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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An Interview with Mint

Posted by Tim Stobbs on August 28, 2014

I had an interesting request a few weeks back from Mint.com looking to do an interview with me, which of course I agreed to since I don’t mind doing them.  Well the article is finally up so if you want to have a read you can head over here.  I have to say it contains a high degree of exact quotes from me so if you ever wonder why on earth I started this blog you can finally find out.

Enjoy and let me know if you have any other questions.

Tim

Back From Vacation

Posted by Tim Stobbs on July 18, 2014

Well sorry folks if I haven’t got back to your comments lately, I’ve been on vacation for a few weeks and I am just getting caught up.  You have to love the schedule feature of WordPress to allow your friendly blogger take a break once in a while.  Anyway unlike last year’s epic month long vacation that cost $7500 we decided to do all our planning around a request from my oldest son….can we go camping this year?

After last year I was sort of looking to go a bit more low key anyway, so camping nicely fit the bill.  So we bundled that with a visit to my mother-in-law and went camping afterwards in Banff for five nights.  There we hiked daily (25 km in total), enjoyed great food and roasted lots of marshmallows.  I can also state for the record that the top foot of the lake we went swimming in was tolerable but below that was down right arctic (which felt great on a +28C day).   Then to round it out we had a wedding to attend during last weekend in Saskatoon where we literally let the kids dance until they dropped.

Unlike last year we actually only spent one night in a hotel, so our overall costs were much cheaper.  In fact we just broke the $1100 mark for a two week trip or $78/day for a family of four.  So how do you keep your costs in the basement for a vacation?  Well here are a few of my ideas.

  • Alternative Accommodations – Avoid spending too much time in hotels, they can add up really fast for your costs.  So try staying with friends, family or camping or if you plan to spend a while in a given spot perhaps look into a short term rental.  I’ve also hear of people using Air BnB and house exchanges with some luck.
  • Cook Your Own Meals (some of the time) – Our eating out in Banff consisted of Cows Ice Cream (twice).  That’s it.  Otherwise we found the grocery store and cooked our own meals.  To make things easy we prepared as much as the food as possible so most of the time I was putting something in a pot or fry pan and heating it up to eat.  Then we obvious ate out when on the road and we took out some friends for breakfast one day.
  • Do Free Things – We had  a great time in Banff by balancing doing some fun paid things like the upper hot springs and then going to the beach or a hike (which didn’t cost any extra beyond the park entrance fee).  We also attended several shows at our campsite where you got to learn more about the wildlife of the park.

Yet despite the cost savings I didn’t feel like we were being cheap ever on the trip.  We all had a great time and came back to the house tanned, happy and relaxed.  Also I tend to know we rotate between big trips and little ones so I don’t mind the low cost years as I know we will do something big again in the future.

So what are you doing for you summer vacation this year?

Ebb and Flow

Posted by Tim Stobbs on March 13, 2014

After writing about personal finance for the over seven years I’ve learned it is entirely natural to have periods of time where I’m not all that interested in writing about money.  Previously I would feel guilt over not writing, but now I accept the ebb and flow of my mind on the topic.

I also believe when my mind is fairly occupied with money tasks like taxes and thinking about a few other money issues in my life I tend to have less energy left to write here.

So what’s new in my money world, not too much at this moment to be honest.  I’m waiting for my raise for last year to be finalized, but I came to an interesting conclusion on that score.  I really don’t care much about the money from the raise.  I suppose what I care more about is how well did I do compared to my peers.

The actually money itself usually isn’t huge amounts so it is hard to get excited over a few hundred dollars more in a month.  I’m making so much more than our spending that I can’t really get that excited about that anymore.  After all it will all go to more savings anyway and at this point it hardly makes much of a different to my plan.

What I do care about is the implied worth of the raise compared to others.  I rarely get much feedback on how I’m doing compared to my peers so if I know the average raise and then I get a sense of my value compared to my peers.  It’s vaguely juvenile to care, but I still get some of my self worth from doing what I deem a good job so it is nice to have that validated in some way.

In other news I’ve been making good progress on both my next non-fiction book and a novel I’ve been working on.  The novel is a bit over a 100 pages so far while the non-fiction is just to the point of having enough material together for me to pull it together (I’m writing the first draft in Evernote) and get a page count going.  So a large part of my morning writing time has been consumed by those projects lately, which isn’t helping not writing here.

So overall, no I’m not dead, just busy with other things.  How are things in your money world going?  Any milestones to share or tricks you have learned?