Recent Posts

Nobody Should Die For What I Wear

Nobody Should Die For What I Wear

Today marks the anniversary of one of the worst industrial disasters in history – the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed 1,134 and injured another 2,500 on April 24, 2013. Severe cracks in the Bangladesh garment building’s walls compelled police to require an evacuation. Disregarding […]

Credit Scores Aren’t Financial Report Cards

Credit Scores Aren’t Financial Report Cards

Have you ever received one of these letters from a bank? “Congratulations on being a responsible credit user! We’d like to offer you an increase on your credit limit. We appreciate your business and hope you enjoy this extra purchasing power!” Now, to me that […]

Debt Payoff Report – February 2018

Debt Payoff Report – February 2018

Is it awful that one of the best things about February was buying a replacement can opener? I will easily drop money on luxuries yet agonize over mundane household necessities. Not needing assistance opening canned goods was absolutely worth it and I should have done this months ago. Did you hear that, self?!

I also went snowboarding for the first time in a decade and I’m still alive which I consider a major win. Something about leaving my 20s behind has made me very aware of my mortality. I’m not one to be afraid of aging in the sense of appearance or the artificial expiration date women seem to be assigned at midnight on their 30th birthday. I am more concerned about unlikely sporting mishaps though – especially after getting stuck on the chair lift for a while.

As for debt repayment, I’m back on track with my usual amounts.

Including interest, I’ve paid $2,817.57 to my debt this month!

February Milestones

Nothing too exciting – I did hit the 35% paid mark though!


What’s up in March?

It’s tax refund time! I have some work expenses to float, but even with that I’ll be able to make an extra payment. I’m also hitting an exciting milestone on my student loan..

Things I Missed When I Quit Shopping

Things I Missed When I Quit Shopping

The novelty of trends and designs The time between unwrapping a perfect object and its first sign of wear, entropy in action The marking of occasions and milestones The feel of soft fabrics running through my fingers The thrill of completing a task that only […]

When Did Living Alone Become The Minimum?

When Did Living Alone Become The Minimum?

One of the opinion pieces that fascinates me every year is the minimum amount it costs millennials to live in my city – Vancouver, Canada. Here’s the breakdown: Housing: $1,929.67 Phone and Internet: $105 Transportation: $133 Groceries: $211.97 Entertainment: $321 Fitness: $75 Insurance: $20 Total: $2,795.64/month, or $33,547.68 annually For most of these […]

You Can Do Anything For 30 Minutes

You Can Do Anything For 30 Minutes

On Monday last week I decided that I would be going to the gym at 6AM. It wasn’t something I’d extensively planned. It wasn’t a ‘new year, new me’ move. It wasn’t even a habit I intended on creating.

I just wanted to go to the gym that morning, for 30 minutes, and then get out of there.

After emotionally eating and sleeping my way through law school, I’d put on more than a few pounds (40 – I’ve lost 10 so far) that I still haven’t been able to shed almost 3 years later. Adding a desk job and a two hour round-trip commute didn’t help. For years, the last thing I wanted to do with my precious free time was go outside or exercise.

Around my 30th birthday, I knew something had to change or I’d be headed for an early grave. I’m navigating a family history minefield of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other conditions linked to obesity. I couldn’t keep deferring my health to next week or next month. I couldn’t risk prolonging the cycle of trying and failing – I needed to make consistent, sustainable changes and I needed to make them now. I also wasn’t in a great place mentally and needed to get my confidence back.

I’ve turned my relationship with money around, but I hadn’t had much success in doing the same with my health. Probably because I hadn’t been following one of the main strategies that helped me pay off debt last year – start small. I’d get motivated, develop a thorough exercise and meal plan, go hard for a few days, and then inevitably face a roadblock like illness, scheduling conflicts, or just lagging motivation. The next thing I knew I was back to mainlining Netflix and Ben & Jerry’s.

I’m done with that kind of plan. It never worked for paying off debt, and it never worked for getting fit.

Instead, I started with just 30 minutes on the elliptical.

No detailed workout routines or finding the most efficient exercises, no meal plans with the perfect macros, no 30 day challenges, no pressure.

Miraculously, by the time I was fully awake I only had 10 minutes of my workout remaining. I left the gym with a spring in my step, and even my vision seemed sharper on the way to work that morning. The best part? I didn’t have to wake up and do it all over again the next day if I didn’t want to. I wasn’t signing myself up for a lifetime of 6AM workouts.

As of today I’ve gone to the gym for 10 days in a row, plus weekday walks during lunch and the occasional strength training exercises at home. I haven’t noticed a difference on the scale, but honestly I’m done with that because I feel too amazing to risk being discouraged by a number. Weight is the credit score of fitness metrics. Occasionally useful, mostly meaningless. Measurements and ability and energy level and happiness. That’s how I want to track my progress. So far, it’s working.

The best part of this plan is that it’s simple and the barrier to entry is relatively low. Set a timer for 30 minutes and go for it. No pressure to continue after that or to do the same thing tomorrow. Just focus on the next 30 minutes. If you have limitations that would keep you from hitting this target, set your own standard and follow that. The key isn’t in a specific time limit or activity, just in starting small and breaking through the initial reluctance so that you get a taste of the real benefits that will motivate you to keep going.

What are you going to do for 30 minutes this week?



Debt Payoff Report – January 2018

Debt Payoff Report – January 2018

It’s time to say goodbye to the first month of 2018. I can’t say I’m sad to see it go – January tends to be a tough one. We indulge in December and then struggle to dial it back to our usual routine for the […]

Travelling While Indebted

Travelling While Indebted

Some recommend avoiding all luxuries while paying off non-mortgage debt – no travel, no meals out, no purchases other than necessities. I’m not one of those people. A few of my friends and family members have passed away at young ages, and I know that […]

That Decade I Earned $0

That Decade I Earned $0

Being transparent with your finances online is interesting. I know it helps to see real numbers which is why I share everything, but there are obvious downsides. Like, all of the times people tell me that they wish they had my income.

I can’t help but think that if they knew the full story, they might not be so quick to take the positives weighed down with their accompanying negatives.

Sure, my starting salary at my first full-time job was $65,000 – after I negotiated it up from $58,000! I’m earning 30% higher than the average in my area, which is substantial. That’s in Canadian dollars – make sure you find your currency conversion before you get too excited.

The number on its own can be misleading, so let’s look into the details.

For nearly all of the first ten years of my working life I was also attending university full-time, with several casual and part-time jobs wherever they would fit. Over that decade, I earned roughly $130,000 – an average of $13,000 per year which is well below the poverty line in Canada.

Still wishing for that income?

Friends who started out earning $20,000 in a minimum wage job would have made over $200,000 by that point – assuming they stayed in the same position for a decade and were never given a single raise or promotion.

Even now, after two years of full-time work with my shiny new salary, I’ve just reached the $20,000, on average, that my friends started making 12 years ago. I estimate that I won’t hit a $65,000 average until I’ve been in the working world for at least 20 years.

Adding in my $130,000 of student loan debt to that total, I’m actually at a net of $0 over ten years. 

It will take me almost five years to pay off my student loan debt, which requires minimum payments of $1,300/month – 1/3 of my net income. I won’t be finished until I’m 32, a full 14 years after I started university but six years earlier than if I would have followed my original repayment plan.

Not to mention the years of compound interest I missed out on by delaying retirement savings! Ouch.

I feel behind in many ways, and it will be a while before I’ve caught up. That’s not something I focus on, but I think outlining these factors is important to understand the full picture.

I don’t want to sound ungrateful for my opportunities. I’m very privileged to have the education and experiences I did. When I do catch up, I’ll have much more financial stability than most. I just want to put my current earnings in context, and hopefully encourage others to ditch the unhealthy comparison habits that we all seem to fall into. It’s pretty freeing, actually. I know this because I used to envy the salaries of some of my friends too – until I stopped to think that they were often putting in longer hours in higher pressure situations, traveling away from their families for extended periods of time, or working in dangerous conditions.

There’s always more to the story than a number.