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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Retirement Bump -- Low Income in Canada

Even though I have not worked for someone else for over 10 years, my husband has, and for the past 6 years that employment has been 2 part time jobs, because as I said in my previous post, early in 2009 the company he had worked for simply shut down after their second declaration of bankruptcy.  The first time they declared bankrupty in the early '90s they worked through it and continued to operate, but the problems in the US financial system and their poor business practices took them down in 2008...

But, hey, that was almost 7 years ago and we did not loose our house and I have to thank my Parents for that.   Not that they meant to help out, because I am sure they would have let us drown if they had a say.  It was through inheritance from them that saved our bacon!

It was just pure luck...

I had alot of anguish over using money that my parents had worked years and years to accumulate -- using their savings and their home investment just to support me and mine -- but I got over it...   I could discuss for days my feelings about that whole episode, but at this point it just doesn't matter anymore -- other than it caused a major rift between myself and a sibling -- but even that makes no difference in my daily life.

So anyway, onto this topic of low income in Retirement.

In the early 1990's when my father first retired and started to redeem his RRSPs and pensions he discovered something that hurt him financially, it cost him a great deal of money in taxes and in reduced government pensions.   And again, luckily I learned from it.

My parents worked hard, probably harder even than my husband and I have done for all our working lives, but my Mother was the kind of person to look ahead and plan and my father did all the 'right' things to plan for security.  Saving money, being frugal, doing without, putting money into RRSPs.  In fact they did without things so they could contribute to RRSPs...

And you reading this think they did the right thing, don't you?  Well, it turned out not!  

Saving for retirement using RRSPs turns out to be a bad idea for POOR PEOPLE!   Well, to put it very simply if you are low income, you are better off paying the tax on your income as you earn it because essentially the tax is less.   For low income earners you are better off to find other ways to save AFTER TAX income.  Buy Canada Bonds, use your banks GIC's or other Term Deposits and actually try to avoid pension plans unless they are AFTER Tax savings plans.

Now I know you are wondering about that and I can point you to a PAPER written by John Stapleton that is available as a PDF file at this link: Open Policy Ontario

It applys to Low Income Canadians and right off says that advice you hear or get from financial advisers mainly applies to mid to high income earners.   READ THIS PAPER!  If you are in your 40's and just starting to think about retirement saving and both partners in a marriage work but still you earn less than 60,000 a year, READ THIS PAPER!  

If you are past your 40's and still have no RRSPs and are low income, even if you just never got to putting money into those plans you are On the Right Track -- except do save money in other ways as I said earlier...

Now, contrary to advice by the experts I am sure you are wondering why I am telling you to keep away from RRSP's, eh?  (I had to put that "eh" in there just to remind you how CANADIAN this little blog is)

Back to what happened with my Parents and their RRSP contributions and Company Pensions...   Way back in the late 1970's the same thing happened to my Dad as what happened to my husband almost 40 years later.  The company my Dad worked for closed down and he was out of work at age 56!   And still with a pre- teen at home.   Strange how the same kind of things happen over and over!

My parents stuggled their way through it, they sold their house and put the money in high interest savings -- in the early eighties would you believe a bank account was earning 8% or more in GIC's or bonds?  They did the right thing in that case.  But they started to put money into RRSPS while working at low income jobs for 10 years until retirement.   Then it came time to retire....  Would you believe that because they had been so careful and so very frugal that when it came time to apply for their government pensions they were penalized and paid less because they had a good income from their RRSPs?   And of course not only that but as my parents drew the money from the RRSP's they had to pay a much higher rate of taxable income because the tax of course had not been paid on that income 20 years before.

You know how as you grow up, practically at any age, most of the advice you get from your parents is often sluffed off, because you think you know better, or you think times have changed and you know better?   Well, even though my Dad did not specifically tell me his financial troubles, I caught bits of it through the years and I listened and I applied what I learned.

It just seems so backwards to what the financial experts tell us, but because my savings were not in RRSP's (well actually we did have a small RRSP, that is paying out now at $100 a month for 5 years) we have an income higher than the past 5 years of my husband working two part time jobs!

We have got so used to low income that now with government pensions and that funny little extra that they call Guarranteed Income Supplement we are feeling almost RICH...

NOW go half way back up this blog and click on the link I gave you and Read it!  Here is a intro paragraph just to entice you to read and learn more about planning ahead if you are Low Income!

"Most financial advice fails to take into account the availability of the Guaranteed Income Supplement for low-income seniors. People eligible for the GIS need very different financial advice from what is normally heard on the radio, on television, or in magazines and newspapers. Some forms of private savings reduce GIS entitlement, while others do not. Advising a low-income person to save within an RRSP, for example, can be very bad advice. "

Hope this helps -- unless of course you plan to win a lottery very soon, then none of this matters!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Retirement Bump

There are thousands of blogs about quilting and about crochet...

Not so many about Retirement.

Is there such a thing as Retirement for the working poor?  

I have been trying to learn a bit about how retirement affects people -- in this case, ME and my spouse...

In 40+ years of marriage, we have always earned our way, always had jobs, never jobs that 'paid well' though.   Jobs that you learned on the job, or bluff your way though til you got the hang of where to put which box on which shelf, or what kind of truck could handle what kind of load...  Important stuff but stuff that people who want things never notice.  Did you ever think about how the things you buy, got to the place where you bought it?

That's the kind of work my Man did all his working years, load, unload, stack, clean, and then when he was able to call himself a shipper/receiver added to the job was telling which truck where to unload and when...

Did you ever think about the waitress who served you dinner?  When do you think she or he got to have dinner?  Work from 5pm to 1am made it seem like I was a 'stay at home" Mom to my neighbours or to my children's teachers...  I was not.   I did not take a 'daytime' job until my son's were in high school.  I never paid for daycare -- I could not imagine going to work to pay someone else almost as much as I earned, so I raised my own kids everyday, and my husband gave them his time every evening...

And me, I worked as a waitress and bartender until I was in my mid thirties and went back to school and became a specialist in records management and a bookkeeper-- I could file stuff really well in big rich offices of accountants or lawyers and I could enter numbers in categories on computers...  Cleaner work but didn't pay much better than a bartender making good tips...

So, that is the basic background...  I suspect a poor man's retirement will not be too much different than a poor man's working life.

Everything that I read on the internet or in blogs about Retirement is how to manage and use One's investments...  What investments?   Or  travel destinations One might consider...  Disneyland was a dream that drifted away when I was 12 years old and at 62 I have no desire to shake hands with Mickey Mouse or ride a glitzed up fairway roller coaster that costs 40 bucks...  or spend two days wages to see a hockey game...  I have got used to the simple things and the free things

Okay, so now we know that financially most things written about retirement does not apply to the people who worked all their lives in those minimum or barely above minimum paying jobs...

If you have read this far --- here's how you might tell if anything I am saying is of interest to you...  My Man and I think we are quite well off now that our retirement income each month just about touches $2000.

I think there are more people in this 'category' that the TV ads or media of any time really want to let you know about.

I am common.  Very common.   I actually consider myself to be quite lucky considering all the years of living financially on the edge.  I know when i don't need certain things, though every now and then when i have a few extra dollars I easily fall into the trap of wanting something and then discovering after I have it, that is it just another thing and why did I get it?

How about you?  Is retirement something that you planned for financially or are saving for so you can use your free time for the things that the TV ads tell you you should be doing?  Or is your finances just something that is happening and any retirement savings are happening because you company has a pension plan?   Do you look forward to your retirement?

I am going to write every now and then about the things that affect LIFE for US as we progress or maybe I should say PLOD through these years...

ONE thing that I do expect although I can't say I feel that I am guaranteed any security, is that in today's Canada, whatever occurs in this low income retirement section of my life, I don't think I will starve or have to sleep in a tent at the side of a railway track.

Let's see how the week goes, eh!


Monday, February 16, 2015

Where I am...

Ever since I was a child I knew that other places in the world had an image of Canada as a place of ice and snow and often desolation...

I have cousins who live in the southern USA and I remember they came up to where we lived in Winnipeg, Manitoba and one of my cousins kept saying that where we lived looked alot like where they lived!  Mind you, they did visit in August when the wheat fields were all golden and the land and sky just never did end...  Except maybe for a big oak or cottonwood tree off in the distance.

I love where I live.  As a child my home was where my parents were and where they had grown up and where my grandparents grew up and even their parents grew up...  My genetic line has been in Canada for a long time, as far back as the country builders of Canada and some as far back or further than time was counted.   Some leaders and some just hard workers...  But that is a whole other story!

I now live about 100 kms east of the west coast -- in the Central Fraser Valley and rarely is there ice and snow and it is very hard to find a desolate place within driving distance!

I have a very hard time imagining being any other place.

I know that Where I Am is somewhat different than most of the rest of Canada. Here along the west coast we get weather effects brought from the south by the ocean currents and I certainly don't know the technicalities of it but what I do know is that it keeps us in much milder conditions that central or eastern Canada.

On Sunday morning, early I had a couple of errands to run and took along my camera


I was out quite early and a fog was still evident in some of the lower areas of town.   Unlike most other parts of Canada, there is no snow or ice on our streets...


In one of the neighbourhoods it was still very foggy, but again, no ice, no snow.


As the morning progressed and the fog began to lift and the sun touched some of the darker corners of the yards and houses, you could see the sparkle of dew on the grass and branches.  --- BUT no snow...


And even to me, a lovely surprise, when we came around a corner to see a sunny yard, and there, already in bloom was a Rhododendrum with its flowers lapping up the sunshine!

I am sorry that many others in this gigantic country are still struggling with the snow and terribly cold 'wind chill factors' and frozen icy roads and frost bitten noses...  But I love where I live!   I don't need a cruise to the Caribbean or a flight to Hawaii, or even a quick trip down to Vegas...  I have my own yard and neighbourhood to appreciate and love....   

Come visit me any year in Late February and be amazed and wonder why you still live in Winnipeg, or TO or anywhere east of the Rockies...

Mind you, not everybody can live here, there has to be someone left to look after the rest of the country!


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Not at all Dedicated...

Writing used to be fun... Quilting used to be fun... Crochet used to be fun...

As to the writing, now I mostly write by hand in a journal.  Apparently I over react -- well that's what I have been told.  But I don't sneak around or lie or keep secrets.  I talk too much and tend to make a short story long, but I like words so using too many words to say something simple is just what I do.

Oh and how I love quilting and sewing and creating things with colour and shape and movement and just plain making stuff...  But right now, and for almost a year, I have quiltmaker's block!  But I did buy a piece of red sheer something or another fabric the other day at Value Village and plan to make it into a infinity scarf.  I do like red, especially with big polka dots!

And crochet,  well, it doesn't seem to matter how much I enjoy making granny squares or afghans, or sweaters, or any of the many other projects possible...  Cuz, it seems I have developed a "repetitive muscle strain"   my doc doesn't want to call it anything else at this point, but he says I should not pick up or probably not even look at crochet patterns, crochet hooks, or even part done crochet projects for 4 to 6 weeks, then not do crochet for more than about 1/2 hour or so a day until I know if the muscle ache returns with use...

So being a person without a project, without a job, without much of any sort of goal, I am trying to find something to keep myself and my brain occupied.

At this point, I don't particularly like to wander, nor do I have easy access to places other than my street, but I think I will take up walking...   I do not want to have to walk with company tho.   I am afraid that my husband will intrude on my project.  I may have to be blunt and tell him to go away somewhere else and let me go for walks by myself.  I am starting today.

Maybe I will write about my little walk, later today.....

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Inspiration from old Crochet Magazines

Now, after quite a few years of crocheting a variety of projects from afghans to slippers to baskets I must toot my own horn in that I can follow a pattern.  Pattern language changes over the years and there is a difference in the names of stitches or variations of stitches.  I am quite in awe of  someone who took the time to figure out and make sure of the size and what yarns best suit a project but a project from many years back can often do with modernization!

So, now its time for me try my own hand a creating my own designs and ideas translated into useful crochet items...

So I want to take you through my own process here and perhaps you will take on the challenge of the design process...

I have to say this is not a quick process, because sometimes I get to a point in a project and realize I don't particularly like it -- which means I have to choose to either continue and try to find a way to motivate myself -- that is if I haven't made a glaring mistake that is causing the problem -- or to get out my yarn winder and undo what I have done and at the same time, make that yarn into a nice ball so it is available to reuse.

I must say, I am tired of making afghans so I thought I would try my hand at making a child's sweater or jacket.



This particular inspiration photo comes from an old (30 years old) issue of Magic Crochet Magazine.   And as a PLUG for my ETSY shop, I sell Magic Crochet Magazine issues in my shop as I am able to aquire them, so if you would like to check out some of the listings go to https://www.etsy.com/shop/susanbeingsnippy and check out the books and magazines section.

I am not quite sure what attracted me to this project -- perhaps it looked like it would be reasonably easy (Not so MUCH) or because the "hoodie" has become a quintessential part of today's wardrobe.

So far some of the things that I have had to decide when taking on this project but making it my own design is 
1st -- I didn't like the overall double crochet stitch used -- it looks a bit loose and tho warm, the stitch is not pretty and might just be a nuisance with little fingers getting caught up in those spaces between stitches.
2nd -- I prefer a squared front, so that eliminated a few increase rows to make that rounded front bottom
3rd -- yarn, something that is cosy and many of the modern acrylics are very nice.  The other choice with Yarn is weight and 30 years ago, I can't be sure exactly what some of the weights were and how they compare to today's yarns...

Gauge Swatches.

In order to make a decision on what yarn to use I had to try out a few different yarns I had in my stash -- I started with a "sport weight" which just didn't work well to my eyes....  Then I tried out a scrap that only gave me about 4 rows of 20 stitches, but I liked it very much so decided to head on over to Michael's Store to pick up some "Loops and Threads"  IMPECCABLE, which is a nice squooshy medium weight 100% acrylic.   And contrary to the label I decided to use a 4.5mm crochet hook.  

 And lastly with the yarn -- what crochet stitch?   I definately did not like the obvious rows so my first inclination was to go to what I know as the crochet seed stitch.   1 double crochet, 1 single crochet, repeat to end of row, then the next row is 1 single crochet in the previous row double crochet and 1 double crochet in the previous row single crochet....


So that is the overall stitch I am using which I think gives a nice 'nubby' texture and using a smaller hook size makes it a bit tighter cloth.

My notes, so far are quite a scribble and a jumble and nothing at all like the nicely printed instructions from the magazine...



The most important part of the magazine's instructions is the diagram on the page that gives measurements every which way.   So working from the measurements my hand written notes reflect the changes in the number of stitches, the changes in number of rows.

So up to this point, I have finished up the main body of the "hoodie".   The original pattern here has a border that you can see in the photo -- but again I do not plan to run that border all around.  I plan to add a row or two so that buttons and buttonholes can be placed on the front...


I expect to be able to have the sleeves and hood done and added within the next week or so and if anyone might be interested I hope to have the pattern instructions sometime soon,  or perhaps YOU will find a old magazine with a basic pattern that you want to MODERNIZE.

I gotta say, its not the easiest thing to create an EASY pattern!

Then of course the ultimate test is to find a child to put the finished project onto!

And like most crocheters, knitters, quilters or any other crafter I am looking at the next challenge and I think this also from a old magazine -- Mon Tricot 1980 -- is my next!




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2015 -- Start the New Year with Remnants of the Old Year


I had thought I would not be writing or continuing this blog --- but it turns out all I needed was a rest from the idea of regimentation!   So.  I am going to continue this as my main way of keeping a personal/public journal of mostly the arty things that I do.

I was going to diversify and include things like recipes or opinions, but my best area is crafty stuff.  I cook because I have to, not because it inspires art in me -- I find my art in fabric and yarn and paper and paint and pens...   So I will stick with what I most enjoy and am somewhat knowledgeable at and in...

And I will, without feeling guilty, remind you about and tell you about the things in my Etsy shop which is aimed at those who sew and have an interest in sewing in all its forms, from quilts to skirts, to spools of thread and vintage notions and crafting books...


My Etsy store is closed right now so that I can concentrate on Christmasy type things -- even tho I do not give or get gifts as part of Christmas, I still enjoy the lights and decorations, the music and the joy of these end of the year celebrations.

My Etsy store -- also called Susan Being Snippy is being organized and I am adding and changing descriptions and adjusting pricing (sometimes lower!)
My Etsy Store will be back online soon, it not only depends on the Christmas season, but also on the renewal of my passport -- so that I can pick up or mail items to my American customers, too.


My Shop started out with quite a wide range of items but through the last year or so I have narrowed my listings and completely eliminated household goods and handcrafted items.   I really do LOVE to make things and I don't seem to know enough friends and family to give the things I make to, but also I don't feel that I can keep an inventory of specific items -- I just don't like to make the same scarf 20 times, or the same baby quilt a dozen times, so I am going to keep my created things to give as gifts and at the end of each year -- well, near the end, what I have I will donate to various local needs.


Now, besides my shop I have been feeling a bit ARTY, so I am in the process of creating an Art Journal.   My husband has a job that uses an abundance of brown craft paper and he mostly puts it into the recycle bin -- but I can recycle it so I keep a stock of it mainly to use as wrapping for the parcels that I send off from my Etsy Shop.  The brown craft paper has some expected, and unexpected uses...



Number 1 is, if you look back up at the top of this blog post, you will see my cat Walter laying on the most recent stack...  So, a kitty bed.

Number 2 is, as I mentioned is used to wrap goods that are ordered and sent off to customers via the mail system.

Number 3 is, to wrap gifts, big or small and I just pretty up the gift by adding strips of fabric for ribbon or even some of the specialty (sparkly) yarns that I seem to find irresistible at the second hand stores...

Number 4 is (and the last for now) is in the making of small crafty arty journals...  And these I have no idea what to do with, except to enjoy the making of....


I have just barely started on this one - it has 30 pages, so there is a fair amount to fill up with any bits that cross my mind or my desk -- and that takes awhile because I have decided to give this journal (6 inches x 6 inches) a Vintage Sewing theme.   I will be drawing on some of my own vintage items from the store, that don't quite make the grade as a saleable item on its own, but in bits and pieces add quite a nice touch to this little book...

Come back again and check out how this project progresses, I have a piece of leather that I am thinking might just make an interesting cover, and I have a couple of very old hand sewing needle packets that will be just the thing for this theme....

Have a Lovely Christmas, everyone!  Enjoy your family time and those extra few days off from the "Daily Grind"....   Best Wishes ALL....

Oh and BTW, I am linking up today with The Needle and Thread Network...  check it out for a link up of other CANADIAN Crafty Blogs...

PS -- not quite sure why the comment box is not showing up... will be working on trying to find a way to fix that, in the mean time if you clik on the little "g+" I think you can leave a comment there if you have a google profile...

And there it is, comment box has reappeared !