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November Financial Slip Up – Spending and Saving

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Before I jump into the unexpected expenses, some updates on me personally. I’m sorry I’ve been posting a bit irregularly. I’ve been really sick. My bad cold for the past few weeks is acute bronchitis and I’m using a bronchodilator now. Trying to sleep has been hell. I woke up every hour last night coughing. The stress of the past month is catching up to me and I’m not in my 20s any longer. I can’t get by on a few hours of sleep with stress hormones raging all day. I seem to be regaining energy. Let’s hope this is passing…

This is a snapshot from an app that collects data from my Apple Watch. The grey spaces on the circle are where I was awake, coughing. My sleeping heart rate is usually 58-62 BPM and the past week it has gone up into the 80s. My doctor said the sickness is causing obstructive apnea which results in a lack of oxygen and a higher heart rate. So, yes, still struggling to get my life back on track. October was so hard.

“Unexpected” Expenses

Last week, I was feeling pretty high after checking some boxes on my goals for the year. I had set goals to eliminate my high interest debt and cancel my expensive banking products, which I did. But then…

Some expenses came up. And if there is one thing I’ve learned in 2019, these things shouldn’t be unexpected.

  • My mum’s house sold, and then she had to be in Nova Scotia in a day. 24 hours. She packed up her SUV and stopped by my house at 9pm on her way out east, and we ended up at a nice steakhouse (The Keg). We were in jeans and sneakers, looking for chicken wings or something casual, but decided to have a fancy dinner. We won’t see each other at Christmas. I picked up the check for $153.24 and didn’t think about the money. We were both crying. She drove through the night to go sign her paperwork.
  • Bestie Dan visited from Ottawa. I mentioned in August he visits about once a year. This is an auspicious year, I suppose. Two visits! He had some business in Toronto and asked to spend the night last week. We met his mother for dinner ($40.03 for my portion) and then the next day, met my coworkers (he worked with us doing a co-op for his PhD at one point). We had layoffs at work that morning, and Dan’s Reunion Lunch became a liquid lunch for some laid off people. There was a very convoluted billing process and I ended up with $70 on my tab. So, $110 for Dan’s visit.
  • Mike’s birthday is today. I spent $70 on some warm work clothes on sale and lucky red panda socks (he loves red pandas!) and $20 for wine. On top of that, we are meeting his sister for dinner tonight (I’m not drinking, obviously. I’m sick).
  • One of my mentors at work is moving away and we are seeing him off Wednesday. I’ll go for an hour to say farewell, but that’s it. $10 budget, plus taking the subway home.

The Aftermath

I’m crushed. Can I afford this? Sure. I won’t go hungry. But I had worked hard for a couple of months to not be this spendy, and it feels like it’s all undone. Coming up on Christmas, there will be money needed for extra things. It’s imperative that I am thrifty this month. And I need to be aggressive with paying off my consolidation loan. I don’t want to be lazy and say I can put my bonus towards the loan.

So this is a bit of a financial reckoning for me. I need to be wise with my money this month, in order to both be aggressive with debt repayment and to avoid dipping into savings. I want to stress, I’m not in debt over this. It’s just that I blew all my disposable income in a few days.

The Plan

I’m making a meal plan for the rest of the week now. My chest freezer has lots of protein in it, so I can spend very minimally on food. This weekend, I’m planning on seeing my grandparents as they pack up their house, so that will be an inexpensive weekend. Next week, there is nothing planned socially or professionally to cost me money and I’m going to keep it that way.

Time to smarten up. There are no such things as unexpected expenses. And back to revisiting how I can track my money. Mint.com sent me an email this morning that they have new integrations available, so I’m going to take a look and see if they’ve fixed my accounts.


Sometimes People Suck!

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Pardon my french, but once again, a client screwed me. And it pisses me off. Again, sorry for the language.

Most of my work over the last couple of years has been done via online marketplace sites like Upwork and Guru. Working through those sites protects me and the clients. It makes sure they get what they requested and I am guaranteed payment (they record my screen, etc.) I have to pay them a percentage of my fees (10-20% even.)

But I’ve recently taken on several clients referred by others…and via LinkedIn recruitment. It’s my own fault for accepting the clients, but in the end, there are no protections for me.

After over 2 months and incremental payments for project work, a client has ghosted on their final payment, several thousand dollars. Money I was counting on to end the year strong…money I had plans for. And I’m so mad!

Getting Screwed Over is Not New

As a small business owner, this is not new, in my now 13 years in business, this has happened before…but I really thought I was past it. I thought I had enough safeguards in place. (This is a great article on things to do to improve your payment process.) I was trusting my gut and doing incremental billing and building commitments and relationships slowly.

Crap!!!

I billed him on the 25th, confirmed his receipt of invoice. I sent him a reminder on the 30th that payment was due on the 1st.

I continued work, responding to work requests and such on the 1st…but no payment arrived. I sent him a text. (I did this with the last payment too and he responded to say he had put it in the mail late. Ok, I can deal with that.)

Nothing on the 1st, Nothing on the 2nd and Nothing today…

Went to log on to work tools, locked out…

So mad! So hurt!

There is something wrong with people that do this. Take advantage of people like this.

That is all. I don’t feel like I have any recourse at this point…even though I have emails with his commitment, etc. Following up and going after him to pay, well, is it really worth the money and headache?

Of course, the men in my family, dad, brother and boyfriend want to know if I have his address. Ugh. I just can’t.

But not paying a small business owner, a solopreneur like me, really hurts. It affects our families, our businesses and worst of all our confidence and willingness to work for others. So when a small business asks you to pay up front…this is why.

Steps off my soap box, shaking with anger.