totally random thoughts

It was another day with lots happening at work. I am not complaining. I realized that as long as I do my best, I am content with whatever is going on at work.

It was a fine day with blue sky and warm temperatures. Do you not love such Fall days? 🙂 It was a blessing and I took it up in my memory to remember later and be grateful now.

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I am not eating well and this shows on the scale. I have lost a few pounds lately and I am feeling cold today. Tomorrow night I have a meeting till 9 pm, so I cannot shop, but Thursday is the day to get some warming food. Raisins would be nice too – they are sweet and have iron, I heard.

When I am cold, I often suspect being scared. I do not know where this association comes from, but that is alright. I have my blanket on and feeling warmer each minute. I also thanked the thoughts going thru my mind a few minute back (all negative or worrisome), as I came to realize that they are there for a reason. My mind works on them so that I can be prepared for the worst. This habit creates anxiety but trusting the benefits of it also makes me take feelings generated much easier. Wisdom? Distorted thinking? Maybe.

I am feeling a little above the sea in terms of the things that I feel anxiety about. As I wrote yesterday, no matter how big or small the issues, I have a tendency to look for and dwell into issues. The more issues I have the more I prioritize and then dwell on the biggest. I really would like to believe that I have a limit to anxiety and once the roof is reached, it cannot get worse than it. Only go down from there. Either I manage to do so, or I get support.

Mental health is such an important issue. I am becoming more and more aware of its importance. I have been planning to go see my counselor again sometime, but I have not complied with their advise (e.g. eating better, walking and exercising to reduce my stress levels). So I feel like if I go see them now, I will start from the beginning. What is the point of, then? I must say talking about my stress was therapeutic, as facing an issue almost always reduces its power. Perhaps just for this reason only, I must go see them. Considering that I am not sure whether I am turning things around or approaching yet another crisis, making a new appointment looks like the best idea.

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The thing about my work is that it does not leave much time for anything else. I have so many other things to do. Do I have to wait for the retirement? Will it ever be able to retire? Will I be able to do the things I would like to do now then?

Why to postpone life?

This is a powerful question.

One benefit of the stress and pressure I experience at work is that I constantly question whether this whole thing is worth it. Why do I not spend time with my family instead?

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Truth is that I cannot be sure of I whether I will be at peace and anxiety-free then. Unless I change myself and manage the anxiety easier, no matter where I am, I am probably going to feel similarly.

I am determined to turn things around.

If I cannot, then I trust that life will show me the best way forward. Maybe it will be a good thing to quit this job when it comes to it.

We shall see.

 

 

 

 

 

very random thoughts

I have hardly anything to write about in my mind right now, but who knows what the next minutes will tell. So, here I go.

I am having another episode of high-focus work and as such am highly irritable and somehow easily bored and agitated. The last weekend I went to shopping twice and while it made me feel good, my bank account is not doing well.

As a matter of fact, when compared to last year I am spending much more and the truth is that I find all bunch of excuses to do so. How is this serving me, I am not sure. At one hand, I have instant gratitude by taking the cab (rather than walking or taking the bus) and by eating junk food. On the other hand, I am hardly grateful for these and rather feel sorry about not keeping my money. It is a dilemma that I have experienced many times and I am sure I am not the only one.

My relationship with money has been always interesting. I am known to be able to save money since my childhood. It makes me feel good and more secure. I keep a simple and modest life. I am not into material. The money I spend on cab or junk food is not high; under different conditions I could as well be spending the money on a car and its maintenance. So, what is the problem?

Problem is that if I want it, I can cut out these expenses quite efficiently.

My problem is my own preferences, which are often getting expensive when stressed or need to work really hard.

My significant problem would be home-ownership and the mortgage and other expenses coming with it. It is a significant portion of my income.

My other problem would be the bad economy that is eating up our incomes with extra taxes.

My most significant problem would be that I started saving for my retirement quite late in life and as such whatever I can save right now is golden for later.

My problem is with myself and how I feel about money, the comfort it brings and the comfort I may not get in the future as a result of spending it today.

It would be so nice if we all have had universal income. Or go back in time to my youth and make better career choices.

Whatever you do, my friends, try to save and invest as soon as you make money.

 

 

 

what would I do when I retire?

I want to retire in 8-11 years only to get rid of the stress and ridiculous issues that I deal with everyday at the office.

A few minutes ago I thought about this: what would be my retired life like?

It would be free of work related things, I would have some kind of financial stability/security, but then how would I fill my life? What would it be like?

This is an unknown situation. As someone living alone, I probably would need some human interactions. I think I would have a part-time job. That would also give me some pocket money. I can switch jobs easily too if I do not like the environment. That is a relief.

What else?

I think I would travel a little bit with tours. I have no interest in going around the world by myself at that age. Too much stress. Tours, on the other hand, would make this experience easier. I would love to go see the South America and Europe.

What else?

Would I write a novel? Poems? Where would I publish them? Would they be good? If not, why to write at all?

What would I do really??

Would I be free of stress? I think not, but at least I would not have the stress of work. I think I would be stressed about other things.

My health for one. I would probably stressed about health problems. Right now I am free of chronic diseases, but heck, anytime something may show up. So..

Life does not wait and time flies. I think I should stop thinking about retirement and rather focus on how to have a better and more fulfilling life.

What would make me more joyful and fulfilled now, I wonder?

Spending good time with my family. Having laughter. Feeling energized and hopeful for the future. Being more in the moment. Caring less about work and more about my life experiences. Being more positive. Seeing opportunities more. Taking opportunities more. Changing things that do not work. Removing toxic experiences and people from my life. Caring less about money and having less anxiety about future financial well-being. Being more spontaneous. Joking with life. Dancing with life.

Do I want too much?

 

 

let me end this unfrugal spending scheme

I have made more expenses in the last three weeks than any other time since the new year. I possibly spent 3X of my regular allowance. This does not feel good. Most of the expenses are for junk stuff and cab rides while I was trying to keep my head over work and work issues. Throw in a social and hosting two dinners (one last weekend, one tomorrow) and you can get the idea.

I am determined to pay this mortgage off in the next 6 years. This means I am reducing the time into half. I must and can save more while I have a salary. This must be my priority.

From tomorrow on, I will be on shopping ban; no thrift store or other purchases till October, unless absolutely needed. I will not buy any furniture or clothes, either. Absolutely no cab rides!! I will have my hair done, though, since I am transitioning to gray now. The journey has started and will be completed. I do not expect socials either. At least I will not be inviting over anyone. Well, maybe a couple with lovely kids. We will see.

The only purchases acceptable are:

  • baking items (I will need bread flour and whole wheat flour soon)
  • veggies and fruits
  • milk and yogurt
  • eggs and occasional meat products
  • personal hygiene products

I also am going to do another pantry challenge and focus on consuming the food I already have before filling my pantry, freezer, and fridge again. That will be exciting and I am really looking forward to this.

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planning retirement

I want to quit this job, but logically retiring from this job is the best.

I am looking at another 11 years, I have decided this evening. I can retire in 8 years but the pension is not good enough and the mortgage will be just paid. I need cash in addition to these.

So, my plan is to pay off the mortgage in the next 7 years and then save the mortgage payments I now make as cash. I will in the mean time continue to do my investments (RRSP, TFSA). These should give me some peace of mind. I hope I will not have a significant life event that requires a lot of cash. This plan is dependent on such an assumption.

I currently pay around 15K/year to mortgage. This year I started to make extra payments, totaling around 5K a year. I will make an effort to increase this a little bit more. No more fooling around with stress and making extra expenses, like I have done in the last 3-4 weeks. It is time that I return back to my wonderful budget I started in the new year.

I will make my life work here. I will make my work work here. There is so much I can do and perform. Maybe not what I want to do, but I will focus on what I can do. One year at a time. In two year comes a major promotion that I want to get. That means the next two years I am appliying for projects and forming better collaborations. My aim should be to prepare 4 projects/year.

I decided to become lean in terms of my work schedule and I will be removing myself from one of the committees I am a member of. I also will focus on work during the day and will not think about other stuff. Work is important and I am getting tired. My energy and efforts and time should be better protected.

I will also relax and trust more. Myself, universe, that something great will come. I hope I am not mistaken about this.

My pension 11 years later will not be huge, but just enough. That is good enough for me. I can always start a side kick and get occasional extra income.

I can handle 11 years. It is a definite time period. It has been 9 years that I have moved here. Time flies, but hopefully not so fast till then; I would like to enjoy my life, find my life’s purpose, and feel better about myself and life until then.

The moral of the story is that money is important. It does not matter how young or senior you are, you will need it. Keep it as much as you can while you have it.

 

 

the sixth day of “work” staycation

The morning went well, but I lost my hope for success in the afternoon again. Being a naturally skeptical and highly critical person, especially towards her own, I am not surprised with this.

I work, work, and work, and only a small fraction of it goes into “recognize me” bin. All these efforts, careful and meticulous work, time, energy, and deals with stress I put into this work seem to wash away and bring me from all the way bottom to all the way top, the feeling of being inadequate. Its pain and heaviness are inescapable.

I wish I could retire. I do not want to say that I wish I was old enough to retire – I have a life to enjoy and explore still. I want to fully immerse in it before it becomes too late to do whatever I can do with my healthy and able body and mind. But nothing makes me feel more remorseful of having only a little amount of money saved, which prevents me from even thinking about retirement.

They say education is great and a must, and what an education I have had. I have got a PhD degree, worked in four different countries, did countless of interesting work. Yet it was not only after 36 that I could get a job with benefits (including pension plan) and only after 38 that I have got a job with a decent salary. I want to ask; where is all my knowledge, skills, and experience now? Obviously while my efforts, tears and sweat have benefited many organizations, countries, and people (for which I am actually happy), here I am at mid-40s struggling with the idea of leaving a job that constantly makes me feel low, stressed, and unappreciated. Where are the benefits of all my education and capabilities when it comes to me?

Low self-esteem should be broken by all means; nobody is as “low” as one can think. I cannot do this in my case, however. This has been like this for years, fueled by my current position. I competed with many talented individuals to come all the way here and here at this position I am not capable of going any further. I cannot blame others or the conditions, but I cannot blame myself, either. I gave my best and countless numbers of hours and brain cells to this work over the many years. I cannot take this feeling anymore.

I want to believe that even without attaining the level of success I wish for myself, I still can and do great work. I know many people at my position going through the same struggle, and even performing less than me. Yet, they are good at standing, talking, and walking tall, in contrast to me. My own hardship on myself, my own expectations from myself, and my own frustration are the ones that drag me down in my own eyes and then in others’. I sometimes think that this job is more about mental stamina and confidence, however false it can be, than having the capabilities, skills, and excitement for creativity, quality, and effective work. I lack that stamina. 

I once had told another colleagues of mine at administrative level that I was more of a manager than a leader; I get things done. He was understanding and said that “….a leader is great, but a manager is even greater. Leaders open the way and develop the ideas, vision. Managers are the ones that make it reality….” How great is that?

I am affected by the lack of effective leaders at my organization as well as the lack of transparency, trust, and presence of lots and lots of silos. I need a leader that can open the way for me and provide me with better resources so that I can soar. Yet, nauseating truth is that I am supposed to be a leader of myself and do all of these. Nobody is going to care about my conditions, needs, or improving my morale. It is all on me.

I wish I could just stop resisting this frustration and accept myself as a failure to find some kind of peace and perhaps identify new paths to explore and move forward, but I am not capable of doing this. I have either a competitive nature that I am not consciously aware of, some kind of hope that does not go away and keep pulsing in my mind, or I am in fact better than I think I am. Not necessarily awesome, but just better. Whatever the reason for not accepting myself as a failure is, I am not sure whether I am grateful or not. What I know is that my time did not arrive yet, so I will keep going, even under harsher conditions. Eventually I will figure out how to make “lemonade”.

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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.”

random thoughts

We are waiting for yet another storm in a couple of days and naturally I shopped this evening and stocked up some fruits and veggies.

I am not looking forward to this storm yet; I am not interested in shoveling, not going to office and not taking care of the work, and spending another day inside. 

But what can I do?

Nothing much. So, I may as well choose to enjoy it, should we get another snow day or two. As a matter of fact, I think it will be a good opportunity to try sewing a simple blouse again. We shall see how this will go.

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There are talks about “firings” to happen in my organization. The provincial situation is really bad and it shows itself in the lay offs. The morale is low and the future uncertainty and the fear of being without a job or its benefits are giving me a chill. I feel for the people who are laid off so far. Sometimes I think if that to happen to me, rather than feeling saddened by it, I should gracefully accept, collect myself and my belongings, sell my house, and go for a trip for a year or so. Just to find myself; just to figure out what I want in life. What I need in life. Without too much of thinking – like I have always done. Freedom should feel good. It always does.

This being said though, I would not like to lose my job. I do not wish to lose my job. So, I hope this kind of freedom will have to wait till my retirement. 

Since the current provincial government is pretty interested in increasing the taxes, firing people, and reducing the contributions for important services, such as schools or hospitals, our future looks pretty gray, including pension plans.. One wonders how this government could take such extreme measures and created such a depressing outlook for our current life and the future one? This feels so surreal; not having the safety/security and hope for our future while we put 100% of our minds and hearts in to our works and the daily economy. I am very disappointed. Perhaps it is for the best if they let us go and we find jobs and lives somewhere else. That crosses my mind so frequently. But, I should stop giving the wrong messages to my subconsciousness. I like my job and I would like to stay. I do not wish to lose my job.

Looks like my mental judo about the prospect of bad economy, seemingly impossible retirement, chance of being fried, and a currently secure/safe job, and my need for it and everything else it does bring (salary, benefits, a sense of meaningful life and efforts) will continue some time. I hope the future will bring positivity rather than desperation.

I want to continue to like life.

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do not listen to the negative projections about the future finances

This is one advice I am trying hard to give myself…

As if it was not enough that our organization was talking about lay offs, now it also talks about a pension reform that will increase our contributions and remove the inflation index.

We are screwed..

As if that was not enough I found a pension estimator tool from our HR’s website and guess what? Even before the pension reform, If I retire at 55 (which I would love to), I get something that would not even be enough for my essential expenses (and also consider that it will not be indexed to inflation), and at age 60 and 65 it would increase a little bit but nevertheless would not make me a comfortable retiree.

So, if I may ask, what the hey are we supposed to do??? Work till the end? Throw ourselves out of somewhere out of misery? Stop eating? Stop getting medical care? What exactly are we supposed to do with this economic problem, uncertainty, and hopelessness? 

I just can keep saving, investing, and keeping my job, I say to myself….. If you have any other good idea, please shoot in the comments area. Otherwise, I am off to finding out how to better penny pitch…

the fifth and the sixth day of the staycation

Finally I feel like I have done quite a bit done today 🙂

Yesterday I baked three different loaves for a social I was invited to, cleaned some more parts of my house, had great time with four kids and four adults at a lovely dinner.

I am glad the socials are done. I just need to host a friend of mine whose mom is visiting them. This, honestly stresses me out as I am not a great cook. But, then the way I see many people are not, either (a positive outcome of frequent socials in the last few months). So I say – go for it and enjoy! I cannot wait this “task” in my to-do-list to be over (see how joyful I am about this? argh…).

And I am done with cleaning the kitchen, floors, and every single corner of the house today 🙂 I have more space in my fridge and kitchen cabinets now. No need to say that I am dumping a fair amount of clutter and gathering items to be donated. It feels good. I am not done with decluttering, though. I still have my storage cabinet to be cleaned and decluttered. Honestly it always scares me, but I think I will be fine once I start it.

I also need to wash two shag rugs at a nearby laundromat. After that I want to sell them. There I said it… I bought and use them with love, but I think it is time we depart our ways and get new ones…. That also feels good to me 🙂

My rotary cuter and cutting mat are not delivered yet – they were supposed to be here last Thursday, but alas.. I have been waiting for them to start doing some serious sewing but this afternoon I was not feeling well and I decided I could work it out somehow. And I kind of did – I sewn a lovely yellow and large dish cloth to be used on my counter 🙂 It is simple yet lovely and I am sure it will help me keep me my counter dry.

As my to-do-list is being taken care of, my reflection time is coming along…. Somewhere above I mentioned I was not feeling well. I missed my family and I am very aware of the fact that none of us are getting younger. When there is family there is love and when there is life there is death.. 2 + 2 = 4. It is very scary. I love my family and I do not wish to them to die, but this can happen anytime. Heck, I may die myself anytime. Why am I away from them? When am I going to be done with the work and start spending time with them? I was not planning to go visit them this year, but I guess I will do it – I want to do it. I was telling a friend of mine the other day – if I could retire I could quit work, too, but I just cannot. Money is not the most important thing, yes, but it can provide opportunities and some kind of happiness, right? Right.

The past one year I have been grieving after my dad and my relationships with the rest of my family has been slightly strained as a result. I am still grieving for my dad, still feeling the reality of death (some mornings I wake up thinking that “there; one more day of my life to be wasted. yet it is so precious. How can I enjoy i and make it more meaningful?” I have no answer to these questions…), but I have nowadays started to feel the fear of losing my other family members.. This clenches my heart…

I believe it is time that I care about my family members more.

After his death, I developed this strange fear of forgetting my dad, but I know that this will not happen. I think my father too would love me caring for the rest of the family.

Self-reflections to continue…..

 

 

The delicious part of my life

Yesterday, I wrote about an advice my dad had given me a couple of years ago, about “enjoying the delicious part of life”. I have also mentioned about my intention to read books to help myself see/develop a better route for my future life and self.

Well, I have one book like that, which kind of captured me at its first chapter. It says “we can choose to choose”. We can decide to make choices so that we can look for new ways or alternatives to enrich our life experience and, hopefully, progress into a life we want.

I have a couple of wishes and changes to have, but I would like to come up with more. In order to realize what more I could have, I decided to first note those that I have made my life better than before. I noted them below.

This has been a truly therapeutic exercise for me…. I was not aware until now that I have had actually taken steps to improve my life and my experience, and the way I work or relax, especially in the last few years….. I am happy to see that I actually make changes and improve… And the way I see, my dad would be proud of me for doing all of these and he would see that I actually have a good life. Yes, I am alone and away from family and that I miss mostly, yet almost all other aspects of my life are going well..

Daddy; know that your daughter is doing really well.

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A. Job: I have the best and the most suitable for my self. It is meaningful and usually enjoyable. It is also challenging and sometimes quite stressful because of the pressure (who does not?) we have in terms of constantly having success indicators, deadlines, and output. Yes, I have spent many years at school and got trained in many different places. But I am one of the few lucky or good enough to have a position like mine. So, I must cherish my success. I know I can do better and I will do better, too, as my abilities are increasing each year.

would I change it?: No, not right now. I may develop other interest later in my life, but this is the job I was born for.

things to improve: Better time management and sharper focus to take care of things hopefully on time. I seriously need that to improve my success rate and to reduce my stress levels. I also decided that I do not need to undertake more than I comfortably can.

B. City I live in: A small and safe city where things are simple and easy. In terms of cultural activities, it is a limited place, but at least it is very easy to live here.

would I change it?: If I must change it, I would rather go back home. So, unless something drastic happens (like losing my job), I am not planning to look for jobs somewhere else. If I like, I can visit other cities time to time. I am staying for now and that is good to know.

C. My home: I bought my home 2.5 years ago. A 90 years old town house that was newly renovated, yet 1 week after I moved in, the roof started to leak from two different places. Talking about remorse…It was a cold slap on my face that created anxiety and depression. After a long search for a repair company, I got it fixed after 10 months. So far, no problem with the roof, which is awesome. yet, I have a crack on one of my inner walls, which I was told was a foundation problem. We are waiting for a drastic opening of the crack to start repairing it. It still gives me the depressive moods. Other than these, I am very happy with my home and the way it feels.

would I change it?: Not planning for now.

unexpected benefits of the house problems: Since the house repairs have created anxiety, I last year realized that unless I have changed by current financial situation, I could end up having a huge problem in the future. This was an additional anxiety. This is why I started to have a budget and I am saving way better and more than I ever thought about. My savings are around $10k/year. When I think about this, I kind of feeling like my house actually helps me to save money to take care of it, without sacrificing my quality of life or the life style I have. Hence it is weird but also very satisfying to say that I am very grateful for the initial house troubles that now have made me more abundant and financially sound.

D. My neighborhood: I am happy with it as it is close to everywhere I need to go. I can walk to my office, there are two grocery stores within 10 min of walk, there are 3 convenience stores and many restaurants, it is close to downtown. There are also two bus stops that enable me to go to the shopping centres and the workplace. So convenient in so many different ways.

would I change it?: No

E. My finances: I am doing good and I am grateful, thanks to my job, my budget, and my un-interest for material possession. It is true and hurts time to time that I do not have enough accumulation for my retirement. But I am doing my best to do so; my RRSP contributions are maximized, I have a steady contribution plan for my TFSA account, I have another personal retirement plan with annual contributions, I am planning to increase my retirement contributions a little bit next month. And the only debt I have is my mortgage, which to me is huge. But I will make sure that I pay it off as soon as I can. My TFSA serves as my emergency fund and in case I need funds for house repairs/renovations, I will use these funds. Overall, I am doing my best and it is not too bad.

What would I change: In the new year, as soon as I get a nice amount of emergency and house maintenance funds (that is, my TFSA), I will fully focus on paying off my Home Buyers Plan (HBP) (the funds that I have taken off my RRSP to pay the down payment of my house). RRSP is my long term investment plan and I believe beefing it up is important. Even more important than paying off my mortgage early.

I believe next year I will have a more solid financial health; this year I am still working on saving and making my chequeing account healthy (e.g. not below $0). I spent almost the entire last year with a chequeing account like that, which made me really stressed and kind of feeling hopeless, too. I hope every year will be better than the last year in future…

F. Health and life-style: I am a middle-aged individual and luckily I do not have a chronic disease, maybe except my recent back problem. Bu I still am over-weight and this will be one area that I will focus on, or more like I should focus on….

Plan: I gotta come up with a better plan to help me lose weight. My last two attempts were not successful… let me reflect more on this. I can also walk more, now that weather is better.

For my back health, I will keep the physiotherapy and the daily exercises I was given to. I do not want to have an issue again. i do not want to damage my body again.

G. Social interactions: I am not a social person and I am very happy with it. I only spend time and communicate with a few number of solid and trustworthy people. I will keep this as it is.

H. Taking time off from work to relax and enjoy my time/my life: I have been doing this in the last one year or so! I now do not spend 16 hour a days working or thinking/planning about work! I can usually relax at home, though time to time I still work at home in the evenings or weekends. And that is okay.

Since I started my blog 1.5 years ago, I take my time everyday to express myself and to read other blogs, which has been very informative learning experience. I also watch TV shows and continue to read books. I usually go to bed with a clear (of work troubles) and relax mind.

This is, to me, so priceless.

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.

no saving plan can be enough sometime

I am really worried about my saving rate.

Currently it is 15% after taxes, mostly in RRSP and a personal retirement plan. I also have an additional company retirement plan; since I started quite late in my life, there is not much accumulated in these accounts. So I feel poor and not doing well financially…

Here and there I see bloggers who say they save up to 50% of their income. There is at least one famous blog site that claims to save more than 70% by living super frugal.

I feel the stress of not being able to save such a huge part of my income; can I do better? Yes. Should I feel bad about myself? I do not know….

It is impossible to save a huge amount of my income; my fixed expenses (mortgage, insurance+tax, transportation, grocery and other expenses, not including the socials, family visits, donations, and house maintenance costs) is around 65% of my after tax income. I cannot think about not visiting my family or not taking care of my house. So the most I can save is 20-25% of my income each year.

Still not as good as some other bloggers’ savings, but this is the percentage I will aim for.

Before that though, I must fix my emergency fund and then my weekly budget. I anticipate around a year before I can start saving (and investing) 20-25% of my income.

A year!! What a long time to wait for a person like me who is very impatient. Arghhh.

Is something wrong with me and my life-style?

No. I am generally a frugal person. My mortgage is reasonable, I do not have a car, I do not have children or other dependents, I do not live in a big house (okay maybe it is big for a single person), I do not go to vacations (only family visits), I do not buy the latest technology (in contrast I use whatever I have till they get unusable), I do not dine out frequently, I am not interested in fashion, I do not have expensive hobbies (other than books that I am on shopping freeze now), I brew my own coffee at the office, I am not interested in fancy furniture, clothes, or shoes etc.

So what is it?

I guess for single people compared to married people with two incomes, saving is harder. I will remind myself not to compare my situation with  others. I will also patiently or impatiently wait another year till I can start saving and investing more for my future.

That is my conclusion.

how can I get more savings?

Yesterday while writing another post, I noticed that my net worth at the age of 50 will not be a great one.

It is depressing, which is bitter – sweet. That means I want to do better and I will take some actions.

I just do not know what can be done. If I had not bought my house, I would be in a better shape, but since I know it will require repairs/renovations over time, I am worried. This will be the most challenging part of this planning. On the other hand, I also think that over time paying down my mortgage will become easier as I will owe less and the payments I will make will be mostly towards the principal. It feels like paying of the mortgage as soon as possible will give me quite a peace of mind.

Anyways, I must come up with a better budget and saving plan. I have done well with the budgeting and bringing my chequeing account to a positive balance lately. I am now working on my emergency fund. After that, I will have to find ways to save more and invest for my retirement.

What could make this? I am already having a restricted budget compared to before. I know I can cut some of my expenses too, but will they be enough?

Even a small amount of extra saving will help, I know. My psychology wants big savings, though. What can I do to help myself?

1. Shopping freeze for almost everything, except the clothes and cleaning products till the end of 2016. I am planning to take advantage of the holidays sales. I may as well purchase my cleaning products, in addition to some new clothes, at that time and get over with it. No books, no vacations (except family visits) (well, maybe one or two art work for my home). Occasional books. That looks like the most practical cut of expenses for now. Good.

2. Transportation: Take the bus or walk. Rain or shine. My only hurdle is the morning mood that makes me complain about anything; how can I bypass this long-term habit? How can I find joy in the mornings so that I can be okay with letting my need to have comfort? A miracle is needed…

3. Reducing the weekly allowance to $100; this will cover my grocery and other small daily expenses, such as my weekend coffee at the cafe. It may also include my cab fares should I take cabs. I will not be able to make it at first. I may not be able to make it over the long run – so prepare yourself for frequent rants, dear reader….

4. Mortgage; I am not planning to increase my payments now; maybe in April when I will get a small increase. I may as well put this extra amount into my mortgage. Ok.. sounds like a plan. At least an improvement over what I currently do.

5. Socials and holiday celebrations: Gotta be frugal here; I tend to be generous with the socials and when I am invited somewhere.

Then the question is; what to do with the newly saved funds?

I am more motivated if I can find a measurable improvement somewhere; whether reduction of debt or increased investments.

Beefing up my emergency fund: this is the priority now; I will see it accumulate till it is $8,000.

After that,

Increasing my RRSP and TFSA contribution: I will do this at the new year; it will be a small amount but nevertheless valuable to increase my retirement savings/investments.

After my emergency funds are done, I may increase my TFSA contribution a little bit more.

Planning is exciting, writing is useful and easy, implementing is challenging.

I think we all will see how this adventure of mine will go 🙂

50 things to do before 50

For someone who does not have long term objectives in life, this list will not come easy. Yet, I would like to give it a try.

I love making plans (usually short-term) and then working towards accomplishing my objectives. It is like a little, friendly race. Gives me a sense of friendly competitive edge. More importantly, I believe it gives me a chance to keep my objectives in my life right in front of my eyes; when we are aware is when we notice the opportunities. When I have a chance of getting excited about them. Changing them. Striving for them, Reaching them. These are all possible if I am aware of them.

I do not think I will come up all the long-term objectives right now (I am trying free-writing here, writing whatever comes to my mind. Except the first aim, none of the other objectives below I am aware of as I write these words. Interesting and exciting). So let’s see what I would like to do in the coming years, before my big 50 🙂

1. Visiting South America and spending some time there. Maybe a couple of months. Not necessarily going around from one place to other. But more like a visit paid to a specific city. I am thinking a work-leave for 2-3- months, going to a major city less than a million residents, living the moment with the city, getting to know the culture, history, food, and people of the city. I imagine I will be living on a second storey of a 2-storey house. With a little balcony looking at the narrow street. Where I see myself adoring life and the energy around. I see myself happy and smiling. With a nice dress purchased from a local store. From a lovely elderly lady who hurriedly tries to understand me as I talk to her in short English sentences. So that we can understand each other better. She smiles, I buy the dress and I see myself coming home and changing into the dress and never want to not wear it. It will be a beautiful dress 🙂

2. Reading more about history, especially the ancient and indigenous history. Examining the ancient languages.

3. Buying a black dress and wearing it! I have not done this in ages and I certainly am missing it! 🙂

4. Feeling girly again. Okay… this has been ages as well 🙂 Where did that lovely, quiet girl with nicely done nails, nicer hair, and the black dress go? I want myself back! 🙂

5. Being happier and at ease with life. I have no idea how I will do this, but I am wishing it now so that along the way I can be aware of this wish and note the things that make me happier.

6. Paying 50% of my house. with the current payment schedule, I am capable of doing this. My wish is to go beyond that and make extra payments over time. But this will have to wait a couple of years. So for today, my wish is to pay off the 50% completely till 50.

7. Getting a promotion at work. Promotion in my field is not easy. It requires quite a bit of accomplishment. I am on the right track, but not necessarily a great candidate for promotion. The next 2-3 years are critical.

8. Writing more poems and maybe self-publishing a poem/short story book. Alright; I am not great and I am aware of this, so hush :)). But my experience says that it is with trying, failing, and re-trying the improvement and progress happens. I may as well have something left for the next generations – who knows?

9. Spending more time with my family, even inviting them here: this will be totally dependent on the financial situation. I expect salary increase each year, but I am also aware of the cost of home ownership. But maybe something will come up or change. Maybe it will be possible. Maybe.. Good to keep this in the list.

10. Having a net worth of $300,000 including my TFSA, RRSP, home equity, and other savings (excluding pension plan). This number does not look good even though I have a good salary. I should have saved more, invested more. This is one area that I really need to come up with better plan… OMG… this is alarming actually; I do not have enough for my retirement!!! (ouch)

11. personal life: I may continue as single or get married with a great guy. Wow! I am happy being single, but would not say no to a humble, good-hearted, kind person who would understand me and love and cherish me. It would be nice if I had the same feelings toward him too 🙂

12. Getting a pet, possibly a cat: I can do this! my only hesitation is the lengthy trips I make time to time. Well…

to be continued some other time

joy journal – August 15, 2015

I have not written my joy journal for quite sometime (due to vacation). I missed expressing gratitude and the good feeling coming out of it so much.

1. I have many things to be grateful about the time I spent with my family – there is no short way to express all of them here. I cherish every memory and every smile, hug, and kind word. I am grateful that my family members are well and sound; loving and supporting; and genuinely interested in my well-being. Thank you all of you for being there for me.

2. I am grateful for my job. I have gotta give its credit; it gives me a sense of purpose, excites, and provides me with livelihood (despite the challenges and occasional crises that I face). Thanks to my job, I get to see around the world, live in different cities, meet with people with diverse backgrounds, and get insurance. Insurances are important too – providing a sense of security if something out of ordinary occurs in life.

3. I am grateful for my house. It is in a quite neighborhood that is close to downtown as well as my work place. It is true that the prospect of the serious repairs (e.g. the foundation problem I probably have) has been giving me the chills and depressed me beyond my imagination; that I cannot develop trust to the previous owners/renovators, which prevents from feeling peaceful in it; and that I constantly find myself checking for potential issues and thus further create anxiety in myself. But then what can I do? I did not know there may be problem in my house. I did not know when I purchased my home that houses can be fragile and they require constant maintenance. I did not know that it would take me a long time to accept these and then finally find peace in this acceptance. I have not still fully accepted these and thus am emotionally suffering deeply, but I know eventually one day I will give up the resistance and glide into acceptance gracefully. I thank my house-troubles for this; reminding me that it is a process and I am going thru it.

4. I am grateful for my retirement plans, however small they may be. It is true that I could have saved and invested more for my retirement and in the past I have had very obvious expenses that I could have avoided. Yet past is past and I can only look at the present and the future. I have been giving serious thoughts about budgeting lately (mostly motivated by the expenses related to the repairs at home) and have progressed quite satisfactorily. I have a healthy and abundant budget that will take care of my fixed as well as variable but essential expenses that I have been implementing in the last 2-3 months. I know I can do better once I feel comfortable with it. It is awesome to feel this hope and confidence. It is awesome to know that I am making a difference in my financial situation, however small it may be.

5. I am grateful for summer; where I am usually is cool in summers (15-25 C). But since I came back from vacation, it has been hot, sunny, and lovely. A perfect summer 🙂

6. I am grateful for the document I have to finish till monday evening. I have made quite a progress with it yesterday and today. Seeing that I can work effectively under mild stress by taking it lightly (the benefit of having a wonderful vacation prior to it) is one thing, but more importantly the fact that I had to do it in such a short time is what helped me to adapt to work so soon and to stop feeling the emotions associated with leaving my family.

7. I am grateful for my blog. Writing is therapeutic, reading other posts and interacting with fellow bloggers are fun, interesting, and informative. It certainly helps me feel better.

8. I am grateful for the breakfast I have had this morning together with a friend/colleague of mine. I had my usual bagels and coffee after 6 weeks of vacation and a wonderful conversation with my friend, which felt great 🙂

9. I am grateful for walking to and from the coffee shop and sweating a long the way.

10. I am grateful for my new little fryer that makes fried eggs so tasty, so different 🙂

11. I am grateful for doing the laundry and aerating my home today. No I am not cleaning my place this week. My friend who house-sat while I am away already took care of this. I am feeling blessed.

12. I am grateful for being keen about starting a huge decluttering at home. Yep! I have been meaning to do it for quite sometime. I will start easy with bathrooms (which are easier to declutter) and slowly move to the other parts of the house. I will open every single box, purse, bag, and drawer. I will sort things out generously, collect the usable items for donation, and dump the rest. I really need this – I feel like I am carrying a huge and unnecessary weight on my shoulders. This feeling gotta go. I am also excited for the possibility that I will find out many stuff that I had forgotten I have had but are useful or valuable. cannot wait to rediscover my stuff 🙂

13. I am grateful for my couch that provides me with a comfortable place to sit on and write this journal.

14. I am grateful for my laptop, internet connection, cable, TV, phone and all others that help me have a comfortable and engaging life at home.

15. I am grateful for all the stuff I have brought from my vacation. Many of them are the gifts that are given to me by my family members, which I love and cherish. Seeing them around make me feel extra grateful and happy.

16. I am grateful for the music I am listening to right now. It is relaxing and something I have not had heard before and thus is interesting.

17. I am grateful for today being Saturday. I can enjoy it as I please without going to the office.

18. I am grateful for my joy journal and my continuous wish to write in it.

19. I am grateful for life.

20. I am grateful for being grateful.

15 random facts about me :)

By the encouragement of thesmallc, here I am writing some facts about myself. Thesmallc is a great writer (with no reservation I say this); she has a very powerful and genuine pen and incredible insight into life and cancer. Absolutely one of my favorite bloggers (among many others).

Anyways, here are 15 facts about me; surprise, surprise 🙂

  1. Until I started blogging, my primary hobby was to read books. Books are still my favorite items around the house, but blogging has changed me somehow. In a positive way I hope 🙂
  2. I happen to be a bad cook – no question about that. I am not proud of it but that is what it is 🙂
  3. I have a great job that pays a decent salary, yet since I have spent the majority of my life at schools and with training, I have little accumulated for my retirement, which I regret real good. Be smart and start saving early! Whatever you make, save a portion of it for your retirement. And start doing this early.
  4. I have got a PhD.
  5. English is not my native language (some of you already sensed that, did you not?) 🙂
  6. Even though I dislike it very much, I keep cleaning my home and doing laundry every weekend 98% of the time. I admire my consistency in this regard.
  7. The first story I wrote was named “Joe and his dog”. I was 7 years old, penned it down on a small blue covered pocket notebook that I still remember…. The story, as you can guess, remained unfinished.
  8. I have a very serious look; scary if you will. Not that I mean to. Unless I smile, a lot of people think that I am angry or pissed off. I am not angry or pissed off. Well, at least the majority of the time 🙂
  9. When I was a child, music was my greatest interest. Till now, I tried to learn how to play the following instruments: mandolin, flute, and violin. I must say violin is the most elegant, most challenging, and the most admirable one for me. Of course I have not excelled at any of these instruments 🙂
  10. I am a very practical person – can find a temporary fix for almost anything in a split second (unless I am stressed; then the opposite occurs) 🙂
  11. My stress levels can get real high. I do not like that at all. I found exercise is the best remedy, yet I have been too lazy too tired in the last few years to exercise.
  12. I started martial arts at the age of 35; like many other things in my life I was not good at it but it was very good for me! I would recommend everyone, regardless of their age, to give it a try (should they be interested in) at a safe and serious school (i.e. dedicated to the art but not to giving belts, earning money, or kicking the sh.t out of someone else).
  13. I loved opera, not listening to or watching it, but singing it. I was not good at singing opera either (like many of the things in my life I never perfected this skill), but giving it a try has always made me excited and happy 🙂
  14. I have read a lot about leadership and management; I am more suitable for management positions than for the leadership positions (who would follow me??) 🙂
  15. I think my job is the best thing that ever happened to me (other than my family). It keeps my mind working, I like what I do, and it excites me (yet I still dream about retirement; sigh… 🙂 )

And as I already said this in a comment at thesmallc’s blog, I have to make an effort to know which direction is right or left 🙂 All the cab drivers I put into wrong roads/streets, please forgive me! 🙂

cheers everyone

random thoughts

I am reading a retirement planning book; very pleasing 🙂

Not that I am not worried about my retirement, I am; but the author makes a great point re: how financial planners and others use “fear” to make us save and invest for our future and how we all feel like whatever we do/save/invest will not be enough in future; so we are left feeling “oh, well, this small savings today will not make a huge difference in the future, so why to bother on budgeting and saving?”

I certainly have experienced that and I dislike this “fear” factor instilled into us by others. Yes, we gotta save and invest for our future; yes whatever we can do we should do; but MOST importantly, no I do not want anyone to tell me (except myself) that I am not doing well with my current finances or future financial plans.

I am trying; like many of us. I can do better; I know that and I am working on it.

The only time I will let “financial fears” is when I stop being a conscious spender and start spending money mindlessly.

Though I must confess the uncertainty and the current turmoil about the (future) economy make me quite nervous (and almost fearful) – will these savings and investments survive & strive, and work for me during my retirement? How much will be there?

You know that there is no guarantee about the investments and future, right?

Back to the book.

detailed budget

now I understand what it means to have a detailed budget.

I have been recording my total daily expense everyday for the last 7-8 years, but I had not seen it as clearly as today before (since I had not categorized expenses). I appreciate the salary I have and having a modest life-style, but I gotta still make some changes to my expenses. Otherwise, having a positive chequeing account seems a distant reality. I can do better than that.

So, according to my calculations here are where my money is going:

Retirement contributions/investments (excluding the company retirement plan): ~9% of my gross income before the taxes

Fixed expenses (mortgage, insurance, cable/phone/internet, transportation (bus only), etc.): ~26% of my gross income before the taxes

Weekly allowance (including grocery and other minor shopping, breakfast, and books): ~9% of my gross income before the taxes

Family visits: 4% of my gross income before the taxes

Extras (hosting, dinners, gifts, clothes, etc. new estimation): 3% of my gross income before the taxes

House maintenance and repairs (estimated): 8% of my gross income before the taxes

Income taxes and company pension plan contributions: ~36% of my gross income before the taxes

Remaining funds: ~5% of my gross income before the taxes

The Remaining funds category is the one that will lift my chequeing account up to a positive balance; I wonder how this is going to happen?

Do not get me wrong; I am appreciative of this amount. Yet, inside I wish for more savings, more remaining funds.

The only category I can cut from is the Extras and my Weekly Allowance; if I can be smart about these expenses, my Remaining funds can be higher. I am kind of anxious. That is a challenge for sure.

I opened an Excel sheet to record the expenses in each category starting today; let’s see how it goes.

By the way, I kind of see great things as well; for example the retirement contributions and funds allocated for family visits. They are worth every penny 🙂

conscious spending update

For a while now I have been trying to save money so that I can continue to invest for my retirement and also save funds for my house repairs.

A couple of weeks ago I became serious about it. I have a large payment (an annual contribution for a retirement account) coming up at the end of next month and my chequing account has been on the border of being empty since last December. This week I started to see some improvement. I will not have enough funds in my chequing account to pay for the payment next month (use of line of credit is inevitable), but the situation looks a lot better now. I have hope that in two months I will have my chequing account back to positive. That gives me not only hope but also a great motivation to keep going 🙂

No large-scale shopping, no books, no gifts, no eating out, no cab (bus is my new hero nowadays :), and continuing the usual frugality for another two months. Two more months and I can do this.

great news! 🙂

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