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Because it\'s a choice.

That One Thing

The difference between a child-free person and a fence-sitter is that a child-free person has fully made up their mind to not have children while fence-sitters may lean one way or another, but overall there is still room for change. I wonder sometimes if many people who have made the decision has one particular thing (or person) that has made them choose to be child-free. I’m thinking a second degree, a crazy sister with four kids, or an inspirational book?

For me, the decision to remain child-free for the duration of my life is firmly in place because of one thing: traveling. I know very well that if I were to be a mother, I would not get to travel the world and see new places or learn about different cultures. I may be able to visit one or two places, but realistically I may never leave my own city. I have said it before but not having children is a first-class ticket out of poverty, and being out of poverty means your dreams can be realized not just a cloudy, faraway imagined concept.

Motherhood is an individual decision, and I don’t want to tell anyone to choose traveling over motherhood if they prefer kids. I just get all excited and gushy inside when I think about hearing howling monkeys near the Lamanai ruins in Belize or the four day trek to Macchu Picchu in Peru. It is these dreams that wake me up day after day to get to work, save money and look forward to another day. It’s knowing I’m the only one in my family who will be inside a cave in Australia’s North West or touch a manatee in Tobago. It’s hard to articulate how joyous traveling makes me–although I’m sure some of you know. I don’t want to visit places to brag about and place souvenirs all over my apartment, but to bask in the moment whether on the top of ancient ruins staring down into the azure sky and stone buildings; or making beaded bracelets with local people.

The way mothers-to-be get excited about diaper bags, I get excited about Croatia. And the way moms smile when their baby learns to walk and talk, is the smile I’ll have when I’ll be walking in Laos and talking in Uzbek.

What’s the one thing that you know makes you child-free for life?

Yosemite Park, photo credit: A.RMy sister)

Yosemite Park , photo credit : A.R(My sister)


Canada’s Baby Boom Bust by Rita Rosenfield

Canada’s Baby-Boom-Bust

We thought the baby-boom generation would have it all. Prosperity, education, good jobs, plentiful recreation, functioning families, excellent housing, national health care, satisfied lives. Lives of plenty, for food is plentiful available and inexpensive in Canada and always has been in comparison to other countries of the world.

Great new employment opportunities opened up for Canadians after the last of the two Great Wars. Canadians, celebrating the end of world hostilities and the future that was Canada’s, had a notable cohort of babies, the boomer generation.

They were exposed to advantages their parents never had, from eating wholesomely to a myriad of recreational opportunities, and advanced education at the post-secondary level. Universal health care removed the anxiety of costly medical procedures and ongoing health problems. The world was their oyster. So what happened?

We now learn that among baby-boomers, those over 45 years of age represent the highest-debt-burden portion of the population. What’s more these are the modest-income earners, those whose hopes didn’t match reality, who had low-income jobs and lived relatively modestly compared to their peers with well-compensated employment and assured, employer-sponsored defined-benefit pension plans.

Cheap lending rates, low rates of interest encouraged a whole lot of people of modest means to extend their way of life, their ownership of desirable objects, to travel and to plan for even more advantages to be paid for at some time in the future. And that future is fast approaching. Even as people near retirement age they are hampered by a high rate of debt.

There’s an astounding number of Canadians in their 50s and onward who are less fortunate than we were led to believe by the sunny prognostications of a future Canada. People who are now unemployed and who when they were employed lived on every cent of their earnings. Where once, in the distant past, people struggled to put away something in a bank account for the future, many did not.

No savings, and a growing debt-load from borrowing at low interest rates. Paying on credit cards which have a high interest rate. Under-employed, those who are gainfully employed but vulnerable to job-loss. For many bankruptcy always seems like an escape from looming crisis. but after that, what exactly?

Most people haven’t invested in RRSPs, and they haven’t any secure bank accounts where a little bit was incrementally stuffed away for those so-called rainy days – or the elderly future. Of the population preparing for retirement, 58% are not financially stable; 68% without a financial plan to become financially viable in retirement.

One study released by a Rogers Group Financial study found that 40% of people three to seven years from retirement were in debt and would be in debt in retirement.

“It’s a worrisome trend. I don’t think the average Canadian understands. Interest rates will not stay low forever and you can’t continue to finance a higher standard of living by increasing your debt. It will catch up to you”, explained Vancouver adviser Clay Gillespie.

For those people with heavy debt loads, it’s obvious that one solution would be to keep working, forget about wanting to retire at 60, 65 years of age. And think about Stephen Harper’s musing about a new initiative his government is prepared to take on Old Age Security – deferred until age 67.

Canada hasn’t the highest debt-to-income ratio by any means. Denmark comes first, then the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden, and then comes Canada. With the U.S., U.K., Portugal, Spain, Finland, Austria, Germany, France and Italy after us.

Amazing, isn’t it, that three of the four PIGS countries in economic decline are in that picture; one above, two below.



Keeping It Classy

I’m not a shopaholic by any means. My closet is sparse and my wardrobe on a good day consists of yoga pants and bright coloured t-shirts. Nothing fancy. And then I get an invite to a poetry reading at my favourite bar and I’m all ready to get gussied up in canary yellow stilettos, floaty Nubian queen dress and my silk headwrap–the earrings, the whole nines. 

There is no word to describe how you feel–on top of the world and owning that moment. You feel like a significant being as you sway your hips, your bubbly laughter filling the space and your smile lighting up the atmosphere. It seems you don’t even remember that schlumpy yoga pants girl.

But it’s more than just looking sexy and spritzing on your favourite Chanel perfume. It’s the ambience of the night–the cool breeze, the floaty music, the way the bartender flashes a smile at you every time he walks by. Not only do you feel confident you waxed your legs and they look kinda stunning, but you are aware of other females in the room preening their feathers and looking just as spectacular.

I’m not here to say being a parent means you never go out, but those unforgettable nights truly make me smile and every time I pass my high heels in the closet I think to myself: I have a lot more classy nights to come.

Taking Summer Back

The hot weather has rolled around again. Gone are the snow-blanketed fields in the park, and the unsafe, icy trails. It’s time to bust out your roller-blades and your camping gear. At least, it usually is for me but this year I’m unsure if I’ll be able to enjoy the same activities like I used to. It seems this year there are legions more of tacky yellow strollers and young kids wobbling around, making it difficult to ride my bike with my dog attached through our neighbourhood–which is decidedly the Baby-Land of Toronto. It is the family neighbourhood with the best schools, hockey teams and community centres in the city for affluent families. These rich and connected folk go as far to section off roads so their children can play street hockey.

I moved into my neighbourhood because I was enticed by the serene trails and the cute little French patisseries lining the hilly avenues. It is a central location–I’m close to downtown and the trendy Queen Street bars and art shops I love, but it doesn’t take long to hit up Scarborough, North York or the West End either. I love living next to a huge, sprawling park and being able to get to work in about 20 minutes. But having my area cater to little kids makes me feel like I need to reign in and work around the schedules of baseball and soccer games in the parks as well as the strollers that attack the sidewalks and Don’t. Move. Ever.

Last summer, I ranted and sulked about the unfairness of the usage of the neighbourhood parks and trails but this year I’m going to take summer back. I’m young, and we live once and I’m not going to sit home miserable. Just because new mothers think their offspring is the whole universe doesn’t mean the whole universe has to cater to them. I would like to enjoy activities that don’t include the words “mini” or “junior” and I’d like to do so without parents chewing me out. I just don’t care. And I won’t care. Not this year. When that sun is out, I’m going to be there with my dogs and my bike, or my roller blades, or my picnic blanket and my book. I’m going to go on the trail and I’m NOT going to move aside for the droves of fathers who are desperate to spend an hour outside with their monkeys on the weekend because they work so hard during the week.

It’s summer and summer was intended for beers on the patio. Festivals with flags and colour. Long nights you may not necessarily remember the next day. Music. Seashells. Maple trees and roasting marshmallows on open fire. Muddy jeans. Tousled hair. Beaches. Parties. Fun.

Best Cars for the Childfree

Whenever you flip on your television and see a commercial for a vehicle, it is usually selling off the car from a family-friendly point of view. Hey, us folks without kids gotta get around too, don’t we? After my shitbox Mazda didn’t pass the emission test this year and is never going to be certified to be back on the road, I’m in the market for a car. And I have one question (amongst many 🙂 ) : What are the best cars for the childfree?

Cars that are environmentally-friendly, compact, fuel efficient, luxurious and suit the active lifestyles of childfree folks.

Volkswagen New Beetle

The 2012 model has an improved fuel economy of 10% over previous models. You are able to put camping gear and your dogs in the back since 2.5L model has interior storage with a split folding rear seat.
Drivers will also appreciate the slide/tilt panoramic roof, comfortable leather steering wheel, keyless access, push start button, 17 inch alloy wheels, BI-XENON lights, and LED daytime running lights. With optional Bluetooth, three color ambient interior lighting, and i-Pod connectivity, and a premium Fender audio system, childfree drivers can enjoy the latest technology VW has to offer for an improved driving experience. All of this starts at the amazing affordable price of $18,995. Honda Insight

If you’re not already drooling over the new Honda Insight, you should be (I know I am!). If you want an affordable hybrid, here’s the car for you. It looks like a Prius, but it’s cheaper. Both cars use a smooth, high-tail design to cleave through the air with the least aerodynamic resistance, burning the least fuel possible.

The 2012 Honda Insight uses a small 1.3-liter engine with a 10-kilowatt electric motor sandwiched between the engine and a continuously variable transmission (CVT). Total outputs are 98 horsepower and 123 pound-feet of torque. The motor can’t move the car solely on electricity, unlike the Prius, but it restarts the engine after stops, adds torque to complement that of the engine, and acts as a generator to recharge the battery pack when the car brakes.

Safety on this sexy car is 8/10 and Fuel Efficiency is 9/10. Why is it perfect for those without kids? You get a contemporary, eco-friendly car that can come with as many bells and whistles that you need including a full navigation system. For all those people who began driving a Honda Civic, it’s the next step up! Starting at $18, 350.

2012 Honda Insight

We’re not anti-marriage, but we get the joke–just look at car-buying. If you’re single, you can fantasize about cars, feel passionate about the fast ones–and actually act on your impulses, consulting only your bank account. When you’re married, concerns about hauling the family around would probably cancel your inclination to buy an attention-getting Porsche Boxster                      -Forbes

Mazda MX-5 Miata

When you picture life without kids, you picture the iconic convertible car with the top down, your arm loosely hanging from the door as you breeze past traffic with your Ray-Bans on. If you want an affordable roadster that is also a head turner,  this is the car for you. It is a car that screams: I got what I wanted out of life, and I’m not apologizing for it. This car will leave those in minivans boggled at how you are able to carry the loads you need to take every day with you (answer: you don’t need to bring 3 kids, and 10 bags with you!).

Historically known to be comfortable, reliable and impressive build and quality. Test drivers rave about the Miata’s sport handling. “The roadster has a 50/50 weight distribution (front/rear) and precise rack-and-pinion steering for legendary handling and predictability,” writes “The Miata is one of the most fun-to-drive cars around, despite its relatively modest engine power.” With such thrilling sport capabilities, it’s no wonder that critics are left impressed by the MX-5.

Nissan Versa Hatchback

I had the opportunity to drive this car for a month or so when my car was getting fixed after an accident. I don’t remember ever falling so deeply in love with a vehicle. I vowed to buy one. The second you jump in, it feels like you are in an SUV instead of a hatchback. The ride is smooth–so smooth you have no idea you are driving over bumps and cracks in the street. Did I mention how  much I saved on gas?!

Starting at $14, 678 this swell hatchback has a lot to offer–and no, I’m not being biased. The Versa boasts class-leading rear leg room, with 60/40 fold down seats for cargo, pets and gear. The big roomy trunk is essential for weekends away and seriously does not feel like you have a hatchback. Versa has 5.7/100km keeping it eco friendly. Their horsepower (122) and torque (127lb -ft) means you’re going to go farther. Are you in love yet?

2012 Nissan Versa

If not, what about the tech specs? Remote keyless entry, Bluetooth handsfree Phone System and their innovative navigation system and audio will make you happy, for sure. Who doesn’t love a modern car where you can jam out to Radiohead on your i-Pod,  in the serene peacefulness of your car–while the navi tells you the quickest way to get home? And with six standard airbags and advanced ABS system, there’s a high safety factor. Since, you know, people without kids wanna live too.

Chevrolet Equinox

If you must have an SUV for practicality reasons or because you spend a lot of time lugging your camper and summer things around–a small SUV like the Equinox would be a good choice because it’s easy on fuel and is first in its class, even beating out Ford Escape hybrid (which came in #15 on US News Affordable Compact SUVs and has only an average rating of 7/10) For the more seasoned child-free gals and guys, if you can afford to escape in an Equinox –this SUV has a lot of advantages. The 2.5 -4 Cyl. Atkinson-cycle engine, for one, as well as 330-volt sealed nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) battery. US News ranks this 2012 model  as # 1 for Affordable Compact SUVs.

Roomy and stylish, if you can afford one it’s one of the best bets for cross-over SUVs. You don’t need a huge gas-guzzling full size SUV to chauffeur children to hockey and music lessons, and all the extras you opt for will stay in mint condition like the leather upholstery and the rear cargo shelf that doubles as a picnic table for those on-the-go meals in the outback. This car has all the bells and whistles, for about $23, 500.


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