Weekend Update

Books: Re-reading an old James Herriot novel, All Creatures Great and Small. It’s probably been 18 years that I’ve read it. Just going back to some master story tellers. (Also, if you can’t tell, I’ve been obsessed with all things Brit lately.)

Car insurance: Been shopping around, as I am looking for a new insurance company for the start of July, when I move back to Ontario. I was paying far too much for Meloche Monnex, although I didn’t have much of a choice, since they were one of the few companies that would take me as a client (i.e. living in Quebec with Ontario plates). After talking to five companies, I believe my best bet is OTIP. It does pay to call around though; I got a $25 Amazon gift card from OTIP just for speaking with an agent and CAA also gave me $25 for chatting with them!

Roboadvisors:
 Finally transferred about $22,000 of RSPs out of Tangerine Investment Funds and over to another roboadvisor. There’s a nice spread of iShares and Vanguard ETFs. Will need to sit down and look through my asset allocation when I’ve got more time in the summer. Got a $50 bonus when I started the account since mentioning the referral from Jessica Moorhouse.

School Boards: All registered with my new school board, and getting calls for substitution on my cellphone (it took me a week to figure out how to turn it off until September). However, I am disappointed I did not get an interview with Ottawa-Carleton (OCDSB). Out of four other friends, only one person I knew got an interview for the OT list. I suppose I just try again next year … should I apply for Thames Valley? Will work on an application later this week.

Media: Podcasting as usual and enjoying BBC’s The Documentary. Also learned about Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) on the SickBoy podcast*. Taking a pause after finishing seasons 6 of Call the Midwives and switching over to AMC’s Humans. AHHHH!!! Great show to watch after HBO’s WestworldWatch the trailer:


*This is a Canadian podcast and it is tastefully done, not what you’d expect when the three hosts are three white dudes. What’s even cooler is that one of the hosts is my gym buddy’s brother-in-law!

Fixing a Blown Fuse

When I was in Kingston a couple of weeks ago, at the math conference, I picked up a nail in my rear right tire. I didn’t know this had happened yet, and only noticed that my tire was losing air.

Thankfully, I had a portable air compressor with me. J. and I bought this a couple of years ago. While it has been helpful in emergency situation, the problem with the compressor is that it actually blows the fuse on the cigarette lighter charger!!! I didn’t have a pair of pliers on hand – the little things are tricky to pull out – so I finally managed to fix this today*.

Nice way to spend my Victoria Day. Wrapping up some loose ends and chores at home, plus some of season 6 of Call the Midwives.

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*The other barrier was not knowing which fuse it was. The numbers on the interior fuse box vary between different years of Honda CRVs.

Honda Finance Car Loan

Thought hard about what I would do with my federal tax return and decided to put it towards my Honda CRV. Just recently, I sent off $2000 to Honda Finance. That means I only have a bit more than $2000 left on my 5-year term.

At this time, I’m still waiting for some travel expenses back … I haven’t fully decide yet, but I might actually just pay off the last $2000 before the beginning of July and just get rid of that debt! If so, then I would have paid it all off within 4 years.

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New Summer Tires

J. is currently still in Montreal on his vacation. I gave him my Honda CRV and asked him to get it detailed, get a service check and put on the winter tires. He gave me an update last night and I was surprised to hear that my summer tires were quite bald, after 3 years of use. He ended up getting replacements for me.

As a first time car-owner*, I am still learning a lot about vehicles. I can’t say I have learned too much in the past year; it’s a goal for me to study a bit more about cars but I have been slacking on this goal. J. explained that you can use a tire gauge (he bought one for me) or I could also use a coin to estimate tire depth.

Found this great 1-minute video from CAA that explains how to do just that.

*Well, I still have 2 years of financing before it is fully mine.

Monthly Goals – August

Fitness
  • Gold Medal Bodies (0/5): Was intending on starting the “shoulder opening sequence”, but I’ve not been working out or going to the gym. Mostly I’ve been focused on getting back into work. Will push this to September.
  • Go kayaking (0/5):  The weather has been terrible. Super cold for this time of year … I managed to get on the water only because my sister was out and I popped in for 10 minutes. Hopefully it’ll warm up in September.
  • Walk instead of driving everywhere (5/5):  Since reading Katy Bowman’s book, I’ve decided I really need to be a more mindful mover. It doesn’t makes sense that I do glute workouts without walking to work. I mean, your butt is what allows you to walk! Been doing pretty well with this goal since it’s been warm. We drove about twice a week in August. This might change as the weather gets colder.
  • Pillowless sleeping (5/5): I’m pretty comfortable sleeping without a pillow now. The only issue was that I was squirreling towards my boyfriend’s pillow in the middle of the night, but once I put a thin fleece blanket under my head, I stopped doing it. Ha!
Teaching / Job-Hunting
  • Get equipment for a teen yoga club (5/5): I’ve been wanting to do this for a couple of years now, but I finally did it! Purchased some reasonably priced yoga mats from Treadmill Factory in at the flagship store in Markham, Ontario. So far, I’ve only run one session, but hopefully, I can get the club going once a week. There’s definitely some interest in the younger high school students. I also did some meditation with my students earlier this week!
  • Purchase new vegan make-up products (5/5): It took me 3.5 hours of research one day to figure out what was vegan and what was not. But now that I have a general sense of what’s out there, it’ll be much easier to buy products in the future. I gotta step up my make-up game if I’m going to be leaving the north, networking and going job-hunting. Applying make-up is generally slow and stressful for me, so the only way to overcome that will be practice, practice, practice. Been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately and trying to learn. It’s definitely intimidating in the beginning when you don’t know too much yet. Here’s a picture of my haul.

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Media / Books
  • Podcasting (4/5): Yup, I’m back on podcasting. I’ve binged through about 8 or 9 episodes of Katy Bowman’s Katy Says  series. Really glad I got the app PocketCasts. It’s much better than the default podcasting app on iOS.
  • Learn a new stitch (5/5): I learned how to double crochet! But I stayed up for 5 hours straight and got knots in my shoulders from doing so …
  • Read regularly (/5): Finish Katy Bowman’s Move Your DNA* and also Sarah Silverman’s book. Been reading a few kids’ books too, as well as some graphic novels.

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Financial

  • Cancel YogaGlo (5/5): Really enjoyed a bit of change doing so many Kathryn Budig classes, but ahhhh it’s back to using the classes I’ve purchased off of Cody.
  • Stop buying Cody plans (0/5): Yeah, I suck at this. I caved and bought two nutrition plans because there was a 30% coupon code. Hey, at least I use my plans!
  • Balance out expenses (3/5): The Honda CRV is my vehicle. It’s the biggest purchase I’ve ever made. I’ve not asked the boyfriend to put much money in, but since he’s off on vacation with the car, I’ve asked him this time to swap the winters on, get a tune-up and pay for a full detailing.

*I really fell in love with this book. Natural movement and biomechanics is so interesting! Might have to buy a few copies as Christmas presents.

Ruminations on Banks, Credit Cards and Reward Programs

Back in October 2015, I canceled my old American Express and switched over to an American Express Gold through the Ontario College of Teachers’ perks program, which normally has an annual fee of $150/year, but is $100/year for teachers.

Officially, this is the first charge card, but the annual fee is waived in the first year. With the bonus points for opening a new account, I’ve already cashed in one $100 Esso gas card. And recently, after having charged my DisneyWorld vacation to my account, I ordered another $100 Esso gas card with 13,000 points*. I ordered it last week and it just arrived in Toronto, which will be perfect for my upcoming 2-week holiday when I’m feeling broke! So until October 2018, the card has covered its own fees.

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As for my TD Rewards Rebate card, I’m still assessing whether I want to keep it or not. In 2014, I got $182.04 in rebates and in 2015, I got $150.36. For now it’s okay, but I see that Tangerine has come out with a Mastercard that gives a much better rebate program than my TD Rewards Rebate.

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Hmmm, should I switch over? I’ve never had a MasterCard before.

The more I think about it, the more it seems that I really don’t profit from having a TD Canada account. But the more I think about it, I feel like I should just close this account and use Tangerine:

  1. Accessing ATMs: I always preferred being with TD because I could walk into a branch nearly anywhere in big cities and be able to get cash. But being in the north, I don’t live near any of the branches. In fact, I go through most of my days not buying anything at all. I barely use cash, ever.**
  2. Cashing cheques: Again, I don’t live near any TD branches. The Tangerine app works pretty damn fine when it comes to depositing cheques. And my employer has started to streamline their system more and more, so I rarely get cheques anymore.
  3. Investments: I don’t use TD to invest at all. It also irked me to see that, as of March 31st, 2016, they are implementing a $75 fee for any TSFAs that are transferred out of their bank! Not cool!
  4. Paycheques: Yep, I could switch this over to Tangerine. I don’t have to be paid through TD.
  5. Fees: No fees in Tangerine at all. For TD, while I just need to maintain $1500. But it’s $1500 that gets no interest … UGHHHH!!!! And while interest rates are at a record low, even if they’re sitting in my Tangerine ISA, I’d get 0.8% on that $1500, which would be $12. Last year, in Tangerine, I got $42 in interest alone. In TD, NADAAAAA!!! I hate paying fees, it does happen, because of the next point …
  6. Auto payments: This is where my payments are coming out of right now. Sometimes I forget how much is in my checking account and when the payment is withdrawn, it goes under $1500 and I pay the monthly fee, even if I spot it the same day and top it up. I could call up Honda and ask if it could be switched over to another financial institution.
  7. Auto insurance: Meloche Monex keeps charging me more and more. They jacked up my monthly insurance by $20 last year!!! I need to shop around for a better rate.

Soooooooo … why am I even with TD, still?!?!? Funny, I started this blog post simply on credit cards and now I feel like I’ve realized I need to end a dysfunctional and manipulative relationship that’s been going on too long!

I guess what concerns me is that my tax rebates comes through TD right now. While I could close the account, I would need to be in Toronto to deal with some of the loose ends and make sure everything is transferred over properly if I do decided to shut it.

*Under the old points system, this would have had a monetary value of $162.50. So take note, even if the deal is good to start, things might change on you!

**Except for donuts, now that Tim Horton’s has opened up a branch at our local supermarket.

Holiday Expenses

Note: When I wrote this, I totally forgot to include my new sit-stand desk ($230) from Ikea.

Over the holidays, as I was interacting with friends and family “down south”, I began to realize that I don’t attempt to be frugal. This habit mainly developed up north due to lack of choice. If you want super expensive red peppers, you just buy it. You need gas for your car? There’s only one gas station here. You just don’t have a choice, so you end up paying and not even paying attention to how much you’ve spent! 

Mind you, I don’t make a lot of purchases. My regular expenses include rent (taken off the paycheck), one or two meals at the restaurant, a tank of gas every month or two, car insurance and my car payments biweekly. I don’t shop a lot online either.

But of course, there are always big expenses when I go back to Toronto. Some 

Some of the big holiday expenses from the holidays:

  • License plate renewal ($216 / 2 years)
  • Sirius satellite radio ($251.95 / 1 year) – J. really likes having this. The tradeoff is that he pays for internet, which is much more expensive ($70/month). It just makes our drive around town a little bit more exciting and is great for our long drives.
  • Drive Clean test ($33.90)
  • Speeding ticket ($135) – On my birthday, what a wonderful present!
  • Passport renewal for 10 years ($160)
  • Servicing and replacing front rotors ($778) – My brakes were squeaking a bit, when I took it in, Honda Service centre told me to the front rotors were rusted. If I had more time (I always say this), I would have gone to another garage to pay less. Also, I keep forgetting to use my CAA discount and collect Aeroplan points here. Sighhhh.
  • New cellphone ($360/Koodo Tab) – Had to replace my phone due to water damage, back in November

In total, all this is ….ughhhhhhh, $1935!!! Well, glad I have a job.

Long Weekend Expenses

Some expenses and notes from the long weekend:

Maintenance of electronics: I cracked my iPad Air screen pretty badly a few weeks ago. I made an appointment in Val D’Or to get it replaced ($183) and obviously purchased an iPad cover ($20) to prevent future damage.

Shopping: Really didn’t buy much at all. Refrained from buying anything and it worked out that I went to the gym in Rouyn for 2 hours (free) which kept me out of the mall! Plus I am on the road with the Grade 11s for the next 5 days – to check out some colleges – so I might as well save it for that.

Vehicle: Changed the winter tires on and paid for seasonal storage ($130).

Hotel: Booked an additional night by myself in Amos ($130) My family kindly offered to cover my hotel for the nights I stayed with them since I had to cover my own gas for the trip.