PF Confession: I did something really dumb

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I’m not going to lie, I love it when my networth goes up a month.  I feel a great sense of pride whenever I see that happen and I like sharing it (even though sometimes, it can seem a bit “boastful”).  But you know what?  It’s just as important to share times where I messed up.   Sometimes, I mess up really bad.

2 Delinquency Reports on my Credit Report

I finally got my credit report in February of this year, and I was pretty happy that I got a cool 767 credit rating.  However, even though I got my rating,  I didn’t really read everything – because if I did, I would have seen that on one credit card which I closed there were 2 reports of delinquency.

Yikes.

How did this happen?

I closed a credit card that I wasn’t using very much since I was having trouble keeping track of my cards.  What I didn’t realize was that even after a credit card is closed, pre-authorized payment will still go through.

I have my credit card statements sent to my parent’s home and I rely on my online banking to keep me up to date.  Usually I don’t open the paper statements since I can see it all online.  Or so I thought. It turns out that when I closed my account, they closed my online account so I couldn’t see what was going on in my account.  I assumed that nothing was going on.

Fast forward several months, and I randomly open a statement – I was in shock that my measly cellphone bill had been racking up interest – and was UNPAID.  I called TD to figure out why a payment still went through even after the card was closed and learned my important lesson.  I paid off the balance, and kinda hoped it would go away.

Really dumb, right?

Trying to Fix it

I called TD and tried to explain what happened.  I also pleaded my case that I have always paid my bills on time, and this was a one-time occurrence with a payment that went through after I closed my card.  Their argument was that it wasn’t their fault since they had sent me my statements even though my online account was never updated.  They refused to do anything.

Lessons Learned

This happened in 2010, and will be on my record until 2016 (6 years).  Live and learn, I guess.  Now I am super careful to make sure to update to check the balance is paid off on all my cards, even after a few months of having them closed.

Readers, have you ever done something this stupid?  Did you know that pre-authorized payments still go through a credit card even after you close it?

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Italy Recap & Tax Refund Allocation & What’s Next

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I last posted and a lot has been happening in my offline life.

I’ve returned from Italy, started a new job, and found a new apartment (downtown!).  My finances and bedroom are in a bit of disarray right now, and I am in quite a struggle to find a balance in my life.  Even though I thought that staying offline might buy a few precious moments, I also missed blogging a lot.  I still gravitate back to writing to organize my thoughts.

My trip to Italy was a lot of fun and I have some gazillion pictures to sort through (of course!), but I managed to put together my expenses for the trip.  I spent 20 days in Italy and a total of $3,220 for the entire trip.  In addition to the breakdown below, I’ve added $137 for travel related purchases in Canada, such as a new backpack, watch, sport towel, make-up removing towelettes, and ear plugs. 

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The chart is a bit funny, I originally broke down the expenses according to the cities, and then rolled them up for this summary, but I still wanted to show the duration of each city.

I put away $250 every month into my “Travel Fund” account with ING, and it wasn’t quite topped up when I left for this trip (oops!).  Right now I have about $2,150 sitting in my account.  However, I wanted to spend a portion of my Tax Refund on this trip, and I came up with this allocation for my tax refund:

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So, I am still short $570. 

Did I mention that I also want to book flights to Boston so that I can visit BF while he is working away at his MBA?  Porter and Air Canada are holding some pretty awesome deals right now, and I am suspecting that once September rolls around, there will be more awesome deals again.  I’m pretty sure I can snag a round trip flight from Toronto to Boston for less than $250.

Anyway, I am going to book my flight anyway and write myself an IOU.  My plan is to keep transferring the money from my “Travel Fund” to my Savings/Investment fund until I am completely paid off to myself.

What’s Next:

Amalgamate my RRSPs into one location – at TD Canada Trust.  I know that I’ve cursed TD before, but I their e-series mutual funds are just so hard to beat.  AND I will have well over $50,000 invested, so I will only be charged $10 a trades, as opposed to the $30 I am paying now.  I need to call ING and Manulife and figure out what I need to do to move my money as soon as possible.

After I have everything in one location, I will need to re-balance my portfolio.  This should be fun.

That’s all I have for now!  I hope everyone else’s summer is going well!

PS 1.  Errrm.. I don’t like the WordPress dashboard.  What happened to all my options of making headings and other formatting tools???

PS 2.  Missing Cassie!  Hope you’re having a great time, girl!

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The Best Part of a Trip…

… is coming home.

Even though I had a wonderful time traveling through Italy with my sisters and BF, I was a little homesick, and missed home.

I missed my apartment, my bed, my washroom, my kitchen, my food, my city, my laptop, and yes, I missed my stuff.  (Very un-minimalistic, I know ;))

Seeing new places and experiencing a different culture is nice, but it also reminded me, (1) how wonderful it is to share the experience with the people who are important in my life, and (2) how great my life is at home.

I have a gazillion pictures to sort through, so those will be coming up in the next few weeks, as I adjust back to normal life, and I will also be doing a travel expense recap, as well.  I’ve missed you guys and can’t wait to get back into blogging.

Talk soon!

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Milan and Rome

I will do a more coherent summary post (with pictures) when I get back to Canada, but for now, I will just be writing little tid bits of thoughts.

We spent 3 days in Milan, and it was definitely the most metropolitan city in Italy. We didn’t do to much sight seeing, as the thought of yet another museum or art gallery or church, just didn’t really resonate with me. So instead, we shopped, people watched, and ate :).

I even rented a bike with my sister and we biked around a park and castle all afternoon, only stopping for gelato breaks, of course. That was the highlight of Milan for me, hands down.

I’ve been in Rome for about a week now, which is a bit too long for my liking. There is a tonne of sites to visit, but I don’t feel like I am really seeing the soul or core of Rome – if that makes any sense. I am also feeling a bit homesick, and a little “traveled out” for lack of a better phrase.

I still miss my bed (I’ve been staying in hostels to save on costs – Europe is so expensive!), my apartment, my city, and my day-to-day activities, such as cooking and blogging.

Luckily for me, BF will be joining me in Rome in 2 days, and I think that my home sickness will be much better.

I will leave you with a picture of the crowds at the Vatican Museum. So. Many. People.

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Florence, Italy

My sisters and I spent the last three days exploring the beautiful city of Florence. It is the home of many of the great Renaissance artists, including Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Botticelli, to name a few. But one does by have to be an arts major to appreciate the beauty of Florence. It’s a city that is best experienced through walking it’s streets, consuming its delicious cuisine, and people watching.

We spent my first evening at a little Italian restaurant. As the waiter was pouring wine, one of the girls didn’t drink and said no thanks. Our waiter was so shocked, he took a step aback. But wine is part of the meal! It is part of life! It is good for the body and it makes people happy!

She couldn’t refuse his plea, and agreed to just a bit of wine. 🙂

The next day, I decided to take in the art at the Ufizi gallery of Renaissance art. Unfortunately, I know nothing of art history, and after my 15th Mary and Baby Jesus, I was a little bored. I may have taken a short nap, while resting in one of the chairs in the gallery… What surprised me about the art gallery, was that I found the depiction of nudity of women in many of the Renaissance works was really beautiful. Such a contrast to what I associate with nudity.

After the art gallery, we went to a little pizzeria which was just so delicious! The chefs even made our pizzas in heart shapes!

We spent the afternoon sauntering through the royal gardens, which was one of my favorite parts of Florence. The garden is huge and it was not so meticulously groomed that it looked like it tried too hard, but was still beautiful. I may have taken a few naps just lying on the grass, listening to the trickling of the water fountain, and enjoying the sweet floral scents.

This beautiful sunset across the river was a beautiful way to remember my time in Florence.

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Italy

I am writing this post from my iPod and have no idea how the formatting will turn out, so please excuse me if this turns out wonky.

Having spent the last 48 hours in Italy, I’m starting to feel a little more comfortable.

I started off my trip in Rome. I learned my first lesson at the airport currency exchange – if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The exchange rate was 1.413 euros to 1 CND. I debated converting $100 or $200 to get me started and get better rates in town.

At the rate above, I would get about 140 euros. So when I heard 180 from the lady, I thought that I must have done some crazy wrong math. Turns out she said 108, which includes a 19.70% commission and an additional flat rate. Ouch.

I will try not to dwell on that thought much. I just felt that I should have known better and asked her to write out the numbers to clarify.

But onto Rome.

Rome felt like a city that has been somehow dropped and merged into the landscape of another era. I walk along the windy streets and there are huge stone walls. I imagine these walls must have served to protect the city during times of war in Rome’s great past. And now I get to stand outside of it! It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?

Lesson learned.

I just arrived in Florence and am off to explore the city. It’s funny all the things that remind you of home when you are halfway across the world. For instance, I ordered a Big Mac and didn’t have to speak a word of Italian.

Don’t worry, I won’t be eating many big macs with the amazing food in Italy. It was just re closest and cheapest restaurant in the train station where I had just missed my train! 😉

I leave you with a post of a view from my hostel. I just love the architecture!!

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Entertaining the Thought of a Rental Property

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A lot of PF bloggers out there either already own rental property, or are looking to invest in a rental property.  Owning a rental property has been something that I’ve always considered.

Background

Back about 5 years ago, when I was still a student, I befriended my land lady, and she advised me to own real estate as soon as I was able to afford it.  She also offered to share her experience and help me out with getting started.

A month after I started my full-time job, we got together for dinner and I raided her brain on what I needed to know to get into the rental market.  I walked away from our conversation excited and scared stiff.  At that moment, I really wasn’t ready to take the risk that came with owning a rental property and the real estate market.

But I also came away with it knowing that in order to make anything happen, I needed to save money.

My PF Journey So Far

Shortly after my meeting with my land lady, I started to think more about where I wanted to be financially.  Even if I couldn’t get into the real estate market, I wanted to figure out my finances.

I paid off my student loans, and started to read PF blogs.  I learned about investing and what an RRSP and TFSA were and maxed out my company match every single year. I learned to track my expenses (using this awesome tool!) and started my own PF blog to share my journey and keep me on track to financial freedom.

Why I am Thinking About a Rental Property

I’ve spoke with quite a few individuals who currently own rental property. I asked them about how they do it, what they look for, and I’ve had pretty positive feedback.   These are individuals who do their research and take a calculated risk when they think it’s worth it. It seems very do-able.

As you know from my monthly budget recaps, I spend very little money on rent, every month.  Especially for living near the city!  I try to have a bit of fun, but also funnel extra money into my investment and savings.  It took me  a while to get comfortable with buying RRSP, and TFSA for my investment portfolio.  I was so scared that I would lose all my money!

With a rental property, I’d approach it the same way.  Similar to how I approached my investment portfolio, I want to do my research first, so I can make a decision that is within my risk tolerance and comfort level.

What are your thoughts on investing in rental property real estate?  Do you have any experience owning any rental property?

Cheers,

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Link Love: Powered by Some Changes

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Hello, everyone. 

I haven’t blogged in a while and WordPress.com has changed their dashboard!  Does anyone know how do I copy an existing post?  I loved that feature!!!

There have been a few changes in my life, and I am really excited to share with you the great news!

  • I’m going to be spending my next three weeks in Europe
  • I will be starting a new job when I get back from my trip
  • I will starting my housing search and moving into the city (finally!)

As you know, I’ve been feeling very uncertain about my future lately.  And I haven’t got it all figured out.  Far from it, in fact.  But I think I needed a bit of a change, and I think this is a great start.  I’m really excited.

I hope to only take a carry on with my on this trip, and hope to post something up before I leave showing you guys what I plan to bring.   I’m not the lightest packer in the world, but I like to travel and focus on enjoying my destination. 

There have a been so many great blog posts out there, I’m not really sure where to begin!

A new blog I discovered is Elle and Ish written by Janelle!  Check her out, she is a 20-something who owns her own condominium, has an adorable puppy, and does really amazing nail art!

How is everyone doing?  Are there any changes in your life you’d like to share?

Cheers,

Fru-girl

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Confession: At a Crossroad

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I have been pretty fortunate for most of my life.  I grew up in a loving family with great parents.  I studied hard in high school, and had the opportunity to attend  great Engineering school.  I landed my first job out of school with a great company doing something I was interested in and making a decent income. I started reading PF blogs and learned about how to plan for my future.

I feel like I’ve done everything right but…

Four Years Later…

I’m not sure exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life, and it’s kind of scary.  Like, really scary.

How do people figure out what they want to do for the rest of their life.  It’s so intimidating.  It’s such a long time…

Some questions I ask myself:

  • Do I want to stay working in this field?
  • Do I want to go back to school?
  • What do I want to accomplish in life?
  • How can I be happy?

I know those are big questions.  I also realize is that I won’t figure out the answers to those questions sitting on my couch, doing the same thing I’ve been doing, and expect a different outcome.

What I’ve Learned

I think it is a iterative process figuring out the “life” thing, and what I tell myself is that instead of figuring it all out at once, I need to take a first step in another direction to see what it’s like.

It’s not much but it’s a start.

What are your life goals and how did you figure out what they are?  Do you have any tips for me to figure out my goals/life?

Cheers,

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The Race to the Alter

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As I approach 30, it seems that everyone around me is getting hitched, popping out kids, or both (not necessarily in that order). It seems that every time I go home on a weekend, my parents ask if there are wedding plans for BF and I.  Then, I get lectured about my age (I just turned 28) and why BF and I aren’t “serious” about our relationship.  I think my mom nearly had a heart attack when I told her that BF was younger than me (gasp!).

My Thoughts on Marriage

Marriage is not the be all and end all for me.  About 4 years ago, I had a heart to heart with myself about my future and whether marriage was in the cards for me.

I was single at the time.  I had just broken it off with a guy I had been dating briefly, and the only other serious relationship I had was with my high school sweetheart (we dated for 4.5 years) which ended 2 years prior.

In the 2 years I was single, I was meeting guys, and dating, but things just didn’t feel right with anyone.  Dating takes work and effort, and I was tired of putting in all this effort just to get a man.  What gives?

Then I started to think that it is entirely possible, I won’t find anyone I’d want to spend the rest of my life with.  As those of us who are dating after college may agree – the pool of eligible partners shrinks significantly.

So I really started thinking about the things that I’d want in my life.  I want to be independent and support myself.  I want to own a home and be able to enjoy my life.  I want a dog, and maybe kids.  Truly, I didn’t really need a man for that (although, one might come in handy, sometimes, depending on the man).  If I really wanted kids, I could adopt one when I was financially secure and established in my career.

 A Partner

I didn’t need someone to take care of me, it was clear that I could do that on my own.  But I wanted a partner – someone who is truly my better half.  Someone to spend my life with and share my dreams with.  Someone whom I loved and loved me back.  Someone whom I respected and respected me.  Someone who had similar values and whom I could talk to about anything.

But I hadn’t found this someone in 2 years.  It was entirely possible that I may never find them, and I came to terms with that.  So, I started to plan out my life without a guy in mind and realized that I can be truly happy and fulfilled, all on my own.

Besides, being in my male dominated office, I see the guys around me refer to their wives in such a demeaning manner – it’s really quite depressing.  I’d much rather be alone than be spoken to in the manner I had witnessed.

I Wasn’t Afraid

I knew some girls who dreaded being single. They stayed with their boyfriends even when he treated them like sh*t.  I’ve had girl friends who were belittled and talked down to by their boyfriends in front of me, and when I asked them why they put up with it, they responded that they didn’t want to be alone.

One girl I knew told me that if she had dated a guy for a few years, she’d just marry him because she thought it was a waste of time if she didn’t.  She was 21/22 years old at that time.  Being a friend, I offered my thoughts that wouldn’t it be better to know while dating whether that person is the right person for us while we’re dating.  That’s what dating is for!  Besides we are so young, and we have our whole life ahead of us.  Obviously, we differed in opinions.

Then I met BF

Shortly after my heart-to-heart moment with myself, I started dating BF.  BF and I knew one another from school and had traveled together during exchange.  I thought he was a really nice, if not flaky guy (sorry, BF!!  But he was always late when we traveled together.)  But since I wasn’t worried about finding Mr. Right, anymore, I had a lot of fun getting to know BF and we eventually became an item.

Now, as we enter into a new chapter in our lives – BF is going away to complete his MBA at a top-notch school in the USA – I am so glad that we are doing this together.  🙂  I know the time apart will be tough, but our relationship is strong, and I hope to build upon it and make it even stronger. And one day, when we are both ready, we can tie the knot – but it won’t be a race for us to the alter.  I guess, it will be like taking the scenic route.

What are your thoughts of a partner in life, or marriage?

PS.  Check out Krystal’s thoughts on marriage and wedding.   Very thought provoking.

Cheers,

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