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

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

A midsummer bonus: spending vs. saving.

I got a really great surprise with my last paycheque – a midyear bonus! Who-hoo!! What a fantastic way to start July, huh? I love that I work for a company that is willing to share profits with its employees throughout the year. Immediately after receiving the bonus, I’ve been mulling over what to do with my bonus. Here’s just some of things that came to mind:

  • Put some into my emergency fund (EF)
  • Make an extra mortgage payment
  • Buy a deck box
  • Buy new tires for my car
  • Use the money for my upcoming deck expansion
  • Use the money to get a will done

Unfortunately, my bonus isn’t big enough to let me do everything on my list. I would like my bonus to go as far as possible, so I’m going to try to do as much as possible with it. I have already set some money aside for my deck project, so there’s really no need to spend my bonus on that. I also ended up buying a deck box this weekend, when I found one on sale ($99) at Canadian Tire. I know, I know, I’m supposed to be on a shopping ban – but a horde of earwigs tried to move into the cushions for the deck chairs and it was frightening and gross. It was so bad, my Dad offered to buy me a deck box. My new deck box will hopefully keep my cushions earwig free.

That leaves: putting money into my EF, making an extra mortgage payment, buy new tires, or a get will. I’m leaning towards splitting the bonus in half and putting $500 into my EF and $498 against my mortgage. I’d love to get my EF to my goal of $10,000 and an extra $500 would put me closer to that goal. I figure I can wait on getting new summer tires for my car until maybe the fall and hopefully get some good ones on sale. As for the will, I know I should get one drawn up soon – right now I’m hoping it will happen in September. Being able to pay down some of my mortgage debt and get closer to a saving goal is really tempting.

What do you think I should do? When you get a bonus or some extra cash do you tend to put it into savings or spend it?


Categories: Goals, Spending, Work | Tags: , , | 35 Comments

CPCF12, here I come!

A little while ago, I decided that I would attend the Canadian Personal Finance Conference, coming up in September. I’m looking forward to the conference which will surely have some great personal finance speakers and of course, the opportunity to meet some fellow bloggers. I promise, I won’t show up in rubber boots. Well, maybe I won’t show up in rubber boots – no promises if it’s raining.

After I plunked down my cash money for early registration, I drew up a quick plan for costing out a trip to the big smoke. The first thing I had to think about was how to get to Toronto. I could drive, but I really hate driving in Toronto. I’m not used to city driving: tight streets, lots of cars, pedestrians everywhere and cyclists, so driving and especially in downtown Toronto is something I want to avoid. That pretty much leaves catching a train. I have enough Via Rail Preference points (think Air Miles but for trains) to get me to Toronto and back, so I’ll be able to get to Toronto for free!

Next is accommodations – my criteria are pretty simple: near the conference and train station (must be able to walk) and not too expensive. I’m not picky when it comes to hotels, I just want something close and that isn’t infested with bedbugs. From a quick search of the google, it looks like there’s a couple of hotels in the area, so I’m going to aim for about $150/night, although anything less would be awesome.

A girl’s gotta eat, but yay for conference-food! Breakfast and lunch on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday are provided, so that leaves supper Saturday and lunch Sunday. I imagine I’ll be able to keep a food budget of under $40.

Shopping: Nope, not going to do it. Besides, it totally sucks hauling stuff back on a train.

So what’s the total cost for attending CPFC12?

  • Conference Registration $50
  • Train $0
  • Hotel ($150 x 2 nights) $300
  • Food $40
  • Fun $40 (what can I say, I’m a cheap date)

That’s $430 for the weekend. Not too bad, really. Are you going to CPFC12? What do you expect it will cost you? 

Categories: Budget, Review, Spending | Tags: | 8 Comments

Going in lockdown mode.

I am going on a shopping ban.

credit: beautyfash.com

Y’see, for the last couple of months it seems I have been unable to control my spending. It’s not that I’m replacing my wardrobe every month or anything like that, it’s just that I seem to do doing lots of little shopping trips here and there and it’s adding up. Looking back over my receipts, it’s pretty easy to pick out a pattern: every time I go to the city, I end up going shopping and buying either clothes or stuff for my house.

It doesn’t help that I’ve been to the city much more than usual in the last couple months. It’s just so tempting and easy to go visit the mall or big box stores and buy something that I can’t get locally. Just last week I was in Toronto for a workshop and my coworker and I decided to visit Ikea – and guess who comes out with a cart full of stuff and $200 less in my bank account. Yeah, this girl. Not one of my shining moments, that’s for sure.

I usually try and justify my mini-shopping sprees by telling myself

  • ‘It’s ok, I don’t come to the city that often’ – when really, I usually end up in a city at least once a month.
  •  ‘It’s ok, I’m not buying much’ – but a little here and there tends to add up really quickly.
  • ‘I need x, y, z’ – I’ve lived without x, y, z so far and can seemingly function without it.

I feel like I’m regressing – although, it’s not at a point where I’m spending more than I’m earning, it’s just I’m not saving as much as I would like to. I’ve got a deck renovation and a major overhaul of the basement coming up and I want those to happen sooner rather than later. The only way that can happen is if I buckle down and save. I think rather than just going with a blanket shopping ban, I’m going to set myself some rules and exceptions:

  • 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.
  • No home decor items shall be bought. Only necessary home items allowed: lightbulbs, batteries, etc.
  • I will allow myself to print 15 photos for two frames that I have recently purchased.
  • No makeup. I have more than enough make up.
  • Exception: sunscreen and bug spray. I allow myself to buy in bulk if necessary.
  • Gifts are exempt. This shouldn’t be too bad though, no upcoming July birthdays, just a couple bridal showers.
  • No DVDs/games. I really really want Season 2 of Justified, but I will restrain myself.

Those are my rules. Pretty strick, but I’m going to try my damnest to keep my wallet closed. Anyone else out there on a shopping ban, or has done one recently? Any tips, thoughts, or words of encouragement?

Have a good ‘un

Country Girl

Categories: Shopping, Spending | Tags: , | 7 Comments

When being cheap doesn’t pay off.

I’m usually the first one to admit that I can be cheap and for the most part, it doesn’t really bother me. There are times though, being cheap hasn’t paid off or wasn’t a good idea. One example in particular comes to mind; back in my university days, my roommate and I decided we would walk home from a party at a friend’s house instead of paying for a cab. Nevermind it was a 5 km walk at 2 AM down Bank Street in Ottawa.

It was a long, dark walk. For the most part, once we got out of the downtown area, it was a pretty quiet walk. We had just crossed over the canal, when someone stumbled out of a dark entranceway onto the sidewalk and started walking towards us. As we came closer, we could see the person was a man, wearing a skirt over a pair of tight-tight-tight jeans, no shirt, and a ball gag around his neck (at first I thought it was a clown nose, being a simple farm girl). When he saw us he started to shout he had ‘been very bad’ and ‘needed spanked. Hard’. My roommate and I hurried across the street, keeping an eye on the strange fellow to make sure he kept going the opposite direction of us. We laughed off our extremely creepy experience and took heart in the fact we were nearly home. I cannot express our surprise (and horror) when we saw the same man walking towards us again. I still cannot figure out how he got ahead of us. This time, we ran. We ran the rest the rest of the way home.

Safely home, my roommate and I swore we would never cheap out on a cab again.  Looking bad, cheaping out on probably a $20 cab ride was really dumb. My roommate and I put ourselves at risk just to save a little bit of cash that we both easily coud have afforded. It was just plain stupid.

Having said that, I’m all for saving where possible, but I believe there are some places and times where it’s best to spend a bit extra. Here’s a few examples:

  • Vehicles and repairs. I’m all for buying a quality used car. The key word there being ‘quality’. If you cheap out on a car, you’re likely going to end up spending more on frequent and costly repairs than if you’ve shelled out a little more.

Who-hoo! It’s cheap. We’ll try to forget Ford Pinto’s tend to catch fire when rear-ended.

  • Mattresses. Most people spend 7 hrs a day on their mattress – that’s a fair bit of time. That $200 mattress is going to feel like a concrete slab before too long.

They saved by buying a mattress filled with corn cobs.

  • Anything for your safety – fire alarms, smoke/CO detectors, child car seats, etc. Don’t buy the dollarstore fire alarms. Just don’t.

Please stop having children if you’re this cheap.

  • Tattoos. ‘Nough said.

Ronald McDonald playing football?

What would you never cheap out on? Got any cheaping-out and it didn’t work out   tales?

Have a good ‘un

Country Girl

Categories: Spending | Tags: | 23 Comments

Worth it

I have started this blog post about six times, written about four sentences and then deleted everything. I must have sat out too long in the sun today (don’t worry, I put on sunscreen, so at least my skin isn’t burnt) or maybe my brain has a long weekend hangover, because this whole writing-thing is not working for me tonight. Sometimes, I can write and write and write, and then I have days like today when I can hardly string a sentence together. Of course, this happens the night I actually have the time to sit down and write a post too. In an attempt to thwart my brain’s blog writing rebellion, I’m going to do a picture post about things that I think are worth every cent. Take that, brain.

Here’s a few things that I will happily pay for and never complain about the price:

Cheese curds. I would consider selling an organ for a lifetime supply of warm, squeaky cheese curds.


Marcelle BB Cream. If I could only have one makeup product, this would be it. I’m not keen on makeup so this is my go-to alternative.

DAVIDsTEA Green Seduction tea. I have a pot of this every morning. Actually, I love most tea, so I never complain about the price of tea.

My Bogs. I spend a lot of time in rubber boots, and these (in green) are the best ones I’ve ever had. 

Good, non-greasy sunscreen. I’m the kind of person who burns on a rainy day, so sunscreen is not optional. Anything that keeps me from burning to a crisp or ending up looking like that scary tanning-lady from New Jersey is worth it.

What’s on your ‘worth it’ list? 

Categories: About Me, Spending | Tags: , | 15 Comments

Hold your horses, it’s prioritizing time.

The marvellous weather this past weekend inspired me to get outside and start my spring clean up of the yard. As I didn’t move into my house until October, I really didn’t get a lot of yard work done before winter hit. All that was accomplished last year was ripping out the play set (which was given to my cousin for his kids) and removing the horseshoe pits, so I have a fair bit of work to take care of this spring. A fair bit may be a bit of an understatement, actually. My outdoor to-do list is long and gets longer the more I think about it.

If I win the $50 lotto max on Friday, I wouldn’t bother trying to decide which things on my to do list are going to get done this year. Seeing as I don’t intend on buying a lottery ticket chances of winning are pretty slim, so I guess I’m going to have to figure out which tasks are a priority and which can wait. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced so far being a new homeowner is being patient about tackling house or property related projects. I want everything to be finished now: the deck, the landscaping, the basement, everything. Prioritizing the to do list is still a struggle, because there is so much to do and I want it all to be done. It’s really tempting to try and get everything done right away, even though I realize I might not have the cash or time to get all the projects done. To help myself overcome my impatience, or at least try and cope with it, and restrain myself from blowing every cent I have on yard improvements, I’ve divvied up my outdoor to do list into 3 categories:

  • Priority tasks: the projects that have to get done this year. These things can’t wait or be put off because not getting them done will mean bad things will happen to my house/yard.
  • If funds/time allow tasks: this category is for the tasks that I would like to get done, but if I don’t have the time or cash, it’s not the end of the world.
  • Hold your horses, these tasks can wait: these projects are really just a ‘want’ and can wait a year or two.

Here’s my categorized, prioritized to-do table, with guestimated costs.

Priority tasks

If funds/time allow tasks

Hold your horses, these tasks can wait

  • Tree cutting – there’s a couple trees around the property that are too close to the house or dying. My Dad I can cut these down ourselves and then use the wood for firewood (FREE)
  • Paint the deck/house. If I don’t paint the deck/house this year, moisture will get into the wood and rot it. That would be bad. ($300)
  • Buy a lawn mower. Would love not to, but the neighbours might not appreciate the hayfield next door. ($500)
  • Clean up the junk around the edge of the yard – includes cement blocks, rusty tire rims, garbage and other junk. ($15-20 for a trip to the dump).
  • Replace flashing on the roof. ($150)
  • Plant trees for living fence along the road. ($50/tree x 6 = $300)
  • Remove and replace front part of the deck. The stairs are too steep and I hate the railing in front of the picture window (I hate it SO much!). ($400)
  • Paint the lawn chairs. They’re functional, just not pretty. ($30)
  • Edge and replant gardens ($150)
  • Remove stumps. I can burn a few of them out, but some will have to be ground out. Not a huge deal though, so this can wait.
  • Finish the half-finished pergola on the back patio. For now, it might be a nice hammock site.
  • Move the woodpile lean-to. It’s not going to kill me to walk an extra 50 feet.

As you can see, getting my priority list done will cost me $970. Thankfully, I don’t have any major or super expensive repairs to do outside, like replacing the roof. Given that, I may be able to swing one project from the ‘If funds/time allow tasks’ category, but we’ll have to see. Seeing just how much my priority tasks will cost though is helping to calm the burning desire to get every single project done this summer. As well, I don’t think I want to spend every spare moment this summer working on something, I need to be able to take some time to enjoy the place too.

How do you cope with to-do lists, or prioritize your tasks? Do you have any big projects planned for the summer?

Categories: Goals, Housing, Spending | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Forgive me fellow bloggers, for I have sinned.

This past weekend, my best friend and I headed to the next town north to check out a new tea shop there. Once we had our tea fix, we decided to go for a wander up the main drag and check out the stores. We hadn’t got very far, in fact, it was the next store to the tea shop, before the window display enticed us to go in. I was browsing through a rack of dresses when I found a blue lace number. I was intrigued, so I pulled the dress off the rack so I could get a better look at it. It was cute, and my friend’s size, so I shoved it into her hands and told her to try it on.

She tried it on and it looked amazing on her. No, better than amazing; she could upstage an entire wedding party in that dress. At this point though, I realized that I had forgotten to check the price tag before I pulled it out. I suspected it would be pricy, given the brand names and other price tags I saw, and sure enough it was: $178. Ouch. We both winced at the price, but couldn’t stop admiring  the dress. After all, it would be the perfect dress to wear to her brother’s wedding.

Before I realized it, I was helping my friend rationalize purchasing the dress. I told her she could wear it not only to her brother’s wedding, but to her cousin’s stag and doe and rehearsal dinner, which would save her from buying two different dresses. Then I told her she could think about it like this: if she wears the dress 3 times in the next four months, the cost of the dress is really more like $178 divided by 3, or about $60 a wear, which about what a cheap dress costs anyways. With my encouragement, she whipped out her credit card and bought the dress.

A couple days later, I feel very conflicted about helping my friend rationalize buying the dress. On one hand, I feel like I’m one of those friends who are bad for your wallet, who always encourage you to spend money, one of those friends you’re supposed to avoid or defriend if you’re trying to get out of debt and save. What makes it worse is that as a pf blogger, I feel like the last thing I should be doing is helping my friend spend her money, especially one something like a dress, which at first glance seems so frivolous. A sort of ‘practice what you preach’ type problem, because I’m not sure I would spend that kind of money on a dress. I keep telling myself that we could have found her a cheaper dress, but then I think: but would any other dress really compare to this one? The dress looked so amazing on her, that I can’t help feel that there’s no way we’d find a better dress cheaper and any other dress would look so blah and would always be compared against this dress. I am also really excited that she bought it, because she totally rocks it and looks stunning in it.

I know she’s really happy with the dress, which is slightly comforting, but I still feel guilty for enabling her spending. Some of my conflict here but might relate to my own struggles with finding the balance between buying for quality and buying for value. I’m gradually starting to appreciate the value in paying a little more for higher quality items, but my cheap ole heart isn’t giving up without a fight.

Have you ever enabled someone to spend or felt guilty about encouraging someone to spend more than they normally would?

Categories: Shopping, Spending | Tags: , | 20 Comments

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