The money-box inspired my passion for finance



The money-box I had as a child is a memory that has inspired my love for finance which has continued to broaden as I get older.

My post today is for financial literacy awareness hosted by The Heavy Purse blog.

I’m participating with many other bloggers around the world sharing their Ah ha moment when it came to money at some point in their life.

I was asked to remember my first Ah ha moment in my life when financial sense struck me. For me the money-box was key.

Growing up in the UK for most of my life may differ from life in North America but saving money is universal.

After looking back and remembering things from an early age, I can say without doubt that I’ve been careful with my money for a long time.

The money-box

Even as a young child of roughly six, we got given pocket-money and mine went in the money-box I had. It was nothing special, just a standard looking cube with a coin slit in the top and a stopper in the bottom to get the money out.

I was never happy spending it on things at the drop of a hat. I had to save it, although I have absolutely no idea what I was saving for. We weren’t rich by any means. My mother was a stay at home mum and my father worked all week as a contractor.

Back in the 1980′s life never seemed to run at the same pace it does these days and there just wasn’t the sheer diversity of children’s toys as there is today. It was harder to spend your money on rubbish in those days. Most of our fun was made up with the other kids on our street.
As I grew up it didn’t take long to realise that if I did jobs for people like washing cars and mowing lawns that I could save even more. I never had much desire to have the latest toys either so most of my cash sat in the money-box.

Piggy banks


Pigs piggy banks
One day while walking through town with my mother I was drawn towards a window advertisement in the local Natwest (National Westminster) Bank. There was a young savers account that allowed the account holder to be rewarded for every milestone they reached.
The incentives were a collection of Natwest Piggy Banks which were a variation on the money-box where every £25 saved got you the next Pig in the family.

You opened the account with a minimum balance and got the first (baby) pig and then it was up to you to keep saving for the rest.

I realized with my first Ah ha moment that saving is rewarding. It wasn’t long before I hit the £100 mark and had received the entire family of pigs.
Much to my amazement, when the scheme came to an end, the value of the complete family shot up. Years later I sold my pig collection for more than double what I had saved for.
I don’t remember any other bank running a children’s bank account anything remotely like this since.

That’s a shame, but it seems that the money-box idea has come full circle. Natwest have now decided to re-issue the young savers account but with ”Pigby” to encourage a new generation of money savvy youngsters.
The money that I had put away to collect the pigs was eventually moved to a Post Office account at around the age of eleven where I got 10% interest in those days. I would pay in birthday money along with what I had earned.

The interest

Watching the money going up without actually putting more in amazed me. This is probably my second Ah ha moment. Interest was interesting. After asking my parents multiple questions on the basics of money I had worked out that my money needed to be moved and soon.
Moving my money to another account gave me full access and control over my finances. Looking back now it was a very small amount, but it seemed like a lot then.
The account was held with Halifax Building Society which was different from a standard bank but for reasons that currently elude me. The best of it was, when Halifax converted to a standard bank years after, I received a payout from holding money with them over that period.
All the experiences I had from a young age all centered around saving your money and watching it grow. From the lessons learned and the questions I asked I have kept the same principles running till this very day.

It was all of these money lessons starting with the money-box that allowed me to purchase my first home at age 21 and my second just a few years later.


Debt-free under 40


Now I’m married and we are both under the age of 40, debt free including the mortgage. My wife has grown to love finance as much as I have since she was young which helped us to get ahead all these years.

Money isn’t everything that is correct but you need money to live so saving money and spending it where it needed to get spent helped us get from money-box to the Canadian Budget Binder budget spreadsheet. Without our budget we can easily say that we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Saving and waiting to buy something you really wanted has been replaced by buy now and pay later. The anticipation from waiting was all part of the run up to buying it. Once you had bought it, you looked after it.

I’m not even what you would consider old but I still have values that are old school which I don’t think is a bad thing these days. One day when we have a child I’ll teach him/her about finance and maybe a money-box will be the beginning of the financial journey to debt freedom like it has been for us.

What can you say was your Ah ha moment when it comes to finance?


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Our mortgage amortization schedule is going in the bin: March 2014 Net Worth Update (+0.75%)

 amortization schedule dust pan NO SWIFFER NEEDED JUST A FIRE PIT


Yes, that’s right no more checking the amortization schedule on our mortgage to see how far we have come and costs involved with our mortgage.

The time is very near where we start the fire and light up those mortgage papers to say good-bye and good riddance.

Although the last few months of our budget have been filled with unexpected expenses we are still on target to say goodbye to our mortgage, for good.

Next months Net Worth update should be titled, Mortgage free at last…. or something to that effect lol. It’s been a long 5 years in this house but it was worth the sacrifices of using the budget (which is free if you want to download it) to save the money for all the necessities we’ve needed so we can be mortgage free before 40 years of age.

Although we’ve had the money for close to a year to pay the mortgage the exchange rate for the UK is at an all-time high since I moved to Canada back a few years ago now.

I’m pulling the money I have over there while I can. The last thing I want is to lose thousands more dollars because something happens with the exchange rate which to me is just as risky as investing your money.

Sure back in early 2007 my money was worth well over double when I came to Canada and I was loving every minute of it. Don’t let that excitement get you too cozy though because what goes up will come down and that is what we learned. Even though we’ve lost money since then and learned lessons along the way we know now that we still made the right decisions to wait it out.

I won’t get too much into it as I’ll save the juicy details for next months post.


We have a buyer


The interesting news for this month is that we received a letter from a real estate agent who has buyers for our home. I guess all my fancy landscaping and outside maintenance really does look swanky. See, landscaping on a budget can be done and impress even strangers into wanting to buy your home even if they haven’t been in it.

We’re not too surprised since we live in a sought-after area and our street is compiled of affordable family homes for most younger couples. The agent wants to bring the couple through our home for a private viewing to make sure the inside is as nice as the outside but it’s not finished yet.

We are upgrading pretty much everything and so far it looks 100x better than what we bought it for but with minimal investment. Keeping your house clean, fresh and updated doesn’t have to cost lots but when you get into the realms of renovations you need cash to do it.

We bought the house for less than market value so we have plenty of room for improvements. It’s great the way it is now with bits to take care of inside but we want to modernize it and finish off the basement.

Remember when I talked about buying the big house the other day and how it’s difficult to sell it sometimes because of a limited market well this is what I mean. It’s great when you own a home that you can sell fast because it’s affordable and well-kept but too bad for their clients as we aren’t ready to sell.

I was chatting with one of my Facebook fans the other day and told her that just to get some of the desired features in a home that we don’t have which we can really live without i.e. bigger property, walk-out basement, larger upper level it would cost us about $200,000- $300,000 more dollars on top of what we get for selling this house to pay cash for a newer bigger home in our city.

So just for a few extra hundred square feet in a home that is updated top to bottom we would be paying out the nose and having to look at another dreaded mortgage amortization schedule. No thanks, we’ll just stay right here.

The only way we will move is if you want our house so bad you’ll pay us double… how’s that for a deal! lol..


Amortization schedule


What is an amortization schedule anyways? I’ll tell you in my lame terms so maybe it will make some sense as mortgage jargon for some can get tricky. Don’t say you haven’t trusted someone and just signed on the dotted line.

An amortization calculator is basically a home cost calculator or what your mortgage will cost you over the life of the term or mortgage you have set up with your bank or broker. The calculator you can find free all over the internet and just about every mortgage company offers one for their clients.

You can enter in all your mortgage information and it will give you an amortization schedule which shares with you how long and painful a journey it is to pay off a mortgage when you pay month after month.

You can see how much principle you have or will pay off and of course the dreaded interest that is enough to make anyone bury their head. Mind you mortgage interest rates have been at an all-time low for years now so we can’t complain too much.

I’m sure many of you who owned a home with a mortgage back in the 80′s could share a horror store or two about how high the mortgage interest rates were back then.

I wouldn’t want to look at my amortization schedule back then it would scare me but not deter me from working hard and doing whatever we could to pay off the mortgage as soon as we can.

Sure there are some of you that would never pay off your mortgage because you are investing gurus and you know, that’s great. Some people just don’t know how to invest or want to take risks with their money in hopes they score a return higher than what their mortgage interest rate is.

No one can tell me that they know what the crystal ball will of investing will provide day after day, month after month as it’s based on stats and hope that it gets better hence more returns for the investor.

Many people have been successful that way and hopefully one day that will be us but until we learn more about investing we’ll stick to what we know and that is our mortgage costs us money.

How often do you check your amortization schedule and make changes to speed up the mortgage pay-down process? Do you pay a chunk of you mortgage in bulk each year?


Understanding net worth


What Does Individual Net Worth Mean?

Net Worth is a snap shot of your financial health sort of like a picture or debt to net assets. In simple terms it’s a total of the value of your assets minus your liabilities.


Determining net worth


How to Determine Net Worth?

Net Worth = Assets – Liabilities 

Figuring out net worth is fairly easy as long as you know your personal numbers or monthly finances.

Net Worth is simply adding up all your assets (what you own) then taking away your liabilities (what you owe) which will give you a net worth number.

Understanding your net worth will help you determine if you are on track to meeting or beating your personal financial goals. It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Do you know how to calculate your own Net Worth?

Now you can stop asking yourself the question, how do you find out your net worth? Why? It’s easy to determine.

Why not go ahead and calculate your own using our Free Money saving Tool Net worth Calculator (Canadian Budget Binder 2012)




Below are our 2014 target goals some of which are the same from 2013 and many which are new for 2014. I don’t like to move on to new goals if I have other goals that are unfinished but I also like breathing room and play time if you know what I mean.

I hope by posting them each month it motivates me like it has this past year to get stuff done and reach our target goals with some form of ease although nothing in life is that simple.

I find it’s much easier to be held accountable when I share what we need to do with all of you.

Do you set goals for the year?


Our short-term goals 2014


  • First is to pay off our mortgage in full as of April 2014. :) This is very near… gone by the end of this month yay!
  • To renovate the upstairs bathroom
  • Re-model the spare bedroom (ie: decor, furniture)-done
  • Start working on putting in the new flooring in the living and dining room
  • Install a central vacuum system- Bought and on its way!
  • Purchase a new washer and dryer
  • Purchase all new kitchen appliances
  • Purchase 2 medium-sized freezers
  • Finish the landscaping in the front and back yards.
  • Invest more in our TFSA, RRSP etc.
  • Continue to meal plan, create new homemade meals- I’m always whipping up something new in the kitchen (check out all my new recipe index on the blog)
  • To  sow and grow more vegetables/herbs in the garden to save money- We decided to scale back on this for 2014 summer.
  • Learn more about passive income
  • To read a new personal finance book
  • Learn more about Search Engine Optimization and blogging and how to manage my blog.


Our long-term goals 2014


  • Finish renovating the entire kitchen
  • Finish renovating the entire master bathroom
  • Save for a holiday
  • Start planning basement renovations (bathroom, bedroom, family room, laundry room, office, storage area.
  • Look at new ways to invest our money i.e. rental units
  • Continuing to educate ourselves on personal finance and investments
  • Continue to network with other like-minded people
  • Continue in my new career in hopes of it becoming long-term permanent


Our financial numbers


When budgeting anything is possible, we are proof of that although we still have a long way to go in our journey. These are our numbers and our goals, not a means of comparison towards your own goals to others target goals.

We don’t care how much money others make or if they have a high net worth or if it is lower than ours as it’s not a competition. I hope our experiences perhaps will help guide you along your financial path working towards debt freedom.


Different paths


Not everyone has the same path in life. Some of you may have had to start over like I did or go to school a second time and now have OSAP loans to pay back.

Others may have divorced, lost money in the stock market or other investments, lost a job, fell ill and so on but you can’t let that stop you, I didn’t.

Some of you may have been given trust funds, paid-for homes, paid educations or perks in life that give you a financial kick-start and that’s OK too. Remember what I said, “It’s not about how much money you make, it’s how you save it”.

Focus on you and don’t let the evil eye of money jealousy or keeping up with the Joneses cloud your vision. No one cares about your money as much as you do so don’t waste your energy trying.

The only reason people accumulate wealth is because they know how to save or invest it wisely even if they did inherit money or win the lottery. The smallest improvements should mean big strides in working towards reaching your goals.

Sometimes we have to fail in order to learn and we’ve all been there. Money can be an evil force for some people especially those who are negative towards their own situation.

I urge you to be optimistic and little by little with determination you too should see improvements, if you want that to happen.


Our net worth


We are always looking for ways how to increase our savings and by tracking our net worth these numbers below show us how well we are doing in terms of meeting our target numbers or what areas we should put a bit more focus in.




Net worth updates 2014


Below you can click the links to read past net worth updates to see if we were on target or if we struggled with some of our numbers.



That’s all for this month’s Net Worth update. Check in at the beginning of May to see how we made out in April and what has happened to our finances since.




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What type of bank should you stash your cash in?



Deciding where to open a bank account, invest your money or apply for a mortgage can be an overwhelming process with more than the traditional banking options available.

While the Big 5 banks in Canada are a common option for many, depending on your situation you may find that other financial institutions may be a better fit for your banking needs.


Assess your needs


What are you setting out to do?

Are you a new business owner, looking to invest, applying for a mortgage, opening a savings account or are you just looking for day-to-day banking?

Decide what banking options are most important to you.

Before you start out on your search make notes as to what is most important to you when it comes to your banking needs. This will help to ensure that you will make the best decision that you will continue to be happy with.

Some major factors to consider are the availability and quality of customer services, accessibility to your money, convenience and the fees associated with your banking.


Traditional banks


The Big 5 banks in Canada include Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion, Bank of Nova Scotia, Bank of Montreal and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

While there are more than 20 banks with multiple branches across Canada these are the most commonly heard of and utilized banks.

If customer service and accessibility top your list of what’s important to you as long as you are comfortable with the bank fees that comes with them then a bank may be an option for you.

A bank offers face to face customer service, online and telephone banking and the accessibility to access your money from any ATM machine.

While all of these offer convenience they come at a price. Many banks do offer flat rate fees for unlimited usage but the cost can still be anywhere from $10-$15.00 a month.

That may not seem like a lot of money but that is $120-$150.00 a year that could have been added to your emergency savings fund or used to pay for a car repair.


No teller banking


If day-to-day banking is all you require then something like President’s Choice Financial may be a great choice for you like Mr.CBB uses.

He has used PC Financial since he landed in Canada from the UK and his wife for over 10 years and have told me they have nothing but good things to say about banking with PC Financial.

It really depends on your needs and what is important to you but for them the money savings has been huge and they don’t miss the traditional banking system that we have all been accustomed to over the years.

PC Financial markets themselves as no-fee banking which many people flock to just to save on bank fees. While it certainly is a positive not having a monthly fee you lose the face-to-face customer service and convenience as they do not have branches where you can go in and talk with a teller.

You can however talk to a kiosk customer service representative who can set up all manner of transactions for you as well as help you out with any other personal banking needs.

While PC Financial offers most of the same services the traditional banks do, something such as ordering a money order or bank draft is simple when you can walk up to a teller but not so simple when all you have in front of you is a bank machine and/or kiosk.

PC Financial is a direct banking division of CIBC so you can call and request a money order or bank draft for a fee and you can pick it up at a CIBC branch.

Keep in mind since you are not paying the monthly fee that CIBC clients are paying you are not welcome to all of the services provided in the CIBC branches.


Credit Unions


While credit unions offer all the services that banks offer, the quality of in-branch service usually exceeds that of a bank. Credit unions are non-profits institutions that are owned by their members. Keeping the owners happy is their priority.

Having the non-profit status means that more of the profits are shared with its members/owners through dividends than what is profited by the company.

Finding the necessary information you need while researching a Credit Union may require more time and effort than researching a bank.

Being a non-profit organization where their main goal is keeping their owners happy and not making a huge profit the funds for big advertising campaigns and marketing are not as readily available.

In many cases this also means that the amount of money dedicated to technology is much less. Finding a Credit Union that offers the convenience of online banking and/or smart phone banking apps may be a lot harder than choosing one of the Big 5 banks.

By not offering these extra services though they may be less convenient for you though they are able to offer you the banking services you require with lower services fees and generally higher savings rates.

Some Credit Unions are set up online so if accessibility is important to you keep looking until you find what you need.




While you may find restrictions or membership requirements for joining a particular Credit Union there is one out there for everyone. If you have your mind set on a Credit Union keeping looking until you find the one best suited for you.

Some Credit Unions require that you are a member of an affiliated organization or that you make a donation to a specific organization.

A common argument when it comes to Credit Unions is that your money is not easily accessible, like the major banks there are not as many Credit Unions around.

CO-OP Financial is an interbank network that connects affiliated Credit Unions providing the use of over 30,000 ATM across Canada and the United States.

As long as you are a member of an affiliated Credit Union and you see the CO-OP logo on the ATM you can use it without incurring any additional fees.

Co-op Financial also offers shared branching between affiliated Credit Unions which allows you to walk into a branch of any other Credit Union in their network and receive the services you require regardless of it not being your Credit Union.

There are over 5000 Credit Unions across Canada and the United States that offer Shared Branching.


Money safety


Are your savings safe?

Whether you choose a bank or a credit union to save your hard-earned money you want to know that your savings will still be there when you need them.

In Canada the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), is a federal corporation that insures deposits made in a participating financial institution are protected in the case of bank failure or bankruptcy.

Under the CDIC any accounts with a balance of $100,000 or less including interest will be insured so long as the institution you are saving/investing with is a member of the CDIC.

If you have more than one account within the same company the $100,000 coverage is for all of your accounts.

So say you have $95,000 in one savings account and $10,000 in another in that same company you are only insured for $100,000 not the full $105,000.

If you are looking into a Savings account knowing whether or not the organization is protected by the CDIC is something you want to know.

Though many people may not worry or think the major banks will ever go bankrupt, having CDIC protection can add peace of mind knowing that your long-term savings are safe.

What does the CDIC cover?

Any account that is opened within a financial institution that is a member of CDIC will be covered as long as it falls into one of the following categories.

  • Savings and Chequing Accounts, including joint accounts
  • Tax-Free Savings Accounts
  • GIC’s with a term of 5 years or less
  • Certified and Travellers Cheques
  • Money orders and Bank Drafts
  • RRSP’s and RRIF’s

The following are not covered by the CDIC

  • Foreign Currency Accounts (this is good to keep in mind for people who migrate south for the winter)
  • Mutual Funds
  • Stocks
  • Bonds

Whether you choose a traditional bank, a kiosk or a credit union, all three have benefits to offer and drawback depending on what your individual needs are.

What other advice can you offer to someone when choosing a bank or credit union?




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What to do in the winter that won’t break the bank: The Saturday Weekend Review #54



It’s been no surprise with the cold snap we have had the past couple of weeks here in Canada that most of us want to just hibernate.

I’ll be honest and say that when I first moved to Canada I enjoyed the luxury of having all the different seasons especially watching the snow fall in the winter.

I was a lover of the winter white stuff, oh, for about 2 years until it just kept falling and falling and falling and getting colder and colder. I’m just about running out of places to shovel the snow. What is miraculous is that it’s been so cold that even photos of a frozen Niagara Falls keep surfacing on the internet and it truly is a beautiful sight.

I’m used to it now and for that brief moment in time I am still very excited to see the first snow fall and the beauty it brings to our surroundings. My family back home in the UK even though they get some snow are always jealous about the amount of snow we have in Canada and the kids wish they could do what the kids do here.

I love to take photos all year-long and when the big ice storm hit I wasted no time getting out my camera and wandering around to take photos of anything that was laced in ice that sparkled with a frosting that you only get to see not very often. Granted many people lost trees and bushes with the amount of build-up and lots of residents lost power for days it was certainly a time to remember and for others a time to forget.


Cheap winter outings


To be honest if you are a fan of the winter snow there is so much you can do that won’t break the budget. If you love to ski there are ski resorts all around Canada. Many cities have ice rinks set up that are free for the family so take advantage of any free family winter skates when you can.

Tobogganing is fun for the entire family not just the kids so if you are a fan of hills get out your magic carpet and go for a ride. Cheap winter thrills makes long-lasting memories for the family.

Long walks hand in hand with your loved one is also a special time to explore your city to see what winter wonderland activities are being offered for adults. Many cities put on winter art displays or light displays that are captivating and make for a very romantic night out of the house.

If you are like me and enjoy getting out to take photos grab your camera and set out to see what you can capture because you never know if that one photo you take will make the world go, WOW. I’m sure there are many things that you can do in the winter for less if you search your local ads to see what is offered in your community.

Don’t wait for the last-minute and talk to your friends and family because they might know something you don’t know and you wouldn’t want to miss out. It’s no fun to keep the kids indoors all winter long so trying to find something exciting to do that won’t empty out the wallet and bring smiles to the faces of your children really is a priceless memory not to be missed. We can’t get back time after all.

If you are not a big fan of the white stuff and maybe your kids aren’t either because not everyone loves the snow you can stay indoors and watch movies, play video games, make crafts together or maybe have your friends over for a play date. Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean the smiles have to stop.

There’s always something that needs to get done or something you’ve wanted to do for a long while but haven’t taken the time to put effort into it such as a hobby you’ve been meaning to catch up on or simply reading a book from beginning to end.

Enjoy the winter my friends, it’s here to stay for a little while longer but until then stay warm and enjoy what the season has to offer.

What do you do to keep busy in the winter time?



Canadian Budget Binder this week


  If you missed any of my posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!


CBB at home and the blog


Well I’ve been a bit busy lately taking care of things around the house and sorting out all that has been going on behind the scenes here in the CBB home. Needless to say I’ve been doing my best to keep up and I’ve even got back into the running after a short stint away for Christmas which put a bit of a dent in my keeping fit.

Over the holidays I did not indulge in anything to be honest and I kept my diet relatively clean. I did go out with friends for some drinks and to a few restaurants but ate on the healthy side. I’ve always been big on eating healthy and cooking homemade as much as possible but to be honest it was so nice to get out with friends and family to hang out.

I also made my way around the city a few times to take some inspirational photos since photography has been a passion of mine since I was about 13 years old.

Other than that life has been pretty quiet, just counting down the days until the white stuff disappears.


Fan deals and inspirations


coupon deals canada

Submit your Brag or Inspiration If you have a brag that you want me to share email me at canadianbudgetbinder (@) [yahoo] [.ca] or fill out my contact form by Friday each week to have your brag considered for the Saturday post.

Hi Mr.CBB and fans,

This was multiple shops to try to use up some coupons I didn’t want to go to waste before they expire on December 31, 2013.
-Jen P
  • Tiger Towel 2 x $4.78 – 2 x $3.00 coupons – 2 x $1.00 CartSmart rebates – 2 x $1.00 SnapSaves rebates=$.44 overage
  • Fleecy dryer sheets (PM Giant Tiger) 2 x $2.48 – 2 x $1.00 coupons (mail out from Colgate/Palmolive)=$1.48 each
  • Zantac 7 x $2.22 – 7 x $3.00 coupons=$2.46 overage
  • Mini Kinder Eggs 182g 3 x $2.64 (on Christmas clearance) – 3 x FPC
  • Secret deodorant 4 x $2.87 – 4 x $2.00 coupons=$.87 each
  • Coupons $41.92
  • Rebates $4.00
  • OOP $8.62
  • Doritos $.99 – FPC
  • Coupon for 8,000 optimum points for your birthday\
  • Coupon $.99
  • OOP $.13 (tax on the chips) + 8,000 points (worth $10)

Natura Almond Milk 6 x on sale for 3/$5.00 – 1 x $.75 coupon – 5 x $.50 coupons=$6.75 (plus I will get 2 free cartons when they get more stock in…I found about 15 expired cartons on the shelf that I pointed out to the manager on a previous visit. 

They were all still there on this visit and I was unable to get the exact product I wanted so he told me I could exchange what I bought at a later date and he would give me 2 free cartons for helping to clear out the old stock from his shelf lol)

  • Coupons $3.25
  • OOP $6.75
  • Arctic Gardens 8 x $2.50 (PM IGA) – 2 x $5.00 coupons – 4 x $2.50 coupons=FREE + I earned $4.00 worth of PC Plus points
  • Blue-ray DVD movie $5.00 on clearance (bought for a Christmas gift next year)
  • Buckley’s lozenges (PM Sobey’s) $2.99 – $2.00 coupon
  • Coupons $22.00
  • PC Points plus earned $4.00
  • OOP $7.02 (not including the PC Points earned)
  • Total coupons $68.16
  • Total rebates $4.00
  • PC Plus earned $4.00
  • Optimum earned $10.00 (8,000 points)
  • Total OOP $22.52 (not including optimum points and pc points)


Making a difference


Making a difference is a part of this post where I share a personal finance blog that I interact with daily and has made a difference in my life. I have asked the blogger to introduce themselves, their blog and how they want to make a difference with their blog for the fans and for themselves.

Today, I bring you my friend Melanie the blogger behind the personal finance blog “Dear Debt”.

Hello CBB readers!

My name is Melanie and I am passionate about art, travel, music, living well and paying off debt. I am also passionate about education and received my M.A. in 2011. Unfortunately, between undergrad and graduate school, I accrued  $81k in student loan debt. After graduate school, I was determined to pay off my debt sooner rather than later. While my classmates were opting for the 25-year repayment plan, I was opting for the get-me-out-of-debt-now plan.

I didn’t want to be 52 years old still paying student loans. When I’m 52, I want to be traveling, donating money to charities and being financially secure. In the past 2 years, I’ve paid off $26k, while making a very small income. I attribute my debt repayment success to my frugality, side hustles and living without a lot (I don’t have a car, pets, kids, gym membership and for a while, didn’t even have health insurance.)

I started my blog in January of 2013 after feeling like I was at the bottom of my rope. I didn’t have a stable job, I was mired in debt, and felt burdened with this heavy load. I knew if I could reach out to others in similar situations, I’d feel less alone. Starting my blog has been the smartest thing I’ve done.

In August, I started writing “Dear Debt” letters, or breakup letters to my debt. I invited anyone to take part and write their own breakup letter. I found so much inspiration in their experiences and their voice. The dear debt letter project is intended to be a creative outlet for people in debt; to give people the strength and courage to dump debt and to say things we might not feel comfortable saying.

I hope to make a difference by letting people know they are not alone. They are not a loan. I know what it’s like to feel like your whole life is defined by debt, but I know there is so much more to life, too. I want to create a community where people can be open, creative and financially wise.

I’m interested in answering questions like: If you could talk to your debt, what would you say?  What is your relationship to debt? By examining all these questions I am better able to understand my situation.

At the end of the day, I believe our relationships create the meaning to all of our successes and failures, so I am changing my relationship to debt. I am the protagonist in this story, and not the victim.


Blog post sharing


I really appreciate when other blog owners recognize my hard work at Canadian Budget Binder and share my posts with their fans or even mention my blog on their blog or website. Here are the blogs that did just that this past week, so please head over and check them out.

If I’m missing you it’s because I didn’t get a ping back so please send me an email and I’ll add you next Saturday.


What is a blog carnival?


Some fans have asked me just what is a blog carnival so a little explanation is due here for anyone reading for the first time or for my long-time fans. A blog carnival is where a blog or website hosts what we call a carnival of blog posts from around the web. Most blog carnivals have a theme and certain rules for submitting which must be followed.

If you are a blogger and would like to learn what blog carnival directories I submit to each week you can find the information in a previous Saturday Weekend Review post that I wrote.


Carnival glory


A big thanks to these pages for accepting my blog posts and sharing them in the following carnivals…


Google search terms



Every week I get thousands of people visit Canadian Budget Binder because they did a search online and found my blog. Here are a few of my favorite searches that may have even brought you here and you’re reading this, right now.

  • Women sexy cooks- I’m pretty sure that any woman or man who cooks is sexy
  • I love Canada stuff- Canada stuff loves you
  • I don’t know if I will be a mother one day- Never say never a miracle can happen when you least expect it
  • Canadian Budget Finder- Close, very close but you still found CBB!
  • Donna bought 5 bags of dog treats for $14.50. How much did each bag of dog food cost Donna?- Hmmm.. you do the math.

That’s all for this weeks edition of The Saturday Weekend Review: What to do in the winter that won’t break the bank. Have a great week and catch me here again next Saturday with more updates. -Mr.CBB


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