How I Changed My Life- I Won The Debt, Divorce, Drugs and Drinking Jackpot!

alcohol and drugs

I won the debt, divorce, drinking and drugs jackpot because I wanted to take back what I gave away, me. My name is Cindy and in 2008, I decided to change my life and today I’m going to share with you my most compelling years in hopes of motivating others who believe there is no way out. I went from a single mom of 2 boys with a drug and alcohol addiction with no job and $10,000 in debt to debt free in less than 5 years.

How I Changed My Life

It all started when I was in a toxic relationship while living in the Southern United States. I quickly became addicted to alcohol and prescription drugs and driven into a life that seemed like it had no end in sight.

We had every earthly possession that two people could want and a thriving real estate business, but it was never enough. We were toxic for each other. I didn’t have the strength or self-esteem to break away.

He told me over and over I would never make it on my own. I felt trapped yet I kept telling myself I need to change my life. I needed a quick escape of the life I hated.

How can I change my life?

I left the house with my children; the dog and the clothes on our backs got into my car and drove away without looking back. My children’s father and I had been successful in developing real estate, but there was no money when I left. He had all the assets in his name only. I was totally broke.

We did have a small mobile home a 1973 12×50 that sat on its own land that we had paid cash for. The mobile home was in my name and that is where we were going to start our life over as a family.

I turned to my mother for assistance and after sleeping on my mother’s fold out sofa with the children and the dog for 8 weeks and detoxing, I moved in. During that time I found a job at a local fast food restaurant and started counselling for my addictions.

The Money

Times were slim, there was no money in the bank and no one left to turn to for help. My lawyer bills were $4000 for the first round to get the ball rolling with our divorce and custody hearings.

My ex-husband thought since I was an addict that I would lose custody or that I would come running back to him with open arms. I didn’t,  and he wasn’t too pleased about that.

I had excellent credit at the time with absolutely no clue how I was going to pay all of that money back. I charged all the costs of the proceedings and fees on my Capital One credit card.

We had no clothes, no food, no furniture, no Christmas presents, not even a Christmas tree. It was somber at best in our surroundings but we made do with what we were given.

We were locked in a secret world and not sure where we could turn for help. The taxes had never been paid on my little trailer since we purchased it, so another $1200 went on the  Discover credit card to settle the score with the tax man.

The bills kept piling up and I kept working as much as I could to make the money last until the end of the month. In no time my car blew it’s radiator so another $800 went on the Bank of America credit card.

It seemed like I had more credit than I had cash coming in but it was the only way that I could think of at the time to keep my family together and all the bills paid with a roof over our heads and food on the table.

I quit my job at the fast food place and went to work at a lunch truck company. It made more sense because the food truck offered great hours which made it easier for picking the kids up from school. It also meant I didn’t have to work nights any longer and could spend time with my family.

We got by paying the bills but the even the minimum payments were often late. The lights stayed on, but there was nothing fancy about our life. You wouldn’t have found any internet, no cable, no frills.  We had to create our own free entertainment for the family but it also brought us closer together.

Groceries and Meals

There was help with food from the church and from the lunch truck company I worked for. When my shift ended on the food truck if there was any food that was left over from the construction sites my boss let me take it home.

It wasn’t always the best of food but it was food that was hot and would provide nourishment for me and the kids such as like tins of meatloaf and mashed potatoes with gravy or chili macaroni.

She was a kind lady and knew I was struggling to feed my family. It’s times like that when you can look back and think there was an angel looking over you.

Once a month a lady at the church we belonged to bought us a basket from the food share program co-op. It had usually a large roast or a turkey, some fresh vegetables such as  carrots or potatoes and some canned items along with pasta and rice.

I would use every bit of the food up and let nothing waste. I would prepare hot meals and soups in the crock-pot which was kindly donated to me from one of the ladies at the church.I stretched that basket of food as far as I could make it and we sometimes ate for a whole week on the one basket

Someone always wanted money from me and I never dreamed divorce would cost as much as it did for me. Round 2 from the lawyer was $2500, charged on Capital One credit card again. At this point I still had No child support, no food stamps, no Medicaid, no nothing.

I was merely living a life for my children and holding on to a string of hope dropped from heaven in hopes someone would hear or something magical would happen for us.

We were scraping by day-to-day on my tips from the lunch truck,  I continued to use my credit cards to survive but kept optimistic that something would change for the good.

The children had dentist bills, doctor bills and needed glasses. I had so much guilt over my debt but zero choice in what to do. I was earning $130 per week as my wage plus $50 in tips which I normally used to fill up my gas tank.

It was now 2009 and I was drowning as my debt grew astonishingly close to $10,000. I couldn’t believe it but I also knew that I would pay back every penny of it once I could find more work or a side income that would help me get ahead in life

At The Right Place At The Right Time

One of my stops on the lunch truck each day was at a crafting facility. It was a small place and the staff engaged as if they were all a happy family. I struck up a friendship with many of the workers and I started hanging out there after work on occasion.

I‘d like to consider myself quite crafty, so I started doing some painting and crafting with them on my own time. It was a great way to get my mind off my financial and emotional troubles doing something I love while enhancing my skills.

They asked me if I wanted to do some piece work on the side and I was so happy that I gladly accepted the offer. I was in business! I tucked every cent  of extra income that I earned away for emergency saving and to give my kids a small Christmas, credit card free!

I do some of the hand painting of the crafts at home. I sat down with my boss a few afternoons and he taught me how to paint crafts as I had never painted before in my life. I learned how to paint flowers, faces, hearts etc.

I make felt cut-outs at home and then glue them together. There is a pattern to trace, then they are cut out and glued such as butterfly wings and dragon wings etc.  I am paid $0.25 per piece and the company I work for provides the materials.

When I bring my pieces back to the shop they are assembled into the final product. The hand painting and the felt cut-out with gluing are tedious at times, but I have freedom at home to listen to the radio or YouTube so I don’t mind.

Paying My Bills

Fast forward one year and I started working at the crafting facility full-time. Being rich means different things to different people. My first cheque at minimum wage $7.75/ hr working 40 hours I thought I was rich. My bills were always paid on time and my car never ran on empty.

This was a dream come true for me yet I’d never forget those early days of detoxing on my mom’s couch. I’ve come a long way and I didn’t want to stop yet. I wanted to be as successful as I could because I knew I was worth it. I had the drive and the motivation to take my skills to the next level, and I did.

I continued the piece work on the side in addition to my 40 hours in order to bring in some extra income. Every bit of money helps and I was going to make sure there were no missed opportunities.

In no time the late charges started to disappear from my bills, a feeling that is hard to describe to someone unless they’ve been in the same situation. Minimum payments were made, lights were on and the family really was starting to come together now.

We could afford to go to the grocery store and buy food, put gas in the tank and pay for all the medical bills. We received a hand me down computer from a friend and soon after hooked up to the world as we know, the internet.

It was now 2010 and counselling was going well for me and I’ve come along way in my journey with my drug and alcohol addiction. I was now 2 years sober at this point and had no desire to ever pick up a drink let alone drugs.

The debt was soon going to be a misery of my past. I had my head above water, but barely. I was always optimistic though, you have to be in order to survive.

Debt Repayment Guilt

The guilt over the amount of debt that I had accumulated was so overwhelming, even after I was able to stop charging the credit cards up.

I would look at my balances and be so ashamed at myself that I didn’t want to think about it. I started to feel like I was in a debt depression. I didn’t know how to deal with debt and I prayed for help in paying off that debt.

The Debt Philosophy

One night, playing around on the internet, I came across Dave Ramsey and his debt philosophy. I devoured all the information he provided late into the night. I checked out his books the next day free from the library.

I spent the weekend reading and soaking up as much as the information as I could. I learned I had to let go of the emotion attached to my debt if I was ever going to pay it off.  I had survival debt. I wasn’t spoiled and I certainly didn’t spend it on frivolous things. I developed a plan!

I put Dave Ramsey’s advice into action.

I had a piece of land that was in my name that I didn’t want. I sold that immediately and put the money onto my Capital One credit card. Oh man! That felt so good!

Once I sold that land, it allowed me to qualify for a tax credit the following year. I put all that extra money towards my lowest credit card debt, the Bank of America, and paid it off.

The Dave Ramsey snowball effect had begun and I felt amazing.

I maintained the gazelle like focus.

Gazelle like focus is a term from Dave Ramseys book. It means to never take your eyes off the prize, like a lion hunting a gazelle. I worked at it, hard. I used every spare cent and every ounce of creativity to pay off my debt.

You need to work as hard to get out of debt as a gazelle works to run from a cheetah-Dave Ramsey

It was a real driving force for me and motivated me to get a move on. I just love the phrase because I could see the lioness in the grass hunting her prey, fierce and hungry. That was me.

I read all the information I could find on reducing spending. I carefully evaluated my food budget, planning every meal down to the cent. I purchased a small freezer from Craigslist and shopped the sales for meats.

Goodwill clothes haul

I continued to use the crock-pot that I received from the church twice a week or more. I scoured the second-hand thrift stores for my children’s back to school clothes and not only did I save a bundle I was able to give them what they deserved without feeling any guilt.

I replaced the ducts under the trailer and lowered my electric bill. I hung clothes out on the clothes line to save on electricity bills as well. We only ate out one time in two years at a restaurant an that was on my son’s birthday.

I had a yard sale when my children outgrew their clothes and sold the items to use that money to put down on my debts. I put every spare dollar on my debt and watched my Discover Credit Card balance drop.

Tax time came the next year and the Discover Credit Card was paid off in full. I was down to the big balance, over $5000 on the Capital One Credit Card at 27% interest.

2011 Three Years Sober and A Plan

My Handmade Jewellery

That year my company attended a trade show in our local area. I went to help sell our products. I had made a piece of  my costume jewellery just on a whim and brought it with me. It was simple and beautiful.

A lady approached me “Is that for sale?”, she asked. I hadn’t thought about it, honestly. “I will give you $5 cash for it right now, I love it”, she said. I was in business again!

I went home that evening and broke apart every piece of junk jewellery I owned. I stayed up all night working because I wanted this to be a success and to make some extra income. I went to the show the next day and made $25. I was thrilled. I invested that $25 in some supplies and when the next show came around I was ready!

Before I knew it, I had the $1000 emergency fund that Mr. Ramsey speaks of. When round 3 with the lawyer came around I was ready. The radiator in my car blew again (yes same car) and it was no problem thanks to the emergency fund.

2012 Four Years Sober- My Prayers Had Been Answered
Making My Jewellery

I make my jewellery on my porch or at my kitchen table after work in the evenings or on weekends. I love garage sales, estate sales and thrift stores where I look for broken bits of old necklaces.

 I twist and bend them and use my beads from my stock to make my own creations. I have built up a supply of beads to use by shopping at my local craft store with their coupons or buying odd bead lots online. I store them in a big bin under my son’s bed.

Craft bin

Pricing my custom jewellery is always an ongoing challenge but I’m getting better at making sure that my time and efforts are being paid for in the price of my work. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes to make my jewellery and sometimes longer up to an hour depending on the materials I’m using.

If I really like it and it looks posh and expensive and the materials were pricier for me to make it then I can ask more money. If it is simple and takes only a few minutes, then I price it accordingly. I’m fair with my customers but also don’t want to under pay myself for my time and expenses.

Where I Am Today- Giving Back

I have worked hard to get where I am today and never dreamed that my perseverance would bring me the joys that I have been given in my life. My tax credit this year allowed me to clear the last thousand dollars with Capital One. I still make minimum wage. I still have my little side business making jewellery and I still do piece work.

I have finally finished with the lawyers and sorted out the divorce. I still live in my little mobile home with my now teenage children, 3 dogs and wonderful fiancée. I also receive no child support, no food stamps and no Medicaid.

I have such a sense of pride, knowing that I paid off what seemed an impossible amount of debt. I started from rock bottom. This past Christmas I was able to donate food back to that same church that helped me. I have been able to donate my children’s clothes and shoes to the local school. It feels good to give back.

I still have a very frugal lifestyle and we are budgeting our money so we know where it all goes. I do not have cable television or a smart phone. I still hang my clothes out to dry to save money on electricity and to show my children the importance of money and how to manage it  so they can make their way into life understanding what I did not.

I plan every meal down to the penny so I know what I need to buy when I go shopping with my list. I have chickens and a small garden for entertainment and a frugal hobby.

I am nearly 5 years sober and life is so good.

How We Budget Our Money 2013

Monthly Net Income

  • Income from job-$1092
  • Jewellery Extra Income-$200
  • Piece work Extra Income- $150

Total Net Income $1442.00

Monthly Budget Breakdown
  • Grocery Budget-$350 for 2 adults and 2 monster teenage boys. We almost never eat meals outside of the home.
  • Gas-$120 for one vehicle
  • Car Insurance-$142 for 10 months. I pay extra on this every month so in Nov and Dec the actual amount is less.
  • Internet-$65 for 10 months. I pay extra on this bill so in Nov and Dec the actual amount is less.
  • Electric-$100 some months are less and some months are more like in the summer when we have A/C on. I just put the money aside when it is under for the months that it runs higher.
  • Taxes-$45
  • Boys -$100 medical, clothes, dentist, whatever they need
  • Dogs- $100 flea medications, vet bills, heart-worm pills

Extra for savings: $420 This used to be for debt re-payment.

My husband and I have separate expenses and budgets. He pays the phone bill for both of us, his own car insurance and his own gas for his vehicle. He provides for the chickens, home maintenance and the garden.

I have set it up this way and we are very happy with it and it works for us. We never fight about money, ever. I now have extra money for holiday spending in November and December since I don’t pay some of the bills.

I used this money this past year to donate food to the church (I was pretty proud of that). This is my first month where I don’t have to pay off debt, so I’m thinking about investing in my education. I know the dogs are expensive, but I don’t mind that as they add to our country life.

How Do You Get Out Of Debt?
  • You get out of debt by never giving up, you can do it. Maintain the gazelle like focus. It’s not easy, but it feels so good!
  • Start by believing in yourself and admitting you have an addiction then ask for help. There is hope if you have an addiction. There are so many people out there that will help you.
  • You can get out of debt on your own no matter what anyone says.
  • Start using a budget to track your expenses.
  • Spend less money than you get paid from working.
  • Meal planning is the best way to stick to your food budget!
  • Read, Read, Read! Libraries are free and the knowledge I found there unlocked the secrets to paying off my debt.

I still sell my jewellery today and have wholesale accounts in 3 countries now the USA, Canada and England. I am debt free and budget all our family expenses so I don’t have to go back to those dark times in my life when I didn’t know where or who I was going to turn to for help.

My boss is amazing and I have been able to use our business contacts to develop my little jewellery business. I even sell some of my pieces for more than $5 now which means that my products are in demand.

Winning the debt, divorce, drugs and drinking jackpot simply means that I conquered some of life’s demon’s and won! So the next time someone says you will never make it on your own because you have a drug or alcohol addiction, smile and show them what you’re made of.

Contribution Post: This was written by a Canadian Budget Binder fan named Cindy who wanted to share her story in hopes of motivating others.

If you have a success story you want to share contact me today! “Let Your Voices Be Heard”-Mr.CBB

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Photo Credit: Taking Alcohol And Pills by Maggie Smith/freedigitalphotos. net

Saturday Weekend Review #14- Credit Card Surcharges, Would You Pay Them?

 

Weekend Review

Paying to use our credit card each time we swiped it would certainly make the choice of not using it easy for us. A recent conversation with a local pizzeria owner we frequent shared with us that it does cost him money when customers use a credit card. If we ever order a pizza now we pay in cash because we kinda feel bad about it, but not sure if he meant to make us feel that way or we feel sorry for him. He does make a good pizza for a reasonable price though.

Canadian businesses are charged fees from 1.5 to more than 3%  of each purchase put on a MasterCard and Visa credit card. Best of it is, if you are using a premium credit card merchants have to pay more. The transaction charges imposed are per the anti-competitive rules set out by the competition bureau of Canada.

Would you not say that this is just part of the cost of doing business? 

We have seen signs at shops that say “Cash Only” or “Debit and Credit Card Machine” down in our days but tend to stay away. In Canada merchants can ask the customer to pay a surcharge on debit cards but it has to be clearly marked at time of purchase. in fact MasterCard Canada has prohibited merchants from imposing any fees to the customer for using their cards for over 35 years and “believes merchants should pay their fair share of the cost of credit cards”.

It seems at one specific shop in town the machine was always down so you would have to pay in cash which was a pain because we don’t really carry cash. We didn’t want to guess any longer if the machine would be up so we just don’t go there any longer. Our business is going to someone else. I’m only assuming but if the merchant doesn’t offer the use of credit or debit cards by making like the machines are broken then they avoid paying those fees because only cash would be used.

Would You Pay To Use Your Credit Card? 

I was reading on Yahoo this morning that some states in the USA now have the approval for retailers to charge a 1-4 % surcharge to the customers for using a credit card. Keep in mind this isn’t something the retailers were complaining about it was due to a class action suit that happened. Some states already have made these surcharges on credit cards illegal with laws in place and many more up to 19 are looking to follow suit.

As the competition bureau in Canada states in their anti-competitive rules 2012 fact sheet the no surcharge rule, “forces merchants to embed credit card transaction fees in retail prices”. The consumers who pay cash suffer because they are paying a premium to offset the costs of customers who do use the credit card.

Canadians are not out of the clear yet as a final ruling is still to come down on whether retailers can charge Canadians a surcharge which could be up to 10% of our purchase price. According to the Consumers Association, this is all pending a ruling from Canada’s Competition Tribunal judging a case against Visa and MasterCard from 2010.

Many people use a credit card, like us for rewards and ease of use. We don’t always like to go to the cash machine to draw out money even though our bank doesn’t charge us any fees. Using a credit card seems to be the smart way to go especially if they are offering cash back or reward money to use on in-store products.

Would you use your credit or debit card if you had to pay a fee?

What’s Happening At The CBB House?

If you follow me on Facebook you will know that I have been pretty ill this week. My fans even took over the nightly “What’s for Dinner” post because I just couldn’t even keep my eyes open. I get migraines sometimes and I just want to go hide and bury my head. This week I had both migraines and just was feeling off. I’m sure it’s because I just need to kick back and take some time away from everything.

I may not comment as much in the next week but I’m around, but need to take it easy for a bit. I’ve got so much going on right now in my life with work and the house and now the blog just exploding with amazing fans that a break is in order. Other than that we tried this super easy recipe below that I hope you try it. I don’t normally post a recipe in the Saturday Weekend Review but the fans really wanted this recipe. I usually post a frugal recipe every Sunday and tomorrow that is macaroni and cheese with ham baked in the oven so don’t miss that one.

As you might have read we paid down our mortgage last week by over $32,000 and I know many of you have asked me questions about where we go from here. I will address that topic in an upcoming post and in the meantime if you have any other questions please email me or click on Ask Mr.CBB on the home page of the blog.

Making Pita or Flatbread

A fan on my Facebook page (if you are not a fan you are missing out on one heck of a group) posted this easy flat-bread recipe on my “What’s for Dinner” post the other night and we just had to try it. It was so easy to make and you can’t compare the cost of buying it to this. Making flat-bread is by far cheaper than buying it. You can add all sorts of flavours to it and today we added chives to give it a bit of kick. We later turned the flatbreads into flatbread pizza which turned out beautiful.

Super Easy Chive Flatbread

How to Make Flatbread
  • 1 Tablespoon of  active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar or honey
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoon of  salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried chives (optional from Mr.CBB)
Preparation
  • Combine 1/2 cup of the water with the sugar or honey and yeast, whisk and let stand for 10 minutes.
  • Dissolve the salt in the remaining 1 cup of water. Add the salt water and flour to the yeast mixture. ( I added in the chives here)
  • Mix it up and then place it on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes.
  • Put the dough back in the bowl and add the olive oil.
  • Knead the dough until the olive oil in well incorporated into the dough.
  • Put the bowl with the dough into your oven which is OFF and set your timer for 90 minutes.
  • Take the dough out of the oven & punch it down then divide it into 12 balls.
  • Heat frying pan on stove on medium heat, coat lightly with oil. Roll each ball into a circular disk about 6-7 inches in diameter.
  • Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side.

I wanted to sneak this recipe in today and share it with all of you. Thanks Pam for sharing this recipe which she originally found at Mother’s of Invention: Best Pita and Flatbread.

Flatbread Pizza

We took it one step further the next day as I was too ill to eat it the first day and made simple pepperoni flatbread pizzas in the oven. You can use any toppings you desire. We used homemade marinara sauce, mushrooms, homemade sausage, mozzarella and provolone cheese. We turned the oven to 500 degrees, put in our pizza stone to get it nice and hot and cooked our pizzas for about 5 minutes until golden brown. They were simply amazing and a great Friday night alternative to ordering a pizza or you can make my so much better than take-out pizza which is the best pizza we have ever tried.

Flatbread Pizza Pepperoni

What’s Happening With  Canadian Budget Binder?

I am forever grateful for Katrina to join me here at CBB to share her expertise this summer with all of you. I am also potentially working with another lady who would like to help out with the marketing side of the blog which I am thrilled about. I’m sure I’ll keep you all updated as we roll along.

The new blog design is ready for me to check out which I’m hoping to start doing this week. I’ll keep you all updated with that as well. I’m excited to see what my designer has put together for all of us here at CBB. I hope we can continue on the upward level we have experienced here at the blog. With so many new subscribers and amazing Bloggers that follow CBB, I welcome you all and I encourage you to take part in the conversation.

Canadian Budget Binder Blog Posts
Canadian Budget Binder Mentions Around The Web

Thanks to these Bloggers for not only taking the time to read my posts but to share them with their fans. To all my fans, you must check these sites out. I follow them all and you know if they are sharing my posts that they connect with CBB and you may connect with them as well!

If I miss you please let me know and I’ll add you to the list!

If you are a CBB fan you must check out these blogs. I follow them all!

Carnival Mentions

web search terms

Google Search terms really help me to understand what people are looking for at Canadian Budget Binder! Any typos below are simply how the person who searched Google and typed it in search incorrectly, or me ;-) Another week of thousands of search terms but only a few good ones worth mentioning.

Top Pick: Mr.Brownie In Canada- Oh come on you know it’s funny, especially if you know how much I fancy brownies. They are my favourite dessert. I’m sure my fudgy brownie recipe was the cause of this search. 

  • Homemade Cakes Legal Canada-  Interesting, I wonder how one would make an illegal cake in Canada? Unless they meant can I sell homemade cakes in Canada for profits. 
  • Canadian Mortgage Payoff Tricks- There really aren’t any real tricks except to pay it when you are supposed to, pay it weekly if you can, pre-pay all you can each year and for a super fast way to pay off your mortgage- win the lottery.
  • What reply will one give when someone says Happy Easter? - Thank-You, Happy Easter to you as well!!!
  • Why can’t I say Easter- I don’t know, why can’t you?

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PF Weekly Reading List #12- Canada Budget 2013, CBB vs RFI (Guacamole)

Economy

Photo Credit by Renjith Krishnan/freedigitalphotos. net

 

My morning consisted of a hot cup of coffee (OK 3) and a read of the Canada Budget 2013 that was released Thursday. It’s quite long but I picked out a couple of bits to chat about today. After reading through it I found this quote from Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty,We will remain focused on what matters to Canadians—jobs and economic growth, and ensuring Canada’s economic advantage today will translate into the long-term prosperity of tomorrow”  motivational from my perspective as permanent resident. Returning to a balanced budget seems optimistic throughout the budget plan with the deficit projected to drop each year and the government hoping to balance by 2015-2016 which they believe will strengthen Canada’s fiscal advantage.

When I read this budget update these key words stood out- promote, extend, provide, enhance, build, help, improve, continue, invest, create, support, connect, opportunities, action, increase, invest, renew, introduce and initiative, all words that I believe create a unity or air of optimism. As we all know when creating a budget anything can happen so I’m sure many Canadians will be following this closely to see how well we stay true to this budget and how it unfolds over time.

I believe a fiscal advantage is important and like anything else in life I’m convinced that in order to stay on top Canada needs to make sure they are always one step ahead in the game. Life seems to revolve around who’s ready to take the next leap first and if we aren’t ready and leap before we have the knowledge and strength things can roll downhill and fast.

When I emigrated to Canada I knew I was on my way to a country that was special and full of opportunity for me. Not only do I have a beautiful wife whom I love I am now living in a country that I believe has so much to offer those blessed to live here. Although some of you may laugh I can assure you that the UK is not getting any better and many I know are unemployed or are moving away to find work in Australia or hoping to move to Canada. Although I’m still relatively new to Canada I keep my eyes and ears open and brace myself for what might come our way as I’m certainly not a polished Canadian with years of experience. The Canadian Budget is a topic that can become controversial depending on who you talk to and how it affects them coupled with experiences in this country and knowledge of the people who run it- the government.

Starting My Life In Canada

When I arrived in Canada I’d like to say I was a skilled immigrant yet when I had my University credentials changed over I would have had to return to school to further my education to gain the same recognition in Canada as in the UK. In the new budget it’s stated that they want to enhance the foreign credential recognition processes and integration of internationally trained individuals into the job market. I took the plunge to make a big change in my life and with the guidance and opportunities presented to me by the Canadian government. I returned to school to study in order to obtain a career that was in demand in Canada and soaked up all the information that came my way. Besides, my new career is much more engaging and hands on, something that I would never have accomplished back home. I believe the enhancement will help Canada attract the best international talent especially if they know they can do what they are trained to do.

When you read the 2013 budget plan I’m sure you can agree that connecting Canadians with jobs,  economic growth and supporting families are spread thick and that in part is good for Canada. The new plan to improve economic growth to stay ahead by building roads, subways, bridges, commuter rail, public transit, highways and other infrastructures is something that I believe will not only create jobs but help open up the availability of services throughout Canada in a timely fashion.

Supporting Canadian Families and Tax Breaks

Although we always wish for more sometimes we have to take what we get and hope that the benefits are great for those in need of them. What’s that saying “you can’t please them all”.  Adoption was a topic that was brought up in a conversation with friends just this past week and we talked about how expensive it is to adopt. Friends of  a friend who were unable to conceive adopted a child but stated the process was not only long but also costly. The government aims to enhance the  Adoption Expense Tax Credit in order to help those looking to adopt a child. There are many couples who struggle to conceive naturally or simply want to adopt a child who is waiting to find a loving family so hopefully this enhancement will prove beneficial for those who seek a child to call their own.

We can now say goodbye to border tariffs on baby clothing and sporting goods and I’m sure parents may agree this will be a big help to them but only if the retailers pass the savings buck down the line. We don’t have any kids nor are we sports fanatics so this won’t really affect us but it may affect those families/individuals who could stand to save some money and who wouldn’t pass that up, right? I’m going to give retailers the benefit of the doubt with this one and say we will see price reductions comparable to our neighbours in the USA but time will tell. I can only assume with the 76 million dollar relief  investment the government will implement some sort of system to ensure Canadians are benefiting from this.

To be honest though, have you ever walked through the baby section at some of the local shops and read the prices on baby clothes? When you have to pay just as much for a pair of jeans for a baby as you would an adult clearly something is wrong. It’s no wonder parents aim to get second-hand baby clothes from Value Village, The Thrift Shop, Garage Sales, Mom to Mom sales and even heading over the border to the USA. We have friends who simply can’t believe the price comparison from Canada to the USA and shop in the USA to help reduce the costs in their family budget. Having a baby today is costly no matter what way you look at it whether it be every day baby items, maternity leave, day care or babysitting costs etc.

It’s not surprising why the coupon phenomenon took off so fast these past years and it’s because we can’t do it all financially, so something has to give.  Many couples are waiting to have kids because they simply can’t do it all. You can’t graduate from school with OSAP debt and expect to pay for a wedding then afford a down-payment for a house and then slap a baby into the mix to go on maternity leave for up to a year. That’s likely why we are seeing more couples getting hitched in their 30′s and having children later in life, if at all. As we all know debts can take years to pay back so when does life begin for most or do they just say sod it, we’ll deal with the debt along the way? It can be done but potentially without all the fairy tale luxuries they believe they are owed or desire.

Although I agree that personal finance starts at home I also think the education system needs to take charge and educate children about money and budgets to help them on their journey. The disheartening part is that it might not be one person in the relationship with school debt it may be both partners which is a potential disaster waiting to happen for some couples. It’s no wonder many Canadian families are sinking fast into the debt pit. With education costs becoming outrageous and out of reach for many, some opt to forgo further education for a minimum wage job or one that requires only a high school diploma. We have a friend who has a son who is terrified of school debt and not finding a job so he is working to save up to go to school first. Not all parents can afford an RESP or to pay full/part tuition for their children so their options become limited. Never mind adults who simply want to return to school and already have a family, the struggle is always looming.

Finally the government says they will not raise taxes in fairness to the system which I’m sure many Canadians are happy about. They will be cracking down on all the tax loopholes in order for them to keep taxes low so expect them to be pulling out the magnifying glass and scrutinizing everything with a fine tooth comb. All in all this is such a huge topic which I have barely touched on here today. If you are interested in the 2013 Canada budget I’d suggest giving it a read to see where your country stands in terms of  working hard to make your world a better place.

You can read the Canada 2013 Budget Here!

What did you think about the new budget?

Personal Finance Weekly Reading List

PF WEEKLY READING LIST

These are my TOP 8 Blog Post Picks + Funniest Post of the Week and My Top Recipe/Frugal Blog Post of the Week!!

  1. The Frugal Farmer- Back To Basics
  2. She Thinks I’m Cheap- How Future Transit Plans Can Affect Real Estate
  3. T-Shirts and Twine- Living Simply, Easy For You To Say
  4. Modest Money- Evaluating Blog Marketing Efforts
  5. Freedom Thirty Five Blog- The Golden Purchase
  6. IHeartBudgets- Forget Keeping Up With The Joneses I Became One by Kim at Eyes On The Dollar
  7. Johnny Money Seed- The Neglected “Secret” to Becoming Rich
  8. My Own Advisor- Book Review and Giveaway More Money For Beer and Textbooks
Recipes/Frugal Blog Posts of the Week
  1. The Outlier Model- Frugal Ideas For A Housewarming Party
  2. Reach Financial Independence- Easy Guacamole Recipe in 5 minutes vs Mr.CBB’s Tangy Easy Guacamole!!! I’ve been waiting for Pauline’s recipe since we both love avocados so I’m going to test our her dip and I hope you try both our recipes and let us know what you think.
Inspirational or Funniest Post of the Week
  1. Boomer and Echo-  How My Retirement Plans Got Derailed Big Time

Quote-Budget and Money

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Dumpster Diving~The Top 5 Rules For Finding The Good Free Stuff!

dumpster

Photo Credit: thephotoholic/freedigitalphotos.net

Guest Post: Karen

Dumpster Diving

You know there are a lot of negative connotations with dumpster diving and I know I definitely always had issues with this myself. As I’ve gotten older and as the US economy has gotten tougher I have learned to be more resourceful of course not only that but my husband has pleasantly surprised me over time with some amazing dumpster finds. This is a regular feature on my blog Lil’ Suburban Homestead’s site that we share our latest dumpster diving finds and it has become popular.  I mean, Who Doesn’t Like Free?

It’s Pickin Time!

I will admit we even had our own family members in somewhat disbelief of the great finds we have found until they have been out with us when it has happened. I am not going to claim to be the dumpster diving diva although I do know how to dive. While I love to join in on dumpster diving adventures I am often not as mobile because of my job.  I work for the school system in Coastal North Carolina so I’m trapped in a building all day long.

It’s my husband who finds the good dumpster diving finds but he is the one who taught me some of the main components of dumpster diving. My husband drives for his job so he simply keeps his eyes open when he’s out and about the town. Rarely he has spotted something he has needed to bring his truck back after working to collect. Most of the time it is stuff that is just right in front of him or he could be having a lunch break and spot these items.

TOP FIVE RULES FOR FINDING FREE STUFF!
  1. Be consistent and check your favourite dumpster’s frequently. Always be aware of your surroundings.
  2. Act Fast…if you see something on the side of the road grab it up it may be gone the next time you drive by.
  3. Look for the potential in every item. For example, my husband found some display ladders in a mall dumpster and he had no idea what we were going to do with them but he grabbed them anyway and he turned one into a shabby chic pot rack which I love and the other one is decorative ladder still leaning up on our bookshelves.
  4. Own some nifty nabbers which are extremely handy as my husband has been able to reach items that he might not normally have gotten.
  5. You have to be safe and watch out for broken glass, sharp metal and other  potentially dangerous objects….Always be aware of your surroundings and proceed with caution.
Nifty Nabber

Nifty Nabber

We have attached pictures below of some of our latest finds…..the first item all you anglers out there will love.

Fishing reels

Fishing reels

Just look at these fishing reels…..a few of them my husband had to order minor parts for but most repairs on the reels have averaged under $3.00 a reel. However he found enough he was able to swap parts in most cases.

Fireplace Log Basket

Fireplace Log Basket

The second item is a fireplace log basket…….we really needed one of these and the timing was perfect as the cold weather was settling in.

1984 olympic silver dollar or medal

1984 Olympic silver dollar

The third item is a 1984 Olympic silver dollar it is one of a two piece set but we did not find the other piece so because of that it is only worth about $40 on Ebay.

Japanese stainless steel salt and pepper shakers

Japanese stainless steel salt and pepper shakers

The last item is a beautiful set of Japanese stainless steel salt and pepper shakers with some scroll-work….very elegant looking!

I hope you enjoyed taking a tour of some of our amazing dumpster diving finds. They all add up to huge savings and besides it’s kind of an adventure. I never know what my husband is going to come home with.

Have you ever found something in or around a dumpster that you picked up? 

Can you dumpster dive where you live?

Guest Post By: Karen Lynn-Stop on by our Lil’ Suburban Homestead any time. Thanks to Mr. CBB for allowing me the opportunity to be a guest blogger and to talk about our Dumpster Diving. I never show up as your top fan but trust me I’m a huge fan of your blog.

Editors Note: I’ve always been interested to hear about dumpster diving as I really didn’t know much about what happens behind the scenes. Although we shouldn’t be doing this in several provinces in Canada under the Tresspass Property Act it’s interesting to learn what others do around the world. I’d also be interested to learn from Canadians that dumpster dive and their experiences.

We’ve picked up beer cans from garbage bins in the park, on the ground or in recycle bins from the few neighbours around us that we know and are friends with. Free money is hard to turn a blind eye too, it’s like finding coins or dollar bills on the ground. Would you leave a $20 bill in a garbage bin or on the  ground? Probably not, that’s what I thought. Although our neighbours wouldn’t give a hoot someone you don’t know might and some cities might have by-laws for this. Regardless of any laws it happens in our own cities, all around us whether we want to accept it or not. Whether one gets caught is an entirely different story but a chance many are willing to take.

I agree that too much food is wasted and at times it’s good food. Many times we’ve bought reduced items on the cheap rack and there is nothing wrong with them and they likely hit the dumpster by evening if no one buys them. This is where freegans may step in. Although I’ve never met a freegan I’d be interested to talk to one to hear their views. It’s a shame with all the starving people in this world and too bad the food can’t be donated. If you have a story you want to share contact me today.

In our city we can take an item that is typically placed on the curbside with a “Free Sign” which I like to call curb watching for free stuff. Alternatively, we can use free-cycle where people post online what they are giving away for free and set it out on their porch once claimed online for pick-up. There are also certain days set out by the local city to help get rid of items for free that others might want. Karen says the opposite stands true in the USA as you have to be much more careful about grabbing stuff from the side of the road as sometimes people do not intend for it to be picked up but the dumpster implies it is garbage.

It's Not About How Much Money You Make It's How You Spend It

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Emigrating to Canada ~ Should I Rent Out My House

Emigrating To Canada

Canada seems to be a popular destination for UK citizens looking to start a new, more fulfilling life. Over the past few years I’ve known 3 or 4 different couples who’ve taken the plunge and made the tough decision to leave their life in the UK behind and start a new one living in Canada. As a former mortgage advisor some of those friends have questioned me regarding the biggest dilemma they face as they organize the big move to Canada, ‘What Should I Do With My House?’ Should I sell or rent out my house?

If you’re a homeowner the decision of whether to sell or rent out your house has likely been plaguing you as you progress toward emigrating. In this article we’ll take a closer look at the option of renting and hopefully it will help you decide if becoming a landlord is the right option for you.

Emigrating Is No Ordinary Move

As you’re going to be moving to the other side of the world to live in Canada, renting out your home becomes more complicated than it would ordinarily be. Unless you can arrange for a family member to regularly check on your property, you will likely have to leave it in the hands of a rental agent to deal with all aspects of property rental. Using a rental agent means you’ll have more fees to pay and less control over the quality of tenant you will allow to rent your home.

What About Your Mortgage?

If you have an outstanding mortgage on your property, could you afford to pay the mortgage if the property is unoccupied for a lengthy period of time or if the tenant decides to stop paying the rent? It’s possible to insure against these eventualities but again this will lead to even more fees and less rental income.

You’ll also need to talk to your current mortgage lender and find out where you stand in regards to renting, make sure you get firm answers to the following questions.

  • Will your mortgage lender allow you to rent out your property on your current mortgage deal?
  • Will they only allow you to rent out your property for a certain period of time?
  • Will they want to increase the interest rate payable if you do decide to rent?
  • Will you have to switch the property to a buy to let mortgage?

If your mortgage lender won’t allow you to rent out your home, you’ll have to look for a buy to let mortgage. Buy to let mortgages often require large deposits so you’ll need to have sufficient equity in your property to qualify for a buy to let mortgage.

Investment potential

I don’t only want to point out the negative aspects of property rental because there are also some positives.

If after considering the potential problems outlined above, you still feel you’re in a position to rent out your house rather than sell it, this could well prove to be a good long term investment. The UK housing market is really suffering at the moment. Although house prices haven’t dropped as much as many might have expected, the reality is that if you want to sell your UK home in this market, you’ll probably have to accept an offer substantially below previous or even current market valuations. If you can afford to hold on to your house and rent it out for a while, it could prove to be a nice little investment for future years.

Mental Impact

One final thing that shouldn’t be underestimated is the mental impact of your decision.

You may want to rent out your UK home so that you’ll have something to come back to if things don’t work out as you’d hoped in Canada. In theory keeping a safety net is a wise course of action. On the other hand when you’ve made the decision to start your life over in a new country, your UK home might prove to be as much of a stumbling block as a safety net. Emigrating to Canada is never going to be easy and some people would argue that it’s best to have a clean break and fully commit to your new life.

What Do You Think? Is It Better To Have A Clean Break When Emigrating Or Should You Have Something To Fall Back On?

Editor’s Note: When I moved to Canada I sold my house and almost everything in it. Life in Ontario, Canada is amazing, I love it here and all the opportunities that it has given me as well as a loving wife. I had and still have  no desire to move back and I’m glad I did sell as the mental impact would have been too much with all that I had going on here. Since then the house has dropped in value so I’m happy I didn’t hang on to it.

One last thing I would say is, don’t procrastinate, embrace the changes and go with the flow. It’s never going to be an easy move, always have a “Plan B”, mine was just cold hard cash. Although I’ll be back to visit the UK I’ll be shacking up with the relatives.

Guest Post By: Adam is the voice behind the blog Money Bulldog UK where he blogs about finance and more.

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