Meet Janine, she’s a tax specialist by day, a personal finance blogger by night and a member of our Smart Buys Wine Club. She gives her two cents on making (and keeping) financial resolutions, and how to budget for life’s little luxuries, like wine!

VS: By day, you’re a tax specialist, tell us more about that.
JR: Well I always tell people it’s more interesting than it sounds! People just think all I do is sit there and crunch numbers, that’s definitely not the case. I get to work with a variety of different companies, all the way from start-ups to public companies in the Calgary area. I get to help them figure out how strategize their taxes, pay less tax, efficiently structure their business. Sometimes we get to act as consultants for businesses on how to run more efficiently so I really enjoy that piece of it!

VS: In your spare time, you’ve started a blog called ‘My Pennies, My Thoughts’, how did it get started?
JR: It’s an interesting story. I don’t think my parents ever really talked to me much about money, they always said you should save some but that’s about the gist of my financial literacy from them. I started working in between university years and I was super bad with money – I would spend everything I made and had nothing to show for working a pretty good job. I knew then that something wasn’t working, I should have more money than this! The blog kind of started as a way for me to document what I was spending my money on, and to try and figure out what a TFSA is, and it suddenly snowballed into how to live a balanced life – which is where it’s kind of gone. (Find her blog here)

VS: What does your average day look like?
JR: There are no average days in my life! I go to work in the morning, but PWC is pretty flexible with when you come in and leave as long as you’re around for core hours. I didn’t start until 10:30 this morning but there are other days when I start at 7:30. It’s pretty dependent on the work I have going on. My ideal day would be the gym or barre class after work, and then going home and having dinner (and wine) with Andrew – my husband. I often have events in the evening, or I’m writing. I don’t stop!

VS: What have you learned from blogging?
JR: The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that I’ve definitely improved as a writer, when you start to write professionally and you’re paid to do it, it changes how you write. I’ve learned the importance of network and community, it’s definitely about who you know, not necessarily what you know. Blogging has pushed me to ask for more, if you don’t ask the answer is always no. It’s uncomfortable at times, asking businesses or bloggers for things, it’s definitely taken me out of my comfort zone which is good!

VS: Who should read your blog?
JR: Everybody! It’s geared more towards millennials, but I think there is information on there for anyone. I remember being in high school and not knowing what I wanted to do, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but I’m scared of blood so that didn’t really work. I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to make a difference and help people, it took me a long time to figure out that I could do that with money. So anyone who is stressed about money or wants to better their financial situation, that’s who I want to help.

VS: You’re obviously passionate about finance and taking control of your wealth – how did your journey begin?
JR: I started my university career in Engineering – which was a horrible mistake for me! My Mom and Grandpa are both Chartered Accountants, it definitely runs in the family. At the time, I didn’t want to go to university for a degree I couldn’t get a job with, so I went into sciences. I wanted to be a nutritionist, it’s a very tough program with a lot of chemistry, which I don’t mind, but it’s not my favourite. By this time it was second year so my mom suggested I take an accounting course, begrudgingly I agreed. When I took the class a light bulb went off – I couldn’t believe my mom was right! Everything just took off from there, more accounting and finance, the personal finance side came with the rest and now it’s spiraled out of control and taken over my life, in a great way!

VS: Many people make financial New Years Resolutions, if you could give 3 pieces of advice to anyone with a financial resolution, what would they be?

  1. Automate your finances! The harder you make it to manage your money, the less likely you are to do it. It’s just like the gym, if you lay out your workout clothes the night before, you’re definitely more likely to go!
  2. Build a budget you can live with. So many people have the conception that budgets are limiting. But I like to look at them as a way to allocate your resources. Spend where you get the most value. If that’s wine or Starbucks, build it into your budget. If you don’t, you will be depriving yourself and you won’t stick with it.
  3. Start investing. It’s a challenge but the sooner you do that, the sooner you have compounding interest and compounding returns on your side.

VS: Sticking to a budget is like a new health regime, they’re difficult to stick with! How do you recommend people stay on top of their financial goals?
JR: Sticking to any new year’s resolution is tough. So the easier you make it the more likely you are to stick to it. For me and my husband, we get paid on the 15th and 30th so on the 16th and 1st, all of our transfers happen – our bills get paid, and some money goes into savings, investing, travel etc. We don’t have to think about it, it’s already done.

We bank mostly with Tangerine. Our chequing account is totally free – which is such a great benefit. Actually they pay you interest on your chequing account which is even better. From there you can set up probably 10 savings accounts (we don’t have 10!). We have an account for tax, for travel, emergency fund, a big purchase fund (like a large piece of furniture) and so on.

Once you see it separated, the separation factor makes you work towards a goal harder. Oh! And Christmas presents is another account. On January 1 we start putting money aside for the next Christmas, even if it’s just $50 every paycheque, but then we’re not stressed in January when the credit card is due!

VS: So even though you set yourself a budget, you’re still a firm believer in enjoying life’s little luxuries, like wine! How do you build something like wine into your monthly budget?
JR: When it comes to budgeting, like I said earlier, you should have a ‘Fun’ category in your budget, whether that’s going out for dinner or you put money aside for alcohol because you host a lot of parties because that’s what gives you joy and pleasure from your money, do that! Figure out a way to negotiate your rent lower or spend less on groceries, stop drinking Starbucks twice a day so you can enjoy the things that actually add value to your life. Take a step back and ask yourself, “does Starbucks twice a day give me value or does enjoying a nice bottle with my husband while watching a movie giving me more value”? I’d argue it’s the quality time – but it’s different for everyone! Budgeting needs to be based on your needs and what you enjoy!

We enjoy wine, trying new bottles with friends who enjoy wine gives us pleasure. If enjoying an expensive bottle of wine once a month is what you want to do, then make it work for you! We’re also members of the Smart Buys Wine Club so that helps us keep our ‘Fun’ spending in line.

VS: You and your husband, Andrew, are relatively newly-weds (congrats!), when it came to your wine budget and selection, do you have any tips for those planning their nuptials?
JR: Compared to most people, we’re definitely wine snobs. We wanted to find a balance between expensive wine, that most people wouldn’t appreciate, but also still wanting people to enjoy the wine. We tried to find a wine that most people would enjoy, that was still quality and reasonably priced. We put different wine on the head table, and the table of bridal party’s spouses because most of them are good friend and appreciate good wine. We had more expensive wine for those tables and the others got three bottles for each of the other tables, we went with Grey Monk Latitude 50 – we got married in Vernon so we picked it up from the winery the day before which definitely saved us money!

VS: Are there any tools, apps or websites you can recommend to help keep people on top of their spending?
JR: is a pretty decent resource. I use Money by Jump Soft, it’s for Macs. I’m a great fan of Excel, if you go to the Templates tab on Excel they have a bunch of pre-populated budget templates. You should obviously read my blog! Oh – and another source, Leslie-Anne Scorgie, an author of 3 financial literacy books (and my mentor!), she is really good at breaking finance down. If you’re looking for a new year’s book to read, that would be the one. They are easy to understand and she is fantastic, and she’s from Alberta.

VS: What is your most memorable wine moment?
JR: We went for dinner at my parents when we lived in Edmonton, my dad was cooking a roast. My mom had told him to add some wine to it. My Dad fussed about the roast all day, it smelled so wonderful and he was so proud, it was delicious. So, we asked what he put on it, he proudly walks to the wine cabinet and pulls out a bottle of Auditors Port. My Mom is PWC alum, every year PWC purchases grapes from a vineyard in Portugal and get them to make a limited release port for them that is certainly not cheap. My mom’s face dropped – she gets one bottle a year, we always open it on Christmas Day to share with the family and he had gone and used half the bottle on this roast! A $40 roast turned into a $250 roast! Always check the bottle!

VS: What are you looking forward to most in 2017?
JR: We’re going to Europe in May for a friend’s wedding – that’s what I most looking forward to. So we’re doing the UK, Ireland, Paris, Amsterdam and home. We’ll be gone just over two weeks and I can’t wait! I’m also just looking forward to a better year, 2016 was not one for the books!

VS: Of our wine styles, which one represents you best, and why?
JR: I asked my husband about this one. He said, ‘Elegant’, I don’t think that’s me at all, I would go ‘Bold’. I have a bold personality I like to challenge people on their opinions, whether or that’s money or not. I want people to stop and think critically and ask themselves the tougher questions with money or life!

Visit Janine’s blog at
Answers have been edited for clarity & brevity.


Whites with snappy acidity and vibrant flavours that will awaken your senses

Our crisp whites offer lovely refreshing acidity and a nice citrus punch; these wines will revive you and make you feel like you’re enjoying fresh fruit in an orchard in the middle of July. Think about of the last time you were out somewhere in the heat of the summer; one of those days when the pavement was melting, the paint was peeling off buildings and all you could think about was how badly you wanted something to quench your thirst. When you stumbled onto a lemonade stand and took that first sip, you were cured.

We can’t say our wines will cure dehydration but they are a great option while you’re enjoying patio weather.



You’ll find varietals like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Riesling and Vinho Verde and more!



Loved for their understated qualities these whites are beautiful and exotic

Talking about mellow wine is like talking about a classic film star. She’s a lady with international acclaim and classic appeal. Mellow wines don’t jump up and down screaming for attention; instead they prefer to lure you in with their quiet charm and feminine wiles. Swirling a nice Viognier or Pinot Gris is all about soft, intricate and attractive flavours that might make you think about your favourite perfume, stepping into a flower shop or leaving a patisserie where they’ve just taken almond pastries out of the oven. This is Sophia Loren in a glass.



If you enjoy varietals like Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer or Chenin Blanc you’ll love this style!



Whites that ask to be a muse. This is Claude Monet’s water lilies’ in a wine glass.

Lavish and luxurious wines with all the razzle-dazzle. Think about the things in life that make you feel like you’re living large. Imagine yourself wearing layers of pearl necklaces, leading a ticker tape parade, eating popcorn laced with truffle oil and lounging on the king bed of the Ritz Carlton penthouse all at the same time. Lush wines are what we drink when we’re feeling on top of the world and when we want to celebrate life. This is 4th of July fireworks and the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve all rolled into one beautiful gold package. Bottoms up!



Varietals like Chardonnay, Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier are found here.



Ruby reds with a timeless style and appeal; wines that will never go out of fashion.

Elegant reds ask you to dig a bit deeper. Some people enjoy them for the romantic ideas they conjure while others enjoy the subtle nuances that each bottle possesses. We can’t think of a better way to describe elegant reds than talking about Coco Chanel. Think about No. 5, the little black dress or the most importantly the iconic Chanel suit, a true couture item that is well lined, carefully crafted and something that will always be in vogue. An elegant wine is like a nice stroll along the promenade in the seaside town of Biarritz or a day at the ballet in red maillot.



Here you’ll find Pinot Noirs, Gamays, Chiantis and more!



Reds that are pleasant from start to finish

Supple and velvety, smooth reds are a real crowd pleaser; something that everyone loves. Like a popular jazz standard, the best way to sum up these wines is to think about hearing Miles Davis on vinyl. Everyone has heard those tunes and when the horns come in on the track you can’t help but connect over the sheer universal joy in hearing something so incredibly smooth and pleasing to the senses. Miles Davis was one cool dude and that’s how we feel about the wines in this section. You’ll feel like you’re slipping on a new pair of driving gloves every time you pour yourself one.



Varietals such as Grenache, Merlot and mouth-watering blends can be found here.



Our deepest most complex reds; these wines make a statement

Full and flavourful with an intense fruit core, these reds are the talk of the town. Bold wines have an intensity about them that not only commands your presence but also asks you to stay a while. Pretend for a minute that Clint Eastwood has just walked into a bar, stared at you for a long hard second and proceeded to put out a cigar out on his forearm before challenging you to an arm wrestle. You’re heart might skip a beat but you’ll be happy that you tried it. That arm wrestle might be one of the best things you ever do in your life. That’s how we describe a bold wine.



Food friendly varietals like Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are right at home here.



There’s nothing quite like hearing that cork pop!

Call us crazy but the sound of a cork being popped just makes everything better. Headaches dull, clouds seem to part and even the sound of crying children can be drowned out by the wonderful thought that you’ll soon have a stem in hand and an effervescent treat to tickle the end of your nose. A glass of bubbly just spells a plain good time. It might be a celebratory drink with friends, an excuse to get all gussied up for a fabulous night out or it might just be a date with the couch to watch Sex and the City re-runs solo.



Here you’ll find everything from Champagne to Cava, Prosecco, Lambrusco and everything in between!



Wines made with a little extra TLC

What are you going to find in this section? You’re going to find late harvest nectar, ice wines, delectably sweet Rieslings and 5 puttonyos worth of sweetness. And why are you going to love these wines? The grape juice that you’ll find in our Rich section took a lot of extra TLC to make the transition from vine to glass and can be used to make some of the most magnificent food and wine pairings known to man. We just have 3 words for you: Oysters and Sauternes.



This style houses dessert wines like Sauternes, Ice Wine and Tokaji.



Simple and Straightforward

When you think of simple and uncomplicated you can’t help but think of a guy in his college freshmen year. The beers that we’ve categorized as Clean are straightforward and unassuming with bright flavours and not too much complexity. You’ll enjoy these beers more than a keg stand and find them to be about as fresh as a 19 year-old guy at an all girl frat party. Big time!



Light and easy, simple Lagers, Pilsners & Blonde Ales.



Find your zen on our beer wall

Life Coaches and self-help books will tell you that balance is the key to a happy life. That may true but when we’re talking about a balanced style of beer we’re talking about the merits of a good pale ale with well integrated hop and malt flavours. Balanced beers won’t help you understand the deeper meaning of life but they’re still worth sampling for their easy-drinking quality. Take that Deepak Chopra!



Brews such as Brown Ales, Red Ales, Cream Ales, Black Lagers & Dunkels.



For your fun side, beers not meant to be taken too seriously

There is fruity like the Village People and there is fruity like wonderfully citrus kissed Hefeweizen, warm kirsch Belgians and bubbly orchard fruit ciders. While there is no denying the fun of disco and flamboyant cowboys, our Fruity section will give you options to keep you singing and dancing all year long. This is an amiable selection to accompany garden time, dinner parties and of course they pair wonderfully with dessert.



If you’re after a Cider, Radler or any fruit infused brew, you’ll find it here alongside Wheat beers.



The safe way to have an intense experience…

Here’s a short list of things that are truly intense: squirrel suit jumping, big wave surfing and the insane ramblings of Gary Busey. While our Intense selection of beers could be described as big and loud, they certainly won’t lead to death on impact, shark attacks or being verbally abused on Celebrity Apprentice. You’ll love the IPAs and scrumptious Trapist ales. Gary agrees.



Some like it hopped! Here you’ll find IPAs, DIPAs, Trappist brews, Sours & Barleywines.



Beer that leaves an impression

Powerful, sturdy and strapping are all great words to describe the Robust section. Everything you find here possesses strong brawny flavours that leave a lasting impression. Just think back to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s version of Conan the Barbarian; despite the horrifically bad acting that comes with those 80s classics we just can’t help but love the brute force and thick accent. Conan would call you an infidel for drinking anything else.



Home to heartier brews like Stouts and Porters & some Barrel Aged offerings.



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Effortless and exhilarating in any season

It’s undeniable, Rosé is in vogue. It’s enjoying a renaissance following the White Zinfandel craze that swept North America in the 70’s. Today, Rosé is the queen bee. Rosé is your ever fashionable friend. It’s the timeless accessory you can turn to in any season. In the spring it’s like wearing peeptoe shoes on a warm day. In the summer, a breezy dress. In the fall it’s the perfect boots and in the winter, a cozy knit scarf.



Rosés are the product of a myriad of varietals, some of the most common are: Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Cinsault.