Time for a Change

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Money. Love it or hate it, whether you have tons or none, it is something that dictates a lot about your life.  With that being said, I hate it, and it is because I have spent all of my life never having enough money.  My husband and I work hard and in our house, he does the budget.  It isn’t because I am not capable of running the household budget, but rather because money slips like mercury through my fingers, faster than the speed of light.  Once in a while, I ask him where things stand, and these days, it is looking better than it ever has.  We are not rolling in the dough, in fact, we are very far from that with our household income.  We decided years ago that it was better for him to take control over the money.  Many fights happened since then, but when we made the decision to have him handle the budget, we promised to never let any fights we had about money be about anything other than the money.  Do you know what?  It worked.  There have been days where I was so angry I was shouting at him to find me the money I needed for whatever we were fighting about needing money for.  We made that little rule at the start, and we have made it work for us, ever since.

I am now going to share my top 6 Budgeting Tips.  They will not be things that you have never heard of before, but they have helped me stay the course and not go crazy all the time.

  1. Don’t leave the house.  I am really serious about this one.  The second I walk out of the house I am 100% guaranteed that I am going to spend money.  Except if I am going to work, or to visit a friend. It is a given.  When I have time off, I avoid shopping temptation by staying home.  I am not an avid online shopper, so this does not affect me like it might for other people.  When I do make online purchases, they are planned, not impulse purchases.
  2. Make a grocery list.  Use the weekly flyers. Cut the coupons. Go the extra mile to get whatever deals that you can find.  If you can sign up for email coupon sites or local couponing groups, you can swap the ones you don’t need for some that you do.
  3. Pack your lunch.  Eating out should be a treat, not an everyday event.  If you make a meal, the leftovers can be your lunch the next day.  I do this a lot.  I get bored of sandwiches, so when I prep cook, it is for my lunches.  I recently discovered that I need carbs at lunch.  I will have to be planning ahead more for this, as I thought the sleepiness after lunch was my blood sugars being too high.  I checked. They weren’t.  The next day I added the right kind of carbs, and I wasn’t falling asleep at my desk.  Who knew?
  4. Find ways to earn money to save up for something extra.  I have done a bit of pet sitting for friends,  but it can be anything that you can do.  I have also done overtime at the day job when I was planning something that I couldn’t afford from the regular budget.  The household budget has been so rigid for so long that it is now a habit for me to stop and think before I make plans to figure out where the money for such and such is going to come from.
  5. Make use of points.  Whether you collect air miles, scene points for movies points at your local grocery store or pharmacy, spend them wisely.  I have one that I let accumulate until I have enough saved to buy makeup with.  I have others that I cash in when I am low on funds and need to make a purchase that I can’t wait until payday for.  If you are spending money to buy coffee every day (another way to save money is to make it at home) then get the card and claim your free coffee when it is earned.  Or, pay a gift forward to a friend in need with points.  Save them to purchase Christmas or Birthday gifts.  Whatever you use them for, if the points are used, and it is something that you want instead of need, then it is a valuable way to spend them.
  6. When you are paying down your debt load, pay extra when you can.  Choose one of two things when you start to target your debt load, either the smallest total balance and continue paying each one off one at a time while paying the regular payments to the other bills.  The other factor to weigh into this decision is the interest rate for each separate debt load.  When it comes to making ground, it makes sense to start small and remove the smaller totals first.  This builds momentum because you are seeing results as each bill is paid off.  Then you can change tactics when you only have larger bills left, and tackle the one that is charging you the highest interest rate first.  When you are improving your credit rating, then call the companies that you want to keep doing business with, and ask them what they can do to help you save money, and keep doing business with them.  They may lower your interest rate that they charge, and if you have problems spending, ask them to lower your balance when you hit the balance that you can manage.

My bonus tip is to live within your means.  Think before you shop.  Wants are not needs.  If you don’t overspend, you won’t have to pay down the debt if there is none there, to begin with.  This is practical advice, but not always possible.  Emergencies happen and need to be dealt with.  If you have your debt under control, having to find a way to cover an emergency is not as stressful when you have wiggle room to manage to pay down a new and unexpected bill.

I am writing this story for 2 different reasons.  One is that it is something that might help someone like me figure out how to manage their money better.  My husband uses a computer program to keep track of it all, but he also writes out the budget by hand months in advance to help him plan ahead.  The other one is to slip in another introduction for a third Guest Blogging adventure.  I have teamed up with Carla Gardiner who was the first Blogger to respond to my open invitation for guest blogging.  I have written a story for her blog.  It is a bit familiar to the information I have shared here on this blog, with my own little spin to make it just different enough that you should go read it, to make sure you don’t miss out on any of my stories.  I really had fun with this one, and there is a science fiction reference or two in it.  You can read  What are you doing with your towel?  on Carla’s Blog.

While you are there, check out what she is up to.  She is fiery-grandma-signature2a so you can well imagine that she has her own stories to tell, in her own way, from living life through her own journey.  I do read her blog, and I am in the #100Coffees group with her, it is where we met.  She and I were brainstorming, as I am not quite what her ideal audience member would look like.  While chatting, I was inspired to write about reinventing myself and to share budgeting tips.  These topics were chosen based on sharing the audiences of both blogs. So here is the first part.  Please do take the time to visit her blog also.  The Blogging community has always been a delightful way to help other bloggers with Guest Posting such as this one, and I look forward to participating in more writing adventures in my own journey.

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Sun Kissed and Salt Licked

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If you have been to my About page, you will recognize this picture.  It is from one of my favourite places in the world, in Chimney Corner, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.  It is a bench made from driftwood that overlooks a private beach.  You will not find it easily, it is not open to the public.  Not even very many locals have been here.  It is a gem in the home of my heart, and a place I think of often.

The ocean seems to find its way into my words when I write, whether it is song lyrics or into my fantasy trilogy.  That’s right, I am planning to write a fantasy trilogy based in the home of my heart.  It won’t be about my life, exactly, it will be straight from my imagination.  There may be familiar issues or mannerisms found in some of the characters, but I am not basing any of it on real people.  After meeting Kelly Armstrong a few weeks ago, I realized that for my first trilogy, it will be enough to write it without creating a new world for it to happen in.  I asked her during the Q&A session at the local library if she would ever write in a world that she created, and she answered that she didn’t plan to create any other worlds for her writing.  She said that she felt that there are people that are better suited to world building, and she isn’t one of those people.  I am reading some of her books now, and have read some before the event at the Library.  I am not sure if I will write more than a trilogy based in Cape Breton, or if I will connect all of my books there somehow.  However,  I do think it is a logical place for me to start.

I also got some books signed after the Q&A had finished.  I told her that I am writing my first trilogy and that I am a little nervous about writing book 2.  I am scared that I might get lost and stuck in there.  She told me I was looking at it from the wrong perspective.  She shared that book two is not where I should get lost, but where I should plan to have fun.  I am going to try and remember that.

Meeting Kelley Armstrong

Matty, Kelley Armstrong, and me at the local library.

I am writing this post to tie it into my upcoming Guest Post on another Blogger’s page. He is a friend I have met online since I started my blogging adventure, and he asked me to write a story for his Around The World category.  I wrote to him about my upcoming vacation in Cape Breton Island, and this became the topic I decided to write about.

The Atlantic Ocean, kissing the Cape Breton Coastline

The Atlantic Ocean, kissing the Cape Breton Coastline

The sun setting beside Margaree Island, seen from the shore of Cape Breton Island

The sun setting beside Margaree Island, seen from the shore of Cape Breton Island

What a Beach day!  Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

What a Beach day! Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada

Thanks to my friends and family members for the beautiful pics I blended together in this project, with permission.  I came back from my week in Cape Breton feeling relaxed and refreshed.  I did go swimming twice, and that is where I got the title for this story.  Salt water therapy on the shorelines of Cape Breton Island is the best kind and one money can’t buy.

I was honoured to be invited to share my story on Mohamad Al Karbi’s Blog.  I hope you take the time to visit and read the story of my vacation.  It is written to share MY Cape Breton with the world.  While you are there, if you have some time, there are many other posts in this and other categories.  I have enjoyed reading about different places in his blog, and I suspect if you want to read more about other places in the world, this is a way for me to help you discover the world through other people’s eyes, with their own stories.

You can read my Guest Blog # 2, Homesick for the Home of my Heart, here.

I hope you enjoy both stories for this project.  As always, I have enjoyed writing them.  Always Thinking…

My first Guest Blog, and a little more of the back story.

Pink Shirt Day

Pink Shirt Day 2017

Earlier in the year, Kirsty Allen, of her blog The Ramblings of a Madwoman posted an opportunity for guest blogging.  It interested me, as a newbie here, I wanted to give it a whirl and see what happened.  We were given a prompt, and I chose to write about a recent conflict.

I thought about it, as I am Always Thinking…

I replied with an idea about learning how to stand up for myself.  This is something that is a new skill in my life, and I have been improving it in the last few years.  I still have my moments, but I like to think I am more capable of defending myself than I was 10 years ago.

The last Wednesday in February is Pink Shirt Day in Canada.  I am all for raising awareness about the anti-bullying movement, and I shared reminders on my personal facebook wall the day before Pink Shirt Day, 2017.  It came as a surprise when I had negative replies in response to those reminders. I replied in the most constructive way I could, trying to turn around the negativity.  It didn’t go too far, and I did see that one person decided to express their negative thoughts on their own wall.  To each their own.  A good rule of thumb for social media.  If the discussion had continued to escalate on my wall, I would have had to take further action.  Thankfully, it didn’t.

In true Tish fashion, I had made a decision about the best way I could handle this.  I decided that I would use the anger and disappointment I felt as a result of what happened on my wall, and spin it in my guest blog post.

It was a challenge.  I started with the pantser approach I use, and just typed away.  The goal for the word count was 200 to 700 words, in short story format.  When I finished the rough draft, I had 1800 words, give or take a few.  So then I had to get really serious and edit the fluff out of it.  I have certainly had a lot of experience with bullies in my life, there was no shortage of examples.

After a furious editing session, I worked on it for 2 days or more, I had it down to just over 800 words.  I updated Kirsty with my progress and asked her about the size of the picture she needed for the submission to be complete.  With that information, I was able to send it to her.  Then I waited.  I am proud that I was able to send it in before the deadline.  That was important to me, as I am a procrastinator by nature.

It was hard to be patient, but I did that too.  I checked for a response several times a day, waiting for her reply.  I wondered if I missed the mark with the word count,  or if it was not going to be a successful submission.

When I saw Kirsty’s message, I was over the moon happy!  She told me that it would indeed be published, and that, “I really enjoyed reading your piece, it was so relatable and well written that I nearly cried. .” I quoted that at work and for a few days after that.  It validated my talents as a writer, and also really made me feel good that I accomplished the task at hand.

I am pleased to share this story here, in a link format.  There is a reason we Bloggers do this together.  We share stories on each other’s websites to challenge our own writing abilities, but also to increase traffic to each other’s websites.  It may not make much sense to those of you out there just reading my stories that I link to my wall, but in the blogging world, it does matter.  So if you like my story, and you take the time to read it, please take a few minutes to check out The Ramblings of a Madwoman by Kirsty Allen.  I recommend “It’s called Project Echo. We’re a top secret, select group of special people and we’ve been monitoring you.”, as I really enjoyed this story.  I was inspired when I read Motivation March, to leave a comment for her about this piece.  She is a talented writer, and I am liking her stories too.

Here is the link for my first guest submission on Kirsty’s website.  I hope you check it out.  I am proud of how it came together.

It’s not just about the pink shirt, it’s about changing your attitude