Archive | November, 2012

Food Bill Analysis

30 Nov

Eating out is an easy, convenient route to satisfy your hunger.  Yet, this miscellaneous spending category can seriously make a dent in your budget if you don’t try to limit your outings for food!   Treating others to a meal I think is the most costly to your own food budget.  It’s nice to be generous from time to time, but never let it get out of hand where you get nothing in return!

For the past year, I have cut down on going out to eat.  Making most of my meals at home from breakfast to dinners have reduced my food bill dramatically, but there are times where I long for some tasty delights that I can not concoct myself.  My suggestion is try to find a balance.

Setting a budget for food is great, but if you go over your limit, does that mean you’ll have to starve yourself for the rest of the month?  It’s okay to go a little over budget for food since it is an essential item to keep you alive!  Just make sure for the next month, you try to not repeat the same mistake again in overspending for food.

On a monthly average, I spend $278.18 in total for food.  I usually spend $124.40 on groceries (BF & ME) and $153.78 on miscellaneous eating out.  Month to month, it does fluctuate depending on the occasion.

November 2012: $250.13

Groceries:  $70.03

Eating out: $180.10.  Break down below:

  1. Treated BF for dinners $98.18 (Cause of my reduced rent)
  2. Treated friend for dinner- $36.84
  3. My own dinners & snacks- $19.36
  4. Groupon for 2 burgers & drinks- $14.00
  5. Lunches at work- $11.72

 

Little Things to Save Money

24 Nov
  • If you have a coffee fix to be pleased, grow accustom to the free coffee provided at work.
  • If you want to save on toilet paper, go do your business at work or in public washrooms as much as possible when you are not at home.
  • Find work closer to home.  To save on travel time and costs as well.  Looking and getting a new job usually gets you an automatic raise from your previous job.
  • It is always a good idea to cook more for dinner, so you can have the leftovers for lunch the next day.  This way it’ll save you money and time!
  • It is always cheaper to make your own food than going out to buy something to eat.
  • If you go out to eat at restaurants, just ask for water or hot water only.  Not only is it free, it is healthy for you as well!  Many Asian restaurants serve hot tea complimentary to your meal as well.
  • Use credit cards as the main form of payment for your purchases.  Take advantage of organized transaction statements, delay of payment till due date, and rewards that your card provides whether it’s cash back or travel points.  With this buying power, please spend what you can afford only.  As advised, always pay off your statement by monthly due date to make this work.
  • Brand names are a symbol status that we all crave.  With this in mind, brand name items come with a high mark up margin.  Always look for another alternative that may save you a few dollars or even thousands.  These savings can really add up once you account for all the stuff you buy as a whole.
  • Do your research and always be on a lookout for sales, coupons and stock up!
  • Friends are great to have, but they can certainly make your wallet thinner.  It’s ok to say no to certain outings if you feel it too excessive.
  • Shop through the crowds at better priced Superstore instead of Safeway.
  • Frequent your local library to borrow books & other medias, use their free internet services, and for a quiet place to hang out.
  • Try to limit your outings.  If you go out, most likely you will end up spending money on something one way or the other.
  • Take the time to organize what needs to be done and run errands to get everything out of the way in a matter of a few hours.
  • Always try to empty out your fridge before you head out to the grocery store to stock up again.  Take inventory of what you have and need for the week.  Minimize multiple runs to the grocery store by keeping on top of things.
  • Save your juice boxes and soda cans to recycle at the bottle depot to get back your deposit.
  • Turn off your lights when you’re not in the room.  Turn off the heat when you are at work.  Use only what you need!
  • Save on gas, by properly inflating your tires and taking it easier on the accelerator.
  • Be a minimalist.  Stop upgrading to the newest gadget.  Make good use of the item till its last breath.  Buy only what you need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Rid of my Old Credit Cards

17 Nov

On Friday, I called Capital One to increase my credit limit of $3000.  I’ve been a customer of theirs since May 2012, so it’s been over 6 months.  There were certain times where I needed to charge large amounts of money onto this particular card where I can earn 1.5% cash back.  But I just did not have enough credit to do so, so I turned to else where instead.

The Cap One Representative that I talk to did not budge as I wasn’t qualified for a credit increase.  He mentioned that this Capital One Aspire World Cash Mastercard usually gives out a higher credit limit up to $30,000!  Even though my credit history is impeccable and nothing to do with your annual gross, there is one hindrance:  I have way too much open current credit cards.  In order for me to get an increase, I must close down some of my other credit cards that I have collected over the years.

So far, I managed to close down my HBC Mastercard and RBC Gold Visa.  I tried to close down my line of credit at BMO over the phone, but was told that I have to go to the branch to do the deed.  For my Sears card, there’s no number on the back of the card!  So I can’t even call in to cancel my card.  Last, but not least… I called PCF Mastercard, only to be told that I have over 30,000 points that can be redeemed for $30 at Superstore.  I haven’t used that card in over 3 years I believe.  Now, I have to go through my desk to find the new card and activate it so I can get $30 worth of groceries before I close it down for good!

All of the agents I talked was “sorry” that I was leaving them and they value my business.  They asked, “Is there a reason why you want to close down your account?”  I simply told them that I need to lower my credit and that I was applying for a mortgage in the near future.  After that, they were all quite understanding and didn’t try their sales pitch to convince me to keep my credit card instead.

I decided to keep my CIBC Dividend Visa, since it’s always better to have at least one Visa in the wallet.  I am also keeping my BMO Mosiak Mastercard since that is one of my oldest card.

In the end, I still have the following credit cards:

  1. Capital One Aspire World Cash Mastercard
  2. MBNA Platinum Smart Cash Mastercard
  3. BMO Mosaik Mastercard
  4. CIBC Dividend Visa
  5. PCF Mastercard (Once I redeem my $30, I’ll be cancelling this card)
  6. BMO Mastercard (Line of Credit) <– Will have to go to Branch to cancel this card)
  7. Sears Credit card

My cancelled and old credit cards:

  1. RBC Classic II Student Visa (My very first card!)
  2. TD Visa
  3. MBNA Gold Mastercard
  4. HBC Mastercard
  5. RBC Gold Visa

In summary, I still have a lot of current credit cards compared to the average person.  There’s only two main cards that I use these days:

1) Capital One Aspire Cash
2) MBNA Smart Cash

 

 

Sold Out- LG Nexus 4 at Google Play

13 Nov

I jumped the gun and sold my old phone in anticipation of buying the new LG Nexus 4 at Google Play today!  Only to be disappointed as I was a second too late.  It went live just before 9am.  I was actually at the Google Wallet checkout, clicking the pay and continue button.  But the continuation part failed miserably as Google was swamped by too many eager buyers.  After minutes of loading, there was an error sign noting that my order did not go through.  After refreshing my page again, it was back to “COMING SOON”.  Units were sold out within minutes in N. America.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who managed to land one.

Already, scalpers are selling these phones at an inflated price.  No I’m not going to pay a premium just to get my hands on this phone.  I will wait patiently for the next release.  Hopefully, by then, there will be a lot of inventory for the common users.

So when are they going to roll out the next release for this over hyped phone?  From reports, in the coming weeks… but who really knows until the official announcement.  At least, give me the option of pre-ordering when it does come back in stock!

Now, I am phoneless for who knows when.  The backup unlocked phone I have does not work with my new Bell SIM card.  -_-

Note:  Bell SIM card work in the Nexus 4, but you will have to cut your sim to a micro SIM card.  You can either go to store to get it cut or they will give you a new micro SIM card from what I hear.

Shorter Commute to Work

9 Nov
  • First Job (3 yrs):  One hour each way by transit, 28 km traveled each day:  Long ass days!
  • Second Job (6 yrs):  30-40 minutes each way by car, 30 km traveled each day:  Road rage days!
  • Current Job (3 mos):  10-15 minutes each way by car, 12 km traveled each day:  Smoother days!

Transit, by far, is always the best way to save money on travelling to work.  I live one zone away from Vancouver, so I’d have to pay for two zones when I travel to work which is $110 on a monthly pass versus $81!

If I were to take transit to work now, it will take me 30-40 minutes to get to work.  So I pay a little more extra for a car for convenience sakes.

My gas bill has dramatically dropped since I started my current job by half which gives me more breathing room to pay other bills or save.  My monthly cost to running my car is around $250 including insurance and gas.  Of course, when you factor in maintenance… the costs will definitely go up, but it’s always a fluctuating from year to year.  Tomorrow, I’m going to get a transmission fluid change that will set me back $125 or so.  >_<

Still… $110 for bus pass vs $250 for just putting a car on road is a big difference in costs.  $140/mo in savings can equal to $1680 in one year times it by a decade $16,800!  It sure does add up!

My point here is having a car is a big burden on our everyday expenses.  We pay for time convenience and the freedom to take off whenever we feel like it.  It’s readily accessible instead of planning your trip around the restrictions of the transit system.

 

 

 

Alternative to MBNA Smart Cash Platinum Mastercard

8 Nov

I noticed I’ve been getting more hits as a result of my recent post:  RIP MBNA Smart Cash Mastercard  Here is my alternative card:

Earn 1% on all net purchases (no tier spending or no cap limit).  Bonus of 0.5% is awarded to you after your one year anniversary.  So the total cashback you earn is 1.5% essentially.  A nice little perk is $100 cash bonus for just signing up.  That’s what really hooked me!  Check it out:

CAPITAL ONE ASPIRE WORLD MASTERCARD

They have really good benefits.  I like how you can customize your alerts by email or text message for transactions over $20 or bill payment reminder.   You can redeem your rewards anytime you like by requesting a credit to your balance (faster way) or cheque.  As for MBNA, you have to accumulate $50 before they issue you a cheque that can take ages to arrive at your doorstep.

The only draw back is I only got a $3,000 credit limit from Capital One.  I can’t really make a big purchases with this limit such as a nice trip.  Capital One is stingy with their limits.  I’ve been with them for like six months now, and I still can’t get a credit increase.  Usually I get $5,000 minimums from most credit cards I’ve dealt with.

I don’t really qualify for this card as I don’t make anywhere close to $60k a year myself.  But if I add the combined household income… I do for the bare minimum 🙂

MBNA has really angered loyal customers.  Now we are all looking for alternatives to find a better cash back reward card!

My Monthly Warriors

3 Nov

My overall stocks are a little depressed at the moment. >_<  It really doesn’t affect my monthly warriors from churning out distributions time after time!  For the month of October, I’ve collected $292.14 in distributions.   YTD:  $3001.65 total from distributions and dividends.  Next year, I plan on increasing my collection to $5000!

Under my Margin corner:  BPF.UN $19.60; REI.UN $46.00
Under my TFSA corner:  CHE.UN $127.00
Under my RRSP corner:  CHE.UN $24.00; KEG.UN $8.00; IPL.UN $37.54

To earn interest on your savings these days are hard to come by.  With good no fee, high interest saving/chequing accounts alike, you can make the most out of it.  I usually leave little to no money in my chequing account (0.25% from ING Direct), yet I’ve managed to earn 12 cents on the money that got leftover in my account!  Really beats having to pay a monthly to your big five banks!  Don’t you think?

Special promotion at ING Direct now, get $50 bonus for first time customer to open up an account!  http://www.ingdirect.ca/en/index.html
My Orange Key is: 16537317S1  please use my referral and we can both benefit from it, thanks!

Friends Referred: 1
You’ve Earned: $50.00

 

 

A couple of dissapointing weeks in October

1 Nov

Sure enough, what goes up must come down.  Cliff Natural Resources was making an effort to climb out of its depths, only be push back down into the mid 30s price range.  My new buys for REI.UN and WYN haven’t done so well since I added them to my portfolio.  I had WYN at a profit, maybe I should have taken the capital gain… what little of it than to hold out for a come back.  Anyways, I’m really surprised that I haven’t made any changes to my portfolio.  I am being strong here.  I was doing better a few weeks back than now especially with the anti-climatic fall of Google.

Anyways, I’m going to buy Google’s Nexus 4 by LG android phone.  It’s my Xmas bonus from my new job 🙂  Hmm, or I shouldn’t buy into new toys and just use my mediocre HTC smartphone till my contract ends??  I’ve only used it over a year…  Decisions, decisions, what to do?  By the time, I’m done with my contract with Bell… maybe the smartphone market will drop and become cheaper overall like TVs!

Traveling is just around the corner for me!  In February, I’ll be taking full two weeks off!  I haven’t had a long vacation in six years!  I’ll be re-visiting Rome for three days and cruising ten days in the Mediterranean!  This will definitely make a dent in my savings, but you know what… You can’t always be that tight with your money!  Gotta enjoy life while you can!