Saturday, October 31, 2015

Quicken Discovery

I have been using Quicken for my personal finances for about 20 years now. For travel, I have always used a general 'Cash' account to track cash spending using the same account for whichever country I am in, converting the currency I am using to CAN with every transaction. I estimate the amounts and once every week or two I reconcile what I have in my pocket with what Quicken says I should have. It is always within a few dollars so I just change a large cash purchase (usually groceries or dining) to make it balance. Close enough.

Yesterday I was playing in the Google sandbox and discovered Quicken offers multi-currency support! I set up two new accounts, 'Cash (US Dollar)' and 'Cash (MX Peso)', told quicken which currency I wanted to use in each and presto! Quicken communicated with the MotherShip for the current exchange rate and is now tracking my spending in the currency of each country at the appropriate exchange rate! When I ask for a report, on say, how much I have spent on gas, it converts the amounts back to CAN dollars within the report. I will still have to do a reconciliation once in a while but it should be pennies (pesos) instead of dollars. Life is Better!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Starting Off Glitches

I was checking out the motorhome today to make sure it is ready to go next weekend and a couple of problems showed up.

The fridge does not want to work on gas. It runs for a few minutes and then the 'check' light comes on. I have tried it several times and the same thing every time. It works fine on electric. The furnace is the other thing. Sometimes it clicks like it is trying but shuts down immediately. I know I have gas because 1) it shows full, 2) the range burners work and 3) the hot water tank works on gas. Both items worked when we parked the rig in April.

These are two of the things I do not have the expertise to work on myself so I made an appointment at the local RV repair place for Tuesday morning. A very similar scenario happened a couple of years ago when the fridge and hot water tank would not work on gas. However that time everything repaired itself just by driving down to the repair shop. I got there and tried to show the guy that neither appliance worked and what do you know! They both fired right up and stayed on. You can't fix what ain't broken so that was that.

Monday would probably have been a better day but we have an appointment with the house sitter to show her around and we have to go down and but the motorhome insurance. Then I have to maneuver the rig out of it's parking place and aim it down the driveway.

I am not too stressed about this. Everything else works!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The High US Dollar Is Hurting!

I am just booking my Mexican vehicle insurance. My friend Rae found a company in Nogales where she got a good deal. I checked out their prices but they are only a couple of dollars less than San Xavier where we always get ours and where we have had two claims and great service. We will stay with them. The last time we bought Mexican Insurance was in 2012 and cost in US which converted to $740 CA for six months coverage. This time it will be $920 CA, almost $200 more, mostly because of the inflated US dollar. One nice thing about living in BC is we get a refund on our Canadian vehicle insurance for the time we are out of their jurisdiction. This refund will cover the cost of the Mexican insurance but we will not get the credit until after we get home.

I still have to call about Travel Medical Insurance and I am not looking forward to this call. We paid $3,500 Canadian last year for six months but we are both a year older and may be penalized for this, Getting old sucks. In Canada this cost is tax deductible as a medical expense.

I am waiting for a money transfer before I commit myself on either of these. I had to dip into the 'Rainy Day Fund' one last time before I converted to a RRIF as I also have a $5,000 CA dental bill as soon as we get to Yuma and Algodones, Mexico on November 16.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Chow Down

It's my suet! No it's not, it's mine! No it's not!

Saturday, October 24, 2015


To the frustration of many of our RVing friends, we do not make set plans. People ask us, when will you be in such and such city. The fact is, we never know, even when the date gets close we may decide to stay another day or week where we are or we may decide to take a different route entirely at the last minute. This is the way we travel. We have friends who know down to the day and hour when they will be arriving somewhere and this fine tuning of plans allows them to make reservations, something else we have never done.

This year we will enter the US via the Victoria - Port Angeles ferry and make our way to Yuma, AZ. I have a dental appointment on November 16 in Algodones, Mexico where the part 2 (of three) of my implant - bridge work will be done. I called and confirmed this as I was under the impression they were going to complete all the work in November but no, I have to go back one more time as early as June 1 but I will probably wait until November 2016 and do it on the way south again. The cost will therefore be split over three winters which is a financial bonus. The cost in US dollars will be, $2,450 plus $3,780 plus $1,950. Again this is in US and the total is $8,180 US. I paid the first payment when the Canadian dollar was higher but this years payment will be with 77 cent dollars and will translate to over $5,000 Canadian. Ouch! Still a bargain when compared to what the same work would cost done in Canada or the US.

We will park the motorhome either in the casino parking lot at the Algodones turnoff on I-8 or at the Sleepy Hollow RV Park near the US - MX border crossing. We will be staying at the clinic owned hotel in Algodones during the three or four days of my treatment to avoid waiting at the border every day. We will also buy our Mexico Tourist Visas at the immigration office in Algodones. This will save time and inconvenience later.

After the dental work we will head west on I-8 to Tecate where we will cross into Mexico. This will probably be done early on the morning of November 21st or, if we decide to wait until after the weekend, the 23rd. This will be a late start into Mexico but the plan is to stay on Baja so it will give us lots of time.

As usual, this is all subject to last minute change! Stay tuned.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Hurricane Patricia

Hurricane Patricia will be hitting Manzanillo, Mexico sometime later today. This is on the west coast just south of Puerto Vallarta and will be carrying winds of 245 MPH! This is the strongest hurricane ever recorded and it's winds are currently strong enough to level concrete buildings!

Steve, a Blogger I follow lives there and as far as I know is staying to ride it out! You can check out his blog here.

10/23/15 Friday, 05:00AM MDT Hurricane Patricia is roaring toward the southern coast of mainland Mexico and is expected to make landfall somewhere near Manzanillo late today. Patricia is now a killer Category 5 Hurricane and expected to further intensify by the time of landfall. Patricia has a current barometric reading of 880Mb, making it the 5th deepest tropical cyclone barometric reading and has become the record holder of the strongest sustained winds of a tropical cyclone anywhere. This system will have the potential to level concrete block buildings on landfall. Coastal storm surge and extreme surf will destroy all coastal installations. We recommend if you are within the projected path cone of approaching Patricia you abandon property and seek shelter 50-75 miles away immediately. Patricia is forecast to still be a Tropical Storm well inland when affecting the third largest population center in Mexico, Guadalajara. For those in the storms path who believe they have weathered hurricanes before, this will be like nothing anyone in this hemisphere has ever experienced and has the potential to be a terrain altering event.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Canada Election Part II

Some of my commenters on both the Blog and on Facebook might want to watch this little video. Reminder, the Black Cats and the White Cats are actually our Conservatives and Liberals.

Mouseland, narrated by Tommy Douglas, founder of the CCF/NDP.

I Have Been Avoiding...

I have been avoiding saying anything about the recent Canadian Election. I have been suffering from mixed feelings that I am having trouble putting into words. But here goes.

First I am very happy about what happened in our own riding, North Island - Powell River where my candidate Rachael Blaney of the NDP was elected. In fact all the Vancouver Island seats went NDP with the exception of Sannich - Gulf Islands which went to Elizabeth May and her Green Party. This was the only win across Canada for the Greens whom I don't like because although they are good on environmental issues they are terrible on economic issues and end up supporting the Conservatives more often than not.

Harper and his Conservatives had to go, there was no question about that. He has always been a war monger, taking Canada from it's traditional peacekeeping status to that of a participant in ground and air warfare. Canadians were fed up with that as unlike the US, our economy and 'national pride' does not depend on continuous wars. The other thing he did which was totally repugnant to Canadians was to hire a 'consultant' from Australia who introduced Islamaphobia and hatred of Muslims into the campaign. This action turned my and most other Canadian's stomachs.

His introduction of his "anti-terror' Bill C-51 as well as his hotline to report neighbours conducting 'un-Canadian' activities was unpalatable and designed to separate Canadians into what he called "Old Stock" Canadians and 'foreigners' who in his opinion have no business here. He also actively supported the Trans Pacific Partnership Free Trade Deal which will take thousands of Canadian jobs. These are just some of the issues that wrote Harper's ticket out of town.

So... the options. There was a huge push to elect the "Liberals", who also support Bill C-51 and the TPP Free Trade Deal. I use quotation marks because Canada's Liberals are anything but liberal. They are just another right wing party that has become very good at hiding their true agenda. They campaign from the left and govern from the right. With a Conservative you know what you are getting. He looks you right in the eye and says he is going to screw you and that is exactly what he does, screws you. No surprises, you get what you vote for. A "Liberal" on the other hand will look you right in the eye and tell you he is your friend and as soon as you elect him, he screws you. So that is what we have for the next four years, a Liberal government. Will they prove to be better than the Conservatives? Maybe but only because no one could be worse.

My party, the NDP started out high in the polls as Canadians turned to a government as far away from the Conservatives as possible. Then the Liberal machine started their fear tactics of "if you don't vote Liberal you will end up with Harper again". They accomplished this with their Strategic Voting campaign which took hundreds of thousands of votes away from NDP candidates (many were incumbents) and shifted them to the Liberals. One pollster estimated that 6% of Canadians fell for this fear tactic. The result was a huge majority for the Liberals and the NDP falling into third place behind the Conservatives. A sad situation for those of us who have spent our entire adult lives working for this Democratic Socialist Party.

But as Party Founder Tommy Douglas, quoting Andrew Barton often said,

'I am hurt but I am not slain.
I'll lay me down and bleed awhile,
Then I'll rise and fight again.'

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Putting The Flower Garden To Bed

Here is Norma and her lawn boy, Beau, cutting back the rose bushes. I took the photo from the safety of the TV room while they were working outside.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


Canadians must convert all their RRSP's (deferred tax savings) into a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) on or before the year in which they turn 71. For me that is 2016!

This will mean turning my "Rainy Day Fund" into an income fund (different than a locked in annuity) that I have some control over. There is a minimum amount that I must take out every year but I can request more if I want it. All money that comes out is taxable income in that year but is considered pension income and is eligible for Pension Income Splitting with your spouse. The amounts increase annually for a number of years and then start to decrease until it is used up by the time they expect me to die at age 99. This is all dependent on what the fund earns going forward so the figures are just a guess and will be readjusted at every payout.

This payment can be taken as a lump sum once a year or can be divided into 12 equal payments throughout the year. Either way, in the end this will increase my annual income by more than I need. But then, it can be used to pay for stuff I was dipping into the fund for anyway so it will not make any huge differences in our lifestyle. I will take it as a lump sum every April starting in 2016. Just another meeting I have to go to before we leave!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Rant

We decided to take advantage of early voting to avoid 1) the rush on Election day and 2) the distinct chance the Conservative government will come up with a way to keep us from voting.

We arrived at the Early Voting station at about 2:45 and not only was the building full but there was a lineup of about 100 people outside. It took us almost an hour to get inside the door and another half hour or so to get to our table. I have known the poll clerk for over twenty five years but she still asked for my ID. I guess because she knew me I only had to show my Voter Information card and drivers license with my photo although the guy at the door said to have our information card and two pieces of ID ready. The whole process took almost an hour and a half. While we were in line I noticed two people walk up, say "to hell with this" and walk away.

This is how you discourage voters. The good news however was the guy at the door who we sort of know who told us there were many more young people turning up than they expected. Hopefully this is all bad news for Harper and his gang of Conservatives. People do not show up to support a government, they show up to defeat it. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Is It Just Me Or What?

We got audited for our income taxes! This is the second one we have had and like last time it is for claimed medical expenses. Come on, we are 70 and 73 years old, expenses are bound to go up!

The big item was our travel medical insurance at $3,500 with the rest of our claim being my prescription drugs and a dental bill for Norma as well as a pair of glasses Norma was forced to buy here in Canada. Total medical deduction was around $7,000.

I dug out our tax file and found all the receipts. Now we have to write a bunch of information on each of them and send them in. Everything balances, no worries, we will avoid jail time.

The last time it happened was when Norma had her $40,000 dental implants done and they wanted all the receipts as well as a letter from the dentist saying why it was necessary to travel to Victoria about ten times for treatment and why we had to stay in a hotel each time (deductible expenses). That year took a lot longer to organize the receipts and letters but it sort of served them right as we found a receipt we had not claimed for so we ended up getting a cheque from them as a result of the audit. No such luck this time as everything balanced.

Friday, October 2, 2015

45 Years

Where did they go? It was Brooks' birthday yesterday so we drove down to their place at Shawnigan Lake for a quick visit and to take Brooks and LindaLee out for dinner. LindaLee made reservations at Bridgeman's Bistro in Mill Bay and we got a seat right on the water. Dinner was great and the company the best!