Christmas plans+ Good Reads From The PF Community

First of all, I hope our American friends had a great Thanksgiving. Given it’s Black Friday in the US and many Canadian stores have started this tradition, happy bargain hunting. But remember, the best savings are the ones that you don’t spend money on. Just because things are on sale and heavily discounted, it doesn’t mean you have to buy them.

Because Christmas is Mrs. T and the kids’ favourite holiday, we started playing Christmas songs on November 1st. Last year we spent Christmas by ourselves and didn’t interact with my parents or my brother’s family. We are hoping this year will be different.

In 2019, when we were in Denmark, we had confit duck legs for Christmas dinner. The duck legs came in cans and were fully cooked in the traditional French method. All you had to do was to heat them up in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. The legs were absolutely delicious! We liked them so much Mrs. T and I talked about having them one of these days for a Christmas dinner.

Christmas in Denmark

To our surprise, Costco sells fully cooked confit duck legs but it’s not cheap! 24 duck legs cost $249.99. At $10 per duck leg, I think that’s way too steep for Christmas dinner, especially if we’re potentially hosting 9 people. Maybe we’ll buy a couple of ducks and roast them in the oven ourselves rather than buying something already cooked. Has anyone had duck for their holiday dinner?

We’re hoping it will be possible to travel outside of Canada next year. But that totally depends on different countries’ traveller entry rules. If possible, we’d love to go to Disneyland and Kauai next year and redeem some of the Marriott Bonvoy points I have. Given that Marriott is moving away from the award chart and going to dynamic points pricing, we need to have a plan on using our points. We also have some WestJet travel bank credits that we need to use before July. We are hoping the negative COVID-19 test result requirement will go away so travelling is less complicated.

The climate crisis

Some of you probably have heard or read about the southern BC had A LOT of rain recently. All the rain caused floods, mudslides, and damaged major infrastructure.

Just how crazy are the damages? Well, take a look at these pictures.

highway damages
Credit: Reddit BC

One of our neighbours works in Chilliwack and couldn’t get back home for four days!

As you can imagine, many communities have been cut off completely because of infrastructure damages. A lot of people desperately need help right now and I’d encourage everyone to provide a helping hand, it can be letting people stay at your home, donating food, donating money, or helping out with your time. A small gesture will go a long way.

This year, BC has seen a lot of climate-related events… wild forest fires, heatwaves, cyclone bombs, higher-than-usual rainfalls, mudslides, floods, etc. Lives have been lost and many more will be lost.

Unfortunately, countries will continue to debate about climate change and continue to move out their carbon reduction. I’m not going to argue whether climate change is real or not. To me, climate change is real and we need to do something about it. QUICK!

All of us can all make small changes to reduce our carbon footprints:

  • Walk or bike more instead of driving everywhere.
  • Turn down your thermastat by one or two degrees. This will save you a lot of money in the long run too.
  • Reduce our plastic consumption.
  • Be mindful consumers by eating less meat.
  • Buy seasonal produce, buy locally. Is there a need to eat strawberries in the midst of winter?
  • Compost organic wastes rather than throwing them to the landfills.
  • Drive more efficiently, don’t accelerate quickly only to brake a few seconds later. Be smart about when and how you drive. 
  • Buy second hand clothes.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Air dry clothes rather than using the dryer.
  • Run a full load of dishwasher.
  • Wash clothes in cold water instead of hot water.

We need to do better. If we continue our mindless consumption and continue to damage the Earth, it is only a matter of time that we will extinct just like dinosaurs!

Good Reads From The PF Community

I am amazed at how much great personal finance content is available on the internet. I try to read as many personal finance and FIRE-related articles as possible and learn from them whenever I can. Here are some articles I have come across that I really enjoyed reading.

The old mentality is that buying real estate is a great idea because you can’t create more land. Mark from My Own Advisor wondered How much real estate should you have in your portfolio? Rather than buying physical real estate, Mark thinks investors should invest in REITs – “Up until recently, real estate was actually rather difficult to unload in some Canadian markets on demand. Unlike real estate, regardless of the real estate market, I like REITs because you can buy or sell as many of your favourite REIT units largely on-demand in the open stock market.

Jess, the winner of the 2021 Plutus Awards Best Canadian Finance Content (yours truely was one of the finalists, very honoured) just recently celebrated the 300th episode of her More Money Podcast. Congratulations Jess! In her recently, episode #298, she talked to Robin Taub on How to talk to your kids about money.

Do you fall into home bias and have too much of your portfolio invested in the Canadian market? Dale at Cut The Crap Investing analyzed What is the cost of your Canadian home bias? Since Canada is a small percentage of the global GDP, I believe it is always a good idea to diversify geographically. There are also a lot more mega international brands available outside of Canada – “U.S. markets certainly fill the holes of the Canadian stock market. And the U.S. multinationals that dominate the S&P 500 do offer significant international exposure. That said, an investor should seek greater diversification by way of international developed and developing nations outside of North America.”

Do you ever feel guilty for spending money on yourself? Jewels aka One Frugal Girl wrote How to spend money on yourself without feeling guilty. YES! I can’t agree more – “What is your greatest dream? If you could do anything to make your life better or more meaningful, what would it be? Before spending money, figure out what you want to accomplish.

Mrs. T shared this hilarious video with me the other day. We laughed so hard watching it.

Thanks to travel hacking, we travel hacked our way to Maui and saved over $10,000. If you pay off your credit card balance in full each month, having travel rewards credit cards is a great idea. Barry from Money We Have recently wrote an excellent article called What is travel hacking? A beginners guide for lazy people – “In my opinion, travel hacking is worth it. There are plenty of opportunities to save money on travel and you don’t need to sign up for dozens of credit cards. I personally think the two card method is the easiest way to get started since you’ll be able to earn enough points for free travel almost immediately. Once you get to know how your points and loyalty programs work, you can decide if you want to dive deeper into the travel hacking game.

Mike Drak, the author of Victory Lap Retirement explained why he got An F in retirement – “Most near-retirees mistakenly believe that once they get their freedom back, once they feel less stressed, all their bad habits will vanish. They will magically transform into that happy person they always wanted to be. They will hit the gym daily, eat healthier, travel to exotic places, write a book, learn to play the guitar, start a business, and spend more time with family and friends. It’s a great dream. But it can’t happen without a deliberate plan that you execute on. Falling into retirement, with only vague ideas about what your life is going to be like, will cost you. When your dream turns into a nightmare, you’ll start questioning your decision to retire in the first place.

What’s coming on the blog

In a few weeks, I am having a reader survey and giving away a few prizes for people that completed the survey. I will be using the survey to see which topics the readers want to learn more about. I’m looking forward to seeing all the feedback. Please keep an eye out for this survey.

Have topics that you want me to write about? Feel free to contact me.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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8 thoughts on “Christmas plans+ Good Reads From The PF Community”

  1. Thank you for your article. I am reading it late but wanted to comment that the best thing we as individuals can do to minimize our personal impact is to stop flying.

    Also, I am still split on divesting from fossil fuel companies. I read some opinions that it is better to invest normally and use your earnings to effect change but this seems ingenuine. Thoughts?

    Thank you for your blog

  2. I don’t know if I finished what I was writing or not, my wife might have sent this. My point was that we need to reduce and reuse first. Recycle is the last step. And in our infrastructure we are also backwards, We need to produce our electricity in an efficient manner, photovoltaic solar, wind, small modular reactors etc. The majority of people are focused on using electricity, but we need to generate and use that properly first. Every block will need larger transformers and power to run electric cars, lawnmowers and bikes and that will require every neighborhood to be dug up and changed. My understanding is that we could allow two cars per block to own an electric car currently. I think we should focus on generating that power from within, focus on photovoltaic walls and roofs first. The cost to do major infrastructure changes involves using more energy than we will get out. Burning a coal fired power plant, or natural gas power plant and digging up/installing major power grids to every home so that we can drive an electric car is absurd logic. Rushing out digging up Lithium and the products for solar needs to be thought through. REDUCE AND REUSE FIRST, have we really focused enough on public transportation? I remember in Europe to drive your car versus public transportation was about 4/1 ratio. It should be logical to hop on a train or bus.

  3. I am so glad you mentioned to Reduce and Reuse in the article. I feel like so many people are focused on recycle. For example my wife is one, she puts clean hot water into the sink to wash out a yogurt or small container. The energy wasted to create the hot water isn’t necessary with a little planning. to reduce the amount of loads that go into the washing machine or organizing your yard to reduce water and possibly plant something you eat. I think we are a long way from the masses to have electric cars. The municipalities have major infrastructure work to do so that more than the current 2 homes per block have enough power for their electric cars. So many locations are burning coal or natural gas to provide the electricity


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