Archive for February, 2011

Emotional spending

I’m preparing for my Weight Watchers meeting this week. The theme is emotional eating. I’m often drawn to the parallels between managing weight and managing money.

Any of us who have had weight issues have struggled with emotional eating. Hey, there are times I still do. I just do it less than I used to.

Over the last few weeks, I’m wondering if my emotional spending is as under control as my emotional eating is. I feel like I’ve been a bit of a spend thrift lately. As you know, lately I’ve also been under a fair amount of stress with illness in my house, lots of stuff going on at work, and just general fatigue. How does one run away from it all? Buy something.

I think it started with the $100 my Mom gave me for Christmas. Normally, my parents and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts of any magnitude. For whatever reason, Mom decided to surprise me this year. The cool brown bill came with a note “buy yourself something you wouldn’t normally buy”. The cool $100 led me to Danier, where I purchased a little black leather purse on sale that I’d been eyeing up for some time. It came in a $111. I love my new black purse.

Then I realized that my new black purse didn’t really go with my brown winter coat. Wasn’t it a miracle that The Bay had coats on sale one weekend, 70% off, and more still when you used your HBC card? Well, that little black winter coat for $60 was just too good to pass up. Another customer and I in line both agreed the coats were simply too cheap to leave them there. Weren’t we great little shoppers?

Imagine how ridiculous my brown winter boots looked with this ensemble? Remarkably, Mark’s Work Wearhouse had a “buy one at clearance, get another item 70% off the clearance price”. Sure do like my new black winter boots.

All this to say, I’ve been on a bit of a spending spree of late. I’m pretty convinced it’s emotional spending. I’m trying to make myself feel less tired, more appreciated, a bit pampered. Sure, I can give you a rational justification for almost any of it. I could have done that with my emotional eating too.

With my take home pay decreased (as I move from independent contractor to employee), I haven’t picked a particularly opportune time to go off on a little shopfest. My income for my part-time gig at Weight Watchers is likely to increase a bit because we’re pretty busy these days, but still, I have to nip this in the bud.

Last January my resolve was absolute. This January, I see myself closer to my goal (line of credit at zero) and I’m feeling a little cocky. I’m also realizing that I don’t have a cushion (yet) for repairs needed to the house this spring (soffit, facia and eavestrough). Will I need to dip into my line of credit to do that? How will I resolve that in my head if I get to zero, or almost to zero and have to take out more cash?

Over the next few days, I’ll add up the damage of my spending spree, and rejig the budget some more. The difference this time is I won’t keep on this path of destruction. I’m getting off now and getting back to making progress. As I told my daughter yesterday, there is no perfect – there is only progress.

I won’t beat myself up for these infractions, but I will get focussed again on my broader goals. Being debt free is not the default position – it is the result of contined behaviors that we used to arrive there in the first place. This week, I plan on remembering that, and getting back my resolve of January 2010.

 

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Holidays!

Well friends, my holidays started on Wednesday. I was so excited to walk out of the office on Tuesday night, I could barely contain my enthusiasm! I love my job, but hey, I need a breather.

I have a list of things to do, and one of them is to catch up on my thoughts here. Geesh, seems I’m more tired than I thought. I’m having trouble mustering the energy.

Yet, the driveway has been shovelled (twice), and the laundry has been done (lost count), dishes washed, bathroom cleaned, cat litter scooped, groceries purchased, etc. While I have not been to the gym, dragging my groceries and other gear through the snow on rolling carts and lifting them on buses and hauling them up and down stairs in the subway has been about all I can manage right now!

So, I look at my to do list and wonder if it’s motivating, or demotivating. I may just throw it out. I know what I need to do, but I don’t want to be pressured into doing anything at all.

Today I’m heading to the spa for a massage (it’s been years) and a hair cut. I’m still working on that lovely spa gift certificate that I received as a gift last fall. Today’s trek won’t be a budget drain at all. Tonight, I’ll be heading to a little fundraising event with some gal pals. I’m really looking forward to it. Perhaps by the end of the day my batteries will start to hold a charge again?

Let’s hope so. Meanwhile, have an awesome weekend, and I hope to see you refreshed and somewhat intelligent next week!

January Report card: C+

The 2010 Tracy would have given January 2011 a failing grade. The 2011 Tracy is a little more relaxed, and certainly more forgiving.

This month, I’ve run a deficit of just over $1,400. I know, ouch. You’re probably wondering, why the heck wouldn’t you give yourself a failing grade? Good question!

Truthfully I do have a cash flow deficit of $1,400 this month, but I also have unpaid reimbursement of medical expenses of just over $1100 this month. So, if my little cash flow spreadsheet could reflect accounts receivable, I’d be a little less in the red than I am now. Perhaps that means February will be a banner month?

In addition, I underestimated the amount of tax deducted from my paycheque now that I’ve become an employee, rather than an independent contractor. I missed the mark by about $200. I’m not going to beat myself up for that. I estimated, and I came close, but not quite close enough.

Finally, there was this nasty thing that happened in the laundry room at the beginning of January.  As the laundry was draining, the laundry tub overflowed with the murky laundry water. I found myself with a cat litter bucket bailing water from the laundry tub to the downstairs bathroom. Yes, it was just that comical. I actually did this for a couple of weeks. Finally, I saw a commercial on TV for some whiz-bang drain unclogging miracle in a jar. Rushed right down to my local hardware store to fetch a bottle. Despite my attempts, I was still bailing laundry water with the cat litter bucket. Oh yes, there was cursing.

I had to cave and call the plumber.  Add $190 of unexpected expenditures to the list.

Between those three things, I know exactly where the gap is.

The 2011 Tracy knows that it’s not crucial, and that there’s a new month ahead. I’ve also seen what steady progress means to the bottom line, and I’m continuing to make steady progress.

With a better idea of my net income each month, I’m not certain when that line of credit will be retired, maybe March, maybe April. The only thing I am sure of – it will be retired.

Tomorrow is the first day of holidays for me. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a little more of each other!