Category Archives: Personal

2011 Goals Recap

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This will be the second that I wrote down my goals and was able to find them at the end of the year to review how I did.  Thank you, internet. 🙂

Even though I set goals in 2011, I haven’t been checking in and making sure that I am on track to achieving them.  In fact, I set my goals in January 2011, kinda checked in half-way through and then searched for my goals to see how I did (today).  This is sure way of setting up my goals for failure.

Having seen so many bloggers set goals and then do monthly check-ins, has really inspired me to do the same.  I find that I set great goals at the beginning of the new year because it is full of possibilities.  Sometimes, I can get carried away with this sense of potential that I set too many ambitious goals – which is okay.  I love being ambitious.

The problem is that I don’t check if I am on track throughout the year, then I kinda avoid it after a few months have passed when I know that I’ve missed a few things.  I had “failing” so I kinda ignore it and I hope for the best when I get to the end of the year.  Pretty silly.

What I need to do is re-visit my goals on a regular basis (Krystal does an amazing job at this!) and make sure I am on track, or if there is something I need to change/adjust my goal to make it more realistic.

As mentioned in my 2011 Goal post, I really liked the S-M-A-R-T acronym for goals I read from Young and Thrifty’s blog.  Simplify.  Measurable.  Attainable.  Realistic.  Timely.

Now onto my embarrassing 2011 goal recap.

Personal Finance

I see money as a tool to reaching my life goals.  Money does not bring me happiness, but it is a tool to find happiness.  For me, traveling, lifelong education, owning a home and financial freedom are long term goals I want to achieve by using money.  But this year, I’d like to accomplish the following.

  • Making more money: I am aiming to get a 10% raise this year, and would like to boost my annual income to gross $60,000.  So far, I do not have any side income.  I’d like to explore possibilities and opportunities for a side hustle.
    PASS– I got a 6.75% raise including RRSP matching from my employer.  Last year, I got a 6.75% raise and I was aiming for a 10% raise.  When I discussed this with my manager, I expressed that I thought a 7-9% raise was fair, based on my contribution to the team and my research.

    It didn’t change my salary, but now he knows that I value myself more than he does.  I think the more important lesson here I learned was that I can and need to stand up for myself.I have not looked into any side hustle gigs.

  • Investing money: I have most of my investments in Index Funds, and few stocks.  I’d like to start investing in dividend paying stocks.  I’d also like to learn how the tax benefits work for dividend income.
    FAIL – I have not invested in any new stocks this year.  This will have to move to 2012 goals.
  • Saving money: I am still aiming to save at least 50% of my income.  Savings include contribution to my RRSP’s, TFSA, Emergency Fund, Travel, General Savings, and Investments.
    CHECK!! – My expenses totaled ~$26,278 (eeks!) but my savings totaled $29,950 (53%). Yippee!
  • Shopping ban 2011: In short, no shopping for clothes, jewelery or new make-up this year.  I have allowed myself 3 freebies of planned purchases.  More details to follow in a separate post.
    FAIL – I broke my ban in September after going strong for 9 straight months.  I think something like a Shopping Detox (a la Annabelle) would work better for me. More on this in 2012 goals.
  • $1,000 monthly budget: I will track my expenses every month and aim to stick to my monthly budget of $1,000.
    FAIL – I think I reached my $1,000 budget once in 2011. It’s not super realistic.

Personal Development

This may seem lengthy, but they were on my list last year, and I haven’t accomplished them.  I really think this is doable, I just need to be organized.  Will be sharing my schedule once I get this all written down on a calender.

  • Professional Engineer License: I need to contact my previous employers regarding proof of previous work experience towards my license.  I also need to study and write the test.  My friends have the study materials and I need to devote 1 week worth of studying to this. Must find out schedule of test and arrange accordingly.
    FAIL – Applying in January 2012 and writing test in April 2012.
  • Canadian Securities Course: This course covers basics that will help me in my understanding of personal finance on a larger scale, and help in graduate school program applications where a business background is an asset.  My BF has the study materials.  Must find out schedule of the tests and arrange accordingly.
    FAIL – Have not done this.  Might still want to… I kinda forgot about this goal.  Oops.
  • GMAT Test: I want to apply to a  Masters in Public Administration or Public Policy.   Many schools and programs require GMAT scores for applications and entrance.  I need to write the GMAT this year before the test format changes.  I have study materials from friends, as well as practice tests.
    FAIL – I haven’t really decided on going back to school yet, and so I haven’t written the test.
  • Graduate School Application: I want to apply to programs in the 2012 school year.  Must check deadlines and pre-requisites and start preparing.
    FAIL – I’ve decided to that going back to school might be more than I want to commit to right now.  I may just try looking for another job in the industry, first.


Minimalism is about more than just de-cluttering, it’s about adopting the mindset that I have enough.  In fact, I have way more than enough.  I am not aiming to get to a certain number of items, but I am aiming to rid myself of excess stuff I do not need.

  • 500 Things Challenge: I was inspired by this challenge from Fabulissime.  I aim to de-clutter 500 things from my home and donate them to charity.  Depending on how this challenge goes, it may become the 1,000 Things Challenge.  More details to follow in  a separate post.
    PASS? – I have been decluttering all year, but I gave up trying to keep track of everything. I am always adding to my “donation” pile.
  • Document de-clutter: I want to de-clutter every room in my apartment and document what is in each room.  Explaining why I must keep something usually gives me a good idea of whether I really need it or not.
    FAIL – I have decluttered every room so far.  It is still a work in progress, but I completely forgot about wanting to document this.  Not sure if I want to… I am not a 100-item kinda gal! 😉
  • Remixing my Wardrobe: I want to re-discover my wardrobe and re-mix all my items.  Of course, this is an extension of my shopping ban.
    CHECK!! – I have cleaned out my closet and all my jewelry in organized it all.  I am putting together new outfits and am really looking forward to more remixing in 2012.

Life and Health:

  • Fitness: Exercise 2-3 times a week in the mornings.  I find exercise most efficient in the mornings, and gives me more energy all day.
    FAIL!!! I have only been playing volleyball once – twice a week.
  • Fruits: Incorporate fruit at least once a day in my meals.  I’m really bad with eating my fruits, so I’m getting a Magic Bullet to help me with it.  I’ve tried just bringing fruit to work.  It just sits on my desk.  Yummy smoothies scream  “drink me!”
    FAIL – I was good at this, end then fell off the bandwagon in halfway through the year.
  • Friends: See my girlfriends at least once a month for dinner or spa date to catch up and unwind.  Too often I get caught up with work that my personal life takes a back seat.  Here’s to making plans and keeping them!
    CHECK!! Of course, I would love to see my girls more, but I have made an effort to see them at least every 1 – 2 months.
  • Family: See my parents every other weekend.  Call my parents at least once a week.  Too often I take for granted that my parents know that I care and love them.  Just checking in with them once a week to see how they are doing is nice.  It also let’s me know how I can help them and what they need.
    PASS – I was very good with this until November (before our vacation together).  This will have to stay in my 2012 goals.
  • Travel: I want to take a 2-week long trip somewhere this year.  I’m not sure where, yet.  Possibilities are: Peru (Machi Piccu) & Chili or Greece.  I’ve taken several shorter trips in 2010 to Vancouver, Boston and Venezuela, but I miss the unwinding of a long trip.
    CHECK!! – I took 2 long trips this year. A 10-day trip to the East Coast of Canada and a 2-week trip with my family to Hong Kong.


I see a lot of reds and it is a bit of a bummer since I am usually an over achiever.  le sigh.

I think that I made these goals and kinda stuck my head in the ground, hoping they would transpire somehow.  Silly, right?  So, in 2012, I am taking a new approach.  I will be checking in every month, as well as making smaller monthly goals to help me stay on track.

Stay tuned for my 2012 Goals!

How did you do for your 2011 goals?




Filed under Finance, Goals, Personal, Shopping Ban

My Holy Grail Beauty Items

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As I mentioned in my previous posts, I have struggled with my skin for much of this year.  I’ve tried both going to see estheticians and dermatologist. Then, after 6 long months, I finally found a skin regime that worked for me.

These are my “holy grail” items that I always have come to love and have a permanent home in my washroom vanity.

Spectro Jel

This gentle (and very inexpensive) cleanser has stuck with me through thick and thin.  It’s nothing fancy; it doesn’t have a perfume scent and it doesn’t foam, but it cleans my skin gently without stripping it.

I bought a 900mL bottle from Costco for $16.99

DIY Make-up Remover

I always double cleanse.  That means I remove my makeup first, and then cleanse my face with a cleanser.  I’ve tried other store brand make-up removers and I  prefer making my own.  It’s inexpensive and super gentle.

In a 100mL bottle, I mix one squirt of baby oil with 2 squirts of baby shampoo, then fill the rest of the bottle up with water.  Shake.  A bottle usually lasts me a month.

Martina Gerbert Black Mud Lotion

I use this lotion as a night cream and I LOVE it.  It’s light scent makes me feel like I just came back from a spa, and my face is always so supple and moisterized the next morning.  Plus, it’s meant for more oily and acne prone skin (like mine!).

It’s a bit pricer at $65 for a 100mL bottle.  I usually try to get in on sale from Pure and Simple for 15 – 20% off specials.

Pure & Simple Algea Serum

I use the serum at night for an extra boost of moisture to my skin.  Keeping my skin moisturized is key to keeping it healthy.  I put this on my face after cleansing while it’s still a little damp. It’s super light and is absorbed so easily by my skin. Then I layer on the Differin Gel (acne medication) and black mud lotion.  This is the most inexpensive serum in the Pure and Simple line, and it works great for me.

This serum is fairly reasonable at approximately $43 for 100mL.

Neo Strata 8% Glycolic Acid Toner with 2% Clindamycin Phosphate & Differin XP Gel

These are both prescription medication prescribed by my dermatologist.  I use the Differin Gel at night over my serum, and under neath my black mud lotion.  It treats my acne and prevents new ones from forming.  I use the glyolic acid toner in the morning, and it helps with exfoiliating my skin.

My health benefits cover 80% of the cost so this is more affordable to me.  Approx. full cost is $80 for the Differin Gel and $45 for the Neo Strata.

Cover FX Matte Primer

My face can get really oily, so this primer really helps my make-up last longer.  I usually apply a small amount in my t-zone only.  This primer is pretty pricey for ~$40 for 30mL, and I never see this brand on sale.

Cover FX Natural Foundation

This foundation is medium coverage and I use it as a spot concealer instead of an all-over foundation.  It doesn’t irritate my skin and gives me great coverage, which can be layered on.

There is also a great shade selection to match your skin colour.  Also a bit on the pricey side for ~$40 for 30mL, but since I use it as a concealer, it’s fairly reasonable.

MAC Blotting Powder

I have been using this since forever and I always go back to this.  It’s a translucent powder that does a great job absorbing oil.  I like to keep it in my purse for touch ups during the day.  It doesn’t clog my pores and does a great job setting my concealer.  It’s a bit pricey at $30 for a compact that lasts me 3 – 4 months.

Sour Cream and Honey mask

I don’t make this mask enough, but I LOVE it.  My skin is always so radiant after using this mask.  It’s inexpensive, as a tub of sour cream will last me close to a month and I use it to cook with, as well.

The sour cream contains lactic acid and the honey fights bacteria and soothes my skin.

Kiss my Face Shampoo

I am trying to use products that are better for my body, and one of the things I’ve done is cut out sulfates and parabens from the things I use everyday.  Kiss my face is a paraben and sulfate free shampoo.

I love it because it is gentle and cleanses my hair without stripping it.  It’s also got a lovely light scent that is not overwhelming.  It’s more expensive than most drugstore brand shampoos, but well worth it. I buy the 1L tub for $16 from my local health food store.

Baking Soda deep clean rinse

I’ve been training my hair for a while now to be washed every other day.  But sometimes, the oil builds up in my hair, so I use this rinse to clean out build up and residue.

Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with 50mL of water and just work it into your scalp after your shampoo, then rinse away.  Works every time.  Just make sure you condition afterwards.


I find that when I get enough sleep, and consistently go to bed at the same time every night, my skin always looks healthier and feels better.  I like to get at least 8 hours a night and I usually retire to bed around 10:00 – 10:30 and wake up at 7:00am.  I like to sleep a lot 😉

What are some of your holy grail items that keep you feeling and looking your best?


PS.  Enter my Grown-up Christmas wish Giveaway for a chance to win Gail’s book and support a charity!!


Filed under Personal

New Skin Regime

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As I have written before, I have struggled to find a skin regime that would work with my skin for most of this year.  I have consulted both dermatologists, estheticians, and read books on skincare.

Even though my skin not perfect now, it’s much better than it has been in a long time and I have really been able to get my acne under control.  🙂

I’m a creature of habit and when I find something that works, I stick with it.  I don’t like trying new products if what I’m using already works. I’m kinda boring like that 🙂

Things I learned

Natural is not always best.  There is a huge green movement, ranging from skincare products using more natural ingredients to mineral powder foundations.  The hippie in me wanted to embrace this movement,as well.  And for a while, I convinced myself that natural was better.

The thing I learned is that I have to use that is best for my skin.  I can try to incorporate more natural skin care products if it works for my skin, but I can’t force it.  And sometimes, I need stronger chemical (gasp!) products to control things – such as my acne.  There is nothing wrong with that.

Your skin changes.  Something that worked for me 3 years ago, stopped working for me earlier this year, and I needed to adapt.

Education is key.  I thought that I was fairly knowledgeable in skincare.  After all, I had been struggling with acne since grade 7.  But, this time, I still learned new things that I have been able to incorporate in my daily regime.

My New Regime

Includes more moisturizing.  Since I use stronger products to control my oil and exfoliate my skin, I needed to make sure my skin was moisturized and protected.

I have combined the best of what my dermatologist has recommended with more natural and moisturizing products.  I have also tried to avoid the products that Baumann did not recommend for oily, sensitive and pigmented skin types.

AM Regime
Cleanse with gentle cleanser.  I use Spectro Jel. Tone with a glycolic acid toner.  Acne spot treatment, as required.  Moisturize dry areas – around my eyes and cheeks.  Apply sunscreen then make up.

The glycolic acid toner helps slough away dead skin cells, and I moisturize in dry areas so that my face doesn’t go to overdrive and produce too much oil.  I use more natural moisturizers because I find they absorb more easily into my skin.

PM Regime
Remove make-up.  Apply serum all over face and neck. Apply acne gel all over face and neck.  Moisturize with night cream in dry areas. I also use a bit of Vitamin E oil for spot treatments at areas of pigmentation, as needed.

Once a week (when I can squeeze it in):
Sour cream and honey mask.  For exfoliation and soothing. I think honey also has anti bacterial properties, as well.  And a hydrating mask and a clay mask. For hydration and reducing oil production.

What is your AM and PM skin regime?  Do you use a weekly mask?  Or have any DIY toiletries to share?  I’d love to hear them. 🙂



Filed under Personal

Misrepresentation of Women in the Media

I’ve watched this video about 10 times, and I keep thinking about its message.

Basically, the trailer is about how women are represented in either a sexual or derogatory context (or both) towards even the most powerful women in the United States and the world.  Women such as Hilary Clinton, Condi Rice and Sarah Palin are spoken about with no respect.

A part of me is so angry, a part of me is very saddened, and a small part of me is hopeful that some change has taken place – though not enough.

I feel angry because I know women are treated unfairly, and it seems that we have to fight so much harder to be treated equally as men.  And yet, the media (both men and women) makes a joke of it.  Seriously, “Hilary Clinton looking haggard”?!  For goodness sakes, she’s the Secretary of State – she is a busy lady!

I am sad because this is happening in the United States/North America, also known as the land of freedom and equality, as opposed to a nation where women cannot even vote.  Where is the equality in this?

I am hopeful because I see young women questioning why society is presenting them with these messages.  They are questioning why their friends are putting on 10lbs of make-up on in the bathroom, when they are at school to learn.

I truly believe that speaking up, questioning society and not accepting status quo is the only way women can make progress towards an equal society.

I was very hopeful with the messages at the end,

“You can’t be what you can’t see.”
— Founding President, The White House Project

“It is extremely important for women to be writing their own stories, and be giving them to people who will really be emotionally impacted by.”
— Rosario Dawson, Actress and Activist

“Media can be an instrument of change.  It can awaken people and change minds.  It depends on who is piloting the plane.”
— Katie Couric, Anchor, CBC Evening News


When I got to the part about women writing their own stories, I immediately thought back to the personal finance blogging community that have discovered over the past few years.

In this community, I feel we have a little utopia where women (and men) write their own stories, have discussions and share our opinions in a respective manner.  We encourage one another in reaching our goals and celebrate those achievements – no matter how big or small they are.

My Experience

Being a female in a male dominated industry – I can appreciate the different strengths and ideas that women (and men) bring to the table.   For example, in my experience, women are more diplomatic in dealing with peers and staff and are also pay more attention to detail.

I also observed common weaknesses amongst my female colleagues, such as avoiding confrontation and not speaking up (for salary/raises, for bullying), and not being aware of their finances.

Please note, I am not making a blanket statement on ALL women, these are simply my observations from my small sample size.  Obviously, there are women who stand up and negotiate their salary and many of us are very aware of our finances.  I just don’t think there is enough of us. Yet.

I encourage everyone to watch the video and share your thoughts.  How do you think representation of women affects you, or how has it affected you?  



Filed under Personal, Politics

Confession: I used to be a Tardy Person

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You know that friend of yours who is always running late?  And they always have a reason why they just couldn’t make it on time?  Well, that used to me.

Earlier this year, I really wanted to turn over a new leaf.  I was determined to kick this bad habit of mine.  I wanted to respect other people’s time, but most of all, I wanted to be less stressed.

How I came to be Tardy

I wasn’t always late.  In fact, my parents are sticklers for showing up early for every thing.  If a family event starts at 7am.  We will be there at 6:30am, while other people are still dragging their butts in at 9:00am.  Every single time.

For me, being late started in college.  I used to live on campus and was literally 5 minutes away from my classes.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love to sleep?  Well, I’d sleep in until the last possible minute and then dragged my butt to class.  If class started at 8:00am, I got up at 7:45am, maybe I’d snooze once.  Sure, I’d probably get into class 5 – 10 minutes late. But I just took my seat in the back and the lecture just started, anyway.

Since I was late to class, I applied my same not-so-great habit to most other events in my life.  I started showing up late to labs, tutorials, group meetings, then social outings and everything else.  Then, my friends just started to expect me to show up late (not that I blame them), so they might show up later, too.

It was a vicious cycle.


If you have tardy friends, you might be running late, only to end up getting there earlier than them.  Which is great at first, but then you give yourself a pat on the back, and forget that you technically were late.  And so you cut it even closer next time.  And then next time, you may be meeting up with an “on-time” friend, and you super late. Doh!

When I was travelling, ALL my travel buddies were perpetually late.  I would be freaked out as I was running 20 minutes late, so I’d take a cab instead of finishing my trip on public transit trip, only to end up waiting another 30 – 45 minutes for everyone else to show up.

This is not to excuse my tardy behaviour.  But it’s me trying to figure out why I never broke out of my cycle.

How to Break out of the Cycle

Cut down on commitments. Instead of having events booked up one after another, I just made committments to things important to me. Besides, if you’re all booked up and late for one appointment, likely all your following appointments will experience the “domino” effect, and next thing you know, you don’t even remember what it was like to be on-time.

Prioritize. You don’t have to say “Yes” to everything.  It’s OK to say no when you don’t want to do something, or it’s not important to you.  Others will just have to deal.

Give yourself more time.  Google maps tells you it’s going to take 30 minutes to get from A to B.  Is it likely you will encounter traffic?  What about road construction?  If you are taking public transportation, have you accounted for wait times and transfer times?

Trick yourself.  If your appointment is at 7:00pm, why not pretend it’s half an hour or 45 minutes earlier so you won’t be so rushed.  That’s what I usually do, and it has helped me immensly.

Respect.  Remind yourself that showing up ontime shows your respect for that perons’s time.  You are busy.  Your friends are busy, too.  By showing up on time, you are showing that you respect their time and in turn, you respect them.

Entertainment.  Have something to do if you get there early.  I know this sounds silly but I used to think I was inefficient if I got to a meeting early.  If this is the case for you, too, try bringing something to do.  Bring a book to read, a crossword/soduku/Angry birds/ whatever, or just explore the area around where you are waiting.  Relax.  And remind yourself how much calmer it is not to rush and enjoy your extra time.


It’s hard to earn back trust if your perpetually late.  I know that my family still expect me to be late all the time, and my excuses/reasons fall on deaf ears now. It’s similar to the boy who cried wolf.  If you are late too many times, no one will believe your reaoson when you eventually actually may have a good reason to be late.

Are you or were you a tardy person? What were your reasons for being tardy?  If you are an early person or on-time person, please feel free to share some tips!



Filed under Personal, PF Confession

An Additional $300 a Month

300 and Gerard Butler.  Get it? 😉

Someone once told me, “There are two things certain in life, taxes and death.”

Pretty grim, huh?

I remember one of the big wake-up calls when I first started working full-time was seeing that deduction line in every pay cheque.  Right now I pay just over 17% in federal taxes alone.  With the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI), right of the bat almost 24% of my precious pay cheque is gone.

My Additional $300 a month

It was last year that I started noticing around December, my pay cheques would get a bit bigger.  Then, I realized because I’ve maxed out my CPP and EI contributions for the year.  They are capped at $2,217.60 and $786.76, respectively.

Since I am making a bit more money than last year (I got a 6% raise), I maxed out contributions much earlier – around mid October. So, my last pay cheque, I got an extra $150 to boot 🙂

I know that the money was mine to begin with, but making the money and having the actual cash in my grubby hands are two entirely different things!

What am I going to do with the extra $$$

No specific plans, but I will put it towards some purchases I had in mind, anyway.

  • Spend some of it for my “Phase II” apartment renovations.  A post about that coming up ;).
  • On a tailored wardrobe on my trip to Asia
  • A nice dinner for BF and I

Canadian readers, have you noticed this in your pay cheques near the end of the year?  All readers, what would you do with an extra $300 a month?



Filed under Finance, Personal

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.


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? 



Filed under Personal

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?



Filed under Finance, Personal

You Can Have it All…

… just not all at once.

— author unknown

(Photo source)

I’m not sure who that quote came from, but that quote came to me at the right time.

I was finishing up college, and months away from joining the work force (aka  real life).  And I had no idea what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

It seemed that all my life, I’ve worked hard in school for the goal of graduating and getting a good job.  Now that I was finally at the end of the tunnel, staring at the fruits of my labour, it felt … almost anti-climatic.

Entrepreneur Conference

I went to an entrepreneur conference and listened to many amazing speakers for some inspiration.  I was by no means, an entrepreneur but I was curious to learn about other people’s stories. I also didn’t really know what an entrepreneur was.

As a young woman, I often wonder how other women juggle balance their lives.  Work, kids, husband, family, exercise and don’t forget about having some time to ourselves, right?  I was scared because I wasn’t sure how I would even find a job – much less worry about anything and everything else.

Someone opened my eyes

She shared the story of how she built her business.  How she and her husband lived in the city, watching their pennies so they could afford to take the eventual risk.  I remembered her sharing that she and her husband worked downtown, and instead of heading out for lunch, they would pack their sandwiches and enjoy lunch together at the park. Eventually, they saved enough to start a business.  To buy a house.  To have a family.

But they didn’t do it all at once.

Then it hit me…

I didn’t need to have my life all figured out this very instant.

In fact, I just needed to figure out the next step and go from there.  Decide from my next step whether I wanted to continue or change.  Nothing is written in stone, and I didn’t need to be scared to make a mistake.

All I had to do with put one foot in front of the other, look up and re-evaluate every so often.  Decide if I want to keep going, or take a new path.  In fact, there are no mistakes in life, just lessons. (Oh my, aren’t I getting all philosophical?;) )

What are some inspirations quotes or stories that have had a big impact on your life?



Filed under Personal

A Letter to 16-year-old me

Dear 16-year old Fab Frugirl,

It’s you, 10 years in the future.  I work as an engineer, and I live in an apartment.  I am an aspiring minimalist and I write a personal finance blog to document my journey to financial freedom.

I am happy.  I am currently on a shopping ban, I can’t buy new clothes, makeup or accessories until the end of the year.  I did allow myself 3 exceptions, though.  Anyway, enough about me, back to you.

Please don’t worry about how you look so much.  Acne and glasses suck.  But eventually, your teenage hormones will  get under control, and you will learn to use face products that work for you and learn the wonders that a bit of makeup (applied correctly) can make.  And glasses, they are so in now.  Thick, plastic frames, too!

Don’t worry about the popular kids.  When you are my age, and you see them hanging out at the mall, you’ll realize how similar they are to you – just kids looking for acceptance.  Sometimes, they can be mean.  And in reality, their lives may be be as great as you imagine.  Ignore their mean comments.  Karma can be a b*tch.  Just saying.

Focus on your strengths and work at them.  In university, you will meet so many like-minded individuals.  And being smart isn’t anything to be ashamed of, despite being called a nerd, geek and a brainer, now.  There will be people who will appreciate your intelligence, one day.  And you will be one of those people.

Don’t worry about the boys.  They will come.  Some are worth your while, and some not so much.  Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the difference, but with time you will learn.  Don’t be too skeptical, (but a little skepticism is healthy). Be nice to them, and make sure they are nice to you.  You will learn what it’s like to have a broken heart. It’s not fun.

You will finally get to go on a date with a cute boy.  And he will come pick you up in his parent’s car, and you will think it’s the greatest thing ever.  You will keep dating your high school sweet heart until he eventually breaks your heart 5 years later.

You will be bitter, angry and sad for a long time, but it’s okay.  You will get over it and move on, and most of all – learn from it.  You will become a stronger and more compassionate woman.  You will meet someone new and you will love again, and you will once again realize that love is the greatest thing ever.

Your girl friends (includes sisters & cousins) are your saviors.  Make time for each other and catch up often.  Girl talk is good for the soul.  Be honest, but don’t judge.  As for their advice and really listen to their feedback.  Some will not be a part of your life for a long time, some slip away, some you haven’t even met yet, others you should fight for.

Your family is your rock.  No matter how busy things are, try to make time for them. Call home more and visit more often.  I still don’t do this enough, but I am trying.  You will learn to understand your parents from a new level, and become even more grateful for all that they have tried to provide for you. You may not always agree with each other.  Handle those situations carefully.  Parents get hurt, too.

Always be open to new opportunities, you never know who you will meet and what you can accomplish!  Don’t be afraid of change.  I am still working on this. It is only through hardship that we learn the most.  Don’t follow the crowd.  Question your decisions and make sure they are right for you.  Accept nothing less.


Your Future Self

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Filed under Personal