Saturday, July 15, 2017

Finances - Are You a Grasshopper or an Ant?

Self-Reliance Corner

Managing Our Money

Why is managing money so hard - and so important?  Why should we keep track of our expenses, have a budget and save our money?  This is a self-reliance principle that is critical to ongoing success in our lives and in our families.

With the Canadian Central Bank's interest rate starting to climb, and perhaps continuing to do so in the future, it makes sense to review our personal and family financial situation, to ensure that we can meet future demands.

The following video of two young children, pretending to be adults and discussing family finances, is cute (very cute) but very relevant to the topic:

The self-reliance approach to managing money is shown in the following graphic:

If you want to evaluate where you are in your spending habits, the following table is a useful tool:

(Credits: Above graphics taken from the manual "My Foundation for Self-Reliance", Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which can be found at this website).

Tracking your expenses will allow you to more accurately assess where your pay check is going, but the above table is a good start.

Elder Robert D. Hales has stated the following about the importance of getting out of debt and saving money:

"There seems to be a sense of entitlement in today's culture. . . . When we become burdened with excessive debt, we have . . . placed ourselves in self-imposed servitude, spending all of our time, all of our energy, and all of our means to the repayment of our debts. . . . It is essential that we . . . develop a spending and savings plan—a budget—and distinguish between wants and needs".

If you want to learn more about the spiritual and temporal principles behind controlling your personal finances, we invite you to have a look at the following manual:

Getting Some Culture "Down Under"

Some friends treated us to an evening with this amazing chamber ensemble group.  They were passionate, powerful players.  The pianist and violinist are married and make "beautiful music together".  The cellist was actually a different person than displayed above but was tremendously talented.  Both the violinist and the cellist were continually breaking hairs on their bows because the music was so intense.

We particularly enjoyed their last piece, Mendelssohn's "Piano Trio No. 1 op 49" written in 1839 (four movements).

This trio travel to many different countries; hopefully you will have an opportunity to hear them one day!

Out and About


We set out for our daily walk this morning midst a light shower and grey skies, thinking it would be a wet and windy day.  After awhile, though, the clouds parted behind us and we saw, right at the most picturesque point in our route, looking down over a local pond and billabong, a beautiful double-rainbow.  It was a truly wonderful sight and one of those landscapes that a camera just cannot capture properly.  However, that didn't stop us from trying!

Double Rainbow over Banyule Flats / Pond

In our last blog, we were just posting about how the trees are finally losing their leaves or changing their colour, and well into winter it is starting to look like fall back in Canada.  But the trees really don't know how to behave; here is one down the street that just burst into bloom.  It doesn't seem to mind that it several weeks into winter and the temperatures are near freezing in the morning.

Beautiful tree blossoms in the middle of winter (not sure what kind)

We took a Canada Day (July 1) break and travelled to the Grampian Mountains, about a 3 hour drive west of where we live in Melbourne.  We hiked to McKenzie Falls - a steep hike down (and an even steeper hike coming back up :>).  We also hiked to the top of Mount William, the highest peak in the Grampians at 1167 m (and to be fair, we drove part of the way and hiked about the last 1/3).  Here are some of the views:

Jan and John at McKenzie Falls - Ready for Birds, Rain or whatever else the weather brings!
Panoramic Shot from the top of Mount William (Grampian Mountains)
One View from the top of Mount William - Typical Mountain Morphology

As evident from the views above, the Grampians are composed mostly of sedimentary rocks, upthrust mildly in a manner reminiscent of the foothills on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains (as visible on the drive from Calgary to Banff).


We stayed in a town called Halls Gap and found a few good places to eat.  Dinner was delicious but there was a small problem with the heat.  The outside temperatures were hovering around freezing, the restaurant had been closed all day, and the heat had just turned on prior to opening for supper, which is when we showed up.  Despite being seated by a heater, Sister Sobkowicz needed to warm her hands over the candle at the table.  We wore our coats for the entire meal.

Dinner Looked Good and Tasted Great!

On the Saturday morning, we visited Brambuk (the aboriginal cultural centre).  Watching a video of one of their creation legends and reading about their history was very interesting.  While walking the grounds, we came upon several Emus looking for breakfast.  They are pretty large and daunting up close and "free range", but nothing compared to the size of their pre-historic ancestors, which stood 4 to 5 m high (about 15 feet).

We stopped for brunch at the LiveFast Lifestyle Cafe, which supplies an eclectic selection of wholesome foods at a reasonable price.

Japanese Eggs Benedict with Side of Avocado
Jan had Japanese Eggs Benedict with a side of Avocado.  This came on a bed of spinach, topped with a purple cabbage pancake, smoked salmon and poached egg, with a sweet Japanese mayonnaise on the side, topped with toasted shallots.  Delicious!

Smashed Avocado and Poached Eggs
John had what is colloquially called "Smashed Avocado" in Australia, accompanied by poached eggs, with a lettuce and marinated "beetroot" salad on the side.  This was accompanied by the Australian version of hot chocolate (hot milk and chocolate, topped with frothy mixture of same; it is less sweet than in Canada and the Aussies are not interested in whipping cream; very artistic).

Australian Hot Chocolate


We encountered several Emus in open forest and no, they were NOT behind a fence of any kind.  They are definitely daunting, in size and presence.

An Emu Looking for Breakfast (1.8 m or 6 feet high)
Emus are the Original "Big Bird"

Comparatively small in size, we also saw these Scarlet Robins flitting between the trees and the ground, also looking for breakfast.  It was quite cold that morning, with a thick frost on our car windshield and a few mm of ice on the puddles in the parking lot.  They are a hardy bird!

Male Scarlet Robin - doesn't it know Spring is not here yet?
Female Scarlet Robin - A "Whiter Shade of Pale" (but more colourful than most other female birds)

On the way home from the Grampians, driving through farm lands between Dunkeld and Ballarat (near Lake Bolac), we espied this Australian Hobby (a small falcon) on the electrical lines adjacent to the highway.  It was near dusk, so the exposure isn't the best.  The Hobby sat patiently on the wire while we slowed down, stopped, drove a km back to its location, turned around again, retrieved our camera, and rolled down the window.  It must really have wanted its photo taken!

An Australian Hobby (small falcon)