As I stared at the once-beautiful remains of my latest victim, I realized that I had accomplished something that many think is impossible. “I did it,” I thought, “I actually killed a frigging cactus.” Yes, after a year of slightly overwatering it, my beloved cactus slumped in on itself one day and that was that. I like to think that I killed it with too much love, but the reality is I just had no idea what I was doing.
As with houseplants, for many years my financial path was not based in any solid foundation but instead blind faith that I was doing okay. I didn’t have any facts to back that up apart from a fairly empty bank account, but ignorance truly is bliss, eh? I’d buy up new plants and set up new accounts without thinking about how to properly take care of them and watch them grow. Instead, I’d blindly water and throw money at them, assuming that that was all there was to it. Many good houseplants sacrificed themselves and many years of lost opportunities have passed.
One day my husband suggested I buy a plastic plant. No. Way! Those are a sham, they would give no sense of accomplishment, they don’t look nice! It was amazing how I suddenly found my debating voice in my defence over being allowed to carry on terrorizing the aisles of the plant stores. Thankfully, his suggestion did provide me with an opportunity to step back and reflect. Instead of immediately going out and buying what I thought had the nicest leaves, I sat down at my computer and tapped in some words. Before I knew it I had a big long list of plants that could potentially thrive in my apartment without much effort from me. I then phoned my mom, a proper gardener, and asked for her suggestions. I cross-referenced both lists, headed to the plant store, asked the employees what they thought, and voila! I now have a pretty thriving little green spot in my apartment, including a new cactus that I mainly ignore and who is perfectly happy with that.
Turns out that a few minutes of research really pay off. That won’t be shocking for many to hear, but there is a difference in hearing it and then implementing it. I knew that I didn’t know what I was doing and yet continued on the way I had for several unsuccessful plant and savings years. It wasn’t until I started researching and planning that things started really moving forward. I closed a few savings accounts that I had opened and nearly forgotten about (they were dusty with inactivity – one literally had $0.75 in it for three years), I built up a small emergency fund, and then that’s when the fun(d) began. I read, watched, Googled, asked, and every other term I can think of about options for Canadian savings and investment. One fateful March day, right before my 30th birthday, I took a deep breath and sent $100 into my first RRSP investment account (a 401k equivalent). That was just about a year ago, and I am happy to report that my RRSP is thriving, my savings are growing roots, and everything is starting to bear fruit (how are these plant references working for you? Anyone? Anyone…?).
A simple lesson in horticulture was all it took for me to get my act together in various other parts of my life. I’m still learning, but the change I was able to implement in just one year has been astounding and will set me up nicely in years to come. I don’t regret trying and failing on my own – though I do regret the number of plant corpses involved, poor things – as it provided a valuable insight into my own skills and knowledge. I am no longer unwilling to ask for help or assume I will figure it out on my own. Eventually I probably would have, but I would have lost out on valuable time in the process. With so many resources available at our fingertips, it’s more irresponsible to not ask questions and seek help.