Archive | June 2012

Finding balance

Life is hectic. Right now, I’m working two jobs, trying to update my skills in order to make myself more marketable, volunteering for a not-for-profit, trying to keep up with blogging, and looking for a job as my current job is not permanent. I’d also like to do some reading and for once, not the guilty pleasure kind – the kind I refuse to call ‘self help.’ I currently have Eckhart Tolle’s ‘A New Earth’ sitting on my desk beckoning me. Will it be life-changing? Will it be eye-opening? I really don’t know, but there’s only one way to find out.

I’m sure my schedule doesn’t phase most of the PF bloggers out there. I can think of a few offhand that have equally busy schedules and manage to do it all. I can’t pretend to understand how it happens short of having a few clones doing all their biddings. I’ve been exhausting myself these past few weeks by thinking and thinking about all the things I need to get done and how I’m going to do it and am I going to burn out and are there enough hours in the day/month/year/lifetime. Should I become Martha Stewart and sleep 4 hours per night?

How will I find balance?

Make a schedule. There are a few things I want/need to do right now, including working from 9-5 plus weekends and usually one weeknight. Those hours are a given and I need to work around them. This leaves me with 4 weeknights. I can study the computer programs I would like to learn during 3 of those nights and leave one night for relaxing. That’s where the balance comes in!

Set goals. You’ll hear it time and time again, but setting real, measurable goals is effective.  I found that with job searching, I was most productive when I told myself I’d apply to at least one job a day. It doesn’t sound like much, but with each application taking so long to tailor, it’s easy to procrastinate and go days without applying to a single job. Saying I’ll apply to at least one job a day is less daunting than just saying I’ll apply to tons, and also very achievable.

Take mini-vacations. You may not be in a place where you can take real vacations. For me, it’s financial constraints I’ve placed on myself as well as the whole not having vacation time thing. At the same time, however, I don’t really want to burn out. For me, taking a weekend off once every so often is important. This summer, I’ll be going to a friend’s cottage for a long weekend. Long enough (and inexpensive enough!) to satisfy my need to get away and take a break from the daily grind!

Stop wasting time. Spending hours finding out way too much about people I don’t really know on Facebook is probably not the best usage of my time not to mention creepy as f(*&. I need to stop…right…now. Wait, let me just stare at my friend’s friend’s sister’s vacation pics first. Oooh Hawaii!

Stay positive. Every type of wisdom from ancient to new-age comes down to one basic concept: positivity. You get back what you give to the universe. You’ll have good days and bad days but when it comes down to it, it really will be okay. Focus on your immediate goals and make them achievable. Sometimes it is that simple.

I am by no means an expert on finding balance (obviously), so I’m hoping these tips will help both you and I cope with stressful situations. At the end of the day, I know I’m lucky to have had the opportunities that I’ve had and that if I keep trying, more will come to me. For now, I’m going to follow Dory’s advice:

And that’s the truth. On a completely different note, I just found this online and it has completed my life. You’re welcome.

Have a great weekend!

LF

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How will going from red to black affect my blog?

Gail Vaz-Oxlade would be so proud of me. I went from (reckless Princess) slightly spendy to downright frugal and showed my debt who’s boss. I must say, being debt-free for the first time in my adult life feels great.

Woot!

That being said, I feel like I’ve harped on my debt for long enough and inadvertently turned this blog into a Dear Diary of sorts. As a result, I feel like I’m not relating to readers as well as I should be and I’d like to change that by talking less about me, me, me and more about topics that affect everyone. But of course infused with a bit of me, me, me. 😉

Unlike some of the bloggers I love reading, I haven’t shown a true commitment to the art. I blog when I want to, and sometimes it’s pretty sporadic. I don’t think this is going to fly if I want to become a legit blogger so I’m going to have to stick to some sort of schedule as well. I’m also not so into the monthly goals and spending reports, etc. but I think that’s okay! In all honestly, I’m not sure what this blog will evolve into. Maybe it will become part PF, part life, and part everything in between. Maybe it won’t even be PF at all. Right now I’m just going to stop worrying and let it grow organically.

Will I ever be a big time blogger with thousands of readers? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. That’s okay too. Right now I’m just happy to have my own little corner of the internet where I can say what I want and connect with great people.

I know this is a bit of a random post but I just wanted to give you guys a quick update. Hope you’re all enjoying the summer!

I’ve forgotten how to have fun (part deux)

I’ve noticed that the search term ‘I’ve forgotten how to have fun’ has brought more than one reader to my blog. I find this fascinating and sad! Why have so many of you forgotten how to have fun? Admittedly, I think that more and more, I’ve become the opposite of fun. I’ve opted for savings over sangrias, frugality over fashion and friends. It’s true.

Instead of turning this into a sad post, I’ve decided to revisit the topic by brainstorming suggestions that might remind you AND me how we can strike a balance between saving money and enjoying life.

Set ‘fun’ goals

As PF bloggers, we are generally inclined to set savings goals and debt payoff goals. Why not set fun goals as well? I’ve tried to do this in the past, but to no avail. Along with saving X amount, why not make it a point to catch up with one old friend every week and do something frugal? A walk in the park, a coffee date, or a night in all work well.

Remember it’s not just about the moolah

I’ve been so wrapped up in debt payoff and savings and I think it’s the culprit. I go out for drinks and feel guilty the whole day leading up to it. ‘How much will this set me back?’ ‘I really shouldn’t be drinking beer and eating bar food…’ are some of the thoughts that float through my neurotic head. Surprisingly enough, I end up going out and having a blast and catching up with great people. And the bar food is delicious. And it’s fun. And it only costs me $10 max if I’m careful – which I am.

Use group deals

Groupon, Teambuy, WagJag and about a gazillion other group buying sites make it easier than ever to find fun things to do in your area at a fraction of the original cost. Do something you wouldn’t normally do like salsa lessons, canoeing, go karting, or whatever it may be. Cheap and fun!

Challenge yourself to discover something new in your city

Do your research online and find out what festivals are coming to town this month. Or perhaps there is a beautiful park you never knew about. Be a tourist in your own city at no cost! I dare you.

So, for any of you that find me because you’ve ‘forgotten how to have fun’, snap out of it. I promise I will (try to) too.

Do you ever feel like you compromise fun in the name of frugality?

Employment woes

Jeremy over at Modest Money wrote an enlightening post about the challenges he has faced with unemployment. Although I have not entirely been in the same boat, I feel his pain. As some of you know, after going back to school and graduating from a program entirely different from my undergraduate background, I have faced an uphill struggle. Let me start from the beginning.

May 2011 – August 2011 

The beginning of 2011 brought hope and excitement. I was enrolled in the co-op stream of my postgraduate program and couldn’t wait to see what opportunities were out there for me. I waited with bated breath until my co-op job list became available to me. Unlike some of the people in my program, I had a couple of years of work experience under my belt prior to starting the program. Little did I know that this experience would do me no favours. I waited and waited, applying to jobs few and far between. Many were unpaid and I was refusing to settle for that. I was going to take a paid position with a reputable company, I’d decided. I did interview after interview and faced rejection after rejection. I was, after all, competing with every co-op student from my school and every other school with a similar co-op program. I was letting great opportunities slip through my fingers because they didn’t fit the bill of what I wanted. Eventually I was forced to take a position that paid a small stipend because I was near the end of the hiring season and hadn’t lined something up. I had no one to blame but myself. From May to August, I continued to waitress, worked at my internship and applied to full time jobs. Sh*t was crazy. Oh, I also paid off a $9,000 line of credit that I accumulated during the school year. Yay.

September 2011 – December 2011

During the summer I went in for a few interviews that didn’t work out. At the 11th hour, I asked if I could stay at my current job. The answer was a yes, but only on contract through until the end of the year. It was a startup after all, so funds were scarce. At this point, I had to take what I could get and I saw it as an opportunity to keep looking for jobs while continuing to build my resume. I got new job duties so I wasn’t unhappy staying put. My stipend was also more than doubled and I continued to waitress so my overall income continued to increase and I started to tackle my student loan aggressively. I did a few interviews and by November, I finally landed a job at a company that I really wanted to work for…but it was an internship. Around the same time, I was also close to landing a permanent position with a different company. I rejected it in favour of the internship because I had already been offered the internship, plus the full time opportunity was for a job that was very similar to the job I had left to go back to school for. One step forward two steps back? I took the risk and accepted the internship with the certainty that I would be hired on full time afterwards. Most interns had been hired on so why wouldn’t I? I’m awesome, right?

January 2012 – May 2012

This place is great. I really, really love this place. I’m getting fantastic experience, it’s in a field I adore and things just couldn’t be better. I’ve arrived. Wait, if I love this place so much, they must love me back, right? Well, I think they do! They really love me! My boss trusts me with real work and I get along great with all my coworkers. I keep the lines of communication open with my boss in terms of staying. As it happened, there were no full time opportunities for me by March, the original end date of my contract. They’d love for me to stay for two more months though, and perhaps something would come up. I took them up on it but realized that I needed to seriously start thinking about alternatives. The markets weren’t doing great and there was a real possibility that I wouldn’t be able to stay on at this company that I loved. In April and May I looked and looked and went through a few interview processes, some of which I am still a part of. Last week I ended at my internship because there just wasn’t anything to keep me there even longer. On the plus side, I managed to entirely pay off my $16,000 of debt. Woot!

What now?

I don’t feel hopeless because I know the right opportunity is out there for me. I am frustrated though because I have been seeking out full time opportunities for most of the past year and instead I’ve landed on contract after contract after contract. I recently visited an astrologer (don’t laugh at me!) and he said that based on my numerology, I have to work incredibly hard to achieve the same things that come easily to other people. Of course I don’t need an astrologer to tell me that – I know it’s true. But at the same time, why complain? All I can do is keep trying and know that one day it will all pay off for me. I will be awesome and all of this will just be a funny memory.

Are you currently in the middle of  a job search? What struggles do you face?