debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!


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55 Reasons it’s Okay To Be 55

55I am 55 today.

Inspired by John at Frugal Rules here are 55 thoughts about turning 55.

  1. It’s a cool number.
  2. Freedom 55 was the super sweet early retirement age talked about when we were in our 30’s.
  3. Boy that 25 years went by real fast!
  4. I have one friend who is 55 who retired this year.
  5. My Dad worked until age 71, I can’t see working for another 16 years, myself.
  6. I never thought I’d be a grandmother at 55.
  7. But I’m delighted, I am!
  8. The body is starting to feel a little old.
  9. But the mind is still in my 30’s.
  10. Feel happy to still be able to enjoy doing lots.
  11. Even if some days, I feel it.
  12. I can still ride my bike.
  13. Even though I fell off it last year trying to run a yellow light.  #mybad
  14. Thinking about trying running again.
  15. If my knees and hip will cooperate.
  16. Maybe I need to think about swimming instead.
  17. It’s tough to go out in the winter though.
  18. I’m happy to have a fall birthday.
  19. Even though I don’t really make a big deal out of them.
  20. I’m happy to be a Libra.  It suits me.
  21. Even though I don’t follow astrology.
  22. I stopped reading my horoscope after finding out it was not encouraged by my faith.
  23. Didn’t really get a lot out of it anyways.
  24. I get more from the Holy Trinity.
  25. If I were to die tomorrow, I would be content.
  26. Though I still feel I’ve got lots more living to do.
  27. I would like to live with less stress.
  28. Good thing for shingles vaccine these days.
  29. And flu shots too.
  30. When I was a kid we aspired to have cable TV and no party line.
  31. Now we are back to having OTA TV again and rarely answer the phone.
  32. My University is still trying to hit me up for donations.
  33. Will they stop now that I’ve turned 55?  #doubtit
  34. Despite signing up to block our number from telemarketers, we still get a lot of calls.
  35. My husband can block them on the software for our Ooma.
  36. Ooma quality is not good enough for me to hold conference calls for work on it.
  37. But yet I can talk through my computer on Microsoft Lync to work colleagues around the world.
  38. I had my hair shorter for a bit.
  39. But it’s getting near my shoulders again now.
  40. It’s amazing how much growth you go through even in the short space of a year or two.
  41. And I’m not talking about my hair now.
  42. Sometimes you stagnate a bit, when you are going through a period of rejuvenation to prepare for regrowth.
  43. That usually happens around a life changing circumstance.
  44. Sometimes reading the thoughts on post secret is really insightful and you almost learn something about yourself with each one.
  45. All the time it is insightful.
  46. I’m so thankful for my husband and family.
  47. Even though I may not say it or show it in a big way.
  48. I wanted to be a veterinarian and then later a cop when I was a kid and a teenager.
  49. But I don’t think accountants are boring, after all.
  50. I still think the flat Tim Horton’s boxes are bunk.
  51. I wrote a letter to complain about them when they first came out.
  52. I don’t even think I got a free donut.
  53. I’ve managed to get through this list without talking a lot  about personal finance.
  54. I think that’s okay for today.
  55. It means I’m not letting my debt define me. :-D

55

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

debt-debsDebs’ Devotions #4

Favourite articles I’ve read recently a while ago:

Not smoking could save me over $5,000 a year — wish me luck ~ Quitting smoking is hard.  I don’t have first hand experience but I equate it with trying to lose weight and giving up your comfort food.  Financially speaking and healthwise, it’s a no brainer.

Why I Will Never Make Additional Mortgage Payments ~ okay it’s not a secret now that I like to consider other views that are contrary to my own.  It’s how I learn.  I’m a big fan of paying off a mortgage in 15 years after being burned by consumer debt and stretching our mortgage into 27 years but I have to agree these arguments are compelling.

Five Tips for Making Budgeting Fun for Creatives ~ I’m a colour geek (<– uh, ya, look left please) and Liz’s ideas are after my own heart!  Who’s says budgeting can’t be fun?

Debt Free at Last: Our Debt of £41K Has Been Paid Off! ~ Okay this post is recent and it’s such great news I had to share!  I’ve been following Hayley’s blog since I first started and she’s been a great inspiration to me.  Hayley leads by example and for those of us hurting from debt horror stories it helps to know we’ve got supporters cheering us on!

Thanks to other awesome bloggers for recently linking some of my posts:

Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet ~Weekend Reading: Market Meltdown Edition

Myles @ Myles Money ~ Smart Money # 4

Blogger Classifieds ~ How to Blog Carnival – Create a Blog That Makes Money

Financially Savvy Saturdays #59 pick of the week which is very appropriate as it was the year I was born

I’ve been guest posting or featured here since my last Debs’ Devotions:

Cash Cow Couple ~ Women Crush Wednesday

Canadian Budget Binder ~ To Take or Not to Take Early CPP

So I’m excited to tell you that yesterday, Erin’s guest post here was featured on Globe & Mail site, Carrick on money.  Isn’t that awesome?  It’s so wonderful to have your work profiled on a large site and I couldn’t be happier for her.  I’m also happy for me as my traffic hit it’s highest at 980 views (more than double my highest) yesterday (about 725 unique views)!  How’s that for a nice birthday present?!


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Frugal FinCon Fiesta Update & Blogger Awards

debt-debsdebs’ devotions #2

Well I may have been a little to ambitious in my Six Month Blogiversary post (you know, the one with a poem disguised as rap song), when I launched my WEEKLY edition of Debs Devotions.  For a personal finance (PF) blogger who only publishes twice a week, that may have been a little lofty to call it WEEKLY.  I haven’t decided yet if I’ll do it biweekly, every three weeks (that would be strange but definitely in the realm of possibility), or monthly – sue me.

So since it feels like a long time and I have a lot of updates, lemme start.

Frugal FinCon Fiesta (FFF)

Well that was really fun and exceeded my expectations.  A bunch of us PF bloggers who were fairly new and focusing on our debt journey joined in a blog party to entertain each other while all our blogmates were boozing it up networking and learning at FinCon 2014.  Well I could say that a libation or five were enjoyed while we virtually partied on blogs and google hangouts but I’ll stick with what goes on in the internet, stays on the internet – ain’t that the truth?!  :-D

I’d like to thank the following Fantastic Frugal FinCon Fiesta-ers for participating with their Ask Me Anything posts: Femme Frugality, pftwins, The Daily Whisk, Cottage Retreatist, Frankly Frugal Finance, Two Kids and a Budget, Downstairs and in Debt, Frugalwoods, Shoeaholic No More, Indebted and in Debt, Debt Discipline, Millennial on a Budget, Busted Budget, Nearly Retired, Messy Money, The Single Dollar, House of Tre, The Spunky Banker, The Intentional Penny, Sunburnt Saver.

I really enjoyed reading all of your Q&A’s and answers and getting to know the person behind the PF blog more.  The sense of community is quite welcome.  It’s like you can talk to other PF bloggers about your deep dark secrets about your financial history and mistakes but you feel less comfortable talking to your friends and family about this topic which can be sensitive.  I want to break that mold and am doing this in a gradual manner starting with family and friends.  I need to be careful to protect my anonymity (for career purposes) and have no link between my blog and career which makes things quite tricky, since I’m basically just a blabbermouth at heart!

I will say that the support from PF bloggers is awesome, when you are on a debt journey, because you meet people with common goals.  You may not have others with the same issues in your circle of friends (they may but you just don’t know about it) and that’s why it feels lonely.    If you do know someone in person, then that’s a bonus way to get support.  Maybe you do know someone, but they are not treating their finances with respect and that frustrates you, so you really don’t have as much common ground as you should.

So as a PF blogger, I’d have to say it was well worth the $2.28 I paid to inLinkz for a monthly subscription to their linky tool. I put that cost in my Entertainment budget line, because at this point that’s what this blog is – purely for my entertainment!  :-)  I’m still trying to reach the broader community of people struggling with debt.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve, but more on that when I get a chance to start to implement them.

In the meantime, I’ve made $20.58 on Google Adsense revenue in three months and a big fat $0.oo on affiliate advertising.  Not sure what I’m doing wrong here, but when I figure it out, I’ll be sure to write a post on it.  I noticed that there’s a lot of generic posts on this topic but no specific posts on the how tos and I find navigating this area a little complex.

Thanks so much to No More Waffles, Budget Blonde, Freedom 35, Money Propeller for promoting our FFF!  Really appreciate it blogging buddies!

Also thanks to Young Adult Money for including my Reasons I’m Happy I’m Not Going to FinCon in his weekly roundup.   The plan is to definitely go to FinCon next year.  I don’t know where it is yet, but where there’s a will there’s a way, and I’ve got the WILL.

Versatile Blogger and Liebster Awards

I’ve been graciously nominated by other fellow bloggers (that rock!) for the above awards.

Autumn @ Barefoot Budgeter , Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt , Kassandra @ More Than Just Money and Tre @ House of Tre for the Versatile Blogger Award and Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet for the Liebster Award.

versatile-blogger-award-trophyVersatile Blogger Award

The rules are different so I’ll take each one in turn.  For the Versatile Blogger Award:

  •  Tell 7 things about yourself (this is easy, even though I blabbed a lot about myself in Q&A at FFF and in this blog, I’m such an open book I can still think of more)
  • Nominate 15 bloggers (whoa, this is going to be hard because most of my blogging buddies have already been nominated, plus 15 is a big number (!), let me try!)

So here’s my list of 7, some frivolous and some deep:

  1. I love broccoli and zucchini.
  2. I was sexually molested as a child.  I may write about this some day but hard to tie into personal finance.
  3. A movie that  left a big impression on me was Sophie’s choice with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline.  How could a mother choose between her two children in that awful situation?
  4. I hate making a salad.  Washing lettuce sucks.
  5. I had a cyst removed from my right eye as a kid, which left a scar.   I got what I think is a deep rooted pimple on my left eyebrow the other day but I wondered if it was another cyst.  I think it’s a pimple because it hurts when I touch it.
  6. I played touch football one summer.  I wasn’t that good.
  7. I used to love playing Lexulous (on line form of scrabble), but then I started blogging and have no time for this anymore.

Hard to know if people have been nominated before or not unless they display a button on their blog or you do a search.  I’m going to pick ones that I don’t think have been nominated.  If you have or choose not to participate, no biggie.  Also, I’ve noticed sometimes people just link to the blog instead of a particular blog post.  I’ve linked to the latest blog post so that the recipient gets a ping back:

  1. Everybody Loves Your Money – I’ve just discovered recently that is an Australian blog, so thought that was worth pointing out.
  2. Debt Camel – very useful debt advice here from the UK.  I’m not sure if she will consider doing a Versatile Blogger type post, but I’m hoping she can put a debt worthy spin on the topic if she chooses to.
  3. Budget Loving Military Wife  – currently posted in UK and shares awesome travel, frugal living, offers and debt repayment posts.
  4. Islands of Investing – Jason’s also from Australia and I think he likes doing these sort of posts, because he’s not on Twitter.  Don’t ask me what the correlation is, but it’s just a gut feel.
  5. Frugal Fringe – I nominated Noonan for Best-Kept Secret Personal Finance Blog for the Plutus awards but he didn’t make it to the five finalists.  Noonan also doesn’t have twitter but even still I tweet his posts as he writes good stuff.
  6. Debt Discipline – okay I’m cheating here because Brian already did a Versatile Blogger post and I’m linking to it here.  I just wanted to include him because he was a finalist in the Best-Kept Secret Personal Finance Blog and now gets to put that special badge on his blog!  Also he was in an awesome podcast recently – see below.  Edited to add:  Brian’s family is now debt free
  7. Couple Money – Elle’s a pro and has been at this for a while.  She started podcasting this week.  Go check out Brian’s interview.  Elle will you do a post on 7 random facts about your pregnancy and parenting?
  8. Millennial on a Budget – is a noobie blogger whom I just discovered during FFF, trying to find balance and a “rich” life.  I say Amen to that!
  9. The Intentional Penny – is also a blogger I met through FFF.  She’s almost halfway through he $40K of debt and a really new blogger.  Go check her out and give her a warm welcome to the PF blogging community!
  10. Debt Free Guys – These guys have the Money Masters Series which is cool, but since I like to know a bit more about the personal side of bloggers, I’m hoping they will share, like 3.5 points each.
  11. Eat Laugh Purr  - when I searched for the word versatile on this blog, I got a lot of recipes, so #1 I don’t think she’s done VB award and #2 if you need some great recipes go here.
  12. Makin the Bacon - is a new-to-me site, so I’m just gonna have to check her out and you should too!
  13. Busy Mom Budgets - is a SAHM whose making her budget work for their family!  I’m new to her blog but I’m trying to stay on top of SAHM’s in case my daughter decides at some point to stay home too!  She’s due to go back from maternity leave in November.
  14. Retired Not Tired – is a retired grandmother who I like to check out and see what she’s up to.  She likes to do the meme type posts, so I’m hoping she will graciously accept in the Versatile Blogger Award and tell me 7 random things about retirement that I can look forward to.
  15. This spots for you! – If you’re a blogger I read or don’t read and have not been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, please comment and this spot is yours for the first blogger who responds!

Liebster Award

liebster3For the Liebster Award, here are Dan’s questions:

(1) Why did you start blogging? Has it turned out to be what you expected?

I started blogging for stress relief about our personal finance situation and for entertainment.  It’s turned out to be a lot better than expected.  There are some drawbacks due to time commitment, but since it’s partially for entertainment and support I try to look at the overall picture.  I used to blog many years ago and my old blog is still there but it’s a bit of a mess (headers from previous free theme template are now taken down, probably a lot of broken links).  My husband used to complain that I spent too much time blogging so I quit.  I didn’t have a focus for that blog like I do for this on personal finance.  It was purely for entertainment and personal support.  The Irishman doesn’t complain about this blog though. ;-)

(2) What has been your favorite blog post you have written so far?

I already put in my FFF post my favourite blog post was the one about my two mother figures and how important there were in my life.  They are both now deceased, so I will pick my second favourite post which is the one about my Dad, who is still here, called Father’s Frugal Finances.  I seem to have a thing about phonetically worded things especially around the letter ‘F’.  One that generated a lot of  traffic because it was featured on Rockstar Finance  was also really fun to make.  That was a good one too.  I guess I need to start a favourite posts page.

(3) How did you decide on the name of your blog?

Well it’s so true that I have this thing about phonetics, so I guess it just came easily.  It was also important to me that I have a brand established, in case there were other Debs in the blogging world.  My name is Deborah, I go by Deb or Deborah and sometimes Debs which is a British pet name which my Mum sometimes referred to me as.  I’m actually in the process of trying to change my nickname from Deb to Debs because I like it that much and prefer to be unique.  It can be done because when I started working full-time I gradually got people calling me Deborah instead of Debbie, which was my childhood name and I wasn’t too fussed on it, so I wanted to leave it in the past.

(4) Sum up your life in 6 words or less.

I started with ~ Happy to live, laugh and love.

Then found that too boring (even if true) and came up with  ~ The world spins, so do I.

My final version which combines both sentiments ~ My world rocks and spins.

(5) Earliest money memory? (If you would like to share)

Why, yes, I would like to share, even if not a happy one.  I remember crying and being in a hospital or a clinic and I seem to feel like my parents were leaving me there.  I don’t know if it was for my cyst surgery (suspect not) or if it was when I was climbing at the grocery store and fell and bonked my head and developed a big bump.  From then on I was known as Debbie Down because I used to climb a lot and my parents continually were saying “Debbie, get down” which eventually became “Debbie, down!”

 

Oh dear, this post is entirely too long!  Sorry about that.  Maybe I need to go to posting more than twice per week.  According to PTMoney’s World of Personal Finance Bloggers, you have to blog at least three times a week to get put on the map.

I’d like to thank Anne at Money Propeller for this post which was invaluable for this post Ctrl + K and I are Good Friends. You should check it out for faster keyboarding skills.  There’s also one on excel.

Now that FinCon is over, now can I go have my nap? ;-)

 

 


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Financial Mistakes of the Worst Kind

financial-mistakes-debt-debsThe way I handle our finances today is night and day to what we did before. So much so, that I even have a hard time remembering some of the financial mistakes we made. It’s probably because I push bad memories from my consciousness. It’s a coping mechanism.

So before I completely forgot everything, I thought I would try to document the things I do remember about the worst financial mistakes we made that got us into $394K of debt.

You read that right folks! So now I would like to walk you through things we would do over, if reliving our experience. Hang on for the ride!!

To read more please go to my guest post on Frugal Rules.

I’ve featured this post on

brokeGIRLrich

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Misplaced Faith

I’m thrilled to have Kirsten from Indebted and in Debt for a guest post today.  Kirsten writes on something I’ve been struggling with.  Faith that God will provide enough for me so that I can let go of my possessions and spend my time on pursuing the minimalist lifestyle I so badly desire.

Pardon the Mess

I don’t do well with messes. Clutter in my house makes my brain feel cluttered. I can’t think with messes around; I feel antsy, ill-at-ease, on edge. We did ok with controlling clutter until we had kiddo #1, but as the parents among the readers surely know, kids breed clutter. And they spread that clutter everywhere, no matter how much you attempt to stem the tide.

While I was on maternity leave with my second baby (just a few months ago), a friend shared an article on Facebook from a successful blogger who had written about taking away her children’s toys. She noticed an improvement in their behavior – they seemed more focused. And of course things were neater. Boy, that sounded nice.

Decluttering Machine

As I looked around my clutter-stricken house, where I was tripping over small toys (newborn in hand!) and cursing my eldest’s “junk”, I had an aha! moment (hi, Oprah!). I could also get rid of the bulk of her toys or, at the very least, put her toys in rotation.

faith-misplaced

One day worth of mess on maternity leave

I write a private blog for our families, since they live so far away, and I even went so far as to post there “stop sending toys” – said the kids wouldn’t get them. I even started collecting a few toys a day that were “junk” and tossing them. I started off strong.

Then I just sort of stopped…

Lack of Faith

The thing is, both my husband and I lived through some lean times as children. We remember doing without. We went off to college (borrowing our souls to do it) and planned for a better future for our children with our high-falutin’ degrees.

Now that we’ve burned through any sort of disposable money that we had, I think we are scared that we’ve reached the end, that there will be no more “stuff” and that our children will be left to do without like we did when we were children.

No, I didn’t have brand name clothes and I was often in ill-fitting hand-me-downs, but I always had clothes. I always had a roof over my head and never once were our utilities shut off. We ate fine. Mr. Indebted went through tighter spots, but even then, he was always OK.

In comparison, our kids have a roof, air conditioning and heat, plenty of food to eat, and through the generosity of family, nice clothes to wear. They do not lack for anything. Why am I so worried that they will?

I’ve come to realize that the problem isn’t the stuff we jam into the closets. The problem is in my soul.

God has provided for our needs in astounding fashion. But I lack the faith that God will continue to provide. I cling to those jeans because I’m scared they are the last pair of jeans I’ll ever own, never mind they don’t fit. I cling to my worn out running shoes just in case. I cling to my ratty sheets because I may never have another set.

An Exercise in Faith

God didn’t tell me He’d give me everything I ever wanted. But He has promised to take care of me and I realized I need to let Him. I realized I need to turn loose of “stuff” to make more room for Him in my heart and for Him to work wonders in my life.

I’ve started off slow. The first day, I chose one thing to say goodbye to (symbolically, a maternity / nursing dress). The next day, two. I’ve been going for a week now, and I gave up seven things today for a total of 28 things (which just happens to be my lucky number). And you know what? I feel lighter, less worried about tomorrow, and less cluttered in my closets, my brain, and in my soul.

faith-that-God-will-provide

There’s room to breathe. There’s room to let God work.

Do you feel cluttered where you live? Have you ever tried to declutter? If so, did you take baby steps, or just fly through the house?

Indebted-Moms-faithKirsten blogs semi-anonymously at Indebtedmom.com, discussing her faith and family’s large student loan burden, which has cost her an opportunity at being a stay-at-home mom.  Kirsten is an actual rocket scientist who actually doesn’t know a lot of things people think rocket scientists should know. She loves lists, coffee, and NASCAR, but not necessarily in that order.

Endnotes:

I had the highest traffic Monday when my guest post was published at Financial Samurai.  448 views baby!  OK, when I hear people talk about 20,000 views, this is nothing but it’s big for me and it’s my first so I’ll take it all day long!

I haven’t been doing blogger Carnivals lately but I had submitted to one (twice evidently – you’ll see the same post listed two times!) before I moved my blog to self-hosted and I guess it only runs once a month, even thought it’s listed as weekly in the Blogger Carnival site.  Consequently, I never got a pingback on this site, but happened to come across the Carnival and saw my post so I’m linking back here, which I understand is good carnival etiquette.

How to Blog Carnival – The Benefits of Cloud Software Edition

Do you enter blogger carnivals?  Why or why not?

This post has been linked up to
and of Friday Jet Fuel #7

 


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I Just Paid Off my Cash Advance Credit Card

… and other stuff

But first

I am excited to be guest posting at Financial Samurai today.  Steps To Get Out Of MASSIVE Credit Card Debt Due To Lifestyle Inflation.

Steps To Get Out Of MASSIVE Credit Card Debt Due To Lifestyle Inflation – See more at: http://www.financialsamurai.com/steps-to-get-out-of-massive-credit-card-debt-thanks-to-lifestyle-inflation/#sthash.rlqueGIK.dpuf
Steps To Get Out Of MASSIVE Credit Card Debt Due To Lifestyle Inflation – See more at: http://www.financialsamurai.com/steps-to-get-out-of-massive-credit-card-debt-thanks-to-lifestyle-inflation/#sthash.rlqueGIK.dpuf
Steps To Get Out Of MASSIVE Credit Card Debt Due To Lifestyle Inflation – See more at: http://www.financialsamurai.com/steps-to-get-out-of-massive-credit-card-debt-thanks-to-lifestyle-inflation/#sthash.rlqueGIK.dpuf
Steps To Get Out Of MASSIVE Credit Card Debt Due To Lifestyle Inflation – See more at: http://www.financialsamurai.com/steps-to-get-out-of-massive-credit-card-debt-thanks-to-lifestyle-inflation/#sthash.rlqueGIK.dpuf

And second

I want to thank everyone who commented for their support on my last post Thoughts on Suicide which was incredibly difficult to write.  Actually I take that back, it was quite cathartic to write and was written very easily.  What I didn’t expect was the after effect.  I felt quite drained for a few days.  But that’s okay, it needed to be said.  It is very comforting to see the number of people who have written on this topic recently, not only from the sufferers perspective but from the caregivers perspective as well.  I know both sides of this coin, so I fully endorse these views.

One Year Blogiversary from Green Money Stream – Kay has shared that she recently has been dealing with depression and I want to support her in any way I can.

Why Do We Wait from Budget and the Beach – Tonya has written some wonderful prose that is well worth reading and heeding.  Thanks for sharing my post, too!

The Impact of Mental Illness and Suicide from The Money Pincher – her experience with her father’s death, full of regrets, laments and frustrations, keeping it real.

You Are Not Alone from The Pursuit of Riches – Debby’s been touched by this illness and has learned much compassion, something we can all use a little more of.

Being Grateful: Thirty-Ninth Edition from Journey to Saving – E.M. shares her dark ages and her journey to the light, and what a bright light she is in our PF world!

I was so inspired by some things said, I turned some quotes into picture tweets:

 

 

Thanks to Shannon for linking my post in her roundup: Blog Round-Up: Week of August 11, 2014

 

There is hope for all those who are suffering.  Keep trying and tell someone who can help you.  Do not suffer alone in fear of being a burden to your family or friends.  Give them a chance to help guide you.  If you don’t get the support you need, tell someone else (and forgive them, they may have their own burdens not yet known).  By all means draw on your support network, and part of that support network is you.

And finally third

I’m so late in getting my debt update from beginning of August done.  I was supposed to do this Sat and well, read above.  It’s going to plan which is great.  I don’t have my little graph updated but will do that next month.   So here are the numbers:

cash-advance-credit-card

click to enlarge

 

Time wise I am 39% through to our May 18, 2018 debt payoff date, but I am only 37.6% through the debt.  Not going to get all panicky about this yet.

Okay, so you are going to say what does this post at all have to do with Low Rate Cash Advance Credit Cards?  Well see the number under credit cards above for $6,014 above?  Well that was as of August 1, and included in that number was $2082.21 still owing on our 11 month 0.99% cash advance credit card for which we paid $24K against our mortgage and have been slowly paying off all year.   That is now paid off as of Friday!  Yay!  All of my angst about the winter months of low income and having to dip into our emergency fund are behind me (for now!).  So ya, whew!  All in a day in the life of a personal finance debt blogger.

Now you have a good week now, y’hear.


94 Comments

Thoughts on Suicide

I never thought the day would come when I would write about this. In fact, I immediately dismissed the idea when it popped into my head.

But here it is staring many, many of us down, like a big festering pimple.

The ‘S’ word.

We have all been touched by the loss of Robin Williams. His uniqueness, his notoriety, his talent, his presence, his diversity, his accents and his laugh will be missed. No doubt his family will miss so much more. Most that only knew him as a celebrity, may have heard of struggles with alcohol and drugs. I had not heard about his depression. But in retrospect, it makes sense.   Issues with any addictions are usually about trying to cope with something like this.

It’s been many years, but I know the darkness and pain in the world of people who face this disease.

I was in my late twenties. My self esteem was in the toilet in the middle of difficult relationship. I felt unloved, unworthy, untalented and just really sad. There was lots of alcohol and risk taking during this period. Then the pain began. Then I started fantasizing about a pain free state. I thought about the hows. I thought about the sadness I would cause my family. I couldn’t bear it, but still the pain persisted.

I soldiered on, I continued to manage to work and I started psychological counseling. I was pretty together when I first met my psychologist but she did some testing on me to evaluate the depth of my depression. That was very appropriate for her to do because I was faking a lot without even realizing it.

As soon as she got the results, she was flabbergasted and went into full damage control, setting up a suicide pact with me. If I ever wanted to do something, I promised her that I would call her first.   She prodded me and needled me on this like a mother bear manages her cub. I barely knew this older Jewish lady, yet I felt comforted that she seemed to know her stuff and was very concerned about me. Someone knew the depth of my secret and that was the first step in opening a tiny crack in my darkness to let the light in. I would learn later the importance of the connection between counselor and patient when I went for therapy at other points in my life. Since she was my first, I didn’t know how good she was, but would find out later with other therapists. [Take away: If one doesn’t click, find another]

The drinking continued and so did the bad thoughts. I thought about accidents, how I could stage them. Jumping off a chair lift, driving into a wall. It scared the $#!+ out of me, but yet I still kept thinking. The pain persisted and I found some relief at the butt of a burning cigarette put into my arm, for which I still bear the scar today. The bad thoughts had jumped out of my head and were now evidenced in physical terms on my body.  I could not deny it any longer. The physical injury and reality of this act was enough for me to say, man I’m <#(%ed up. I guess it was my rock bottom, because I knew if I continued this way, I would be self-harming a lot because it brought great relief. I sought that crack of light and continued to practice my coping strategies which then started having some impact. Once I started moving up instead of down, things moved quite quickly, but like a scuba diver going to the surface, my psychologist didn’t want me to surface too soon in case my recovery was premature and then I would relapse.

This was my worst depression. I was brought out of it without the use of drugs but strictly with very good cognitive behavioural therapy. That’s the best treatment for me. I have been quite low since, with some thoughts but not to the same extent. I’ve also used medication during some periods of depression which helped quite a bit. I’ve been medication and therapy free for five years, but it doesn’t mean I still don’t have some lows. I don’t rule out that I may need either type of treatment again. You just never know. My mental well being is heavily influenced by my life circumstances.

I was thinking that maturity and experience has shown me that eventually I can bounce back so I just have to ride out the storm. But then I look at Robin Williams and wonder if he had never learned that he could ride out the storm. His storm must have been much worse, because from where I sit, I would think he had smooth sailing.  He certainly would not have had any financial worries, could he?  It has taken me a number of months to process feelings about a former colleague who ended her life earlier this year. She was the same age as me, had two grandchildren, beautiful home and seemed to be sailing into the sunset.  I did not see that coming. Not only is it incredibly sad but It scares me as well.   It seemed like she had been able to go even further in her life compared to mine.  Don’t compare.  A young indirect subordinate in her early twenties ended her life when she worked in my team back in the 90’s. She was vivacious and beautiful. I felt incredible guilt that I did not see that coming either. My daughter lost a friend in high school, the daughter of our neighbour.

I’m not even going to mention the number of attempted suicides of people I know or are very close to.  I am just so thankful they have a chance to dance again. Like my cigarette butt scar reminds me, it’s possible to be happy and laugh again.

I recommend some related reads on this topic from other PF blogs:

Depression and Christianity and Student Loans by Kirsten @ Indebted and In Debt

Oh Captain, My Captain by Tanya @ Eat, Laugh, Purr

What has your experience been with suicide or mental illness in your life?
Do you think it’s possible that if you are exposed to suicide a lot it makes you stronger, or more vulnerable or neither?
What was your favourite Robin Williams role or movie?

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #6 and

Messy Money


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Sticky Business: A busy bee ‘s work is never done

busy-bee I woke up with a slightly panicky feeling.  It could be that the clock radio was talking about stock market downturn which is never a good thing to wake up to.  I also knew that this was my last day of holidays.  After a busy bee enough but also smell-the-roses week, I am starting to feel a bit of lunch bag letdown because I have not accomplished much of the long to do list I envisioned making headway on during my one week vacation.

But since May reminded me that I love being a Libra with her post, If I Only had More Money (which is a worthwhile read, you should go check it out), because I crave balance, I’m going to reflect on the good and the not so good while I sip my coffee here and then figure out what I’m going to do next.  Care to join me?

Let’s start by being kind to myself.  Otherwise I might have to get slightly defensive due to my Type A personality as Prudence points out.  Back in June, I had laid out a bunch of things I wanted to achieve.  I previously did a quick review and thought I had done okay, but let’s double check by looking at the details:

  1. Create a spreadsheet of all my investments in my retirement portfolio and start tracking the stock prices, EPS and dividend payments daily. NOT DONE
  2. Add to the list potential other buys and track and understand their metrics to determine if and when I should acquire. NOT DONE
  3. Open a self-directed stock account and move all of the equities in my retirement portfolio there, making all future decisions myself.  NOT DONE
  4. Figure out how to get my grocery budget down from $800 / month (for three people).  NOT DONE
  5. Move my blog to a self-hosted site.  DONE
  6. Take steps to monetize blog. DONE
  7. Cut the freakin’ cable and save $83.56/month minus the cost of a good quality digital antenna.  DONE – cable canceled and service stops next week
  8. Fill out an application at Shopper’s Drug Mart for a job starting in September.  NOT DONE

Whoopsy!  Well I guess on paper I didn’t do as well as I thought.  Truth is items 1 – 3 are related and item 1 was on my list to do this week.   I think that may be one of the reasons I’m feeling kind of disappointed.  I know it will be a lot of work but I really want to get going on it.  It’s next on the list to address as soon as I can get some hours to start. #whenhellfreezesover

#4 is ongoing, but truth be told, I have not done much myself on this yet, other than nag talk to The Irishman.  I really want to get control over this.  I think the first thing we need to address is the wasted food.  As a son of a depression baby, The Irishman shops like we are on the brink of starvation, all-the-freakin-time.  Not only does this not appeal to my new minimalist preferences, but it’s hard on the budget.  I’m inspired by Will’s $75 / month spent on groceries.  This will be my focus for the fall.  If nothing else it will give me good blogging content.  #snicker

#5 and #6  I’m really glad to have behind me, but #6 is ongoing. Actually, mea culpa, apparently #5 is ongoing too because I just discovered that I didn’t have an email account set up for debster<at>debtdebs<dot>com in my cpanel and I see there are some feedback messages in my blog I never noticed before.   Apologies Kirsten and Keith (I’ll get back to you soon) and others who I don’t know yet but I’m hoping want to send me money for advertising or writing for them.  #hee hee  I’ve just now set up an email account and forwarded to my gmail.  Regarding #6 advertising, Cashville Skyline wrote a great post on this and so I proceeded to ask her a bunch of questions because I’m clueless I still have a bunch of learning to do on this. #snort

I’m really happy that #7 got done as it required mental work (researching the digital antenna to buy) and physical work (installing on the roof), although he reminded me that he still has to go back up there to do something once the cable is kaputz.  It’s kind of exciting actually.  Feels like we are going back to the sixties and I’m wondering what channels I’m going to get and how my TV watching may change based on what is available to us. #firstworldproblems

#8 well was partially in jest but not a totally ruled out option yet.  If not for this year, it’s still a possibility at some point.  Kayla at Shoeaholic No More continually inspires me with her energy and gumption.  That girl’s going places and I want to live vicariously through her see if I can do something similar with blogging and freelancing before I decide to go the paid employee part-time job route. #don’tquityourdayjob

Speaking of which, I’ve written three articles for Money Propeller, though none are published yet, they are scheduled for the future and I have another four in the hopper.  I’ve got a few guest posts written or planned and looking forward to increasing my exposure through guest posts. #wavingarmsmadly

Likewise, I am also seeking guest posts for this blog.  It’s nice to have others’ perspectives and despite some opinions to the contrary recently, my observation is that it still serves a need.   You won’t see affiliate guest posts here, only ones that are in harmony with my values (because let’s face it, it’s nice to have supporters), or ones that contradict my opinions (I think it’s important to learn and grow by digesting conflicting views which then either modify or reinforce your own), or ones that fill a void that I cannot provide much valuable information or experience for.  #guestposterswanted

So while I realize all of those photos of mine above are not true honey bees and in fact some of them look quite lazy instead of busy, I thought I would share a cool pic from a twit I follow with a cool fact but also a sad fact about the bees in Ontario being impacted by neonicotinoids pesticides used by farmers.  I’m sure there are two views to this story too.

 

Have you been a busy bee this summer or a lazy or injured bee?  What are your priorities you are getting done or not getting done?  Any views on the honey bee industry?

 


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25 Year Anniversary – What’s in a number?

Well, we reached a milestone yesterday.  25 year anniversary of marriage.

What’s in a number?  It depends on what you are looking at.  If you are married a long time but there is no quality, how much is that worth?

On the one hand, I’m feeling a little guilty about the lack of fanfare we did to celebrate this occasion.  On the other hand, one day does not a marriage make.

We did stay an extra night at Dad’s cottage, coming back early yesterday morning, but we forgot to toast and drink the champagne we bought on Monday night.  We’ll save it … but not for too long.  $13.95 spent but deferred.

I was surprised and happy to find this in my front hall this morning.
25-year-anniversary

No, it’s not an anniversary present.  We’ve been talking about getting one for a few months, but just didn’t manage to get out to make the purchase.  The Irishman was in the vicinity of a store that we had a store credit with and so he bought it.  Cost $14.95 but $0.00 for us today and value, immeasurable.  I’ve been wanting this to save on laundry costs, and yes, I can calculate the savings down the road.  But for right now, it’s not even the most important thing.  It’s the fact that he did go a bit out of his way and get me something I really wanted that will help us.  It really is the small things that matter.

I’m off for the week, with big plans to get a number of things accomplished around the house.  We are 50% through the week so far and I’ve accomplished a bit fat “0” on this list.  On the other hand, I spent yesterday with Monkey Butt while he worked.  Today, said Monkey, came over for a swim and Grandpa turned on the pool heater for the occasion.  Money spent – $10, value received – priceless.

My sister texted me to see if I would go with her for a pedicure.  Sure my toe nail polish is 67% effaced, but my nails are trimmed and heels polished thanks to a husband who likes to give me ‘foot’ jobs.  $42 saved until next time.

There’s 140 days until Christmas, but who’s counting?  As long as we’re still on this earth together to celebrate with family around, I’ll be happy.  Life is precious.   But I won’t worry about tomorrow.  I’m doing the what feels right for today, and that’s all that matters.

I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow blogger for coffee yesterday.  Almost 150 minutes spent in great discussion.  It felt like 45.  1 blogger I’ve met in real life.  Countless others I haven’t but still call friends.

6 shout outs to those who shared my posts recently:  Shannon @ Financially Blonde (hope she’s having a good vacation!),  Kipp @ Frankly Frugal Finance  and Edwin @ Cash Syndrome  and Stack the Chips (some new blogs I’ve recently discovered), Raquel at Practical Cents (great home owner advice) and J. Money @ Rockstar Finance (don’t know what made my day more, the 391 views I received that day or the fact that he labelled my post as funny!)

So you see, life is filled with silver linings.   Here’s to 25 more years!

25-year-anniversary

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #5 and

Debt Discipline
The-Power-of-Now


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Monkey Butt: The Power of Now

Irish Rose-the-power-of-nowIt’s summer time, the time when things usually slow down.  The sense of urgency lessens and you can literally stop to smell the roses once in a while.

Whereas last summer I was chilling by the lake many weekends, this year, for various reasons, we have not been able to make the weekly trip as often as we would like.  This has definitely contributed to my lack of feeling rested.  Work has been quite busy and this new found blogging hobby is consuming all of my other time, with some exceptions.  Excuse me while I point out my #1 priority.

The Power of Now

I hadn’t seen him since Sunday and felt a strong need to whip over and see him for his bath and bedtime routine last night.  Poor little guy has been sick this week with roseola but has started feeling better.

So I was feeling a bit sorry for myself, trying to juggle so many balls in the air, but also maybe a little tired last night.  I knew today would be a killer day, as I was facing a deadline for work and waiting on some information before I could complete a bunch of work that likely would not be smooth sailing.   I wanted to draft a post last night, knowing that my work may take me into the evening on Friday with Murphy’s assistance.   But, I was so tired and my brain was fried, that I just couldn’t face some of the topics that were floating around in my head but not grabbing me outright and compelling me to write.  Is this my first case of writer’s block?  Oh my!

Anyways, at the beginning of the week I was caught up on blog reading, but knew I was fast falling behind again.  This didn’t please me, so I decided to turn my attention towards this, because my post for today obviously wasn’t going to write itself!

The first blog that came up on my reader was the one I was meant to read right at that moment.   In my busyness, I have fallen away from something I strove to practice since last summer.  Frequent readers may remember that I have referenced the concepts of “The Power of Now” a number of times.  This time last year, I was enjoying reading and applying it to my everyday life.  Today, I’ve got the book still perched on my bathtub ledge, I think about it often, but am I applying it?

The-Power-of-NowIn his post, John brought me back to the splendor of applying the concepts of living in the moment.  When I take sudden road trips, thankfully not too far, to go see my little monkey butt, I feel like I am getting there.

But that is not enough.

Living too much in past or in the future is not good.  And as much as I strive to not do this, I still am.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t lament about the good old days.  I do feel the best is yet to come… or… ahem… is now.

To be honest, unless I’m recounting a funny story, memories can be still a bit painful – missing my Aunt, my Mum, my dog.  But I don’t want to go there.

I prefer to live in the moment but yet I do live a bit in the future.  Life is not perfect, because I cannot do exactly everything I want to do.  That is why I sometimes live in the future.  What if I get to the future and it is not as I expected?

There’s a high probability this could happen.  Therefore I am wrong to put all my eggs in that basket, all my money on Monkey Butt  for the win, all my desires on hold today because I must sacrifice for a better tomorrow?

Sometimes, I feel I’m continuously playing catchup, in a world that won’t stop.

I am swimming across the English channel or Lake Ontario.  It’s choppy and not fun, but I’m determined to get there.

I know I don’t want to sacrifice my goals for some fleeting pleasures, and yet must I sacrifice my present joy for something that may not materialize exactly as I imagine?

The answer is no.

I can have it all.

I can experience joy today, as much as I want and not turn my back on future goals.

I can execute on my plans, but not let it seem like drudgery.

I can find balance, in a world of demands and opportunities.

As long as I allow myself to take those opportunities and even seek them out.  I deserve them.

I deserve to achieve my goals as well, so I keep my eyes on the prize.

I live each moment and say, “How am I feeling now?”

Is this bringing me pure joy?  Keep doing it.

Is this in line with where I want to go?  Keep reaching for it.

Is this too much of one and not enough of the other?  Stop.  Rebalance.  Then get back on that horse called Monkey Butt, as soon as I am ready.

P.S.  I really recommend you read John’s post, Be observant, it will change your attitude, if you haven’t already.  BTW, after reading it, I shut down the laptop and went to bed.  I managed to get my work completed by 5  p.m. today (that never happens!)  And now, I  have the pleasure of writing this post, refreshed, relaxed and ready to start the weekend.  How’s that for living in the moment?
 

I’ve submitted this post as part of

A Disease Called Debt
and you can too!


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Business Travel with Baby – Travels with my Aunt

business-travel-with-babyPhroogal Blog recently wrote about tips for business travel with family members which reminded me of the time I did business travel with my baby.  Now this was over 20 years ago, and thought by some to be a risky and potentially career limiting move.  Let me explain.

I was a new Mom having given birth to my daughter a little over a year earlier and having become a second Mom to my three step kids one year before that.   I was asked to go on a one week business trip to meet to plan transition of work for a plant my company was closing in Florida.  Great stuff!  Who wouldn’t want to go to Florida for a week, right?  Um… that would be me.

The Need for Business Travel with Baby

I was still breastfeeding my daughter and to be gone for such a long time would have potentially ended that and or at a minimum been quite inconvenient and stressful.  Sure I could have pumped and dumped, but who’s to say she would have been still interested when I came home or that it would have been enough to keep my milk supply up?  Traveling alone on business can always have the potential of being kind of lonely, and suddenly being away from my family and especially my baby was not a prospect I was looking forward to.

As I prepared to tell my boss, that I would not be able to make the trip including the reasons why, my child care provider commiserated with me but then proposed an idea which was worth a try.  She asked if my aunt who was recently retired would be available to travel with me so that I could bring my daughter.  My aunt would babysit during the day while I worked.

Naturally, I did not want to be out of pocket any costs for such an arrangement, so I proposed the idea to my boss, a single and childless woman, wondering what her reaction would be and could she possibly understand.  All I was looking for was the cost of the airfare for my aunt and some meals.  All other costs (car rental, accommodations) would be the same if I was traveling alone, and of course my baby was young enough to travel for free.  She took the proposal to her boss, also childless and I was thinking I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall listening to that conversation.

The answer came back from him “It’s such a bizarre request, it must be the right thing to do”.  Ha!   And it definitely was, the right thing to do.  I was so thankful and motivated because I didn’t have to choose between my career or my family.  I worked very hard not only on that trip but thereafter.  Okay, I’m always a hard worker, but what I mean is that little extra cost born by the company paid back so much ‘dividends’ to them because they had a satisfied and motivated employee who really did appreciate that both personal and company needs could be met.  I’ve always been a strong believer, after that experience, that sometimes you need to look at the situation and see how to assess ‘the rules’ and make them work.  The most important aspect of a good employer – employee relationship is loyalty.  When that can be retained through a win-win situation, the company usually ends up with the bigger win at the end of the day.

The hotel had a kitchenette and a pool, so they had all the makings of a grand time when I was at work.  I was so happy to see my little boo boo at the end of a busy day, and knowing she was being well cared for by my aunt.  I was really blessed to have her support, so I could relax about what they were doing and focus on the task at hand during the office hours.  We made the most of the situation and although I didn’t know it at the time, she ended up being my first and last baby.  She continued to nurse to beyond two years and consequently there were no regrets or laments from this Mama.

Have you ever gone on business travel with a family member?  What type of accommodations were made on behalf of your family?  Have you ever considered business travel with baby?

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #4