debt debs

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


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55 Reasons it’s Okay To Be 55

55I am 55 today.

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

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

55

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

debt-debsDebs’ Devotions #4

Favourite articles I’ve read recently a while ago:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Myles @ Myles Money ~ Smart Money # 4

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

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

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

Cash Cow Couple ~ Women Crush Wednesday

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

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


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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.

 

PART OF

brokeGIRLrich


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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.


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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


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25 Year Anniversary – What’s in a number?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

25-year-anniversary

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #5 and

Debt Discipline
The-Power-of-Now


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Monkey Butt: The Power of Now

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

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

The Power of Now

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

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

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

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

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

But that is not enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The answer is no.

I can have it all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is this bringing me pure joy?  Keep doing it.

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

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

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

I’ve submitted this post as part of

A Disease Called Debt
and you can too!


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Shutdown – Gone Fishing

Shutdown-Gone-FishingTaking a much needed break this weekend.

Has anyone worked for a company that has summer shutdown periods?

I used to and it was kind of nice because nothing moved while everyone was off.

That’s kind of what I feel like I need right now.  My blog reader has 129 unread posts, my email box though clean at the beginning of the week is starting to show signs of bloat, and my To Do list is, well. still there.

So freeze frame while I’m gone, m’kay?  Don’t go away but put your feet up and have a cold one while you’re at it.  Hey maybe we need a blog shutdown period!  I’ll start the movement.  ha ha

Before I go, I would like to thank the following for nominating me (again) for a Liebster:

Islands of Investing  – I think Jason asked mostly the same questions I had before so I’m gonna link it here – Liebster Award  HEE

Even Steven – I answered Steven’s questions on his post in the comments. ;-)

shutdown-gone-fishingThanks also to the following fellow bloggers who rounded up my posts – somebody had to before they ran away ;-) :

Our Big Fat Wallet

Young Adult Money

Fit is the New Poor

Million Dollar Ninja

Here’s some beers to enjoy while you go visiting.

Oh, ya you can go see the shopping I did this week.  It’s not what you’re thinking.

Sorry, rushing out the door.  The Irishman’s ready to honk the horn!

Great weekend all!

Gone Fishin':  flickr – Egan Snow
Beers:  flickr – Wagner T. Cassimiro “Aranha”

 


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Canada Day – Be Mindful and Be Brave

Canada-Day-Long-Weekend-mindfulCanada Day isn’t until Tuesday July 1st, but basically this is the CANADA DAY long weekend, with many people extending their weekend if possible.

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends.

I am very fortunate to be able to go to my Dad’s cottage for the weekend, meet up with extended family and kick back and relax.

In the spirit of winding down and reflecting, I’m not going to inundate you with lots of frugal tips or financial updates, even though it is the end of the month.

In fact, what I was going to write about will just make this post entirely too long, and I want to vary it up a bit after Brian so aptly pointed out that I rock write a long post!

I’ll save that for another time and just share a few personal tidbits with you.

Be Mindful

Natalie @ Debt and the Girl wrote about The Dangers of Black and White Thinking which I found quite interesting because I’ve always been a black and white girl.  I always labeled every situation as either bad or good, without even realizing I’m doing it.  Shades of grey has never come naturally for me.  I don’t know why, and I’m incredibly interested in human psychology, so would love to understand it a bit more.  Some discussion in the comments about whether this way of thinking comes from life’s experiences or not.  I don’t know and I’ll probably never find out, but it is quite fascinating.

But what I want to say about that is, you can change the way you think by being mindful as Budget Bloggess discusses in Distracted from Spending: Summer Weekends.  I wouldn’t have really had believed before, but I’m halfway through my second reading of The Power of Now and now understand this phenomenon better and practice it in my everyday life.

It makes it easy to log-off from work at the end of the day, knowing that the pile of work will still be there tomorrow and all I can do is prioritize and continue doing my best.   It makes it easy to make a fast decision to stop working for a bit because my grandson has dropped in unexpectedly and I won’t trade those interactions for anything.  It makes it easy to not bear guilt about what I may not be able to do for a family member or friend but feel joy when I can.  Life can be short, so we have to approach it in an inspired and mindful YOLO fashion, but not a reckless and irresponsible way.

If you want more writings that touch on this topic, check out:

How Being Humble Helps Us to LIve a Happier Life from Hayley @ A Disease Called Debt

The Power of Mindfulness from Stefanie, Staff Writer @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

… and While Being Mindful … Be Brave

Yesterday I was babysitting my grandson for the evening while his folks attended a wedding rehearsal and dinner.  In the true spirit of mindfulness, I was savoring every moment.  We played on the floor with his toys, turned on Disney channel for a few minutes (don’t tell Mom), I fed him (or tried to feed him, he wasn’t hungry as he had a late lunch and was breastfed by his Mom just before she left), took him for his bath and brushed his teeth.  By that time my husband had arrived to lend a helping hand so we did jolly jumper time, then stories, some bottled breastmilk (which he drank half of surprisingly, we haven’t had much luck with that  before) and bed.  He ‘fake’ cried for a bit doing his usual rocking and banging his foot on the mattress (I was watching closely on the monitor) and eventually went off to do-do land.

I was in such a state of joy and yet it was typically a very sad day for me.   Nine years ago yesterday, my Mum passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, alone at home from heart failure.  My father found her, when he returned home from a day at the cottage with my husband and brothers-in-law.  He found her in her bed with her tea cup partially drunk and her crossword puzzle and pen still in her hand.   My parents had been at our house the evening prior and we had a wonderful impromptu dinner, my children were all in attendance (which in itself was unusual given the age they were and all their comings and going), one of my sisters/BIL and a niece and a nephew.  Another sister/BIL had spent a similarly meaningful evening with her the night before.   Looking back, those experiences seem like they were a foreshadowing of what was to come.

I found something really fascinating yesterday, while I was feeding my grandson.  He became mesmerized with my ring on my hand which is a diamond solitaire ring belonging to my Mum.  He was pushing it around my finger, over and over again for a very long time considering he is an eight month old.  It felt like Mum was there with us in the room, just the three of us.  I became even more mindful at that moment.  It was pure peace and happiness.

I can’t remember if this little episode happened before or after the ring pushing incident, but here he is, after spitting out most of what I put in his mouth, but entirely fascinated by his Nama singing Brave to him*.

*Click here to view directly on YouTube

A Few Callouts

I would like to thank MrCBB @ Canadian Budget Binder for linking to my recent Top Ten in his Friday post – Should The Brick honour this customers claim on her extended warranty? : PF Weekly Grab a brew #78

I am very humbled to be nominated by Josh Rodriguez for the CNA Finance Personal Finance MVP Award! over at CNA Finance.  I’m in very highly esteemed company with David Carlson from Young Adult Money and Laurie from The Frugal Farmer.  Big congratulations to Will Lipovsky at First Quarter Finance for winning the first award!!  You can vote by leaving a comment in the post or send an email to CNAFinanceHelp@gmail.com!

We’re minding my grandson again tomorrow and then out of internet range for a few days.  Good weekend and good finances all!
Debt Debs out.

  • I have it on my tablet and play it for him, along with Happy and Under the Sea (The Little Mermaid).

P.S.  Man I still can’t write a short post!

brokeGIRLrich
This post is part of #FinSavSat blog hop.
Click on the picture above and join in!
Found-Money


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Found money

LOST-FOUNDDo you ever find money where you weren’t expecting to find it?

Whether it be on an inside pocket a small clutch purse from your last fancy gala, a $20 bill tucked in your sock drawer or glove compartment or some birthday money tucked in a card that you could have sworn you already spent.

Those small amounts are not windfalls, but enough for you to say, ‘Hey, cool’, and then get on with your day.  Unless you decide to fret about how you almost threw out said birthday card and that $30 would have been gone and you never would have even known about it.

Anyways, it’s nice when that happens, right?

What’s that you say?  It rarely happens to you anymore because you’ve got your money sewn up so tight that you know where every dollar is designated in your so-called debt life.

Ya, it doesn’t happen to me anymore either.

Until yesterday.

There were two of these in the mail.

Found-Money

2 x 100 dollas!  {insert Gail Vaz-Oxlade voice here}  One made out to yours truly and one made out to the Irishman.

How.sweet.that.was.  … of Prince$$ Cruise Line to send back the deposits we left for our next cruise when we were on our last one in 2010 and obviously giddy with the sea air.

I’ve thought about this money.  But I never even considered asking for the money back.  I thought it was lost money.

So what’s the lesson learned here folks?

Ask for your money back.  Or don’t, and maybe you will get a nice surprise in the mail one day.

That’s going right on our big fat debt, baby.  How.sweet.it.is.

In other news, I was featured on Brian at Debt Discipline’s blog this week.  You can see the Debt Debs interview here.  Be sure to let Brian know if you’d like to divulge all your embarrassing secrets share your story too.

A big thank you to A Disease Called Debt, Frugal Rules , Debt Discipline and Financially Blonde for linking to my post Worth it Wednesday – Can a Marriage Survive a Debt Crisis?  I think they know how much it took me to write this and other posts I’ve done recently, and I sincerely appreciate their support as I continue to dig deep.  I’ll be back to some funny and quasi-techy stuff soon.  I’m beginning to feel these writing jags go in cycles.  I can only be deep for a short period of time and then I need to come up for air and be my usual quirky, snarky and crazy self.

Thanks to The Pursuit of Riches for mentioning my interview, but you should check her out cause she’s got the best new news since I’ve been following her blog (which is basically from the beginning).

So I need to get crackin’ and help The Irishman clean out the garage.  I am inspired to do this from Holly at Club Thrifty.  Get a look at how clean her garage is!  This is something we’ve been putting off.   I hear him out there throwing things around now.  I better run out and get a before picture….

…. but first, since I love hearing this woman’s voice and her no-nonsense talk, I leave you with a little dialogue with Canada’s version of Dave Ramsey, Gail Vaz-Oxlade:

*To view this video on YouTube Click here

Lost/Found sign Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


52 Comments

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