debt debs

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


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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
"Alcohol and Ulcerative Colitis" by Kimery Davis Attribution License


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Booze Budget

booze-budget

“Alcohol and Ulcerative Colitis” by Kimery Davis
Attribution License (from flickr)

When spending needs to be lowered to match income, usually cell and home phone plans are renegotiated, brown bagging of lunches begins,  eating out is well curtailed …. ya da ya da ya da.

We’ve all been there right?  OK, well some of us have been there.  Any frugal readers retiring early out there…. I’d love to know your take on this.

So Debt Debs and The Irishman have done their bit.  Well Debt Debs has done a lot and The Irishman has grudgingly been pulled along.

I have the numbers along with graphs, people!  I know you want it!

OK, I need to clear up something first though.  I was working on a brilliant post to educate everyone me on the Power of 72 (hands up if you’ve heard of that :ponder:).

I thought I’d change things up a bit from the focus on debt and look at a$$ets for a change.  Oh, big mistake.  Apparently, I have none.  Well that would actually be lying, because I do have some but not ones that fit well with the Power of 72… or is it the Rule of 72?

Ya, I had negative numbers, and upside down numbers and way up numbers to oh so low numbers.  So I decided to show you my a$$ets per the rule would be more embarrassing than showing you my a$$.  At least not until I go to Class of 72 training.

Ahem… since there is no money in my budget for “72” training, you will have to wait until I self teach myself and then you can all yell at kindly point out to me as to how I’m doing it wrong.

So for today, we are going to focus on Booze.  Pretty hard for a Monday, right?  Ya, well sometimes it’s the hangover we need to cure us of our ills.

Why do I want to focus on BOOZE you ask?  Well, I was a bit miffed on Friday when the Irishman spent almost $70 on it,  which is almost all our total monthly budget of $75 in one shot.  This, coupled with a perception that spending in this area has been going up recently, made me decide to launch an audit.

$75 / month may seem high or may seem low to some of you.  Generally we tend to consume more in the summer, so I like to underspend this budget in winter so that we’ve got lots available come cottage weather.  Well actually I’ve never done that, but a goal is a goal, right?   Like I’m not gonna spend it in summer ….

We started last year making our own wine at a wine making store.  That has helped costs a lot (and increase consumption somewhat but we won’t go there).   However, we have run out and recently have resorted to lovely bottles of Jackson Triggs Pinot Grigio, high quality wines like that (actually, they’re not bad).  I have resorted to nagging The Irishman to starting another batch of ferment-your-own.  I may have to step up the pressure.

So first I check the actuals versus budget this year from MINT:  Mint  Budgets - Alcohol

Hmmm… not bad at all, but this does not include the $70 above which has not hit my credit card yet and thus not in MINT.  However, there is not a lot of savings so far to carry us into the high usage summer period.  Generally I like to see this number quite negative at this time of the year.  Better do some comparison to previous spending.  Just so you can audit me auditing my figures, I present you now, THE NUMBERS (if you can read them):

2012 Booze Spending

2012 Booze Spending

2013 Booze Spending

2013 Booze Spending

2014 Booze Spending

2014 Booze Spending

Don’t worry about the colours.  They represent spending on different credit cards.  Ya, I’ve now standardized on one that gets me big points because I’m a smart cookie.

So a visual glance shows things don’t look too bad in 2014.  Definitely improving over the years.  Need to do a deep dive.  Let’s look at the pretty graphs:

Booze Trends

Jan_Mar Comparison
Oh my… look at March 2012.  LOL That was the month of D-Day (debt acknowledgement day).  Lots of tears folks… lots of tears… (and apparently lots of booze).

Look at those trend lines!  Are they not a work of art? How predictable are we ay?  Like a pair of synchronized swimmers, we move effortlessly through the water (booze) with every turn (gulp) in perfect harmony.

And the pie chart sure shows a lot of year-over-year progress… yay us!

Wait, I spotted something.  Look at the little orange trend line for Q1 2014 above.  See how it perkily points up to the right?  There’s definitely a wayward habit starting there.  Better nip it in the bud before it becomes a run-a-way train.

Note to self:  Talk (plead) with the Irishman and show him these graphs.  Wait don’t show him the year-over-year graphs ’cause he thinks that gives him license… you know how he thinks.  Use your psychology.  OK, just focus him in on the little orange Q1 trend line and remind him how we like to party-hardy at the kot-kot.   And remind him to get that wine on!!  Whew!

Now I know that you’re dying to compare your numbers with mine.  Sounds so dirty, doesn’t it?

Go dig ‘em out and give it to me.  Is your booze budget more or less than mine (2 people)?  I got my big a$$ panties on so don’t be shy.

BTW, I did not drink the 1.5 litre of Jackson Triggs this weekend.  It is hidden. ;-)

P.S.  Had a good laugh when I noticed something  See the red negative number in the 2012 chart in October?  That is when I made him take some booze back.  I kid you not.

Gail Vaz-Oxlade


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What does a B-day, a D-day and bloody cold St. Patrick’s Day have in common?

I felt like a hot mess when I wrote my last post.    I was jumping around to different shiny bright objects that entered my purview that day.  Trying to decide how I could increase our income and not getting anywhere.  I’m sure it’s a story many of us have been through.

For me, it just  became more critical the last weeks and months, because The Irishman’s income is variable and when I say variable, I mean to the point of going south, lately.  Now who wouldn’t want to go south during this record breaking cold St. Patrick’s Day?

Me, that’s who.

Well I’m sure most would immediately understand because I’m punching pennies and squeezing nickles.  I say punch a penny rather than pinch it because technically we’ve punched our pennies into oblivion here in Canada because we don’t use them anymore.  Note to self:  Need to figure out what to do with those brown things in that jar on my dresser.

But in this situation it’s a bit complicated.  Since the awakening on D-day 2 years ago, we’ve made progress. [Read all about it here, folks!]  The budget lady has awakened and she is on a mission.  She wants to keep up the pace, stay on plan,  not lose the mojo.  So I started to panic a bit when I dragged out from was discussing with the Irishman his forecasted income for the next month (he gets paid one month in arrears).  January was pitiful, February was slow and March, better, but not where I had forecasted for my cash flow planning.   This is when I launched into must-find-more-income-fast-mode.

Even thoughts of a part time job for me are going through my head.  Although this has not been ruled out yet, I’m wondering how I could manage this with a busy stressful full-time job.  Plus I started this blog so that I could manage my anxiety about said reduced income.  Decisions… decisions.

Oh, even more decisions have been thrown in the mix.  My wonderful younger sister, whom I had over for her Birthday dinner yesterday, and more importantly who I consider a great friend, has asked me and the Irishman to come on a cruise with her and her husband to the Bahamas in May.  YAY! Right?  Oh it gets better, ….they have offered to pay for us.   STFD!!  Well what am I waiting for, you say?!!!!

I may be cray-cray.. or deliriously depressed … or both.  But I don’t wanna be.  But since I am having a hard time making a decision, maybe I am depressed?  I need an intervention.  A decision intervention.

What are my reasons for not being deliriously ecstatic about this opportunity to provide some fun in my mundane so-called life?

  1. The biggest factor is not my money problems, but their money problems.  She has health problems and has recently lost her job.  Consequently they have have sold their home and downsized to a nice country home.  She’s living YOLO (you only live once – I had to google that when I saw it in another blog, in case you’re new to PFB’s).  She’s very upbeat and joyful and I don’t want to be her Debbie Downer.  (Even though my nickname as a kid was Debbie Down – I kid you not!  I used to climb up cupboards all the time and my parents dropped the word ‘get’ in between Debbie and down)  In fact, the reason that they want to pay for us is because the Irishman sold their house for them, saving them all the commissions.  But why do I get all worried about their financial situation when I have enough of my own to sort out?  I wish I could let it go.  Is it because I think they are not concerned enough and they should be?  It really makes me want to hide under a rock, a fraggle rock, but still a rock.
  2. OK, even if I decided to graciously and happily accept this wonderful gift from them (we would go inside cabin, no excursions, smuggle on booze and try to be cheap cheap like little birdies), there still will be additional attracted costs – The drive to NY, one or two overnight stays, wine with dinner (who am I kidding that we would not drink every night?), cute baby clothes from Bahamas for the grandchild, maybe a trinket or two for my kids.
  3. Then we’ve got the lost income from the Irishman for the week that we travel.  Sure it’s only a week, but with lost time to make up for… where’s my rock?

OK, now that you’re looking up the number for the mental health crisis line, I should let you know that we have mental health issues in my family so we don’t joke about that.  Actually we do, otherwise how the hell would we get through things?  ha ha laughter really is the best medicine. {snort}

So what are the reasons that I’m even considering this at all?

  1. It’s on my bucket list.  The Irishman and I have had two cruises (little did know that we couldn’t afford it!, but I need to stay on topic now) but what really is on my bucket list is to do one with them.  They’ve never been on one and we asked them before we were smarter but they were busy with younger kids and hockey and expensive hockey and it just wasn’t on their radar. I think now with the health crisis they are thinking differently.  I’d hate to not do this and miss an opportunity I can’t get back.
  2. The Irishman has been working hard, even if there’s not always something to show for it.  He had two days vacation for all of last year.  What is one week in the grand scheme of things?  Plus, if things stay being slow, then he may not miss much plus we have a bigger problem than I thought. eek

They have been asking for a couple of weeks and need to make a decision this week.  I told her to ask our aunt and uncle from Ireland instead (we had often thought of going on a cruise with them, they’re a lot of fun).  She said what a great idea, then we could all go!!!  LOL  Truth be told, if she could get them to come, that would clinch the deal for me.  Since we lost our Mum 10 years ago  and our other aunt 15 years ago this past Sat, they are the closest family on Mum’s side and I miss them all terribly.  Last time we saw them was when Mum died.

Gail Vaz-Oxlade

My sis with Gail Vaz-Oxlade

 

Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Autographed book from Gail Vaz-Oxlade

And to wrap this post up in a bow (this feels like 6 degrees of separation), last year I got my sis Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s book, Money Rules for her birthday.  She got the chance to go see her last week and Gail autographed her book.  Gail you’ve got it wrong.  She’s the good sister.