Overcoming Obstacles: Obstacle Course Race Running

Obstacle CourseHate is a word describing a strong dislike towards something. So I will begin by saying that I HATE running. I really hate it. I find it long, boring and monotonous.  I’ve tried so many times to get into it and each time I have failed miserably.  I’ve tried running in the park. Running on a track. Running on a treadmill. Running with a friend.  Running with an iPod.  Each time I ran, I have gotten bored after 10 minutes and wished I was doing something else or taken my bike out for a ride instead.

My Alternative to Running

So running isn’t for me. It isn’t for everyone. I commend the people who have the mental toughness and discipline to run every day.  I like to think I do have some mental toughness and discipline in me though just not when it comes to running.  I’m a gym rat. I enjoy working out at the gym and participating in group fitness classes. I enjoy it so much that my part-time job is teaching group fitness classes.

I thought about joining a running group to help me get into running but it never fit into my schedule. Ok, let me rephrase that. I never made an effort to fit it into my schedule.  My common law partner isn’t in running either. In fact, he hates it just as much as I do. We keep on saying that one day we’ll suffer through the pain together and go for a run.

It never happened.

Challenging Myself in a Different Way

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’ve reached a plateau in terms of my fitness. Believe it or not, even people in the fitness industry need motivating.  Just as much as you guys.  Maybe even more.

This year was the year I decided to try an obstacle course race.

Obstacle course races are nothing new and have been around since the beginning of civilized society. We can thank the Ancient Greeks for that.  They had a race known as the Stadion, where competitors would complete obstacles as they ran around a track naked.  The Stadion was once part of the five events in the Olympic Pentathlon. These races also became an essential part of military training, preparing soldiers to maneuver their way through obstacles that they may come across in the battlefield.

These races come in a variety of distances and obstacles, ranging from easy (Mud Hero) to insanely tough (Tough Mudder).   Aside from running a certain distance, you have to muscle your way through obstacles such as crawling through a  narrow tube, climbing a cargo net and wading through pools of mud.   Tough Mudder is considered the toughest obstacle race on the planet. This is the one obstacle course you want to work your way up to. The course length is 10-12 miles with 25 military style courses that were designed by British Special Forces. These courses were designed to challenge your toughness, strength, stamina and mental grit. Obstacles include jumping into a dumpster filled with ice water (!) and wading through water with live electrical wires hanging above you.  Like the majority of obstacle course races, Tough Mudder is all about completion and having the bragging rights.

This is not for the faint of heart.

I decided Tough Mudder was too tough for a beginner like me, so I did Mud Hero instead. I did not actually take the time to train for Mud Hero, but I was lucky in a sense that I developed a decent fitness from working out regularly and teaching my fitness classes.  The course itself was not too bad. The only thing that wore me out was the uphill running, which is one of the things you should focus on when training for these races. Another aspect to focus on is upper body strength training to help you climb those cargo nets, and make your way  up those walls. What I liked about the race was that while you may be tired when you reached an obstacle, it was a nice break from running.  My curiosity as to what the next obstacle would be my motivation to keep me running.

The fact that there was free live music, free beer and food (unfortunately not free) to celebrate the event also helped my motivation.

With one obstacle course race under my belt, I’m ready to move on to the next level.  Warrior Dash is next on my list.

My goal is to put my limits to the ultimate test and complete Tough Mudder in a few years.

Have you done any obstacle course races? Would you do Tough Mudder? Am I crazy for wanting to do this? :)

 

Amortization Schedule Mortgage

Amrtization schedule mortgageIf you own real estate, whether it be a home or a business premises you will need to mage your investment. For most of us to buy any kind of real estate will require taking out a mortgage loan.

A mortgage loan is one of the biggest debts we will ever take on, so it’s always a good idea to keep a track of things.  Paying off a mortgage can take up to 25 – 30 years of you life and taking up a large amount of your salary.

However it is possible to shorten the term by making additional payments, this will, over time chip away at the bulk of the debt. You can monitor your progress using amortization schedule to track payments, interest and balance of the remaining debt.

What is an Amortization Schedule Mortgage?

Not to be confused with a mortgage calculator, an amortization schedule an accounting record or a table/chart of the periodic progress of mortgage loan payments, showing the loan payments, dates, amount of principal, interest and the balance owing after each payment until the loan is paid off – the final term. At the beginning of the schedule, the periodic payment is the same amount with the majority of each payment being the interest. As the schedule progress’s, a large bulk of each loan payment will cover the principal. The last row of the schedule shows the borrower’s total principal and interest payments for the total mortgage term.

The amortization table shows the percentage of payments that goes toward interest which reduces with each payment and the percentage that goes toward principal increases. For example, the first few entries of an amortization schedule for a $200,000 with a interest rate of 12% over 30-year mortgage based on a fixed-rate amortization starting June, 2017

(using an amortization formula):

where

Amortization schedule mortgage

  • r = rate per payment period
  • i = nominal annual interest rate
  • n = number of compounding periods per year
  • p = number of payment periods per year

Five bucks here, five bucks there

borrow moneyWhen someone asks to borrow money or asks for you to cover the cost of something since they don’t have enough cash on them, are you ready and willing to hand over whatever they need? If you said yes, then you are a kind, generous person. While I do say yes, a million things run through my mind:Is this the first time? How often have they asked to borrow money? What is their financial status? Would they pay the amount back in a timely manner, regardless of the amount? Am I crazy? Maybe, but surely you must think it too. (Not the part about me being crazy. ;) You’re just not willing to admit it. But what if you have seen them on several occasions and they have forgotten? Are they trying to avoid the topic?

Here is what I wonder: Should I try to forget about it too, because it is only a small amount? But that’s whatever x amount of dollars that you lost. It’s the principle. The next time the situation of owing money comes up should it be brought up saying that you only have to pay “x” amount, because so and so owes you “x” amount? It’s no secret that talking about money can often be a sensitive and awkward issue.  Your relationship with that person can also play a factor and what their attitudes are towards money. For me, every dollar counts. For others, not so much.

I don’t have a photographic memory, but on several occasions, people have told me I have good memory. I can be pretty scatter brained sometimes with way too many things on the go, so I like to think I have selective good memory.  I remember the things that matter the most.  While I do forget things here and there, the one thing I rarely seem to forget is who owes me money and the amount they owe.  It actually really bugs me if people say they forgot or don’t even bother to bring it up when they clearly owe me money. While I say, “Oh don’t worry about it, it’s okay. Just pay me whenever you can.” It really irks me. It irks me if I have to remind them more than once. Okay, so for two dollars, maybe I’ll let it slide. But when it has been four months and you still owe me $20, shouldn’t I say something? Inquire about it at least? Lending small amounts of money is fine here and there, but I don’t think I could go any bigger than that. I only say this, because I’ve never been in the situation of having to lend large amount of money to friends and family.

I find it interesting when people forget about owing friends and family money. You never forget you owe the big bad bank money, because of interest and such, but how easy it is to forget you owe someone closer to you a few bucks. I somehow try to casually bring it up in conversation, hoping it will trigger their memory. They’ll say, ” Oh yeah! I forgot I owed you $10 bucks from the last time we went to the bar. Good thing you reminded me!”

Yes. Good thing. ;)

 

How do you approach the process of lending and owing money to friends and family?

 

For Your Viewing Pleasure: Great Canadian Winter Ice Storm Edition

Canadian Winter Ice Storm

So many snowfalls.
A crazy ice storm that splits tree trunks in half.
Dangerously low temperatures that warrant a cold weather alert.

This is the great Canadian winter we haven’t had in awhile.

I’m getting sick of shoveling snow, but I look forward to cups of tea, hot showers and our gas fireplace to keep me warm.

Whatever Mother Nature throws at us, it’s nice knowing you can hide indoors and catch up on some reading.

 

Making Sense of My Sense of Adventure

Sense of AdventureI know I had a pretty good childhood with very loving parents who wanted to provide for me as best as they could and  that they did.  But sometimes I felt I missed out on certain things in my childhood. Things that many of you probably took for granted.  Although loving, my parents were also very overprotective of their first-born daughter, especially my dad. I wasn’t allowed to go to sleepover parties for quite some time. I was only allowed to sleep over at my cousin’s because they knew her parents. Initially I had to have a chaperone at birthday parties. I wasn’t enrolled in organized sports because they were considered “dangerous”. I dabbled in various different sports in high school, but never found a particular sport that I could focus on in excelling in. I often wonder if I would have been a decent soccer/basketball/volleyball/tennis, etc player if I had started playing any one of those sports at an early age. Instead, I joined the dance team, student council and the student newspaper to improve my chances of getting a scholarship.

I was enrolled in things such as piano (which I hated), dance classes (jazz I liked, ballet I HATED) and enrichment math classes (definitely hated that too). I had to beg my parents to let me go on a week-long high school trip.  I had to beg my parents to let me go clubbing. I didn’t  have the guts to sneak out.  So it was quite apparent that I needed to go away to university. Of course my parents suggested local universities and disagreed with me applying to universities that were more than a 3 hour drive away. So we settled on a university that was an hour away. Far enough to be away from my parents, but close enough to come home on the weekends for groceries and laundry. This was the first adventure for me.

Living on your own in residence, being away from home and friends, juggling a demanding workload in a tough program, trying to make new friends- eventually it all got to me. As many frosh had experienced, university life was a huge adjustment. First year was a big adventure I did not end up conquering. I ended up switching programs, having to start over and make new friends, which I was never really good at in the first place. Eventually, everything did end up working itself out. I adjusted to student life, made a great group of friends and enjoyed my program.

My bf lived a completely different life. He grew up with pretty laid back parents who let him do whatever he wanted. He played organized sports and did all the things that most kids were allowed to do. Sleepovers and birthday parties were never questioned. He was so comfortable that he lived at home while he went to a local university. I hate to say it, but he had the childhood I wanted. I actually envied him for being able to have so much freedom at such a young age.

When we talk about  how we each grew up (and not too far from each other either), my bf says he felt he got all his sense for adventure out of his system at an early age.  I believe it had a lot to do with our individual upbringing and the fact that I was the first born daughter.  But also we are of different cultures. His dad grew up in Canada and his mom’s family has lived in Canada for several generations.  Now that I am an adult, I almost feel I have to make up for lost time. Do the things that I never got to do as a kid and more.  I constantly want to try new things and go to different places. Where has this sense of adventure taken me? Backpacking in Europe, treetop trekking and ziplining,white water rafting, surfing, mountain biking in Whistler, glacier hiking, portaging, rappelling off a cliff  and  eventually hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Every time I tell my parents I’m doing these things, they still say its dangerous. But life can get boring if you always play it safe and don’t tap into your sense of adventure.

 

Does “Glamping” defeat the purpose of camping?

What is glampingAs much as I consider myself to be an active and somewhat adventurous person, I don’t think I can consider myself outdoorsy. My parents were not outdoorsy people, thus I did not have a lot exposure to the great outdoors until I was a young adult in my early 20s. That may seem quite shocking, considering I live in a country (Canada) where it is known for its beautiful landscape. Who wouldn’t want to experience what the national and provincial parks had to offer? Well, my parents. The idea of sleeping outdoors and cooking outdoors never really appealed to them. It seemed like hard work. (When you really think about it, it is! But if you really enjoy doing that stuff, then it probably doesn’t seem like work to you). I often wondered if this reminded them more of their childhood and they saw it more as a chore, rather than a fun experience.

I have gone camping on several occasions, ranging from car camping to backcountry camping/ portaging for four days in one of the largest provincial parks. For those of you who are unfamiliar with portaging, it is the method of hauling your water craft (such as a canoe) and equipment ( food, clothes, water, tent, cooking gear, and the list goes on) over land between two bodies of water. My ex and I would canoe for 3-4 hours each day and carry our canoe and cargo to our campsite and set up.

Was it an amazing experience? Absolutely. The water was so clean, calm and peaceful.  It was just us and the sights and sounds of nature. We didn’t encounter any bears, thankfully, but still put our food in a bag and tied it up in a tree, away from our campsite.   Imagine being able to seeing a night sky full of stars and city noise pollution being a million miles away.

Would I do it again? It’s a definite no. Why? If you think plain old car camping is a lot of work, then backcountry camping and portaging is not for you. It helps to be in somewhat good physical shape, since you are constantly hauling gear and paddling to your campsite. There were no garbage cans at the sites. We had to bring EVERYTHING with us. Getting to your campsite to set up before dark is everyone’s goal. But just imagine trying to PADDLE to your campsite before dark.  I went portaging several years before I was fit, but even now I still wouldn’t do it again. It was just one of those, I’ll try it once, to experience it and say I did it.

So you must have already figured out now that I’m not too fond of camping. I do appreciate the scenery though. I just can’t sleep properly in our big comfy king sized bed, let alone sleep in a sleeping bag with the sleeping mat. Mosquitoes LOVE me, I mean REALLY love me. Just how caffeine doesn’t seem to keep me awake, bug spray does not seem to work on me either.

I do appreciate the fact that camping is a frugal and fun (for some people) form of vacation. That is one of the reasons why my bf and I did it during our East Coast trip, to save money on accommodations.  However, “glamping” is a not so frugal form of vacation. Glamping is one of those new words that you’ll hear and have to look up on urban dictionary. It is a fusion of the words glamourous and camping. Glamping is luxury camping.

This is how glamping.com defines glamping:

“Recently, a global trend has caught fire that offers outdoor enthusiasts an upgrade on rest and recreation. It’s called glamping, a new word for a new kind of travel, defined as glamorous camping. When you’re glamping, there’s no tent to pitch, no sleeping bag to unroll, no fire to build. Whether in a tent, yurt, airstream, hut, villa or treehouse, glamping is a way to experience the great outdoors without sacrificing luxury.”

So you’re not sacrificing luxury, but from what  it seems, you may be sacrificing your wallet. This is an extreme case: the  Four Seasons Tented Camp in Thailand goes for $1729 USD/per night.  Whereas a yurt rental in California goes for $145/night. Might as well get a hotel room. Does an actual bed in a tent seem ironic? Or just plain weird?  One would think that because I am an odd person who likes experience adventure, but hates rolling up sleeping bags, glamping would be perfect for me. Probably, but the frugal side of me doesn’t seem to think so. I almost feel like it defeats the purpose of really experiencing camping. Call me crazy, but I like to experience things in an “authentic” way. I like to think of myself as more of a traveller, than a tourist.

Perhaps glamping is only meant for extremely wealthy people or celebrities, because they are perceived to be high-maintenance (Hello, J. Lo).

What are your thoughts on camping and “glamping”?

Haggling To Get the Best Deal

“What do you think of when you first hear the word haggling? Do you imagine yourself at a flea market browsing the aisles for antiques? Or do you picture a garage sale with people looking through old boxes and milk crates full of odds and ends?

Most of my haggling has been done overseas while on vacation in a foreign country.

I absolutely love going to their local markets or even vendors on the side of the road and checking out their handicrafts. Locals know you’re a tourist and assume you have lots of money. In my experience, when I ask how much, I find they’ll often offer me a price which is pretty high (It helps to know the conversion rate to see if you’re being ripped off, as well as a bit of the language so you can ask how much and say things like too expensive).  And so begins the battle of bargaining, naming prices back and forth until either you’re satisfied or you walk away in search of a better bargain.”

Read more about my thoughts on haggling @ Suburban Finance.

 

 

Wasting Money On Lottery Tickets

I’ve never played the lottery on my own, yet always participate in the work lottery pool. I often feel like I’m throwing my money away every time I contribute, yet I don’t want to be left out if they win big. Find out more over at Suburban Finance.

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Germaphobes BEWARE: I reuse my eating and drinking utensils

eating and drinking utensils

There. I said it. Are you grossed out and refuse to read on?

I used to (and still am to a certain extent, especially when cooking) be one of those people who would use a dish, cup or fork for one little bite or sip and then toss it into the sink. When we first moved into our house, I did this even more because we now had a dishwasher.

Neither my partner nor I had a dishwasher in the household growing up. I didn’t have one in my apartment either. Let me just say, along with the microwave and washing machine, the dishwasher is up there in terms of best inventions ever to save time and money.  I HATED washing dishes growing up and dreaded having to wash them in my apartment kitchen sink when I got home from work.  They always took up so much of my time. I never seemed to wash them right away. I always had this (and still do a bit from time to time) tendency to just let them pile up like a tower of Jenga blocks just before it topples over.

My significant other, on the other hand, would use his plate, glass or bowl more than once (maybe even three times) before deciding that it would need a wash.  At first I was appalled and grossed out by this because I grew up with the notion that dishes and cups were used only once before washing. Things would get left on the counter and get automatically washed before I could even think about using them again. They were automatically assumed to be dirty.  Once they were put in the sink, it was a sign that you couldn’t use it again. My dad was a bit of a clean/organized freak, so maybe that was why.  That got passed on to my sister, but unfortunately not me.

She even offered to organize my house for me and that offer still stands.

When I brought this habit into the household, my partner claimed I went through way too many dishes, cups and cutlery at one time.  He’d ask why our dishwasher got full so quickly and so frequently. We’re only two people. Being the practical guy he is, he would point out that rather than letting those cereal crumbs solidify on the bowl, I could have easily given the bowl a quick rinse and use it the next morning.

Common sense, right?

It makes common sense and financial sense too. I wear my clothes (with the exception of undergarments, workout gear and socks) more than once if they don’t stink and have been barely worn, then why can’t I do that with the plates I eat on? Less stuff used to be eaten with, hence less things going in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is used less frequently, thus saving us money on our electricity/water bill.

It took a while like it does to change any habit, but I now often rinse my stuff a few times before throwing it into the dishwasher (although not as much as my partner). Sometimes if someone eats dinner before the other person comes home, due to after work activities, the other person will just use that same plate. No muss, no fuss.

 

 

Who Doesn’t Have A Bank Account +$100 AMAZON VOUCHER GIVEAWAY!!

The following is a guest post by NatWest.

 

You probably have an image in your head. A rural wooden shack, a vegetable garden, some funny smells and conversation peppered with the names of Kropotkin, Bergman and Marx. These are the people who chose to live off the grid, away from regular civilisation and probably keep all their money under their mattress. How true this image is, is debatable, however you might be surprised to know that there are a lot more people than you might imagine who don’t go in for the whole bank account thing, whether by choice or not.

An article in Time magazine in November 2012 looked at this precise phenomenon and revealed that as much as one in nine American households don’t have current accounts. A lot of the time this isn’t strictly an ideological issue, it is more invidious than that – it’s a fiscal one. People with less money are less likely to open a bank account. In households with incomes of less than $15,000 a year, 28 per cent have no bank account.

Some of the reasons that Time gives for this occurrence include a lack of time to bank. With long working hours and even longer commutes some people never have a chance to see the inside of a bank, have a lack of trust in banks, and suffer a lack of financial literacy; as in some people don’t understand the costs involved in having a bank account.

In the UK the figures aren’t nearly as high; it currently stands at about 5 per cent for low-income families, down from between 20 – 25 per cent in the 1990s. Worldwide though, the figures are quite high. According to Businessweek 2.5 billion adults in the world – approximately half – don’t have a bank account. Again this appears to be predominantly a financial issue. Two-thirds of those polled said they simply didn’t have enough money to bank. In other cases it was because the banks were too far away or that it was too expensive to use them.

Surprisingly though there are some inroads being made in the way poorer nations use their money. Sixteen per cent of adults in Sub-Saharan Africa have used a mobile phone to pay bills or send money in the past year while two-thirds of adults in Kenya have received payments by phone.

If you suddenly decide not to put your money in the bank at some point in the future you might hit a few problems, some of which you might not have factored in. For instance, how would you go about paying bills? You could probably work something out with your landlord but what about electricity and heating? There aren’t too many companies who are going to except cash in hand.

Then there’s the salary issue. Unless you’re very lucky (or your business is a little unorthodox) then this will definitely cause some problems. Need the internet? You’ll probably need a bank account for that. Student loan? Same deal.

How about a credit score? It’s going to be pretty hard getting yourself a mortgage, credit card or loan without a credit history. Never having a bank account would give you the credit score of a homeless ghost (Nick Miller style).

Still even with all these issues there are some unusual characters out there who will, for reasons that are entirely their own, feel that stuffing their money under a mattress and cookie jars is better than putting it safely in a bank. To each their own.