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I work in the city but I love living in the 'burbs so much we moved there - despite my crazy commute. The closer I get to home, the more relaxed I feel.
This Mama can't wait to share all the fabulous finds and 'must have' things that come my way. After all, if something's great I've gotta tell everyone! 
Join me as I share the ups and downs of suburban living, my journey to be more creative and organized (even with 2 super active little boys) and a whole lot of this and that. While I live in Fraser Valley, B.C., it's easy to translate the suburban experience to pretty much anywhere - and even city folk love to leave the hustle and bustle sometimes!
And living in the most expensive corner of the country, it takes a little savvy to keep it all together.  I'll share what I've learned - and hopefully you will, too!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bye Bye Penny

I've heard it said many times that we don't need pennies. That pennies just sit in dusty jars, get left behind, take up too much space in a purse and we'd be better off without them.  While that sounded like a good idea, I didn't actually expect anyone to stop using pennies! 

Guess what folks?  If you live in Canada, pennies will no longer be minted past this year.  I know!  Pennies gone forever! Well, not really - at least not for quite some time.  They will still be legal tender and if the rest of the country is anything like me, we've all got scads of them hoarded in our penny jars.  Now I know why we've saved them for so long - we needed to keep them alive!

It feels odd to know that by the time my kids are grown, their kids will not collect pennies.  While I get technology will change - pennies just seemed so, well, solid.  And how about penny-pinching?  How are we supposed to do that without pennies?  Nickel pinching doesn't quite have the same ring to it, you know?  And if one should 'watch their pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves", what happens to the dollars when we don't have pennies to watch?  Does it work the same way with dimes?   Will things keep coming back like a bad loonie?   oh.. so many questions.

I guess one good thing came of this budget announcement.  I am finally going to go count and cash in that giant coffee jar of pennies we have.  I'd kind of forgotten about them until now.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Be Prepared - filing an insurance claim

Well, it's finally happened - after nearly 25 years, I have to file a claim on my home insurance.   Both our vehicles were broken into last weekend and we (being complacent as we live in a quiet neighbourhood) got caught with a lot of stuff in the car (all of which is no longer in the car)  Lesson learned - never leave anything in your car - take out the goods when you get home.  

Never having filed a claim, I called our insurance company (BCAA in this case) and shared with the adjuster what had happened.  We knew what was missing and we'd filed a police report, so we thought we were all good to go.  While nothing in our claim is of exceptionally high value, enough went missing to justify the claim. Our adjuster was fine with the items, and explained the process.

Here's where I want to share about being prepared.   We have some records of the stuff we lost - prescription glasses, a couple of newer electronic items, but not the older stuff.  Insurance companies want to know what you lost and prefer that you can show them you had it in the first place.  (so you don't, say, claim the $1400 electronic item or the $500 leather jacket you never owned).  

This is where it occurred to me that if I had to make a claim in the event of a fire or other catastrophic event, I am not prepared.  I have no clue of the make/model of most things I own. I use them daily, but really never paid attention.  And I also, after a lot of thought, think I'm probably woefully under insured.  Think about it - if you had to replace EVERYTHING you own, how much would that cost?   We still have cd's and dvd's - at an average, lets say, of $15 each that would add up to a substantial amount!   Every 10 is $150.   oh, plus tax! 

Add up your pens, pencils, cutlery, books, toiletries, knick knacks, coats, socks and underwear, to mention a few, and I think you'll be surprised at your investment.    While the best option would be to have a detailed spreadsheet with cost values for everything along with a thick file of receipts for every item in your home, it's not likely or practical that you can do this. 

I have a suggestion, though.   Scan all your receipts for items of any value.  Receipts fade to unreadable as I've just discovered.  A blank piece of paper with barely there printing at the top won't be useful.   If you have it all on a usb - you can leave it at a family member or friends place for safekeeping as well as have one for yourself.   Either take pictures - or better yet, video of your home.  Go room by room opening cupboards and drawers and taking the time to layout the expensive stuff so it can be seen.  This way the insurance adjuster has something that shows you had the item in your home.  You can likely save the video to a usb, as well. That tiny piece of equipment could be the most important thing if you have to make a big claim.  Keep your home copy where you keep your important papers to grab and go.  And scan all of those onto the usb, too.   If you lose everything, you lose the originals if they are in your home - that secondary usb could save you a substantial amount of time recovering everything.

Look at your insurance papers, ask questions about your plan - go over the what if scenarios with your adviser and make sure you are covered for everything possible.  Know your exceptions as well. 

It's never a good thing to make a claim as it means something has happend. When it does, think carefully about it as each claim makes you less desirable as a client - which translates into higher rates. I'm lucky I had a one claim forgiveness clause and a low deductible.  I wouldn't have made the claim otherwise.  We lost a substantial amount of stuff, but other than the prescription glasses, we'd have survived without it. Not comfortably and definitely not happily since we'd worked hard to pay for it all, but you have to look at the big picture and if it will cost you more in the long run with higher rates and a big deductible to pay.

So if you've learned anything today - get those pictures/video/scans done to protect yourself.  And call your insurance advisor to ask what you're insured for.  I would think there would be nothing worse than not being insured for something you assumed you would be, and being stuck with a huge bill to recover from it.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Let it Go, Let it Go, Let it Go

I've got the oddest feeling I've said that before.  Over the past month or so I've been busy culling the excess around here.  While it still looks a bit like a toy factory (thank you Lego, you are everywhere!) I've actually gotten rid of about 10 Rubbermaid bins of kid's stuff.  I've removed the toys they didn't play with and even with the stuff I planned to rotate for them, the kids have only missed a couple of things.   We still need some lessons in tidying up after ourselves, but they are young and they are learning.  I've even gotten in on the act by going through my buckets of stuff I had to 'get to' eventually.  I've sorted all but a little basket out and either put it away or have gotten rid of it.  

The impetus now is a kid's swapmeet on April 14th.  I'll be going through clothes and making sure anything that doesn't fit gets taken there, too. 

I have to say it feels good knowing I'm letting go of this stuff.  While it's still technically here, the fact it's removed from inside my home (it's in the garage and the crawlspace) means I don't have to trip over it. 

Next up - getting organized with some better routines!   Menu planning and keeping up with the basics are my next target.  The Goal?  Lower the grocery bill (which is much too big - coupons also need to be used where they can and not forgotten at home!) and take back my weekends.  No more catching up all weekend long while missing out on the fun that families should have.  It's not easy with our long hours, but it can be done.  It just takes a little motivation.

I have to brag, too.  I cleaned out my pantry a week or so ago.  It's officially the nicest spot in the house.  I like it so much I wanted to put a chair in that cupboard so I could sit in there and just feel the awesomeness of it's organization! 

Just a note,  - in April I'll be hosting a fabulous giveaway for a product I know will come in more than handy for those of you with kids!  stay tuned!  (how's that for teasing?)