My Birthday! 
Today is my birthday.

Dinner was freakin' AWESOME!!!



And yes... it was every bit as good as it looks and I ate the whole thing.

Happy birthday to me. :D


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Get Well Soon, Travis Pastrana! 
Crap. I was really looking forward to Travis' debut tomorrow in the Nationwide series at IRP, but now it appears that he's broken.

I don't expect anyone would want to make their first major stock car race with a broken ankle, so I suspect he'll delay his start. It's too bad. He's quite the character and NASCAR will do well to have him involved.

Here's hoping he recovers soon and can be back in the spotlight sooner rather than later.

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Amy Winehouse is Dead 
So... who didn't see this one coming?

Let this be a warning sign, Lindsay Lohan!

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Way to go, Mavericks!!! 
I suddenly feel like a Dallas Mavericks fan. I mean, their wacky owner is living the dream, so why shouldn't they be the ones to put a stop to the idiocy that is the Miami Heat?

I'm no basketball fan, but I do know that what they've done in Miami is an insult to the game, so I'm as happy as everyone else that they didn't win the championship.

Looks like karma still has some legs under it.

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A Bit of Mortgage Advice 
I entered a contest on moneyville.ca by writing a blog entry with some financial advice.

They didn't like it enough to put me in the final five, but I'd hate for nobody to ever read it. It took some effort to pare it down to (EXACTLY!) 500 words, so it would be a shame for that effort to be in vane.

So I'll post it here. Now 2 or 3 people will read it. :)

So here it is. My advice on paying down your mortgage early.

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Your lender tells you about Accelerated Bi-Weekly payments as a way to pay off your mortgage quicker without much impact to your wallet. Take your monthly payment, divide it by two, and pay that amount every other week (bi-weekly). Itís like magic.

Itís a great idea.

Itís not magic though. Whatís happening is youíre choosing a bi-weekly payment and a shorter amortization period. Thatís the time itís expected to take to pay off your mortgage. The standard to start with is 25 years.

I suggest you take that further. You can make higher payments. Paying more each month may not make a huge difference now, but youíll thank me in 10 years when youíve got a year or two of payments left instead of 15 years. With 5 years left, youíll look forward to being mortgage free and thinking about how youíll spend all that money each month. With 10+ years remaining, thatís just science fiction.

Understand that the amortization period, so long as itís less than you got approved for, is an arbitrary number and you can ask for whatever you want.

RBC has a ďdouble-upĒ option that allows you to manage this yourself on a payment to payment basis. I expect other lenders have similar things. My wife and I used this to manage our mortgage as follows.

First, buy a house you can afford. If you can barely make your payments, then youíve taken away your options.

Next, decide how much you can pay every other week.

This should be higher than what the bank is expecting. Then drop it down to give yourself some buffer, and make that your payment. Finally, increase your payment to be up to double that (which should be way too much or you started too low) and test the waters, adjusting up and down as you feel comfortable.

Hereís an example.

You're borrowing $300k and the current variable rate is 3%.

A 25 year mortgage will have a bi-weekly payment of $655.27.

The "accelerated bi-weekly" option will change the amortization to 22.2 years and make the payment $709.87.

You then decide to make payments of $900.

Set the bi-weekly payment to $800, so even though you can pay $900, you can drop it down later if you were too ambitious, or just want to put $200/mo toward something else.

Ask the lender for an amortization period of 18 years and 10 months. Your bi-weekly payment becomes $801.43. Immediately set a schedule to add $98.57 to each payment, making it $900.

When your husband seems to have too much money at the end of each month, convince him that you can each pay an extra $200 a month toward your future. If it's too much, you can drop it back down again. So you increase your payment to $1100. Now, your mortgage will be paid off in 12 years and 7 months and you'll have paid $50,000 less in interest than if you'd done the accelerated bi-weekly option. How cool is that??


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