Things on my mind this week (very random):
Today was Record Store Day, and despite my last post, Rom and I went shopping and spent $$ on music. No regrets whatsoever. Supported local stores, hung out with hipsters and got an amazing free peanut-butter-and-jelly-doughnut! I managed to resist a special 3-disc pressing of the Dresden Dolls on colour vinyl but it was very impressive!
It might be a spending spree: I found out that a book I’d read years ago has a sequel. Seeing it’s out of print and my library doesn’t have it, I ordered it from Amazon. Stop me now! At least I won’t be buying an Apple watch. I look forward to seeing one in action, though!
It’s budget time – the province sent down its budget last week, the federal government announces its new budget on April 21, and the city approves its budget April 28. It’s a federal election year so we can expect some pandering. The city once made an online exercise available in which locals could distribute the tax dollars to services. No surprise, I suppose, how hard it was to balance the budget and support all my favourite services without decimating the rest. For example, if I allocated more money to the library system, I might have to take it away from public transit…etc. Luckily we didn’t transfer the actual funds!
In other money news, my treasurer job has me trying to contract an auditor, and tomorrow I will be working at the annual fundraising auction.
Wandering on to other personal finance topics…
Sometimes I wonder how long we will keep our house. I am only vaguely thinking of retirement – I am planning financially but trying not to dwell on it. I don’t want to wish away the next 14 years of work and not be fully present. But 14 years is actually the “foreseeable future” now. It has just occurred to me that real decisions will have to be made in this time frame. For example, we sometimes talk about building a sun room or “conservatory,” which could be anything from a framed-in screen room over the existing 10’x10’ deck, to an actual home addition. But is this something would use constantly, and how would it affect the future sale price of the house? This year we are just doing maintenance. We need to replace the exterior doors, which is not a small job. So basking in a new sun room would have to wait, regardless!
Related to that, I’ve been thinking lately about what it would be like to rent an apartment. I worked out how many months I could pay various rents based on the anticipated sale price of our house. I figured out we could rent an average 2-bedroom apartment for 20 years, a nice condo for 13 years or a deluxe one for about 9 years. After that we’d be paying from our pensions. Kinda scary! It makes a lot more sense than I thought to live in a paid-for house and do the maintenance.
We had an excessively hard winter. There were some weeks we couldn’t visit my parents because their home wasn’t accessible by car – it was too icy to walk – and there was nowhere to park! They were OK since they have an SUV, so they could get out, but we couldn’t get in. Rom and I have 2 small cars and mostly use only one. It has crossed our minds to trade them both in for an economical SUV like a Hyundai Tucson. No immediate plans but might simmer on it until we see how next winter shapes up.
It’s been funny this week to see my neighbours trying to make the snow melt faster. Roads and open areas are clear, but shady gardens are still snow-covered. Every day I see people out with shovels and rakes, breaking up the crusty old snow and distributing it over lawns and driveways to get some sun.
All the wild birds have migrated back and they could easily starve in the snow. It has been well-publicized and everyone has been flocking out to buy bird feeders and food. I put out 3 feeders, but they are all for small songbirds. I can’t buy more because they’re sold out everywhere! So I have been putting trays of seeds and fruit on the ground. I am surprised that most of the birds are not attracted to the feeders or the food and don’t seem to know to access it. I read up a bit on the locations and types of food. I’m sure I will learn, but they don’t seem to be quick learners either. The lovely pair of cardinals have been here every day, and now we have a big pheasant stomping around every day, too!
It is disheartening to see how much litter was left behind in the snow banks. I do some pickup every day on my way to and from work. I used to blame the nearby high school students for littering, but it’s not all snack wrappers. A lot of it is household trash. On garbage day, sea gulls and crows tear apart trash bags to get food. We have municipal compost pickup and no one is supposed to put food in their trash bags, but it happens anyway. Smart homeowners have started putting their garbage into a wheelie bin instead of leaving bags by the curb, and some have started covering their trash bags with an old sheet or tarp that the garbage crew leave behind. Rom and I were amused to find out that the municipal staff who heave the trash onto the garbage trucks are called “swampers.”
I am gearing up for another round of decluttering. As Viv says, why are there continuous rounds? Doesn’t that imply I’ve been restocking my house with junk? No, it’s been a gradual process, and each time, I go deeper. I have found that once or twice a year is good. I gain perspective as my life changes and I come to realize which changes are permanent. Am I going to use that camping gear ever again?
I updated my clothes inventory. I’m still under 150 main pieces – holding at 148, including some recent replacements. It doesn’t merit its own post because I don’t have a strategy right now. I am in a holding pattern.
At work I am still involved with collective bargaining for a few more weeks. I am itching to book a vacation but can’t yet!
So that is my life around the home and neighbourhood as we finally begin to thaw!