Tag Archives: Toronto

REAL Toronto Money Hacks

This article popped up on my Facebook newsfeed the other day and it was written by Narcity and was titled along the lines of ‘Money Hacks for Living in Toronto’, which I thought was a super relevant and useful post. So, I clicked (click bait for real on this one) and skimmed through their ‘hacks’. To say I was disappointed would be a severe understatement. They had a few decent ones (few being maybe one), most were a stupid stretch, and the last one was absolutely ridiculous! Their final ‘hack’ for affordable living in Toronto was:

“Sign up for a TD Student Line of Credit”

ARE YOU JOKING ME?! ‘Hey guys, if you can’t afford to live in Toronto, just get a line of credit to help’. I cannot even BEGIN to explain why this is a terrible idea. If you’ve read my post on my debt story, you’ll know why this is TERRIBLE advice on Narcity’s part. I’m sure most people with some financial sense would know this is a bad idea but hey, I was uneducated with money at one point and would have definitely signed up for a line of credit. I think the worst part is that people know it’s a bad idea but do it anyways. So, I’m rounding up my Toronto Money Hacks. I promise you, none of them include going into debt to afford to live in Toronto.

Get a Roommate

Guys, I know it feels super lame to have a roommate but it is easily the best way to save money living in Toronto. You can split utilities and rent in half, plus you always have someone to hang out with. If you’re worried about someone getting in your way, find a roommate that runs on opposite schedules. The most important things I looked for was lifestyle match (if they partied a lot or always had friends over, we wouldn’t work well together) and cleanliness (who cares if their room is messy – as long as common areas are clean, I was ok). I also have found living with strangers is actually less stressful than friends. Yes, you have to screen more carefully and you could get a ‘bad one’ but there’s also no added pressure of ruining a friendship. If you guys don’t have similar interests, you can be like two ships passing in the night with no worries. If you live with a friend and it doesn’t work out, it can be downright awkward.

Ditch the Goodlife Membership

If your condo has a gym, use it! Don’t pay for that pricy Goodlife or Equinox membership when you have one you can use for free. If you aren’t blessed with a free gym, Toronto has lots of community centre gyms you can buy passes for that are a fraction of the cost of Goodlife. If you like classes but aren’t down with paying $20 a class, try ClassPass – which lets you try different classes in the city on a monthly fee that’s cheaper than joining all of the different gyms. I also used to do “new member” trial passes for two weeks just to get in some classes then would bounce to a new gym. There’s also a TON of fitness gurus on Instagram that post free workouts and a lot can be modified to be done at home with little equipment. Fit can be free, guys.

Ditch the ‘Big Box’ Grocery Stores

One of the best discoveries I had when J and I moved to our new neighbourhood was that there were some little ‘bodegas’ around that sold produce way cheaper than Sobeys and Grocery Gateway! It’s a bit more annoying to separate your grocery trips to two or three different stores (especially when you don’t drive!) but you can save a lot of money this way. I bought $15 worth of produce at our corner market, which would have been $35 at Sobeys! The quality is also much better, since I find they get stock more frequently. We use Grocery Gateway to deliver bulk items twice a month (which is cheaper than renting a Car2Go or a taxi) and I try to get the stuff we use a lot on sale (cat food, paper towel, toilet paper, etc.) and stock up when it is.

Instead of Taxis or Ubers, Use Car Sharing Programs

I use Car2Go, which is a car sharing program in Toronto. It’s super convenient – you can park in any approved legal spot (and even if you get a ticket, Car2Go pays for it), you can drop it off when you’re done using it (no returning to its pickup spot) and gas and insurance is all covered. The cars are rated per minute, so it starts at $.41/minute up to $.47/minute depending on the car you get (they have Smart Cars and Mercedes-Benz GLA/CLAs) and then rates change for the hour and for the day. If you need to jet home from the grocery store or are running out for a quick errand, often times it’s cheaper to do car share then taking a taxi!

Follow The Drink Specials

One of the best parts of being in the city is that there is always somewhere to go! This can get pricey though. So, whenever I’d get together with my girlfriend Emma (we were both always on a budget) we’d search for the best drink specials that night. There are drink specials every night at multiple bars so don’t feel like you need to hit up the most expensive place to get the best experience. Some of the best hidden gems also have great drink and food specials!

Moving 101

Guys – I don’t like to brag but I’m kind of a pro when it comes to moving. In the past eight years, I’ve moved eight times. I’ve rarely settled into a place for more than a year. Thanks to university housing, floating at my parents in between getting my own condo and then a couple more moves after that, I’ve seen my fair share of moving boxes and trucks. It’s been quite a busy couple of years but after the last move that J and I did last week, I hope that we stay here for at least a little while (dear lord, I don’t want to see another Frog Box for a loooong time).

With much experience comes a lot of knowledge, so I thought I’d share four quick tips for making your next move easier.

  1. Use labels: I know it seems like a hassle to label every box, but you’ll regret it later if you don’t! I’m really specific when I label boxes (i.e: clothes for the closet vs. folded clothes) and also specify the room if I have to. If you’re moving a full house, it’s also helpful to use coloured labels and put corresponding colours on each room (that way, the people helping know the pink boxes go in the pink room – since no one will know what room is what)
  2. Be organized: While it’s tempting (and quick) to throw things in boxes without really thinking about it, it’s a lot harder to find things mid-move or unpack. I can’t tell you how many times (leading up to and the day of the move) I heard J ask “do you know where ___ is?”. Luckily, I was super organized with what items went with what and where, so I always knew where things were. This was especially helpful the day of the move when we had 25 boxes and just wanted soap and shampoo to shower.
  3. Use saran wrap vs. tape: This one sounds weird, but packing tape can ruin furniture but saran wrap has the stick without the mess afterward. I use saran wrap to hold and wrap things together or even hold dresser drawers from opening during the moving process. If you take your dresser drawers out to move your dresser but don’t want to unpack the stuff, just wrap the drawers in saran wrap so the goods don’t fall out and there ya’ go – a short cut!
  4. Invest in Frog Boxes: No, this isn’t a sponsored post – I just love Frog Boxes so much!! They’re hard plastic moving and storage containers with flap-shut lids that you can rent from a company called Frog Box. They make packing and moving a breeze. When I first used them I was living by myself without a car and getting boxes big and strong enough was really, really difficult. My free hack is to use banana boxes (or apple boxes if they don’t have banana) to move with, but it was hard to get enough of them. I had heard of Frog Boxes from a friend and looked into it. It was cost friendly (coming from someone who was moving to save money!) and I could rent them in bulk quantities for however long I needed them for. They deliver them to your place and pick them up at your new home (read: no lugging boxes down to the dumpster!!). You can also get packing supplies like bubble wrap, wrapping paper, dolly (also a must), furniture bags, and a lot more. The cost + simplicity + customer service made using them an easy decision. Honestly, I can’t say enough good things and I know that if you use them for your move, you won’t regret it.

Hopefully these help and #HappyMove!

PS: I have a coupon for Frog Boxes, so send me a message if you end up using them and I’ll share!

A Couple of Favourites

For most bloggers, this type of post usually falls on a Friday and is given a title like “Friday Favourites” however, I blog sporadically and make my own rules so ya’ll are getting this on a Monday. Hooray! Here’s a roundup of a few of my favourite things as of late – I hope you enjoy and check them out!

  1. The Paper Source – I occasionally get to travel to Washington, D.C. for work (it’s where our Head Office is located) and one of my favourite areas to hang out is in Georgetown, D.C. If you’re from Toronto, I describe it like the look of the Distillery District but the “uppity-ness” of Yorkville (hahaha) – it’s fantastic though, really. Anyways, my love and affinity for all things stationary led me to The Paper Source, a stationary store in Georgetown that carries some of my favourite brands including Rifle Paper Co. (queue drooling at their gorgeous patterns). Luckily they ship to Canada (yay) for a flat rate of $40 (boo). Check them out if you’re in the area or are willing to splurge on shipping!
  2. Les Fleurs by Rifle Paper Co. – Rifle Paper Co. who I mentioned a second ago is my favourite stationary company, by far. If you haven’t seen their work, their prints are so amazing, perfect for any floral lover. Well, low and behold they came out with a fabric line and I obviously had to get my hands on some. They have a Fat Quarter Bundle, which showcases almost every print in their fabric collection in perfect squares for quilting with. I ordered some the day it came out and am waiting for it to be delivered to my aunt, who is amazing and will be making said quilt.
  3. Mai Lin Jewelry – I’ve always been a huge fan of bracelets, particularly dainty ones that are good for stacking and wearing in multiples. Enter Mai Lin Jewelry, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Toronto’s Urban Collective this past Sunday. Called “The Reminder Bracelet”, Mai Lin are made with variations of silk string, gold beads, gems and jewels, and silver. I’ve got two and am already thinking about adding to the collection!
  4. Dreaming in Florals – This dress was another fantastic find at the pop up market this weekend. Bought it for a wedding at the end of August and snagged it on sale for $55!! Unreal. The LANGsura is another pair of ladies local to Toronto, who appear in pop up shops, venues, and events all over the city.
  5. Dream Cream by LUSH – I’m plagued with super dry skin and get really bad eczema in the summer and winter and Dream Cream is exactly what the doctor (didn’t really) order. It has oat milk, lavender and chamomile and keeps my skin super smooth and hydrated.
  6. Squish Candies – I’m a huuuuuge candy fiend and always have gummies around (among many other treats). I recently discovered the heaven that is Squish Candies at The Hudson’s Bay in the Eaton Centre. Their candies are flavourful, delicious, contain real fruit juices and pieces and also have the added benefit of being no GMO modified, fat free, vegan, vegetarian, dairy and gluten free .. among many other benefits. Plus, they’re a Canadian brand local to Montreal and founded by the wife of David (as in David from DAVIDsTEA). Yum!
  7. aromaGem Nebulizer from Saje Wellness – I also suffer from hardcore allergies eight months of the year and someone recommended I try a nebulizer from Saje Wellness. I turn it on at night when I sleep and feel like it definitely helps with my allergies and asthma. I also use “allergy release“, an essential oils combination of lemon, lavender, and chamomile that helps with runny and stuffy noses, sneezing, puffy eyes, and coughing. The nebulizer, which releases water vapor, has a whole lot of benefits, but one big one for me is it helps purify the air. I got the aromaGem in gold and love how it fits in nicely to my bedroom decor.

Have you had a chance to check out any of these favourites? Any recommendations for things I can check out this month, please let me know!

Beauty Review – Eyelash Extensions

Okay ladies, I’m finally getting around to writing a beauty review on my experience with eyelash extensions. I got them about two weeks ago (I blame my delinquent posting on the lack of a working computer – but I’m back, thankfully) and have already started to take them out. Why, you might ask? Because I hate them.

Let me break it down for you because no one did for me. I only ever heard the positives.

  1. They’re a lot of work: I had to change my eye makeup from waterproof to regular, which I hated. I also use makeup wipes to take my makeup off but this way I had to carefully wipe around the eyelashes. You also have to brush them quite a bit because they get tangled and look less bombshell more tired hooker (unless that’s what you’re looking for).
  2. They’re expensive: The average cost of a full set is somewhere between $150-$200 depending on how full you want them, the material (synthetic or mink), and where you get them done. I was fortunate enough to get a big deal on mine and only had to pay $60, but that’s the actual cost for refills not the full set. So think about this: Week 1 you put them on, by week 2-3 you’re ready for a refill, and that keeps going every few weeks. That adds up to an expensive habit.
  3. They grow out and fall out quickly: They’re attached to your natural lashes and therefore grow out and fall out when those ones do, too. So within a week and a half mine were growing out and starting to get itchy and poking my lash line when I blinked and started to get more unruly. They were getting tangled more often, too. The itchy part was the worst because I couldn’t itch them. As they grew out, I could feel them poking me as I blinked and that made it more itchy .. then I blinked more … it was just a vicious cycle.
  4. They’re hard to take off: The process includes steaming your face for a good 10-15 minutes and then wiping them off with olive oil or coconut oil. Or, do what I did and get drunk and frustrated and start itching them and they just fall out, taking all your regular lashes with them (ALERT: do not do this. It’s really, really bad. It hurts and then you’re left with naked lashes, which is also not good at all. Trust me. My poor lashes are more sparse than before I started).

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On the bright side, they look fantastic when they’re brand new. I felt put together and pretty even without makeup because my lashes looked so full. They were a bit fuller than my natural lashes but didn’t look like I was ready to go out to the club. I will also add that my experience had nothing to do with the person who put them on. She did a great job – she was professional, worked out of a hygienic salon, and they looked amazing once everything was said and done. My reasoning for not getting them again is strictly personal preference once I tried them out.

If you’re in the Toronto area and are interested in lash extensions, I will definitely put you in contact with the woman I used. I assure you that your experience getting them put on will be a good one.

I hope you have a better experience than I did and don’t end up itching them off in a drunken haste.

 

Just A West End Girl

So, in two weeks I will be moving out of my first Toronto home! It took me a while to get used to the place once I moved in but now that I’ve been there a year, it definitely feels like home. So, I’m feeling kind of sad about leaving the place. First, I hate moving. It’s the absolute worst. And second, now that I’m leaving it feels like there are so many things I don’t want to give up. But, it’s for the best that I move to a cheaper place with a roommate so that’s what I keep telling myself. However, for the kind girl moving into my unit and everyone else here, these are the things that I’ll miss about it:

  1. Poutini’s: this is hands down, the best poutine in Toronto. Maybe in the world (although that’s a fairly bold statement to make, I feel confident doing so). I’m going to miss their pulled pork poutine, those delicious cheese curds, the gravy, and the hipsters that play their music that make me feel like I’m not hipster enough to be living on Queen West.
  2. Levetto: Now, I’m pretty sure there’s another location near me but it’s only taken me a few months to hit “regular” status at this local Italian joint. They make their pasta fresh on site and it’s absolutely delicious. My “regular” order is the rigatoni with a romaine salad. Now I have to become a “regular” somewhere else. Hmph.
  3. Queen West: My favourite Saturday this summer was walking from my condo down the shops on Queen West. I’d grab a coffee, stroll, look at boutiques. Queen West has this certain “feeling” to it that I love. Yeah, there are condos and apartments around but it doesn’t feel as built up or as busy as Yonge and Eglington where I’m moving to. But maybe I’m just crazy.
  4. Kim’s Nails: Found this little place that gives the best pedicures around the corner from my house. I kid you not, my toes still have shellac on them from two months ago. Is that even healthy?
  5. Being Walking Distance to Work: I’ll miss the ability to walk home from work on nice nights or being able to pop in quickly on the weekend (although, some might argue that this is not a negative). But lets me honest, it’s nice to walk to and from work and I’ll miss that luxury. Maybe I’ll get a bike and bike to work. (HA. That’ll never happen.)
  6. My Condo without a Roommate: this is a given, but I’ve gotten used to condo life and living alone. I’m giving that up for a more affordable place, which is the smart move, but I’ll miss being able to come home and cook in my underwear. (Overshare? Sorry, not sorry).
  7. Being Close to my Best Friends: some of my closest, best friends live in the west end and this move will only make us farther apart. Sigh. What will I do being a good 30 minutes away from Mugshots? (The best pulled pork sandwich and rooftop patio, hands down)
  8. The View: I have this great view of the CN Tower, the Rogers Centre, and the water from my condo balcony. I realized today that my new balcony faces north and if you’ve ever looked north of the city, it’s basically like looking at the sad area where Simba should never go during the Lion King. Borrrrring. I’ll miss you, nice view.
  9. Being Able to Say I live in the “2nd Trendiest Neighbourhood”: like, come on. I just feel cool being able to say that. Wouldn’t you? I’m so trendy (not).
  10. Trinity Bellwoods: some of my best solo days this summer were spent at Trinity Bellwoods just laying, tanning, reading, drinking. I’m going to need to find a new park, I suppose.

Summer Bucket List – 2015 Edition

I figure if I post this publicly I’ll be more apt to actually do it. For fear some stranger out there in the internet world will be holding me accountable. What a ridiculous fear.

  1. Go to a concert – bonus points if its outdoors (The Roots at Nathan Phillips Square)
  2. Visit Toronto Island
  3. Finish reading (but first I’ll have to re-start) “League of Denial”
  4. Check out Market 707
  5. Go to the Toronto Flower Market (with Vic!)
  6. See a Young Empires show (this will count as something separate from #1, I think that’s cheating combining the two)
  7. Read at least 3 sales management books
  8. Make a photo wall in my apartment
  9. Take a vacation (mini road trips count) (Blue Mountain with the family)
  10. Try something new
  11. Find a sports team to play with (either in the summer or the fall) (beach volleyball, check!)
  12. Start running regularly again
  13. Sign up for a run (preferably Seawheeze since I missed the boat last time)
  14. Try kickboxing
  15. Try Barreworks
  16. Find the best burger in Toronto
  17. Go to a Jays game
  18. Make a difference in someones life
  19. Take an  online course
  20. Stargaze (I’ll have to get out of the city for this one)
  21. Get my sales team to hit quota
  22. Clean my balcony (this might seem like something weird to put on a bucket list but it’s so dirty and dusty since I moved in I foresee procrastinating this all summer.
  23. Spend a whole afternoon at the park (Trinity Bellwoods to say bye to Luke and Meg)
  24. Spend a day at the beach (Woodbine Beach with Vic)
  25. Go camping!
  26. Read at least 4 books (this doesn’t include the sales books I have to read or League of Denial)
  27. Cut out candy and unhealthy food from my diet (length of time, to be determined!)
  28. Not eat “take out” for a week straight (this is hard, I’m single and I live in Toronto)
  29. Watch my Mustangs play a game (or a few games, if it’s finals!)
  30. Go to a Toronto street festival (Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Little Italy, etc.)

This Is Why I’ll Never Take a Cab in Toronto Ever Again.

One thing that I love about Toronto is the accessibility – whether it’s the TTC being at my doorstep and never having to wait too long or cabs passing by every ten seconds, being able to hail one at the snap of a finger. I’ve always been a big supporter of ‘licensed’ taxi cabs like Beck Taxi, Crown, Co-Op, etc. until my experience this morning with two different companies.

Let me paint you a picture of what happened: I needed to go pick up a new TV I had bought through this awesome buy and sell group I’m a part of but because I was running late and the size of the TV, I knew I needed a cab.  So, I hail the first taxi I see (from the company Co-Op) off the street and hop in.  The cab itself is clean but it smells like BO.  Great.  Part of the reason why I hate cabs is because you can get really dirty, stinky ones that look like they’re right ready to fall apart. Anyways, I’d give this cab a 6/10 overall.  The cab driver tells me to hurry up and shut the door because there’s a car coming.  I tell him the address that I’m going to and he confirms that it’s near another building he’s been to before.  He doesn’t seem sure of where he’s going so I tell him to go down Strachan and roughly where it is.  If you guys aren’t familiar with the ‘Taxi Code of Conduct’, part of my ‘right’ as a passenger is being able to tell the driver what route I want to take. We get closer and I tell the person I’m meeting I’m around the corner.  He gives me the best place to park, so as we come up to the condo I tell the driver “so, once we turn here we’re going to take a left at the first stop sign”. He immediately freaks out and tells me to hold on, he knows what he’s doing, and to wait until we get around the corner to talk.  I’m kind of taken aback at how he’s talking to me.  The guy’s been talking small talk the whole time and I’ve kind of just been ‘mhmm’ing’ him the whole time.  Once we turn the corner, I give him directions again.  He tells me to shut up.  Now I’m annoyed and made a mental note to cut his tip down from my normal amount to no more than 5%.  I tell him I’m trying to give him the best directions possible, since Liberty Village can be tricky to navigate, especially since a bunch of the buildings are connected. We pull over and I tell him the guy is coming down to meet me.  I say I’ll go meet him in the building.  Usually when cabs have to wait, they want you to leave something.  I tell him I’ll leave my purse, which has my wallet in it.  I’m pretty trusting in that sense, I don’t know why.  Shhhh, if my parents are reading this, it’s just standard when you leave a cab to leave something.  I figured my purse was security enough.  Anyways, he wants $20.  So I give it to him and go meet the guy.  The TV is large so he offers to carry it out to the taxi for me.  We get out there and the cab driver says he won’t take it because it’s too big.  It’s not ‘built for a taxi’.  Being alone and female, the guy selling the TV and empathizes for me and offers to drive it over to my condo if the taxi driver won’t take it, but also vouches to the driver for me that it will fit in the trunk.  The driver finally says yes, once we prove it’ll fit, and then I hop in the car.  I tell him where the next stop is (he knew I was making multiple stops – and for most drivers, this is a good thing).

On my way, I ask if he still has the $20 I gave him. He goes ‘yeah  or did I give it back to you?’. I said ‘no, you still have it’. He goes ‘yeah, I do’. He seems sketchy now so I ask again ‘Can you confirm you have my $20?’ and he says ‘yes, I still have it. I’ll take it off your total. You’re being very careful, aren’t you?’ and I say ‘yes’.  I”m over this a hole.

I tell him what way I want him to go and he says ‘I’ve been there before, I know what I’m doing, this is my job, don’t tell me where to go’ so I just drop it. We get halfway there and he has to ask me where we’re going again.  Uh, buddy, I thought you knew? Anyways, I tell him. We get right there and I see the girl standing on the corner with the mirror. I tell him I see her and to go right.  He starts to turn left so I say right again, thinking he didn’t hear me.  He abruptly stops the car, turns around, and starts yelling at me to shut up and not talk to him like that, and it’s a one way street, and I’m stupid and don’t know what I’m talking about.  I am over this driver and him talking to me like a dog so I just say, fine, turn around and get me to that corner, I don’t care how you do it. He again tells me to shut up, not to talk to him, etc. etc. I tell him if he’s not happy with my directions I’ll find a new cab. We make a trip around the block to meet the girl with my new mirror (note: had he take my directions, this wouldn’t have been an issue, but whatever) and when I get out I say I want the mirror in the back with me. He tells me ‘no’ and ‘to get my stuff out of his cab’.  I’m shocked he’s kicking me out but kind of happy because he’s being such a dick about everything. Luckily there’s a Beck Taxi pulled over on the street so I hail him down. The girl and her boyfriend clearly feel bad for me and help me load everything into the new car.

I took a picture of his ‘license information’ that is on the back of the seat but his name (Dimitrios Stathopolous) doesn’t match his thick Nigerian accent. But you know, people can surprise you (read: sarcasm).  People complain about the ‘sketchiness’ of Uber but you’re telling me that this guy was really Dimitrios Stathopolous? unnamed

I have a pretty uneventful ride back to my condo and I’m not entirely sure how to get everything up to my unit. I ask the driver if he’ll just bring it into my lobby and I’ll leave it with concierge and make two trips. He tells me it’s illegal for him to get out and help me bring it inside even if I ask so now I’m stuck doing this solo. It’s a 42″ TV and not light by any means. I bring the mirror in and tell concierge I’m bringing in a TV and to watch it for me – they happily oblige. As I’m dragging the TV out of the cab a guy making another deliver (furniture or something) sees me struggling and offers to help me get the TV into the building. I’m not one to take help or ask for it (single, proud, #IDontNeedNoMan kind of woman) but it’s reallllly heavy and I don’t think I can do it. He brings it into the building and I pretend I can make it to my unit ‘no problem’ and thank him profusely for offering to help.

Long story short, the TV is in my place along with my new full length mirror. It was a bumpy ride with a few dick-ish cab drivers. However, thanks to a few good samaritans I made it just fine. It’s days like this where I wish I had a boyfriend to stand up for me or to help me carry heavy things but at the end of it all, I know I can do it on my own and I really #DontNeedNoMan.

I’m thinking about filing a complaint but figure it won’t do any good anyways. Have you guys had bad experiences like this or have you ever filed a complaint with a local company? Let me know! Is it worth my while?

Oh, and always take Uber. Uber drivers are the nicest people. Screw you, Beck Taxi. Screw you Co-op.

PS: Mom and dad, if you’re reading this – I’m safe and sound and lesson learned!