Should a landlord and tenant have basic rental responsibilities? PF Weekly Grab a brew #61

grab-a-brew-online-reviewRENTING IS A TOUGH BUSINESS

 

Being a landlord has its ups and downs depending on the space you own and the tenants you rent to.

The same could be said for a tenant and the landlord who rents them a place to live.

As a landlord you have lots of responsibilities and one of them is listening to what your tenants have to say as long as the requests are reasonable.

I don’t know if the Landlord Tenant Act is the same all around Canada but what I do know is there should be some standardization when it comes to maintaining a property.

You don’t have to jump at every single complaint but you must or at least should adhere to complaints that are of important nature.

It also takes time to get the right people in to get the job done so having reasonable expectations as a tenant is also important.

Wanting the paint color changed in your kitchen is not an emergency as a tenant but if your toilet is not working that is a different story.

 

Money in my pocket

 

Sure, renting is a lucrative business and if you can score a rental building, multi-unit house or even just a house to rent you are well on your way to cashing in. This isn’t as easy as it sound though.

Some tenants in Newfoundland and Labrador are complaining that these landlords are getting paid direct from social assistance yet the apartments are not being maintained.

Even so if the tenants complain to social assistance they are apparently told to move. That seems like the easiest answer to a problem if that is in fact the way it’s handled.

As we all know social assistance doesn’t offer much in the way of money so having a strict budget is imperative so finding a rental unit they can afford means slim pickings.

It sounds to me like a revolving door and no one is taking responsibility for anything. Almost the mentality of ‘suck it up buttercup you could be on the streets’. Not very motivating for many renters.

 

Being a landlord

 

My parents have owned homes in the UK for as long as I can remember and my wife’s parents have owned properties in Ontario as well.

Most times the renters were on social assistance of some sorts when my parents rented to them other times not, which was never a problem.

My parents wanted tenants who would pay their rent on time and respect the property while keeping it clean. Not too much to ask for considering they did their part as landlords. Not every landlord will be like my parents though.

Completing an appropriate background check is important but it’s not always that convenient for the tenant to landlord.

We hope in the future to be landlords ourselves but will do our best to maintain the property we are investing our own money in. Even if we had to hire outside help to maintain the properties you can bet we will be monitoring the progress.

 

Social assistance rental struggles

 

It’s not easy finding a landlord to rent to you when you collect social assistance/welfare because people tend to look down on the recipients. There are various reasons why people rely on the government system and we should not be there to judge.

In the end they are their own judges and if the rules are in place and our tax money is being spent on them because it is deemed necessary. We do have to put some faith in our system to make sure things are being conducted properly.

My wife said she struggled as a young adult to even rent an apartment in the city we live in now. It took her weeks of searching for someone to rent to a newly graduated student not working in her field yet. The struggle is not just for social assistance recipients but for many people.

I say we are all human and things happen for a reason. Just because someone is struggling to find a job and has to rely on the government system doesn’t make them lazy, dirty thieves who will steal and sell anything to make a buck. Gosh, that bothers me.

It’s a stigma that will be carried forever but none the less we are all human and as individuals we can rise to the top. Over the years my parents have had many phone calls from the tenants about problems at the houses.

There was never a time when my parents said, no we aren’t going to repair a leak or a door that won’t close or a refrigerator that won’t work.

That’s what being a landlord is all about. When you become what is known as the slum landlord you are known as someone who likes to take the money and run.

You don’t care about the people, the space and the way they have to live their life. Even if they aren’t the cleanest housekeepers that doesn’t mean you have to reduce your landlord responsibilities to only collecting rent.

 

Renters moving out

 

My parents just recently went into one of their homes where a couple split up and it was their primary residence before renting it out.

They couldn’t believe what they saw as the walls had holes in them and it was very dirty. You won’t always get what you want out of a tenant.

Sure they will be responsible for the damage but leaves me to wonder if some renters are creating this stigma put on them. Problem is we all don’t live by the same standards BUT there should be basic standards that must be met by both the landlord and the tenant.

If my parents knew this was the state of the place while they were in the house something would have been done about it.

A friend of ours who had recently went through a divorce and was not working had to collect social assistance until she could find a job as a personal support worker.

She didn’t think it would take too long but in the mean-time she had to sort some things out. Applying for social assistance wasn’t something she wanted to do but was what other options did she have if no one was hiring her?

She always had a tidy house when we visited and was pleasant to deal with. Struggling to find somewhere to rent was what happened to her.

You would think it’s easy but no one wants to rent to someone collecting social assistance/welfare. They think they will trash the place and not take care of it so why bother fixing anything.

Not everyone is like this, heck there are people who have money and professional careers that can’t even support their own property. You’d be shocked to go in some people’s houses.

Then you have landlords who will rent to social assistance recipients because they know the cheque is as good as in the mail each month.

There’s nothing worse than having a tenant who says they can’t pay the rent on time for one reason or another. The problem is lots of these low-income housing estates are full so it’s a struggle to get in.

 

Taking care of business

 

Plenty of landlords don’t upkeep the buildings like they should and maintenance requests from tenants go unanswered or ignored for weeks and months on end. This is taxpayer money they are stashing away at the expense of the tenant.

Some never get repaired or even looked at. I’m not sure why some landlords let their properties crumble to the ground the way they do. It shouldn’t be that way.

If everyone including the landlord took pride of ownership then these places won’t have to be what some call a slum place to live because of lack of property maintenance and tenant upkeep.

No one should have to beg to get a landlord to fix a serious problem in a rental unit.

Most tenants fear getting evicted if they complain and it’s a real struggle for anyone to secure a new rental unit. So the tenants take the living conditions as they are and improvise just to keep a roof over their heads.

 

Landlord Tenant Act

 

Sure, being a landlord is tough but you have to take the good with the bad. Not everyone is a pain in the arse when they rent no matter where the money comes from.

Landlords should uphold to basic maintenance rules and the Landlord tenant act should force these landlords who pocket the rent money and get rich month after month while their tenants suffer.

There are great landlords out there and there are landlords that don’t care one bit about the tenants and those are the people who need to smarten up. A business is a business, so treat it like one.

Sure I’m generalizing saying they are getting rich and we know that may be far from the truth but that’s what it seems to people on the outside looking in.

We perceive only what we think we know even if it’s not true, like the millionaire next door. If you can’t fund a property the way it should be then sell it to someone who can.

Same goes to some of these tenants, it’s not your property to trash so take pride of what you live in and the stuff that you own.

No one should have to live in below standard rental environments and I’m sure if you as a landlord were in their position you certainly wouldn’t want to either.

Our friend by the way ended up having to move in with a friend and live on her couch because her landlord refused to finish a renovation in the rental unit. There was no refrigerator and the ceiling was leaking in the bathroom from the unit above.

Have your say:

Should landlords be forced to uphold some sort of basic maintenance for tenants in low-income or any rental unit? What about the tenants? What conditions were you forced to live in?

 

Top recipe

 

Frozen Strawberry Dessert

If you don’t already know I have a second Facebook page online called The Free Recipe Depot where I share recipes from other Foodie Bloggers from around the world.

Once a week I pick one recipe that has been submitted as my Top Recipe of the week. Trust me when I say this is no easy task as some of these foodies can cook up a storm.

This week that recipe goes to a food blog called Bunny’s Warm Oven. I thought since we are freezing our tails off in Canada at the moment there’s nothing more fitting than a frozen treat.

Sure a hot chocolate would be nice but heck might as well join in the cold fun. Enjoy this lovely Frozen Strawberry Dessert. It looks delicious.

 

Weekly CBB posts

 

If you missed any CBB posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!

 

Weekly reads

 

Every week I share a few of the best personal finance blog posts that I read online over the past week with all of you so please enjoy my top picks.

 

Well, that’s a wrap for this PF Friday’s Grab a brew #61. Happy budgeting and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.

-Mr.CBB

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Can you afford to take a full day off from work?

the day off taking medicinePAYING THE BILLS TAKES MONEY

 

In order to take a full day off from work for most people that means an entire day’s loss of income.

That can be tough for any budget but there are times when it must be done.

Unless your employer has provided you with stellar benefits or a contract that states your days off are paid sick days you might be shaking your head, no you can’t afford to take a full day off.

You may say, yes you can afford to take a full day off because you have money saved up in the event that you need to take a day off and it won’t affect your budget too much. That’s great.

Some employees are lucky they can carry over their sick days, bank them or get paid out for them but you must read the provisions of your contract with your employer to know what is covered.

If you are not sure contact your human resources department or your benefits company for a more in-depth explanation. It’s better to know rather than to guess.

 

Full day off

 

Not everyone can afford to take a full day off from work especially if they are single income earners. It might not be as crushing to lose a full day’s pay if you have two income earners in the house but when you are the only person bringing home the bacon it’s tough to pick up that phone and dial the numbers to say, I can’t make it in today.

Personally I have never called in sick or taken a full day off from work that wasn’t a vacation day or my employer told me to take a day off.

To be honest, I’m not sure if I could make that call unless I knew beyond a doubt that I would not be able to work that day. Some people are born workaholics and although I’m only a partial workaholic (does that exist lol) I’ve just never had the need to take a full day off that wasn’t a vacation day, lucky maybe.

There are many other acceptable reasons why someone would call in to take the full day off such as a death in the family, no babysitter, illness, injury or an urgent matter that needs dealing with.

Many people cringe when other employees come to work sick but when you have mouths to feed they may not have the options that others do. Then again some employees cringe when their co-workers take the fullday off and they are stuck to pick up the work load. You can never win.

Of course there are some employees who are allergic to coming in to work every other Friday but if they get that doctor’s note there’s not much you can do until after the 10 days of unpaid leave are used up.

We can’t judge someone because we don’t know what happens when they leave work and it’s really none of our business. If the illness is one that spreads and is contagious then it becomes a health matter that needs to be dealt with promptly.

The common cold although it can spread many people still rise and shine and make their way into work because staying home won’t pay the bills.

How many times have you went to work sick or blowing your nose but didn’t want to call in because you knew that if you took the full day off it wouldn’t make a lick of difference?

A friend of ours had posted on Facebook how ill she was and of course the comments came pouring in. It’s the winter season and so many of us are prone to getting ill at some point unless you are super lucky.

What to do on your day off?

Well, her friends had some great ideas for her but nothing she could accept.

“Take the full day off, put your feet up and rest”, said one friend. “Make sure you drink lots of fluids and take care of yourself”, “Don’t go in to work, stay home”, said many of the comments.

Sure she was basking in the thought of staying home and taking the day off but there was no way she could because she is a single mother and she is already in debt up to her eyeballs.

Losing a full day of income might mean she can’t pay a bill that month or would have to cut back on groceries.

Debt is nothing to be proud of but for some people the credit card is their life saver and for a variety of reasons. Although I would never suggest using a credit card to get by on a daily basis that is reality for many people because they simply have nowhere to turn to.

They get locked into that debt system and for many they never get out and for others it takes them years upon years to break free.

Try not to look back at how much you actually paid out-of-pocket for that time in your life when it was rough but for those trying to get by, that might not cross their minds too often.

Putting food on the table and a roof over their heads is the priority while keeping the bills paid. That life must be tough so telling someone to take the full day off or getting upset with someone because they don’t take the full day off for one reason or another is not right. We don’t know what they are going through.

I know if someone were to come in sick to work at my employer and asked if there was a role they could do that was away from other employees for the day they would certainly accommodate them although not all employers can or have to do this.

We have a great team where I am so we work together when one of us has to take the full day off for one reason or another. Questioning them is none of our business. Our business is making sure we do what we are paid to do and that’s to work.

Getting nasty with your co-workers doesn’t solve problems either. Just because you can afford to stay home doesn’t mean everyone can and should follow the way you can live your life.

Trust me if someone had a personal emergency and could afford to stay home, they would pick up the phone and make the call.

 

Personal emergency leave

 

In Ontario if you work for an employer who regularly employs more than 50 employees you have the right to 10 unpaid job-protected days off each year no matter when you start with an employer.

Although, there are some jobs that are not covered even though there are more than 50 employees rather they are covered under special rules. To see the full career list visit the link below.

The 10 days is what is called personal emergency leave under the Ontario Ministry of Labour which has provisions for the employer and employee.

The employer for one must not fire or threaten any employee for taking a personal emergency leave or plans to take one.

The employer is allowed to ask you for a doctor’s note if you do call in so be prepared to make that appointment if need be.

You may also have to think about paying for that doctor’s note about $10 from most doctors’ offices. Some works benefits may cover that doctor’s note as well so don’t be shy to ask.

If you work for an employer that is covered under a contract or collective agreement and the provisions are less than the Employment Standards Act you still get the 10 days of un-paid personal emergency leave days.

I’m sure before personal emergency leave came into effect many of you were scared to call in to take the ful day off too many times because you didn’t know how your employer would react.

Even today you don’t know what they can or will do if they don’t want you around even though you are protected. It’s become much easier though for people who are stuck such as the babysitter can’t make it and now you have no one to watch your kids.

That would count as a personal emergency where you could call in to take the full day off although maybe having a second back-up babysitter would be a cheaper option rather than losing a full days income.

My wife’s friend seemed a bit hesitant to respond to the call of taking the full day off and relaxing as you could tell in her response but she opened up and said, “I can’t afford to take the day off”.

No more responses came in after that because it was clear that no matter what anyone said unless she was getting wheeled off to the hospital she had to go in.

The hard part is she has been through so many rough times with her jobs and education that has gotten her nowhere. Like many who get a higher education they are forced to work minimum wage jobs because they struggle to find work in their career right away, if ever.

Even though minimum wage is slated to go up to $11 that is far from enough to keep someone afloat especially if they are a single parent with no child support.

 

Plan in advance

 

Are there ways to prepare so you can take the day off?

If I had an opportunity to sit with her I would love to go over her budget with her, if she has one at all. If not I’d certainly work with her if she allowed me to so we could see where all of her money goes to help her get back on track.

So my first tip is to have some form of a budget so you know exactly where all of your money is going.

I know for a fact that she smokes over a pack of cigarettes every day. We all know what smoking does to our health and finances but sometimes we just need a bit of motivation to quit. I know I’ve been smoke free for over 2 years and smoked for many years.

I also know that you can’t force or manipulate someone into quitting. Although once they do and they look back they will wonder what took them so long to do it.

The smoking habit costs and it costs smokers big time. That would be her personal choice but it would certainly free up money for her.

She eats out regularly and is a well-known customer at Tim Hortons where she doesn’t hesitate to scrape up enough change every day to buy a few coffees.

You can easily see where some of the money is draining without even really knowing much about her income and debt. If someone complains of being broke all of the time by simply by watching someone’s habits you will know where the money goes.

My second tip is to combat all the small expenses in your budget.

If you could find all those little expenses that you blow every day and find a cheaper alternative like making your own coffee and bringing a lunch you could use that money for a rainy day.

Just because you might have lots of debt or on a low-income doesn’t mean you still can’t have an emergency savings fund. Of course it’s possible.

The hard part for many is waiting to see the emergency money pot grow or they spend it because of some excuse or another which is not an emergency.

Paying down your debt and not incurring any more debt is another way to lessen the burden of wondering if you can afford to take day off from work.

Although living pay to pay is tough you don’t have to continue down that route if you just find some ways to cut back and put that money saved to work for you. The worst thing you could do is cut back and blow that extra money. You will never get ahead.

Think before you spend your hard-earned money. Think about all the reasons why you would rather have money in the bank that grows rather than eating out or buying stuff you don’t need.

Some people don’t have any options especially if they are a contractor and or run their own business inside or outside of the home.

Finding a work life balance might be tough especially if you are the only captain of your ship. If you don’t show up to work the job will not get done.

Most people on contract have no works benefits nor do they have vacation days so taking the day off is a tough call to make. We all have to make ends meet so deciding whether you can afford to take a full day off for whatever reason may be stressful.

The good news is that for many the 10 unpaid days are available so if you need to use them and your day off falls under the acceptable provisions you don’t have to worry about losing your job, just your income for the full day.

What are some ways you prepare for unpaid days off financially?

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How a small town family saves money on groceries

small town grocery bananasSMALL TOWN SAVINGS

 

Today we have a guest post from a small town fan of Canadian Budget Binder who wants to share her insights into grocery shopping on a budget when your options are limited.

If you are a fan or a personal finance blogger and would like to share a story please read my guest post guidelines and contact me.

My name is Christine and I live in a small town in Ontario and have followed Mr CBB for quite a while now on the blog and participating in posting my grocery shops with his Grocery Game Challenge since Sept 2012.

 

Our grocery budget

 

I shop for my family of 4 which includes my two adult children, my husband and I. We also can’t forget our family pet fat cat Stuart who eats up a part of our grocery budget as well.

Our grocery budget is $650 per month so I have to make that money stretch and living in a small town can make that challenging for me.

I have tried very hard to keep things within my budget, not always successfully. It’s been a learning experience to say the least.

If you have been hesitating about posting your grocery shops because you think that you can’t save on groceries, think again. If I can do it …you can too.

 

Small town shopping

 

If you are thinking that the people that post their shops have all these stores to go to to help them save money but you are in a small town and just don’t have access to all those stores…..keep reading.

One of the things I have had to deal with in trying to keep the grocery budget in line is the fact that I live in a small town, roughly 6000 people. We have all of two grocery stores to choose from.

One our our small town gems is a grocery store called Foodland which is part of the Sobey’s chain. Another of the small town grocery stores that we have is a Your Independent Grocer, part of the Loblaw’s chain.

Foodland is right across the street from me so I can walk over and get what I need a great part of my small town life. This cuts down on time and petrol another factor to think about when planning my grocery list.

The Your Independent Grocer is out at the east end of our small town and I need to drive there. My options are limited to these two stores unless I go out of town.

This is not always an option depending on the weather, my husbands health on any given day and a lack of flyers for the out of town stores.

Most of the time I shop at Foodland which is available in most small towns. It’s convenient and believe it or not…cheaper than the Your Independent Grocer store another small town grocery store.

 

Product pricing

 

The fact above underscores one of the biggest issues if you want to save money on your groceries. You need to know your prices.

It doesn’t matter how many stores you go to you still need to know the prices for all those regular items we are always buying.

Because there are only the two options for my groceries I don’t price match in town although I do shop the sales and I coupon.

I use a grocery list every time! If you know the regular prices on those items you buy on a regular basis then you can tell when you look at the flyers if it’s a good sale price or a really good price or even a Good Price!!

Lets look at these items one at a time. Knowing your prices… I plan my stock ups by how good the price is. Foodland has the regular flyer deals but they also have price cuts that last 4-5 weeks at a stretch.

I believe Food Basics is doing this now too. It tends to not be that great a sale but every penny helps. If the price cut is on what is considered a basic item for my family I will try to pick up one or two items on price cut every time I go.

By the end of the price cut time I have a nice amount of product stocked in my pantry that I didn’t have to pay full price for! I do much the same thing for the weekly sales but, usually, on a smaller scale.

 

Coupon clipping

 

I also coupon but not to the extent that some people do but I do use them. I get the inserts that show up in our weekend papers and sometimes even manage to get more than one copy of an insert.

Those are red letter days. I look in the store while I’m shopping for the tear pad coupons too. The best source of coupons is online in my opinion.

Sites like Gocoupons.ca, Save.ca, Websaver.ca are great and they mail those coupons to you. They also have printable coupons. Other sources like Smartsource are printable.

There are also sites like Save Big Live Better, Mrs January and Coupon Christine that post deals and such you can take advantage of, and they post daily.

Lets not forget our own Mr CBB!

I always shop with a grocery list when I shop. There are lists online you can print off like Mr CBB’s Free Money Saving Tools.

I have my own way to list what I need to buy with prices listed right on my list and if I have a coupon to use for the product. Figure out what works best for you and then make sure you use that list.

Hopefully these ideas will help you save money on your groceries.

Posting on Mr CBB’s Grocery Game Challenge helps to see just what it is we are buying. Speaking for myself it does make me stop and think about what I am getting knowing that Mr CBB will see what I am purchasing.

Below is a sample shop from January that I posted in the Grocery Game. As you will see I came so close to making my grocery budget and without posting my shops I might not have been able to track my money so well.

Here we go!!! I made it into No Frills for a shop this week for a quick prowl around, but the rest was at Foodland.

Foodland, Jan 24

  • 2 tomato paste @.89- 1.78
  • 3 cans pasta sauce @1.25- 3.75
  • 3 cans tomato sauce @1.88-5.64
  • 1 bread crumbs- 1.99
  • 1 cider mix- 3.99
  • 1 jug water- 5.49
  • 2 eye of round roasts- 8.68+ 9.21, stockpile
  • Tax- .52
  • Total- $41.05, part was stockpile

 

No Frills, Jan 24

  • 1 yogurt- 5.97, 50% discount- 2.99
  • 1 box Bear Paws- 2.44
  • 3 bags frozen veggies @2.97- 8.91
  • 4 Hot Stuffs @1.00- 4.00
  • 2 4l milk @3.97- 7.94
  • 1 cranberry cocktail- 2.97
  • 1 large Royale TP- 7.97
  • 2 boxes 144 count Tetley tea bags @4.97- 9.94
  • 1 bagels- 1.97
  • 1 pork loin- 5.21
  • 2 packs X-lean ground beef- 9.48+9.92
  • bananas- .96
  • cole slaw- 1.27, 50% discount- .64
  • 3lbs carrots- 1.49
  • 2 Sensodyne toothpaste @3.97- 7.94
  • 2 Dove body wash @4.72- 9.44, $2.00 coupon
  • 1 Vasaline body lotion- 4.97, $2.50 coupon
  • Tax- 3.94
  • Total- $98.60, $4.50 coupons, $3.63 discounts

 

Foodland, Jan 30

  • 2 cans soup @ .79- 1.58
  • bananas- .30
  • 1 onions- 1.99
  • 2 boxes cereal @1.99- 3.98, reduced
  • 1 sweet and sour bbq sauce- 2.79
  • 1 doz eggs- 2.99
  • 1 apple juice- 3.29, 1.00 coupon
  • 1 cider mix- 3.99
  • Tax- .52
  • Total- $20.43, 1.00 coupon

 

  • Total budget for the month- $650.00
    Total coupons this week- $5.50
    Total discounts this week- $3.63
    Total spent this week- $151.99
    Total stockpile this week- $8.09, roast
    Total spent this month- $653.06+ $8.09 stockpile
    Total over/under for week- over $21.99
    Total over/under for month- over $3.06
    Left for month- $0.00
    Total coupons/discounts for month- $44.83
    Total carry over- $3.06
    Total YTD- $653.06, $25.00 stockpile

Final Thoughts on Grocery Shop:

So I finished the month over by a whole $3.06, on a 5 week month!!! So much better than last year!!! Last Jan. I was over by some $200.00!!!!

The roasts were a good deal as was the extra lean ground beef. The ground beef was broken up into a number of smaller meal size packs for the freezer.

The stockpile amount helped a lot. The coupons for NF were what I think as the cashier just rang it in as one big coupon for $4.50. The pork loin was a super good price!! $1.00 lb.

It was dollar days at No Frills. I won’t argue with those prices. I am pleased that this month went as well as it did. The first three weeks were low so that helped with the last two weeks when there was some stocking up done.

I have had to wrap my head around 4 and 5 week months as that was part of what messed with me last year. This time I was more aware. All in all a good start to the new year….

 

Grocery savings

 

We all have ways to save money on groceries and we all have to work with what is available to us, whether it is the amount we can afford to spend or the limitations we have in places to do the actual shopping.

Whats for dinner

Another way to save on your grocery bill is to join us every night for the What’s For Dinner post on Facebook at Canadian Budget Binder. The post runs from 5pm until 10pm 7 days a week.

We post what we are making for dinner that night and we share recipes and general chatter and have a lot of fun. All of us are generous with our recipe collections and if you need ideas on what to make your family we have ideas.

If you are wondering what is coming up on sale at your store, chances are someone can tell you as long as you ask.

If you bought something on sale and are wondering how to cook it, again just ask as we are a diverse group of fans on Canadian Budget Binder from an array of cultures.

We have recipes we can post for you and everyone else to try or you can check out the free recipes Mr.CBB posts from other food bloggers at The Free Recipe Depot on Facebook. Another great free source for recipes to help keep your budget in check.

Come join us in the Grocery Game Challenge!! We don’t judge but are there to help you any way we can. Even better, after you have your groceries, come join us on What’s For Dinner! Trust me…you won’t be sorry…….

I hope that if you live in a small town like I do you don’t let the small shops deter you from saving money in your grocery budget because it is possible, I’m proof of that. Planning is important so if you want to save the savings are there as long as you are willing to put in the effort.

-Christine

 

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Will the Ontario minimum wage hike help? PF Friday Grab a brew #57

grab-a-brew-online-reviewIN ONE POCKET OUT THE OTHER

 

Surviving on minimum wage is not easy in fact when I moved to Canada the only jobs I could find were minimum wage jobs although that was still a struggle at times.

Living in the UK was equally as difficult because prices for petrol and food not to mention housing accommodations were astronomical compared to what we earned.

I was already used to living on a tight budget and working hard to make ends meet to stay ahead of the game but I guess I expected more moving to Canada but knew I would have to work my butt off no matter what challenge I was given.

No road is an easy road unless it’s all handed to you on a silver platter but even then those people still fall.

Unless you haven’t heard the Liberal government is giving a $0.75 boost to the minimum wage in Ontario raising it to $11.00 an hour. They say this is in line with inflation but is it really enough to get by on?

 

Finding a job

 

I struggled to find work even with my University Degree from the UK because it wasn’t fully recognized in Ontario.

The hardest part was travelling to a job interview in a suit and tie only to be told as soon as I walked in that I didn’t have enough Canadian experience.

Whatever that meant, “Canadian experience” please…you bet it peeved me off after all of the research and prep work I did. It was as if HR failed to read my resume until the last few minutes before I showed up for the job interview.

I will admit that fueled a fire inside of me when I heard a so-called hiring professional say that to me and so she challenged me to go on with her dirty words.

I had to either go back to University to upgrade the degree I had already completed, take a minimum wage job or start my career over again with something totally new.

I remember getting a phone call from one place stating that they would love to hire me with my UK leadership experience. The pay was minimum wage working on some production line.

I declined the role because I knew that I couldn’t raise a family on minimum wage. They called me back over and over until they offered me a Team Leader position which I also turned down.

I know that I shouldn’t have been picky because a job is a job but I didn’t want to settle and to be honest I was lucky that I had enough emergency savings in the bank that gave me the opportunity to have choices.

Not everyone can do this but I didn’t want to end up in a job where I didn’t have the opportunity to move up in an organization nor use the skills that I had worked so hard at all my years in University.

No graduate students with tonnes of OSAP debt wants to work in fast food restaurants or retail stores but what I’ve come to learn in Canada is that it is a reality.

Minimum wage for most people is better than having no job at all. I believe we get out what we put into our lives and if we really want something we have to go for it.

I know it’s easier said than done because we may all have commitments in our lives but sometimes we have to make choices to get ahead or we continue to walk the path that we are faced with.

It’s never easy. Life is not easy.

I know living on minimum wage for a friend of ours is awful. He drives one hour to work each way every day just to work for minimum wage and at the end of the week his gas and wear and tear on the car not to mention the time spent in his car wears him down.

His bills are not getting paid on time or he can only pay the minimum payment which keeps him in the credit loop for years on end paying boatloads of interest on meaningless items.

He just recently got approved for a quick loan to pay off his debts but the loan still remains as does the debt cycle for him.

Living pay to pay is reality for many people and whether the Liberal government thinks the raise to $11.00 for minimum wage will help depends on everyone’s personal situation.

The fact of the matter still stands that $11.00 is not much to live on and most people have to find second jobs just to get by or above that poverty level.

Even with the increase we may also have to face that everything else may increase or decrease such as goods and services and then the cycle continues.

If you have lots of debt, if you spend all of your money frivolously, if you live at home, if you are retired, if you are a student, if you have kids… if if if and if.

There are lots of ifs, and’s and buts but the reality is they can’t service our individual needs that’s up to us to conquer unfortunately and relying on the government to get us ahead is never going to pan out. Like some say though, at least they are trying.

In their own way they are telling us we are giving you a raise keeping in line with inflation, the rest is up to you to sort out. Fair? Nothing is fair in life. That much I’ve learned.

Even so if they gave minimum wage a bigger hike the businesses are already having to re-evaluate their budget and hope they can accommodate the wage increase.

I read in some comments on another post that if you are a business owner and can’t handle the increase with your business than maybe you shouldn’t be in business.

I don’t know how I feel about that but at the same time with the hike the entire chain will feel the crunch.

So although we may be getting a minimum wage increase over time we will see price hikes if need be to compensate and eventually that raise becomes null and void because you’re paying more for food or rent or whatever to compensate.

 

My decision

 

In the end, I decided to go back to school, rent, and start my career over again in hopes of making my way up the ladder doing something I loved.

I can say that I did give up years of going out and buying fancy clothes and eating dinners with friends for my education. I didn’t get any OSAP loans for school rather I used my savings to pay for my education.

Don’t get me wrong I still enjoyed those years but I didn’t go hog-wild spending money. I spent less than I earned which was $0 because I was in school and I struggled to find even a part-time job because I wanted to focus on getting the highest grades.

That is when I started to coupon which ended up saving us hundreds if not thousands of dollars over the course of a couple of years.

I also participated in focus groups for cash money and helped out friends for cash doing odd jobs. I did whatever I could to stay ahead.

We lived off of my wife’s income and I went on to graduate top of my class and was hired in a full-time capacity before I graduated from a head hunter who came to the school and met me.

It’s taken me years to get where I am and I’m still not even close to my potential which is great for me because it gives me more to strive for.

I’ve just recently started another new role in a professional capacity along with my full-time job and it’s the career that I’m going to end up settling in eventually because it’s what I wanted from the beginning.

I’ve learned lots from my time here in Ontario but the most important lesson that I learned is no matter where you live, no matter how much money you earn if you spend more than you earn you’ll never get ahead.

I also learned that if you don’t make enough then you have to find a way to earn more money. That is reality and no one will look out for you, but you.

With the minimum wage hike comes tears of joy for some and for others it’s not so happy of a time but it must keep up with the cost of living if anyone is to attempt to get ahead.

Take the minimum wage hike as you will and proceed with caution because when money comes in one door it’s surely to go out the window just as fast even if it’s beyond our own control.

The minimum wage hike might not make the people of Ontario rich but what we can rely on is counting all the things that we have that no amount of money could ever buy.

Do you think the minimum wage hike is fair?

Do you think it will help people get ahead of their bills?

What impact do you think the wage hike will have on businesses?

Have your say.

 

Top recipe

 

Superbol chili

Every day Food Bloggers from around the world pass by my other love the Free Recipe Depot Facebook page to share a daily recipe which I share with my fans.

This weeks Top Recipe was chosen with it being Superbowl Sunday this weekend.

I though Edward Antrobus from If You Can Read You Can Cook has an easy slower cooker chili recipe for you to whip up that you might fancy.

It’s what he calls a six can chili and claims it doesn’t get any easier. Thanks Edward… this will go nice with a plate of nachos.

You can also find some other Super Bowl ideas over my mates blog One Smart Dollar where he shares how to Throw a Touchdown at your Super Bowl Party.

 

Weekly CBB Posts

 

If you missed any CBB posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!

 

Weekly reads

 

Every week I share a few of the best personal finance blog posts that I read over the past week with all of you so please enjoy my top picks.

 

Well, that’s a wrap for this Friday’s grab a brew #57 so happy budgeting and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.

-Mr. CBB

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How to survive a winter storm with no power

broken-tree-branchesMAKING IT THROUGH THE STORM

 

While the ice storm that we had this week in Ontario created quite a sight to see, sparkling trees covered in glistening ice and an ice covering over everything, this Winter Wonderland also came with a lot of destruction, inconveniences for many and sadly a couple of deaths.

With hundreds of thousands of people losing their power there are still a number of people who are waiting for theirs to come back on, 48 hours or more after the storm while others enjoyed Christmas Day in the warmth of their homes.

Being prepared for an extended power outage can make getting through those long, cold days less of a struggle. The recent cold snap hasn’t helped the situation.

 

Staying Warm

 

Having no power means no heat in your home. Staying warm will be a challenge if you are not prepared. We had a little notice that this storm was coming and I have to admit I was not as prepared as I could have been.

Beyond having lots of blankets and warm sweaters to put on, seeking out warming stations that many cities provided would have been an option if our power had stayed off for more than the 3 hours it was off.

These warming stations provide you with not only a place to escape the cold but most also offered some hot beverages to warm you up.

 

Generators

 

If you own a generator or choose to purchase one remember that anything that burns fuel should have adequate ventilation.

Using a barbecue indoors to stay warm, whether it is a propane barbecue or charcoal is not a good idea.

When you are trying to keep your house warm you are unlikely to open any windows and therefore your home is likely sealed air tight.

Burning propane or a gas-powered generator inside your home or even your garage will give off carbon monoxide and being in an air sealed home it will eat up all the oxygen in your home.

Remember carbon monoxide is a silent killer, being odourless unless you have a carbon monoxide detector you will not know it is in your home.

Carbon monoxide detectors also will not work if the power is out unless they have a back up battery which will only work as long the battery has a charge.

 

Car

 

In preparation for a storm where the power may go off, having a full tank of gas in your car may be of great benefit to you. It may not be the most economical approach but sitting in your car (not inside a garage) may be an option to seek out some warmth.

Your car can also be used to charge a cell phone if you own a car charger. Being able to get updates as to the progression of the storm or when your power is expected to be back on is valuable information to have.

Having little or no gas in your vehicle won’t get you very far as if the power is out gas stations will likely have no power either.

 

Food

 

A major concern for people when their power goes out is how are they going to keep all the food in their fridge and freezer from going bad.

Keeping your fridge and freezer closed as much as possible will help to keep your food cold but also know that the contents in a full freezer will stay frozen for approximately 48 hours and a half full freezer for approximately 24 hours.

During a winter storm moving your food to your garage or on a balcony in baskets, boxes or whatever you chose to put it in is an option.

There was no shortage of ice around during this latest storm so collecting some ice from outside and packing it in your freezer and fridge would also help to keep your food from spoiling.

 

Neighbours

 

The elderly may not be able to deal with a power outage very well so do your elderly neighbours a favour and check in to make sure that they are okay. 2013 brought on two major power outages and from both I learned that even though I live next door to my neighbours we are on separate power grids.

I lost power for 3 hours this past week where as both my neighbours lost power for well over 24 hours.

This may happen in your area as well so check in with your neighbours to see if they have power or if you have power and they don’t, offer them into your home for warmth or to use your outlets to charge a cell phone.

Though it may not feel like you are in Florida, having more people in a room will help to keep a room slightly warmer so get to know your neighbours and help each other out.

 

Water

 

In the winter it is always a good idea to make sure that all outdoor plumbing lines are drained and that the water is turned off.

During a power outage in the winter pipes freezing may be a concern. If you have chosen to leave your home and either stay with a friend, book a hotel room or visit a local warming station consider turning your water off completely to avoid pipes freezing and bursting within your home.

Wrapping any exposed pipes with insulation sleeves may help as well.

 

Damage to your property

 

Ontario-Ice-Storm-2013-fallen-tree

The weight of ice building up on tree branches can cause many branches to break and fall on your home, fence or your car.

Having a good homeowners insurance policy, damage to your home or property caused by a weather event will most likely be covered.

The removal of a tree or branch that has fallen without causing damage will likely be at your expense to have removed.

One thing I experienced myself this past week was large chunks of ice falling off overhead power lines. Luckily the massive piece of ice that fell on my car did not cause any damage but if it had, having a comprehensive car insurance policy my insurance company would have paid to have any damages repaired.

Know what your insurance policy covers and possibly seek out a new one if you feel your current policy is inadequate in these situations.

Surviving and staying warm during a power outage, especially one that may go on for days on end will be a challenge but can be a little easier to manage if you are prepared ahead of time.

Remember you are not alone and working as a team with others around you will make getting through these long, cold days more bearable.

What other tips can you suggest for surviving a power outage?

 

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