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Saving Money & Investing: The Menstrual Way!

So with how unstable the world economy is right now, I figured I’d touch on the topic of saving money and investing. Now of course, what does this have to do with menstruation? Well after all, I try to keep things on-topic so of course it has to do with menstruation! I regularly talk to men and women about menstruation, particularly relating to feminine hygiene products. Why though, do I touch on this topic so often? It’s because menstruation costs money, seriously! If you’re a disposable products user (or once was), you’ll know exactly how much your period is costing you every month, every year. Now I understand that the world runs off businesses and things cost money, so I’m not going to say that feminine hygiene companies and manufactures are evil, but what is evil, is that in countries like mine (Canada), feminine hygiene products not only cost money, but the government taxes you on basic hygienic needs. Suffice to say, it’s not realistic for feminine hygiene products to be free, but the government already gets a double-dipping just because your menstruate (or buy the product). Suffice to say, I often hear my girls talk about their lack of money and that they’ll cut back on this-and-that, but rarely do I hear them consider their spending on feminine hygiene needs.

As someone who menstruates or purchases feminine hygiene products, the Canadian government feels that you should be penalized – or – at the very least, that they deserve an additional cut on your feminine hygiene supplies. How does the government get a nice double-cut of your products? Simple. First, the company which sells you your products has their revenues taxed. Second, as a consumer of feminine hygiene products, we also pay an additional 5% which also goes to the government. It’s of course fair for the government to tax companies (and individuals) for income earned, because after all, that’s what keeps the country up and going… however, they also earn an additional 5% because you happen to menstruate or use such supplies. As of 2009, it is said that the federal government of Canada penalizes women by an estimated $69 million per year¹!

Ok, so enough about our government since we’re not the only country who has such taxes for feminine hygiene supplies, but rest-assured, menstruating costs you money! So in a year of doubtful economy recovery and rising costs-of-living, feminine hygiene products should be the least of one’s concerns! So how can we alleviate such concerns? Let’s consider individuals such as students who work off limited resources (unless your family happens to be very wealthy) or low-class households who have small budgets, cost of feminine hygiene supplies add up very quickly. I’ll use one of my friends as an example:

She is a student and her tuition is already paid for by her parents. The only thing her parents expect of her is to maintain enough money to: 1) Pay for her living expenses, 2) personal/entertainment spending, and, 3) basic needs. She works part time and every week she earns about $200 gross, so don’t forget about income tax and general deductions. Assuming she is lucky enough to have that same schedule throughout the month, her approximate income is $800 over 4 weeks. Without going into the details of “sales”, let’s assume every period you spend about $6 approximately 20 pads or tampons. Of course this varies per person based on flow and also let’s not discount that dollar amount only applies to “active” menstruating times… many women also use pantiliners throughout their cycle which may really bump those figures upward. In a year, that’s $72. Wow, that $6 sure doesn’t look like a large chunk of $800 right? $400 goes to rent and that’s very basic ($400 left). $100 goes to utilities not covered by the rent ($300 left). $150 goes to groceries ($150 left). $70 goes to transportation ($80 left). Let’s not even get into things like movies, bars, clothing, haircuts or whatnot, so she has approximate $80 left in a month of “other” spending. So in a month 7.5% of her “left over” money needs to be spent on her pads and tampons. I removed the taxation aspect of her pay since individuals who make under the exemption in Canada doesn’t need to pay any taxes. All of a sudden, her cost of disposable products is a considerable amount.

So what can one do to help alleviate the cost? Well certainly “free bleeding” is an option for those with extremely light periods but is probably not the case for most women. I’m sure quite a few of you know I’m leading up to the idea of reusable menstrual products. Cloth pads, menstrual cups, sea sponges and the likes all are a great form of cutting costs from where it hurts (no pun intended). I have lightly touched on the topics of reusable products in the past and there is a world full of amazing sites on these products that can be accessed via Google, so you’re welcome to reference it. No doubt, reusable products have an initial “high-cost” impact, as such products can range from $40 to $150 (for full ‘period’ set of products), which may account for a year or two of purchasing conventional disposable products. Nevertheless, most of these reusable products lasts 4-5 years, therefore it’s a “long-term” investment. What I should point out is that unlike menstrual cups which usually require some form of manufacturing, it’s possible to make your own cloth pads with some material and know-how. Menstrual cups tend to be quickest “recovery” of invested money with short of a year worth of feminine hygiene supplies.

I suppose the question may come up about the cost of extra water spent on the cleaning of these products. I haven’t had any experience with sea sponges, so let’s put that aside for now. However, in the case of menstrual cups and cloth pads, the “additional cost” (if any) is miniscule. For cloth pads, unless they’re heavily saturated, cloth pads can be thrown in with regularly laundry. Some people opt to pre-rince them or use stain remover, but that’s strictly a personal choice or “as needed” based on the degree of pad saturation. Menstrual cups are even easier to clean since it’s a matter of “dump and wash” – although to enhance the sterility of the cup, it is usually recommended to do a boiling-water submersion to prepare it for the next period. All this doesn’t equate to a lot of additional water used.

As I mentioned before, some women like to use pantiliners all-cycle round, which makes cloth pantiliners even more attractive! Buying a weeks worth of cloth liners (or if you decide to make them) will keep you protected and can go in the weekly laundry anyway. For the women who feel that they’d feel more comfortable using reusable products only at home, that is still a great idea! There probably are women out there who use reusables at home and disposables outside. Feminine hygiene options are a personal choice of course, so you do what you feel is best and most relaxing. If I menstruated, I think I’d also do the same, although I really really like the idea of cloth pads! I also give the thumbs up for cups since they’re to only product that can provide you with a “one unit, many uses” product such that, you can carry it in your purse and not have to carry 3-4 pads or tampons for just-in-case, but being able to use that cup over and over again during a day! Can you see how this is more than just a cost-effective option?

Now that we’ve spent so much time on highlighting the cost savings of reusable products, let’s consider the investment part of this. What are you investing in when it comes to using reusable feminine hygiene products? Not only money, but in your health and the environment, something that you simply cannot attach a price tag too! In fact, wouldn’t almost everyone agree that your health is of utmost importance? Reusable feminine hygiene options are a beautiful way to keep trash out of the landfill and if only people took the time to think about how many pads and tampons are disposed of daily which is making a huge impact on pollution. Your ‘typical’ companies also manufacturer pads and tampons that will likely not degrade for ages. Think about what you want to leave the next generation, because 500 years from now, those who have inherited the earth from us will still be digging up your used pads and tampons … or well, at least walking and living on top of them!

I understand that it’s easier to spend $6 a bit at a time rather than a hundred dollars up front. I also understand some people are under financial constraints and putting that kind of money down initially may not be possible. However, if there’s anything next to survival needs that I’d invest in if I menstruated, it would be in either cloth pads or a menstrual cup! Over time, I’m saving myself tons of money and also investing in my own health, keeping chemically-treated and synthetic products away from my body. Also, there’s a reason why cotton panties are popular, because it’s comfortable, natural, allows your body to ‘breathe’ and as a result, healthy. Likewise, many cloth pads are made of cotton and other non-chemically treated absorbent materials. What are two important factors of any feminine hygiene product? Comfort and Absorbency! Cloth pads and menstrual cups have just that, at a fraction (over time) of the cost and is a great way to investing in future generations and that of your very own body! You may also find yourself surprizingly becoming more open about your body and menstruation when you open your mind and adopt reusable products. I have found that some of the most open-minded women I talk to about their bodies and periods tend to be ones who are use such products. Of course it may be because they were receptive enough to try these products in the first place, but you may find yourself suddenly becoming period-positive which is what I hope ALL men and women achieve!

The next time your “visitor” drops by, consider making the switch to a healthier, eco-friendly and more period-positive you!

Moms Say the Darnest Things…

So let me start by talking about a little “incident” over the last week that has been kind of creepy (although, positively creepy). About 2 weeks ago I had a coworker who is a big fan of psychics and each year, about this this time of year, they come to our city. Ever since my dad passed away, each time she goes to the psychic, they would be always sense my dad’s presence as not only were they coworkers, but great friends as well. At around 8PM the night she went to the psychic fair, she sent me a funny message saying that my dad came through “very strong” and that he was asking about what happened with the car (I recently had work done on my car due to some fuel efficiency problems) and that he is waiting for his grandchildren now! I laughed and although it’s always nice to hear things about deceased loved ones, I guess sometimes you are skeptical about how reliable the information is or how “real” these things are. Suffice to say, our family is what I would deem as a “spiritual” family… we believe that there’s more to life than what meets the eye and although we are not highly religious of sorts, we do practice our faith to a degree. While I would hardly consider ourselves “devotedly religious” by any means, we also don’t think that human life is as simple as birth and death.

I did not show my mom the message yet because my mom yet, although I did show bebe who got a chuckle. A few nights later, my mom woke up in the morning and was in a very cheery mood because she told me she had finally seen my dad (via a dream) since he hasn’t “visited” in a while. My mom is one of those people who sometimes I wonder if she has “special powers”… because many times things she saw in dreams have become ‘true’ or has manifested itself in one way or another. I’m not going to say EVERY dream she ever had happened, but certainly, I’m always scared when she tells me about her dreams. She said that she saw our family (including my dad) enjoying a gathering with her best-friends mother (let’s just call the friend E and her mom C). Also in the same night, my mom also told me dad had a conversation with her and asked her to tell me, “呀仔加油畀心機追你嘅女朋友!” (My son, continue your efforts in chasing your girlfriend!). Like I said, sometimes I am skeptical about what my mom tells me from dreams because she has an “overactive mind”… but what I’m going to tell you to follow is freaky. However, assuming that dreams can sometimes help bridge “human life” and “spiritual life” – I’d be very happy to say that my dad approves of bebe and that we will have a successful relationship as long as we’re willing to devote effort into each other.

3 days ago, E called my mom and told her she was very excited because all of a sudden her mom, C… called E and told her that she will be coming to Canada as a “last minute” plan to enjoy the start of Canadian spring. My mom was shocked… because just a week ago, she had a dream about C being in the dream with my dad and our family at a gathering… How could the dream have been so realistic, is this something my dad was “telling” my mom that she would be coming? E & C are very good friends of our family, so therefore we’ve always had a great relationship with them so it wouldn’t be a surprize if my dad “reported” to my mom to expect a visitor. My mom had this weird look when she put down the phone.. I guess shock and surprize. C has not come to Canada to visit E (her daughter & my mom’s best friend) since 2006 because of some major injuries and surgury. All of a sudden, after my mom’s dream, days later C actually called E telling her that she was coming and gave her the itinerary.

Ok… so yes, we could all say this was just an “unusual coincidence” that my mom dreamt of a gathering with my Dad, our family and C… but dreams after often “recollections” of things that have happened or manifest itself into our minds… but this situation that was predicted HASN’T HAPPENED and in fact, just “became true”… I guess in a way, it validates that sometimes my mom has this unusual nack for connecting spiritually with my father (after all, they WERE married and soul-mates, this wouldn’t be a surprize) and also, dreams I have about my father are usually very strong and supportive. Many times, I’ve had things my dad told me to be aware of through dreams really did come true. It is kind of freaky. At the same time, this is a very warm feeling knowing that dad is always around to protect us and to give us guidance when we need it. Most importantly, I know that my dad, even beyond the grave, approves of bebe and he encourages me to pursue her love. Now with my mom and dad’s approval of bebe, I’m all in! Hey, my love-life has steadily improved with bebe and I think she is even to begin feeling a little – so thanks to all the blessings of (living) family and friends and also that of our ancestors and the heavens.

Yesterday, I mentioned to bebe that in the near future, I’d like to open up a bank account for her and put a bit of money in every week so she’d have some extra money to spend. I have only did this with ONE other serious girlfriend before and I’m always very careful about it… after all, I don’t want to be used by a gold-digging girl. Furthermore, I’ve used this in the past as a “test” to see how well the girl manages money, responsibility and practicality as well. Although I’m going to wait until bebe and I are on better terms, I have a feeling that this relationship will become successful. She mentioned that one of her friend’s boyfriend does this as well and thought perhaps this is “common” — I told her this is HARDLY the case. I’ve asked around my friends before and most of them are like, “Dude, are you stupid? You should NEVER give her girlfriend money like that…” and most of them don’t even see that happening even POST-MARRIAGE, let alone dating. I questioned myself to make sure I “felt” the want to give bebe some spending money as well as whether it is a SMART choice to make – because we all know money can ruin women 😛

Through major deliberations, I decided to run the idea through bebe to see what she says. She of course said, “Oh you don’t need to do that” – but I couldn’t tell if it was the usual “girl humbleness” to not make herself look like she WANTS that money, or deep down she really loves the idea of having two purses to spend (her parents and mine, lol). From what I’ve seen, bebe is fairly responsible with money, that is why I even contemplated this in the first place. I still need lots of in-depth time to “study” what kind of person bebe is… I mean yes, I do trust her, but I am also practical in the sense I’m not stupid enough to let a girl take advantage of me. I do want to know without a doubt that she is trustworthy and not playing me for a fool. This is not only the case with money, but even for other things. Deep down in my heart, obviously I trust her, but on the surface using LOGIC – I definitely have to keep my smarts about it and not let my emotions consume me. I guess we will find out her genuineness in time. I went to the bank to give her some money yesterday, something nice for her to spend while she’s out there with her friends and stuff, I want to hope that was the right decision.

So today my mom asked me while shopping what we do about handling bills. For the most part, 9 out of 10 times, I would say I pay the bills or any type of dating expenditures. Am I really old fashion to think that the guy always has to pay? I know that especially in an era now that we “casually date” and that there are “open relationships” – dating couples have opted to do 50/50. Maybe I’m too old fashion to accept that a girl should pay. My mom asked because she wanted to know whether bebe ever bothers pulling out her wallet or that it is in her expectation that I am always the one paying. My mom likes to know details because people in relationships are often blind to things… she just wants to make sure I’m not being used. Even my mom said, when she was young, many guys would offer to take her out and every night, she could always get free dinners if she wanted to. Likewise, my mom said that I have to be smart about watching how bebe is treating me, whether she is being equitable in paying when we go out. After all, she doesn’t want her son being rung dry by a girl who simply wants “a good night out” with no expense to her. Bebe certainly has paid for our food/activities before but I think she also won’t get into a fight with me about it, LOL. Although I love bebe very much, I am still “cautious” of these things, so I’m not totally blind yet by bebe, haha.

Date One: Yes, Make the Offer
Most men want to treat on the first date. He wants to show that he is in fact a gentleman. This fine young man will reach for the check when the conversation has settled a bit, pretend to check the figures, and take out his wallet. What should you do? Ask if you can contribute by paying the tip or part of the bill (be prepared just in case he takes you up on it). This is your way of acknowledging his gesture. We just want the offer. A sweet thank-you is also appreciated. That is all men really want — some simple recognition. But, do not go further than making the offer — do not insist on paying your half, even if you’re having the worse time of your life. This is like saying to the guy, “I could never be interested in you.”

Dates Two and Three: Actually Making a Contribution
Out for dinner once again, maybe a movie this time, or bowling or a dance club, etc. Some money is being spent somewhere. Again offer to contribute. Again say thank you when he insists on paying. However, this time find some way to make a contribution. Examples: Buy the popcorn at a movie, buy a round of drinks at a bar, buy some ice cream after dinner. Many guys will say that is not necessary, but it is definitely appreciated.

Dates 4 and Beyond: Time to Insist
Most men like when the women take the wheel for a night or two. Once you are “dating,” you should plan a night and insist on paying. This gesture again is a nice way to recognize that you appreciate your guy being generous on dates one through, and now it is your turn. A nice guy will offer to contribute and it is okay to reject his contribution.

Having read some articles recently, it does appear that “bill splitting” seems to be common on dates now. Weird for me, but I guess that’s how society is moving now – or even if you don’t split the bill, at least make sure the night is “even” between the parties… i.e if someone paid for lunch, then the other should pay for dinner – or something like that. I guess the thing is that a lot of these rules apply to “casual dating”… and right now, I don’t think there’s anything “casual” about bebe and I, lol. Any guy who even thinks about going after bebe right now is asking to cut their lifespan considerably as a bullet will find its way to their throat very quickly. But anyways, bebe has always done her share and has never made it an issue to cover any remainders (especially when cash is involved, OOPS) or to pay the outstanding tip or whatever. It seems like lots of people recommend “talking about bill-splitting” – but that’s an awfully weird conversation to have.

1 Talk about how to split the bill in the first few weeks of dating. Ask your date if they want to always split the bill so no one feels obligated. The beautiful part of this is since you both expect to pay there won’t be awkwardness when the bill arrives.

2 Take turns paying. If your boyfriend paid for dinner last time, just grab the check when it arrives! This way you can go back and forth and it’s essentially the same as splitting the bill.

3 Split the cost of the evening instead of splitting a single bill. When you’re going to dinner and a movie on a single night, ask the person you’re dating if they’d like to pay for the movie or for dinner, and tell him or her you’ll pay for whichever they don’t choose.

4 Avoid being insistent about paying. Some men and women can actually become offended by the idea of someone constantly paying for them (or even paying just once). If your date says no and insists on splitting the bill, it’s best to just agree.

5 Be honest when you can or cannot afford to split the bill. It’s better to just let your partner know you’d rather go to a coffee shop than to a 5-star restaurant.

Tips & Warnings

Set aside some money for every time you go out, specifically for the purpose of splitting the bill. It’s best to always assume you are paying for your share so as not to appear like you are taking advantage of your partner.

Don’t make taking the bill on yourself a habit. The more you pay, the more it will become expected, and you’ll be stuck every time you go out with paying for the meal or the movie. Offer from time to time, but also ask, “Wanna split it today?”

Interesting on that last one about the “warning”… I wonder if it’s true. I’m not sure… right now, maybe I’m being stupid, but I consider bebe “just like family” and my sweetheart… I try not to think of us as “you” and “me” – but rather, “us”… so what’s the big deal about spending our money? I think most people would say I’m playing a dangerous game here, allowing a girl to: get money out of me, have dinners & activities paid for, her personal chauffeur.. etc. Am I being too innocent or is it because I’m so committed to her I feel there shouldn’t be a separation? I’m sure there’s always a risk of being used, but seriously, bebe treats me great and if she wasn’t being genuine about her feelings for me, she could use me but give me NOTHING in return and I’d still be enough to do it. The fact she’s making a very real effort, I would like to assume/feel this is all real and not fake.

I’ve also noticed that bebe isn’t very picky when it comes to choosing a place (in the sense she will not always demand we go “somewhere nice”)… we can eat nicely or eat casually – that to me is very important. If she asked me to take her to a nice place EVERY time and expected me to pay, then for sure my mind would start noticing something wrong. I dislike wasting food, so I always try to not over-order and I expect the same of bebe. I would never have an issue for paying for food she can eat, but I would be upset if she ordered lots and didn’t eat it. Having a “bit of food left” at the end is very different than “ordering a table full of food to eat a plate.” I love the way that bebe makes me feel good about never having given me flack for places I’ve taken her in terms of whether it was “up to her standards” e.g high-class restaurant versus a locals joint. I think I noticed that most when I was with her in HK where she was more than happy to accompany to eat at not-so-nice places. I followed through by reading a question a reader posted up on the AskMEN site… http://www.askmen.com/dating/doclove_100/132_relationship_expert.html entitled “Does She Love Me For My Money?” – it makes you think although this is definitely NOT how I feel about bebe.

My mom said she recommended me to sometimes stay at home and do things with bebe and just cook together. Bebe in the past have told me she dislikes when we eat at home because she has to do the dishes. I always tell her I can do the dishes if she doesn’t want to. I don’t want this to become a valid excuse for her not to eat at home. My mom says that the “highest level of genuineness from a girl” is making a meal with each other at home. She should be willingly to make a meal for a guy, not necessarily “the best meal ever” – but showing that she doesn’t always want to just dine out and that cooking as a couple is not simply the objective of “putting food in our mouths” – but a FUN experience of COOKING TOGETHER. This isn’t something I’ve never thought of before, in fact, the past month I’ve been always offering to let’s cook at her house. It has hurt me that each time she always uses the “dishes” excuse… and let’s just say IF dishes are a problem, can she not at least find it in her to eat at home sometimes? Sure it is a hassle, but I’m not asking her to do that on EVERY date, just that being able to spend time in the kitchen with each other, learning a new recipe or trying a new meal – even if we FAIL it, at least we have an experience and memory. Right now, this is the only thing I’m kind of upset about on why we HAVEN’T done this yet – why does she a) use the same excuse, b) not just be willing to do the dishes regardless of the complaint and c) learn to appreciate some home-cooked meals with me. I like “variations” in my life… I do not expect her to invite me over every night to eat, but I also don’t want to go out to eat all the time and not have HER at least sacrifice a bit of her unwillingness to do the dishes/make a mess as a justification for not being in the house/kitchen. I kind of got annoyed when I was looking at pictures I had saved on my phone with bebe, I could clearly note she had parties with her friends at her house (with the kitchen clearly visible) – so my challenging question to her would be why you let YOUR friends come over and prepare food in the kitchen, but not ME? This has only been a small matter for me, but I can slowly feel it manifesting inside me towards dissatisfaction of “equality” between her friends and I and the lack of motivation for her to “do something for me.”

Anyways, last night really ended up well so I don’t want to let something small make me question her motives and feelings. I need to be more positive about outlook at things she does because sometimes her actions does make me think, but at the same time, I’m not going to be too hasty and judge her too quickly. Obviously if something’s amidst over time, then I will act on it, otherwise, it may be just a simple “phase” thing that she’s going through. Maybe it just doesn’t cross bebe’s mind that something as simple as “not offering to cook at home” is not offensive, but to me, it makes me wonder WHY a girl who I’ve been with this long hasn’t at least offered once to make something for me at home but fobbing me off with excuses. I know her kitchen isn’t in the best condition or the most romantic setting, but come on… If I have to pressure her to do it, then it has no meaning. Sometimes I think we need to do things from the heart and not simply because we have to be “asked” to do something. Maybe this is the problem with girls who have not had more relationship experience, so maybe I do need to “teach” her these things or explain to her “this is how I see the current situation”… but ya…. well who knows, maybe she’ll kick up the role a bit later. Even if she doesn’t know how to cook a lot, at least we can make “quick-fix foods” or she can even feel motivated enough to LEARN something just for the sake of making a sweet-dinner.

My mom truly believes that girls should be “responsible” as well when it comes to paying on dates… it’s not a matter of being so calculative as in… the bill is $50, so therefore you owe $25 and I will pay $25… but a matter of that there should be equality and an acceptance of responsibility and not being the rung through the dryer. I don’t mind bebe not always paying particularly because she’s still using her parents money and not earning any income, so hopefully she’ll start being a bit more prudent about us doing stuff together around-the-house and making food together as a way for us to “become closer.” I know for the rest of my life I will be catering for bebe and that’s MY fault for loving her so deeply and to allow myself to do that… but I also want a bit of that ‘return’… which bebe has told me she’s not ready to return that sacrifice yet… but everyone has a tolerance level and it’s like those nuclear reactors in Japan… those reserves can withstand a degree pressure, lack of water to keep it cool and can go without maintenance for a bit… but not giving it water when it needs it and letting it wear down to a dangerous point is a recipe for an explosion. I don’t want to ever have to reach that point where I need to point out to her that she treats her friends better than me and that she’s not being “fair” about it and have me even become explosive on her friends – because that won’t be nice… maintain those reactors, do patch-work, be diligent about keeping the water levels topped up and all will be fine. Excuses don’t cut it in a relationship, the only PRACTICAL solution is to do something about it.

Just like one of my annoyed friends use to say when he saw those “closed” signs on business doors, “Sorry, we are closed at the moment.” and he always hissed, “If you were fucking ‘sorry’ then you would be OPEN right now!” — lol… I mentioned to bebe that I’m free during the weekdays too if she wants to go out or whatever, whether she’s returning back to town or whether she wants me to go out there to meet her… I wonder whether she’ll actually heed it.

Credit Card Shock

Ok… so really, I’m not that shocked about my current credit card balance (and only ONE of them too, LOL), because I’m quite aware of my spending. If you have been paying attention to the blog, you’ll also know I’ve been trying to actually “utilize” my money and actually spend more of it to entertain and/or generate some monetary happiness, so it wasn’t like I “wasn’t expecting” to see these numbers. It is shocking only because I rarely see it this high 😆 .. and plus, I needed a catchy topic title, harhar.

I was going through my list of like 20 some-odd transactions, trying to figure out how much of it was pleasure-related and trying to separate it from business-related payments, since I also run purchases for my own company through this particular card. Looks like this month, I’ve spent quite a bit for ‘personal’ use and the numbers are starting to rack up. Just this weekend alone I spent quite a bit of money, particularly on food, haha! You know those weekends that you just go out and spend money like crazy? This was one of them. You’ll feel the pain a month down the road when the bills come flying in, lol.

And if you think these numbers actually included my plane ticket or spending in
Hong Kong, I’ll have you know those amounts were cleared a long time ago and all this spending contributing to the following picture is all from the past month since I’ve returned to Canada. I suppose I should really bend over now, lube up my ass and just wait until the next credit card statement lands on my desk.

Current owing amount and the billing period isn’t even over yet…

My ass hurts... $$$

My ass hurts... $$$

And so I proceeded to read an article which made me laugh because I realized why I spent more this year (other than my changes in spending habits) than any other during this-time-of-the-year…

Valentine’s can be considered an economic stimulus that helps to boost sales in between Christmas and Easter. According to Reuters News Agency, for Valentine’s Day 2011, the average American couple will spend $189, which is three times more than what singles generally spend on an average date ($67).

Man.. people go on expensive dates, LOL.. actually, I never calculated how much I spend taking bebe out. Come to think of it, I might actually spend more than that in a day with her 😐 Eep! There’s a good reason why bebe and I don’t go out every night, I’d be poor afterward XD

According to estimates from the National Retail Foundation, the average person will spend $116.21 on Valentine’s Day merchandise this year, this figure is up almost 13% percent over last year’s $103.00. Overall, this will bring total Valentine’s Day spending to about $15.7 billion.

 

Some people barely have money to eat, and here we are spending over $100 on gifts… ick.

The survey also found that overall spending is expected to be up this year. Consumers will fork over $3.5 billion on jewelry this Valentine’s Day, up from 2010’s estimated $3 billion.

Woooo, I’m part of the statistic this year! LOL.. I’m contributing to that 3.5 billion, haha.

No changes are expected on who will spend more; men will spend the most on Valentine’s Day gifts. The average man is anticipated to spend $158.71, more than double what the average woman will spend.

 

That’s bullshit 😛 Why do us guys have to pay more? 😆 I thought men and women were supposed to be equal in societal standards now, haha.

According to Reuters, young professionals plan to spend $255 for Valentine’s with their significant other.

Hrm… how to define young professionals?

I was just talking to one of the girls at work today and she pretty much said as well Valentine’s Day is really a waste of money – or rather – if you’re going to buy gifts or do sweet things for your partner, that can be done any time, rather than on a “specific day”… and yes, while I agree with that, it’s also nice to mark a special occasion like this. However, give it a few more years and when bebe and I get married, v-day may not really be all that special 😀 HAHA!

I think it’ll be very quick that the next time I check my credit card tally that it’s going to be pushed over the 3,000 mark.. ooohh boy. Looks like I’ll be eating Mr. Noodles for a while 😛

Changes to Spending Habits – Living it Large

After returning from Hong Kong, I’ve found myself in living a different lifestyle. Where as I, prior to the trip, would be leary of spending, I am not finding myself spending on things that I would have otherwise spent a long time considering. Suffice to say, I haven’t won the lottery yet or make mounds of cash investing into stocks (again, YET) – but I am starting to utilize the money I’m earning more often and being less thrifty. The reason is not because I want to “show off” or to overindulge in using my money, but rather, something very important my uncle said to me (which I will translate to English). He said, “I am rich because I spend my money, not because I have lots of it. A rich person, is one who uses his money and enjoys it, regardless of his existing wealth. A poor person, is one who does not use his money and sits it in the bank, regardless of his existing wealth. When one uses money usefully, he (or she) is rich. When one does not use their money, no matter how much is in the bank, he (or she) is poor.

I have a habit of saving – saving for a rainy day and saving for my future family. I save a lot of money suffice to say and I’d wager every year (since I’ve been working), I’ve been storing just over 50% of my take home pay. I invest it, into my RRSP, into my supplementary pension plan, into my cash-able life insurance, into my TFSA and into stocks/funds. On good years, my investment income usually supplies me with 2-3 tickets of airfare to Hong Kong, so the reality is I could go there every year if I wanted to, and I may soon turn that into a reality.

But anyways, back onto my point. I’ve been living it large lately. I want to realize those dreams of “being rich” – not necessarily because I have lots of money, but because life is about enjoyment, making your comfortable and utilizing the resources that you have. Since I’ve returned, in the past 2 weeks I have been spending money more lavishly. This is particularly true with luxury items and with food. I also learned another very important aspect of Hong Kong lifestyle is that they invest majorly into 1 or both of the following: clothing and food. I’m not particularly interested in clothing, so I have adopted the 2nd, food. Another thing my uncle taught me, “You should learn that eating is not about filling your stomach the most for the least money. Food is about quality, not quantity. Therefore, you should aim to eat small portions of good food, rather than be concerned with feeling full by eating lesser foods.” My uncle is truly full of wisdom and he has both a Canadian and Hong Kong lifestyle perspective as he’s lived in both places. He does understand the need of why I save, but also encourages me to utilize money effectively and that does not necessarily equate to saving it all.

In the past 2 weeks, I’d say that I’ve already bought, or consider buying items that I would have taken a long time to justify and rationalize. Just over the weekend, I walked into Future Shop and bought a Wii Fit Plus. I did do some prior bargain hunting, but to no avail. I could’ve waited – but I didn’t… I just went out and bought it. Sure, it cost $20 more than if I waited for the next sale, but I want it NOW – and I got it. The computer and monitor rack that I got for bebe for her birthday, I wanted to give her my old video card so she could play her games and watch HD movies – but instead, I am now buying her a new video card. Why? Because I can and that she deserves it. Also, what kind of terrible boyfriend would I be, one who is a computer guy and giving his girl outdated stuff? 😛 I promised I’d buy myself a new pistol or rifle every year. I put one on order, a nice new revolver for me to play around with 😀 I used to fiddle with my iPhone headset every time I got into the car so I could legally use my phone (as it is outlawed in Ontario to hold a communication device while driving) and got tired of it – so I got myself a Bluetooth headset – and a nice one too, that responds to voice activation/commands AND is also capable of multiple language sets… of course I chose Cantonese 😆

As you can see, I’m spend less time thinking and more time buying! I know that the moral of the story goes both ways here. Some will say, “Hey, great, you’re satisfying your wants.” while others will spit in disgust and say that I’m wasting money needlessly. Also, in the next while, I will be installing a fireplace in my computer room so I’m nice, warm and cozy while I play, chat or do work on my computer! Yes, that’s right, I want to be luxurious and enjoy the money I’m earning. It wasn’t that I’m cheap on others, I tend just to be cheap on myself. I’ve spent more money on bebe than I have on any other girl I’ve dated… perhaps I dare say I’ve spent more on her than I have with all of my ex’s put together, LOL! I’m not quantifying my love for her via how much money I spend on her, but more of the fact she makes me feel and want to spend money on her. I spend money on my family and friends as well, because I don’t mind. We go out for nice meals, do costly activities – but still, I’m only cheap when it comes to myself. I’m turning that around – I want to be the one enjoying the fruition of the seeds which I have sewn myself.

I guess I’m a bit old fashion and perhaps that alpha-male part of me kicks in when I’m with bebe. By spending money on her and also, showing that I have financial stability is an implicit sign that I’m able to “take care of her”.. I mean this is TOTALLY 1950’s mentality, haha, but still, it’s born into us guys where we feel the need to have to ‘display’ ourselves and ‘prove’ that we’re capable. I’m not trying to bribe bebe with money or throw money at her in hopes of winning her love, but what I’m trying to do is to show that at the very least, I can be a successful boyfriend and future husband who can provide for her if necessary. I know I think “a bit farther ahead” because I’m older than she is and have different paths I want to walk in life, but the reality is that I don’t want to have a huge margin of income with her – which is the reality given both our careers. I have a very important topic I’d like to write on in the near future, the idea of social status and individual prestige, which will make what sense of what I’m trying to express above.

I’m already looking at the posted transactions that are coming through on my credit card already! This is probably the most I’ve spent in a while (not including on my trip) and there will be more to come. I work hard during the day and even after hours, so isn’t it at least right of me to come home and be submersed into comfort and luxury? I don’t earn my money for nothing or to leave it in the bank while they trade my money around to earn money for themselves!

I’m rich, because I’m using my money to generate happiness. I am no longer poor, because my monetary wealth is bringing my lasting wealth through enjoyment and fulfillment of wants! Even when I bring happiness to bebe it makes me smile, so the wealth is not only spent on me, but her as well… us, both our families and hopefully soon, our very own family 😀

I’m in a very loving mood tonight, so even though my bebe is not around with me right now, if she ever asks me how much I love her … then I can answer her with THIS much! 😛

Teresa Teng (鄧麗君) – The Moon Represents My Heart (月亮代表我的心)


And… because UMG are a bunch of cock-sucking retards, you have to go on YouTube directly to watch it.

你 问 我 爱 你 有 多 深
You ask me how deep I love you

我 爱 你 有 几 分?
How much I love you

我的 情 也 真,
My feeling is true

我的 爱 也 真,
My love is true

月亮 代表 我的 心。
Moon represents my heart

你 问 我 爱 你 有 多 深
You ask me how deep I love you

我 爱 你 有 几 分?
How much I love you

我的 情 不 移,
My feeling is steadfast

我的 爱 不 变,
My love is constant

月亮 代表 我的 心。
Moon represents my heart

轻轻 的 一个 吻
A tender kiss

已经 打动 我的 心。
Already touch my heart

深深 的 一段 情
A deep love

教 我 思念 到 如今。
Makes me miss till now

你 问 我 爱 你 有 多 深
You ask me how deep I love you

我 爱 你 有 几 分?
How much I love you

你 去 想 一 想
You go think about it

你 去 看 一 看
You go have a look

月亮代表我的心。
Moon represents my heart

你去想一想
You go think about it

你去看一看
You go have a look

月亮代表我的心。
Moon represents my heart

Weekend Updates/Thoughts and Paying for Pain

Hiho Again,

Just wanted to update you on all my happenings this weekend – or well, at least a day of it. Yesterday, I went out to the TCM doctor again except I was unsuspecting to what she had in store for me. I’m sure everyone already read about my moaning and bitching over the pain of having my back scraped by a shark fin-shaped tool causing immense and long-lasting pain to my back. This week, the pain was even worse because of two things. 1 was because she used needles in different spots on the front along with using the electroshock machine and also because she kneaded/pinched fat. I will elaborate later on for those who do not understand the concept.

Traditionally (or maybe I should say in my past history), the acupuncturist only did electroshock on my back and not on the front. Electroshock depending on the intensity of the jolt along with the placement of the needle ranges from comfortable, sensational, to slightly painful. I can usually endure the pain quite well on my back, maybe the nerve endings just don’t pick up as much. In the front, I tend to be more noticable of the pain, although the recent times it has only been upon the insertion of the needle. This time however, even after the insertion it was still painful for a while. Also, adding the electroshock meant I felt it even more than normal. She also used many different insertion points this time, to target getting rid of my stomach fat.

Electroacupuncture - can be heaven and can be hell

Electroacupuncture - can be heaven and can be hell

One would think that being poked at the meaty parts of your body would mean less pain – clearly the opposite. It hurt… a lot, however, with a bit of soreness and pain for about 30 seconds, I could grunt, hold my breath a bit (because breathing caused the needles to move up/down within the skin) until my body was accustomed to the pain. Quite a few needles were inserted in my stomach and surrounding areas, including near my sides – which was scary since my kidneys and liver are there. Even more scary than that was when she began to undo my belt at put one approx 2 inches away from my penis. I don’t particularly like anything/anyone going near there, except for a girl with all-but-the-best intentions LOL. I was really hesitant about the insertion there, but given I’m completely weakened, I could hardly do anything about it. After lying there for 20 minutes barely being able to breathe, the horror was over and she began to withdraw each needle. It was a sham – because the worst was NOT over… and had yet to begin.

She proceeded to “warm her hands up” and put some type of grease on her hands. She does this quite often, so I was no alarmed thinking it was the “ending massage”… well I guess I had it partially right – it was a massage alright – one that according to my mom, seemed to make me scream more than the women from the maternity ward. I had the procedure of “fat pinching” invoked on me. It is not pinching that you think that people use to “test” how much fat a person has, but literally, grabbing fat on your body, kneading it and pinching it as hard as possible. I have read many “western” medical documentation on how there is no such proof that such things work – but looking at many celebrities who have this performed as an assistive method to fat-reduction. I say assistive only because it’s not meant to replace healthy eating and exercise, but “helps in addition to” conventional methods. This is a well-known method done in places like China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and other Asian nations. I assure you that given the recollection of my entire life, this has been the most painful thing done to me thus far. By the time she finished which was a mere minute at most, I was gasping for air – I seriously could not breathe because I was in so much pain. My eyes were blurry from tears and I was clenched over in a fetal position trying to endure the pain.

I assure you - it was painful

I assure you - it was painful

It took me about 3 minutes of rapid breathing until part of the pain subsided. As I got up, my mom had to hold me because she was so worried I was going to pass out from the pain. She looked equally pained, only because it’s a common expression in Chinese that for one’s parents to see their own child in pain, the hearts of one’s parents hurts even more. It’s amazing what celebrities go through just to keep their figures as they get this done every day until they have dissipated the fat. I do not look forward to my next visit if she’s doing this again. As of today, a full 24-hours since it happened, my sides are both in pain. I can only do shallow breathing as doing deep-breathes causes my stomach and sides to cramp up (well well, aren’t I starting to feel like more of a woman eh?) and this searing pain shoots up my body. Some of the punctures by the needles also hurt probably as a result of the pain from the already-sore-locations. Last night, I did not get very good rest nor was I able to roll over on my sides.

According to the doctor, the more fatty areas of our body is actually more suspectible to pain. I would had thought on my neck, where there is less meat would mean needle insertions would hurt more (or at least I’d feel more). I find that needle insertions, usually 3-4 don’t hurt on my neck at all. On the other hand, when she did it on my stomach and sides, it hurt like a bitch. She explained that a lot of “fat” is also a result of built-up toxins. A degree of fat is required for the body to function of course, but excess fat is considered “negative” fat which actually hurts more than natural-fat. All I can say is that out of all the things I’ve gone through since I started this regiment has been only “current-day pain” and has rarely carried over to the next day. This on the other hand, I have a feel I’ll be feeling it for the rest of the week. Damn, I hope bebe appreciates all the effort I go into getting that beautiful figure she wants from a guy 😆 Ok ok, fine.. I’m doing it for myself either… but mainly for her XD

The rest of the afternoon and evening, we celebrated my friend’s birthday and also coincidentally a “goodbye party” for a friend who’s leaving to San Francisco for his MBA. Although him and I aren’t particularly close (as in we’ll call each other to hang-out regularly), his presence will still be missed at gatherings and such. He also runs a charity which I help out with, so his leadership will be missed by the organization. We had 3 cakes there… and almost a 4th had we not notified the other attendees not to bring one. The party was a potluck and wasn’t as well-organized as usual… we had a lot of “repeat food” and such – but nevertheless, it was a fun party… the big fun was towards the end of the night where we played our very own “family feud”!

This picture will make sense once you read on... I wish I was born in Malaysia =\ - Stolen from Cherrie

This picture will make sense once you read on... I wish I was born in Malaysia =( Pic stolen from Cherrie =P Maybe I ought to start taking up soccer or something.... LOL! I suppose part of the prerequisite of attending university in Malaysia is to be pretty.... geezz.

By the time we finished, it was 11PM and we all called it a night. Before heading back home, I dropped by the T&T in Mississauga before it closed to pick up “late-night deals”. T&T is well-known for their deep discount to foods and perishable items towards closing hours. I have seen sushi platters up to 50% by the end of the night! Although I did not get any sushi, I picked up some Asian junk-food and such (tsk tsk, I know). At this hour, shoppers tend to be the university students or the teenagers who are still up and wandering the streets. I honestly think I may be going through one of two phases, 1) I’m transitioning to becoming a homosexual or, 2) I’m deeply-madly in love. I would vote the latter because I no longer find that same attraction to women as I once did – or rather, I only find attraction to a woman now. T&T at night is like a sea of hot Chinese girls which a year ago, I would’ve been thinking which ones I’d want in my bed tonight. 1, 2, 3.. 10?!! Give them all to me! Now.. I look at girls and while I can appreciate their beauty, nice smiles and curvy body, I cannot find myself to think, “I want to sleep with her tonight, she’s so awesome!” Yes, I am either nuts over bebe or I am turning gay – take your pick. I guess P.C is going to laugh at me now because she said that’s a sure sign of when you know you have no more question about your commitment and loyalty is when all of a sudden, every other girl/boy seems to have no effect on you anymore. When we left the store, my friend was all hyped up, “Hey, weren’t those girls great?!! Find any that you’d want to bang?” .. my answer was like, “Uhh.. no, not really.” and he just stopped walking in the middle of the parking lot. He was like, “WHAT?!!!” and just to not cause a scene, I just said, “Well, a few were ok, that’s all.” – I don’t think he believed me, but at least he started walking towards the car again. After dropping him off at his house,  I proceeded to head home. Given it was almost midnight, the traffic was quite heavy – especially given I live in a smaller city.

Sometime throughout the night, I thought how stupid it was for me to be “paying money to suffer pain” a la acupuncture/fat pinching and back-scraping. There is a Chinese saying that pretty much equates to, “give money to endure hardship” pretty much made me question my own stupidity, lol… if I’m paying money to lose weight, shouldn’t it be less painful and more convenient? 😀 lol… clearly not the case. Oh well… I mean, I have the right to decline going any more, but I figured I’d finish my 2-month treatment first. It’s undeniable that there are results, just expensive ones and quite painful. I’ll have to ask her to modify it again because I’m not sure how much I want to fat pinched anymore, because the intention is the “spread the fat around” so it’s more easily burnt off and reduces the “visibility” of it – but god… I can tolerate pain – just not like this weekly. I’ll leave you guys with a funny Facebook status update I’ve been meaning to post up for a week or so already but forgot… amusing, especially if you understand French (but the explanation is there too)! My friends always end up getting themselves into awkward situations like this…

"You're a virgin? I love virgins! In fact, I almost always wind up dating virgins. My dad is a virgin too." - LOL!

"You're a virgin? I love virgins! In fact, I almost always wind up dating virgins. My dad is a virgin too." - LOL!

Almost one month of the summer-break gone already… shiiiittt…

Learning About My Own Body Through Acupuncture

Waking up this morning was dreadful in a way, knowing I had to go to acupuncture agian, lol. Yes yes, why bitch about something I chose to do, but the reality is sometimes you need to do things you ought to do even if it’s not exactly what you want. My acupuncture treatment and body-cleaner has been going well and results are no-less-than astonishing. The TCM doctor told me that after 3 days of taking her herbs, my hair strands will have had time to strength and already have a noticeably less fall-out rate. By the morning of day 4 of my treatment, looking at my pillow I already noticed! Isn’t that crazy? I suppose although acupuncture wasn’t an “experience of a lifetime” for me, it sure as hell shows results when paired with herbal concoctions.

I have been accusomted to TCM practices since I was young, so the smell and bitterness does not bother me at all. If there are things that I see results, I’m immediately given the motivation to follow-through. That’s my problem, I’m one of those people who make and expect quick decisions/results. Why do many of my work-out plans fail over? Because I don’t see results. Yes, this is foolish indeed, but sometimes by seeing results, that is where the motivation comes from. Likewise, this week, other than shitting myself crazy, I feel great, so I have the willpower to continue enduring the smelly drinks and needles jabbed in me.

Through recommendation of my TCM Doctor (henceforth denoted as TCMDR) I had my hair cut short so that way she could visibly see where I have less hair to figure out where the problem lies. Speaking of haircut, I woke up 2 hours early just to get out to Mississauga in time to go to this new stylist I’ve never been to. It’s in a small mall and we’ve often passed it when I go buy computer parts, but have never got my hair done there. For the past 6 years I have gone to a single stylist but unfortunately, she has gone to China for this month. I had to wake-up early so I could “beat the rush” since that place is apparently very popular. When we got there, it was 10:10AM and the place opens at 10:00AM. There were already 6 people in front of us – holy! Also, I live a considerable distance, about a 35-minute drive to Mississauga, so I had to get up and leave my house early.

This is one of those places most people would consider a “high-class stylist shop” – more so than the $6 cuts in Chinatown Toronto and $10 in Koreatown. When I walked in, my first look was obviously the price-list. Holy crap was all I had to say, lol… but I already committed myself to getting my hair done there, so the price was a moot point. From the moment I sat down, there was definitely a feeling of “you get what you pay for.” The seats were comfortable, the decor was great, the relaxing ambient helped me feel at-ease and the stylists were clearly the-best-of-the-best at their job. I remember one time, my girl-friend mentioned that when she got her hair done at a really nice place, the scalp massage and hair-wash was amazing. Just the way she had her hair-stroked and rubbed totally turned her on and she could feel herself “getting wet” (down there). I mocked her at how someone could be turned on by a haircut – but no doubt, as the girl ran her hands through my hair, washed it (5 times… yes, FIVE) and massaged my scalp, I swear I was in a hair-cut-bliss. Although I didn’t quite get turned on like my friend did, I could certainly see why a girl may have such a reaction! If I had imagined and dreamed that it was bebe running her cute fingers through my hair, maybe I would’ve been more excited, LOL.

At first, I was very skeptical to get a short cut due to my lack-of-hair (so I thought, but clearly I have lots of hair it appears, LOL). She said that it would be very hard for me to keep my hair long because I don’t have “manageable hair” and would look terrible on me. She said however given I’m the customer, my wish is her command. I told her that I trusted her expert-opinion and to style my hair in a way that fits my (fat) face. I have this habit of closing my eyes while (any) stylist cuts my hair so I can “surprize myself” when I open my eyes. I could feel the hair falling off my head, it made me grimace at how short she’s going to cut it. When she told me she was done, I opened my eyes and wow… there I was – a new man staring back at myself. I was so happy, because it really did make me look (limited, lol) handsome and manly. I commented on how happy I was with what she chose and just as the stylist promised, wouldn’t even show my “lack of hair” one bit!

When we paid, I left her a nice tip because of how wonderful she made me felt. Yes, at first I was already staring at the prices which made me puke, but now it was all worth it – you do get what you pay for! Before meeting up with some friends for lunch to celebrate an ‘uncles’ birthday, I went to buy some Chinese food from the nearby supermarket. Lunch was great but we had to leave early to get out to North York to where the TCMDR was located. While it’s a long drive from my house, it’s a much shorter drive from Mississauga. There were massive traffic jams on one of the highways, so knowing some alternate routes, we bypassed probably a large majority of the traffic and arrived much earlier than anticipated, only taking 32 minutes to get there! Luckily there were vacancies, so my treatment began. This time I received 16 needles on the back-side and 9 on the front. It was less painful this time because the needles weren’t inserted into places that were as sensitive and I had her “realign” one of the ones that I felt discomfort on this time. It was quite comfortable this time as I had practicality fallen asleep, lol. No doubt, the needles going in hurt as usual and immediately rendered a numbing sensation, but being more relaxed and knowing what to expect this time helped my muscles loosen up.

At the end of the treatment, it is followed by a very tough massage session. When I say tough, it means that she squeezes me with so much power that I actually scream and yelp. I guess not a lot of my readers know me in person, but I do have quite the tolerance for pain. When Iwas young, my parents used to discipline me using “Chinese methods” such as belts, bamboo sticks, rulers and wood planks, so I am quite resistant to pain. I have been kicked in the nose, hit in the nuts (glad I can still have kids, haha), fallen on a steel chain, etc. and have little verbal reaction… yet when she did this “massage”, I couldn’t help but grunt on the pain and breathe in and out heavily trying to resist hitting her back (haha – natural body reaction when someone hurts you). As soon as it started, it ended and my body muscles relaxed after such excruciating pain.

I was given a plethora of natural remedies this time, without the regular Chinese herbal medicine. I knew this was definitely going to cost me, but she was very honest and said this is only meant to be a once-a-year once-every-other-year treatment! It’s a colon and liver cleansing solution, meant to detoxify your body and primary organs. She assured me it’s not going to be something you do regularly (and at such a high-cost). I have seen my dad do naturopathic treatments before and I know it is expensive as shit – but I really want to get my act together and commit myself to being healthy for once. At the end of the day, the bill came to $300 (~ 930rm conversion for my Malaysian readers :P) and we’ll see whether it is worth it! I know that many might think of this as being ripped off or taken advantage of, but I’ll tell you this – when you can FEEL and KNOW something is working well for you, then it’s all worth it. If I had felt no response to her treatments, I obviously would not accept. Also, she is a practical doctor and honest and has mentioned that after 2-3 months, I will no longer need to see her on a regular basis again. If 2-3 months of treatment will buy me good health – so be it. My health is important to me because I have a responsibility to take care of my mom and family. My health is important to me because I care about bebe and want to be strong, healthy and live-long to take care of her. I care about her with all my heart and if my health were to fail, it would affect her tremendously. To maintain your health is not only for yourself, but for everyone around you!

I am now “enrolled” in a 7-day clensing treatment which involves in a regiment of supplements each day, along with a piss-load (literally) of water to drink. Also, for seven days I should not be consuming any meat, fish, dairy product or eggs. I am a meat lover and to consider not having that for a week, I mind as well shoot myself. Ah yes, I just clean out my gun the other day – I guess I can put it to good use now 😐 However, I’m driving myself to stick with it, it’s only SEVEN days of 365 days in a year! I have a week of alternatives lined-up already, so I’ll survive. Each time I feel stupid or angry about how I could let myself get into a situation where I’m restricted what I’m allowed to eat, I remind myself I’m doing this for bebe. She gives me the power to be strong to stay healthy and fit. She gives me the power to do what I could never thought was possible. She gives me the reason to make sure I have the ability to take care of her, her family and our family!

I learned a lot about myself through this TCMDR because she takes time to teach her patients and answers inquiries. The reason why I have such a huge requirement for meat is because my body is so full of toxins and toxins thrive on meat to give us a false-sense of satisfaction. I feel bloated even when I eat small amounts of food or drink a bit of water because the toxin is affecting my digestive system’s ability to recognize hungry/full. The toxins cripple my ability to stay hydrated even when I actually consume enough water. My hair is dry, brittle and falls out easily because the toxins live off of the liver and kidney, both which regulate scalp regularity. By cleaning out these toxins from my liver and colon, I am helping them stay healthy, resume regular operations and my entire body as a whole benefits.

I will feel less desire to consume large portions of meat since the regular human body can survive off of fruits and vegetables. My appetite will reduce to normality since the toxins aren’t acting against my feeling of being full/hungry. I will thin down because my body will start to burn fat and metabolize matter properly. All these things are so important to day-to-day health which we ignore, either out of ignorance or lack-of-knowledge. She applauded me because I’m one of these feel ‘youngens’ who take time to appreciate our health which so many young people take for granted. She gives me hope that through my decisive action to go through this that I will reap the rewards of good health. It is of course any “business person” would say to make you feel good – but the reality is I can feel the difference it has made already for the ONE WEEK I’ve experienced this and no one can tell me that it’s “just a gimmick.”

So I returned home for the night because it’s an exhausting drive. As usual, the highway was packed with cars but luckily I know enough of the roads in Toronto, Scarborough, Markham, North York and Mississauga to duck through the jams and make my way home in about a bit over an hour. My mom decided not to cook and gave me “one last meal with meat” (lol) by ordering pizza. I just took my first drink of the detox liquids tonight and it definitely tasted good 😛 It’s a kiwi flavour, lol. For some odd reason, the stuff burns my throat as it went down, guess it is indicative of the effect it has once it reaches my intestines.

Anyways, we’ll know more after a week of doing this and hopefully I’ll survive for 7 days. I wanna get this done-and-over-with before the “core” of the summer hits. I want to go to the nice Italian restaurant in the hotel @ Niagara-on-the-Lake with bebe so I want to have the “full accessibility” of what to eat rather than losing like 75% of my food options, lol. Speaking of which, as of July, I have already spent a shitload of money. Of course just the TCM alone cost quite a bit, but also this morning I also bought a new mattress. Mine’s getting old and it’s about time for a replacement. Not sure why whenever I have to “spend money” it is all at once, lol.

I’m getting tired but I’m going to go join Ally on BlogTV for a bit 😛 It’ll be my first time and I refuse to go on cam, haha… but I’ll happily talk 😀 Going to sleep after this then!

Can YOU Live on $18,000 a Year? I Sure as Hell Can’t.

This entry is definitely not “on-topic” of my blog theme, but after reading it, I really thought it was worthy of being posted. Please note that everything between the quotes have been dumped directly from the news article and I take no credit for the contents. A lot of the times, I consider my financial situation. I ask myself, am I making enough? Am I saving enough? Am I reducing my quality-of-life by being too frugal? If I spend more, does that equate to my happiness? Am I spending on the right things? Do I think too much before I spend? Do I have money for a rainy day? Am I truly keeping reliable spending records? Am I overestimating how much I really have available to use?

I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks of these things on a regular basis. Suffice too say, I am not in a situation where I must watch every penny that goes out, but certainly, it is a wise thing to be wary of where a person spends their money. Unlike one point in my life, I know that earning money is quite difficult. Maybe for some, you can sit on your ass and money is being earned every second, but that is not the case for me. Every dollar I earn is from sweat, blood and tears (metaphorically).

Feel free to check out the original entry on MSN.CA by clicking on the link which I embedded into the title of the article below. This is amazing… I really wish I could live a comfortable lifestyle and only spend that much! Imagine how much money I could put away every year – sheesh. Right now, I’m pretty content with living within my means, but I always want to strive and become more efficient. After all, there’s always space for improvement!

By Liz Pulliam Weston, June 16, 2010

Living on $18,000 a year — by choice

Meet three people who live on that amount (or much less) while following their dreams. They’re thrifty, sure, but also content.

The term “low-income” is usually a synonym for “poor.” But I just interviewed three people who wouldn’t use that word to describe themselves, even though they live on $18,000 a year or less — in two of the cases, much less — without going into debt.

Their ages are 25, 44 and 60. They’re all college-educated and have chosen to live frugally so they can pursue their own interests.

Their stories are relevant for a couple of reasons. First, they show what’s possible when you let go of consumerism and the hamster wheel of spending too much and then having to work to pay off your debts.

Second, their thrifty habits offer lessons on how you may wind up having to live if you don’t get cracking on building up your retirement savings. That figure, $18,000, is about what you’d get over a year if one were to draw average U.S. Social Security benefits (now about $1,200 a month) and tapped 4% of a $100,000 nest egg.

(Four percent is usually considered a “sustainable” withdrawal rate, meaning you’re unlikely to run out of money before you die. The $100,000 nest egg at retirement age may be a stretch for some; Employee Benefit Research Institute surveys indicate half of all U.S. workers have less than $25,000 saved (.pdf file).)

Here’s who these three frugal folks are:

Tyler Tervooren, 25. Until recently, Tervooren earned $56,000 a year as a construction manager. But he lives so thriftily in Portland, Ore. — his expenses are about $14,000 a year — that he was able to save the bulk of his salary. He’s now enrolled in a state program that allows people to collect unemployment benefits while they launch their own businesses — in Tervooren’s case, a blog called Advanced Riskology that encourages people to take more risks in their lives.

“Since I earned so much but spent so little, the amount of unemployment insurance I get covers all of my living expenses and actually allows me to still save a little bit,” Tervooren explained. “My savings cushion can support me for almost four years — (even) until I’m 30, if I need it to — before I have to start earning money again.”

Nancy Tudor, 44. Tudor earns about $10,000 a year from two part-time jobs, and she says it’s enough to meet her needs. She’s earned more in the past — she recently returned from a job teaching Renaissance history in London that paid about $30,000 a year — but prefers her simpler life in Albuquerque, N.M.

“I had the apartment overlooking the Thames and the flat-screen TV. It just felt really empty,” Tudor said. “I decided to come home to the desert and be a lot simpler.”

Carol Holst, 60. Once upon a time, Holst was married to a corporate executive and raising two daughters in Beverly Hills, Calif. When the marriage ended two decades ago, she turned down the court-ordered alimony, figuring she didn’t need the money but that he did.

“It would have reduced his lifestyle and wouldn’t have changed mine,” Holst said. “I’d still be living in a one-bedroom apartment in Glendale, and he’d be cursing me.”

Holst said she’s figured out how much is “enough” and lives happily on the $18,000 she nets from her part-time job as an office administrator. She enjoys the work but really likes the time it allows for her true passion, which is sharing what she’s learned about voluntarily simplicity. From the bedroom of her apartment, Holst runs the website Postconsumers.com, which promotes the idea that you don’t have to buy to be happy.

All three credit their parents for helping to instil the ideals of thrift and careful money management. Tudor also remembers grandparents who talked about the Great Depression and a prevailing ethic “that if you wanted something, you saved up for it.”

That includes education. Tervooren attended an in-state university with inexpensive tuition for residents, and he worked several jobs to pay for it. Tudor got a master’s degree on a scholarship that included student housing and a $1,000-a-month stipend, which was enough to cover her expenses and those of her now-grown daughter.

Tudor asked the girl, who was 6 at the time, to identify what was most important to her, explaining that they didn’t have money to buy everything they wanted.

“She wanted money to buy books . . . and to take dance lessons,” Tudor remembers. So Tudor carefully budgeted money to cover those expenses. Tudor believes that explaining their financial situation and soliciting her daughter’s input staved off demands for more stuff.

“She understood,” Tudor says. “It wasn’t ‘I want, I want, I want’ all the time.”

The three have other things in common that allow them to live, and save, on tiny incomes:

Cheap housing. Holst has a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Glendale, Calif., that costs her $780 a month. Tervooren shares a four-bedroom home with his girlfriend and four friends, splitting the $1,200 rent six ways. Tudor rents a room in a retired couple’s home, sharing the upstairs bathroom with another tenant, for $400 a month including WiFi and utilities.

By contrast, the typical single person spends $1,074 a month on housing, while couples spend an average $1,521 and families with kids spend $1,947, according to the latest Consumer Expenditure Survey of the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Renting is often a lot cheaper than owing, and sharing a home with other people can lower your costs still further. Homeownership is tough to pull off on a low income unless your mortgage is equally tiny or paid off. You also would need to be protected from big property-tax increases, either because home values don’t grow much in your area or because such taxes are capped, as they are in California. Even then, you have to find a way to pay for repairs and maintenance, which can total thousands of dollars a year.

Cheap transportation. Holst owns an 8-year-old, paid-for Prius that costs her about $1,500 a year, including insurance, maintenance and fuel. Tervooren has a 20-year-old pickup that he’s learned to maintain and repair himself, but he says he usually walks or bikes wherever he needs to go, spending less than $1,200 a year on transportation. Tudor doesn’t own a car and instead uses Albuquerque’s bus system.

By comparison, the typical American household spends $8,604 a year to finance, fuel, repair, maintain and insure a car or cars, according to the Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Cheap thrills. The three keep a handle on the other costs that tend to bust the budget, including clothing, technology and food. Clothes come from thrift stores, and all three cut their own hair. Holst has broadband Internet access and cable TV but no cell phone. Tervooren does without television.

“I make a hobby out of finding hobbies that I can do for free,” Tervooren said. That keeps him “from having any need for the distraction of a TV and its expensive cable service.”

Eating out is not a big part of the budget for the two women. Holst budgets $30 a week for food. Tudor spends even less — $99 a month — deducting the costs of dinners out from the total so she knows how much she has left to spend.

Tervooren’s spending on food — about $350 a month — is closer to the U.S. average spent by single people. He and his girlfriend take advantage of local theatre pubs that offer drinks, dinner and a movie for a reasonable price.

“I don’t try to cut a lot of costs on food,” Tervooren said. “I like it too much.”

The trio diverge in how they handle another budget buster for many U.S. households: health care.

Holst has health insurance through her part-time job but doesn’t have dental insurance; she budgets $1,000 a year for dental care. Tudor is lucky enough to live next to a teaching university, which offers dramatically discounted health care to low-income residents.

“A visit to the doctor costs $5. A visit to the emergency room costs $25,” Tudor said.

Tervooren had health insurance at his job, but now goes bare and hopes he doesn’t get sick. It’s a risky choice, because one accident or illness could result in crippling bills.

You may not want to live like these folks, but you could still learn a few things from them. Such as:

* You’ve got to know where the money is going. All three know exactly how much they spend on housing, utilities, transportation, food — you name it. Their money doesn’t slip through their fingers but instead is carefully and consciously deployed. Tracking what you spend is a great way to become conscious about your money and whether your spending reflects what you really want most from life.

* A lot of the costs we think of as “fixed” really aren’t. If you want to improve your finances in the long run and save more for retirement, then consider reducing big expenses like housing and transportation.

* Debt can be a trap. A moderate amount of home or student loan debt can help you get ahead, but those who want to live on less tout the importance of being debt-free so they’re not shackled to payments. At the very least, you should be getting rid of your toxic debt, such as credit card balances, because they erode your financial well-being.

* A lot depends on your attitude. I emerged from these interviews with a big smile on my face. These three people were so delighted with their lives — and excited about the future — that it was positively contagious. I don’t think I’ll ever live on as little as they do, but knowing how happily they do so makes the prospect of living on a shoestring a lot less scary.

How Does One Define WEALTHY?

A few weeks ago, an impromptu conversation with a few of my workers really got me thinking about the idea of “wealth” and how a person defines whether an individual is wealthy or not. I think in a general sense, most of us would instinctively define wealth by the amount of money that a person has. I’m not going to get all philosophical or spiritual and all and start defining wealth by non-materialistic means and for the time being, let us concentrate simply on a numeric and monetary value.

Having grown up in a tradition Chinese setting, the use of money has always been very conservative. From day one when I began handling money, I was taught to save-save-save, something that (out of the words of my coworker), that North Americans tend not to do… they spend whatever happens to be in their hands. Looking at people I know, I can definitely say that it goes without saying that there certainly is truth… most of my friends/colleagues who are your general “white Canadian” families tend not to keep money “lying around”. Although I come from a wealthy family, my immediate family (mom/dad) did not arrive in Canada with that wealth. The money that they came to Canada with went to pay for their rent and they had to actually save up over a course of a year before being able to pay back the money for the flight over.

Let’s skip too much detail and jump to ‘now’. Growing up for me was definitely a very “make do with what we have” lifestyle. I can honestly say my parents were the type to give up everything just for me. I was always able to attend school events (in fact, they urged me to) albeit our financial situation. While we were never “poor” – we were certainly not rich either. What prompted the discussion between my coworkers and I was the fact I always mention the word “poor” when I describe myself and they like to make a note that poor should not be the world I use to describe myself because I really “don’t know what the word POOR means.”

This leads me on to the topic of how people perceive the difference between degrees of wealth. Suffice to say, I don’t think anyone in this world has the same definition or “amount” they would label between everything from poor to filthy rich. For instance, I consider myself poor, much to the chastise of my coworkers because I do not feel I “make enough money” and that I “don’t have enough to spend” when clearly, they feel otherwise. Personally, I feel a better has to make > $100,000 before they can consider themselves “rich” – which I currently don’t make, therefore, I class myself as being poor. Working in a unionized, government institution, all our salaries are available to the public (provincially mandated information) so essentially, all my coworkers know exactly how much I make a year. They ask me how given the amount I make, I could actually consider myself poor. After a good 2-hour talk with them, they made me truly reevaluate the money I make and why I feel poor. They started putting things into perspective for me, that the average Canadian generally do not even have enough money to maximize contributions in both TFSA (Tax-free Savings Account for the non-Canadians who don’t know) and RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) in a single year. Most people are tied up paying off mortgages, loans (student or otherwise), credit cards, bills, car financing and the likes that to be able to max-out contributions to both those accounts is impossible. Yearly, I am able to comfortably pay off all those bills/loans/owing balances while maximizing contributions to my RRSP/TFSA and invest my money into steady investments (such as GIC’s) and even have money to play the stock market. They made a point to tell me to look at my overall assets instead of simply what I keep “liquid” in my Chequings accounts. Surely, I cannot be THAT poor when I still have money to buy food, spend on entertainment (and girls? LOL… by that, I don’t mean hookers/strippers), and splurge on new technology once in a while.

While I’m generally not comfortable with sharing financial information with people, my coworker (who has been close with my family) asked bluntly how much money I had in my accounts all together. I told her and her jaw must’ve stayed opened for a good 2 minutes. I can remember her words very clearly, “You are what? How old? 24? You OWN a house, drive a luxury vehicle, have no debt, maximize yearly contributions, invest into stocks, live comfortably, and have xxx amount of money in your accounts and you call yourself POOR?!!” – that really smacked me in the face.. not as in negatively – but it really set things into perspective with how wealthy in comparison I am to many. Over the past few weeks, I really took some time to think about all that I really do have and that has changed on what I felt is considered “wealthy.”

Of course I am far from being wealthy in comparison to the rest of my family who own billion-dollar computer corporations, chairman of an international organization and CEO of 5-star hotels – but I have a very SOLID footing for someone of my age. I know that at any time, I could be a part of the massive wealth should I return to Hong Kong, but knowing that I will lose my very comfortable lifestyle in Canada… my steady job, my own business, my (lots) of leisure time and standard working hours – which is something that does not exist when it comes to managing a large business. I for one, prefer to simply be spoiled out of my mind every time I return “home” instead, even though I do not get the same luxury here.

How do you define wealthy? What are your expectations and where do you draw the line before you title someone as wealthy? Is it simply by what they make in a year, the job they hold or the materialistic things they have to show for it?

I’ll tell you, my opinion of my status before talking to my coworkers have really turned around…. and that’s why it is always nice to have older and wiser friends who can really set things straight in your mind, because in all reality, I’m just a little boy in a big guy’s body 😛

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