Give Me Back My Five Bucks

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Obvious statement: it’s cold in Toronto

Today I had a meeting with my Moneyville editor. It was the first time meeting him. He took me on a tour around the Toronto Star building. I met a few people, and then we went for lunch. I got some great article ideas, as well as feedback for my writing so far. Everything was positive, and I’m happy. Writing for a large audience like that still has me on edge, but I’m really enjoying it and I’m learning so much from everyone else there.

I also really like the city of Toronto. It’s clean and friendly. I like the layout of the downtown area too, and the interesting buildings. I’ve also decided that I would much rather this cold weather than the rainy mess we have back in Vancouver (less hair frizz, need I say more?). But maybe I’m just saying that because it’s a gorgeous day outside, and I walked down to the Toronto Star office this morning instead of taking a cab. It was about a 25 min. walk each way. And on my way back, I saw a pan handler sitting outside. I don’t carry cash on me, so I had nothing to give him. But then I remembered I had a $20 Tim Horton’s gift card that my mom gave me for Christmas. I was saving it, because I can use it to buy at least 6 or 7 french vanillas or a few lunches while I’m on my Lunch Challenge, and that will come in handy throughout the year. But as I walked away from him, I thought about how self-indulgent and selfish I was being. So I walked back and gave him the gift card. He looked surprised, then happy, and then he thanked me. I don’t like that warm feeling you get when you do something nice for someone, but I got it anyway. It makes me angry – like there’s just so much more I could have done. But that’s what happened. And I wasn’t even going to mention it, except for the fact that it is PF-related.

Side story (not PF-related)
I got into Toronto late last night. Miraculously, my luggage was the first one out of the luggage carousel – when does that ever happen!? Anyway as I was walking outside to catch a cab, some guy near the door asked if I needed a cab. I said yes, and he took my bag and led me to his cab. Except that it wasn’t in a typical cab line up? It was parked in the parking lot, and it didn’t have any taxi cab signage on it. Thinking this was a bit weird, I asked if he was a cab driver. He said yes. I asked if he had a meter, and he said it would cost me no less than $100,000 and I thought he was seriously trying to extort money out of me. But he was joking, apparently and explained that it was a flat rate to downtown Toronto – which makes sense … but you see, I have a huge thing for watching murder mystery shows like Cold Case Files, 48 Hour  Mystery or American Justice. So I started to get kind of weirded out. I mentioned I was going to a trade show in town, and he said that he liked going to car shows to look at all the pretty girls. It was then that I made sure to note the make and model of the car, his facial features, and if I could make a quick getaway if necessary. I also made sure to size him up if – could I beat him up, and am I faster than him? I decided, yes, I was. As we got closer downtown, he asked if I thought Toronto was a safe city compared to Vancouver, and then I seriously thought he was going to drive me somewhere and murder me. But then he dropped me off at my hotel. I paid by credit card. The end. Ha.

P.S. I changed up the header on my blog earlier this week. So if you’re reading this in your RSS reader, pop by and take a look. Do you like it?

Recap: 2010 Goals

Well with 2010 almost done, I’ve gone ahead and done my 2010 Goals recap. I’m disappointed that I wasn’t able to reach a lot of my financial goals, but I know that by sacrificing a little now, we will gain so much in the future.

2010 Year Recap

I started off 2010 working for an organization that just frustrated me. They didn’t take to change or new ideas very well, and I had major personality clashes with the co-worker I shared an office with (I got along with everyone else that worked there, but she barely got along with anyone). I felt stuck, yet comfortable. Then, in the beginning of March I got fired in a very unethical way. After a consultation with an employment lawyer, I realized that while I knew I could fight for more severance due to the wrongful dismissal, the environment I was working in was so toxic that I just wanted nothing more to do with them. So I didn’t fight for more than the 3 weeks’ severance that I received.

While I was unemployment, I was panicking because it seemed like nobody was hiring in my line of work. And around that time, BF had the opportunity to start his education immediately instead of waiting in 2011 like we had initially planned. So when he quit his job, we were both unemployed for 2-3 weeks together. Talk about a scary situation! But I had my Emergency Fund that helped me, BF took on a contract to renovate someone’s house, and I was confident that eventually I would get a job. Six weeks of unemployment and six job interviews later, I finally landed a great job – more pay, more vacation, full benefits (my old job didn’t offer any benefits), and an amazing work environment.

BF and I have been working together on cutting costs and living off of just my income since March. It’s been a tough adjustment but it has worked for the most part, and we’ve come together as a team. Speaking of team, it was around this time that I tried out for, and joined a local field hockey team. It turned out to be a great decision because I didn’t realize how much I missed playing.

In the summer my parents took my sister and I on a family vacation to Playa del Carmen. It was the first vacation we’ve taken together as a family in almost 15 years, so it was really great. In July I went to Las Vegas on business and had a lot of fun.

It was also in the summer I was approached by an editor for the Toronto Star who was putting together a new financial website for Canadians, called Moneyville. He had read Give Me Back My Five Bucks and liked my writing style, so he offered me the position of Moneyville’s “20-something” blogger … and just like that, 20-Something & Change was born.

In the fall, BF and I went to Maui for 5 days to see our friends get married. We had an amazing time and can’t wait to go back.

October was the month I finally came out and started blogging as myself to coincide with the Moneyville website launch. I never thought I’d do it, but honestly nothing has really changed. I still blog as I always have. The only difference is that some of my friends and family know and now read both blogs. And it’s weird to get feedback from them, but in a way it’s nice. Blogging and personal finance is such a huge part of my life now that it seems weird to hide it from people.

And that just about sums up 2010. It’s been a weird year full of change, and I can’t wait for 2011! :)

Financial

  • $35,000 Retirement Portfolio. CHECK! As of writing this, my balance stands at $35,541 with over 2 months left before the 2010 RRSP deadline of March 1, 2011.
  • $5,000 Emergency Fund. FAIL! I have less than $3,500 in my EF. At one point this year I was very close to reaching my $5,000 target, but then I lost my job and had to live off my EF for almost 2 months. After that, BF went back to school and my focus became supporting the both of us.
  • $3,000 Savings Fund. FAIL! I have less than $500 sitting in this account. Since we became a single-income family this year, I couldn’t focus on everything. Instead, I decided to throw my savings at my RRSPs  and replenishing my Emergency Fund.
  • $1,000 Travel Fund. FAIL! I have less than $300 in this account. To be fair, I did a lot of traveling this year AND I’ve prepaid for my flights and accommodation for my trip to Toronto/NYC in May 2011. My goal is to keep a $1,000 cushion in this account so that if any unexpected travel comes up, I will have the money saved for it – without having to eat into my monthly budget, other savings, or Emergency Fund.
  • Establish a joint savings account with BF. CHECK! We opened up a joint ING savings account to house our down payment.
  • Make an additional $5,000. CHECK! I was able to make an additional $8,607.46! This was from my PT job, freelance work, and this blog.  I am very pleased.
  • Make 3 extra payments to my car loan. FAIL! I only made one extra payment this year.

Personal

  • Climb 4 mountains. FAIL! We climbed 2 mountains this year, and did one 3-night hike on the Juan de Fuca Trail. Because I started playing field hockey, I am committed to games every Saturday and Sunday, which obviously makes it hard to get away.
  • Go on a vacation with BF. CHECK! We went to Hawaii and it was FABULOUS!
  • Go on a trip with my sister. CHECK! We went to Coombs, and we also went to Mexico for a family vacation.
  • Go on a trip by myself. FAIL! I wanted to get away, but in the end I couldn’t justify spending the money – especially since we were relying on just my income to get by.
  • Take my dad to a baseball game. FAIL!
  • Go kayaking. FAIL!
  • Read at least 1 novel per month from the library. CHECK! I read: The Book of Negroes, Dear John, Have a Little Faith, Shanghai Girls, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Next, Sarah’s Key, Savor the Moment, Peony in Love, Whiter Shades of Pale, and The RESP Book.
  • Join a local field hockey team. CHECK! I actually ended up joining two teams. :)

Professional

  • Maintain an updated resume. CHECK! My resume is up-to-date, looking good, and all references are still valid.
  • Maintain LinkedIn profile. CHECK! I definitely see its value in my industry, and I’ve started to add a lot more contacts.
  • Go on 2-3 mock interviews. CHECK! I’ve been on 6 real interviews this year.
  • Take 3 seminars. FAIL! I just went to one seminar while on a business trip in Vegas.
  • Print business cards for side business. FAIL! I should have really done this, but I get a decent amount of business through existing clients and referrals. Besides, I doubt I could take on more than I am right now.
  • Put side business website back online (and probably update it). FAIL! I actually started to create it and figure out the layout, then just dropped it once I got the PT job blogging.
  • Buy the perfect suit. CHECK! Bought a suit blazer from Banana Republic to pair with existing black pants.

Review of my 2010 goals

It’s already May, and I had wanted to do a quarterly update on my 2010 Goals, but clearly I’m a little late with that. So I figured I’d better do them now.

You know, I didn’t realize I had made so many freaking goals for myself this year!

Financial

  • $35,000 Retirement Portfolio. I lost 6 weeks due to unemployment, but I’m still on track to reach this goal. Right now I’m sitting at $29,886 with just less than 10 months until the 2010 RRSP deadline (Feb 28, 2011). I need $5,114 to meet my goal, and my current savings plan has me contributing about $6,000. So my fingers are crossed that I can keep on pace.
  • $5,000 Emergency Fund. I’m currently sitting at $3,404. I have 8 months to go, and if I contribute about $100 bi-weekly I should be able to make this goal. Just barely though.
  • $3,000 Savings Fund. This one is going to be tough. I had planned on using my tax return to beef up this account. But instead I used the majority of my return for living expenses while I was unemployed, invested some into a work wardrobe, and put the rest into my EF. So there was only a few hundred left to put into my Savings Fund. Which currently sits at just over $300. I don’t think I’ll be able to make this goal, but I’ll keep on trying!
  • $1,000 Travel Fund. This is also going to be a tough goal to hit. I didn’t realize I’d have so many travel plans this year, and I think I’ll be happy just to finish off 2010 with something in the fund. Mexico, Las Vegas, Toronto, Hawaii … and now BF still wants to try to go to Thailand at the end of the year, provided we can afford it.
  • Establish a joint savings account with BF. CHECK! Accomplished 01/08/10.
  • Make an additional $5,000. If you count my tax return (which I don’t), I’ve made $3,059.13. Otherwise my real total is $1,475.93. Not bad!
  • Make 3 extra payments to my car loan. I’ve made one extra payment so far this year.

Personal

  • Climb 4 mountains. This year has been crazy busy. I climbed Mt. Finalyson by myself last month, so I guess it counts … but it’s such a small tiny little mountain that it doesn’t seem fair to count it as one. Still, I guess. A mountain is a mountain.
  • Go on a vacation with BF. We are THIS CLOSE to booking our trip to Hawaii for late September!!!
  • Go on a trip with my sister. We haven’t even talked about a trip together. She’s starting school again in the fall, so we’ll have to plan something for the summer. Probably  just a day trip to Coombs or something like that. :)
  • Go on a trip by myself. I had started to look into prices of places in Oregon (a few nice B&Bs on the ocean), but that’s as far as I’ve gotten. It’s a little expensive. I might try to go somewhere a little more local on the island.
  • Successfully climb a 5.11 route in the gym. Urgh. We did not renew our passes to the gym, and now we don’t get the discount anymore. So I highly doubt I’ll be able to accomplish this goal. We’d have to dedicate our entire summer to outdoor climbing, and I don’t think we have the time.
  • Take my dad to a baseball game. My sister and I are planning to take him to a game for Father’s Day or his birthday.
  • Go kayaking. We are planning to rent kayaks while in Mexico!
  • Read at least 1 novel per month from the library. Have read 4 books: The Book of Negroes, Dear John, Have a Little Faith, Shanghai Girls.
  • Join a local field hockey team. It’s on my radar to try out for a team in late summer.

Professional

  • Maintain an updated resume. I haven’t yet updated my resume with my current job information, but other than that everything is up-to-date, including references.
  • Maintain LinkedIn profile. Up to date as of today!
  • Go on 2-3 mock interviews. CHECK! I’ve been on 6 real interviews this year.
  • Take 3 seminars. Zero so far.
  • Print business cards for side business. Haven’t even thought about it yet. Ugh. I need to get on this.
  • Put side business website back online (and probably update it). See above answer. I need to get going.
  • Buy the perfect suit. CHECK! Bought a suit blazer from Banana Republic to pair with existing black pants.
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