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Hello 2020! Opportunities For Success And Growth


Well, hello there! I am so sorry for the absence. This might end up being a long post as I catch you all up on what’s been going on since my last life update. I fell off the face of the planet for a few weeks. Guess who ended up working quite a bit through Christmas (despite having booked two weeks off…)? This lady. I did end up making it to my dad’s for five days of pure Canadian winter bliss before spending Christmas day alone (which I quite enjoyed).

My Holiday Up North

We curled inside and outside. My dad and his girlfriend set up an outdoor curling rink! Very cool. I am an amateur, hence the helmet and stabilizer.


We spent every day outside. It was mild and snowy, the best combination. My dad and I went for lots of hikes, visited the brewery on the lake, made a giant snowman, and watched some old tv shows. It was truly wonderful.


When I got home on Christmas, I ended up being very run down and didn’t want to go to my aunt’s house for dinner. My dad had dinner plans many hours away and had invited me, but I didn’t feel like further travel. It was restful to be alone and reflect. I made myself a tasty dinner and watched Christmas movies with my dog. It was nice to remember my dear cat, to reflect on my family moving away, my accomplishments at work, my failures at home. I also replanted a bunch of houseplants and propagated some others. #PlantNerd

(No, my kitchen is not normally completely covered in plants).

All in all, it was a nice holiday. I spent the time between Christmas and New Year’s visiting friends. I stayed up until dawn a couple of times talking with girlfriends, which is totally unlike me. Personally, I love being in bed by 10PM because I get up at 5 most days. I ended up having a quiet NYE with Mike, my best friend Rose, and her family. Call it cheesy but eating Chinese food and watching the ball drop with Ryan Seacrest is my idea of a cozy New Year’s Eve.

The holidays were spendy…

I 100% blew my budget over Christmas, to the tune of an additional $350 spent (over the $760 I budgeted). The card was paid off out of my savings account. I got my parents Alexa devices and created a Spotify family subscription at $14.99/month (but I set aside the money for the monthly charges already, so it’s all paid for, essentially). Overall, I feel good about the purchases (for what it’s worth).

I also had some work expenses denied because I have to provide more documentation, so I covered another $450 out of savings as a temporary measure to avoid credit card interest. It has to be considered a good thing that I am terrified of carrying a credit card balance these days! I never want to go back to carrying a card balance. My savings account is now at $1000 but I should have some extra money coming in this month to cover the hits. My card balances remain at $0.

So, what’s the new plan?

The topic of this blog is, of course, getting out of debt. I’m planning on doing that in 2020. I’m now using a budget from Liz Morris of One Twenty Five.  She’s a Toronto blogger from the early days of blogging, and she’s really inspirational to me when it comes to personal finance. I like this Google Sheet because it’s completely customizable and I can make space for every spending category in my life. I’ve been tracking my spending dutifully and trying to only use cards so that I can add my purchases up every couple of days.

I plan on sharing the new budget with you on Friday. I’m hoping to find out what my bonus and compensation will be for 2020 today, which will then guide me for finalizing the numbers.

One tip I’m going to implement on my next paycheck is the separate account for spending money. This tip came via a comment from Jewels and I’m grateful for the suggestion. The blogger I Pick Up Pennies does something similar with her weekly spending allowance. I’ll try anything at this point! I already have a second free checking account that I don’t use, so this will be easy to implement.

Staying motivated

I feel very motivated to pay off my debt right now. I’m still carrying some anxiety about housing security. I hate renting with such a precarious rental market in Toronto. I’m going to need to budget tightly in order to pay off debt and afford the things I need to do this year, including saving for a down payment on a place of my own.

There are some trips I need to take this year:

  • I’m (hopefully) flying to Nova Scotia tomorrow to see my family. However, the weather is looking horrible. Heavy winds and snowfall are predicted. Wish me luck!
  • In May, my grandfather turns 80. Family from Norway are flying in for the party, so I’ll be back in Nova Scotia.
  • I have a travel voucher worth $500 for SAS, so I’m waiting for a seat sale to head back to Norway in the late summer or maybe fall. 2019 was the first year of my life I didn’t go anywhere for a vacation, and I’m okay with that. It remains important to me to see my very old relatives in Norway, and many are too old to make the trip here in May.

And as a final piece of financial news, I’m canceling my two credit cards that have yearly fees. I haven’t used either of them in a few months, and the fees are due in the spring. Last week, I applied for a free card with a Canadian grocery store company. I had this card many years ago, and it’s the BEST for points. It’s easy to get $40 of free groceries every month – seriously, without even trying! So, I’m hopeful that application goes through.

I’ll have another personal update for you on Friday, written just a couple minutes from the sea in Little Harbour, Nova Scotia. I can’t wait to share some screenshots from my new budget!


  • Reply Laura |

    It seems like every post has included some sort of “I had to spend —-“ either for a fun time or family. In this post, it’s doubling the Christmas budget! I’d think about what your family would rather have – you stressed out and thinking about all your debts and how to keep credit cards at zero, or not having a pro Spotify account for a year. My hunch is that you’re putting your personal preference of wants onto them and not considering what they’d actually want.

  • Reply Kili |

    Welcome Back!
    Glad you had enjoyable holidays.
    What did you use the additional 350$ for?

    • Reply jj |

      Each of her parents got an Alexa device, and she also got a Spotify premium account to share, so that could be it.

  • Reply Joe |

    Sounds like a lovely time.

    But $350 overspend on a budget of $760 is 46% over! Seems like you need to fix either your budgeting process, or the spending.

    Remember, it takes a lot of $350 chunks to get a down payment together…

    (And before that you will need all the $350 chunks to meet your goal of getting out of debt this year!)

    • Reply Elizabeth S. |

      I think my biggest problem is that I never see going over the limits I set as a problem because I finally am able to cover all my expenses with money left over. This is still new to me and I’m not handling it well. At the end of the day, I seem to know I have more money coming and I can borrow from other categories if I need to (this is not ok!!). I am struggling hard with discipline. I am disciplined in so many areas of life but reckless when it comes to coloring within the lines financially.

So, what do you think ?