10 things I can’t live without



One of the columns in Toronto Life I always turn to when I get an new issue is “10 things I can’t do without” where local celebrities do a reveal of their “must haves.” For example, in May, mayor-elect John Tory’s (no doubt carefully-curated) list included peanut butter for breakfast, his Frye boots and TTC tokens.

Since we are currently contemplating retirement with our income cut by about 50%, I thought I’d put together my own list and see what some of my favourite things are costing me. While like Tory I enjoy peanut butter on toast and I ride the TTC regularly, it turns out several of my top 10 are considerably more expensive than his.

Here is my list in order of cost:

 1. Cleaning lady: I have continued to work since I retired the first time almost 10 years ago so I can pay people to do things I don’t enjoy or do well. Having a weekly cleaning lady on Fridays is one of them. I pay her $105/week for about 7 hours.

 Total annual cost: $5,250.

 2. Pets: My cat Simba and my dog Rufus make me happy. The dog also forces me to get off my chair and walk him several times a day. But they are a major expense.

We have pet insurance that costs $106/month for Rufus because the year we bought him we had very high vet bills for Simba, so we decided to hedge our bets with the new addition.

However, since he has a finicky stomach that resulted in several stays at the Willowdale Animal Clinic, we got over $2,700 back in the two years since we have owned him. So it’s probably been worth it so far.

However, both animals are on special diets we have to buy from the vet. We also board Rufus often with my nephew or at a kennel because we travel frequently.

I’m not sure what we will do when we lose one of our pets, but as you can see from the picture above, Rufus and Simba are devoted to each other. Also, I find it hard to imagine living pet-free.

Total estimated annual cost: $3,400

 3. My hairdresser: My hairdresser works out of her home a few blocks from where I live. I natter about going “au natural” but the fact is that I think grey hair will make me look and feel much older. So I go to the hairdresser about every five weeks for a colour, cut, wash and blow dry. The cost varies depending on whether I also need streaks (every three months).

Total approximate annual cost: $1,250

 4. Gym memberships: We try to get to the gym three times a week. Currently we have an annual corporate rate through my husband’s employer BlackBerry. When we retire, we will take advantage of the higher, but still subsidized rate offered by CARP. This is an investment in continuing good health so I think it is money well-spent.

 Total annual cost: $700 (for 2)

 5. TV/Netflix: I love watching good (and sometimes cheesy) television programs. I am also a binge watcher and like nothing better on a holiday weekend than to watch a season of a favourite series from beginning to end. Needless to say I hate watching commercials. We are currently paying $68.65/month for our Bell satellite service and $7.99/month for Netflix. We own our PVR. I know many people have “cut the cord” and installed an aerial, but we are just not there yet.

Total approximate annual cost: $920

6. BlackBerry Q10: I have had a smart phone for over 10 years, backed up to my computer. I love the keyboard on my BB Q10 and although I recently got an IPad to read the replica version of several newspapers, I don’t see switching to an IPhone or an Android in the near future. Since my husband works for BB and there is an employee purchase plan, I have an unlocked device which is useful when we travel. My grandfathered phone/data plan with PC mobile costs me about $55/month.

Total approximate annual cost: $800 (Device – $250 every two years + monthly charges)

 7. Kobo: I love my Kobo Glow e:reader and rarely read books in hard copy. While it should last indefinitely, last year I replaced one because I stepped on it. The software is also a bit flakey and because it freezes on a fairly regular basis it sometimes needs a forced reboot. I am assuming I’ll have to replace it every two years.

 Total approximate annual cost: $100

 8. Birkenstocks: I have back and knee problems. Birkenstock toe sandals are my “go to” footwear from May to October and I wear them in the house as slippers the rest of the year. I have three pairs on the go and buy a new pair every two years.

 Total approximate annual cost: $85

 9. Bran buds: There seems to be some controversy about the health benefits of wheat bran, but all I can say is it works for me. Every morning I eat two tablespoons either with milk or as a crunchy topping on cream cheese or peanut butter on toast. To the amusement of family and friends I even take little baggies of bran buds with me when I go on vacation or away for the weekend.

 Total approximate annual cost: $20

 10. Husband/personal chef: And last but not least, my husband Joel loves to cook and he is really good at it, along with his many other positive attributes. He is also an engineer who can fix almost anything and my best friend. We have been married for 38 years and I certainly have no plans to trade him in!

Total approximate annual cost: Priceless


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>