COVID-19 (April 8)

How is it going everyone? Hope you are all healthy and staying inside, washing those hands, and keeping sane in the face of anxiety.

Canadian provinces have been projecting numbers based on some models, and the numbers of cases and deaths some of them are estimating are horrifying. I increasingly become aware that we are looking at a long and serious ordeal. Whatever I must do, I must keep healthy, isolated, strong, employed, engaged, and connected.

As long as I have my job, I can do any of these. Goodness help us – my organization has been under financial crunch for sometime. It is, I hope, not the time that they start let us go. I doubt it – they can reduce our numbers to some extend, but I as a moderately senior employee should not be in the immediate line. I hope.

I can continue to walk everyday (around 1 hour), keeping away from others in the street. The majority of the time this is quite possible, but today three gents were walking (they were side by side – are they not worried at all?) and I was not able to navigate my way away from them, as they decided to walk right towards me in the last second. This kind of things make me nervous. Anyways – walking is good for my physical and mental health. So I am looking forward to continuing this activity.

I can continue to eat healthy, drink tea with lemon, ginger, and honey everyday. I like it. In the last few weeks since I started self-distancing, I have been having light coughs and sneezes every once a while (nothing serious). It feels like cold, and what better remedy than tea? I believe tea, ginger, lemon, and honey are therapeutic together and keep my body strong.

I can do grocery shopping only once every two weeks or so, and not go to office unless it is really needed. My plants will dry up, I am afraid.. They were so nice and beautiful. Some of them were just flowering… This is sad. But they drying up is preferred than me getting this virus. So we will take it easy.

I can continue to frequently wash my clothes, gloves, and others that I use while outside. I can sew and put on masks while outside, particularly while shopping. I can continue to wash my hands and keep them away from my face (boy! how hard is this? Just right now both my nose and eye are itching!).

I can continue to contact and communicate with my family, friends, and colleagues. The daily human interactions are for sure important and help me against the threat of psychological isolation.

I wonder whether I can cut out some more expenses. I am pretty frugal anyways, just pumped up shopping lately to stock up essential items. I plan to do yet another big shopping next time, but after that it just must be the food. I cannot  keep fearing the financial hardship to come during and after this pandemic. I think we all feel this one way or the other. As a bank official said today, we will get out of this pandemic “a little bit less wealthier”.

Well.

As long as we get out of this pandemic healthy and with healthy family members, I will be okay with this.

 

 

 

 

 

money: you have it or you do not have it

Many years ago, I was living in Toronto, one of the greatest cities in Canada.

Toronto is a beautiful example of multicultural/multinational city. I believe I have met with people from all over the world and it was awesome! Food was amazing, groceries were diverse and affordable, social and cultural activities were abundant and lovely, and the city was clean and well cared for. It was good to be in Toronto 🙂

Like any other big city, however, it was  expensive to live in Toronto, especially the rent. When I was there, I had a contract position that paid no benefits and a limited salary. While I had no luxurious life style, as a single person I had to be very careful with my money. Despite this I had accumulated debt in the first few years. I handled it better after that time. This was the first time that I had ever had debt in my entire life.

As a highly educated and hard-working professional, I was uneasy about my job and the finances, and was constantly thinking that I was deserving better. I kept thinking that I did not have enough money…..

Well.. Until I got fired from my contract job.

Getting fired is a horrible feeling. What was I going to do? How was I going to handle the rent? Living expenses? How was I going to find a job?  I was given a 4-months of notice so I still had time but this did not prevent my anxiety over the blank future.

The same day that I was fired, I remember looking at a bunch of coins I had found in my pocket; I had slightly over $3 and for the first time in many years I had thought “I have a lot of money. I can buy 3 cans of beans with this and eat for three days.”

That was a sad but profound experience. I had understood the value of money….. I started a tight budget, I moved to a cheaper rental, and I cut out my daily expenses by 40% or something. I appreciated everything I have had and every single dime that ended up in my purse.

A month before I was to leave my work place, miraculously I was offered a better position at the same place and stayed there for another year. I was very grateful for this opportunity and I had felt rich 🙂 But I did not relax my budget; I kept going. While I still needed to look for jobs after a year, I decided I would keep my budget and save as much as possible. I found some kind of enjoyment and peace of mind in these savings. After that job, I found another one for a year and I continued my frugal life and savings. These two years were the toughest years in terms of finances, yet also made me aware of the value of the money.

I am not sure what prompted me to remember these today, but I am grateful for the experience. After I have found my current job, I continued my frugal life a couple of years but later I relaxed again and started spending more than I should have. That lasted until I purchased my home, which hit me in the head hard. I needed to reduce my spendings significantly if I wanted to keep my home and my mental sanity. So, here I am into a 10 months period of budgeting again. And it is going more or less well.

I am grateful for the financial hardships that taught me valuable lessons; I am grateful for myself for caring about my finances and for learning; and I am grateful for life and people for giving me the opportunities that helped provide me with a comfortable life.

economy, job security, and life choices

The economy does not look good where I am and there are talks about cuts coming quite soon so that our province can start paying our huge debt down. Of course as one of the government-backed institutions, my workplace is at risk too and things, to tell you the truth, do not look good for us, my colleagues, or my institution.

When there is little money/resources, the demand is higher. And money is so essential for everyone that it just makes the cuts and the fierce demands to relocate the cuts from one place to other, escalating quite fast. I was looking at the news and looks like my institution in so many ways seems like the one that will get some cuts. The end results will not be nice.

The fact that we are working in a small place and trying to reach and deliver a national or worldwide standard in our workplace does not come easy. We are often understaffed, our resources are limited, and these mean there is quite a pressure to overwork to get to the expected results/deliverables. Our salaries are also less than our peers in many other provinces. But when you look at the numbers and compare our salaries with other workers in the province, many people think that we are over-paid and that is unfair. As a result, many people now demand for cuts.

I do not blame people for wanting to cut unnecessary expenses (which I believe should BE done), but I really do not understand why it is the salaries (unless unjustifiably high) that gets the most reaction. I am making a decent salary but have been working very hard to do what I am doing. I know when compared to other institutions, our salary and benefits are not as good. Yet, here I am trying to make the best out of my capabilities, skills, and the limited resources I have access to. I try hard and I work hard. But then many people do these, too….

Honestly, I am scared of the cuts and the future of the economy. I am scared of having less and less in the future while the demand and pressure for work increases. I am scared that they will start laying off people, who were hard to get here at the first place. I am scared that the quality of work done will reduce substantially. But I am not that scared if they lay me off with a big fat cheque or severance pay (lets say a net pay of my 10 years of salary or something. Right – I am dreaming). As a matter of fact, if my institution agrees to give me a nice sum of money and possibly a small pension plan at my retirement age, I thought for a minute that I would be the first one to volunteer for it.

Why?

I am already fed up with the lack of opportunities and excitement here, presence of discriminatory behavior, and naturally I am longing for a better life. I am not sure whether I can make it better in my next city/work place, but honestly that could be an opportunity to have a new, better life nevertheless. I so far remained because of the job stability I have had and the pleasure I got out of my job. Overall, things have been fine, not great, but fine.

I do not wish hardship for anyone with their life, especially with their finances. It is not my fault that the economy is unstable and all of a sudden my province accumulated a lot of debt. It is also not my fault that I have not completely loved where I am. but if there will be a hardship on me because of the budget cuts and increased pressure, I would rather see it as an opportunity if I can also get something nice out of it, like a financial compensation. Without the compensation, though, it would significantly derail my life, especially financially.

So I better be careful with what I wish for. I would and do prefer financial and job security over excitement in the future. Just like what I have done so far in the last 6-7 years. So, I wish the cuts will not lead to lay offs and significant cuts in our salaries and benefits. I wish we all can pull this off somehow. I wish a better judgment could be made as what was unnecessary or necessary and the budget cuts could be placed fairly and appropriately. I wish nobody would lose their ability to put a shelter over their head, meal on their tables, food in their stomach, and most importantly their hope for their lives and future.

I had not realized how important the economy was until today.

 

food prices

Looks like all of a sudden the grocery prices have increased where I am. I bought 5 tomatoes for $9.5 this past week. The first time I have spent that much on tomato…

Tomato is not one of the indispensable veggies in my diet. I hardly crave for it and rather have it as something that will create variety in my salad. Hardly use it in meals as well. But this week I wanted to eat tomatoes and, boy, the price almost shocked me.

Where I am we are mostly dependent on food grown in other places. Theoretically that means our food prices are already higher than other provinces in Canada. I used to live in Toronto; I know very well how abundant and affordable food is there. Variety is also awesome there. I miss shopping there.

Anyways, the reason I am writing this post is not to complain about the tomato prices. But I must admit seeing other bloggers spending much less than what I do for a much smaller amount of food somehow makes me wonder. For example,  the store Aldi seems to be selling food/grocery at good prices and unfortunately we do not have it here. Why not?

I am sure for many of you paying $9.5 for 5 medium sized tomato is something unbelievable. But believe me it is the truth. I want you to know I am not jealous or something; I just hope that you are grateful for what you can get at much lower prices than what others like me can.

Overall, the Canadian economy is not in good shape, with the announcement of a much increased amount of deficit today by the Minister of Finance;  sometimes I find myself thinking whether I am doing good with keeping my money in the bank or investing in stock market. What if we were to experience something similar to what Greece had last summer? What if we cannot have access to our own money? What if all goes wrong and  we lose what we already have?

I sometimes wonder how the people during the great recession (1927) or war-thorn countries survived the financial hardship and find food to survive. I also wonder about the poor families out there who are struggling to find food.

I will start including food in my joy journals and will remember to give my thanks when I purchase and eat them. I will also make sure to donate to food banks more frequently.

random thoughts

Today I am writing for the 88 year old man who I know.

He lives alone as he has not been in good terms with his ex-wife and son. He has two daughters; one of them is away and the other one is going thru the struggle of life. There is noone that can take care of this poor man. He did not want to go to retirement residences until this year; this year he started to fall (otherwise he is wonderfully healthy) and he is very aware of the fact that he soon may need more care than now.

It must be a difficult decision to finally find a retirement home. This gentleman will hopefully be happy there and have excellent community and receive excellent care. The fact that either the residences are full or require more funds than he can afford has been challenging; I sincerely hope that the residence he has found now will work wonders for him (cross the fingers). His daughters cannot support him financially a lot but doing their best. I know it is heart-breaking for them as well. Sometimes, there is no good solution to life’s challenges and this engulfes everyone with its deep misery, hopelessness, and guilt.

Anyhow, this gentleman’s story made me think about it my own future. I am single and away from my family. I am middle aged now but may eventually age and require care (unless I die suddenly and while still healthy or middle-aged). What will I do? would I love going to these residences? How would I feel? Would I still feel my dignity and freedom? Would it depress me or would it be a useful experience?

I do not know; I do not want to think about it for now. I guess I can, and will deal, with one thing at a time.

Wishing everyone a great old age.

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