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Where I Went Wrong Last Week

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This post has been one I’ve been dreading for a few days, because I let myself down. There was another post I had planned for today, but it hinged on me actually working on the steps that I mentioned in my last post, and I took none of those steps. Not a one. This week was a professional and emotional hurricane, as many weeks have been for me this summer. That’s not an excuse, and I need to plan for these better.  

Professional challenges

It’s another new work-week, and I am profoundly behind on everything. It’s not usually like this. The project I’m on, which was supposed to take about two weeks, has taken over six weeks so far. We continue to find new pieces to add into the scope of the project, and it’s exhausting. Some curveballs lobbed out of nowhere have meant that my carefully-crafted agenda might as well be garbage. Those surprises landed me with two full days of crisis calls, culminating with the senior VPs and I hanging up the phone at 8:30PM Friday night. Prior to that, on Wednesday I was woken at 5AM for a similar work emergency. That one concluded with me wrapping up one of my employees’ shifts at 7PM. I had called him in early to help and there was no one else to cover the evening.

As the person who manages the people who support our products and clients, I sometimes need to drop everything and set up a command center when things go awry (as seen Wednesday and Friday). The other days of the week, I worked until 8 or 9 PM trying to get ahead on the project that won’t end. The demoralizing thing is that I am an exempt employee, so there is no overtime pay in my future. My boss is generous with bonuses, raises, and stock options, and I can take almost unlimited time off when it’s slow. Historically, I’ve tended to not do that, but that changes now! Dedicated vacation time is the first thing I’ll take once my new hire is trained, late summer. 

Emotional Challenges

My ex (Mike) has been at my house, helping with my animals and housekeeping. He’s happily unemployed and is the only person available who knows how to care for my diabetic cat. I am eternally grateful he has been able to give me a hand, but it’s messy and difficult for each of us. I am not paying him, but I did get him some wine and steaks to say thanks. He’s been eating all his meals here, but they’ve been cheap. We went for half-price chicken wings on Tuesday and he paid for himself (we each paid $20 tax and tip included). Otherwise, we have eating inexpensive leftovers. had fish tacos for a couple days made from frozen fish, and I also made a giant pot of chicken soup from some chicken in the freezer and stock made from veggie and bone scraps laying around. I did a big shopping trip on Sunday and he sent me money for his share, so if he’s around this week, it will cost me nothing. 

What to do next? 

I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep. My checking account has about $150 and other than $15 I’ll need for some groceries towards the end of the week, I don’t need to spend any more money. This workweek is going to be just as hard as the last one, and my single objective will be to minimize spending. I’m in the middle of my rent paycheque, which is usually difficult to save money on. I need emergency meals for the freezer at home and work, and I’ll have some ready to bring in for Tuesday. 

Next up is a spending diary for this paycheck on Thursday. My next paycheck is Friday, and I’ll set aside my first big chunk of money into savings then. I’m giving myself a deadline of August 9th for those calls to my service providers. It will take time to inquire about lowering fees and to get a meeting at the bank about consolidating debt. Realistic goals are important here! 


Elizabeth’s Debt Story Part 2: Spending

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Hello again! Thank you for the lovely welcome, and I appreciate your tips for my spreadsheets! I am taking the advice of the commenter who advised to budget for my bi-weekly paycheck as two checks a month, and then when I have the third check, I can use that where it’s needed! Let’s dive into the spending!

Before we get into the nitty gritty, I’ll let you know my budget weaknesses. 

  1. My pets. I have a senior cat with diabetes who I’ve had for 14 years. This has translated into me becoming extremely frugal, buying insulin and supplies on the black market (sourced on Craigslist). Spending for supplies runs ~$20 on syringes and ~$15 on insulin a month (purchased twice a year in bulk), and then under $40 on cat food (he can only eat canned, but I managed to find a deal with a group of people buying wholesale!). Next is my 90lb labrador-cross, age five, and she is my sun and my moon. I have insurance for her at $58 a month. I got that insurance a little late in her life and I still believe it’s necessary because I can’t afford an emergency. I feed her raw food because she has allergies and prescription vet food is a fortune. My vet supports her current diet, and I buy it all at the Chinese supermarket. There are always chicken legs for $0.79 a lb, and I can get dirt cheap chicken feet, pig liver, cow heart, etc… all things very healthy for my dog and considerably cheaper than commercial food! She gets whole eggs, berries, the odd roasted sweet potato, but mostly cheap meat and offal. I feed her for less than $60 a month. For those not keeping track, that’s $80 for the cat and $120 for the dog per month. They were my reason for getting out of bed for a long time and I consider them a mental health expense! Would I get new pets if these ones passed on today? NO. I learned my lesson. I need to save money.
  2. Seeing my family. I am the eldest sibling in a large, tight-knit family. My family is spread out all over, with the closest members two hours away. It’s the reason I have a car, as they live in areas I can’t get to by transit.
  3. Food and wine. There is no excuse for this, and I simply need to rein it in. Food is not a reward. I love to cook and entertain, and my friends can bring the prime rib over if they want me to cook it! 

I truly am open to your feedback, and I won’t be defensive about the above items. 

My Spending 

I took the advice of some commenters and set up YNAB (You Need a Budget). As a result, I’m faced with the stunning reality of my impulse transactions! It’s kind of a pain to do this mid-paycheck, but I’m working on it. This process has resulted in me opening a ticket with their support, because once again TD and Capital One accounts are having issues syncing (I’ve been down this road with YNAB before. Mint.com always just works but I find it more difficult to budget with – anyone else?). I’ll post some screenshots from Mint and YNAB as soon as I get one of these services working the way I’d like it to, hopefully within a few days. In the meantime, here are the raw numbers: 

Elizabeth Spending

Here’s a photo of my pup after a swim at the family cottage last week, for no other reason other than this post is too much text and dogs are cute.

Rose dog


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