Paying the bills


Haven't updated the blog for a while now... and thought it was about time to do so. My laptop is having keyboard problems (no spacebar unless I hold the shift key - You try and see and how much fun that is!) so that's been my excuse.

We had a good long chat to the Graces a while ago and sorted out some of the ground rules about who pays for what and what we are leaving for each other, etc. It was very useful to have this chat, and it helped a lot. For anyone planning an exchange I recommend you get Skype and then you and your partner can keep the regular contact going. It's been really useful.

Anyway, we worked out that we will each take responsibility for paying the phone, water, electricity, and gas bills - basically all the user-pays type stuff - but we will each continue to pay for those things that would just continue on at the same rate, like internet, cable TV, council rates, etc. We were actually going to the cable TV disconnected, but then Dave told us that they have cable so we figured we'd just leave it connected for them. I'm sure that neither of us are doing an exchange to watch TV but I'm sure it will be good to have more channels to choose from when we do watch it. We figured that we'd each pay to keep our own internet services going, since it was pretty much a fixed expense anyway.

We compared the costs for things like phone, water, power (they call it hydro) and while their costs seem more or less comparable in our two countries, it makes more sense to pay the bills as they arrive since these costs are based on how much you use.

We did refinance our home loan and restructure a few things financially so I've been making lots of calls to cancel old automatic payments, rearrange new automatic payments, and arrange to have the relevant paper bills sent to the house. We have been getting all our bills electronically via internet banking so we never thought too much about this stuff... it just kind of happened. It takes a while to rearrange all this too, so leave enough time to get it all done.

Surprise Packages


David and Heidi sent us a lovely surprise package a while back with a few items to help us get into the Canadian swing of things... a couple of baseball caps, some tattoos, keyrings, and other assoprted bits and pieces. It was really nice to get the package in the post, and a lovely surprise.

We've been collecting some stuff to reciprocate with and I finally got to post it the other day! We've been meaning to send it for a while, but never quite got around to it, so the collection just sort of grew a bit too. There were just a few Aussie bits and pieces in it, but I won't list them here just in case Dave reads this. You gotta have a few surprises!

Cheap Calls & Expensive Doctors


We've just finished two weeks of school holidays, in fact our last holiday before Christmas when I imagine that things will be pretty full-on as we prepare to depart for the year.

We have spent most of this break getting things done, from painting and repairing sftuff around the house, to rearranging our finances, to having our medicals done. We went into the city a couple of days ago to undergo the medical required by the Canadian government before they will issue us with our visas. We had to have blood tests (for HIV and Syphillus, eww!) as well as a chest X-ray and an general physical examination. Not cheap either, at $225 each! We also bought some luggage for the trip while we were in town.

After many phone calls to our bank (St George) it became clear that they were going to be hopelessly inadequate for our overseas banking needs, with fees for just about everything. After a few calls to other options we decided to shift our banking to the Teachers Credit Union - they seem more interested in giving service and services to their customers than the other banks, and best of all they don't charge fees! Not for foreign currency transactions, not for visa transactions. No fees. We were so impressed that we actually refinanced our home loan as well, and found our interest rate dropped from 7.1% to 5.9%! Why didn't we do this sooner!

We also found out about the phone card rates for calling Canada and I bought one to try... I can call Canada for 0.5 cents/minute, although there is a flagfall of .99 cents. After doing a bit more research I found a card that will let us do calls at 1.5 cents, flatrate, no flagfall, 24 hours a day. Not bad!

Anyway, enough for now. Jeez, this blog is quite full and we haven't even left the country yet!

Skype: betchaboy

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