Top 5 things I love about Canada

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Canada, A Place To Call Home

Since today is Canada Day I thought I would share my top 5 things I love about Canada and why I’m proud to be a permanent resident in Canada. I used to be a Canadian tourist and now I get to share my stories in hopes of inspiring those who want to visit Canada or move to Canada.

Sometimes I still can’t believe that I am living in Canada a land that I never thought would pop onto my radar, but here I am. It’s been almost six years now since I landed in this beautiful country not knowing where my life was going to take me. What I knew at the time was that I had a beautiful wife who I was and still am deeply in love with to take me under her wing and show me the ropes.

Career and Education

Moving to a country where you don’t speak the same language is a challenge but moving to a country where you do speak the same language can be frustrating. Since moving here I really did have to get my feet wet and even though I struggled to find work without the so-called “Canadian experience” which I was told I needed by one hiring agency in Toronto, that I didn’t have. Wait, but I have a University degree that must mean something? It did and it helped me move forward through the education system, because I didn’t let that nonsense (that’s not what I really thought of what she said) define my new life, my new path and my new goals.

Now that I have been here for a number of years I’m still scratching my head wondering what that Canadian experience was supposed to be, because it all seems the same to me. Education, skills, communication, career, work-experience, it’s not rocket science and we don’t do anything much different here in Canada to the UK.

I’ve learned never to let anyone define you, rather surpass your own goals and expectations and make yourself proud. There’s a bad apple in every bunch no matter where you live, it’s true. Instead of tossing out the apple, cut the worm out and enjoy the fruit of your labour, you deserve it. I didn’t let anyone stop me and I can tell you that I am very happy with the outcome.

Love my life

Although I have yet to experience all this land has to offer Canada has been very good to the both of us. I couldn’t ask for a better place to live and although some people may disagree with me I believe life is what you make of it. As much as I wish Canada would use the round-about system to save us time and the city and taxpayers money, I know that I have to take the good with the bad. Not everything is greener but I’ve adapted to my surroundings and enjoy what life has offered me. I may miss my yogurt in the UK but there’s nothing stopping me from making my own.

I’m a well-travelled individual so I’ve seen some of the riches of the world and I’ve also held hands with the poor. I remember a time when some children begged me for my water bottles so they could fill them with water. Those were the times that really made me understand how fortunate we are with a dark sadness inside telling me that we need to live life without fear and embrace it. Those children were happy, they were smiling and friendly yet their world was a world I can’t even imagine living in.

Too often we are quick to judge what we have or don’t have and forget that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes, sometimes hiding deep in the forest. If you don’t explore you may never find what you are looking for because not everything is in plain sight.

If Canada is not the place you want to be, go where you feel there is opportunity for you to live the life you want. It’s that simple because no matter where we go in this world there will be sadness, there will be turmoil, there will be beauty, there will be poor, there will be rich, there will be greed, there will be criminals, there will be the same shops and so on.

If you don’t take the opportunities before you and only look for the riches above you may miss the riches below and I’m not talking about money. If there’s one thing I’ve learned after travelling round the world that is to take your time exploring your own country first, you’ll be amazed at what you’ll find.

Explore Canada

Canada is filled with culture and plenty of Canadian tourist attractions from living up the Toronto scene to Niagara Falls, Wonderland, camping, beaches and some good fun in small farming communities. Some of my best times are hanging out with my mates, creating fun.

If you love the snow and you can’t get enough of it both western and eastern Canada from BC to Alberta all the way to Ottawa offer winter activities for the snow enthusiast. Each year the dedicated hoards flock to these places to go skiing at some of the best state of the art resorts around. Most smaller cities also have ski resorts but they are not near as large as what you will find at the bigger resorts. If all else fails there’s always tobogganing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing.

There’s something for everyone and plenty to see even if you are a beach bum like me. I used to enjoy surfing in the sea and although I can’t do that here my time spent at the beach in the summer is reminiscent of my days in the UK. We also have gorgeous provincial parks in Ontario  and all over Canada. I’m only skimming the surface here as there is just too much to list and I have yet to take advantage of all this country has to offer.

Five things I love about Canada

  1. Friendly people- The majority of people I’ve met tend to be happy and very welcoming, even if I’m still struggling to understand the meaning of EH?
  2. Affordable and spacious- You’ll be shocked at the prices Europeans pay for houses, land, cars and petrol (gasoline). It’s cheaper for the most part to purchase domestic vehicles and to get replacement parts for them as well. You also get more house for your money and most houses come with a basement that gives you added living space when it’s completed. It’s the space I love at home and while out and about. Canada is such a large country and It’s easy to get lost outside south-western Ontario. That’s very different from the UK where these days It’s impossible to get lost on a small island jam-packed with people.
  3. Health Care- Sure there are holes in the system like there is with many things but Canada took an employment benefits system and stuck it together with a slimmed down NHS system from the UK to get the best of both worlds. The health care system in Canada is one of a kind and although the odd wait times my be a bit long we get taken care of here by some of the finest in the medical professions.
  4. Weather- This is an odd one but hear me out. When you come from a country where all the seasons blend into one big dull grey blob having 6 foot of snow is refreshing. I look forward to the change in seasons as a new beginning each year.
  5. Tim Hortons- Need I say more? It’s convenient yes, but if you want a hot cup of coffee or tea you don’t have to look far to find a Tim Hortons coffee shop in Canada. That and they make a good Boston cream donut.

My life here in Canada is one that I never take for granted because I know that so many people are waiting in anticipation to come to “the island” because that is what they believe Canada is for them, hope. We all dare to dream, there is no crime in such honesty to aim for a better life, just don’t sulk about it along the way because there is always someone waiting to take your spot. There is plenty to explore here so take your time, do your research and look around, I know I will.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my wife, my family, my friends, my professors and my employer. So, thank-you Canada and thanks for having me here to call your land, my new home. Although I won’t be picking up my new Canadian ePassport any time soon I know that no matter whether I am considered Canadian or British landed immigrant status both the UK and Canada are still home to me.

Happy Canada Day… now I’m off to enjoy the festivities.

What do you love about Canada and why?  Share your comments below

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Mr.CBB’s Personal Finance Reading List #7 Air Fare Wars~ Air Canada Price Guarantee!

Personal Finance Weekly Reading List

From Storage Wars to Product Price Wars and now to Air Fare Wars with Air Canada heating up the runway with a promise of an Air Fare Price Guarantee. Yes you heard that right and Air Canada is communicating this to its price savvy customers stating that if they book online they WILL get the BEST price Guaranteed. So, after you book and purchase your ticket “if you find a cheaper price for the same flight, itinerary and fare brand on another Canadian website Air Canada will give you a travel credit $50 plus the difference in the air fare costs”  according to Ben Smith, Air Canada’s chief commercial officer. Wow, I’m impressed although West Jet has something similar promising the lowest prices. This reminds me of the Canadian Tire Price Match Guarantee where they will not only match the price but give you 10% back in Canadian Tire Money to spend in the store. I know I’ve always plotted my purchases around these perks and will continue to do so as long as they are available.

I don’t know what it is any more but every where we look competition gets hotter and options just keep getting better although every dollar counts when it comes to saving. They know what consumers want, “The Best Prices” and they should stop at nothing to provide them to us even if that means price wars, business is business after all. As most Canadians continue to balance the family budget they also tend to stop spending as much money especially when consumer debt is a big part of the picture.

Canadians are always looking for ways to save whether it be price matching, cutting coupons, deal sites, coupon codes and now even money-saving apps like Checkout51 and Freshpoints Canada for the Iphone. Many stores have a price match guarantee and even a price adjustment policy which for some last up to 90 days. We purchased our water softener from Sears Canada which has a price adjustment policy for the 90 days so if they sell it cheaper we can head in and get reimbursed the money. It’s perks like these that the customers want to see because there is nothing worse than finding the same product for less.

With Air Canada I think it’s a great idea and will help bring back some of the customers as prices have always been much higher to fly with Air Canada hence why most people look for cheaper fares. Any time an organization steps outside with it costs, that cost rolls right down to the consumer. With all the technology and marketing a big company like that should be able to take it on themselves rather than shovelling it to online retailers which costs Air Canada a commission. Will this work is the question? Only time will tell but money talks, there’s no doubt about that.

Mrs.CBB and I both never bothered  heading to the Air Canada site after realizing prices were just far too expensive.  I guess you get what you pay for. All I ever worried about was getting from point A to point B safe, a good cuppa tea and space. I don’t care how cheap the flight is but if I must have smokey the bear breathing and drooling on me they can keep their money especially if it is a long flight. If it’s a short flight I’ll suck it up but anything over 8 hours I’ll pay the extra.  I’ve got a few good stories I might share one day.

I’ve travelled to many countries and I’ve never once booked through an agency. I would always search the internet looking for the best prices for air fare and book that way to save some money most often avoiding the direct airline websites due to cost. There were times I would chat to people on the plane and they would tell me what they paid and I would either bite my lip or smile because I knew I got a better deal. It pays to look around but it also helps when the big boys like Air Canada throw these types of money-saving motivators into the mix.  I’m sure this is only the beginning and we will see more air fare wars coming out of hiding because like anything money makes the world go round.

You can read the full story here.

How do you book your travel flights?

What was your worst experience on a flight?

TOP BLOG POSTS WEEKLY READING LIST

**Please take a moment if you are a Canadian Budget Binder fan and vote for CBB as Top Personal Finance Blog 2012. I would really love to give 1 lucky fan $100 to pay down debt, something that would really make me happy. >> Click here… and vote now for Canadian Budget Binder as well we were nominated for Top Canadian Personal Finance Blog and you can Click here and vote now for Canadian Budget Binder!!! Lastly $500 Cash is up for grabs, open worldwide to those with Paypal.. read my Shopping Tips to Save Money Post and enter via Rafflecopter ends Feb 28,2013!

Thanks for your continued support of Canadian Budget Binder and now I’ll share you with my fans who tell me they look forward to this weekly list and catching up on the best articles I’ve read. Please join me in reading some of the best blog posts of the week that I have picked.  Although I haven’t been feeling well the past week this is one mighty fine list of amazing PF Bloggers so please check them out…

In The Kitchen-Recipes of the Week- Do you want to see your recipe featured here… connect with me on social media and say hi!

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A big thanks to all my Tweeps for sharing and tweeting blog posts from Canadian Budget Binder. I do read each one and although I can’t always reply thanks to each one just know that I do see them and appreciate what you do.

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Three Best Things About Being Single When It Comes To Money

car with kids

A year ago I would have never pictured myself as being a single mother. I’m sure no married mother actually pictures herself on her own raising her children. But life happens and there are just some things that we will never be able to change. Being single isn’t all that bad; there are actually many perks and being able to make your own personal financial decisions is one of them

The three best things about being single for me when it comes to money are…..

1.)    You Can Make Your Own  Financial Plans. My ex-husband and I disagreed a lot when it came to managing our money. While he did let me have most of the control over the cheque book, he would often make comments like “I will work until the day I die.” Of course me being a personal finance junkie would just feel my eyes roll into the back of my head every time I heard this. Well of course, without a plan and some savings you will work until the day you die. I can now organize my game plan without having to beg somebody to jump on board.

What I can Do Being Single….
  • If I want to start a ROTH IRA, I can do it.
  • If I want to buy individual stocks to invest my money, I can do it.
  • If I want to live on beans and rice to save money on groceries (not that I would), there is nobody stopping me, I can do it.

2.)    You are the Only Person in Your Way. Now when I set my goals I am the only person who can keep me from success. If I fail it is all on me. I have nobody to blame but myself. So as long as I can keep my ambition (which I will) I am heading straight for the finish line.

3.)    You Have to Depend on Yourself. Now this third one isn’t quite as fun, but it’s a challenge and I am always up for a challenge. It takes a little bit of time to learn how to be independent again but once you get that down you feel unstoppable.

Believe In Yourself! 

A new-found feeling of independence does wonders for your confidence. Knowing that you are smart enough and above all responsible enough to support yourself and kids (if you have any) and still have the drive to go after your dreams. That is an amazing feeling, especially if it’s one you thought that you would never have.

So those are my favourite three things about being single when it comes to money. Now, I am able to wake up each day, accomplish the most important things and go after my goals, whatever they might be. There’s an upside to every situation and being single isn’t so bad after all.

Guest Post: Alexa is a newly single mother to two beautiful little girls. She chronicles her journey as a single mother trying to make it big at Single Moms Income.

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Mr.CBB’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Mr.CBB's Peanut Butter Balls

Mr.CBB’s Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls have been a tradition in Mrs.CBB’s family ever since she was a little girl. She would help her grandmother make these peanut butter balls covered in chocolate, so delicate for the Christmas Holidays. When her granny no longer could make this recipe for peanut butter balls she passed it down to Mrs.CBB who has made them ever since. Now we have made them together ever since we’ve been married. We have made a few changes to granny’s recipe by adding in some green cherries and vanilla although it really is a no fail recipe.

The great thing about peanut butter balls recipes are that they are a no-bake recipe and budget friendly. So if you don’t happen to have an oven to bake and wanted or needed to bring a Homemade Christmas Treat to a party you could easily make these on the stove top. I warn you it can get a bit messy when melting chocolate for dipping the Peanut Butter Balls sometimes called buckeye balls candy.

Alternatively you can switch the recipe up and instead of peanut butter balls dipped in chocolate you could make white chocolate covered peanut butter balls instead. You could do both and they would look lovely on a tray together or gift wrapped for your mates.

How Do You Make Peanut Butter?

Well I didn’t make the peanut butter for this recipe although it is getting costly in some shops but still affordable. I remember when it $1.99 for a huge jar now it can run upwards of $4.99 or $3.99 on sale. Considering the price to make these homemade are far cheaper than if you buy them from the shop. If you wanted to make your own peanut butter because you don’t want to invest in a container you could easily buy what you need at the bulk store or make it yourself. It’s an easy inexpensive recipe to make and much healthier. We already had some jars on hand from a food study we did so we decided to use them up.  Buy the amount of roasted peanuts that you need and put them in a food processor with some peanut oil or vegetable oil, salt, and sugar and whiz away. It’s that easy. Check out the full recipe on how to make peanut butter and try it for yourself.

Directions to Make Peanut Butter Balls

In our peanut butter balls recipe we have red and green cherries, walnuts, pure vanilla, chopped fresh dates,peanut butter,butter and icing sugar. That’s it, not too many ingredients. To dip the chocolate peanut butter balls we used a fork and toothpicks and about 2 boxes of semi-sweet bakers chocolate or we have used 2 bags of Hershey milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips. It’s up to you what you like chocolate wise. We were fortunate to find the bakers semi-sweet chocolate at Dollarama in 2 different cities for only $2 compared to $3.99 and up at the shops.

Here we Go!

Peanut Butter Balls Ingredients

Peanut Butter Balls Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of red maraschino cherries chopped small
  • 1/2 cup of green maraschino cherries chopped small
  • 1/2 cup of fresh dates chopped small then soaked in water for 10 minutes then drain (if you don’t like dates elminate them)
  • 1 cup of peanut butter * yes you can use chunky if you like
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts ( make these small so bang about if you have to in a plastic zip bag)- great way to get frustrations out.. beat your nuts!
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar also known as icing sugar
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 boxes of semi-sweet Bakers Chocolate or Bags of Chocolate Chips

Tools:

  • Cutting Board
  • Knife
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Metal bowl or double boiler for chocolate
  • toothpicks
  • fork
  • Parchment Paper
  • 3 Baking Sheets
  • Spatula

Preparation: Yield Approx: 36 Balls

  • Chop all of your ingredients that need to be chopped small and have them ready in bowls.
  • In your mixing bowl add the peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and icing sugar and stir until combined
Peanut Butter Balls

Peanut Butter, Icing Sugar, Butter Vanilla in bowl

  • Add in the cherries, dates and walnuts and stir again until combined
Peanut Butter Balls

All Ingredients in Mixing Bowl for Peanut Butter Balls

  • Once we make the recipe we take the bowl of ingredients and pop them into the refrigerator for about an hour to harden the mix up a bit. It makes it easier to work with when it’ s cold.
  • Take the bowl out and on parchment lined baking sheets start rolling small-medium sized balls uniform in shape. Don’t make them too big as they are meant to be bite size or two-bite peanut butter balls.
Peanut Butter Balls

Frozen Peanut Butter Balls on a Tray

  • Once you have the balls rolled and on the tray put the tray into a freezer to freeze for about 1 hour. I know seems like a lot of hours to make these and it is but it’s super easy to make and worth the effort.
Peanut Butter Ball Dipped in Chocolate

Peanut Butter Ball Dipped in Chocolate

  • Once frozen you are ready to dip. We take a few out of the freezer at a time so they are still frozen when we dip as it yields the best results for us. Drop one into the melted chocolate which you melt in a double boiler or in our case a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water. Lower the heat once the chocolate is melted and you can stream it off your spatula. You don’t want to get any water or steam into your chocolate or you risk it seizing up.
Toothpick with Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Toothpick with Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

  • Drop your peanut butter ball inside the chocolate and with your fork gently pick it up (don’t stick the fork in the peanut butter ball) have the ball sit on the fork. Stick the toothpick into the top and once the toothpick is secure you can twist the peanut butter ball off with your fingers from side to side on the baking tray lined with parchment paper.

If you are thinking this is a tedious job it is, but again, worth it as you just can’t buy homemade like this.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Finished Peanut Butter Balls on Tray Filling In Gaps with Chocolate

  • Once dipped and back on the parchment  paper we use a toothpick dipped in chocolate to fill in any gaps that we may have missed and the hole where the toothpick was.
Finished Peanut Butter Balls Ready to Serve

Finished Peanut Butter Balls Ready to Serve

  • We freeze the peanut butter balls for about 2 hours or until solid. Take your balls out about 1 hour before serving to bring them to room temperature although we are known to pop them in our mouth straight out of the freezer.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Mr.CBB’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Congratulations to Jennifer Taylor for winning my Facebook Contest. When I shared my picture of my chocolate peanut butter balls I asked the fans to comment what their favourite Holiday Treat was!!

Jennifer Taylor -My favourite holiday treat is my home-made chocolate marshmallow log! It’s so yummy! ~Congrats on the 2500 fans & Thx for the contest!

That’s it my friends! I hope you give our Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls a try and let me know what you think. Next week we move on to Coconut Balls… don’t miss that Sunday Recipe. Happy Holidays from my family to yours!
-Mr.CBB

It's Not About How Much Money You Make It's How You Spend It

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The Saturday Weekend Review #7 December

Saturday Week In Review Mr.CBB

Mr.CBB’s  Saturday Weekend Review

I didn’t get myself into any trouble this week although I haven’t made my way in to the kitchen for my Christmas Baking Marathon yet. The fun will all start today when we start baking 1 of 4 easy Christmas cookie recipes and I will share them every Sunday on the Blog in December. I suppose since the snow has decided to make its way to Ontario it’s time to swap vehicles. This always takes a day or so for me to sort out with insurance, e-test and getting a new sticker. Money, Money, Money everyone wants money. Pain in the ass if you ask me but hey I’m just a newbie! Time to put away my love machine for another season and take out the winter tank destroyer. Do you store your vehicle for the winter and bring out a winter beater?

Financial News Mr.CBB

What’s Been Happening at Canadian Budget Binder

Well, what hasn’t been happening.

I’ve been guest posting all over the shop so if you start seeing posts I wrote for some awesome blogs go ahead and give them a read. It’s not often I write so many in one month but November took me by storm. Some posts you have yet to see but will be coming out shortly for some amazing blogs and websites.

I do enjoy writing for other blogs and chatting to their fans. It brings a whole new meaning to learning what other Bloggers do and how their fans interact with their site. Many of my fans enjoy heading out to other sites I mention or link up to and some even wait until I post my weekly blog post list so they can run through them.

On a great note we can now deposit up to $5500 a year in our TFSA starting Jan 2013 up from $5000 thanks to the new rule change earlier this week as noted by the Department of Finance. I’m thrilled in one sense as I know we will eventually have the money once this house is actually paid (more on that later). I have a bit of catching up to do with my TFSA but aim to get that up to speed as soon as I can. Since moving to Canada trying to make heads and tails of a new country and all it has to offer has overwhelmed me but since blogging and travelling around Ontario it has made life that much easier.

Canadian Budget Binder’s Weekly Post Recap

Guest Posts I Wrote:

Top Blog

This is where I will share the top website that sent me the most traffic for the week! The Top Blog To Drive Traffic To Canadian Budget Binder for this week goes to…… Save Big Live Better! Thanks Julia!!

Weekly Top 2 Honourable Mentions

Top 5 Blog Commenter’s

Blogs That Shared Us With Their Fans This Week!

Thanks to all of you that link up and share my posts with your fans like I do yours! -Mr.CBB

(If I miss You..please let me know and I will include your post next week as this runs Sat to Sat so if you linked me on Sat it will show up next week)

Carnival Mention

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What People Searched to Find Canadian Budget Binder on the Web

Search terms of the week are really a hoot! Here are a few of them for your viewing pleasure.  What are you saying about them? Any typos below are simply the person who searched who made the error or me ;-)

Top Pick-Yippie Noodles with Tomato Sauce -I’m still unsure if they were celebrating their happiness for getting noodles and sauce or if there truly is a “Yippie Noodle

  • Teaching Your Child How To Right Quotes- I need to go pee, this hurts!
  • Maternity Diapers- Shall I dare ask or will I get hit with a broom..
  • Black Diamond Cheese Casserole Recipe as Advertised On TV- oh good lord really, all my CASAROLL”eh” talk is coming back to haunt me.  But WAIT.. if you order today we will send  you 2 recipes for the price of 1!
  • I’m At Home- Good now you better lock your doors. Ha ha..funny part is the next search term was “scary
  • Sex and Saturday- Well I like sex any day of the week but maybe Saturday is the optimal day, how about you?
  • No food No Money, Large Family in Ontario- This one broke my heart, please always donate or help others when you can. Make a difference in someone’s life.
  • With Enough Coffee I Could Rule The World- Well then get on it….

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