The Round Up Part 4 – February 2017 Edition

 

I’ve been having a hard time fleshing out a good time to post my round-ups. Should it be monthly? Or whenever I make some big strides? Should I do bi-weekly, so report how much money I put on my debt with each paycheque? I’ve put my foot down now and said monthly; if it’s not consistent and I only report on the wins, that’s a biased report on what I’m actually doing with my money. Bi-weekly may just be too cumbersome. So I’ve decided I’m going to do monthly, on the first weekend of every month. I will be doing February’s catch-up post below.

Before I get into the numbers, I want to note that I put some solid money down on my debt. I feel great about it, but it comes with the big asterisk that this was due to my 2016 sales bonus having come in. Back before I started this blog, I would eagerly seek out other PF blogs that had a debt count-down chart, and every so often, many of these scenarios would have a massive decrease in a short period of time that helped gain momentum. I’ve seen things like my piece of art I made suddenly got sold, or I sold my house, or I moved in with my parents and didn’t need to pay rent anymore. And I’d think great, so now I completely can’t relate as I can barely even draw stick figures, I have no house to sell and I pay my own way and will continue to do so. How will I ever get this awesome windfall to help lower my interst payments and help get some momentum going? It was straight up discouraging. So I’d like to note that although I’ve worked my buns off for my sales bonus, it does act like a “windfall” when it comes to my debt pay-off, and I acknowledge that. I am solemnly aware that the real work still lies ahead – the working with my regular salary to make wise choices and little sacrifices daily that will slowly but surely eat away at my debt.

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My Debt Is Making Me Into A Bad Girlfriend

Once upon a time my debt didn’t consume me. I hung around other people in debt, and I was young and foolish enough to think I can put a stop to my spending addicition whenever I really decided to put the brakes on it. Those were happier times. Ignorance truly can be bliss.

When I finally woke up and started to realize that I was way in over my head, I became terrified at what I got myself into. My big revelation and then obsession with beating my spending addiction and getting out from the mountain of debt I’ve accumulated happened about a year into dating my boyfriend (we’ve been together 3 years). There was definitely a shift in my personality as I went from the happy-go-lucky girl that wanted to squeeze the joy and life out of each day (even if it cost me a fortune I didn’t have) to having an emotional load almost bigger than my debt itself be placed squarely on my shoulders. The emotional cost of debt is real, and it could knocks the happy right out of you.

From my revelation onwards, I know I haven’t been the same person to live with. My debt has made me depressed, worsened my insomnia, and has made me constantly stressed, fatigued, scared, and anxious. To add insult to injury, relapsing into having a bad spend day (or bad spend week….or sometimes bad spend month) just exacerbates those feelings to an extreme degree, with an added heap of guilt, regret, and shame to top it off. Overall, my debt has put my in a bad place. Living with my boyfriend means he’s the unfortunate roomate of that bad place that I seem to be permanently residing in.

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Lessons In Frugality From My Immigrant Mama

 

I am proud to be the child of an immigrant family. My parents left their tiny Mediterranean villages and all their families back in the 70’s with the intent to gain a good life, but also to invest their livelihoods into contributing and giving back to this nation and its fabric in return. I believe that is a common wish for all those who come here seeking a new start.

I have a lot to say on this topic but I hold back; if I began the outpour, I wouldn’t even know which of all the points I should start from, and I don’t think I would ever be done. My heart is sick since the attack in Quebec City, and I feel broken that in 2017, we still haven’t realized that the differences between us are miniscule compared to the overarching unity we share by all belonging to the human race.

What I will do, seeing this blog is about my journey with money and frugality, is write this post in honour of my immigrant mother, who has been the best financial role model for frugality and conscious spending that I could have asked for (woe has befallen me for not having followed in her footsteps!)
My previous life of flagrant consumerism has always been a source of confusion and worry and likely even insult to mom, who has taught me by both example and admonition how to save and stretch a dollar. To date, she has never made more than 30,000 a year, and managed to single-handedly raise 2 kids in a paid off home that was always full of delicious food, lots of guests, and all the important creature comforts that kept us happy. I didn’t even realize we were a low-income family until I turned 18 and worked for a bank and realized how much other people make. That’s how richly we lived on so little, thanks to my mama’s money principles. To this day, she will tell you she’s always been blessed with more than enough.
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A Little Dusty From The Ashes

 

I’m back, friends. After The Big Situation of 2017 (already!) I took some time off the interwebs to recalibrate. I was feeling icky about the downsizing at work, I was feeling even more icky about turning to my old demon of shopping to console myself, and it was obvious I needed a timeout to think of healthier ways to get some TLC.

After taking some time out to think about a big-picture, all-encompassing self-care plan, I can report I feel refreshed and excited to implement some healthy, frugal habits. When writing the title for this post, I was filled with gusto and thoughts such as”Rising from the Ashes!” or “Phoenix Rises!” and other ridiculous sentiments came to mind, to which I gave a nod to terrible millenial-vernacular and thought “lolz”and took myself down a few notches. It’s more like a hobble out of the ashes…covered in dust… coughing up little dustballs. A little worse for wear, but out of the rubble nonetheless.

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Firing Squad

 

 

This week was a heavy one at work. On Tuesday morning we all walked into our workplace, but over a dozen of us were gone by lunch. I was not on the chopping block, but losing so many co-workers so suddenly has really shaken us all up. There’s nothing like a job scare to really get you facing the cold hard facts about your financial stability.

It’s funny that the mood in the office has been one of doom and gloom; aren’t the rest of us supposed to be sighing a deep exhale now, knowing we’re still gainfully employed? I’ve been through restructuring before and always on the better side of it, but it never has once felt good, or even mildly relieving to still be employed. I’ve realized that no matter if you land on the better side of the coin, you will inevitably look at your departed coworkers and think, “what in the world would I do if that was me?”

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My Frugal Start to the Year

 Happy 2017 everyone! I hope you all have started the year with optimism and a look ahead to a frugal yet fun year!

I laid down some important groundwork before I got into the day-to-day frugalism I plan to live by. First, I negotiated a much lower line of credit with a bank and moved over a chunk of debt to it, shutting down a higher interest LOC along with it. I also put $1000 towards my credit card and managed to put nothing new on it or on any of my other debt vehicles. I’ll write a current round up post shortly.

Now when it comes to the day-to-day, I’ve flown under the radar since well before the holidays. Granted, I was sick with a bad flu but even before it hit, I knew I wanted a cozy few weeks where I can cook, declutter and plan for the year ahead. I’ve spent $23 since January 1st, and it’s just been on groceries. I personally can’t believe it either.

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2017: The Plan

 

I’m a bit late on the new year’s money plan posts, but I’ve been stewing on my plans for a while now (while also fighting the flu, which may jsut be the real reason for the lack of posting). There were a few different paths for me to choose from, but I think I got it down.

There are a few different ways I considered approaching a budget: zero sum, traditional budget with an amount assigned to each category, the envelope method, etc. I find value in all of these. While wanting to follow a budget, I also wanted to up the ante on my shopping ban and go forward with a Buy Nothing New Year for 2017. So in the spirit of a buy nothing new year, I’ve come up with a plan.

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The Ultimate Why

 

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” – Mary Oliver

 

A good financial plan would ideally have some immediate, short-term, and long-term goals. For a recovering spendaholic like myself, immediate is going day-to-day with not blowing any money on shopping. Short-term is making sure all my debt payments are made early each and every month, and long-term is getting out of all my consumer debt.

However behind the goals, there’s an over-arching “why” that keeps them all in motion. I think everyone has a why. For some, being out of the red and owing nothing to no one is enough of a why to keep them going. There’s also many like my mom, who’s why is to make sure she will never be vulnerable if there should ever be a downturn in her small business, her family life, or the economy.

My why may be a bit more whimsy, and admittedly not centered on responsibility. Simply put, I don’t want to live in one place and have one “life” there. I don’t want a house, I don’t want the kids, I don’t want the 9 to 5. I don’t want the car or the lawn or the cottage or the pool or the garage. I have zero negative feelings towards those who do (to be clear, I believe being a loving parent is bar none the most important job in the world), I’ve just had 31 years to get to know myself, and I realize it’s simply not for me.

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The Round Up Part 3 – December 2016 Edition

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You know how they say it gets worse before it gets better? Seems like “they” can often be right. However there’s good news in that adage – it does eventually get better.

I have sadly gone backwards since my last roundup. I had a tax reassessment and the result wasn’t pretty. I don’t want to make an issue out of it because I am truly grateful that I live in a safe place with a high quality of life, but I think I’m allowed to say it can really sting when your employer takes the wrong tax amount and you get a very unwelcome letter from the CRA in the mail. What a punch to the gut.

So here’s my new round up:

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Black Friday

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Growing up, we didn’t have Black Friday here in Canada. It just wouldn’t make sense; our Thanksgiving is in October. However I’ve noticed a weird phenomenon happen in the past 5 years or so; along with all other symbols of unabashed capitalism (like Wal-Mart and Costco), Black Friday has trickled its way north of the border.

In the past, we would don our lumberjack shirts, sit next to our pet moose and swig maple syrup while watching the Black Friday stampedes that were going on in the US. Ok, perhaps everything but the moose – the point I’m trying to make is that this sales apocalypse was once uniquely American; ergo, non-Canadian. We had Boxing Day and that was that. So I find it bizarre that we don’t even have a major holiday preceding  Black Friday but we’ve taken it on and made it our own.

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