Frugal living in rural Canada

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K60
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by K60 » Mon Jun 13, 2016 8:07 pm

Hi CECTPA, Congrats on the savings! You might be interested in the following: http://jlcollinsnh.com/stock-series/

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Mon Jun 13, 2016 11:31 pm

Thanks, K60, looks useful and interesting!

I'm having a little bit of an existential crisis here... I can't decide on whether I want to go part time or to keep working full time + overtime to become FI faster. Right now I feel stressed out and inadequate because everybody at work are so much more experienced than me. I want to get more experience and faster savings, but I'm afraid I'll burn out fast. Right now I'm okay, I think. I'm even getting better with stress management, providing that I don't drink, don't smoke anything, and don't indulge in food. Earlier after a day like yesterday, with 2 crashing patients and a moron doctor yelling at me I would just go home, drink Martini, eat cake and toss and turn all night. Then I would call in sick next day, feeling miserable. Now I'm solid, I go home, read my blogs, listen to some aggressive music, eat my rice and beans, and pack a lunch for tomorrow. Go to work after a good sleep and kill the doctor with niceness. Much less fucks given. Soon I will be free.

But sometimes I feel that going part time would be a game changer. I'd pay less taxes, but would still have overtime opportunities (certain days in rotation). But it would feel like a constant vacation. I could pull through 5 12-h shifts in a row and then 2 weeks off! Which I could use to do whatever, or to pick up overtime. More life, less stress.

But sometimes work can be fun as well.

Maybe I should plan to pay off the mortgage faster (I can increase payments every year 10% and pay down 10% every year). And when it is paid, I'll make a decision.

And now I'll just pack my rice and beans for lunch tomorrow and will try survive another day in emerg...

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Wed Jun 22, 2016 1:41 pm

Wow, I can't believe the amount of reading on investments I've done in the past few days. I was reading JL Collins's blog, and got lots of questions. And googled. And read more blogs. And more questions, more googling, more reading.

There are 2 investing strategies I've chosen for us: the Couch Potato balanced ETF portfolio and buying dividend stocks with DRIP program. I found out recently that one of my colleagues is a dividend investor and I learned a lot from him.

So the QTrade account is open and now I need some cash to start buying :)

It's been a month with a lot of spending so far. I had a dental emergency and lots of repair needed to be done with my teeth. Instead of wasting money on fancy bridges or implants (5 front teeth are missing) I decided to have partial dentures, like an old lady. Which was still $1500 (insurance paid 50%). Just imagine how much it would be costing me to have implants!

Dentures is actually a great choice! Have you ever seen old folks with the perfect smile? They are missing all their teeth, but with dentures they still can eat properly, talk and don't have to worry about trips to the dentist anymore. Quite frugal(-ish) and convenient.

Also we had to pay property tax of $900.

Also I had to stay at a hotel for 2 days ($250) for the duration of a Pediatric Emergencies course at a nearby town and I had to pay $70 to a person taking me there and back (60 miles). I still don't have a full driver's license. I thought that would be reimbursed by my employer, but my boss only paid for the course itself. Since the course is not mandatory, he refused to pay for anything else. No way, I'm not taking any more courses!

Despite all that spending I was still able to invest about $2300 this month and to put down $3000 towards my mortgage.

I calculated and looks like it'll take us 2 yrs and 8 months more to completely get rid of the debt! That in total would be less than 5 years since the purchase date.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Wed Jun 29, 2016 3:10 pm

Managed to put together another $5,000 and bought our first ETF: VCN:TSX (VANGUARD FTSE CANADA ALL CAP INDEX) into my Tax Free account. I wanted to buy it last week right after the Brexit, but it took a long time for QTrade to transfer my money :( Now it is a bit more expensive. Oh well. It will be a long term holding.

Spent long time picking. As attractive as VTSAX is, we live in Canada and we get paid in CAD and our buck is very cheap. Not a good time for buying US $ securities (CAD hedged or unhedged). So I decided to stick with the balanced Canadian Couch Potato Model Portfolio.

This ETF is supposed to be 20% of total asset allocation within portfolio.

So I need to score another $20,000 to make it balanced and to buy VAB and VXC. Also when my balance at the broker is more than $25,000 I won't be charged the account fee.

Also I need about $5,500 to make another mortgage principal payment till the end of the year.

That's the plan!

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Thu Jun 30, 2016 5:18 pm

Second month of tracking our finances. Here're some stats.

Total household income (including rebates and reimbursements): $9458.9
Total saved: $6,279.11
Savings rate: 66.38%
Mortgage payments $1,351.02
Mortgage principal payment $3,000.00
Outstanding mortgage -$83,237.15
House value $140,000.00
Total savings $46,558.22
Net worth (family of 2) $103,158.95

I'm not happy about our grocery expenses (CAD670 for 2 people - USD518). Maybe because we are up North and everything is more expensive (only 1 grocery store in our town). The main culprit is fresh veggies and fruit. Spent about $120 on watermelon ($8) and pineapples ($4-5) only! Fresh tomatoes is another hole in a budget. Hopefully when our garden is bigger we can cut the cost of food. Also we have a 2nd grocery store opened this month, but they don't have produce yet. But they will. We need more competition.
We don't buy highly processed and ready to eat foods, I cook everything from scratch. My recent achievement is that I started baking our own bread. Very simple, plain tasting, filling food.

My husband is 44 and he went for a check-up with the doctor. Doctor was amazed with his bloodwork. He said he hadn't seen such a good result for cholesterol in men of that age ever. Providing that my hubs is pretty sedentary. We both are very healthy and don't have any health problems. So I guess I should not be so upset about food expenses. Yeah, I know that buying jumbo packs of chicken pops and kraft dinner is super cheap, but the health is also an investment. We need fresh veggies and fruit, I just need to find a good balance.

lilacorchid
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by lilacorchid » Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:26 am

Great to hear about the blood work and the savings! Living in a small town is hard for groceries. Have you tried the frozen stuff? I can be "fresher" than the stuff that is shipped as it's frozen right after picking vs having to take a voyage from Mexico.

lilacorchid
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by lilacorchid » Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:27 am

Oh yes, and you can shop Walmart or Amazon for household items and have them shipped vs buying them in the local stores if you are inclined to go that way.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Wed Jul 13, 2016 7:37 pm

Hey lilacorchid! Yes, I know about the frozen stuff trick! Thing is I have a few foods that I'm absolutely not giving up. Watermelons is one of them (when in season), and fresh tomatoes (year round). I found a solution! We are still buying watermelons and tomatoes, but cut everything else. We bought jumbo 20 lbs bag of rice and 20 lbs of whole wheat flour last month and I have lots of dry beans in the pantry. Also I have lots of tomato paste frozen (it was a huge 'industrial' size can for $6.99). Basically we're just eating that + fresh watermelons almost every day + greens from our garden. Works pretty well and we're staying lower than the budget!
And online shopping is big here, but I don't really buy a lot of stuff. Quite frugal that way. We also have a great thrift store.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Sun Jul 24, 2016 11:20 pm

I booked quite an expensive trip to West Coast (Portland, Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver) in October. Guilty by choice. I promised this tour to my DH about 6 months ago, before ERE and that will be our last conventional touristic trip.
I picked up a few overtime shifts to offset the cost and boy that hurts, to work so much. That will serve me as a reminder.

I did an IQ test posted here on the forum and got a result of 137. That is surprising because I have been always thinking of myself as slow and slightly retarded. Not that it bothered me. Retarded people sometimes much happier than smarty pants lol. Anyway, I'm reading a second book from the Charlie Munger list and hoping to smarten up more :)

K60
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by K60 » Mon Jul 25, 2016 7:35 am

I've been enjoying your journey to ERE! Great work! For investing, this link is an interesting read with good advice:
http://jlcollinsnh.com/stock-series/

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Mon Jul 25, 2016 11:17 pm

Thanks again K60, you have already given me this link earlier, and I'm done reading it :)

I had quite an interesting and a surprising conversation today. The convo wasn't with my boss, but a head nurse, a person who has an influence on bosses decisions. I was asked if I would be interested in taking a position of an extended care unit coordinator. Which is not a promotion, but just a different type of work. An office job. Less stress, less gore, less obnoxious people to deal with. Less money, because I won't be working night shifts and long hours (I get modifiers for those), but it can be considered as a "transition to retirement" type of job. Seriously, with the night shifts I'm having I'd give up all those extra money in the blink of an eye. When I'm on nights - I am in charge for the whole hospital. By the end of each shift I'm ready to go on a rampage...

Anyway, it wasn't an official offer, just was asked if I'm interested. I didn't really make an impression of an interested person, but I said if the boss wants to talk to me, I'll listen. I certainly want to hear more.

K60
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by K60 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:37 pm

Sorry for the duplication CECTPA -- I had totally forgotten my first post with the same link! Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. Nice that your boss is thinking of you -- can't you ask for a higher salary if you take it?

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:55 pm

K60 wrote:Sorry for the duplication CECTPA -- I had totally forgotten my first post with the same link!
I'm reading his The Simple Path to Wealth now ;) Great book!
K60 wrote:Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. Nice that your boss is thinking of you -- can't you ask for a higher salary if you take it?
I actually can't, because I'm unionised and my salary is based on the pay-scale. But with the office job there's going to be less stress, and therefore I will be less likely to be refusing overtime shifts, which is a double time.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Wed Aug 24, 2016 12:52 am

I did not post my Net Worth update for July, oh well. I'm on a track and quite satisfied with the way things going towards FI. I still need to figure out lots of things, but at least I have a plan and we're making steps and leaps.
The philosophy of self-sufficiency and self-reliance becomes very clear and very consistent with my overall values and beliefs. Through reading and watching videos on Permaculture, homesteading, ERE and stoicism I'm discovering new and exciting things and kindred spirits.
A very good thing is that we started a small garden from zero with no skills and have been having some fruitful results and delicious produce. More plans for next year: we will expand and add variety and I also would like to learn how to do home canning.

Noedig
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by Noedig » Sat Aug 27, 2016 1:56 pm

Hey sister

You are just awesome, a no nonsense, two-fisted ERE commando! Truly impressed by the gumption, ability to ignore inconvenience (walk all weathers in Canada!), willingness to try new things etc. You have good english with amusing command of idiom ('no f*cks given': that was a hoot)

With less gush - you seem to be rationally going about it in a straightforward way, eyes open. Good luck with that (and I don't mean that in the Canadian sense of 'I wouldnt do that if I were you')

Regards also to your fellow traveller, 'Mister Sister'. You guys will get there.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Sun Aug 28, 2016 11:49 pm

Noedig, thanks very much for such a nice feedback :)
I love English! I love the F-word idioms and we also have to use them a lot at work (while patients can't hear, lol). That's just the reality of working in a medical field I guess.
You got the "Canadian sense" part right, haha!
"Mister Sister" is totally on-board now. He didn't read the ERE book, but I explained the idea and he supports it.

IlliniDave
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by IlliniDave » Wed Aug 31, 2016 4:11 am

To throw in another idiom, you really seem to have taken the bull by the horns. There are places in N. Alberta and N. Saskatchewan I would like to visit some day, so in some ways the life the two of you have undertaken seems like a dream life to me! When I contemplate some of the more more distant/remote parts of Canada I feel like a fraud referring to the area around the Great Lakes as "the Northwoods", but I suppose all things are relative.

My guess would be that at the rate you are going, you might very well exceed your goals. Good luck.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Thu Sep 08, 2016 11:12 pm

IlliniDave, thanks! Yes, all things are relative. I also feel like a fraud referring to our area as the Great White North when my friend is texting me pictures from Inuvik (she's a critical care flight nurse up there) :)

Bad news, mom had to go for a neuro surgery back in Russia and guess who had to pay for everything. But I'm glad to be able to help and money is not a problem. I did not have to use any savings, but I was able to put away only about $1800 last month. Mom is doing very well, so I'm happy.

Another bad news: I failed a road test. That is an expensive endeavour to learn how to drive when you don't have parents or husband who would teach you. My husband doesn't drive. So I'm paying the teacher and that's expensive. I'm paying insurance for my car which is more expensive for me because I only have a learner's permit. But I think I'll pass next time. I'm just not familiar with the area where the route was (50 km away, in the next town). My driving skills were okay, just the freaking playground... Oh well... I get my license and it will be over with.

Good news is that I've got another automatic pay raise since it's been 2 years of service.Very nice!

Okay, for August 2016, for the family of 2:
Total income $11,942.12 (I had 3 paydays last month, yay)
Savings $1,822.33
Savings rate 15.26%
Mortgage payments $2,026.53
Outstanding mortgage $80,350.66
House value $140,000.00
Total savings $51,664.88
Net worth $114,098.95

tommytebco
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by tommytebco » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:05 pm

CECPTA stated:
"Thing is I have a few foods that I'm absolutely not giving up. Watermelons is one of them"

I have heard that you can dehydrate watermelon. It shrinks up a lot but tastes intensely wonderfully watermeloney. Haven't tried it myself yet, but it's in the plans.

boris10475
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by boris10475 » Sat Oct 29, 2016 10:45 am

Привет Сестра from NYC. У тебя настоящий талант. Do you write in Russian as well as you do in English?

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Sat Oct 29, 2016 7:29 pm

tommytebco wrote:I have heard that you can dehydrate watermelon. It shrinks up a lot but tastes intensely wonderfully watermeloney. Haven't tried it myself yet, but it's in the plans.
Sounds really interesting, I should try. I just don't know if it's going to work, it might drive me crazy, dehydrating something that I enjoy eating as is :lol:
boris10475 wrote:Привет Сестра from NYC. У тебя настоящий талант. Do you write in Russian as well as you do in English?
Борис, спасибо на добром слове! You are too kind :) It is more difficult to discuss certain concepts in Russian because I only learned about them in English. But I enjoy reading and writing in Russian, if there is a chance :D

boris10475
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by boris10475 » Sat Oct 29, 2016 8:20 pm

I know what you are talking about. How old were you when you got here? Where in Russian Far East are you from? Do you go back there at all?

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Sun Oct 30, 2016 2:27 pm

boris10475 wrote:I know what you are talking about. How old were you when you got here? Where in Russian Far East are you from? Do you go back there at all?
I'm 38 yo now, we immigrated to Canada 7 years ago. We're from Khabarovsk. What about you?
I don't go back to my hometown because everyone's moved somewhere else, and there's no one to visit.

boris10475
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by boris10475 » Sun Oct 30, 2016 5:11 pm

Kiev, closing on 20 years since I moved to the US, never been back but planning to, maybe around 2018 when my nephews get a little older and will be able to appreciate things and to remember things a little better:)) They are 5 and 2 now.
Never been east from Urals, it should be beautiful out there. Did you have a chance to travel around, to go to Baikal?
Your English writing is remarkable considering you were over 30 when you started out ( I guess ). I was about 30 when I got here and I am always amazed by beautiful English writing skills adults acquire. There is a Russian guy in Brooklyn writing very well.
http://lazytravelers.net/
Did you make a lot of friends in your town in Alberta? How big is the town?

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Sun Oct 30, 2016 5:37 pm

boris10475 wrote:Kiev, closing on 20 years since I moved to the US, never been back but planning to, maybe around 2018 when my nephews get a little older and will be able to appreciate things and to remember things a little better:)) They are 5 and 2 now.
I wanna go to Kiev and Odessa very much, so I'll try to do that as the chance comes up. Heard a lot of good things about these cities.
boris10475 wrote:Never been east from Urals, it should be beautiful out there. Did you have a chance to travel around, to go to Baikal?
Yep, I had some camping trips in Krasnoyarsk and Baikal areas. It was very nice, except for mosquitoes lol.
boris10475 wrote:Your English writing is remarkable considering you were over 30 when you started out ( I guess ).
Thanks again, check your private messages, I sent you some details on my English learning history :)
boris10475 wrote:Did you make a lot of friends in your town in Alberta? How big is the town?
500 people :))) I know most of them, as a nurse. Very small, clean, peaceful and quiet. Very isolated, kids play on the streets without any fear of strangers. I've got lots of 'social capital' here, but I don't really make friends easily. But we do a lot of stuff together and socialise lots.

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