Give Me Back My Five Bucks

The countdown to Cuba


About this time last year, my sister and I were discussing where we could go on our next “sisters adventure” trip. Previous trips included a cruise to Alaska, New Orleans, northern Italy, and countless day trips up island. This time we wanted something a bit different, and my sister was really into the idea of going to Cuba for her birthday. We weren’t able to get our acts together to go last year, but with my sister’s birthday coming up, we went ahead and booked a one-week trip to Cuba! :)

The trip isn’t until mid-May, but I’m already excited. We both agreed on having a city vacation instead of staying in a resort, so we booked a hotel right in the middle of Old Havana. From there, we will be able to walk to many of the main attractions in the city, and if we want to hit the beach we can just take a taxi or bus.

As for the financials, I am covering half of my sister’s airfare/hotel as part of her birthday present. So the total cost to me will be around $2,050 – which does not include meals.

Our hotel stay covers breakfast, but we are on our own for lunch, dinner, and any drinks or snacks. Which is fine, because I’m interested in trying out new restaurants and local food. Although I did a bit of Googling and am a bit concerned about finding healthy vegetarian options, but am sure I can make it work. :)

So if you’ve been to Cuba before, I’d love to hear about your favourite restaurants, attractions, and beaches! Is it worth renting a car? Anything to avoid? Is there anywhere outside of Havana we should definitely see?

When it’s worth it to take a pay cut

In my relatively short 9 year career, I’ve taken two pay cuts. Taking less money is a hard thing to even consider (especially if you’re like me, and you’re not making a lot to begin with), but there’s so much more to a job than just the actual salary. When I eventually decided to take on less money, I factored in so many other benefits into the equation, and in the end a pay cut seemed worth it to me.

Moving forward, here are 5 reasons I would consider taking a pay cut:

When you’re changing careers

I think one of the major reasons why people consider pay cuts is when they are switching careers altogether. It’s unreasonable to expect to receive a large salary when you’ve moved into a job where you have little (or no) experience.

And in some cases, changing industries and location could come with a permanent pay cut. Bigger cities could come with bigger salaries, and different industries just might not have the funds to pay top dollar for the position you’re looking for. For example, when I moved from a government job to a non-profit job, I accepted a 20% pay cut. That might be a bit drastic for some people, but I knew it was the right path for me to take.

When you start your own business (freelancing)

Self-employment is a dream many people have. But with that dream comes a lot of risk, and that could include taking a pay cut while you get yourself established, as well as having to hustle harder to get work. I know a few freelancers who went out on their own with just a couple of key clients. They worked part-time hours until they could establish themselves enough to bring in more work, and hire employees to help with the workload.

As someone who decided to quit their corporate job and try out freelancing full-time, I can tell you that it was a struggle at the beginning. Eventually, I was able to create a steady stream of income, and ended up making more money than at my 9-5 job, while working significantly less hours each week.

When there is more room for growth elsewhere

If your career path is stalled because it’s a small company, and there’s no room for a promotion or salary growth, it’s hard to stay in one place. A short-term salary cut in exchange for better long-term potential and growth could be a great investment in your future.

When your work-life balance needs adjusting

A few years ago, I was working 60-75 hours/week at my full-time job and freelancing. It wasn’t something I knew I could do long-term, and eventually I gave up the extra hours (and the extra money) in favour of a life where I worked a normal 40-50 hours/week. I am significantly happier now that I have time to dedicate to what I really love in life – spending time with friends and family, being outdoors, and having more time to focus on myself.

And yeah, I do miss the money, but I definitely don’t miss the stress (or the lack of sleep).

When the compensation perks make up for the salary

When I accepted the job I have now (after wage negotiations) I accepted a 15% pay cut from my previous job. It was really difficult to deal with at first, and I didn’t think I would be able to take the job. But once I started to look at the compensation perks and benefits associated with the position, I actually end up coming out ahead.

Not only do I spend less time commuting (which also saves on gas), but the extended health benefits are more extensive, it’s a 37.5 hour work week compared to 40 hours, I can bank time off, I get paid out for overtime, and employees receive two bonsues each year. With just the bonuses included, and I come out way ahead.

What are other reasons you would take a salary cut for?

Time to get rid of some stuff!

One of my big goals for the year was to increase my income by 15% and start selling/donating/giving away things that I no longer need.

Well, I got a small raise at work last month (based on cost-of-living and performance), I’ve been working a bit of overtime, and I’ve also been able to secure over $2,000 in freelance income in the first 5 weeks of the month. So it’s been busy, but definitely rewarding. And it’s still early, but I’m really pleased I’ve been able to get a lot done towards this goal.

But I’ve been really slacking on going through what I own and getting rid of all the things I don’t need. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time, and haven’t done since I moved into my place in 2011.

My issue is that I like holding onto items that remind me of something good that has happened in my life, or I think I might need again (but never do). It’s a bad habit, and I honestly think my life would be a lot better off if I had less stuff. Just the thought of getting rid of bags and bags of stuff out of my place makes me feel really good. :)

So for the next few weeks, here are a list of things I want to sort through and get rid of:

  • DVDs, CDs, books – I don’t remember the last time I watched a DVD now that I have Netflix, CDs are useless to me once I’ve imported them into iTunes, and I have a Kindle now, so no need to keep a shelf full of books. I’ll probably keep a couple of my favourites, but most of them I’ve only read once and likely won’t read again.
  • Clothing & shoes – I have so much stuff that I just don’t wear anymore, or doesn’t fit me. I want to do a serious (and realistic) cleanse of my closet, and only keep things I’ve worn within the 6 months. If I haven’t worn it, it’s gone.
  • Kitchen – I have a lot of appliances, dishes, pots, and pans that I don’t use, and likely never will. I also want to go through my pantry and fridge to get rid of anything I won’t use again. Like, why do I have meat still in my freezer? Gone.
  • Paperwork – Have to sort out what I can shred, and what I need to keep. I also have shoeboxes full of movie/concert ticket stubs, letters, and other useless stuff that I’m keeping for no reason at all. It all has to go.
  • Electronics – Why do I have 3 old flip phones? Why do I have cables and chargers and other devices that I will never use again? I have an entire drawer full of this crap. Ugh.
  • Furniture – If I get rid of my books, DVDs, and clothing, I no longer need shelving for it. They’re cheap and from IKEA anyway, so will think about getting rid of it. The same goes for my desk. I don’t even use it, so do I really need it? Things to think about for sure.

It’s a bit of an overwhelming task, but writing it down here will help me stay focused. :)

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