Give Me Back My Five Bucks

October 2015 Goals

October is an interesting month for me because 1) I’m trying out a 30-day vegan challenge, and 2) I’m traveling for 1/3 of the month.

The chart below reflects an inflated food budget because I have to replace so many staples food items with vegan versions. As it is currently the 5th of the month (and I’m late with this budget), I can already say that moving over to vegan cooking at home is a lot less complicated than I had imagined. But, going out to eat in restaurants has been a bit of a challenge. Thankfully I have some friends who are okay eating at veg/vegan-friendly places, but in other restaurants, I’m that person who has to ask for at least two substitutions with every meal. I find that annoying, but it’s my own issue of not wanting to be a burden on others, and I’ll get over it eventually. :)

I think the budget for travel will be acceptable. I anticipate $150 for Thanksgiving, $300 for Vegas (as I already have some U.S. cash sitting at home), and $50 for Toronto (my flight and accommodation is paid for, and all meals at the Canadian Personal Finance Conference are provided).

The one unknown is a big one. I didn’t put it in the budget because I’m a little bit scared of how much it might cost. Most of you know, I’m a huge Blue Jays fan. And my team is currently in the playoffs. I have a somewhat generous amount sitting in my Travel Fund that I am willing to commit to a playoff ticket (or two) if I can find the time to go. As luck would have it, my travel schedule just so happens to put me in Toronto for the ALCS and the World Series. So if the opportunity arises, I am definitely going to take advantage. :)


October 2015 Goals:

  • Stay on budget with travel expenses. I don’t anticipate going crazy in Vegas, as I’m only there for two nights, and the gals I’m going with seem like they’d have relatively normal travel spending habits (I’ve never traveled with any of them).
  • Check my credit score. It’s my birthday month, so that means it’s time for my annual credit check.
  • Rebalance my investment portfolio. I rebalance my portfolio once a year, also on my birthday month. It’s easy this way, I will never forget to do it. :)
  • Look into rock climbing gyms. After years of (admittedly half-hearted searching), I have found a rock climbing partner. Time to check out what has changed in the Vancouver climbing gym scene since I last went on a regular basis (which was almost 5 years ago now!).

From vegetarian to vegan: a one month experiment

Most of you know I’m vegetarian. I started off as pescetarian when I came back from Germany in 2013. After a few months, I turned vegetarian – and have been for almost two years now.

It’s been an interesting two years. I still get asked by my good friends if I’m “still not eating meat,” as if it’s a fad I’ll eventually get sick of. :) I’ve been put in more than a couple uncomfortable situations, and I have traveled to places where getting a vegetarian meal can be tricky (I ate a lot of eggs). But overall, it has been such a positive change to my lifestyle that I can’t imagine ever eating meat again.

Taking the next step to vegan has always scared me. That’s why I’ve never done it, or even attempted to try. It’s new territory that I’ve always wanted to explore, I just didn’t (and still don’t) know how to go about doing it. Cooking seems daunting – especially cooking for others. Going out to restaurants and traveling will become harder than it already is. But here’s the thing: I’ve always known that eventually, I would want to make this lifestyle change. And now is the time to test it out.

Maybe this will work, and maybe it won’t. But today marked Day 1 of a 30-day vegan challenge for me. I’ve actually already failed, but that’s okay… I ate a piece of pumpkin loaf that I realized afterwards was clearly made with egg, and then I almost put milk into my coffee this morning.

Over the next month, I anticipate higher than normal grocery bills and a lot of “whoops” moments. It will be tough to change my habits, but that’s what’s fun about these 30-day challenges. :) And with any luck, one month will turn into two months, and a new lifestyle will come from it.

So, if any of you are vegan, I’d love links to your favourite vegan recipes or restaurants!

Get rewarded for everyday purchases when using your debit card

Note: while I received compensation for this blog post, all views and opinions are my own.

I started using credit cards to earn points and rewards a long time ago. As many of you know, I support the responsible use of credit cards. I think that they can be an excellent way to earn travel rewards or cash back bonuses. However, they’re only beneficial if you can use them responsibly – which means never carrying a balance.

If you know your spending habits and can manage your budget effectively, a debit card is an excellent option, but doesn’t that mean you are missing out on rewards for everyday purchases?! That’s why I just don’t bother using my debit card at all if I can help it – I like the rewards too much. :) However, that doesn’t have to be the case anymore.

Enter debit rewards cards.

I didn’t actually think debit rewards cards existed, and they don’t for the most part – but Scotiabank is the only bank in Canada that offers you debit rewards on your purchases with three separate debit rewards cards.

w2b-scene-debit-cardSCENE Debit Card

Most of us know what the SCENE rewards program is – you can earn points for free movies, merchandise, and more. This is perfect for students who like going out to movies, but might not have the budget to go as often as they’d like to go. You can earn accelerated points through Cineplex online and in person (5x based on purchases) as well as at a few other select locations including Sport Chek, Milestones and East Side Mario’s. You will also earn one point for every five dollars spent in other locations.

w2b-scotiabank-cash-back-debitMoneyback Debit Card

This card is very similar to cash back credit cards in that you can earn 1% on every purchase you make – up to a maximum of $300 per year. For those that open up an account before October 31st, you’ll earn double the rewards – $600 – through to that day.

NHL_Debit_Card_ReflectionNHL Debit Card

With every purchase made on a ScotiaHockey NHL® debit card, you will be entered to win grand prizes including four 2016 NHL® All-Star Game packages, four 2016 Stanley Cup® Final packages, four 2016 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off™ packages as well as 45 monthly prizes.

I’m actually really excited that debit rewards cards have been introduced in Canada. This means people that don’t want to rely on credit cards still have the ability to earn great rewards for their everyday purchases. And for those of us that will continue to earn rewards through credit cards, this is just an additional way to earn rewards through responsible spending.

What do you think of these debit rewards card offerings?

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