What Have You Talked Yourself Out of Lately?

September 17, 2014 Permalink

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an author when I grew up.

I poured over books as a child, bringing them grocery shopping with my mom, to school, and to every corner of the house. I read when I was walking, when I was supposed to be learning in school, and with a flashlight under the covers in bed.

I’d bring a book with me when we went anywhere, and, while driving home in the darkness of the suburban night, would gobble up the words on the pages as we passed under a streetlight or even the dim, flickering glow of a store sign.

Words were, and still are, my passion.

I believe that words are one of the most powerful forms of currency. We exchange them, sometimes meaninglessly but more often with purchase. What humans say can impact individuals and entire nations. Our words can build somebody up or take them down. Words can be feared, enjoyed, and are often celebrated.

This isn’t about my love of words, however.

This is about the way in which we talk ourselves out of our dreams.

Perhaps inspired by my love of books or my fascination with literature and written communication, my love of reading translated into a love of writing. When I was eight, I wrote a children’s book called Pigs in Peanut Butter, which rhymed completely and was a story about the fair treatment of animals (another passion). I handed it in to my Grade 5 teacher who spoke to my parents about taking the story to a publisher. This was short lived, as my little family moved away.

Middle school made writing dorky, so instead of journaling my frustrations with my clique, my parents or my crushes, I gossiped about them with my friends. Any writing that I did do, I did in secret. I had dozens of short stories saved on my mom’s desktop computer, and dozens more in my head, but I hid my affinity for writing to fit in.

Still, while waiting in a lineup or during “quiet time” at school, I would make up stories in my head and itch to write them down.

As I got older, I still wanted to become an author, but saw a pattern in the way the world viewed creatives. I was urged to go to school, to get a degree in something useful, something that would make me employable, and leave my writing as a hobby.

I stretched myself to leave that small part of who I was aside, to adapt to the demands of society and it’s norms.

Whereas I was an imaginative, creative, and bookish child, I pushed myself to become an analytical, practical, and detail oriented adult; these are skills I was told you needed to excel in a corporate environment. I do have a great deal of skills that come in handy in business, and enjoy flexing them, but I’m most comfortable communicating in some form or another.

Children are impressionable and gullible, but adults are self-sabotaging.

I had a conversation recently with a friend who I’ve known for my entire life: “I remember when you wanted to be an author when you grew up! What happened to that?”

The conversation pushed me to consider what actually did happen to that dream.

I didn’t fall out of love with writing.

I didn’t somehow lose my ability to write.

It wasn’t just a silly childhood notion, like my dream of becoming a mermaid.

What actually happened to my dream of becoming an author was that I talked myself out of it.

Now that I am long removed from the pressures of fitting in and choosing my career path and the potential failure to launch had I chosen wrong, the only thing that is holding me back from doing what I want is my mind.

I’ve convinced myself that I no longer have an interest in writing. I’ve convinced myself that I grew out of my creativity when I grew out of my Sweet Valley High books, and that authoring anything is no way to make a decent living. I’ve told myself that I am too busy with my day job and my side businesses to write anything worthwhile, anyway.

These are all of the excuses that I’ve created in my head, none of which are true or valid, that are preventing me from being something that I’ve always wanted to be:

A writer.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m going to start writing a book. Not now and perhaps not ever. The world has changed and I’ve adapted to it; there are plenty of ways to be creative besides authoring a novel. Bloggers can be writers too, and freelancers and people who just write for fun.

We our own worst enemy when it comes to reaching goals or realizing dreams or even just being the type of person who sits down and creates something or does something they love every day.

We talk ourselves out of things which, in our heart of hearts, we would still love to be able to do or at least further explore. We are scared or discouraged or out of practice, and without knowing it, we talk ourselves out of these things that were once important to us.

The craziest thing is that we even believe the nonsense our fear and discouragement is feeding us about not wanting to reach the goal anymore.

So think about it – what dreams have you squashed or hobbies have you given up because you feared failing at them? What excuses have you made to feed your discouragement?

What have you talked yourself out of lately?

How Far Can An Extra $40 Per Month Go?

September 10, 2014 Permalink

what can i buy for $40 month

The other day, I announced on Twitter that I was cutting the data plan on my phone and that it would save me $40/month.

I followed my Tweet up with a post about exactly why I decided to cut my data plan, and lo and behold, it has nothing to do with money. I do love money, though, and there is no better financial feeling than having more of it in your pocket, so I thought it would be fun to examine the financial benefit that I’ll experience from this choice.

My cell phone plan has reverted back to the basic text and talk plan, so that will save me a cool $40/month. For those of you who don’t have a calculator handy, that’s $480 per year.

$480 per year is no small number. Instead of inflating our lifestyle by $480/year, we plan on using that money for something more worthy than dinners out or useless trinkets. Here are a few things that we could do with that chunk of change:

Pay For a Month’s Accommodation in Bali

We could extend our honeymoon by a month, or go again sometime and pay for an entire month’s stay in Bali using AirBNB, based on the accommodation cost of our honeymoon.

Since I would save $480 for every single year that I go without data, I could do this once a year. Not bad!

Fly to Cancun

$480 would buy me a round trip flight to Cancun, according to Kayak’s Explore tool. It would score both J and I flights to Los Angeles, with the deal I got in June. With all of the travelling I’ll be doing in the next year, I won’t even need a data plan.

Turn it Into $3,379

Invested for 40 years at a modest rate of return of 5%, that $480 could end up being worth more than seven times it’s original value. That’s the beauty of compound interest.

If I invested it in an RRSP every year I went without a data plan, this number would be far larger. In fact, I’d be able to retire a year earlier if I went without a data plan for a number of years.

Save us $5,948

If we chose to put the $40/month toward the mortgage principle for each month left, could save us $5,948 in interest over the life of our mortgage, and shave about another year off of the payback time.

That almost $6,000 could buy us a pretty awesome trip to Europe or Asia, or a new (to us) vehicle.

Buy a Kayak

If we saved the $40 per month, in two years time we could buy a kayak. We’ve wanted a kayak for some time now, since we live close to the ocean and some lakes. How much fun would it be to have a kayak?

We could buy a used kayak in about a year of the savings if we found one on Craigslist.

Score a Canon Eos Rebel TSi

I’ve been lusting after this camera for awhile now. My iPhone camera does the trick for the most part but who doesn’t want a new toy to play with every once in awhile? Especially considering the amount of travel I’ll be doing in the next couple of years.

If I bought this in the states, I’d have enough after two years.

 Snag an Apple Watch

Apple recently announced it’s new product: a watch. It’s not just any watch, it’s a smart watch, and it will be on the market in early 2015 for around $350. I could snag an Apple Watch in just under the average human gestation period, if I were so inclined (which I’m not).

 

Apparently, $40/month can go quite far! How’s that for an argument for picking up an extra couple of hours at work or starting a side business?

How I Quadrupled My Income, Took Control of My Money and Started Living the Life I Wanted

September 5, 2014 Permalink

Four years ago, I was a broke student who had recently moved to a new city with less than $100 in my bank account.

I was barely getting by, struggling to stay out of credit card debt and counting my pennies in hopes that I would be able to pay for the next semester in school.

Since then, I’ve managed to quadruple my income, max out my emergency fund, buy a car and a house and contribute a substantial chunk of money toward my retirement accounts. Four years later, I’m 50% of the way to reaching my goal of saving $12,000 for travel.

I was able to do all of these things because I started small and worked my way up.

The Power of Starting Small

My story isn’t the type of overnight success story that we are so attracted to in Western culture.

I didn’t win the lottery or land my dream job right out of college.

I didn’t start a blog that immediately went viral or a business that blew up and landed a thousand paying customers in a month.

I started small and built upon my learnings and successes over the period of four years.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way. Things have happened beyond my control that set me back. I’ve become demotivated and discouraged. I’ve gone on spending binges and wasted money. I’ve won money, lost money, and mistreated my money.

But one thing that I’ve always done right financially was learn from my mistakes, take steps forward, and, at the very least, start, no matter how modest my beginnings.

There is No Such Thing as Quick Fixes

It’s probable that some of the readers who clicked on this post did so because they thought they might stumble across a different type of article. Maybe a quick-fix, or the secret to increasing their income and taking control of their finances. Something that successful people have been hiding from them until now.

Our society leans too heavily toward quick-fixes. Who wouldn’t be interested in quadrupling their income without effort or a pill that will make them drop ten pounds in two weeks?

Here’s the problem with those giant leaps and the quick fixes, though: they don’t exist, and they aren’t realistic.

The quick fixes that actually work are never quick, and you have to put in some serious time and effort to achieve those desired outcomes.

How I Actually Quadrupled My Income and Took Control of My Finances

I didn’t strike it big on the stock market or inherit a successful business.

I took the first step and got started, despite that there were no quick fixes in sight.

I came across a frugality blog, and enthusiastically read every post. A week later, I started my own, excited to impart the money-saving wisdom that I’d struggled to obtain over the years and combine helping people with my love of writing.

I began reading literature about money every day. Part of the blogging territory, over the course of that first year, I collected knowledge, bit by bit, each and every day: theories, opinions, facts and assumptions.

I played with my budget, then created it all over again. Every weekend, I reviewed my spending and learned from the previous week’s mistakes.

I began setting $25 aside from each paycheck into my emergency fund. It sounds like too small a number to make a difference, but it was a start.

After some moderate success with my $25 savings plan, I began putting all found or extra money into my emergency fund. There was no big bang. I didn’t suddenly amass a $10,000 emergency fund by outsmarting my money, but over the period of the year I had saved $3,000 in my emergency fund. I saved $3,000 because I started.

I began working on my confidence and pushing myself out of my comfort zone a little bit each day, so that I could feel confident enough to apply for higher level positions. I began emailing companies for which I wanted to work to introduce myself.

It didn’t land me the job over night, but it was a start.

A year after engaging in these exercises in confidence and networking, a year after I started, I landed a job which afforded me a $4.50/hour raise and provided me with a higher level of experience.

Five months later, I landed another job which doubled my income.

I started small and built on my progress every step of the way.

No Step is Too Small

In 1891, a man named Thomas from Glasgow, Scotland used his life savings to open a small market, using his experience and wages gained from travelling the USA and working at his parent’s store to get his foot in the business.

Now, his small business has blossomed into arguably the most successful tea empire in the world.

Thomas Lipton took the first step by gaining experience in the business; he started something which he improved on and built over time. By the time of Lipton’s death in the 1930s, his company had merged with a number of other companies, amassing to 3,000 stores worldwide.

Mr. Lipton would not have seen that type of success – or any success at all – had he not taken that first step and started. He started small – with gaining experience and starting one store, and progressed to huge success. Every business, every entrepreneur you’ve ever heard of or admire had to start small and work their way up.

It sounds unlikely that reading about money and starting a personal blog could lead to an outcome like quadrupling my income and gaining control of my money, doesn’t it?

It sounds far-fetched and frankly like a load of bull.

You know what is even more far-fetched? Quadrupling your income and gaining control of your finances to live the life you want by sitting here, reading this article, and then going to seek out the next quick fix.

The beauty of taking the first step is that the second step follows shortly thereafter. Then the third, and the forth, because it’s easier to keep going after you’ve started then it is to start in the first place.

When you wake up in the morning, it’s damn hard to get out of bed. It’s warm and inviting and you aren’t ready to face the world yet. But once you hoist yourself out of bed and start your morning, it’s far easier to stay awake.

Starting something is like that, too. If you can bring yourself to make the first move, momentum helps keep you going.

What could you do to improve your life if you just start? What could you make better by ridding yourself of the notion of the quick fix and taking the first, tiny step?

 

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