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Feb 11th: H&R Block Canada Twitter Party!

I love tax time. In fact, I think all PF bloggers love tax time. :) So you can imagine how excited I was when I was asked to host H&R Block Canada’s first ever Twitter chat with my PF friends Bridget from Money After Grad, and Marissa from Thirtysixmonths.

Here’s all the information you’ll need to join in on the Twitter chat:

H&R-Block-TwitterChat-invite-FINAL

What do you usually do with your tax refund?

Me, I like to use the 90/10 rule when it comes to tax refunds or any sort of “bonus” money I wasn’t expecting (like a bonus, or cash present) – where 90% of the money goes towards something responsible – like my mortgage or RRSP/TFSA – and the leftover 10% is spent on something fun.

This year, I won’t be getting a huge tax refund, so I will likely put the entire amount into my TFSA.

So no matter what your tax situation – whether you’re a student, filing for the first time, or have a complicated return – please join us in the #HRBtaxchat tomorrow! :)

Spending Recap: Jan 27-Feb 2, 2014

Monday 27th
$5.30 parking
$8.15 lunch

Tuesday 28th
$26.79 groceries

Wednesday 29th
$18.52 groceries

Thursday 30th
No Spend Day!

Friday 31st
+ $50 ING Direct referrals
$40.98 gas

Saturday 1st
$49.10 hair cut
$15.41 wine

Sunday 2nd
$2.75 transit
$24.28 dinner

Freelance Income: $0 (+ $50)
Expenses- $191.28

TOTAL: - $141.28

This was a pretty unremarkable week for spending. During the work week, I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. On the weekend, I got my hair cut (hate it), and then we went over to my friend’s house for a few glasses of wine. Sunday was spent at the Chinese New Year Parade downtown, and then home in time to watch the Superbowl and pig out on a takeout sushi dinner. :)

But this was a pretty big week for me in terms of freelancing. I didn’t bring in any money, but have been negotiating a few deals that could bring in a few thousand dollars over the next couple of months.

How was your week of spending?

 

 

Vegas and the 4-day long weekend

DSC02925I did something a little bit impulsive last night: I booked a mini holiday with BF. We knew that we wanted to do something over the April long weekend, so after tossing around a few ideas – Portland, Kansas City, Tofino, Kelowna – we came to a pretty easy agreement on Las Vegas.

I know, I know. After last year’s trip, I said I was never going to go to Vegas again. But Allegiant Air makes it so easy. The hotel/trip packages are  affordable, and the flights line up perfectly with our time off. Anywhere else Allegiant flies would require us to take vacation days. And while Portland was my first choice, I think it’s a better idea to go in the summer.

Related: Top 5 not-so-frugal things to do in Las Vegas

But I’m actually really excited for this mini holiday. Even though I’ve been to Vegas more than a few times before, there are still a few things I’ve always wanted to do: go see a Cirque show (everyone tells me that O is the best), do one of those crazy rides on top of the Stratosphere, and explore Red Rock Canyon more. Every time I’ve been to Vegas, it’s been go-go-go – either on a work trip, or it’s been crammed full of things to do. I’ve never had a super relaxing stay there, so I think that’s what this will be like. We’ll lounge by the pool (if it’s warm enough), take it easy, and enjoy the Nevada sunshine. :)

We also did something I’ve never done before on a Vegas trip – splurge on a “fancy” hotel. When I was with work, we stayed off the strip. And during past trips, I’ve gone budget and stayed at Harrah’s or the Flamingo. This time, we went fancy-ish and are staying at the Paris. I couldn’t bring myself to book anything more expensive than that, but it will be a nice change I think.

The cheapest I’ve ever gotten a flight and 3 nights accommodation in Vegas is $330 over a long weekend back in 2008. This time around, it will cost me $591. That’s a difference of $261, which I guess is a pretty fair price considering it’s 5+ years later, and a nicer hotel.

I don’t have a set budget in mind, because it varies on a lot of things: the price of show tickets, whether I actually do the Stratosphere SkyJump, a potential car rental, etc. But I’m hoping to keep the entire trip to $1,100. Under $1,000 preferably. And I definitely think that’s possible. BF and I are on the same page in regard to what we want to spend our money on: we’ll save on food (no buffets – neither of us eat enough to make it worth it), and splurge on experiences and entertainment.

Recommendations on delicious, cheap eats in Vegas?

February 2014 Goals

I’m looking forward to February. There are a lot of things happening – a trip to Victoria (where BF will meet my family for the first time), a ski day at Grouse, a bunch of fun freelance assignments, and a ton of field hockey and running. :)

It was also about this time last year that I decided to try 30 days as a pescetarian. I liked it so much that I decided to keep it as my lifestyle. So for this month, I’m going to try to eat vegetarian (aside for 2 meals while I’m home – we are doing a couple of big family-style meals for Chinese New Year, and I just can’t be “that person” … not just yet). There are many reasons why I think I want to take the next step and become vegetarian (health, sustainability, animal cruelty, etc.), but I know it will be difficult. So, this month-long experiment will be good. :)

In my budget, I also added a new “Fitness” expense line. This will represent all sports fees, classes, equipment, workout clothing, etc. Before, I would have grouped fees/classes into “Miscellaneous” and shoes/workout gear under “clothing.” Because I spend so regularly on fitness-related activities, I thought it deserved its own category.

02 - February Budget

February 2014 Goals:

  • Try two new recipes. Vegetarian, obviously. Any suggestions?
  • Save $800 into my RRSP/TFSA. This will be split at a ratio of $600/$200.
  • Run 100+ km this month. Last month I ran 70km. This month I’m going to take it up a notch.
  • Get my taxes ready. I won’t be able to file until after the March RRSP deadline, but I want to get everything else ready to go. I’ll be filing myself this year, and am pretty excited to get started. :)
  • Connect with at least one old friend. There are people living in Vancouver that I’ve lost touch with over the years. I’d love to grab a coffee with at least one of them and catch up.

January 2014 Goals: Review

Yikes.Not a super good start to the year, eh? I mean, sure I was under budget this month – but only because I decreased my mortgage payments. Otherwise I would have been over by about $22.

I’m going to give myself a pass for this month because a lot of expenses were out of the ordinary: my sister came to town two weekends in a row, I had no idea how much I would be spending for gas/parking, and I spent a lot more time at BF’s house than I anticipated, resulting in buying my lunches more often because I was unprepared. The majority of these issues have been fixed for next month.

Here’s how I did:

01 - January Recap

Over Budget:

  • Internet – I’m still in a complaining mood about my internet service. Every time I get my bill, I’m shocked and think to myself “this is so expensive; there must be a cheaper plan I can move to.” And every month I go onto the Shaw website, and am incredibly disappointed to realize that no, there isn’t a cheaper plan to move to. :| My only consolation is that I can write this off as a business expense.
  • Food – This is me being unprepared for work, and not packing lunches like I had intended.
  • Entertainment – My sister visited the city, and also one of my best friends and her husband have temporarily relocated just blocks away from where BF lives for a few months… so we did go out a lot. I’m thankful that most of the time, we stay in, cook dinner, and watch Netflix.
  • Car & Transportation – Wow. This category took me by surprise. The majority of the overage was for parking, as well as a trip out to the ferries and to Point Roberts. Since parking is kind of a shared expense, BF offered to pay for half of my parking fees going forward. I’ve adjusted this category for February.

Net Worth Change+ $2,015 (2.16%)

Even though I’m paying less towards my mortgage, I actually feel really good putting more money into my RRSP/TFSA accounts. My RRSPs gained nicely this month, which is why my net worth increased by more than usual.

January 2014 Goals:

  • Read 2 books. FAIL. I only read one book, a reread of Catcher in the Rye. Are we friends yet on Goodreads?
  • Save $750 into my RRSP/TFSA. CHECK! This was split at a ratio of $600/$150.
  • Run the Chilly Chase half marathon in under 1:53:30. FAIL. Fail, fail, fail, a million times fail. You can read my Chilly Chase half marathon recap for more information.
  • Sell 3 items. FAIL. I have two things listed right now on eBay, but didn’t actually sell anything during the month.
  • Go out for lunch only once per week. FAIL. The month started out well, but it got complicated trying to remember to bring so many things with me as I shuttled between work, my house, his house, and the field hockey field.