Monthly Archives: February 2011

Aeroplan VISA Gold Credit Card

To keep or not to keep?

Last year, I thought that I needed to be a grown up and signed up for the CIBC VISA Aeroplan Gold credit card.  There was a introductory bonus of 15,000 Aeroplan points for new members.  There is 1 Aeroplan point earned for every dollar spent and 1.5 Aeroplan points earned for shopping at certain grocery stores and gas stations.  There was also an annual fee of $120.

My renewal date is the end of February, and I’m on the fence about a renewal.

Last year, I put about $13,000 on my credit card.  I charged everything on this card, from groceries to cell phone bills. I thought that I was being “rewarded” for using my credit card, but now I’m not so sure.   Right now I have about 28,000 Aeroplan points, which is enough for a long haul Canadian or US flight in Economy class (25,000 points).

Assuming I spend the same next year, I’ll have enough for the next “bracket” of flights (41,000), since I don’t get that extra 15,000 points I had this year.   I’m not sure if this is worth it since I still have to pay for taxes for the flight, anyway.

I’ve been debating to switch back to my PC Financial Mastercard.  There is no annual fee, and a 1% rebate on all purchases.   I like to put all my purchases on one credit card for ease.

The only downside of using my Mastercard as my main credit card is that I love using my VISA when I travel, since Mastercard is not accepted everywhere (read: overseas).  This can easily be fixed, of course.  I still have my TD Visa Rebate card that I’ve hidden under my mattress and not used.  I can use the VISA when I travel, and my Mastercard the rest of the time.

I pay off my credit card balances every month, so even though in principle a lower APR is nice (I am currently at the 19% rate), that doesn’t really come into play.

Readers, what do you think?  What credit card do you recommend?

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Filed under Personal

Growing up Poor

(source)

Today I read posts by two very brave young women who wrote about growing up in poverty and why they are motivated.  You can check out A Gai Shan’s post here, and Sandy’s post here.  Their stories inspired me to share my own story of where I come from, and what motivates me to save (aside from fear, of course).

My father grew up in southern Vietnam, about 20 minutes away from the city of Saigon in the 1960’s.  He is the oldest of 10 children.  His family was poor.  My grandfather worked as s traveling sales man and my grandmother stayed at home to care for the children and take care of the family store which the family lived above.  My father tells me that his family could not afford good food.  Meals were comprised of rice and preserved vegetables.  Fish, meat, and eggs were all delicacies. My father described to me in great detail his first taste of an apple.

My mother grew up in Phnom Penh to wealthy family.  She was the 3rd oldest daughter, and was born in the middle of her 10 brothers and sisters.  Her father was a business man who owned a text tile company.  They had servants and even owned an automobile.  My mother went to a private school where Mandarin was taught and she excelled in both academics and physical activities.  My mother was a talented dancer, volleyball, basketball, table tennis and badminton player.

Then in the late 1960’s war broke out in both my parents’ countries.  My mother’s family was wealthy and so they were able to buy their freedom.  My grandparents, my mother and all her siblings (with exception of my eldest uncle), left Cambodia for Hong Kong.  My father’s family was not so fortunate, but my grandfather had connections because of line of work, and was able to get my father onto a boat leaving for Hong Kong.  My father left his family in the middle of the night, with 20USD in his pocket at the age of 18, and never returned.

In Hong Kong, my father worked at a warehouse for a family friend, and slept in the same place.  My mother shared a 2 bedroom apartment with her parents and 10 brothers and sisters.  My mother could no longer afford to attend school, and worked full time to support her family and younger siblings so they could attend school.  My parents met and wed.

As newlyweds, my parents scrounged together all their meager savings, and bought supplies, such as canned foods, clothing, under garments, blankets, and other household items to ship to my father’s family who were still in Vietnam.  Eventually, my parents saved enough money and moved to France to join my mother’s family.

After the Vietnam war ended, my father’s family was sponsored to Canada. My parents joined them shortly after, and my mother’s family also came to Canada after that.  Starting over, yet again, was very difficult but parents were young and determined.  There was much family drama over money and responsibilities that I won’t go into details.

My parents shared a one bedroom apartment in a 7 bedroom house in Toronto’s Chinatown and paid $50 a month in rent.  My father took the first subway out west (6am) and commuted to Mississauga (sub-urb about 1.5hours away by public transit) every day to work at a factory.  My mother found work doing piece meal sewing in Chinatown.  They used their window as a refrigerator and milk crates doubled as both a chair and desk (with a sturdy piece of cardboard, of course).

Within four years, my parents saved enough money for a down payment on a small town house.  They moved to the townhouse and shortly afterwards, I was born.  And not long afterwards, my 2 younger sisters were born.

My mother stayed at home to take care of my sisters and I.  My father worked at a wall paper factory for 10 years before he was laid off.  My mother ran a daycare of sorts from home taking care of my cousins, 2 toddlers and my best friend from elementary school.  Even though we grew up poor, I never saw it that way.

I wore hand-me-downs which were passed down my mother’s friend’s boys (she convinced me green was a girl colour, too), my father cut our hair, we grew our own vegetables in the garden (and used our own natural fertilizer), we always had frozen meat and bread (which my parent bought in bulk on sale), were taught to use 2 squares of toilet paper, we never had juice or pop and we always always had to finish every last rice in our bowl.  Nothing ever went to waste.

My sisters and I didn’t join sport leagues, we played in our back yard.  My family never went away for vacation, we went camping or to the CNE with our vouchers from school.  We never ordered pizza or delivery.  I think I had Swiss Chalet once in my entire child hood (it’s why I am the only person I know who doesn’t love their sauce).  We would never go shopping, but my father would bring my sisters and I to the library every other week without fail.  We would always come home for lunch.  But if there was a school trip, my sisters and I were always allowed to go (except for overnight or faraway trips).

Even though my family was poor, we were very fortunate.  My sisters and I were always well fed, and warmly dressed.  The funny thing is that I never knew I was poor.  Until people told me.

The first time was at my cousins birthday party.  I might have been 7 or 8 years old.  My aunt ordered pizza for everyone.  I loved pizza but I’ve never had delivery, we always baked our own from frozen ones.  I guess I must have had a few slices too many because my aunt says to me, “Poor thing.  Eat as much as you like, because your father is poor and can’t afford to buy delivered pizza.”  Or something to that extent.  At the time I didn’t understand, but now that I do, it makes me angry to think my aunt would say such a thing after all my parents have done to help her.

The second time was at school when I got 2 new pairs of running shoes.  I was super happy and alternated days wearing them to school.  Someone else also noticed my new shoes, and called me out on it.  “Fab Frugirl’s got new shoes but they are no name brand!  No name brand! hahaha.”  Well, I could clearly read that my shoes were Venture brand, so I threw that back at him.  Little did I know that Venture was a no name brand.

Fast forward to high school where I started to understand more about money.  I also knew that University tuition costs a lot of money, and I was afraid that my parents would not be able to afford it.  I worked part-time for 3 years during school, and full time during my summers.  I fried donuts, was a cashier at McDonald’s, tutored math and science, operated rides, cleaned dishes at a summer camp – and funneled every last penny into my savings account.  I had $8,000 in the bank when I set foot on campus.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I kind of forgot all this when I was in college.  I saved enough from my internships and co-op for living expenses and tuition, but I could have saved more.  I could have wasted less money on clothes and eating out, and put it towards an RRSP.  Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Now that I live on my own, I’m starting to realize more and more how many sacrifices my parents made, to lift our family out of poverty and give my sisters and I the opportunity to live a better life.

Through discussing retirement with my parents, I realize that not only did they take care of my sisters and I, they also did all that they could to save for their own retirement so that they do no burden my sisters and I.  Coming from a culture where it is very normal to have parents live with their children after their children are married, I am truly humbled by all that my parents have done.

So that’s where I come from.

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Filed under Personal

Travel Frugally not Cheaply

I love to travel, and I know that I’m really lucky to be able to travel as much as I do.  I’ve backpacked through Egypt, Germany, and Southeast Asia.  I’ve also traveled and lived in various places in North & South America.

My favourite parts of traveling is tasting the food, and experiencing the culture.   I love just spending hours getting lost and walking around every where.  Attractions are nice, but I usually only see one or two of the main ones (without long line ups!), and spend the rest of my time exploring.

Like most finer things in life, traveling can get really expensive.  Transportation, accommodation, food, site seeing, gifts – it all adds up.  But with some planning, prioritizing, compromising and creativity, traveling anywhere can be fun, exciting, and frugal.

Last year, was a great year with many opportunities to travel.  I went to Vancouver, British Columbia to visit my sister during the Winter Olympics ($800), I visited BF in Venezuela during one of his projects ($600), BF and I visited Boston, Massachusetts at the end summer ($600), and we took a mini-vacation the weekend before Christmas holidays at Niagara Falls ($150).

Here are my frugal tips for traveling.

Transportation

1. Plan ahead.

Try to plan your trip as far ahead as possible, and keep tabs on flight costs so you know when there is a good deal, and snatch it up.  Figure out what type of flight your need.  A round trip flight, with fixed departure and return dates are usually the cheapest, but make sure that works with your schedule.  If you may need to change your return date, it might be more worth it to look into open ended tickets, as opposed to paying the charges for a flight change.

2. Fly during low seasons

During high seasons, flights can be more than double the low season price.

3. Use travel points

If you use your credit card a lot, or get reimbursed for work related expenses, those points add up really fast.  If you always fly with group of airlines (i.e., Star Alliance), you may be able to rack up “status” with them and get free perks.  I find this is most applicable for those of us who have the luxury of traveling for work.

4. Public Transportation

Once you’ve gotten to your destination, take advantage of the existing public transportation systems instead of relying on cabs, or rental cars.  Not only will this save you a tonne of cash, you get to see more of the city and be “closer” to it’s people.  Most major cities have public transit which can connect people from airports to the city core.

5. Walk

Walking is not only free and great exercise, you get to see and feel the city the most.  You can completely immerse yourself with the crowd, and pretend like you are one of them.  You also get to burn a tonne of calories, so that you can keep eating all the yummy food.

Accommodations

1. Stay Longer

If you’re only staying for one night, and moving every night, it’s pretty hard to negotiate a decent rate.  If you’re staying at least 3 nights to a week, you can usually score a discount rate.  It never hurts to ask.

2. Stay in hostels

Having traveled as a poor student, often times I stayed in sketchy interesting hostels.  Make sure  you ask for a tour first, so you can see if you feel comfortable staying there.  Hostels work really well, if you don’t plan on spending much time in the hostel, and you don’t mind sharing your space.  I find YMCA’s are really great, because they are very clean and they offer lots of options.  Shared bathrooms also helps make getting ready faster, especially if you’re traveling with 5 girls.

3. Rent an apartment

I had no idea the plethora of short term apartment rentals until BF and I went to Normandy, France.  We rented a 2 bedroom apartment minutes away from a beach for an entire week for only $600.   In Vancouver, I stayed in a rented bedroom for only $30 a night.  Apartments usually are equipped with basic cooking utensils so you can also save money and cook some of your meals, too.

4. Use points

The good thing about redeeming travel points for hotels is that you can pay for it completely with points.  Unlike booking a flight with points, you don’t have to pay the taxes, so there is no out-of-pocket cost (I am giving you the evil eye, Aeroplan).

Food

1. Prioritize

If there is a Michelin restaurant you are dying to try, then do it!  But make sure that meal is special, and it’s not every meal.  Plan to have one or two really (or three) nice meals, so you don’t feel “deprived”, if that ‘s what you value.

2. Pack food

Pack some water, crackers, bread or fruits with you on the go.  These snacks are usually healthier and less expensive than grabbing a random snack once your stomach starts growling.  In France, BF and I would pack some cheese, a baguette and some cured meats and we’d be good for the day.  Then, we feast at dinner.

3. Recommendations from locals

Talk to other tourists, your tour guide, or just any local.  Chances are, they know of a range of great restaurants and are more than happy to share recommendations with you.

4. Stay in a place with a kitchen

If eating out is not your thing, then why not make your own food with local ingredients and flavours?  Like most home cooking, it’s probably better for your health and wallet.  And you don’t have to worry about what the tipping etiquette is.

Site Seeing

1. “Free” Maps & Tours

Most major cities offer a plethora of tour guides and fancy duck-shaped buses which haul you around the city.  I usually find the “free” tours, or tip-based tours to be the most informative, enjoyable and bang for my buck.

2. Prioritize

Do you enjoy walking through museums?  Or do you prefer to look at historical buildings and sites?  You have a limited amount of time, energy and money, so don’t try to see or do it all.  You are not seeing the city, if you are spending half your time in line-ups to see attractions.

3. Hang out where the locals do

Do you think a local New Yorker steps foot in Times Square?  Or a local Parisian climbs the Eiffel Tower?  Probably not.  Why not enjoy a glass of wine while listening to a local jazz club?  Or check out a local production?  Or enjoy stargazing while listening to local musicians at dusk while perched at the hill top of Sacre Coeur?

Just remember to have fun and be creative while minding your wallet.  I’m sure no one wants to come back from the trip with a huge credit card bill.  Traveling frugally doesn’t have to be cheap 😉

What are some of your favourite traveling tips?  Please share in the comments, I’d love to hear them.

Cheers,

14 Comments

Filed under Budget, Travel

Groupon Newbie Fun Fact & Happy Weekend

source

This weekend in Canada is a long weekend.  Happy Family Day to all Canadians.  Happy President’s Day to all Americans.  And Happy weekend to everyone else. 🙂

Update: I should really get my statutory holidays straight before wishing the entire country a Happy Family Day weekend when it only applies to certain provinces and territories.  Thanks to p sheehan for pointing this out! (I get a little too excited for long weekends!).

So, Happy Family Day weekend to Canadians in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island (from Wikipedia). Happy Presidents’ Day, or President’s Day or Washington’s Birthday to my American readers.  And I happy weekend to everyone else.  Cheers 🙂

My co-worker and I were reading an article in the Globe and Mail about Groupon.  One of my other co-workers chimed in made such a funny comment, I just had to share it.

Co-worker A: What’s a Groupon?

Me & Co-worker B: It’s a discount you get when you buy a gift card or sign up for a service in a big group.  For instance, they may sell a $40 voucher for a restaurant for $20, but there must be a minimum group of 50 people to buy it.

Co-worker B: Do you have to go to dinner with 50 random strangers?

Me & Co-worker B had a chuckle and explained to him that we just had to buy the voucher before the deadline, but we don’t need go together.  I guess we weren’t too clear in our explanation. 🙂

I also wrote a post on my thoughts on Groupon a while back.  Check it out here.

Any funny stories to share, readers?

Cheers,

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Filed under Random

Book Review: The Joy of Less


This Christmas, I bought myself Francine Jay’s wonderful book to help me on my journey to a more minimalistic life.  This book is great for beginner aspiring minimalists, such as myself.  Reading this book, felt like having a conversation with Francine, she is witty and funny and breezes through each chapter with great tips.

Book Set-up

Francine starts with a philosophical introduction to why we can benefit by living with less.  Then, Francine goes through rooms, one-by-one to de-clutter and offers tips to keep this newly cleaned space clean and un-cluttered.  Rooms covered include: the bedroom, washroom, closets, kitchen, living room, garages, attics and basements.  Each chapter covers one room, and Francine gives the readers tips for each individual room.

STREAMLINE

Francine uses this acronym for de-cluttering each space.

S – Start over
T – Trash, Treasure or Transfer
R – Reason for each item
E – Everything in its place
A – All surfaces clear
M – Modules
L – Limits
I – If one comes in, one goes out
N – Narrow it down
E – Everyday maintenance

Trash, Treasure or Transfer

This is my favourite part of STREAMLINE.  Francine recommends de-cluttering prior to re-organizing your space.  There is no point in re-organizing your stuff and storing it, if your stuff is mostly junk.  Better to get rid of the things you don’t use, and organize the things that serve a purpose in your life.

Your stuff should be grouped into one of the three piles.  Trash pile is for things that are useless or broken (and will not be repaired).  Treasure pile is for things that you use or it’s really really important to you.  Transfer is for things to be given away to charity or things that need to be returned or gifted.

Francine also recommends having a temporary pile for things that you may be on the fence about.  She recommends giving a time line for how long things can stay in the temporary pile, after that, the items must either be trashed, treasured or transfered.

Modules

This is my second favourite part of STREAMLINE.  Francine recommends grouping similar items and similar function items into “modules.”  For instance, keep all your knitting stuff in a box or drawer, and that is your knitting module.  This prevents your various hobbies from being strewn all over the room, and also keeps a check on how much you have for that purpose.

Clutter Attracts Clutter

This is repeated throughout Francine’s book, and it is so true!  As soon as there is a bit of clutter on a surface – any surface, more things will generally land on that surface.  The next thing you know, you’re digging your dining room table out from underneath a pile of junk.  By completing regular sweeps of any clutter on your surfaces, you can keep your rooms tidy and clutter-free.

I think that sums up the key points of what I learned from The Joy of Less.  It’s a quick and easy read for any beginner who would like to live happier with less.   It’s got some pretty easy to follow guidelines, and I highly recommend to anyone who would like a bit of direction with their de-cluttering.

Cheers,

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Filed under Book Review, Minimalism

February Goal: File 2010 Taxes

This year, I plan on completing my 2010 taxes by the end of February.  I am hoping for a tax return, and by getting them done early, the earlier I can get my money back and make it work for me.

For as long as I can remember, I have always done my taxes by hand.  Ancient, I know, but that’s the way that I know how to do it.  When I was little, my dad would make my sisters and I do our taxes, and he would check them – like homework.

So last year, when I attempted to use the an electronic tax software, I was overwhelmed that it only took mt 20 minutes to complete, as opposed to the usual 3 hours.  I am a little embarrassed to admit it, but I actually didn’t believe the electronic file, and I completed my taxes by hand and sent those in.

This year, I’d like to take another stab at electronic filing.  I will still complete my taxes by hand first (because it makes me feel more comfortable), and then I will file electronically.  That way, it will be a check, and I will (hopefully) feel much better about filing electronically in the future.

Will report back once I am done!

Readers, do you file your own taxes?  Do you file them electronically, or do you do them by hand, like me?

Cheers,

 

 

 

 

Photo source: http://alanadawes.com/capital/?p=taxes-online

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Filed under Personal, Taxes

Shopping Ban: January Fail

This year, I decided to embark on a self-imposed shopping ban.  You can read more details about it here, and here.  To sum it up, no shopping for clothes, jewelry and make-up for a whole year.  I am allowed 3 exceptions, including a pair of black boots, an iTouch, and a winter jacket.  This challenge is to help me shop my own closet, and be more creative with making items, and re-using items.  I am also allowed to shop at thrift stores with my “reward” money ($25) for staying within my $1,000 monthly budget.  This is my monthly update.

I broke the golden rule of shopping ban.  I set foot within a mall.  Ladies, it is not impossible to walk out a mall and not purchase anything, but it about 324,345,239 times harder than not going in, in the first place.

Earlier this January, I decided to gift my Esprit winter jacket to my mom.  I exchanged my size for my mom’s size, and I thought that was the end of that.  My mom loves loose fitting jackets and wanted me to exchange it for a size up.

So my sister and I went to the mall to exchange it.  My sister also invited her bestie, and we were off for an afternoon.  I found my mom’s desired jacket size, and I wanted to scope out some boot deals (since that was one of the items I allowed myself).

I found a pair of flat boots for $93 at Town Shoes.  I thought I was done… until I spotted La Senza’s bra sale for 50%.  I forgot how much I wanted a good bra (mine are all at least a year old, and the elastics are kinda gone).  I rationalized the bra purchase… and then I spotted a belt (for only $7.50!) at Costa Blanca.

The damage was done.  For a total damage $134.19.  Here’s the breakdown:

Flat boots: $105.09, bra: $20.62, belt:  $8.48.

I haven’t worn the belt, yet.  I feel it might have been a frivolous and impulsive purchase, that may not have improved my wardrobe. I will try to incorporate it into some February outfits, though – it’s got potential.

The bra and shoes are super comfy and I will be wearing them on an (almost) daily basis.

Conclusion: Fail on the shopping ban for January, but I won’t let this bump in the road stop me from completing the rest of my ban!  I am more determined than before to see my ban through to the end of this year.  I know I can do it! February is a short month!  I also got a great idea from Fabulously Broke in the City to catalog her entire wardrobe.  What a great idea!

Readers, how are your shopping bans coming along?

P.S. I’m thinking of compiling a lists of Shopping Ban bloggers so we can be accountable to one another. What do you think?  E-mail me or leave a comment if you’d like to be added to the list.

Cheers,

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Filed under Fashion, Shopping Ban

Thoughts on Compounding Interest

Today I read an article which discussed the power of compounding interest and gave a very compelling example of its importance.  If you recall from my post on my motivation by fear, one of the reasons behind me focusing on my finances now, is that I felt like I was behind on reaping the benefits of compounding interest.

The article I read focused on an example of A who is 19 years old and starts putting away $2,000 each year for 7 years, then no contribution afterwards.  Assuming a 10% return, at age 65, A will have nest egg of $944,641.  Compared to B who starts putting away $2,000 each year starting at age 26 until they are 65.  At age 65, B will have a nest egg of $973,704.  The article showed a table with total contributions and yearly nest egg amounts from age 19 to 65 for both A and B.

The first thing that I thought of when I read this article was, where do I find something that will give me 10% annual returns every year until I turn 65?  The second thing I did was look at how much money A had when they were 26 years old (my age).  The amount A had at age 26 was $22,959.  The third thing I did was make 3 spreadsheets with the same information as A and B in the article, add my information, and compared different outcomes with different interest rates.

My information is no retirement contribution until age 25.  At age 25, I put in ~$10,000 and at age 26, I put in ~$15,000, for a total of $25,000 present worth.

Update: For my information, I am assuming a total of $25,000 invested at age 26, and assuming no contribution going forward, just for simplicity sake.

This amount includes market gains in 2009 and 2010.  This amount is also more than the amount A had at age 26.

The table below summarizes my spreadsheet findings.

Even though according to the simple example used in the article, I would still have a comparable nest egg.  This little exercise showed me that even though compounding interest is very important, the interest rate itself is just as important.  A 5 per cent difference in interest rate can mean 1/6th of the nest egg.   And let’s face it, a 5% interest rate is much more reasonable than 10%.

I also remember thinking back to when I was 19 years old.  To be able to sock away $1,000 a year was close to unthinkable.  Most of the money I made from various part time gigs was in a GIC savings account for college.  I would have never imagined to invest it in a stock market, or mutual funds.  I didn’t even know how those things really worked.  Much less put all my hard earned money into it.  So I understand the principle behind saving early, but I understand first hand why it is often not done.

My conclusion is that a good nest egg depends on your discipline to save, saving early, and also finding investments where you can get a consistent return.  But one thing the article is right on about is the earlier you save, the less you have to save later.  How early, depends on our individual situations.  And when I say you, I really mean me.

What are your thoughts on this?  What are some of your important financial lessons?

Cheers,

Photo source: http://www.1-formula.com/mathematical-formulas/compound-interest-equation1/compound-interest-equation2.html

5 Comments

Filed under Finance, Personal

500 Things Challenge: January 17th to 31st

In my journey to a more minimalistic lifestyle, I am embarking on a 500 Things Challenge.  This challenge may eventually become the 1,000 Things Challenge – depending on my de-cluttering itch.  Basically, this year, I will try to get rid of 500 items from my home.  I gift these items to friends, return them to their rightful owners, donate them to charity or trash.  I am keeping a list to be accountable and I will keep adding to this list throughout the year.  New items are not italicized.

500 Things Challenge Item List

  1. skinny, white scarf
  2. kitchen wall clock
  3. black top
  4. jeans
  5. jeans
  6. pajamas pants
  7. nail clippers
  8. “Start Late, Finish Rich” by David Bach
  9. Chinese cd
  10. Chinese cd
  11. Chinese cd
  12. Chinese cd
  13. Chinese cd
  14. Chinese cd
  15. Chinese cd
  16. Chinese cd
  17. Chinese cd
  18. Chinese cd
  19. body pillow
  20. picture frame
  21. green sweater
  22. poker chips set
  23. build-a-bear t-shirt
  24. white tank top
  25. blue flowery tank top
  26. blue cropped cardigan
  27. black & white flowered top
  28. old skinny jeans
  29. black backpack
  30. car
  31. Esprit long winter jacket
  32. frozen dumpling package
  33. frozen dumpling package
  34. frozen dumpling package
  35. frozen vegetable mix
  36. “Chicken Soup for the Cat and Dog Lover’s Soul”  by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Marty Becker and Carol Kline
  37. “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul II” by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Kimberly Kirberger
  38. “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul III” by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Kimberly Kirberger
  39. “Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul Letters” by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Kimberly Kirberger
  40. “Ashes to Ashes” by Tami Hoag
  41. “Emily of New Moon” by L.M. Mongomery
  42. “The Nanny Diaries” by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
  43. “Play Poker to Win” by Amarillo Slim Preston
  44. metal water bottle
  45. plastic water bottle
  46. 9″ white plate
  47. 9″ white plate
  48. 9″ white plate
  49. 9″ white plate
  50. 10″ white plate
  51. 10″ white plate
  52. 10″ white plate
  53. 10″ white plate
  54. 10″ white plate
  55. clear rectangular plate
  56. clear rectangular plate
  57. white sauce plate
  58. white sauce plate
  59. white sauce plate
  60. CHFI 98.1 mug
  61. CHFI 98.1 mug
  62. CHFI 98.1 mug
  63. Christmas mug
  64. red v-neck faux wrap top
  65. re-usable bag
  66. re-usable bag
  67. re-usable bag
  68. re-usable bag
  69. re-usable bag

This week, I slimmed down my kitchen dish cabinet, my freezer and one shelf of my book shelf.   Unfortunately, I had old dumplings that were the gross and severely freezer burned.  My home made dumplings are way tastier and less fatty.  I had old mixed veggies that were more freezer burnt than veggies.  Out those went!

I inherited a bunch of dishes and mugs from my old room mate.  Too many.  I also bought some dishes from IKEA which I use more often.  Out goes the ones that I don’t use on a regular basis.

I was a huge fan of Chicken Soup books in my teenager years.  I’ve decided to keep the first edition of my Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, and my copy of Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul, and donate the rest.  I also really enjoyed Lucy Maud Montgomery’s books, but I haven’t read my copy since my teenager years.  The other two books I haven’t read but have had on my book shelf for years.  Out they go.

Did you have a favourite series of books growing up?  Do you still read them?

Cheers,

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Filed under 500 Things Challenge

Cash is Closer to Home

A post on the allure of using smart phone mobile payments from blogger Shopping to Saving caught my attention.

Basically, she wrote about a Starbucks application which can be used as payment at Starbucks.  Even though I think this is a nifty idea (and wish I thought of the idea to patent), alas, I will not be using any app to pay for anything any time soon.

My reason for this is “cash is closer to home.”  I find that the more separation there is between physically paying for something with cash, the less I feel I am “paying” for it.

Take this weekend for example.  I took out $160 cash from the bank machine to pay for my hair cut ($70) and my bus tokens ($50).  Physically using those $20 bills was much more painful for me than simply swiping my credit card, even though the amount spent is still the same.

Even the motion of just counting the money, gives me a few extra seconds to debate whether I really want to be spending this money.  This is not to say that I operate on a cash only basis.  Most purchases I make are on my credit card (which is paid off in full every month), and I carry about $60 in cash on my most times.

If I had an app to buy things, there is yet another layer of separation between me and my cash, which makes it easier for me to spend money.  So for me, by just using sticking to my cash and credit cards, I’m inadvertently saving money by removing layers of separation to my money.

Readers, would you like to use apps and other devices to pay for things?  Do you think these apps would make shopping more convenient or too tempting?

Cheers,


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Filed under Finance, Personal