Archive for ‘big events’

April 20, 2012

So what am I getting up to this summer?

by Robyn

With summer upon us, I’ve been busy making plans. Beyond my love for travel, I’m usually a real homebody. I like tv, internet and air conditioning. I really like my bed and sleeping in until the middle of the afternoon. When I go out to my cottage, I sit in the shade reading a book. I don’t really get up to much. Hopefully, this summer things will change.

Ever since joining the gym, and for a few months taking a twice weekly class, I’ve seen drastic improvements in my physical abilities and overall stamina. I can run for almost 20 minutes staight! I couldn’t do that 6 months ago. I was lucky if I could go 5 minutes without huffing and puffing. This summer I’m going to get off my ass, get out of the house and enjoy the weather.

Starting in July, I’m taking weekends off. Working full-time and serving on the side during the winter months, I’m lucky if I get 2 days off in the span of a month. It’s unheard of if I get two days off in a row. It’s the nature of working two jobs, and I accept that. It’s the sacrafic I make to save as much money as I do and still live comfortably. That being said, my summers are for me enjoy.

Starting on June 30th, I’m flying out to Vancouver for just over a week. I’ll be visiting my friend Scot in New West Minster (just south of Vancouver) for approximately 4 days. During that time I’ll be painting the town red (and white) celebrating Canada Day in style, challenging myself to do the Grouse Grind, and eating copious amounts of sushi. Then I’ll be taking the ferry to Vancouver Island to visit my friend Robin in Victoria. While there I’ll be taking in the sights of a new city I’ve yet to explore, hiking Mt. Finlayson and hanging out with her kick ass dog.

 

On August 18th, I’ll be competing in the Dirty Donkey 5K Mud run. I’ve never done anything competative in my life and attempting to run a marathon just doesn’t appeal to me in the least. This on the otherhand, I know that even if I do suck ass and quit, I’ll still have had a lot of fun. Plus, unlike boring marathons, at the end of the race I get to be hosed down followed by gorging myself on beer and food.

I’ll be capping off my summer by participating in the Terry Fox Run on September 16th. Again, this is something that I’ve never done, and for years I have wanted to do it, but for whatever lame excuse it just never happened. This year, it’s going to happen, no excuses.

As for the rest of the summer and all those weekends I’ll have off. I’m going to be at my cottage. Sometime in the next few months I’m getting my boating license. I plan on doing a lot of boating, a lot of swiming, and a hell of a lot more hiking. Up until last year it had probably been well over 5 years since I’d done a decent hike of anykind through the bushes at my cottage. I loved it and it made me realize how much I miss my cottage. I plan on catching up on a lot of lost time this summer, revisiting the old stomping grounds of my childhood and discovering new ones.

 

December 1, 2011

Going from Flab to Fit

by Robyn

I have officially been a member of SNAP Fitness for a solid month now. In the last 30 days, I went to the gym over 13 times, and worked out a minimum of 30 minutes each time. I am extremely proud of my commitment so far, and I can without-a-doubt say I would not have gone nearly as often if it weren’t for them being open 24hrs. 

Over the weekends the past two weeks I’ve hit the gym after midnight. Not only is it quiet that late at night, but you are completely alone so you don’t have to feel self-conscious about trying new things. I have also joined a twice weekly fitness bootcamp with one of the personal trainers, so I’ve been doing intense cardio and strength training for an hour on Monday’s and Wednesday’s. I’m not expecting to see results right away, but I’m hoping I’ll be able to feel a difference by the end of my class on my 25th birthday later this month.

My savings in the past month has pretty much come to a standstill. Getting a $241.00 speeding ticket really put a dent in things. I’m also holding out right now for a seat sale from Winnipeg to Ottawa in February for the wedding of a family friend. I was tossing around the idea of taking a full week off work and flying to Vegas for a few days after the wedding but have decided against it. I’m hoping I can get a round-trip ticket to Ottawa for around $500. I could have re-routed my flights Winnipeg to Ottawa to Vegas to Winnipeg for an extra $400, but decided I can’t justify spending the extra money just for 2 days in Vegas, and another two days in transit.

So instead I’ll be taking two vacation days to attend the wedding then use my remaining vacation days for sometime next year. I recently helped a friend pack up his entire apartment to move back to B.C. so I’ve got an open invitation to spend time with him there in the future. So perhaps a summer vacation in the mountains is in order for 2012.

October 28, 2011

I just paid you in full for my “FREE” month

by Robyn

After packing on a few pounds over the summer, I decided it was time I re-joined a gym. I spent a few days looking at the different facilities. Near work and near home. What would work best for my lifestyle and my wallet.

I wanted to find the best deal I could. I wanted a gym near where I work, close to my house if possible, flexible hours. So I decided on SNAP Fitness. They are open 24/7, although limited they do offer classes, they have personal trainers available to you, there is one close to my work as well as my house, they have a low membership fee and reasonable monthy rates. Or so I thought.

I am feeling really stupid today, because I got scammed. I didn’t want to sign a 12-month contract, nor do a month-to-month, so I decided on a 6-month contract. That way, I’m only locked in over the winter months and I can have the summers off. Depending on which location I joined, a 6-month contract monthly rate would be in the range of $35-36.00. That I can do.

A new SNAP gym down the street from my house opened at the beginning of the month. I got a voucher in the mail the would waive my enrollement membership fee if I joined before October 31.

With the 6-month contract, my monthly rate would be $35.96. Or I could pre-pay, and by doing so, I would get 1 free month. I figured, why not, throw it on the credit card, then I don’t have to worry about paying for the next 6-months.

It was only when I got home and did a little bit of math did I realize that I didn’t get 1 month free, instead I just paid them upfront for a 6 month contract that is now actually 7 months.

The pre-paid total is $251.70 + $20 access card x PST. This gave me 6-month pre-paid, plus 1 month free, so in total, 7 months pre-paid. But when you break it down, I just paid for 7 months, at the 6-month contract monthly rate.

If you pay month-to-month, its $41.95.

41.95 x 6 months = 251.70 (which is what I paid! But I didn’t sign up for month-to-month)

If you pay the monthly rate on the 6 month contract, it’s $35.96.

35.96 x 6 months = 215.76

So really, all they did was charge me for 6 months on the month-to-month rate (instead of the 6-month contract rate I signed) and said that I got a “free” month, when really I just paid for 7 month, because if you do the math:

35.96 x 7 months= $251.70, which is what I paid under the illusion I was getting a free month.

Clearly that’s not the case. I’m pissed. I’ll be going in on Monday and calling them out to see if I can get some money refunded or something, valued at $36, for free. Because I never got the “free” that they promised me.

October 26, 2011

Was Alberta Bound

by Robyn

A few weeks ago a recieved a facebook message from my tattoo artist in Toronto letting me know that he would be at the Alberta Bound Tattoo and Arts Festival in Calgary. If I wanted to come, he would save a spot for me.

After checking my overall finances and the balance of my tattoo fund, it only took me about a week to decide. I was going. It would cost me about the same to fly to Calgary as it would to get to Toronto, except there was a good likelihood I would get to see the mountains.

I booked my flight to depart the evening of October 13th, and I flew back home at the end of the weekend on October 16th.   I stayed in the HI Calgary City Center, located 2 blocks east of City Hall. Perfectly located for getting around the city.

This was my first time staying in Calgary. I normally drive right through or stop over at the airport enroute to somewhere. Usually when I visit a city, I push myself to the limits. I try to see as much as possible, to the point that near the end of the day, I’m totally burnt out.

I avoided that this time around. I slept in until at least 10am every day and I was back at the hostel no later than 7pm. Then I would relax and watch tv. I spent a day shopping. I checked out the Millenium Skate Park. Took a drive into the mountains. Got tattooed.

I was sad to be leaving and I wish I had had more time in the city. I wish even more that I could have spent more time in the mountains. But alas, I will have to save that for another time. 

When I arrived home, for the last time I passed through what will become the old Winnipeg International Airport terminal. At the end of the month, the terminal will be closed, and in all likelyhood, demolished shortly after. Following it’s closure, the long awaited, $585 million new Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport will open. It’s exciting. The next time I fly will likely be in February to attend a wedding for a family friend in Ottawa.

August 10, 2011

Surpassing a savings milestone

by Robyn

As soon as my 2006 Pontiac G6 was paid off in mid-May (2 weeks earlier than I expected) I concentrated putting my extra cash into my “RTW TRIP” savings account.

My savings account, an RBC High Interest eSavings account was first opened in March 2010. My starting balance was $4103.49. Apparently I’m really good at pulling money out of thin air, because I don’t know where this money came from. The account number associated with the deposit transfer doesn’t actually match any of my existing bank account numbers. Weird?!

My goal, at the time was to save $10,000 by Christmas, quit my job and travel the world. However, at the time I was already $2300 in debt, with an upcoming 10-day trip 2 months down the line, and I desperately wanted to purchase a new car. My Nissan, to say the least, was a “piece.” Random things would literally fall off of my beloved first car.

In May 2010, I started a new job and went on my 10-day trip to New Jersey. Over the course of the summer and fall, I paid off $2600 worth of debt, and put $2168.06 into a separate savings account for a down payment on a new car.

To say the least, my goal of saving $10,000 by Christmas didn’t happen. By December of 2010, I had saved an additional total of $745.89 towards my big trip.

But with my new car miraculously being paid off in the time frame that it was, I have been able to focus my attention back to saving, rather than paying off debt. Between my two jobs and just being cheap in general, I’ve been able to put away minimum, $500 a month.

Yesterday, I surpassed $7500 in my savings account.

At the present time, I have no official savings goal, other than to save. At first I thought that $10,000 was reasonable. But since I’ve been able to save $2500 in an exceptionally short amount of time, I know I’ll be able to far exceed that amount by this time next year.

I’m taking the summer off from excessive saving (and working). Instead I’ll be enjoying life, taking advantage of summers free festivals, my boyfriends pool, and escaping to the family cottage. I need the practice for when I’m on the road.

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May 19, 2011

Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6, like a G6

by Robyn

Ok, yes, I’m lame. The title is lame, but I am extremely excited. With 2 weeks remaining until the end of May, I have achieved my goal of having my car paid off before the end of the month. I puchased my 2006 Pontiac G6 just days before Halloween to the tune of $13604.64, and now, less than 7 months later, I am debt free. I’m still blown away at how quickly I was able to pay everything off. Here is a rough break-down of how I did it:

Personal Savings: $2168.06

Donation made by my parents: $2000

Sale of previous car: $3300

Income Tax cheque: $1600

MPI Cheque: $471.00

GST Cheque: $95.25

Total: $9634.31

13604.64 – 9634.31 = $3970.33

I was laid off from my summer resort job on November 15th. I then applied for unemployment insurance while I worked part-time at the pizza place I have been working at for several years. I was collecting unemployment insurance cheques from December until approximately the 2nd week of February after I started my current job. 90%, if not more of my income from my unemployment insurance went directly towards paying off my car. The money I was earning from my hourly wage and tips at my part-time job went towards my rent, groceries, etc, etc.

When my umployment cheques stopped in early February, all pay cheques from my part-time serving job went directly towards paying off my car. On average, I was putting between $500 – $700 a month towards paying off my car. One month I managed to deposit just over $900.

In total, I only paid $279.64 in interest, bring the total cost of my car to $13884.28.

May 13, 2011

Six and a half hours

by Robyn

I worked over 70 hours last week. I was a nervous wreck and spent all of my free time either eating or sleeping. My rest and nourishment was vital with my upcoming trip to Toronto. This trip, this appointment, so long in the making, I had to make sure that I was in the best of health upon my arrival. Being sick would mean losing hundreds of dollars.

Thankfully, luck was on my side this week.  After leaving work early yesterday, my girlfriend dropped me off at the airport and I boarded my Westjet flight. I got to Toronto without incident and checked into my hostel shortly after.

This morning I was a ball of nerves, but Matt gave me little time to let it get to me. Within 20 minutes of arrival at the shop, we started on my tattoo.

The first 2/3rds, starting from the bottom up were manageable. My upper shoulders were absolutely horrible, I spent that vast majority of my time concentrating on my breathing to take away from the pain. It took just over 4 hours to get this first piece completed.

For phase two, we mapped out the images and I held my breath. I was pretty rough by this point, so everything hurt. Again, I concentrated a lot on my breathing and noting where the tips of Matt’s fingers where so that I could anticipate the spot he would go to next. Although Matt congratulated me at the end of our marathon session for not jumping off the table, there were a few times where I wanted to.

This is just the start of a piece that will take countless hours and years to complete. I have one more full session of outlines and finishing details. We opted out of doing some of the detailed texturing on the lower pieces due to my growing discomfort as well as Matt’s time contraints.

At the end of the day, I was in the shop from 10:30 until 5:30, being tattooed for approximately 6.5 hours of that time. I’m happy to report that I came in $200 under budget for what I had predicted that the tattoo was going to cost. So that’s extra money that I can put back into the bank for future travel or tattoo sessions.

Today I kept my meal costs to less than $10.00 for the whole day. That’s including my delicious waffle with fresh fruit, whip cream, maple syrup and hot coffee this morning at my hostel, The Only Backpackers Inn. I had a simple lunch of chicken noodle soup while at the shop, and then pizza this evening on the ecclectic Church St.

I’ve been making plans to get together with a friend tomorrow afternoon. Trying to keeps things as relaxing and low stress as possible. Sushi perhaps? or a movie.

I’ll give a general breakdown of how much I spent on this trip when I get home at the end of the weekend. I also got my MPI rebate in the mail the other day. So once I take a look at my upcoming bills and incoming paycheques, we’ll see if I’ll reach my goal of being debt free by the end of May.

April 29, 2011

The Royal Affair

by Robyn

I set my alarm this morning for 3:00am. I must say that I’m thankfull that I hit the snooze button for an hour. I didn’t go to bed until 12:30 and damn am I tired.

I’m not someone who’s obsessed with the Royals, but I look at it this way. A wedding, of this size and “importance” won’t happen again for another 30 years. Yes, I’m sure Prince Harry will eventually get married himself, but sadly, no one will really care.

I remember where I was when 9/11 happened and when MJ died. This event, as silly as it may be, is another one of those worldly events. So when people ask me “did you get up to watch the wedding?” and I will be able to say, “yes I did.”

I dragged my sorry ass out of bed at some ungodly hour of the morning, just in time to see the Britsh Prime Minister David Cameron enter the church, followed by the Beckham’s, and of course the arrival of Prince William and Harry.

If I’m any good at reading lips, I’m pretty sure I caught Harry asking William “are you ready?” as they entered ther church.

I’m not looking forward to work tomorrow because man will I be tired. But enough blogging, now to turn my attentions back to my tv and youtube channel to watch the wedding of the century.

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April 6, 2011

365+ days, when will the saving end?

by Robyn

So we shall see if this on and off dream ever comes into fruition. I have 436 days until my tentative departure date. June 15th, 2012. That date sounds pretty darn good to me. That gives me 1 year, 2 months and 9 days to work, save, and sell my belongings. And maybe attending a wedding before I leave…. well see…it’s complicated.

So this my plan. Granted it’s been my “plan” on more than one occasion. Clearly I’ve failed in the past. I think this is attempt #3. Third times the charm right? Things are looking up. This time I’m not fresh out of school, working part-time, in between jobs, or doing a summer term position while trying to pay off debts from spur of the moment trips that I hadn’t adequatly saved or planned for. I’m in one place, working full-time, (working two jobs in fact) with no chance of upcoming vacation time to blow my money on a week long trip to Mexico which I’ve done more than once while working as a part-time server.

Oh the flexibility of working as a server, when you can trade shifts, drop shifts, pick up shifts, and you have loads of tax free cash at your fingertips. It can get you into messy financial situations. Like $4000 worth of debt in a mere 3 months.

One thing that I find frustrating, understandable, however still frustrating is that many travel bloggers are hush hush on what their financial standings are. I want to know HOW you saved up $xxxxx.xx. And not in terms of, instead of going to the movies you watched an old VHS at home. That saved you $20, which will amount 1 meal and a 1 night stay in Thailand. Or the fact that you pinched and saved and scrounged for a year and bingo, you have $23,000 saved at the end of a year. I want to know that along with your full time day job, you worked 15hrs serving over the weekend. You made $100 in tips and it went straight into your trip jar. Play by play! I love that shit. It makes it feel real, and that I can do it too….

Because, this weekend, I did serve for 15 hrs, and I think I made something in the range of $140. All of which has gone into my “money jar.” It will likely pay for my expenses when I fly to Toronto in a few weeks to get tattooed. 60% of of the flight which will be paid for with my RBC points that I’ve collect over the years. Budget travel….only to go and spend probably $1000 on a tattoo I’ve been saving for and waiting to get for over year.

I hope that in my blog, however it may evolve, will give people true insight into how I’ve done it. Friends and co-workers are always blown away by how I do it. Like how have I financed 5, (yes count it) 1, 2, 3, 4, FIVE, WEEK long vacations to destinations like Mexico (twice), New Jersey, Cuba & Montreal working 20 – 30 hours a week as a server at a pizza place. I hope to break it down so that you can do it too.

My current debt amounts to just over $3,000. That’s amazing considering I purchased a previously-loved $10,000 car in November. But with diligence, hard work and the sale of my old Nissan, since making the purchase a mere 5 months ago, I’ve somehow mananged to pay off $7000. With a fat income tax cheque expected in my mail box in the next few weeks, and a $400 autopac cheque enroute, I can expect to be putting money to savings in just over a month.

Having been able to consistantly put $500 – $700 away monthly to pay off my car, I can expect to be able to continue that into savings. Take that times 1 year, 2 months and 9 days, makes for $7000-$9000 put into savings. Add that to my existing $4000 saved in my high interest esavings chequing account fittingly nicknamed “RTW TRIP” and I’ll have somewhere in the range of $11,000 – $13,000 to buy a one way ticket westbound to SE Asia or Australia to live, work and play until I’m broke or dead. Which ever comes first.

Until then, I will feed my obsession with books, blogs, forums and the like. As the date gets closer I’ll be forced to explore details of the trip that can no longer be approached in theory. Like where is the best place to purchase traveller insurance, what are my most affordable banking options, what vaccines to get for the regions I hope to visit, and what I’ll need to pack. I’ll pull out a map and examine where I want to go, what I want to see, and overall, how much a really want to plan. A part of me wants to get the necessary vaccines, buy the longest insurance I can get my hands on GO. It probably won’t happen that way, but until then, I shall BLOG and DREAM.