debt debs

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


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Six Month Blogiversary!

Yo peeps!  Whazzup?

My six month blogiversary is today, that’s whazzup!
Yup, March 9, I started this journey, all green but with a purpose.

I don’t want to get all smaltzy on you, $niff, so I instead I’ll share my little ditty I wrote that summarizes my journey (and prolly many of us!) so far.blogiversary

A Personal Finance Blogger’s Lament

A blogger’s day starts with the sun.
It’s time for bed – I’m not yet done.

The goal is clear – to write great posts,
But what if they’re only read by ghosts.

To read and comment off we go,
Oh here’s a new blogger, I do not know.

You have a technical issue you say,
Well contact Joe, he’ll help you today!

You need a plugin – what’s it called?
Don’t pull out your hair – you’ll just go bald.

The sense of community is quite surprising;
As are the bloggers enterprising.

I’m in a slump, writer’s block is here now,
But, just last week, my post went viral.

My house is messy, I’ve got no time,
To see my loving Valentine.

But be assured, my numbers are scrubbed.
My net worth’s up, a win it’s dubbed.

So I write and comment and write some more,
I love this stuff, it’s not a chore.

But in all honesty, what do I say?
A non-blogger comment would make my day!

 

debt-debsIn recognition of my blogiversary, I’m going to introduce my favourite posts on a weekly basis.
Initially I wasn’t going to do weekly roundup posts, since many already do this, preferring to integrate my favourite ones into my posts, and then put my link backs at the bottom of other posts.  However with so many great blogs to read, I find that I rely on ones posted by others to point to ones not to be missed.  Therefore, I figured I could do the same thing for posts I have come across worthy of some praise.  Consequently, I’m going to dub my weekly favourites:

debs’ devotions!

The definition of devotion [dih-voh-shuh n] noun is:

1. profound dedication; consecration.
2.
earnest attachment to a cause, person, etc.
3.
an assignment or appropriation to any purpose, cause, etc.: the devotion of one’s wealth and time to scientific advancement.
4.
Often, devotions. Ecclesiastical. religious observance or worship; a form of prayer or worship for special use.

Seems a fitting title for a PF blogger named Debs, don’t you agree?

 

So here are debs’ devotions – my favourite posts read recently:

The 80 20 Rule and What It Means For Your Money from Natalie @ The Finance Girl
Why I Quit My Audit Job from Jen @ Save to Splurge
Happily Biking to Work Each Day (I’ve Only Been Hit Once) from Will @ CNA Finance
PoP Economics of Bike Commuting, 17 Months In by Mrs. PoP @ Planting Our Pennies
The King Moves Abroad by Melanie @ Retire by 40

 

Thanks for the mentions at the following blogs:

Budget Bloggess here and here, Messy Money, Financially Blonde, Indebted Mom, Len Penzo dot Com, Dividend Mantra, Frankly Frugal Finance.

Apparently y’all liked my post Reasons I’m Happy I’m Not Going to FinCon and have agreed to hang together.  Still working on what we’re gonna do around our nap schedule!  Stay tuned!

fincon-baby


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Reasons I’m Happy I’m Not Going to FinCon

Well folks, summer est fini! Time to get out those boots, put the burlap on the hedges and settle in for a long winter’s nap. No? Oh, that’s just me then.

Never mind. Well it’s been busy days with lots going on, I think I’m ready for that nap. August was a good month both financially (more on that in a debt update post to come) and blogwise.

I started the month having one of my silly but fun posts featured on RockStar Finance (WOO HOO! ).   I was humbled to tell my consumer debt accumulation story and the emotions behind it on Sam Dogen’s Financial Samurai blog (Big thanks for the opportunity, Sam!).  I also snagged a guest post spot at Frugal Rules while John and fam damily are on vacation (What a great audience to tell our big boo boos to!)   I aim to please, folks, but mostly get my message out. So if you know of someone struggling with debt and want to help them or warn them, use me as a introductory guinea pig to break the ice and start the conversation.   I won’t be offended if you laugh at me. Why else would I open myself up to public humiliation with a blog of our story, if not for the greater good?

Kirsten shared her awesome devotion here (Did you know she’s a Plutus Finalist in Religious Blog category?) and Kassandra and I did a swappy-swap leaving us both feeling like we’ve been doing some major cross border shopping replying to comments on each other’s blogs. (She’s good, hire her!)

So in some ways I just wanna keep on going, party-hardy , let the games begin. Only one small problem, I’m like $127 in the hole at this point on my blog and cannot justify the expense to go FINCON this year which makes me really sad (cue whomp whomp sound). But I’m not going to wallow, no sirree.   Like Kali says ~ Life is Hard so Toughen Up so I’m going to turn this ship around and look at the positive side of not going to FINCON.

So without further ado, since I like to do the Top Ten Lists, I give you, my tongue-in-cheek…

TOP TEN REASONS WHY I’M HAPPY I’M NOT GOING TO FINCON in NOLA (that’s New Orleans) in 2014!

fincon-no10 – I’ve heard the ALS ice bucket challenge is over and I’m busy collecting buckets as a side hustle.

9 – I couldn’t get anyone to share a room with me because I snore.

8 – The weather forecast is calling for Indian Summer here sometime during September 18 – 20 and I don’t wanna miss all 9 minutes of it.

7 – I still haven’t run out of reruns of Hot in Cleveland, Big Bang Theory or Two and Half Men to watch on our OTA (Over the Air) TV since we cut the cord.

6 – I’m too cheap to renew my Canadian passport that expired earlier this year.

5 – I’m such a good customer that the bank gave me an ankle bracelet but for some reason said I wasn’t to leave the neighbourhood.


4 – I need to mind my imaginary dog at my imaginary dog minding side hustle business that Crystal and Debbie are helping guide me to set up.

fincon-dog3 – I don’t want to show my boobs (even though they are fabulous!)
fincon-baby2 – I still need to lose my freshman 15.
1 – I started training for the Forrest Gump marathon too late and I won’t make it to NOLA in time.

So who’s all going, anyways?  What are we supposed to do while y’all are out?
Will there be a blogging shutdown and we can all take a nap?

Special thanks to the following blogs for linking my blog posts recently:

BrighterLife.ca

How to Save Money

Healthy Wealthy Income – new blog!

Money Mini Blog

Phroogal Blog

Kapitalust

Budget and the Bees – new  blog!

 

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #9 and

brokeGIRLrich


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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

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Follow my blog with Bloglovin

vision-retirement


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What is Your Vision of Retirement?

Today on Worth-it-Wednesday, please welcome Kassandra from More Than Just Money today. We are doing a guest post swap ’cause it’s just fun to mix it up once in a while.  Kassandra is talking about my favourite topic and one that is near and dear to many early FI planners. 

vision-retirementI started earning my own money at the age of 14 when I worked a paper route for the Montreal Gazette. I would wake up every week-day at 4 a.m., zip on my snowsuit and brave the minus 25°C winter mornings to throw neatly place over 100 papers on people’s doorsteps.

Then I’d rush back home to shower, change, eat breakfast and head back out to take the bus for school. I did this because my mom wouldn’t pay for a Nintendo gaming system because she didn’t agree with my argument that it was a need. I bought the Nintendo in short order but a few months in, I gave up the fledgling newspaper career and began a new hustle babysitting for several neighbours. Fast forward 20+ years, a career change and several side hustles later, I am a self-employed EDI consultant and creating a second stream of income as a blogger and freelance writer.

While I was always focused on making money, and spending a lot of it especially during my twenties, I never stopped to consider what I wanted out of retirement.

I knew that it was important to save money for my future. I was smart enough to contribute the minimum required in order to get the company match. Sometimes I surprised myself whenever I deposited part of any income tax refunds into my RRSP account. But back then I was only focused on the here and now when it came to my finances.

So What Changed?

It was a series of events that happened in the past five years. First I realized that I was crushing any hopes of a decent retirement and a comfortable daily existence by having $55K worth of consumer debt hanging around my neck. I got rid of that beast in 3 ½ years.

I had also been reading a lot of personal finance books and sites and some suggested that I needed 70% or more of my pre-retirement salary in order to reasonably retire. When I ran the numbers I about fainted because that was not about to happen with the way I was spending money. Within that previous sentence lay the answer to my problem: the way I was spending money.

Only with time and conscious effort did I adopt a lifestyle of less is more. Along with reducing expenses and increases in income, my husband and I now save and invest a little over 50% of our combined income.

Financial Independence

I learned through reading sites like JL Collins, Mr. Money Mustache and Mad Fientist that financial independence isn’t a pipe dream! I didn’t need to save “70% of pre-retirement salary” in order to retire comfortably. If we already managed to live well on 50% of our income, save and invest the other half, meet all of our needs and with planning indulge in some wants, then we were already on the right track.

With a commitment to living on 50% of our income, and not confining ourselves to a typical retirement scenario, it sparked discussions about what retirement would mean for us.

  • We wanted to travel more frequently while we were still physically able and healthy.
  • If our young son has children of his own one day, we’d love to be able to spend as much time with our grandchildren as we wanted. This desire also extends to wanting to share memorable moments with our son more frequently.
  • Spending time with close friends, especially when they are in need of support during a difficult time. I also plan to spend more time volunteering.
  • Establishing long-term financial security. I had experienced years of living paycheque to paycheque and hated the stress it caused me. As children, both my husband and I saw first hand the effects of financial instability. We don’t want to feel the fear of not having enough ever again.
  • I wanted to work because I gained satisfaction from what I do, not primarily due to needing to earn an income.
  • I didn’t foresee myself ever not working, but having the choice to take extended breaks, be location independent, cut back my hours or not work at all without a negative financial consequence really appealed to me.
  • I wanted to enjoy today a level of flexibility and control in my work life that could extend into retirement. That’s one of the reasons why I transitioned from a salaried position to self-employment.

A Picture In The Frame

Having lived for 38 years, and working for over 22 years, for once I’m very excited about the future. Our financial independence is not too far around the corner as we’re aiming to reach FI before the age of 50. Yeah, I know, that sounds old given the fact that you hear some people claiming FI status at the age of 27!

Our journey with money didn’t start out with being financially astute at the age of 18. I made some big mistakes financially that set me back for years. My husband also struggled for a long time before he began to see success in his career and personal finances. Neither of us can erase the past but we did learn from our shortcomings.

So many tell ourselves that we need to save for retirement, but throw money into our retirement plans without any sense of direction and hope for the best. You need to get real. You need to run the numbers and figure out the answers to standard retirement questions such as:

  • How much do you need every year to live on?
  • When do you want to retire?
  • How much should you contribute to your 401K and a Roth IRA or RRSP vs TFSA?
  • What type of investments should you opt for based on cost, tolerance and length of market exposure?

This all goes without saying. But your reasons for retirement should be the driving force of every investment decision you make.

I often say when it comes to decision making “You need to first know your why”. Retirement should have a picture in the frame. It’s something you should want to dream about and come up with things to do that will put a smile on your face. So tell me, what is your vision of retirement?

About the Author:

vision-of-retirementKassandra Dasent is a self-employed wife and step-mom striving to live life beyond what money can buy. She blogs at More Than Just Money and shares on Twitter about a variety of topics and personal experiences that all intersect with money.

To read my post Mentors I Admired please mosey over to Kassandra’s blog.

 

P.S.  I did the ALS ice bucket challenge last night.  Nothing else to do since we cut the cable cord. ;-)  j/k

This post is linked on

and on Friday Jet Fuel #8


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Cutting Cable – Will it Payoff?

cutting-cable

Big A$$ ugly Antenna on our Roof

We’ve cut our cable and I couldn’t be happier.  I know I’ve alluded to our plans previously more than once and so some of you regular readers probably said “Enough Debs, when’s it going to happen?”

It took a little longer than I wanted because we were researching antenna’s and finally bought ours about a month ago.  Then we found out the cable company required a one month notice to cancel our service.  Grrrr  …. but still happy.

We paid the following for the equipment totaling $235.37 to replace the cable:

Channel Master Antenna  $177.39 ([$134.99 + $21.99 chimney mounting bracket] x 1.13% for Sales Taxes)
Strapping $18.49
Grounding Cable $39.49

So our payback will be in 2.8 months, assuming The Irishman works for free.  Not bad…. actually pretty good.

The service stopped last week and our last bill of $83.56 was received last week.  Score!

When we first hooked it up we only got 12 channels, 8 English and 4 French.

Then a few days later, after some research online about the location of the transmission towers, The Irishman went back up on the roof and re-pointed the antenna. Now we get 18 channels – 12 English, 4 French and 2 Multi language (English/Cantonese/Indian /Punjabi etc.)  That’s plenty, although the 3 PBS Channels are inconsistent and have poor signal quality.  Here are the stations that we get.

TV Channels

Channel
Station
Network
Language
Type
Comment
4-1
CBOTCBCEnglishStandard DefinitionDragons Den channel!
6-1GlobalGlobalEnglishHigh DefinitionBorder Security channel
6-2GlobalGlobalEnglishStandard DefinitionTwo Global channels but not sure why
9-1CBOFTCBCFrenchStandard Definition20/20 channel
11-1CHCHEnglishHigh Definition
13-1CJOHCTVEnglishStandard DefinitionBig Bang Theory channel
14-1OMNIOMNIMulti-languageStandard Definitionsome cantonese, punjabi programs
18-1WNPIPBSEnglishStandard Definitiondoesn't come through consistently
18-2WNPICreateEnglishStandard Definitiondoesn't come through consistently
18-3WNPIPBS WorldEnglishStandard Definitiondoesn't come through consistently
24-1TVOTVOEnglishStandard Definitiongreat shows on here I did not know about this channel b4
30-1CIVOFrenchHigh Definition
34-1CFGSFrenchHigh Definition
40-1CHOTDirect TVFrenchHigh Definition
42-1CTSEnglishHigh Definition
43-1CHROCTV2EnglishStandard DefinitionShark Tank channel
60-1OMNIMulti-languageStandard DefinitionDavid Letterman on this channel
65-1CityEnglishStandard Definition

So as far as selection goes, so far so good.  OK I do miss SLICE with shows like THE LITTLE COUPLE but I don’t miss them enough to pay $83.56/month.  The thing we do miss is have the guide displayed on the TV, so you can see what is on now and what is coming up later in the evening.  I found a site called tvpassport.com where you can personalize the channels that you get and see the schedule.

Personalized TV Guide

So it’s not ideal because you can’t see it on your screen, but I’ve got it saved on my tablet now so that’ll work.  So, in the end, so far so good as far as cutting cable goes, then I awoke this morning to hear on the news the following:

The CRTC, which is Canada’s broadcast regulator, is proposing a pick and pay structure for cable TV. It would allow Canadians to choose individual channels on top of the basic service. The price of which would be capped at $20-$30 per month. Service providers would be required to offer build-your-own channel packages, but could still offer pre-assembled packages. A controversial proposal would allow local TV stations to shut down their transmitters, a move that would not sit well with consumers who prefer to get their TV programming free over the year via antennae.

Oh.my.dog if they do that I will be so pi$$ed.

cutting-cable-digital-antenna

Home Hardware: UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Compact Outdoor Antenna Channel Master 4228HD

debt debs thanks…

The following sites Young Adult Money and Money Propeller and Frankly Frugal Finance for featuring my posts in their weekly roundups!

Shout out to Jeremy Biberdorf who is looking to reach 400 blogs listed this year in the Modest Money Top Finance Blogs.  If you want your blog included, there is a button on the top right corner of the list where you can submit your blog.  It’s kind of fun to see the result of your efforts if you don’t get too worked about your rank.  So if you’re not listed, what are you waiting for?

One more week until the end of summer as we know it!  Enjoy all!

This post is part of

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