Posts tagged ‘planning’

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.

 

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March 27, 2012

10,000 things to do before I die

by Robyn

In a few days, I will have $13,000 saved towards my upcoming RTW trip, 65% of the way to my final goal of $20,000! I’ve been keeping up with my “inspirational readings” and have been scouring the internet daily for new travel blogs to follow. Some recent posts have inspired me to start making note. When I’m FINALLY gone on my trip, what do I want to do?

A few months ago, Kieron from donteverlookback.com spent a week doing Muay Thai Kickboxing Training at Rawai Muay Thai. Roy from roymarvelous.com is just completed his 3rd week at the same camp. Jennifer, Holly and Amanda from lostgirlsworld.com documented their time in an Ashram on their round-the-world trip, just like Elizabeth Gilbert did in her best-seller, Eat, Pray, Love. These are things that I really want to do! I would love to do something like this in the city now, but working two jobs with conflicting hours just makes it extremely hard to commit to something so intense.

I probably read at least 10-15 different blog posts every day, if not more. This makes for a lot of day dreaming, wanderlust, and moments of “I want to do that!” So I’ve borrowed an idea from Caroline, from the Caroline in the City blog.  She has a Bucket List, or as she’s termed it, a Life List. I decided to add another TAB to my blog, with my bucket list. My ‘to do’s’ before I die, or at least my to do’s while I’m traveling the world.

What have you crossed off on your bucket list?

February 29, 2012

Why I love my iPhone

by Robyn

I’ve had a personal cell phone for 9 years, and in that 9 years, only once have I paid for my phone. That was for my last contracted phone. I grudgingly paid the $100 for an LG Rumor because I didn’t like any of the free phones they offered. I’ve been putting off getting a new phone for over a year. My contract expired in February 2011 and I refused to sign another 2 year contract knowing that I might have to buy out of it if I travelled before my contract was up.

After a lot of research and “justification,” I’ve finally given in and purchased an iphone. Knowing that, fingers crossed, I’ll be travelling in just over a year, I opted not to sign into a new contract and paid full price for an 8G White iPhone 4.

So how have I justified spending $630 on a cell phone? Almost $100 more than what I pay in rent? An iPhone is clearly more than just a phone. It can do so much more that what my LG Razor could ever do for me. Here are some of my favourite apps that I use on a daily basis.

MyFitnessPal: I love this app and I use it everyday, multiple times a day. I want to be healthier and this app is helping me do that. I can track what I eat, how many calories I’m consuming, how many calories I’m burning, and whether or not I’m getting my recommended daily vitamins and nutrients. Without this app, I would never have known that I don’t get nearly the amount of daily iron I should be. With the help of this app I’ve been able to adjust my eating habits to lower my calorie intake and I’ve started taking vitamin suppliments so that I get all my daily nutrients.

Spendings: I’ve actively used the MyFinancialTracker feature of RBC since it was first introduced a few years ago, and this app is another excellent way for me to track my spending. It’s simple and easy to use. I track everything I spend my money on from groceries, trips to the salon, drinks with friends, even what I spend on postage. The disadvantage to RBC’s MyFinancialTracker is that it only tracks debit/credit purchases. With this app I can track all of my income/expenses, regardless of the form of payment.

HoursTracker: I work 2 jobs, one of them being a serving job, where technically I get paid down to the minute, so every minute counts. I’ve always kept my weekly timecard but usually just looked at what is deposited into my account and figured “that looks about right.” I’ve only been using this app for a month and noticed on my last paycheck I was shorted almost 10 hours in pay. That’s just shy of $100 that they neglected to pay me. When you work in an industry where you work random hours and split shifts, tracking your hours is a must. This app allows me to track the hours that I work, my breaks, make notes on shifts and it tells me how much money I have earned after every shift. At the end of every week, I email my hours to myself so that I always have a quick reference of my weekly earnings.

P Tracker Lite: This little app is pretty self explainatory. It’s a period tracker. I haven’t been on the pill in a few years, therefor am not as regular as I used to to be. Or at least I don’t have a pill pack to tell me if I’m regular or not. This App allows me to track my period, how long it lasts, when I’m fertile (not that I care – no babies for me), and it’ll predict my next period. Other features include the ability to track symptoms, moods, weight, and best of all, you can set the App up to be password protected.

UrbanSpoon: I can’t help but love this App. It was an amazing tool to have on my recent trip to Ottawa. You can find reviews and pictures for almost any and every restaurant in any given city. It use it constantly to find new places to eat in my own hometown and to find affordable, new places to eat when I’m on vacation.

Rage Comics: This App is a great way for some good laughs and an excellent way to kill some time. The comics that people create from real life are so funny, and there are always new comics.

Some of my other favourite Apps include Twitter, instagram, facebook, DataMan & Shazam. I’m becoming a bit of a phone addict but how can I not? It’s everything, phone, texting, camera, music, social networking, all wrapped into a $630 piece of awesomeness, and when I’m travelling, I’ll just drop my phone plan. Unlike every other phone I’ve ever had, it won’t become a paper weight.

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.

April 25, 2011

8 Unique Ways to Save

by Robyn

1.Grocery Shop Frequently – especially when looking for fresh produce. Some people (like my boyfriend) get grossed out by it, but buy fruits and veggies off the sale rack. The last 2 weeks I’ve picked up a 1lb box of strawberries for 50% off. I went through them, picked out the odd one that was mushy and froze the rest to make smoothies. If you pick up veggies, use what you bought that day to make dinner that night.

2.Join Group Buying Websites – such as groupon.com, or teambuy.ca. These websites are free to join and are great places for deals over a vast array of products and services. Although I haven’t used it that much, for the times that I have it’s been for a great savings. I paid $25 for $50 worth of prime cuts of beef, pork and poultry. I ended up getting so much food I had to store half of it at my parents house. Other great deals to look out for are restaurant deals. That way you can still dine out from time to time without breaking the bank.

3.Avoid Malls and Thrift Shop Instead– Sometimes you really need to clothes shop, especially if your a girl. Aside from a few sample items I picked up off the sale racks at the mall a few months ago for cheap cheap cheap, I always buy my clothes second hand. I take pride in being able to say that out of any outfit I can put together, each piece likely cost me less than $10-20. I think it would be safe to say that at least 75% of my wardrobe is either a thrift find or was bought on sale. Bottom line, never pay full price for your clothes, because it’s going to be out of style in 6 months anyways. Buy it off the sale rack, or better yet, when thrift shopping, wait until they have 50% sale days like Value Village does in Canada. It’s like a sale on top of a sale. If you can, sign up to be on email lists so you know when stores have promotions and sales coming up.

4. Hide your Clothes – this one may seem weird but it works. After wearing the same few outfits day in and day out, you start to get bored and want to shop for some new outfits. Or at least I do. So hide some pieces for a few months, then trade them up for different outfits down the road. I was living with my boyfriend on weekends over this past summer while I was working at a remote resort the rest of the time. Gradually a good portion of my clothes made it’s way over to his house and never came home with me when I moved back to the city. Now, months later, I’ve finally brought that clothes back to my house and it’s like I have a whole new wardrobe to work with. I haven’t worn these clothes in forever. My desire to shop, for the time being at least, is gone. In my opinion, that’s money in the bank.

5.Stash your Plastic Bags – jackets and purses are usually full of little pockets that never really get used. Take some of your plastic bags, smoothe them out, fold them up and tuck them away into those pockets. Now every time your in line at the grocery store and they ask you if you need a bag, you can say “nope, I’ve got my own.”  This will save you the 2 cents they would have charged you for a plastic bag, and might even make you money because sometimes store will give you a rebate when you bring your own bags. And you don’t have to spend money either now on reusable cloth bags.

6.The Dollar Store is Your Friend – you can buy so many things at the dollar store for a fraction of the price that you will pay at a grocery store. Toothpaste and toothbrushes for example. $1 each at the dollar store, compared to $3+ at the grocery store for the same thing. I bought a lot of my kitchen utensils from the dollar store when I moved out on my own and over three years later, I don’t think anything has broken or been replaced yet.

7.Make it a Game Night – this is something my friends and I did all winter and had a blast. It was never really a money issue, but we did it more just because we were getting bored of the weekly bar scene. We played a lot of board games and would usually switch it up with a different game each week. If you or friends don’t have a lot of board games, go out and buy some or  play card games. Avoid buying board games brand new, as the prices for board games are insane, ranging from $25 to over $100. Rather keep an eye out for finds at local thrift stores and garage sales. You can usually pick them up for a fraction of the retail sale price, and sometimes you can find some really cool classic, vintage, or just plain weird games. Always make sure to peek inside the box to ensure the instructions and all the playing pieces are there.

8.Swap your cash for foreign currency – living a 3 hour drive from the US/Canadian Border, I encounter American currency from time to time, either from serving or through friends and co-workers. Since American and Canadian currency is pretty much on par with one another, I always swap out my Canadian funds with American when the opportunity arises. That way I’m never going to spend that $5 or $20 and I can put it towards future savings, or avoid paying high exchange rates when I make a trip down south.

April 8, 2011

Damn you VISA points

by Robyn

The ticket is purchased, the date is set and appointment made! I’m going on a trip….TO….*drum roll*…Toronto! Not exactly the westerly direction that I’m aiming for in the long run, however, this trip shall treat me just fine. Actually? It probably won’t. It’s going to be horrendously painful, uncomfortable, and expensive. Thank you VISA, for you have saved me $300! So it’s all worth it.

Wait a minute?….no, VISA, actually you didn’t save me $300. You actually cost me $300 because you haven’t arrived in the mail yet. Therefor I had to no VISA card with which to purchase my ticket. Mastercard, you’ve come to my rescue, and probably earned me 18 Airmiles, but VISA, you’ve disappointment me.

In my efforts to organize my finances better and cut costs, I felt it was necessary that I cancel my VISA CLASSIC II card. I haven’t used it in months, and the annual renewal fee was just money down the drain. So I cut up my VISA, and changed back to the VISA CLASSIC rewards card. Annual fee, $0. This I did, two months ago. Where the HELL is my replacement card? It never came. So I ordered it a second time, this time reporting it as lost, and I’m still waiting.

I have 31,677 CLASSIC points, which is equal to $316.77. If my card had come in the mail on time, weeks ago, like it was supposed to, my round-trip ticket to Toronto would have cost me less than $63.

Now it’s costing me 6X that.  =(

But what’s done it done. That’s pennies compared to the money I will be spending while in Toronto. On my glorious, solo trip, to hand over my body for 6+ hours to get this gorgeous masterpiece forever etched into my body!

 

It’s been a long time coming. This beauty was supposed to be started in May of 2010 but was subsequently cancelled  do to a flight rerouting on my way to New Jersey. So now, almost 1 year to the day, we will finally be starting my back piece. Hallelujah!

 

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.