name clothes. I supposed it worked to some degree, as I did notice the clothes.

In most situations, I don’t notice the brand name of people’s clothing, unless it’s written in big ole letters across something. I think I noticed the designer clothes at mushball partly because a lot of them had the names splashed across them and to me, and partly because it seems like a really odd place to wear your really expensive clothes to. I was coated with dust and dirt after our first game, so it’s the last place I’d want to wear anything expensive too. Maybe that’s just me though.

This got me thinking: people use clothing, vehicles, houses, and all sorts of things to turn other peoples’ head and say ‘hey, look what I bought/can afford’. I think everyone would agree that people use material things to show affluence, social position, or portray a certain lifestyle. I could probably write a whole series of posts about the underlying drive behind that sort of behaviour, but hey, it’s hot and I’m not a sociologist. What I find more interesting, is how variable people’s perceptions of money-shows can be. Designer clothing at a mushball tournament made me react with disdain and scorn. Yet, I glanced admiringly at the people who drove in with nice, new trucks. I know perfectly well though, there were other women there who took notice of the designer clothes and didn’t notice the trucks. When people post pictures of their travels on facebook, I tend to be a little (or a lot – depending on where they went) envious that they have money to spend on travelling. New furniture, meh. A fancy new computer will turn my head, but a great big house just makes me wonder who’s going to clean all that house.

I know my reactions to money-shows have changed as I’ve aged and likely will continue to. I used to be so jealous of the girls who parents bought them cellphones when they were 14, because my parents said it was an unnecessary expense. Who knows, maybe one day when I’m sitting in the lounge of retirement home, I’ll be envious of the old girl with the shiny new scooter. What shows of money turn your head? 


Categories: Spending | Tags: , | 30 Comments

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