Category Archives: Uncategorized

You win some, you lose some

One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to blog more often – I hoped to blog at least once a week. Well, we can clearly see that was a fail. What I should have added to my resolution was that I wanted to be more active on other people’s blogs as well, and reach out to bloggers who I really admire, such as my favourite finance bloggers. I also wanted to try to read some good health blogs. Maybe if I do any one of those things once a week, I can give myself a pass.

But if I didn’t make any progress on my blog, at least I’ve kept up with my other resolutions. I’ve been pitching myself regularly to other newspapers and magazines, working out a few times a week and progressing in my sewing class! Last week, I made a drawstring bag. I feel very proud of my accomplishment so far, even if it was just a small project. You gotta start somewhere!

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My Financial Bucket List

I had never given my finances much thought until a year ago. I luckily did not have any student loans to pay off and I had a good chunk of savings from working every summer since Grade 11. I never had any set budget or any clue really how much I was spending on my non-fixed expenses like groceries, entertainment, personal care etc.

So about a year ago, I tried tracking my spending and creating some sort of budget. Once I got the iPhone 4, I downloaded a great app called iXpenseit that allows you to track all your expenses and income (and you can even download a PDF of your report)!

Since then, I have become very aware of what I spend during an average month. Most of it was not surprising – transportation and groceries were my main expenses, after rent. But it definitely made me realize how much little things, here and there, add up.

A few days ago, Financial Blogger Krystal Yee posted a contest on her blog. To receive an extra ten entries, you had to write a blog post with your “Financial Bucket List.”

I would love to win the $500 Give Me Back My Five Bucks competition, sponsored by Life Insurance Finder, the life insurance experts, but I also think a financial bucket list is a great way to have clear financial goals.

My Financial Bucket List

1. Save 30% of my income to be able to afford a down-payment on a house by the time I’m 25 (three years).

2. Start an RRSP and an RESP (yes, thinking ahead).

3. Figure out what I’m saving for – what my goals are. Just to save for a rainy day? To save for retirement, a house? Or to save so I can splurge on other things I love, like pretty notebooks, nice clothes and more scrapbooking pieces?

What are your financial goals for the new year?

No end in sight for YRT/Viva strike

It’s a shame that weeks have gone by and the bus unions and contractors are no closer to an agreement than when they started. With over 60% of bus service suspended, people who rely on these services have had to find other means of transportation to get to work, school or just get around.

But rather than just being a short-term nuisance for commuters, the bus strike has revealed that we can’t rely on public transportation and when it comes down to it, we can find other arrangements.

I’m not saying it’s easy making carpool plans, taking cabs or figuring out other ways to get where you need to go. Lots of people are struggling, including students who have no other way to get to school and workers who need to get to their office.

I’m extremely lucky that the bus I need to get to Finch has run – had it not, I would have struggled to find another way to get to the subway and to work.

But the fact of the matter is that this strike has shown that we can’t rely on public transit – so we shouldn’t. There has not been an overwhelming demand from commuters affected by the strike, encouraging a decision to be made. Even media coverage has been unusually quiet.

The short-term effects of the strike are the extra hassles but the long-term ones are much worse. It has told us not to rely on public transportation – so even if an agreement is reached, people may think twice before reverting to their pre-strike routines. This will have drastic effects on the already-horrible traffic situation in Toronto. At a time when our politicians should be encouraging us to use public transport to reduce traffic congestion, this strike has told citizens “don’t bother.”

People who have been able to make alternate arrangements have realized that it’s possible to exist without these services. Perhaps you never considered carpooling with your neighbour and now you do. You may find it’s even more convenient than waiting for the bus in the rain and snow.

I’m not trying to negate the demands of the unions – it is fair to demand higher wages when YRT bus drivers make much less than their GTA counterparts yet we pay much higher fares.

But the fact of the matter is that people are re-evaluating the way the public transportation system works – and this strike proves it needs to dramatically change for us to re-gain confidence in it.

My biggest weakness

I haven’t updated my blog in awhile because I’ve been quite busy but I hope to get into a better routine and update it more frequently.

Lots of things have happened recently. I graduated from McGill, with Honours. I got a great summer internship at The McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy (which ends next week), I am almost finished a summer writing course at Concordia which I took to improve my writing skills and I got offered a full-time job in September.

But the thing on my mind today is group coupons, my biggest weakness. Since this phenomenon began just a few months ago, I have been addicted! I’ve bought manicure and pedicure deals, massage treatments, hair styling and even food. I keep on thinking I am getting an amazing deal, and usually I am, but it’s only a good deal if you actually would buy that item full price anyways. If you wouldn’t, then it’s just money wasted.

As I start moving on with my life after graduation, I hope to start managing a budget and tracking my expenses. I never really did that in university and instead just trusted myself to know how much I am spending and not waste money on superfluous things. Now that I’m “all grown up,” I want to keep a detailed account of what I do with my money so I can start saving for my future. My major obstacle will be these impulsive group coupon deals!

If that’s my biggest problem in life, I’ll count myself lucky. For now, I’m off to redeem one of my deals.