Monthly Goals - August 2012 Recap
1. Fix both dents/scratches on my car.
I got the correct part. It cost $10 more, but at least I got the correct part this time (I ordered straight from NAPA, rather than going through a clueless wrecker).
2. Pressure wash house.
I pressure washed the house. The stuff that poured out from the siding’s crevices was beyond gross. Photo evidence:
The improvement was dramatic. I removed a thick layer of chlorophyll, dirt, and dead bugs. I wasn’t able to get some parts of the second story because I don’t have a ladder. Nevertheless, I got the most visibly dirty areas. If “curb appeal” can truly add or detract 10% from a home’s value, I swear I just added $5 grand. But that’s something a Realtor® would claim and it’s therefore a total lie.
3. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
I definitely ate more vegetables this month (I’m writing this on Friday so, for example, today I ate green beans, carrots, and corn). I noticed, however, that this came at the cost of eating less fruit.
4. Get a couch.
I almost bought a couch this month.
Here’s a picture of the full leather (alas, not reclining) couch at United Furniture Warehouse:
And here’s the same couch in brown leather at The Brick:
It was comfy, had a decent suspension system, and was top grain leather everywhere the body touches (bonded leather and pleather elsewhere). Disadvantages: tough to clean and the foam is only 1.8 density. I negotiated and got UFW to offer it for $650 including taxes and delivery. Not amazing, but good enough. I wanted it in brown, not black, and UFW said that’d be fine… if I was willing to wait at least three weeks. And then she said she couldn’t even guarantee it’d be delivered in three weeks. I found this ridiculous so I walked away.
Each and every day there are thousands of pieces of furniture manufactured in China that will never actually be sold. Someday I’ll find the leather couch that’s right for me. Here are some negotiation tips for furniture buying:
- I checked out prices near the start of August and nobody was interested in negotiating. At the end of the month, the salespeople were ravenous. Note to self: if I ever own a furniture store, end “sales targets” in the middle of the month, not at the end.
- If you can, go in the morning on a Monday or Tuesday. There’s a swarm of salespeople that will descend like locusts because there are no customers. It makes it clear that they’re desperate, not you.
- Act indifferent because, really, you are — if you’re able and willing to walk away (remember, that’s the most important advantage in negotiations!). I walked away from a few salespeople at the beginning of the month when they acted indifferent. Guess who was indifferent after a month of anemic August sales (especially since the normally spendthrift teachers were worried and spent less this summer)? The slovenly man-child on paternity leave, or the commission-less furniture shiller in a cheap suit?
- I love talking really slowly and leaving awkward gaps in conversations with salespeople. Answer questions cryptically. When they come to you (always let them come to you), make sure you’re looking at bad pieces of furniture. Then, when they ask ridiculously presumptuous high-pressure questions like “When do you want this piece of furniture in your house?” respond “Never. Can you show me something nicer and more affordable?”
5. Get my passport renewed, and get a passport for Cat.
In August, I said I was grossly displeased with the cost of passport photos. I gave up hope of getting Cat’s passport or my renewed passport in the near future. Soon thereafter, I found out that Shopper’s Drug Mart offers photos for $10.99 plus tax. Still expensive, but they guaranteed the photo will be approved (or they’d take more pictures or refund the cost). It was a fun trip, because three employees hung around and gushed about how adorable Cat is. I sent in the photos and forms and I’ve already received my new passport (surprisingly good show, Passport Canada).
6. Save $2500.
Done with flying colours (August was a three-pay month!).
7. See The Dark Knight in theater.
We did, it was OK. Entertaining, but not a truly great film. As I demanded to know on Twitter: why did Bane sound like an awful Sean Connery impression? I kept expecting him to say, “Your mother, Trebek.”
Monthly Goals for September 2012:
1. Attend CPFC12 (Canadian Personal Finance Conference 2012).
I’m going to CPFC12. I suppose the undisciplined spending of money isn’t much of a goal, but at least it’s deductible. Also, booking at the Marriott took a good chunk of my time on the weekend. I see the conference is right at St. Andrew’s station, which is only three stops south of my subway station for work. I also need to get down to TO to pick up my new orthotic shoes (sandals, if you were wondering — just in time for the winter), as well as my partner’s. This will obviously be the perfect opportunity as my chiropodist is at St. Pat’s station which is in between my hotel and the conference — you see, there’s a method to my madness.
2. Save $2500.
My last “topped-up” pay periods are this month. After September, I’ll sadly be unable to save $2500 a month, so I’m definitely going to do it again while it’s still possible.
3. Continue the crusade to find an affordable (and actually deliverable) leather couch.
I’d prefer it to be reclining, although that increasingly seems like a pipe dream unless I’m willing to buy used. At least I know I’m not crazy to expect a top grain leather couch (with decent specs) for less than $700 delivered. And I’m also more confident that all the people on Kijiji who are demanding $800 “firm” for their leather couches are straight-up idiots.
4. Continue eating more vegetables and walking.
I’ve made tangible progress on both fronts since I went on parental leave. But I need to “step up” my walking game again because I made a lot of excuses in August. Also, I ate more vegetables, but I should try to balance this consumption with a bit more fruit.
5. Pound out the car dent.
6. Run a blog contest.
When I ran the TurboTax contest, I had about 100 comments in one week which I thoroughly enjoyed. I have a line on a cool prize; I think I’ll add some things to it and announce the contest sometime in September.
7. Deal with basement moisture, part II.
So, because of a plumbing issue, water continues to appear in the basement. It now disappears quickly because of my dehumidifier, but it leaves a lot of salt on the concrete (luckily, this reveals the stage of water purification at which the leak is occurring!). I am going to contact the plumber in September and hopefully get this resolved.