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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?

The first few days on the job

Daffodils were handed out at work


The days leading up to my first day at the new job were full of anxiety. Sure, I was excited to be starting, but at the same time I’ve been putting an incredible amount of pressure on myself. I want to do well at my job, and I want to succeed. I want to save money, and retire comfortably. I want to travel, and live stress-free with that special someone. Turning 32 later this year has really scared me. I’m nowhere near where I thought I would be at this age, and while I know that the chances of settling down and retiring somewhat comfortable are pretty good, I still can’t help but stress out about where my career will be in 5 years, if my retirement accounts will be where I want them to be, and how I’ll know when I’m ready to do all the adult things all my friends seem to be up to.

I think we’ve all felt like this at some point before. It’s normal. And when I get those feelings, I just need to take a step back and evaluate all the positives I have in my life. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we don’t have, or what we want to have… instead of what we do have. :)

As for the first few days at the job? Well they’ve been great so far. It’s weird to be working within a marketing team – I’ve been so used to working by myself over the last few years, and I missed this team atmosphere we have going on. I imagine the next few weeks will be filled with trying to remember the names of people around the office, getting comfortable with the different tasks I’m given, and figuring out how I can best contribute based on my skill set.

I was unemployed just long enough to receive one EI payment, and that actually happened yesterday. So that means I went 40 days between when I lost my job, and when I got my first payment. I was worried it would take a lot longer than that – the first time I applied for EI it took 11 weeks! The $408 I received isn’t a lot, but it’s definitely welcomed. And I’m actually pretty pleased that I got through my entire unemployment without having to touch my Emergency Fund! Granted, I likely won’t get paid until mid-April, so there’s still a chance I might have to use that cash if I can’t make up the difference with my freelancing.

Speaking of freelancing, I’ve had a pretty good few days. I received a $750 payment, and have billed out for an additional $1,450 just this week. I likely won’t receive those payments by the end of March, but at least it’s putting me on the right track for a decent April. :)

Anyway, that’s the update in my world!

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