Give Me Back My Five Bucks

It’s the little things in life

IMG_7082A few weekends ago, my BF and I drove down to the Skagit Valley to visit an old family friend of his, and to see the beautiful La Conner tulip fields. His friend is in his 80’s, yet he still chops wood, shovels snow, tends to a garden, and goes on road trips to visit his family. But none of that seems remarkable to him (even though I’m constantly surprised at how active he is). And every time I see him, whether he’s working on a puzzle in his sun room, or feeding the neighbourhood cat, I can tell it’s the little things in life that make him happy.

That day with him got me thinking about the little things in my life that make me happy. Just off the top of my head, I love seeing my BF laugh so hard that he doesn’t even make a sound. I love that exhausted feeling in my legs after a long run. I love when the barista at Starbucks spells my name right, or when something is on sale that I’ve been wanting to buy for a long time, or when I get rewarded for responsible spending with a credit card. :)

And to be honest, the rewards I get from my credit cards always go to something fun – whether it’s a flight somewhere, a nice meal out, or a wine tour. I think of it as my reward for smart spending and keeping out of credit card debt. :) And on that note, the new SimplyCash Card from American Express focuses on earning cash back for every day purchases, a great reward for doing something you’re already doing. You can earn 5% cash back on all eligible purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants (up to $250 cash back) for the first 6 months), and 1.25% on all other purchases, and when your Welcome Rate ends. That can definitely add up fast, especially since there isn’t a limit to how much you can earn.

A helpful tip I can share (although I’m sure most of you already know) is to use rebate sites like Ebates or Great Canadian Rebates to gain additional money off your purchases online, as well as earning cash back rewards from your SimplyCash Card from American Express. :)

What are some of the little things in your life that make you happy?

Note: this post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

Getting to know the new Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard

aspire-world-elite-300x189Last month I blogged about potentially trying to find a new credit card because the Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard was being discontinued. I was pretty bummed out because it’s a card I really like, and I even got my boyfriend to sign up for it as well so that we could earn travel rewards for our trips. So in case you were thinking of getting this card, or if you are already a cardholder but haven’t heard about what’s happening, here’s what I’ve learned from Capital One (who reached out to me via e-mail after reading my post):

  • The Aspire Travel World MasterCard is being replaced with the Aspire Travel World Elite MasterCard.
  • The Elite MasterCard will provide stronger Concierge services to cardholders.
  • New card holders will not receive the 10,000 miles Anniversary Bonus.
  • The sign-up bonus of 35,000 miles was downgraded to 10,000 miles.
  • They will keep the 2 rewards miles for every $1 spent on all purchases (with no cap).
  • They still offer extremely strong travel insurance and benefits to cardholders.

But, existing Capital One Aspire Travel World MasterCard cardholders will still receive the 10,000 miles anniversary bonus every year. This is important because that means pretty much everything about the card stays the same for me, and for everyone else who already holds the card. It also means I don’t think I’ll need to find a new replacement. :)

Note: the minimum required personal income for the Elite card is $70,000 or a household income of $120,000. This is an increase of $60,000 personal and $100,000 household from the World card.

For existing cardholders – will you keep your card, or look for something else?

Tax breaks for couples

It’s important to understand how to take advantage of tax benefits at every stage of your life, and it shouldn’t just happen every April as you scramble to file your taxes. Being fully aware of what benefits are available to you at any given time during the year ensures that you will receive the refund you’re entitled to. As a request from a recently married friend and from my sister, I’m going to blog about common tax benefits for married or common-law partners. :)

Here are some of the most common tax benefits I can think of for married or common-law partners:

  1. Spousal RRSP contributions. This makes sense if one spouse makes significantly more income than the other. The higher income spouse contributes money in the lower income spouse’s RRSP, and can then claim the tax deduction. But most importantly, during retirement, both spouses will have a more balanced income, which means less income tax paid.
  2. The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP). With the HBP, you are allowed to withdraw up to $25k from your RRSP to buy your build your first home. if you are buying a home with your spouse, you can each withdraw up to $25k, for a combined $50k towards your new home.
  3. The Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP). Similar to the HBP, under the LLP, you can withdraw up to $20k from your RRSP to pay for training or education. But the best part is, you can take it out for your spouse or common-law partner as well.
  4. Tax break for students. This is great if either you or your partner is eligible to claim tuition. The original claim must be made by the student, but if you’re a low income-student, you may not need to use the entire tax credit if you don’t owe taxes. This means any unused amounts up to a maximum of $5k can be transferred to the student’s spouse to help reduce their taxes. And as an added bonus, TurboTax offers a free version of their tax software specifically created for students!
  5. Medical expenses. Any qualifying medical expenses for either spouse should be combined and claimed on one person’s tax return – generally the partner with the lower taxable income.

The great thing about online tax filing software like TurboTax is that they will ask questions and help guide couples through the tax-filing process – making sure you don’t miss any relevant tax savings opportunities! :)

What other tax benefits can married or common-law partners take advantage of?

Note: this post is sponsored by TurboTax Canada, but was written and edited by me.

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