1:55 PM

Shell game

So this mortgage thing is not so easy. Rates are very low but I have learned a lesson about mortgage contracts. Apparently my penalty is based on the Interest Rate Differential (IRD) rather than 3 mos of interest. This means that as rates drop, my penalty actually increases...and not just a little...it's up about 40% from what it was in September. And as the market here slows and house values drop, I'd likely need to insure my mortgage which means CMHC fees. What all of this means is to move my mortgage, I would be backtracking with the hope of getting ahead in the longer term. This is a concept I'm familiar with having done it in other areas of my life and I think maybe I really am an optimist!

I'm meeting with a broker this week to crunch numbers some more. It looks like it would take me almost the full remaining term of my mortgage to break even. The perks would be lower payments (although I'm looking to increase those to what I pay now to try to make some tracks but with the flexibility to drop them if I needed to), possibly being in a position to be at a lower rate in the future when rates are predicted to be high and flexibility based on portability with an institution that lends outside Alberta as well. And of course a chance to renegotiate the terms and review the penalties more closely.

In the meantime I'm working away at the credit cards. They freak me out a bit but are far less complex than the mortgage. And yes, in case you didn't know, finances scare the bejeebus out of me. Change in general used to as well so I'm hopeful that if I keep jumping into the finance stuff it will become more doable...just like job changes and moves.

I'm making slow tracks on the resolutions but haven't given up. I even ordered Hip Hop Abs this week! And I have gotten back to doing the exercises from my physio. I'm hedging on the gym until it quiets down there a bit.

In other news, one of the rotten back gates attacked (blew against) the other side of the car one morning this week and a chip in the windshield turned into a big crack. One of my friends suggested that maybe this car is destined to be a beater...argh! I have also picked out a new color for the dining room. Yes, this room has already been painted once but that was to cover up Barney purple so I'm not sure that really counts. How does "Reflecting Pool" sound?

Technically it's Chinese New Year this week so I'm not really behind on the resolutions...

9:45 PM

Time to go walkabout?

I'm a homebody...a nester even. I'm happiest when surrounded by a familiar environment and people I know. Unless on the odd occasion I have a few drinks and transform into a social butterfly...but that's another story...or stories.

But for a homebody I've moved a lot of times. And a couple of moves have been long distance. The apartment and house moves I can explain...you get to nest all over again when you move. And the others, well, you might think you get to nest closer or better with the person you love if it's just the two of you on your own in a far off place. Of course if you were me, you'd be wrong but hey, it seemed worth a shot at the time.

For the last 2 years I've been playing with the idea of a holiday. Not just a holiday but a find yourself kind of holiday. An "Eat, Pray, Love" experience condensed into a week at a reasonable budget type price.

This kind of holiday:

5:56 PM

This week in review

Parking spot on closest bay gets "plowed" leaving a large windrow behind...good-bye parking spot. Proceed to dig out a space in the back yard and pry open the rotten wooden gates.

Get 5 cm of snow. Shovel space out again.

Slide into corner of gate with car and catch rim on eye-bolt. Go into house and cry about damage to newly repaired car.

Run load of darks in laundry. Go down to switch to dryer and wonder about the smell of bleach. Remember putting bleach in washer last weekend to sit before running rinse cycle....forgot to run rinse cycle! Casualties include 2 pairs of dress pants, many black socks etc.


ps. On the upside, I went to an auction on Saturday and purchased this lovely showhome chair for under $100.

9:07 PM

Score one for the resolutions...or maybe a half?

This weekend I organized my closet...or should I say closets, since I am taking up both of the "jack and jill" closets in my master bedroom. At one point I did share these closets but I've happily overflowed into both of them. I thought I had cleared out the clothes I wasn't wearing a few times before but apparently there were still quite a few optimistic articles of clothing in there. Either I thought they would look better at some point, or maybe I'd figure out what to put with them or they would bring me back to fun days of yore (ok, so those were the miniskirts talking).

So now there is a half of one side of the closets completely open. Hey, it's a start. And of course there's a theory that when you clear clutter out of your life, you make room for new and better things to come in....

I've also managed a couple of walks with the hound. No, that's not exactly getting back to the gym but it's a step in the right direction so to speak. And then there's the exercise ball compliments of my physio...which I haven't fallen off of yet.

Next steps....finish putting together that dam*ed filing cabinet and work up to more walks and setting foot back in the gym.

11:10 AM

Sensationalism and the economy

I notice that the headlines about the economy are getting more and more desperate in trying to convince us all just how horribly the sky is falling. Most of the numbers being published now about job losses and the economic downturn are from November and December. These numbers certainly tell us something about what was happening at that time but they are not predictors of what will happen next. The irony of the media continuing to flog old numbers confirming that the economy took a hit is that these same people have no idea what is coming and that's why we're not seeing anything specific about when things will improve.

They could be improving right now but we won't know until January's numbers are analyzed and published.

Apparently I'm not the only one out there who is feeling optimistic about things contrary to how the media would like me to feel (see this article about surprising consumer confidence numbers in December). I'm not saying that I am not trying to be cautious - per my New Year's resolution I'm working on cleaning up my credit cards, but realistically, I would be trying to do that whatever the economy was doing.

This week one of the articles that made me chuckle a bit was about how the increase in gas prices was going to hurt consumers. This increase was from around 65 cents per litre to 74 cents per litre or a 9 cent per litre increase. Yes, this is a significant increase but it seems like the media has lost sight of the fact that at one point we were paying over $1.35 per litre and we're a long ways from that right now. I do prefer paying less at the pump but I find it funny that at it's highest we weren't hearing a lot about how those gas prices were an indicator of a slumping economy - we were still in an economic party-time apparently. I kind of felt like we were just paying for someone else's party.

It would be nice if the media would lay off telling us that the world is going to come to a crashing end when they don't know what's coming next. There are people out there who are truly suffering from job loss, housing value decreases and stock market crashes and I feel for them.

But I get the impression that months after the economy has improved, the media will be reacting in shock and telling us that it may not last...they're the glass half empty people who always have to tell you the story of the guy who won the lottery and got hit by a bus the next day when you tell them about your own win. I think we all need to remember that they are only able to report was has happened and not what is going to happen - especially since even they admit that this downturn is not following a pattern of any previous downturn.
Have you ever seen little kids playing soccer or hockey? And they're all chasing the puck or ball as a gaggle and when it changes direction they kind of stumble over each other and it takes them a minute to all get turned around and head the other way? Media reporting feels a lot like that to me.

As with most things in life, I think people need to trust their guts. And apparently in December our guts were telling us it was ok to shop...mine told me it was ok to buy new boots on sale this week. And I wasn't the only one out shopping. Those short brown suede boots don't just go with a lot of brown work wear in my closet...they're me showing confidence in our ability to recover....you can show your support with shoes, groceries or whatever makes you happy!

3:47 PM

Ah Resolutions or New Year's Optimism

Well I am finally starting to feel a bit better. Who knows whether it's the ColdFX, Oil of Oregano and Vitamin C combo or just being out of commission for a week and letting the bug run its course that has led to my slow recovery but either way I'll take it!

So now that the fog is clearing, it seems I have some resolution catching up to do. Not that I haven't tried to think of them a bit but it's been impossible to have many solid thoughts with all the crud in my head getting in the way. I'm thinking about working towards being healthy, wealthy and wise in 2009:

  • Get my body in better order aka Get my a** back to the gym or into some kind of exercise regime and stop eating the leftover Christmas baking. I did mention Hiphop Abs in passing previously but I was only half joking...it might be worth a shot! A subsidiary of this resolution is to get my closet in order...looks like it's time to pitch some more things and tidy up again. I also need to figure out a better way to store shoes, purses and jewellery so that I actually might use them to better advantage. Of course if the ladies from the Cityline fashion segment want to stop by and help me pull together some outfits that would be fantastic.

  • Get my financial house in better order - this will involve getting up the guts to speak to one or more mortgage consultants about refinancing with a better rate and shorter amortization which on paper should result in paying down the mortgage quicker as well as decreasing my payments a little. Next up, if I get a raise (which I'm supposed to so I should say "when" not "if") I should increase my RRSP contributions (which are paltry right now) since I can't contribute to a pension plan for another year and a half. And there is always the ongoing battle to pay off the credit cards. I managed not to use them for Christmas purchases so hopefully I am off to a good start. I know that you should pay them off monthly but I haven't ever managed that so that is a big goal for me.

  • Get my home records in better order - there is a new desk and file cabinet waiting to be put together in my office...in truth the file cabinet is part ways together but it wasn't going well so it needs to be continued. I have lots of filing to do but am hopeful that once I get started I will have a system that I can stick to.

There it is! Wish me luck! And of course suggestions as well as encouragement are welcome.

10:23 AM

How many Benylin days can you take?

I have to say that I really hate that Advil Cold commercial where the woman says "If you think a cold can stop me, you don't know me!". After being sick for 4 days now and stopped in my tracks - well other than the tracks I make from the bed to the couch right now I have started paying attention to all of the cold and flu commercials that are on. The Benylin commercial advises us to "Take a Benylin day" and "how about today you just work on feeling better" which seems far more realistic and less pressuring than the Advil Cold people showing me a woman who looked like hell now emerging from a workout and marching on towards work.

I mean, I already feel like crap and pathetic about barely functioning, do I need to be made to feel even worse? And as a note, I've been trying the Advil Cold and I'm not feeling any better so today I'm trying the Benylin...I've also picked up ColdFX, vitamin C lozenges, orange juice, Thai green curry sauce, chicken noodle soup and Thai coconut ginger soup as well as taking my regular vitamin B complex and One a Day vitamins and I've added oil of oregano capsules. Oh and yesterday I soaked in as hot a tub as I could stand in eucalyptus scented epsom salts.

Later today maybe I'll comment on all of the programs that are on about losing weight and getting in shape. I think that they've been created by the same people as the Advil Cold commercial people....

ps - on the other hand, after 3 days of seeing the Hiphop Abs infomercial I might be sold..."how about today we just work on some dance moves and see if you feel better?" seems like a good approach.