Give Me Back My Five Bucks

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An update on life

It’s been a crazy few months, and I know I’ve been neglecting this blog a little bit. But I’ve still been able to keep up with reading all of the other PF blogs I follow, and I appreciate all of the comments you’ve left on the posts that I have managed to get out. :)

Here’s an update on what’s going on in my world…

On fitness:

photo(4)Three days ago, I was supposed to be running in my 4th half marathon – the BMO Half Marathon. I shelled out $132.17 on my registration back in February with the hopes of training hard through the spring and breaking the 1:50 mark.

But instead, I watched from the sidelines. It was really tough. Especially because I was already registered and really looking forward to this race. Injuries are frustrating, and mine keeps flaring up. I ran a pain-free 6km last month (which was really promising), but during a recent field hockey game, I stepped the wrong way, and the pain was back again for a few hours. My foot feels fine now (averaging > 10km of walking per day), but I’m really aware of how easy it will be to reinjure myself.

Related: Why running is not a frugal activity

Seeing those runners sprint by was really motivating, and even BF admitted that he wanted to start running too. I need to remember that feeling as I head into the summer and start training for the Goodlife Half Marathon in Victoria. :)

Oh, and after one full month of using my FitBit, I’m still extremely pleased. BF and I have switched up our diets slightly, and as a result of eating healthier and walking a lot more, I’ve lost 5 pounds since the beginning of April. Not bad! Part of June’s monthly challange will likely be about running and yoga.

On travel:

I was thinking this would be a quiet year for travel, but so far I’ve already gone to Portland, and to Las Vegas. Here’s what else is on the radar:

  • Edmonton (June) – Just a short trip for 3 days. We are staying with people there, so I’ll have to budget for a flight and spending money. Approx. cost: $450
  • Okanagan (July – tentative) – We’ve been invited by good friends of mine to spend the July long weekend in the Okanagan for some sun, swimming, and wineries. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to get the extra day off work, but my fingers are crossed. Approx. cost: $400
  • Seattle (August) – This is my (annual?) family trip to Seattle to watch the Blue Jays play the Mariners. It’s the third year taking my dad to a ball game, and I know he really enjoys it. Approx. cost: $300
  • Europe (September) – Besides going to Paris, we have no real plans. I’m letting BF plan this one out for the most part because I’ve been to the majority of the big cities in Europe already. We’ve tossed around all sorts of ideas (Paris-Amsterdam-Copenhagen, all the way to Athens-Santorini-Istanbul). Approx. cost: $3,000

On life:

Life is really good right now. A few days ago, my aunt commented about how “soul happy” I seem to be these days, and I think she’s right. Despite losing my job earlier this year, I think I was able to rebound relatively quickly. I feel settled and comfortable, which is something I haven’t felt in a really long time … and while I don’t have a lot of friends here in Vancouver, I think I have really good friends. BF always says that you get to choose who you spend your time with, and I think I’m spending them with the right people. :)

Work has been busy as well. I’m still really enjoying my new job, and appreciate how much the company values work-life balance. This industry is unfamiliar to me, but I’m glad that I broke into it, because I feel like this is where I belong. I’ve always been interested in real estate, architecture, urban planning, etc. and to be a part of a company that touches those industries… that’s really fun and exciting for me.

On money:

Back in March, I made a point to stop stressing about money. Sure, sometimes I stare at my RRSP numbers (currently saving 21% of my net income towards retirement), and sometimes I worry that I’m not doing as much as other people my own age, but I try to stop those thoughts as soon as I get them. Because I’m doing the best that I can to live a balanced life, and I can’t continue to compare myself to other people.

I’m also paid twice a month here at work, instead of bi-weekly. So I’ll have to adjust my mortgage schedule to reflect that. And I want to start tracking and reading up on a few companies so I can figure out what my next stock purchase will be.

Anyway, that’s my update! I hope you’re all doing well. :)

The cost of going home more often


photoLately I’ve been thinking a lot about family, and I realize that I don’t make the effort to go home often enough. This past weekend was great, but I find I’m only coming home for specific reasons – like a field hockey tournament, or a running race. I should be coming home just to visit sometimes.

When I first moved to Vancouver, I went home nearly every weekend (because I still had a PT job there, but also because all my friends were still in Victoria). Then when I quit that job, I started going back once a month. And now, nearly 7 years later? I end up going home once every 2-3 months.

There are excuses, of course. During field hockey season (Sept-March), it’s incredibly difficult to get away because games are on the weekend and I play on a competitive team where you are expected to go to most (if not all) games and practices. I have friends here on the mainland, a boyfriend, work commitments, and travel plans. Then there’s the cost of actually getting home.

When I was in high school, I paid less than $8 to ride the ferry one-way. Now? It’s $16.25 one-way. Add in the $53.25 one-way cost to bring a vehicle over, and a trip home becomes a major expense! Parking my car and walking onto the ferry is an option. I do that quite often, but sometimes a car is necessary. Plus parking is expensive as well (at the terminal it’s $16/24 hours, and at the Park-n-Go I believe it’s $14/24 hours).

Still. I want to see my family more often, and with the health problems of certain family members, I don’t want to miss out. I want to spend more time in my hometown, and if that costs more money and more weekends traveling, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m extremely lucky that the job I have right now offers flexible work hours, so I can take time off it needed to catch an early ferry on the weekends.

I don’t think going home once a month is realistic right now, but I will try to go every 6-8 weeks. This starts in a couple of weeks, when BF and I will head over on the May long weekend. I’d like to go back again in June or July, and then my family and I will be spending a few days in August to watch the Blue Jays take on the Mariners. :)

How often do you see your family? Does cost factor into that decision?

Do you stress about money?

I had an interesting conversation with BF the other day, when I confessed that I often stress about money. Like, on a daily basis. And it got even worse when I lost my job in February.

No matter how many times I run the numbers on retirement, or go through my budget, I always have this sinking feeling that what I’m doing isn’t enough. But you know what? It is enough. This recent unemployment stint has been my third in an 8 year career. And each time, I’ve come out of it with a better job, and a more positive attitude. Sure, my finances have taken a few setbacks over the years, but losing out on 2 months of RRSP contributions isn’t going to affect my retirement. Worrying about every dollar I make/spend, and over-analyzing how I’m going to advance my career is not productive and just leads to stress and anxiety.

It took me a while to realize that it wasn’t the money that I was specifically stressed out about, it was what that money represented. To me, having money means the opportunity to save money. And saved money means having a good future, being able to provide for my family, and living out my retirement without worrying about money.  Not having money, or not having the amount of money I perceive to be acceptable causes instant alarm bells and panic. Like when I lose a job, or when I think I might be stuck career-wise.

Reading Preet Banerjee’s book, “Stop Over-Thinking Your Money!” has actually really helped. Deep down, I know all I need to do is keep it simple; spend less than I earn, carry no high interest debt, avoid lifestyle inflation, etc. So if I know what I need to do, and for the most part, I’m doing it, why am I always freaking out?

Related: Why 20-somethings might have trouble retiring by 65

I often refer back to an article I read a while ago to calm me down. In this article, it said that happiness is a $75,000 salary. It says that while happiness doesn’t seem to have an impact on your day to day mood, it definitely impacts the feelings you have about the way your life is going. And it’s true. The article always reminds me that I should be grateful for what I have. Because overall, I am really satisfied with my quality of life. I’m able to save for retirement, travel, pay my mortgage, and have fun at the same time. I have an amazing boyfriend, and friends and family to count on.

Truthfully, if I never make more than I’m making right now (adjusted for inflation of course), I would be okay with that. Sure, I’d like to earn more (and I hope that I do), but I don’t see my quality of life improving at all. It would just stay the same, and I would be happy. :)

So I’m going to consciously try not to stress out about money on a day-to-day basis. There is no need for it, and I’ve proven that to myself over and over again. I really will achieve all of the financial goals I want for myself. It just takes time. And patience is one of the best qualities to have in life.

Do you ever stress out about money? How do you cope with that stress?

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