This has been an expensive year so far, with buying a condo and organizing a trip to Portugal, but now that summer is here, all I want to do is spend time outside, go on vacation, and just relax. Summers are always hard on my wallet, but because I’m super conscious about my spending, I never let myself get too carried away. :)
But because we have a lot of house expenses we’d like to take care of this year (like paying for a renovation, patio furniture, a dining set, and a spare bed – just to name a few), I need to be extra careful with my cash flow. Every dollar I spend on vacations means less to spend on the condo – and vice versa. There needs to be a nice balance between the two, and it starts by budgeting and prioritizing what is most important to us.
Last year we spent most of our vacation time exploring Canada, and this year – Canada’s 150th birthday – will not be much different. All of our summer vacation plans will be spent seeing first-hand just how amazing this country is.
Speaking of saving and of Canada 150, here’s an exclusive offer from RateSupermarket.ca. For a limited time, apply for a President’s Choice Financial® Mastercard® through RateSupermarket.ca and get a $150 e-gift card & up to 20,000 PC® points when you activate your card.1
So, here’s how I plan to save money this summer on my vacations (while still having the best summer possible) – and any other tips would be much appreciated!
Have realistic expectations
We were originally planning a 5-6 day road trip to go hiking in the Stein Valley, but since we’re got a European vacation later this fall and we also have condo expenses to take care of, we decided to be realistic with our budget. Sure, we could afford to go, but we’d rather not stretch ourselves too thin. So instead we’ll have a little relaxing staycation at home, get up into the local mountains, and save the Stein Valley for another year when we don’t have so many competing expenses.
Our two-year anniversary is coming up in August, and to celebrate we’re getting on our bicycles, taking a ferry over to one of the gulf islands, and going camping for 3 nights at a gorgeous private campground. We stayed there last year as well, and had so much fun bicycling around the island, going to the farmer’s market, and lazing around our oceanfront campsite. It’s the perfect frugal getaway, but it also helps that we already have all of the camping gear needed to have an adventure like this.
This is a pretty standard thing to do, as I’m pretty sure most people use AirBnB nowadays. We definitely try to stay in AirBnBs or use HomeAway for every vacation we go on. Not only does it save us money because I get to cook at one or two meals a day, but it also feels nicer and more relaxed to be in an actual home. And there are some pretty amazing AirBnB places – when we were in Whitehorse last fall, we got to stay in a yurt overlooking a gorgeous lake, and on our last trip to Tofino, we stayed across the road from Chesterman Beach in a perfect little cabin.
Know what your priority is
You can afford anything, just not everything. So if you’re like me and on a budget, chances are you can’t afford to stay in the best hotel, eat at the fanciest restaurants, and do all of the touristy things in the city. This means that when I’m creating a budget for any trip, I try to figure out what the priority is for me. Usually it’s being outdoors and sightseeing – which means I need accommodation in a central location, and a mode of transportation to get me to where I want to explore (whether it’s walking, transit, taxi, or renting a car). So I create my budget around that kind of trip, and everything else – like fine dining and fancy amenities – don’t really get much thought.
How are you planning on celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday this summer?
1 Apply online and when you receive your PC Financial Mastercard credit card, you will also receive four welcome coupons or offers each worth 5,000 PC points. Use your PC Financial Mastercard and redeem each coupon or offer to receive 5,000 PC points with any purchase at the checkout in participating grocery stores where President’s Choice® products are sold. See coupons or offers for full details. Coupons or offers have no cash value. For all offers, allow 2-3 weeks from qualifying purchase for bonus PC points to be awarded. Each offer is limited to one per new PC Financial Mastercard account and may be terminated or changed at any time without notice.
In about 10 weeks, I will be boarding a flight to Portugal for an amazing vacation. I’ve been wanting to go back to Portugal since I was first there back in 2012, but with so many other financial priorities this year (namely aggressively saving for our down payment), we weren’t sure if a 3-week European holiday was something we were going to be able to pull off. Was it the responsible thing to do, and could we even afford it?
We had a fairly big discussion about what our priorities were, and we realized that while buying a home is something we really wanted to do, living a balanced lifestyle was more important. And that meant travel. So I created a few spreadsheets and budgeting scenarios which would get us to our savings goals. Because RD isn’t as involved with his finances as I am, creating these scenarios helped him to better understand what we could (and couldn’t) afford as we started to plan what our trip would look like.
It was around this time that I really wanted to separate my down payment and my travel savings into two separate accounts. Because my travel money is always fluctuating depending on how much I spend and save in a given month, I wanted to be able to visualize exactly how much I had. But I also wanted more than the 0.8% interest that my bank was giving me.
After taking a look at the different banking options I had, I decided to keep my current bank for daily spending (and some of my investments), and move all of my cash savings (except my Emergency Fund) over to the EQ Bank Saving Plus Account, which has the highest interest rate I could find, at 2.30%. And even though it had the highest interest rate, there was no minimum balance requirement, and you didn’t have to lock your money in for any sort of time frame. These were two keys I was looking for, if there’s a good travel deal happening, I didn’t want my money locked away for a specific amount of time!
If you’re unfamiliar with EQ Bank, it’s a digital bank with no minimum balances, no monthly fees, and unlimited day-to-day transactions. So yes, it’s a high interest savings account, but it also comes with a lot of features that you’d find with a chequing account – like the ability to pay bills, transfer money between EQ accounts instantly (and for free), as well as 5 free Interac e-Transfers® per month.
I’ve been a customer for about 18 months now, and have been using it as my primary cash savings accounts for the last 6 months. The transition and implementation has been pretty seamless, and I can’t really see myself deviating from this set-up anytime soon. I really like how it works as a companion product to my current banking system, so I don’t have to decide which bank to use – I can use both. :) I’ve been able to transfer savings to and from my everyday bank and EQ, pay my credit card directly when I’ve spent money on travel, send money to RD with Interac whenever he’s paid for something, and I’ve been using the mobile app to deposit my freelance cheques directly into my savings – eliminating the need to have that money touch my chequing account.
I don’t have that much cash savings at any given time, but the money I do have, I want to be helping me get to my savings goals sooner – so for me, the 2.30% interest rate is a huge bonus. It’s almost 3x what I’m getting right now, and my travel savings combined with my down payment savings means I’ve been earning almost $120/month in interest alone this year. Not too shabby for a savings account!
So as a special treat for my readers to get your own summer savings started, new accounts opened have the chance to win one of 10 $150 deposits into your new savings account! That’s enough for a nice dinner out on your next vacation! :)
One of the most interesting things I’ve done as a financial blogger was host a Facebook Live Q&A panel earlier this month with Capital One Canada at the Enactus National Exposition in Vancouver. The theme of the panel was Finding a Career That’s More Than Just a Job, which really resonates with me – and I think a lot of people that read this blog too. :)
If you’re not familiar with Enactus, it is a global organization that fosters entrepreneurship among post-secondary students. Since 2012, Capital One Canada sponsors an annual regional and national competition where student teams identify, develop and deliver financial literacy projects aimed at improving and shaping their local social and economic landscape. It was a pretty inspiring few days to say the least!
A career that you love
The main reason why I was drawn to this Capital One event was because of its core message: Finding a career that’s more than just a job is so important to your personal happiness. For me, it’s rewarding to know that I’m in a career that allows me to reach my full potential.
I write a lot about career progression here on the blog, and the initiative it takes to really get ahead, find a career path, and secure an employer that’s worth committing to. In the panel interview, Senior Director of Partnerships at Capital One Jay Acharya said it best when he compared job interviews to dating. That’s how I’ve always looked at it as well! The exchange needs to be a two-way street with an equal performance on both sides – they need to love you, but you need to love them too. :)
Related: What do you look for in a job?
It’s important to establish what you want out of your career. Personally, it took me a long time to figure out what would make me happy. But now, I’m confident in who I am and what I’m looking for. I’m not afraid to walk away from a job offer if I don’t feel like I would fit in with the company culture, or if I don’t think it’s a company I believe in.
That’s exactly the point Hannah Stegen made in our discussion (she’s a former Enactus student and recently hired Capital One associate). She spoke about how Capital One worked with her to find the position that was best suited to her skillset and to what she wanted to do. I think that speaks a lot to the company and their willingness to find and retain the best talent. And after a few years of getting to know the team over at Capital One (they’re a platinum sponsor of the Canadian Personal Finance Conference too), I can honestly say that I think it’d be an amazing place to work.
One of the things that got me most excited was Capital One Canada’s flexible workplace and its comprehensive health benefits:
- Benefits – Capital One offers a comprehensive benefits packages that cover standard health and dental, including fitness/gym memberships, additional time off for volunteering, and financial assistance.
- Flexibility – the company acknowledges employees have lives outside of work, which means striking a work-life balance is crucial. That’s why Capital One allows employees to work remotely (at home or a coffee shop).
Related: Why I don’t want to be self-employed
I really want to share with you the short Facebook Live video (since I know most of you didn’t get a chance to watch it!) that includes 5 job searching tips:
We'll be live on Facebook with Krystal Yee from Give Me Back My Five Bucks to share tips for landing your next job. Have a question? Add it as a comment below and it could be answered live!
Posted by Capital One Canada on Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Head of Talent Acquisition for Canada at Capital One, Victoria Reynolds, mentioned that they’re hiring for a bunch of different positions – especially in the digital and tech space – so if you’re interested in finding out more about jobs at Capital One, I’d encourage you to go to www.CapitalOneCareers.ca for more information.
As for me, it’s taken me 10 years to build my career up to where I want to be. I feel like I’m on a real path to success now. I like challenging myself on a daily basis, I enjoy my co-workers, I feel respected, and I’m proud of the work that my company is doing – and I hope that you feel the same way about what you’re doing in your career too. :)