Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm a sellout

Those of you who were readers this time last year will remember how excited Peter and I were to finally pay off our line of credit. We paid off $13,000 (thousand!!) in less than five months. That was no small feat and it definitely didn't come without major sacrifice.

The crazy thing was that we didn't really have anything to show for that debt. It's not like we'd been on vacations or had a house full of clothes and toys and electronics. It was debt that had slowly grown over the course of a few moves and times when I wasn't working, unexpected costs associated with buying our first house, etc. We're not big spenders. We never had been. Thirteen thousand dollars worth of debt notwithstanding, we're really very careful with our money. 

We're practical.

We haven't taken a family vacation in the last eight years (so none since even before we had kids), we buy used or second hand when possible, we never just "go shopping". When we get money for Christmas or birthdays, we have to fight against the urge to just put it in the bank. When we get our tax return or other lump sums of money, we always do the sensible thing.

The problem is that "the sensible thing" is never much fun...

This years tax return will once again be spent wisely (savings, extra van payments, our portion of my dad's funeral marker), used sensibly (some needed home renos), or put towards otherwise worthy causes (donated to charity, a new World Vision sponsor child -our fourth!!). But... BUT... Peter will once again be getting some retro pay for something-or-other, and he has decreed it fun -or blow- money. NOT A PENNY OF WHICH IS TO BE SPENT SENSIBLY!

So last weekend we bought two wine kits that we've started*, the first of which should be ready in about three weeks. 

We also decided to buy the boys brand new bikes**. 

Anther idea we had was to start a list of fun family things we can do this summer in the Ottawa area that we'll set money aside for. Things we wouldn't normally do, or wouldn't do as often. BECAUSE WE'RE SENSIBLE WITH OUR MONEY. Things like bowling (which the boys LOVE), Upper Canada Village, the Diefenbunker, maybe Park Omega again (last year's trip is here and here), taking the boys to Toy Story 3 in 3D, possibly renting paddle boats on Lansdowne Lake. We'll put all the ideas in a jar, then pick one whenever we have a free day together, knowing we have the money to do anything (and everything) in the jar. I'm super excited about this idea and can't wait to have a ton of fun with the boys this summer. Not everything in the jar will have a price tag, but there will be some activities that we just wouldn't normally be able to justify. So, Ottawa peeps, fire your best ideas at me!

More to the point of this post, however, is that some of that blow money has been ear-marked for a purchase that was previously considered absolutely UN-necessary, ILL-advised, and pretty much the antithesis of frugality and sensible money management... a Nintendo Wii (had to throw the "Nintendo" in there just incase you've been living under a rock and didn't know what a plain "Wii" was *rolls eyes at self*).

Liam has, for the last year, been bearing the full brunt of the unfairness of the fact that WE DO NOT OWN A GAME SYSTEM. Even though ALL OF HIS FRIENDS OWN A GAME SYSTEM. And, in his mind, every (other) living being on the planet MUST OWN A GAME SYSTEM. His insistence that we, too, must own a game system was enough to make me swear one would never enter our home. That sense of entitlement is one of the very reasons that we hope to move our family to Africa in the next few years... to shock it out of them! And yet last night I found myself frantically calling all the Best Buys and Future Shops in a 50km radius in a desperate attempt to track down a store that has them in stock so I can buy one in time for Easter.

Let me assure you that it was not Liam's heavy pout that finally broke us down. Rather, Peter and Liam (and Simon to a lesser degree) have started playing a couple of computer games together -only on the weekends- and they really enjoy it. I will keep claiming that I don't know how to play for as long as possible, which not only gets me out of ever having to play, but also ensure that it's a special father-son activity. Truth be told, Peter's been drooling over a Wii since they came out and is secretly giddy that I've finally relented on my strict no-game-system attitude (no, my iMac doesn't count thankyouverymuch), cause, you know... it's for the kids.

So there you have it. We're getting a Wii. Four words I swore I'd never write/say. (sigh)

Don't be silly enough to think that we're just going to hand it over though. No siree. Even though we'd already made the decision to buy a Wii, we told Liam that we would get one once he learned how to ride a two-wheeler. Not in a negative-consequence-for-if-you-don't-let-go-of-your-training-wheels kind of way, but as a reward/encouragement/motivator for learned to ride on two wheels. This might seem shocking to some of you who don't parent by way of rewards, but you have to understand that Liam only got a bike near the end of last summer and, up until now, has been very, VERY nervous about even riding up and down our driveway. He lacked confidence, feared falling (ie, failing... what can I say? he's MY SON), and had zero motivation to learn to ride. Even WITH training wheels.

So about a week and a half ago, we sat him down and explained that we knew that riding his bike made him nervous and that he wasn't very excited about practicing. We also explained that, with summer coming, all of his friends would be wanting to ride bikes and we knew he wouldn't want to be left behind. We told him that we knew he'd love it once he figured out how to ride a two-wheeler. We told him we knew he'd do great if he'd just commit to practicing every day. And we told him that, once he'd mastered riding on two wheels, we'd celebrate his effort and determination... by buying a Wii.

Folks, 10 days out and he can speed up, ride, right himself, slow down, and stop. He needs to practice starting and turning, but a few more days and he'll be golden. Ergo my frantic calls to track down an available Wii.

Our plan is to have a scavenger hunt in place of/in addition to an easter egg hunt with the Wii as the treasure.

Liam doesn't know that we were going to buy the Wii regardless. 

I guess he'll find out when he reads this post! *hi grown up Liam*

*Okay, that's a bit sensible since we'll be paying less than $5/bottle for the exact same wine that would cost $28/bottle at the wine store, but this is not something we would have been able to fit into the budget and, hey, it's wine! wine + summer = sangria 'round these parts! yummo!)

**Okay, we initially had decided to get the boys brand new bikes, but then I googled "ottawa used bikes" and found myself dragging the boys down to Bike Dump and spending $30 for a bike for each of the boys... but cmon! Thirty bucks! For two bikes! (*hangs head* I'm such a tightwad) 

P.S. A post without pictures! *shock*


  1. We just payed off all of our debt this year also, and we are very similar with our money. Buying used when we can, not going out on random shopping adventures, spending our money wisely. But we've day dreamt about buying a Wii, yep, sure have. Eventually though, we decided that we'd never own a game system, no matter how much the kids decided to hate us. There are always things around the house to be done, with all of our food allergies. Foods to prepare and freeze, things to get cleaned, gardens to tend to, blah blah blah. Ask me how that plan works out in 5 years though, hahah.

    Good for you guys, for spending money ON YOURSELVES. You deserve to. It takes A LOT of will power to behave the way that you do, saving your money and spending it wisely. So many familys could learn so much from you <3

  2. I think Jonathan and Monika bought theire wii at EBGAMES, but not sure...
    And by the way you can tell Liam than not ALL of his friend have game system..we don't even have a tv! Ha!
    Good for you anyway!

  3. I have such a hard time spending money on anything that is not practical as well, and have only recently learned how to do so. That said, we have had a Wii for awhile (I justified it by saying it was better than TV, and that I could work out on it and save how much money that would otherwise be spent at a gym... and driving to the gym).

    The wii is great! You will all enjoy it! And it does promote a 'family time' of sorts! I hope you find one and have a ball! :)

  4. i love "fun" money. but never really have any. and you haven't seen a tighter tightwade than me! for the next couple of years anything that might be extra will have to go to the ridiculous amount on the line of credit (you don't want to know, but jst think 4 yrs on one salary, school and $800/month in daycare). we want to move in the next 5 yrs and will have to make as much money as we can to move where we want to move (your neck of the woods being one of our possible destinations).

    as for rewards, bribes, what ever you want to call them? i am a HUGE fan! yeah for liam for gaining the confidence and yeah for all of you for the Wii. i'm no gamer, but the wii is a lot of fun and great for the whole fam.

    happy bunnies and chocolate!

  5. We are working on our debt but I expect it will take us a bit longer to get it wittled down. Thanks for the link to the bike dump. D has already outgrown the bike he was given (hand me down) last year and he is growing so fast I just don't have the heart to buy a new one. He will just outgrow it in another year. Your boys will love the Wii, and you will too. There are lots of Mommy friends "games" out there. And I am one kick ass singer on Rock Band! :)

  6. Happy Easter!!!!!!
    Enjoy the Wii. We just got home Friday and I looked at the farm pictures. I love the pictures you got. The wood on the barn and fences really show up. Looks like the boys really enjoyed their day. Glad you got in one of the pictures!! Love, A. Dianne

  7. I'm still stuck on the first bit, that you paid off your line of credit. I won't embarass myself by saying how much our own is, but I will say that we have NOT been as financially responsible as you and after my year-long maternity leave, things are not pretty. We are making the sacrifices now, or at least trying. I'm not good at it. Money was never an issue before kids.

    At any rate, I love your idea of the jar. I think we might pinch that one for our house. I'll look forward to reading about your summer adventures.

  8. Great post! I love to hear about when people pay off debt. That is a fantastic sense of freedom that is as empowering as it is liberating! Yay for being debt free!!!!!!

  9. Good for you for being so responsible about your finances. I don't think there's anything wrong with being frugal. You're teaching your boys valuable lessons about money, that they will take with them forever.

    I hope everyone is enjoying the Wii!

    Hey, we'd like to feature you next Tuesday on BlogTrotting! Can you have a post ready?

  10. A fun cheap outing is the Cumberland Heritage museum. It's right across the ferry in Masson... You can buy a family annual pass for 30$!!!

  11. uh, DUH! you're not a sellout. everyone deserves a treat once in while... especially reaching a goal like this! i think it's great that you're showing the kids the merits of saving/paying debt. :) enjoy the fruits of your labours, mama!!! xoxo


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