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Random Thoughts with Oil Spiking

In the summertime when all the leaves and trees are green, and the gas prices double, I’ll be blue… OK, that is not how that song goes, but it looks like we are in for another summer of spiking gas prices again. Certainly can’t be blamed on demand this time, since the number of unemployed folk and folks not driving their gas inhaling SUV’s is up and down respectively, wonder what might be causing this? Maybe a secret Canadian Conspiracy to force the U.S. to rely heavily on the Tar Sands in Alberta? Not a bad concept, except this is driving the Canadian Dollar back up to equal value with the U.S. dollar, which will spike the Canadian Economic recovery if we are not careful.

Financial Blog Highlights

This week’s treasure trove of nuggets of wisdom are a wide spectrum of financial discussions:

  • Million Dollar Journey does a comprehensive comparison in High End Chequing Comparison, a good read for those who might be shopping around for a new bank.
  • Michael James’ cynicism shows through in his post A Phone Call From Bell, but he isn’t wrong either. I’m sure if he asked the young lady to repeat “Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers” five times fast, and he’d agree to the deal, she might do it.
  • The Canadian Capitalist tackles a topic near and dear to my heart in Tips on Safety Deposit Boxes. One thing he missed that you shouldn’t put in your safety deposit box, your spare dentures or eye glasses.
  • Preet’s attempt at Television fame at Where Does All My Money Go continues on with Watch Me Compete on the W Network, he is entertaining to drink with, let’s hope it translates well to TV.
  • Larry MacDonald discusses the Deflation Threat and is skeptical about hyper-inflation and deflation as well. I like reading cynics, makes me feel safer.

Don’t miss my weekend post on the one sure fire way to make some coin!

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Earth Day: Another Idea

Written many years ago. I no longer compost, I use the Green Bin program from my city. I still tune my small engines, but now during the Pandemic cloth bags are now a big no-no. Happy Belated Earth Day.

Compost

My wife and I have started composting again. We also use the compost in our garden so it is a money saving thing as well (don’t need as many expensive fertilizers or have to buy top soil). Sometimes we forget about our kitchen bucket, but eventually either the smell or the fruit flies will remind us the bucket needs to be emptied.

We always end our composting year by throwing our Jack-O-Lanterns in there for the winter (the bins we use are at the bottom of the back yard and are not accessible in the winter time).

Tune Your Small Engines

I had Hunter Power Equipmentcome over to do an end of season tune up for my 10 year old snow blower. They did service on it about 5 years ago, and after that it ran better than when I first bought it, and now it is ready to keep blowing snow for many years more (and do it in a much less toxic fashion). A tuned engine especially on a snowblower or a lawn mower is a very good thing (the amount of pollutants from small engines are a major contributor to the Smog issues of the world).

I also am not buying a new snowblower, which is a frugal thing in my mind too!

Cloth Grocery Bags

This is starting to annoy me, since I keep forgetting to bring the darn bags to the store and either end up buying another cloth bag, or have to purchase the plastic bags.

A good friend brought up an excellent point that most real shoppers have already thought about which is what to do about the meat that you purchase. If you buy meat, normally you put it in an extra plastic bag to keep it from leaking, but now with cloth bags, meat blood or fluids will now leak onto your cloth bag. This means the shopper in the know will either:

  1. Wash their cloth grocery bags often
  2. Designate one or two cloth bags as the “meat” bags and wash them very often
  3. Use the plastic bags in the vegetable department to wrap the meat up in.

Anybody care to comment on this one?

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Student Debt and some Random Thoughts

This week I had some very good feedback and discourse with my readers about the high price of post secondary education and how it pertains to Family Finances and Personal Finance. This topic was suggested by my wife and I didn’t think it would amount to much, but to me, I think it really opened my eyes to the fact that most parents want the best for their kids, and most parents want to help their kids get a post secondary education of some kind. The limiting factors in their ability or inclination to help are varied, but I did not hear from a single person who said they would not help their kids, even though they had the financial means to do so, and I think I was glad to see that.

Next week I am thinking of looking closer at my family’s finances and maybe wondering out loud why we are spending money on some of the things we do. We’ll see.

Have a great weekend.

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Belated Happy Earth Day

With Earth day passing yesterday my wife asked me the question, “How expensive is it to be Green?“, I wanted to consult with Kermit the Frog, but I figured I’d look at my life and see in the obvious areas, would it be cheaper, more expensive or a wash to be “Green”.

  1. Automobiles, currently I have two cars. A relatively frugal and clean(er) Toyota Corolla and a gas guzzling Montana van (that most likely pollutes more as well). The green solutions here might be:
    1. Get rid of both cars and use public transit and walk where we need to go. This is a non-starter, with kids and such, my lifestyle and my families could not tolerate that option. Would it be cheaper to buy 5 bus passes a month at $375 ? Not sure, but I do get to use the mass transit tax credit.
    2. I could get rid of the van and only have 1 car. This option will be more possible soon, when I hopefully have less kids living at home. For a while we only had 1 car and I took the bus to work, but it was an inconvenience, as OS Transpo does not offer great service from South Ottawa to West Ottawa. If I worked downtown the story would be very different.
    3. Staying as I am is definitely not green and not as frugal either.
      Grade: D (not very green choice by us, but I am being honest as well).
  2. Attempt to limit my families water usage. I’d really like this to be better in my house, because it is getting out of control.
    1. I don’t water my grass and I rarely water my garden, mostly because I am a lazy sod, but also because I view the Grass as a gift from God, and if God thinks it should be green, he’ll water it.
    2. Low flow toilets, or better still composting toilets? Well, not really, I do need to replace the toilets in my house, so I think the water usage there might be better, but composting ones, um, no.
    3. Low flow shower heads. Yes, I do have those, and they help.
    4. Screwed up water heater. At first I thought this was a bad thing, but the fact that my water heater doesn’t seem to store that much hot water is a good thing, since it shortens my daughter’s showers significantly. Don’t think I’ll have anyone come in to fix that issue!
    5. Low water usage washer and dishwasher. The dishwasher is pretty new and is supposed to not use as much water, and my washing machine is “up on the roof” so that will get replaced this summer.
      Grade: C+ (could do better, but at least trying)
  3. Good insulation in house and good windows to limit use of fossil fuels? I think my house is ok, but the windows need replacing, and that is going to cost me a bloody fortune, so I will make sure I get fairly good ones when I do.
    Grade: C
  4. Efficient heating and cooling systems. Replaced two years ago and my gas bill has been dropping as has my electric bill, very worthwhile investments.
    Grade: B+
  5. Composting of household wastes? Yup, we do that, not as much as we should but we do have two compost containers in the back yard and we do use them. We don’t do this in the winter, because the snow is too bloody deep!
    Grade: B-
  6. Recycle? Yes indeed, and we put out yard waste too. Our garbage output is still fairly high, but we are careful not to put recyclables into the normal garbage. Once Ottawa goes with a “Green Box” for kitchen waste this should drop our garbage a great deal.
    Grade: B

  7. Replace conventional lights with lower electric using ones? In a couple of places, but the fact that these “super bulbs” then have to be disposed of in the Hazardous Waste dump, worries the hell out of me. This doesn’t strike me as being “Green” at all.
    Grade: C-
  8. Green household cleaning products? Maybe a little, not much. Might be an area we can explore some more.
    Grade: F
  9. Really wacky green ideas:
    1. Alternate feminine hygiene products? Um… no.
    2. Home Solar panels? Don’t have the capital to invest to make this a worthwhile investment, but if electric prices keep going up, who knows?
    3. Not running the air conditioning in the summer? Not in this current lifestyle, my kids would revolt, that is for sure. I try not to run it too cold, but I plead guilty about being used to this creature comfort.
    4. Worm farms in my compost heap? Nope, sorry, don’t fish enough to have some Red Wigglers (the Cadillac of Worms) in the backyard.
    5. All natural clothing, no synthetic fibers? Sorry, just am not that with it as to what material I am wearing (nor am I wanting to be ensconced in velvet).

    Grade: F

Not too bad really, I think there is a great deal more my family and I can try to do to be more Green, however I also don’t feel heavily obliged to go out of my way to be Green if it is going to cost me a bloody fortune (or causes an incredible inconvenience in my current lifestyle).

The two ways I think the Green Movement will make farther in roads into every day life will be, Gas shooting to $150 per barrel and higher and the Government giving “Green” credits on taxes or eliminating taxes on “Green” products.

How Green are you?

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The Business of Sore Muscles

As a middle aged man (you lookin‘ at my gut? I’m workin‘ on it!), I have sore muscles most days, but after attempting to keep up with a bunch of 14 year old girls, I have real pain from some simple exercise (and I didn’t work very hard either). My house goes through Ibuprofen very quickly, due to many reasons but my lack of exercise is one of them.

Do I buy Advil or Motrin? No, I tend to buy the “No Name Generic” versions of these kind of drugs because most of the time they are much cheaper than the “Name Brand” versions of these drugs. Cheaper is fine by me, since the active part of the medication is what I care about. Generics if they work are the right choice in this area.

Canadians Using Less Energy

Is it due to global warming? Don’t think that is the only reason.

Canada’s demand for energy fell by 2.0% in 2006, thanks to declining consumption in the nation’s industrial, transportation, residential and commercial sectors.

Interesting, but we shall see whether this trend continues too.

Snow is Expensive

The City of Ottawa’s snow budget is evidently out of control with this year’s early and heavy snow falls. As usual short-sighted planning has caused budget planners to assume that Ottawa wouldn’t get a lot of snow and now we are going to pay the price (as tax payers). What is worse is that all this snow is stopping the Rideau Canal from being available for skating for Christmas day as well!

Say Thanks to Volunteers (especially at this time of the year)

At Christmas time there is an over indulgence in buying presents for many people (in my opinion), however, I think now is the best time to say Thank You in some fashion to the volunteers that touch your lives. Who do I mean? In my life here are some of the amazing volunteers that touch my life and my kids’ lives:

  • Coaches (I realize some hockey coaches get paid, but the coaches that touch my kids’ lives don’t get paid much (maybe expenses)).
  • Church volunteers (the folks who decorate the Church at Christmas for example)

You don’t have to necessarily buy them a gift, maybe all you have to do is say Thank You to them, and tell them you appreciate their good works?

 

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