Monthly Archives: October 2012

Money and Travel | GUATEMALA


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Recently, I relocated to Central America for the month. A wonderful place to visit, I am also the type of person that tends to read business sections and pays attention to FX markets, if only to maximize on my vacation travel. When I see poor suckers going to Europe right now, with everything costing twice as much after the exchange rate, I sit back and smile as I head to a country with an 8:1 exchange rate. Yes, that’s right, 8:1. You can eat delightfully for Q150. That’s including your drinks, and probably the equivalent of about $17 Canadian. In fact, I knew many people that had a food budget of about Q20 per day, which is about the same as $2.50 Canadian (and they were eating, no fasting even on that budget).

Transportation is privatized there, and so busses are plentiful and cost about $0.30 each ride, Spanish classes are readily accessible, and foreigners are there from all over the world – I definitely was not the only one that planned travel this way. Choosing destinations based on exchange rates, allows you to REALLY see a country. I was able to splurge on weekend trips, because I wasn’t spending so much on the basics, like food and housing. And, down there, cleaning and laundry are including with housing, so I was probably paying even less, as it was solely one price for housing and cleaning and laundry services. I also made sure I lived in a place with a kitchen, thus not making me eat every single meal in a restaurant, which saved some money as well. I also ended up teaching there, which allowed me to practice my Spanish, which allowed me cut back on my Spanish classes, and still gave ample time to practice my conversation.

These little things really do affect the way we see the world, and let us not get out of control with spending as we travel, and most importantly, let us focus on enjoying the trip!


The battle to budget.


I’ve worked in the financial services field, I’ve consulted hundreds of people in the past couple of years, and I’ve tried countless apps, strategies and different financial products on myself. The result has been mixed. I now have have a strong adversity to debt, not sure about credit cards (visa debits are more often than not the best way to go), RRSP’s and TFSA’s are amazing — everyone should be max-ing theirs out — this should actually be the focus of your financial plan and financial planning books are only as good as the saver themselves. 


I tend to like to go out, like to shop, buy dinners for old friends and splurge on wonderful weekend adventures around the city and (unfortunately) across the globe. And as such, despite all my own experience with money, the one area I still struggle with is cash flow management — yes, Mint, I do use you, and still it remains an issue. 

I’m writing here to share some of my insights on the industry, but more to provide a consumer-centric view of all things related to personal finance, not inclusive of: credit cards, savings account, insurance, housing, cash flow management, budgeting and money management, personal finance apps and so forth. And so I invite you to reach out to me, and dialogue as I share. I look forward to hearing from you!