Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Looking back at 2012

Bring on 2013! 

Looking back at 2012, I have to say that I feel really good about how my year has turned out. It feels like I have my life on track and moving in the right direction. There were certainly some ups and downs, but in the end, I still came out on top. One aspect that I really wished I had done better at, was contributing to my blog a little more. There were so many times that I would read an article, or be out shopping for something, and think to myself; “this would make a great topic for a post” and then life would come up and leave me unable to really sit down and move the words from my brain to the screen. The good news is that I have already put a lot of great knowledge up here for your reading pleasure, so I know that you didn’t miss me too much!

Life really was pretty exciting and busy for me last year. I picked up a second job, and a second language. Learning French was really challenging and took up a lot of my time and energy. I think that while I was doing the language training, I was getting really exhausted and by the end of the day, I didn’t want to have anything to do with writing, or using my brain in general. But, somehow, I managed to become bilingual. Oui, c’est vrai, je parle français, and it’s pretty freaking cool.

My second job working at the yoga studio has helped remind me about other talents that I have which I haven’t been putting into practice for a while now. I really have a knack at interacting with people and I never thought of that talent as something that I could get paid to use. More than ever I get to see people who are working toward their fitness goals, and leaving feeling good about themselves for what they have done to make a positive change in their lives. Getting to interact with these people opens my eyes to a world of smiles which we sometimes don’t always get to see in our working lives and that leaves me feeling inspired to keep working at this goal so that I can reach my own contentment. 

I’m starting to see that there are a lot of other possibilities out there for me where I can work in an environment that I enjoy and work with people that I like to be around. If I really put my mind to something, the possibilities can be limitless. The best part about working for a small business is that I am coming to realization that I could probably run a business of my own someday. The owners of the studio are around my age and they seem to be very successful and happy. Yes, they are working their butts off everyday, but you really get that hands on love from their dedication to something they believe in which inspires me to start thinking of ways that I could make a little money of my own doing something I love on the side. 

Without a doubt though, my favourite part about last year was finally getting to talk to Gail Vaz-Oxlade on her radio show. Gail’s methods have been a tremendous help in getting me closer and closer into the black and out of the red. I remember how incredibly nervous and excited I was when her assistant emailed me and told me that she booked me for her radio show. The months leading up to the interview really encouraged me to go a little more public with my debt repayment strategy and helped create a dialogue among my friends and colleagues about this very real and very common debt problem we all have. The result of all that was an amazing influx of readership on my blog and now more people come up to me to talk about finances with them. It is almost as if that conversation with Gail gave me some more credibility and that validation I seemed to be seeking from someone who seems to have it so together, but is so relatable and human at the same time.

Gail Vaz-Oxlade really became my life coach more than anything. Which makes me think about getting into a career where I can coach people with their debt repayment, maybe work for a non-profit organization, or even do some pro bono work on the side to help friends and family put together a realistic debt repayment strategy that is customized for them.

Last year wasn’t entirely sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns though. I read so many articles about how much consumer debt that Canadians continue to take on. It really is such an easy situation to get oneself into. A few swipes of plastic and the next thing you know, you owe the bank more money and you find yourself in a hole that is too big to climb your way out of. Now that I have progressed in this process and I see how possible it is to get out of debt, I want to really shake some people and ask them why they haven’t woken up yet. Do we really need all the stuff that we have? Is there anything that you have used to decorate your home that you absolutely couldn’t live without? Can you spend a week only going shopping at the grocery store and nowhere else? Getting out of debt doesn’t need to be complicated, so if you’re in need of some help, sit down with someone and really talk to them about what they did to get out of the hole instead of asking them for a handout.  Trust me, it is a really great motivation tool and you have so much to gain.

Usually, by this time of year, I have made a decision about what my New Years Resolution will be and then write about it for the whole world to read. For some reason though, I have found it incredibly difficult to pinpoint what aspect of my life that I want to improve on. What is really fantastic is my newfound access to money again. All of a sudden I will have all this income that I can spend on personal improvements. There seem to be a few different things that I want to focus on but I think first thing’s first, getting this debt eliminated, once and for all!

When I reflect and look back at my blog, I can't help but notice how much it has really has been focused so much on the money that I feel like I lost sight of one of the biggest objectives of this challenge – for me to be free again. My debt has served as a metaphorical ball and chain that was weighing me down and keeping me from doing so many extracurricular activities. Now, if I want to learn more about being a financial planner, I will have the money to pay for the courses upfront. If I want to work on my hobbies more, such as taking more sewing courses, or learning another language, or even just taking a day for myself at the spa, I can do that. My freedom from having to make payments all the time feels so freaking amazing and 2013 is going to prove to be an amazing year for me.

If you're just joining me for the first time, my name is John, I am 30 years old, I have $4,500 worth of debt and I couldn’t be happier!

p.s. Happy Birthday Amanda! You are my favourite big sister of all time. xoxo


  1. Congrats on learning Le Francais. Did you take physical classes.. or an online course?

    1. I did one on one teaching and did a lot of independent study. It took a few months, but eventually it all paid off!

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