Ward Fan-out

Ward Fan-out


emergency-evacThis Saturday we had a ward fan out. It was brilliant! It was preparedness themed. The point was to feel extremely unprepared; It worked! Here is how it went. At 9:20am we got a call from our district leader(someone that lives close to us) letting us know there was an “emergency” and we needed to grab the following:

72 hour kit
first aid kit from house
first aid kit from car
emergency car kit
jumper cables
flash light
picture of food storage
picture of water supply
picture of slippers with hard bottoms
picture of emergency contact list
picture of To-Do list(how to turn off utilities)
picture of evacuation ladder
picture of first aid cert.

Then we had to get to the church as soon as we could. It took us 10 minutes to gather everything and head out the door. Granted, our kids had their shoes on already because we were expecting the call. We just didn’t know what would be on the list. For the most part, I believe in a real emergency, if emergency personnel knock on your door they usually give you 10 minutes. So that should be the time to beat.

This exercise allowed us to see how easy it was to gather our emergency stuff and to see what was missing. Here is what we were lacking:

To-Do list. We don’t have a list pinned to the wall in our utility room letting us know how to turn our utilites off. It is super important. If someone knocked on your door and said “turn your utilites off and gather your things, you have 10 minutes to get out,” would you know how to shut your water or your furnace off?

Evacuation ladder. We looked into getting one when we first moved in, but when we talked to the agency that helped us open a day home they said the fire marshal told them ladders were bad. Instead we are to break a window, throw a mattress out and throw our kids onto the mattress…yeah right. Like I’m going to throw my kids out the window.

Go-Book. We have a go-book, it’s just not filled out. The purpose of the go-book is to store all your information. Banking info, mortgage and investment info, car and house insurance, copies of passports, drivers licenses and birth certs., pics of everyone in the family, all info you would need if you can’t get back to your house.

Other than those few items we didn’t have, we did pretty good. When my wife and I talked about it afterwards we felt we are also lacking in water supply and food storage. It’s not up to where it should be. We need more of it. But it was good to see how an emergency evacuation would go. Once we got to the church, the lady that organized it went through our kits and gave us points on what we had and took points off for what we missed. Let’s just say, overall, I’m glad it wasn’t a real emergency. A lot of people showed up with very little.

I feel most of us are still co-dependent on others to provide for us. We are not taking this self-reliance thing seriously. We will not be able to just go to walmart or superstore and buy water the day of the emergency. The shelves will be bare from all the other people that weren’t prepared.

Our take-away: We are not nearly prepared enough for a real emergency. We have a lot of work to do to get to where we want to go, which we will do, just one day at a time.

Our next goal: Have an “emergency situation” where we actually live off our 72 hour kits for 72 hours and see how we do. That should be an exciting 3 days!

How to winterize your home


Before I get to how to winterize your humble abode I wanted to give an update on the status of our family. We have added our third child to the family. Benjamin David Sinclaire. He was 20″ long, and weighed 7lbs 11oz. 2lbs lighter than me when I was born. Both mommy and baby are home and doing well. It is still surreal for me to think we have another little one. Our family is growing so fast!

Ok, so onto how to winterize your home. With winter being here…for the most part, we should have already winterized our home. However if you’re like me and procrastinate everything till the last second, your home is not yet winterized. So I have a list of 11 things that you can do to winterize your home and save on your energy bill.

1. Put a sweater on. First off I wanted to mention the one all our parents told us whenever we asked them to turn the heat up. “Put a sweater on!” This is the cheapest way to reduce the heating bill…unless you don’t have any sweaters. In that case, you will need to go purchase a few. Apparently putting on a sweater can increase your body temperature by 4 degrees. So, if your home is at 18 degrees Celsius and you put a sweater on, it will feel like its 22 degrees. Nice!

2. Plastic on the windows. This will do a couple things for you. One thing is it will block any leaks you may have around your windows. The last thing you want to do is pay to heat the outside. The second thing plastic on the windows will do is insulate. It traps air between the widow and the plastic and can prevent more hot air from escaping.

3. Reverse ceiling fans. If you have a ceiling fan, there should be a reverse switch on it. What this will do is force the warm air down instead of up. When the warm air is forced back down, it can recirculate through the house.

4. Block any leaks. Take time to calk around windows and door frames. You can also get something called a “draft snake” to put under your door. According Kim Pressnail, associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Toronto,  air leaks lead to 30-40% heating loss. That’s huge! The price for calk and a couple draft snakes is definitely worth it.

5. Invest in a programmable thermostat. According to Pressnail, for every degree you lower your thermostat, you save 5% on your heating bill. With a programmable thermostat, you can tell it to reduce the temp by 4 or 5 degrees when you’re not home. That way you’re not paying as much to heat an empty house. Then at the time you get off work, your thermostat kicks back on so you can come home to a warm house…but not too warm, because you’ll be wearing a sweater right?

6. Replace furnace air filters. Having dirty air filters can impede air flow through the house. Regularly cleaning or replacing the air filter can help make sure the heat you’re using is being used to its fullest extent. We don’t want to pay for heat that isn’t able to circulate through your home!

7. Prepare a 72 Hour kit. Depending on where you live, ice storms can be the norm. Toronto and the east coast have had some terrible ice storms in the past years. Often these storms will cut power for a week at a time. Having a 72 hour kit will make that week without power a bit more comfy.

8. Have a food storage. Going along with #7, having food set aside in case you can’t get out to the grocery store will be a life saver. Having a food storage may allow you to balance out your budget as well. Using your food storage in the winter will bring your grocery bill down while your heating bill is going up. When spring arrives, you can gradually build that food storage back up while your heating bill starts to go down.

9. Invest in a generator. When the power goes out, having a generator will allow you to run things like your fridge and deep freeze so your food doesn’t spoil, saving you that grocery trip. It could also allow you to charge your car so you can get to work or wherever you need to go. You can also use it to run space heaters and the like to stay warm.

10. Close vents to rooms that are not inhabited. Rooms like a storage room or guest bedrooms shouldn’t be heated all winter. Why pay to heat a room no one really visits? Open the vents when you have a guest staying, and then close them again when they leave. A simple way to reduce how much heat is being used in your home. Focus it on the rooms you are always in.

11. Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Winter sees an increase in home fires and CO leaks due to us running our furnaces on overdrive. Making sure smoke and CO detectors work can save homes and lives. Some alarm systems (like the one from Vivint) allow you to tie smoke and CO detectors into the system so that the alarm system can call the fire department for you. This is very beneficial when you are not home or able to get to a phone.

Do you have any other winterizing tips? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

Why food storage is so important

The next little while may be scarce on the posts. We are expecting our third child in the next few days. I completely spaced the post yesterday. My mind has been elsewhere lately.

I did read a really good post this week. Ill put a link in here for you. I recommend you read it. It is exactly what my wife and I think about food storage. I really liked the points that food storage is not just for when SHTF. It is for so many other reasons. What if you lose a job and can’t afford to go grocery shopping, or your sick and can’t get out. Or, being in Canada, if snows 4 feet and you can’t drive any where.

Another great point is that you should store what you eat and eat what you store. Don’t buy things you don’t regularly cook with or eat. What happens is either it goes bad because you never use it, or when it comes time to dive into your food storage you don’t know how to use it. Just buy extras of what you already eat, and cycle through that. Then when it comes time to use the food storage, you meals still taste the same and you are familiar with it all.

Last point I wanted to hit on from the article is to learn a new skill. Learn how to can food. My wife and I were talking about learning how to make our own butter and soap. It could be a fun family activity and you can save a bit of $$ by not having to buy butter or soap.

Well, I don’t want to give everything away. Here is the link.

Let me know any thoughts you have on the subject.

Moral Obligation

Moral Obligation

The term visa in this post represents any creditor not just visa.

My wife and I had an interesting conversation on Friday about “moral obligation.” It really came down to a conversation about ethics. Ethics is such a grey topic that it’s hard to not become heated when discussing ones views of ethics.

For example. What is your moral obligation? Is it to your children or visa?
If you answered children congratulations.
Now let me ask you another questions. Do you make sure you pay all your visa bills on time even if it means your kids don’t get something they need? Or do you sacrifice your credit and get our child clothing that fits?

I feel (at least in our case we did) that most of us will sacrifice things our children need in order to pay that visa bill on time. The question for us came down to the point of one of our kids not having pants that fit any more (seriously though, kids need to slow down on the whole growing thing). If we can’t afford to pay both visa payment and new pants, which do we do?

So then the ethics come is. Is is ethical to not pay your visa bill? What if you found out there was a way you could postpone your bill payment because you found a loophole somewhere. Would that be ethical? Or is it ethical to make your child wear pants that are too small because you would rather give that money to visa?

What about braces? Visa payment or braces payment? Would you think it ethical to pay visa and make your kid wait for better teeth? Or is it ethical to get your kids teeth aligned properly and make visa wait? What about a life skill like swimming? Do you take them out of swimming lessons because visa wants that money?

It all came down to this. It is our moral obligation to pay off all debts, agree? So if you found a way that you could actually not pay all your debts and have it forgiven because of a loop hole, is it ethical to use that loop hole?

Lets think of it this way. You have to get pants for your kids. You find the pants you want and buy at x price. Then the next day you find out they went on sale. Is it ethical to go back to the store and ask for the deal to be put on the pants so you can save some money? Many would say yes, it’s fine. So what if you get a visa for x price and y interest rate, spend some money, and then realize that there is now a way to get the visa company to pay some of that off for you (give you a “discount” on your debt). Is it ethical to use that loophole? Or is it the ethical choice and moral obligation to pay off the full price of that credit card?

Is it true that many of us think that the super rich use unethical ways of getting money? What if they are not being unethical but have found loopholes that allow them to cut their debt in half?

Why does the word “loophole” make us cringe? We think of it as a cheat. What if we just renamed loophole as “a lesser known law,” would it still make us cringe, or would we seek out these lesser known laws? What if in the fine print, it never said you had to pay off the full balance? Would it still be unethical not to pay to full balance?

Are we being taught by our teachers or parents that it is unethical to use loopholes? That it is unethical to find a way not to pay all of our debt? I am pretty sure that those questions just made you cringe, like you were choosing a very bad decision.

How about this scenario. You find out there is $1000 sitting on a table free for that taking. Anyone who goes to this table can take $1000. Would you go? umm yes. So what if you found out that your creditor has a “loophole” that is $1000 off your debt? Would you consider it unethical to use that $1000? Would you think you were cheating your moral obligation by using that $1000 to reduce your debt?

My questions came because I started asking why? Why do we think it unethical.

What about this? Why is it ethical for banks to give you a 20% credit card but only a 4% savings account?  Why is it ethical for banks to charge you a penalty for paying off your mortgage too fast? Why is it ethical for banks to charge all their interest upfront, so they make sure they get it just in case you decide to pay off your debt too fast?

Why do we let these things slide? I sometimes wonder how the world got so backwards. They can charge what ever they want, raise interest rates, charge penalties for paying our debts back too quickly, and we let it slide. Not only that, we think its a “good deal”. What??? Yet we think it unethical to find a way not to pay visa the max amount they demand.

What if the super rich just understand how money works and that “loopholes” are just “lesser known laws.” And they use them. Hence why millionaires can get away with paying no taxes (not saying all millionaire pay no taxes). Not that they did it illegally or unethically, but they sheltered it properly using “lesser known laws” and instead of it being considered income, it was considered something different. Taxes are designed for the middle class anyways. Taxes are designed for income. Money from a job. If you own your own business your don’t have to pay the same taxes and you can take advantage of more tax breaks.

Just some questions to think about. I think for the most part, ethics comes down to personal opinion.  What one thinks is unethical another might think is perfectly fine and feels is honest.

Our society is putting us in a corner by making it nearly impossible to do anything without having a credit card. I feel it is extremely important for all of us to learn how money works. We get so afraid of it because it appears complicated or boring.

Either we control our money, or our money will control us.