February! It’s a fairly busy month because we’re headed over to my hometown for Chinese New Year celebrations, RD’s parents are coming to stay with us over a weekend, and we have tickets to a few VIMFF shows!
This month we also made the decision to start to work on our second bedroom. It’s extra space we just didn’t have in our old rental, and we haven’t quite figured out what to do with it. We know that it will have to function as a spare bedroom when we have guests, but the other 99% of the time we want to make it into a usable space. So the first thing we’re going to do is move our small dining room table into the room so RD can use it as a desk / art space. Then we’re going to buy a new extendable dining table (about $250), and spend time this year scouring Craigslist and antique stores to make over our front entryway. It’s a slow process that we can wait on until we find the right pieces at the right prices.
Freelancing has been okay so far this year. I’m waiting on about $1,600 to come in, and just booked $1,500 in business for February. This should help me with our wedding expenses. :)
February 2018 Goals:
- Start getting my tax information in order. I’m going to start sorting through receipts and inputting estimates.
- Hit my Fitbit goal every day (15,000 steps). I’m actually trying to get closer to 20,000 but just can’t bring myself to walk that far every day so needed to be realistic with my goal setting.
- Look into my certification program. I want to learn as much as I can about this program, especially what kind of time commitment it would take from me. If it’s a huge burden, then I don’t want to start it until after the wedding.
- Finalize venue/catering and send out wedding invitations. So excited to finally send these out!
It has been a good month, but gotta say, I’m glad January is over. The weather here in Vancouver has been miserable and raining non-stop. I’m usually not one to complain about the weather, but last month was a bit much. That being said, I’ve made the most of my time indoors by going to the gym (have shed a couple of Christmas pounds!), and slowly planning our wedding. :)
Speaking of wedding planning, it has been challenging. I would say that half the vendors I call or email just don’t contact me back. Our florist informed me that she was moving and couldn’t do our flowers anymore. And a reception space that we really wanted has been stringing me along for 6 weeks, so I think we’re going to have to completely change what we wanted. It might end up more expensive than we had anticipated, but there are very few options to go with in this small town. But I’m exercising my patience and I know that it’ll work out great in the end.
I ended up under budget for the month, which I’m pleased about. But I’d like to start trimming my budgets down a bit and putting more effort into saving money this year (so that I don’t completely deplete my short-term savings account for wedding expenses).
Here’s how I did in January:
- Groceries – I used to be able to buy whatever I wanted, and we would never come close to hitting our grocery budget. Safeway is about a 2 min. walk from our condo, which is where I go during the work week for dinner stuff (and go to the cheaper grocery store for my big shopping trip on the weekend). I’m going to have to put in more of an effort to buy from the cheaper store, because spending nearly $800/month for two people on groceries is nuts.
- Restaurants & Entertainment – We bought tickets to 2 films at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival ($40), which put me over my budget for the month.
- Personal Care – I had to buy more make-up remover and bought some hair products.
Income & Savings:
I saved 55% of my income this month, and my net worth increased by 12.5%.
This massive net worth increase was because we received our property assessment notice at the beginning of the month. Our original purchase price was $468,000 back in April 2017, and the assessment put us at $507,000. For those who aren’t familiar with how property assessments in BC work, the assessed value is calculated on July 1 of the previous year. So when we got our notice earlier this year, the valuation is actually 6 months out of date. Similar units in our building right now are selling for around $560-580k – which is quite a bit higher than the assessed value.
January 2018 Goals:
- Bring my lunch to work. CHECK! I went out for lunch twice (once with my marketing team, and once with a friend). Every other day I brought my lunch. :)
- Sell my Leica camera and my Coach purse. FAIL. I didn’t even look at them or take them out of the closet. I was so consumed with wedding planning that when I got home from work every day, I didn’t think about much else.
- Move for at least 60 min. every day. CHECK! I played field hockey, ran, or walked for at least 60 min. every day this month, except for two days – when I was recovering from tweaking my lower back in a field hockey game.
How many of you make additional lump sum payments towards your mortgage?
Originally, RD and I weren’t going to bother making lump sum payments, but since we had a decent amount of money in our joint account, we revisited that idea a few weeks ago. After some consideration, we decided that once a year (every January) we’d take a portion of our savings to make a lump sum payment towards the principal amount of our mortgage. This year (after accounting for a decent buffer and renovations we want to do in 2018), we decided to put down $3,500 towards our mortgage.
Except that we couldn’t. Or rather, TD Canada Trust is making it very difficult.
I went online and clicked on the “Make a Prepayment” button on the sidebar. There, I learned that if we put down $3,500 towards the principal balance of our mortgage, our amortization would be reduced by 13 weeks, and we’d save over $2,000 in interest. Amazing.
But when I went to finalize the payment, I got an error message: “No payment account exists. Please select a valid payment account.”
Must be a mistake! After all, they’re taking my mortgage payments out of my Tangerine account (not to mention my mutual fund contributions), so why wouldn’t they be able to take and additional lump sum payment? I called customer service who confirmed that unless I have a chequing or savings account with TD, I’m unable to make lump sum payments towards my mortgage online or over the phone. In fact, my only option is to go to a branch with either a bank draft or cash. WHAT.
Related: How we saved a 6-figure down payment
After I got off the phone, I did some additional researching online, I found out that most major banks in Canada do not allow lump sum payments unless the borrower also has a chequing or savings account with that bank. I mean I get why the banks don’t want to make it easy for you to make extra payments, but it just seems crazy that I can’t move money from an account that has already been verified and authorized to make my normal mortgage contributions. The technology exists.
Anyway, after I told RD what I had learned, part of me wants to just get a Tangerine bank draft ($10) every year out of principle, because it doesn’t seem right that we have to open up a new bank product that we don’t actually need.