Coronavirus: Canadian economy edition

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In light of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, the Canadian government announced an unprecedented economic package to help as many Canadians as possible during these turbulent times.

It is unprecedented, indeed. Even in during the Great Recession of 2008, the measures implemented were nowhere close to what we’re seeing now. This crisis was actually much more severe than the current one.

Many people -whether experts or not- are decreeing the world is in recession, but it’s actually too early to make that call. In economy, a recession is a temporary period during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.

We’re not there yet, folks.

This pandemic is not going to last forever

Like all the ones we’ve had before -and we’ve had a few!-, it will stop at some point. It’s usually a matter of months or a little over a year, at most. Let’s look at the previous 2, most recent pandemics:

  • H1N1: Apr 2009- Aug 2010
  • SARS: Nov 2002-July 2003

As you can see, they didn’t last for years. Right now, China is at the tail end of the coronavirus pandemic. At the time of writing, this country hasn’t reported any new cases for the last couple of days.

Anyhow, let’s go back to the crux of this post:

Canadian personal finances

As I was saying above, the federal government announced a list of extended measures to help Canadians:

  • Removal of the 1-week waiting period for all new EI claims
  • Emergency Care benefit: for workers who don’t have paid sick days, don’t qualify for EI and have to stay home to care for their family or themselves -$450/week for up to 15 weeks-
  • Emergency Support benefit: for anyone who doesn’t qualify for EI and lost their job or had to temporarily close their business -$450/week up to 15 weeks-
  • Tax-filing deadline has been extended to June 30th, with payments to be made by Aug 31.
  • Boost to the Canada Child Benefit, up to $ 300.
  • Additional GST rebate, amount unknown at this stage
  • 6-month moratorium on federal student loans
  • Lower amount of mandatory withdrawals for RRIF holders

For businesses:

  • Deferral of tax payments until Aug 31
  • Wage subsidy: up to 10% of an employee’s pay, maximum 25K per employer
  • Ease of borrowing through BDC and EDC
  • CRA has also suspended its audits and re-assessments on businesses

Something for almost everyone

This has to be one the most comprehensive program I ever seen in Canada. It’s pretty extended.

However, many details are still blurry at this stage. We don’t know what will be required to qualify for these various programs. Both the Emergency Care and Support benefits are not available yet. Applications will open on April 1st.

It is also expected it will take a few weeks for claimants to actually start receiving money. That’s when an emergency fund comes in handy!

Unfortunately, our most vulnerable population is excluded from these announcements….It may fall on provincial governments to handle -and pay for- them.

Many banks, as well as CHMC, have also committed to helping people who may have difficulties with their mortgage payments. The details are also unknown and will probably be on a case-per-case basis.

We’re definitely not sure of how long this coronavirus will linger and the depth of its economic, health and social impact.

However, we will get through this, the same way we got through previous pandemics, economic turmoils and recessions. The world is not going to end! In the meantime, keep calm and carry-on…..

My year in review

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2019 was definitely one of my most powerful years to date. I recall having only 3 other like this in my life so far: 1999, 2000 and 2006.

These 4 years all have 3 points in common: they involved extensive travels, they were definitely not the most lucrative and I was the happiest ever.

2019 confirmed my long-held belief money doesn’t equate happiness. Happiness is not something you can buy on any stock exchange….

Let’s briefly move back to the end of 2018. I was really not feeling well at that time. I felt stuck. I felt disconnected. I even felt like I had very little to no options for my life! I am not sure how I came to feel that way.

Although I had made some much needed changes earlier on, such as switching to part-time work and starting my MBA studies, it was not enough.

I needed something more “drastic”

My university happens to have a campus near Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysia. I decided to apply to study for a semester there and was accepted.

Early January, I took a 19-hour flight to get there and didn’t look back until mid-April. To write that I thoroughly enjoyed myself is an understatement.

Being away from my usual environment for an extended period was exactly what I needed. I met great people, tasted some of the best food ever, visited 8 countries and learned a lot.

More importantly, I reconnected with myself

I hadn’t felt that way for a very long time.

The disconnection I felt with others was stemming from a disconnection with myself. Since my return, I haven’t had this intense feeling of loneliness that I used to have, and that I couldn’t understand.

That doesn’t mean I don’t feel alone from time to time. I manage my aloneness better than my loneliness.

I finally quit my soul-killing job

This took me some time however. I actually went back upon my return from Malaysia. I needed some income, and I also needed to figure-out what I wanted to do next.

A few weeks back in, I realized coming back was a mistake. At this stage, I wasn’t learning anything new; there was nothing beyond my current position, and the working environment was so dysfunctional that it was no longer sustainable.

I quit at the end of September.

I became self-employed again

Once I decided to quit my job, I started looking for another, but my heart wasn’t in it. Deep down, I knew that I wanted to become my own boss again. So, I did just that. Click here if you want to know more about what I do.

I also became clearer on what I wanted

I certainly don’t have everything figured-out, but I am definitely more clear about what I want as well as what I don’t want.

As a result, I am not so stressed-out all the time, and I have also eliminated a lot of energy vampires from my life, whether being activities, things or people.

I have options

And it’s a nice feeling! It’s liberating too.

Traveling to a couple of third-world countries where I saw extreme poverty gave me a better perspective, and reminded me how privileged I am. I needed that too!

I was so engrossed in my first-world problems that I couldn’t see the forest behind the one tree I was obsessing about.

Money is not the answer to all problems, questions or prayers

I am not saying money is not important. It kind of is. But having money will not solve all your problems, nor will it turn you into someone you’re not. It won’t make you a better person either.

So what does 2020 have in store? Well, I don’t know. I am not a fortune-teller. I have decided to take each day as it comes, from now on.

Mindful consumption

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No, this post is not about me lecturing you on how you should completely change your habits overnight, such as becoming a vegetarian or only use public transit. These, quite frankly makes me cackle more than anything else.

 What I would like to accomplish with this post is the start of an internal -or not- dialog when it comes to our excessive consumption. Being more mindful of what we consume is definitely good for the environment, but also very good for our wallets!


  • Plastics: at best twice. 90% of plastics in Canada aren’t recycled, even when you put them in the applicable recycling bin. Most plastics are actually not recyclable. 
  • Batteries: once. it is crucial to recycle these, as some of the metals they contain are highly toxic and polluting. 
  • Electronics: once. Most materials are 100% recyclable. 
  • Paper: maximum 10 times. I used to think paper could recycle indefinitely, this is not the case.
  • Metals and glass: infinite, including cans.
  • Never recyclable: Styrofoam (polystyrene), aerosols, ceramics, Pyrex, household glass (mirrors), standard incandescent bulbs

The above can help anyone make better choices when shopping. Have you noticed how much stores love plastic packaging? or packaging in general? They can charge you more money for that! 


Most polluting sectors:

  • Energy: transporting people and stuff accounts for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions due to the burning of fossils (aka fuel)
  • Electricity: particularly if produced with coal
  • Industries in general: what we produce and how much we produce 
  • Agriculture: yep, what we eat too has an impact on our environment. Livestock account for a large portion of methane production
  • Land use: the way we use land can be either polluting or helping the environment. 

the real questions IS “how much”? 

North Americans are trapped in an excessive consumption cycle. Their European counterparts are also racing close by.   

The single most important question we need to start asking ourselves is “how much stuff do I really need?” This needs to cover all aspects of our life, from our closets to our home, from our garage to our fridge, our annual vacation, our gift-giving habits and so on. 

The best part is that we actually don’t need to drastically change our habits to help the environment….and our wallets at the same time. 

  • Do you really need to eat meat 2 or 3 times a day? Could you reduce it to once a day? You are not asked to become a vegetarian.
  • Could some of your errands be done by walking or taking public transit? You are not asked to ditch your car. 
  • Do you really need 2 cars? if not, you can definitely ditch -sell!- one. 
  • Do you really need to take far-away vacation every year, or several times a year? Could you find a closer spot? You are not asked to stop taking vacation. 
  • Do you really need 10 pair of shoes? Could you do with 3 or 4 instead? You are not asked to stop buying shoes. 

What we are all asked is to be more mindful of our consumption, and to reduce it when appropriate. In order to do so, honesty is required, as well as the ability to distinguish “want” from “need”. 


If we all collectively did the above, the environment would be in better shape. And so would people. Behind our excessive consumption, also come the questions of “where” do the products come from and, most importantly, “who” made the products we are about to consume? 

The majority of items we use on a daily basis are made in China or neighboring Asian countries such as Vietnam or Sri Lanka. The quality is usually pretty poor, meaning we have to throw away and replace these products more often, and yes consume more!

But most importantly are the labor conditions. How much are the employees paid in these countries? Are they provided with benefits? How many hours a day do they work? Could children be working? 

These are tough questions most of us, in our quest for the cheapest bargain, do not want to face.  Our consumption habits contribute to and subsidize modern slavery. This is a very inconvenient truth….

Blog Anniversary: 5 years

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5 years ago, I published my very first post on the Money Savvy Blog. Its title was the cost of eating-out.  5 years and 181 posts later, my view on this particular topic hasn’t changed. When convenience becomes a daily necessity, it will derail most financial plans. I still refuse to pay for these by the way.

A number of things has changed in my life in 5 years. I became consumer-debt free, traded houses, switched to part-time work and decided to obtain an MBA. This one thing, however, hasn’t changed.

As for the topic of Personal Finance, my overall perspective has drastically shifted. I realized Financial literacy alone wasn’t enough, that some of the advice dispensed out there was way too generic, if not downright judgemental. It is not all about avocado toasts and lattes. It is more about focusing on the big picture and increasing income. There are Financial killers way more potent than lifestyle inflation. And, oh, living in the suburbs isn’t necessarily cheaper; and sometimes renting is the better option.

There are a few topics, however, on which my perspective hasn’t changed. I don’t see any change happening in the foreseeable future. Debt will always be debt; whether good or bad, it still needs to be paid off. The necessity of an emergency fund is not up for debate, regardless of how it is structured. A line of credit is not an emergency fund per se. While saving for the kids’ post-secondary education is not a requirement, saving for retirement is. To do so, becoming proficient in investing is a good start.

Last but not least, net worth has nothing to do with self-worth. It is also OK not to be into F.I.R.E. In the grand scheme of things, health is more important, as well as being grateful. Happiness can’t be bought on any stock exchange.

To conclude, here are the 5 most read posts for each year I have been blogging.

The value of time

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I recently received shocking news.  An acquaintance of mine passed away after a 3-year battle with cancer. She was 35. Although I hadn’t seen her in a long time, her untimely death still upset me.

It immediately got me thinking about what I would do if my doctor told me I had less than 5 years to live.  How I would spend my time and with whom.

The value of time is both an economic and financial concept. Most of us are regularly paid for our time, whether as an employee or a freelancer/entrepreneur. If we invest our money, we also receive various payments on it, over a period of time. Said period can be very long.

There are a few things I definitely like about the concept of time in itself.


It doesn’t care about your gender, the color of your skin, your age, your background or your feelings.


Everyone has 24 hrs of it, every single day. Yes, the amount of money we have , what we do or our health will significantly  impact how we use our time. But in its core concept, we all have the same amount of it on a daily basis.


Unlike, you are straight from Outlander, you can’t have time back. Time is only moving forward. We have less of it, as each day passes.

The reminder of these key concepts makes how we value our time – and to some extent our money- crucial.

I believe most of us -myself included- do not value our time correctly. How much of it do we waste on a daily basis? How easily do we do it?

It goes from the most simple matters such as TV binge-watching , random, endless web surfing or social media trolling to more complex ones such as these:

  • Procrastination and indecision
  • Hanging-out with negative people or with people who are wrong for you
  • Staying in a relationship that does not fulfill you
  • Staying in a job you hate
  • Constant complaining
  • Gossiping
  • Waiting for something to happen
  • Solving other people’s problems
  • Doing other people’s jobs
  • Engaging in illegal activities of any kind

I took a long look at the above list and am certainly guilty of engaging in several of these activities. Is that really what I want to do with my time?  Definitely not!

The most important though is what I am going to do to rectify the situation.

Ultimately, wasting time is really unhealthy and leads to an unproductive and unhappy life.

Too bad it usually takes a dramatic event to realize this….


Life update and musings

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I am aware I haven’t blogged that much lately. Actually, I haven’t blogged much at all this year, with a total of 18 posts, including this one. I guess 2018 was a little bit complicated and full of changes for me. The first half was actually not that great.


In October 2017, I was involved in a minor car accident that resulted in whiplash and soft tissue injuries. Said injuries lingered for over 6 months. This period was difficult, both physically and mentally.

On top of this, I started resenting my full-time job like never before. The only silver lining with this accident is that it really put my current life into perspective. I realized I had been putting off a lot of items, and that it was no longer sustainable.


I also realized I wanted more out of my life. “More” however is still proving elusive to define. I am working on it. Career-wise, I narrowed a path down to 2 options that I am really interested in. To do so, I decided to obtain an MBA.

Subsequent to this, working full-time was no longer doable or sustainable. Initially, I had given my resignation. After further discussions with my boss, I decided to stay on a part-time basis.

To cope financially, I refinanced my mortgage and leveraged against my condo. I had personal savings as well, but leveraging gave me more options. I don’t regret doing it.

Since then, I have seen drastic improvements in my life, particularly health-wise. I am feeling much better. I am finally taking better care of myself and addressing issues.

There are still a few key aspects of my life that are not satisfying and that I need to spend time on. But, I don’t want to make any rash -or rush!- decisions.

More changes are coming to my life and 2019 has the potential to be a powerful year for me. I can’t wait!


This leaves me with the future of this blog. To be honest, I am undecided at this stage. One of the things I want to do is definitely being more offline. Maintaining an online presence is exhausting, as well as time-consuming.

I don’t know when the next blog post will be. I simply have more important priorities to take care of at the moment.  I am totally fine with that. Thank you for reading my posts and visiting my blog over the years.

Why I don’t really blog about my own finances

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A lot of fellow PF bloggers share their most intimate financial details online. How much debt they have, their net worth, their spending, their income….you name it, it is out there.

While I did share my debt amount, and how I repaid for it, I chose not to share many details on my finances , and here is why.

privacy concerns

Once you share something online, regardless of what it is, there is no way to get it back. No matter how hard you try, it will stay online.

I am of the opinion people don’t need to know everything about my finances, whether they are complete strangers , friends or acquaintances.

unhealthy comparisons

Society in general, and the PF community in particular, is using net worth as a measure of self worth. The 2 are actually not related.

If you are not killing your monster debt in less than 2 years, something is inherently wrong with you! Or if you haven’t saved a million by the time you are 25 , you are bad with money. If you are bad with money, you are probably bad with other things as well.

Does the above sound familiar? I bet reading about it wasn’t really helpful. It may even have made you feel bad.

Our own story is unique. We all have different lives. Knowing so-and-so paid x amount of debt or saved x amount of money won’ really do anything for us, at an individual level.

not a financial planner or advisor

A lot of PF bloggers have lists and spreadsheets of all their investments on their blog. Some of them even talk about their “top stocks” or favorite ETFs. I previously mentioned the majority of PF bloggers have no formal qualifications or certifications in Financial Planning.

I won’t be one of these bloggers anytime soon. I believe there is a level of personal responsibility when advertising or promoting financial products to complete strangers you don’t know anything about.

Final word

My blog is to share my passion for personal finances, but not necessarily to share everything about my own personal finances or my life.

I consider my blog to be a peephole into my life, but definitely not the complete picture. There is so much more to me than the contents of my blog….but I choose to keep it offline.

Could your cosmetics be bad for you?

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Most people are concerned about their food intake. A lot is written and said about what we should be eating, what we should avoid, what is “good”, what is “bad” etc..etc…

But, what about the stuff we put on our bodies, namely moisturizer, soap, shampoo, make-up?

Because it is for sale doesn’t necessary mean it is good for you or safe.


Shocking? I know. In North America, regulations are minimal and losely enforced. I have lived here for 12 years and I have yet to hear about a beauty product being recalled because it was deemed unsafe.

Yet, a lot of cosmetics contain components that shouldn’t be in there in the first place. These components are well-known to cause allergies and act as hormone-disruptors.

I recently did a mass clean-up of my bathroom cabinets, after educating myself about some dangers of our everyday cosmetics. Here are some tips.


Cosmetics companies are very good at convincing us we “need” one product for each part of our bodies. We “need” day-cream, night-cream, lip balm, make-up remover, hand-cream, foot-cream, body lotion, eye-cream, neck-cream….the list is endless.

This is simply not true. Using too many products will be ineffective and will result in an “overload” on your skin. It will also increase the risk of allergic reaction. Not to mention the strain on your bank account.

You can replace all of the above by coconut oil, which is 100% natural and way cheaper. Both your skin and your wallet will thank you.


Have you noticed the sheer number of ingredients on many beauty products? The more ingredients, the more processed the product is. Chances it contains “scary stuff” that shouldn’t go anywhere near your skin.

It is also best to choose a product that does not have an extended shelf-life, ideally it should be between 6 months and 1 year.


Unless you are a chemist, the list of ingredients in your beauty products most likely sounds like a foreign language to you. Here is what to avoid:

  • BHT & BHA: hormone-disruptors; possible carcinogens. Banned in Europe, not in Canada.
  • DEA ingredients: allergens
  • Phthalates: whether as a single word or chain ones. Hormonal disruptors; potential cause of birth defects.
  • Formaldehyde: allergen; carcinogen
  • Parabens: whether as a single word or chain words. Hormone- disruptors.
  • Fragrance/Parfum: companies are not required to disclose the composition of fragrance/parfum. Allergen. Possible hormonal disruptors.
  • PEGs: carcinogen
  • Petrolatum (petroleum): Allergen; carcinogen
  • Siloxanes: hormonal disruptors
  • Triclosan and triclocarban: these are like pesticides. Yikes! Disrupt thyroid function.

If you want to use safe cosmetics – I bet you do!-, you can check EWG Skin Deep.

My health is my most precious asset

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I have had some health issues lately, requiring quick action on my part. It also put things in perspective, and not just heatlh-wise.


When we are not doing well, whether on a temporary or chronic basis, there are many things we cannot or no longer can do. Physical ailments can impact our mind and conversely.

It may cause us to move-out of our home, relocate, be bedridden, switch to part-time work or quit our job altogether.


Medical treatments are costly, and more so if they are not covered by public or private healthcare providers.

Our capacity to earn income is our best insurance for both our present and future. Disability insurances are not nearly adequate to provide any real financial safety.


The personal finance community is obsessed with net worth, savings, stocks, bonds, ETFs and mutual funds.

Health cannot be quantified or bought on the stock-exchange.

Health is priceless.

My health is my most precious asset, and I will strive to keep it that way for as long as possible.

Can money buy happiness?

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Back in 2010, the University of Princeton published a study on how people making $ 75 000 per year were reportedly happier than those earning less than this amount.  A lot of media outlets and people immediately jumped to the conclusion that money buys happiness.

Well, I kind of disagree with this statement…no point in writing a post otherwise!

you can’t buy happiness at the supermarket

Happiness is not a tangible product. It is not something you can see or touch. There are lots of variables when it comes to happiness.

If you ask 10 people what their definition of happiness is, I bet you will receive 10 different answers.

Before haters jump all over me, let me tell you about my personal story a little bit.

I actually grew-up poor. My parents were considered as low-income class. They didn’t have any money besides to pay for their bills, and even that was difficult at times. My parents were also terrible with managing the little they had.

They had no long-term vision or planning skills. Saving was a foreign concept to them. Growing-up I certainly did not wear designer clothes or vacationed in exotic, far-away places, unlike some of my friends and classmates.

YES, the lack of money can be a source of stress…

So yes, the lack of money was stressful and bothersome in my family. But it is actually not what made me unhappy at times. For the most part, I would say I was happy growing-up. What actually made me unhappy had absolutely nothing to do with money.  I will stop there with my childhood memories. There are many things I do not wish to share online.

…but having money does not automatically equate happiness either

Fast forward a few decades later, I reached that $75K mark. I didn’t necessarily feel happier to a greater extent, although it sure was nice to be able to save for retirement, pay for my bills and vacation in exotic, far-away places.

Except that, for me to be fully happy, I needed something else. Something that has nothing to do with money, and that money actually cannot buy.

Recently, I decided to switch to part-time work. Working full-time was simply no longer sustainable for me. Doing so means a huge pay-cut and possible depletion of my savings. Guess what? I am happier now than when I was earning a full income.

attempting to define happiness

As mentioned above, everyone’s definition of happiness is different. I personally like the definition offered by Happiness International:

Happiness is when your life fulfills your needs“.

Money is not the only need we have; not all our needs require money either.


It is probably more accurate to say that money can contribute to happiness to a certain extent. The Princeton study that started this post also revealed that people earning more than $75 000 per year did not report increased levels of happiness…..