Reflecting on 2018

I have had a brief survey of the year in my mind. It has been an interesting year indeed.

Important things in my personal life were:

Physical health: I re-started yoga/stretching classes in early 2018. As usual, I have enjoyed the relaxing feeling it provided me with, but eventually I pulled a muscle at home and ended up in the emergency room again. I have had excessive physiotherapy this year, which I should be continuing but cannot because of the financial reasons for one. And mostly because after a while I stopped doing my exercises, so what is the point of getting physiotherapy sessions anyhow? This can be one area to work on in the new year.

Mental health: I have had a tough year with stress and anxiety. I for the first time started to attend a counseling service and I keep it in my mind should things get unbearable again. It is a peace of mind, knowing that there is and there will be support should I need it.

Financial health: I did not save as much as I wished, but I have done what I could. I am trying to turn things around since last week with my spending curbed for now. My investments lost quite a bit due to the fluctuations in the market, but I am taking it easy, knowing that  have no control over it and maybe over time they would rise again. Hope is a great thing.

Affirmations: I became interested in affirmations and at one point they really helped me get positive thoughts and beliefs about people and experiences. I know that they can work and help me feed my mind with different perspectives and better thoughts.

Positive thinking: Being an eternal pessimistic ( 🙂 ) it was great to read positive words and alternatives lately. I actually started to experience these positivity in the form of little miracles, better luck, and better feelings overall. I am grateful for the books that give me positive thoughts and am looking forward to keep doing this and affirmation practice in the new year.

Transitioning to gray hair: this saga has been going well this year. 2018 can be the first year in the last ~20 years that I have not dyed my hair myself at all. Yes, I have been to hair saloon to get toners and highlights to help with the transition, but I never struggled myself at home trying to dye my own hair. For this, I am very happy 🙂

Visiting my family in summer: This was great and quite positive. Not everything is rosy of course, but I am happy to see them. It also gave me the much needed break and soothed my nerves. The positive feelings and well-being continued for a while after I returned back. It was overall a highly positive experience.

Stress, anxiety, and sleep changes: These have been I am afraid quite high this year…. It is mostly work related and deep down I know how to better handle it; walking/exercising, better diet, less work, more extracurricular activities, etc. When there are too many work to do, stress and anxiety becomes difficult to manage. I must be wiser than this. Hopefully in the new year. We shall see. Overall, however this kind of experiences help me personally develop and take things differently. Take my sleep disturbance, for example. At first I took it as a very negative experience (hence the term “disturbance”), yet later I benefited from it by ending up at the office early mornings (around 5-6 am; I realized that until 10 am, I could do much of the work I expect from me, as these are the times with no or little distraction around). This was a great realization, for which I am grateful.

Plants: My… I became interested in succulents, cacti, and house plants this year, which have given me the most satisfying and joy-creating experiences ever. they make me happy! Growing them, caring for them, watching them, sharing them with others 🙂 All is well in the plant world.

My professional life:

Funds for new projects: I was able to get two projects as the project leader and another one as the team member, which are all great progress in my career. In a time when everybody is fund-crunched, these projects put me in a much higher place than many of my colleagues. I should be happy and proud of myself. My extraordinary efforts in the last few years are now paying off – this is wonderful. Perseverance, hope, and hard-work are all benefiting me. I am grateful.

Reports: I was able to get 5 big reports out this year, a couple of them especially being hard to bring to completion.

Completed projects: One big project of mine, which was lingering around for around 4 years have been finally finished in early 2018. It was a hard ride, but eventually is done, and I could not be more excited.

Dumping a committee work: I let go of a committee I was a part of in the last 7 years. It was not an easy decision as I had enjoyed my role in it, but it was also the right one. I cherish this decision.

Taking up on a new role: I took a new role in my organization, which I have been interested in. I feel lucky 🙂

Interview with an outside organization: I got interviewed by an outside but professionally related organization in Fall. They even circulated it to thousands of my colleagues all around the world via an email. I feel honored and excited by this. I am glad that I took my time to prepare this interview.

Online courses: I took two online courses this Fall, which were amazing. I want to take a little bit more, maybe in the Spring to help develop my skills and knowledge better. Learning is always exciting 🙂

Overall, a year full of both negative and positive experiences, like anyone else. It has been a hard year – that is for sure, but it also showed its good side and credited my hard-work and perseverance. I think my focus for the new year will be to take things a little bit easier, caring for my mental and physical health much better, and continue to grow personally and professionally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DAY 6 – #TheLeanSpendingMonth

It is February 6th, the 6th day of #TheLeanSpendingMonth.

What did I spend money on today?

Nothing 🙂

Not even the bus fare 🙂

Only because it has been a snow day! Yay!

Friends; it is exciting to spend nothing 🙂

But it is also concerning that one day whatever I have at home will be consumed and I will have to purchase them. So there will be purchases coming.

But, until then let me feel this joy 🙂

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Number of no-spending days so far: 3

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Gratefully acknowledging my good fellow-blogger Decluttering The Stuff, who is in this challenge with me and keeping an excellent company!

Hurrah to us 🙂

Pj Harvey GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

 

weekly budget check

I have not been posting about my weekly budget spending lately.

The reason?

I over-spent…

Overall, in the last 3 weeks, I spent a total of $129 over my $120/week limit. This is $43/week in extra, mostly unnecessary, expenses…

I also had extra expenses (afraid to write them here..), such as the cost of hosting guests cleaning products, medication costs, and donations (well done though – I would do these expenses again should I need it – so no hard-feelings here).

My fun funds is a huge negative balance: around $200…. need to make a plan and stick – fun funds are the savings from my weekly allowance that I am free to spend on anything I like, but this certainly has been taking a down hill, as now I seem to spend them without even collecting them!!

I also needed to pay my bank an extra money to cover for my house tax, which reduced my overall saving- obviously what I pay them every two weeks is not enough. Do you not hate the increases in house taxes? I do.

Overall, the last three weeks made a hole in my saving objectives and I am feeling not great about it.

I am aware of the unnecessary expenses that I made lately (such as taking the cab etc.), which I am determined to tackle. I dislike spending and I love saving.

Time to go back to that mental state.

 

weekly budget check

I have done well this week and stayed within my weekly allowance:

total expenses (within the allowance): $98

fun funds savings this week: $120 – $98: $22

total fun funds accumulated today: – $50 (sadly I spent more than I saved in this fund. Gotta be better soon….)

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses that I was tempted to, but did not do, savings from discounts etc.): $145 (always feel good…)

Other expenses: $146; mostly a dinner with a friend of mine (well deserved) and cleaning products

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Starting this month, I am increasing my mortgage payments a little bit. I am feeling great about this 🙂 This is mostly because I have got a little salary increase and decided to use it to pay off my mortgage earlier 🙂 Welcome September 🙂

Money risen for the animal shelter by selling stuff on kijiji: $40 so far. Even a little bit helps these innocent and beautiful animals.

Honestly, there has not been any day that I have not thought about re-adopting Jamie the cat…My little boy.. if only I had a little bit more courage and relaxed…

weekly budget check

save-wise not doing well….. argh…

I over-spent my weekly allowance this week too ($134 instead of the budgeted $120)

I absolutely have no fun funds. As a matter of fact, I have a negative account ( – $22)

I have had additional expenses (like a second second-hand rug, cat supplies, passport application fees etc.) in the amount of $344

In the last few weeks, the only savings I could do out of my salary was my regular TFSA and RRSP contributions.

I need to shop this weekend again for the cat, Jamie. But other than that I hope to keep it up.

Once I start not going over-board, I am more motivated to limit my expenses. I hope that will happen this week.

On the brighter side, I increased my biweekly mortgage payments starting September and I am feeling good about this 🙂

weekly budget check – July 28, 2016

I have not recorded my weekly spendings and savings since mid-June because of the vacation I have had.

This week too I will not record it (will start next Thursday again), but I want to write down my overall experience with money right before, during, and right after the vacation.

Right before the vacation:

I relaxed my spending a little bit by buying last-minute gifts and requests by my family members and their friends. That sounds about right to me and I have no regrets. Things I have bought were useful and needed, and I am happy to provide them.

I also stopped doing grocery shopping for myself maybe 10 days prior to my vacation so that I would not need to dump out unconsumed food before I left. That felt right, too. I rather consumed what I had already had at the fridge, the frozen meals I had prepared earlier, or prepared meals using the food in my pantry. That also felt good, as I have a tendency to not consume the dry staples. Win-win situation 🙂

During the trips/at the airport:

Considering the expense, but more than that, the lack of variety of the airport food, I prepared sandwiches and veggie snacks for myself and happily devoured them during my airport/plane times.

I was happy to treat myself, too. Coffee was always welcome while waiting for the connections. So was the book that I purchased at one airport. I have had a 9-hour wait between connections at one point and that book helped me to spend time without getting bored or agitated; dollars well spent 🙂

As per water; I have had a plastic water bottle with me and whenever I found a filtered water fountain, I filled it. In some cases, this was not possible, which necessitated purchasing bottled water. Oh, well 🙂 That too was required and as such I have no regret.

During the vacation:

I have had budgeted for this vacation at the beginning of the year. So I did not care about spending my money within some limits. That, as you may be familiar with, feels good after a kind of strict budget that I have had :))) It is great to relax the rules and lift the “I should not buy this/make this purchase” thought. Freedom is needed in every aspect of our lives, I guess, however transient it may be.

Yet, at one point I thought if I continue like that I would over-spend my vacation money, so I needed to limit my shopping (especially for clothes). This did not negatively affect me, as I have clothes at home, some of them never worn, and it is time that I make use of them.

I was also moderately generous with friends and family and contributed to the food, transportation, and other expenses we have had together. I could have done more I guess, but it was still at an acceptable level. That feels okay.

After the vacation:

I am back to my regular budget. I have no regret or sadness about that. In contrast, it feels good. It is interesting that saving and becoming a conscious spender/saver becomes a delightful part of your life….

My checking account is still above $0, yet if I am not careful enough, it may rapidly drop below that level, which would not be good…. I am looking forward to making it stronger in the coming weeks/months.

It is interesting, overall, that we all have different types of relationships and beliefs about money. Often times, it does change over time, too. I have always been frugal I guess, but the “conscious spending journey” I have had in the last 1 year or so, has showed me that I can be better.

I am glad that I am not interested in extreme frugality/being a cheapskate, or being an over-spender. I am glad that I am interested in saving, limiting unnecessary purchases/expenses, and investing for my future and retirement. I still have my short-term and long-term financial goals, and more or less I keep up with them. I know there may be unexpected expenses in the future, which may derail me a little bit. But I hope I will find the courage to accept them as necessary and not dwell in the loss of money.

While lack of money is a negative experience that produces very negative feelings in me (anxiety, anger, sadness, and hopelessness sometime), I must remind myself that money is not everything; experiences and well-being of my loved ones are way more important. And my health and well-being, too.

It feels good to feel this way 🙂

random thoughts

A fine day. It is snowing lightly right now and it is a delight to look out of window. I am becoming more and more of a snow gal 🙂

I have finally got my tax filed this morning and I have got a tax refund. This feels good (in the past, it was not unusual for me to have a balance and send a cheque back to the taxman). I am relieved that this year I was on the positive balance side.

I, like many of us, plan to use this refund for saving purposes. My chequeing account will now be at a healthy level, and this is something I have been working very hard to achieve in the last few years. The satisfaction coming out of this is really cool.

I, of course, have also celebrated this achievement. Before you think that I spent my refund on a new TV or clothes or anything else that I do not need right now, please take a breath… Thanks. here is my account of celebration for the tax refund and knowing that my chequeing account is now above $0 and healthy:

  1. Chinese lunch: I walked all the way up to a shopping mall after I have got my taxes done. It takes around 40 min and I believe it is an healthy and lovely activity. I wanted to treat myself with a nice meal after I went thru some of the stores but not buying anything. I love Chinese food, but the restaurant there was about to close till dinner, so I opted for a food court restaurant. It was not the best I could eat, but I have and I enjoyed it. Cost: $11.50
  2. New socks and stuff: I desperately needed new socks. I do not know why but I happen to use up and damage socks pretty fast. That is okay. I also needed some other minor stuff. By taking advantage of a sale, now this issue is resolved. Cost: $35.0
  3. Candies for the office, dehydrated bread, and napkins: I happen to have candies or little chocolates in my office. I snack on them myself as well as anyone who comes over. I guess it is a nice gesture though one may argue they are not healthy. I hear you and I agree with you. That is why I now switched to a low sugar type of candy that comes in many different colors. They are cute and not as sugary as other products. I bought two packs today. I also bought paper napkins for a friend of my, who likes them and asks me to get some for her time to time. I also bought a pack of dry or dehydrated bread slices, which are awesome and crunchy companion for soups. Cost: $11.0

My total cost of shopping for needed items, little gifts for loved ones, and office treats today is $57.5.

And I am glad I have made these expenses. No regrets.

Now the rest of the tax refund will be used to do beef up my chequing account, which I will use for an annual personal retirement plan contribution in the coming months. Proud 🙂

weekly budget check

Another good week in terms of conscious spending:

Out of my $120 weekly allowance (that covers grocery, taxi cab – if ever, and breakfasts at the weekend), I managed to save $18.75 this week. This goes into my “fun fund” to be used for fun stuff later 🙂

Total accumulation in fun fund so far: $70

Savings from would-be-expenses (expenses I was tempted to but did not do, such as the cab fares as well as discounts I got here and there): $178.75

I am not naive enough to think that my budget will keep going like this for ever 🙂 I know that there can be and will be extra or unexpected expenses time to time. For example, next month I will have to make an RRSP contribution. That means I may need to use my line of credit, which means debt….

Oh, well 🙂

being single and saving

I started my lovely Saturday morning with exploring new blogs about saving, debt payment, and retirement.

I was enjoying this activity as much as I can; I thought “I am not alone in this journey” “there may be things that I can learn from them” and ‘I can do this, too, as now I have a great budget that works for me”.

Yeah, right….

I stumbled upon a blog on the net where a young couple plans to retire at the age of 35 or something. They seem to be doing well, both working and having decent salaries, with large houses and others. It looks like they do save one salary completely and some of the second salary each year. They claim to increase their net worth ~$12,000 every month (mostly from investments and savings from salaries).

The reading that started so exciting on this beautiful Saturday then turned into a sour feeling: I cannot possibly save that much….

I felt all my efforts to make the best out of each dollar I earn somehow felt inadequate… insufficient…. I felt like I was trying to swim in a little pond in the backyard rather than an ocean….

But, it should not!….

I am living within my own reality, not somebody else’s. It may take me longer than others maybe, but eventually I will accomplish what I hope to accomplish. I have no interest in early retirement, though I would appreciate the freedom to retire early should I change my mind in future. I may feel disadvantaged but I should also feel proud of myself.

And I think I should especially appreciate the fact that I am saving and investing for my future all by myself.

Saving for a single person is not easy; one income means one person’s expenses, but when you think about couples (assuming that both of them are working), they do share the mortgage and utilities (though it is also possible that they may have extra expenses for being a couple, like having two cars, bigger houses, date nights etc.). Nevertheless, on the average I believe a couple may be able to save more than a single person. Correct me if I am wrong.

I applaud all the single people out there who are trying to save as much as they can – you deserve that.

I also applaud all the people out there, single, couple, with kids or not,  who are trying to save even though they do struggle with daily expenses, debt, and lack of employment or social support.

We may not be able to save thousands each month, but we can keep doing what we can do best.

And for that, we need to acknowledge, cherish, and congratulate each other.

holiday plans :)

I have posted a similar post earlier, but hey, it is always exciting to think and plan for things to do during a 12 day holidays. So bear with me 🙂

1. I am excited that two days later I do not need to think about getting up early. That means I can stay up late at nights, my favorite time of the day – yay! 🙂

2. I can stay away from the office and the workplace for 12 days; while I like my office and work, this change is so welcomed 🙂

3. I will be able to work at my own pace without anyone interrupting me. I hope I will not get emails that will require me to work at the office. Murphy’s law though – there is always something that comes up during the holidays…

4. I will have breakfast every single morning 🙂 usually during the work days I do not have breakfast (not feeling hungry). I sure will try to visit different cafes, weather permitting.

5. I will find a chance to contemplate about my life, my needs, and priorities. The problem with being a work-oriented person is that I am so focused on work that I often times forget my out-of-work life. This holidays time is great for me to listen to myself and see which kind of life I would like for myself.

6. I will be able to shop! As a matter of fact, I have been on shopping freeze for many items/purchases in the last few months. The sales will be an awesome opportunity to buy stuff that I need (not necessarily the stuff that I want – I am still keen on being frugal, though I must confess I am less frugal this month. Not that I spend too much money on gifts, dinners, or travel; I just feel relaxed and opened the purse a little bit..)

7. I will be able to make plans for the new year – 2016. I always liked this; the planning part of it. Let’s see what has worked this past year (my budget certainly did work) and what did not (my healthy eating and weight loss attempts failed). Time to come up with better plans and new aims.

8. I have started compiling my financial situation in 2015; Thursday I will be able to calculate my net worth, how much I have spent, and how much I have saved. I am excited about this 🙂 I know that I have saved quite a bit, thanks to the budget I have implemented in June. I will be excited to know how well I have done. It is a great, motivating exercise. I also will categorize the expenses in 2016 in more categories. For example, purchases related to cleaning and personal products will be noted under a new category. This will help me to keep up with my weekly allowance, which I usually over-spend and which makes me feel not so good about myself (I used to count such expenses under the weekly allowance..).

9. Socialize! Yep, I will socialize with good friends of mine 🙂 looking forward to this.

10. Cook for myself. Yep, I will. I have a couple of dishes that I love but take time to prepare. Holidays have always been the time for me to cook them for myself. Good food = happiness 🙂

11. I will make myself some pasta. Yep. I will prepare the dough and cut it out in long and thin strips, and let them dry. It makes a great dish, especially with cheese. I plan to make around 2 pounds of this. I am assuming it will be enough for a couple of months.

 

things I do well for financial health

Ok – not everything about my spending habits is bad. Yes, home-ownership costs and I have some extra expenses, which need to be cut, but there are so many wonderful things I do to keep the cost of living manageable, to be fair and to be on the positive side, I better acknowledge them, too.

1. Unlike many people, I am not interested in having a big house, new electronics, or expensive furniture. Many things at my house are second hand (except my TV, my computer, my bed, and appliances etc.); I love using them (i.e. I did not buy them just because they were cheap). I use a long-distance card for out of city calls, my cable plan is basic, and my internet usage is mostly within limits.

2. Unlike many people, I am not interested in grooming products or services (e.g. manicure, pedicure, or regular hair cuts), I dye my own hair, and I use my clothes and other personal items till they literally got torn apart ( a little bit exaggerated here but it is almost true).

3. I shop and stock up durable items, such as cleaning products, dry, canned, and frozen food, and clothes when they are on sale. I imagine I save quite a bit of money with this habit.

4. I shop when I travel, where almost everything is cheaper than where I am, especially in the USA.

5. I usually buy my books from second hand stores. I am also a fan of thrifty/dollar stores where many stuff can be purchased at affordable prices. There is also a great satisfaction coming out of supporting the re-cycling and re-using the items and also helping the charity with their causes.

6. I am not subscribed to any of the magazines. I do not buy magazines from stores.

7. I am good at re-using stuff, including the shopping bags (great for my small garbage bins at home, which then are placed into one big garbage bag every week for disposal), and old clothes make great cleaning clothes.

8. I hardly eaten out, but when I do, I enjoy it rather than getting on myself.

9. I usually brew my own coffee at the office.

10. Unless really necessary, I do not buy bottled water; rather fill my bottle at the water fountain at work or filter my water at home.

11. Unless it is really hot, I do not consume soft drinks.

12. My diet is not heavily dependent on meat or meat products.

13. I do not have a health club membership that I do not use (I had 5-6 years ago; a yearly membership and I have used the premises only 10-12 times in a year…)

14. I do maximize my RRSP contributions every year, and also save and invest additional funds, however little they maybe.

15. I do not have a car, and therefore I do not have to pay for purchasing, insurance, parking (both in front of the house and at the work-place), repairs, or gas.

16. I keep a spending journal and I record all expenses daily. So far I have not gone back and ever looked at it, but at least it is making me concious of my spending and also I can see how much I spend each week. Most importantly, I also record how much I do save each week for expenses I did not do; for example for walking rather than taking the cab, for not purchasing something extra or unnecessary etc.

17. I do not buy CDs or DVDs (any more).

18. I do not host many people at my place; this is mostly because I do not enjoy cooking.. I love my friends and I would like them to come over, yet it is not a practical option for me. A side-effect of not hosting dinner parties is to be able to save money.

19. I do not travel for leisure, except to see my family. I used to make trips to see my friends in the past, but unfortunately I am not doing this anymore..

20. I do not have the urge to change either my kitchen items or my furniture. Again, I use everything almost until get broken or torn apart.

21. I use the electricity responsibly; only lighting up where I need it.

22. I also donate to charity, my family members and friends in need.

frugality

I have been always frugal, responsibly spent my money, and saved and invested as much as I could.

Not anymore. It is partially because my salary is much better than the past and I kinda feel the urge to make my life comfortable and easy. So, I have developed some “luxurious” activities, such as taking the cab (rather than the bus) and attending socials and being generous with them. Do not get me wrong, socials and being generous is awesome, but when it is one-sided, it is not so great after a while.

Today while at the shopping mall, I thought that the only way that I can have some control over my finances are to a) sell my house that costs me a lot to maintain, and b) going back to being frugal. Otherwise I do not see myself having financial stability in my life.

I made a pact with myself and the first thing I am crossing from my list is to buy meals for others. That happens 4-5 times a year with the team members that work with me. I somehow thought I should shoulder all the bills, which I have done so far. But I think I will cut this out. Other bosses around me do not do this kind of stuff, so why should I do that myself? You know what is the strangest things? Nobody ever asked whether they could contribute to the bill, or pay for their own meals? Why is that I wonder, as I would not let anyone to do this repeatedly. Anyways. End of an era. And it is good for me. If my team members would like to organize something and then invite me, I may go and pay for my own meal. That is it.

the second thing I will do is to cut the cab out of my life for ever. I have done well in the last few days taking the bus everywhere (work and shopping malls). Prior to buying my house, I would go to and come back from the office by cab and also go to the shopping centers by cab. When I think about it, it was cheaper than having a car and as such I did not care. Since last year, I try to walk or take the bus (mostly) from office to home as well as when I go to the malls. But in the mornings, I almost always take the cab. So, obviously I have made changes and reduced my transportation costs quite a bit, so well done with that. Yet, now I guess I can finish the rest of the plan and only take the bus in the mornings. That will decrease my transportation costs further.

Something to think about

I thought about taking today off yesterday night as I was very much enjoying the quietness and low-pace of the night, writing, and reading. But, this morning as soon as I woke up, and I woke up a little bit early today, I started thinking about things to do at the office and I was ready to roll.

Then, I opened the door and I have seen ~50 cm of snow at the foot step! By checking the emails, it was confirmed that it was another snow day in this long winter. OK…

Work somehow got into my day through emails and correspondences. At one point I was very much annoyed actually. That was the time when I decided I needed to listen to some music to relax. That went well.

That was also when I wanted to enjoy my day. While shovelling the front door (oh boy; it was the highest snow bank in front of my house; I shovelled around 3 meters long narrow path just to be able to get out of the house tomorrow; the height of the bank was, without any exaggeration, around 1 meter..), I had seen a couple of people next door with paper coffee cups at their hands. That gave me the idea of getting out to get coffee and eat something at the same time.

I did that; I found a nearby branch of a large coffee-chain open. Coffee was awesome, so was to be away from the house for 15-20 minutes. Bagels were not so bad, either.

So, three things I noticed today: 1) when the weekday hits, my mind shifts to being a “work mind” with no problem; that is good, because otherwise I think I would drag myself to work, which would not be nice. 2) If I commit to enjoy my day, I make an effort to do things that I enjoy. 3) coffee and food are usually on top of the list of items/activities that make me feel enjoying my day.

I am okay with all, but I better remove the food out of that list. I wondered; while the things that make me joyful are easy to acquire and quite affordable (that means I am not a “high-maintenance” person, who could be difficult to please..), was this also the cause of my unhealthy eating habits? if I wanted to eat something healthy but not bagels, I sure would have to pay more. Scientists were right; there may be a link between the financial health and the physical health.. Others might also be right; maybe the material should not be a source of our joy…

Something to think about.

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