Friday, 14 June 2013

My Student Debt Repayment Goals

My Student Debt Repayment Goals and Deadlines:

I want to be debt free by my 26th birthday, which is in Feb 2015. That's about 20 months away. This is an  ambitious goal because I owe a whopping $33,123.73 at this point. Over the 20 months, I'm expecting the total interest to be around $2000. 

$20,000: $1000 (roughly 26% of my monthly income) x 20 months
$3000: The amount of OSOG (Ontario Student Opportunities Grant) I'm expecting in the fall
$3500: Approximate amount of moving expenses reimbursement I'm expecting in October
$7000: I have racked up a lot of tuition tax credits over 6 years, so I'm expecting a Monster tax return in 2013 of at least this amount

Total: $33500 + any extra income I can come up with.
I think it is doable, I'm gonna tackle my debt under $20,000 by the end of 2013. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

When is the best time to shop for clothes?

Since I'm on a shopping ban with my favourite shopping month fast approaching, I decided to get the shopping bug out of my system by writing a post on the best time to get clothing deals.

If I had to name things I'm really really good at, finding clothing deals will be near the top of the list.

Now, according to this Time magazine article, the best day of the year to go shopping is Dec 26 (Boxing Day).

I disagree, and you can find the reasons in another post here.

Now, let's talk about my favourite deal months. In general, I find the 2 best months to shop for deals are mid July and mid-late January. I tend to do the bulk of my shopping in these months.

My favourite is mid July. The reasons are:

  • Great selection: while the deal prices are comparable, July has significantly better selection than January, probably because of the holiday shopping & boxing day/week madness in December. Also, July is before the bulk of the back to school shopping happens and thus still has a good selection. 
  • Excellent prices: You will typically find the lowest prices on most Spring/Summer merchandise during this time in most stores. Some summer items will see another round of reductions in early August. Also, please note that each store have their own discount schedule/rhythm, and their lowest prices could be weeks to months later than other stores (Club Monaco for example). 

Mid-late January also has great prices, but very often, the selection is lacking.

Now, if you've got your eyes on some new arrivals that you've got to have - wait at least 6 weeks. Most of the time it will go on sale at that point, though the discount might not be much.

Another tip if you absolutely can't wait to get the newest look without breaking the bank is to buy accessories instead of a whole outfit. A mint coloured scarf or a peter pan collar necklace will set you back much less, and your bank account will thank you for it.

Why Boxing Day is a terrible day to shop for clothes

Now, according to this Time magazine article, the best day of the year to go shopping is Dec 26 (Boxing Day).

File:Boxing Day at the Toronto Eaton Centre.jpg

I disagree. In fact, I think boxing day is a terrible day to go shopping. With the exception of some stores/brands (holt renfrew etc.) that do not have sales often, Boxing Day is overrated.  Here are my reasons:
  1. It's a terrible shopping experience: the crowds are a nightmare. Many stores will have lines or do not allow you to try on items. Parking will be next to impossible to find. A lot of stores will be messed up by the crazy volume of customers going through the racks. But, you can say, we are talking about deals, so if the deals are crazy good, bracing the crowd for a couple of hours is worth the money I'll save. That brings me to my next point...
  2. The deals aren't that great: These days most stores run boxing week sales, so no need to compete with a million other people on one day. In addition, based on my past observations, the lowest prices tend to happen around mid to late January. At that point the selection may suffer a bit, but you'd get the best bang for your buck. Again, there are a few exceptions to this. Some brands rarely go on sale so boxing day is rare opportunity to shop at those stores. 
  3. Greater risk of impulse shopping: When you're among a crowd like that imaged above, it's easy to be drawn into the 'buy, buy, buy' energy. Also, when you've invested considerable time finding parking and waiting in lines outside stores, it can feel terrible to leave empty handed and let all that previous effort be for nothing. Now, at this point, the bad news is some stores' sale items are final sale. 
To me, why would you brace the crazy crowds on Boxing Day unless you're going for the experience, not the shopping?

Now, what do you think?

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The problem of too much

I have TOO MUCH CRAP. This is my big realization this week. I mean, I kind of knew in the back of my mind that I have a lot of things, but packing really shoved reality in my face.

So new goal:

  • No clothes shopping for 4 months (until Oct 1st): I was going to put for the rest of the year, but I don't want to be too ambitious right off the bat. 4 months seems doable, and I might extend the ban beyond that. Possible exceptions: I need good warm winter coat for the horrendously cold Calgary winter I've been hearing about, and I'm super afraid of the cold. (I know, what am I doing in Canada? I should be in California or Florida ;-P)
  • Limit household items shopping: This one might be difficult to accomplish since I'm moving to a new city, but I'll do my best!
  • Consign/donate clothes that I don't like anymore: A bit of extra income? ;-D
  • I'll start posting monthly spending summaries. 

It's funny, my mom keeps calling my generation the generation of too much. In her childhood, their problem was they didn't have enough food or clothes or just everything in general even though she's from a local middle class family. Now she's still middle class, but her problem is needing to remind herself not to eat/buy too much because we're so very fortunate to have all these affordable options available.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Car ownership transfer between family members in Ontario

I've been busy with moving arrangements and studying this past week, but everything is finally coming together. Now I'm officially the proud owner of a Toyota Camry. My parents transferred the ownership of this car to me, and I would like to share how to do it with you here in Ontario.

To transfer ownership of a vehicle between family members, you must visit a ServiceOntario centre and bring with you the following documents:
  • proof of Ontario insurance
  • Ontario driver's licence
  • Safety Standards Certificate
  • emissions test (if applicable)
  • vehicle ownership with the completed portion on the back (title, registration, etc.) * Fill out the back of the green card.
  • Sworn Statement for a Family Gift: This one you will get at the ServiceOntario centre, they won't take an already filled out form because you need to complete it before the commissioner
  • Spouse Declaration and/or Plate Transfer Declaration: If you would like to transfer the ownership of the licence plate as well, then fill out the bottom half of this form.
Exemptions include the following person(s):
  • spouse
  • parent or step-parent
  • grand-parent
  • son or step-son
  • daughter or step-daughter
  • grandson or granddaughter
  • step-grandson or step-granddaughter
  • son-in-law
  • daughter-in-law
  • father-in-law
  • mother-in-law
  • brother or sister
  • half siblings (siblings with a common parent)
  • adopted siblings (siblings with a common parent by way of adoption)
Note: Only one tax-free transfer per vehicle is allowed every 12 months within your close family.
Both the donor and the recipient of the car must be present because you need to sign and swear before the commissioner. If the vehicle has joint ownership, then all the owners have to be present or a power of attorney for property representing the missing party must be there.
Hope this was helpful. Good luck!