Firming Up Your Financial Future — A Financial Literacy Month Wrap-Up by Casey Palmer and Scotiabank!

We need to evolve our money mindset.

November’s Financial Literacy Month, and it gives us a real opportunity to take a look at our books and what we’re trying to do with our resources at hand. School. Kids. A new home or retirement—goals quickly become pipe dreams if we don’t know how to plan for our success.

Take a moment and ask yourself just how much you know about your finances. Are you choosing the right investments?  Making the right moves today for a better tomorrow? The sad truth is far too few Canadians are well-versed in financial matters, and in an age where Canadians are continuously borrowing significantly more than they’re earning, that makes for one huge problem!

A Time for Planning

Casey Palmer, circa 2002, who confused “fresh to death” with “vest of death”. Hoo boy.

We need to keep life as interesting as possible, lest we lose the will to live life at all.

It sounds drastic, but it’s true. We get to January  and all of a sudden, all the awesome that happened in December is long gone, leaving us with credit card bills, miserable weather, short days and dull routines. Life is so short and yet, without fail, we do this to ourselves every year, searching for something that can get our excitement levels back up.

This week was all work and planning. Planning communication  strategies for my church. Planning out the future of Mansformation. Planning with financial planners to make sure that Sarah and I have a solid financial plan.

That’s a lot of planning, for someone who hates planning. But it’s all necessary in its own way, helping make way for bigger and better things later in the year!

Sometimes, though, it’s the little things that can make all the difference.

Changing our look. Putting a new skin on a phone. Or, in my case, working on checking items from a massive list.

There was that one party this past weekend…

To get you a little up to speed…

#5 — Sell all the stuff I’ve meant to sell

This could also be listed a “give away all the stuff I’ve meant to give away”. I’ve had a problem with clutter for ages and ages — having too much crap in my life makes me less effective as a person. It makes me invest more time in finding things when they’re misplaced, or makes me use more energy to figure out how all the bits and pieces I have stashed away in the house can work better together.

So I’m working harder at saying bye-bye to anything that’s unnecessary! Some of the stuff I’ve decided to get rid of and find a better home include:

  • My collapsible, portable easel and paintbrushes which I sold to a friend taking a painting class
  • I’m sending a Flip Video UltraHD to a friend in the States in need of a decent video camera

More to come, since I still have some boxes of other stuff around the house!

#25 — Get a local doctor and #26 — Get a local dentist

After years of self-neglect due simply to the fact that my health care providers were too far for my liking, I finally put the paperwork through to move everything to Toronto from Mississauga! Appointments are scheduled this week and next, and if I’m lucky, I’ll come out of them a changed man!

#39 — Get all the outstanding work off of my plate at the 9-to-5

With me wrapping my current role up on Valentine’s Day (of all days) due to an unexpected turn of events, this one should more or less wrap itself up nicely. A PowerPoint presentation here and an Excel workbook there should help me see the end of it and help me move on to some new challenges!

(Which is always good for me, since I lose steam if I’m working on the same thing for too long!)

#50 — Read all my old yearbook signings and candygrams to get a better understanding of the journey I’ve travelled

The seal has officially been broken on the memory box, and I’ve already started reading through a lot of old stuff.

It’s always so surprising how many memories we can forget!!!

#53 — Eat breakfast more often

Still working on refining my daily routine, but I’m getting a little better at making sure to stuff a pain au chocolat into my system — at the very least — to start my day!

#96 — Take photos at Caribana

2003 was an interesting year, where somehow I found myself in Caribana in all sorts of compromising pictures…

Looks like I’ve made some contacts who’ll make getting a Media Pass or Marshall’s badge far easier, so I’ll follow-up with them and make some magic happen!

#98 — Carry less paper

I write my posts by hand first, and the more I get out, the more paper vanishes from my life and into the recycling bin! The plan? Keep writing and move to Moleskine notebooks and a system that’s a heckuva lot more compact! While I haven’t made it to the “Great Purge” yet, my backpack is definitely starting to get lighter!

So until the next time, remember — your character is truly determined by what you’re doing when people aren’t watching.

So why not do something you’ll be proud of?

The world will follow suit.

–case p.

Gearing Up: The Tanzania Chronicles #2

One thing I didn’t anticipate when planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro is that the gear would cost nearly as much as the trip itself!

Usually, Sarah and I try to be a bit frugal with our decisions, checking whether we need to get top-of-the-line items in all circumstances. (Hint: When it comes to clothing and tech, the answer is almost always yes.) But with this trip, I sense that the difference between getting passable and great gear is a little closer to the difference between life or death, so I told Sarah that I was willing to pay whatever I had to to make sure that I’d be back in one piece.

I just didn’t realize how much that cost would be.

Take a look at this checklist. It’s the guide we’re using to make sure we have everything we need for the climb. At first, it might not look like a lot, until you go into a store — in our case, Mountain Equipment Co-op — and start asking questions.

When moisture-wicking socks cost $23 a pair, I’ll leave it to your imaginations just how much it’d cost to buy anything made up of more fabric than a pair of socks (i.e. most everything else on the list!)

$23.50 for two socks. Something about this just seems so WRONG.

Some people have asked — why didn’t we just rent? But we thought about that too, and because of how moisture-wicking fabric is made, the coating that keeps you from getting soaked in sweat (something you don’t want to happen when you’re exposed to the elements in tents at sub-zero weather) does erode over time, so the only way to be certain of getting good-quality gear is to buy it new.

Alas.

The small comfort I can get from all of this is that it’s a purchase I don’t see us making again anytime soon (if ever). Jackets for every seasons and reason, clothes that’re lightweight yet warm — it’s moments like these where it’s good to live in Canada, where I’m sure I’ll find a use for all of these.

–case p.

An Excuse to Keep Fit: The Tanzania Chronicles #1

If you don’t know, now you know.

Sarah and I have a major event coming up in our lives — a trip to Tanzania! But this isn’t just any old vacation — no, over three weeks, we’ll:

  • Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro;
  • Go on safari in the Serengeti; and
  • Spend some time on the beaches of Zanzibar

I claim no credit for organizing or dreaming of this trip — I’m a city boy through and through; mountain-climbing had never even registered as a possibility in my life — but with our good friends having taken 6 months off of work to explore the world, we figured that joining them for 3 weeks wouldn’t be too much of a problem.

But like I said — this isn’t any old vacation. You can’t just decide to climb a mountain one day and do it the next — the more you condition yourself before you try to do it, the more likely you’ll succeed at reaching the summit. So since we live at sea level and couldn’t prepare ourselves for the altitude, we decided to walk and build our endurance instead.

If I were to give what we’re doing a project name, it’d be Walk Your City — you get such a different perspective of where you live when you travel by foot — I know we wouldn’t have discovered most of the things that we have had we relied simply on driving or public transit! I’ll share some of our discoveries in upcoming posts 🙂

When we first decided to walk, we were gung-ho about it:

  • 1 hour of dodgeball on Mondays
  • 2 hours of walking after work Tuesdays through Thursdays
  • 4-6 hours of walking on Sundays after church

But while the intentions were genuine, we needed to remember that life wasn’t about to stand still while we tried to do this — we would actively need to make it our top priority if we planned to stick to it. And I know that I didn’t always put it at the top of my list, letting other things get in the way, like:

  • volunteering as a photographer for Social Media Week Toronto
  • signing up to jam in the 2012 Toronto Service Design Jam
  • joining a friend’s Ultimate Frisbee team on Thursday nights
  • keeping a challenging day job, filled with demands on time and energy

So now, it’s all about getting back on that horse and seeing this through — this isn’t the kind of opportunity that presents itself every day, and I know I’ll be kicking myself if we don’t succeed because we stopped trying!

Good thing that my calendar for the next month pretty clear!

Watch out, Toronto — my feet are ready to walk!!!

–case p.

The 2K11 24/7 CCXCII: Planning to Fail

Those who fail to plan plan to fail. How true it is. Planning isn't something that comes naturally to me at all. I rather do things flying by the seat of my pants, forever improvising and adjusting my path to achieve success. It's worked pretty well so far — I'm not incapable of thinking ahead, I just don't like to do it. But you sure do learn a lot through the planning that you failed to do.

The 2K11 24/7 has been quite the journey so far — in a little over a week from now, we'll be looking at the 300th post of the year (and what a post it'll be)! But because I decided to do daily posts this year, because I chose to delve deeper into the world of blogging than I ever had in the past, there's a number of lessons I've learned through the entire experience…