Monday, December 20, 2010

The 'Perks' of Loyalty Programs.



In my {humble} opinion, it seems as though there are two distinct schools of thought on this: yay or nay, no ambiguity.

I personally refuse to pay for loyalty programs.  For instance, my Body Shop membership which would normally be $10/year costs me nothing if I use the card 3 or 4 times a year {which I do}.  I wouldn’t pay the $10 at the store – you want me to PAY YOU to come and shop in your store?  Two words for you: starts with F and ends with F!

One such program whose merits I was unsure of was PetSmart’s Pet Perks program.  This program doesn’t cost anything, but I wasn’t told an exact percentage of savings, nor exactly what I was to get out of being a member.  I was in PetSmart doing some doggie Christmas shopping {yeah, I dress my dog up…don’t judge} and remembered I was a member.  Figuring my bill would be high because of the 8 things I bought, which included doggie toothpaste and various items of clothing and toys, I handed over my Pet Perks card thinking nothing of it.  Low and behold, that card entitled me to a 40% savings. 

Yes, you read that right: 40%.  My bill went to $50.73 after tax to $30.40.  I can’t believe this.  I didn’t have to pay for it and just for patronizing your store, I get tremendous savings on things my dog needs wants anyway. 

Thank you PetSmart.  Perhaps other loyalty programs can take the hint and learn what it really means to attract and maintain a loyal customer base.

Feel freezies to share your loyalty stories {good or bad} below.  I’m sure we barganistas {or bargainistos…whatevs you fancy} would love to hear about it!


Hugs,
*Canadian Girl

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Crocs. What a crock.

{I love a good pun in the morning, don't you?}


Comfort.  That’s what we all associate with Crocs, right?  NOT. {*insert Borat accent here* } 

I recently purchased {and returned} a pair of ‘dress Crocs’, which was in direct violation of any and all fashion rules I have. However, I was desperate for a comfortable, yet moderately attractive alternative to running shoes for my walk to work.  Whilest browsing about, I came across these puppies:

{click for larger...if you want}

BAD.  DO NOT BUY THEM.  Comfort my ass!  These not only gave me blisters, but gave off a farting sound while I walked.  I fart enough as it is.  I don’t need my feet doing it too! 

For those of you that swear by Crocs {and I hope don’t wear the ones with the big holes that attempt to look like clogs out of the house}, I commend you and congratulate you on your comfort.  I, however, will never wear them.  Alas, I’d much rather look good and be fart-free while getting blisters on my toes!

Hugs,
*Canadian Girl

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Biz Etiquette/Budge Question.


Krystal over at Give Me Back My Five Bucks posted an interesting question on her Twitter the other day:  “Do u always give when ppl in the office are collecting $$ for wedding/retirement/bday/baby present? What if it's for someone u don't know?”.

This is something that I’m unsure of where the proper ‘etiquette’ lies.  What if you’re on a budget like me?  What if you don’t really know the person and wouldn’t buy a gift otherwise?  What if you simply don’t like him or her?  {so what, I’m a bitch.  Deal with it…} 

I always feel judged when going around to do this.  Now that I’ve switched to a smaller company, I don’t think it’ll be as big of an issue {that, and I’m far happier here and love everyone I work with…well almost everyone…}.  However, given that I’m still early on in my career, and though I don’t plan on leaving, you never know where life will take you, so I thought I’d go here to my public forum and ask what the proper etiquette would be.

How much is proper to give?  Should you feel obliged to ALWAYS contribute, or is it fair to just reserve the dollaz for those you like/are close with/are your boss?

Eff.  So many questions.

I’m seriously stumped.  Readers - throw me a bone please in the comments below!

Follow Krystal’s Twitter here.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

No Spend November.

I finally hit my no spend goal!!!  Woot woot!! 

14/12 for MoNovember. 

Too bad that with Christmas coming, it's going to be one spendy December!!


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Friday, December 3, 2010

November Numbers.


If you've been reading for a month or so, you'll remember from this post that I've been tracking all spending categories for the month of November.  I did some crunching yesterday, and here's what it looks like:


...perhaps I should quit drinking.  NEVER!  I loves me some wine. 

It's important to note that the $169 in the clothes/gifts category was for 2 gorgeous dresses for my bday/Christmas parties.  I have very few hot little dresses, so this was a treat to myself.  The transportation portion of my budget is hefty this month due to rising gas prices, and the 'beauty' category the same simply because I needed a hair-doing this month. 

I'm $22.41 in the red over my $400 budget.  I'm going to list a pair of sunglasses {Armani...big and round, so totes in style but too wide for my skinny, long face} on Kijiji/Craigslist to see if I can make up the shortfall.


Thank you all for your comments on my last post regarding moneyville.ca.  I'm glad as many of you find certain posts as useless as I do!


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reading Moneyville.ca.


How many of you have been reading the new moneyville.ca site posted by the Toronto Star?  I know Krystal over @ Give Me Back My Five Bucks posts on the blog there frequently, however I tend to think she’s one of the few there with the experience and know-how to post insightful blogs that people can utilize and learn from.

I’m not trying to negate the fact that moms who post don’t know how to save a buck or stretch a family budget, I’m just simply noting that their tips and experience doesn’t really relate to the younger, internet and blog saavy readership that moneyville.ca attempts to capture.

Let’s dissect this post here from Adam Goodman.  Have a read thru, and I’ll bet you’re hard pressed to find any innovation whatsoever, or anything of true merit in his post.  It’s the same old dribble that we’re used to hearing.

The post starts with the title ‘How I Saved $7,000 Painlessly’.  Intriguing, no?  Who wouldn’t like a list of ways to save $7,000 without cramping their style too much?  WRONG.  The premise of his whole post for ‘painlessly’ saving $7,000 is this: you should pay yourself first before paying your debts. 

Hrm? Come again now?  He says in one of the last bits of his post that his savings account is $7,000.  However, he had student debt when he first graduated which he struggled to pay off.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather maintain a small emergency fund and use any excess ‘reserves’ to pay down that debt.  Unless my savings account has 12% interest, it’s not worth the trade-off.  That’s a few thousand {or even hundred…} dollars that could have been much better utilized.

He says it was painless to save the $7,000, but I think that when you muse over debt and are up at night thinking about money issues, it entirely negates the pain.

{Disclaimer: I’m all for an emergency fund, however I sure wasn’t socking away $100 per month when I was in major debt and wanted to get out.  I did it in small increments and stopped at $1,000.}


Let’s look at an example:

Using what Mr. Goodman professes, we’d be saving $100 per month for a year.  With a simple calculation of compound interest, that means we’d be making roughly $188 per year and growing our deposit to a mere $288.  I’m out of debt now, so $188 is great, but when I had big debts to pay, that $188 would’ve gone a long way! It’s not much when you consider a debt of $5,000 or more, where the monthly interest amounts to about half that total yearly savings.


For example, let’s take a calculation of someone who’d be in roughly $7,000 debt and it will take almost a year to pay off:

Without the $288 the debt payoff would look somewhat as follows, using a roughly 7.5% interest rate on the debt and it would be paid off at the beginning of June:  




With the $288 {applied to the last payment, considering it would take roughly a year to compound the interest – I know, I know, it’s JUST an illustration of a point, not what would be really earned in the time frame}, the debt is cleared almost an entire month earlier.  And this is without consideration of any snowballed funds towards the debt.  To me being clear of that debt a month earlier means far more than the $288 opportunity cost:





Moral of the story:  Adam Goodman, your ideas idea sucks.  Congratulations for being out of student debt.  But if you want to expand your horizons a little, think outside the box and create real savings tips.  Most normal people who are struggling on limited incomes and wanting to payoff debt can think of way better things to do with $100 per month.  Moneyville.ca – perhaps you should reconsider who you allow to blog on your site {not you, Krystal – you’re great} and ensure the blog is a real PF blog and not just some site where anyone with a savings account and a computer can post.


Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below.  But note, please, that any hateful comments will not be approved :)

Hugs,


*Canadian Girl

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Monthly Spending Category Challenge: Update #2.


In this post here, I provided an update on Categorize November.  I said I’d have money for my trip fund.  FAIL! I got $50 from grandma.  That’s it!  I guess I can’t complain; that’s $50 more than I had before, and my parents aren’t obligated to purchase me a gift, since paying for the majority of my wedding is gift enough.

However, I had really hoped to have more to put in the trip fund!  Oh well, just looks like it’s going to involve me scrimping more to save enough for one last trip before we’re a married couple.  Sounds so weird.  Oh emmm geee!



Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Christmas Gifts. Oy!


I think I’m organized for Christmas Christmukah.  I’ve got my Dad and Fiancée’s Dad completely done, and am halfway done the Future Mother in Law.  All that’s left are my Mom, Sister and Fiancée. The fiancée will be splitting the cost of some gifts with me, so that alleviates the dolla pressure a little for me!

The budget?  It’s under $400 so far, and I’m going to give myself that limit.  This includes stockings for Mom and fiancée – but Dad will split the cost of some of Mom’s gifts with me as he always does {that’s the trade-off…I do all the shopping!}. 

I think this budget is realistic, though it may seem a little high, it essentially allows me to spend almost $60 each {and that’s with sharing of the cost, so it’ll actually be more in monetary value}.  Be that as it may, the cost isn’t always what should be considered first in the gift.  I think this year I’ve managed to create {read = make} gifts and purchase gifts that people will truly like, all the while saving some pennies.

I will update more on the Christmukah sitch as it develops.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dying to be Thin Again.


I’ve been reading Carla’s blog over @ My ½ Dozen Daily.  She’s a little shorter than me, and 117 lbs.  That’s where I’d like to be.  I’m currently 135, and weight has been a struggle my ENTIRE life.  I look back at pics of me when I was in uni, just over 2.5 years ago, and I was crazy thin and willowy.  What the eff has happened to me? 


My brain tells me I’m not fat – I’m 5’9” {5’10” on a good day} and 135 lbs.  That’s on the cusp of underweight.  But I’m dying to be thinner.  I’ve battled eating disorders in the past, and it seems like they’re about to show their ugly heads again. 

I need some tips to lose weight.  I exercise, I eat right, but don’t want to sacrifice my social life or mental health in the process. 

Tips….please…..



Hugs,

*Canadian Girl
.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm Old.

Well, it's official.  I'm 25 today.  I feel so old.  Krystal over @ Give Me Back My Five Bucks did a post on feeling older than your age.  You can link to it here.

I totally agree with everything she says.  I'm often tired by 10pm, I feel like I'm no longer a kid, and I sometimes wish I had my care-free high school days back.  Not only am I engaged, but I'm gainfully employed full time, own my own home, and pay all of my own bills without help from the parentals {you'd be surprised JUST how many of my friends get help from their parents...still...despite owning a home....}.   I guess it's good to be grown up and totally self-sufficient at my {relatively} young age.  I live my life on a budget, pay down bills as soon as they arrive, and try to be frugal without sacrificing the good things in my life.  I guess that's all part of growing up, eh?!  {yeah, it's my birthday and I'm Canadian.  I'll say 'eh' if I want to!}

{srsly...this dog's face pretty much sums up how I feel turning 25}


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

HAPPY BLOGIVERSARY TO MOI!




To all of my dear readers,

You are all the reason I keep posting. Thank you.

As I look back and go thru the posts from a year ago today, I see such a juxtaposition in my own personality and sense of self from what lies here in front of me right now.  I didn't know who I was, where I was going, or where I wanted to be, for that matter.  I was lost - for lack of a better term.  A lot has happened in the past year and has made me who I am today.  I can stand here and say that I am finally happy.  I've waited 25  24.89 years for this and it's finally here.  I couldn't have done it without the support of my dear readers.

Here's to many more blog posts and to coming leaps and bounds from where I was one year ago today.

I love you all.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl




Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Category Challenge: Update.

Epic fail! Or win...depends on how you look at it.  I've not been spending much at all.  I've only bought things I need so far, like groceries, toiletries, leotards, and medications!  I guess it's a win...but so much for my tracking!

My birthday is coming up, so I hope to have some dolla billz to put towards my 'trip' fund.  The bf fiancee and I are planning a sort of a last minute trip {to save $$$$} with another couple and are hoping to go in the New Year and save what's left of our sanity after a long, Canadian winter.  The total budge there should be roughly $600 and we're hoping to get a 4 star or better hotel about 2 weeks before we leave.  Suggestions are welcome!!

Let's hope I start spending a little cash to track it...or not.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl


PS
Tomorrow is my blogiversary!  Can you believe it?  A year of blogging.  Whoda thunk it?















Monday, November 1, 2010

Monthly Spending Category Challenge.

This month, I am going to challenge myself to categorize each expenditure I make and to identify discernable, concrete ways to cut down on my cash out flows.

It's going to take determination and really nit-picky notes on my budget tracker, but I think it'll be a cool exercise to really identify my indulgences.  It'll be sort of a wants vs. needs exercise.  I've obtained my inspiration from Jesse's post {click the link to the right to go to it}, whose blog is fantastic and entitled Jessie's Money and Jordan's Too .

Hers is more of a monthly budget, and mine will be too.  However, she's far more diligent than I and keeps very accurate track every month like that!  Let's hope this helps me get back on the wagon.



Hugs,

*Canadian Girl



Friday, October 29, 2010

Is Paying Off Debt an "Emergency"?

Knowing that I'm a bit of a PF nerd, a friend recently posed a question to me:  "should I use my $1,000 e-fund to pay off some small debt?". 

This got me thinking - is debt really an emergency?  Is your irresponsibility {or not - could be different circumstances} really considered to be an emergency of sorts?

I told her that it could go 1 of 2 ways - if it was due to an emergency, yes, take the $1,000.  If it wasn't and you're unsure about your future income, then don't touch it.  I'm going to work with her to get the money reduced in a few months - right now, it's at roughly $7k, so it's a pittance comparatively speaking. She hasn't a foggy clue what a budget is, nor how to save or that she should be packing away a bit for retirement already.

This is my first 'client' for lack of a better term {disclaimer: I am NOT a financial advisor; I'm just helping a chica out!}.  Let's hope this goes well.  I'm going to take a list of ways to save money, use my weekly budget tracker, and make her read Gail's blog daily!


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl






Wednesday, October 27, 2010

News.


Big news.  The BF proposed!!  WOOOOO HOOO!  I’m engaged.

This is scary, and exciting, and a huge surprise. 

All I can think about is the money; where can I save without affecting the time my guests have at the wedding?  I’ve been to a few weddings where it’s blatantly obvious where the money was skimped and where it wasn’t.  I’ve also been to weddings where guests were asked to do things like contribute to the bride and groom’s honeymoon instead of gifts – this is not on the list for us, as I think it’s tacky for us to ask people to send US on a trip when it may have been a year or more since they’ve spent money on a trip for themselves.

Here are a few ways I’ve come up with to save:

-         designer sample sale dress – I can get one for $500 or less {none of this Say Yes to the Dress over priced shizz for me….I’m a size 2…I can fit into the mannequin stuff!}
-         make my own favours
-         make my own place cards and menus
-         use fake flowers in the centerpieces
-         get a friend to do the engagement pics {which, I’m not even 100% sure I want yet!}
-         make my own invites
-         hire a friend to be the DJ
-         ask friends to volunteer services instead of a gift – ie. A makeup artist or hairdresser friend


There’s only one problem:  I’m not crafty.  Perhaps getting things made on Etsy.com will be a better bet!

Any tips from you married readers out there?  How can I save without looking cheap?


Hugs,
*Canadian Girl


PS
This will NOT turn into a wedding blog.  I will NOT be bridezilla.  If you see that happening, please tell me in the comments.  I love you all and want you to enjoy my blog!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Getting Back on the Wagon.


Thanks, Krystal for your tip {you can see her comment in a previous post}.

I’ve gone back to ye ol’ budge and I’m working on getting back on the decreased spending wagon.  Instead of doing it weekly tho, I’m going to be doing just a monthly flat $600 {I haz gas now to pay for!}, and tracking monthly spending with receipts stapled to the expense list.

I’m still going to go for 12 ‘no spend’ days a month.  However, I know I won’t make it this month since I’ve had a ton to do with the new job, car etc.  I will be starting my monthly updates in November. 

I have some money to pay off from the purchase of the car and savings to replenish {used in my month off work}, so I’ll have to update my monthly budge once I get a picture of how my spending pattern is going to go.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Job.

I've started my new job this week.  I'm loving it so far, but am totes finding it difficult to live on the reduced budge that's resulted from my month off.

I went a little off the bandwagon and now I have to get myself back in gear - NYC just does that to you!

Eff.

How do you guys get back on track?  I'm at a loss this time.  I can't really go to cash only, and find it difficult to keep any and all receipts.  What gives?  Am I that out of it that I can't manage my own finances?

Help!




Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Friday, October 8, 2010

Citibank Platinum Enrich is Gonzo. Officialz.

I gave up a ring to Citibank today just to inquire as to when the CIBC takeover would be effected.  The kind and knowledgable attendant on the phone informed me that CIBC has only purchased some of Citibank's Mastercard portfolio, and that my Enrich Platinum was part of that takeover. 

I will be issued a cheque for the cash portion {so as not to lose it}, and then re-issued a card with CIBC branding.  Um...yeah.  I'm on the hunt for a new Mastercard.  I highly doubt that the same perks as the Platinum Enrich will be upheld when CIBC effects it's final takeover, and the lady I spoke with was of the same mindset.

Therefore, I'm going to begin my foray, yet again, into the world of mastercards with perks.  I like to have 1 of each - visa, mastercard and amex.  Since my visa is Aeroplan points and I'll be using the mastercard strictly for my business and gas expenses, I need would like something that offers a similar cashback perk to the Platinum Enrich.

I've narrowed my search to the cards as follows:

- MBNA Smartcash
- Capital One
- BMO

Any suggestions?  I'm leaning towards one of the first two, and selecting one with cashback.

Thoughts?  Please comment :) 



Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm BAAAACKKKK....

Did you all miss me??  Ha.  I know that was a resounding yes! *lolz*

I had a fantastic time in NYC.  I'd forgotten how much I truly missed that place; despite living in a somewhat thriving metropolis, it's still my favourite place on earth.

Given that the bf was working all day every day, I had a lot of time to kill.  I found some super cool stuff to do {besides shopping...which I did lots of} that was cheap or free.  One of my favourite things to do was sit outside the NY Public Library {think SATC - Carrie's almost wedding} with a Starbucks and people watch, or do the same in Times Square.  I could go on for hours.

Instead of doing that, I will give you all some NYC picture porn.  You're welcome.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl



Oh PS!

Since this is a PF blog and all, I have to throw some PF shiznat out there: TD Bank now has a HUGE presence in NYC {and according to them, will be doing so in other States in the near future}.  I was able to withdraw US funds from my Canadian account WITHOUT a fee.  Can you believe it?  Go TD!










Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Separating Business from Personal.

Now that I'm going to be going into this new job, it's imperative that I separate my business expenses from my personal. 

I've got a Citi cashback mastercard that I think would be perfect to use.  That way, I get a little something back for my business expenditures.  This is just such a simple practice that so few people do.  This way, I am able to know what is a personal budget item apart from what will be a business budget item that will be reimbursable. 

I think that it would be so easy to get myself caught up in the payoff of my own personal visa {despite the incentive of CRAZY Aeroplan points from business expenses} that I would drive myself crazy spending my personal $$$ to pay back things that I don't even owe for. 

I'd posted a while ago about CIBC taking over Citi's mastercard book of business, so I wonder if I'll get that cashback feature still once the deal goes thru in October.  If I don't, I'll just have to use my Aerogold visa, I guess, or use my backup TD Rebate Rewards.

How do you separate business from personal expenses?


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Monday, September 27, 2010

*Canadian Girl's Currently Loving: Riding Boots.

To me, the ultimate in chic, old money and class lies in the classic riding boot {ok, so Lacoste and Hunter boots too, but I digress...}.  I don't yet own a pair, and have been lusting after a pair for oh, about 6 seasons now.  I'm more than convinced that they won't go out of style, but I'm just not sure how much I'm willing to spend.  I'd love a long lasting, leather pair, but those are going to run me upwards of $300 I would imagine {and from what I've observed}.  So, in the meantime to help me make my decision, I'm keeping a running list here. I would tend to choose brown leather, as that's what I wear more of.  Nevertheless, you could pick any of these in black and they would STILL look stunning.

These are some amazeballs riding boots that I've found at varying pricepoints.  I lust.  Eff.  I need a pair:



{Gucci boots.  Link here on gucci.com.  $1,535.  Out of price range.  But gorge. }



{Cole Haan boots.  A little closer to budget at $498.  They also have Nike Air.  Comes in black too.}



{Tory Burch Patterson Riding Boots - via http://www.saksfifthavenue.com/main/context_chooser.jsp.  Pricey at $526, but I so LOVE Tory Burch}



{more from Tory Burch.  These are $495 USD, so pricey again, but I would venture that they're crazy comfy.  Here via toryburch.com}


The link wouldn't let me post images, but if you click on my link below, it will take you to the Zellers website.  PURE by Alfred Sung makes some of the cutest work staples, including shoes and boots, at really reasonable prices.  I've bought quite a few myself for work this year!  Starting at $39.95, they may be the best option for me!

Zellers - sorry US readers, Zellers is only in Canada.  Target may have something similar in their Mossimo line, I believe.



Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Formspring?

Would you loves be interested in me setting up a Formspring account?

I'm still interested in keeping this whole blog thing anonymous, but I think it would be a fun way to interact.  I would only answer questions that still maintained my anonymity, but let you readers in a little more on me.  It would allow for a forum for you guys to perhaps inspire blog posts, or ask PF questions.

Lemme know in the comments below....PLEASE.

Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ways to Make More Money.

I think we all want to make more money, but just don't know how.

I'm trying to find that ONE thing that I can do part time to bring in just an extra $100 per month.  Time is a factor for me.  I know there isn't something that's just going to make itself money, short of an investment property.  However, let's be realistic, I don't have the cashflow for that right now!

Do any of you do something 'on the side' {and by on the side, I mean legal of course! *I kid, I kid*} to make more dollaz?

Even if it's just $100 more per month, I'd be interested to hear about it.  Please comment below my loves!



Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New York State of Mind.

Cliche title?  You bet.  I LOVE THIS CITY!

I'm in Manhattan right now, and am loving it.  I feel like Sex and the City...without the Sex.  Just the City.  Or the ladies for that matter {miss you all my girls!!!}.

I've been here many times in my life, but always find something new and better to do than the last time.

I'm taking tons of profesh pics, so I'll do a post on that when I get back.

Will I do a post on how much I spent?  Not likely.  Sorry kiddies!!!  I'm trying to not blow the budge, but this is way too hard....oy.  I may go off the wagon.  It'll be so worth it tho!

Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Monday, September 20, 2010

Princesses.

*** Vacation alert:  I'm in NYC right now {frugal post to follow}, so any delay in comments is due to the fact that it's uber expensive on my Blackberry in the States.  Please be easy on me***


In typical PF form, I'm a huge fan of Gail Vaz-Oxlade.  She's in her last season of 'Til Debt Do Us Part, but has recently premiered a new show entitled Princess.

{Image from throng.ca}

Have any of you watched it?  I know I have and I think it's great.  The women that have been profiled so far are exactly my age, and fit my exact definition of a princess.  And what's more?  I'm just like them...in some ways.

I get my hair done.  I like expensive bags.  I live on my own.  I go out {sometimes}.  However, there's one acute difference: I've earned it. 

There's a lot to be said for earning your own way and being frugal to get what you want.  I get my nails done.  That costs $30 a month.  However, it comes out of my $400 monthly discretionary spending.  I'm a horrific {and I mean horrific} nail biter, so this is {almost} a necessity for me.  My hair?  I am horrid with the dye bottle, so I pay a little more to have it done.  Do I borrow money? NO.  I know it's a monthly expense, so I put a little away each month to cover the $180 cost.  The bags?  I save or I buy used.  I don't really buy expensive clothes, except for a few work staples that cost over $60.  The rest are from Forever 21.  My home?  I saved for it and furnished from family freebies and cheap-ass Craigslist furniture, which I've refinished. 

These princesses don't know how much they make.  They just spend spend spend.  I have a budget, and allocate each paycheque to things like discretionary spending, bills and various savings accounts that include retirement.  I can look like a Princess, but I'm of the firm belief that being a true Princess goes beyond the appearance.  

Some want to call me a Princess?  Go for it.  I'm also of Jewish heritage {insert any applicable Jewish stereotypes here}.  But there's a difference:  I've earned it.  They haven't. 


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The PF Monster: Round 2.

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll remember this post here. The bf is slowly becoming a PF monster of my own creation.

This isn't a bad thing per se, but last night's convo really left me wondering:

Bf: "I went down finally to take all the recycling from the move down to the P1 parking lot.  Do you know just how many people don't take their empties back to the store?"

Me: "Yeah I know.  I guess I'm cheap.  A lot of people don't, but that's transit fare or a contribution to your beer if you take some back."




{disclaimer:  this is NOT me...it may have been tho in university!  I seem to remember our yard looking like this once or twice......   -----------> }
Bf: "Next time I want to go buy beer, I'm going down to the recycling first to see who's left empties.  I'm going to take them back and get money for them!"

Me: "I understand your reasoning, honey.  But the HOMELESS pick the garbage for empties.  Do you really want to be on the same level as the HOMELESS?"

Bf:  "Well if I save $4....yeah...."


Look what I've done.  So, do you take your empties back for money?  I think it's a great way to earn a few bucks for the change jar, or even to fund your next binge party.  Speaking of that, I have a closet full to go return right now :)


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Friday, September 17, 2010

I did it. I QUIT!

So,  just as the title says, I quit my job.

To be perfectly honest, it was easier than I'd thought it would be.  I wasn't really all that nervous, and I think it's because I was just SO READY to leave.

I'm off of work until October 12th, which feels great.  I feel a little lame-o being unemployed, but technically, since I have a job lined up, I'm not, right? 

The new job that I've taken on is going to be amazing.  I think I'm going to really have my time to shine and show what I'm made of.  At the very least, all my hours of hard work will now pay off in the form of dollaz.  The only thing I'm worried about is the transition to 100% sales in year 3.  That's a f*kload of pressure, but I think that by then I will have enough of a customer base and skillset to make sure that I surpass the "need to live" budget.

WOO HOO!

Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Should We Keep a Budget Item for Appearances? That's Just the Way it Is.


Take a look at Dog’s post here.  She brings up a valid point about having to purchase something to keep up her ‘appearance’ among a certain ilk of people.  When your read the post, keep in mind that it IS Texas.  Things are bigger there!

Regardless of where you’re located, one can argue that there’s always a ‘need’ to fit in to a certain circle, whether it be because of your job, or perhaps the social circle you run with.  I watch the Real Housewives series.  Yes, I love them.  Knock me if you want, but I think they make for great tv.  Those ladies are a prime example of keeping up with appearances.  In fact, most of the OC ladies are in debt up to their eyeballs and have had homes foreclosed and marriages ended over money, infidelity or other equally tragic things all in the name of appearances.  I don’t begrudge them their desire to be ‘elite’.  Sometimes, I feel the same pressure.

Where I live, I’m surrounded by young professionals at home and at work.  I’m underpaid for the work I do, but keep my discretionary spending to a minimum so I can afford to buy a few nice things, like a watch {I think a nice watch says a lot and makes all outfits look classy and put together} and a bag.  I like expensive bags, but can’t afford them unless I scrimp in other areas.  I guess you could say that, like Dog, I’m keeping up appearances to a certain degree.  Yes, I like designer bags, but I also think that the vast majority of the people I work with have bags of the same calibre, and so I too must join in to fit the bunch. 

I think that in today’s society, we should have a budget item, or at least scrimp to buy certain things that help us fit the mould of whatever sect of society to which we fit.  If you’re a construction worker, you need your tools and boots.  If you’re a banker, you need a nice suit and shoes.  That’s just the way it is.

I get those people who say we don’t need to conform.  I see where you’re coming from.  But perhaps you’ve never had the requirement to fit in with a crowd or ilk of people who could help you better your life.  Am I using them?  No.  But do I need to move up in my job?  Yes.  Do I need to present a certain image as a woman to do that?  Absolutely. 

I think that’s the underlying message in Dog’s post: we sometimes need to keep up appearances just to maintain the status quo in a certain high society that may help us engage ourselves to better our future.  That’s just the way it is.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September? Eff.

I can't believe it's the end of the summer already.

WTF dude? My summer has just flown by and I would imagine it has for you too.

Eff. This is just too much; it's almost the fall already. I've spent my summer working at this dead end job which has pretty much stolen my soul. Ouch. And I've studied my arse off for my exams.

The good news: one more exam before the designation is complete. Oh, and fall = my birthday.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Budget Re-Vamp.

Hi My Loves,

I need your advice: I HAVE to re-vamp the budget. 

I’ve been carrying around a tracking sheet that functions much like Gail’s Budget Binder – it’s just a sheet titled ‘Expense Tracking’, with an amount at the top where I note how much I’ve allotted, and a grid to track the date, and a descending amount of what’s left in the hypothetical ‘jar’. This works. I’m not knocking it. It got me out of debt. However, I’m in a different spot now, and need to re-work it to suit me. 

Perhaps I can just use one page for all? Or just carry the full cash amount of the week’s budge in my wallet {$100}? W

hat do you all think?

Please share some of your budge tricks with me in the comments below. I’d love to hear about them! 


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Monday, August 23, 2010

Moving.



The bf just got a new place.  It’s a rental, in the city, and closer to me.  I’m excited, really I am.  But I sure as hell hope he doesn’t think we’ll be hangin’ all the time.  Not that I don’t want to; that’s not the idea.  I love being with him, just not all the time.  I like that we have two separate lives and come together on weekends.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this goes as planned.

He’s been fah-reaking out about finances now that he’ll be furnishing, paying bills and renting his own place.  So, what did *Canadian Girl do?  I had him make a budget.  That’s right.  All hail the budget!  He was able to see what money would be coming in, flowing out, and where he could save still.  He’s given himself a budget of $2,000 for “new” things – ie.) furniture, tv, cable/internet set up.  And he’s managing to come in under.  How?  CRAIGSLIST! 

By utilizing Craigslist to find someone’s like-new junk and fashion it for himself, we think he’s saved almost a grand on his overall moving costs.  He’s taken some decorative items and an old chair, lamp and couch from my parents’ place, my mom is doing his bathroom as a housewarming gift, got a Queen bed new and in the packaging for $40, a stand-up lamp for $10, brand new carpet for $20, and a dresser for $15.  He will be using a kitchen table from his sister’s old university apartment, and will be buying new bedding and a new mattress cover.  You think it will be a mish-mash, but with a little paint and some imagination, I think we can pull this off.  He also got a tv stand yesterday – a floor model – marked from $1,499 to $445.  A steal and it’s a gorgeous piece that he will keep.

Whoever said moving had to cost tons?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mental Health Dayz.

I'm taking two days off from work.

I hate this job so much that I'm getting to my wits end mentally.  I have NEVER in my life taken time off work "just because".  I've always had a purpose to taking time off, and this time, there isn't any purpose besides myself.  I guess that's as good a reason as any, right?!

Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

CIBC and Citibank.

CIBC has recently announced that it’s purchased Citibank’s portfolio of credit cards here in Canada.  The purchase, expected to go thru as of October 31st, is in line with an effort for CIBC to grow its Canadian core operations. 

As a holder of both Citibank and CIBC cards, I can’t help but wonder how I will be affected as a client of both banks.  I get that this effort is bringing the mass market consumer to CIBC – their current offering of mostly Infinite cards brings a higher end clientele – but as a financial professional, I fail to see the merit in the acquisition. 

RBC is the only other Canadian bank that has both Mastercard and Visa.  However, with the Citibank acquisition, it will make CIBC the largest bank to offer both and have the largest market share.  But have they thought about the implications? 

Let’s look at it realistically: The Citibank cards offer perks.  That’s one of their core value propositions.  I have the Citi Platinum Enrich, which offers 1% cash back, and I get a nice cheque in December for a little bit back on purchases I would’ve just made anyway.  Their Petro card gives points on gas, and their Citi Enrich gives cash back as well.  Their Sobeys card gives Club Sobeys points.  Perhaps here they may change it to Aeroplan points {as I currently do with any Sobeys points I get}, which would align that reward with their Aero cards.  How is CIBC going to be able to keep offering the same level of service, rewards, and extra benefits as Citibank when the two card selections are amalgamated to one bank? 

Perhaps the Citi Enrich Platinum will be converted to the CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite {ok, did a little research for that one!}.  This would be fine with me, as it gives 2% cash back.  However, it’s still not a Mastercard.  I like diversification in my limited credit card portfolio and another visa just won’t do it.

They may end up losing more customers who liked the diversity and the fact that Mastercard is accepted worldwide as well. 

What do you think?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

No Spend Nightmare.

Well, it’s just as the title says.  Lately, I’ve been a total no-spend nightmare.  I’ve been spending like it’s going out of style.  Have I gone over budget?  Yes, maybe once or twice.  Has the overage been drastic?  No.  Not at all.  I guess when you look at it that way, it’s not all that bad. 

Nevertheless, I’m not impressed when I can’t meet simple goals.  This is one goal that was an epic fail for sure.

June’s no-spend days:  7/12.  That’s 58%.  It’s a pass, but barely. 

July looks like it is going to shape up to be the same.  I’m going to try to keep my shiz together for the next couple of days and tie it up, but I highly doubt I’ll be successful. 

Maybe I can just make up for it when the weather isn’t so nice and my closet isn’t in such dire need of clothes to fill it!


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Visa Emergency Cash?


While reading one of my PF forums, I came across info about this Visa Emergency Cash benefit.  See this link here.
  
Visa offers an ‘Emergency Cash’ benefit when a card is lost, stolen or damaged.  This is something that I serrrrrrrrously didn't know.

WTF dude?  Isn’t that just a cash advance?  

I get that the card may have been lost.   I get that it's an inconvenience.  But if he or she who has lost the card doesn't have a source of cash, doesn't that just strengthen an economical downturn by extending credit to those who can't afford it in the first place?  Perhaps you're in a remote location where you haven't any access to your home accounts; but if it's that remote of a place, you wouldn't be able to use a Visa either.  I still don't see the reason.

 Note that the Visa site talks nothing of interest rates, EAR on the advance, or any potential delivery costs as well.  This is right stupid and just encourages the credit crisis that caused the very recession we’re in!  I can’t even believe this and it rots my socks. 

Ok.  /Rant.  But really.  Why is this even an option for people?  We're just going to have another recession.  So much for an economical upswing....


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Forever 21 Faves.

As in this post here, you all know I LOVE Forever 21.  I just can’t seem to get enough of their stuff.

I haven’t had much success there in the past, I’ll admit, and find that each store is crazy different in terms of what they carry. 

There are two within driving distance of where I live that seem to have an incredible selection.  And, of course, since I’ve recently decided that most of my work clothes look as though I’ve purchsed them at Value Village, I’ve decided to update my closet.

Forever 21 has some stylish staples that don’t cost an arm and a leg.  PERF!

Here are some of the things I picked up:
***I know this shirt looks like a plain jane one, but rest assured, the sleeves pin up to a gorge 3/4 length!***



It may look like I don’t wear pants.  Trust me, I do.  I’m just hard to fit at almost 6’ tall and a size 1.  I have to go on a search for those too; that’s the next mission.  I also clearly wear a lot of sweaters.  I’m cold.  Always.  


Hugs,
*Canadian Girl

Thursday, July 29, 2010

RRSPs 'n Shiz.


I’ve begun saving for retirement.

There, I said it.  I’m in my early 20’s and I should be well on my way.  Krystal was great.  I’ve followed her advice and am just putting away $100 per month.  I know it doesn’t seem like much, but know it will add up in the end.

Using this calculator here {yeah, I’m gung-ho TD.  Deal with it.}, it says that I’m going to need $362.30 per month to reach a $1,000,000 plus retirement goal.  That’s pretty good.  I’m going to most def amp up those payments as I approach retirement, but am keeping it low now because of my reduced salary.

Once I start making more money, I’ll increase the percentage of my income going to my RSP.  I’m also going to be investing the RSP money in different vehicles; I may hold mutual funds long term, and take some for equities when the market goes back on an upswing.

For those of you who have RRSPs, how is the money invested?  Or, how do you plan to invest it?


Hugs,
*Canadian Girl

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm Baaaaaaaaaaaaaack.


I am so sorry to be gone for a month! Can you believe it?

I've had exams, a crazy work schedule, a job hunt, some long weekends away and {as weird as it sounds} the bf takes up tons of time. However, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

The summer has gone by so quickly. I can't even believe it. It's been just gorge here weather-wise, but the humidity has really gotten to my hair. Eff.

But in other news, I'm almost done my designation. If all goes to plan, ONE MORE COURSE!!!!!!!!! Whoop whoop.

I've scheduled some posts for a while coming, so I should be all up and running.

I'm sorry if you've missed me. I know I've sure missed you!

Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The PF Monster.


 Guess what?  The bf and I have now found a show that we love to watch together: ‘Til Debt Do Us Part.  He’s just as enamored with Gail as I am. 

Perhaps he has a crush on her?  *lolz*  In all seriousness, I think I’ve totes transferred the personal finance bug to him.

He’s paid off all his student loans {within less than a year of graduating – stellar if you ask me!}, he’s making a budget to see how much he can realistically afford to move to the city, and is leaving room for Fun, Food, Entertainment and General Savings.  I think that I’ve created a monster, in the best way possible.

He’s not a spreadsheet guy, so he’s not quite as organized as I am on that front.  But it’s the idea, and the actual physical action of budgeting that counts, right?  He doesn’t write down each expenditure he makes like moi, but he keeps track by using his debit card {he somehow has a grandfathered account thru TD whereby he doesn’t pay fees.  Eff. I’m jealous}.  It’s the same general principle, and if it’s working for him it’s a good thing. 

So proud of bf today – this post is in his honour, though he doesn’t have a foggy that I even have a blog!!  Once again, it’s the thought that counts, right?


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Am I Saving Too Early?

I was out for lunch today with some work colleagues who are the same age as I am.

As usually happens, we got to talking about our social lives which turned to a discussion {somewhat} about personal finance.  The general consencus was this: we’re too young to have savings.

Huh?  Really??  I own my own place, work the same hours and make relatively the same wage.  I don’t really deny myself many pleasures in life, but live on a budget, and save for big expenditures.  How can someone my age not be thinking about the future?  Not only am I putting money away for a lump sum mortgage payment, but also for taxes, discretionary spending and even retirement.

The only hole I see there is retirement.  I am in my mid-twenties, and hope to have many high-wage earning years ahead of me.  I hope to be married in the next 5-10 years, maintain home ownership, and travel a bit. Should I be focusing less $$ on retirement, and more on discretionary spending {which, btw, would be for weddings, gifts, travel, spending $$ etc…}??  Is this too early to start saving for my future?  Or is it never too early to do so?

I get that the mortgage and taxes all come with the territory of home-ownership.  However, should I look at it as a $100k nest egg, so to speak – and be happy I’m not paying rent, like they are, to live in a home that I couldn’t afford with a lack of savings?

HELP!  I don’t know what to do with my $100/ month that I’m saving for retirement.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This is Getting Serious. Fast.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of spending the weekend with the bf's fam.  I say privilege and mean it.  The weekend was enjoyable, and low-key.  

It's scaring me.  And I mean that too.  Every single relationship I've ever had, where I've let myself fall for someone, has ended abruptly and without reason.  In the past I've chalked that up to men being idiots.  Or, perhaps it's something wrong with me.  Either way, I am petrified it's going to happen again.  I don't know what to do.

I think the bf has fallen hard for me too.  At least, that's what he says.  We're about 7 month in, and he's brought up marriage.  He ended a 4 year relationship in September, and met me in November.  I am trying to logically tell myself that if I were the re-bound chicky, it would long be over.  But it just weighs in the back of my mind that I am somehow still THAT girl.  What if he's with me for 4 years and decides that he's only had 2 serious relationships?  What if he decides that he needs to play the field?  

I guess these questions all come up in any relationship; after all, there are people who are married for 30+ years and then break-up.  I guess I'm looking for the answers where I'm not going to find any.

I'm falling and I'm falling hard.  I don't give love easily, nor do I trust easily.  Just when I thought I would never find someone for me, it seems as though I've found that perfect someone who compliments me in all ways and who understands me.  I think I'm so afraid to lose that ideal that my fear may cause him to run.  I’ve picked fights and searched for reasons to argue, trying to find that reason to distrust him, like I’ve had in relationships before.  I’m just so afraid to lose him.

For a *Canadian Girl who’s used to being on her own, this is a scary thought.  Yet I’m excited just the same.





Hugs,


*Canadian Girl

Monday, June 21, 2010

Personal Banking. There's an App for That.

**Review below***

As you all know, I'm a die-hard Blackberry user.  In an effort to streamline not only my life, but my personal banking as well, I recently downloaded the TD Canada Trust app for BlackBerry.

Can I say - LOVE IT!  At first it didn't get stellar reviews.  However, I think that they've worked out some kinks, and have made it much more user-friendly with an interface as closely mirrored to their EasyWeb online banking as possible. It is not simply a wap site, or even a link to the Blackberry browser and then to your TD EasyWeb account; it's an app that links directly to the TD BlackBerry site.

I am able to check ALL accounts {Chequing, Savings, US and Visa, as well as Mortgage}, pay bills, transfer dollaz and even do interac money transfers.  Now, to be perfectly honest, I don't know that I will use it all the time.  But I do know that it will come in handy in a pinch, when I need to know what's in my account, or to make a payment that I've somehow missed or have somehow under-made. 

How many of you BlackBerriers {iPhoners....you have no business here....*lolz  I kid, I kid*} have tried this and love it, or hate it?  Comment below, puhlease.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Workin' On My Fitness.


Since I'm so uber stressed at work, I've been going to the gym like a mad-woman.  I'm not trying to lose weight, but am using the gym as a method of stress management.

I take my gym-ish clothes to work, and force myself to go on my way home {my condo building has a crazy ass gym, so I just go there fo' free}, so that I don' t have the excuse of sitting on my butt at home, cuddling with the pup and then not budging my ass off the couch all night. 

It's working!  Not only do I feel better, but I'm lookin' damn fine too!  {haha...no more *Canadian Girl, it's *Conceited Girl now...LOLZ}  I wish I'd gotten this into fitness earlier.  I used to work out 24/7 in high school and uni, but lost it once I ventured into the 'real' world.  My body craves exercise.

I'm always looking for new ways to use the weight machines tho.  Any suggestions and/or sites with cool info?  Lemme know!





    This is the doggie version of me.  No joke. --------------->




Hugs,

*Canadian Girl


Monday, June 14, 2010

New Job {Let's Hope}.

I believe I'd briefly mentioned my somewhat disheartening performance review the DAY before I left for Cabo.  It wasn't that I got a negative review about my performance, but rather my boss chose to focus on the fact that I wasn't putting in my 'face time'.  That's right.  Just showing my face is supposed to be what will ensure a promotion and "good" performance?  F*that.

I am done.  My boss said that I am to be 'staying until 8pm' every night.  And make the peanuts that I'm making AND pretend to be busy?  Screw you.  I need a life.  I need to go to the gym.  I need to do social things.  I need to spend time with the pup.  This is just NOT the place for me.

I like the industry, but I don't like the company I work for.  I have to get out.  So, I've begun the job hunt.

I have an interesting offer on the table from an ex boss.  HOWEVER, I would have to purchase a car, as the office is about 30 minutes out from where I currently live.  This adds a huge expense to the budget.  So, I've calcuated that my monthly expenses will increase by:

- $250 {base for car payment, considering the purchase of a used car}
- $150 {rental of  parking spot}
- $100 {car insurance}
- $150 {gas costs}

That means I would have to make another $650 per month.  I don't know that this rather small shop can afford that.  But - the position is for sales, so commission may help with that.  AND, there may be the potential for a car/mileage allowance.  The particulars still need to be worked out, but the more I think about it, the more excited I am for a new challenge, and a work environment that I enjoy being in.

I will keep you all posted as I know what's coming.  I would like your opinions - do you think the potential pay cut worth the happiness?  Lemme know in the comments; I value what you guys say.


Hugs,

*Canadian Girl