Category Archives: spending

The cost of what you love to do

When there is a discrepancy between the cost of what you love to do in life, and what you can actually afford to do, sometimes it can be a tough decision to make. What makes it easier, is the ability to plan ahead and understand what you value in life.

For me, aside from loved ones and family, my passion lies in traveling. I’ve always known that, but unfortunately, what I love to do just happens to be expensive. So up until a few years ago, I just didn’t have the money to go anywhere. I was either getting out of debt, or furiously saving for a down payment.

This is why I am so adamant about not necessarily having to find passion within your job in order to lead a fulfilling life (I just noticed all of the comments on that post disappeared when I left my old commenting system – thanks for nothing, IntenseDebate!). Your job can help fuel your passions that lie outside of the normal 9-5. But that also means knowing what other categories you need to scale back on in order to afford it. I’m a budget traveler. I bought a small home. I keep my grocery budget low. I find frugal ways to have fun. And I increased my income. All in the name of travel and funding my RRSP.

So, with my traveling done for the rest of 2011, I thought it would be interesting to see how much money I’ve actually spent:

2011 travel expenses = $7,080 (approximate)

I was actually a little shocked. That’s a lot of money, and I still struggle with the idea of spending money, instead of saving it. $7,080 represents about 8.85% of my gross annual income for 2011 – based on my projection of making $80,000 this year.

But while I feel like 8.85% is quite high, I think I’m okay with that. Because really, this is the reason why I’ve been working so hard. If I didn’t take on all these extra freelance projects, I would have never been able to afford to go on most of these trips, while still staying on track with my savings goals. So if I’m prepaying my mortgage by 20%, and I’m still saving for my emergency fund and stuffing $800/month into my RRSPs, why shouldn’t I travel? Right? Hmm, well, maybe. I do feel guilty now that I’ve actually add up all the costs.

I included my Montreal trip because I paid for the flight a few weeks ago. The spending portion of the trip will fall under my 2012 travel expenses.

$0 – Toronto
$400 – New Orleans
$2,500 – Toronto/New York City
$0 – Las Vegas
$230 – Seattle
$500 – San Francisco
$300 – Oregon
$400 – Tofino/Vancouver Island
$500 – Seattle (includes the price of 2 concerts)
$825 – Chicago
$625 – Montreal (flight only)
$800 – Victoria (approximate expenses for 6 trips home in 2011)


I’m not sure what 2012 has in store for me. I’d like to travel about the same amount as this year, but I’d also really like to spend a year saving as much money as possible. And I feel like out of all the years to do it, 2012 is probably the best bet. I think my income is going to be comparable to this year (hopefully higher), and then I envision myself taking it down a few notches for 2013. Maybe. On the agenda so far for 2012 is Montreal for sure, as well as Toronto for the Canadian Personal Finance Conference, as well as wherever the Financial Blogger Conference is going to be. Other than that? Who knows. We’ll see what happens.

How much do you spend on your hobbies/passions each year?

The one where the waitress added in her own tip

Over the weekend, my boyfriend took me to Whistler for my birthday. We went zip lining and had lunch at a pub in Whistler Village beforehand. Well, because we were in a rush to pay for the meal, Nic was distracted and forgot to add in a tip on the receipt. Not only that, but he forgot to write in the total after tip either. So basically he left those two lines on the receipt blank. He didn’t realize what he had done until it was too late, and we didn’t have time to turn around. But we figured we’d head over there after zip lining and write in a tip amount.

After tax, and without tip, the bill came to $34.70.

When we went back to the pub about 3 hours later, Nic spoke to the waitress who said there was no way to call up an invoice that was already closed. Fair enough. He said he would run out and grab some cash to tip her instead, but she said not to worry about it. Nic had a weird feeling about the whole conversation, and when we went back outside, he checked his account balance on my iPhone. His suspicions were right, because we saw that he was charged $39.70 for lunch.

Meaning, she wrote in a $5 tip for herself!

Okay, granted, we left without giving her a tip (and obviously she didn’t know we were going to come back to tip her), but still. She has some nerve!

1) While tipping is generally common practice, it is not mandatory – maybe we thought her service was lousy (it wasn’t).

2) Is that even legal for a waitress to write in her own tip on somebody’s receipt!? I’m pretty sure that’s called STEALING.

And I’d say the name of the pub, but apparently the last time I complained about a waitress at a restaurant on this blog, the manager fired her (read the comments). And while I’m outraged and pissed off, I don’t want anyone to lose their job over $5. Even though it is extremely lame to steal from customers.


Why I bought the iPhone 4S

As I’m sure many of you know from Twitter, I went out and bought the iPhone 4S on Friday. Everybody was talking about those crazy line-ups. Well, I just strolled into the store in Metrotown, and 10 minutes later, came out with the 32GB (white).

Now, I was originally going to agree to a contract extension with Rogers Wireless in order to get the iPhone at a discounted price. But after checking my hardware eligibility, as well as the Early Cancelation Fee for service (ECF) and the Data Early Cancelation Fee (DECF), I decided to buy my iPhone directly from the Apple store, unlocked, and for full price.

Meaning, I just dropped $838.88 ($749 + tax) on a cell phone.

Here’s why:

First, it was a given that I was going to buy the new iPhone. I knew that months ago. And I don’t care what anyone says, I was really impressed with the features of the 4S. I have no idea what the 5 will be like (I’m sure it will be amazing), but I don’t see myself upgrading again for a really long time. This phone is my birthday present to myself, and it is my reward to myself for what I would consider to be a really productive year – both personally and professionally.

Back in Fall 2009, I started my quest to get the iPhone 3GS, and in January 2010, I bought it for $299 and agreed to a 3-year contract which takes me to February 1, 2013. Meaning, I’m about mid-way through my contract.

In order to upgrade to the 4S with Rogers, I would have to agree to a new 3-year contract (taking me to October 2014) and pay: $319 (for the phone) + $150 (Early Upgrade Fee) + $35 (Admin Fee) = $504 + tax

It hardly seemed worth it, considering an unlocked phone directly from Apple (with no contract) was only $245 more.

If I decided to buy the phone with Rogers and agree to the new 3-year term, my Early Cancelation Fee would reset back to the maximum of $400, and the Data Early Cancelation Fee would be back at $100. PLUS, the plan that I have no longer exists anymore, and is still cheaper than all of the data plans available on the Rogers website for new customers. So I’d most likely lose out on that too.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t hesitate to sign up for another 3-year contract. But to be honest, I don’t know where I’m going to be 3 years from now. Scary, but true. And I’d rather pay a bit more to not have to worry about a cell phone contract for the next 3 years of my life. Plus, it seems like paying full price for the phone will be cheaper in the long run, than paying $504 plus the ECF and DECF should I choose to get out of the contract before the 3 years is up.

Still, $838.88 is a lot of money and is not to be taken lightly. Even though I use my phone a lot for business purposes, my old phone worked fine (I’m passing it down to my boyfriend). But if you know me at all in real life, you will know how important my iPhone has become to me. Because I’m so busy, it helps keep me organized, and I’m on it constantly.

After I crunched all of the numbers, I knew the final decision would come down to whether it was worth the money to me. And it is. I have the money in savings to pay for the phone in cash, and none of my other financial goals will suffer because of it. I have no debt, aside from my mortgage, and I am running a profitable side business. Still, typical of me, I feel a bit guilty for spending so much on a want, not a need. So, just to make myself feel a bit better, I took on a couple of extra writing contracts (that I normally wouldn’t take) over the next few weeks which will more than make up the value of the phone. All of that money will go to replace the money I took out of savings.

And there you have it – my story on how I spent $838.88 on a phone. :) I played with it a lot over the weekend, and I’m extremely impressed with iMessage, the new camera, HD video recording, and Siri. I can see myself using Siri a lot, actually.

Did you upgrade to the iPhone 4S?

The end of summer is near

Well, I am squeezing one last trip out of the summer – this coming long weekend, I am headed to Tofino! I haven’t been there in a few years, so I’m really looking forward to it – even if we’re only going to be spending one night camping We also plan on heading down to Victoria to spend a night in the city. It will probably be my last time home until Christmas.

It won’t be a cheap vacation – trips to the island never are. But, we will be staying with relatives one night in Nanaimo, camping in Tofino, and then staying at my parents house in Victoria for the other night, so at least our accommodation expenses will be kept to a minimum.

Here’s the breakdown I’m expecting:

Travel expenses:
$76 ferry & 2 passengers (one way)
$60 gas

$25 food & miscellaneous
$10 camping fee

$100 Wild Play ($48.15 x2)
$100 miscellaneous

TOTAL: $371

Wild Play is a high ropes course that we will be doing with Cupcakes and Cash. I budgeted paying for Nic too, since it was my idea. I did it last summer, and it was a blast, so I’m really excited to attempt it again. Other than that, we have a few meals planned with my friends, and a bunch of wandering around the city. Fingers crossed for good weather!

After this trip, I’m kind of excited for my travel schedule to calm down a bit, and to just settle into a more normal routine – with much less spending. To be honest, I expected the summer to be really laid back and inexpensive, but it ended up kind of being the opposite.

Thankfully, the next trip planned isn’t until the end of September for the Financial Blogger Conference in Chicago. I finally booked my flight for $515, which in my opinion, is a pretty decent price. But, it’s still expensive. There were roundtrip tickets for about $375, but all of the flight times were ridiculous and inconvenient. At least the hotel room was cheap – only $82/night, and right at the convention centre. And I can write all of the expenses off because it’s related to my freelance business.

Also, I’m already taking 2 vacation days for the Chicago trip, but part of me wants to take another day off. That way, I can spend an extra day in the city (I only have one full day to explore the city as it is). Because, really, when am I ever going to go back to Chicago?

The decision to hire a house cleaner

I briefly mentioned before that I was thinking of hiring a cleaner, and it’s true. I am definitely going to hire one. For the longest time, I was completely against it. When I moved into this townhouse, I tried to reason with myself that my place is small (just less than 700 sq. ft.), and I can just suck it up and spend the time to clean it myself. Surely doing it myself would be worth it to not have to pay someone to come and do it for me.

But you know what? Cleaning sucks. I work 65+ hours/week, and I hate the fact that I have to use my precious free time to clean. Then, I started to fall behind with cleaning, what with traveling, a boyfriend, and a ton of work to do. Not to mention that starting next week, I’ll be playing field hockey 3x/week. So, a few weeks ago I made the decision not to clean anymore, and just hire someone to do it for me. Just like that. And since then, a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders – I feel great! I’ve decided to eliminate something that I hate (cleaning) in favour of something that I do like (anything but cleaning).

Then, I debated about how I was going to budget in the expense. Usually, I would cut something out of my budget to make room for it, but I’m not going to do that either. I feel sort of like a PF rebel today. Not only am I admitting that I’m hiring a house cleaner, but I’m also going to just add it to my monthly budget as a new expense. Like it’s no big deal. Lifestyle inflation here I come! Just kidding. :)

Since moving to Vancouver, I’ve increased my income by nearly 100%, but (aside from my mortgage and housing expenses), my budget has remained the same. I still only spend $100/month on entertainment, and $150/month on groceries. I still clip coupons, and I still try to get the best deals on everything possible. I have to keep reminding myself that I will be more than okay if I add an additional $50-60/month expense. Just like I will be okay if I end up buying that scooter that I really want.

There’s no sense in working as hard as I do if I can’t enjoy life. And I do not enjoy life when I’m cleaning (does anyone?). I figure as long as I’m putting enough money away to satisfy all of my savings goals, and as long as I’m taking into consideration my wants vs. needs, and making sure that what I spend my money on is going to put value in my life – then I really don’t see a problem in it.

It’s a weird feeling, budgeting in something as luxurious as a house cleaner. But at this point in my life, it just makes sense. Obviously if my income were to drop, or there was a sudden change in my financial wellbeing, the cleaner would be the first to go. I like staying financially healthy a lot more than I hate cleaning.

I haven’t hired anyone yet, but I’ve done preliminary research into different companies, and have asked around for recommendations. I’m thinking that, after an initial deep cleaning of my place, I will get somebody in once a month for a couple of hours. That’s all it will take.

Would you ever hire a house cleaner?

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