The cost of adult braces

Yes, those are my actual teeth in the header. I know they were gnarly and my self-esteem suffered because of it.

My teeth have been extremely crooked since my adult teeth came in. This was exacerbated by the fact I grind my teeth leading to a cross-bite. My dad did have dental benefits through his employer but never wanted to spend so much money on my teeth.

Fast forward to when I was aged 29, I decided that it was finally time to get braces.  I hadn’t been to the dentist in 15 years and felt so vulnerable confiding in my orthodontist. I’m so grateful that she was understanding and caring. I had been so embarrassed with my teeth for years. I never smiled with teeth. I never laughed wholeheartedly because that would mean losing control and opening my mouth.

This was also the time when I accumulated debt with The Ex. I don’t feel guilty about getting my braces. In fact, I credit the braces with getting my confidence and self-esteem back so I could end that toxic relationship and move forward with my life goals and live the way I wanted. Who knew I could achieve that with 16 months in braces?

5th adj


Cost breakdown:
$8490 quote from orthodontist minus 50% coverage from my benefits = $4245
I used $1250/year of my health spending account towards braces. I did this for 2 years.
$4245 minus 2 x $1250 = $1745
I also won a $250 credit from my orthodontist through a contest.
$1745 minus $250 = $1495 Actual cost out of my pocket

I was very grateful to have good orthodontic coverage that allowed me to have $8490 braces and only pay $1495 for them. I know not everyone has work benefits but having them was absolutely key in being able to afford braces. I just wish I had done it sooner! $1495 may still seem like it’s a lot of money and it is. But the confidence that I got from that is priceless.



I haven’t paid for a haircut in years!

Yes, it’s true but came to an end recently. I used to be a stickler when it came to getting haircuts. I found it absurd that a women’s cut costs upwards of +$60. I found a way to get around that though. I was a hair model!

When you are a hair model for hair shows, you volunteer your time in exchange for a free hair cut and/or colour. I modeled for Wella Hair. This was very fun to do! Of course, you have to have a somewhat open mind for what their vision is for your hair. I never received a haircut I didn’t like. Having said that, I did receive a rainbow ombre colour job for free so that’s the type of adventurous person I am when it comes to hair. It took up a day and a half of my time on a weekend. They would do the cut and colour on a half day. The next day was makeup and wardrobe followed by the hair show. You basically sit pretty while the stylist finishes your hair transformation on stage and you get sent home with a goodie bag of full-sized professional hair products.

My next stint as a hair model was with Sexy Hair. I actually got paid $500US for these hair shows. I modeled two shows for them and in turn, was paid a total of $1000US for my time in addition to a goodie bag of full-sized hair products. These shows were also 2-day events.

So how can you get free haircuts?

  • Keep an eye out on Kijiji, Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace for calls for “hair models”. Most of them will be supervised hair cuts at a salon academy meaning if anything goes off the rails, their supervisor will come in to remedy the situation.
  • Companies such as Wella Hair or SexyHair actively recruit hair models that their top stylists will work on. Once you make contact with a recruiter, you’ll be on their email list for future hair shows



Renewing my mortgage without consumer debt for the first time

When my mortgage was last up for renewal, my credit score was in the low 600s and I had $43K in consumer debt and owed $20K to the CRA. I decided to stick to my existing lender since I figured nobody would give me a good rate. My rate was 4.1% for a 3 year term. This is horrible considering the Prime Rate was the lowest it had been in years.

Fast forward three years and a credit score in the high 700s (Equifax) and low 800s (TransUnion). My credit report doesn’t even reflect that I’m debt free yet but that didn’t matter. I was ready to find a new lender to renew my mortgage with and give the double finger to my existing one.

The first step was to gather all my documents which consisted of:
● Two years of Notice of Assessments
● Property Assessment & proof that Property Taxes are up to date
● Condo docs (Bylaws and two years of Meeting Minutes)
● Recent pay stubs
● Letter of Employment

I met with my mortgage broker who is wonderful and handed off the documents. Our family has dealt with her mom and her for years.. I told her I was looking for a 3 or 4 year term. She said she would, of course, look for the best rate for me.

In the meantime, I received my mortgage renewal notice from my existing lender and laughed my ass off! The rates were atrocious:
6 month open: 7.00%
1 year closed: 5.99%
3 year closed: 4.99%
5 year closed: 3.74%

I also noticed my TransUnion credit score went down 15 points. I get weekly updates through my Capital One credit card. I didn’t panic since I knew she’d be taking a hard credit check as opposed to a soft one.

Within one week, my broker contacted me and said she secured a 4 year term at 2.99%. Yay! I met with her the following day to sign my mortgage commitment which basically states the conditions of the mortgage and that they’d pay out my existing lender. I also had to gather a few more documents for her, one of which I had to pay $199 for. Grr. She also got me to sign a document that I was aware that she will make about $1500 from the lender for going through her. Of course, that was fine with me.

My mortgage payment will be dropping to $880.75 per month which frees up more than $100 per month for saving. I highly recommend using a mortgage broker when buying a house or renewing your mortgage. Don’t blindly agree to what your existing lender offers you unless you have no choice. Mortgage brokers will get the best rate for you and take the stress off of buying a house or renewing a mortgage.

We eloped in the mountains. Here’s how much we spent.

I never wanted to marry The Ex and I confused that with not wanting to get married at all. Then I met my now husband. We are both simple, frugal people and are on the same page about weddings in that we don’t want a big one or one at all. That’s why we eloped.

It was a ceremony involving us, the marriage officiant and a paid witness and our photographer. We wanted to get married in a picturesque location so we could show pictures to our family and friends. Finding a marriage officiant that would hike out to the location we wanted was a bit tricky. Finding a destination photographer was easier. I know we could have done it for way cheaper had we stayed in our home city but we wanted something truly memorable and great pictures we could give to our parents. A city elopement would have been way cheaper but the pictures wouldn’t have been as jaw dropping.

Actual cost $3823:
$105+15 = $120
Makeup+lash extensions: $30+160 = $190
Kilt+shirt/tie+tailor: $577+45+105 = $727
Wedding bands: $212
Wedding officiant: $652 (pricey because of the travel time and there’s a 15 min hike to our location. Also includes witness fee.)
Photographer: $1360
Hotel (2 nights): $334
Wedding license: $103
Dinner: $125

I chuckle when I see how much my dress was compared to my husband’s kilt but now he can wear it to special occasions… or just around the house for me. Haha! Yes, I know I spent $160 on lash extensions but to me it was worth it. I’m Asian so I have short lashes and I can’t put on strip lashes for the life of me. I wanted to look good on my wedding day and lash extensions really helped me feel like a queen. #noregrets

The process of getting married was exhausting! Who knew? I spent the first half of the week packing and making sure I got everything on my list. I’m normally a very light packer so this drove me nuts. I had to bring all my full-sized hair and skincare products, makeup, makeup brushes, etc.

The second half of the week was spent driving there and finding the precise location for the ceremony. The instructions that I found on a trail website were so vague. It was as if they didn’t want us to find this treasure but once we did, I could totally understand why they were so vague. I did my own hair and makeup which thankfully, turned out well.

We are very happy that we chose to elope instead of having a full-blown wedding. It felt so intimate and we felt so happy and at peace in the mountains. Most of all, we have a memory to share that is truly ours.


July 2018 Goals

  • We got married last week and I went into a wee bit of debt after becoming debt free. My goal is to clear this debt.
  • Continue intermittent fasting (16/8) 6 days a week. This method has helped me lose some belly weight.
  • Purge closet again. I feel I have too much clothing again although my husband says I don’t at all.
  • Get rid of uncomfortable shoes. I was going to wear these sexy, gold heels to dinner after we got married but my feet said NOPE! I decided then and there that I am finished with uncomfortable shoes.
  • Work out 20 days of the month
  • 15 no spend days

I was a boomerang kid…. twice!

I moved out of my parents’ home when I was 25 into The Ex’s home that was technically owned by his mother. From what I understood, she lived upstairs and he lived downstairs. He had owned the house at one time before tragic circumstances occurred. His mom bought the house from The Ex afterwards and then spent the proceeds of the sale on material things and trips. That should have been a huge red flag but hindsight is 20/20. Everyone has a story and this is mine.

When things went to shit after his mental breakdown, I found myself packing my stuff into my tiny hatchback and driving 1.5 hours home; home to my parents where I was always welcome with loving arms. Although I knew my parents disapproved of my relationship, they let me live my life. When things went to shit, they were there to pick up the pieces. They were my parents after all. It’s not like I was expecting them to fix me but it was an unspoken pact that we had.

The thing with Asian families is that we don’t show our emotions. I don’t hug my parents regularly (only on their birthdays) and we never say I love you. All of this is implied, just like the fact that I was welcomed back after leaving The Ex. There was no judgment; only love.

The Ex was jealous of this fact. He told me he had told his friends that I had run home to mommy and daddy. Yes, I did. So what? I was a grown ass woman who had been emotionally abused and manipulated. I was raised in a loving home. What else were my parents and I supposed to do? He threw it in my face so many times but I had failed to remember that his own mother had bailed him out of the mortgage he’d be saddled with after his wife was murdered.  He refused to hold a full-time job since the tragedy so it’s a good thing his mother saved his house. Why was he taking out his frustrations on me?

I lived in my old room, sleeping on a foam mattress on the floor for about four months before I moved back into my condo that I owned. My tenants had moved out. I lived in my condo for about 3 months before a devastating fire forced me to move back into my parents’ home… again. And there was The Ex yammering away about me running home to mommy and daddy. Let me put it in perspective for you. I live two minutes by car from my parents. I had my dog and my purse when I walked out of the fire. Where else was I supposed to go if not my parents’? I walked to my parents’ home and I’m grateful for that. I put all the insurance cheques from the fire towards my debt. It helped put a dent in my debt.

Do I regret moving back to my parents’ home? No, I don’t. My parents don’t either. They loved having me home just like the old times. I even snuck home a couple times after some late nights out. Haha! I feel no shame in doing moving home and I’m so grateful that my parents welcomed me back.

There’s a negative stigma surrounding boomerang kids. Yes, some of them do take advantage of their parents but many of them, myself included, just wanted to get back on their feet again and our parents were willing to help. If/when I have kids, I plan to do the same for them should they need a helping hand.

March 2018 Goals

  • 24 no spend days
  • Work out 20 days
  • File taxes
  • Ace interview for health care program I’m interested in. Will tell you more about this if I get into the program. Fingers crossed!

There is one goal that I know I won’t be hitting this month and it’s sticking to my Restaurant budget. There will be a week where restaurants downtown offer 3 course dinners for a decent price so I’ll be checking out a few places.

Why I didn’t want a diamond engagement ring

Yes, I know it’s Valentine’s Day and the timing of this post is cheeky. I just think love doesn’t have to be expensive, ok? Haha!

I do think diamonds are sparkly and beautiful for the record. It’s just not for me though. I can’t envision myself with a big, pricey, sparkly rock which is ironic because I feel like my big, sparkly rock is pricey. I am clumsy. I use my hands a lot. I lift weights. Plus, I wouldn’t feel safe wearing something that might catch the eye of someone who might want to take it off my finger. I also think they are extremely over-valued and I feel like money could be spent better elsewhere.

I had looked at rings before my fiance proposed mainly because he told me to. He wanted me to give him ideas of what I liked. Hell, I didn’t even know what I liked! I looked at man-made diamonds, alternative precious gemstones and diamond look-alikes.

The first one I sent him was a $90 ring with a diamond look-alike. I thought he’d pick that one for sure. He hit the jackpot wanting to marry a woman who was fine with a $90 ring! Haha! He ended up selecting the most expensive ring that I sent him (US$975).  It had an oval tourmalinated quartz stone with a diamond pave band as seen below. I did some reading up on tourmaline quartz and found out it is a crystal with healing properties. It grounds you and shields you from negative energy. I thought that was pretty neat.
Lumen Ring with Tourmalinated QuartzI got my wedding band off Etsy as seen below but in white gold. It was only $50 and I felt it would fit with the engagement ring since it has a notch where the stone would fit into.

I also got a silicone ring that I can wear at the gym. I got one for my fiancé as well. I ordered it off Amazon for $20. I’ve been wearing it for 6 months now. So far, it’s held up well through lifting weights and rowing.
I wish society didn’t have the expectation of diamond rings for engagements. There’s so much pressure on one party to save up money for something so expensive. Mother Nature has so much to offer that it’d be a shame if we focused solely on diamonds.

February 2018 Goals

  • Pay off CRA amount owing (~$1500)
  • Start tackling line of credit debt (@ 6.7% interest)
  • Stick to Miscellaneous, Liquor and Grocery budget
  • Go to gym 20 times
  • Not lose my shit at work
  • Negotiate at least 5% pay raise at my one year review under my boss’ private company (details here)

One year of no cell phone data. Over $840 saved. I survived!

My cell phone contract expired last January. I decided I didn’t want to pay for a over $80/month for a contract anymore so I shopped around. I was with Rogers when my contract expired and found a Pay As You Go plan that had everything I wanted. It had unlimited evening and weekend calling, 100 minutes of daytime calling and unlimited texting. This was all for $120/year. It has since changed to $180/year with 50 minutes of daytime calling but it’s still cheaper than having a monthly contract. I hardly called anyone so call time wasn’t a big deal to me. I normally just text them to arrange a time when I can meet up in person with them. The only drawback was that there was no data on this annual Pay As You Go plan.

How would I ever survive? I figured I have WiFi at home and work. If I’m out and about, I can always connect to free WiFi via open networks or by heading to McDonald’s, Tim Hortons or Starbucks. I’m happy to say I survived the year! It was much easier than anticipated. If I had to drive somewhere unfamiliar, I would Google Map the directions at home and take a screenshot of the map.

One con was the inability to receive pictures over text messaging. I’d see my phone trying to download something and tell the sender to re-send it to me via Whatsapp. I also couldn’t participate in group text messages but I didn’t mind that. Someone would eventually tell me what everyone decided on. It saved me from reading tons of messages.

Now that my Pay As You Go plan is expiring, I’ve decided to renew it for the next year. Yes, the price has gone up but I will still save a shit ton of money compared to having a monthly contract. It feels nice knowing I am free from the chains that are cell phone contracts. I cringe when I hear how much people pay for their cell phone plans. It’s particularly bad here in Canada. What works for me may not necessarily work for others but I’m sure glad it does!