Comic that popped into my head at 5am this morning when I couldn’t get back to sleep…

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Prince Edward Island: A Place I Always Return To

Although I grew up in New Brunswick, many areas of Prince Edward Island feel almost as much like home to me as Saint John, Quispamsis, and Rothesay. Right now my hubby Dustin and I are on a 3 night mini-excursion on PEI before we return to Saint John and wrap up our 2 week visit to New Brunswick.

I don’t have any family in PEI, but this island has been a place that my family has traveled to together for many summers. Sometimes it was just me, my sister, my parents and our dogs. Other times our grandparents and cousins, accompanied us, and we made so many fun memories. (My cousin Tara and I still fondly recall the time as kids when we arrived at Twin Shores campground at different times- when we saw eachother from across a field we ran dramatically to eachother with arms outstretched, laughing, seemingly in slow-motion).

While only a 2.5ish hour drive from my family in NB, PEI is an island paradise in the summer with its red mud, clean sandy beaches, and delicious, fresh seafood.

^New Glasgow Lobster Suppers is my favorite place to get a good feeding of seafood when I’m here.

During the summer tourism season there are plenty of weird and wonderful little spots to check out if you encounter a rainy day: Wax museums, mini golf, amusement parks, waterslides, fairy gardens, Cow’s Ice Cream, Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, boardwalk marketplaces, tourist villages, small local restaurants and shops, a ‘haunted mansion’, even a potato museum! (I’ve never been to the potato museum, but I kind of want to go just so I can say I went to a potato museum.)

^Anne is a charming character that you will encounter everywhere here, from L.M. Montgomery’s beloved Anne of Green Gables series.

Some of my favorite attractions are sadly no more. I was really heartbroken when I found out that Rainbow Valley, a unique family park full of strange curios and rides, was being taken down. Rainbow Valley was a fairly recent loss, but Fairyland is another memorable place that I have vague, dreamlike memories about: visiting grandmother’s cottage and finding the wolf under the covers!

One memorable PEI trip before my sister was born, my parents and I were camping during a crazy, windy rainstorm. One entire side of our aging crank-up camper blew off in the middle of the night. We ended up seeking refuge with the camper nextdoor- a posh old woman and her flatulent pug.

^This trip we arrived in some pretty windy, wet weather, but it’s since cleared up. Nowadays you can take the Confederation Bridge, but I remember taking the ferries when I was a kid!

If while in PEI you are fortunate enough to have a sunny day that isn’t too windy, the beaches here are something you shouldn’t miss. You can visit Cavendish Beach or several other beaches directly by car, but my favorite way to experience the beaches is to rent a campsite or cottage by the seaside. Twin Shores campground has been our family go-to since I was a kid, but they have surged in popularity, so you’ll want to book ahead. This time Dustin and I are staying at Adam’s Seaside Cottages, just down the road a ways from Twin Shores. This is a lovely, cosy little spot directly on the beachfront!

***Edit: Thanks so much Matthew for linking this post on your awesome blog with my first ever blog badge 🤩✨ I really appreciate it!

Two Canadian Women Who Changed the Way I Spend & Save

My hubby and I went to Japan last year. It was the most amazing three weeks of my life, and I look back on it so fondly every single day. We spent a lot of money on the trip- a lot. It was our honeymoon, so we went all out.

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For the first time ever, after our trip to Japan, I had lingering credit card debt that I wasn’t able to pay off right away. Previously I would never carry a balance on my cards, always paying them off before interest could accrue, but in Japan it was easy to justify charging tons of purchases to my cards, or even using them to withdraw Japanese yen, since “heck, it’s not every day we’re in Ikebukuro!”

To be honest, I don’t regret relying on my cards on that trip and bringing some debt home with me. It was an unforgettable trip, filled with delicious food, shinkansen (bullet trains), museums, ryokan (traditional inns), theme cafes, onsen (hot springs), arcades, and shopping. I treasure every little souvenir and photo book from that trip.

What I did realize, though, was that, because of my regular spending habits, what should have been a relatively easy few thousand dollars to pay off became a hefty burden. Despite my efforts to get the balance down each month, paying huge chunks off with every paycheck, by the end of the month the balance had risen significantly again, mainly because of my regular habits of shopping online.

I can try to defend my online shopping in a lot of ways- we had recently moved, and so we had new rooms that were bare without furniture and other items. Our new place has garden beds, and I felt obligated to get some gardening supplies and try to maintain what the previous owners left behind. My artistic hobbies inspired me to try new mediums, so of course I needed those expensive markers and calligraphy nibs.

The truth is though, most of the time my shopping wasn’t driven by a need- I was browsing the deals on Amazon, chasing the high of new and shiny things. I’m a very privileged person, I am thankful to be able to say that I have all the material wealth I need. So why did I feel compelled to always buy more, more, more?

Disappointed in my apparent mess of a budget, I did what I always do- I turned to the library for answers. A few months ago I found this book called Worry Free Money by Shannon Lee Simmons.

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A lot of times in the past when I tried to read financial books, I lost interest partway through because a lot of the information didn’t apply to me, or wasn’t practical or realistic. Worry Free Money is the first financial book that I read from cover to cover. As soon as I was finished, I created my own financial plan following the simple guidelines in the book.

I can’t believe I had ever tried to make budgets in the past that allocated specific percentages for clothes, entertainment, food, and so on. Who spends like that?! What we spend our money on differs from month to month according to a lot of different factors, so it makes so much more sense to plan the way Simmons explains:

monthly income – fixed expenses – meaningful savings (RRSP, etc) – short-term savings = available spending money. Simple as that.

shannonleesimmons^Thanks, Shannon!

Yes, it’s so simple, but it was a game-changer for me in that it made budgeting approachable, set out an understandable plan I could actually stick to, and encouraged me to determine a set amount I wanted to save each month. I set up an RRSP and began actively contributing to my TFSA again (it had been gathering cobwebs for a while, largely ignored).

However, the problem remained that I had a compulsion to order things I didn’t need, mainly from Amazon. I wasn’t hitting my saving goals, and my credit card balance continued to fluctuate- despite having paid down the initial spending from Japan long ago, it was quickly replaced with a balance from my compulsive late night shopping binges.

Back to the library!

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I picked up The Year of Less, and was inspired by Cait’s decision to set a shopping ban for herself. Cait made a successful effort to stop seeking more material things and instead dedicate her money largely toward memorable and meaningful experiences like travel.

Ever since our trip to Japan, I’ve been dreaming of going back for another visit, but thinking it would be a long time before we could ever make an expensive vacation like that again. Cait’s book make me realize that travelling has been far more enriching for my life than the illusion of happiness provided by clicking “complete purchase” on a cart full of stuff.

cait^Thanks, Cait!

Thanks to these women, I now have a renewed focus on spending less and saving more. My willpower is bolstered by beautiful memories of Hyōgo, Kyoto, Gunma, Tokyo, Osaka, and imaginings of other places in Japan, and the world, that we have yet to visit. 20171015_232501

 

 

Nelvana of the Northern Lights

Today I checked out Nelvana of the Northern Lights by Adrian Dingle, edited by Rachel Richey and Hope Nicholson.

I’m glad that this book was made so that the general public have a chance to learn about Nelvana, a part of Canadian comics history and one of the first female superheroes.

The introductions give an interesting look into the process and passion of those who helped get this book into print. I’m greatful that the introductions put into perspective that this series is a product of its times- unfortunately there are some culturally insensitive caricatures within the series. As Benjamin Woo States in the intro, it is ‘tempting to imagine an alternate history where the character could have continued to mature with its readers and the country as a whole… What if we had sixty years of Nelvana comics to look at, instead of the handful of stories that were actually produced?’