My September felt like this (photo by Loren Gu on Unsplash)
You know how it sometimes rains when it’s sunny? Or it rains for days on end, then suddenly the sunshine pokes through? Well that’s what September felt like to me—it was both rainy (busy and exhausting) and sunny (happy and fun-filled). Here’s what happened:
My email subscribers already know most of this (I tend to blab a little more about that stuff in my emails). But for those who aren’t subscribers, here’s what happened at the ESBFI household in September:
A tough few weeks
You may have noticed there was a gap in my posting schedule at the end of September. That’s because I had to set the blog aside when life threw me a few too many curveballs:
- Kid 2 was home sick for a few days. (It’s hard to get things done with a chatty 11YO by your side all day!)
- I caught Kid 2’s cold, and it knocked me out. I had no energy for more than two weeks.
- Our former homestay student Tanja (and her boyfriend Simon) came to stay with us for five days. We spent lots of time together sightseeing, chatting, eating, and just enjoying each others’ company.
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These photos are from Friday, when we had a sunny day out with our former homestay student Tanja. She and her boyfriend Simon stayed with us for five nights and are now on their way to Vancouver Island and Seattle. . Tanja lived us in 2006 when she was only 17! Kid 1 was only one at the time and Kid 2 wasn't even a twinkle in my eye. 😉 . My husband says Tanja is our Swiss daughter—and she really is. We feel like we raised her that year when she lived with us! We consoled her through friend troubles, saw her off in a limo for her grad party, and even taught her (a little bit) how to drive! . Since that time, she's come back to visit one other time (when Kid 2 was two) and met a lovely boyfriend named Simon. And every year, without fail, she emails each of us on our birthdays. She's just amazing. ❤️ . It was such a pleasure having Tanja back in our house again—but this time as a successful young woman with a wonderful, loving partner. We're so proud of the woman she's become and hope it won't be long before we see her again. (Perhaps in her homeland of Switzerland next time?) 🇨🇭 . I'm always in awe of the richness of life experiences that homestay hosting has brought us. We're incredibly fortunate to have been able to welcome so many amazing students into our home, and we look forward to continuing to host for many years to come. 🥰 We'll miss you dear Tanja. Until we meet again, auf wiedersehen! 👋
- My brother and his wife had a new baby (which meant a lot of excitement and fuss)!
- We hosted several dinners with family and friends. (Which is always yummy and fun, but it filled our calendar to the brim.)
- My kids had a bunch of school professional days, early dismissals, and late starts. Every week had a slightly different schedule! (Non-routine days/weeks really throw me out.)
- After Tanja and Simon left, we had to quickly change our guest rooms over. (Two new homestay students arrived just a week later.)
- My two review posts—Flashfood and Coast Capital—kept me very busy! Both needed a few rounds of updates (because info/details changed). And the Coast Capital post required a lot of back and forth with their marketing team to set up.
- Due to all the above, I stayed up way too late and got up early too many days in a row (which added to my exhaustion from being sick).
Basically, September wasn’t kind to me! But things have calmed down, and October should be much quieter. Slowly but surely, I’m getting caught up!
Aside from the craziness of the above, a few other things also happened in September:
The Saga of Mika concludes
As most of you already know, we’ve decided to keep our dog, Mika. I wrote two new posts about it for those who’d like to know more:
Back to school
The boys went back to school, which is sad for me because it means another summer has ended. It also means we’re back to the chaos of the school year (homework, forms, field trips, volunteering).
But it’s not all bad! It’s been good to get back to a routine. I’ve also enjoyed having more time to blog and get things done around the house.
Until next summer, dear Mustang
With the arrival of wet fall weather, M has put his beloved classic Mustang into storage. (We looked into daily or weekly insurance for the occasional nice weather days, but it’s too costly to justify.)
M will still see his car though—it’s safely stowed just minutes away in his parents’ garage. (His dad is a former mechanic, and has all the tools and equipment to work on it.)
They plan to tinker with it while it’s in storage, which will be nice for M as it’ll give him more quality time with his dad.
This is a new addition to my FI progress reports. I thought it might be helpful/interesting to note areas in which we spent more or less than usual. Let me know what you think!
We spent a lot more on eating out this month—$487 instead of our average $195/month. This included:
- A few meals out downtown with M’s Uncle Danny.
- Lunch out while we were waiting for my brother’s new baby to be born.
- Several meals out while taking our student Tanja and her boyfriend out sightseeing.
We love eating out and want to spend more on it because it makes us happy. But $500/month is more than we’d like to spend, so we’ll cut back in October.
In September, M bought a birthday gift for one co-worker and paid for a birthday lunch for another. We also bought a birthday gift for Kid 1’s friend. So our gift spending was higher than usual at $185 (it’s normally $100/month).[note]Now that the boys are older, birthday parties are far less frequent. In the heyday of friend/classmate birthday parties, our average gift spending used to be over $200/month! That’s now reduced to about $100/month.[/note]
This was our first purchase of raw food for Mika since she came to live with us. A case of food is $80 and lasts about 7 weeks. Add in treats and a nail trim/grind, and we ended up spending $118 on her this month.
Credit card annual fees
Earlier this month, we were charged $170 in annual fees for our Scotia Momentum Infinite Visas. I’m no longer happy with this card and plan to change it out soon.
Not only did they raise the fees ($120 + $50 for additional card vs the old fees of $99 + $30) but they also decreased the percentage earned on gas (2% instead of 4%).
Unfortunately, I can’t just cancel the card and have the annual fee refunded to me just yet. That’s because I’ll lose the $350 in cashback we’ve earned if I cancel before the card’s fiscal year-end in November.
Scotiabank advised me to leave things as-is, let my rewards post to my account, then cancel. At that time, they’ll pro-rate our annual fees then refund us for the months we didn’t use.
I plan to update my ‘what’s in my wallet’ post to let you know what our new favourite cards are. Sadly, it’ll no longer include the Scotia Momentum Infinite Visa.
- The chart displays the total value of our retirement investments. Our RESP, cash holdings, and home equity aren’t included.
- The huge jump in February 2018 was due to us refinancing our home and investing the funds. (This leveraged investing strategy cut our time to FI by four years.)
- The percentage at the bottom represents the growth/drop in our investments compared to the previous month. This includes investment growth/losses and any additions we made to our accounts.
It was another ‘meh’ month for our investments, with a drop of 0.3%. Not much else to say!
Side note: In my last update, I said a coming recession would mean tumbling stock markets… but I was wrong! I recently reread some of the excellent content on Ed Rempel’s site and came across these articles:
If you haven’t read Ed’s content before, I highly recommend that you do. He’s one of the smartest guys I know (which is one of the many reasons why we choose to work with him).
His blog is full of helpful, eye-opening articles that’ll get you thinking about investing in a whole new way. (And I’m not just saying this because he’s our financial planner—Ed really is amazing!)
September was an exciting month blog-wise—I finally made more than a few bucks in income!
I finally reached the Adsense payment threshold of $100 (and I actually surpassed it by $19). Wow, it only took me 9 long months to get here! Ha ha.
It’ll be a few weeks before I see the money though. I believe Google pays AdSense earnings on the third week of the following month.
While $119 isn’t much, it’s enormous for this still-new blogger. I hope it won’t take another 9 months to reach my next $100!
For the first time, I released some product reviews on the blog and saw some good results:
I’ve been loving the Flashfood app and finally had time to write a review to share it with all of you. For every person who signed up through my referral link, they received $5 and I received $7 in credits.
So far, I’ve received $21 in Flashfood credits—but I think they’re from my sister, mother-in-law, and my friend Shaidah! (There’s no way to know who signed up using my link, so I’m not sure if I’ve received any from readers.)
Hopefully there’ll be more credits coming my way in the future. But even if not, I’ll be happy just to help more people learn about Flashfood. The more who use it, the more food gets diverted from landfills… and that’s a very good thing.
Coast Capital Savings
It’ll be a while before I see any income from this, but I saw a total of 18 people signing up for a new Coast Capital account through my referral link! (Thank you to my readers who signed up and/or shared my review.)
At $50 per sign-up, that could be a very nice payout! But I won’t count my chickens before they hatch. For various reasons (lack of user follow-through, technical issues, delays in processing) I estimate that 25–40% of the referrals won’t go through.
Also, I’ll have to wait at least 60 days before I see any payout. The accounts first need to be opened (Coast Capital is quite backlogged on this). Then, each referral needs to fund their account with at least $100 and keep it open for at least 30 days.
After all that, it’ll be another 30 days before Coast Capital finally sends me my referral bonuses! I’ll report back on how this worked out in a future post.
A fantastic new blog about blogging
If you’re like me, and always trying to improve your blogging game, you’ll love This Online World. (I discovered Tom and his blog through this post on my blogging buddy Graham’s Reverse the Crush blog.)
Tom is an excellent writer with a lot of useful info to share. I find his blogging articles especially useful because they’re inspiring for beginner (or close to beginner) bloggers.
While Tom is definitely ahead of me, he’s not so far ahead that his accomplishments seem out of reach. If you’re in your first couple of years of blogging and looking for tips that’ll inspire instead of overwhelm, I highly recommend This Online World.
Money Mechanic, Ryan and I were busy with work and life in September so it was quiet on the podcast recording front. But we had a good backlog of recordings saved up, so we were still busy editing, writing show notes, and promoting new episodes.
In September, we released two excellent shows:
We had a fun chat with Archie from Toronto, Ontario in this interview. She tells us how living in high-cost Downtown Toronto is a FI choice, and why she loves FI meetups (even if they’re expensive to attend).
In this special episode, we give shout-outs to all our amazing listeners who’ve left comments, reviews, and sent emails. We also make a big announcement: EFIC will be starting a series of episodes based on my very own FI School!
Stay tuned for more awesome interviews and actionable, educational content from EFIC!
Send us your feedback!
Blogging and podcasting can be difficult and gruelling—especially if you have no idea how much of an impact you’re making. It can feel like you’re typing/speaking into an abyss!
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And that’s a wrap!
As always, I want to hear from you! Leave a comment below to tell me how September went for you. Was it a tough transition from summer to fall? Did you make any big money moves? Tell us about it!
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