Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011 Goals

Now that 2010 has almost come to a close (I still can't believe it), I've gathered the scraps of paper I've been using to write down my goals for 2011 and consolidated them into one master list. 

My plan is to print and frame - from the dollar store - my goals and put them up in my closet.  This way, I'll see them every day, and that will hopefully keep me on track to accomplishing them.

  • Increase my Emergency Fund up to $5,000 - currently, it sits at $2,655.
  • Increase my House Fund up to $33,000 - currently it sits at $22,027.
  • Save $3,500 in my Trip Fund for Central/South America over the holidays next year - currently it sits at $531.  This savings will come entirely from work outside of my full time job. 
  • Open a new ING account for Gifts - pay for all birthday, wedding, baby, Christmas gifts from this account.
  • Track every penny I spend!!!
  • See one or more high school friend each month - there are 8 of us who still keep in touch from high school, although most of it by email.  I'd like to see at least one of my friends per month to be able to maintain such great relationships.  Two friends are only GO Train rides away, and most others by bus, so it's not a big challenge to see them.
  • Volunteer on a project - I've been in talks to sit on a Run for the Cure committee in preparation for the annual run in October in one of the GTA communities, so this one should be a guaranteed completed task. 
  • Resume tutoring - I tutored all through high school and University and was able to bring in a decent amount of extra money with 2 or 3 students.  Over the break I've designed a poster to put up in town as well as on the web.
  • Sign up and participate in a running class. 
  • Become more healthy - for me, this means eating better and increasing my exercise frequency. It's a good thing all of those Christmas sweets are almost gone. 
  • Travel - I'm aiming for the holidays next year in Central/South America - see my post about this trip.
  • Join a professional association in my field.
  • Blog every weekday.
I am certain that I'll add more goals once one is ticked off as completed, but I think this is a good start!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

January 2011 Budget

I've sat down with my calculator in hand and come up with my January 2011.

Here's what it looks like:

Jan. 1 - 15Jan. 15 - 31
Full time job $                  1,536.34  $           1,536.34
Mystery Shopping                                  -  
Additional Income                                  -  
Total Income $                  1,536.34  $           1,536.34
Fixed Costs
Rent  $                      435.00  $              435.00
GoodLife Fitness                           66.68                     33.34
TTC Pass                           55.50                     55.50
Rogers Communications                           60.00                     60.00
Total Fixed Costs $                      617.18  $              583.84
Semi Variable Costs
Food $                      140.00  $              140.00
RRSP                         375.00                  375.00
 E Fund                         325.00                  325.00
Savings (Travel Fund)
Gifts                           25.00                     37.50
Entertainment                           25.00                     25.00
Other                           25.00                     50.00
Total Semi Variable Costs $                      915.00  $              952.50
Total Expenses $                  1,532.18  $           1,536.34
Difference $                          4.16  $                       -  

I know that I have a few new upcoming purchases - the portion of meds that my insurance won't cover (10%), and I'd like to save up to join a running program in the spring, so I've factored those amounts into my budget.

Today I'm working on my 2011 goals and then spending time with friends at a movie (I have a free movie coupon - yey) and coffee house afterwards to catch up on what we didn't talk about yesterday.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Boxing Day Recap

After going on a 2 year hiatus from Boxing Day and Black Friday shopping my aunt and I ventured to London to spend some cash!  Anticipating a big spend, I had an ING account not tracked as part of my savings, knowing that I'd spend it, with just about $800 saved up. 

I didn't spend all $800, but here's what the damage was:

StoreReg. Price TotalBoxing Day TotalWhat I Got
Pier 1$52.98$43.212 ornaments, bubble bath, 2 candlestick holders
Le Chateau$7.90$7.901 necklace
Chapters$25.97$15.92Coupon sorter, next year's Christmas cards
Bath & Body Works$29.95$22.6010 hand sanitizers, 3 soaps
RW & Co$103.96$33.80Slippers, cardigan, pj pants
Globo Shoes$79.08$33.87Sneakers, flats
Nine West$107.35$39.55Purse
Home Sense$5.64$5.64Glass potpouri holder
Ardene$21.00$21.00Flats, slippers
Banana Republic$235.04$60.43Cardigan, sweater, nice tank
Ricki's$280.24$96.02Winter Coat, sweater, tshirt
Home Sense$338.99$338.99Living room chair

The remainder of the money will go towards a brunch out with my girlfriends, and a lunch with my cousins.  When I get home I'm also in the need for new batteries for my inflatable bed, so I'll use this money for that purpose as well.

Did you do any boxing day shopping?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Holiday Plans

This year I'm at home in Sarnia for the holidays, and thankful to be out of Toronto and into an actual house vs. an apartment.  A house with a fireplace, a full size couch, and a bathtub.

My plans over the holidays are as follows:
Dec. 24th - Open House at a relative's in the evening
Dec. 25th - Family Christmas at my Mom's
Dec. 26th - Boxing Day & Laptop shopping with my Mom (for her, not me)
Dec. 27th - relaxing!
Dec. 28th - annual Secret Santa with my high school friends for brunch
Dec. 29th - relaxing again
Dec. 30th - more relaxing
Dec. 31st - Movie night New Year's Eve/dog sitting
Jan. 1st - Back to Toronto

Overall the holidays shouldn't be too expensive for me.  Since I'm at home my food budget is nil, so that's a big help since yesterday I did a bit of unplanned shopping.  An over the door shoe rack from Winners ($12.99), organic shampoo for oily hair ($14.00 )and a homemade foot/hand cream for extremely dry feet and hands ($15.00).  These came out of my food budget, leaving me about $35 for the rest of the holidays.  I anticipate only having the one brunch and a couple of Tim Horton's runs before my return to Toronto, so I should be ok until the new expense cycle begins in the New Year.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The freezer is stocked

In my quest not to spend money eating out at lunch I've stocked my freezer with 2 - 3 weeks worth of lunches when I return back to Toronto for the holidays.

Here's what I made:
1) Garden Vegetable Soup -

2) Zucchini Lasagna -

3) Cheesy Mushroom and Asparagus Bake -

In the new year I am hoping that my making more of my meals at home that I can reduce my food budget each week.  It started the year at $100/week, but I found that I wasn't able to eat all of the produce, yogurt, milk, etc. that I bought before they expired.  Currently I budget $300 for the month which is perfect for my at homemade meals, but if I go out to lunch then I dip into another jar, which I'd like to avoid.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Health Plan Update

Last month I blogged about choosing a health care plan since I'm not covered with work.

I signed up for:
Manulife - Combo Plus Enhanced
$123.70/month or $1,484.40/year or $1,424.64/year if I pay a lump sum.
·         Prescriptions: $10,000/year - pays 90% on the first $2,222 and 100% on the following $8,000. (covers dispensing fees, name brand or generic brands)
·         Dental: pays 100% on the first $500 and 60% on the next $700.
·         Vision: pays $250/24 months on glasses/contacts and $50/24 months on eye exams.
·         Travel: covers $5 million per year for 9 day travel.
·         Air Miles: 50 miles for signing up and 10 miles each 6 months.

Coverage began on December 1st, and thus far I've used up all of my 100% dental coverage and am now into the 60% coverage level - I'd been without a dentist for a couple of years, so I had a full cleaning, xrays, and just yesterday replaced three fillings that were about 15 years old. 

I want to be sure that I'm getting the most bang for my buck, so periodically I'll be checking in to make sure I'm claiming more than what I'd paid for the plan.  In January I have a doctor's appointment where I expect to be put on one prescription, so I'll check back then.

Paid: $1,424.64
Claimed: $629
To Spend: $795.64

Do you take full advantage of your health care plan each year?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Globe and Mail Quiz

I did a short Globe and Mail investment quiz today:

It wasn't easy (I blame it on never having a mortgage), but I got 2/3 questions correct.

Try the quiz yourself and see how you do!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Definitely not an $11 million dollar tree!

Recently The Emirites Palace hotel erected a Christmas tree valued at approximatey $11 million!!  WOW.  In their defense (yeah, right) the jewels that increase the value of the tree are on loan versus owned by the hotel.

With Christmas in full swing in my apartment it got me thinking into how much money I've spent on my tree - I could do all decor in total, but that number would just be scary!

So, here goes:
Tree - $35
Tree Topper - $12
Garlands - $8
23 Ornaments - approximately $240 (one of the ornaments is a special one from Birks commemorating the Vancouver Olympics.)
Lights - $15 (LED)
TOTAL - $310

Friday, December 17, 2010

He's Leaving

I got a call from my advisor with TD this week saying that he's like to introduce me to one of his colleagues at the branch.  His last week in this position and at that branch is this week.

He was the reason that I'd switched my investments to TD - I wanted out of RBC anyways, but he sold me on TD over other advisors I'd met at different banks.

At our first meeting he began by providing me with his background as a financial planner.  He was the only advisor I met with who suggested having two different RRSPs; a house fund and a retirement based account.  Both types of RRSP has a risk percentage to match it's future use.  My house fund RRSP has less risk, a 70/30 split.  I plan to pull the $25,000 out within the next two years under the Home Buyer's Plan.  The retirement RRSP is 100% risk (medium risk, but risk nonetheless).  I am currently 28, so estimating that I work until I'm 65, that gives me 37 more years to build this up.

I'm crossing my fingers that this new advisor will be as great as he was. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spending Recap: Dec. 1 - 15, 2010

I break down my budget into bi-monthly spending based on my pay schedule.  Here's what the first half of December looked like:

No Spend Day
$10.99 - Loblaws
No Spend Day
$5.50 - Tim Hortons
$6.37 - Walmart
No Spend Day
$37.12 - No Frills (2 full bags of groceries, lots of fruits/veggies...thank you price matching!)
$3.45 - Starbucks
$4.33 - Rexall
No Spend Day
No Spend Day
No Spend Day
$2.93 - Cinnabun
$30.17 - No Frills
$10.56 - Walmart
$43.45 - Chapters (renewed irewards, bought 2 childrens gifts to donate)
No Spend Day
$1.13 - Dollarama
$14.72 - Sobeys (good deal on chicken breasts)
$43.45 - Chapters (renewed irewards, bought 2 childrens gifts to donate)

Overall, a pretty good couple of weeks.  I put my big change (loonies, toonies) in my piggy bank, so I have less than $1 left.  Tomorrow I have a girl picking up the two Air Canada lounge passes I'd listed on Kijiji, so that will add $35 to my jars for this week.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Proud of My Hometown!

I was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario.  A medium-sized city (pop. 72,000ish) along the shores of Lake Huron.  It's great to be along the water in the summer....not so great in the winter.

We have gusty winters filled with snow.  I couldn't count how many times cars were buried in the driveway for the morning, or having to climb over a pile of snow at the door just to get outside.

Never though did I experience what's happened the past couple of days.  More than 300 cars were stranded along a stretch of highway between Sarnia and Strathroy.  Around lunch time rescue helicopters flew in, police cars picked up those stranded, and ploughs started to clear the highways.

For those stranded near exists so many people opened their homes to stranded strangers for warm blankets, food, water, and a bed. 

Whether it comes to being prepared for a snow storm or prepared if your pay is delayed a week because of a computer glitch, it's always important to have an emergency plan.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Scary Canadian Stats

According to the National Post, between 2000 and 2009 property taxes in Canada increased by 50%.

On top of that, Canadian households now have a debt-to-income ratio of 148% in the third quarter, new Statistics Canada data show.

If that wasn't enough, Canadian household debt has risen 6.7% and our disposable income has dropped 1.5% during the third quarter of this year (Globe and Mail, Dec. 14, 2010)

As a single-income household I know that in order to fall into the debt trap I need to work to avoid paying interest to my credit card, taking out a loan to pay for a vehicle, and falling behind in my long-term savings.  The burden is on me to make more money if I'd like to go on vacation. Despite complaining in the cold weather, I know that I need to contibue taking public transit to grocery shop or volunteer because my savings would take a hit if I were to purchase a car.  To stretch my weekly jar money even further I know that I need to shop at a lower priced grocery store and market in the summer to keep my food costs low.  I also know that I don't need a fancy umbrella, that my $12 one will work just fine.

What strategies do you use to avoid going into debt? 

Read more:

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Take on my Gym Membership

I have been severely lacking in my gym attendance the past couple of months.  I can't blame it on the weather, having a busy social life, working all hours of the day, etc. it's really just me not wanting to go.

So, I've decided to take a new approach to going.

I pay $33.34 bi-weekly for my membership.  Wow, that's $866.84/year!  That's almost a month's worth of rent.  So, from now on I will track each time the money is withdrawn from my account what each visit cost me during that period. 

Last period I went a total of 2 times.  Each visit cost me $16.67 -- eek.  My goal for the next period is to reduce that to $5.56 each visit (so, 6 visits).  Hopefully putting a dollar value to my attendance will help it improve.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Where I Invest

Yesterday Fabulously Broke asked me to post where I invest.  So, here goes!

I have two RRSP accounts with TD Canada Trust.  The purpose of account A is to save for a home.  I will be withdrawing from the account under the Canadian Home Buyers Plan - currently, I could withdraw $25,000. Account B is used for long-term retirement savings.

Here's a closer look at each account:
ACCOUNT A - House Fund
Balanced Income, 70/30 split between safety and risk.
TD Canada Bond Fund - Inception date 1988, MER* 1.05%, year to date growth of 7.2%, mix of corporate, federal, and provincial bonds.
TD Dividend Growth Fund - Inception date 1987, MER 1.92%, year to date growth of 4.7%, mix of Canadian equities and income trusts.
TD Canadian Equity Fund -   Inception date 1988, MER 2.07%, year to date growth of 6.4%, mostly Canadian equities.

ACCOUNT B - Retirement Savings
Aggressive Growth, 100% growth fund.
TD Dividend Growth Fund - see above
TD Precious Medals Fund - Inception date 1994, MER 2.15%, year to date growth of 26.4%, mostly Canadian equities.
TD US Mid-Cap Growth Fund - Inception date 1994, MER 2.42%, year to date growth of 9.6%, mostly US equities.
TD Diversified Monthly Income Fund - Inception date 1987, MER 2.18%, year to date growth of 6.5%, mix of Canadian equities, corporate bonds, and income trusts.
TD High Yield Bond Fund - Inception date 1998, MER 1.89%, year to date growth of 9.5%, mostly corporate bonds.

Management Expense Rate: The percentage of total fund assets that is used to cover expenses associated with the operation of a mutual fund. This amount is taken out of the fund's assets and lowers the return that fund holders achieve. These expenses include management fees and operating expenses. The management fee is the fee that is charged to the fund by the portfolio manager, and it is often a fixed percentage. The operating expenses are the expenses that the fund incurs through operation and this can include brokerage fees, taxes, investor services, and interest expenses.

Thus far I'm happy with my performance at TD.  The House Fund is growing at a small increment, and the Retirement Savings is growing at a better rate.  I only recently transferred my investments over to TD, so once I have some more concrete growth rates then I'll be happy to post those numbers.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Gail Survey

On Gail Vax-Oxlade's blog this morning women were asked to complete the following survey, so I thought I'd include it in my post this morning.

1. Do you control the purse strings when it comes to making decisions about household spending?
Yes....but I'm also the only person in the household.

2. Do you have the financial “last word” on spending in your family?
Yes....see above.

3. How often do you consult your partner before making fiscal decisions? (rank out of ten, ten being all the time, 1 being never)
When I did have a partner, whom I lived with, the number was 4.

4. Have you set a financial goal in the last year?
Yes, I sit down each month and determine both financial and personal goals to accomplish.

5. Do you have a financial plan to achieve your goal?
Yes, through automatic savings I am able to put money towards my goal of purchasing a home as well as for retirement, in my RRSPs.  I also have benchmark numbers that I'd like to meet to ensure that I reach that ultimate goal.

6. Are you in charge of your family’s financial education?

7. Have you actually taken steps to educate your kids?
I have no children, but my plan if/when the time comes is to educate them early and often about earning money, saving that money, and spending the money.

8. Do you consistently encourage your children to save money?
I will once they come.  I plan to open an RESP as soon as I have a child and will encourage aunts/uncles if they'd like to give birthday or Christmas gifts in monetary form that at least some of it goes into the RESP.  I expect my children to work during the summers to contribute to their Education Savings Plan as well.

9. How do you prefer to get your financial information?
  • Newspapers
  • TV - 2nd
  • Online
  • Blogs - 1st
  • Other: (what?)
10. If you do not take advantage of “financial news” sources, why not?
  • Lack of interest in financial news
  • Not relevant to my life
  • Boring
  • Too theoretical
  • Other: (what?)
11. How confident are you in your financial know-how? (rank out of ten, ten being extremely confident, 1 being not at all confident)
At this point, I'm a 7.5 - I would like to in the next 5 years to transition a bit of my investments in RRSPs to a self-directed savings plan, but I don't have enough knowledge at this moment to feel comfortable doing that.

12. How old are you:
  • Under 20
  • 20-30: 28
  • 31-40
  • 41-50
  • 51-60
  • Over 60
13. Do you have an advisor that you trust?
Yes, I just transfered my investments from RBC to TD and thus far I'm happy.  When my portfolio grows, then I'll be thinking about transferring the funds to an investment brokerage firm.

14. How confident do you feel that you know who to turn to for financial advice? (rank out of ten, ten being extremely confident, 1 being not at all confident)

15. Where to you live?
  • Canada
  • U.S.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reading today's Globe and Mail I came across this article entitled "Gifts for the financially savvy".  Looking through the article I see a piggy bank valued at $240, a digital receipt reader for $239.88, and a sleek looking shredder for $44.98.

What I've spent on personal finance tools in peanuts in comparison.  Seems to me the money the Globe and Mail article is suggesting could be better used elsewhere!

What I use:
- Toronto Maple Leafs piggy bank - gift, but probably worth $15
- Pocket calculator - $1 at dollar store
- "Gail jars" - $3.99 at Ikea
- Plastic filing box - $14.99 at Walmart
- Note book - $1 at dollar store
- Microsoft Excel - came with my computer
- Paper shredder - $14.99 at Staples

What tools do you use to help you stay on track financially?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How Do You Compare?

I read this article on Yahoo a few weeks ago, and thought I'd see how I measured up.  It is an American survey, but I can't imagine there would be huge differences in the results.

1) How Much Credit Card Debt Does Your Household Have?
A) Less than $5,000
B) Less than $10,000
C) More than $15,000

If you answered C, you are in the same boat as the 54 million American households that have credit card debt. The average credit card debt total per household is $15,788.
My answer is A - I actually have $0 credit card debt, in fact the Visa bill that came a few days ago is for -$2.51.

2) How Many Credit Cards Do You Have?
A) 0
B) 1
C) 3 or more
If you answered C, your stack of credit cards is the same size as the average American with 3.5 open credit cards. Approximately 51% of the U.S. population has at least two credit cards.
B - Just a Visa for me, although I'm thinking of switching the type of Visa I have with TD...I've checked and I wouldn't need to have a credit check done since my current Visa is with them.  I don't foresee myself using the GM $, so right now I'm not receiving any usable rewards for me.

3) What Kind of Credit Card(s) Do You Have?
A) American Express
B) Visa
C) Mastercard

If you answered B, you have the same credit card as more than 270 million Americans. The second most popular form of plastic cash is Mastercard with 203 million card carriers. In 1958, American Express became the first widely accepted charge card, but now it falls behind Visa, Mastercard and Discover (54.4 million) with 48.9 million in circulation.
B for me!

4) What Do You Spend Most of Your Annual Paycheck on?
A) Housing
B) Transportation
C) Food

If you answered A, your annual expenditures match those of the average American. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2008), the average American consumer spends 34% of their income on housing costs which include shelter, utilities, household supplies, and home furnishings and equipment. Transportation expenditures such as vehicle purchase, gasoline and public transportation take up 17% of the average annual budget. Food, both at and away from home, comes in third at 13%.

Most of my pay cheque goes to savings, but of these choices it would be A.  Housing is 29%, Transportation is 1-2%, and Food is 10%.

5) What Percentage of Your Annual Income Do You Save?
A) 6%
B) 15%
C) 10%

If you answered A, you are right on target with the average American. At 6%, American savings habits are ranked last among China (30%), Switzerland (14%) and Germany (13%). Less than half of Americans report that they save regularly. The highest rate of savings was during World War II when Americans were stashing away 26% of their earnings. During the Great Depression in 1932, Americans weren't saving at all with a rate of -1.1%.

Currently I am saving about 47% of my income, but that savings will be put into a down payment for my first home.  My long-term savings is at 10% right now.

6) What is Your Annual Household Income?
A) Less than $20,000
B) Less than $30,000
C) More than $40,000

If you chose C, you are earning as much income as the average American household. In 2009, the median household income in the U.S. was $49,777. Income tends to be highest in the Northeast and West part of the country at a median of $53,073 and $53,833 respectively. The Southern region of the U.S. has the lowest annual income median at $45,615.

My annual income is $47,000 in my full-time job.  According to 2008 Stats Can figures the average income for an unattached non-elderly female is $33,500, so it looks like I'm doing well! The median family income for Toronto in 2008 was $68,120.

7) What is (or Will Be) the Source of Your Retirement Income?
A) Social Security
B) Employer sponsored retirement savings plan
C) Employment income

If you chose A or C, you expect to get retirement money from the same source as 77% of working-aged Americans. Nearly the same amount of Americans, 75%, will use an employer-sponsored savings plan for their retirement income, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

I currently have RRSPs with one of my major banks.  I am not working for an employer that has a pension plan, so my entire retirement investments are from personal RRSPs. We'll see in 30 years where the Canadian Pension Plan is at!

8) What is Your Credit Score Rating?
A) Less than 600
B) 600 to 700
C) Greater than 700

If you chose B, your credit score is within the range of the average credit score in the U.S., which is 692. This is considered to be a fair to good credit rating. A credit score below 600 is generally labeled as a poor rating. A score in the 750-850 range or higher is an excellent score that will usually qualify you for the best interest rates on loans. According to Experian, residents of New England have the highest credit scores in the country at an average of 712. The West South Central region of the U.S. has the lowest average credit score at 673

I pulled my credit score within the past couple of months with both Trans Union and Equifax. My scores were 789 and 803. I was pretty happy with the scores. 

How well do you measure up in this quiz??

Monday, December 6, 2010

Incredible Generousity

Last week the non-profit organization I work for held its annual gala, breakfast, and awards ceremony.  All events were filled with great celebration and stories of the work that has been done over the past year.

This year's gala was filled with dozens of live and silent auction items.  The most impressive purchase of the night went as follows:
- Auction of a $35,000 Toyota car.
- 2 bidders right until the end.
- winner bids $32,000 and wins the car.
- winner donates the car back.
- losing bidder buys car for $31,000.

At first I didn't understand....he's giving the car back?  Then it hit me, the first winning bidder paid $32,000 and received NOTHING when he save the car back to be auctioned off again. I know that he'll be able to write off a good portion of this, but wow, $32,000!!!

In the future, when I've established myself career-wise and financially, I would love to be able to donate even 1/10th of this contribution to my favourite charities.

Friday, December 3, 2010

December Goals

Another month, another set of goals:
  • Save $1,500 (divided between RRSP, House Fund, Emergency Fund, and Trip Fund)
  • Spend no more than $75 in entertainment/eating out while at home over the holidays.
  • Read 1 personal finance and 1 book for fun
  • Donate to food bank (in food or money)
  • Exercise on 12 days
  • Limit eating lunch out to 1 time per paycheque (2 pays/month)
  • Attend 1 free event
I am anticipating that the exercise part will be my toughest challenge, but I didn't want to leave it out just because it might take more effort!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Update: November Goals

Here's how I've done on my goals for November:

- Save $1,500 - this can be in any of my savings accounts (house, emergency, travel)
This did not happen as I purchased health insurance, which was just over $1,400 as a yearly pre-payment

- Avoid 1 temptation to spend per week
Week 1 - trip to Tim Hortons twice this week, instead I made tea at work, saved $3
Week 2 - going out for dinner with a friend, instead I made dinner at home, saved $20
Week 3 - taking a cap, I took the bus instead and saved about $15
Week 4 - buying a shirt for my sister for Christmas....her gift was already finished, saved $35

- Go to the gym at least 12 times
Unsuccessful, that's for sure....but my gym bag is packed and is next to the front door for tomorrow.

- Have 100 visitors to my blog
This one I'm not too sure of....I have 1,000+ page views, but I'm not sure yet how to track individual users.-

- Read 1 personal finance and 1 fun book
Home Girl by Brenda Bouw, and The Confession by John Grisham

- Attend 2 events in Toronto....on the cheap!
Santa Claus Parade (free), Women's Show  ($12), Ontario Science Centre (Free on Teacher Day)

- Try 2 new recipes
Butternut squash soup, a new gourmet sandwich

I know that I could have done better in a couple of areas, but overall I'm happy with my accomplishments this month.