Cupcake Conversations!

Every Thursday in March we'll be at Crumsby's in Oak Bay. Meet Financial Planner Alyx Gilgunn, Realtor Patricia Kilshaw and Mortgage Broker Liz Prins between 1:30-2:30 and ask any questions you may have! Questions like "Why is the Sky Blue?" welcome!

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August – vacation time!

Many of you will be away for the long weekend camping, hiking or visiting family or friends. For those of you staying closer to home, many cities have festivals and events to keep you and your family entertained. For the rest of the month, whether you’re lounging at the cabin or jetting off every weekend for mini-vacations, be sure to take some time for yourself and achieve any goals not yet reached for 2010.

  • Be inspired – to choose your career, pay off debt, and more!
  • Read a good book on vacation.  A few easy and entertaining reads include Sway: The irresistible pull or irrational behavior/ Ori & Rom Brafman (a fascinating look at why the decisions we make in life, business, relationships and finance are not logical). Freakonomics/Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (another look at why and how seemingly unrelated concepts are related >like Guinness and the Great Depression). Stay tuned later for a full posting on book reviews.
  • Get out and enjoy the sunshine and all the free events your city has to offer! In Victoria, check out the City of Victoria’s page. For all of BC, search here.
  • Take a coupon with you. Next time you’re heading out, grab a coupon to help you save money. Be sure that you’re using coupons for places you were going to anyway (or an alternative) and not shopping or dining because you have the coupon – the idea is to save money, not make excuses to spend more! In Victoria, the Savvy Squirrel Coupon book is great for anyone, not just parents or families. The Entertainment Book (various regions) has many deals including oil changes and grocery discounts. You can even trade online for coupons you won’t use for those you need!

July – Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians!

During the rest of the summer, many of us will be going on vacation. Here are a few financial tips to help make your trip planning easier!

  • Travel insurance: check your group benefit booklet to find out the amount of coverage and how long you are covered for. If you need more, buy it online here.
  • Travel budget calculator online
  • Heading to a major city? Check out these handy guides for places like London and New York City.
  • Driving? Check out the distance calculator and the fuel cost estimator.
  • Finally, always ask for a discount when booking the hotel. And ask again when checking in for a room upgrade, discount, etc. If inquiring for three nights, ask about two nights and if there is a discount for booking for three.

Happy travels!

June To-Do: School’s out for the summer!

Ready for the end of school?

  • Summertime and the weather is good enough for outdoor BBQs! Save money on eating out by making a dish and bringing some meat to a friend’s place to grill.
  • School’s out but there’s more to learn! 15 money rules kids should learn.
  • It’s wedding season! For those of you getting married or planning a wedding for next year, Dream Weddings on a Budget has some great ideas and, of course, a Wedding Budget is crucial.

Have a great summer!

April To-Do

April Fool’s Day – the debate continues: pranks until noon or until midnight?

  • Easter is April 4th – enjoy an Easter egg hunt and all that chocolate!
  • Make sure you are (or your employer is) paying for MSP. And be thankful if you have group health coverage, some people will marry for insurance!
  • More spring cleaning! Check out the “Your Money” site, there are loads of great Canadian resources and tips such as how to stretch your grocery dollar and how to sell your stuff on consignment.
  • Taxes are due (if you owe) by April 30th, so get filing! If you know you are getting a refund, there’s no rush to file (but why let CRA hold onto your dollars?).

The list is short but the links are extensive, take some time this month to track your spending and ensure you’ve got a financial plan for the summer trips (like Vegas…)

March To-Do

It may actually be time to start doing taxes…

  • Check out Quicktax online if you’re doing your own taxes. Look for a link from your online bank to save up to 20%. You can do your taxes for about $14 vs. $40 with a tax preparer.
  • Wished you’d contributed more to your RRSP or started a TFSA? Start now with monthly contributions! $100/month is a low and modest start (and remember, with a Tax Free Savings Account, you can withdraw the money when you need it with no tax implications).
  • Spring cleaning! Take a weekend to go through all your papers, drawers, clothes, etc. Donate or swap your unused items.
  • March break! Schools have a two-week break this year from March 6-March 22 so be aware of extra kids running around your neighbourhood.
  • Take the time to stop and smell the flowers. :)
  • As always, email me if you have questions about anything financial or insurance!

Feburary To-Do

Some call it “RRSP” season, I call it pre-tax season. What should we be looking at this month?
  • Groundhog Day is February 2nd – check for the forecast (my guess is, Victoria will have Spring starting next week)
  • As T4s and RRSP slips start arriving in the mail, file everything in your 2009 tax folder.
  • Print off/find all your charitable donation receipts.
  • Try to suss out your tax situation (hint, your bank may have an online version that doesn’t charge until you file) and make your RRSP contribution (if needed) before March 1st, 2010.
  • Don’t forget about Valentine’s Day! A nice dinner with a bath or movie makes a great night with your lover or friends and doesn’t cost gobs of cash in chocolates or flowers.
  • Now that the New Year’s resolutions are starting to fade in memory, head to the less crowded gym!
  • Gave your credit card a little vacation in January? I bet it wouldn’t mind a little more time in hibernation.
  • Automate your bills and save yourself forgetting or missing it while on vacation in Mexico next week.ta