I made many mistakes over the years, especially when I first came to Canada. Maybe these “lessons learn” can help you?
It came down to either paying hosting fees and keeping the blog online or just giving up on ten years of blogging.
Armed with a credit or debit card, some cash and a giant cart with greasy handles, you can buy whatever you need, whenever you need it. Extended shopping hours, helpful employees, rewards and discounts will make any shopping trip a true pleasure.
Occasionally, when I’m done feeling inadequate as a mother and when I’m tired to worry about the state of the world, I decide to freak out about money.
Just in the last month, MEXX, Smart Set and Futureshop have folded abruptly. I guess the pair of red cargo pants I bought at MEXX in 2005 are now a collector’s item.
I stopped splurging on sandals a long time ago. I have tried all the major brands, from store-brand shoes to big names in footwear such as like Clarks, Sketchers and Nike. I have spent as little as $15 to as much as $100. The result is always the same: no pair of sandals can last an entire summer.
Malls open early and close late. They are well lit, well heated and provide clean restrooms. Okay, this short description makes it sound like I am homeless. I am not. But I have a toddler in tow—same needs, really.
I am usually pretty good at dealing with applications and legalese (I filled my own visa, permanent residence and citizenship applications all by myself, after all!) but to me, tax return forms are cryptic pieces of paper, even after eight years in Canada.
So I looked for a tax specialist… and ta-da! I found Allan Fefergrad, CPA, CGA, from Better Tax Services, a Montreal-based accounting firm.
Other professionals don’t work for free. Creative people shouldn’t either.
And incidentally, neither should immigrants.
Don’t get me wrong: volunteering can be a great way to rebuild a network in your field when you arrive in Canada, to gain Canadian work experience and to update or expand your skills.
It’s no secret that Paris is a pretty expensive city, for both travelers and residents. You can always save on transportation by buying a subway pass or walking everywhere, and save on food by eating like locals, favourite small boulangeries rather than pricey restaurants.
But you still have to sleep somewhere. And trust me, staying in a convenient and clean place makes all the difference in a city like Paris, that can be a bit chaotic at times. You want a nice bed and a good shower at the end of the day, after a few stinky subway rides.
When I first learned I was pregnant, my first thought was “me, a mother, seriously?” It was quickly followed by “oh my God, I’m going to have to sell my body on Ottawa’s coldest streets to pay for onesies and Winnie the Pooh toys!”
“Finally, we get something out of that kid!” I joke while opening the brown envelop from the Canada Revenue Agency. I already know what’s inside: a cheque for $300—the exact amount for three instalments of the new Universal Child Care Benefit. Or, as well call it at home, diaper and formula money.
In spring 2011, I was wondering whether group coupons were a bitter or sweet deal. And here we are, in late 2012: I completely stopped buying group deals. I guess I answered my own question… and here is the rationale behind my decision.
Unlike in France, money is not a taboo in North America. It took me a long time to overcome my French way of dealing with personal finance, which was basically “don’t even mention it”. The problem is, when you don’t talk about money, you don’t learn any tricks.
In Canada, there are three main ways to pay for goods and services: cash, debit or credit. But which one is the best payment method? That’s the question I asked myself recently, when queuing at the supermarket and observing customers at checkout.
It took me a while to start behaving as a consumer in Canada. At first, I marveled at how accommodating businesses were: customers could exchange merchandise, ask for refunds, demand to speak to a manger, complain about a service etc. I wouldn’t have dare to do so in France, first because there was little chance the business would actually care, second because it’s cultural—French consumers suck it up.
On Monday afternoon, the phone rang. I picked up and heard two seconds of static, often a telltale sign of telemarketing. I’m not sure why I didn’t hang up the phone. I usually do—we get a lot of telemarketing calls, and I have no patience for sales pitch at 2 p.m.
When I first came to Canada, I did notice stacks of flyers filling the mailbox and catalogues left periodically at the front door, but I didn’t think much of it. Spontaneously, I’d put all that in the recycle bin. I mean, I hadn’t skimmed through a brochure since I was a six years old impatiently waiting to look at the Galerie Lafayette toys catalogue around Christmas time!
Christmas shopping is underway in most parts of North America and a lot of consumers took advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. So, how to not become poor in Canada? How to manage your money smartly?
Here are ten useful tips.
In 2008, I wrote a first article titled Making Money with Your Blog, in which I detailed the progress of monetizing my blog. Since then, a lot changed. For the better, mostly.
Comparing cost of living between two countries is a national sport among immigrants. It’s a touchy debate because unless you’re an economist, it’s hard to make an accurate cost of living comparison. First, it depends on where you lived before (for instance, life in Paris is invariably more expensive than in Brittany) and where you are in Canada (you can’t compare Nunavut with Saskatchewan). Second, our perception is also easily skewed even though economically it all comes down to purchasing power.
So, you got scammed and now it’s too late. You feel angry and embarrassed and you wish you had trusted that gut feeling.
What can you do now?
Two words: report it.
The steps you need to take mostly depend on the type of fraud and on the nature of the scam.
How many times a day does this scenario happen to you? The phone rings and you drop whatever you were doing to pick it up, only to hear a familiar pause, and then a mechanical voice reeling off a script.
“I’m not interested, thank you”. You hang up and sigh. Bloody telemarketers.
Unless you spent the last few years in a cave, you probably noted the emergence of dozens of “group coupon” websites: Groupon, LivingSocial, Koopon, DealFind and many other are probably already serving your city. Simply type the name of your city plus “deal” and they will pop up in your search results.