Category Archives: Personal

Moving Expenses and a Blog Update

Thank you for your kind comments regarding my last whining post. You guys really know how make a girl feel better! 🙂

I’m pretty late to posting my budget recap for July, but I can assure you it’s nothing to call home about.  In fact, my net worth decreased by 1%  last month!  😦  Despite having 2 pay cheques, it wasn’t enough to offset my first & last months rent, moving expenses, spending, and the not-so-great economy.

I’m always so disappointed when I don’t see an increase in my net worth, I think the last time this happened was following my 2-week family trip to Hong Kong.   It is what it is, and here’s to a more positive (get it?) August!

Moving Expenses (so far…)

I confess that I did this move in the most unorganized fashion.  Since my new place was a 15 minute walk to (new) work as opposed to my previous 1 hour + commute on the subway and bus, I wanted to move ASAP.  However, I also didn’t really make time to pack and sort through my junk crap things properly.   (And through this process, I realized that I have a lot of junk crap things. )

My entire move spanned 3 weekends.  Ugh.

The first weekend, BF and I move my furniture in the moving van and packed a few boxes of “essentials” for the week.  I thought that the remainder of my things could be moved the following week – I was wrong.  Instead of sorting/tossing and then packing my things, I was putting my junk into whatever boxes would fit them and then moving it.  This took forever and is terribly inefficient.  Please don’t do what I did – take the time to sort through your stuff before moving!

Minimalist: Fail!

I was surprised at how much stuff I accumulated over the years – and here I was calling myself an aspiring minimalist.  Pfffft!!  BF was so patient helping me move all three weekends – He is a keeper! 🙂 I was even fed up with myself moving all my stuff!

Funny thing is I remember last year explaining to BF what a minimalist was…

The New Place

I LOVE living downtown.  Despite the fact I just tripled my rent, it’s completely different living downtown than in the boonies.  I can walk everywhere, and there is so much to see and do.  It’s also really nice not living in a basement – I can see daylight!

Unfortunately, the air conditioning has been out of commission for the last 3 weeks.  The first week (mid July) was awful, as it was almost 40C and super humid in the city.  BF and I would take 3 showers a day just to keep cool (morning, after work, and before bed).  Also, since we sleep with the windows wide open and there are no screens on the window, the mosquitoes have been having a buffet on me every night.  Every. Night.

The AC should be fixed this week, and I CANNOT WAIT.

In order to keep cool, we try to avoid using the stove (I’ve been making a lot of salads), turning on the lights, and even using the computer (can you believe it?).

Housing: Left to Buy/Do

My sister and I are taking advantage of this long weekend to do some painting. We will be painting most of the living area and also both our bedrooms.  This is my first time painting and I am a bit nervous and excited!  I can’t wait to share my final product.  (I was going to share “before” pictures but I had my camera packed away).

I really want my bedroom to be a tranquil and cozy place to relax and rejuvenate.  I don’t want to clutter it with too much stuff (ie., bookshelf, desk, etc).  We have a “library” area in our common space and I want to utilize that as temporary desk/office space instead of having that take up space in my bedroom.

In my bedroom, I want to have my bed/sleeping area, my closet/clothing storage, and a vanity area.  I love the bold statement of a floor length mirror, and also functionality of getting dressed in my room (as opposed to the bathroom).  I’ve always thought a vanity area was so chic and grown up – not to mention I’ll need a place to apply the 20 shades of lipstick I’ve acquired over the summer! 😉

Since I don’t own a dresser, I’ve been using these shelving cubes ever since my university days, and I think it’s time I take the plunge and buy a real dresser.  I’ve been eying the IKEA dressers since they are so easy, but the frugal part of me wants to look for a used one.

I put together a rough budget of the things I still need to finish up my room.

Blog Update

Even though I really enjoy writing about personal finance and money is something that is usually on my mind, I’ve been wanting to expand my blog to explore other things I am passionate about.  Two major topics which come to mind is beauty/fashion and even some DIY decor projects.

I mentioned I switched jobs a few months ago, and the dress code at my new job is more business casual.  My previous work place was very casual, and it was perfectly acceptable (and normal) to wear jeans everyday.  It’s pretty exciting for me to dress more “grown up”, and I am excited to try to put to use all the lessons and inspirations I’ve drawn from the stylish ladies in the fashion blogging community (and do it on a budget!).  So, I was thinking of sharing some of my outfits on this blog as well.

I’m not sure if I will be be able to maintain a regular posting schedule, as I will be taking 2 courses, maintaining a long distance relationship, and get back into swimming/exercising, but I will see how it goes!  Thank you for sticking around and sharing this journey with me! 🙂

That’s about it for now!  Thanks so much for checking back!

Readers, how is your summer going?  Would you be interested in reading about my attempts at personal style blogging, DIY home decor or other topics?

Cheers,

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14 Comments

Filed under Budget, Personal

My Facial Evening…

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I’ve been pretty quiet lately but my off-line life has been pretty interesting.  I just moved into my new apartment this weekend, and I really like it (aside from no air conditioning…).   I haven’t had much time to unwind or the quiet time, so this evening , I thought that I’d have some kimchi raman noodles with veggies and a facial.

One of my favourite ways to unwind is give myself an at-home facial.  I’ve picked up some tips from my previous facials, and I try to mimic at home what works best. I’ve been using a lot of products from Pure and Simple for the last year and I love them.   This might not work for everyone, but I’ve had really great results.

Cleanse with Oil Cleansing Method

I use a mixture of 25% jojoba oil with 75% castor oil (~$20) and massage the oil onto my dry face with clean, dry hands.   I leave the oil on my face for about 10 – 15 minutes and then, I add a little more oil mixture to my fingers and massage further.  The oil mixture not only removes all my make-up, but it also helps remove my blackheads.  I can feel little blackheads pop out (with no squeezing!).  Then, I run a towel under hot water and place it on my face (kind of like a steamer) and wipe away the oil mixture.

Physical Exfoliant

Sometimes, I use a physical exfoliant and others, I use a chemical exfoliant.  I really like the LeNeige strawberry yogurt exfoliant mask, but that has been discontinued and replaced with something not so great.  Now, I use the Pure + Simple Sensitive Skin Exfoliant and Face Mask ($21.95).

I dab my cheeks and my forehead, wet my fingers and then work the exfoliant all over my face and neck.  I really like this physical exfoliant, as I find the particles are not too harsh on my skin, but exfoliate well.

Chemical Exfoliant

When I have a bit more time, I usually prefer the chemical exfoliant over the physical one – but it’s a lot messier.  My face always looks so radiant after this lactic acid mask made of equal parts sour cream and honey.  You can also use yogurt, but I find it too runny for my liking.  I like to use a blank paper mask to keep the stuff on my face – I’m not sure where to find them in Canada, but I bought a bunch when I was in Hong Kong.

Clay Mask

I really like the Pure + Simple Purifying French Clay Mask ($19.95) to help with keeping my skin clear and help control the oil on my face.  (I have very oily skin).  I spread the clay mask around my eye area and all ove rmy face.  Since the clay mask is more drying, I like to balance it out by layering with a…

Cucumber Mask

I like to use the Pure + Simple Calming Cucumber Mask ($22.95) over the clay mask and in the more delicate area around my eye.   I also like to use this mask on its own when my skin is feeling dry (but that doesn’t happen very often).  One jar usually lasts me at least 6 months.

Nightly Regime

After I wash off my mask, I follow with my nightly regime.

I apply my Pure + Simple Algea Serum all over my face and neck, then I apply Differin Gel all over my face and neck, and then follow with the Black Mud Lotion.

Right before bed, I apply Vaseline  to my lashes and eyelids, and a thin layer across my lips.  I know you’re probably thinking – Petroleum Jelly?!  But, I find my skin is always plump the next morning, with no break outs.

Do you like facials?  What are you favourite products or mixtures to use at home?

Cheers,

10 Comments

Filed under Health, Personal

Confession: At a Crossroad

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I have been pretty fortunate for most of my life.  I grew up in a loving family with great parents.  I studied hard in high school, and had the opportunity to attend  great Engineering school.  I landed my first job out of school with a great company doing something I was interested in and making a decent income. I started reading PF blogs and learned about how to plan for my future.

I feel like I’ve done everything right but…

Four Years Later…

I’m not sure exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life, and it’s kind of scary.  Like, really scary.

How do people figure out what they want to do for the rest of their life.  It’s so intimidating.  It’s such a long time…

Some questions I ask myself:

  • Do I want to stay working in this field?
  • Do I want to go back to school?
  • What do I want to accomplish in life?
  • How can I be happy?

I know those are big questions.  I also realize is that I won’t figure out the answers to those questions sitting on my couch, doing the same thing I’ve been doing, and expect a different outcome.

What I’ve Learned

I think it is a iterative process figuring out the “life” thing, and what I tell myself is that instead of figuring it all out at once, I need to take a first step in another direction to see what it’s like.

It’s not much but it’s a start.

What are your life goals and how did you figure out what they are?  Do you have any tips for me to figure out my goals/life?

Cheers,

14 Comments

Filed under Personal

The Race to the Alter

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As I approach 30, it seems that everyone around me is getting hitched, popping out kids, or both (not necessarily in that order). It seems that every time I go home on a weekend, my parents ask if there are wedding plans for BF and I.  Then, I get lectured about my age (I just turned 28) and why BF and I aren’t “serious” about our relationship.  I think my mom nearly had a heart attack when I told her that BF was younger than me (gasp!).

My Thoughts on Marriage

Marriage is not the be all and end all for me.  About 4 years ago, I had a heart to heart with myself about my future and whether marriage was in the cards for me.

I was single at the time.  I had just broken it off with a guy I had been dating briefly, and the only other serious relationship I had was with my high school sweetheart (we dated for 4.5 years) which ended 2 years prior.

In the 2 years I was single, I was meeting guys, and dating, but things just didn’t feel right with anyone.  Dating takes work and effort, and I was tired of putting in all this effort just to get a man.  What gives?

Then I started to think that it is entirely possible, I won’t find anyone I’d want to spend the rest of my life with.  As those of us who are dating after college may agree – the pool of eligible partners shrinks significantly.

So I really started thinking about the things that I’d want in my life.  I want to be independent and support myself.  I want to own a home and be able to enjoy my life.  I want a dog, and maybe kids.  Truly, I didn’t really need a man for that (although, one might come in handy, sometimes, depending on the man).  If I really wanted kids, I could adopt one when I was financially secure and established in my career.

 A Partner

I didn’t need someone to take care of me, it was clear that I could do that on my own.  But I wanted a partner – someone who is truly my better half.  Someone to spend my life with and share my dreams with.  Someone whom I loved and loved me back.  Someone whom I respected and respected me.  Someone who had similar values and whom I could talk to about anything.

But I hadn’t found this someone in 2 years.  It was entirely possible that I may never find them, and I came to terms with that.  So, I started to plan out my life without a guy in mind and realized that I can be truly happy and fulfilled, all on my own.

Besides, being in my male dominated office, I see the guys around me refer to their wives in such a demeaning manner – it’s really quite depressing.  I’d much rather be alone than be spoken to in the manner I had witnessed.

I Wasn’t Afraid

I knew some girls who dreaded being single. They stayed with their boyfriends even when he treated them like sh*t.  I’ve had girl friends who were belittled and talked down to by their boyfriends in front of me, and when I asked them why they put up with it, they responded that they didn’t want to be alone.

One girl I knew told me that if she had dated a guy for a few years, she’d just marry him because she thought it was a waste of time if she didn’t.  She was 21/22 years old at that time.  Being a friend, I offered my thoughts that wouldn’t it be better to know while dating whether that person is the right person for us while we’re dating.  That’s what dating is for!  Besides we are so young, and we have our whole life ahead of us.  Obviously, we differed in opinions.

Then I met BF

Shortly after my heart-to-heart moment with myself, I started dating BF.  BF and I knew one another from school and had traveled together during exchange.  I thought he was a really nice, if not flaky guy (sorry, BF!!  But he was always late when we traveled together.)  But since I wasn’t worried about finding Mr. Right, anymore, I had a lot of fun getting to know BF and we eventually became an item.

Now, as we enter into a new chapter in our lives – BF is going away to complete his MBA at a top-notch school in the USA – I am so glad that we are doing this together.  🙂  I know the time apart will be tough, but our relationship is strong, and I hope to build upon it and make it even stronger. And one day, when we are both ready, we can tie the knot – but it won’t be a race for us to the alter.  I guess, it will be like taking the scenic route.

What are your thoughts of a partner in life, or marriage?

PS.  Check out Krystal’s thoughts on marriage and wedding.   Very thought provoking.

Cheers,

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Budgeting is Therapeutic

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Being the Type A that I am, I like being in control of all aspects of my life (or at least, feeling like I am in control, anyway).

Of course, it’s impossible to be in control of all aspects of my life. When things start to spiral out of control, and I get stressed out, I find that working on my budget and calculating my net worth is therapeutic.  For instance, this month has been a bit of a roller coaster for me – both emotionally and mentally.  I was unhappy at work, I was starting my job searching and interviewing, I wasn’t sure about where BF was going for his MBA and our future together, and I wasn’t sure where I was going in life.

But one of the things I can be in complete control of is my spending on variable expenses.  It’s now second nature for me to make a purchase and then enter the expense right away in my expense tracker, then do a bi-monthly and monthly tally, followed by a net worth calculation.

It gives me a sense of triumph to budget $300 for eating out, and then come in at $301 at the end of the month – even with a special $200 dinner for BF and an unplanned treat out for my family.  I feel a sense of pride as I tally up my net worth – being sooooo close to reaching a net worth of $90,000 I can almost taste it – and knowing that I can reach a six figure net worth before the end of the year.

And you know what I started working on next?  BF’s budget for his 9 months of school, and figuring out how much money he needs to save in the next few months.  BF said it was okay for me to share it with you all, and get some feedback from you.  Stay tuned!

Do you find budgeting or being in control therapeutic?  What do you do when your world is spinning out of control?

Cheers,

8 Comments

Filed under Finance, Personal

Confession: A Long Distance Relationship (LDR)

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A lot of things have been on my mind lately, and one that I can’t keep from writing about any longer is a very likely long distance relationship in the near future for BF and myself. BF has been applying for MBA programs and he has been accepted to some of the world’s finest, with full tuition paid to boot. He has worked very hard, and he is so smart, and I am so proud of him and excited.

But another part of me is really scared and dreading the long distance relationship. BF and I have done LDR before when he was traveling for work, but it was never for that long. We’d go 3 to 6 weeks without seeing each other, before his company flew him back (and into my arms!). But things are going to be a bit harder now (and more expensive!).

My Plan

At first, I didn’t have a plan going forward, and I hate that. I’m a planning type of girl! I like plans.

Then, I started thinking some more and I knew that I needed a plan or else these 2 – 3 years will pass by very, very slowly and possibly painfully. After BF decides which school and program he will accept, we can work out a schedule for visiting and seeing one another and how we can stay in touch and be a part of each other’s lives.

Two years may seem like a long time, but it also means having summer and Christmas holidays. With summer holidays, he will only be away 8 months at a time, and I’m pretty sure that I can go see him at least once or twice during that time, or him come back. So, I will be focusing on the 2-3 months we will be apart instead of the 2-3 years.

I will need figure out my new budget for traveling and also see if there is a better rewards card which can make it worth it.

Self Improvement

I used to have my hands full between work, sports and maybe even taking a course. Now, I’ve gotten lazy, and only have been going to work and vegging at home (awful, I know).

I need to kick it up a notch, and look into ways to improve myself.

Option 1: Take a course or Write a Test

I’ve been curious about writing the first CFA test. I would like to learn more about finances and perhaps advance my degree in that direction, as opposed to just doing technical engineering. I think this would be a good first step, and also keep my busy and learning.

Option 2: Enroll in a MBA Program Part-time

This obviously takes a lot more commitment and planning than Option 1, but it’s not off my radar.

I’ve told myself that I won’t pursue more education until I feel a real need for it- such as a roadblock in my career. However, if I have the flexibility at work to work 9 – 5, I think that doing 2 courses a week would be do-able.

Even though the thought of being apart of my BF for so long is daunting, having a plan makes it a lot less scary. Well-heeled also had a great article about how her and her husband to be will be getting ahead financially by doing long distance.

Have you been in a long distance relationship with your sweetie? How do you guys cope with being apart? What made up your plan to work on yourself and your relationship?

Cheers,

16 Comments

Filed under Finance, Personal, PF Confession

Work “Family” is not Family

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As a fresh grad out of school, I thought that my workplace would be like my extended family. When new peolpe join our team, we say, “Welcome to Company XYZ family.” I had visions, as a fresh grad, of finding a great company to work for, laughing with my co-workers while working late to meet deadlines, and staying with the company for a long time.

In my 4 years working in the real world, I’ve learned a few things that I’d like to share. My once wide eyed naive self is a little more wise, and sadly, a little more jaded. I’ve seen former co-workers let go and new co-workers take their place. I’ve seen people stay with the company for 25+ years and I’ve seen some people who move on within a year or two.

Co-workers are Important… but not family.

My family is my mom, dad and my 2 sisters. My parents love me and my sisters unconditionally, they always want the best for me and my sisters, even if it means sacrificing things for themselves. My sisters and I are always honest with one another – even if it means saying things one may not want to hear. We look out for one another, and support one another – both morally, and at times, financially.

Does this kind of support and relationship sound like something I would expect at a workplace? Of course not. That would be unrealistic.

My co-workers are people who I work with – day in and day out. It is important that we get along, and that we work together on a united front on our projects, but I would never expect them to put my needs before the theirs or the company’s.

The Workplace is a Business

It’s important to remember why we are at our workplace in the first place.

To state the obvious… We have been hired to fulfill a certain role, complete a certain job or tasks, and we are being compensated for our time and effort in the form of a salary/bonus/shares, etc. Generally, we are compensated because we bring some value to the team, which can cover our own salary, and then some (i.e., benefits, sick leave, vacation, other people’s salary).

At the end of the day, in order for the company to stay in business, it must be generating more money than it is paying out. So, as an employee, you must be bringing in more revenue that your company is paying you. Makes sense, right?

But what about the “family” part?

Good for Morale

I think that when a company promotes their “Company XYZ Family”, it is mostly good for morale. People like feeling that they belong somewhere, and they like to know that they are taken care of and supported by (similar to how we are with our own families).  It makes us feel good.

When people feel good, they usually have more incentive to work harder, thus generating more income for the company. This can be a win-win situation, until there is an imbalance in the system.

Perhaps, there is no work coming in, or perhaps John Doe isn’t able to bring in as much business as he once did. Whatever it may be, the revenue John was bringing may no longer be sufficient.

So what happens now?

Business is Business

Although, I haven’t experienced it, yet (“knocks on wood”), I have had co-workers and friends, describe to me how they were let go. Suffice to say, it was all business. In fact, some weren’t even given a reason – just told that it was their last day, and they could either pack their things that day, or come back another day, after hours, escorted.

At the end of the day, the company needs to look out for their shareholders’ best interest.

Conclusion

Co-workers, bosses, and executives are a very important part of the work environment, but I still feel that the “family” card is played only when it is in favour of what works out best for the company. I often time see employees bend over backwards for a company. However, if the tables were turned, it’s less likely that a company would bend over backwards to help out one of their employees (nor is it usually expected).

Readers, what are your thoughts on work “family”? Do you think the term “family” is being used for mural, or do you think companies really mean it? Perhaps, I might be a little jaded in my perspective.

Cheers,

11 Comments

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Reflection on: The Role of Appearances in Women

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This week’s of TLC’s What Not to Wear episode was on the lovely Beryl of NYC really resonated with me and stirred up a lot of emotions and reflections for me. To say that I was a little teary eyed at the end would be a huge understatement.  This episode helped me reflect a lot on the role of appearances in my own life, which brought about a slew of both positive and negative emotions, thoughts and questions around the role of appearances in women.

Empowerment of women is an issue that is very close to my heart, and something that I want to take an active role in my life – not just thinking about it, and writing about it, but really do something about it.  I truly believe that empowerment and confidence comes from within, but I also think that the role of our appearance is connected to that empowerment and confidence.

The Role of Appearance Growing up

In the case of Beryl, she grew up kinda nerdy and awkward with thick glasses and really not feeling very attractive.  She didn’t give much thought to what she looked like out on the outside, because she was brought up to value what is on the inside, only.  Often times she put very little effort in her clothes, because she didn’t want to be judged.  Wait a minute, that sounded like me!

Growing up in my family, looks were not a high priority. My sisters and I needed to look neat and tidy (i.e., no ripped pants), but other than that, higher education and moral values were deeply ingrained in myself and my sisters.  My parents taught my sisters and I so much about being a good person – to be kind, compassionate, fair and to be strong.  Education was a super priority in my family, as it was one of few opportunities to climb out of poverty.

But, looks? Clothes? Make-up? That was so superficial and frivolous in my household.  Wearing dresses, or nice clothes, was not something that was valued or brought up for discussion.  I think I saw my mother put on make-up once – when her and my father went to a wedding reception.  My father never allowed my sisters and I to wear nail polish during school.  I remembered I begged my mom to allow me to tweeze my eye brows in grade 11.  I’m not complaining, I’m just saying, this was how I grew up.

I love my parents deeply and am grateful for them shaping me into the person I am today. I truly believe that media (especially in today’s society) has too much say in how a woman should look and too often, media objectifies and diminishes a woman’s stature.  I understand now, that parents were only try to protect me and keep me on the path of success, in the best way that they knew how.   And I am grateful they shielded me away from the unhealthy messages of appearance from the media the way that they have done.

Discovering the Impact of Appearances

It was really only after high school and university, when I started caring a bit more about how I looked and how I presented myself.  Being catapulted into the life of college student, I learned about how to dress for a club to how to dress for a job interview. I learned how harshly women were judged, how harshly we can judge one another, and most important, how harshly we tend to judge ourselves.

I slowly discovered how appearances can play both a negative and positive role in my life.  It became clear that my appearance definitely had a role.  I am learning that caring about how I look doesn’t necessarily make me a selfish or a bad person.  It is simply part of me – and whether I agree with it or not, the message it projects can have a huge influence on how others (including my peers, my superiors, strangers and even friends) perceive me.

Media and Appearances

I truly believe that there is much more pressure for women to look nice, than for men, in general. And I believe that pressure comes from any number of sources, including the media, our culture, our role models, our family, our friends – but most of all, I think it also comes from within ourselves.  And despite the efforts of (a lot of mainstream) media pitting women against other women – I find this is not the truth in my personal experience.

I find that most women and men – but especially women – are about supporting one another and mentoring one another.   Just take a look at the various blogging communities, whether the niche is personal finance, fashion & style blogs, or make-up and beauty blogs – and these are only the blogs which I know and read.

My Conclusion on the Role of Appearances in Women

How we choose to project ourselves through our appearance, is making a statement, whether we like it or not.  The statement we choose to make, is up to us, and there are any number of tools and accessories we can use to help project the message we want (or don’t want) to share about ourselves.  Our clothes, our hair, our make-up, are all part of a message we are giving to the world around us about how we see ourselves and how we want to be treated, whether we are in a job interview, negotiating for our next promotion or going for a date.  Our appearance affects almost all aspects of our lives.

Is this healthy or right?  I don’t know, but it is the reality of our world, and our culture today.

And I think it’s only by understanding the role that appearances play in our lives, that we can utilize it to make the changes we want to see.   When abused, the role of appearances degrade women (and men) and encourages oppression, ignorance, violence and a false ideal of beauty.  When leveraged, the role of appearances can encourage acceptance, creativity, confidence, strength and true inner and outer beauty.

Readers, what are your thoughts on the role of appearances in women and men? How do you think it affects our daily lives?

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A Friendship I Let Go

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This post was inspired by My Money My Life’s post on Toxic Friendships.

The Wedding

I was a part of my high school friend’s wedding. We were good friends in high school, but lost touch in university. But when she got engaged, she asked me to be in her wedding party. I accepted but I wasn’t sure what to say. I hadn’t even met the groom.

The month prior to her wedding, I would bus back from the City (2hrs each way!) to my hometown to help prepare an event or attend an event. Some weekends, I would bus back, only to be waiting for her call – all weekend – for nothing.

On the day of her wedding, I was asked – the day prior – to make a speech to my friend. I felt so awkward – playing the part of the “best friend” when I felt I hardly knew her. But I put on a smile and made a toast to my friend and her new husband, wishing them all the best in their new life together.

After the Wedding

For an entire year after the wedding, I tried to get in touch with my friend, but she never returned my calls and after a few times, I stopped calling. Then, out of the blue, I got a call from her. My friend had settled into her new life, and I guess she wanted a friend. She thought that we should meet at least once a month to “catch up”.

She only wanted to meet back in my hometown. Others were last minute cancellation or change of plans on her part. I remember making plans a couple of times, but only once did we end up meeting close to her work. I get it, she has a husband and I’m single. I should be more flexible. But I got tired of it.

Letting Go

The truth was, that I only had so much time, energy and patience. And I felt that I was more annoyed than I was caring. I didn’t tell her to her face, I just kinda stopped making the effort. I stopped letting her know when I was back in town, or suggesting we meet up.

I left the ball in her court, but kinda knew that it would probably just stay there. I haven’t really heard from her, aside from a Facebook message last summer.

Bad Friend?

Maybe I should have been a better friend. Maybe I should have tried harder to be there for her when she might have needed me. But I just didn’t feel like it anymore.

I’m not sure if that makes me a bad person. I still feel guilty writing this out. But, it really felt draining trying to keep up what felt a “facade” of a friendship just because we were friends in high school.

Readers, have you ever had to let a friend go? How do you feel afterwards? Do you ever feel guilty?

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2012 Goals

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I know that January is practically over, but I wanted to still post up my goals. I have been a pretty good goal setter and a pretty bad mediocre goal-tracker. I will be working on this in 2012! I’ve been so inspired seeing bloggers like Krystal set her annual goals and monthly goals, and then does regular check ins to see how she is doing.

I am a huge believer in setting ambitious goals. Who cares if sometimes they are a bit crazy, right? Being the over-achiever that I am, it’s sometimes hard to accept that I (gasp!) fail, too. But, I also realize that it is only by failing a few times that I learn.

Besides, isn’t it better to aim for the moon and land on a star, than to aim for the trees and land on the ground? That’s what my grade 10 math teacher told me.

This year, I am going to set my annual goals here. Then, I am going to set monthly goals. My monthly goals will usually be baby steps to get me on track to meeting my annual goals, but they can also be something different.

Here we go! 😉

Life

Sometimes, I really struggle with balancing work with my personal life. I have been doing a better job of this in 2011, but there is always room for improvement.

Even though my job is important, the people in my life are more important. They are who I call when I have great news to share, and they are the ones I count on for support when things mess up. So, it only make sense to make time for them and prioritize them into my life.

  • Friends: See my girlfriends once a month for dinner or spa date to catch up and unwind. I really tried to do this in 2011, and I really enjoyed it. Will also put it on the list for this year.
  • Family: See my parents every other weekend. Call my parents at least once a week. This is also a carry over from last year.

Finance

I see money as a tool to reaching my life goals. Money does not happiness, but it can be a tool to reach my goals and find happiness. For me, spending time with loved ones, good health, lifelong learning, traveling, and owning a home are long term goals I want to achieve by using money as a tool.

This year, I want to be realistic and set goals that are simple and measurable.

  • Net worth of $115,000
    This goal assumes a 7% growth in my assets and how much I hope to save in 2012.
  • Make more money – 10% raise and find a side hustle
    Last year, I got a 6.75% raise and I was aiming for a 10% raise. I learned a powerful lesson in negotiation, standing up for myself and knowing my worth.  I’m going to put that lesson into practice this year, again.
  • Streamline my RRSPs: Move to TD E-series
    I have my RRSPs in mutual funds (mostly index funds) in Manulife and ING. Since both these companies charge a higher fee than TD e-series, I will be moving my funds to save on fees.
  • Investing money: 3 Dividend Paying Stocks in my TFSA
    This is carried over from last year. I have most of my investments in Index Funds, and few stocks. I’d like to start investing in dividend paying stocks. I’d also like to learn how the tax benefits work for dividend income, since I may also be investing outside my TFSA and RRSP.
  • Saving money: Save >60% of my net income
    Last year, I saved 53% of my net income, so I think this is totally do-able.
  • Make a Shopping List and Sticking to It
    Although I have come a long way from my impulse buying days, I want to take my planned purchases to the next level. I will only save and buy things from my Shopping List.
  • Budget: $0 Budget and Track Monthly Expenses
    Last year, I tracked all my expenses and it was a pretty exhilarating feeling. However, I only looked at the “savings” portion at the end of the year, since I automated most of my savings.  This year, I am going to make it a $0 goal. Which means that I also must account for all savings and any “left over” money at the end of the month.

Career and Personal Development

Most of these were on my list last year and the year prior (how embarrassing). But they were good goals, so I am going to keep them.

  • Professional Engineer License: I need to contact my previous employers regarding proof of previous work experience towards my license. I need to register by January so that I can write the exam in April. My friends have the study materials and I need to at least 3 weekends worth of studying to this. Must find out schedule of test and arrange accordingly.
  • Update my Resume: I have not even touched my resume since I graduated more than 3 years ago! It’s time to un-bury my head and smarten up.
  • Research the Job Market: I need to be aware of the job market and make sure that I am compensated fairly. I also want to know what opportunities are out there.
  • Canadian Securities Course (maybe): This course covers basics that will help me in my understanding of personal finance on a larger scale, and help in graduate school program applications where a business background is an asset. My BF has the study materials. Must find out schedule of the tests and arrange accordingly.
  • GMAT Test (maybe): Many schools and programs require GMAT scores for applications and entrance. I haven’t decided that I want to pursue graduate studies, at the moment. I first want to explore other jobs in my field before making such a drastic change.

Health:

I am not a huge exercise fanatic, although I do really enjoy playing volleyball and swimming. However, I really love the rush that exercising brings, so I want more of that! 🙂

I set a huge goal in 2010 to fun in a half marathon (that’s 21.1km or 13 miles), and then in May 2009, I accomplished it in 2h 30 minutes. I haven’t ran since. I learned that I didn’t really like running all that much. 10km is enjoyable but 21km is torture no fun for me. So, the key to staying on any exercise regime is to do something I enjoy.

I have also been eating much better in 2011 by cutting out processed foods and making almost all my meals from scratch. Simple things like soaking my own beans really puts me in control of how much sodium goes into my food. I’d like to continue this in 2012.

  • Fitness: Exercise 2-3 times a week in the mornings. I find exercise most efficient in the mornings, and gives me more energy all day. This was carried over from last year.
  • Food- Fruits: Incorporate fruit at least once a day in my meals. I find that if it’s there, I eat it. If I wonder if it’s too old, I won’t eat it. The key is to make sure I see it and eat it 🙂
  • Offline Time: Must be off the computer by 9:30pm to 10:00pm. This is so that I can unwind a bit before bed, read a bit and get up early for exercise!

Just for FUN:

I set a lot of serious goals above, but it’s also important for me to just have fun goals. Goals that will make me laugh and bring out the creative side of me. 🙂

  • Travel: I want to take a 2-week long trip with BF somewhere this year. I also want to go camping (I really missed it last year!), and visit my friend in Montreal.
  • Read one book a month: I have forgotten how great it feels to finish a book which is pretty sad. I was quite the book worm back in the day! This should be pretty achievable.
  • More Volleyball: Organize a volleyball weekend once a month with friends. Every time I do one of these, I always feel so good about it afterwards! Great friends just hanging out and having fun.
  • Remix my wardrobe: I have been having so much fun mixing up my wardrobe with accessories. And I have so many stylish and beautiful ladies to draw my inspiration from!
  • Play with Make-up: I’ve been a pretty basic make-up girl most of my life, but lately, I’ve been discovering how fun (and addicting) make-up can be.
  • Wear bold red lipstick AND own it. Arianne, this one was inspired by you!  I think this goal is a combination of being confident in my own skin and not afraid to show it. Which is pretty huge, being the shy person I am.

How are you goals for 2012 coming along? Am I the last one to write them down?

Cheers,

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