Category Archives: money

More Good News!

So you all know that I was featured in the New York Times article about my involvement with the company Airbnb.

Now I am happy to announce that I officially work for Airbnb! I just got the offer tonight and I’m totally excited.

It’s not a lot of money and it’s a temp position to start, but I’m not really worried about any of that. Since I’m a SuperHost with them I already know the system so I’m sure I’ll do amazing and get the permanent job in a short while (which is also when I can negotiate a more reasonable salary).

I’ll be doing customer support through email, which works great for me. Airbnb is flying me out to headquarters in San Fransisco for a week of training, then sending me home with a shiny new MacBook Air so I can work remotely. I’ll be able to work anywhere there is internet. Woohoo!

This is really the best situation for me right now. I love Airbnb and being able to work from home is a godsend… It means that I’ll have the flexibility to continue working on my online shop and growing and succeeding there. So convenient!

Really, I am just thrilled and jumping all over the place!!! Everything seems to be finally falling into place.

It’s going to be a lot of work these next few months (years?). I’m essentially working 3 jobs (With Heart, Airbnb & hosting on Airbnb) plus blogging which sometimes feels like a job. I am also looking into teaching some workshops on various things around Toronto via Skillshare.

A busy girl indeed!

 

So obviously I’m taking on more work and throwing an epic BBQ this weekend. And a cute boy is coming. A cute boy who I’m pretty sure likes me…

Let’s see how this develops!

March Hosting Recap

I’ve decided to start tracking my income via hosting on Airbnb. I knew I was making money, but didn’t know how much! I also wanted to see if the money I sunk into redecorating recently was worth it.

Here’s the rundown for the past month.

 

  • Total Guests: 3
  • Total Bookings: 4 (one guest extended her stay)
  • Total Nights Booked: 20
  • Total income: $1,140
  • Income Year To Date: $1,140

My year begins in March because that is the first month that 100% of the income is mine. Previously I had to split with my roommate.

So far April is shaping up pretty well. I will be making almost the same amount, perhaps more if I accept more bookings. This is good news for me!

 
Interested in becoming a host or using the Airbnb service to book your next trip? Click here and get $24 credit (I get it too!) Thanks, man!

Review: AirBnB.com – Travel Like A Human

Wow, it’s not often I will find a service or product that is so cool it will kick me out of a writing slump! I am so stoked to share this article with you guys and I’m not even getting compensated for it or anything!


As a blogger with a strong bent towards personal finance I am always looking for ways to either save money or make more of it! Luckily my roomie is on the same page. One day she told me about her friend who was renting out her apartment for a month through an interesting online service and she suggested we check it out and see if it was something we could use for our extra room. So I did.

AirBnB – Air Bed & Breakfast… Get it?

So what is AirBnB?

From their site:

Called the “Ebay for space” by Time Magazine, Airbnb is an online marketplace allowing anyone from private residents to commercial properties to rent out their extra space. The reputation-based site allows for user reviews, verification, and secure online transactions. Listings include vacation rentals, private rooms, entire apartments, bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, castles, treehouses, and many other traditional and non-traditional accommodations.

In short, it’s a great way to rent out an extra room or space of yours in the short-term and make some cash!

So, how does it work?

If you’re a host like me, you take some nice photos of your place and write up a listing. It doesn’t cost anything to create a listing for yourself, though for each booking AirBnB takes a 3% service fee.

When someone wants to book with you they complete the booking process and you’re emailed and asked whether you would like to accept or not. If you accept, your contact details and exact location of your space are released to your guest, and you also receive their contact info. At that point you start talking to them about check-in times and whatever else you like.

If you are a guest, you do a search in the area you want and see the listings. You can send a quick email inquiry if you have a question, or you can book right away. You pay upfront to AirBnB who holds onto your payment. The money is sent to the host after the first day of your stay. This is in case you cancel or something happens. This is a great way to travel– you save a lot of money and learn about the local culture much more. Or you could, you know, rent a castle or something.

Ginger, what was your experience like?

Well, so far it’s been great! We are lucky that our apartment is in a desirable location, close to public transit, a clean & safe neighbourhood, etc. so we’ve had more booking requests than we can actually handle. I had to turn two people away last night, actually!

Since I’m an advertising person *wink wink* I wrote a really stellar ad. I think that that is one of the main reasons we’re getting so much interest. I included a lot of details and listed exactly what was included. I also posted nice, but realistic photos not only of the room, but the common spaces as well so that guests could get a feel for the apartment and us as hosts before they booked.

I know that this helped because I asked some of our guests this weekend why they chose our place over all the others out there. One reason was we have a slightly lower price, but the other was because we looked “friendly”, “normal” and “welcoming”. All good things to hear!

Good customer service is also important. We responded quickly and politely to all inquires and did a great hosting job when they got to the apartment as well.

My roommate and I compiled a list of local activities and sights for our first guests from Spain this weekend. They wanted to know more about the Toronto culture and do less of the touristy stuff. They were real travellers and wanted to go where the locals went!

This was very well-received so we’re actually going to step things up a notch and do up a beautiful digital booklet to send to our guests. It will include photos our friends have taken, the traditional tourist listings (CN Tower, ROM, etc.) as well as our “local” suggestions such as our favourite bars, restos and concert venues. My roommate is also very into the local hipster art scene so she can provide all kinds of party and gallery recos.

As we get more accustomed to being hosts, we have plans to kick things up a notch as well by offering breakfast, doing tours, etc. We really want to make a cool experience for our guests. Not only will this be kinda fun for peeps like us, but it will allow us to charge more per night and increase our profits!

A key point of the AirBnB system is the recommendations and reviews. After every booking both the host and guests review the stay. The more positive reviews you have, the better (and the more money you can charge!). You can also get friends to write recommendations about you personally; this also helps guests learn more about you and helps them make their decisions.

We are still waiting for our reviews from our 3 guests this weekend but I expect that they will be quite positive. I have also left them positive reviews. Our Spanish guests were even so sweet as to bring us a bottle of local Spanish wine to thank us! Awwww!

Additional Thoughts

I obviously think this is a really cool concept for both hosts and travellers. I like that I can make money off of my extra room and I will use this service the next time I travel.

It can be a little bit weird though. While my roommate and I enjoyed having our guests, it can be stressful having strangers in your home. We had to be there at specific times and it was mentally tiring; even with good guests.

You will always want to use your best judgment and be cautious when doing something like this. We locked away our expensive items and tried to find the balance between being at home enough, but also giving the guests their space and privacy. It is important to really think things through, establish rules and communicate those to your guests to avoid any problems.

Overall I would say that my first 2 bookings were a good experience. We will definitely be continuing as hosts and also refining our listing as well as house rules so that we’re not so frazzled the next time. I really think it is a learning experience!

If you have an adventurous personality and an extra room, I would recommend trying out AirBnB!

Have you ever traveled or hosted via a service such as AirBnB? I would love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments!

Would You Lend a Friend Some Money?

There’s a lot of chatter on this subject going on in the blogosphere lately.

So… would you do it?

If a friend or family member asked to borrow some money from you, how would you handle it?

If it was $20? $200? $2000?

My thinking is that it really depends on exactly who you are giving it to.

I have a friend who burns through cash like it’s her job when we go out to drink. We both get drunk and spend more than we should, but I don’t have a family to support and she does. I also have the better job. She asked me for $20 and promised to repay me.

I gave her the cash. But I don’t ever expect it back. Even if she has the intention to give it back, I don’t think she will ever get around to it. So I considered it a gift when I decided to “lend” her that money.

If she were to ask for a more significant amount, I don’t know if I would actually lend it to her, at least without some written promise or something.

With the exception of my immediate family and a few friends, I don’t think I would ever lend out large sums of money. I hope that I never actually DO have to lend out money to my friends… I can get my immediate family to pay it back because we’re all on the same page in terms of money management.

But with friends… it could get tricky. It would ruin the relationship in most cases. One person would always be indebted to the other, even if the money way paid back in a timely fashion. It would be even worse if the money was late coming, requiring prodding and poking and reminders. Or just not getting it back at all.

I try to avoid lending things or money outside of my immediate family; but if I do decide to let someone borrow from me, I only give them what I can afford to lose. And I think that’s key.

How do you feel about the subject?

$$$!!!

Wow. I just checked my credit card statement online and somehow this cycle it has gotten up past $900.

I…just…wow.

I guess a bike is out of the question for me right now. This is ridiculous. I’ve officially never had a bill this high that wasn’t travel-related.

Shame on me indeed.

This is bad news all around. Yes, I am getting paid tomorrow, but in order to keep my chequing account float stable, I’ve had to take some money out of my entertainment fund to bolster it with. I am not impressed with myself. This stupid bill will take almost a whole pay cheque for me to clear.

I’ve got lots of time to do it, but I just hate the feeling of owing money, I can’t believe I let it get so out of control.

So. How am I going to fix this?

First, I’ve transferred some funds from another account into my chequing account to keep from going in the red.

Next I plan to cut costs as much as I can for the next couple of weeks. This is going to be hard (birthday party to go to on Friday which involves lots of money) but I need to lighten my load right now.

I’ve already started tranferring money to my CC for each transaction I make, so it’s more like using a debit card. This was FB’s idea and you can read about it here. This should help me keep track of things better, and also help me stay on top of payments. Thankfully I will not accrue any interest charges on this amount.

I technically have the money to kill the balance in one fell swoop–but it would be cutting it very close in terms of living expenses for a couple of weeks, and I would rather not take the risk of having a too-low chequing account balance in case something happens.

I guess it just goes to show that even though you’re a personal finance blogger who is passionate about their money, you can still screw up. I’m only human, and while I usually hold myself to higher standards than this, mistakes can happen. I just need to get back on the horse.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if you’re not a PF blogger, you can’t give up at the first sign of trouble. I got myself into hot water, but I have a plan to get out. If I don’t stick to this plan and pay off my balance, then I will have to pay the price–literally. And that just doesn’t jive with me.

So I’m going to grit my teeth, tighten my belt and get through this. I know I screwed up, but I need to move on now that I’m dealing with it.

Silver lining?
…I should have enough points for free groceries this week :)

:)

I’m proud of myself today…

I was in the COOLEST little shop EVER getting a wedding card for a friend and they had these positively adorable little Chia-pet type things for sale.

There was a little kitty one that grew grass out of his head and I wanted him… I even picked him up.

But after thinking about whether I actually needed it and what exactly it was useful for, I decided not to get him right now.

That’s some willpower right there, folks.

Have you had any of these moments lately? Did you give in or remain strong?

Credit Card Fraud!

So today I was doing the responsible thing and checking all my banking and credit card accounts. Since I’m travelling to Las Vegas this week I wanted to have a note put on all my credit cards so they wouldn’t think that my purchases in Vegas were fradulent and freeze my account.

That would be pretty inconvenient!

I was looking at my BMO Mosaik MasterCard statement and it looked a little bit off. I’ve cleared the balance on the card since I was switching my primary CC to my new PC Financial card. The balance was at $0 as I expected, however my credit limit was different from what it ought to be.

On this particular card I have a credit limit of $5000 which I think is reasonable for my needs. The website was showing that my limit was mysteriously at $4,100.

My first thought was that the banks were scaling back their credit limits for their customers. I’ve heard that they’re doing that in the states, as well as increasing people’s interest rates. I was not impressed, but it’s no biggie.

So I called MC to find out if that is what happened, and to request it be set back at the $5000 I was used to.

I go through the motions with the CSR and after I mentioned that my card balance should be at $0 she asked me if I had any pending transactions. I told her no, the most recent was a small donation to a charity I make every month.

She asked me, “are you sure you didn’t make any purchases on March 26 & 27?”. Of course I said no, I wasn’t using the card any longer.

That’s when she dropped the bomb.

“You didn’t make two purchases of $463 and $437 on those dates?”

HELL NO!

It appears I am a victim of credit card fraud, my friends.

I was transferred to the fraud department where they asked me to verify my identity, and I found out that someone had spent $900 at Toys R Us of all places. I’m not even sure where the closest Toys R Us is, for chrissakes.

The fraud lady was helpful and began filing a report for me. I’ve been through this situation before if you can believe it, so I wasn’t too worried. I will be receiving an affadavit to sign and some other paperwork to indicate that I did not make these purchases and to open a fraud investigation.

In the meantime my account has been frozen and I will be getting a new security-chip enhanced card mailed to me. And of course, I won’t be liable for the $900 spent at Toys R Us.

I also requested that they investigate the method in which my number was stolen. I want to know if it was online, or if the card might have been double-swiped at one of the places I shop. If I can get this information I will certainly avoid shopping at those places in the future!

Now, despite all this hassle and inconvenience, there is a silver lining:


I’m glad I use my credit card so much!

Can you imagine if this had been my debit/bank card? I would have little-to-no recourse on the matter. My money would be *poof* gone.

By using credit cards (wisely, of course) for most of my purchases, I am protected in situations like these. It’s a little inconvenient, but the bottom line is that I’m not out $900 because of some fraudster. The onus is on MasterCard to find the criminal and press charges.

I hope that you all can learn a little something from my story. It illustrates how responsible use of credit cards as well as vigilance can protect you as a consumer from fraud and other unpleasant situations.

I guess those big credit card companies aren’t so bad after all!