Category Archives: Babbling

Okay, one more…

Blogging is addicting. The compulsion to checking stats and comments is up there with what I’d imagine a drug addiction is like. There are many lists on how to create a successful blog, but none that I’ve found on how to quit blogging successfully. Seriously, there should be a 12 step program. Bloggers Anonymous. Oh wait, a lot of bloggers are anonymous. Never mind.

Let’s face it, I missed you guys.

I needed a break, both for the sake of my sanity and to think. I know now that holding myself to a 5 day a week blogging schedule is unrealistic. I love writing, and for me writing takes time. So does cooking, cleaning, renovations, exercise, gardening, maintaining a relationship, being a friend/daughter/sister/aunt/cousin and all of the little things that make the world go round… including sleep.

I have no intentions of becoming a powerhouse blog. I don’t care about my Alexa ranking, nor have I ever actually checked it. So why was I forcing myself to follow a more rigorous set posting schedule? Long story short, I did it because somewhere early in my blogging days I read that in order to have a successful blog you have to have a regular and consistent posting schedule. I never really considered the fact that the blogger writing that did it for a living, and that he didn’t have a 9-5 that they went to 5 days a week. Lesson learned.

This blog holds a special place in my heart. For me, this blog is like the boyfriend that you still care about, even after you realize you’ve out grown them. I’d like to write about more than just money, even though it’s still a topic I think about frequently. It’s still a taboo subject for a lot of people, and I’m insanely lucky to have found a community of like minded individuals that I could discuss financial topics with online. High five to you guys.

So, I’ve decided to make the (perhaps cliched?) transition from personal finance blog to lifestyle blog. For those of you who are interested in following me, you can find my random babbling at http://talesandtrenchs.wordpress.com/

I hope to see you there!

Signing Off

So, you may have noticed a distinct lack of posting this week. It’s been partially due to the fact that my birthday was this week, and I’ve spent some of my evenings out with people having dinner and socializing. It’s also been partially due to a considerable amount of thinking. You may not like this.

I’m shutting my blog down.

I won’t be deleting it, I’ll leave it up so that people can still read it if they’d like. For that matter I may one day decide to pick up where I left off and keep writing. I’m just not writing right now.

Nothing is wrong, I’m fine, so don’t worry about me. I still have lots to say and lots to write about, I just can’t do it right now.

My life was a complete and utter mess when I started writing. Messy relationship, messy dramatic/toxic friendships, messy finances, messy everything. Writing was a way for me to get things out of my head, so I could deal with life. That and it’s fun, and I rather enjoy doing it. I’ve been doing it consistently for over a year and a half now. It became a priority for me, and in the process I met some awesome people online (you guys).

Life has turned itself around on me, and it’s presenting different issues. I’m in a relationship with a great guy, I have supportive healthy friendships, my money situation has improved dramatically, and I’m generally enjoying life. Unfortunately, I spend a lot of time not experiencing life. I spend a lot of my time online.

My number one priority right now is spending time with The Boy. Living on polar opposite ends of Edmonton, we basically have a long distance relationship. I usually only see him on the weekend. The past couple months that has gotten harder and a little more chaotic, because his father is building a cabin out of town and wants him to help. Basically, right now we’re seeing each other when we can. Usually I head to his house Friday night after work, and head to work from his house Monday morning. I always have my computer with me, but I’d rather spend time doing things than sitting on the internet. When I’m with him I’m more likely to actually do things. 

The remaining time I’m at home is filled with everything else. Catching up on laundry, cleaning, cooking, lawn care, hobbies, exercise, etc… Or at least it’s supposed to be. If I sit down as soon as I get home from work, that’s where I stay. I really don’t get anything done. If I keep active at the end of the day I get a tonne of stuff done, but then I’m on the computer blogging later in the evening. Working with the bright screen right before bed makes it really hard to sleep.

I’m kind of falling behind in life right now. Because I’m only home half the time, I only have half the time to get everything done. Add in the occasional coffee or yoga session in the evening with friends and that’s cut down even more. I’m finding it incredibly hard to have an active social life while at the same time keeping up with things at home, because I’ve been making blogging a priority over day to day life.

Some of you guys reading this are superwomen. Working single moms who keep their homes clean while maintaining their blogs. Freelance writers who maintain active social lives while playing sports and maintaining their  blogs. Students who also work and go to the gym frequently while maintaining a blog. You guys are incredible. I can’t do it. I’m a slow, rambling writer. Blogging for me takes time.

I haven’t maintained a steady workout routine since I started blogging. I’ve had a highly variable level of cleanliness at home since I started blogging. I’ve been making more snacks than actual full meals. Basically, I’ve been giving my online life a higher priority than my offline life, and I really need to give my offline life the priority right now.

I’m not saying that I’ll never blog again, I’m just saying that I’m not going to blog right now. If I come back I may continue writing about money, or it may be a different more all encompassing blog. I don’t know yet, but when I do I’ll let you know.

I’ll still be around reading what you guys are writing. You may even notice that I’ll be commenting more. I just won’t be writing myself.

So, this is me signing off. Thank you for all of your support through my journey to pay off my debts, you’ll never know how much it really means to me. I love all of you guys, and I wish nothing but the best for you. Thank you for reading.

Love Cassie

Insomniac

You know how sometimes you hit on something you want to post about, because you need help, then in thinking through the post you figure out ways to solve your own problem thereby rendering your post null and void? That’s today’s post. Except I still want your input.

I struggle with insomnia.

Usually it pops up when I’m stressed about something. If it’s a short term stress I’ll be up thinking about it all night, so I know why I’m not sleeping. If it’s a long term stress however, I just don’t sleep. I may not necessarily know why I’m not sleeping, I just know that I’m getting next to none.

Last week was one of those weeks. I managed to get some sleep last night over at The Boy’s house, but for the 9 nights preceding it – nada. I am definitely looking and feeling a little worse for wear.

I’m not entirely certain what set off this particular spree of sleeplessness. My consumer debt is paid off, so it’s not like I have big bills looming. I’m happy with my job, and it’s fairly low stress at the moment, so I don’t think it’s that. It didn’t seem to matter if I had caffeine or sugar during the afternoon, so I don’t think that’s it. I’m at a bit of a loss.

I’m assuming it’s a bunch of little things I need to deal with. I’ll figure something out. Tonight I’m going to soak in a hot bath and go to bed early. I’m going to throw my homemade lavender eye pillow over my eyes to block out the sun. Hopefully that will help.

How do you deal with sleeplessness?

Recommended Reading: Trick Yourself Into Saving Money

Awesome Feeling Of The Day

Withdrawing money from the bank knowing that when the machine asks “Chequing, Savings or Line of Credit” that they’re all options.

Recommended Reading: Coupon Booklet: Scam or Deal?

Stern Looks, Dirty Fingernails and Coca-Cola

I caught a little bit of flack from one of the guys in the shop yesterday for drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola. At two cans worth (710mL) it is a little on the larger side, but I was sipping it, not guzzling it. I bought a 6 pack of bottles instead of the 12 pack of cans because they were the same price and I could reseal the bottles (which I did).

Anyway.

I don’t normally keep pop in the house, but when I do it’s Coca-Cola. My dad drinks Coca-Cola. I’ve seen him ask for Coke in a restaurant, and when the waitress says they serve Pepsi he’s ordered water or iced tea instead. It’s gotta be Coca-Cola, even better if it’s bottled in the BC lower mainland. My dad is a Coca-Cola connoisseur.

He doesn’t have many vices, in fact other than my mother’s baking I think Coca-Cola is his only real bad habit. He doesn’t smoke or chew tobacco. He doesn’t use drugs. During my lifetime I’ve never seen him drink so much as a beer. He doesn’t gamble. He doesn’t go to strip clubs. He gets up in the morning, goes to work and then comes straight home with his bottle of Coca-Cola and the day’s newspaper. If there’s a hockey game on that takes precedent over the newspaper. A good vacation is one where he gets lots of work done at home. The lawn is always trimmed short, and a dirty vehicle is unacceptable. While he’ll eat anything my mother puts in front of him, he prefers his meat and potatoes. Or pizza. His first answer to everything is “No”.

That’s my dad.

He’s been working as a mechanic for as long as I can remember. First automotive, then commercial transportation. As a child I used to look at his hands after he’d wash them and then shake my head disapprovingly. His nails were always black. You could say Fast Orange is a way of life for our family (with pumice, not without). Last year for Father’s Day I found the darkest, dirtiest engine oil I could get my hands on, then dunked my hands in it. I had one of the guys at work take a picture of me so I could send it to him. He works harder than anyone I know, with the possible exception of my sister who may tie with him. He’s well respected by everyone he works with. They keep trying to move him into a more supervisory position, but he refuses to take them because he hates the paperwork and doesn’t want to work on a computer. Instead he mentors the young apprentices and pulls wrench on the really mind boggling issues that have other people stumped. It probably sounds odd for a woman to say this, but growing up I always wanted to be like my dad.

I was having a conversation with my mother a little while ago when she mentioned that dad felt my sister was more like my her, and I was more like him. I was surprised that he had said that, but after thinking about it for a while I could see it. We’re both fairly evenly tempered, and it takes a bit to get us mad. When we do get mad though, stay out of the way. My dad has a very definitive “you’re in shit” look, and I have the exact same look. It’s a family trait; all of my uncles and cousins make the same expression. Come to think of it, we have a lot of the same expressions. Mom says (lovingly) that I’m anally retentive, I say I’m serious and thorough. Dad is also serious and thorough. We approach problems the same way. We both like working with the radio on. We can be quiet and introspective, and tend to spend a lot of time thinking. We both have a thing for National Geographic and architecture. In a lot of ways (not all) we’re both old fashioned and conservative. I inherited his hand writing, skin, eye lashes, nails and crooked teeth.

I know that while mom was the one bawling while saying goodbye when I went off to university, it was far harder on dad. I’ve never been the pink, glittery, eyelash batting daddy’s princess type, but don’t fool yourself. I’m daddy’s girl.

In honour of this upcoming Father’s Day, which I sadly won’t be spending with my father (we live in different provinces), I’m listing a few of the things I learned from my dad:

You only get one set of teeth as an adult, and replacing them is painful. Look after them.

My dad has had a horrendous time with his teeth from the time he was a child. My grandparents could afford to put braces on him, and they did, but they had to be removed because they literally sunk into his teeth. Some people don’t take care of their teeth, their teeth rot, and they get dentures. My dad took immaculate care of his teeth, his teeth broke off, and he had them replaced with porcelain teeth attached to his remaining roots. It’s not a pleasant procedure. While I’m fairly certain my days are numbered, I’ve made it to my late twenties without any cavities.

How to say “No”

Dad’s first answer to anything, regardless of what the question is, is “no”. Sometimes “no” means “no”, but usually “no” means “I need to think about it so I’m not giving you an answer while you’re in front of me pressuring me”. This came in handy when I was looking for a home. I had put a holding deposit on a home, but the builder had a ridiculously self serving contract. They said I could make revisions to it, so I did, and they came back to me saying they weren’t going to change the contract so I had to take it or leave it. So I left it. It took the sales woman a few minutes to pick her jaw back up off her desk, because when backed into a corner like that most people just cave. She could pout about her lost commission in her little white BMW all she wanted, she shouldn’t have played hardball with me.

How to parallel park

I swear the only time I’ve ever gotten it right straight off the bat was during my driver’s exam, and since then I’ve been hopeless at it. I can blame the lack of power steering right now ;) Of all of the aspects in learning how to drive, this was the only one dad taught me, and it was the lowest stress lesson of the bunch. I’m getting better at this again.

Only pay full price if you’re getting EXACTLY what you want

Dad buys his vehicles new. When he decides he needs a new vehicle, he researches the heck out of it. He figures out what he wants and needs in it. Then, rather than checking to see what the lots have available, he orders the vehicle with his exact specifications straight from the factory. Call a new vehicle a pf sin if you want, but after over a decade of wear all of my parent’s vehicles still look brand new. I guess that’s what happens when you’re a mechanic who cleans and polishes your vehicles religiously.

That I don’t need makeup

Dad’s response to us wearing makeup as teenagers was always “make up for what?” As in, what did we feel we needed to make up for? The answer of course is nothing, but when you’re a teenage girl being bombarded with images of “perfect” women who look a certain way, you feel the pressure to change yourself to fit into the mold. Makeup isn’t a requirement for me to leave the house. Yesterday I was wearing mascara and tinted lip balm at work. The day before I wore no makeup at all. Sure, as I get older the area under my eyes is getting darker, and I do have acne scarring, but I wear makeup because I enjoy playing around with it, not because I have to.

What did your dad teach you?

Recommended Reading: The “No One Cares What You Wear” Experiment

Zones

I received a letter in the mail today from the city of Edmonton. At first I thought it was a letter telling me to deal with my weeds, though fortunately it turns out it was just a meeting announcement. I get these every couple of months when the city planners decide they want to repurpose a plot of land they’re developing. They send you a couple of area drawings (the approved “before” and proposed “after” layouts), as well as a letter telling you when and where the meeting will be held.

About the only thing this proposal will change for me is the level of traffic on one of the main roads. Maybe. It wouldn’t be a huge change though. It was still interesting to look at how the development I’m living in is going to change over the next few years. I anticipate more stores within walking distance of my home (yay), which consequently means more construction traffic on my way to work (*huff*).

Can’t win them all.

There was a stretch of land near my home that had multiple zones in it, so it took some thinking to figure out what was going where. There’s lots (LOTS!) of ways that zones can be broken down in a city, so I’ll make a short version of what’s in my area:

  1. residential
  2. services
  3. commercial
  4. parks/schools
  5. Stormwater management/nature preserve

There’s currently 4 banks within walking distance of my home. They’re all zoned commercial, not services. I shook my head and snickered when I saw that. I wonder if anyone else has ever caught that before. I’m assuming someone has to have.

Banks are a commercial business. Something worth remembering.

Recommended Reading: The Value of Time

Happiness is the Root of Money

This is going to sound a little odd, but I’m beginning to feel like “me” again.

One thing I did a tonne of growing up that fell by the wayside as I got older, was reading. My penchant for novels and other books has in recent years over the years deteriorated into magazine clips and internet articles. University certainly didn’t help with that, but 4 years out I really can’t blame it anymore either.

So, I’ve started reading again. It’s obviously competing for time with reading blogs and other forms of media, but books have been added back into the loop again. This weekend I started the first couple chapters of The Happiness Project.

Given that I’m only a couple chapters in, any of you who have read it will know that I’m nowhere near the money chapter yet. That didn’t stop me from thinking about how my own happiness has been affected by money, and vice versa.

Geez, it’s like I’m obsessed with money.

The Happiness Project is, from what I’ve seen so far, a book of anecdotal stories about a woman who makes little changes to her life to attempt to find a higher appreciation for what she has. Basically, she’s trying to be happier with the things she has; a good husband, healthy kids, a nice home, a stable job, plentiful friends, you name it.

I’m sure many of you reading this have had some experience with debt. For that matter, many of you have experienced the stress that can accompany debt. It’s exhausting. Your focus turns away from all of the good in your life, and you fixate on the dark, pressing, looming cloud of owing. It’s oppressive. Instead of paying attention to the little things like the smell of a good cup of coffee, a stranger who smiled and held the door open for you, or new flower buds peaking out of a garden bed, your focus is on figuring out how you’re going to pay your bills. Or worse, you’re still trying to figure out how to plug the money hole without having to change anything.

Definition of insanity people.

Rather than looking at my time in debt and focussing on how unhappy it made me, reading The Happiness Project is making me look at my debt differently. Namely, if I was happy, would I have gone into debt?

I’ve spent a good 3 or 4 days thinking about that, and the answer in my case is yes. Even if I was really and truly happy, I would have still had a car loan. I purchased my car after university in order to get to work at a job that was in a different part of town, and barely serviced by bus. For the first year out of school I probably would have had some student debt as well, though not as much.

The credit card debt and line of credit debt however would not have existed. I wouldn’t have been trying to sooth emotional voids with spending, which I know I did in droves. I wouldn’t have raced into buying a home to get away from a roommate who drove me up the wall, and consequently wouldn’t have run up my line of credit with renovation costs. I wouldn’t have felt the need to prove anything to myself, or anyone else, with aspirational spending. I would have been content with a cup of tea from home rather than going out and buying one whenever I was stressed. My skin would have flared up less (not altogether, less) and I would have spent less money seeking treatments. I would have been happy to host get togethers at home rather than constantly going out.

But I didn’t. I think my level of happiness had something to do with that.

I’m in a fairly fortunate position right now. My family is healthy. I’m in a job I enjoy that pays me well. I’m in a happy relationship. My house payments are manageable. I have a close circle of friends. My savings rate is no longer negative. I have  food in my fridge and clothes on my back. I’m in position of being able to not only look after my needs, but some of my wants as well. As much as I may gripe about the state of my lawn and how bank fees piss me off, I’ve got it pretty good.

I wonder if my happiness level increased because my debt level went down, or if my debt level went down because I relearned how to be happy with the things I had? I don’t know. I do know that I’ll probably spend the rest of my life finding out the answer to that through my own unintentional happiness experiments.

How does your happiness level affect your relationship with money?

Recommended Reading: Having a Back-up Plan