I originally was going to name this post “you should go love yourself” but stopped short because a) as a millennial, I don’t want to be automatically pegged as a “Belieber” *shudders*and b) I’m going to discuss some stuff that might come across as a little “woo-woo” (that I’ll make a solid effort in proving it’s markedly un-woo and rooted in human psychology) and don’t want to harm my case any further.
Once upon a time, before I was in a relationship (and before my debt made me into a bad girlfriend), I was recommended a book called “Why Men Love B!tches” (I realize my editing is a pathetically thin veil to hide the cuss) by Sherry Argov. I can almost see you rolling your eyes at the title, and I really wish this book was named differently so it can get some more cred for some of its strong points, but bare with me.
This book was recommended to me by a former female powerhouse boss who said it’s a great place to learn sales negotiation. As the author explains, she uses the term “b!tch” as a tongue-in-cheek way to imply a person who is incredibly grounded in themselves and in their self-respect, puts their well-being as their top priority and always acts in a manner of confidence, poise, and a healthy high self-regard. My old manager claimed it was a great way to learn that how to confidently put your offer on the table, and be willing to walk away when the terms weren’t going to be good for you. No doormats here.
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 last 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.
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 me 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.
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.