Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

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Happy 4th condo-versary to me!

Hey remember that time I bought a condo? Would you believe that was FOUR years ago? Where does the time go?

My mortgage broker sent me an (automated, I’m sure) “happy anniversary of having bought your condo” email, which is what reminded me that tomorrow is 4 years since I took possession of my humble abode. So I looked at my trusty mortgage countdown spreadsheet (because of course I have a spreadsheet) and according to my calculations, I have paid off 53% of my mortgage principal in 4 years. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. Of course, I ridiculously lucked out when I bought this place – the price was very good1, plus I have a few different source of income in addition to my day job, so I have had the luxury of being able to make lump sum payments. Also, I’ve had very little in the way of additional expenses, as my unit has been very well taken care of and the strata does an excellent job of maintaining the building.

Given that the Greater Vancouver real estate market continued to rise at an insane rate since I bought, I’m actually in the position where I own an even bigger proportion of the place than I would otherwise. When I bought the place, I made a 25% downpayment, meaning the bank technically owned 75% of my place. If the price of the place had stayed the same over the past four years, I would now own 65% of my place and the bank would own 35%. But since the value of the place has gone up, I now own 77% of the place if we use the most recent assessed value (which is what the province assessed my place as being worth as of July 1, 2017). If we use the average amount that units in my building that are identical to mine have sold for in the past few months2 (assuming that I could sell my place for that price), I currently own a whopping 82% of my place and the bank owns a mere 18%. It’s a weird situation – I like to remind myself that the “value” of my place is really all just theoretical given that I’m not planning to sell anytime soon. But it does give me the opportunity to do some fun math! #nerdery

Anyway, my next hurdle is that I’ll have to renegotiate my mortgage next year, as my mortgage was a 5 year term. The interest rates are higher now than they were 4 years ago, so I’ll have to pay a higher interest rate. Boo-urns. I guess I have a year to figure out how all that works.

  1. In the context of the time and place in which I bought it. It was an absolutely insane price if you compare it to just about anywhere else in the world. []
  2. Which is almost double what I paid. []

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How Much A University Sessional Instructor Gets Paid vs. How Much They Work

As you may recall from all my complaining about how busy I was last semester, I was teaching a new (to me) university course. Teaching a course that you’ve never taught before is an *insane* amount of work, because you have to:

  • develop the course itself – what are the learning objectives? what’s the scope of the material you will cover?
  • create the assignments
  • create grading rubrics so you know how you will grade the assignments and can share that with your students1
  • create your lecture notes
  • create the slides to go with your lecture notes
  • create in-class activities to make the learning more active

And that’s all (ideally) before classes even start2! Once classes start you do things like:

  • teach your class (for 3 hours per week in this case)
  • mark all the assignments3
  • tweak lecture material4
  • arrange some guest speakers on a topic of interest to the class5
  • hold office hours to answer students’ questions6

Because I’m a nerd – and also a bit of a glutton for punishment – I decided to see just how much work it was to teach this course that I’d never taught before. I tracked my hours using Time Edition, just like I did for the hours I spent working on my MBA.

Here’s how much time I spent on the course:

Activity Time Spent (in hours)
Teaching in class 36.0
Planning (creating syllabus, developing assignments & rubrics, developing lecture materials, etc.) 116.9
Communicating with Students (email, office hours) 7.9
Marking 33.6
Total 192.4

That work was happened between the end of June 2015, when I was offered the sessional instructor position to teach the class, until early December 2015, when I finished marking the student’s final assignments. Here’s what the break down of hours looked like by month:

Hours spent teaching a new course

However.

As a sessional instructor, I’m not actually paid until the course starts7. And even then I’m only paid, in this case, for 5.5 hours per week8. The semester is 13 weeks long, which means that I was paid for 71.5 hours, when I actually worked 192.4 hours. Put another way, I worked 122.9 unpaid hours or nearly 4x more hours than I was paid for.

Now, I went into the course knowing that I’d end up doing a lot more work than I’d be paid for, but it’s a little bit shocking to see just how much that ended up being.

  1. I made a mistake this past semester where I put the grading rubric on the end of the Word document that contained the assignment instructions, but when I pdf’d the file, it cut off the rubric (it seems that because the rubric were on pages in landscape instead of portrait orientation, the program I was using decided to not include it in the pdf), so the students didn’t actually get to see the rubric before they handed in the first assignment! Lesson learned for me – always check the whole file after you pdf something! []
  2. I say “ideally” because I didn’t have all my lecture materials created before the course started. This meant I was creating some of my lecture material during the semester, while I was teaching. I knew what I was going to cover before classes started, but hadn’t written it all up as lecture notes or made all my slides []
  3. Unless you have a teaching assistant. Which I did not. []
  4. for example, if something exciting happens in the news related to your topic that you want to share with the class, or you happen to read something new related to your topic, or students ask you some really excellent questions one week and you do some research to provide them with answers the next week []
  5. In my case, my students had lots of great questions about being an external evaluator, but since I’ve only ever been an internal evaluator, I decided to bring in a few people I know who work as external evaluators as they could give much better answers to those questions than I could. []
  6. In my case, I arranged to meet some students via Skype like a sort of “virtual” office hour, since I was only ever on campus for class. []
  7. In fact, I had to go through a lot of hoop jumping just to get access to the library in order to do my unpaid preparatory work – when I went to the library they told me that I’m not an instructor until the course starts and looked at me like I was crazy when I suggested that I needed to plan my course before the first day of classes. []
  8. 3 hours of teaching and 2.5 hours of work outside the classroom – preparation, office hours, emailing with students, marking, etc. []

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I Bought A Condo!

mega monopoly has skyscrapers

Here’s a photo of my condo building – it’s the tall one, second from the front. All of the red buildings are wedding dress shops1.

A few weeks ago, my friend Kim came over for dinner. On her way in, she saw a realtor who was waiting for a client who had an appointment to look at  a condo that was up for sale in my building. She came in and said, “Your exact apartment is for sale on the 10th floor. Why aren’t you buying it??” And then she told me the price. And the price seemed too good. My first thought was “omg, what’s wrong with my building? Why is this apartment so cheap?” I should note here that “cheap” is relative. Housing prices in Greater Vancouver are insane and though New Westminster, where I live, is cheaper than Vancouver (or even Burnaby), this price seemed quite good, even for New West. So I went and looked at it and though it was a little weird looking at an apartment that has the exact same layout as mine, there were a few things that made it nicer – better appliances2 and laminate floors3, for example – so I wasn’t looking at an *exact* copy of my place – but pretty close! And then I called a realtor to have her look into the building for me and I talked to a friend of a friend who is on strata4 in the building and everything checked out. And I crunched some numbers and found that mortgage, strata fees, and property tax will be significantly less than my rent. And I realized that I really like my apartment, I like my building, I like New West. And I don’t have plans on going anywhere else. So I put in an offer. And after some negotiation and some due diligence5 ,6 I am now about to be the proud owner of my very own condo – closing on June 23, possession on June 24.

Ok, technically I am going to be the proud owner of 25% of a condo, with the mortgage company7 owning the other 75% of the place but allowing me to live there in exchange for me paying them off for the next 22.27 years8  ).

Monopoly

The mortgage company.

In related news, Watson & Crick are over the moon with all the cardboard boxes that I’ve been bringing home. Moving is a kitty paradise. Until the actual day of moving, when they’ll be trapped in a room as movers make a bunch of noise in the other rooms. I suspect that will drive them crazy.

Cats and boxes

Cat heaven.

Image Credits:

Footnotes:

  1. New West joke! []
  2. My current place has the crappy appliances you put in an apartment for a renter []
  3. Mine has crappy carpet that you put in an apartment for a renter []
  4. For my non-BC readers “strata council” or just “strata” is what we call the condo board in BC. []
  5. Home inspection, reading two years worth of strata minutes and strata bylaws and other such fun things. And I have to say, having done the MBA made reading all this stuff way easier, as I could understand all strata financial statements, which I wouldn’t have known how to do before. []
  6. I really wanted to put in the contract that the offer was subject to the approval of my cats and then to bring the cats up to the unit and let them roam around and then say “Yes, they seem to approve. I’ll take it!” But I figured that might not be very professional. []
  7. Hey, remember when the RBC mortgage calculator told me that I was only eligible for a mortgage of between $69-$71 dollars? []
  8. It’s a 25 year amortization on my mortgage, but I’m doing accelerated bi-weekly payments, which immediately drops me down to 22.27 years (based on my current interest rate, anyway) (or less  ((I’m planning on less. I paid my student loans off in record time by making lump sum payments any time I made a little extra money and raising my monthly payments every time I got a raise. I’m planning to do the same thing with my mortgage and my mortgage broker found me a mortgage with a great interest rate that has the flexibility to do that. []

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Do You Have A Financial Guy?

Money

So, remember that time I paid off my student loans? I do, because it was the best day ever in the history of ever. Well, that was back in early April and it means that now, at the end of every month, I am finding myself the proud owner of $1,800 that used to just tragically disappear from my bank account. I actually have my paycheque set up so that a (very large) portion of it goes to a completely separate account (instead of my main chequing account) and from which automatic payments were drawn every month to pay my student loans. It made me feel better to not have to see that money go into my chequing account and then disappear – I was able to pretend that I just made a lot less money than I do. But now that money goes into that separate account, but it doesn’t get taken out!

So now I’m faced with the very First World Problem of what to do with that money. Well, actually, not *now* as I’m also faced with the very, very First World Problem that my scholarship is being doled out to me at a slower rate than my tuition fees are coming due1, so I’m having to front the money to pay tuition (and thus it’s very fortuitous that this money has been liberated right now). But shortly my scholarship income should catch up to my tuition fee output and *then* I’ll really need to figure out something to do with this cash.

Calculator and MoneyWith all this in mind, I decided that it was time to talk to a financial planner. Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m a total delinquent with my money. I’m contributing to pensions and RRSP and TFSA and saving for my 40th birthday trip extravaganza 2. But I think I need to sit down with someone to look at my whole financial picture and do some long-term planning.

My friend Martha recommended her financial guy and I went and met with him this week. He seemed pretty good, but he suggested that I should probably meet with a few financial planners to see who would be the best fit for me3. So I’m wondering if anyone has any recommendations for financial planners?

Image Credit: All the images in this posting were posted on Flickr by 401K with a Creative Commons license. I kind of love this person’s photos!

  1. Which is a subject for a whole other blog posting. []
  2. For which you only have 1,694 days left to save if you are planning to come with me, by the way! []
  3. Which, funnily enough, gives me more confidence in him! []

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Since Five Years Is A Long Time To Not Be A Student

Hey, remember that time I said that a government agency wants to give me bucketloads of money so that I can get an MBA and that I needed to write the GMAT and then apply to the program and then hopefully I’d actually get in so I can have the aforementioned bucketloads of money? Yeah, that all happened. Schools starts for me in January.

Now, before you all going telling me (again) that I’m a Crazyface McGee, it’s merely an intensive 28-month, part-time program that I’ll do while still working full-time and that costs $41K+. You may now all call me crazy. But only half crazy, really, because of the aforementioned bucketloads of money.

Stack O'Money!
Not the actual pile of money I’ll be getting. Mine will be Canadian.

After the crushing level of student debt I incurred to get my first three degrees, I swore I’d never borrow another penny for education again, but when I found out about the scholarship to do an MBA, it was really too good of an opportunity to pass up. Especially given that I actually won the scholarship!

I just found out about my offer of admission last week, celebrated on Friday with a fine wine and a three-year-old cheese, both of which I picked up in Oregon in the summer and have been saving for just such a momentous occasion, and paid my tuition fee deposit yesterday. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what this time commitment will mean for my life and a lot of planning of how I’ll get myself organized to juggle my life, work, and school, but the reality of the situation is really starting to sink in now. Expect some think-y blog postings about such topics over the next little while – please bear with me! Or, you know, tell me I’m crazy.

Image Credit: Posted by docwonder on Flickr.

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$65

Two of the items on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days are:

56. save $500 in coins

57. deposit that $500 worth of coins into my 40th birthday savings account

I hit a bit of a snag in this plan in that when I moved last year, I moved into a place with no laundry facilities, so I had to start going to the dreaded laundromat, meaning that I needed my loonies and quarters for laundry. When you take loonies and quarters out of the mix, it really becomes difficult to save up much in the way of coins! But I decided to roll up all the dimes, nickels and pennies that I had in my coin jar, just to see what I had:

Rolled coins

That’s $65 worth of coinage, which, while not $500, isn’t too terrible.

The next step was to deposit this money into my 40th birthday savings account. But, as we all know, I decided to divert my 40th birthday savings account money into my dreaded students loans in my valiant attempt to be able to throw a “my student loan debt is all paid off” party by the end of next summer. So that $65 went to student loan paying-off-ness.

$65 closer to freedom.

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Student Loans – Update and a Plan

vipezz 153As you may have seen my complain about from time to time here on NTBTWK, I wracked up a crazy amount of student debt while going through school. $71,504 to be exact. Now, when you consider that I was in post-secondary education for 11 years, it’s not actually that much – a mere $6,500 per year on average1 or $5,500 per letter I get to put after my name. And, as you’ve also seen me talk about here from time to time, I’m paying off my student loans as aggressively as I can, while still trying to have some sort of balance in my life2. I’m making sacrifices – not doing nearly as much travel as I would like, and renting a place in Surrey, where it’s much cheaper than Vancouver – as I’m putting the money I’m not spending on those things towards my student loans instead. The sooner I get them paid off, the sooner I don’t have to make giant student loan payments every month. Short-term pain for long-term gain, right?

Well, I did some number crunching on the weekend and I think I have a plan in place that means that I can have my student loans paid off by the end of next summer! When I first started paying off my loans, the loans were set up such that it would take me 9.5 years to pay off. That was April 2007, which means I was scheduled to have them paid off by October 2016! A combination of falling interest rates and me putting extra money that I have made towards the loans sure looks like it’s paying off!

At the moment, I have $24,000 left to pay. I currently pay $1,400 per month, meaning that I’ll pay $16,800 in a year. This, of course, leaves $7,200, plus all the interest on my balance3, unaccounted for, if I wanted to have my student loans paid off in a year. Fortunately, I have a some contract work that I’m doing and I figure that I can put all of the after-tax amount I make onto my students loans. But even that isn’t quite enough, so I’ve decided to do something drastic.

Ages ago, I started saving for a trip for my 40th birthday. Every two weeks, ~$25 is automatically transferred into a separate account that I’ve been using to save up for this trip. The idea, of course, is that you don’t really even notice $25 missing and then all this money piles up. Well, I can verify that such a system works, as I really have mostly forgotten that that money was sitting there. Until, that is, I realized how close I was to being within a year of my student loan freedom date, and then, all of the sudden, I noticed this $2,700 sitting in my birthday trip account that looked like something that I could really put to better use. I mean, I’m still a good 5.5 years away from my 40th birthday – that’s plenty of time to save! So I made the executive decision that I will take that $2,700 and I will give it to the student loan peeps and I will be that much closer to having this student loan monkey off my back. And then we will party.

Image Credit: Posted by vipez on Flickr.

  1. And that’s pretty much tuition fees and books most years. Jobs and scholarships were added into the mix so I could do things like eat food and not be homeless. []
  2. Some money to student loans, some money for laser eye surgery. Some money to student loans, some money for braces. []
  3. Interest on my student loans is currently 5.5%, except for a small chunk that is 4.5% []

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Student Loan Update

IMG_1005So, I made a really big lump sum payment on my student loans this month. Combining my tax return along with the amount of money I made from teaching two courses (after I used some of it to pay for my braces) meant I could make a $9,000 payment on my student loans. $9,000! Making the amount that I currently owe on my student loans a mere $26,500!

This puts me well within reach of achieving my goal of cutting my student loans in half by the end of 2011 compared to the end of 2010 – i.e., reaching the $20,000 mark (compared to the $40,000 I owed at the end of 2010). Also, since I got a raise, I upped my monthly payments to $1300/month.

Man, when I finally get these suckers paid off I am going to throw one hell of a kickass party!

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Uninformed Consent

So I got this letter from my credit card company yesterday:

IMGP1682

Click photo to embiggenate

Since I’m so awesome at paying my credit card off every month, they want to up my credit limit. Now, based on new laws, they can’t just jack up the limit without you noticing anymore; they have to ask your permission and if you don’t respond, they have to take that as a “no, don’t increase my credit limit” – both of which are definitely a good things. But what I find troubling is that if I fill out this form and sign it, it would be my “approval to accept this credit limit increase offer.” This credit limit increase of an unspecified amount!

I’m assuming that their argument would be that they need the updated information on my income to know how much they are going to increase my credit limit by, but if that’s the case, then I think they should ask for that information first and then tell me how much they want to up my credit limit before asking me to consent to the increase. I mean, I thought that the point of the law requiring credit card companies to ask people’s permission before upping their credit limit was to prevent credit card companies from increasing limits beyond what people can really afford without their knowledge. To me, asking for my approval to “accept” a credit limit increase of some unspecified amount does not fit within the spirit of this law.

Am I off-base on this?

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Vegetarian Marshmallows!!!!!

Beth can’t come to the blog right now because she’s in a sugar coma, having discovered a store in Surrey that sells vegetarian marshmallows. Let me repeat that: Beth found a store that sells freaking vegetarian freaking marsh- freaking -mallows!!

Day 115

For the uninitiated, you may want to read the blog posted entitled “The Tale of the “Vegetarian” Marshmallow” for the 411 on why the finding of vegetarian marshmallows is so important!

Anyway, Beth found said marshmallows at The Organic Grocer, a little store that is located about 30 seconds from her office. To which she has been many times and never ever ever ever noticed that they sold pure heaven in vegetarian marshmallow form. She was actually there on a hunt for vanilla beans, since Surrey, in addition to hating peanuts, hates bulk food stores. Seriously, a city of nearly half a million people, and no bulk food stores? What gives, Surrey? Anyway, she went to the Organic Grocer to find her some vanilla beans and much to her delight, she found the vanilla beans AND the veggie marshmallows!

And to add the cherry on top, Beth also got an email notifying her that she could have an ING Thrive chequing account! Which made it funny when her landlord dropped off her mail and the PC Financial cheques she’d ordered in August finally arrived – just in time for her to not want them anymore, because she’s going to go with the ING Chequing account instead!

Also, she started the first day of her 30 days of hot yoga from her Groupon. All in all, it was double rainbows all the way today. All the way.