Give Me Back My Five Bucks

March happenings

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been weeks since I last wrote here. It’s been a nutty, stressful month at work – lots of overtime, and surprisingly a lot of freelance opportunities have also come up. But aside from work, any free time I’ve had has been spent enjoying the outdoors and with friends and family. Here’s a quick update on the happenings around here:


I’m currently writing this post from Tofino while RD surfs and I rest my tired running legs. I haven’t been here since 2011, and can’t believe how much fun the trip has been so far. It helps that RD and I had the same sort of vacation in mind – to be outside and active as much as possible.

Thursday night we took the ferry to Vancouver Island and drove straight to Tofino, arriving pretty late at night. It was a crappy drive, but waking up Friday morning already in Tofino was pretty great. RD went out for a morning surf, and I did a slow 8.5km run on Chesterman Beach. In the afternoon, we went on a couple long walks – one to Schooner’s Cove, and the other on Chesterman. By the end of the night, my legs had covered 21km of ground. :)

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Saturday morning started out much like Friday – RD went out surfing, and I went for a 9.5km run on the beach. After that, we headed into town to run a few errands, explored Tonquin Park, and then met up with my friends for a walk on the beach and then dinner at a pub on the pier. My daily output was 18km of running and walking.

Sunday morning (today) we drove down to Ucluelet to tackle the Wild Pacific Trail. I didn’t realize it was rated Trip Advisor’s #3 attraction on Vancouver Island, but the views were pretty stunning. :) The round trip hike was just 9km of easy hiking, but I really enjoyed it. Tonight we plan on hitting up Tacofino, and will try to catch the sunset at Chesterman Beach. Tomorrow we’ll be packing up and visiting my uncle in Nanaimo before heading to Powell River to visit with RD’s friends and his grandma for 2 or 3 nights. Hope your Easter long weekend has been filled with fresh air and family! :)

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Freelancing has been going well. I banked $4,350 in freelance income so far this month, with another $700 to be paid out in the next week. I’ve also secured a couple more contracts for next month, which should bring in about $3,000. I’m really pleased with securing both repeat clients as well as attracting new companies I’ve never worked with before. :)

As for my full-time job, I received a small 2.5% raise last week. It’s not much, but nice to see a little boost to my salary. In terms of workload, it’s been busy. A major person in our marketing team moved across the country and is now part of the eastern team – so our little group has to absorb her workload for a while until we can determine if/when we need to replace her. That has resulted in overtime every day for me, but the good news about that is I’m banking more hours (which means more vacation time).


  • I’ve been indoor climbing 3x/week lately, and it has been really fun. We’ve been making progress up to 5.10d and 5.11a routes… although RD will be gone for an entire month for work starting in May, so I suspect our progress will be severely stunted. :)
  • We are planning an epic road trip for October. We have both individually wanted to travel north for years, and with the dollar keeping our vacations within Canada this year, it seems like the perfect time to go. So we’ll likely be taking 3 weeks in October, loading up my car, and heading north. I’m very excited to hike and explore the Northern BC and Yukon area. If you’re from the north or if you’ve traveled there, I’ll be calling on you for travel tips and suggestions, as I’ve not been farther north than Dawson Creek!
  • As a side expense to this road trip, I’ll finally need to invest in new tires for my car (and maybe a full-sized spare one for the trip) = $$$

I have so many blog post ideas (seriously, you should see how many drafts I have lined up here), and I can’t wait to start writing them and getting back into a blogging routine. :)

March 2016 Goals

Well this is an expensive month because RD and I are headed to Tofino and Powell River for a week.

We booked 4 nights in Tofino through which cost about $390 each. Expensive, I know. But it’s normal for Tofino, and the location can’t be beat – RD has stayed at this place before, and it’s just a couple minutes walk to Chesterman Beach. We’ll cook most of our meals – with the exception of at least a couple trips to the Tacofino food truck, and probably one dinner in town.

From Tofino, we plan on visiting my aunt and uncle in Nanaimo, before taking the ferry to over to Powell River for a few days. I’ve never been before, but hear it’s quite lovely. :) I’ve budgeted $1,000 for the entire trip. We won’t need to worry about accommodation in PR, so all we have to figure out is food, gas, and ferry costs.

I’ll also be renewing my rock climbing membership, but again will be buying a 1-month pass for March and April. Since RD is gone for much of May and June for work, it didn’t make sense to buy a 3-month pass. Instead, while he’s gone, I’ll switch gyms where they have more auto-belay options – so that I can continue to climb without a partner. :)

But to offset this expensive month, I expect to bring in about $4,200 in freelance income.


March 2016 Goals:

  • Practice yoga once a week – Increasing our climbing to 3x/week has left my body pretty stiff. I wanted to look into classes, but even rec centre drop-in classes are $16, and I’m not into that. So since I can’t justify spending even more money every month on fitness, it’ll be back to my yoga DVDs for now. :)
  • Do my taxes and get organized for next year – I’ve got almost all of my tax slips, and I’ve already done a preliminary run of my taxes, but it was just with estimated freelance numbers. I also want to get more organized with my 2016 taxes. I revamped my old spreadsheet to provide more details, but it’s the way I file receipts that needs a massive overall.
  • Look into getting a credit limit increase on my credit card – I only have one credit card with a $5,000 limit, and that has been fine for the past couple of years. But lately I’ve been charging a lot of reimbursable work expenses (and joint travel expenses) which has caused my card to come dangerously close to my limit before my payments get posted. I’d like to get a credit increase so I can continue to use my card for work purposes (to earn reward points), and not worry about getting declined.
  • Save $2,000 towards retirement – This is a carry-over goal from last month, but will largely be based on whether I receive payment for freelance work that I invoiced out for last month.

February 2016 Goals: Recap

I feel really good that I was able to do so many fun things this month – Chinese New Year’s with my family, brunch dates with my favourite people, dinners out with friends, the Elliott Brood concert, celebrating Valentine’s Day with RD, and lots of rock climbing. :)

Last week I was interviewed for an article with The Province newspaper about renting vs. buying in Vancouver. I thought it would be a normal Sunday article slotted in with weekend fluff. But the reporter asked if she could send out a photographer on the weekend … then a videographer the following weekend … and when I finally went to pick up a copy of the newspaper yesterday afternoon, I got a bit of a shock!

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It’s kind of weird to see myself on the front page of a newspaper when I wasn’t expecting it, but renting vs. owning is a huge topic in Vancouver right now and I certainly have a strong opinion. It’s also been interesting reading what my friends and acquaintances have to say about their experiences and what they hope for in the future.

Related: We will never be homeowners in Vancouver

Anyway, here’s my monthly budget recap:


Over Budget:

  • Utilities – our hydro bill was $197.98 (billed every 2 months). This was our first hydro bill in the new place, and comes to about $98.99/month. Split between the two of us, and we’re paying about $50/month each. It was more than we had expected, but the past 2 months were the coldest of the year, and the tenant before us was paying an average of $50/month. So we will definitely see a decrease in this expense going forward.
  • Entertainment – I had a few unexpected dates with friends come up this month – a brunch with a girlfriend downtown, and RD and I went out with his friends as a last-minute thing a few weekends ago. This made me go slightly over budget, but I’m still happy with the $200 spent as it included the cost of going to a concert.

Income & Savings:

This month I was able to save 47.5% of my income. This is a little off from my goal of saving 50%, but last month I was at 68% so I feel like I’m still on track. :)

I also invoiced out for $4,200 in freelance work this month, and expect those cheques to come through sometime in March.

February 2016 Goals:

  • Find alternative parkingCHECK! My last month paying for parking is March. After that, I’m going to try to snag the free spots available in our work parking lot. You have to be fast to grab them in the morning, but they’re there. If not, there’s a parking lot across the street that costs $6 per day or a few free all-day parking spots on the street (super rare though). I’ve been testing out the parking lot situation for a while, and in 3 weeks I have gotten a spot every day except one. Even if I don’t get parking on occasion and can’t find free street parking, it will still be cheaper than paying $60/month.
  • Save $2,000 in my retirement portfolioFAIL. My contributions rose permanently to $1,550/month thanks to passing probation and becoming eligible for my company’s RRSP match program. But the freelance income I was expecting didn’t get paid out this month. So I’ll try again in March when I receive those cheques.
  • Declutter my closetCHECK! I cleared out one big garbage bag full of clothing, and it feels fantastic. :) I’ll never become a crazy minimalist when it comes to my closet, but I am working hard at keeping classic items that I can wear for years (and that are interchangeable between work and play).
  • Cook one new recipe a weekPASS. We only got to 3 new recipes this month, but I’m still giving myself a pass because we would have tried 4 recipes but we had too many leftovers to get through over the weekend. :) We made a really nice vegetarian lasagna for Valentine’s Day, and also made Vietnamese salad rolls and sushi this month. And we picked up two new cookbooks: Thug Kitchen and Veganomicon.
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