December 29, 2011


After all that complaining about the dark  - it's time for some good things about Calgary! Here's the best one: the Rocky Mountains are my back yard.

Despite what it looks like here, I'm not really an 'outdoor enthusiast' in that enjoy the creature comforts of home... But being at the top of the mountains is truly a breathtaking place to be.

Nope, that's not a fake backdrop - that's how I spend my weekends. (Doing some 'Shredding'!) I'm pretty sure that snow-sports aren't going to be a part of our new adventure in 2012... but, you never know where you're going to end up!

**Side Note** Did you know you can ski in Dubai?? INDOORS?

With the New Year just around the corner, I hope you remember to enjoy and appreciate all the amazing things in your life - some might be just an hour's drive away!

Happy Holidays from us,
Dana & Juliano

December 27, 2011

Daylight Hours - Not going to miss the dark!

Okay - so I had this post ready to go earlier, but I had to wait for the end of 'No Complain Week' to post it!

Calgary is a crazy place, situated very close to Santa's place at the NORTH POLE... thus giving us long winters with crazy daylight hours. It's the middle of December here, and this is what I see every day:

It's dark when I go to work, and dark when I come home. According to 'SCIENCE' we get around 7 hours of sunlight per day now. I work 8 hours a day. This can get depressing!

In the spirit of No Complain Week here's the good: In Summer, it's AWESOME! We get over 11 hours of sunlight....

This endless darkness is not something I'm going to miss... I want some sunshine today :)
Enjoy your day

December 25, 2011

Happy Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Good Tidings to All!
I hope you are enjoying a festive meal and not being as Scrooge-ish or Grinch-like as I usually am!

In celebration of our favorite holiday, here's the best of my favorite Sketchy Santas:


Happy Holidays ~ See you in the New Year!

December 22, 2011

What About the Money?? Step 3

Step 3: Everyday I’m Hustlin’ 
Finding some Money in your life

Welcome back! Read the Intro Money Post, Step 1 and Step 2 to catch up if you haven't already. Now that we know the amount of money that we need to leave behind for home expenses, and the {estimated} amount that we'll need to bring down with us - we know the total amount we need!

$$ to leave at home + $$ to spend while on the road = TOTAL $$ to SAVE!

Where does all this money come from you ask? Take a look at your savings account - does it have enough money to cover this amount?

YES. Really?! Good for you - you're rich. Go eat some gold-covered wafers off a silver spoon in your mansion. Just joking - but I have no tips for you.

NO. Welcome to our world. Now we've got to go get some money!!

Time Vs. Money
With a firm 'must have' number in you mind, you have to estimate how long it will take you to achieve these goals. You need a total number and a time period in order to create a success savings plan.

Consider this: If your total number is around $20,000 there are a couple of ways to do it:
  •  Save $500/month for just over 3 years and you’ll have enough to go
  • Save $4000/month for 5 months and you’re ready to be on your way
  • Sell $10,000 worth of stuff, save $2000 for 5 months and leave.

Obviously these are very different life plans. When we decided to do this – we told ourselves that we wanted to leave in approximately SIX MONTHS. That’s a quick amount of time to change your life – it’s a hurricane of crazy over here!


Get hustling and Find the money in your life
In most of our lives, money exists. We just have to milk it out if we’re willing to part with some of our sentimentality and work our asses off. Here are some ways to get the $$ out of your life:

 Sell your things! Take a look at our Selling topic to see more about what we're selling or our House topic to see about our biggest sale, but in general get rid of your crap. Could you be on a episode of Hoarders?? Sell the small stuff, sell the big stuff. Sell your unused hockey skates, sell your car. Sell your house.You may find that you have a surprisingly LARGE amount of capital invested in your belongings. This step is both terrifying and exceedingly liberating.

 b.      Save your money!! This trip is our #1 goal moving forward and our daily choices need to reflect that. We started re-organized our budget to max out the amount we could save on our regular salaries, with our regular expenses, this was even BEFORE we sold our stuff. In addition, we started squirreling away our recycling money, saved our excess cash and cut down on our unnecessary spending. 
** Side note** this is harder than (a) Seriously – no Starbucks?!? I’m failing miserably on this one**
Use or some other budgeting system to help you see where you can save your pennies.

Make more money!! Working 2 jobs has been something I’ve done since my first year of University. We’ve both worked two jobs throughout our lives, and sometimes at the same time! It was crazy and we made good money doing it. If you need to bring in extra $$ every month – get a job! It can be anything from babysitting to a job in a restaurant. Anything that brings in money.
The alternative? Get a job that pays better. {That's what I did}
This was me:

Adjust your lifestyle early. The combination of selling your things and saving your money can make saving money extremely successful. Many of the 'things' you are going to sell, cost a high percentage of your income monthly. You can save exponentially if you are cutting down your normal living expenses. Look at some actual examples from our life:
·         Average monthly cost to run our house: $2800
·         Average monthly cost to rent a room in our friend’s apartment: $500
·         Savings: $1300 PER MONTH

·         Average monthly cost to run 2 vehicles: around $600
·         Cost of 2 transit passes: $180
·         Savings: $420 PER MONTH

This plan definitely comes with some short-term sacrifices, and I am well aware that this is NOT a great long term plan. This is our ‘get the money and run’ plan; it will be uncomfortable and irritating.
BUT that’s where  goal setting comes into play. We’re going to have to SUCK IT UP.

After everything is sold, and we spend a few weeks/months living the “SUPER-BUDGET” life, I think we'll probably be glad to leave. At least that’s what we’re counting on. And when you get wherever it is you’re going – and you have the extra money to enjoy yourself of fulfill your plans and dreams - you’ll be extra thankful {and probably relieved on occasion...}

This extremely lengthy discussion about budgeting/finance is probably pretty boring for most, and too simple for some. If you have more specific questions about we’re doing this financially – ask us. Some things are better left unsaid, some are better to share.

Thanks & Enjoy!

*Side Note* All the financial ideas/advice here is coming from our own personal experience. Check the Inspiration & Idea post for more information about us, and our general socio-economic status. We are by no means wealthy, but we have to acknowledge that through hard work, education, a dash of luck and a little corporate-ladder climbing, we have good jobs with decent salaries. I can’t speak for people of different situations/economic situations. Sorry for the bias**

December 21, 2011

What About the Money?? Step 2

Step 2: What do you need to save??
How much to bring with you?

This can either be the hardest or the easiest part of your financial planning! This will probably be the shortest post in the money series, because this is the one that we have the least information about so far. 

After you know how much you need to leave behind, you need to know how much to bring with you! For the purpose of this blog, we're just going with what we know - work travel. Since we do plan on earning an income while we're away, calculating the amount needed can be a bit tricky.

** Side Note** If you're planning on traveling extensively with no income, this number will be both higher and harder to pin down. Sites like THIS or THIS can help you with long-term travel budgeting.
{Tip here: over estimate. You’ll ALWAYS spend more than you’re expecting}

Here are the steps that we used to help create our budget while we're away. But more importantly for now,  it will help us create our SAVINGS PLAN for the next couple of months before we leave.

1.       Decide on the basic elements of your plan, then estimate the costs
Since we know that our trip will include travel & training in addition to regular living, here are some examples of what we’re spending our money on…
a.       Flight to Florida x2 people
b.      Safety courses x2 people
c.       Food costs for 1-2 months
d.      Transportation costs for 1-2 months
e.      Lodging costs for 1-2 months
                                                                          **This is SO EXPENSIVE! We’re considering everything from B&B’s to hostels…
f.        Entertainment costs for 1-2 months
                                                                          **Yes, you’re going to go out for a beer. Yes, you’re going to want to buy those new sunglasses. Don’t forget to budget this in – or it will screw you over later!

2.       Add 10 – 20 % more money. The amount you estimated in #1 is not enough.
There are always lots of unexpected expenses. 
My travel theory in general is: Less Stuff, More Money.

 Access to $$ as Money: When travelling, access to money counts as money sometimes. If you have a credit card that’s not maxed out, an open line of credit established, un-cashed investments or even a family member who’s willing to help you out in a pinch – you have access to money. This is not as good as saved money – but it could save your ass if you need it.
**Side Note** If you even HAVE 'access to money' take a quick moment to be grateful. Access to money is not common around the world and financial fragility is one of the leading elements of poverty.

Q: But Dana – Your dates don’t line up! Why are you planning for 6 months of home expenses, but only 1 -2 months of traveling expenses?
A: Wise observation my friend. We are planning on working asap on our travels and bringing in money. BUT we don’t want to count on that money to pay our home expenses until we are comfortable making it. If we only make enough to pay our food and accommodations the first month, we still want to know that we’re safe at home. Just an extra precaution.

This is article 2/4 on the finances for this trip. Read More about Money:

December 20, 2011

What About the Money?? Step 1

Step 1: Add up the monthly expenses! 
How much to leave behind?
The first step to anything is assessment. We had to take a look at our current situation, and also add up the expenses that will be continuing while we're away - turns out you can't quite throw it all overboard!
{Be excessive! This is no time to be shy – get it all on paper and exaggerate a bit}

1.       Decide how long you’re not going have any income
 We’re planning on having no income for a approximately 6 months

2.       Add up your ALL of your current monthly expenses: 
     We have lots, including mortgage payments, condo fees, utilities, entertainment, car, insurance and millions more.These are your ongoing current expenses. Adding up this number will help you develop a savings plan to get ready to go!
 **NOTE** For a GREAT way to manage your money online that’s fast, easy and FREE  check out Mint. It can download the last several months of your spending and categorize it for you– it's quite a wake up call!

3.       Decide what is going and what is staying:
a.       For us, we will be selling our house, returning our leased car, selling our owned van, selling most of our possessions.
b.      Things we we want to keep must fit in these categories:
                                                                           i.      Sentimental to us
                                                                         ii.      More expensive to replace than store (think – bedroom set)
                                                                        iii.      Fits in a 10x10 storage locker, and will be fine unheated

4.       Recalculate your new monthly expenses:
       Find out how much money you'll need AFTER you've sold your possessions. Since many of these will be sold BEFORE you leave, it will help you get a better idea on how your 'last-minute' savings will be, and will let you know a clearer number of what you need to leave behind.
a.       We have certain monthly payments that will not be removed upon our departure. Example including:
                                                                           i.      Student loan payments
                                                                         ii.      Debt payments
                                                                        iii.      Storage locker payments (more on this later)
                                                                       iv.      RRSP contributions (see we’re not young)
                                                                         v.      Life/Health insurance payments (again, we’re not young)
b.      Ex. Storage Locker $100/month x 6 months = $600!

For each of these expenses, we’ve set up automatic payment plans from our account. We need to leave behind enough in a lump sum to pay for these - talk to you bank or service providers to work on setting up direct payments if you don't have it already.

Now that we have a good summary of our financial situation at home...
we need to think about our financial situation while we're traveling! 

December 19, 2011

Official No Complain Week

We are the Architects of our own Adversity...

Like most people, we complain too much. In an effort to take control over the 'temperature' of our life - Juliano suggested we institute a 'No Complain' week! It starts today - and I'm excited!

Rules are simple: No Complaining, whining or bitching about anything. Penalty for a complaint? A compliment issued in the same direction. If you complain about traffic being bad, maybe you should appreciate that you have a car to drive!

Trust me these, simple compliments hilarious to come up with - but really force you out of a cycle of negativity. We didn't actually intend to choose Christmas week for this - but it's going to be an extra challenge... Here's why:

- it's Christmas
- Lots of extra driving
- Out of town family and friends are expected
- We have some business logistics to iron out
- We're taking care of our dog (usually lives with my mom - we love him so much, but he can be work!)
- This seems small, but Juliano's blackberry is on the fritz. (If you've been 'butt-dialed' by him this week - sorry! ha ha)
- We still have to work the regular week, and we commute both ways

All of these things could potentially add some extra complaining into our lives (yes, you can even complain about good things!) - but this week it's all positivity (even if it's a little forced...)

We'll let you know how it goes!

** The Jingle Horse is just for added festivity**

December 17, 2011

What about the Money?? How to throw it all overboard - financial edition!

Soo.. this is a big question that we get a LOT – “how about money?? How can you afford to do what you’re doing??” Go get a cup of coffee, because this is going to be a looong answer. Financial planning has always been a big part of our lives, our relationship (money contention is a top cause of divorce! Talk it out!) and this crazy life-plan we’re embarking on.

We've been reading soo many travel blogs lately - and gathering lots of great information! But the biggest difference, is that we are traveling with the intention of making money and not spending money. Obviously we'll still be spending money though - both out in the world, and here at home.
For us, there are some serious financial dynamics that influence our money ideas:

1.       We’re not young. Well… we are young – but not financially. Not young enough that retirement funds can wait and being broke-ass is still fun. We have a responsibility to our own future to be financially stable. We want to come home and have kids one day – and that costs money. WE NEED TO SAVE FOR THE FUTURE

2.       Broke-ass isn’t the goal. As I mentioned before, we’re not looking to stick it to society and go all counter-culture here. One of our goals is to be DEBT-FREE and not have MONEY AS A BURDEN.

3.       We’re cool with working hard. We get it – work = money is the simplest equation. Obviously the making money game can be done in MANY MANY ways, but for us, a combination of smart decisions and hard work is the plan.

With that in mind, here are some of the dollar-vague specifics of our plan. Please keep in mind this is the PLAN not the PROGRESS – so we’ll keep you posted on how things move along. Check out the Money topic to see all of our financially-themed posts.

How to throw it all overboard – financial edition!

Drum roll please.... Here’s what we did!

Step 1: Add up the Monthly Expenses – How much to leave behind?
Step 2: What do I need to SAVE? – How much to bring with you?
Step 3: Everyday I’m Hustlin’ – Find Money in your life.

** Side Note** I've mentioned before that I want to be brutally honest in the blog - and really let it be reflection of our choices, easy or difficult. Since the financial element of this was a big deal for us - we're going to break it all down here. If you want to know how to leave your life behind financially - get ready to embrace minimalism and hoard like a chipmunk.

December 14, 2011

Latest Obsession: Pinterest

Are reading this blog to avoid regular work or fight off boredom? It's okay ~ that's why I write it sometimes.

My latest obsession is free, fun and addicting: Pinterest.

It's the perfect escape to get creative...So many ideas! Crafts! Funny Quotes! It's like the entire inter-webs have ADD and are sucking you into their vortex.... Enjoy. Click on the logo above to be pin-friends with me.

"You should keep this open. It's civil rights. It's the 90s."

Kijiji-fication of our lives ~ Round 1

You know what I love? Kijiji. It's pretty much the best invention ever. Except that Ebay invented it, sooo... it's not exactly a family-feel-good story. Nevermind. It's just like craigslist, but less hookers.

 **Tip: If you are going to get rid of your suburban big-city life, become best friends with Kijiji. Strangers will come to your house, pick up the stuff you don't want anymore and GIVE YOU MONEY FOR IT. And you can spend that money on drinking with your friends staging your house for sale.

Check out all this sweet stuff I'm selling on Kijiji - hint: everything...

Everybody has junk in their house - sell it for drinking $$! And that's not even the big stuff :)

Winning Entry for Best Sale Ever on Kijiji? A bidding war for these Angry Birds costumes:

December 13, 2011

Prepping the House

Sooo... we had our realtor over {Anne Lindsay if you live in Calgary - She's awesome}and she mentioned a few 'upgrades' that our house could use before we sell. Here's some news for you:


I didn't think you'd be surprised, but really - it is. So... painting and hanging curtains are all on the list! Since we're using this blog to let you know HOW we executed our plan...
Here's a big part of it: We painted.....

I'll save you the before pictures... but here's how it looks now - want to buy my house?? It's not listed yet, maybe in January?

That's all for now - we'll update on the progress of the house/sale as we go :)

December 12, 2011

Boxwood with Friends

Going out with friends is great isn't it? I mean, I know that everyone knows that... but, still - It's good. Especially when those friends keep you at a restaurant for hours drinking too much wine and laughing...

Even drinking wine alone, while you wait for said friends to join you?

If you want to eat tasty local food, drink too much wine and enjoy yourself...I highly recommend Boxwood in Calgary...

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