Monthly Archives

March 2013

See You Later, Toronto!

March 25, 2013
Exhibition Station

I had a very different post in mind for today. Originally titled, “5 Things I Will Miss About Living in Toronto,” I was going to list off my favourite brunch spots, neighbourhoods, the constant proximity to “stuff”, a level of hospitality that I’ve only ever experienced living back East… and, believe it or not, I’m even going to miss the TTC. But as I started making note of everything, I realized the only thing I’m really going to miss about living in Toronto is the people.

In the short time I’ve been here, I have made more connections than I ever could have imagined. Before I even flew out, some of you had emailed or tweeted and offered to meet me for coffee, brunch, etc. Most of those meet ups became regular occurrences, and there’s not a single person I’ve met who I wouldn’t want to see again. I can’t thank any of you enough for bringing me into your lives and making me feel so welcome.

On top of making new friends, I was immediately welcomed by bloggers and other people I would never have met were it not for the personal finance community. I was treated to two meals out with the ING DIRECT Canada team, the most recent of which included a presentation by CEO Peter Aceto at The Economic Club of Canada. I walked out of that lunch understanding how important it is for leaders to be completely transparent about their goals and mission. (I was also given an umbrella for my move back to the “wet” coast. Talk about thoughtful.) These are experiences that you just don’t get to have, living in Victoria.

Throughout my time here, there has been one constant in my life – a person who I will miss like crazy – and that’s Roomie. Have I ever told you guys the backstory on how Roomie and I know each other? We grew up together in Victoria, where our parents still live just a few blocks apart. Friends since elementary school, she came out to Toronto shortly after high school and has never looked back. Her independence and work ethic have been a source of inspiration on more than one occasion. And the fact that she literally gave me the ability to test this city for size is a gift I’ll probably never be able to repay her for.

Toronto is an amazing city; there is always something to do and something new to see. But nothing makes a city feel like “home” until you have good people to share it all with. I’m going to miss my morning coffee with K-man, lunch dates with the team, evening laughs with Roomie and weekend adventures with everyone else. I’m excited to be flying home to Victoria tomorrow. Seriously, I can’t wait to get there… But I’m also really excited to come back to Toronto in June.

I’ll see you then, friends! xo

PS – Have you ever had a song rewritten for you? The RateHub.ca team took over the karaoke stage on Friday night and sang their own version of this song to me. Here’s a little snippet:

She’s packed and she’s going
We’re crying, she’s leaving, she’s golden
She leaves for BC, ’cause she lives for it
The West Coast, her sole motivation
Mountains high sound pretty good to me
And it makes her smile like a drug for you
Do whatever you wanna do, we support you
We’ll keep on smiling, while you pass through
One flight to the province that divides you
And we’ll speak to you like the tweet to the bird
Drop another blog, rank “BC rates” first
Come on like a big shot, take the stage
We give you the reigns, take it away…

TGIF: It’s My Last Weekend in Toronto!

March 22, 2013
Toronto Collage

This week was my last full week in Toronto. If you’re like me, you may be noticing how fast the freaking time flies! I remember writing the post announcing that I would be moving to Vancouver and thinking “March 26th is so far away!” Now, it’s right around the corner.

Similar to before I moved out here, I’ve spent most of the last week having goodbye brunches, lunches and dinners with friends. Tonight, the RateHub.ca team, Roomie and I are heading out for dinner and karaoke. Roomie’s brother also gets back from Thailand tonight and is coming to stay with us. Tomorrow night, we’re having friends over to hear stories about his trip, where I’ll say a few more goodbye’s. Finally, on Sunday, I’m going for one last brunch with my favourite guy, and then it’ll be time to pack.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been counting down the days until my move. And it’s not because I hate anything about Toronto but because I’m so excited to move to yet another new city and see where life takes me next. But I have to admit, this week has been a bit of a roller coaster for me. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I wear my heart on my sleeve, so none of what I’m about to say will surprise you. But I spent a good chunk of time this week thinking about how drastically my life has changed in the last year…

I used to sit in a cubicle and dream about having a job where I could read and write all day; where I could strategize content, learn more about online marketing, and build upon the strengths I knew I had but wasn’t using on a daily basis. I also used to dream about living and working in Toronto. Last summer, the opportunity to do both sort of fell into my lap.

I’m grateful that there was a person who, having never met me, was willing to take a chance on me. She brought me onto her team, taught me some of the things she knows, and gave me the chance to sort of shape my role into what it is today. And after only working together for a few months, I’m even more grateful that she was willing to let me move back across the country and still keep my position with her company.

How I’m getting to live out all of my dreams right now is a little bit beyond me. Next week, I get to move back to the coast that I love, where I’ll be surrounded by mountains, the ocean and all of my family and friends. I also get to continue to work with the team that has become my second family here – albeit remotely, the fact that I work for a company based out of Toronto means that I’ll be back. Yet another dream come true.

I guess you could say I’m going into this weekend feeling pretty blessed. The extra kick in my step and head bopping at my desk, this week, hasn’t just been a result of good music and extra shots of espresso. I’m a little high on life right now. And it feels good.

Maybe the team will be able to talk me into singing karaoke tonight, after all. ;)

How was your week? What are you doing this weekend?

The Year of Possibilities: Q1 Update

March 18, 2013
The Future Belongs Quote

At the beginning of the year, I outlined a number of changes I wanted to make in different areas of my life, including: my finances, career, travel, health and this blog. Only a few months into the year, it’s interesting looking back and seeing how some of my priorities have already changed so drastically. Let’s take a look at what I had planned for, where I’m at now, and where I see myself going forward.

Finances
2013 will absolutely be the year I become debt-free. My goal was to pay off the last of my debt before June 7th and I’m still on track to making that happen. To get there, however, I have put a short hold on my savings goals. In fact, other than putting a little money aside each month for the weddings I’m going to this year, I haven’t put anything in my Emergency Fund or RRSPs since early February. As soon as I’m debt-free, I’ll start saving again. My first goal will be to bump my Emergency Fund up to $5,000. After that, I’m going to double (or even triple) my usual RRSP contributions.

Career
In January, I was so focused on freelancing, making extra money, etc. that my career goal for the year was to accept any new writing job that came my way and offer my writing and blog management services on the side. That goal quickly changed when I realized all of my spare time was being eaten up by it, giving me no time to have a life! I have still been reading books about blogging, managing, marketing, etc. but only when I’m feeling inspired. My major career goal for this year, now, is to obviously move to Vancouver, take my job with me and build a presence for us on the West Coast.

Travel
My three travel goals for 2013 were to: 1) save up and pay for all the weddings I am going to, 2) go to San Francisco, and 3) go to #FinCon13. Since I am moving back to the West Coast, where most of the weddings are, I am excited to say that all of these should be doable! Right now, I’m thinking of going to San Francisco mid-July. Then I’m flying to PEI for a wedding at the end of August. And #FinCon13 is in St. Louis mid-October. Other than that, a summer on the West Coast = camping on Hornby Island and weekends in Parksville, Tofino and the Okanagan.

Health
In 2012, I lost 24 lbs. So far this year, I have already lost 4 more. I’d love to lose another 13-18 lbs. but I am not going to stress about how that happens. Why? Because last month, I did the craziest thing I have ever done: I registered for my first half marathon. And while I won’t be using my training as a weight loss method, there’s no doubt a few pounds will naturally fall off during it. I have already mapped out a 16-week training program starting April 15th, taking me to race day (August 10th). But I’ll start going for short runs, as soon as I get back to BC (which will hurt, because I am not in good shape right now!).

Blog
My goals for Blonde on a Budget this year were to: 1) write and maintain a monthly editorial calendar, 2) start a series of posts that would help my readers, and 3) start guest posting in the personal finance community more. So far, I have done all of those things! And I’d like to write a few more guest posts soon. But what I hadn’t planned for this year was to stop writing this blog altogether, which is exactly what I plan on doing when my debt is paid off. The next blog I want to start is already ready and waiting… and I am so excited to finish one project and start something new!

If I had to prioritize these goals, I would say my top priority is my health and the last priority would be this blog. That’s not to say that everything on this list isn’t important to me, but it’s interesting to see how lowering my debt by almost $4,000 so far this year has shifted my focus. As one reporter said, “At this point, reaching $0 is more of an emotional goal than a financial one.” I couldn’t agree more.

Did you set any goals for 2013? How’s your progress so far?