Increasing My Step Count

Two months ago, I started checking my daily step count.

Embarrassingly, I was hitting well below 5000 a day. I drive a lot for work and am at different schools every day. Essentially, I am traveling from one parking lot to another, since I don’t live near the gym or the yoga studio. I decided that I should try to improve this aspect of my life.

Along with half a dozen other friends, I am using the Carrot Rewards app.  While I currently do not have a pedometer, the Google Fit app on my smartphone counts my steps and uploads the information to Carrot Rewards. If I hit my daily goal, I get anywhere between 2 to 6 Scene points*. I also collect points for completing surveys (~40 points) and inviting friends to join (100 points). Other friends are currently using it for Aeroplan points.

I’ve actually been doing much better the past month, being able to see how my friends are faring. Social pressure is great and works well for me (when it’s people I care about)! You can pair up with friends, complete 10 step goals together within a week and get more points of your choice.


A few of them who work downtown hit well over 10,000 each day. My daily step goal has increased to 5200 – it is determined for you and you cannot change it manually – from 3600 last month. Some nights, I have to do an extra walk to the local convenience store or a loop around the park to hit my goals**, but the fact that it’s changed my behaviour immensely is a great thing. I’m well aware that I need a lifestyle change and I’ve been working on it!

The only issue is finding a balance with carrying my phone around. I do try to set it down at home, while I’m cooking or running chores, so those steps aren’t counted. My workouts at the gym and yoga aren’t included either. I’m still trying to get my hands on a FitBit through Bunz, so this will help a lot!!

Do you use a pedometer or have a daily step goal?

*A thousand points gets you one free movie at Cineplex Odeon theatres.
**Tonight, I spent 20 minutes milling about the supermarket after dark. I didn’t want to walk through the park by myself when it’s late.


Using Work Travel for Rewards

Made my last travel claim with my school board. I will miss getting the money back!

Our school board always gave us the option of having the Finance department make hotel reservations for us, but I liked booking with and at the same time for the small bonuses and working towards collecting free rewards. I mean, I am a math teacher so I like calculating these things.

Honestly, it’s not much and probably I spend way more time than it’s worth for the amount I get back – I’m not going to be delusional about this – but it’s sort of fun too.

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Also ordered some contact lens off this morning. With the 8% cashback, I’ll add another $6.77 to this. Yay!

Do you collect points for rewards or use cashback programs?

*My late father would also sit around crunching points for Air Miles. I probably get it from him.

Stashing Money for the Future

Since I’ll be flying to my interview next week, I put the Air Canada flight on my American Express card. I was able to get more than 2000 points with it!

When I checked my American Express account this afternoon, I found that I had at least 6500 points, which was good for another $50 gas card.* I’ve redeemed the points and am waiting for it in the mail. However, I won’t use it until the summer time, when I won’t have any income.


*The points exchange has remained the same since 2013, when I got $25 credit for gas with 3500 points. 

TD Reward Rebate 2016

It’s January! That means I get my cash-back rebate on my TD Rewards Rebate Visa credit card. It’s not the best reward card, but here are the conditions:

  • Earn a 0.5% cash reward on the first $3,000 in net annual purchases charged to your Card
  • Earn a 1% cash reward on your net annual purchases over $3,000 (to a maximum annual purchase limit of $25,000)

TD no longer issues new cards for this no-fee program. I have been itching for a replacement but have not been able to find another Visa program that would be better right now.

This year, I received $133.39. Not a huge hunk of cash, but it’s always a nice boost at the beginning of the new when you’re feeling poor!

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.

First Rebate

A few months ago, a student introduced me to Basically, the program is set up to track online purchases and in return for the data that they collect on you, you receive a small cashback on your purchases (usually varies between 1-5% with increased incentives during holidays and long weekends). The company has been around for a long time and I recall hearing about it many years ago, but I never did much online shopping until I moved up north.

Out of curiosity, I used my student’s referral code, so that I could get a $5 bonus and she received $10. Since then, I’ve made a few purchases through Ebates. Mind you, I didn’t shop more than usual. I made purchases I would have done anyway – birthday present for mom, a few books for myself and some household goods from Yesterday, I got my first cashback through Paypal – $14.70! Not a lot, but hey, I have no problem getting free money!

If you’re curious, you can always start an account using my referral link.