Travel Costs

 

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Playa Beisanz

 

Total Cost of the Best Trip Ever: $2400


Total Airfare for Two: $770

This covered two roundtrip tickets with Copa Airlines from November 28 – December 5. We booked through Canadian Fares online. I know that this was likely cheaper because the dates fell before peak season.

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Meal on Copa Airlines

Copa Air was impressive – flying with them took me back to how things were before food and alcohol became additional. We were shocked when they came out with the drinks – including alcohol – near the start and end of the flight. I got so nostalgic that I just went for the guava juice – something I hadn’t had since I was a kid. Then came the meals! I had to pinch myself. I haven’t eaten anything on a flight without whipping out my credit card in years.

Another plus side when booking with Copa: When you leave Costa Rica, you apparently have to pay a departure tax of $29 USD. This fee was included in the airfare. There are a few airlines that will automatically include this fee in the price and Copa is one of them. Otherwise, if you don’t have US cash or the Costa Rican equivalent to pay at the airport, you pay this tax at the booth by a cash advance on your credit card. Oh, and we didn’t have to pay for our checked baggage.

The only downside to this airline was having Barry Manilow’s song, “Copacabana,” earworm its way into my head for the entire flight going there and back.


Park ‘n’ Fly: $185

Our flight was at 8 AM. It made the most sense for us to stay at a hotel where we could park our car for eight days while we were away. With such an early departure and late arrival, I appreciated being shuttled to and from the airport. We usually book our park ‘n’ fly using points, but this was more of a last minute booking and we couldn’t swing it this time around.


Manulife Travel Insurance: $48

This covered the two of us. Neither of us is covered by any insurance plans at work, many of which also includes basic travel insurance.

There were times in the past when I thought travel insurance was a waste of money…until the one time I needed it and it was totally worth it. The insurance covered all the costly medical bills for this one unexpected incident.


Total cost of Airbnb: $327

We went on this trip for three reasons: 1) We always wanted to go to Costa Rica, 2) We wanted to have a warm getaway, and 3) JP and I are considering buying property somewhere nice and warm.

We decided to check out a place that was easy enough to get to near a lot of beaches. That way, if we bought a property that was accessible and attractive to many tourists, it would be easy to rent out on Airbnb. We settled for the town of Herradura, which is near the locals hangout, Herradura Beach, the bachelor party capital, Jaco Beach, and the surfer-covered Hermosa Beach. We booked a house through AirBnB which was a quick drive from all those places.

It was our first time booking anything through Airbnb. What an experience! We made friends with the neighbours and had them over on most nights where we shared food and drinks. They even took us on a hike through a river to these local waterfalls. They showed us around some resorts, beaches, bars, etc. I’m sure that’s not what usually happens with Airbnb and that this was more of a unique opportunity to make new friends.


Car rental: $258

We booked through Dollar in Costa Rica ahead of time, snatching the best online deal we could find. There are a number of car rental desks at the airport where they shuttle you to their actual locations off-site, as there is no spot for them at the San Jose airport.

We got a basic car with basic insurance. They tried to pressure JP into getting the premium insurance plan, but he wouldn’t budge. The guy became a bit of a prick after we said no! Apparently, all the cars in Costa Rica are standard. (Really?) The driving there is more aggressive in that there is no room for hesitation. JP really liked driving there!


Duty-Free Booze: $98

20171209_1330461036299762.jpgOn the way to Costa Rica, our stopover was at the Panama Airport. The next time we head to this area, we are definitely going to Panama! Well, we were drawn to all the duty-free stores glowing with enormous bottles of rum and tequila. We didn’t know how hard/easy it would be to find alcohol in CR when we arrived in the evening. We shopped around and bought a bottle of rum ($17 USD) and one of tequila ($24 USD) equal to $53.76 CAD. On the way back to Canada, we bought two big bottles of rum ($34 USD = $44.35 CAD). We just knew we couldn’t find bottles of this size and price back home. We paid with credit card both times.


Cash for food, gas, etc: $588 = ₡240,000

We read that most places only took cash. Credit cards could be used at more expensive places and you could still be charged extra transaction fees for using it. We figured to bring about $600 worth of CR Colones. We ordered the currency from our bank. The exchange rate with them was much better than at an exchange house. We just had to wait almost a week for the money to arrive (which came the day before we left!).

On our way to our accommodation, we stopped over at some food stands and stores to load up with enough chow to tide us over the next few days. We bought tropical fruits, tomatoes, beans, nuts, and rice. We nearly fell over after we figured that the few bags we purchased amounted to $80. The food prices in Costa Rica rival Japan’s. I mean, I have never tasted more exquisite avocados and pineapples, but come on! However, alcohol is much less expensive there. On most days we ate a lot of fruit and made our own meals. The place we stayed at had a great kitchen where JP whipped up the best dishes.

We allowed ourselves a couple of extravagant days when we bought day passes to hang out at a nearby resort which gave us access to the poolside bar/restaurant and beach. A pass cost us $30 USD each.

After a week in Costa Rica, we blew through most of our cash. We had enough to refill the gas tank before returning the car to the rental agency. With all the driving we did, including a day trip to Manuel Antonio in the south, we used only one tank of gas. Filling it up cost around $45 CAD. We gave the remainder of our colones to the shuttle driver who took us to the airport.


Roaming: $96

We paid $10 a day for data. We needed to navigate a lot on Google maps. Fun fact: They don’t use addresses in Costa Rica! Everyone uses landmarks. There were a couple of days when we didn’t need data, but I forgot to put my phone on airplane mode before midnight.  Before leaving, I also had to make a phone call from Canada to the caretaker of the house to arrange for the key exchange.


If you added the food we bought at the airport while waiting to depart in Canada, Panama, and Costa Rica, it comes to another $25 CAD. All told that is about $2400 or $1200 per person. Not bad for one of the most incredible trips I have ever taken. We went to four different beaches, witnessed the most stunning sunsets, saw so much wildlife, made new friends, and learned so much about that amazing country. Would we consider buying property there? Claro que si!

 

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Playa Herradura

 

The Transparent RRSP: Thanksliving Day Weekend

The week of October 2
  • On Oct 2, I bought 10 shares of ZPR.TO at $11.61. This cost me $116.10.
  • To my horror, I realized later on that I meant to buy 15 shares of ZPR, not just 10. So I ended up buying another 5 shares the next day at $11.67 a share (6 cents more!). This cost me $58.35. Aw phooey!
  • I would have bought more ZPR on Wednesday when I finally had more funds in the account, but the price was up higher by that point. Instead, I bought 15 shares of GRL.TO at $7.96 per share. This cost $119.55.

I have $37.92 in cash left in my RRSP.

GRL and ZPR

Price charts for GRL and ZPR on freestockcharts.com

I bought both of these stocks earlier this year. In early January, I got 50 shares of ZPR for $10.86 and 50 shares of GRL for $7.74 in mid-February. When you work out the average price, it looks like this:

ZPR

  • 50 shares @ $10.86 + $0.50 in commission* = $543.50
  • 10 shares @ $11.61 = $116.10
  • 5 shares @ $11.67 = $58.35
  • This totals to $717.95
  • Take the total cost of $717.95 and divide it by 65 shares. You get $11.05 a share for ZPR.

* I forgot to buy this under the “Free ETF Investment” commission structure with Virtual Brokers. I did remember to choose the correct commission structure this time around. At least I got one important thing right.

GRL

  • 50 shares @ $7.74 + $0.50 in commission = $387.50
  • 15 shares @ $7.96 + $0.15 in commission = $119.55
  • This totals to $507.05.
  • Divide $507.05 by 65 shares = $7.80 a share

Oh, what fun math can be! 

I really need to work this out for all the stocks I’ve averaged or scaled into. I scaled into a few of my other stocks last week — as I’ve been doing throughout the summer. I wish I could be a little more type A when it comes to tracking.

My new year’s resolution was to get more organized with tracking my trades. I still use post-it reminders occasionally. I now have two bulletin boards and a whiteboard to post better visual reminders for my trade ideas, upcoming strategies, and items that need attention. While I’ve made improvements in keeping up with things, I’m still floundering in the tracking department.


Thanksgiving Day 

Tomorrow my in-laws are coming to stay with us for a few days. They know it’s going to be a vegetarian ‘Thanksliving’ (the term courtesy of Jesse Eisenberg), so I’m sure they’re getting their turkey fill tonight with the other half of the family in Calgary before they fly in tomorrow.

I’ve got yummy Tofurky on the menu (don’t knock it until you try it) along with savoury kale chips, grilled veggies, dessert cookies, and other things that go well with good wine and craft beer. This may seem unappetizing to many, but we’re decent cooks for a couple of veg-heads and have yet to disappoint our guests. Cholesterol levels will not be spiking tomorrow!

I’ve got some cleaning and prep to do tonight so that tomorrow, I can trade in the morning for my US margin account as the US markets are open. Once I’m done trading, Thanksgiving cooking – and drinking – begin in the early afternoon.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

 

Food & Finance


How Much We Spend on Groceries

Our total grocery costs over the last three months amounted to:

  • September: $246.68
  • October: $206.35
  • November: $196.90

This doesn’t count eating out. We eat out once a month and we’ll spend anywhere from $60 to $90. We also work part-time in a fancy seniors home where we get to eat supper on the days we’re working, which is about three to five days a week. Before working there, our monthly grocery bill averaged out to be $360 to $420 a month and we went out for dinner twice a month. 

It took us a few years before we were able to get our average monthly grocery bill down to what it is. JP and I have been living in Southern Ontario for five years now; it was a matter of trial and error, buying from the different grocery stores before we found where we can generally get the best prices for what we eat on a regular basis.

Our food costs are low for the following reasons:

  • We shop at two to four different places for the cheapest prices;
  • We’re vegetarians (don’t be hatin’!);
  • We make most of our meals at home, quick ‘n’ easy style;
  • We hardly eat packaged food;
  • We always look at the cost per unit;
  • JP is uncannily a savant with prices. He’s like a human app. I don’t know if this talent stemmed from watching stock prices so much, but he just knows when something – in or out of season – costs more than it should;
  • We add up our costs each month and compare our monthly spending.

Where We Shop
No Frills

This is generally the best place for most of our produce (bananas, oranges, onions, broccoli, kale, beets, sweet potatoes, potatoes, parsnips, avocados, tomatoes, cauliflower, squashes, carrots, etc). Here, we also get our spices, rice, pasta, beans, legumes, tofu, and canned tuna for our cats. JP eats salmon once in a while, so he’ll get the frozen packaged salmon when it goes on special. Every week, I bake our bread, so we get our baking needs here too.

We accumulate PC Points whenever we shop which gets us $20 off every three to four months or so. On your membership account, you can designate your preferred food choices. When you do this, they’ll notify you when your faves go on special each week and if you buy them, you get extra points. When we started doing this weekly points special thing, we started accumulating enough points to get money off on a regular basis. What’s also nice is that in case you miss the points specials one week, you can save them for the following week if you need to.

Although No Frills is connected to Independent and Superstore, the prices aren’t always the same from store to store, so we try to be mindful of that. We get our garlic, sauces, and vinegars from Superstore. I also like the prices and selection of personal care products at Superstore. Sometimes the food prices are cheaper at these places than they are at No Frills. 

Comparable places for the cheapest produce are Walmart and FreshCo too. We’ll go there if it’s more convenient for us. 

Costco

They tend to have the best prices for apples, mushrooms, spinach, lettuce, cheese, and eggs. We get most of our other staples here. We calculated that the amount we save on tea and coffee alone pays for the annual membership! Here, we get our oatmeal, coffee, tea, olive oil, canola oil, sriracha, mustard, hot chocolate, soy milk, milk, maple syrup, veggie burgers, edamame, tissue, detergent, toothpaste, and vitamins. I’m now off the local ice cream, but we were getting it here at such a good price. 

This summer, I bought from here an inexpensive set of little tomato plants which I planted and grew in my backyard. From late-August to now (late November) we’ve enjoyed the reddest and tastiest tomatoes. 

At Costco, we bought a 5L tub of Pink Solution, this extremely effective, non-toxic natural cleaner. About twice a year, they’ll have a vendor selling it. We’re going onto year 3 of using it and we still have 2/3rds of a container remaining. We use it to clean everything in our house. It cost us about $50 and it also came with this incredible grease remover and awesome stain-removing laundry bar. We just LOVE this stuff!

Bulk Barn

We get peanuts and xylitol sweetener here. Sometimes we’ll splurge and get raw pumpkin seeds, which aren’t cheap at all. But when you heat those seeds for 4-5 minutes over a frying pan on medium heat and add a bit of soy sauce at the end, BOOM! You now have the tastiest food to go with drinks!

Other Places

We live among farmers. So in the spring and summer, we’ll sometimes get our eggs, syrup, and veggies from the family-run farmer stand down the road. We also buy a massive bucket of honey one to two times a year from a guy down the road who sells honey for a local beekeeper.


How We Eat

We’re healthy eaters, however, we also can be pretty lazy when it comes to cooking. We’re huge fans of low-fuss cooking. We found that the only way to enjoy healthy eating is to make really tasty food using good seasoning and sauces. 

I usually just stir-fry onions and veggies to eat with rice, pasta, legumes, tofu, and even oatmeal. JP likes to bake everything: veggies, squash, and even his salmon. It is our habit to press garlic and marinate it in olive oil and vinegar (apple cider and balsamic) with some seasoning. We always have a bottle of this garlic concoction to pour on top of whatever we’re eating. It’s a great way to keep your weight down and stay healthy when it gets cold. Once in a while, I’ll make a killer onion potato omelette to manage my carb cravings and to nurse hangovers. To manage chip cravings (at heart, I’m a chip addict), I make kale chips.

For meals that take longer to prepare, I’ll just throw on some Netflix and watch while I cook or bake. When we have people over, I’ll just use recipes from my Women’s Health magazines to change things up and try new food and ingredients.

We cook in larger amounts to last us two to three days. When we’re not at our part-time jobs, we’re working from home, writing, or doing stock stuff. Having delicious, nourishing food at the ready kills the need to nosh on junk food. Additionally, when you’re well-nourished, you don’t need to eat as much. I used to be a junk food junkie, but I know that proactively eating healthy will lead to a longer, healthier life. I still eat sweets and junk food once in a while, but it’s no longer a staple in my shopping bags.

If the life-extending, artery de-clogging way I eat grosses you out, I apologize! As much as I want to pursue wealth, I want to be healthy and youthful enough to enjoy my money for years to come. Many people find that the healthier the food choices they make, the more of their money they end up saving. How great is that?

Health IS wealth!