Give Me Back My Five Bucks

What rock climbing and personal finance have in common

IMG_9625Over the past couple months, I’ve become quite passionate about rock climbing again. What was once my favourite sport is quickly rising up the ranks again, and I find myself getting excited for the next scheduled climbing day.

Okay leave it to a personal finance nerd to find similarities in money and sport. :) But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the lessons I’ve learned through climbing and personal finance are pretty interchangeable.

Here are just a few examples:

Learn from other people

I love watching other climbers because you can learn so much from them. We have been obsessed with watching climbing competitions on YouTube lately. And even watching RD try to climb a route completely different than I what I had previously tried is both interesting and humbling. Much like personal finance, there isn’t one right way to do anything. All of our decisions are based on our previous experience, the tools that we have on hand, and how we hope to achieve the next problem. Learning from others gives a different perspective – and maybe their way of working through a difficult move is just what you’ve been looking for – or maybe the other person is a foot taller than you and holds that they can reach easily are the ones that you’ll have to jump for. :)

Don’t compare yourself to others

This is something I struggle with both in personal finance and in climbing. It can be easy to be jealous of other people’s accomplishments. Maybe they earn more money than you, or maybe they can easily run up a route you’ve been working for weeks on. But there will always be someone richer/smarter/faster/stronger than you, and it makes no sense to compete against anyone else but yourself.

climbingValue the small wins

It’s important to focus on the process and the improvement you make every time you try – instead of always looking for the end result, or the failures you’ve had along the way. I’ve been working on one route for ages … I’ve climbed harder routes, but for some reason, I couldn’t get past the first sequence of moves. It seemed impossible, and it was demoralizing when I saw RD easily reach for a hold that I struggled for a week to even touch. But each time I tried, I got a little bit closer … until one day I jumped, grabbed the hold, and continued on with the climb. But instead of focusing on the accomplishment of completing the first sequence, I was bummed that I had to bow out half way up the route because of another problem.

It wasn’t until later on that day when I was home, that I realized what I had accomplished. I didn’t finish the route, but I got a heck of a lot closer than I ever had before. And the process of trying (and not giving up) is something that I needed to see and value and be proud of.

Push yourself to achieve more

When I was getting out of debt, I pushed myself to pay off my debt as fast as I could. And when I didn’t think I could squeeze an extra dollar out of my budget, I found a way. There’s always more we can do to achieve our goals – whether it’s working a bit of overtime, finding a part-time job, saying no to a second beer (and actually saving that cash), or gathering all the energy you can muster to get yourself to the next hold on the wall. Which leads me to my next point…

Sometimes it’s really uncomfortable

You know the morning after you’ve worked out hard? All your muscles are sore and you can barely roll out of bed… it’s a hurt-so-good type of feeling, because your body aches, but it only serves as a reminder of how hard you worked the day before. I love that feeling! And it’s the same as with personal finance. When I can close my browser tab with items in my shopping cart – even though I really wanted those sweaters – is a pretty amazing and empowering feeling for me. I was really horrible with my money for a long time, so being able to say no because it doesn’t align with my current short-term financial goals is an accomplishment to be proud of every single time.

It’s okay to fail

A few weeks ago I had a horrible session at the gym. I couldn’t finish a single climb. Routes I’ve done multiple times before all of a sudden became too challenging. And each failed climb made me grumpier and more miserable. I felt bad for RD, because as much as I wanted to be cheerful, I was just wallowing. But he reminded me that it’s okay to have a crappy session – or even a crappy week. And the same goes with personal finance. It’s okay to slip up every once in a while, as long as you acknowledge your mistakes and keep trying to improve.

There’s just something about climbing that draws me in. I love that even though it’s an individual pursuit, it requires good communication, problem solving, and teamwork – much like personal finance. :) And when I do top a problem that I’ve been working on for weeks? Sure, it’s satisfying. But months later, what I’ll remember and learn from is an interesting footwork sequence, or a couple quick power moves that felt really good, or the endurance that it took to get me to the end. So even though the goal was accomplished, it was the work that got me there that I’ll benefit from the most.

CIBC launches new Smart™ Account offering flexible banking

Note: this post was sponsored by CIBC, however the views and opinions expressed are my own.

CIBCOver the last few years, my banking habits have changed from writing personal cheques to switching to Interac e-Transfers. It just makes sense – the money comes out of my bank and into the other person’s bank instantly – no more waiting around for cheques to clear. I send e-Transfers to pay my rent, monthly parking (when I had it), and RD and I frequently settle up our bigger expenses through e-Transfer.

My only issue is that my everyday bank charges $1 per e-Transfer – which isn’t much, but can definitely add up if you’re transferring cash on a regular basis. In fact, I’d send more e-Transfers every month if it weren’t for the cost … meaning RD and I settle up our expenses less frequently than I’d like. :)

That’s why I was interested in CIBC’s new Smart Account. What’s interesting about this bank account is that it offers flexible fees (which are capped monthly) – and automatically adjusts based on each person’s banking needs during that month.

Here’s how it works:

With the CIBC Smart Account, you will pay $4.95 per month for up to 12 transactions. Each additional transaction costs $1.25 to a cap of $14.95 per month for unlimited transactions. What I like about this is the flexibility – my current chequing account merely acts as a way to pay off my credit card balance on a weekly basis. I don’t make any purchases, so I can see myself staying within 10-12 transactions per month. But even better – Interac e-Transfers are included as everyday transactions, instead of as a separate charge. I bet with the amount of e-Transfers I make per month, it’d come pretty close to the $4.95 basic fee for this account.

As a side note, the monthly $4.95 fee is waived if you maintain a minimum daily balance of $3,000, and have a recurring direct deposit, or two pre-authorized payments each month. AND you can actually open up a Smart Account without going into the branch – it can all be done through the CIBC mobile banking app. That’s my kind of feature! :)

Check out this cute video of Percy explaining how this bank account worked for him:

I love how there are more and more banking options becoming available to Canadians. It’s not just about free chequing accounts anymore, it’s about finding a product that works best with what you need. And the CIBC Smart Account could definitely work for someone whose banking needs change from month to month, or someone who wants to take advantage of frequent Interac e-Transfers.

For more information on the CIBC Smart Account, please visit

How often do you send Interac e-Transfers per month?
Do you think the CIBC Smart Account would fit your current banking needs?

May 2016 Goals

May is going to be an expensive month for me. There’s lots of fun things being planned, and I’m excited for good weather so that I can get outside and explore! Here are a few highlights of what I’ve planned so far:

  • A weekend camping trip with Cait. We planned a trip to the Sunshine Coast for 2 nights!
  • Two day hikes. I’ve got a separate hiking trip planned with Cait, as well as one in the works with Nic. I suspect the hike with Nic will be a long day, as we tend to try hikes that really test our (well, my) limits.
  • Home for the long weekend. I’ve planned a 3-day trip home over the long weekend. It’ll be my first time home since the beginning of February, so it’ll be nice to see friends and family.
  • My sister’s birthday. Her birthday was back in March, but I promised to take her to the spa the next time I was in town. I splurged and got us a 3-hour spa package, which was actually reasonably priced at $400 total (before tax and tip of course).

Although if I’m being honest, I’ve been dreading the month of May since RD and I first started dating, because it means he’s gone for the entire month for work. He’ll be in a very remote part of the province where there is absolutely no chance of cell reception or internet – meaning no communication unless he’s able to call me on the satellite phone (which will be rare). May is shaping up to be really busy for me, so I’m happy about that … but it’s still going to be hard. We spend almost all of our spare time together, and it will be weird not talk at all.

Now onto the budget I’ve prepared for the month. There are three increases to my normal budget – Travel, Car & Transportation, and Gifts. Life is a bit more expensive with RD gone – I’ll pay more for gas (as we usually take turns driving), and we usually split ferry costs. Gifts is a new category I’m introducing this month. I usually put gifts in Miscellaneous, but I feel like I spend enough on gifts throughout the year that it deserves it’s own category.


May 2016 Goals:

  • Be diligent with cooking meals at home. Because cooking for one isn’t much fun, I feel like it’s going to be so easy to slip into the habit of getting take-out for dinner. I want to really eat healthy this month, batch cook a bunch of meals for the freezer, and make most of my meals at home.
  • Workout 5x/week. My climbing pass is good until May 22nd, and I’m signing up for YYoga’s newbie promotion: a 30-day unlimited pass for $40. What I love about YYoga is that they offer a lot more than just yoga classes – I can’t wait to try out their spin classes too!
  • No alcohol or coffee. Now that I’m brewing kombucha, and RD isn’t around to keep the fridge stocked with my favourite beer, I want to cut out alcohol and coffee for the month.
  • Be creative with freelancing opportunities. I haven’t sought out any sort of freelance work in a very long time – but I’ve got a few good ideas that I think could turn into some pretty fun projects if I can find the right partners. I’d also like to try something outside of personal finance and over into travel/outdoors. It’s a more competitive space, but I’ve done it before with some pretty successful travel sponsorships and writing opportunities.
  • Save $2,500 towards retirement. I’m set to get a few cheques from clients this month, so I’m earmarking a portion of that cash to put towards retirement.

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