debt debs

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


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Canada Day – Be Mindful and Be Brave

Canada-Day-Long-WeekendCanada 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!


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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

spitting-llama


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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.

Spitting-CobraHow 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.

spitting-llama

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!
 


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Worth it Wednesday ~ Dear Debt Letter

debt debs ransom-note-

Debt sent me a ransom note … I’m so ignoring him

Worth-it-Wednesday is here a little early because Melanie at deardebt.com enticed me to write my debt breakup letter.  It is such a great idea but as I started to write, I found Debt was sitting on my shoulder watching every word I typed.  In usual fashion he decided to chime in.  Go on over and check out what I and he had to say.  He’s a gnarly little fellow.  So here is me, writing my taking back my life letter, and this is how it went … Dear Debt …

In other news….Nutcracker by artur84 from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

DD#3_targetsMy #3 daughter gave me the best Mum’s day present on Sunday when she told me her student debt from her Masters degree was all paid off!   About a year ago we sat down and did a Gail Vaz-Oxlade analysis on her expenses to see if it fit into Gail’s guidelines for Housing – Transportation – Life – Debt – Savings of 35% – 15% – 25% – 15% – 10%.    Now, she did have more than could be paid off in a year but she received a very sizable income tax refund so was able to completely extinguish it this weekend.  I was so happy!! 

I didn’t know how serious she was taking it from when we last talked about it and I don’t like to nag.  Well, more honestly, I was probably afraid of being disappointed, so in usual fashion I buried my head in the sand.  (Hey, it’s her debt, not mine!  … even though I did feel partly responsible for not setting a better example on how to handle money.)  She used to be a bit spendy and she likes to travel.  Plus, her once famous quote “I’ll always be in debt” used to make me cringe, so I figured she was going to be a hard nut to crack.

Look the nut is cracked open into a heart shape ... ahhhh!

Look the nut is cracked open into a heart shape … ahhhh!

But I guess Mum’s persuasion and some new found frugalness on her part was just what was needed to crack that nut open.  She thanked me because she said I helped her to see it was possible to eliminate her debt.   🙂   I guess I can really move on from my guilt trip now.  Heeee …

Image Credits from FreeDigitalPhotos.net:
Nutcracker by artur84
Walnuts In Love by Aleksa D

 


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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

WeddingIn 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.

Mum ~ Taken in Ireland What a glorious time we had

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! 😀

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.

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My New Enlightenment Since Acknowledging our Debt Crisis

ImageChef.comMy Come to Jesus Moment was in March 2012 (aka D-Day).  I hesitate to use that phrase, because I am quite spiritual and don’t like to use the Lord’s name in vain.  However, Brett Nelson, a contributor at Forbes wrote:

CTJMs, we understand, are all about focus, clarity, intention and gravity—in other words, the very stuff that, if consistently mustered, would wipe CTJMs from the schedule.

He suggests ways to avoid CTJM’s including establishing milestones, embracing conflict, defining priorities and avoiding surprises.  Well that is really is what good personal finance management is all about, minus the embracing conflict thingy.

But wait!  When I think about how we got here, part of it was because we did not embrace conflict.  We avoided it like the plague.  We placated ourselves with shopping trips, one up-ing each other with purchases (well he bought that, so now I’m going to buy this) and saying “I deserve” when we were tired or stressed or just plain frustrated with life.

Laurie from The Frugal Farmer wrote on Debt Roundup What Do You Really Deserve?  I identified so much with that post.   All I wanted was peace, freedom and security but I was looking in all the wrong places.

I defended my spending habits as stress relief from a busy lifestyle that I had created by not prioritizing. I absconded from my role as joint financial steward justifying it in my mind that I was the higher income earner and worked long hours, so that was the ‘least he could do’.  I looked for peace a few too many times at the bottom of a bottle, weary after a long day or fretting about other family stresses.

So now what have I done to (help to) turn things around?

  • I don’t do things that are in conflict with our goals ~ this includes unplanned spending, shirking responsibilities in managing our finances.  I’ve even started grocery shopping (for deals) and cooking a little more which is crazy (for me).
  • I speak up, instead of burying my head in the sand, if I think things are going astray.  Better to have these small difficult conversations straight away, that are actually quite insignificant compared to the ones we had around D-Day.
  • I practice living in the moment – from “The Power of Now” by Eckhardt Tolle.  This helps keep me from getting down about our debt situation and worries about family members.
  • I try to set an example and communicate within our household about ideas we could do to save money and not waste.  It appears I am the most frugal person in the house now, turning off lights, conserving gas etc. It used to be The Irishman.  Go figure.
  • I’m discussing my new frugal philosophy and sharing tips and tricks, budget and amortization spreadsheets and cool posts with my adult children.  I could bear great guilt about how I have not set a good example for them but I know guilt is a wasted emotion.  Instead I am trying to help them as much as I can with the new smarter ‘me’ and an excel file for any situation up my sleeve!
  • I’m a cheap date LOL.  Visiting my grandson on a weeknight, is now Nama’s favourite night out.  Otherwise it’s history channel or just being side-by-side, both on our computers.  A beer on Friday night, unless we splurge on a champagne Friday which means bubbly in the bathtub.

So I think Jesus is helping me, and smiling, when I say my new frugal enlightenment instances are affectionately called “Come to Nama” moments.
Photobucket.com:  tailz2006

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Gail Vaz-Oxlade


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

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

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

Me, that’s who.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gail Vaz-Oxlade

My sis with Gail Vaz-Oxlade

 

Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Autographed book from Gail Vaz-Oxlade

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