when the good news comes

Well, my friends, looks like my hard work in the last one year has paid of a part of it – one of the projects I applied for is approved and for the second project I was able to gather some initial funds to help ask another organization to provide the remaining project resources.

Aaah. The sweet taste of being grateful, extra motivated, hopeful, and joyful 🙂

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Sunday morning musings

First thing first, I am enjoying my coffee – what else 🙂 🙂

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It is a beautiful morning, quiet and with an open sky. Traditionally we expect our first snow sometime this month. I actually love seeing snow. It is the ice and snow banks on the side walks that prevent me and others from safely walking during winter. Other than that, there is something nice and innocent about this fluffy white substance called snow…

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Anyways, did I mention that yesterday I participated in a community event where I and 5 other colleagues/trainees had a booth and distributed information and implemented games/puzzles to draw attention to our work? It was the best thing I have done lately, with lots of small kids visiting us. We have had lots of fun and laughter together. Knowledge exchange and dissemination directly with the public puts a significant meaning to our work and it is highly motivating. We must be doing more of these events!

Since this event took almost the whole day before 5 pm, now I must take care of the weekend chores including doing the laundry. My regular Sunday activity of baking a sourdough is on the list as well. And, today my friends I will try dry fig jam for the first time 🙂 Let’s see how this will turn out. A portion of the jam will go to my colleague who gave us a ride to yesterday’s event (together with the sourdough), to my friend who gave me the figs, and another colleague/friend of mine who has treated me to a dinner last week. I hope that I will be able to get a good jam. I have never tried that before but in my experience the recipes online are good enough and my first trials are always better than second trials! 🙂

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And the daylight saving adjustment is in effect as of today and we have one hour longer to enjoy in this beautiful Sunday. I wish all of you are going to have great time and make beautiful memories today 🙂

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sometimes the time just flies

Today was one of those days; time flied like nothing before. One moment I was eager to finish work and finally in the evening I realized I will not be able to do what I think I would do. That means this weekend will be a little bit busy with work. 

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My plans for the weekend are similar to before; clean the house, do the laundry, pick up milk from a store, prepare sourdough, and keep the yard tidy and free of weeds. And of course, some work…..It has been sometime that I have been to anywhere other than home, office, and a nearby store or two. It would be nice if I could visit the thrift stores or others, but I guess this will have to wait till next week.

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Why do I like thrift stores that much?

I shop there time to time. As a matter of fact some of my favorite blouses and fabrics are from thrift stores. It is affordable. More than that, however, I am interested in seeing different things. Thrift stores in my area are large and they contain more stuff and variety than the majority of the stores I know here. It is interesting to go through these diverse items. I particularly like the old stuff; like old metal objects or frames, which I would like to collect over time. I cannot wait till the next visit 🙂

Thrift Shop GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

By the way, I will be away for a couple of days in Europe. There is something great about the airports; they make me feel like I am leaving every issue behind and am ready for an adventure. This anticipation only should give me enough motivation to finish my work this weekend and the next week 🙂

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what future is like

I have been working in my field in a very dedicated and intense manner in the last 23 years or so. I worked in 4 different countries, did really well considering that I am a female and have been a “foreigner” in three of these countries (ah, yes I have been insulted, discriminated, and stereotyped many times), and have a great job that I think I deserve and is good for me. Except the stress levels and negative criticism that are inherently high in this line of work and the recent very annoying uncertainty about our future economy, salaries, and retirement benefits.

At one point in my life, maybe 10 years or so, I was again strained like this re; work opportunities and future stability, was having a personally bad time, and questioned how well this line of work was working for me, the efforts I put into it, its negative consequences to my mental and physical health, and what I was feeling like doing (sadly, I had lost my interest, enthusiasm, and dedication to my career and was desperately looking for an exit for a new, better, energizing, and positive life and work experience..).

It took me around 2-3 years to turn things around, by luck I would say (so grateful), but I was so lost (it is hard to figure out everything alone) and so depressed that it really hurt. Eventually, I never re-gained my naturally “extremely intense” enthusiasm towards my career. When such a strong bond, love if you will, is hurt, it is hurt for ever. My sincere verdict.

However, when I got my current job, I was filled with motivation and was still interested in, competitive and hard-working, even though that something was missing. I did really well, accomplished the majority of the things I put into my mind as much as the conditions permitted. Of course, I could do better. I always wanted to do better. And I could not at some points, because of some reasons. Whether they originated from me or from external resources does not matter. What matters is that I have changed, I have got tired of certain things, and now I want nothing but to change many things, including the topic of my work. I am hoping this will energize me and give me yet another push.

At my position, we are free to work on any topic we like (is that not fantastic?) as long as it is a productive and relevant topic. I think as the first step, that is what I will do; try to change the topic. That requires some thinking with a neutral state of mind, so hopefully I will have some time off to just focus on this. A new topic means a new excitement, another shot at an intellectual challenge 🙂 Always exciting 🙂 Problem is I have been meaning to do this for 3 years now; what are the chances of this happening anytime soon? We shall see….

Yet, not even this erases the scary fact that slowly, one thing at a time, my overall interest and dedication to this job, especially with the negative economic climate, are decreasing. 

Previously, I considered resignation from my current position many times because of the fact that it took me quite a while (many years) to adjust to the city and the work place culture, the stress levels it creates, lack of opportunities and support needed for a more successful career, and overall boredom that comes from many little things of life. Just this year I started not reacting badly to being here. But then started the provincial economic problems and the firings…. Talking about low work-place morale… This has had profound effect on me. I really want to get out of this situation and find a better, more secure job. I know the chances to do so is low, but I keep wanting this. It is only normal to want so. It is the human nature.

A couple of days ago, I was thinking; I probably have another 20 years to work before retirement (let’s cross the fingers… hope I will be able to work till then and hope there will be retirement possible at the future economic climate).

Twenty-years…..

Twenty more years I will struggle with the high level stress, criticism, reduced levels of enthusiasm towards my work… If I am lucky enough to keep my job, of course. Constantly I will find myself in the same situation with the need to handle stress, the need to change and improve the things, longing for somewhere new, some organization better.

The idea of constantly trying these has made me feel tired already.

Perhaps it is the best time that I quit this work and start another one/another career, maybe somewhere else with hopefully less stress levels. Will that ever be possible for me? Will I be able to work out and handle the stress better one day? I doubt it, but there is always hope. Will it be a better job? More secure? In a better city?

The more I think, the less it seems possible – status quo may be better than another position somewhere else.

So, what is it that I should be thinking about my future?

Well, unless I am fired from my job, I will keep going and doing my best. I know I can do this. I will focus on having a good life and putting in a positive attitude in my position. I will keep making financial plans and saving as much as possible to somehow help secure my future. I will take it as an opportunity, should they fire me, to listen to inner myself and find out what it is that I want in life and what my next chapter in life is like.

In the mean time, I sure can look for jobs, nothing serious but like a past-time activity, and who knows maybe I will come across one that will be a good opportunity for me. Where I will feel appreciated, valuable, and respected and where my efforts will make a significant and positive impact.

Until then, I am likely to come to this point again and again.

To make this easy, I think I must trust life. As a recent comment on one of my posts said (re-phrasing) “life does not work out the way we predict it to be, sometimes it is hard to understand the turn of events until we realize that whatever happened was only the start of a better life, better experience, better opportunity.”

objectives and money

I have been on an exciting and fun adventure of finding ways to spend less, cutting my expenses, and saving more and feeling great about all of these.

It has been a year that I started this adventure – the beginning of last June. According to my calculations I have saved around $7K within the last year, which is awesome.

How did I do it?

The main reason for me was to need it. My motivation came from having the ownership of an old house that can require serious repairs anytime. As a matter of fact, the second week I moved into my home my roof started to leak from multiple places. It took me around a year to get it fixed and when it was fixed, my chequing account was in the negatives.

I could sell the house, which I many times considered, but then I did not. I like it, the neighbourhood, the yard, and how easy it makes my life. Long story short, I decided rather to cut my expenses and get rid of the “I am penniless” feeling.

The majority of my life I have had a frugal life style. So re-assessing priorities and implementing shopping bans (on items like books I used to buy every weekend), taking the bus rather than the cab, following the sales and designing my meals around the items on sale, stocking up when other products are on sale, having a “no waste” policy in effect, making my own bread and eating out less than before, looking for ways to further reduce my unnecessary expenses by either being resourceful or by saying “no” have all been very useful.

Now my chequing account is healthy and I have a great budget that works wonders for me. I have one lump sum payment for an investment plan coming up next month, which I have already saved since the new year. I am hopeful that after that, I will be able to save a nice sum of money till the end of this year.

I have been thinking about what to do with the savings…..

I am one of these people who is motivated by having a clear objective and working towards it by frequent monitoring. The progress makes me excited and keeps me motivated. So, since I have reached my objective (i.e. having a healthy chequing account balance), I have been craving for my next financial objective.

I have maximized my regular RRSP, I have increased my payment for the HBP (home buyer’s plan) re-payments, and I am steadily saving and investing in my TFSA account. I have not maximized my TFSA yet; I had used a portion of it as down payment.But in three years or so, it will be maximized, too. I am not worried about maximizing it at this time, so I guess I am more inclined towards reducing my mortgage with my savings. That is my next big objective – exciting! 🙂

So far I have not made lump-sum payments to my mortgage, but that time is now coming. Yesterday, I estimated that with my current saving rate and without a hazardous expense, I will be able to save around 5K till the new year. I have been contemplating about this, and I decided to use it towards my mortgage principal. Since I am planning to increase my mortgage payments in September, when I hope will get a salary increase, altogether till the end of my term (I have 3 years), I will be able to drop the mortgage by a total of $12,800.

My aim is to make other lump-sum payments till the end of the term. The number I have in my mind is to reduce my mortgage by an additional  $7,200 during the term, totaling the extra payments to $20K. This is an ambitious but an exciting plan 🙂 I am pretty sure I can find a way to do this.

Do I think I can come up with this amount?

Yes, I can. I love being frugal and resourceful, and I love making good choices about my spending and money. Unless something drastic shows up I should be able to reach my goal…

Let’s cross the fingers – it is possible that the salaries may be reduced due to the problems in the economy. I hope not, but if it does happen, the mortgage plan may fail. Or, I will have to find additional ways to save more and reduce that mortgage. Exciting times :))

hope and dreams

One should have hope and dreams. In their absence, eventually, inertia follows and starts to win over intentions and efforts required to move up to a better place, a better life.

As I read and reflected on grief (after the death of my dad in February), I noticed that I previously grieved for my lost hopes/dreams, too. For instance when I lost the hope to marry the person I had once loved. It took me years to completely forget this person and I was in constant pain and missing terribly the happiness I had felt for my future. I had not noticed at that time, but this was one perfect grieving process.

So, what happened?

Nothing much; except that I also lost my ability to dream and get excited about my future life. I also understood what happiness was.

How does that feel?

Not great actually. I am constantly feeling the need to have a zest for life, but I also constantly fail to do so. This recurring, repeating cycle has nothing to offer but discontent, depressive thoughts, and not surprisingly, unhappiness.

Today, I have dreamed about finding the opportunities out there that would help me find a new job somewhere else; this would help me with initiating a new episode of life away from where I am right now. And that dream felt good.

I am not sure what made me feel good more; to have hope after a long period of inertia, or to be able to one day leave here….Anyways…

Do I deserve to be unhappy? Nope.

Do I deserve to be limited this way? Nope.

How many chances do I have in life? One

What prevents me from seeing the opportunities that may be out there? Only me and my mental blocks.

Will I be able to locate these opportunities at once and fast? Probably not.

Am I in rush to find them? No.

So, what should I do?

I can calm down and feel the hope and all the good feelings it brings along.

I can keep dreaming, as dreams are the ones that will give me the motivation and energy to look for opportunities.

I hope I will not lose these, too.

I do not want to grieve for lost opportunities. I want to claim them.

on being frugal and budgeting

I sometimes feel weird writing about these topics, but then why should I? Both of these concepts have made positive differences in my life, my bank accounts, and my psychology.

I admit that my recent effort of budgeting (starting last June) was motivated by fear. The fear that I would not able to manage home-ownership without getting into debt. It is fueled by a large sum of expenses made to repair my roof, which started to leak at multiple places immediately after I bought it. I possibly have a foundation problem too, which I have been “watching” since last year – when it reaches an actionable level, I will have to spend thousands of dollars to have it fixed. With one salary, this is difficult on me, even though my salary is good and I am very grateful for it. Plus, since I started saving/investing for my retirement late in life, understandably I was stressed.

This stress helped me to look at my spending habits with a fearful yet careful eye. I decided to control my expenses in an attempt to increase my savings and to have a peace of mind. It was difficult at the beginning, I still time to time get frustrated with my spending, but each day it only becomes better; I kicked out unnecessary and significant expenses out of my life, I am able to spend and waste less, and save more for future expenses. The fellow bloggers here also helped a lot with their posts as well as their support. Overall, I feel pretty good about this experience.

While I am more frugal, I do not feel deprived. In contrast, I am more abundant than before. I have some funds I allocate for miscellaneous (i.e. not must have) expenses, such as my weekend breakfast (cost less than $20/week). I make sure to buy things that will make me feel good (such as scented hand creams that I like). These for sure makes me feel like I am not restricted or deprived. That was one smart thing to do and I am glad I have kept it so far. Additionally, my purchasing power is increased somehow (e.g. by following the sales, price comparison between the two stores that are close to my house, etc. For some reason, I am not into couponing or apps…). I did not change the quality of the items I purchase; I still use the same brand of hair dye, toilet paper, toothpaste, food, or stationary items and others. They just cost less now as the value of my money is maximized. And finally, I have developed a better appreciation for what I have and for having limited waste (food to clothes or anything else). All of these help me to feel more abundant than before.

My saving has increased a lot as a result of budgeting and applying frugal strategies and it feels awesome to see the difference.

I can say that the enormous level of fear I felt last year is now giving me abundance, a higher level of gratitude, and hope for my future. I am also proud of myself. So many positive feelings here….I am surprised as well why I could feel this way while my spending is much less compared to before. See; as the habits change so does the mindset. I hope you also see the positives out of this experience if you are going thru a tough time financially and are budgeting or reducing spending.

cheers 🙂

random thoughts

A chilly day with an expectation of heavy snow tonite and tomorrow; we may as well have our first snow day of the year.

How do I feel? Under different conditions I would be excited to, yet I am not. It turns out I am supposed to sign a letter tomorrow. So back to office  I am tomorrow unless there is a seriously bad snow storm.

Honestly, I would not care much. This week too I have come home early from the office to work within the peaceful and atmosphere of my house. I have had a breakthrough in my approach to a big document yesterday, which has been nagging me for almost a year. A year…. What a, uhm… unusual and ridiculous thing that I experienced….

I am responsible of course for this delay.. I came up with the idea, wrote the document, formed a team, made a budget; then got feedback and revamped it, changed the idea, changed the scope, changed the budget; got another feedback and realized it was not clear; re-wrote it, re-changed the scope, re-changed the budget; and then I realized it still was not good enough because I was not able to get a sense of it; it had changed so much that it looked like a patchwork with no clear design, flow, or scope.

Thus, I did not work on it for months, always feeling the pressure and low self-esteem its delay created on me. I felt so inefficient. So not like myself.

Then, yesterday eventually I had a day with no other important thing to do and I started working on it. From the beginning. The text is now better, clear, and impactful. Very good – I was in love with my performance yesterday 🙂 I am not done yet I still need to polish it. I also need to fix the budget and other associated documents. I can do this – I have come this far, I can go even further.

It is just a matter of time and mental clarity + motivation now.

joy journal – Nov 5, 2015

joy 🙂

happiness 🙂

self-appreciation 🙂

joy 🙂

1. I am grateful for today; it has been a no-stress and productive day 🙂

2. I am grateful for the warm house, clothes, and the blanket that keep me warm in this chilly early winter night. We have had snow in the last few days, which is quite early. They anticipate a warmer than usual winter yet the reality seems a little bit different. In the last two years we have had harsh winters with power loss and lost of shoveling (more than I have ever done before): I am not looking forward to another one, but I am hopeful that things can turn around – who knows?

3. I am grateful for the 3 bags of ice salt I had purchased last year; they give me a peace of mind. A couple of years ago, the entire city run out of salt and managing ice in front of the house had become quite a challenge. I made a mental note to buy others when I  see them.

4. I am grateful for making a change, taking it easy, and having a breakfast at a mall this morning. I must do this more often; I must go other places at the weekend and see different places, eat different food, walk on different avenues. Good plan! I am also extra grateful that even though I was on a shopping mall this morning, I did not want to buy anything 🙂

5. I am grateful for taking the bus on the way back from the mall to the office; I am lucky that there has been a bus and I only waited for 2-3 minutes.

6. I am grateful for my gloves! They keep me warm in this chilly weather. I should start having my scarfs with me; I really needed one this evening as it was lightly snowing and windy.

7. I am grateful for seeing and chatting a good colleague and friend of mine today; always a delight to be around nice and positive friends 🙂

8. I am grateful for getting another positive feedback about my presentation on monday! Truly one of the a highlights of my professional life! It is so amazing to see what I say and how I say was useful, clear, and understandable. The feedbacks are so useful and so exciting. Do yourself and others a favor dear friends; please say, write, email or report good performances, positive impacts, or useful actions of others; whether they are your own, your family members, students, friends, or co-workers. And hopefully these individuals will start doing this, too. There is nothing more motivating than knowing that you have done well 🙂

9. I am grateful for the milk I have drunk tonite; I know it nourish my body and it is a tasty snack. I am not a milk-drinker, but started to drink it since September or so after my doctor recommended it for my bone health – I am grateful for medicine and my doctor who help me help myself 🙂

10. I am grateful for my boots; they are in good condition, walking in them is easy and safe, and they will likely to be functional this winter.

11. I am grateful for tomorrow being Friday. Fridays are almost always great! This weekend I am thinking about doing grocery shopping and maybe visit a thrifty store – just to have a different weekend experience and perhaps to buy a nice shirt. I know I have a shopping freeze for shirts till holidays, but my favorite shirts are now getting old; it would not hurt to check the store out; maybe I will get a good deal.

12. I am grateful for the food I have in my fridge. I could not consume what I bought last week yet; I would like to not let them go bad; so this weekend I will prioritize consuming the produce I already have. I also would like to buy different things this week – I am thinking avocados, almond milk, tofu or kefir, fish, and collard greens or broccoli.

13. I am grateful for not feeling the pressure to go to bed soon; I love the serenity of the nights and I would like to feel this as much as possible. It is awesome that my job is flexible and I have no obligation to be at my office at 9 am.

14. I am grateful for looking out of the windows multiple times today to enjoy the scenery; the colorful trees, ponds, and the snow all make such a nice view.

15. I am grateful for starting my new budget week tomorrow; now that I have my fresh weekly allowance, I feel abundant and rich 🙂

16. I am grateful for starting to appreciate the good things I do, however small they may be, after each thing that require an effort, I thank myself. After each kindness I show to others, I thank myself. After eating healthy stuff, I thank myself. After making good decisions, I thank myself.

17. I am grateful for having all these beautiful experiences in my life.

18. I am grateful for being grateful 🙂

random thoughts

I am very pleased to have a productive and positive work day today 🙂

I still have a lot of stuff to take care of, but at least I am back to my regular working energy; I am confident that over time I will move on things. That feels very good 🙂

I have got a very positive feedback today, which is always great to have! It is so motivating 🙂 I made a mental note to give more positive feedback to my team members so that they can also feel appreciated and motivated to do better.

Another good news was a small repair at home, which is finally done. We have been waiting for the part to be delivered to the repair company too long (more than 6 months). It was annoying and at one point made me very cranky. But I was very happy and excited to see, upon arriving home, that the repair company did it today (it is an outside job so I did not need to be at home at that time). Right before the winter. I am very grateful for this being finally done 🙂

I will be briefly work at home and hopefully finalize an important document this evening. After that I am looking forward to a relaxing night.

Cheers everyone!

random thoughts

It was a busy day, but there were a lot of social interactions and laughs as well. So I cannot complain 🙂

I am very grateful that there are two more work days and they are meeting free. That means I can focus on the urgent work at hand. I think I will have to work at the weekend, but that is okay, too. I incidentally invited some friends over; I am happy to host them although this is going to make my weekend a little bit busier. Nevertheless I am looking forward to it 🙂

This week, neither my budget nor the healthy life-style plan is going well, but I am not going to beat myself about either of them. I know myself – when the right time comes, I will do better. I right now am observing and analyzing; what is happening? what needs fixing? what can I do? I trust myself that with both of these plans, I will eventually do a lot better.

There is something so nice about trusting that the best is yet to come. That things will turn around  good. That I can and will do better. That there is something better coming after each struggle or failure. This has always been like this – frustration just means that there is something better I will get to experience, design, or plan. It is just a matter of time.

That is a good feeling.

I have other plans about my life and work that I would like to implement. I am excited to be able to handle them, too. Knowing that I cannot implement many new things all at the same time, naturally would like these two to work out well first (so that I can move on with the new plans). I have done well with the budget, though I still have a large unnecessary expense to erase form my life. The healthy – life – style plan is going good but not so good; I am generally eating better, cut out the bread and bagels a lot, I walk extra in the mornings; it is just that the weight loss is not there. Anyways, that too will happen one day; I just need to keep going 🙂

Right?

random thoughts

I need a plan to implement more exercise in my life.

That is why now I am trying to “remember” how much I enjoyed walking and exercise. How I felt during and after. How stronger it made my body and mind.

See, the beginning is the hurdle. For example, to exercise, first I must decide about a convenient and affordable place to go. My work place has a variety of work-out facilities. Are they affordable? Well, depends. What are the alternatives? I have no gym close to my home. So going to the work-place gym is very convenient; I can drop by after work, relax and work-out as I wish, and then walk back home. No hurdle here.

Second, I need to remember having some snacks with me prior to the exercise (considering that I cannot even remember packing my breakfast with me in the morning, this one is gonna be challenging). There may be a solution to that, though; I can stock up and keep the snacks in my backpack (which I will use to carry my sports clothes/shoes). Good options? Hmm. What are my options really? I do not want to eat nuts (I already consume them at the office). Granola bars etc. are not good for me (too much sugar). Seriously, what are good options as durable snacks for me?

Ok. Third, I need to decide about the dates; I would love to exercise twice a week for now. Which days? Mondays for sure – after the hibernating weekends, it will feel good. The second day – could it be Friday? I guess so. What other way to close the work week and start celebrating the weekend?

Fourth, when shall I start? The earlier is better, so I am aiming for the coming Monday. Good decision! 🙂

Fifth; where will I cut in my expenses to cover for the fee? Something to think about. The fee is about $35/month. I can do this, right?

Right! 🙂

healthy life – style journal, Sept 13, 2015

Turn of events (see the end).

Breakfast: Forgot to have breakfast at home and directly went to the cafe. What did I get? A bagel with cream cheese, one large cup of coffee with cream and sugar. I do not know why I ordered bagel again, but one thing is clear – if I do not have breakfast at home, or if I do not bring it to office, I either eat unhealthy stuff (like bagel) or do not eat at all (at the office).

I do not know why I do not have an habit of having breakfast at home.

Lunch: I went out to shop so I missed to eat something at home. I ate nuts (cashew – yummy but also fatty I assume).

Dinner: Chicken noodle soup, 4 slices of whole wheat bread, cheese, tomato and red radish. I did not feel like cooking something or preparing salad.

Bread and bagel have found their existence in my diet once again.

Anyways, enough with the rant.

Maybe I am doing it wrong; maybe I should not feel frustrated only because I ate bread or bagels. Maybe what I should be focusing is what I have done right. Intuitively rewards are much more motivating than punishment. Hence;

What did I do right today? Eating raw veggies (at dinner), protein (cream cheese at breakfast, cheese at dinner). Cashews are supposed to have protein, fiber, and fat (hopefully good type). Since I did not have salad but rather had the veggies as they are, that means I did not have the calories that would otherwise come from the olive oil (I always have olive oil in my salad).

ok – now this feels better.

exercise: walking, 10 min in the morning, 15 min in the afternoon. better than nothing.

random thoughts

For a book-lover like myself, it is weird that I happen to put notes on their pages. Such an habit certainly makes the books unsuitable for others to read. Plus, it actually a little bit disrespecting to these wonderful, and information and imagination full things that we call books…

Anyways, just yesterday I notice a benefit of this practice. I was re-reading a personal finance book that I am fond of and I came across my notes from years ago; I wrote two major and extra expenses that I was utterly unhappy of. As a matter of fact, whichever personal finance book of mine I look at, I find this recurring expenses and my wish to eliminate them…One of them is taking the cab rather than the bus or walking (to and from the office).

I have a very good estimate of this extra expense; I save $90/week by taking the bus in the morning and by walking in the afternoon, rather than taking the cab in the morning and the afternoon. This corresponds to around $4,500 savings per year. Considering I took the cab for many years (only because it was convenient and I thought I deserved this convenience), the total amount I paid for my transportation unnecessarily adds up to quite a large amount of money….

I knew it then and I know it now. But what I have experienced yesterday is the relief of knowing that this years-long struggle is now ended (as part of my “conscious spending” project I have been working on the last 3-4 months) . While I am still not happy about writing on the books, I am glad I put these notes there to remind me how long I have been occupied with eliminating this unnecessary expense.

An additional, and perhaps more cheerful thing is that I have been working on the second expense that I would like to get rid of. It too has been in my list for many years and I am making attempts to erase it. After yesterday’s experience, I am more confident that when the right time comes, that expense category will go, too. Then I will be able to cross them as issues from my life.

Priceless.

mortgage renewal

I went to renew my mortgage today; it looks like a couple of months earlier than the end of the term, it can be renewed and the new rates can start applied right away. I liked this as the interest rates are historically low.

I first wanted to have a 2-years term, which had an interest rate less than 2%; it is so appealing. Yet, then considering the rates may increase substantially in the next two years (who knows?), I opted out for a 4-year term. Plus, it is portable (in case I sell my current home, I can keep having the same rate on the condition that I get a new house and mortgage within two months). That was the most appealing part of the new mortgage.

Anyways, my new interest rate is just a little bit less than what I paid so far; so it does not look like I have gained anything. Yet, I increased my payments just a little bit and reduced the amortization period.

Where does the extra payment come from? A modest salary increase I have had today :))) I think that was a wise decision.

The numbers in the new mortgage are interesting: while the interest rate is not much lower than before, I think it is the (little) increase in the payment that reduces the principal more effectively than my current mortgage (the additional reduction is around $3,000 per year, even though the increase in payment totals to ~$2,000 per year). So I feel like I gained an extra $1,000 per year by this new mortgage. That feels good 🙂

When the bank rep showed me the principal amount at the end of the term, I could not believe that it was around 55% of the house’s price!  I never thought that in 6 years, I could pay 45% of the house. I think what they say is true – small increases in debt payment can make a huge difference not only in your debt levels, but also in your psychology 🙂

I am so motivated to increase or make a lump-sum payment to my mortgage right now. I just need to find out a way to save extra funds over the next years. Even it is an extra $20/payment.

cheers everyone

procrastination and venting

Have you ever experienced that you are not taking care of the stuff that you must and have self-destructive feelings as a result?

I am. As a matter of fact, it is a lot nowadays.

I have work-related, house-related, and personal healthy life-style related things to do; the majority of these have been on my to-do list for sometime. As such, the fact that I have not taken care of them makes me feel incapacitated and lazy. I do not like this feeling.

For work-related things: I am way behind some of them, which is really annoying. There were times that I took it light and did not work long-hours with a sharp focus. Then I went on vacation. Then I came back and the weather and the comfort of the home were so nice that I left the office early (though I kept doing light work at home). And eventually, now I am feeling very heavily the weight of the unfinished tasks. I have done a good job today at the cafe and then later at home, but still feeling not adequate… The only remedy is to have a hard-look at the items in my list and start committing my time and energy to them.

For house-related things: I have started some of them, but did not finish them all yet; caulking around the bathroom tubs, re-painting the window trims, staining the patches that lifted up on the front stairs and the back deck are the main ones. What am I waiting for? I do not know. To my credit, I have finished caulking around the windows and between the windows and the siding. Yet, it is not enough… And the weather will turn soon, start raining and all – I must complete these in a couple of weeks.

Also decluttering the house activity: I have done quite a bit; yet the most important one, the living room, has remained. It is the hardest as I have the most paperwork and clutter in this area. Again, what am I waiting for? (I am scared to start it, see; I know it will take me maybe a day or so to do a through job; I do not like seeing piles of stuff sorted out here and there. What is my solution??).

And for the healthy-life style related ones; implementing an eating healthy strategy is still a challenge. I did not go to office today and rather started working at the cafe. And guess what I have had for the breakfast? Muffin.. Who am I kidding? How am I going to lose weight and also nourish my body while I continue to eat bagels, muffins, and bread rather than whole meals? Why can I not cook meals for myself and refrain from those that I know are not good for me?

How about my walking and more exercise aim? I have not even walked today (only to and from a cafe 5 min away from my house). Why can I not work with the dumbbells at home, or do yoga or aerobic exercise following videos on youtube?

I think there is a little child inside me that prefers the comfort, easiness, and pleasure of not stretching myself to do these…. Even though I know that I must and I can. So who will win?

I had predicted earlier that that I would vent about my lack of discipline or dedication to the changes I would like to make… It is not something new, a consistent struggle, if you will. I am getting tired of this though (which is always a good sign – that means I will start taking steps).

Let’s see how this stage will go.

Once when I had vented here about my performance related to another change that I wanted to implement in my life, some of you had commented saying that I should be kind to myself and take it easy. I am kind to myself, but also have a tendency to choose the comfort over taking necessary items. So taking easy is out of equation – I have been taking it “easy” for quite some time.

I think my main challenge right now is to win over this internal fight, gather my strength, convince myself, and have a plan to follow. I will first start with the list of things I have done so far; at least they will give me a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes I find this as a necessary step to realize that I am already in the middle of the road and I can just keep going, pushing forward. Then, I will have an itemized plan for every single tasks in my to-do-list.

weekly budget check

This is my second week with the detailed budget and tracking the expenses in separate categories.

First of all; I saved $19 out of my weekly allowance. When I add on top of this the would-be-expenses (those that I was tempted to do but did not; mostly the cab fare replaced by bus or walking), this amount increases to $103. Great :). Over-spending would make me feel not good; I am really happy with making the effort to stay within my limit and achieving it this week, too. Psychologically it makes me excited, feel accomplished, and most importantly I still feel free to make expenses should I wish it. Not having a feeling of deprivation seems to be essential for me….

A no-deprivation-budget + Seeing tangible results = Satisfaction.

I have also had a chance to look at the expenses in each category (transportation – cab), eating out (including weekend breakfasts, dinner, and snacks at the office), grocery shopping, and others. In the two weeks I made almost the same amount of expenses in each category, which is interesting 🙂 I know I cannot generalize this information yet, but I found it intriguing.

When examined a little bit thoroughly, I see that my grocery bill is relatively high for one person; certainly an area to contemplate more. Also I have extra expenses that I can live without – they could beef up my savings. These expenses and the eating out category can be subject to “expense-freeze” time to time (maybe for a week once a month); this way I would not feel deprived off them but at the same time save additional funds and have fun with it! 🙂

I also notice that I make the majority of the expenses during Friday-Saturday-Sunday time frame, with much less in the remaining days. And through the end of the week (my budget week ends on Thursday), my motivation to not spend increases because of this. During these days, I try not to get anxious thanks to my `unexpected` expenses account (highly recommended) so that I will not feel like falling through the cracks by inevitable expenses – I have an annual amount of funds budgeted for this category, which is a relief 🙂 I do not forget to pamper myself (my weekend breakfasts are good examples) along the way, which also makes me feel like I am indeed not depriving myself.

Budgeting and being realistic and analytic is one thing, dealing with the feelings (fear of deprivation, fear of spending money, excitement of experimenting with a spending plan and staying on track, satisfaction coming with the sense of accomplishment and the confidence followed by it, and learning about myself, my patterns, priorities, and abilities) is another.

This experience has been valuable in more than one way 🙂

my another set of two-cents on budgeting and saving

Vastly because I am bored this evening and thus am looking for something interesting to deal with, I decided to write about budgeting and saving again.

While I am an experienced saver, I had not been for some years and the possibility of financial hardship in future and having a chequing account with almost $0 in it (mostly due to home-ownership), you know I have been trying to change things a little bit.

Read a lot, tried and liked some of the strategies about budgeting and saving.

Here they are:

1. Expense freezes: Stop purchasing items or services of your selection for a short and defined period of time. Short period are important as in my case at least, it tells me that this is not a total deprivation; I know for example I will start buying books again (I have one more month left out of two months freeze). It does not hurt when I have such a mental attitude (and freedom).

2. Change the items/services for the expense freeze activity periodically: After one freeze can come another one; rotate the things/services so that you will never feel deprived of any of the many items and services you like.

So, after books, what will be my new freeze item? I am thinking about not buying spice or tea for 2 months. I love spices and teas; but I already have so many of them at home and teas at the office; so why do I need to purchase new ones? Maybe the only one I can buy is the savoury; this spice has something very much appealing to me.

3. Take an inventory of items: That I find is a very surprising activity. I have not checked or emptied my pantry for sometime. I am sure when I go in it, I will find many stuff that I do not regularly use, currently possess, but nevertheless forgot. Many of the spice jars (some may need to be dumped as they go bad after a while) or tea bags I know I have are good examples. I know I have some canned food which I have not eaten for some time; is it not a waste not to eat something already available?

Just last week I noticed how many rolls of toilet paper and paper towel I have stocked up. I am not going to buy paper towel until I have 6 rolls left (it can take upto a year to come to that point). I can buy toilet papers only when they are on sale . Otherwise I am good for another year.

When I look for other parts of my house, I am sure I will find other items/goods I have forgotten I have. I have a facial mask somewhere, which I loved using….Time to find it.

4. Re-use if you can: I am sure we all do that somehow, but good to remind ourselves time to time.

I used to use cleaning clothes in the kitchen, which I would replace every two weeks. I realized I can actually wash them up and extend their usage. The books now I am reading, which I have bought years ago, are other examples. Or the shopping bags I use to protect the small garbage cans (rather than buying garbage bags). The list can be really long.

5. Forego the comfortable alternative time to time: I was writing a shopping list last week and I noticed that I would like to purchase wet mops to clean the floors. I am happy with them; they are practical, doing decent work, and when done go to the garbage easily. I will try whether I can clean the floors with other stuff, like paper towels or old clothes. Just for some time.

The most important one for me is of course taking the bus rather than the (comfortable) cab 🙂

6. Give yourself rewards: I cannot tell how good that feels. I am not talking about having big rewards, but eating out a couple of times a week, buying a hand lotion with a lovely scent, or trying new types of flossers that make flossing just a pleasant activity are among the rewards I have given myself lately.

7. Design a budget for yourself and track it weekly (and then monthly and annually): I have calculated my annual  income as well as fixed and variable expenses (an approximate) lately using Excel. I have a much better idea about what I can do, what I can change, and what I cannot. I also have an idea about how much I can save (both the maximum and a less, more realistic number). An unexpected positive outcome of this budget sheet was the realization of how well I was doing in some categories; for example the % of my retirement investments are above good. So even though I have little cash in my chequing account, I am not totally disadvantaged.

Short-term assessment of my budget, such as for a week, works wonders for me. I not only control my spending better (now that I have a motivation to see the progress in a week) but also see the general spending pattern I have; how much I spend for grocery? Cleaning products? Transportation? Dining out? Extras? How do I feel about all of these? Can I let go some of them? Should I include some more?

8. And the magic!: If there is a magic to saving and budgeting, it is to have the motivation. My motivation to save (more) came from home-ownership and serious repairs. I did not want to have a worse level of financial hardship in the future, so to help prevent it I am saving now. That is my motivation. What is yours? What are yours? Keeping a focus on the end-product can help you keep motivated.

9. And the extra magic!: Be grateful for all efforts you put into your budget and savings; the articles and blogs you have read; the funds you have saved; and your determination to keep going even though unexpected expenses occurred or you slipped off your track and thus your budget or savings do not seem to be working for you and you feel maybe disappointed with yourself or the process. It is important to recognize your interest, motivation, and effort no matter how the finances turn out. Be proud.

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There; now that I have written those, I already feel better 🙂

Good night everyone.

challenges, budgeting, and recent realizations

I am kinda excited about a couple of things regarding the challenges I assigned to myself:

The main thing is that even though I fall thru the cracks time to time, I keep trying to implement these changes.

Consider my (often painful) efforts to take the bus rather than the cab. Two weeks ago, I did it four day/week but last week none.. This morning I tried it again and I am motivated (for now). Taking the cab is convenience and satisfaction for me, taking the bus is inconvenience but good for my budget (and the environment).

Another thing I do is to keep reading about budgeting, saving, investing and most importantly, preparing a detailed budget and keeping track of it. For years now I kept recording all my expenses everyday. However, I hardly itemized them or gave them a cap amount. This time, for example I have a weekly discretionary allowance of $200 for daily expenses, breakfast, and grocery shopping (this may look like a big amount, but where I am fresh produce is very expensive and this amount also includes expenses related to cleaning products and self-pampering expenses such as the books and stationary items).

With the maximum amount of weekly allowance and keeping track of all expenses using an Excel document, I am very aware of how much funds I have left. So far I have spent 3/4th of my allowance till Friday, so I am not interested in making other expenses yet; I will see whether I can keep doing so for this week and the weeks to come.

One more breakthrough I have had lately, thanks to the detailed budget, was to realize that in terms of having a modest life-style and investing in my retirement plans I was doing above good. My biggest problem was to keep up with the expensive house repairs and to have some funds in my chequeing account. And to do the latter, I really needed to be frugal with my variable expenses, such as my weekly allowance, possibly for a couple of years. This is a long time, but I will see what I can do. I know I can do this and with each increase in the available funds, I am more motivated to move forward. Of course, there is a chance of an unexpected and required expense that may throw my saved funds and motivation out of the window, but until then, let me keep this wonderful feeling.

And just yesterday, I realized I should be considering even saving $200 as a major accomplishment. I have a tendency to calculate yearly expenses or savings, which I do not consider it as a major savings if it is not bigger than $3,000-$4,000. I was reading a book yesterday which said “have respect for your money“. That was the sentence that helped make me change my opinion on the “significant amount”.

Wishing to keep discovering about myself, my spending and saving habits, and my abilities to respect my hard-earned money.

challenging myself – updated list – May

Ok – now that I have some success (!) at integrating some of the challenges I have assigned to myself, it is time to expand it a little bit. I will keep almost all of them, but the new ones (in red font) will just enhance my efforts (green fonts my updates/experience on challenges).

Challenges:

challenge 1: take the bus (not the cab) – get up at 8.15am to catch the bus. getting used to it 🙂

challenge 2: eat better and healthy – cut out the carbs and consume more veggies and fruits

challenge 3: walk an extra 30 min at the weekends – I got it 🙂 with this beautiful weather, staying inside does not feel good.

challenge 4: do not buy books for two months. I think I did buy a couple of books since then, but no. Not unless I feel the extreme need to pamper myself, no new books for two months.

challenge 5: cut out the bagel breakfast- one bagel/breakfast. Could not do that yet. Tomorrow is another day – I will see.

challenge 6: do grocery shopping as required and buy small amounts – many stuff perished in my fridge so far – what a sad waste. Going well. I am not interested in limiting my diet, only to not waste. So far it has been going well.

challenge 7: start listening to music and relaxing 20 min a day; this is done easily now thanks to my computer and youtube.

challenge 8: drink at least one cup of tea a day. I easily and lovingly do this during the week.

challenge 9: get up in the morning and smile to yourself and hum a song. well, remembered to do only a few times. Made a mental note to do more often.

challenge 10: look outside the window at the office three times a day – enjoy the view and relax. This has been one of the most consistent one. what a wonderful idea. With no ego I can say my office has the best view among all on my floor. Plus, when I am at home I get to enjoy the view from my yard.

challenge 11: record the progress in these areas in breaking the routine or joy journal categories. Not necessarily in these pages, but I kept posting them somewhere in this blog, good job 🙂

challenge 12: increase the contribution made to the RRSP account. Nope. This is not happening. This gotta wait until my chequeing account moves to a positive balance.

challenge 13: during the day remember to smile. oh well.. sometimes. Just sometimes.

challenge 14: lose 15 pounds in two months – record weight and food consumed every day. Ok. This is hard to do but I am trying. By means of limiting bread mostly. There is a 5 pounds difference, but hey that happened before, only to gain again in a couple of days later. I am not keeping my hopes high re; this challenge. I will get excited when I lose 10 pounds.

challenge 15: stick to the plans – I have done these before and I can do it again. I am. to my best. I am so motivated nowadays that I am increasing these challenges today.

New challenges (as of today):

challenge 16: comb the hair everyday. Mornings are great when I usually have a couple of extra minutes before I leave for the bus.

challenge 17: spare 5 min every day to breathe – just to breathe. 

challenge 18: apply sunscreen every morning.

challenge 19: apply moisturiser every night.

challenge 20: every week, eat two different food from last week – whether veggies or fruits or others. Change the brands or types of canned food or others I regularly consume.

challenge 21: take the stairs at the office (2 storeys) at least twice a week.

challenge 22: write the joy journal every day; no matter how dry or repeating it may feel. It always makes me feel good.

random thoughts

it is the Victoria day, but for people holding my position, it is interestingly not a paid vacation. Thus, I was at my office this morning.

I worked around 4 hours, in which I was capable of taking care of many tasks. One of them I dread so much that I can hardly do on time; I have been delaying for 1.5 months and finally today it is finished. But I must say I really needed to combat with my mind to do it 🙂 When done, of course, I was happier and feeling better. Now I can focus on other stuff. Good job.

It is a little rainy day today. I like the rain only every once a while; today I like it because I believe this light rain is good for the seeds and plants I planted in my yard during the weekend.

Happy growing you little things. I hope at least one of you will survive and when I see you, I will be able to get crazy motivated to do more in the yard 🙂

random thougths

I have made some financial goals lately – for two months I will restrict some extra expenses and see how it will go. If I can save some money, then I am planning to invest it in my RRSP (retirement investment plan).

I did some calculations. At first I thought the savings, for example, by not buying books for two months did not generate a substantial amount of savings. It discouraged me – why should I stop doing one thing I absolutely love (I like being in the bookstores and buying books slightly more than reading them.)? I decided not to cut it out.

But then, there were other expenses, bigger or small, which added up to a nice sum in two months. Just two months. This time period is good because I know that it is not forever and I will be able to continue my regular spending pattern after that. So being financially-conscious for two months does not bother me at all. I found this very interesting, very motivational, and very essential (psychologically) for success of my plan.

I am not sure I will be able to stick to this plan and whether I will transfer the savings into my retirement plan, as I would like to. But it is certainly worth trying it.

One other thing I noticed (which excites me very much) is that when I decided to shop twice a week rather than once a week, and buy food in smaller quantities each time, I actually have a better appreciation for food. Especially the fresh produce, which I would not find time to eat/cook until they get bad. I am committed to not waste food. That makes me happy.

It is interesting that while we try new approaches, attitudes, etc., we get to notice many things about ourselves and our relationship with things in our lives.

I love trying and then learning along the way. Life is good 🙂

I am very grateful and thankful

Despite my best efforts with books and the rest, I actually had a little bit boring Sunday.

Until I got an email an hour ago notifying me of acceptance of one of our projects! The project was re-submitted after years of hard work and hard-turns. It was also rejected by somewhere else previously. I was really nervous and not hopeful in the re-submission made a couple of weeks ago.

Yet the good person who I had submitted the project to, accepted it.

I do not know that person, but certainly I am so grateful and I thank him here.

I also thank all the people who directly or indirectly contributed to it, its data, and its writing.

I thank myself; I have to. I worked so relentlessly on it, from design to finding people to work on it, to convincing people in my unit that it can in fact be done. Six years of effort.

Now I am happy and hyperactive. It is getting close to my usual “going to bed” hour, but I do not think I am sleepy enough. In contrast, I am full of energy and excitement.

The increase in energy is not the physical energy, but rather the “inner energy”; the feeling that I have accomplished something of this calibre before all other competitors, and that makes me feel “confident”, “accomplished”, and “plain happy”.

I have a great motivation to do better projects.

It is okay if I cannot sleep tonite because of my hyperactive brain; it does not change the fact that I am very grateful and thankful.

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