Saving Money

I’ve taken a keen interest in financial planning, and what better way to get some experience with it than planning my own, personal finances? I’ve set myself the goal of being self-sufficient. My co-op terms make this goal quite possible, despite the regular plundering the University of Waterloo tuition performs on my bank account. I’ve been tracking my spending, prioritizing big purchases, and watching my co-op salary increase with each subsequent semester. But sometimes growing that top line just isn’t enough. Sometimes you just have to cut expenses.
So, I recently decided to start with one of the easier things to control, and with two quick phone calls, I saved nearly $400 per year on internet and cell phone expenses. It makes me cringe to think how much I’m spending to be able to save that amount.

The first call was to Rogers Wireless. I had read about a $20/month promotional plan that seemed to fit my calling patterns a bit better than the $30/month plan I had at the time. Most of my calls were made after 6pm, and most of them to other Rogers Wireless customers. Here’s what I had and what I switched to.

Previous:

  • 100 daytime minutes
  • Unlimited incoming
  • 1000 weekend/nights after 9pm
  • Unlimited Rogers to Rogers

Current:

  • 150 daytime minutes
  • 1000 weekend/nights after 6pm
  • Unlimited Rogers to Rogers

I tallied up my daytimes minutes for the past several months, and without the unlimited incoming feature, I realized I only make around 100 minutes of calls before 6pm. As a result, switching to the $20 plan wouldn’t affect my calling and I shouldn’t run into much if any overages. Unfortunately, I had to sign over another 3 years of my cellular life to Rogers, but hey, what other GSM choice do I really have?

I made another call today, this time to Bell Sympatico, regarding internet services. I’d been reading about TekSavvy, a regional ISP that delivers DSL server over Bell’s network. Their $29.95/month plan is much cheaper than the almost $50/month I’d been paying Bell to deliver essentially the same service. I initially called to cancel the Bell service to switch over to TekSavvy, but the customer service representative presented me an offer I couldn’t refuse – unlimited downloads/uploads and $29.95/month for a year.

The rep wanted to offer me the $29.95/month offer for 6 months only, and had to move me to a new plan, that included a 60GB download/upload cap. When I signed the initial contract with Bell Sympatico, it was still in the heydays of truly unlimited line usage. Even back then, they were one of the only providers to not cap usage, and shortly afterwards, they did move to a capped service. However, I reasoned with the representative and was able to renew my grandfathered plan for another year, all at the lower price.

With the two recurring expenses reduced, I’ll be saving just about $400 per year, after accounting for taxes. It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling inside. I can now look at buying a replacement for my (still) broken Sony Ericsson K790a (that’s another story for another time) without feeling more guilty.

Oh wait, I thought the whole point was to save money…

Links for Friday the 13th

No More Mail in Rebates

A couple weeks ago Best Buy announced that it was eliminating mail in rebates from manufacturers. I’m not sure how many times I’ve seen a great sale on a flyer, only to check the asterisk for more details and see that it’s actually $5 and an additional $50 in a mail in rebate. I’ve had a pretty good track record for actually getting mail in rebates back, but the fact is, they’re a pain to fill out. That’s not mentioning the fact that you still have to pay taxes before you can send off that rebate. And I guess it’s only natural that FutureShop (which is owned by Best Buy) has now eliminated mail in rebates as well.

Actually it’s not a great situation for some; the people who take the time to fill in rebates (such as myself) may lose a bit in value. Chances are, with manufacturer rebates gone, sale prices are going to look a little less tasty down the road.

Video Game Texture Piracy

You don’t hear about this sort of thing everyday – there’s talk around the ‘net about a major game ripping graphical assets from other games. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl has been accused by some of blatantly taking in-game textures from Doom 3 and Half Life 2. I mean if you’re going to take someone else’s game files you might want to at least change their filenames…

Vancouver and Dallas Go At It Again

I’ve been secretly rooting for the Canucks all year and the opening game of the Vancouver-Dallas series was quite the thriller. In fact, it was the sixth-longest game in NHL history, requiring over 78 minutes of extra time to end.

The two teams play again tonight.

Canada Buys Tanks?!

Not so long after the idea of scrapping the entire tank fleet and replacing them with Mobile Gun Systems (which are based on the Stryker platform, which is in turn based on Canada’s LAV III, which is in turn based on the Mowag Piranha) the Canadian government made it known that Canada will be replacing its fleet of 100-plus Leopard 1’s with 20 new Leopard 2A6M’s from Germany and up to 100 used Leopard 2’s from the Netherlands. The 20 advanced Leopard 2’s from Germany will be leased and sent directly to Afghanistan while the older Leopard 2’s from the Netherlands (which have been in storage for 10 years and actually never deployed) will be shipped to Canada later and refitted with, among other things, an air-conditioning system.

One of the main faults of the 30 year-old Leopard 1 is the lack of any sort of climate control inside the tank. As a result, under the Afghan sun, temperatures are reaching into the 60’s Celsius.

Hopefully the new tanks will make a difference – it’s sad to see so many of our soldiers dying.

Shopping Spree

I celebrated the commencement of Reading Week (aka a week off, sort of) by going to Toronto on Saturday and buying clothes. I hit up the Yorkdale mall and its exorbitant number of stores. I managed to pick up:

  • two short sleeve polo shrts
  • a long sleeve polo
  • a semi-dressy shirt
  • a button-neck sweater
  • a zip-up sweater
  • a couple long sleeve tees
  • two pairs of khakis
  • and a pair of jeans

It’s not that I even need much in the way of clothing. It’s just that I’ve developed this taste for European styles. The clothes fit so much nicer on me, partly due to my slightly skinny build. Baggy clothes = blah.

I also took a walk through the Holt Renfrew at Yorkdale just for shits. I gotta say, I could get used to shopping in a store like that. You feel rich just walking in it. I even took a sneaky picture of the Louis Vuitton shop in there. Some French guy with a pony tail and an accent was working; how stereotypical. I still can’t quite figure out how a 5cm by 5cm change purse could possibly fetch $300, but whatever.

Louis Vuitton

I found a couple reeeeally nice Chaps cricket shirts at Holt Renfrew, but the $110 price tag turned me away… One day when I’m not thinking properly, I’ll go in there and pick up a shirt or two.

Oh, if you want to see what I’ve been working on over the past couple days, take a gander over here. I’d say it’s probably 90% there; a lot of little details still need to be polished off, but it’s pretty close to being ported over to this site.

Airshow

Actually, this post is probably going to be a huge letdown since the pictures are on the other digital camera which my parents are currently in possession of. Hence, you’ll be seeing no photos probably until this coming weekend. It started with us leaving Niagara Falls around 11am, got to my place in Mississauga to drop some things off around 12:30pm. Then after driving aimlessly (it seemed like it…) we finally found ourselves on the Gardiner Expressway, headed towards Lakeshore. That was one hell of a drive. The roads were jam packed with cars. It seriously looked more like a parking lot than an expressway. After driving for a little over an hour, we finally got down to where the parks and the airshow was going on. Unfortunately, the parking lots were more than filled. People were parked behind other cars and it was basically a huge mess. We managed to find a spot in the median of Lakeshore Boulevard (yeah, it was that bad) and walked over to where we could actually see something.

We had missed a solid portion of the airshow already but I did get to see a CF-18 fighter jet, some random propeller planes and, of course, la piece the resistance, the Snowbirds. They are quite impressive. The synchronization is just phenomenal. I guess you don’t become famous for mediocrity. I took quite a few pictures, some of which turned out pretty decently. It’s pretty tough to get pictures of planes that are zooming by at low altitudes. The only thing I regret is not seeing that B1B Lancer bomber. That would definitely have been quite a sight. There’s always next year I guess.

There was also a festival thing going on. Tom Cochrane and Five for Fighting were performing along with some other bands; those are the two probably more well known ones. I didn’t really watch too much of it, but it’s sort of nice to be able to walk around and bump into a festival like that.

Well, that’s about it. I’ve got (essentially) a 3 day week this week since I’m going golfing on Thursday. I got my clubs from home and a few golf balls. It’s going to be one messy round I’m thinking. I’ve never played a 18 hole course before… Time to play some UT2003 before bed. 🙂

To all you people starting school again: Have fun. (yeah right) 😉

MacBooks Tomorrow?

Well, there are some strong rumours that the non-Pro MacBooks are going to be released by Apple tomorrow. 13.3″ widescreen and all the Apple aesthetics should be nice. I’m thinking of picking up a smaller laptop for my next one and getting a huge LCD + desktop for my next setup. That would be a nice balance of stationary power and mobility.

Played more ultimate frisbee today. Felt really good actually. I can tell I’m going to be somewhat sore tomorrow though. And look at that, 2 posts in one day at university, aren’t you proud? (okay, so they’re not really full posts, but it’s the best I can do for the time being) Time to watch an episode of House and then pass out.