Pass me that dumbbell

I haven’t been posting as much lately because I’ve been focusing on other areas in my life, namely fitness. I went through some life traumas (for lack of a better term) and back in late 2007 and got super fit in 2008. Exercise was a great outlet and gave me something to focus on. At the time, I had this unending urge to expel energy and just work out, whether that be lifting weights or running. Looking back, I can see that my fitness was something I could control, at a time when there seemed like I had very little control.

When I moved downtown in 2009 (and got a boyfriend), my working out tapered off to pretty much non existent. I was definitely more fit than I was pre-2008, since I rode my bike to work every day and walked a fair bit. But I wasn’t really increasing my heart rate or sweating, two solid indicators of a decent workout.

I have been trying to get back into lifting weights since January. For a while I would go to the gym maybe once a week. By July I managed to increase my workouts to at least twice a week, and finally by August I was back up to going almost every day. I’ve incorporated long bike rides and hot yoga into my routine to try to keep things interesting.

All this working out has left me more energized, relaxed, and (moderately) fit. An unfortunate consequence of my new fitness level is that when I finally am able to sit down (after I work out, shower, make dinner, eat dinner, clean up from dinner, etc), I do not want to write a post.  I just want to relax, watch TV, read a book, google shit, etc.

This is the soul of my site (and me), in a nutshell – I get super into something, and focus all my energy on it, and other hobbies or interests take a back seat. I could say I’ll try to be better at posting more regularly, and maybe I will be. In fact I’m sure I will be at some point. But I don’t want to put pressure on myself, and I want to enjoy the things I do. So, I’ll post when I want to post, or I won’t. It’s not like I’m some super blogger extraordinaire looking for mad props.

Sidenote: I googled mad props to make sure I was using the term correctly, and found this definition on urban dictionary:

Urban dictionary definition of mad props

I don’t know why, but I find this hilarious. I picture some dude running from the bank and stopping to ask random bystanders what they thought about his robbery. Like, what’s my robbery score out of ten? 

Posted in Fitness, Life | Tagged , | Leave a comment

My (2nd) guest post at Jessie’s Money and Jordan’s Too

I wrote another guest post for Jessie of Jessie’s Money and Jordan’s Too. I recently read Spousonomics: Using Economics To Master Love, Marriage, And Dirty Dishes by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson, which inspired a post on the complicated world of sharing chores. I’ll going to post a review on the Kindle (which I used to read this book) later this week.

Posted in Life, Relationship | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Karma, baby

Last week I found an unused transit pass worth $60 at the corner of University and Dundas. For those of you not familiar with Toronto, this is a major intersection, including a subway entrance and streetcar stops going east and west. There was no way I was finding the person who lost the pass, it was literally on the ground, almost on the street. I felt bad for the sucker who lost the pass, but really, am I going to leave $60 lying on the ground, ready to be picked up by the garbage people and thrown out? Nope. I picked it up, did some googling, and figured out that I could return the pass for a refund minus an administration fee.

I left work last night and got on my bike to ride home. Something felt horribly wrong with my bike, and I knew what the problem was before I even looked – flat tire. Beyond flat. The tire was off the rim. I walked it to a nearby bike store and crossed my fingers that they would be able to fix it quick so I could still ride home (and not have to leave my bike there and walk to work the next morning). The good news was that they were able to fix it pronto. The bad news was that the tire was worn right out and I needed a new tire on top of fixing the flat.

The new tire plus the repair cost $62. When I finally arrived home, a $50 cheque was in the mail from the transit people. So, I’m out $12.

Karma. I must be doing something right if I got the fifty bucks in the first place, right? Either that or I’m incredibly lucky. At least I have a brand new winter ready tire on my bike! Here’s hoping the front tire doesn’t go anytime soon.

My bike at the park
My bike at the park.

Posted in Cycling | 4 Comments

My guest post over at Jessie’s Money and Jordan’s Too

Hey! I’ve written a guest post for Jessie of Jessie’s Money and Jordan’s Too. Jessie’s getting married shortly and asked for some help with content. So go check out my post on more wedding etiquette!

Posted in Life | Leave a comment

Forever 21? Lord I hope not

My 14 year old cousin is visiting from the east coast for the week, and the women in my family (my mom, sister, two aunts, cousin, and me) spent Wednesday shopping in downtown T.O. My cousin wanted to shop at some different stores, so we took her to a bunch of vintage spots on Ossington, then along West Queen West for some boutique action. We eventually ended up closer to Spadina, where the more mainstream retailers are located. We didn’t have too much time here, though, as we had 6PM dinner reservations to make.

Despite how much I loathe the Eaton Centre, no shopping trip to Toronto is complete without stopping at this poorly laid out mall. Plus it was open until 9, giving us another hour and a half after dinner to do some shopping. The mall also contained my cousin’s ultimate destination – Forever 21.

I personally am not a big Forever 21 shopper. I think I’ve been in a US location maybe once. However I had heard about the retailer in the news earlier this summer when they launched a lawsuit against Rachel Kane, the blogger over at WTForever 21, for making fun of their clothes. Umm. Have they seen some of their own stuff? It’s not like they make it much of a challenge.

I have also heard from several women my own age that Forever 21 had some nice items now and again, and for decent prices to boot. So I was kind of excited to have an excuse to visit the new Eaton Centre location.

Then I entered the store, and I realized that there is not one part of me that wishes to be forever 21. I did some dumb shit at 21. And I wore some bad clothes. Why would I want to revisit those years? Yes, I think the store is smart in its marketing – young girls aspiring to be 21 now have a place where all their dreams will be fulfilled. And older women (read: mothers, from the looks of people in the store) can also relive their youth by wearing their daughter’s clothes. Hey, it’s every person’s right to wear whatever they want on their body, even if I wouldn’t throw on a t-shirt that literally screams “i want to believe to have hope and to love God will guide your soul.”

What’s your take on Forever 21? Are you a devout follower, an avid avoider, or a cautious peruser? 

Posted in Life, Shopping | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

How our car broke down, and TD saved the day

I know I just wrote a post about all reasons TD Canada Trust annoys me. Don’t worry, I’m not reneging on any of that bitchfest.

However. We had an incident with our car last weekend and BF’s TD Gold Elite Visa card came in very handy. I’m not too proud to admit that TD can have some advantages.

Rewind to last Saturday. We went to Ikea to get pillows. (We bought two pillows and two pillow protectors, when I got home I decided I did not like my pillow, so I went out the next day to return the pillow and protectors and buy them from Home Outfitters. I am indecisive, it’s not my best quality.) We came back to the car in about half an hour and lo and behold, the battery is dead.

We have a 2002 Nissan Maxima, which is a giant upgrade from our 1996 Nissan Sentra. BF’s family bought a new car and gave us their old Maxima for free. Free! Sweet deal. We’ve had the car for less than a month. I cannot tell you all the ways I love the Maxima so much more than the Sentra. Well, I could, but I won’t. At least not today.

So. Our brand-new-to-us car is dead in the Ikea parking lot. BF has a TD Gold Elite Visa card, which includes emergency road services. This is the first time we’ve used the service. We call, a guy comes within ten minutes and gives us a boost, and he leaves. BF then turns on the air conditioning and boom – car dies again. I call the service back and ask for a tow, it takes longer because it’s a tow (about 40 minutes), this dude gives us a boost (and it sticks) and then BF drives the Canadian Tire next door. We get a new battery, and our little car is smooth driving. Awesome.

Now, I am normally not one to pay a yearly fee for a credit card. There are so many cards out there that are free AND include rewards, it seems a bit silly to pay $99 or whatever for a “better” card. However, in this case, I am proven wrong. BF used to have the Select Service TD bank account, the premium account TD offers. He always had enough money in the account to waive the monthly fee of $24.95 (which is insanely expensive). This account also waived the fee for a premium TD credit card. Hence the Gold Elite Visa card. Since he last renewed the card, he has opted for a lower end TD account, so he’ll have to pay the $99 fee come the fall.

I did a little research on what is included with the roadside assistance program. Basically we can be towed within 200km, we can use the service as often as we like, and it can be used anywhere in Canada and the continental U.S. BF was able to add me to the service, so if I am driving the Maxima, I can call for assistance. Lastly, this card also earns a 1% cash rebate on purchases.

Comparable protection from CAA is $104/year, and that would only cover him.

In this particular case, I am totally supportive of paying the stupid annual fee. The roadside assistance alone is worth the $99, and the 1% cash back is a nice bonus. BF was definitely right in this case. Even if a small part of me doesn’t like to admit it.

I am not being paid by TD to write this post. I just think this card is great if you also need emergency road services. If you don’t require this service, then I don’t think the card is worth it.

Posted in Banking, Life | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

TD increases its fees, and we think about PC Financial

TD Canada Trust is increasing its fees on several of its personal banking accounts and services, along with its small business and commercial banking accounts, as of August 1, 2011. The BF has banked with TD since he was a child, and he has a TD chequing account, multiple savings accounts, mutual funds, and a credit card with them. We also hold our joint savings account with TD. I have my mortgage with them, too.

So. That’s a lot of products with TD. I’m not going to get into dollar amounts, since most of that is the BF’s stuff, but suffice it to say, TD has access to all of his income/savings, and the entirety of debt.

I remember being a child and banking for free. I had a TD child account, which was fee free (and still is), but I know that fees for the other accounts were never as high as they are today. As of Aug 1, BF will now have to hold a minimum of $3,500 in his bank account for the monthly fee to be waived, from $3,000. The fee for going under that figure is increasing from $12.95/month to $14.95/month. At least he can still use unlimited transactions – oh wait, he had that before.

The whole idea of needing a minimum balances irritates me, too. People think they are getting such a great deal, but when you think about what that $3,500 could do for you in any other saving vehicle, it’s really not that great. Even at 1.5% interest/year, that’s $52.50 in interest, so suddenly that $14.95/month that is being waived isn’t really $14.95 – it’s actually $10.58/month. And if you can earn something better than 1.5%, say 5%, then the net effect is 0.

I’ve been gently suggesting the idea of moving to President’s Choice Financial. It’s fee free, there are tons of CIBCs around (CIBC backs PC, so you can take money out from CIBCs for free), free cheques, decent interest rates on savings account (no worse than TD), and no minimum balances required. Plus points on items purchased at Loblaws family stores, although I do most of the grocery shopping, so this probably won’t matter. It’s not a negative, though.

I think he’s warming to the idea. He’s pretty irritated that these changes at TD are happening in the first place. He wants to meet with them before he decides what to do, to see if they are willing to cut him a break. This isn’t Rogers, though, and I don’t think TD waives/reduces fees like Rogers seems to do at a whim.

Add the fact that the last time we sat down with TD, neither he nor I were especially impressed with the customer service we received. In fact, I left the bank in tears. Not my brightest moment, but the rep (and I) could have handled the situation better. The BF was also a bit confused with all the changes that were made. And to top it off, the rep moved all the funds from one RSP into another RSP but didn’t bother to close the old account, even though it was empty.

The only thing TD has going for it is ease of use. Since all his accounts are with TD, it’s really easy to stay with them. He can log in and see everything at once. He has mutual fund payments that are deposited directly into the proper accounts. When I rolled the pig money last week, I checked with the teller (which was also the rep I cried in front of, super awkward) if mutual fund payments could be withdrawn from a non-TD account, and she indicated they could. That was my only real concern – it has to remain easy for him to save, even if he switches banks.

If he switches his chequing account to PC, then we’re moving our almost $11K to PC, too. The only reason we went with TD for our savings account was so he could use TD EasyWeb to make deposits. I’d be happier if that account was with PC, since TD will charge us $5 for every withdrawal we make from that account. I get the idea that this acts as a deterrent to taking money out needlessly, but really – not even ONE free transaction a month? Even the rep who initially set up the account for us thought it was ridiculous, and told us to go to him if we wanted to take money out so that he could waive the fee.  If even the TD rep thinks this policy is silly, what does that say about the institution?

I’ll post an update once a decision has been made. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of the day of having one (or two or three) less products/accounts with TD.

Who do you bank with? Does having multiple products with one bank cause you to think twice about switching to a less expensive alternative? 

Posted in Banking, Relationship | Tagged , | 5 Comments