Monthly Archives

August 2013

Lessons in Personal Finance: A Back-to-School Giveaway

August 30, 2013
personal finance book giveaway

If you haven’t noticed yet, there’s been a bit of a theme to this week’s posts. I’ve been talking about careers, reading, writing, and going back to school to learn about investing… and it all leads to one pretty awesome giveaway, if I do say so myself!

All summer, I’ve been trying to think of a giveaway that I would want to win. If there’s one thing I love more than almost anything else, it’s books. And the topic I’m obviously most interested in reading about these days is personal finance. So, I decided to combine the two and give readers a chance to win a couple of my favourite personal finance books.

Thanks to donations by the authors, I’m giving one reader a signed copy of Debt-Free Forever by Gail Vaz-Oxlade and a copy of How Not to Move Back in With Your Parents by Rob Carrick. Gail and Rob are two of the people I look up to most, when it comes to Canadian personal finance writers, so I’m really excited to share some of their words and advice with you.

And to sweeten the pot, I want to throw in a copy of MoneySense’s Beginner’s Guide to Personal Finance. I read the guide in one sitting, this summer, and I think it’s an incredible resource for any Canadian who is just starting to get serious about their finances (hence the title).

If you’re noticing that the word “Canadian” keeps being repeated, that’s because I’m only making this giveaway open to residents of Canada. I think some of the content in the books could be beneficial to anyone, but there’s a lot of technical jargon that only applies to our savings vehicles, and I want a Canadian to soak up every bit of the advice. I hate the thought of excluding other readers, but I can promise there will be another giveaway for everyone to enter before Christmas!

To enter this giveaway, you can tweet about it (1 entry), follow me on Twitter (1 entry), like my Facebook page (1 entry) or write a comment on this post that answers the question below (2 entries). You can also do all of these things for a total of 5 entries. (Remember to use Rafflecopter to make your entries count!)

The Back-to-School Giveaway is open to Canadians only. This giveaway starts on Friday, August 30th at 12:00 a.m. PST and ends on Sunday, September 8th at 12:00 a.m. PST. The winner will be announced in a blog post on Monday, September 9th at 4:00am PST. Good luck!

Name one personal finance lesson that you think kids/teens/college students should be taught in school.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m Going Back to School!

August 28, 2013
Back to School

Yep! It’s true. But I’m not quitting my job and going back to school full-time or anything like that… I’m just taking a class.

Do you remember what I said way back in January about wanting to take one of the courses in the PFP program? Well, it turns out that the course I really wanted to take is now finally being offered (for a much smaller fee) for investors only.

The Canadian Securities Course (CSC) for Investors is essentially the same as the course taken by financial professionals, minus the exam and credit towards any financial planning designations – which works for me, since I’ll never get the 3+ years of banking experience required to become a designated anything! The basic outcome of the course is that it will teach you the ins and outs of the investing industry, as well as help you become a more informed investor.

You all might think I’m nuts for spending the money on this course versus just buying a few books and learning by doing, but I feel like a kid in a candy store just thinking about reading through lessons, listening to podcasts and doing homework again. Honestly, if school wasn’t so freaking expensive, I’d probably be in at least one class at all times. And Ashleigh has promised me that taking the course was invaluable to her, so I’m hoping to feel the same when I’m done.

I’m about $150 short still, but should be able to register sometime in September and will have one year to complete the course. My goal is to be able to read articles, books, etc. about investing methods and the industry and know exactly what people are talking about. Sounds simple, right? Guess we’ll see!

Would you ever take a course to learn more about something that interests you?

Flickr: jorgeq82

What I Wanted to Be When I Grew Up

August 26, 2013
Teen Writer

Last week, Jess wrote a great post about how she was going to stay true to herself and turn her passion into a career. It made me think about the fact that I am now doing something I am passionate about (writing – and about finance-related topics, at that) but that my route to finally starting a career as a writer was a little unusual. Let me explain.

As a child, I had only one true passion: reading. I’ve mentioned some of this before, but I have vivid memories of reading from a very young age. When I was 5 years old, I catalogued the books I owned and turned my little collection into a mock library for the kids in my neighbourhood to borrow from. I also remember going to the local library every weekend and picking out a new stack of books, all of which would be read before returning to get more the following weekend. Thanks to my mom for saving them, I still own about 50 of the Sweet Valley books I read when I was between the ages of probably 7-9 years old. And because I’ve been reading since I was so young, it’s no surprise that I also fell in love with writing.

I remember drawing more as a kid, than I do writing, but there’s one memory that does stick out. The first time my mom brought her computer home from work (and it was massive, so I can’t even imagine how she carried it), she turned it on for me and let me type. My fingers hunted and pecked out all of the letters I needed to make little orange words scrawl across the black screen. I have absolutely no idea what I would have written back then, but I do remember saving my work and feeling as if those files were prized possessions. How funny would it be to read now what you wrote as an 8-year-old?

I don’t know what I wrote back then, but I do know what my writing was like a few years later. This past Christmas, my dad gave me an envelope full of notes written between myself and my friends from when we were probably 12-14 years old. As I read through some of them, I was both embarrassed by my words and at the thought that my dad had once read them. I quickly laughed it off and realized that each note was more hilarious than the last. I also noticed one thing about all of them and that’s that my writing style hasn’t changed: I recalled events and told stories, and that’s something I still love doing today.

All of those memories make it obvious that I’ve always loved reading and writing, right? Well, I lost track of that when I was 17…

When I was in high school, I was good at English, of course. But then I aced a couple of accounting courses and somehow decided that was the career path for me. I finished Grade 12 thinking I was going to go to college, become an accountant, and help companies and people balance their books; that dream died fast. Upon graduating from high school, I was accepted into the Business Administration program at Camosun College in Victoria. As September approached, I was so excited to start my new classes. What I had not anticipated is that – for the first time in my life – I would fail two of them. Can you guess which ones? Accounting and Finance. (I’ll wait for you stop laughing, before I continue. Done? Thanks!)

As you can imagine, I felt lost. Isn’t this what I was supposed to be doing with my life!? Apparently not (yet, anyway). Because I had failed the two classes, I couldn’t move onto the second semester of the program and, therefore, had to drop out. At only 18, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do next. I did a little research and found that the college offered one other program that sparked my interest; it was the Applied Communication program (ACP), which unfortunately no longer exists. ACP was a media generalist program that taught students the practical, hands-on skills required to work in publishing, radio, televison, etc. My major was in publishing, which I worked in for 5 years after I graduated from the program in 2007.

A few years into my career, I decided to go back to school and finish my BA in Communications at Royal Roads University (RRU). I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: when you start getting good grades in school, you’re in the program you’re meant to be in – that’s how I felt about my time at RRU, anyway. I was busy working full-time and taking 2-3 classes at a time, but I could still spit out two papers in a weekend if I needed to and get nothing below a B+. I loved what I was learning and all of the people I’d met in the program but, at the end of third year, I almost dropped out. Why? Because it was June 2011 and I was maxed out. The financial stress + working full-time + going to school was almost too much. Fortunately, a few pushes from peers and one of my professors was enough to keep me in school. As for my finances, I started this blog – and you know what that’s done for my career since.

So, while I may not be an accountant, I think it’s both hilarious and fascinating that my current job is a combination of two passions I’ve had for a very long time: writing and finance. (I get to read a lot, too.) So far, I know a lot about budgeting and mortgages… but I think it’s time to dive a little deeper, don’t you?

What did you want to be when you grew up? How far off is it from what you do today?

Flickr: 50521389@N08