debt debs

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


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7 Financial Lessons Learned from My Parents’ Debt

I am very happy to have a guest post from one of my blogging friends, Erin from Journey to Saving.  I’ve mentioned before about how I worried about the impact that our financial bad habits have had on our kids.  Erin shares her story about this below.

financial-lessons-learnedI am no stranger to debt. While I have only personally experienced student loan debt, consumer debt came knocking on my family’s door decades ago, and nearly destroyed us.

Debs is very open in sharing her mistakes and experiences when it comes to debt and her own family, so that others can learn from her. It’s for that reason I only thought it fitting to share my own story here, with all of you, along with some of the lessons I’ve learned from my parents’ debt.

Debt is a common enemy of ours, and even though it brings dark and trying days, I’ve been able to get a few things out of it after starting on my own financial journey. After reading this post, I hope you’ll be able to as well.

The Beginning

It all started when I was 7. My dad had been laid off. I suddenly began hearing the word “No” much more often, accompanied by frustration at the predicament we found ourselves in.

My 7-year-old brain didn’t comprehend this as I can now, but I knew enough to be scared. What will this mean for us? I often wondered, especially after hearing my parents speak in hushed tones.

Bits and pieces made their way to my ears: losing home, can’t afford, might not recover, and can’t keep this up, were just a few phrases that clued me in to what was happening.

The real warning sign was that my lovely grandma was showing up at our house more often, always with food and household products in tow. It was as if we didn’t have to go grocery shopping anymore!

My childhood self was more than a little naive, thinking my grandma was stopping by just to spoil me with goodies. While that was part of the visit, something deeper was going on, as I saw her attempt to hand my mom cash several times. My mom usually refused.

Thankfully, my family recovered in about two years. My dad worked part-time until he found a full-time position, which put us in a better place. On top of that, my mom began to work full-time once I turned 13.

We went on our merry way, and I was none the wiser to the increasing pile of bills that would slowly bury us in several years.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

financial-lessons-learnedIt was only at Christmastime that I was told money might be a little tight, but my parents always managed to get me what I wanted most. I never truly knew just how bad of a state we were in, until my dad lost his job again, this time, while I was in college. This time, I knew what was going on, and I wanted to run.

My parents had never gotten their financial act together. They had never saved, and they still hadn’t paid off their debt. I was angry at them. Why hadn’t they learned from their mistakes the first time around? Was I the only one that remembered those times? I didn’t know how they let history repeat itself.

What’s worse, my mom became resentful toward my dad. Without his income, we were relying solely on her income, which was only half of what my dad made. I should say that my parents were never extremely high-earners, so while we kept a mostly frugal lifestyle, losing my dad’s income was a huge blow that we never recovered from for many reasons.

My parents have always been prideful and unwilling to take “handouts.” As such, my mom shouldered the burden of making ends meet by herself, even when I offered to help. Likewise, Debs is the primary breadwinner in her family, and I know it’s not easy at all. There are plenty of mom’s out there who are shouldering this burden, and doing an amazing job of it. While it can be a thankless job, your children will grow up to appreciate and respect you for it.

To say this was a difficult time would be an understatement. I can’t even begin to tell you all how happy I was when we finally got through it. There were times I doubted we would. I took mental notes through everything, because I knew I never wanted to go through that again.

I wanted to make sure I could safeguard myself against debt. Student loan debt had been different in my mind, so I sadly didn’t avoid that, but you can bet I won’t take on any consumer debt after what I’ve seen it do. For that reason, I’d like to impart to you the financial lessons I learned from watching my parents suffer with their debt.

7 Financial Lessons Learned from My Parents’ Debt

  1. Save, budget, and track spending. Keep an emergency fund. Please. It kills me to know my parents would have been fine had they actually taken the time to save money. Because they didn’t have anything to fall back on, any unexpected expenses would go straight on the credit cards. It was a vicious cycle they were unable to break out of. My parents also thought they had a good hold on things, but I guarantee that a budget or spending sheet would have opened their eyes.
  2. Communicate. According to my parents, there was a bit of miscommunication going on. My dad believed that they were paying the cards off in full every month, when in reality, they were paying the minimums. This was because my mom balanced the checkbook and paid all the bills. I know Debs has mentioned a few times that she didn’t realize how bad things were because her husband was doing the same. Even though I handle all of our finances, I always keep my boyfriend in the loop. Your other half needs to be included.
  3. Perseverance pays off. I want to inject a little happiness into this post! I’m glad to say that my parents fought the battle and won, in their own way. They are still in debt, but they were able to retire and move to a place that is much more affordable. They purchased their house outright and no longer worry about a mortgage. With the sale of their old house, they were able to put a large chunk toward their consumer debt, and they now have a good buffer in their bank account should they need it.
  4. There’s more to life than possessions. Having a little less than my peers made me realize early on that there’s simply more to life than having the newest gadgets, prettiest clothes, trendiest accessories, etc. My parents never purchased name-brand anything, and they always shopped frugally. They’re both deal-finders. I got a hand-me-down car (from my grandma to my mom, then to me) and only replaced it once it was unreliable to drive. Even though it was a funky teal color, I didn’t have to pay for it, and that made it valuable.
  5. Experiences matter. I’m an only child, and many of my memories growing up involve my parents. None of these memories revolve around things, though. Yes, I can remember the gifts they’ve given me over the years, but what matters most to me now is spending time with them. No one lives forever. So the next time you feel pressured into buying something for your children, remember that prioritizing experiences is the way to go. They will thank you for it some day. Remember to enjoy the little things life has to offer.
  6. Keeping up with the Joneses? Nah. I never got the sense that my parents were trying to keep up with anyone, even though there were plenty of people around us that were clearly questioning our priorities. They were never phased by it. Sure, it’s a little sad to see people from college “living the life,” (or so they want us to believe?), but I’m happy where I am. I have a great boyfriend, two adorable cats, and supportive friends and family.
  7. Don’t give up hope. This has to be the most important lesson I’ve learned. My parents went through a lot in a short span of time, twice. Yet, they’re still together. They pulled through. And I turned out fine. Looking at my student loan balance can make me feel hopeless at times, but I know I’ll reach a $0 balance someday. Being in debt has taught me things I never would have discovered about myself, and for that, I am thankful.

 

financial-lessons-learnedI want to close this out by saying that things could have been much, much worse. Compared to some people, my family had it easy. I am very grateful that my grandma was there to help us through everything, because I’m not sure we would have survived without her generosity.

Don’t let debt take away from you any more than it already has. I know it can be soul-sucking, and that the journey is a long one, but you’ll make it through if you choose to fight. And I know you want to, otherwise you wouldn’t be here!

What are some of the lessons that debt has taught you? Did you grow up around debt? How has it affected you?

erinmauthorpicErin M. is a full-time personal finance freelance blogger and virtual assistant. She’s passionate about helping other millennials get started on their financial journey. She blogs about frugality, being happy with less, and tackling student loan debt on Journey to Saving.

 

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Debtity-do-da! – Debt Repayment Plans

debt-repayment-plans

We’re #1!!

Our debt repayment is now listed in Money Smart Guides Debt Payoff All Stars and we show as in #2 position, but I will advise Jon Dulin after this post to move us into #1 spot, baby!  Yep, we’ve paid $160K in 2.5 years!! :-D  Go check out his list and if you’re on a debt repayment journey you may want to add your numbers to the list.  Nothing like misery loves company, I always say!

So let’s take a look at the numbers since I’m actually on time with my update to our Debt Repayment Plans.

debt-update

click to enlarge

I’m very happy with the consistent progress.  $48.6K paid so far this year – on track to pay my target of $60K and there’s a good chance we will exceed this.  Whether we meet the stretch target of $65K is looking like a possibility, but I don’t want to count my chickens as there’s a few unknowns which I’ll get to in a bit.

Debt Repayment Plans ~ Progress by Type of Debtdebt-repayment-plan

  • Timewise we are 41.3% through our debt repayment journey targeted to end May 18, 2018.  Our debt is 40.7% paid.  So technically we are 0.6% behind but so close!
  • This means our debt remaining is 59.3%, so we are below 60% remaining of our original total debt at 2.5 years into our debt repayment plan.
  • At right is the % paid to date by type of debt.

e-fund-20141004

Our Trusted e-fund

Steady eddy is fine by me, especially with how the year started out. This brings me to our forecast for September. Not sure if it’s because of back-to-school or what, but The Irishman’s income for October will be below our minimum goal of $2,400 / month.  He’s only made $2,200 in September to be paid in October.  He’s been quite busy the last few days so hoping it’s just a temporary blip. Of course, this is why I’m building up my emergency cash fund again.

Plan is to get it to $15,000, because technically it’s not only our emergency fund but also our property taxes fund which are approximately $5,800 and have to be paid in two installments in March and June.

Anyways, I increased it by $2K in September, on top of paying off $5.6K of debt above, so ya, hash-tag winning!!

Plan is to do the same in October but that’s not looking so promising.  We have $1,200 bill for The Irishman’s professional fees and with only minimum income, it’s going to be difficult.  Meh, I’m not going to get worked up about it.  It could be worse.

debs-devotions - MediumDebs’ Devotions #3

Thanks so much to the following blogs for linking my recent posts:  Dan @ Our Big Fat Wallet and Travis @ Enemy of Debt featured my post Credit or Cash?  Pick Your Poison in their weekly round-ups.  Travis is a big fan of cash, as are many of my blogger friends.  However, I also have many blogger friends that endorse credit, like me, mainly for the rewards points but also for easier expense tracking.

In retrospect, I wish I had conducted a poll on that post, but better late than never, I have one for you here folks.  Just for your info, I did a quick tally based on the comments left on that post.  If anyone mentioned that they use cash or debit, even partially (except for really small amounts of cash) I put them on the CASH side, and all others who use Credit and were big on paying of monthly (a must!) and getting rewards I put on the CREDIT side.  Totals came to 20 for CREDIT and 22 for CASH.  So that’s a 48% / 52% split.  Let’s see how the poll comes out.  Even if you already commented last time, please vote in the poll again.  Merci.

Last time I did a poll, I didn’t get a lot of responses, but that was in my early blogging days.  I kind of like polls, to be perfectly honest, so hopefully I can do more on here as inspiration strikes me.

Some favourite posts that resonated with me or were helpful to me:

Stop Dehumanizing The Poor, Homeless from Sam @ Frugaling.  I get overwhelmed when I think about the suffering in the world.  But then I think, I’m no good to anyone, if I let this feeling overtake my emotions.  I do what I can, and I pray.  Please take a look at Sam’s insightful post.

10 Bare Necessity Blogging Tips from Steve @ Kapitalust.  Still learning myself and I like to help others, so I want to share this with fellow blogger readers.  Go check out Steve’s Fluff Piece also for some fantastic photos he took.  So beautiful!

You Don’t Know Jack (and Neither do I) from Laurie @ The Frugal Farmer.  Full of inspiration, Laurie tells us like it is. Incidentally, Laurie was the winner of the Plutus Award at FINCON for Best Green/Sustainability PF blog , worthy of mentioning, just sayin’.

Can I Retire Today? Yes, but I Won’t from Jean @ Nearly Retired.  Jean is finding her way to retirement, like me, so I find lots to think about in her posts and including her FREE Retirement Readiness Assessment which was very helpful.

Scheduling a Side Hustle from B @ Banishing Loans.  She works and full-time job, a part-time job and runs a blog.  Seriously, that is a lot of work and I’m always looking for tips on how to up my game so I can achieve this.  Not only that, but B has opened a second blog Miss on the Money.  Go check out her first official post there.

Society Makes It OK To Te Broke from Kim @ Eyes on the Dollar.  Kim has a perfect everyday example of how some people live, but maybe don’t need to.  Not saying all financial hardship is easy to solve, but with some effort, I would think that situations like this could be turned around.

BATB TV: Tips to Save Money from Tonya @ Budget and the Beach.  Oh how I laughed and laughed.  Seriously, who needs Cable TV when you’ve got great content right here on your lap!

Filed Under Life as We Know It

Monkey-Butt-DepartsOK, that’s a wrap.  I’m doing Brian’s 31 days of Writing this month and I’m not gonna lie, it ain’t easy.  I was doing okay until last night and fell asleep on my daughters couch as she was putting Monkey Butt to bed.  He’s gone for ten days so I’ll just have to come and stare at this picture taken last night just before supper.

Tweedledum-TweedledeeThis means we’ve got our two grand-dogs for the next 10 days or what I’ve dubbed “10 Days of Misery”.  LOL  We love dogs but these two are seriously high maintenance.  The wiener (let’s call her Tweedledee) has a back problem and has to be carried up and down stairs and has been diagnosed with renal (kidney) issues after a recent sickness.  The black rescue (Tweedledum) cannot be trusted with free reign of the house as he marks his territory.  One whines for food (and she’s off most stuff except special kidney food and green peppers) and the other whines for us to throw his toy.   They are pretty cute so all errant behaviours are quickly forgiven. Nama thinks they may have a bath and hair clipping in their near future if she get’s around to it.    October is our dog sitting month.  Next week we have the neighbour’s dog for a few days and we have another neighbour’s dog for 2+ weeks after the grand-dogs go home!  Go big or go home, so they say!

Would you consider joining the Debt All Stars List?  Did you vote in the Cash versus Credit poll?  Have you ever dog-sit before? 

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Friday Jet Fuel #14


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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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Couples-Money-Conversations-You-Want-To-Avoid


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Couples Money Conversations You Want to Avoid

Couples-Money-Conversations-You-Want-To-AvoidTime to kick up my heels and get a bit crazy.  Things have been a little too serious ’round here lately and I’m ready for an all out silly laugh out loud (or at me) poke fun tirade like I promised in my first post How did I get here?

To start off the fun, I refer you to this little gem I came across when I first starting blogging from Joe Saul-Sehy at Stacking Benjamins (go check out the picture, it made me LOL):

Struggling With Money? Steps to Help You Avoid Divorce

Well y’all know we have averted this D-word (so far – touch wood, touch my head, turn around three times fast, don’t step on a crack – hey OCD runs in my family, I’m allowed to do this!) but that doesn’t mean we didn’t and still do come across many delicate money moments.

You may have your own situations you can recall.  Give yourself 2 points for every item you can relate to on this list!

Couples Money Conversations You Want to Avoid

  1. You spent how much at Future Shop and for what?!  :?
  2. The car repairs from your accident are going to cost $650.  No more pedicures for the next 7 years.  :-(
  3. Honey, you know I love your homemade bean soup, but can we just have some meat after 3 days?  :cool:
  4. You know how the bumper on the truck is starting to rust?  Well I found a good deal on a replacement at a car parts dealer for $150….. Oh ya, I forgot to tell you, I dented the bumper the other day in a parking lot.  :oops:
  5. I need $20 cash for my annual membership dues.  “I gave you $20 last month.”  Oh yeah….   :neutral:
  6. I got a great deal on salad dressings, they were on sale for $1/each so they’ll last all summer.  “Did you look at the expiry date?”  Ya, they’re good until Dec 6.  “Um, no, that is Jun 12″.  :cry:
  7. Did you get your hair cut?  “No, I just brushed it differently”.  You should get your hair cut.  :wink:
  8. I’m so happy that Dairy Queen Customer Appreciation Days falls right around S’s birthday.  I got her a 50% off birthday cake.  “Um, she’s the kid who doesn’t like ice cream cakes”.  :cry:
  9. Oh, look at the price of gas here, we should fill up.  “Oh, no, they’ll be cheap ones once we get out of the city”.  I told you we should have filled up.  :mad:
  10. Did you deposit your cheque?  “Ooops ….”  :eek:
  11. I have a surprise when I pick you up from the airport.  Look for a white truck.  :evil:

Now I’m not saying that any of the above conversations happened in Debt Debs’ household and I’m not saying they didn’t, but since I pretty much tell it like it is on this blog, you know there’s at least an element of truth in every one.   :snarky eye roll:    Except for #11, that is 120% true.  He bought a truck when I was out of town on business without my knowledge or even discussion.  I see your mouth gaping open  But we’ve moved on from that and keep on rollin’.  :D

Next Topic – Time for Your Input

Ahem, in other news, I’ve got a lot of things on my Financial To Do List and having trouble finding time prioritizing for what I should work on first.  I’m gonna let you vote on what you think my priorities should be.  And then I’m gonna do whatever I feel like.  Ha ha ha.  Not not really, I will heed your advices very carefully, and then I will do whatever I feel like think best.

I’m probably forgetting things so feel free to add your own.  Also, some things are meant to build on another thing, so for example, I kinda have to do 1 before 2 and 2 before 3, for example.  Others are completely unrelated.  So here’s the list:

  1. Create a spreadsheet of all my investments in my retirement portfolio and start tracking the stock prices, EPS and dividend payments daily.
  2. Add to the list potential other buys and track and understand their metrics to determine if and when I should acquire.
  3. Open a self-directed stock account and move all of the equities in my retirement portfolio there, making all future decisions myself.
  4. Figure out how to get my grocery budget down from $800 / month (for three people).
  5. Move my blog to a self-hosted site.
  6. Take steps to monetize blog.
  7. Cut the freakin’ cable and save $83.56/month minus the cost of a good quality digital antenna.
  8. Fill out an application at Shopper’s Drug Mart for a job starting in September.

I felt like a fish flopping around on the boat deck, as wrote the above list.   You can tell I’m floundering a bit, ay?  I’m gonna put the above in a poll format too, because I like techy things.  You can either vote in the poll, put your answers in the comments or do both.  No pressure.  Do whatever you want.  Or not.  But if you want me to beg …. pleeeeeaaaazzzze tell me what you think I should do.

I very much appreciate your inputs!!

Call me Flounder.  (But call me.)

Random useless bonus question:  What would you prefer to be called pretty or cute?

flounder-fish

Real Flounder Fish – Pretty

Flounder-character

Fake Flounder – Cute

Images courtesy of flickr.com
Couple Arguing / Erin Nekervis
Flounder Fish / Steve Jurvetson
Flounder Stuffed Animal /The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek – Doug Kline

 


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Curve Balls – When You Are Hit With Unexpected Financial Events

baseball-curve-ballsSpring is here, B-B-Q’s have been lit up and summer’s just around the corner.  Kids are starting their summer activities, whether it be swimming, soccer, football or some form of baseball.  I’ve been thinking about the latter as I review the series of financial events that delivered us to this point in our season.  There were a number of ups and downs that I consider curve balls that we needed to ‘deal’ with and not lose our drive.  So it made sense for me to use baseball terms to relay to you how my winter – spring financial season went.

The Home Team

T-ballMy husband’s income is variable, based on the demand.  He is a real estate appraiser, so swings are inevitable based on the time of year and the market.  Normally, he does receive enough bread and butter engagements to meet a minimum – moderate level of income and that is what I base our debt repayment plans on.  The idea being that it should feel like we’re playing T-ball.  The figure I use for this is $2,400 per month, which gets paid in two installments, the 15th and last day of the month.  He gets paid one month in arrears, meaning he gets paid next month for the work he did this month.  Therefore I know now, what his income will be for June, as an example.

Basically, as part of the battery, all of his income and some of mine goes to debt.  Anything he makes above that budget amount is a bonus baby which we also apply to debt to help us meet our goals even sooner than our five year plan.   Usually, we are able to stick with this as I have all foreseen expenses budgeted (including car repairs, etc.).  However, I don’t move unspent budgeted money that may be needed later into a separate cash account.  Maybe I should, because it can get messy and feels like we have a dead arm, when all of a sudden we do have a big bill, but I’ve already skimmed off the money and applied to debt.

Opening Season

good-baseball-pitcher-curve-ballsSo looking back to the beginning of the year, January was a tough month, because he had not one engagement last December – a strikeout.  So there was no money coming from him for January.  That was our first curve ball.  Debt repayment goal could not be met, or at least not fully.  I scrimped together $1,000 from some actual and anticipated expense savings whilst declaring a bean soup and scrambled eggs on toast menu plan would get us through the lean winter months.  That $1,000 payment felt like damage control.  As the umpire, I had to watch the game closely, even if hoping the home team could steal a base to regain control of the game.

Then I got small hit on a curve ball, when he told me he could give me $2,000 he was saving in his business account which was for an upcoming annual business insurance premium of $3,100 due soon.  We decided we could put the insurance on the credit card giving us one extra month to pay and gaining cash back points, and hopefully business would pick up and we’d be in for a bit of slow pitch now that the Christmas season was over.  He never could explain what happened in December.  Normally it does slow down, but it has never come to a shutout like it did for him in 2013.   He did, however, land a large contract for the city which we could count on down the road because it wouldn’t pay out for a few months.

Regular Season Begins

baseball-player-in-the-airWell that softball turned into hardball pretty quick when we saw that January was not looking very good either.  He ended $1,100 short from our minimum goal.  With two away and two down, I was starting to get kind of panicky.  I had slowed our debt repayment, but we were committed on a low rate cash transfer credit card that needs to be fully paid by August of this year.  We had put a $24,700 lump sum against our 2.89% mortgage debt last Sept, planning to pay the 0.99% credit card off at $2,250 for 11 months.  Yes, I know this is just swapping debt for debt, but was at a lower interest rate and with no transfer fee. It seemed like a good idea since we were planning to make prepayments of more than that amount monthly.  Of course, we had no foresight of the earnings slump that was to come.

We were window shopping for strike 3 near the end of February when it looked like his income for that month to be paid in March was going to fall $700 short from our @2,400 target.  Not only that, but now we had an over $5K Visa payment due in early March (remember the $3,100 insurance above) plus $2,700 of first installment of property taxes due in March.  Normally I put $450/month in my Emergency Fund each month to build up enough to cover property taxes.  Well, with robbing Peter to pay Paul, that didn’t happen, and things were getting very precarious, indeed!

The Losing Streak

empty-baseball-fieldAt this point we are $4,200 negative on budgeted earnings plus I needed to find an additional $1,100 to make up the insurance payment for which he had only $2K for ($3,100 – $2,000).

What did I do?  Bring in a pinch hitter? I scoured the internet looking for part-time job possibilities and while I was doing that I turned into a blogger.  Overnight.  Magically.  Just like that.

I had no knowledge of the term side hustle.  I didn’t think I had the stamina to work 2 shifts per week at Shoppers Drug Mart after a brain draining workday.  I also decided early on that making money at blogging would, for me, be undoubtedly very difficult.  And yet, I was incredibly stressed and needed somewhere to unload.  So a blogger I became.

I dug-out our Emergency Fund.  I know JMoney says No Touchy! but we were dealing with a job loss of sorts (hey, where did all the fans go?).  That is what your E-fund is for.  Unforeseen events that you have no control over.  Okay, broken washing machines and vehicles kind of are too, I’ll give you that.  But hypothetically we are supposed to have a separate maintenance/stuff breaks fund to deal with that.   Some of us do not, but choose to keep our E-fund nice and high to cover that as well.   [Future post coming during the championships about how I plan to increase my Emergency Fund and why.]

Regular Season Ends

Batter-upThen we hit two home runs in a row.  The first was a due to a change-up with a family member and it was an out-of-the-park HR.  My husband is a licensed realtor and acted as agent for my sis and BIL to buy a new home and sell their existing home.  He had not intended on charging them any commission and in turn, return to them the fee he received from the purchase of their new home.  They insisted that we keep his earned commission from the purchase and in return for not taking a commission on the sale of their home they wanted to take us on a cruise (which we gratefully declined).

So that $4,000 yacker saved our home game and I started to relax a bit. Our second inside-the-park home run was that my husband’s March income exceeded our target by $1,600.  This was because of the completion of the large contract that he had been working on for a couple of months.  The regular small housing jobs were coming in, but at a rate lower than last year.  It was hard to say if business would increase to the same levels as before.  I might need to revisit my @2,400 / month projection if this continues.

I still kept blogging, as I soon realized I still had a lot to learn and I also had a story to tell as part of the Hot Stove League.   Maybe, just maybe, I could help others and maybe, just maybe, I could develop my blog into a retirement side hustle of my own.

Post Season

slide-into-baseAs we enter the seventh-inning stretch I see that I need to examine my slugging averages more closely because although the actual income has finally caught up with planned income, my Emergency fund is still $2,100 lower than it should be.  I can account for $1,100 of that being the passed ball shortfall in the insurance premium that I had not budgeted for plus $450 of missing tax savings that I did not fund one month when I was doing a suicide squeeze.

If I can continue to play ball, the plan is to pay $2K per month to the low rate credit card to have it knocked out of the park before the interest rate goes up ($6K – 3 more payments to go).  I’m not sure if I will deploy this strategy again, as it certainly has been a nail-biter.  I may just decide to become a patient hitter and just pay any excess towards debt as it comes so I don’t stress myself out so much.

Now I’ve got some good news about breaking balls and some bad news bears to share as we head into the wild-card playoff.  What d’ya want first?  Okay, the bad news it is – as in a grouch Uncle Charlie of My Three Sons curve ball when I received something in the mail yesterday.  I saw the word Justice on the envelope thinking it was a call to Jury Duty as I quickly tore it open only to find a RED LIGHT CAMERA SYSTEM OFFENCE NOTICE for my car which I was not driving on a particular day in a certain area to the tune of $325.  Ya, sucks the big ball$.

So that somebody, who shall remain nameless, worked his a$$ off this month (as luck would have it) and will bring in ticket sales of $3,200 next month which is $800 greater than minimum plan.  So two things we learned here folks – housing market is moving again in Canada and don’t run red lights when you’re debt wrangling or playing a perfect inning.

To mop up this post, I must confess that I knew little about baseball.  Just like me, you can learn how to manage your finances better too!  You just need to get in the game, define your level playing field and don’t stop short when things don’t go your way and you’re down and outHome plate will still be there, even if you need to round the bases a few times.  It’s practice and green lights that will get you the Commissioner’s Trophy and make you a champion of the series in your world.
Home-Game-Baseball

Images courtesy of flickr.com
Baseball glove / Andrei Niemimäki
T-ball / Chris Harrison
Baseball pitcher / Ralph Arveson
First base / Jonathon Assink
Baseball field / JACoxwell
Baseball batter / Eric Ward
Slide into base / Sherri Abendroth
Home field / Sherri B


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Worth It Wednesday – Can a Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis?

We’re more than two years into our debt journey now.  It hasn’t always been pretty.  Last month, when Melanie @ Dear Debt wrote on Financial Fidelity it resurrected some feelings I had squashed down.   Coincidentally, Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt wrote that same week “How to make a relationship work if you’re in debt” on her own personal marriage struggles with debt and I said “Oh, boy!  I’ve got to do a post on this too … when I’m ready”.

I’m ready.

The Early Days of a Relationship Debt Crisis

I don’t remember now what particular purchase I tried to make with my credit card that was declined.  All I remember is the date in early March 2012.   I remember how my stomach sank and that awful dread feeling washed over me.   It was quickly followed by a fluttering of butterflies in my chest, as anxiousness and fear temporarily paralyzed me.  It wasn’t the first time.  It hadn’t happened for years though.  I didn’t see it coming.

I thought we were doing better.  I remember there being an issue in 2004 when I tried paying for a rental car overseas.  Then again in 2005, I poked my nose in and didn’t like what I saw.  I started trying to conserve money in a half-hearted attempt.  I remember not wanting to drive anywhere, as if saving on gas was going to be the answer to all of our financial problems.

Shortly thereafter, my Mum passed away, which set off a few years of YOLO with depression.  I never looked at the bank and credit card statements during this time.

We started planning a cruise with some friends and family.  I figured we would have time to save.  All of a sudden it’s 2009 but our cruise is postponed due to the financial situation of one of the couples.  It didn’t even dawn on me to look at our own financial situation then.  I just blindly trusted my partner that we had the money. There always seemed to be a few thousand in the bank whenever I went to take cash out of the ATM.  I was none-the-wiser.  I had been looking forward to the trip and felt I needed a break.  We went on a short one week cruise on our own anyways.  The following year we took the other cruise as planned.

Fast forward to 2012 and the declined credit card.  I decided that this was enough and I was sick of being put in these positions.  I asked to see the line of credit statement.  Maxed out.  $35K Why? Because of the trip, car repairs, Christmas presents, that thing we bought for the house.  The list was endless.  I guess my husband was moving money around from card to card while trying to make minimum payments.  Wait there’s more.  There’s a home equity LoC maxed out as well at $100K.  I thought we paid that.  No we didn’t because we were aggressively paying down the mortgage.  Why would we bother try to pay down the mortgage when there was still this huge HELOC sitting there?  “For psychological reasons, to have the mortgage gone”, I am told.  “Stupid psychological reasons” I mutter under my breath.   Wouldn’t Dave Ramsey be proud?

Then la pièce de résistance, $100K in low rate credit card balance transfers!!  I.was.in.complete.shock.

The Emotions of a Relationship Debt Crisis

I wanted to flee.  I wanted to run.  I wanted to get in the car and drive and never come back.  I could not fathom the extent of our debt nor could I see a way clear of it.  Divorce was the only way out of my misery.

marriage-survive-a-debt-crisisHow could someone who supposedly cares for me so much, have done this to me?  Was I not working hard enough to provide for the family?  I wasn’t gambling, or rampantly spending to keep up with the Joneses.  I was just doing what any ‘normal’ family does.  I deserve a holiday when I work so hard all year!  The platitudes just kept coming and coming.

I was so furious and beside myself with grief that I didn’t know what I was going to do.    I literally said to him “I spit on you!”.  The venom was real.  How could I love a man whom I was so seething at, …. again?

He slept on the couch that night.  And the next night.  And the night after that.  By the fourth night, I guess since I was still in the house, he decided to come into our bed.  I asked him why he was sleeping on the couch.  He said because he didn’t want to get spit on.

The Getting-On-With-It of a Relationship Debt Crisis

The financial aspects we dealt with together at the bank, adding onto our mortgage.  I went to work figuring out our budget and cash flow.  He started renegotiating phone plans, satellite TV, internet etc.

But that’s not the point of this post.  It’s about how does a couple come back together and repair the lost trust, respect and the “cared for” feeling once a relationship experiences a debt crisis.

It’s not easy but it can be done.

Take Responsibility

It was so easy to blame him for everything.  But that would not help our marriage.  I had to dig deep and acknowledge the role that I played in our debt position.  I also have to ensure he is accountable for his part in our debt journey.

  • It Takes Two – I had left him to manage it, never checking, never discussing, just assuming.  We both have to be involved.  Whether one takes one role, and the other takes another, we still have to share the load and be sure we are reading from the same book, let alone be on the same page!
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – He was overwhelmed but did not discuss it with me.  Other than the odd comment about a purchase, there were no other indications that he thought or knew we were spending beyond our means.  We now discuss our purchases, our progress against goals, our concerns and worries.
  • Record. Review, Revise – We never tracked our spending to know how much we should allow ourselves to spend in different areas and to ensure we were staying on plan.  I track everything now and review progress with him when we discuss.  Usually Saturday mornings in bed with coffee.  Romantic ay?
  • Plan Ahead – Although not a big spender, my husband is “penny wise and pound foolish”.  He will drive around to get sales on groceries, spending more in gas.  He will not buy something that we need because it’s more expensive than he thinks it should be (consequently resulting in a second trip later), but will buy something that don’t even need, just because it’s on sale.    Since I am doing all the ‘bookkeeping’ of our finances, this is his responsibility to think ahead and plan accordingly using lists and consulting the flyers for sales items.
  • Bring Home the Bacon – He was not bringing home enough income.   His job paid him like crap.  I said he needed to get a second job to increase his earnings.  He opted to speak to his boss about getting more assigned work.  This (except for lower season) has worked out for the most part.  He has increased his income dramatically from before, even if it is still quite low (in my opinion), but it is also variable.  He works very hard, too freakin’ hard as far as I can see for what they pay him and what he upgraded his skills for during the last 10 years.
  • Leave the Past There – There’s no point in resurrecting past mistakes and failures.  What’s done is done.  We’re either in this together or we’re against each other.    Okay, sometimes we laugh now, about how he didn’t want to sleep in the same bed in case I spit on him.
  • Be Informed – I let him research options about equipment / technology / home maintenance to ensure we are doing the best thing with our money.   For instance, we switched our home internet provider to Tek Savvy from Primus and our home phone from Primus to Ooma.  We save about $42/mth on our monthly fees (although there was some initial equipment investment doing this of about $300).  I do the research on tools and templates for managing our financial decisions.  We each do what we are more suited for and that (now) suits me fine!
  • Keep Each Other Honest But Keep it Fun – If we find we are slipping into bad habits we remind each other and make a joke about it (You don’t want me spitting on you do you?).

We can choose to be miserable about our debt crisis but we do not.  We both played a part in it and it will take both of us working together and working hard to reach our goals.  We have more than two years behind us and four more to go to be debt free.  That is longer than what is recommended (normally a three year rule of thumb is a good guideline in order to not experience debt fatigue, which I can attest to).

The only other way to get there sooner is to sell our home.  I’m partially in favour of that but my husband is not.  We’ve agreed to review each year and see if we’ve changed our minds.

After that, my husband can retire (he’s seven years older than me) and I will keep working until we have some money saved for house renovations and maybe some more for retirement.  It will depend a lot on how I feel, our health etc.

If you are facing a similar situation, you need to consider whether there is gambling, alcoholism, gaming or other addictive spending habits involved to know if repairing a relationship after a severe debt crisis is feasible or not. There is no easy answer and every situation is different.

Do not let fear keep you in an unhealthy relationship.  If both parties act (not say, talk is cheap) like they are committed to resolving the financial situation, repaying the debt, rebuilding trust and nurturing the relationship, then it is worth giving it a sincere effort.

We’re not there yet, but we are a work in progress!  Now instead of a spitting cobra when he looks at me he just sees this.

marriage-survive-a-debt-crisis

Enough said?  Okay, but first I suggest you check out this inspiring post on this topic from Big Guy Money – Improve Your Marriage – I Dare You

Javan Spitting Cobra (Naja Sputatrix) via flickr Michael Ransburg                                                    Llama via flickr Valerie
Oh, one last thing.  I joined the Yakezie Challenge.  For anyone who isn’t familiar with it, its about improving your blog over a six month period in order to be eligible to join this community  of personal finance and lifestyle bloggers.   There is a forum where you can work with other bloggers to get support while you are doing the challenge.  One of the criteria for measurement is your Alexa rating of traffic to your blog.  You also write a submission post at the end of the induction period.  You can see the button showing I’m doing the Yakezie challenge in my right side bar.
So on that note, I just want to say that I appreciate all who come and read what I have to say here, whether you comment or not, it’s all good and the more the merrier.  The post above is one of the reasons why I blogIf you like any posts you see or know of someone else who would like to laugh at me  benefit from it, please share via the buttons below.  You have the choice of Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Google+ ~ Pinterest ~ email.   Thank you kindly for reading and for your support!
 

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #1

Wedding


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Mother Money Moments

I always become a bit melancholy around Mother’s Day.  There’s a lot of strong emotion around mothers, whether you have one (or not), whether you are one (or not) and basically just all of the personal experiences we have related to the phenomenon of motherhood.

Interestingly enough, I can relate a number of my stories surrounding motherhood to personal finance.  Revealing these facets helps to explain, in part, why I am where I am today in my debt journey.

Excuse me, while I go and grab a box of kleenex.

My Second Mum

Hip Auntie - I'm Blondie on the far right

Hip Auntie – I’m Blondie on the far right

She wasn’t really my second Mum, but it sure felt like it.  You see, I was blessed with not only my own mother, but a wonderful relationship with my aunt.   She was a only a couple of years younger than my Mum, but she acted like our hip Auntie and spoiled us like a generous grandmother.  As she never married or had children of her own, we received all the benefit and love that her mothering instincts desired, and then some.

I paid my way through university, as I had the benefit of coop work terms every four months throughout my 5 year degree.  However, usually near the end of the school term, cash was getting low for me and my aunt would always seek out in our weekly phone calls the state of my bank account.  She was very generous to send a cheque for several hundred dollars to tide me over until I started my next coop work term.  No repayment was expected.  I was always very thankful for this cash relief as I was trying to finish up my exams and did not want to be distracted by my growling tummy.

Fast forward well past graduation, past my first apartment which I furnished after living at home for a year and saving, on to buying my first home.  For some reason the elderly couple I bought from wanted to leave the microwave, which I didn’t need, but took anyways – it was a little bigger than the one I had in my apartment.  I offered the one from my apartment to my aunt, and to this day I do not understand why or what got into me to suggest what I said next.

I said that she could pay me $50 (or some such amount) for the microwave, as she didn’t have one and wanted to get one.  Well this did not sit well with her, and she became rather withdrawn.  Initially, I did not clue into my faux pas.  I thought it was actually a pretty good deal (in those days) – it was still fairly new and nice and compact for her condo.  Well her sullenness lasted for days until we had a heart-to-heart and she explained how hurt she was after all she did for me when I was in university.  Many years had passed since that time, and I had let my busy, selfish, determined self get in the way of seeing the big picture.  She had always been so generous and kind to us, and I let that blind me so that it never entered my purview when I made that stupid, ridiculous request.  I cried a lot and told her how sorry I was.  Of course, we made up instantly, but I have always harboured great guilt over that incident.  I loved her dearly, and still miss her like crazy, even though she’s been gone for 15 years.

Suddenly, I’m a Mother

Mothers-Money-MomentsIn my late twenties, after a series of some quite long and some shorter relationships, I met a man through a mutual friend.  It was a blind date, which I openly confess I only went on because I suspected he might have some single friends.  He was a widower with three young children, and I felt assured that he would not meet my criteria, which included having my own children.  Well, you know what they say, you find love in all the unsuspected places.

The great part about our relationship, from the beginning, was that he was looking for a wife, not a mother for his kids.  They had been managing on their own as a family for 3 years.  I was able to slide in with no expectations put on me, which, in all honestly, made me want to assume my new role as Mum, which I did.

Within a year, we had a fourth child.  Life was busy but fun.  We worked hard and played hard. I loved buying things for my kids, taking them to movies or out for a meal.  We had holidays in Florida 3 summers in a row! Life was grand and I loved it and my family!!

Christmas was so exciting – I learned all the tricks of the trade from my aunt.  I would plan out our Christmas purchases of toys and clothes, often buying one more thing right up to Christmas eve.  Of course, then I had to buy 3 more things,  always making sure the appearance and spending was balanced amongst all four kids.  I wouldn’t change a thing about those early years!

Life Takes a Turn -> Impact on the Maternal Breadwinner

In the mid-nineties my husband was laid off from his job after a series of Corporate restructurings.  Even though we had some indication the cuts were continuing, it still comes as a bit of a shock.  Even, when employed, my salary was always higher than his, but it did not mean anything to me.  I always felt we fed from the communal trough.

He decided to pursue a different career path, working for himself instead of seeking another full-time position.  I won’t go into the details and ups and downs of this avenue, but I know it has had a significant effect on my psyche, having been the primary breadwinner of the family for the last 20 years.

I was always a high achiever, high performer, but with the added stress to keep my position, salary and benefits for the sake of the family,  I felt an overwhelming burden.  I was no longer a loving wife and a fun mother.  I was providing for my family, and I had better not screw anything up.  I would work long hours, to ensure my position was always secure.

The stress and pressure could always be relieved by “I deserve” purchases while out shopping, holidays with the family or get-a-ways on our own.  Since I was bearing, what felt to me, this great burden, I left The Irishman to manage things more on the homefront, including managing the finances.  I worked with a computer and numbers all day, why would I want and why should I do this in my badly needed decompression time?

Mum Goes on a Trip with Nana but Ignores the $igns

Life goes on.  The children start to become teenagers and we try to roll with the punches.  My dear aunt passes away from cancer at age 64.  YOLO ensues.  Money is used as a de-stressor.   We have enough on our plate.

I decide to take my youngest on a trip to Ireland with my Mum, for her 14 birthday.  Exciting times!  We are so looking forward to seeing family and I’m ecstatic to show her around the Ireland I’ve come to know and love.   I go to pick up the rental car at the airport and my credit card is declined.  I manage to contact my husband who calls the bank, something about a lost payment or other.

Mum Misses Nana and Auntie, so YOLO Continues

Youngest daughter develops severe OCD.  Life continues to be stressful.  We don’t spend willy nilly, but we don’t hold back either.

Mothers-Money-Moments

Mum ~ Taken in Ireland
What a glorious time we had

Mum passes away suddenly almost a year from when we left on our trip to Ireland.  Life becomes almost unbearable.  So thankful that we did that trip together.  Wonderful memories.  YOLO continues.

Mum Quits Making Excuses and Gets on the Bandwagon

I wouldn’t have done it, if I didn’t have to, but after a series of ‘signs’ that I chose to ignore, I finally got the big sign that I could no longer hide from.  I can’t even remember what it was, probably another credit card decline.  It’s not important now.  Mum has to either face the music and commit to supporting her husband and family to get out of this mess or have herself committed.  I chose door #1.

Mum is Now a Grandma

Nama is the New Black

Nama = Na + Ma from Nana (my Mum) and Grandma (my MIL)

So after two years of frugal living and debt repayment, I’ve learned a lot.

About myself.

Most importantly, I want to help my children be good money managers.  I feel I’ve let them down in this regard.  But it’s been said before that guilt is a wasted emotion.  One of my favourite PF blogs has given me the fortitude to face it.

If you are at all touched by this post, you should go check this out too ~ Mea Culpa @ The Pursuit of Riches.

I have forgiven my husband.  Now it’s time to forgive myself.

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers, Aunties, Mother-in-laws, Soon-to-be-Mums, Wanna-be-Mums and Chrysanthemums!

Sure hope I didn’t leave any one out! :D

Don’t forget #FinSavSat blog hop party.  I’m co-hosting this week.  Just slide on down to previous post and add your link!

debt debs

This post is another as part of the Financially Savvy Saturdays blog hop.

Click on the logo above and join in!

Tweet Hashtag #FinSavSat

Worth-IT-Wednesday


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feedly vs Bloglovin on Worth IT Wednesday!

feedly vs bloglovinSome of these Worth it Wednesday posts are becoming a little bit techy, hence I capitalize the IT in the title on these sorts of posts!

This post will be a little face off between feedly vs Bloglovin with a few other personal updates thrown in at the bottom.

feedly vs Bloglovin

feedly icon (looks familiar)

feedly vs Bloglovin

Bloglovin icon (who knew?)

Last Wednesday I asked for some help on choosing a good blog reader that would work on an Android tablet and I got 5 responses (I think 3 of them I entered on behalf of those that responded in the comments – note to self:  they’re not a big fan of polls in the personal finance community :D ).

So the consensus was 60% Bloglovin’ and 40% feedly as the tools of choice.  Being that the vote was somewhat arbitrary (translation:  lame  not many responses), I decided to try out both applications on my new Yoga Lenovo B8000-F tablet that I got for Mother’s Day to see which one I liked better.

I installed both straight way and tried feedly (aka feebly, BTW their brand is with lower case “f”, kinda like my “d’s” ;-) ) first.  Some of the comments below pertain also to the non-tablet version as well.  I’ve tried to highlight only the features that I see as different between the two apps.

If you think I’ve missed something, or I’ve mistakenly noted something that is incorrect, only because I don’t know how to use the tool yet ….which is entirely possible…. please let me know.

feedly on Android Tablet

Pros ~

  1. Ability to group your feeds into different categories i.e. Debt Blogs, Investment Blogs, Blog Blogs, Dog Blogs, God Blogs, Funny Blogs, Oh My Blogs.  These topic lists can also help to prioritize your blog reading, as in PF Favs, New, etc.
  2. Ability to mark items as “Save for Later” if you want to read later, or comment later, or send to Pinterest etc. later.
  3. You can go back to recently read, if you swipe away a page and then realize you want to go back to it.
  4. You can sort the posts so that oldest shows first.  (Good for anal people like me who don’t want to miss anything)
  5. You can mark specific blogs as “Must Reads” and select those for fast and easy priority reading.
  6. There is an ability to link it up to Evernote, but I must admit I don’t know what the advantage is with this or how to do it.  Evernote looks like a cool app though.  Anyone use it?

Cons ~

  1. Not very intuitive to know how to add blogs (but that could just be me as I’m still learning how to use the tablet)
  2. When leaving comments, often my screen would disappear and I would lose my comment.  This could be user error on my part, but it happened enough and I can’t tell what sequence of events prompted it, to say that it’s a bit finicky.   I also noticed that it stays in a feedly screen as opposed to launching the website in your browser.   This may have something to do with it.

Bloglovin’ on Android Tablet

 Pros ~

  1. You have the ability to like posts which I think can be used similarly as the “Save for Later” above in feedly.  I know I said I would only talk about the differences between the e-readers; I just point this out because it is a little different.  In addition, you can see how many “Likes” have been marked by all Bloglovin readers for a particular post.
  2. Posts are marked as unread until you mark them read.  They do not disappear, but any blogs with all read posts, will move down your reader list, so that only blogs with unread posts show at the top (I didn’t notice this at first).
  3. When you select “View original post”, it opens it in your preferred browser which is preferable and may avoid the commenting problems I noted above on Feedly.

Cons ~

  1. No ability to group your feeds under different topic lists.  For me this is a big missing feature.
  2. Posts sort in following order:  Unread first (good), most recent first (not alterable).  This may not be a bad thing for people who are trying to be more efficient and effective, because likely they will want to read and comment on the most recent post, and skim the others for something that spikes their interest.

So what am I doing now?  Oh.my.blog, I wanted a reader application to help me do damage control on my email.  Now I’ve got two readers going on top of my email.  LOL  They are a nice way to track the blogs you follow, no doubt about it.

So the conclusion is – there is no clear favourite, for me anyways.  I’m leaning a little more to feedly if I can get the commenting thing sorted out.

I need to figure out if I’m going to drop one or use each for different purposes or different blog lists. Dunno.  I promise I won’t do another post on it, because this is boring the death out of me, so I can just imagine what it is doing to anyone reading this!!

P.S.  You may notice I added the two follow buttons at the top right of my blog.  Of course, email, facebook and wordpress are still other good options and buttons are up there too!  Gotta keep those options open!  Can anyone help me with that RSS button?  I still don’t know what that is and where it’s going.  HAAALP.

Post editorial add:  Holy crap, I may take away my endorsement of feedly because I just tried to look at my own blog in there and when I click on the link to “Visit website”, once you start scrolling down the page turns to just my page background and you can’t get back to the post.  Not nice.  Don’t go there.

Update 26 May 2014:  Well I never heard back from feedly after submitting 2 tickets but it appears that the display of my blog is fixed on the Android.   Yay!

OK, on to other news!

FinSavSatI am co-hosting the Financially Savvy Saturdays blog hop with creator Femme Frugality this week.  Check out last week’s edition which was co-hosted by Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt for more info. Plan to join in starting on Saturday with a recent non-sponsored/giveaway post from this week.  A new post will be here early Saturday (including this weeks html code to add to your post) for you to link up to.  A great way for people to highlight their favourite posts plus it’s fun and easy peasy!  #FinSavSat

Things are a little crazy around here on a number of fronts. I’ll point out the $finance impacts, because these points are obviously personal.

DoodleWe have a guest for the next four days while my sis and her husband take a short trip.  He will be back again for a week later in May when they go on their cruise without us.  Yes, I am very happy about that spending decision, even though they offered to pay.  Never mind the hidden financial impacts, it just feels right too.  Plus I get to spend four fabulous days with this awesome pooch!  We are doggy owners again!  For four days!  Count our blessings!!  $no dog for us right now due to no money in the budget$

My daughter and her family are closing on their new home today; they start moving some breakable stuff today and the movers are coming tomorrow.  They will be about 13 minutes closer to our home which means 7 minutes only to see my grandson!  Heeee!!  $less gas$ $can ride my bike in about 20 minutes$

Okay, that’s a wrap.  This post has been written with only 11 revisions.  Holy cow.  What have I forgotten to do?

Gail Vaz-Oxlade


11 Comments

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.


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Where we are at now at the start of this blog … 2 years after D-day!

rough seas-personal-debtOK so I started this blog with my first posts explaining why I’m here and where we started from 2 years ago.

Now time to give you the current status.  In the early months I cried buckets of tears and lots of expletives were delivered.  Eventually I started putting one foot in front of the other and started to plan and deploy, plan some more and execute some more.

The Irishman pretty much left me to it, rather sheepishly.  I think he was burnt out on it all anyways so he tried to focus on making income and offering some suggestions on things we could cancel and save on.  It really is a process.  There’s stuff in the early days that I couldn’t even fathom doing without.  Now I’m a lot more brazen, in most areas… though I still have a few sacred cows that I’ll save for a later post (I’ll likely need support in order to ditch the bitches!) Continue reading