Challenges, finance, Health, Living, Uncategorized

Personal Finance Ruts – What Do I Do??

My financial mood always seems to swing between two different points: I’m super motivated and saving and excited about seeing my numbers go up, or I’m in a rut, where I don’t think about money at all, don’t save anything and wonder what the point of it is. It’s hard to determine what causes these two changes in attitudes, but part of it must be the difficulty in thinking of money in a long-term sense. Trying to stay excited for something that is so far away (I’m 31, and aiming to retire by 50, or even 55 at the earliest) is not easy to maintain.

Every morning I fire up my laptop and go through my round of favourite blogs. I love reading personal finance articles, and they do give me a certain sense of satisfaction when I read that I am doing a lot of things correctly. But I also get discouraged when I see certain numbers that people throw out there. I make decent enough money, and am perfectly comfortable living within my means, but I am not going to be able to put 40% of my cheque away any time soon. Perhaps in a few years, if we continue renting our current place and my pay goes up somewhat (as a teacher there are no big bonuses, I’m completely dependent on what the union negotiates for a pay raise) I will be able to, but currently I’m sitting at 10%, occasionally 15%, when I even bother to save. I’d say it’s roughly half of the year I do, the remainder I do not.

I love how I key in “frustrated” for a stock photo and this comes up. Stock photos make me very happy.

I also suffer from quite a ridiculous amount of fear when it comes to change. I know I need to change my bank (TD, which charges me money if I go over 8 transactions. What the actual fuck.), and then I could automate stuff without getting charged, but I always come up with excuses and then nothing changes. My current excuse is that if I change my chequing account to my Tangerine, my rent could be delayed because it takes 2 business days. That’s not particularly logical, but it’s how I think about it.

There’s also a certain degree of fantasy when I am in a rut. If only I could do this, then everything would fall into place. If only I could do this, then I could write articles about how wonderful my journey is going. If only I could do this, then I could add some legitimacy to what I share with people (mind you, on the internet I can be anything I want to be – maybe I should start a new blog and fake it til I make it…). A certain amount of satisfaction comes from moaning about the not-haves – upon reflection, it’s probably a lot more satisfying working towards making those fantasies a reality than simply grumping about them.

Ruts aren’t fun, and boy are they annoying to climb out of them. But climb out of them we must, every time. Maybe each time we get a little faster at getting out. My current rut-buster (that sounds gross) is setting a reminder on my phone on pay day, and leaving a little sticky on my laptop, with an exact number of how much I am going to save that day. Sometimes I choose to ignore it, but lately it’s becoming more of a habit. The sooner I save the money, the less I think about it and I just go on my merry way, so it may be a very low-tech way of automating things anyway.

Over-thinking things is another way I get myself stuck, so I’m working on becoming a bit more quick about making decisions. I still write everything down and try to work out some numbers to help inform my decisions, though lately I’ve been forcing myself to just do it rather than agonize over it for days and ultimately do nothing.

Finding little ways that are effective, even if they only work once, are integral to getting back into the swing of things. If a strategy doesn’t work the second or third time, I need to trust myself to find a new way to try. I’m slowly coming to realize that none of what I’m trying to do is actually that hard. I’m making it far more difficult for myself by being in my own head, and being super judgemental about myself, when I truly do have the ability to change everything for the better.

So…do I plan? Make a list? Talk to someone about my head issues? Automate? Stop whining? Maybe all of those things would be helpful. Maybe not. Regardless, simply writing this down has inspired me and I dipped out quickly to send some money to my savings. Another little strategy for future use, and a happy ending to a whiny post. Sweet!

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