Give Me Back My Five Bucks

CONTEST: Win 250 Wooden Business Cards from Jukeboxprint.com!

With the two biggest personal finance conferences out of the way for the year, it’s time to start thinking about next year’s conference! :) I know some of you didn’t have business cards, or had hastily printed some off of your home computer. Whatever the reason, having a great business card is essential, and my pals at Jukeboxprint.com have agreed to let me do another giveaway on my blog (you may recall I ran a popular Jukeboxprint.com contest last fall)

This time, I am giving away THREE (3) sets of 250 wooden business cards (maple stock with white paper backing). This includes free shipping to ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. :)

These cards are perfect, and totally different from any business cards I’ve seen before. They’re made from 100% biodegradable wood, and they have that quirky, rustic charm that I really like. And the great thing is, you can also order flyers, greeting cards, hang tags, invitations, posters, etc. in wood as well, so that all of your marketing material has the same look. I’m going to have to redo my own business cards before next year’s conference, so I’m really looking forward to having this as an option.

When I ordered my business cards from them last year, I was really impressed with their customer service, quality of the printing, and the type of card stock they used. I really do believe that unique options and good quality stock is what will make your cards stand out. And don’t worry, if you don’t have the software (or the time to design your own cards from scratch), Jukeboxprint.com offers a free online business card creator! :)

There are FOUR ways to enter:

  1. +1 entry: Tweet about the contest (copy and paste the following: “I just entered to win 250 wooden business cards from @jukeboxprint and @krystalatwork! Enter now! http://wp.me/pPQjl-2Tu“).
  2. +1 entry: Follow @jukeboxprint on Twitter.
  3. +1 entry: Comment on this blog post and tell me what event you would use the business cards for.
  4. +1 entry: Like Jukeboxprint.com on Facebook.

Rules:

  • You MUST use Rafflecopter to record all of your entries.
  • I am giving away three (3) sets of 250 business cards. Each person who enters is only eligible to win one (1) prize.
  • Shipping is free worldwide.
  • Contest closes October 7, 2012.

ENTER NOW WITH RAFFLECOPTER!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spending Recap: September 17-23, 2012

Monday 17th
+ $300 freelance income
$1.90 (€1,50) Starbucks

Tuesday 18th – Toronto
$26.89 dinner at Kinton Ramen

Wednesday 19th – Toronto
$6.67 Starbucks
$63.42 Shoppers Drug Mart
$31.63 lunch
$125 orthodontist appointment
$70 dinner at ND Sushi

Thursday 20th – Toronto
$65 hair cut at Shampoo
$1.80 breakfast
$4.19 Starbucks
$15.37 dinner at Fresh Restaurant
$3.97 coffee

Friday 21st – Toronto
$1.80 breakfast
$60 clinic
$4.19 Starbucks
$7 beer at The Ballroom (CPFC12 social event)

Saturday 22nd – Toronto
$4.19 Starbucks

Sunday 23rd – Toronto
$15.37 lunch at Queen Mother Cafe
$12 dinner at Golden Turtle
$1.80 bakery

WEEKLY EXPENSES– $522.19
WEEKLY INCOME+ $300

TOTAL: – $222.19

Well as you can see, I spent a lot of money in Toronto. Not surprisingly, it was mostly on food. :) But I also had to pay out $185 for health care costs – a trip to the clinic as well as an orthodontist appointment. I also re-filled on make-up since it’s really expensive to buy in Germany, and they don’t carry the brands that I like anyway.

It was actually weird being back in Canada for a few days, and even though I’ve only been away for 8 months, the differences were hard to ignore. I don’t know if I should be admitting this on a PF blog, but I had a really hard time counting coins. The Euro has 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cent pieces, and I kept thinking that Canadian quarters were worth 50 cents. I’m pretty sure the cashier at Starbucks though I was a moron. :| I also kept forgetting to add sales tax on top of all the prices! But the major difference was how pedestrian-friendly most cities in Europe seem to be, compared to Canada. In Europe, the streets are narrower, there’s almost always a pedestrian-only shopping street, transit is better, and there aren’t as many cars.

Still, it was great to be back. I was able to stuff myself on my favourite foods, saw friends, and helped to put on an amazing conference. For those who are interested, I started a Facebook page for the Canadian Personal Finance Conference – check it out to stay connected with other people!

Anyway, here are a few  pictures from last week:

Living in Europe: The panhandlers and beggars

Almost every day I see panhandlers and beggars. Whether it’s a someone playing the accordion on the metro for spare change, an old woman sitting on a corner with a paper cup in front of her, or people sitting outside the steps of major tourist attractions with a funny – they’re everywhere, and they’re hard to ignore.

In Milan, we came across those that literally forced something into your hand – whether it was bird seed to feed pigeons, a bracelet, charm, or flower – and then harassed you until you paid them a few euros to go away. I’m not sure how they get away with that, but the police officers didn’t seem to care, and some tourists looked really happy taking pictures and feeding the pigeons.

In Barcelona, we saw a woman sobbing and begging each individual person for money on a metro line. In such an enclosed space, it was extremely difficult to look away. Especially when she was inches from your face, crying her eyes out. A few days later, we saw a very old woman enter a metro and start singing. What I assume was her granddaughter (she couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old), approached everybody with a tattered paper cup. Some gave money, but most didn’t – and the ones that did give seemed to be locals.

As a Canadian, I’ve never seen such aggressive panhandling before. Don’t get me wrong, panhandlers are everywhere in Vancouver – and everybody has a different view of what to do about the situation. But I’ve never experienced crying-screaming-in-your-face begging, or people crawling on the ground pleading with tourists for a few coins – like I’ve seen all across Europe.

I think that the amount of begging (and the type of begging) in many countries depends on how much tolerance there is for beggars and panhandlers (do police sweep them off the streets? do locals and tourists complain, or do they give instead?), as well as how deep a person will sink before they resort to begging in order to survive. It’s one thing to see someone sitting on a street corner with a “spare change” sign, but what about someone completely bent over on the ground, never looking up, begging, pleading for a few cents to be placed in their open palm?

Everywhere I go, I think about these people – where do they live? How much do they really make? Does the money ever help them get out of their situation?

In Victoria, I used to volunteer at a homeless shelter, and it was really hard to see my community from that perspective. In Vancouver, people are also really sensitive to the problem of homelessness. But on the other hand, when you see panhandlers smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, or doing drugs, you have to wonder if your spare change is even going to help them for the better.

Once after a dinner out with friends in Vancouver, I saw an old man sitting on a corner had a sign that read “Hungry. Spare some change for food.” I offered him my leftovers, and he refused – asking for money instead.

Street artists can be a vibrant part of a city’s downtown culture. We often stop to watch, and I’ll throw in some of my loose change. But what about the beggars who have nothing to offer? People seem to be really divided on the topic.

“They’ll just spend it on drugs or alcohol.”

“The change I give them will help buy a bit of food.”

“Giving money only encourages more beggars and doesn’t solve anything.”

“Homelessness will never go away – my spare change is making a difference.”

“They probably make more money than I do.”

Does it make a difference whether they’re old or young, healthy or sick, male or female, clean or dirty? What if it’s cold outside, or if they have newborn baby with them, or if they are aggressive (and giving a few cents will make them go away)?

Many people would rather give their time, money, or donations to charitable organizations instead, but it never seems to be enough to reach everyone – and it won’t help the immediate problem of helping someone afford a meal. So now, I will often keep a bit of spare change in my pocket (coins less than 50 cents in value) to give. Whether I’m helping or making the situation worse, I don’t know.

Do you give money to panhandlers and beggars?

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