Mika has enjoyed the loosening restrictions (and our return to the monthly Shiba meetup)!
June was a relatively uneventful month, but even uneventful months have moments worth sharing! Here’s how June went at the ESBFI household…
Same old, same old
Life in June hasn’t changed much. Our daily routine, which I shared in my last update, is almost identical to May. However, my kids finished school the third week of June, so the final week was a lot less scheduled and a lot more lazy.
Now we have two months of summer fun ahead! We’re still not sure how we’ll fill our days (it’s going to be a very different summer). But I think we’ll be getting outdoors A LOT with Mika!
COVID-19 in Vancouver
In Vancouver and the rest of our province, restrictions slowly loosened in May and June. According to modelling by our provincial health ministry, we’ll be able to keep the virus under control if we return to 60% of normal activity:
Even at 60% of normal, BC will be okay (Image credit: Government of British Columbia)
Over the last couple of weeks, our numbers have risen a bit, but there have been no crazy outbreaks. I have 100% faith in our public health team (led by the incredible Dr. Bonnie Henry) so I’m not worried.
This summer is probably the safest time to get somewhat back to normal here in Vancouver—before the inevitable second wave hits us in the fall.
Loosening our personal restrictions
With our numbers as low as they are right now, we’re feeling safer and have loosened our personal restrictions. During this lull, we’re okay with:
- Occasionally, less than 2 meters of distance from others (but only outdoors, and only with people we know are being careful).
- Going quickly into stores (only when necessary).
- Getting takeout more often.
- Not sanitizing takeout containers or groceries.
- Not quarantining mail and packages.
- Letting other people pet Mika (if she’ll let them—she is a grumpy Shiba, after all)!
- Petting other people’s dogs (as long as they’re okay with it).
We’re still playing it safe
However, the virus is still circulating, so I’m still not comfortable with:
- Indoor gatherings, even if they’re small.
- Sharing food and serving utensils (such as at a backyard barbecue).
- Eating in restaurants.
- Lengthy in-store shopping trips.
- Letting my kids hang out with their friends.
- Driving in a car with anyone other than my immediate family.
- Travelling (even locally).
I know I’m being extra-cautious, but it’s too much worry and effort to try and be safe in all these situations. Since they’re not essential activities, it’s easier to avoid them for now.
Wear your masks!
My pretty face mask, made by my friend, Doctor Jenny
We continue to limit how often we go into public indoor spaces. But when we have to go into stores, we always wear our masks. It’s just the right thing to do. As my new blogging friend, Dr. Plastic Picker wrote in a recent post, stop being a baby and wear your mask!
I honestly don’t understand why this is even an issue. It makes me so angry and frustrated! There’s a whole lot more that I could say but I won’t. Just follow Dr. Plastic Picker, and virtually every doctor’s advice and WEAR YOUR MASK!
I know my readers are the mask-wearing type, so this isn’t directed at you! It’s just hard to not be upset when I see our friends to the south suffering so much.
Our investments went up
We sold some of M’s recently-vested stock options and used the proceeds to finish topping up our TFSAs for 2020. Combined with the continuing stock market recovery, this helped our investments grow by 1.8% in June. We’re now back to where our investments were in December 2019—not bad!
My dad’s investments
The process of cleaning up my dad’s investments continued in June, with annoying bits of paperwork needing to be dealt with every week or two. Why are things like this never easy?! Some of the trickier things we had to deal with included:
- Converting his spousal RRSP into an individual RRSP.
- Calling his bank to ask if his locked-in RRSP was administered federally or provincially.
- Getting a form notarized so that we could unlock his locked-in RRSP.
Getting all this done during a pandemic was both easier and harder. It was easier because everyone’s more flexible about receiving scans and digital signatures instead of mailed-in forms.
But it was harder because we still needed some forms signed in-person. This meant we had to figure out how to get the forms to my dad and have him sign with us and a lawyer—while physical distancing.
It was a little awkward, but we’re 95% done. Hopefully, this is the last that I’ll be writing about it!
Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth
As I’d expected, I loved the book! Nick Murray’s investing philosophy is simple and timeless—buy and hold for the long term. In particular, he advocates investing in 100% equities.
This is how I invest, and it was reassuring to read this rational, non-jargony take on the subject. I highly recommend this book, and consider it a must-read for all investors.
We did a crazy thing
Call us crazy, but we rebooked our flights to Japan! (Yes, we really did!) Against my better judgement, I somewhat obsessively monitored flight prices from Vancouver to Tokyo for a spring 2021 trip.
When I saw the prices dip to $700, and then $600, I started getting excited, but I didn’t pull the trigger. With the airlines being as strict as they were with cancellations, I didn’t want to take any chances.
But then I saw an offer from Air Canada that was too good to pass up: if we booked before June 30*, we’d be able to cancel one time for free and receive a credit with no expiry. This was a no-brainer!
*I was mistaken, or Air Canada updated their deal, but now it appears to be running until July 31:
“We have implemented highly flexible and expanded booking options. You can make a one-time change without a fee for all new or existing bookings made through July 31, 2020 for original travel between March 1, 2020 and July 31, 2021. If you booked directly with Air Canada and you need to cancel for any reason, you can convert your ticket to an Air Canada Travel Voucher that has no expiry date or to Aeroplan Miles with an additional 65% bonus miles.”
The cherry (blossom) on top
We can’t wait to see the Japanese cherry blossoms again
The cherry on top came when I checked the flight prices again—they were now down to $572 per person, direct flight round trip from Vancouver to Tokyo! This is unheard-of for direct flights. (Even flights with 1, 2, or 3 stops rarely get this cheap!)
M and I talked it over and we agreed that it was worth going for. We’ll always be able to use Air Canada credits. And with the ability to cancel for free up until 2 hours prior to the flight, there was very little risk.
I booked the flights for a total of $2,288—$700 less than the flights we had to cancel in March. That savings alone more than pays for one of our tickets!
However, this all relies on the pandemic mostly abating and travel restrictions being lifted by next spring. I hope we aren’t being overly optimistic! We’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed…
Cashback for our property taxes
June was an expensive month! Not only did we pay for our flights to Japan, but we also paid for our property taxes. I was very fortunate last year that I was able to use Paytm to pay our property taxes with a credit card, which earned me some cashback.
Unfortunately, Paytm started charging service fees for this service, so I stopped using it. But the good news is, I found an alternative! However, I’m afraid to write about it too publicly. It’s a pretty amazing hack, and I fear that it’ll get too popular and be taken away.
We discussed it in the ChooseFI Canada Facebook group… so join the group and message me there and I’ll send you a link to the thread. You can also contact me and I’d be happy to share the info via email.
You can also try Google—if you do enough searching, you’ll figure out what I’m talking about. Much of the info is out there, but one of the ‘secret’ features isn’t openly listed. I just don’t want mention it here and be the one who blabs too much, then ruins it for everyone!
Again, feel free to contact me and I’ll tell you more. Just keep it to yourself, ‘kay? 🙂
And that’s a wrap!
How was your June? Are there still restrictions where you are? I’d love to hear from you—leave a comment below and let me know how you’re doing.
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