full circle

. . .from an upward battle of struggles and emotions to a journey of healing, growth, and laughter. . .

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shopaholics anonymous

I’m in debt. Like a lot. Like I should be going to a credit counsellor. But what is he going to tell me that I don’t already know? Stop spending money.

It wasn’t always like this. When I went back to Australia for my 30th birthday, I spent $3,000 on shopping {ok, maybe it was always like this…?}. But that’s not the point of this anecdote. When I returned, I was fired from my job {that’s another story}. I had no savings and a humungo credit card bill to pay off. Hashtag panic! Hashtag anxiety! I promised myself I would never be in that type of situation ever again.

And that was when I started building my emergency fund. The famous financial experts advise you to save at least three months’ salary for your emergency fund. For me, at the time, that would have been $8,500. Also recommended by financial advisors was to set up a certain percentage of your salary to be automatically deposited into your savings account. So, that’s what I did. I started with 5% {I had found a new job within a week} and never touched that account.

It took me nearly five years, but I had managed to save $10,000. What a financial accomplishment! What a financial RELIEF! But that same year, due to an unforeseen rental apartment incident, I took all of it {and every other penny I had} and put it towards a down payment on my first condo.

And that was the beginning of the end.

I already had my birthday trip to Greece booked and didn’t take possession until three days before I left, so I had to pay my last rent and first mortgage for the same month. After that, I just couldn’t keep up with the additional expenses—my mortgage plus strata fees plus property tax was double what I had paid in rent. I could feel myself going under and was sure I would drown any day. Hashtag anxiety. Hashtag desperate.

One of my favorite books was Confessions of a Shopaholic, and the movie had just come out. The main character ends up at a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting. I thought, well, if they have it in the movie, surely, they must have one in real life? Right?

So, one night, I googled “shopaholics anonymous” and found a meeting called Debtors Anonymous. Ah! So, that’s what they’re called in real life!

I started going to the DA meetings in 2010, a few months after I moved into my new place. In the first meeting, I cried while explaining my situation. But I felt relief in being able to share the seriousness with kind people who had or were going through exactly what I was going through. I felt comfort and hope. The meetings also kept my money issues at the top of my mind, which made me reassess the need for purchases before making them. The meetings were on Friday nights in my neighbourhood, and I looked forward to connecting with the others who attended.

But then my now ex-friend started asking me to go for a drink after work every Friday. Being social was a strategic part of my life given my history with depression. On most nights, I thought I would finish in time to go to the DA meetings. But, that never happened. And eventually, I stopped going completely.

That’s when my debt got worse.

641-01517495Being unhappy at work, I decided to go back to school and take an animal welfare certificate program and a community engagement certificate program. The latter alone was nearly $5,000. And then there was my weakness for retail therapy. And then for kitty health reasons, I had to switch my four cats to very expensive vet food. I put everything on credit because I didn’t have any cash as I could barely keep up with my condo expenses—they sucked up one entire paycheque. My credit card was going to be maxed out soon. My credit line, which had helped me consolidate some previous debt, was also maxed out. So, what’s the sensible thing to do? I increased my credit card limit and got a travel credit card. I figured the travel card would help me pay for three trips planned over the next two years. But it was supposed to be pay as I go. Very quickly {how the hell did it happen?}, I started losing the battle, and the credit on that card, too, started piling up. But that’s not even the latest. Last week, I booked an expensive trip to California due to family pressure. The new card is almost maxed out.

I have wanted to go back to the DA meetings for a year. I even put it in my calendar last year, so I would be reminded to go. But I never do. I’m embarrassed. I’m sooo embarrassed. I tripled my debt in three years. I’m not even using my regular credit card—I make more than the minimum payments, but the interest piles up faster than I can make the payments.

I’m not The Girl in the Green Scarf. Cutting or freezing credit cards doesn’t work—I have the numbers memorized. I don’t have lots of fashionable clothes and accessories to sell at an auction. {Though I did sell my red microwave from my old apartment. My new one came with one, and I hadn’t used the red one in five years, so I let it go. I’m also converting all my remaining CDs into mp3s, so I can sell them on Craigslist. I am definitely asking more for them than I did when I sold my first 300 due to downsizing into a smaller place. But those will amount to only a small payment.} And I’m not a fictional character.

I need to—no, I MUST—go back to DA. There is no other option. The solution has to start (again) from within.

What’s the evil number? $43,500.

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this story is so funny, i have to tell it again.

on saturday, my realtors and i went to take a look at my condo because the first time i had seen it, it wasn’t nearly finished, and i wanted to take pictures.

the elevator was locked, so the developer’s realtor took us up the stairs, which was right next to the suite. the suite was exactly like the virtual tour. the view was amazing – three mountain tops. i was so excited. i remembered one mountain top when we were first there, but from memory, i thought i could see it only if i stood next to the window and looked to the side. i certainly didn’t remember this breathtaking view – you could see the mountains from all around the living room. i couldn’t wait to move in!!!!

i snapped away at my camera – every detail, including the fridge icons, lol. when we exited, i asked where the apartment number was because i wanted to take a picture. i couldn’t see it and thought they hadn’t installed it yet. and then the condo realtor closed the door behind him, and i noticed the apartment number was on a metal plate underneath the door handle.

and then i noticed that it said “508” instead of “308”. I pointed that out and said the contractors got the number wrong. and then i looked at the other suites and noticed that they all said 5. i laughed and exclaimed that they got all the suites wrong, that the whole floor was labelled wrong!!

and then the realtor apologized and said we were on the wrong floor.


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my bad

i’m such a bad blogger, lol.

on october 31 (halloween), i adopted a seven-weeker and named him Charcoal… Coal for short.

if you think he’s cute, check out his photo album!

clea, oreo, and coal are one big happy family!

here are some of my favorite videos…

if you want more, i have over 50 videos!

i have been very busy with the new addition to my family and oreo and clea. oreo has become so affectionate – he loves to sleep next to my head (sometimes on it!) and purr. clea still waits until i’m on the laptop before jumping onto my chest for a cuddle. now that coal has clea and oreo to play with, he tends to ignore me except on the weekends when i want to sleep in. he’ll sit on me until i get up to feed them. i’m happy to have them in my life.

in november, i went to palm springs for a few days for a spa vacation. i was so upset to leave the kitties that i almost cancelled my trip. i was experiencing some major separation anxiety. aside from that, i had such a relaxing time. there is nothing to do in palm springs except golf {i was the only young person on my flight, lol}, and i had arrived on a sunday, so it was pretty dead that week – i went back to my hotel at 6 pm every night! but the weather was great, and the spa was heavenly.

i’ve got my next trip booked, and it looks like i’m heading back to europe again – greece for my big 35th birthday. it’s on my list of things to do before i turn 40, and i only have so many years left, so i had to be strategic, lol. i’m doing athens for a few days, then mykonos island, then santorini island. i can’t wait!

we’ve been going through a consolidation at work, so that has been stressful for everyone. my boss lost her job, so i was really sad about that. i still have one, but they’re moving me to a different position within a different team and different location. i had the option to stay at my current location, but with everyone leaving, i decided not to. i was hesitant about the new job because it focuses on the parts of my now redudant job i never liked, but i’m hopeful that the change will be good.

in fact, i have a lot of changes to keep me busy. last month, i had the last straw with my landlord (ceiling leaked for 10 hours on christmas eve, and i had asked them to fix it a year earlier) and decided to leave. i wanted to move into a 2-bed apartment, but everyone was pressuring me to buy a condo. if i bought, i could only afford a 1-bed in the area where i live now, so i was extremely stressed about what to do, especially when i had to pay for greece. and then every 2-bed rental that i was interested in fell through, so i took that as a sign to buy. within a week, i got pre-approved for a mortgage and met a realtor. i went to six open houses today.

i completely fell in love with one of them. i thought it would be more than i can afford, but after doing some calculations, i found that i can afford it. my realtors are in the process of their due diligence, and then we’re probably going to make an offer on monday. it’s awesome this is going so quickly, because i’m so impatient. fingers crossed.