Frugal living in rural Canada

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CECTPA
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Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Thu Apr 21, 2016 4:17 am

Hello everyone!
I've been lurking for a few weeks and decided to start a diary :)
I'm a 37 y.o. female, married, childfree. I work full time as a Registered Nurse in a small rural hospital in a very isolated and Northern community in Alberta.
I guess the reason I'm right here right now is the Fight Club movie I watched in 1999. Since then the ideas of anti-consumerism and sustainability won't leave my mind. I recently came across the ERE book while searching for books on stoicism, the philosophy that resonates with me the most.
Since 1999, when my husband and I started practising selective anti-consumerism without any clear idea of where it'll take us, many things happened.
We immigrated from Russia to Canada.
I went to nursing school for more than 4 year, managing without getting into debt. I got my license and full time job with good salary, pension plan and benefits.
We're getting decent income that allows us to save.
After reading the ERE book I dropped the idea of getting Master's degree and I feel very relieved :mrgreen:
We bought a tiny house really cheap (but had to get into mortgage, sigh) with some land.
I walk to work (15 mins) regardless of the weather (in winter it could be -40C which is -40F). The grocery store is 5 mins walking distance.
My husband works from home (IT).
We turned into vegans with emphasis on starches and beans and that saves a lot of money. As a result we were able to fix all our health problems that were grossly lifestyle related (obesity, high cholesterol, pre-diabetes all gone for good). Which is ultimately will save us a lot of money as well.
We live in a very clean environment, surrounded by farms and First Nations reserves, no industry around. So minimal exposure to harmful substances.
I quit drinking any alcohol a year ago without any regrets. My DH still nominally a drinker, but his last drink was 11 months ago :mrgreen:
We're growing our social capital really well. My job at a small rural hospital helps with that a lot.
Since we started saving money after my graduation in 2014 we accumulated about $30,000 of liquid assets.
Our leftover mortgage is $89,700.
I have to send money to my parents, about $400 a month because Russian economy is pooped.

Our plans:
- Start monthly budget. We stopped doing that since we ceased to be very poor. I need to start again in order to see where we could optimize our spending.
- Get full driver's license. Since we didn't need a car all our life we didn't bother to learn how to drive. Right now I'm almost ready to take the road test, but my husband still needs to start from scratch. It's an expensive skill to get, but we need it since we're so isolated up North. Right now though there's no immediate need (our social capital helps us to get around if needed).
- Learn to ride a bike.
- Improve my financial literacy to become a smart investor.
- Start a garden and learn basics of Permaculture. Despite we're so far up North, we have beautiful summers with a lot of sunshine and quite fertile land. Right now though our land is just a lawn... And we have only minimal gardening skills. So... Lots to learn :) Also, the car will be needed to be able to get water for irrigation from the river. We don't have much rain and every season is drier and drier.
- For my husband: to learn electrician skills. He got pretty serious about it and already spent $400 on tools, which bugs me, but it's ok. He didn't read the ERE book, so he is still interpreting the idea of Renaissance Man in his own way :lol:
- Get my husband to read the ERE book

I want to retire at the age of 50, as for my DH, he hasn't decided yet. He's 43 now.

henrik
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by henrik » Thu Apr 21, 2016 6:36 am

Welcome! Clever username :)

Did
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by Did » Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:38 am

Welcome. Your English is excellent. Big move to buy up north. Do you plan on staying there?

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Thu Apr 21, 2016 11:50 am

Henrik, thanks! :) I presume you know what it means? :)

Did, thanks! I can see I made lots of mistakes in my post.
We really like it here! The utilities are not cheap. Natural gas (heating) is about CAD$125 in the coldest month. Water is expensive too, $100 monthly. But very clean water. Electricity is very expensive. We spend $60 on the electricity a month, but $100 on top of that is the service delivery fee. But we're also getting Northern allowance and tax relief from living so far away.
Other than utilities, everything else is cheap. Property taxes are minuscule. I went to Calgary recently to find out that grocery prices there are the same. We also have a community that values second hand shopping and hands on skills.
We can't see any problem retiring here ;)

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Thu Apr 21, 2016 8:56 pm

Okay, today I was off and I used the warm (kinda) weather to hand dig one garden bed along the fence (1 x 10 feet) for my peas and radishes (companion plants). I planted the peas (Lincoln homesteader) but I guess it is too early for radishes yet. The mesh fence will serve as a trellis. Removing the sod was difficult. My first time doing that. I piled the sod near the shed and I will start composting soon.

I'm trying to find a rain barrel. Brand new is $150, no thank you. I called all car washes around because sometimes they sell empty 50 gallon detergent containers which people use as rain barrels. No luck, they are out. For now I will have to use tap water for irrigation, but that's ok since I don't have much stuff growing.

Tomorrow I'll dig up another garden bed and will plant a different variety of peas.

I won't get too fancy with the garden this year. I'm new to it and need to gradually improve my skills. I'm going to plant:
4 varieties of peas (I just love-love-love peas)
4 varieties of beans
3 varieties of cold climate appropriate corn (my another favourite)
radishes
kale
swiss chard
lettuce
brussel sprouts
onions

Next week is my week off. We get 1 week off as a part of our rotation every 6 weeks. Looking forward to it. However that might be smart to pick up a couple of overtime shifts... We'll see.

Bankai
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by Bankai » Fri Apr 22, 2016 2:19 pm

Welcome!

Some great progress already. I see so many similarities to our situation (we also emigrated from East to West, are child free, are vegan-ish, don't drink alcohol). Retiring in 13 years is definitely doable in your situation. I'm looking forward to following your journal.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:27 pm

Bankai, thanks!
I really hope I'll reach FI before that. My job is very draining and stressful. Easy to burnout. If everything goes the same way, we might be able to retire earlier. But my DH doesn't have a job security whatsoever.

Today I had to do a lot of calls and paperwork (financial stuff) and instead of hand digging I decided to turn one of the flowerbeds by the front porch into a veggie plot for onions and kale (companion plants). There were 4 lilies growing already and I decided to leave them be. They were planted by the previous owner and I did not weed it last summer at all. Well... Now I know how difficult it is to dig out the elaborate weed root network... :lol: Now I have lots of weeds and its roots for my compost :) I got tired and left one half for my DH to work on it tomorrow. He's off and I'm working tomorrow. On the half I worked I planted onion sets and kale and it's looking good. Even if we have another frost it'll be ok because the patch is close to the foundation and the lilies have been already growing well through the last several frosts.

NPV
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by NPV » Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:52 pm

Привет, Сестра! :)

How is the land market up north? I was thinking of investing in some (potentially) agricultural land in Northern Canada which is now considered marginal due to cold weather as my hedge against climate change :)

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Sat Apr 23, 2016 1:06 am

Привет, NPV! :) откуда знаешь русский? :)

I asked my financial advisor, he said with those funds half of them grew, half of them zeroed.
https://www.farmlandinvestmentpartnership.com/

NPV
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by NPV » Mon Apr 25, 2016 11:26 pm

Я из России.

Thanks for the link.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Wed Apr 27, 2016 10:53 am

NPV, cool, what part? I'm from Far East.

Okay, looks like my hubs is actually learning something about electricity after spending $400 on the equipment. I have a reading clip-on lamp which I don't use because it is battery powered and I don't like that. In our county we don't have a recycling program; and also using batteries for power is the opposite of frugal. Anyway, he soldered a USB cable on the lamp and now I don't have to buy batteries anymore. To me so far it sounds like a rocket science. Good for him!

lilacorchid
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by lilacorchid » Wed Apr 27, 2016 8:39 pm

Hey! Stopping in from my journal!

A good read is CanadianCouchPotato for investing from a Canadian point of view. MillionDollarJourney is also Canadian, though they reached their goal two years ago!

I see you are starting a garden! Does anyone else around you plant at this time of year? It is too early for us yet; another month before we usually do.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Wed Apr 27, 2016 9:04 pm

lilacorchid wrote:Hey! Stopping in from my journal!
Welcome! Thanks for the blog recommendations!
lilacorchid wrote:I see you are starting a garden! Does anyone else around you plant at this time of year? It is too early for us yet; another month before we usually do.
Yes, I usually ask around. People are starting planting peas, they said. I tentatively planted some pea seeds because I just wanna see how it goes and if it is going to work out. But I'm keeping most of my seed till 2 weeks before the last frost which if officially June 1st. But climate has changed since those last frost dates were established... It is warmer and warmer every year. I'll probably keep asking people who is planting what and stuff.

In front of my house I have 2 flower beds that I used for planting onions and kale. Because they are adjacent to the house, they soil is very warm and the tulips have grown the buds already. And so I planted onion sets and kale seeds, there was enough space there. They should be fine. All other stuff I'll be planting later.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Thu Apr 28, 2016 6:00 pm

This week is my week off, but I have already worked one shift overtime (double pay!) and picked up an extra shift for tomorrow as well. Normally I'd avoid working overtime due to stress and because the work is so damn hard and I just want to read my books and play Fallout :) But now, when I have a FI goal in mind, it's much easier in terms of stress. Also I just had a pay rate increase, which boosts morale big time.

I found in hard drive archives my 6.5 year old Excel spreadsheet I used to use for budgeting while we were poor, unemployed and hopeless newcomers. I'm glad I sat down once and developed it, it is highly automated and easy to use, with Macros and stuff. So, May 1st I'm starting to track our expenses as planned.

I made a preliminary budget for a year and it looks like we will be able to get rid of mortgage debt in 5 years, maybe less. We also planned money for a trip to Vancouver, Victoria and Seattle (the cost of getting out of the boonies to Edmonton will be compensated by my benefits). Also I will need to have dental work done because I have a broken bridge and it just sits on the glue for now (and I'm on a pureed diet lol). The rough preliminary budget is about $40,000/year all aforementioned things included. Which leaves us with roughly $60,000-70,000 in estimated savings. Not very frugal, but it is also difficult to estimate spending because I haven't been tracking our spending for more than 5 years. After a few months I'll update the estimates.

Also I plan to sit down and to develop a tool in Excel to track my investments performance. My head hurts a little bit just because of thinking about it, but I will have to figure it out :)

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Thu May 12, 2016 3:30 pm

Moved our 2 phones from contract to pre-paid without data. Also I convinced my hubby to get his boss to pay for a mobile hotspot, so the data will be covered by his company. So at work during breaks I will be reading books instead of checking Facebook, because we don't have wifi at the hospital I work at.

Cancelled monthly Equifax plan, will probably be ordering just a credit report every 6 months or so.

That'll save us about $100 monthly.

We're started monthly contributing to the BMO GDN LifeStage Plus 2022 mutual fund (within Spousal RRSP and my hub's TFSA).

I'm in the process of signing up for GMWB (Guaranteed Monthly Withdrawal Benefit), will put there $10,000 for now and we'll see how it goes.
Also I'm putting $8,000 on Market linked GIC for 5 years.
Both of these are within my TFSA room.
So far quite conservative moves, but I'm trying to increase my knowledge to do something less conservative with my money.

Hankaroundtheworld
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by Hankaroundtheworld » Thu May 12, 2016 4:03 pm

Wow, just read your journal, and what an impact the ERE book had on you, but in general, what a dedication to change your life for the better, like how you became more healthy (and no alcohol...), I am really impressed !! I am motivated by this, really, what a dedication to take control of your own life. Keep on the stories!

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Thu May 12, 2016 4:35 pm

Hankaroundtheworld, thanks very much!

With the alcohol it was really a good decision. I think I have an addictive personality, and alcohol used to be a problem. I could not drink 1 glass of wine or 1 bottle of beer and put the remainder away until next week. I felt so miserable after 3-4 12-hour work days and I was like "screw this shit, I'm getting drunk". But that hasn't been helping. The evening would be lost, because I'd be so 'relaxed' that I would not read or do chores. The photos of ladies reading a book with a glass of wine is not about me, lol. Next morning I would be so tired, even if no hangover, still low energy and still miserable.
Not helpful at all, waste of time and money the alcohol was. The Alan Carr book helped and I'm glad I solved that problem.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Wed May 25, 2016 12:37 am

Got a perfectly functioning used bike for free! Here it is with my hubs.

Image

Now I need to remember how to ride it. More than 15 years ago I tried to learn how to ride a bike and was doing ok, but then I fell pretty bad. Still have the scars. Then I had a bit of a phobia and could not make myself ride it. Now I think I'm ok.

I'm thinking of writing my living will. Lots of thoughts, need to organize them... I fact, what I know about trauma as a nurse makes me wanna just die in case I'm in a very bad accident. Don't want any kind of resuscitation or ICU...

George the original one
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by George the original one » Wed May 25, 2016 2:57 pm

Score!

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jennypenny
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by jennypenny » Fri May 27, 2016 10:03 am

Are you writing a living will because you got a bike? You're not that bad of a rider, are you? ;)

I'm not good on a bike either. I also took a nasty spill a long time ago that ended with the kickstand in my calf. I don't think I'll ever be a good rider because I can't relax on the bike after that.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Fri May 27, 2016 10:59 am

jennypenny wrote:Are you writing a living will because you got a bike? You're not that bad of a rider, are you? ;)
Haha, no, there just have been too many stories lately at our hospital that warranted the thoughts. Don't get old :)

The bike turned out to be not fitting my height, but okay for my hubby. So I guess I'll wait until someone gives me a smaller size bike lol. I don't really need it, everything is walking distance in our town.

lilacorchid
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by lilacorchid » Thu Jun 02, 2016 9:31 pm

How is your garden going?

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Thu Jun 02, 2016 11:39 pm

lilacorchid wrote:How is your garden going?
Hey lilacorchid! The garden is going fine, thanks, probably will be eating radishes soon and peas are pretty vigorous already, about 6 inches. It looks like it was almost 100% germination rate for the peas! I love peas so much, can't wait for them! Also I have a rhubarb, lettuce, rainbow chard, brussel sprouts, beets, kale. Just recently sowed corn and beans.
I'm already eating the scallions.
I post my garden updates here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5235

I'm planning to post pictures, but later. Next week is my week off!

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Fri Jun 03, 2016 10:39 am

As planned I have been tracking our expenses all month.
Looks like we spend a lot! Not too frugal lol.
Our household is 2 adults and 2 cats.
All numbers are in Canadian dollars.
$4637 total, but $410 will be reimbursed.
Some significant spendings were one time things like Emergency evacuation pack we had to arrange in case of wildfires ($125) and gardening tools+stuff + trees from nursery ($235). Also I purchased a Community Supported Agriculture contract for $400 to be getting fresh organic produce from a nearby farm for the whole season, which is a good value for our area, until I have my own garden better established.
Mortgage payments were $1351. Our house was cheap ($135K), but the mortgage term is for 10 years, that's why this looks like much.
Outstanding mortgage debt now is $87,381.
Income from all sources $8,500 after tax.
Tax returns and other reimbursements $11,000.
Total cashflow $19,500
Invested + whole life insurance premiums $19,800

For the easiness I count premiums paid on whole life insurance for us both as investments, but I don't see why not. Discussion is welcome!
Total investments now about $50K + $6K cash in bank now. Since I read ERE book 2 months ago there was a big boost in savings rate :D

Last night I had an extremely unbearable shift at work and now I'm looking forward to my week off next week. However I should probably pick up overtime to have this nightmare to be over sooner.

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CECTPA
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Re: Frugal living in rural Canada

Post by CECTPA » Thu Jun 09, 2016 9:56 am

Submitted application for a discount broker account. I feel ready to start buying mainstream ETFs, I think.

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