Monthly Archives: October 2011

Frugal Dinner: Romantic Seafood Dinner Date for Under $20

One of my big time and money saving tips for food is batch cooking ahead of time.  I usually cook a big, huge meal once a week for the rest of the weekdays.   Then I package them in tupperware (freeze the extra’s, if any), and eat the portions through out the week for lunch and dinners.  This works if you don’t mind eating the same thing the entire week.  If not, then try freezing some portions for next time.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that eating out is a weakness for BF and I.  This dinner is not as frugal as my other meals.  I think it’s a bit of a splurge for making my own food, and much less than dining out.

Candles

One time when BF and I were having dinner on his patio, he lit some candles and this completely changed the mood of our dinner.  It made it special and romantic.  This weekend, tried to put a romantic spin on our dinner, and what is more romantic than wine and seafood?

I grabbed some fresh clams and mussels from our local fish market, some fresh fruits & veggies, a bottle of white wine, some linguini and the old candle from lathe previous weekend.

I made a simple linguini in seafood and wine sauce, lit some candles, and we had a romantic dinner on his patio.  I know not everyone had their own patio, and I think a dinner inside would be just as sweet.

Wine

Alcohol always kills the bill.  I can’t believe BF and I used to order wine by the bottles when we first dated.  We still get the occasional glass or 0.5L, but much less now.

This is one of my favourite wines.  It tastes great – not too sweet or too dry, and it’s only $7.75 for 750mL. Perfect.  If we ordered this at a restaurant, we’d be paying at least $30 – $40 (+tax + tip) for the bottle of wine.

Seafood

For some reason, I associate seafood with romance.  Maybe it’s because oysters are an aphrodisiac… Or maybe because it’s always so expensive at restaurants.

I used to be intimidated by clams and mussels, but now that I’ve cooked it once, it’s super easy.  Always get your shellfish at a good fish market – make sure it’s fresh, it shouldn’t smell super fishy.

Put your clams and mussels in a pail of water with salt.  Let it sit for 10 – 20 minutes.  You should see sand at the bottom of your container.  Rinse and it’s ready to use.

If your shells do not open after they are cooked, discard them.  Also remember, clams take longer to open than mussels.

Total cost of ingredients: $9
Cost of Wine: $7.75
Total Servings: 2
Cost per serving: $8.38

  • 1 lb of mussels and clams (clams weight a lot more than mussels)
  • 1 dry pint of grape tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 1 shallot (chopped)
  • few leaves of fresh cilatro (torn)
  • 2 tbs of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 2 servings of linguini pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring water in a big pot to boil for pasta.  Cook pasta to al dente.
  2. Place mussels and clams in basin of water with salt.  Leave for 10 – 20 minutes, then rinse.
  3. Over medium heat, add olive oil, garlic, shallots and tomatoes.
  4. Cook until tomatoes are soft.
  5. Add wine.
  6. Add mussels and clams.
  7. Close lid for 3 – 5 minutes until shells have opened up.
  8. Discard unopened shells.
  9. Turn off heat, add linguini and toss together.
  10. Garnish with cilantro and serve with wine.

Enjoy with your significant other with some candles and jazz music.

Cheers,

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Frugal Parents: Using Credit Cards as Debit Cards

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This is a series I put together to share my parents’ frugal habits. My family grew up poor, but it never felt like it to my sisters and I. It was only when I grew older that I realized how much my parents had to scrimp and save, in order to give my sisters and I the life we have now. Some of these stories are funny, some sad and I hope that some may also warm your heart.

I got my first credit card in first or second year university.  My parents had warned me against signing up for a credit card with some random company and insisted I didn’t need a credit card.  I refused to take “no” for an answer, and they brought me to our TD Canada Trust branch to talk to an advisor to open a credit card.

Of course, I got the “Student Green Visa” with a $500 limit. I was ecstatic! 🙂

I didn’t know a thing about what a credit card was.  I just really wanted to “build up my credit”. When I didn’t even know what it really meant.

My parents knew that I could get into big trouble with a credit card, but they also knew that I would get one sooner or later.  So, instead of having me figure out things the hard way, they just me that I could use a credit card but I had to pay it off IN FULL every month.

When I asked my dad about the “minimum payment” amount, he told me to ignore it and pay it in full.  That was the ONLY way to use a credit card.

And so, that’s what I did.  For all of my university career.  I paid off my credit card each and every month.  To me, it was like getting a month of free loan that I had to pay back the next month.

It wasn’t until my first in year into working full-time that I realized that a credit card was a loan that I could take as long as I want to payback (at ~19% interest!).  That’s when I realized how easily I could have slipped up and got myself into a lot of debt, if I wasn’t careful.

My parents use their credit cards as debit cards, paying them off every month in full.  And that’s what they taught me, too.  Even though, I didn’t know the full capabilities at the time I started using my credit card, I think it was for the best.

When did you get your first credit card?  Did you fully understand what a credit card was?  And did you pay them off in full every month?

Cheers,

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My Skin Battle: Dermatologist vs Estheticians

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This summer has wreaked havoc on my skin.  Hands down the worst summer for my skin in the last few years. 😦  I’ve been having bouts of breakouts with some calm in between, only to have another bout of break out.  And I don’t mean just a zit, I either get huge cystic acne or clusters of pimples (like 6 – 10 at a time).

It’s really putting a damper on my self esteem, and I feel pretty self conscious when I go out.  Although I’ve been using make-up and it’s not as noticeable, I notice it, and that’s enough for me.

It all started in April when my skin would get super oily during the day, and then it would feel super dry after I washed it.  It was a pretty unpleasant cycle, and my dermatologist just kept prescribing more drying lotions.   Then I read Fabulously Broke’s review on Pure and Simple spa and decided to give it a try.

I was really impressed with Pure and Simple’s philosophy and their approach and decided to splurge on a 5-package of facials ($695 + tax & various products $$$ later…), and my acne was also still in bouts.

It would get worse after my facial, and then better.  Even BF noticed!  But as soon as I stopped getting facials, it would act up again.  (When I say stop, I mean if I didn’t got for 2 months or so).  Or if I ate certain foods, my acne would just get out of control and the natural products that I was using couldn’t control it.  In fact, my acne seemed to get progressively worse, a bit better, and then worse. Now it’s in its “worse” stage. 😦

I’ve also tried the Oil Cleansing Method, as so many of your have sworn by in my last skin post.  Reader Sonia was so kind as to send me a mixture of her oil cleansing potion!  It was working great the 2 weeks or so, and then my bout of acne came (likely due to consumption of way too much cheese!), and I felt like it was doing more harm than good, and have gone off of it.  I would like to try it again, after my skin calms down.

During this time, I wanted to further educate myself on my skin since I was getting conflicting recommendations from my esthetician and my dermatologist. I’ve summarized the information I’ve gotten from each below.

Esthetician: Use natural products and instead of trying to dry out your skin – plump it up with lots of moisturizer products.  Natural products work best as it is more easily absorbed into the skin.  Come for facials often to regularly clean out your pores.

Dermatologist: Use the glycolic acid toner in the mornings to keep sloughing off dead skin cells and kill bacteria on the surface of your skin.  Use moisturizer only in dry areas – do not moisterize everywhere.  Use a retinoid and Vit A cream at night to control oil and treat active acne.

Further Readings

I’ve also read the “Skin Type Solution” by Leslie Baumman, M.D. (dermatologist), and Beauty Pure and Simple by Kristen Ma (co-founder of Pure and Simple holistic spas).  I will be doing a review on each of the books, so I don’t want to go into too much detail here.  They are both great reads, and I highly recommend them to anyone, but especially those of us who deal with acne and other skin problems.

There are a lot of similarity and overlap in the approach that both ladies take.  For instance, I have oily and sensitive skin.  In both books, I need to address the bacteria on my skin surface, and slough off dead skin cells so that they do not eventually clog more pores.  The difference is in the products and the types of treatments each recommend.

Dermatologist

My dermatologist has prescribed a regime similar to that recommended by Dr. Baumman’s book, including the following. 

Glycolic acid (all over face and neck): check;
Retinoid (all over face neck): check;
Spot treatment: check;
Sunscreen and gentle cleanser: check and check.

Moisturize only in dry areas: check.  Chemical peels over abrasive exfoiliation.  No steaming of face. No fancy treatments required.  (Sidenote: Baumman does not shy away from recommending more intense treatments where she thinks it’s needed, such as botox and intense light treatments).

Estheticians

My esthetician approaches treating acne (and other skin problems) in a holistic manner.  Instead of using drying solutions, she recommends more moisturizing which she says will bring back the balance of oil in our skin. She argues that when there is balance in my skin, it will stop producing so much oil and blackheads.   She also recommends monthly facials to purge or clean my pores.

There is a part of me that wants to use more natural products – maybe it’s the hippie or romantic in me – being one with nature and whatnot.  Wanting to use products from our earth instead of chemically manufactured.

But then, I know it’s not all working because I keep getting breakouts, and it’s really getting to me.  And I always feel a little it’s a bit of a conflict of interest that an esthetician encourage their clients to do monthly (or more frequent) facials.  They are expensive – mine are ~$120 (+ tax + tip) each.  Of course, you’d want them to come back more often, right?

Finding my Medium

Maybe there can be a happy medium for me – things are never just black and white, right?

I’ve also read that dermotologsits should be consulted for more severe cases of acne or skin conditions and an esthetician can be consulted for more moderate cases since they do not have the same training or background as dermotologist.

Conclusion

I’m going back to using what my dermatologist prescribed to clear out my skin.

I find that when my skin is good, it’s really good, but when it starts to break out – the bacteria on my skin just grows exponentially and then everything is out of control.

However, I will also be moisturizing my skin with more natural products (I do find they are absorbed more easily into my skin).  And when my skin gets better, maybe I will go to using the glycolic acid and retinoid every other night instead of every night.

Le sigh.  Wish me luck!

Any tips, readers?  Do you prefer a dermatologist or esthetician?  Natural or chemical products?

Cheers,

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What I would NOT use a Groupon for

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Warning: Might be TMI

One of my friends just sent out an e-mail trying to get rid a Groupon she bought and wouldn’t be able to use before it expired.  For a Brazillian.

If you don’t know what a Brazillian is, see here.

As you already know, I’m not a huge fan of Groupons.  But seeing all the Groupons/Team Buys/ Living Social deals for various spa treatments. you’d think they were trying to sell me potatoes.  Unlimited laser hair removal treatments at 95% off, Brazillian for $20, under arm waxing, etc.

Now, this might be a bit TMI, but I’ve only had my first Braziliian this year.  And it was one of the most awkward and intimate situations I have ever been in (much less with a stranger).

Aside from someone applying hot wax to my lady parts, I had to literally bare it all down there to a complete stranger.  I mean, you really have to trust this person.

Groupon, no thanks.

There was NO WAY I would want to use a Groupon for this.  I think that services are priced at a certain premium for a reason, and I have this fear there that something might go wrong when services are offered at up to 95% off.  It just doesn’t make sense to me.  What kind of shortcuts are they taking to offer me these services at this price.  Something just doesn’t sit right with me.

Despite my inbox being bombarded with all sorts of deals for brazillians and laser hair removal, I went the “old fashion way” and booked an appointment at my favourite salon in the City and paid full price and happily tipped my esthetician 20% because she did such a great job and made me feel completely at ease (despite my usual grumblings about tipping).

Have you used a Groupon for intimate spa services?  How did you find it?  What would you not buy a Groupon for?

Cheers,

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Link Love (powered by Palak Paneer and “Suits”)

Hello, everyone!

I’ve been a little quiet around the blogosphere this past week because I’ve been away on a business trip.  I haven’t gone on too many business trips, so expect a post coming up for my thoughts and tips on going on one.

I have managed to read some of my blog list through reader, but I am so dreadfully behind.  I still thought that I’d share some of my favourite posts  🙂

Life

Personal Finance

Fashion

Hope that everyone has a wonderful week! 🙂

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Pinterest to my Rescue

I’ve recently gotten a Pinterest board and it’s SO COOL!!!

It’s like a virtual cork board where you can “pin” images from various websites on it.

I’ve been using it to put together ideas for my new and improved wardrobe.  From my experience with my shopping ban (so far), I’ve realized that I gravitate to the same pieces, and I also don’t look as put together as much as I’d like to be (photographs do not lie).

I’ve been consistently purging my closet this year, and I hope to have left the things that I really really like, or at least what I wear most.  I would like to determine what my style is and what I would like it to be.  And then I want to fill in the holes of my wardrobe next year.  But first, I need to know what those holes are, and I need to know what my style is.

So, this is some of my stuff from my Style Board.

The always stylish Fabulously Broke has kindly reviewed my style board and has come up with my style (thanks, girl!).  I feel like I am on an episode of TLC’s “What not to Wear” (except without the 360 degree mirror and the $5,000 credit card to spend on a new wardrobe… darn).

From what I have on my Pinterest Style Board, I like:

  • clean lines
  • streamlined shapes
  • black and white patterns and lace
  • stripes
  • classic shapes
  • trench jackets  (LOVE!!)
  • knee-high boots tucked in jeans with a blazer
  • colourful scarf with neutrals
  • chunky sweaters
  • belts
  • statement necklaces
  • Kate Middleton is my style goddess 🙂

And what do I have in my wardrobe right now?  Good question.  My fear is that after I finish purging, I won’t have anything left.

I’m just going to list the items I really love.

  • brown leather knee-high boots
  • black trench jacket
  • black flat strapped sandals
  • bronze wedged sandals
  • dark blue skinny jeans
  • lime green scarf
  • striped navy scarf
  • black and white patterned wrap dress
  • black blazer
  • grey open cardigan
  • black tulip skirt with pockets

Not all those items are perfect though.  My skinny jeans are a bit saggy in the butt and have started to fade.  My trench is a bit tight in the shoulders.  My black blazer have sleeves that need to be slimmed and shortened.  My open cardigan is pilling at the sides.  But it ‘s a good place to start!

If you would like to follow me on Pinterest, you can find me here.  I also have some pins for how I’d like to decorate my place, and hair styles I like :).

Have you tried Pinterest?  Or do you have a physical cork board with your ideas and inspirations? 

Cheers,

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Lessons from Dog-sitting

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One of my friends went away for a few weeks and I got to dog-sit their furry family member.  They have a small sized poodle mix, Shelly, who is adorable.

I love animals, and I know they are a lot of work (and money), but after this dog-sitting stint, I am even more convinced that I am not ready for a pet right now. This is what I’ve learned so far.

Pets are like children who never grow up

Pets will always need people to pick up after them, to feed them, and take them out for exercise.  They cannot care for themselves and are wholly dependent on their owners and care takers to care for them.

Unlike children, who can start to take care of themselves as they grow up, your pet can’t heat up food you left in the fridge for them.  If you don’t feed them, they likely won’t eat.

With all the time I spend out of the house – working, volleyball, spending time at BF’s, coming back to visit my parents. etc., I would not have enough time to care for a pet.

Pets need a lot of Attention

When I didn’t pay attention to Shelly, she would whine and cry, until I pet her or played with her.  I couldn’t even really sleep in on weekends because she whining and wanted me to get up and pay attention to her.

And even though I sound a bit bitter about my (lack of) beauty sleep, she is just so adorable and cute, that I can’t stay mad at her.

Pets are part of the family

Maybe this is a no brainer, but coming from someone who has never had a pet, I realized this.  Shelly has a personality, she has a temper and she is just like a person – only furrier and has four legs.

She gets scared of bigger dogs than her.  She will bark at squirrels and cats when there is a pane of glass between her and said animal.  But without the glass, she is a big wuss.

Pets age and need medical care

Shelly is fourteen years old.  Her hearing, eyesight and sense of smell have seen better days.  Because she is a small dog, her limbs are still okay, and she doesn’t have trouble going up and down stairs (like older bigger dogs).

But when she needs to see a vet, one day,  I am sure they are not cheap.

Ignorance can be Bliss

This is a different lesson from the above, but none the less, it’s something that was reinforced while dog sitting.  As I mentioned above, Shelly has started to lose her eyesight, her hearing and her sense of smell is not what it used to be.

Since Shelly is a small dog and a coward, she tends to avoid big dogs.  She will bark at them behind a pane of glass, but out in the real world, she will be between my legs shaking like a leaf.

One day, we were out on a walk and there was a big dog across the street barking really loudly at her.  The dog was probably at least 5 times her size and if she saw it, I’m sure she would have hid between my legs and refused to move unless she was carried away.  But since Shelly couldn’t hear the barks, and couldn’t see the big scary dog, she bounded along her walk with the bunny ears flapping behind, as if she owned the world 🙂

I couldn’t help but laugh and reflect.

Conclusion

I still love animals, but realize that right now, I am not ready for the commitment (both financially and time-wise) to a pet.  I am open to getting a pet later, and maybe when I have a partner who can also share the burden responsibility.

Do you have a pet?  What are your thoughts on pets? 

Cheers,

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Money Etiquette or Personal Preference?

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When it comes to money, I’m not sure if there is actually a guideline for money etiquette or if it is just personal preference. From how to split a bill to when it is appropriate to use e-mail money transfer.

Is there actually an appropriate time and place for each of these options? Or like most things, does it depend on the person?

Splitting the Bill

For me, it seems like a no brainer to ask for separate bills, whenever possible. It just makes things so easy. There is no need to worry about whom owes whom later, or count out change, or my least favourite – trying to figure out change when everyone only has a $20 bill.

Most of my friends and I prefer to have separate bills, but recently in a work outing, a co-worker made the comment that it was “tacky” to be requesting separate bills at a restaurant. Coming from a culture where my relatives would (practically) fight over who pays the restaurant tab, I can sort of understand where my co-worker is coming from.

On the other hand, with more and more electronic transactions and my ever losing battle with my “eating out” budget, I think it’s much more convenient for each party to pay their own bill. If I order water, I don’t want to be paying for someone else’s beer!

Acceptable Payment Methods

If someone is paying me back for something, any payment is fine, as long as I receive it sooner rather than later. Even if it’s $10, I would much rather have that $10 in my account now than later. So I am totally okay with people wiring over money to my account instead of getting cash when I see them. 🙂

Aside: Having said that. Usually the money owed to me doesn’t make or break me, and I wouldn’t want the individual to incur fees for sending money. So, if it’s just $20, no biggie, pay me next time. Just don’t forget about it ;).

Also, I know there are many people out there who do not use online banking (like my parents), and would much rather have cold, hard cash over numbers via cyberspace any day.

Since online money transfers are especially useful when transferring large sums of money, is there a “minimum limit” before sending money via e-mail transfer when one could just as easily use cash? I was recently called out on money transfer for $20 because the person I was transferring to thought the amount was “too little to justify an e-mail transfer.” 😦

Please share you “money etiquette” guidelines or suggestions in the comments! I’d love to hear your opinions.

Cheers,

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On Politics

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I am not proud to admit, but not too long ago, I was part of the apathetic voters committee. The first time that I made an informed voting decision was earlier this year during the Canadian federal election. Previously, I was always afraid to make an uninformed decision, and vote for the wrong party.

Throughout the federal and provincial elections, I have tried to keep informed through the media and reading the platforms by the various parties, so that I can make the best decision I can today.

I do not claim to have all the facts. This is information I have gathered to the best of my knowledge. Please do your own research! 🙂

Personal Finances and Politics

To be honest, if I hadn’t started to get serious with my own finances, I probably wouldn’t be as interested in the well-being of my country’s or my provinces well being. Now, when a party pitches a platform, I try to understand to not only understand how the service or product will impact me but how it’s feasible for the government to endorse it. Obviously, the well being of a country or province is much more complicated than taking care of just myself and my finances, but it is the starting point that I use.

Ontarians, Go Vote!!

Before I continue, I want to encourage everyone to always go out and vote. Read up on your various leaders platforms and make your say count. Ontarians, this election is very close and every vote counts!

These are the links to the Ontario Liberal Party platform, the Progressive Conservative Party platform and the New Democratic Party platform.

There are a number of sites and articles summarizing the platforms of various parties, if you don’t have the time (or patience) to read them their individual platforms. Keep in mind that there are always biases depending on which organization or individual who put together the summary.

I am voting Liberal

I’m just going to put it out there. I’m voting for the Liberal party this provincial election.

I think the McGuinty government has been doing a great job running the province, despite the downturn in the economy in recent years. Investment in healthcare, education, green energy and re-training our work force are all areas where I have personally experienced a significant improvement.

What I like from the Liberal Platform:

  • Tax credit for businesses to hire skilled new comers Canadian work experience

I know far too many well-educated and highly skilled friends and family who have come to Canada, only to be severely under employed. There is nothing wrong with being a security guard, cabbie or factory worker, I think they are very noble professions that work very hard. However, it is not efficient use of a province’s labour resources, and also a disincentive for other skilled new comers to make Ontario their home if they can’t find good work.

In addition, I see the credit to be similar to the credit offered to businesses for hiring students to give them a foot in the door.

  • Commitment to investing in green energy programs and innovation

Programs, such as the Feed-in-Tariff, conservation programs for endangered species and preservation of our land and forests while creating jobs that require skilled individuals.

  • Providing more assistance to seniors including in-home health care and tax credit for accessible home renovations
  • Hiring more nurses and opening more nurse practitioner-led clinics

I only recently understood how expensive it was to keep a patient in a hospital. When my grandmother was under going chemo for cancer and then in remission, she had to stay at the hospital because no one was at home to care for her.

Healthcare assistance at home would have been something that would have worked well for my family, since my grandmother could be comfortable and be surrounded by her family. While at the same time, saving the government money, since the cost of keeping a patient in the hospital is the most expensive way to care for a patient.

This is what I have against Tim Hudak’s Progressive Conservative party:

  • He started off negative

I loathe when a party goes negative. I feel it shows poor sportsmanship and it just leave a bad taste in my mouth. I mean, are we really still name calling? Please.

I’m sure all Ontarians are familiar with the “tax man” ad. The funny thing is, is that the PC’s have no intention of getting rid of the HST (because it is great for businesses), or the health tax. The eco-tax is gone, anyway. And “future taxes”? Any party can introduce future taxes. Including his.

  • He always criticizes McGuinty, but never offers much of a platform

In every speaking engagement or interview I’ve watched or listened to, he’s always the first to bash the McGuinty government. But never offers much about his own platform, at least not in detail. Always vague promises of putting more money back into our pockets and “making life more affordable.”

This morning, on CBC, when asked outright what his platform included, Hudak promised to get rid of Ontario’s gridlock. When asked how, he said that he would leave that up to individual municipalities to decide how to spend their money. In my head: So… he’s going to solve gridlock by doing … nothing?

  • His poor attitude towards the business tax credit for skilled immigrants

I always hate it when politicians talk down to their audience, and treat them like they are stupid.

I felt that he blew the tax credit out of proportion and instead, started to peg the tax credit as immigrants taking away jobs from hard-working Ontarians. As if to suggest immigrants aren’t Ontarians, as well.

As I said above, I see the tax credit similar to giving tax credits to companies for hiring students. I don’t see anyone throwing around ageist or racists comments about that.

  • Removing the hydro debt repayment plan from home owner hydro bills.

You can read more detail about it here and here. The just of it is that Ontario had to borrow $7.8 billion in 1999 to pay off remaining debt. Now, 20 years later, Hudak declares the debt has been paid because altogether they have made $7.8 billion in debt payments.

As all of us PFers who have every made a mortgage payment or credit card payment know his statement is ludicrous. Ummm… interest payments, Mr. Hudak?

  • His underhanded actions regarding misinforming voters about sex education in elementary schools

Sex education is a touchy topic. I’m sure it can be debated for a long time, with many, many different perspectives.

What I found disturbing and underhanded was Hudak’s party distributed these brochures and even translated to other languages the incorrectly quoted and paraphrased information. This shows complete lack of respect for voters, and once again, is talking down to his voters. Read more about it here and here.

And now I will step off my soap box. If you are still reading this far, thank you – now go out and vote.

Cheers,

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When I don’t Dispute a Charge

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You know me when it comes to disputing fees/fines/incorrect transactions.   Over the past year, I have negotiated my cell phone bill with Rogers, disputed a charge when they didn’t give me my caller ID package, requested TD waive my cheque charges, requested PC Financial Mastercard to waive my Overlimit Fee, amongst other disputes.

But is there a time when one should not dispute a charge?  I think so.

Repairs at my dad’s Mechanic

Recently, my money drain car needed some repairs.  One minute, I was driving on the freeway, and the next my car is shaking and making weird noises and shaking.  I bring the car into my dad’s mechanic.

My dad’s mechanic is a one-man show.  He owns his own shop, and from what my dad told me is an honest guy and does a good job.  So, I trusted him.  He took my car for a test and simulated what I experienced, then opened it up to investigate the problem.

Turns out my caliper was rusted out, and my front brakes were in poor condition (hence the squeaking), but my back brakes still had about 60% remaining life.

The list of repairs included the following:

  • Replace front brake pad
  • Replace front brake rotors (2)
  • Replace front brake calipers (2)
  • Service rear brakes
  • Flush brake fluids

The total damage for the day?  $750.  Cash.  If I paid with credit card, I would have to pay taxes on top of it.  Cash it is.

Like I said, I trusted the guy and so I told him to go ahead with the work.  After he finished the repairs, he showed me the parts that he replaced.  He also explained to me why they needed to be replaced, and how I can better maintain my car in the future.

At the end, I asked him for a record of the repairs completed, and he agreed to email me the breakdown.  Keep in mind, this is a small shop, and I wasn’t expecting a printed out receipt – something hand written would have sufficed.

I Wanted a Benchmark

Even though my repairs were done, I wanted to get an idea of how much my dealership was going to charge me for repairs.  So, I called my dealership and asked for their rates to do the same repairs.

They gave me the following prices:

  • Parts for caliper, rotors and brake pads – $731.00
  • Labour for caliper replacement – $248.60
  • Labour for brake pad & rotor replacement – $186.45
  • Brake service – $73.45
  • Flush brake fluids – $113.00

For a grand total of $1,352.50.  Ouch.

Now, I know that the dealership usually charges (a lot) more, but I just wanted a bench mark of sorts for comparison.

I Noticed an Error

As I was adding up my costs and comparing, I noticed that the break down emailed to me from my mechanic didn’t add up.  In fact, when I added up his break down numbers, they totaled $700 and not $750.

I debated if I should ask my mechanic about this.  I think I got a really good price for the work, and I don’t want my $50 back.  I just wanted to know why there was an error in the adding.

Alas, after hemming and hawing over it for a day, I decided not to call up my mechanic.  Here’s why:

  • I know I got a very good deal
  • I don’t want my $50 back
  • I’m afraid it might be taken the wrong way (that I am trying to talk him down, instead of wanting to understand the discrepancy)

What would you do in my situation?  Would you call and ask my mechanic about the mathematical error or just leave it be?

Cheers,

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