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By Couple of Sense

Sarah and Scott are personal finance bloggers and coaches. They have paid off debt, paid for a wedding in cash, bought a house, completed home renovations, gone back to school and handled everything else along the way without going into debt. They want to share how you can do that as well! When they aren't writing or talking about money you can find them at home, working on their home, in their veggie garden, binge watching some TV and snuggling with their cat.
Connect in real time on Twitter: @coupleofsense

Should Your Income Influence Your Politics?

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There is no getting away from it the Western world is more politicized than in previous years.  All you need to do is tune into any late night talk show and you’ll have almost every bit centered around politics.  This is especially valid in the United States where the politic atmosphere has been bouncing between a nightmare and a farce.

Until a few years ago, I wouldn’t even bother casting my vote for any political race.  Now I very much want to cast my vote.  The reason I wouldn’t vote before is still part of my viewpoint.  I don’t believe my vote can influence the outcome.  For our Canadian elections your area is Liberal, Conservative or NDP more or less.  If I go against the grain my vote only moves the needle by a fraction of a percentage point.  I vote now because I feel it is irresponsible not to.

What party I back is my business, but there is no doubt that the political parties vary on many different platforms.  For finances, typically one party favours the rich while the other favours the working class.  The question is that as your financial situation or income stream improves, should that be enough to sway you one way or the other?

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Whats The Point of Point Cards: How Gift and Point Cards Get Ignored

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Cards are worth as much as the plastic they are made out of if they don’t get used!

There is no doubt that you’ve witnessed or done it yourself – points cards gathering points that never get redeemed or gift cards that never get used.  If you look in my wallet on the main side I have my payment cards and my identification.  Flip over to the other side and you’ll find a treasure trove of points/loyalty cards.  We have an envelope at home with a dozen or so gift cards from places we don’t go to that have been given as gifts over the years.  These go unused and are wasted.

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Use Your Benefits or You Lose Out

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Use Your Benefits I have a confession. This is really the first year that I’m using my extended health employer benefits. Other than getting glasses and going to the dentist I don’t use my benefits to the fullest potential. Each year I get $1000 to use on paramedical expenses including massage, chiropractor and physio therapy among other things.

Scott has had a couple of pain issues that the doctor recommended going to a massage therapist. After a couple of months of him going and having a good experience I decided that my back pain was enough for me. Babies are heavy and the muscle spasms in my back since almost 2 weeks postpartum were causing discomfort. While I was lying on the table I kept thinking about how much money I had wasted by not using these benefits that were provided to me free of charge. If I got an extra $1000 a year I’m sure I would find a way to work that into my budget without an issue. Why are extended health benefits any different? Read more

DIY Taxes

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DIY TaxesNOTE: This post contains affiliate links.  Couple of Sense may receive a small commission for referring you.  Please see our terms and conditions for more information.  The opinions and analysis mentioned in this post are mine and are not necessarily shared by any organization mentioned.

Before I got married my taxes were completed via a family accountant. When my dad had his own business he used someone for his business taxes and then he just continued to use him for our family stuff. As a young adult who still lived at home some of the adult things were taken care of. Not only was I not sure how to do them but I was not aware of the costs to have someone handle them for you. When I found out the cost after I got married I spoke to Scott and we agreed to handle it ourselves. While the first year was tough I can’t recommend DIY taxes enough. This will be the 6th year we have done our taxes ourselves and I wanted to share some benefits and information to help take the plunge.  Read more

The Tipping Point: Thoughts on Tips

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There is a lot of thought that goes into tipping.  Recently we had a family event for our daughter.  Part of this event was to take out our immediate family and grandparents for dinner.  It wasn’t a huge group.  My brother and his fiancée live out of province and were unable to make it.   Final tally was 13 plus a couple of babies.  The restaurant we picked was pretty good.  We decided to just have people order off the menu instead of doing a fixed priced thing.  Due to the size of the group we were advised that there would be a “service charge”.  This was 18% automatically added to the bill.  I’ve found this is pretty common practice in a lot of restaurants.  I don’t generally have an issue with tipping our server.  The process did get me thinking a bit about tipping etiquette. Read more

Tax Time: The Most (Or Least) Wonderful Time of the Year

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NOTE: This post contains affiliate links.  Couple of Sense may receive a small commission for referring you.  Please see our terms and conditions for more information.  The opinions and analysis mentioned in this post are mine and are not necessarily shared by any organization mentioned.

I have been working since I was 7 years old.  That is 29 years of employment (with a couple of small gaps we’ve discussed on mass).  While a number of those years were spent delivering papers – where my income was nowhere near the tax threshold – obviously I’ve also been paying taxes for several years.  For several years I used a tax return service at a kiosk in a store.

With school credits I was getting a small refund most years and this place offered an instant refund.  At the time I wasn’t stopping myself from spending like a madman so the faster I could get the money the faster it could be spent.  Notice I said I WASN’T stopping myself, not that I COULDN’T stop myself.  Accountability is important. Read more

You Don’t Always Have to Do More Than Your Past Self

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Do MoreDo you feel that you need to compete with yourself? Are you always trying to do better than you last year? Do you take into account that your situation might not be the same? Sometimes you don’t have to do more than your past self. And it’s okay.

The Need To Do More:

When I started dating Scott my mother would encourage me not to get anything too expensive for a gift. If you were to spend $100 on a birthday present then you would need to top it the next year. I have always disagreed with that. You don’t always need to go bigger and bigger. There have been some years for our anniversary (wedding/dating) we have spent $$$$ (aka coffee maker and jewelry). There have been other years we have spent very little money because we just didn’t have it (aka just having a baby, broke students, new house etc). We access each year as it comes and make decisions on what we can and want to do. No problem and no feeling that we need to top last year. Somehow I do feel differently about how much we are investing in the next couple of years based on what we have done in the past. Read more

Renovations: Does This Make My Life Better?

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Sarah and I have talked a bit lately about our mid-term goals.  These are those items between what we want to get done in the next year and what we want to get done before we retire.  One topic  was regarding what we want to do for our home renovations.  There are so many things we want to upgrade and redo.  To name a few: the powder room, landscape our (tiny) front yard, stain or replace the hardwood on the main floor, install hardwood on the top floor, paint out the kitchen cabinets, and redo our ensuite.  This renovation list is pretty daunting.  There is little to no chance we are going to get all of this done in the next ten years.

We need to be cognizant that we may need to deal with unplanned house costs such as a furnace replacement.  The projects in themselves range between a few hundred to several thousand dollars.  Doing every renovation isn’t really in the budget as it is now.  The typical homeowner response would be to focus on kitchens and bathrooms (those “sell” houses)…but we aren’t really anticipating moving unless we have 2 more kids so why put our focus there?  Instead why not focus on what we really want for ourselves…when deciding between several options we can simply ask the question “Does It Make Our Life Better?”

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My Investment Strategy

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Investment StrategyI have been thinking a lot about my investment strategy lately and over the last 6 months I have changed my focus. I don’t get into my investing strategy because I feel that what works well for some won’t work for others but since Scott shared last week I felt like sharing as well.


I started investing in August 2011, a month before we got married. I had saved money before that but it was just in a savings account and it was likely going to be spent at some point in the future. As I shared before I was interested in opening up an RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) but an advisor talked me out of it. But in 2011 after we bought a house in April and were going to get married a month later I was more comfortable in investing. I was also making money in my adult job so I would benefit from the tax break. Read more