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Month: June 2024

How we spent more

How we spent more

It’s been absolutely dreary and cold the past week but today is a beautiful day to be outside in the backyard. Since I have shifted my mindset from “all the travel!” to “stay home!” I have made it my goal to think of the three great pool months of summer as our true vacation. Truth be told we could probably order in a nice meal every evening and sit poolside all day with drinks and still spend ¼ of what we did going to that awful resort this winter.

Behold, our wee Puddle

Mr. Tucker and I love sitting outside in the morning sun, drinking coffee, getting fresh air and just chatting about our plans for the day. We are rising early these days to log a couple of hours of hanging out together before Mr. Tucker has to go inside and start work. Of course, he will also be taking a couple of weeks of vacation this summer for maximum relaxation but why not also craft relaxing days as much as you can?

As previously mentioned, now that we have reached our investment goals, we’ve now started to add that money back into our budget to do a variety of things. There are three places where we focused, and they are: reducing friction, food, and entertainment.

Housecleaning, again: whomp, whomp – the experiment to try and get the kids to clean the house has been a miserable failure. Not because they can’t clean – they can – but because it was eating up too much of their free time on top of school and extracurricular activities. It became a hassle to figure out a time to get them to clean with our wonky schedules, so in the end I threw in the towel. I hired a cleaner again and she starts Friday. Let’s hope she does well!

Lawn care: again, the kids either have a full-time job or full time camps this summer and so we just didn’t want to argue. Also, my elderly neighbour kept asking the kids to mow his lawn at the times where we were the busiest & it sucked to have to say no. Then we found a couple of university students who do it on the weekends. They do an incredible job, they even trim the edges and you can pay them also to weed when they are done school. Also, while I knew how much Mr. Tucker hated mowing the lawn, I don’t think I parsed just HOW MUCH he hated it. Given that, it would be a steal at twice the cost.

(It goes without saying that we will be getting a snow removal service again this year. When we moved in this house came with a snowblower so it made sense to just use it. But when it died after the first snowfall of last year, Mr. Tucker was more than happy to kick it to the curb and let someone else do it. Yeah, we didn’t really get our money’s worth if you look at it from a snowfall point-of-view but from a piece-of-mind POV it was worth every cent)

CSA baskets + flower subscription: we always get a veggie CSA but I also decided to get one for eggs, cheese, fresh flowers and a sourdough bread (grown, milled AND baked locally). To be honest, it makes me happy that we can spend money on all these wonderful things. We have made our own sourdough for years (before the pandemic made it cool!) but this sourdough is out of this world and usually lasts until Sunday, so that’s nice.

We bought extra-lovely plants for the backyard: Mr. Tucker and I headed out to a local greenhouse last month and bought some really gorgeous planters for the backyard & the house. We had bought some gardening stuff from regular stores but we were unhappy with the quality of the flowers compared to their price point. So we made a day of heading to a fantastic nursery thus combining a fun date day with getting some gorgeous plants. Honestly, the prices were reasonable considering the value.

We got PWHL and Broadway Across Canada tickets: I had planned to renew our PWHL seats for the full season already but the BAC tickets were kind of a split-second addition last month. We had tickets in 2022-23 but the 2023-24 season seemed MEH to us so we didn’t get them last year. But the lineup for next year looked good so we hopped on the chance to buy some. We didn’t manage to score a box but we got some good seats.

We took a leather tote-bag making class (plan to take more classes): Mr. Tucker and I signed up for this awesome workshop at the Ottawa Tool Library. It was amazing! We still aren’t finished the bag and will head back at the end of the month for one more attempt at finishing it (we brought some sewing home). It was the inaugural class so there are a few growing pains. Honestly, it was really nice to just do something together.

We also took an absolutely EPIC trip to Costco: I usually send Mr. Tucker because he goes with a list and only gets what is on that list. The Eldest and I went with him last time and the bill essentially doubled. HAH. So while that was fun, it looks like I won’t be riding the motorized shopping cart again anytime soon! To be fair, it was super busy AND we also stressed him out and messed with the order in which he is used to doing things.

I am pretty happy with the things we have added back into our lives. We have basically set ourselves up for 1 to 5 family events a month until next summer. It’s a pretty busy schedule because we have other things that the kids do (band, sailing camp, skiing/snowboarding, jobs, and driver’s ed!) so I figure we will have enough of a schedule that we will barely notice the lack of a winter vacation. I can see us taking the odd weekend trip and maybe we will rent a cottage for Thanksgiving again but overall, I am happy to stay home. I think with two kids in high school travelling off-season will be a non-starter for a couple of years.

Until then, you can find me in The Puddle!

I am cutting down on blog reading & some links

I am cutting down on blog reading & some links

What I am currently reading

I have so many links in a variety of formats that I have enjoyed and have saved to make a post about. But by the time I get around to it, the links are generally older and posted elsewhere. Here is a few from this week:

“Dishabituation can be achieved in two ways. The first is to take a break—remove yourself from your environment for a period of time, however short, and then return to it without making any permanent changes…The second way to dishabituate…is to insert variety into your routines.” How to fight habituation

The U curve of happiness, is now a hump.Youth mental health declines in 82 countries

When life hands you unaffordable housing, build your own with friends.

“More chaos is coming, I fear. AI tools are making it easier and easier to manipulate images and videos. Every day, it gets easier to generate content that plays into people’s perceptual biases and confirms their prior beliefs — and easier to warp perceptions of the present and possibly even change memories of the past.” The internet peaked in 2015

Speaking of which, How to object to Meta’s AI data usage. Is it convoluted AF? Yes.

Speaking of F’s: one of the best things I have read this year is this essay: A unified theory of fucks.

I have drastically cut down on my social media usage – including the amount of blogs I am reading & youtube videos I watch. While I love to read a variety of personal finance blogs, the ratio of relevant information to ads/sponsored products has tipped over into the “not worth the hassle” category. I realized this weekend that one Canadian blogger I read has a 50/50 ratio of content to referral links. UGH. Don’t get me wrong: I am glad people are out there making their bag producing informative content for people. It just really isn’t worth my time anymore to read it because there really isn’t much new out there. On top of that, Instagram is now testing unstoppable ads. I haven’t come across them yet but it just may be the nail in the coffin there as well. I am only really posting pics to the account related to this blog because my personal account is overrun with things I can’t do much about, as I have written before.

I remember Amy Dacyczyn (of The Tightwad Gazette fame) used to compare her newsletters to Weight Watchers. Her argument was that people generally knew how to lose weight like they knew how to be frugal but the value was in the community and seeing other people do it, too. I think for a long time I consumed a lot of content based on that premise: it confirmed what I already knew and I got to read about similar people on a similar path. But now we have solidified our investment strategy, saved enough for Mr. Tucker to retire, paid off our house, saved enough for the kid’s post-secondary etc. with no plans to really change things up. Most debates that occur in the Finfluencer community are faits accomplis for me, so they aren’t really decisions that I am wringing my hands over anymore.

For example, I always joke to Mr. Tucker that when Ramit Sethi runs out of ideas, he runs a new video about owning vs. renting. Don’t get me wrong – his content is amazing – but CHRIST ON A CRACKER please save me from ever consuming any content on owning vs. renting ever again. It’s a personal finance dead horse as far as I am concerned. Do definitely read his book and watch his podcasts on Tuesdays with couples. Those things are great, especially if you are just starting out or need to change course. But I own a house, the house is paid off, and while I will happily sell it and become a renter if I need to someday, for right now that isn’t changing. (also, if you want to hear a pro-ownership argument Karsten at ERN does a really detailed one with a lot of numbers. In fact, his content is also fantastic if you like getting into the weeds)

Also, it helps that June has been a super busy month for us so far. For some reason we decided last minute to sort out our storage room that hasn’t been touched since we moved in and join the community garage sale. So we spent a week of evenings cleaning and sorting stuff. We told the kids that they could split whatever we made & they each made around $55. Not bad. The rest got sent to friends, the thrift store, or organized in bins to sell when the weather turns (it’s hard to sell snowsuits when its 30C out). We also happened to discover that our toilet was leaking so we had that fixed before it became a HUGE problem. So a small victory there as well. On top of that, dragon boat practice is twice a week, and The Eldest has a series of band events and job training to do. The Youngest is graduating from middle school and they also have many end of year field trips and events. So it’s a busy time for everyone – especially Mr. Tucker who is the maestro of everything. So I haven’t even really had a ton of time to read online content.

But we have been adding more fun stuff into our budget & reducing friction in our lives. More on that another day.