Give Me Back My Five Bucks - Page 11 of 2821 - a quest for financial independence

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Learning a new sport

62737se101080-zmYesterday I spent $50 on a tennis racquet and headed to the courts in Stanley Park. I’ve never played tennis before, although I’ve always wanted to learn. But with so many other competing priorities, and no friends in town that play the sport, I’ve just never gotten around to it. Until now. BF loves playing tennis, and he was willing to teach me some of the basics – so I jumped at the chance. It also helps that the courts are free to play on (when you can actually get space), and are just a short walk from his house.

After spending about 90 minutes learning how to hold a racquet properly and hitting balls against a cement practice wall (which also meant hitting the ball into the other practice court about two dozen times), I decided I liked the sport enough to take the plunge and invest in tennis lessons.

After asking Twitter about recommendations for lessons in Vancouver, I decided to stick with Stanley Park for the convenience factor and the good reviews it got. I paid $80.75 for 4 lessons of 60 min. each (approx. $20.19 per hour). Class sizes are no more than 12 people, and there are 2 instructors that teach the course. This seemed a bit expensive to me, but after talking with a few of my out-of-town tennis friends, they confirmed that this was pretty normal.

I’ve stuck with “comfort” sports like field hockey and running my whole life, and have stayed away from sports I’ve never played before, or that I’m not good at. As someone whose played competitive sports for many years, I don’t like the idea of not being good at something. Or having to start with basics and work my way up to being competent. But I know that being uncomfortable with something means that I should do it, and that it will help me to overcome those feelings. Plus, learning a new skill is never a bad thing! Tennis seems like it would be a great summer sport to play, and good cross training for field hockey and running.

Another worry I have is that I won’t be able to find anyone to play with. BF is a lot better than me, and so are his friends. I’m sure he’ll play with me, but it’s not going to be as fun for him until I can reach a semi-adequate playing level. So until then, I’m going to have to find other newbies to play games and learn with as well. Since this whole tennis thing is a bit of a departure for me, and I’m really excited to try something new!

Does anyone have any advice for a newbie tennis player? :)

Spending Recap: May 12-18, 2014

Monday 12th
No Spend Day!

Tuesday 13th
+ $25 Tangerine Bank referral
+ $200 Tangerine Bank referral bonus
$7.66 Subway

Wednesday 14th
No Spend Day!

Thursday 15th
+ $19.14 Great Canadian Rebates
$45.88 gas
$35 Graze Restaurant

Friday 16th – Victoria, BC
$44.25 ferry

Saturday 17th – Victoria, BC
$62.50 hair cut
$14.49 Bin 4 Burger Lounge
$4 coffee

Sunday 18th – Victoria, BC
$13.88 brunch
$18 Bon Macaron

Freelance Income: $0 (+ $244.14)
Expenses- $245.66

TOTAL: - $1.52

This was a spendy week. On Thursday, I went with a girlfriend to Graze for their one-year anniversary celebration. We were treated to complimentary drinks and appetizers before digging into dinner. Graze is likely my favourite vegan restaurant in the city, although it’s a bit out of the way so I don’t get to go very often.

Over the weekend, we headed back to Victoria. We lucked out and had gorgeous weather, so it ended up being a great little trip packed full of visits with friends and family. :) Although perhaps we ate one too many (unhealthy) meals out, so this week will be all about clean eating: fresh veggie juice every day and simple meals.

As for freelance income, I’m still waiting on FOUR cheques to come in. But I did make some bonus money this week through Tangerine Bank. Thanks to everyone who has signed up using my referral code (30874855S1)! For those that don’t know, if you sign up using my code and open up an account with $100 or more, you’ll earn a bonus of $25 and so will I. So it benefits the both of us. :)

How was your week of spending?

Spending Recap: May 5-11, 2014

Monday 5th
$8.67 liquor store

Tuesday 6th
No Spend Day!

Wednesday 7th
$61 Macaron making class (2 hour class for 2 people using TeamBuy)
$55.61 Khunnai Chang (for 2)

Thursday 8th
$5.64 groceries

Friday 9th
$4.20 gelato

Saturday 10th
$57.10 Stanley Park Tea House (for 2)
$10.50 parking

Sunday 11th
$18.96 Tamarind Hill
$21.44 Hub Restaurant

Freelance Income: $0
Expenses- $243.12

TOTAL: - $243.12

I’m really excited for this macaron class at Professor and the Pigeon. We haven’t booked a date yet, but both BF and I have become pretty obsessed with macarons. We’ve tried almost every place that makes them in the city (Theirry is our favourite, btw), and now we’re going to try to make our own. :) I have a feeling that they’ll be too fussy and expensive to make ourselves, but at least it’s a fun thing to do and we can see how hard it is to actually make them. It will probably give us a better appreciation for them, since they’re quite expensive to buy in the stores. :)

This was a busy, social week for me. My aunt was in town, so we had dinner with her and her friend on Wednesday night. Saturday, we went out for a 50th birthday lunch at the Tea House in Stanley Park. I paid for the both of us, because later that night we were at Seasons in the Park to celebrate a 40th birthday party. :) Spendy day, but definitely worth it.

Sunday I had lunch with Asian Pear who was visiting from Toronto, and capped off the weekend with an always-entertaining dinner with Blonde on a Budget.

How was your week of spending?

Should tipping in restaurants be banned?

Should tipping be banned in Canadian restaurants?Tipping has been on my mind a lot. A few days ago, I read about a new restaurant in Parksville called Smoke and Water that will be banning the act of tipping (they don’t open until June). As someone who has really struggled with the concept of tipping, I find this really intriguing.

So instead of tipping, as you can imagine, the menu prices will be higher – about 18% higher. The owner will pay his staff a living wage (between $20-24/hr for servers and $16-18 for cooks), instead of having them work for less and rely on tips to make up the rest.

The owner will eliminate the tipping line on credit card/debit receipts altogether, and if someone does leave a tip, they will give it back to them. If they can’t get it back to the customer, they will donate the money to charity.

The newspaper articles I read about this restaurant said that this is likely the first in Canada of its kind. But I found that this is common in many places in Europe, and I know it’s the model of countries like New Zealand and Australia as well.

After the news broke about this new restaurant, I listened to a Freakonomics podcast about tipping, and a Wait But Why article called Everything you don’t know about tipping. And now I feel like the whole concept of tipping could be at its tipping point (hahahaha).

But the problem is, until the system is fixed – until workers get paid fairly – I will always feel a moral obligation to tip people in the service industry. When I get a massage or have my hair cut or go out to a restaurant, I often wonder how much of what I’m paying is actually going into the pockets of the people performing the service – and how much is going back to the owner. So I tip. Not necessarily because I got good service (bad service gets 10%, good service gets 15-18%), but because I feel like I have to. And that’s not right.

Related: How much do you tip?

Another thing is, why do some customer service jobs get tips, and others don’t? I’ve worked in retail and customer service for over 10 years, and never once got tipped. I had repeat customers, people knew me by name, I made them smile, and I worked just as hard as those people in tip-based jobs … except I only made a base wage. Doesn’t seem fair to me.

Recently BF has thought about not tipping as a mandatory practice. Instead, he thinks he should only tip when he feels he receives good service – and even though I agree with what he’s saying, I scoffed at that idea because the system is broken. We’ve never NOT tipped, but the man has a point. Tipping shouldn’t be mandatory, and it shouldn’t be expected. You should only tip if you want to, but unfortunately our society seems to be a bit tip-crazy, and a lot of people will openly judge if you don’t leave a tip wherever you go. Maybe these little changes could be the catalyst needed to make a big change to the whole system.

Related: The one where the waitress added in her own tip

It’s going to be interesting to see what customers think of seeing a significantly higher priced menu, and whether they will buy into the no-tipping model. For people who regularly tip less than 18%, perhaps that will be their cue to dine elsewhere. Or maybe customers and workers will start demanding this model be adopted by other restaurants.

What do you think about this no-tipping policy?

Do you think the Smoke and Water restaurant will be able to attract staff, as well as customers?

Spending Recap: April 28-May 4, 2014

Monday 28th
$130 Costco

Tuesday 29th
No Spend Day!

Wednesday 30th
No Spend Day!

Thursday 1st
$6.83 Subway

Friday 2nd
No Spend Day!

Saturday 3rd
$2.50 shipping
$8 ice cream
$40 gas
$27.49 groceries

Sunday 4th
$8.82 Starbucks

Freelance Income: $0
Expenses- $223.64

TOTAL: - $223.64

This was a solid week for me in terms of keeping my expenses to a minimum. We ventured out to Costco on Monday night and stocked up on a bunch of different things – vitamins, quinoa, black bean pasta, veggies, cheese, bread, etc. It was a good trip because I don’t think we spent money on anything frivilous – aside from a monster sized bag of kettle corn, that is. :)

I packed a salad for lunch every day this week, and we made dinner at home every night – except for Thursday, when we shared a 6-inch veggie sub from Subway for dinner. :) BF is trying out being pescetarian this month, which makes it easier for us to coordinate cooking meals together.

Saturday we crossed the border to pick up a pair of jeans that I had ordered online. My favourite style of Lucky jeans is being discontinued, and I’m panicing a bit because I only bought one pair. It’s really difficult to find jeans that fit me properly – short, small waist, huge legs. Part of me wants to stockpile, but the frugal side of me is telling me not to be a jeans hoarder. :) Anyway, we stopped in Blaine for some ice cream, and to fill up on gas as well.

Sunday I went to see InRealLife at the DOXA Documentary Film Festival here in Vancouver. It was a great film about social media and the internet, and if it has permanently deformed some of the most basic human qualities – like empathy, intimacy, and love. It’s only playing that one time during DOXA, but if you ever get a chance to see this documentary, I highly, highly recommend it.