Pursuit of Happiness

Working towards a dream

Pursuit of Happiness

Two years ago my husband and I bought property in Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia after a decade long search. It’s a sprawling 40 acres, with seven acres of cleared land surrounded by mature trees and the rest of the space completely wooded. It features a nearly 200 year old house on the ridge of a gentle slope down to 700 feet of sandy beach on a quiet lake. There are two cabins, a barn, and a humongous workshop.

Our plan is to eventually move to this property, where I’ll work from home and my husband will pick up odd jobs in between clearing more of the land, fixing up the house and cabins, and working on projects in his workshop.

Last summer I spent five weeks in what we call our Pursuit of Happiness. This summer, I was only able to get down for three days. It wasn’t long enough, and it broke my heart to leave.

I’d love to move there now, but commuting an hour in each direction to work for minimum wage isn’t our idea of paradise either. And we’re not debt free yet, which is our goal before making the big move. For now, we’re toughing it out in Calgary while we hammer away at our debt and get ahead in our savings.

I realize this sounds like a first world problem, but we bring in a certain level of income, and live far beneath it. Most of our friends however, live at or above their level of income. It’s tough saying no to all the fun opportunities presented, all the conferences and trips and dinner and a movie nights. It sucks not having the right clothes for an event because you only do that activity occasionally, or drying your lettuce on paper towel because the salad spinner broke and you haven’t found one for what you want to spend yet. Saying no to being in a bridal party because you can’t afford the associated costs.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of, “It’s just one night, it’s just one gift, it’s just one trip.” Weighing every decision against the benefit of now versus delaying our dream for the future.

I carry a photo in my wallet of our home down east. It’s the wallpaper on my phone. I even recently got a small tattoo of the words Pursuit of Happiness on my wrist. All to remind me to stay strong, that this sacrifice will pay off in spades.

Do you set long term goals for your finances? How do you help yourself stick with them?

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Packing (+To Do) Will Organize Your Packing

So You Don't Have To

Packing (+To Do) Will Organize Your Packing

I spent the weekend before last in Montreal (J’adore la belle province!), and am heading out for a long weekend in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. I’m determined to pack properly for this trip, and then remember to bring everything home. I estimate I’ve spent more than $125 just buying Apple product chargers alone because I’ve either forgotten to take them with me when I’ve travelled, or because I’ve left them plugged in at the hotel room and had to buy a new one for home.

As I’m usually travelling for work, I need the ability to recharge my iPhone, which acts as my phone, schedule keeper, recording device and notebook. So, buying a $24 charger at the nearest electronics store is generally my only option, and it kills me every time.

So this week I downloaded Packing (+To Do), an app that lets you customize an existing packing list template or create a new list of your own. The lists are super comprehensive, and you’ll probably want to start from scratch or edit one down to fit your needs. You can also email export your list to yourself in order to have a backup in case you need an inventory of your luggage.

Other items I constantly forget to pack include the camera charger, headphones, enough books to read, shaving razors, and hair elastics.

Are you as forgetful as I am? How much do you think you’ve spent because you hadn’t packed properly for a holiday or work trip?

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Debit Card and Credit Card in One

Are these cards right for you?

Debit Card and Credit Card in One

Last month, TD Canada Trust launched a new TD debit card that provides consumers with both debit and credit card functionality, which has been rare in the Canadian banking marketplace.

"For consumers who prefer to pay for purchases with money they already have, this is a premier debit card," says Raymond Chun, SVP, Everyday Banking and Payments, TD Canada Trust. "It offers the convenience, security and ease to shop anywhere and any way, traditionally associated with a credit card. But it allows them the benefit of a debit purchase made directly from their bank account."

The enhanced card will allow for online, international, telephone, and mail order purchases, wherever Visa or Visa Debit is accepted. Point of sale purchases in Canada will continue to be processed as debit transactions.

CIBC has an Advantage card that’s been around for a few years now, offering similar functionality. It allows customers to use their debit card to securely pay for purchases directly from their CIBC account, plus shop in stores around the world, as well as online, over the phone or by mail where Visa cards are accepted.

The new TD card has the advantage of offering Interac Flash. At participating retailers in Canada, customers can also pay for purchases under $100 with Interac Flash - by simply holding the card against the reader, rather than having to swipe or insert it and enter a PIN. It offers the same safety and security of traditional Interac Debit, only faster.

The new debit card has an embedded microchip that stores information in a secure encrypted format. Transactions processed via Interac Debit and Interac Flash will benefit from the Interac Zero Liability Policy. International, online, telephone and mail order purchases, processed through the Visa network, are protected by Visa's security features including Zero Liability, Verified by Visa, address verification and the three digit code on the signature panel. Cardholders should protect the confidentiality of their PIN at all times and notify their financial institution immediately if they suspect fraud.

Are these cards right for you? Personally, I’m a big fan of free banking, and these cards are tied to bank accounts with fees. However, if you have limited credit card needs and like the idea of having the flexibility of a credit card without running the risk of racking it up, these cards are worth checking out.

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