Give Me Back My Five Bucks

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Hello, please meet Zoey!

It has been a long time since I’ve been able to set aside some time to write on this blog. I had such good intentions of posting while we were on vacation, but near the beginning of the trip I lost my MacBook Pro power cord, and then decided to suffer without a computer until we got back to Vancouver. And then when we got back, we ended up adopting the most adorable cat and I lost track of time. I know, excuses, excuses. :)

First, I want to introduce you to the newest member of our family, and tomorrow I’ll have my September Goals recap.

This beautiful girl is named Zoey, and we got her from the SPCA last week. She is approximately 3 years old, and came to the shelter as a stray – so we don’t know anything about her past. We originally went to the Maple Ridge branch of the SPCA because we were interested in a couple of other cats, but ended up falling in love with Zoey.

She was super frightened at the shelter, and wouldn’t come out of her cage. Eventually we were able to feed her a couple of treats, but we didn’t see more than her small little head poking out of the blankets. We decided to put in an application for her anyway because I had already fallen in love, and two days later she became ours. She was so scared during the car ride home, so when we got her to the condo I was really surprised that she just walked out of her carrier and started to explore our bedroom (which we used as her safe room for the first two days we had her). She was very timid and frightened of every new noise, and would constantly hide under the blankets or cower in a corner if she felt scared. She barely ate the first few days, and the look of horror on her face when she realized we were putting her back in her carrier for a vet visit – well that was pretty heartbreaking.

Five days later, she now has access to the entire condo and she has also made huge improvements. She can be ridiculously affectionate at times, but like any other cat, she has her grumpy moments. But she is never aggressive, never scratches or hisses, and really doesn’t make much sound at all. She’s also eating better too, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Based on what we’ve seen (not that we’re experts or anything), we think that she was a house cat at some point, and then ended up on the streets as a stray. The vet told us that she’s in good health, but needs to gain some weight. We’ll also have to take her into get some shots later this month.

I thought I knew how much start-up costs would be for our cat, but I underestimated for sure. Here’s how much we’ve spent so far:

  • $205.00 – adoption fee from SPCA (includes a free check-up with a vet).
  • $236.75 – initial cost of cat stuff (litter box, litter, litter locker, wet and dry food, food dishes, a couple of toys, cat bed, brush, treats, fish oil, and a scratching post).
  • $15.75 – pain medication after being spayed.

Moving forward, I anticipate her monthly costs to be around $50-60/month for her food, litter, and treats. This will come out of our shared household budget. I’m still trying to figure out which food she likes the best (the pet store near our house gave me a ton of samples to try out), and what the most cost-effective (and convenient) way would be to get her ongoing supplies. I think it’s Amazon, but I could be wrong?

Anyway, I’ll try really hard not to turn my blog and social media accounts into one big catfest, but no promises. :)

Have you ever bought an expensive piece of art?

The most expensive painting I own cost me $50, and then I spent $150 getting it professionally framed. So I guess my answer would be no, I’ve never owned an expensive piece of art. :)

I’ve always been interested in art, and find wandering through art galleries a great way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon. I’m a competent graphic designer (although I’m way better at layout than design), and love taking on crafty projects. But I don’t really know much about the art world. Still, we have managed to fill our walls with our combined collection. There’s just something about how hanging art on walls really makes a room feel homey and complete; like you’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Plus I love the contrast between a colourful piece of art and our white walls. :)

RD and I have very different tastes when it comes to art. He has broader, more eclectic tastes than me, but thankfully some of what he likes also overlaps into what I like too. We are both really into a Canadian artist named Meghan Hildebrand. The past few months we’ve been randomly going online to look at her pieces, and this year she came out with a couple of amazing ocean themed watercolour paintings.

So one of the big purchases we eventually wanted to make this year was one of her larger paintings (they’re selling for $2,500 to $3,000), so we decided to start saving so that we could buy something as a Christmas present to ourselves. I had never seen any of her work in person before, so a great opportunity came up when we were in Victoria a few weeks ago visiting my family – there was an art gallery which had a lot of her pieces on display!

Obviously you know where this is going. :) I saw that my favourite watercolour from her new collection was still available for $1,000 (framed). It was way cheaper than our anticipated budget, so after debating for a few minutes, I knew we were going to buy it. Yes, it was an impulse purchase. A big impulse purchase. But we are both thrilled to have gotten exactly what we wanted. The money came out of our House Fund, as closing costs/moving/furniture/renos came in well under what we had budgeted.

I feel really weird admitting that we bought a piece of art, and have been sitting on this blog post for a few weeks now. I never thought I’d ever be in a position to spend that kind of money on something that is just so clearly not a necessity, and I’m not comfortable with the realization that these are things we can afford. For some reason I really feel like buying (expensive-to-me) art is not relatable, but at the same time I’d never think twice about it if a friend had bought the painting. I think this might turn into a bigger post in the future as I’m struggling with my financial identity at the moment. But, I’m happy and grateful and really love looking at this beautiful painting every single day.

 

Have you ever bought an expensive piece of art?

The real cost of moving in Vancouver

This will be the 12th time I’ve moved in my adult life. Some moves were temporary, and some were longer-term, but they all cost money. It kind of makes me sick knowing that I’ve spent thousands of dollars in my lifetime just on moving, but it’s obviously unavoidable. And in Metro Vancouver, where rent is expensive (and the vacancy rate is less than 1%), the cost of a move could be the reason you don’t move at all.

When we bought our home back in April, we decided to hold back $10,000 of the money we had saved for our down payment so that we could pay for moving expenses, closing costs, a small renovation, and furniture. And with the way the timing worked out with our rental and our condo financing, we don’t actually pay rent or a mortgage payment in July, which gives us a bit more breathing room to pile up some cash in our joint account (our ‘buffer’ money) instead of dipping into our savings.

Now that we are finally nearing the end of paying for all of our moving expenses for what I anticipate is my last move until I retire, so I thought I’d break down everything that we’ve spent so far on our move. I’m going to leave out closing costs, the renovation, and furniture, because they’re not really “moving” costs, and I’ll talk about them in another post anyway. :)

Move-in Fees – $75 + $250 damage deposit

Our condo building requires a $75 payment for a 2-hour window of time to block off one of the elevators for a move. They also need a $250 cash damage deposit (which we will get back at the end of the move, provided we – or the movers – didn’t ding up the common property).

Movers – $450 (estimated)

We decided to hire movers to save us the headache of moving everything out of our tiny two-storey laneway house, and into a high rise condo. Sure, we could have done it ourselves, but it would take us at least twice the amount of time and just so much unnecessary headache. This is the first time either of us has ever hired movers, so I’m kind of excited to have this luxury. Their quote was for $360 (4 hours), plus a $90 one-way travel fee. It could be less if we’re finished within 4 hours – which I think we will be.

Cleaners – $164.64 (includes tip)

When I sold my townhouse in 2015, I paid for professional cleaners to come in before the new owner took possession. So I was pretty choked to see that the person who previously lived in our condo didn’t bother cleaning anything. I mean, they didn’t have anything behind, but the place was just dirty. Like they had never taken a sponge to a single surface of the home, ever. There was a thick layer of dirt over all the windows (and the blinds were filthy), make-up smudges all over the bathroom, cat hair everywhere, and random dried food splashes on the doors and some of the walls. I started to clean the place myself, but it took me 6 hours to clean just the living room windows, and I still had the kitchen and both bedrooms to tackle … we just ran out of time.

Paint & Supplies – $210.71

We wanted to buy a condo that needed no updating except for painting … little did we know that painting was kind of a huge chore to tackle when we’re already tight on time. But it needed to be done, otherwise we’d be living in Taupe City.

After getting quotes from 4 different painters (ranging in price from $800 to $1,800), RD decided that since we were paying for movers and cleaners, he wanted to try to save money and tackle the painting himself since he had 2 days off work. Neither of us had ever painted a home before, but RD is pretty good with a paintbrush, so he was stoked to take on the project. Except that it took us so, so, so much longer than we thought. By the time RD had to leave for another work trip, I still had one bedroom and a cement pillar to paint. And after it was all said and done, it took us about 4o man hours total to paint the entire place. For reference, we have a 2 bed/2 bath condo of about 825 sq.ft.

Household Items – $229.42

There were a bunch of things we needed to get that I just hadn’t thought of. For example, going from one bathroom to now having two, meant I had to buy a bathmat, soap dispenser, shower curtain, toilet scrubber, etc. I also bought cupboard liners, a splash mat for wet/muddy shoes, a step ladder, closet organizer, and a small succulent plant because I couldn’t help myself.

Restaurants – $300 (estimated)

Long days painting and moving meant there hasn’t been any time to cook meals at home. I do not feel healthy eating in restaurants or getting Subway all the time, so I can’t wait until this is all over and we can get back to our normal routine.

Gas – $90 (estimated)

RD is currently on another work trip, so I’ve been shuttling boxes to the new place, as well as whatever I can fit easily into my car. This is in part to make our time with the movers go faster, but also because I want to at least be partially moved in by the time RD gets back. The more I can get done now, means less stress on us the closer we get to our move-in date. I’ve spent $41 on one tank of gas so far, and I’ll have to fill up again before we actually move in.

Condo insurance – $412.08

We’ll be getting back a portion of our renter’s insurance for 2017, but I haven’t included it against our condo insurance because who knows when we’ll actually receive the refund.

TOTAL: $1,931.85

Before we started spending money on the move, I had hoped to keep our moving costs under $1,500 – but the added cost of hiring a professional cleaner, as well as paying for our condo insurance annually (when I had initially thought we’d pay monthly), put us over our budget. That leaves us with just over $8,000 left for closing costs, a small renovation project, and furniture. This should be doable, although I’m a bit concerned about how much the renovation project will cost. I have a few people coming over this week to give us quotes on the job, so fingers crossed!

How much did you spend on your last move?

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