A Money Coach in Canada

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Some employee benefits are almost best-kept secrets. Not once, but twice, with different employers, I found out only through the tech folks (THANKS GUYS) that the employer had a deal with Microsoft so employees could purchase Office Products for their use at home at a steep discount.

And by steep discount I mean this, in my case:

Usual price? $150.00

My price? $20.00

Sweet, eh?

So send a quick e-mail to your work address for Monday with this subject line: REMINDER – TALK TO TONY THE TECH GUY ABOUT SOFTWARE BENEFITS.

Readers – ever received a kick-ass benefit (not the usual medical / dental stuff) from your employer?

Photo Credit: RustyBrick

You don’t know Saltspring Island til you’ve hauled your you-know-what and your tent and your sleeping bag and your cooking utensils up the hills to Ruckles park.  I think that’s what it was called.  I was too done-in to commit it to memory.  But after recovering from the work-out trauma the weekend was sure fun — tooling around everywhere.

It must have been fun because a few years later I did it again.   I joined my uber-fit and athletic (my antithesis) roommate and her uber-fit and athletic friends for a cycling weekend on the Kettle Valley Railway tour.  Over abandoned train trestles over rushing rivers and right.along.cliffs we went, and up and down the mountains.  And up and down mountains.  And …. anyway, it was spectacular, and I didn’t slow down the pack to the extent that we had to cut it short or anything.  If anyone has done it recently: Is that kinda crazy cowboy still living on the trail?  Who lives in as rustic and cowboy-ish a cabin as can be imagined?

I can’t imagine I’ll be doing those kinds of grinds anytime soon, unlike my pal Doug who, for his retirement, decided to pretty much cycle around the world.   <  beats me  >  .

But these?  These I’d consider.  And what’s not to love – budget friendly, eco-friendly, and you get way more in touch with the area than zipping by in the car, non?

Cycle around London via Barclay’s Bikes I saw a bunch of those bikes when I was there and the looked in great condition.

6-day tour of Green Gables land (PEI).  Someone who did it said the food is incredible as well.

Touring the backroads of Ireland looks lovely, and I think the hills aren’t toooo steep, are they?

Anyone out there done a bit of tourism via a bicycle?  Where?  Worth it?

Photo Credit:  sludgeulper

When I was debating between a month in England or in Halifax, on a whim I checked to see what train prices would be. Being a good money coach, I clicked the “deals” link and nearly fell off my seat.

$350 (instead of the usual $1200+ or so) for a late-June ride from Edmonton to Halifax (actually, it may have been Toronto, but still!)
First Class
Private cabin
All meals (legendarily gourmet) included
Private washroom; access to shower
Sleeper berth at night

My point is: Via Rail continuously offers fantastic deals. You can find them here. Why fly when you can sit back and glide through the Rocky Mountains, or across the Prairies and into the lush land of Southern Ontario or further?

Photo Credit: Madbuster77

If you can believe it, in my 20s I scorned, yes I scorned, discount stores. < shakes head >

Now I <3 the thrill of obtaining quality at below-below-below regular prices.

I do believe I made my frugal steal of the year today. Ever heard of T K Max? It seems to be the UK answer to Winners.

And there, quietly piled amongst the clutter of so-so stuff were some gleaming Le Crueset items. I nearly quivered with excitement. Le Crueset has been on my wish list for quite some time as I’m seriously undersupplied in the kitchen front but I hadn’t been able to justify the price.

See the items above? I went home with them! I could tell I was getting a good deal on them but I wanted to know how good of a deal. So when I returned home I sussed out Amazon’s best prices, itself a serious discount. Here’s the best Amazon could do for me:

  • 1 pie plate (kiwi colour matches my kitchen!) $34.95
  • 2 ramekins $24.00
  • 1 medium rectangular baking dish $24.95
  • 1 cute oval au gratin dish $10.00
  • 1 petite round covered casserole $20.00

Total Amazon’s best: $112.95

My price? £36, which converts to — wait for it — $55.15

My savings: $57.80 More than 1/2 the Amazon price (just in case that wasn’t apparent).

See what I mean? Squeeee! And are these pieces gorgeous, or are they gorgeous?

Friends. Friends help us celebrate life.  Friends help us heal when we need healing.  And for me, some dear friends in England have graciously welcomed me into their homes for a whole glorious month to gain perspective and do some visioning about my next steps.  Specifically, I have paid for only 1 night of shelter, and even that was reasonably priced and part of a girls getaway.  Only a very small number of meals have been eat-out — little more than I’d have eaten out at home.  I have done lots of thinking, reading, blogging and work on my business.

But that is not all. That is not all.  For free, I have:

…explored the Tate Gallery in Cambridge; I have attended  Sunday Services and the contemplative mid-week EvenSongs (just what this soul needed) at this Cathedral, which was more rich in art and faith and intellect and history than I had previously thought possible; I have punted the River Cam after a pub lunch (ok those weren’t quite free, but they weren’t much); I have experienced a little life-behind-the-scenes of a chorister (my friend’s son);  I have done my  Couch-2-5K runs along this Sea and this Sea and in fields so pastoral with bunnies and wobbly foals and sweet calfs and birds that it might as well have been Narnia; and spent a day swimming and lazing on this wild beach on the one 30C day so far; and gone for a long walk on the Broads after leisurely lattes and toast served with style in the (English) Garden of my hosts.

And all that in addition to the primary blessing of reconnecting, with plenty of time for leisurely conversation, with treasured friends.

Is it apparent how saturated with blessing I feel right now?

Huh.  There’s frugality.  And then there’s Priceless.

I bet some of you have similarly rich experiences of spending time with friends away from home.  Do!

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