September 9, 2013, 5:00 am

The Book I Read While Camping, My Debt Level Once Back Home

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Pay off your Debts
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During my vacation, I went camping for a few days with my family. For the first time since I have owned a Blackberry, I made a deal with myself: not to touch this devilish tool for 72 hours. If you have a smartphone, you know that 72 hours without your phone is longer than the entire ice age period.


Good news; I did it! It seems that canoeing, lighting a fire and eating marshmallows is so fun that I didn’t need my phone to see what was going on at work, at my online company and with my investments! During the afternoon, I pulled out a book that was recently sent to me for a review (one advantage of being a blogger… hehehe!). It’s called Give Yourself a Raise, written by Gordon Bennett Bleil. The title was cool enough to catch my attention, the rest of the cover page convinced me to open the book:


How to have

#1 More money

#2 Less Stress

#3 Financial Freedom


So Let’s Do It! What’s Inside?


I’ll tell you upfront – I was divided, some disappointment somewhat happy about the book. Disappointed because I thought that I would learn more about how to reach financial freedom by raising my income. This is why the title inspired me. I guess I should have read the back cover as well and discover that it’s more an entry level book about starting to manage your personal finance correctly. You know, the usual “control your spending”, “start saving”, “pay yourself first”, etc. These kinds of books are pretty helpful for people without any financial education but they can become boring pretty fast.


Wow… that’s some serious critique for a free book I received to review, huh? But at least, I was also half happy about the book too!


I was away camping and only brought one book. I didn’t expect to read much during these three days as my three children were around as well! So I kept on reading even though the topic wasn’t as exciting as I hoped. It turned out that Gordon is nailed down personal finance problems with practical answers. I have read so many books about personal finance that are quite entertaining and motivating but never put the tools in your hand. I don’t care about how to turn a screwdriver clockwise to screw something in properly – I want to receive the darn screwdriver with a box of screws! This is what this book does.


It has a financial quiz to determine how much you suck with your personal finance (I do suck at times! Especially when it comes to paying off my debts… but you know this already!).


It shows you how to build a bucket system from A to Z with online banking.


It provides you with a useful chart and checklist to track your goals and achievements.


The rest of the book will explain you the basics of credit, retirement planning, investing, insurance and so on. Basically, anything that has already been very well explained in the Wealthy Barber. Overall, I think it is a very good book for anyone who’s looking for an introduction book to control his/her personal finance. The practical tools will not leave you empty handed and provides motivation. You will have a chance to use what you have learned and apply it.


If you are looking to start taking control of your finances, buying this book it a great move!



Back From Camping


Can camping be so expensive that it increased my debt? Nope! That’s not it! While I was on vacation, I didn’t look at my computer and completely forgot about banking. This was a very good move as I disconnected totally from my day-to-day life. But when I came back home, I put my nose back into my finances and looked at my credit card statement… ouch!


During the month of August, we have incurred several expenses totaling several thousands. Just to name a few:

Furniture, toys and other goods related to the daycare opening

Children’s clothing for fall (not just the “back to school” frenzy, both kids grew so much, all jeans and shirts were too small!)

Children’s activities for fall and winter (gotta pay for everything upfront!)

A few expenses related to my 2 week vacation (hotel room, dining out, wine, gasoline and camping)

Furniture and paint for my kids’ bedroom (moving #3 and #1 into the same room)

Municipal and School taxes (why do they have to fall within 2 weeks of each other!)


This is why I have more debt now than I had before my vacation!



Here Are A Few Things I Will Do This Fall to Cut My Expenses


I don’t know if it’s related to “Give Yourself a Raise”, but I’ve decided to make a few more changes in my life to make sure that my year-end bonus combined with the new revenues from the daycare will pay off my consumer debts.


As the book says; you have to identify your leaking buckets. You need to know where you spend money that you could cut back on. And this is what I’m doing right now…


Eat less. I love eating and know that I exaggerate with at least 3-4 meals per week. I’m pretty sure I spend at least $100 per month on non-essential food items and I’ll start reducing my portions and eating habits accordingly. In fact, I’ve already started since September 3rd! I guess it will also help me dip below the 180 lbs psychological bar!



Drink less. Arf! By writing this; the smile on my face disappears. I love drinking wine but it’s darn expensive. From now on; no wine except on Fridays and Saturdays and never more than 1 bottle for my wife and I per day. It’s not rare that we open 3 to 4 bottles per weekend, since we pay on average $17 each bottle, this means I can save between $68 and $136 in wine per month. I guess $100 is a good target.

Skip Winter Soccer. This sucks too as I really like playing soccer. However, the winter season cost $260 and I really can’t dig my hole much deeper with such expenses. I’ll do my workout 5 days per week with my home gym that is 100% free and wait until my personal finances are better and maybe register next summer.


Put my RX-8 For Sale. I’m telling you, if it doesn’t hurt, it won’t do any good! Over next weekend, I’ll do a big clean up and make my car shine. I’ll put it up for sale on the internet and see how it goes. I know it’s a sport car so I might have to keep it until spring, but I will give it a try now. Since my wife stays at home during the day (with the daycare), it’s impossible for her to use the SUV anyway. I’m pretty sure we can manage with 1 car. The fact that I can save money on gasoline, insurance, car maintenance and can get a few thousand back from the sale was enough to convince me that I didn’t need a cool looking sport car to be happy in life ;-).


Life will surely be a little bit more boring with less food, wine, sports and a nice car but I’m sure it won’t be that bad. I hate making sacrifices and reducing my lifestyle but I think it has become necessary if I want to change my situation and not look after my next year-end bonus to close my budget. After all, I’m pretty sure I’ll be darn happy to  have made these choices in a year from now where I will see my debts melting!


I’m curious, what’s the biggest sacrifice you have made to pay off your debts?

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Good luck! I also spend quite a bit for wine/beer :-/ It’s hard when six-pack of 0.33l beers costs $16 or a schooner $6+ in a pub

At least your debt is not very expensive. Mine was 16% pa

We are really working on curbing our food and entertainment spending. We buy too much food and beer!

by: The Financial Blogger | September 9th, 2013 (7:56 am)

Hey Jakub!

this weekend, I’ve took picture of my car and I’ll put is for sale online sometimes this week. I’ve went through my first weekend without drinking more than 1 bottle of wine 😀 yeah!


I’ve noticed that food is probably the place we think we spend the less but spend the most in reality!

Have you ever looked into making your own wine? I do, and good quality wines run me about $2.50 a bottle to make at home. Now there’s some savings. My liquor bill has dropped 80%.

by: The Financial Blogger | September 9th, 2013 (12:36 pm)

Hey Canadian Dividend Blogger,

nope, I never thought of that. Is it complicated? How many tries have you done before you can say that you have a good bottle of wine?

I’m with Canadian Dividend Blogger here. You can get decent wine far cheaper than $17/bottle. The Harris Teeter (grocery store) branded wine here is actually quite decent at $3. It’s a fine table wine. It’s NOT a $100 Barolo, but you get the point.

Making your own wine is cheaper per bottle, but once you have three cases in your house, you’ll drink waaay more. Trust me. Seems cheaper, but isn’t in the long run.

by: The Financial Blogger | September 9th, 2013 (3:12 pm)

hahaha! I didn’t know I had so many wine maker reading my blog!

I guess that drinking more bottle could be tempting,… maybe I’ll stick to my original plan: just drink less (it will be better for my weight anyway!)

I’ve had success right from the start, although I did have some friends to give me pointers. Winemaking has come a long way even in the last 10 years and the kits are quite good. I’ve found the process straightforward and repeatable.

You probably have a friend of family member who makes wine, just ask around and next time you’re visiting, make a point to go look at their set up. You might be intrigued. If you can run websites and a web business, you can make wine.

by: The Financial Blogger | September 9th, 2013 (8:07 pm)

hum… maybe I should create a site about winemaking after 😉

I always think that working out is amazing for the budget (in most cases). You typically think twice about impluse food and drink purchases, it is a great activity and you meet people (if you go to a gym), it makes you healthy your personal life is always better. So many benefits! Curls for the girls 😉 (as my wife rolls her eyes)

by: The Financial Blogger | September 11th, 2013 (4:44 am)

I never been a big talking when I had a membership at the gym. I was there to workout hard and didn’t want to waste time too much talking too people. I guess this is why I don’t mind having my home gym now 🙂

Have to disagree here, TFB.

If you cut all those things out (and that is a HUGE IF) you are going to be miserable. You love your booze, food and car. It is evident.

Why not just do one at a time? Feel it out first. Maybe cut down on the booze then the food then the car at the end of the year?

by: The Financial Blogger | October 7th, 2013 (7:36 pm)

Hey Evan,

I’ve actually sold my RX-8 a week ago and I don’t feel too bad about it… I thought it would be worst than that!

I need to make some important moves with my financial situation as I don’t want to run after my money to pay off my debts anymore. I’m now cleaning my balance sheet and I’ll be ready for a great start in 2014!

[…] in September, I was just coming back from my vacation when my debt level surged. This was a result of a bad combination of investment in the home daycare, clothing for kids, […]