Helpful or hurtful?

I’ve been inspired by Radio Girl‘s posts. Not only the content, but the serene pictures of her  life in an RV. Thought I’d post a shot that is my patch of serenity, my backyard.

I took full advantage of the holiday on Monday and spent the day in the garden getting dirty, and planting some perennials from my Mom’s garden. For Toronto, it’s a pretty sweet backyard.

This is where I spend a lot of time reflecting. Found myself thinking about my friend that I told you about yesterday – Jane. I presume the lack of comments on the post may mean there are no easy answers for her.

When I speak with Jane, I sometimes wonder if she thinks I’m a real pain in the butt. Some people think I have it all together. They think I have all the right answers. I really don’t. I’m only on a path to get out of debt – meaning, I still have debt and I’m not debt free. From where I sit, that makes me a debt-free wannabe. I didn’t just arrive here in January 2010. For years and years I’ve been mindful of money, and I’ve budgeted and tracked – sometimes. In the past, I didn’t do as good a job as I could have. In my old ways, there wasn’t enough discipline to go with my plan.

I get tough when I speak with Jane. Partly because she’s a long-time friend, and I don’t have to sugar coat much with her. But mostly because I hate to see her in this turmoil. I would like to wave my magic wand and make it all better – but alas, I have no magic powers.

There’s another woman I work with on occasion at my part-time gig. She’s mentioned to me that she and her live-in boyfriend would like to get married some day, and buy a house. She’s late twenty-something and has a reasonable student debt. She’s mentioned in passing that she tries to put some money toward that debt. She’s also thinking about starting a family at some point soon. I often see her carry a little something from Starbucks. After our work shift she always orders take-out for her and her boyfriend. She makes the same minimum wage as I do. I can’t imagine that there’d be much left over after she works a couple hours then picks up take-out for two. Since I don’t know her very well, and she didn’t ask for my opinion, I just keep it zipped.

This journey, for me, is 10% planning, 5% revising the plan as needed, 5% tracking and 80% discipline. Who wants to hear that advice? Can you tell your friends that it really isn’t all that complicated, all they need is a bucket o’ discipline? That’s pretty tough to hear. If a friend asks for your advice, where’s the point when being helpful becomes hurtful?

Back to Jane. She hasn’t told me that I’m a pain in the butt, I just feel like I must be at times. Although it’s taken a couple years, she’s finally speaking to a credit counsellor to get some answers. That’s a step in the right direction. I’ll look forward to hear how that went. She thinks I have it all together because I’ve managed to financially survive a divorce and a failed common-law relationship. Supported, of course, with a line of credit that’s being whittled away.

As I countdown the days to the end of May, and know I’ve spent more than I’ve earned, I am assured that I don’t have it all together. Excel tells me that every time I turn on my computer. Despite my inability to balance the books for the second month in a row, I am confident that I’m working this plan I’ve developed for myself. Now, if I could just manage to master knowing when to zip it, and knowing when to be helpful and hoping I’m never being hurtful.


3 responses to this post.

  1. McMom – I love the wavy way you edged your borders – they look gorgeous.
    And is that a clematis vine?

    Not only do I have Rain Barrel Envy, I also have Garden Envy. I can’t wait til My Fella and I buy a piece of land so I can start investing in perennials. Given my cheap nature, I always feel like I’m just throwing my money away when I buy annuals : )


    • Thank you! I’m blushing. I take a bit of teasing with my edging, I actually take the scissors to them every couple of weeks. It doesn’t take very long when you keep it up. Ages ago I worked for a very finicky gardener as a summer job, and this was his trick. I still use it!

      Don’t fret money on annuals. I used to say I’d never buy annuals. Truth is, the annuals give colour throughout the year, provide an awesome filler for the perennials, and just make everything a bit cheerier. I love perennials, of course, and they make great bargaining tools with other gardeners, but many of them flower for a short time, then they’re done. This year, I spent my gardening money thus far on annuals, and I’ve just split and rearranged my perennials.

      I do have a clematis, but I doubt you can see it from that shot. There’s english ivy on the back fence (actually from the backyard neighbors property). The big climbing thing on the left is Hall’s Honeysuckle. To die for when it blooms.


  2. Oops, should have looked at the pic. That vine is wisteria. It’s still young and hasn’t flowered yet. I’m patiently waiting. It’ll be so worth it!


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