Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Date night!

Over the past few months (well, year), my Eye Candy and I have frequently said we should have a “date night” and go over our finances together. But something always seemed to get in the way… perhaps opening a bottle of wine and opening up your bank accounts is not the right mix! 

None the less, we had a quiet Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago and we actually took the time to review our financial status as a couple. It was an incredibly eye opening experience.  I’ve been managing my 4-week rolling budgets for 18 months, but now that my Eye Candy and I are a dynamic duo it made sense to get a better idea of our real cost of living and to set goals as a couple. Plus, instead of just complaining about paying the usual bills, it was exciting to envisioning our future life together and to create a game plan on how to make it all happen. 

How sweet it is to be loved by you.

Using MoneySense’s printable guides, we figured out our individual net worth (worksheet 3), our spending & savings (worksheet 4) and our goals (worksheets 5 & 6). From here, we talked openly about the minimum we both need to have in the bank each month to cover our fixed expenses (like the mortgage, taxes, car payments) and where our variable spending goes (groceries, entertainment, gym, weekend trips).

While we’re both diligent about spending our money conservatively and we live below our means, there is always room for improvement. By taking the time to look at each other’s spending habits we were able to offer a fresh perspective. For instance, I’m spending about a $50 a month on gifts and my Eye Candy is still paying bank fees so there clearly are more ways we can put money back into our wallets.

And saving money is exactly what we want as we have so many plans! Not all of our goals are perfectly in sync as my Eye Candy is saving up for a top notch cycling bike while maintaining a professional wardrobe is my guilty pleasure; but we did set 3 that I am excited about. The best part? We are working together to ensure we have lump sum amounts ready to invest or spend. 

Over the next 6 to 18 months, this is why we are stashing cash:
  1. To host a wedding as fabulous as we are! The date is set for 07.27.2013 and my Eye Candy & I have agreed on how much we are going to save & then spend on our Big Day. 
  2. To purchase an urban & chic condo in the Atwater Market here in Montreal. We’ve crunched the numbers and we’re confident that we can afford a love nest in our favourite neighbourhood.  
  3. To continue to vacation like rockstars. We love getting away and exploring new cities so the most stressful decision is where should we go next?
If you and your Prince Charming have not had the chance to review your finances together, then I strongly recommend it. I love being a financially-savvy and independent young women, but I love sharing my dreams with my Eye Candy more and making plans to achieve them together is when the magic happens.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Financial Fess Up: Mazda Spinelli is driving me crazy

For those of you who’ve been sweet enough to follow my blog, you’ve already heard about my love/hate relationship with Mazda Spinelli here in MontrĂ©al.

First, there was the “up” of purchasing my first car. Then there was the frustration of the missing $500 rebate due to an error in the paperwork that Mazda Spinelli filed. And then there was the satisfaction of finally getting down to business by taking a vacation day to re-register the car in my name. But here comes my confession: its one year after we’ve purchased our lovely CX7 and I’m still waiting on the $500 rebate.

Seriously. Mazda Spinelli has no concept of customer service.

The $500 rebate was agreed to as part of our contract since I was a student less than 5 years ago. Then, Mazda Canada couldn’t give me the $500 rebate as the dealership hadn’t registered the car to me. Mazda Spinelli had made a mistake and only registered it to my Eye Candy. We cleared that mess up in August, but one month passed and I realized that we still hadn’t gotten the rebate. So yet again, I was on the phone with my sales rep, let’s call him Jeremiah because that really is his name, and apparently, my transcript was lost! Mazda Spinelli had lost the second transcript that I gave them!

Within minutes of hanging up the phone from Jeremiah, I sent over a third transcript (representing the third $15 I’d spent to request this form my university) and I was promised personalized attention to sort this matter out. Come November, no word from Jeremiah and he was no longer responding to my voicemails. I sent several emails to him with no reply and then escalated the matter to the dealership manager who we will call Dracon because that is his name. Again, I was promised personalized attention to resolve this matter and yet, more time has passed by and the $500 is still owed to me.

I’m frustrated with myself for letting this go on for so long. Today, I left a voicemail message with Dracon at Mazda Spinelli and then called Mazda Canada to make a formal complaint. I spoke with a great customer service rep who is looking my situation and is supposed to call me back within the next couple of days with hopefully a resolution.
Even Miss Fergie agrees - as much as we love the CX7,
dealing with Mazda Spinelli is no walk in the park.
At this point, I’m beginning to think my only option is to pursue a complaint with the Canadian Better Business Bureau. While $500 on the purchase of our CX7 is not a huge percentage of the total value, $500 is still $500! I received better post-purchase customer service from my dry cleaner.

I continue to enjoy zooming around town in my CX7 but I really wish I had never stepped foot into Mazda Spinelli.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

A definite work perk

After spending 5 days in Cancun I am pleased to report that my skin is no longer a shade of pasty softest ivory… but simply soft ivory. While a trip down south for our National Sales Meeting is definitely a work perk, it wasn’t all sun and fun. In fact, I didn’t see the beach until 4:30 pm on Day 2 as my first 36 hours in Mexico were spent fine tuning and rehearsing my presentation. But by Day 3, once my team’s show went off without a hitch and we received rave reviews, I felt the stress of the past several weeks of loooooooong-ish work hours disappear. 

And what better place to celebrate than in Mexico?

Once our meetings wrapped up, I got to take some time out to read on the beach, splash in the waves, and sip sangria by the pool. Our hotel was a 5-star resort full of lush gardens and manicured ponds that made for a perfect setting for our group who was mixing business with pleasure.

Even though this was a work trip, there are always a few hidden costs that pulled at my purse strings. My Eye Candy was also away for his sales meeting so we spent $120 on doggy care for Miss Fergie. I also spent $18 on magazines for my in-flight entertainment (note: bridal magazines are more expensive than my usual literature, and this will be an upcoming blog entry as I’m just getting my feet wet with the extravaganzas of wedding planning). And I gave in and forked over $45 for an epic night to party at Coco Bongo.  

For those of you who have not experienced Coco Bongo, it is like all of Las Vegas crammed into one club and since they pump oxygen into the crowd, you constantly feel the rush of dancing alongside spectacular animations. I spent most of the night hiding from a creepy Beetle Juice impersonator and while I’d like to say he was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen, I have to confess that this was my second time to Coco Bongo so really – he was just the creepiest person I’ve seen since my last time there. And somewhat less creepy was Antonio Banderas who picked the same night as me to grace Coco Bongo with our VIP presence.

A few of my work friends opted not to leave Thursday night and extended their stay over the weekend.  This was a very tempting idea, but the financially fabulous me had to crunch the numbers first. For 3 more nights in Cancun, I would have spent:
  • + $60 on care for Miss Fergie
  • + $50 to change my flight on WestJet
  • + $10 taxi to change hotels
  • + $300 on hotel accommodations assuming double occupancy
  • + $30 on a taxi from my new hotel to the airport as the work shuttle would not be supplied
… all for a grand total of $450. Definitely not “free”! I decided to skip the extra days in Cancun and keep my $450 locked-up in my Vacation Fund. The plan is to go later this winter to Cuba with my sister and our Eye Candies and then, work will be the most distant thought from my mind.

 Is traveling a work perk for you too?


Sand and sea are no match for Essie!
(Read more about my Tour de Finance nails here.)

Poolside for some R&R
View from my room
Lush hotel lobby

My dream water feature

A fuzzy iPhone photo of Antonio party'ing at Coco Bongo.
You'll have to take my word for it that it really is him!