Posts tagged ‘ramblings’

June 5, 2012

May Roundup

by Robyn

My apologies for the new organization of my expenses. As mentioned in my last roundup, I recently changed my expense tracking over to a new app, uSpend. For the record, I’m absolutely in I love with it. I haven’t encountered any calculation issues and it doesn’t freeze like my Lemon app had started to do. Functionality so far as been great. But my expense categories are a little different now than what they used to be.

Automotive: $584.46
Banking: $61.75
Clothing & Jewelry: $36.50
Computers & Office: $0.75
Entertainment: $137.01
Food & Drinks: $147.75
Health & Beauty: $386.38
Household: $565.13
Restaurants: $148.80
Utilities: 165.75
Charity/Donation: $164.00
Investments: $100.00

Month end expenses were $2498.28, over budget by $998.28.

Compared to my spending for April, my spending in May was off the charts. I don’t even have a lot to show for it either. The month started off with a few major dents put into my wallet. The first being my Autopac payment. I missed my payment in April and got slammed with a $70 late fee. So what should have only cost me $354 cost me $430. I’ve got another $354 Autopac payment this month that’s going to drive my expenses up. That being said, instead of a $1500 goal this month, I’ll be moving my budget spending to be under $1854.

My girlfriend of over 20 years got married this month, so I knew those events would put a dent in my spending. The first weekend of May was her bachelorette party. We did pole dancing, went out for dinner at Earl’s and hit up the bar aftewards. That put me back $72.50, money that I otherwise would not have spent. She got married on the 26th. I purchased a new top for the event and gave presentation, so that was another $117.82. So for my girlfriend to marry my ex (that’s not a typo, it’s messed up I know), it cost me $190.32.

my date and I making faces in the reflective elevator door

My Health & Beauty expenses are more than triple what I spent last month. The last time I’d had a hair cut was in September, so it was long overdue, that was $55.13. I also got a massage which, again, was long over due. That was $70. I’ll be recieving a refund on a portion of that this month through my group insurance benefits. In April I’d recieved 2 free electrolysis session because the machine was one the fritz. They’ve since had the machine repaired so I paid for all 3 sessions this month, that cost me $132.83.

Not including the $45 I spent on dinner during my girlfriends bachelorette party, I spent $103.80 on restaurants, which is pretty much on par with the last 3 months.

hunting for wild mushrooms with friends at the cottage

I had a few other expenses drive up my overall spending for the month. Firstly, one of my personal goals for this summer was to get my boating license. I paid the $52.45 to register for the online course and I passed the exam last week with a grade of 88%. I also registered for the Dirty Donkey Mud Run that I’m participating in this summer. Registration cost me $68.00.

Knowing that July has the potential to be an expensive month (I’m going to be on vacation in BC for 8 days) it’s important that I keep my spending this month to a minimum. I expect that my expenses for gasoline will go up this month as I plan on going to my cottage on as many weekends as possible. That being said, I should be able to cut my expenses on food since I’m working more on weeknights so I’m not spending as much on groceries, and on weekends I’ll be sharing food expenses with my family.

I’m never late on bill payments except for my car insurance because it’s not set up for online banking, so I always get late charges. Have you ever had to pay crazy late charges because you simply forgot to pay a bill?

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.

 

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.

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 30, 2011

Extreme couponing is an extreme waste

by Robyn

I’ll be the first to admit it, I’ve watched Extreme Couponing a few times on TLC. I can’t help myself. I am drawn to nearly every form of your stereotypical bad tv. Wedding shows, design shows, having abnormal quantities of babies shows, weird jobs, hoarding,  addictions, you name it, I probably watch it. I don’t follow these shows regularly but if I can’t find anything else to watch, it’s almost a given I’ll end up watching the newest episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive, or Intervention or what have you.

When is comes to watching Extreme Couponing, I can’t help but be in total awe and disbelief. What these people are able to achieve is without a doubt, impressive. Although these people clearly have compulsion issues (see image below), at least they are channeling these urges into something positive. I guess? Sort of?

Seeing the insane stock piles amassed by these individuals just leaves me stunned. Does any single family household really need hundreds of tooth brushes? Or boxes of deodorant, body lotion, soap, etc? Who needs 40 bottles of relish? 100 cans of soup? 50 bags of chocolate chips?

Beyond bursting at the seams, how much of these massive collection will still be good 5 years?

On a cleaning kick last night I started going through my fridge and pantry, throwing out everything that’s expired. I moved into my apartment in February of 2008, so anything in my apartment, food wise, is no more than 4 years old. Until recently I never knew how quickly, even canned goods went bad.

This is a short list of what I threw out:
butter (I didn’t even know butter could go bad)
4 cans of soup (2 years expired)
3 bottles of salad dressing (1 unopened)
an almost-full bottle of corn syrup
hot sauce
plum sauce
molasses
lime juice
bbq sauce
baking powder

What on earth are these extreme couponers doing hoarding these ridiculous quantities of food products? Is your family of four really going to eat ALL of that food before it expires. Not likely, unless you are going to eat a bowl of soup with instant mr. noodle on the side every day for a year. For a kick of flavour, add some relish? You’ve got 40 bottles. Why not have a bag of chocolate chips for dessert? And just throw your toothbrush away after using it. You’ve got another 1000 to last you for the next 3 years.

I get it, these people “buy” these items in mass quantity because they can. The high. The thrill. The rush they must get knowing their walking out of a store, legally, with hundreds of dollars worth of product that they didn’t pay a cent for. But seriously? Why are you spending 40 hours a week searching for coupon deals so you can stock up on food that will likely expire before you can consume all of it?

I’m feeling pretty bummed knowing that I just threw out probably $50 worth of expired food. I don’t have the patience to coupon. Plus it’s a lot harder to coupon to the extreme in Canada because our stores don’t “double up” deals like they do in the states. I will admit since watching this show I have learned some really important things that I can apply to my personal spending habits. Such as, as good of a deal as it may be, don’t stock up on unnecessary quantities of items that have an expiry date. And a LOT of things have expiry dates. Even if it’s free, it always makes me sad knowing something is going to waste.

From now on, I’m going to be more selective when buying items to stock my fridge and pantry. I’ll ask myself  “If I buy this will I use 10% of the product before it goes bad and I have to throw it out?” If the answer is yes, I’ll spend the money to drive out to my parents place to “borrow” some from them. Or I’ll be a little less anti-social and introduce myself to my neighbours to borrow a cup of _______.

Since the debut of this series, these “extreme couponers” have been getting quite a bit of media coverage . You can find a few amusing, and kind of ironic news stories here and here.

June 29, 2011

Meeting people on the road

by Robyn

I love talking to travellers, like-minded individuals, who I can really connect with. None of my friends can really connect with that aspect of who I am, nor  do they share similar travel passions to the degree that I do. Several of my friends have never travelled. Or if they have, it’s one of two extremes.

They’re either the luxury travel type staying at all-inclusive or nice hotels. Not the type who are even willing to stay in a hostel, let alone camp. Or they are the polar opposite. Friends who have been in various bands for years and travelled all over the country on tour, living in a van. Too bad everyone I know who’s done the latter has pretty much retired from living that life. My current boyfriend is paying his way out of debt from having lived that life in his early 20’s.

While I was in Toronto I met a really adorable couple at my hostel over breakfast. We made the usual casual travel chat “where are you from?” “where are you travelling?” etc, etc.

On my way out of the hostel that day, I left them, (Charlie and Mark), my phone number and email address, and told them to hit me up if and when they came through Winnipeg. I would give them a place to shower and if necessary, somewhere warm to crash for the night.

I was pleasantly surprised to open up my email on Monday evening to see an email from Charlie letting me know they were going to be arriving in the city on Tuesday and were hoping I could lend my shower. So of course I said yes, and email them back immediately.

They were at my place last night for about 3 hours. They showered and we chatted about our travelling experiences, and shared movies from our hard drives. I’ve been unable or for the most part, unwilling (aka: scared) to live and travel the way I want to, so it’s always gives me a little boost to talk to people who are currently on the road.

Charlie and Mark, I envy them. Charlie herself has lived, worked and travelled all over the world. Originally from England, she’s lived and worked in France, Denmark, Greece, Australia and Canada. She’s travelled to South East Asia and has done the coast to coast Canada tour thing once already. And now she and her fiance are doing it again.

When I met them, they had just landed in Toronto and were looking to purchase a van with which to travel the country. They have since purchased a van, converted into their home and have travelled from Toronto to the far east coast, then back across Canada en route to Vancouver to cherry pick for the summer. Then they are going down the west coast where Mark is meeting family in Las Vegas while Charlie will be joining up with two other travellers and continuing south for the Burning Man festival.

Talking to these two was invigorating. I am so excited to put more money into savings so that one day I’ll get on the road and pursue my dreams of long-term travel. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I’ll befriend an amazing travel companion, but if not, I’ll be just fine on my own. For the present time I can revel in the fact that I have new travel friends and connections in far off places.

May 30, 2011

I never win anything

by Robyn

It true. Very rarely do I win things. Or when I win things, it’s usually not anything that I really, really, wanted. It’s more along the lines of I entered to win it because, well, I like free stuff. Free is always better than having to dish out the cash for something.

A few weeks ago, while bored at work (which is quite often), I entered a variety of online contests for free travel stuff. I kept my fingers cross that I would get a call or an email informing me that I’d won an all expenses paid trip somewhere. Anywhere for that matter!

I didn’t quite get a free trip, but I did win a copy of the new book “the lost girls” by the gals from lostgirlsworld.com. I quick email reply with my mailing address, and a week later I got a crisp new copy of this 500+ page gem from Harper Collins.

Only today am I finally getting a chance to start reading. I’m looking forward to the 500 page read as it will not only push me to save more money for future travels, but it will help me reach my goal of reading over 10,000 pages in 2011.

May 18, 2011

Model Mishaps

by Robyn

I always get a giggle when I notice something is just a little out of place. Above it a snap shot of part of the 3D model of what the new Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport will look like once completed.

You can see that it’s rather animated with cars and people milling about. Except for the dead person lying beside the grey car. (center frame, you see it?) I thought it was amusing. If only there was a way to get a pool of blood to complete the picture.

Winnipeg. Murder Capital of Canada!!! Well not really. Sadly we lost that title two years ago. But it’s still funny. At least a little….

Tags: