Use these tips to curb utility spending

Help save the planet

And help save the planet too.

Guest post.

Household budgeting requires a close look at where your money goes.

By breaking your total monthly spending obligation into recognizable categories, like food and housing, it becomes easier to track the flow of cash through your home. For most families, utility bills account for a substantial share of each month’s expenses, especially in cold-weather climates, where home heating costs push energy spending higher.

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Bowen Island, British Columbia

Bowen Island, British Columbia

Canada has changed my life in a lot of ways. It is a self-inflicted change, the kind one does to push growth, or manifest madness.

Our financial stability has gone to the wayside; forgotten in our scramble to survive in this new country. Are we floating? Yes. Have we enjoyed the things we used to enjoy? Yes. Have we learned new things? Yes.

But the floor has buckled and we have never felt so out of balance as we do so now.

This is the price of immigration. This is the price of leaving the comforts of home. This is the price of a dream.

So should you leave home?

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Reflections on coming home

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Melissa

Yes, I went back to the Philippines after 1 year of leaving it to settle in beautiful British Columbia. I had no plans of returning that soon but it was a welcome respite to Canada’s winter. I have to say friends made it worth my while – it was an emotional trip (I realized what great friends and work! I had left behind) – and I was even rewarded the portrait here (hubby missed me – thank you, hon). Well, there’s the fact that my little boy asked for me in the 10 days I was gone only once (if hubby is to be believed), and he would now cling to his dad instead of me at nights. Not sure too if my daughter missed me (Danvic is proving to be a very adept dad). Yes, there was a trade off. But all in all I think that trip was a winner (thanks to my boss for making it possible).

The main comment I received, however, was that I had little or no photos to show for it. Thing is, I am not one to lug a heavy (or even light) camera. I prefer to replay everything in the privacy of my memory (where I will be free to embellish as necessary).

Here’s what I wrote in the Philippine Canadian Inquirer about it. 

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New Year Wishes

This year, I wore so many hats – it’s great, and confusing, and draining – but let’s come back to it’s great, because it is. It is true, though, and many sleepless nights are testament to it – one can only do so much. But for me, I would take “only” out of the equation – because (and this is my mantra for the coming year), ONE CAN DO SO MUCH.

From the Philippine Canadian Inquirer, where I am the editor-in-chief. The Philippine Canadian Inquirer is the first and only Canada-wide Filipino-Canadian newspaper (distributed in Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton and British Columbia – the home base). It’s my baby and since I took it over in February 2012 (barely a month after I landed in Canada), it has filled my days and nights with wonder and stress and challenges and opportunities. Looking forward to filling it with better content – and with a lot more heart – in 2013.

Another version from hubby, Danvic Briones, my partner and the one who makes my visions possible. Thanks, hon.

And of course, from hubby’s company, the Canadian counterpart of which we set up in 2012, poised for our entry into the North American market. Rescue72 is your partner in emergency preparedness. This has been a year of business plan writing, grant writing, pitching and expansion. We look forward to helping more people prepare in 2013 for the reality knocking on everyone’s doors – greater storms and earthquakes because of climate change.

Hubby is director of the Philippines Canada Trade Council (like me, he has been busy too), and I am a very willing volunteer (of course).

And of course, service to my (and hubby’s) alma mater and our fellow alumni via the University of the Philippines Alumni Association in British Columbia. I will be taking the helm in 2013 and I am stoked and excited and awed – and did I say excited? We have a lot of things we want to do for 2013 and I am looking forward to a year of fun and meaning and camaraderie.

And of course, my favorite hat of all, wife and mom. Being in this new and wonderful country – Canada – has allowed us to be closer and to grow as a family. There were challenges, and it has been quite a ride. But anywhere we go, as long as we are together, I am sure  we are going to be okay.

Happy New Year everyone. Prosperity, blessings, meaning, kindness and love to all.

The Prophecy

Vortex

Today was supposed to have been the end of the world.

It did not end. Life went on.  The pressures are the same, the concerns and the responsibilities remained top of mind.

No one breathed a sigh of relief – at least, none discernible. Everyone shrugged, pleaded to have never believed the prophecy. Yet all were palpably aware of what could have been – that is, everyone living their nightmares.

But would it have been a nightmare? Would no one have breathed a sigh of relief because it is the end?

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Temporary Foreign Worker in Crisis

Janette Camba is going home

Cross-post from the Philippine Canadian Inquirer.

The news was dire and she was just beginning her life in Canada.

In 2009, Janette Camba, then 34 years old, was diagnosed with renal failure, just 1 year after her arrival in Canada on a visa under the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) Program.

But she was declared fit to go when she underwent the exhaustive medical exam that was part of the process to enter Canada. It was an emotional time, her leaving – she waited for 6-8 months for her visa to come, and tore her heart out thinking of the family that she would leave behind – a husband and children, 14 and 5 years young. But she knew – thought – the rewards were greater than the sacrifice she had to make.

But in just her first year in Canada – she had to contend with another reality: renal failure.

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Your words will haunt you

Hide!

And I mean this in a good way (okay, sometimes it can haunt you in a bad way too).

A friend saw a letter she wrote 10 years ago to one of her best friends (her best friend showed it to her, in a fit of nostalgia). She said in the letter that although she was sidetracked with having a baby, she thought she would probably pursue law school (she was in her 3rd year at that time) because some dreams are meant to be pursued.

Such tenacity.

Such a positive world view.

Such a positive view of the self.

Take no prisoners.

(she became a lawyer 4 years after)

She wonders if she still has the same fight in her now. The same urgency. The same determination.

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High-Tech School Supplies: 9 Ways to Save

Memories of Manila Waldorf School

Guest post from Andrea Woroch.

Do you remember the days when school supplies consisted of pens, pencils and a few notebooks? Sure, the occasional highlighter or Trapper Keeper may have found its way into the mix, but nothing needed charging, wi-fi or 4G to work properly. Now there are entire generations who know nothing of these archaic ways, back when notes were taken by hand.If your heart sank when you saw the prices of supplies your kids consider essential, you’re not alone. The National Retail Federation estimates a whopping $83.8 billion will be spent on K-12 and college essentials this year. Despite this alarmingly high figure, lots of parents are searching for ways to buy those gadgets with the hopes of not overspending. Before you begin back-to-school shopping, consider these tips to cut costs on high technology.

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