Other stuff...

Sunday, February 1, 2015


We're back at it. For most of last year we didn't push ahead with paying down our mortgage. Our son was diagnosed with autism, we lost a baby and after 9 months of being laid off, Dom found a job in April 2014. We spent the rest of the year rebuilding our emergency fund and paying medical expenses. However, by the end of the year we were able to put an extra $1400 on our mortgage bringing the amortization down to 17 years and 11 months. This year we're tightening our belts to see how much more we can pay.

Wish us luck!

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Dom and I (+2 kids) go car-free June 25th. I would never have imagined ourselves doing this unless I lived in some super hip European city. But we're doing it and we live in a suburb of Ottawa - i.e. not hip. We aren't environmentalists in anyway, all this kind of happened haphazardly (my husband lost his car insurance T.T and me being the budget nerd celebrated by calculating how much money we'd save) Although biking and busing are not new to me (I've had my drivers licence for less than two years), this is all very new to my husband. Very very new.

Wish us good luck!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Stats 2

Last week I came down with mastitis so I'm a bit late with these stats. I'm still a bit under the weather so we'll see if I can get this weeks stats up.

House price: $170,000
Down payment: $34,000
Mortgage: $136,000
Outstanding balance as of August 5, 2013: $134,240.73
Rate: 2.49%
Maturity: April 01, 2015
Accelerated weekly payment: $151.21 + $9.13 (insurance) = $160.34

Today's payment:

Interest: $63.72
Principal: $87.49
Extra: $151.21
New Outstanding Balance: $134,001.95

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dear Dutch...

I love your clandestine (schuilkerk) churches. The ones hidden in old houses back in the 17th-century, such as Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder (Our Lord in the Attic.) How courageous your ancestors were, and what a beautiful example of the domestic church! Literally. I only know about this through watching the travel DVDs by Rick Steves but have never been there myself.

Interior of Ons' Lieve Heer op Solder.

I have no idea what it must be like to be Catholic in the Netherlands today. If you are Dutch or living in the Netherlands and happen to stumble upon this blog post, could you spare a moment and tell me what it is like to be Catholic in the Netherlands today?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A little encouragement from Josemaria Escriva...

From The Way, 487,

Don't worry about the financial difficulties in store for your apostolic undertaking. Have greater confidence in God; do all that your human means permit, and you'll see how soon money ceases to be a difficulty.

St-Laurent, priez pour nous...

Unfortunately, I let this wonderful feast day pass us by. St. Lawrence is a great reminder of why Dom and I are trying to pay off our mortgage as quickly as possible. I wouldn't have remembered his feast day if I hadn't gone to Mass yesterday morning (I am terrible at remembering feast days.) St. Lawrence was responsible for caring for the goods of the Church and distributing its alms amongst the poor. An excellent example of what it means to be a good steward.

 According to Wikipedia (I had to look it up when I got home from Mass) at that time, "all Christians who had been denounced must be executed and their goods confiscated by the Imperial Treasury. At the beginning of the month of August 258, the emperor Valerian issued an edict commanding that all bishops, priests, and deacons should immediately be put to death. Sixtus was captured on August 6, 258, at the cemetery of St. Callixtus while celebrating the liturgy and executed forthwith.[2]After the death of Sixtus, the prefect of Rome demanded that Lawrence turn over the riches of the Church. St. Ambrose is the earliest source for the tale that Lawrence asked for three days to gather together the wealth.[3] Lawrence worked swiftly to distribute as much Church property to the poor as possible, so as to prevent its being seized by the prefect. On the third day, at the head of a small delegation, he presented himself to the prefect, and when ordered to give up the treasures of the Church, he presented the poor, the crippled, the blind and the suffering, and said these were the true treasures of the Church. One account records him declaring to the prefect, "The Church is truly rich, far richer than your emperor." This act of defiance led directly to Lawrence's martyrdom..."

Wow, how cool is he?

The rubrics for the Mass can be found here.

Yesterday's epistle from Second Corinthians 9:6-10 and gospel from John 12:24-26 were perfectly chosen.

Brethren: He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for "God loveth a cheerful giver." And God is able to make all grace abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work: as it is written, "He hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the poor; His righteousness abideth for ever." And he that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit. He that loveth his life loseth it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, him will the Father honor."

St. Lawrence: 

  1. Cheerful giver - Check.
  2. Good steward - Check
  3. Died and beared much fruit - Check

I think I am going to make St. Lawrence the patron saint of our cause. The reason we want to pay off our mortgage is so that we will have more to give (monetarily and time.) If we sacrifice and deny our pleasures (die unto ourself) we will bear much fruit (paying off our mortgage and give more.) St. Lawrence also reminds me not to wait to start giving. I need to learn how to give of myself now. Whether it is in my marriage, my relationships, with my children, my prayer life, I need to start giving of myself and not be so reluctant.

St. Lawrence in front of emperor Valerian
Source: Wikipedia

St. Lawrence, Pray for us.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Maxed Out! But in a good way.

I called the bank this morning and was able to increase our weekly "double up" payment to $151.21, our maximum. The maximum is double our interest + principal payment. Dominique and I felt comfortable giving an extra $100 a week, so we bumped it up. Dom is working very hard! He's away working for a few days. It's not easy but a reminder to cling to Christ when it gets difficult. Dom installed a makeshift mini-altar in our apartment where I can go to when daily life becomes a challenge.

As well, now that he's the only bread winner I think differently about the price of goods and services. For example, I was at IKEA the other day and noticed something that I thought I needed. When I looked at the price it dawned on me that Dominique had to work 'X' number of hours to pay for it. Or, not buying this item but putting that money towards our mortgage would reduce the principal by 'X' dollars.

10% knowledge 90% behaviour

That said, I didn't buy it. But, I got my free coffee by being a IKEA Family member.

Just on a side note, it's not simply the 'X' number of hours he's working, but rather those hours which he could have been at home with the kids. When I worked, I was the breadwinner (yes, I earned more than my spouse... not gloating just stating a fact.) So, when I saw something I wanted my first thought was, I deserve it - I work very hard and then can we afford it. Now that I clearly see myself as a steward, the 'I deserve it' part is slowly yet stubbornly fading away.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Adventures of Heather and the Laundry Soap

I never thought I would make 5 gallons of laundry soap... Last week I ran out of liquid detergent and had just bought some reusable diapers. I needed a lot of soap to make this diaper thing work. All the blog-vlog posts mentioned they went to their local Wal-mart or grocery store and found everything they needed. Mmm... not in Ottawa. It seems no one makes their own laundry soap here. After an unsuccessful trip to Wal-mart and Loblaws (I only found a small box of Borax), I made another trip and told my husband I wasn't coming back until I found all the ingredients! He made it clear that with all the money I was spending on gas to find the items, it may end up cheaper to just buy ready-made. FYI, gasoline is more expensive here than in the States... but less expensive than Europe (Right now, $1.31 per litre.) Off I went, I found a 5 gallon bucket at Home Depot when I asked about the washing soda, the older looking attendant said, 'Wow, nobody does that any more. You're very industrious.' Next stop, Canadian Tire... nothing. Home Hardware... success! A box of washing soda and Sunlight laundry soap. I wasn't sure if Sunlight would work in place of Fels Naptha, so I bought it anyway. On my way home, I popped into Food Basics. They too didn't have all the ingredients, however they had the Italian soap Linda.

It took me forever to find the ingredients. I had to go to over 5 stores! Made this after the kids went to bed. It was so much fun! From left to right, washing soda, borax, Ipad recipe, grater, two types of soap, a large pot and the obligatory cup of tea. Not seen - 9 litre bucket.

Two kinds of soap to try: Linda and Sunlight.

Smells lemony!

9 litre bucket.

Laundry soap recipe from the Duggar website.

Grating done.

I used the small grater. I thought it would dissolve faster. I was wrong.

Borax and washing soda.

Trying to dissolve the chunks.

Final product before it set. It was so much fun to wake up and play with congealed jelly. It is like when the Jello finally sets and you wiggle it!
It's a good thing I made so much detergent. The next evening, as I was breastfeeding my daughter in the bedroom, I could hear Jakee rummaging around in the kitchen. Which is very normal because he has a special drawer where I put all the fun utensils. Then I hear, guh-lug guh-lug guh-lug. My brain didn't comprehend right away. It clicked - Oh shoot! Splish, splash... there was Jakee in his diaper sloshing around on the floor. He was trying so hard to stand up but kept falling back down. Out of a sense of panic he whimpered, but then started swimming in it. Alas, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Thank goodness I have 4 more gallons of laundry soap.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


House price: $170,000
Down payment: $34,000
Mortgage: $136,000
Outstanding balance as of July 29, 2013: $134,428.13
Rate: 2.49%
Maturity: April 01, 2015
Accelerated weekly payment: $151.21 + $9.13 (insurance) = $160.34

Today's payment:

Interest: $63.81
Principal: $87.40
Extra: $100
New Outstanding Balance: $134,240.73

One step closer!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

To gazelle or not to gazelle? Oh my gosh! CHEETAH! RUN!

 I ain't good at cleaning, keeping up with laundry, getting back to people on time or writing this blog. For a long time I much preferred to write about impersonal topics that glossed over things that lacked any kind of depth. Who would want to read something as bland as dry toast? I can't keep this blog up and running unless I blog about my passion.

I am passionate about personal finance (that's the nice way of saying money.)

Call me whatever you like. I know I am no greedy wall-street tycoon. But, it is fascinating stuff! From frugal millionaires, to freegans, social crediters, couponners, simple living, immoral Machiavellian type guys (I don't know what else to call them), debt up to their eyeballs (student loans, credit cards, home refinancers etc.), all the way to pay cheque to pay cheque folks.

Alright, so I'm a crappy writer too. But, heck! I find this stuff absolutely intriguing and I hope you do too. I have met people who are well off due to immoral choices, and those who are well off because they are good stewards of their money. I've also met people on the way to the poorhouse because of immoral behaviours, but also those who are poor through no fault of their own. They just simply can't get a head. This blog is dedicated to all of them. That those who are leading immoral lives will turn from their ways and find Christ, the good stewards can find encouragement to continue on, and that those struggling can find hope in the One who saves.

So, what's the point? Well, the point is I want to be that "good steward." I want to be that person who is debt free, and on Christmas Eve drops a $500 tip to the single mom with 3 kids who is working not because she wants to but because she has to. This money is not my own, but given to me and I am fiercely determined to be a good steward. In April of this year my husband and I purchased our first house for $170,000. We stretched ourselves to make the 20% down payment and secured a 2 year fixed rate of 2.49% and a 25 year amortization with one of the leading Canadian banks. I'm going to bring you on my family's journey of paying off our house in hopefully less than 5 years. I write hopefully, because there is no possible way of knowing the future. Interest rates could rise and jobs could be lost.

Since the beginning of the mortgage we have made 16 payments, and 2 extra payments of $100 dollars each. My husband and I have decided to make the optional "double-up" payments each week of $100 as well as increase our accelerated weekly payment by 10% (which we can do each year).


House price: $170,000
Down payment: $34,000
Mortgage: $136,000
Outstanding balance as of July 22, 2013: $134,615.35
Rate: 2.49%
Maturity: April 01, 2015
Accelerated weekly payment: $151.21 + $9.13 (insurance) = $160.34

Today's payment:

Interest: $63.99
Principal: $87.22
Extra: $100
New Outstanding Balance: $134,428.13

Can you believe it? We are paying almost $10 a day in interest! Imagine that! Would you leave $10 on the sidewalk each day? No... I bet you would feel pretty stupid if you continually lost $10 out of your wallet.

However... by making the extra $100 payments each week (with no penalty fees), the annual 10% payment increase and the annual 10% lump-sum of $13,600 (based off the original mortgage amount) the house will be ours in just 5 years.

The challenging part is coming up with the extra money. We are also in the process of giving back to my father in law $6,300 (originally $10,500 given to us as a gift).

Proverbs 6, 1- 5

My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor,
    if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger,
you have been trapped by what you said,
    ensnared by the words of your mouth.
So do this, my son, to free yourself,
    since you have fallen into your neighbor’s hands:
Go—to the point of exhaustion—
    and give your neighbor no rest!
Allow no sleep to your eyes,
    no slumber to your eyelids.
Free yourself, like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter,
    like a bird from the snare of the fowler.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

God is Great.

Bless the Lord O my soul. Bless his holy name.

We got the apartment. It was down to the wire. Yesterday my husband and I (along with our kids) were at the lawyers signing the documents when we noticed a mistake. The mortgage term was incorrect as was the interest rate. Not only that but the bank draft for the down payment hadn't arrived electronically at the local branch. (You order it online or by phone and it is electronically deposited at a branch of your choice where you go a pick it up.) Right before we left the lawyers, they told us that they needed the bank draft by 10 am... but when we told them the bank didn't open until 9:30 am they said the absolute latest was noon.

Thank the Lord! The draft arrived at the bank at 10:30 am. Our gracious realtor arrived at 11 am and then drove all the way to the east end of the city to drop the bank draft off at the lawyers. In the meantime, the Lawyers had called and left a message on my husband's cell while he was at work asking where it was. By the time he called them back after noon, they said it had just arrived.

Our Lord never ceases to amaze me.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Allow me to be spiritually immature for a moment...

I miss Pope Benedict XVI.

I feel as though I've grown close to him through his writings over these past eight years (aka he brought me closer to Christ through his writings.) He is so sweet and old. Gentle and joyful. Just look at him.

"Hi guys."

He is so granpa-esque, if I may say so. A "let's sit down and chat over coffee and bundt cake" kind of guy. Why couldn't we have gone all JPII on him and declined his resignation? I was secretly hoping he would be reelected for a second time... if that is even possible.


Before everyone goes crazy on me about the accepting the will of the Holy Spirit. The point is, this is challenging for one's faith because there was no official emotional closure. Particularly for the sanguines out there who really liked him. Official emotional closure is something like death or ... I don't know... death. A helicopter leaving the Vatican doesn't count as closure. Anyways, this is un grand défi pour moi.

Hey, now don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't like (like is a very emotional word...dang! why am I so sanguine?) Pope Francis.

"Hi guys."

It's just that he is the new kid on the block. I don't know him as well. As a sanguine, I don't feel as warm and cuddly... yet. But, with some effort on my part I eventually will. If I don't, that is my own spiritual weakness.

He is the hipster of Popes. However, a hipster Pope is what the world needs right now. The whole point is to Christify the world, right? So if a hipster Pope works at bringing Christ to the world, I'm all for it.

The end.

Apartment Living...

So, Dominique and I are moving. Again. This will be our 3rd apartment as a family... but 5/6th as individuals. Our first place was 400 sq/ft. We lived there until Jacob was 6 weeks old. Personally, I felt we could have stayed there longer, however my husband disagreed for many reasons (lack of storage, insolation, drafty windows, size, neighbourhood, price). Our second apartment is 840 sq/ft. It has a boxy, seventies style layout. Perfect for traditional styled furniture and maybe two people. We bought big traditional styled furniture. And guess what? It got small, it got small fast. However, the functionality of this apartment is completely our fault. We believed we needed to accept the furniture that Canadians typically buy - big traditional and even big modern pieces (think leons, the brick etc). We were obliged to acquire and keep everything. Also, the furniture was limited to one... maybe two functions.

By the way, did I mention my husband is from the countryside and grew up on a farm with more than 200 acres with 11 siblings? His concept of how much space is acceptable for a family is definitely being challenged. On the other hand, I grew up in the city suburbs in a 3 bedroom condo with 3 sibs, 2 folks and a dog.

Anywho, back to the move...

When our daughter was born this past December my husband was determined we purchase our own place. Okay, we saved up some money but I don't think he really knew how far it could go here in Ottawa or in Quebec. His dream was to have a bungalow in the country/city limits with a good sized piece of land. Love, do you know how much that costs? 300k + And that's on the cheap end of the scale. This would mean back to work for me, no second car, no vacations, no extra curricular activities etc. Marrital unhappiness for the sake of a bunch of bricks. Nah... I knew I married a man who would eventually come to his senses. What we could afford in Ottawa is considered unacceptable family dwelling to some Canadians. A two bedroom one bath condo, a grand total of 800 sq/ft. A luxury by international standards.

We put a $4,000 deposit down, paid for an inspection and are currently waiting on the lawyers and bank. There is still a chance we might not get it. If we get it, we are technically downsizing. A loss of 40 sq/ft. If we don't get it, we loose $5,000 bucks (deposit, lawyer fees etc.)

Dom and I told each other that if we don't get the apartment... we will still downsize. Downsize to a studio apartment!

We'll keep you posted.

P.S. The closing date is supposed to be March 28th...