Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Sunday, March 27, 2011
1. I’m finally being taxed appropriately with each pay-cheque and not overpaying my taxes. While I appreciate social services, I’d rather be investing my money on a monthly basis earning a return – not letting the governments have it.
2. It also means that I maximized my RRSP contributions for 2010.
3. I also made $250 of charitable donations last year, bought a monthly transit pass and paid $1700 in tuition (a personal expense) to finish up my graduate diploma in PR & Communications last year. These 3 items also helped to drop my personal income and lead to a refund.
I plan to put my $530 into my investment account. While I have my RRSPs, I have not started playing the stock market game and this is my next financially fabulous goal.
Untaxing tips & tricks:
Since taxes does not scream "for a fun time call", here are some of my suggestions to alleviate the stress:
Organize your paperwork. Put together a pretty folder (mine is pink, obviously) with a copy of last year’s Notice Assessment and your user/password information to file online.
Grab all the tools that you might need. Mine included a Swarovski crystal pen to check off each little box from my forms each time I entered the number on the software and my beddazzled rhinestone calculator (pictured above) just to double check that the computer was right.
Write a topline list of where all your money went last year and search out those forms before your tax-filing day. By checking my 4-week rolling budgets, I realized that I was missing one charitable donation and was able to quickly find a receipt through my email.
Buy tax prep software. Pen & paper is old school and do-able, but for $20 at FutureShop, UFILE will guide you through the process and the help button is ideal for clarifying the different credits that you may (or may not) be eligible for.
Eliminate distractions and give yourself 2 hours to get it done. It will likely take less time, but you don’t want to feel rush. Initially I was watching Say Yes to the Dress while doing my taxes, but I found the gushing of the brides to be distracting. I worked in silence instead.
Make yourself a latté and pour glass of iced water. You might as well pretend you’re at a chic bistro instead of your dining room table on a sunny Sunday filing your taxes. When you’re done, you can go for the wine (or champagne) to celebrate. Bonus points if you put on a World Music French Cafe CD.
Grab your favourite nail polish and give yourself a manicure since you're not going anywhere for awhile. You’ll be doing minimal typing (be gentle!) so you might as well take the time to give yourself a coat of colour too.
Don't hand in your taxes until you've proofread it. This is the kind of test you want to get 100% on.
Happy tax time!
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Sunday, March 20th
- No spend day!
Pretty much stayed on the couch all day sipping gingerale and recovering from the best birthday party ever.
Monday, March 21st
- No spend day!
Tuesday, March 22nd
- No spend day!
Did my usual spinning class at UNI which I paid for last December. I also rushed home to take care of Miss Fergie as my Eye Candy was on an excruciatingly long trip to Atlanta. Our dog walker stopped by during the day at a rate of $15 for 45 mins, but the EC covers this expense... he travels = he pays.
Wednesday, March 23rd
- No spend day!
Thursday, March 24th
- $29 at IGA for all the fixings of a pizza and chicken wings.
We had a cheat night as my Eye Candy finally returned home after snowstorms on the East Coast left him stranded in the Philidelphia airport overnight & throughout the day. A 2 hour flight turned from Atlanta-Montreal into a 24 ordeal via multiple airports and after all that, I felt that comfort food was in order.
I missed my usual morning swimming work-out as the EC was delayed unexpectedly. It's too hard for me to swim and take care of the pup in the wee hours of the morning before work. (Miss Fergie hasn't tried swimming yet so her joining me is not an option... and perhaps not socially acceptable. Although this summer, I am making use of my parents' pools to teach her do butterfly - when my Dad goes for his usual afternoon siesta of course. No need to rock that boat.)
Friday, March 25th
- $22 at the IGA for groceries
I also went to the YMCA after work and I'll confess, my motivation was because I have all these new new Lululemon exercise outfits to wear. My spinning class was pure intervals for 60 minutes and needless to say, I may have looked good going into the class ... but came out looking disgustingly hot. My YMCA membership is part of my rolling 4 week budget.
Saturday, March 26th
- $23 at Future Shop for the Ufile software
Guess what I'm doing this evening? It's tax time! I know it's Saturday night, but it's Montreal and spring is not here so I have no desire to step out in -12˚C weather anymore. After a 60+ hours of work this week, I'm ready to take it easy. Since I'm expecting a tax refund, this may be the best ROI of an evening ever.
My Eye Candy and I will both use the software so we took it from our Grocery/Household expenses for the week. This was a grey area as I didn't quite know where to allocate this purchase... tax software just doesn't exactly scream Fun Money.
We also did a bit of browsing at Reno Depot this afternoon. I'm still on the hunt to find a chic bookcase for our living room to hide our DVDs/CDs and miscellaneous. I feel like we are beyond the IKEA billybob shelving unit in our home decor style, but the spot is tight and I'm having trouble replacing them a nothing seems to fit.
In addition to window shopping, I also popped by the library to pick up my next round of reading material. I'm very much enjoying the "freeness" of the library. I still browse through Chapters Indigo, but rather than splurging on books I simply take photos of the ones I want to read and then go online to reserve them with my local library.
My last little bit of fun this week was spent with the EC and Miss Fergie as we did a 2.5 hour hike up & down (ok, it was more like trail walking) Mont Royal this afternoon. It was the perfect free activity to finish the week and I now have an exhausted puppy who loves me just a little bit more today.
The $80 from my Fun Money is going right into my Vegas Baby envelope. With the trip a mere 36 days away, I need to start glitter proofing my clothes. If there are any other ideas for free ways to spend my time, please share!
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Sparkly bling! (Ok - the tiara was mine to begin with)
Financially fabulous inspired and so much appreciated! (PS: The corks are for a contribution to an upcoming art project... stay tuned)
And by now, you must be wondering what is that behind the beautiful dozen long stemmed red roses from my Eye Candy? Well... ladies & gents, I present Zazzles! All gorgeous 8 feet of Zebra given to me by my Eye Candy. In addition to being a beauty (she seems to be wearing eye illuminating mascara), she made this birthday down right zazzy.
Here’s where my moula-la went last week:
Sunday, March 13th
No spend day!I did some window shopping with my Mum and we checked out our favourite home décor stores. While there was plenty of “stuff” to browse through, I didn’t make any purchases.
Monday, March 14th
No spend day! I was in Toronto for work so all my expenses were covered. I did enjoy Springrolls for lunch which I used to love when I lived in TO. The restaurant should really hurry up and get to Montréal.
Tuesday, March 15th
$3.87 at Carlton Cards
(You would think after last week’s splurge, I would have bought enough stock… but I was looking for the perfect little card to thank my parents & my sister for spoiling me with the perfect birthday gifts and that’s not easy to find.)
$6.73 on Stamps
(What’s the point of buying cards if you can’t mail them?)
I did my usual spinning class at UNI which was paid for last December. It was an extra peppy class as the music was pure Weekly Top 40 so I was really able to kick up my speed a notch. Not everyone in the room shared my enthusiasm for the tunes. In fact, I do believe a certain spinner was asking for Rihanna to “please stop the music” at certain points.
Wednesday, March 16th
$70 for our cleaning service
Worth every penny!
$37.52 at Entrecote Saint-Jean
Dinner with my work bff and favourite friend! The ladies are also the fabulous fashionista bloggers that I follow if you’re looking for some inspiration on how to spend your money this spring season. With only 4 dinner option on the menu (steak, steak, steak or more steak) it was a relatively easy purchase decision. I splurged on a glass of wine.
Thursday, March 17th
Happy St. Patty’s! It was a no spend day for me, but I did get a night out on the town with my Eye Candy and friends at Café Griffintown. We enjoyed a few rounds of drinks and the most delicious Mac & Cheese dinner that I’ve ever had. (If you’re going to cheat with carbs, you might as well not hold back).
Friday, March 18th
Again, a no spend day!
I also popped by the YMCA after work (paid for on a monthly basis) to burn off some steam with a 40 minute interval run on the treadmill. Ottawa half-marathon here I come!
Saturday, March 19th
Happy Birthday to me!
All my spending was associated with preparing for my party. To read the full recap, check out my last post Crazy Little Party Girl!
This was a weird week for spending grocery/household money since I wasn’t home for the start of it and I ate out a fair bit. All in all, I spent $48 of my weekly Fun Money so I’m moving the remaining $32 into my Vegas Baby envelope. The best part is that I resisted the urge to treat myself to a birthday gift… while I do have a Gift Fund its really not to a secret way to give presents to myself!
Monday, March 21, 2011
For 6 bottles of wine. However, my recycling box had 12 bottles of wine in it this morning which would also explain the pounding headache I had yesterday. Clearly, my friends were incredibly generous with their gifts.
Sparkling water & sodas $13.17
M&M Appetizers $27.47
At the start of our party, our oven cought on fire. I do mean 4 inch flames were coming out the grill, and my Eye Candy, very calmly threw baking soda across the fire while I continued to serve drinks (we make an excellent tag team). The fire department was not needed, and the ash was cleaned up rather quickly. Fortunately, it did not impact the cooking of the M&M jalepeno cheesie poppers so I would say the evening was a definite success.
Fruits & Veggies $21.63
Cake Fixings $12.47
My Eye Candy made from scratch a delicious Paleo-inspired chocolate-banana-almond meal birthday cake pour moi. He's a keeper.
Dips & Spreads $15.55
Cheese & meat $60.55
Nuts & olives $17.37
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Sunday, March 6th
- $34 at Wal-Mart on the basic household items
- $122 at Loblaws on groceries that would last us for 4 days of food. My Eye Candy was on his own for the rest of the week as I had my Mum taking care of me.
Monday, March 7th
- $2.50 for swimming at the LaSalle AquaDome
- $11.28 at Canada Post to send my cousin a care package. Considering the parcel is full of goodies (read my last post, Gift Giving on a Budget) on route to Afghanistan , I found this to very affordable.
- $25.24 at Carlton Cards. I went it in to grab two birthday cards and walked out with 6. Oops! They were having a sale (Buy 3 Get 3) and I absolutely love their Papryus collection so I took it as an opportunity to stock on cards for all those special occasions from now until June. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a sale.
- $1.31 at Tim Hortons. There is something about Monday’s as I’m just not able to get through the afternoon without a caffeine kick.
Tuesday, March 8th
- No spend day! I did my usual spinning class at UNI Training which was pre-paid in December. Now that Daylight Savings Time has sprung, I should be outside biking within a few weeks. Here’s to a season of staying on my bike and scar-free.
Wednesday, March 9th
Date night! Since my Eye Candy had been travelling a lot over recent weekends and I was set to go away, I treated him to a night on the town in Montréal.
- $21 on IMAX tickets to see Arabia 3D which I had purchased last month through our Social Club at work. I saved $7 off the regular ticket price. A fire alarm got pulled half-way through the show so we had to make an emergency evacuation, but please note, I did not incur any injuries. While it was a nuisance, IMAX gave us 2 tickets towards another show so I’m not complaining. Our next date night will be a freebie!
- $42 at Brit & Chips in Old Port for a post-movie dinner and round of beer. I made a fool of myself by ordering a 1/4 pint. What can I say? It's usually all I drink so it should be a standard size.
Thursday, March 10th
- No spend day! A bad snow storm hit Montreal so flights were delayed arriving into Trudeau’s airport. I spent 7 hours waiting to take a 90 minute flight to Toronto and trust me, the airport is really not that exciting. WestJet did serve us cupcakes in an effort to make up for the inconvenience. At least I got a sugar rush! All the rest of my expenses (dinner & drinks) are covered by work.
Friday, March 11th
- No spend day!
Saturday, March 12th
- $1.82 at Starbucks: my Mum drove downtown Toronto with me on route to have my haircut so I figured I owed her at least a cup of tea to thank her for her company (and the loan of the car).
- $94 for my haircut including tips and $5 for parking. This is the Personal Care expense that I had planned for the month. Please see my recent post Finding the "One" as this $99 pricetag left me feeling like a million-bucks and came in $1 under budget.
As a result of my splurge at Carlton Cards, I used up all of my $80 of Fun Money for the week and actually went over by $2.25. Not a huge deal, other than I like the satisfication of putting left-over cash into my Vegas Baby fund. Maybe next week!
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
The results are in… the “germiest” jobs ranked from the most germy to the least germy are:
4. Radio DJ
6. Television Producer
I work in marketing so I would say that is likely in between a consultant & a publicist. None the less, I completely disinfected my desk before I left work tonight by giving it a good scrubbing with my tried & true Clorex. I wiped off my telephone, mousse, and pen! Clorex reported that accountants have the germiest desks and pens which makes me even less thrilled about getting some tax-returning advice this year.
I am going to make more of an effort to keep my desk clean, tidy and organized. After all, there are more benefits to staying organized.
- Peace of mind: who wants a messy stack of papers greeting them in the morning? It would be nice to walk into a zen & tidy space that practically greets you with a yoga like "ommmm"....
- Professional image: while too sparce of a desk might suggest to your boss that you have too little to do, an organized one would show how you approach your work diligently and efficiently. Remember, you are your own brand!
- Gain back your time: we may have lost an hour of sleep over the weekend, but why waste even more time searching for papers or folders or products? With an organized space, everything will be within reach.
- Create a germ-free zone: Expedia reports that the average Canadian takes 2.7 days off work a year to fight a sickness. For most of us that's a loss of income and catching up on a marathon of TLC's What Not To Wear is enjoyable, but not necessarily the best use of time. Just think of all those so-called "trooper" colleagues of yours who come to work even when they should be having a Benylin day. With a clean office space, it will be easier to wipe off your desk, telephone, and keyboard and fight those nasty flu bugs.
As I tidy my desk at work and at home, I'm putting together all my tax forms so I can file next week. I have not yet decided if I will see an accountant to help me, but either way, I'm taking my own pen.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
My father, however, could not understand why I would wake-up at 7:00 am on a Saturday to drive downtown Toronto for an 8:30 am appointment just to have my hair cut. He asked me why I couldn't find a stylist in Oakville... and then, why I couldn't just get an appointment in a Montreal salon? But the distance or time doesn't matter to me, it is all about my love affair with Eric. He is my One!
Through work, I've come into contact with the fabulous Eric Del Monaco who just opened his own salon on Richmond Street West in Toronto. Del Monaco Hair Studio is an industrial glam salon where you're guaranteed a chic cut whether you're meeting Eric himself or sitting in the chair with the other artists like Justina or Steven. While I no longer colour my hair (I'm loving my natural ombre highlights right now and figure I have my thirties ahead of my to fight greys), I've seen the colours & highlights that have left that salon and they are gorgeous crowns of glory for any lucky lady.
This morning, I spent 45 minutes in a chair chit-chatting about vacations and styles for spring while being pampered. And it wasn't just the luxurious decor and funky jazz vibe that left me feeling relaxed, it was the knowledge that my cut and my hair was in safe hands.
My hair appointments are not as often as they should be (every 5 months) mostly because of distance. But they are part of the 'personal care' expense on my rolling 4wk budgets every now and then. For $85 plus tips, I left the salon feeling like a million-bucks. While my dad will never understand, I know that Eric is an amazing return on investment.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
- Vigorous spinning = 730 calories
- Dog walking = 350 calories
- Vigorous swimming = 617 calories
- Yoga = 324 calories
- Stretching = 154 calories
- Running = 555 calories
- Stair climbing = 458 calories
- Hiking = 410 calories
- Tennis (doubles) = 408 calories
In addition to spending my evenings burning calories, my money is now safe & sound. Mostly because I'm too tired afterwards to hit the shops. Who would want to try on clothes after they are all hot & sweat anyways? No one I hope!
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
My EC initially said that it's because everything costs more in the winter, but it's more than just a seasonality effect. With George Weston reporting that they are passing the cost of rising commodities onto their consumers, I don't think we'll be seeing an extra flux into our Mad Money anytime soon. Canada is entering a period of inflation and it is buyer beware. We need to make smarter choices and shop smartly.
Granted, $240 a week on groceries for 2 adults may seem excessive when others could use that money to feed a family of 4 for the same period of time. But my boyfriend and I are novice nutritionists and we are conscientious about what we eat. Over the last 2-years, we've spent a lot of time learning about the food industry: from how the food is grown, butchered or picked, shipped, how it makes it way onto our store shelves, and how it is marketed to us.
We are also amateur athletes so we both subscribe to a melange of the ZONE and PALEO diets. The ZONE telling us how much we need to eat for our body size & fitness level, and the PALEO telling us what we should eat. Now, it doesn't mean we don't cheat from time to time on a pizza slice, but that's really an exception. For the most part, 35% of our intake comes from protein sources, 15% from good fat, and 50% from uncomplex carbs.
When it comes to grocery shopping, we shop the perimeter of the store and rarely make our way down the middle aisles. It's unfortunate, but healthy food is more expensive than junk food and it all started with the mass industrial usage of corn. Think about it... why does a bag of nachos cost less than 2 locally grown apples? Corn subsidies have allowed for food manufacturers to sell junk food at below their cost of production. The fewer the ingredients, the healthier the food is and unfortunately, the more expensive.
While I'm not going to start swapping apples for nachos as a carbohydrate source anytime soon, I'm going to shop 'by season'. Like most grocery stores in North America, my local Loblaws is always filled with exotic fruits and vegetables from faraway... but with snow and ice on the ground outside, it's obvious that pineapples are not a native food-source to Montreal.
Friday, March 4, 2011
For now, I'm on shopping hiatus so I will have to enjoy one of the 42 (yes, your read that number right) dresses that I currently have in my closet. While my Eye Candy argues that it's impossible for another dress to fit in in there, I'd argue that dresses are part of my invested brand image and there is always room for diversity in this portfolio.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Here are some of the fun contests that tempted me:
Win with Winners! This is my favourite store ever and it’s done enough damage to my wallet over the years…I deserve a little treat for my loyalty!
Marshalls is coming to Canada and what better way to celebrate than with a $1000 shopping spree? It will also be a good excuse to go home and visit my family… but would I have to share my spree dollars with my Mum and sister? TBD.
Maybe if I win LouLou magazine’s Happily Ever After Contest, my Eye Candy and I will officially tie the knot. After all, by the power vested in the Mazda financial planner, we are now a common-law couple.
And if I don’t win a dream wedding, I’d take a trip from instead! Note that the runner’s up prizes are for shopping sprees at H&M… definitely worth it too!
Oh la la! A trip to Paris with L’Oréal Paris. La chance!
For a weekend in NYC with John Freida, I could pack in a NY minute.
But in case I don’t get the time off work for all these trips, I could have a staycation and redo my bathroom with $2500 from RONA. ¸
And finally, because I love him so much and I’d receive the title as best-gf-ever if I won… I entered this contest with Energizer to win 2 tickets to the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.