About Min Min

Math teacher originally from Toronto

Net Worth – December 2017

Late posting my net worth, but here it is.

A few points of note over the past 2 months –  I got some cash gifts from my family (~$600) for my 35th birthday. Big expenses included paying for dental cleaning out of pocket ($100) as I currently do not have health insurance, my license plate renewal ($240) and a cancellation fee from Sirius XM ($40)*. Also, I bought a booster for the car ($155). The largest expense was the Additional Qualification course that I will be starting at the end of January ($685).

In general, over the holidays, I have been generous with my spending as I want to enjoy the time I have with friends and family. This is something I’ve made peace with on a personal level, knowing that being away for 5 years in Quebec has made me feel a bit more disconnected with loved ones.

My Honda CR-V is paid off, as is my Motorala phone, so I am debt-free! That is a good feeling and of course, I never have a balance on my credit cards. I have also decided not to make any clothing purchases this year and in a way, that feels quite freeing.

Having said all that, I’m still waiting for the second half of my December pay to come in. Overall, I’m down about $3000 from October 2017, but at least I’m glad that I have maxed out my RSP contributions. I knew that I would not be saving at all, but my goal is to break even while reestablishing myself coming back to city life and enjoying the process.

Even without health insurance/coverage, I have still decided to pay out of pocket to take care of myself in ways that I could not previously (due to isolation, not lack of funds). I am basically spending the money now instead of over the past few years, which would have been the intention. Tomorrow I have an initial assessment with a physiotherapist for my right leg/knee (~$100), on Tuesday I will have my 3rd appointment for massage ($85) and Thursday, my counsellor ($60). Please note that I do generally space these appointments out but I ended up accidentally pushing them off into the second week of January.

I’m going to try to monitor my groceries by paying in cash for the next month and see how this feels. I do buy some expensive items (i.e. vegan meat replacement, vegan junk food) and want to make sure that I’m not just blowing it all.

To continue to minimize my spending, I’ll continue going to my yoga studio ($3800/10 months) and use my Goodlife gym membership ($400+tax/year). I have paid for two months of Cody app subscription ($10 USD/month) but will be cancelling it by January 17th. Gas is a big expense, and while I have not been tracking that, I should and will try to only go to Shell using my American Express credit card.

I’ve also applied for EI for the two week seasonal layoff (i.e. Christmas holidays where substitute teachers are not offered work), but likely won’t see any of that until later down the road. I still need to get a Record of Employment and am waiting as I’ve officially resigned from my former school board as of January 1st, 2018.

It really felt cathartic to write all this out and take a look. It’s important to do this work for myself. I know I get a lot of help from family**, who pay for groceries, take me out and take care of me in ways that is not measured monetarily. I am going to make better efforts to show gratitude to others through time and still be mindful of spending.

Here’s to an exciting 2018!

*Pissed at myself for this as I didn’t note the subscription roll over. Normally, I note these things in my calendar and set an alarm.
**My brother-in-law and sister let me hop on their TV account.

Advertisements

Year In a Glance

Every year I take a glance back at what I did over the past year. This is the 7th year I’m doing this and it makes me appreciate my time a lot more. I’m often surprised by how much was accomplished, because it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture:

January

  • Traveled to Jordan, Palestinian Territories and Israel

February

  • Participated in the first (online) Canadian Investors Conference
  • Got an article about me published in the Ontario of College Teachers magazine

March

  • Completed my first interview with a public school board in Ontario
  • Learned how to create pivot tables (and promptly forgotten again)

April

  • Got my VSS check for job offer with WRDSB
  • Started Physical Therapy bundle on Cody app
  • Went to a Yoga Teacher Training information session in Kitchener, Ontario

May

  • Ran my first workshop at OAME 2017 in Kingston, Ontario
  • Met Gail Vaz-Oxlade
  • Sold off all remaining mutual funds
  • Started a 2nd roboadvisor

June

  • Got my belongings moved out of Waskaganish, Quebec
  • Learned how to make time lapse videos on Go Pro Studio

July

  • Visited Upper Canada Village in Ontario
  • Visited a cat cafe in Montreal, Quebec with E.
  • Had my first kids’ splash park date with L.
  • Hiked around Elora Gorge with J.
  • Started wearing FiveFinger Vibrams outdoors
  • Hung out with lots of cousins who were visiting from Hong Kong and New York
  • Went on an obstacle course at Niagara Falls, Ontario
  • Visited the Canadian Aerospace Museum in Ottawa, Ontario

August

  • Visited Niagara Falls, Ontario (again) with extended relatives
  • Started bartering on Bunz
  • Gave a piano lesson to C., through Bunz
  • Moved to Waterloo, Ontario
  • Hung out with my Cody App friend, J. and her family in Montreal, Quebec

September

  • Tried an Augmented Reality (AR) tour at TheMuseum
  • Started my Yoga Teacher Training at Queen Street Yoga
  • Took my first (trial) jiu jitsu class
  • Tried acroyoga at Grand River Rocks
  • Volunteered at the 33rd Toronto Vegetarian Food Fair and dressed up as a giant corn cob
  • Started substitute teaching for the WRDSB
  • Went barefoot hiking on the Bruce Trail

October

  • Went to my first vegan potluck in Waterloo, Ontario
  • Organized my first Meetup (in many years)
  • Visited K. and J. in Barrie, Ontario
  • Left my relationship of 5 years
  • Met Matthew Remski at my YTT

November

  • Attended EdTalent Job Fair in Toronto, Ontario
  • Drove to Val D’Or, Quebec to get winter tires
  • Did my first night hike (6 km) in Kitchener, Ontario
  • Completed a Core Restore / Yoga Tune-Up workshop

December

  • Visited the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada near Guelph, Ontario
  • Went spelunking with M. by Metcalfe Rock, Ontario
  • Applied for Employment Insurance withdrawals for the first time

 

Becoming an Expert Yoga Teacher

I am in the fourth month of my yoga teacher training. Things are going well so far and I am trying to finish up some homework that’s due this weekend.

While browsing for some tips on wrist stretches, I accidentally came across this on YouTube. You may have heard of JP Sears; he is – in real live – an actual yoga teacher but has made his name as a comedian on YouTube. This video had me in stitches!!

December Goals

Really didn’t focus too much on goals in December, and only really worked on a few. I ended up migrating some of the others to January instead:

Health and Fitness

  • Go rockclimbing 3 times (5/5): Twice in Kitchener and once with friends in Toronto. On all occasions, I just bouldered.
Finance and Auto
  • Use the parking brake (2/5): I tried as much as I could to always have the parking brake on but I didn’t always remember …
Other
  • Find a good lipstick colour (5/5): Over the past two years, I’d been working on building a basic make-up set. Originally thinking of buying a Pacifica brand, but my wonderful sister actually ended up gifting me a large box set from Tarte* for Christmas/Winter Solstice. There are 8 sticks in total, but I threw one out as it had mould on it. I didn’t want to return it, get a new box and make unnecessary waste. I’m okay with having 7; it’s probably more than I can use anyway!

IMG-20171226-WA0007
*Has beeswax, not vegan but I was okay with this. I buy a lot of Tarte products

A Resolution for 2018: No More Clothing Purchases

I’ve been thinking about minimalism. I’ve been thinking about my carbon footprint. I’ve slowed down on bartering on Bunz, but am still making about 3 to 5 trades a month – mainly in Toronto – as there isn’t much of a community in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Mainly, I’ve been thinking about the clothing industry. I still need to watch the documentary True Cost, but am already aware that this industry remains the second dirtiest economy, after the oil industry,, on a global scale. It also has a lot of human rights violations and donating used clothing to charities that sell them overseas is actually hurting African nations. It really doesn’t do much more than make us feel some warm fuzzies.

As I reflect on my current wardrobe, I’m pretty well stocked. I have all the work clothes I need. As a substitute teacher, I can get away with similar outfits as I’m often at different schools each day (and really, do kids care?). I spent the summer throwing away pants and leggings that no longer fit my 34-year-old waistline and purchased replacements that are fairly comfortable and not restrictive. I have pretty much what I need right now* and now I’m aware that I’m privileged living this way.

In terms of winter gear, some of my pieces are new (i.e. my snowpants and heavy-duty gloves are less than a year old) and I have older items that act as backup when I need to toss the usual into the washing machine. I’ve got a plethora of functional footwear** and replaced a lot of my undies recently. The last thing I bought was a pair of rain pants ($100 CAD) at Mountain Equipment Co-op; the last pair I owned were well over 10 years old and I ended up giving them to a student in the rural north.

So here’s the question: Can I get away without buying anything in 2018?

Of course I can!

This isn’t a new idea. Lots of bloggers have written about going a year or more without buying clothing (such as The Frugalwoods, as well as Eden Ashley). If you’d asked me the same question a few years ago, I would have flinched and recoiled. But as I already buy very few clothes, this doesn’t feel like an insurmountable challenge for me. And what’s even better, is that I can look for items on Bunz if I want to feel as if I’ve got something new. In fact, I got this American Eagle sweater this morning and it feels great!

IMG_20171224_145440453

It’s still hit and miss when I barter. I’ve gotten a few items that didn’t work out for me, but I’ve gotten some really great stuff, like the Lululemon hoodie I picked up in November. Last week, I picked up a pink work top … I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t even had the chance to wear yet! But what is important is I can switch up my wardrobe with secondhand clothing without leaving a significant carbon footprint.

So I’ve decided to make zero clothing purchases in 2018! That also includes no gifts of new clothing from family and friends (used items or second-hand are fine). I won’t be buying any more jewelry, nor accessories, like purses or belts.

Still feel like you can’t live without a big and varied wardrobe?

Check out Jennifer L. Scott’s TED Talk, which is the reason I reworked my wardrobe over the summer. This is such a great video that I had shared with a lot of friends.

What are your clothing shopping habits like? Do you use it as an emotional outlet? Do you have a big or small wardrobe? Are you a fashionista?

*The only thing I might need to acquire are leggings without logos if I start teaching in a yoga studio, but I’ll deal with that once I cross that bridge
**Two pairs of ice skates, a few casual shoes, enough work shoes, three pairs of summer heels, two pairs of Vibram FiveFingers, two pairs of hiking shoes, three pairs of winter boots, two pairs of galoshes … I’m embarrassed to say that this is “trimmed down”.

 

Wintery Updates

Just some financial updates:

Sirius XM: Canceled my annual subscription (~$250), since I moved back south.

TSFAs: As I’m not working every single day, and I still have a habit of eating out, cash flow is a bit tighter. For the second time in my life, I withdrew about one year’s worth of contributions from my TSFAs. I don’t feel particularly guilting for eating out with friends or on my own. If anything, I’m just focused on being good to myself and enjoying my life. I’ve lived for 4 years without being able to do this much.

RSPs: I cancelled my ASP transfers ($333/month) to Wealthsimple for the reasons stated above. Going to reassess what my finances look like this coming January. For now, I am depleting my TSFAs and not making that much, so putting RSP contributions on hold for a little bit.

Auto: Recently had to make a CAA service call, when my battery wouldn’t start on a cold morning. The battery itself is only 3 years old – on average, it should last 5 – but I believe living in the north, where it can be -30 C for many days at a time, wore it down a lot more quickly. I did get a DriveClean test today, since my vehicle is now just over 7 years old, and will be renewing my license stickers ($240).

Books: Just finished Roxane Gay’s memoir, Hunger, as I was inspired to read it after seeing her TED Talkafter seeing her TED Talk. This is definitely one of the best memoirs I have read (it’s not necessarily my favourite genre). Highly recommended. She really is a good writing and choosing words is quite the craft.

Desire Mapping: I’m still working on this Cody plan, that was put together by Danielle LaPorte. I put it down for about a month and am at the halfway mark right now, module 5. If you’re a Cody App member, you’ll know that everything is switching over to subscription ($20 USD/month*), since Alo Yoga bought out the company. You won’t be able to buy individual plans after December 2017.

Happy winter solstice!

*I’m paying a special rate of $10 USD/month as a long-time member. It’s been, what, 3 years?

Annual Goals 2017

I’m a bit early in doing my annual review, but part of me is slightly frustrated that I haven’t been reassessing my annual goals. I am much better at managing monthly goals. It’s just that my desires and needs change every few months, depending on my life situation (i.e. moving away and breaking up), so half this list doesn’t feel quite so accurate anymore. At this point, I just want to get it out of the way, and then rewrite some new goals for 2018.

Teaching

  • Apply to Ontario school boards (3/5): Applied to WRDSB, DDSB, OCDSB, AVDSB and UGDSB so far. The only one that called back was WRDSB. I didn’t apply to Peel, Halton, SCDSB or TDSB. Just working for one right now!
  • Practice interviewing (3/5): Had a first great interview with Waterloo Regional District School Board. Didn’t have any other interviews. Didn’t really work on practicing for interviews again … I need  a sense of pressure for this goal.
  • Develop skills for occasional teaching (3/5): There’s a free AQ course on occasional teaching through Queen’s University. While I had started the first module, I didn’t end up continuing it. I’m doing okay though and have been meeting a few other OTs and getting tips from them.
Finance
  • Start budgeting (2/5): I had purchased the Mindful Budgeting planner from Caitlin Flanders. Starting to write down numbers and be more mindful of the process for several months but never ended up budget and eventually stopped using the planner about three months into it. I will have to try this again from a different angle in the new year and perhaps only look at food expenditures as a start.
  • Set up an ASP from pay towards index funded RRSP (5/5): Robb Engen have already said, stop keeping your RSPs in cash. Reading Robert Brown’s book reminded me that an ASP would give it time for it to build interest. In February, I set up an ASP of $333/paycheck to be set aside as RSPs in Tangerine, but then switched over to WealthSimple in February 2017.
  • Get J. set up with index investing in Tangerine (3/5): I had J. start a small investment in Tangerine but hey, we broke up so who the fuck cares anymore.
  • Start learning how to use MLS (0/5): I lost interest in this process after my break-up. It’s just not happening while I am not making that much as an Occasional Teacher (i.e. professional substitute teacher).
  • Try to get bank fees waived (0/5): Desiree of Half Banked suggest that you can try to get your credit card fee waived. Never got around to doing this … just plain forgot. I still draw too much from my TD Bank account sometimes, so I am wondering if I should just close it.
  • Learn how to barter using Bunz (5/5): Spent most of August trading. It’s been so much fun! I’ve gotten quite a lot off of Bunz, including basic furniture and useful items. I love the idea of finding new homes for items that I didn’t value or don’t value anymore. It’s environmentally-friendly too, because I’m not encouraging the production of more products. Everyone knows that I am slightly obsessed, ha!
Personal development
  • Study Mandarin (1/5): Used my Steam account for Influent at the beginning of the year but haven’t touched this in a while. Just fell down the list of priorities
Health
  • Regular myo (1/5): Not great with consistent #myomondays, but that’s okay! I’ve still been learning a lot through my Yoga Teacher Training.
  • Strength training (0/5): Specifically I was referring to weight training, which never happened … Nope.
  • Continue barefoot training (4/5): I didn’t end up read Katy Bowman’s book, Whole Body Barefoot, but I have two pairs of FiveFinger Vibrams. In the winter, I’m using them in the gym.
  • Enjoy my YTT (5/5): Yup! that’s going well! This goal got added on around April because I didn’t even think I was interested in Yoga Teacher Training until I saw Queen Street Yoga’s advertisement.

Winter Car Issues

Yesterday, my car wouldn’t start.

This sucked, considering I had stacked 5 full substitution jobs into my schedule this week, I had to call the school and make the cancellation at 7:30 am in the morning. Then I called CAA*.

Since I wasn’t on the road and just sitting at home, the wait was quite long. After 20 minutes, I hung up and went to do something else. Eventually I downloaded the CAA app. The initial wait time that was suggested was one hour, but as they can track your location and the type of job that you need (i.e. battery boost), they can prioritize you more efficiently. The wait time quickly dropped down to 20 minutes! Therefore, if you’re waiting for CAA, you should use the app! Don’t wait on the phone because there’s no way you can tell them what is happening. The app will get you help much more quickly.

The battery on the Honda CR-V is about 3 years old right now, but since it was used to having a block heater in Waskaganish, suddenly not having it plugged in this winter may be the reason it’s been struggling.

I ended up going to Canadian Tire after work and picking up NOCO’s Genius Boost Jump Starter ($125/USD or $155/CAD). This specific model is called the GB40 and delivers 1000 amps. NOCO products – a variety of them – have been popping up all over the shelves, since the technology for the battery jump starters have come a loooooong way. The old ones, which my ex had bought up north, were the size and weight of a large watermelon. You had to carry it with two arms and charge them every 3 months. If you forgot, too bad … now you have a paperweight!

The NOCO only needs to be charged, at minimum, once a year. The entire unit is about 2.5 pounds, fits into your purse or glove compartment. The jumper cables are beautiful quality and the whole package comes with a bag to hold it all. The unit even has an extremely strong double-headed flashlight on one side and can signal SOS.

Still don’t think it’s all that useful? You can even use it to charge your iPad or phone!

Overall, I’m really happy I picked this up. I’ll likely have to go in and get a battery check on the car** or perhaps a cable so that I can use the block heater in during cold mornings. And while I’m not much for Christmas presents these days, this would be a good one if you’ve got a friend or family member who’s on the road a lot.

IMG-20171214-WA0015
*I have the Plus membership, which is approximately $141 a year.
**Canadian Tire does battery checks for free if you bring it into the store. If it’s the garage, they’ll charge.

TED Talk: Roxane Gay

The past week I went to Indigo a couple of times. I actually was forcing myself to finish a book that I actually own a hard copy of, but wasn’t reading at home. Being in a bookstore meant that I would take my reading a bit more seriously, so I grabbed a store copy, sat in a wicker chair and read several chapters.

As I did a quick browse, I caught sight of Roxane Gay’s Hunger. I knew very little about it, but had first learned about Gay from an interview on the Nerdette podcast. I ended up purchasing the audiobook, listening it over the past two days, as I drove between Waterloo and Toronto.

While I don’t want to share too much, this memoir is actually one of the most beautiful prose I’d read in a while (the last book I can recall which I felt the same was Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You). I fell in love with her writing and am considering getting a paper copy to share with family and friends. If you can get your hands on a copy, please read it.

For now, enjoy Roxane Gay’s TED Talk. It’s brilliantly funny, authentic and wonderful (and don’t read the YouTube comments … that was my mistake).

Monthly Goals: November

The last set of monthly goals that I wrote were in August. September was sorting myself out and October went to shit because of my break-up. So here’s November, as I start to get re-focused:

Health and Fitness

  • Work on meditation (3/5): Since restarting Headspace in October, I’ve been using it several times a week. I’m not going to guilt or shame myself into not using it every day. It’s not productive. I might only meditate every 2 days, but that’s okay.
  • Work on The Desire Map (2/5): Since starting the new subscription plan on Cody, I started going through The Desire Map plan. I have been working through the exercises and (printed) worksheets since the middle of November.
  • Go to Goodlife (1/5): I could do better, I only went three two times this month.

Teaching and Professional Development

  • Explore opportunities to work and travel: I had spoken to some UK agencies, but it looks like I do not qualify for the work visa (i.e. the Youth Mobility Scheme) since I am over 30 year old. BOO for ageism!!! Oh well, I daydreamed for a few days.
  • Get updated letter of experience (5/5): This was easy and all it took was an email to the Human Resources of my former board. Just need to make a paper copy and put it in my files too.
  • Get back into using Evernote regularly (2/5): I pay for the premium subscription every year around Hallowe’en. I tried using the free version but I like updating on a variety of mobile devices.
  • Sent transcripts for (3/5): So far I’ve sent three transcripts in so far, from the University of Toronto, Athabasca (freeeeee) and Queen’s University. UWO is a pain in the butt because they don’t accept digital signatures.
  • Work on teaching blog (1/5): I’ve only made two posts as of November and updated the subtitle so that it doesn’t state that I’m still in Quebec.

Finance and Auto

  • Close joint account (5/5): Done, although the first time I called, the rep on the other line said it wasn’t possible. The second time I called, it literally took 1 minute for the rep to do it. ARGH.
  • Auto Mechanic game on Steam (1/5): I started playing this for 2 hours but got super frustrated. It is not beginner-friendly!
  • Mail forwarding (5/5): I’d already updated the charity that I donate to and also the Ontario College of Teachers. This was something I had meant to do but I’d forgetten. So nearly 5 months later, I finally set up mail-forwarding from Waskaganish. There was a 4-month option, but the cost for a 12-month period was about $117 including tax.
  • Reassess credit card (4/5): I’ve kept my TD Cashback Visa because it’s the oldest credit card that I have, but I stupidly default to using it, when the rewards are actually quite terrible. Instead, I should be paying for restaurants and gas with my Tangerine credit card instead, since the rewards are 2% for (1% for anything else).