Sunday, March 18, 2012

Off Track

Off Track!
Following last week, I have gotten lots of texts and calls from friends and family reconnecting with me which I must admit, has felt pretty good! I feel like I am more connected than ever to those who I love and clearly, this means that lots of people are reading my blog and they love me. I already knew that they loved me, but this just goes to show the power of the internet to bring people together.

I am always surprised by how many people are actually reading all my financial rants! Not only that, their friends and family (especially the moms - hello all of my friends' moms) are reading my blog. What a wonderful thing to know that others are just as interested in getting their debt back on track and that I am not alone in this crazy pursuit. When I started this process, I never imagined that I would get my debt paid off as rapidly as I am today. I was just gunning through all this debt at the beginning  but this year I really have not been as good as I wanted to. The truth behind me not posting as much is that I have kind of been effing up my finances these past couple weeks and I have been a little embarrassed to admit that I have been dipping into my savings account to go out for beers with friends. I guess it's better than taking out money from my line of credit, or even worse, my evil MasterCard!

I ♥ your mom. 
But these are the sorts of things that happen, right? It's tough to always put your social life on hold because you have debt to pay off and the general attitude out there is "everyone is in debt anyway, so why worry?" which I totally get, but I also know what the stress feels like when you have $40,000 of consumer debt and you don't even have a permanent job so I sometimes feel the need to shake some sense into these people. What it really takes is a culture and attitude change to start convincing others to stop spending and finding other ways to find joy in things that require no spending. In one of the exercises that we did at my yoga "off the mat" challenge, we talked about the ability to give up buying "stuff". I have several kryptonites such as music (the latest thing is records), clothing, home decor, and all sorts of other "stuff". What makes my need to shop so stupid is the fact that I don't even need any of this stuff. If one of the things that I mentioned is resonating with you, let me break it down for you:


As a firm supporter of artists/musicians I have a hard time just downloading something I love for free and never sending a penny to the artists themselves, but I also was buying 2-3 albums per week, which translates to about $60 which is more than $3,000 each year on music. That doesn't even include the concerts that I go to! What makes this so stupid is that I have albums where I only listen to one or two tracks that I love and never get through the whole thing. To add to it all, I have a record player, but it's not portable so I only get to listen to one of the 100+ albums I have per week  on average. So it's clear to me that this is a habit that I need to get under control. So what I have decided to do is dedicate at least a week to listening to the whole album online before deciding to purchase it. If I really feel that the album is something that is mindblowingly amazing, then I will buy it, but otherwise, I will move on and listen to something else. Don't worry the Balconies, I will ALWAYS buy your music! Oh and you even have an amazing new EP on iTunes? Well I better put a link to that then!


This is an underwear ad, a very sexy underwear ad. 
By far one of the most unnecessary things that I buy. I have dozens of t-shirts, dress shirts, pants, shoes, jackets, underwear, and the list goes on. I have zero need for more clothes but yet I still see things that I like and purchase them anyway. I found the best way to kick this habit was to avoid malls and my favourite stores altogether. If I do wander into a store, I look at the item on the rack and then I think about how many other articles of clothing just like it that I have and that usually convinces me to not buy it. If I still feel the urge to buy it, I leave the store and come back in 2 weeks if I am still thinking about buying it. That way if I forget about it, it's clearly not something that I wanted all that bad in the first place. This rule usually applies to everything that I want and it has proven to be pretty darn effective!

Home Decor

Are you cluttering your home with too much stuff?
Now I know that we all like to  have the coolest and most comfortable place on the block, but how comfortable is a place that is filled to the rafters with stuff? There comes a point when all the home decor stuff we buy creates discomfort because it is all just so overwhelming. When you want to create a space that is homey, stick to the principle that less truly is more. When you're more concerned with whether someone is going to break that new knick-knack that you bought than whether they feel safe enough to fart without getting thrown out the window, you may need to evaluate your need obsession with stuff.

Phew, that feels good to get out. It's much easier to get back to practicing what I preach when I have it all down on paper. Now I'm not saying you shouldn't shop at all, but I'm say that you should focus on smarter shopping. Buy things that you need first and then get one of the things that you want afterward. If you don't know what a need is, ask yourself if you will die if you don't have it. I think I can survive without the latest record or spandex yoga shorts. One more thing, as I have said a bazillion times before, leave your credit behind and pay with YOUR money, not someone else's!

All in all though, my spending has not been in check and I am feeling the effects! Last week I had to do some major dipping into my savings more than once for things like eating out, birthday presents, medicine (don't panic, I had a cold), and other things that I feel that I should be a little more prepared for. It's not like it's a big deal or anything, but there really is no excuse since most of the things that I had show up were things that I could have planned for so I guess it gets on my nerves a little bit that I am not as aggressive with my debt as I want to be. Not to say that all this socializing is negative, I'm spending money on things that I enjoy such as hanging out with friends for their birthdays or farewell parties which I feel are important things to do because you can't really put a price tag on friendships (unless they're an escort). But I am really going to try to get it together again and set a goal to get my line of credit completely paid off by the 15th of May!

Lots of love!


Friday, March 9, 2012

Get Connected

Get connected
It's been almost a month since I sat down and wrote something on my blog, which seems completely out of character for me. I really enjoy writing my blog because it serves as a positive way for me to get my thoughts on paper and reconnect with people. I realize that this is simply a financial blog and not supposed to be all about my day to day life, but there are times when the themes that I choose seem to link up rather directly with what is going on with me. In this entry, I really want to focus on the message of connectedness.

The other day I received a text from my brother that said he felt the rest of our family wasn't staying as connected as we should be and although at first I was a little hurt, but I have to admit, I agree with him. I haven't really talked much in my blog about how I live thousands of miles away from my family, so I certainly struggle with being away from all the simple things in life such as a dinner with them, or even just sitting down for coffee with a family member and chatting away the afternoon.  So this random text I received also brought me back to what I tell myself every year when I get back from holidays with my family: "I will make more of an effort to contact my family". It's something I think about a lot. My family and I were always very close growing up, and whenever I am back in town, my family makes the time for me to see them as much as possible.

My computer finally killed itself. 
All that has been going on seems to link up to other things that have been happening in this past month since I last wrote on here. A few weeks ago, my computer died. As in, it's processed its last blog entry, which is ok because I always back up all o f my information.  But that hit me with a new financial challenge that I need to get myself prepared for. It's funny how much I rely on my computer to keep me connected to everyone when all I really need to do is just pick up the phone and talk to them. It really can be that simple. I know that my family supports me, but what am I doing lately to support them?

A few weeks ago, my partner and I started doing a workshop to help us take our yoga off the mat and into the world. What that really means is that we need to find ways to bring that sense of kindness and compassion and share it with the people around us. A big part of what we have been focussed on is finding our true potential and figuring out our life purpose which will in the end, bring us closer to our community and truly help benefit the world. This doesn't have to be something on a grand scale like building homes for poor people in other countries, but it can be as micro as being there for your friends and family in helping them be the best people that they can be.

What keeps resonating in my mind is the word, connected. My days are brighter when I feel connections with others and when I'm living on purpose. I really want to start rebuilding my support network and helping others at the same time. I know that this blog can really be a tool to do just that. While going through this workshop, I got reminded of what I studied psychology for, and that was to help people in some capacity. Now I feel that my talents could help people with achieving goals and paying down debt. I seem to have developed a knack for getting my debt paid off in rapidly, so I am toying with the idea that maybe I should become a personal financial planner. But you see, these are the types of conversations I need to have with my family members and friends to really hear what they think to help me develop the best strategy possible for achieving my true potential.

The big question is: HOW do I reconnect with everyone? There are numerous ways to get connected, and build up a support network, and in this day and age, we have no excuse for not connecting with one another. Start with something as simple as a phone call. If your friend or family member is busy, then call them again when it works for you both. Send an email, letter, or text, no matter how silly you may think it is. Even if they don't respond, you're still making an effort and they will start to think more about you all the time. Remember that support works two ways. Don't always make everything about you, and remember to listen to your friends and family as well.

In some of my past entries, I really emphasized how important a support network can be to help you achieve your goals, and I know that I have let it slide a little, I am promising to get more connected with my friends and family and less connected with my computer and television. I think that now that spring is around the corner, it can inspire a new sense of optimism which I plan on taking full advantage of!

10,000 Hits! Amazing!
In other news, I now have over 10,000 views of my blog! How crazy is that? I'm not even using any advertising other than word of mouth so I need to thank you all for sharing my rantings with your friends. If you have anything that you want me to talk about that you think I may be missing here on this blog, don't hesitate to let me know. I am here to faithfully serve my loyal readers!

See you next week!