Tuesday 31 May 2016

Bright Times Ahead

It has been quite a long time since I have looked ahead and seen this much good things coming my way. I have beaten my credit card debt and I have proven to myself that I can manage credit cards and manage them well. 

I have also proven that I can budget and stick to that budget. I can even modify and manage my finances when things go awry. With these two skills under my belt, I can and will continue to move forward towards total debt freedom. 

I don’t mean to labour this point or rub it in anyone’s face but I only say this today to simply report that as I look to the future, all I can say is . . . (wait for it) . . . The future’s so bright . . . I gotta wear shades.

It goes without saying that a (soft and feminine) companion with me on this journey would be a welcome addition to my life. I would welcome that special lady to join me, but I am not desperate, nor am I expecting her to show up any time soon. (Let’s face it, I still live in an RV.)

If I had my druthers, she would: 

Love books and writing.
Be an excellent editor of spelling and grammar.
Be skilled in marketing/promotion.
Possess a Partner Mentality (as opposed to “passenger mentality.”)
And what the heck, be really pretty.

If and when that special lady decides to jump on into my life, great! We can then enrich each other’s lives, but until then, I will be find on my own. I will focus on how much better my life is now than it was two and a half years ago, when I started this journey. 

I will continue to live my life and move myself and my dreams ahead. I will focus on the good and positive in my life and continue to release and not accept the negative or bad things that cross my path. I will deal with them in a realistic way but I will let them go and not dwell on them.

Let’s not forget, the weather’s warm, I have propane and water in my tanks, and my fiscal plans are still on track, what more do I need?

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward! 

Monday 30 May 2016

Leave the Past in the Past

I did go to my favourite library and spent the day: struggling, fumbling and bumbling my side project forward. It was good because I could use their internet and electricity for free. 

I also find that going to a location like a library helps me get into “work mode,” so I get more done. All in all it was a very productive day. 

The only frustration was the fact that I had to park a few blocks away. Why? Well, first of all, the library itself hate me parking in their parking lot (it is small) and I understand that. 

The next natural place to park is in a remote area of one of the vast parking lots belonging to the shopping centre that the library is a part of (sorta). 

The trouble is that the security people of the shopping centre are a bit twitchy about me and want all kinds of personal information from me, just to park there . . . at all, let alone overnight. As a result I still haven’t talked to them, don’t park there and refuse to shop there (if it can be avoided).

I hold them no grudges as holding a grudge or hating will only impact me. Instead I find a way to get what I need done and leave others be; live and let live is a very wise life philosophy. 

I still can choose: what I do, who I support and who I don’t, I just avoid people and places out of protest, not hate.

I have been through a great deal of changes as I have gone through this great upheaval that this quest for debt freedom via this lifestyle has thrust upon me. 

In the process of it I have learned:

You need less material things to get by and be happy than you think.
Do not fear failure, but use it as a something to learn from.
Do not accept the constraints of others and society as absolutes.
It is not acceptable to be mired in lifelong debt.

And finally . . . 

You need to come to terms with, and make peace with, yourself and your past before you can let happiness in.
Leave the past in the past, just: reflect, understand and learn from it, but do not linger there.

These last two lessons have been the hardest to learn and put into practice. I have spent far too much time looking back on my life, feeling hard done by and yearning for choices not made or dreams and wishes unfulfilled. 

The past is the past and while each and every: interaction, relationship, hardship, obstacle, success, and failure that has transpired in your life has helped to shape you into the person that you are now. Even if you could go back in time and change what has happened, to do so would radically alter who you are now. 

All you can do, all any of us really can do is: 

1. Accept the fact that the past is a result of your choices and therefore your doing, 
2. Make peace with it
3. Learn from it
4. Move forward away from it. 

Your mind and efforts should be focussed on the future and the present, not the past. 

It has taken me a long time, 46 years as a matter of fact to learn that. I finally had a breakthrough this weekend and I feel at peace, truly at peace with everything for the first time in a very long time. I also, and in turn, feel happiness and contentment about my life and lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, I still am working to improve my life and situation and expect better and I am constantly working to improve my life and situation. 

I no longer feel a victim of: society, capitalism, consumerism, the universe or whatever else you could think up. This is a huge weight off of my shoulder and a truly life-altering realization to come to. 

With each day and each paycheque, I am inching myself forward towards my next fantastic day: 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018. 

For on that glorious morning I will wake up totally and completely debt free, and still own my home, as modest as it may be.

As always : Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Friday 27 May 2016

Comfort in Places

It is interesting how we humans are creatures of habit. I find that even though I do not have a fixed address, I have a few places that I claim as my own. 

I have my usual place that I park at when at work. I have another place by a grassy hill that I park at, in the evening and night. I have a little place that I park at when doing my grocery shopping and checking my mail. I have yet another spot that I park at when I am doing my banking, and yes a specific branch that I use.

All of these places seem like mine, yet intellectually I know that I have no claim to them as either they are public streets or on private property (shopping centres). Yet as long as I am able to park in each of “my” spots when I want to, I am happy, as I am “home.” 

One could argue that this is just my way of compensating for my lack of a fixed address home, but I think there is more to it than that. Think about it for a moment, don’t you have your own spots scattered around your world that are “yours?” 

That place at work?
That place at home?
That place at the shopping centre?
That place at the park?

Don’t you get upset when someone is in your spot? 

We draw comfort from routine and having a small piece of dirt that is ours waiting for us when we want it. I get mad and shout a bit and then move on to find another spot to park. I am acutely aware that I have no rights to be anywhere. After all I am a drifter by the nature of my current lifestyle. 

I just move on and find somewhere else to park, as there is always somewhere else to park. I will, as always, be fine, as I am a survivor. While I may not have a particular piece of the world that is my own, I can enjoy all of it, after all, wherever I go, I am home; I draw comfort in that.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Thursday 26 May 2016

Managing the Swells and Wanes of your Pay

Unless you are on Salary or otherwise getting a fixed and regular amount each and every payday, your pay (like mine) will vary greatly from one payday to the next. It is just one more thing to make your payday that much more special . . . anticipation and guessing what you are actually going to get.

This can also make budgeting challenging and some might say impossible. If you had budgeted expecting more pay than you actually got, then you have to toss out your budget and start all over again . . . hastily. (Either that or lots of Ramen Noodles and Mac and Cheese are in your future.)

The first question is why does your pay swing so much? The answer for most people rests in how many working days (or hours) are actually on this paycheque? The next reason is if you had too many hours did that nudge you up to just over and into the next tax bracket? 

For me, my pay-cycle works like this. I have two pay periods per month.  The first is between the first and the fifteenth; the second is between the sixteenth and the end of the month. My paycheck is issued and written for seven days after the end of the pay cycle. This means my paydays are always on the seventh and the twenty-second of each month, like clockwork. 

The challenge is that these dates don’t line up with the work week and some months have thirty days, some have thirty one and February usually has twenty-eight days, but on leap years it has twenty-nine. This means that the exact number of “workdays” varies from payday to payday. 

The second reason for me is that I get a slight commission on the orders that we process on our website. I have no control over this as I do not act as a salesman, but I do process and ship orders, so there is that. This means that my commission will vary greatly due to a number of factors outside of my influence.  

The last reason is my boss’s generosity and/ or magnanimousness, as in if the company made a great sale and he wants to spread the cash around a bit. This has happened a few times and each time it is usually kept quiet until you look at your paycheque (woo-hoo). 

All of this can make it very tough to do any sort of budgeting that a lot of people just give up and decide what to do after they have their paycheque in hand. This leads to hasty decisions and yes, one feeling like the scrawny kid holding his lunch money while surrounded by bullies. You decide how much to give to each of them and hope you have enough left over to buy your lunch.

What I advise is this: budget anyways, but budget for the Wane and not the Swell. Generally we all know how much (approximately) our pay will vary. There are always exceptions, but generally speaking we know that at least we will make “X” amount. 

What I suggest is that you establish your monthly budget based on that lower amount. Assume that you will only make that much and work your budget so that you still pay your bills. This way if and when more money comes in you can then decide what to do with that surplus (as in extra money). 

This is the core concept on how I have been able to get myself out from under credit card debt and how I am still able to keep my debt elimination and savings plans moving forward, despite the various life events that have hit me and yes my own poor choices. (I never said I was perfect, just adaptable and determined.)

Most of you reading this will say “Duh, that’s obvious, but I can’t do that!” To that I say that once again imagine that you just got a pay cut due to no fault of your own. Pretend that all you had to work with was that lower amount. Trust me; you are smart enough to make that lower budget work. 

This will be a start and hopefully help you see that you can make your own seemingly dismal fiscal realities better. Once again, if anyone wants or needs a copy of my budget spreadsheet, here is a blank one . . . Pay Period Budgeter.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward! 

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Back in (the) Black!

Yesterday was payday for me, as in I was finally able to do my running around and deposit my paycheque, two days after the real payday.  I had a good weekend and will be able to pay my bills, that much is certain, so it’s all good.

I was able to achieve the goals that I had set out for myself when I took that pause from my Long Term Savings plan. Namely, I am back above zero in my Main Account and my Mid-Term Savings is back to its minimal funding level (Namely $1k).

I will admit that this was with a bit of robbing Peter to pay Paul, but I did it to get my head on straight and back to where I feel somewhat comfortable, at least, not anxious and uneasy. It may seem a bit silly to stick to such arbitrary numbers, but this is what I have set for myself as the minimum I demand from (and for) myself.

This is my motivation board that I use to keep myself on track and motivated. Across the top going from left to right are my savings goals. They are all broken down in easy and manageable $2000.00 increments. 

By doing this, I get to see myself achieving smaller goals and set up a pattern that work towards my larger goals. If I achieve every one by the end of December, then I will be on track to pay Wanda off by December of next year (the big goal). 

In the lower Left are the current statuses of my three accounts. This is to stare me in the face how I am actually doing. The happy faces shows that I am happy with how they are at the moment. 

The Main Account shows only $16.76, and this is a bit of a misnomer. If I were to look at the bank balance of the Main Account, I would see a very different number, a much higher number, actually. This is due to the fact that since I consider $1k to be “Zero” for me, I subtract $1k from the bank balance. 

Second of all, that is what the bank balance in the Main Account will be once all of my automatic bills and payments are paid. As in when I am standing there in the bank about to deposit the next paycheque, this is what will effectively be in the bank. 

This is a key trick in budgeting, when thinking of what you have in your bank, don’t think about what is in there now, think about it in terms of once all of your bills have been paid. This way when you get the urge to spend you can look up and realize that you really have no extra cash to spend. 

To the right of those “indicator notes” are two red notes; those are bills that I must pay, my Mid-Term bills. One is the one credit card that I put a bit on due to the vacation and a side project. 

I plan to get this done in two paydays, three tops, all while keeping my savings plan on track and my butt above “Zero” in both my Main Account and Mid-Term Savings Account.

The other note is of course that IOU to my Long Term Savings Account that will need to be paid before December of this year, if I am to keep my top line goals on track. 

It goes without saying that a life event may hit and all of this planning and these goals will go out the window. I can’t predict that, so all I can do is do what makes the most sense here and now and deal with whatever may come my way. 

This is a demonstration of my “Dream for the future, Plan for the Mid-Term, yet work for the now” Moto. 

I am Dreaming of saving a total of $36K by the end of December 2017, so I can pay off Wanda. In order to do that I am also Dreaming and Planning (Longer, Mid-Term) of saving up $18K this year and another $18k next year. 

I am Planning to pay off the credit card first, and then after paying the Mid-Term Savings Account back for my Vacation (Namely, back up to $1k in it). After that I Plan to pay that IOU off, and hope to do it by the end of December this year. 

In order to do all of that, I need to Focus on my budget and pay period cycle that I am in right now. I need to be able to not only to budget, but stick to that budget. If you can do that, consistently, then you can work towards anything and yes make your life better. 

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Wonderful Waterton

I had a wonderful and relaxing time down at Waterton Lakes National Park. I will admit that I did not do any of the hiking that I had planned to. 

The main reason was that the mountains were socked in with mist and fog and part of the reason for hiking up a mountain is to be rewarded with a wonderful vista. 

As far as weather goes it did rain or sprinkle pretty much the whole time that I was there. As is tradition, it did snow this weekend and yes where I was, and yes on the first evening, putting an ominous tone to the start of this long-awaited long weekend.

All in all I was able to make the round trip to and from Waterton Lakes with only using ¾ of a tank of gas. I accomplished this by doing 90 KPH on the way back. I was a bit faster on the way down as I wanted to beat the darkness. 

After getting to the campsite and parking I did what I usually do, first locate and make the connections (Water, Sewer, and Power). This way I can easily move and adjust the trailer in case I need to in order to make sure that my connections (Hose, power cord, etc) can reach.

That was when things got interesting. 

You see, I had paid to dump the night before, so I could flush and “wash” the black water tank. How I did this was to first dump it completely, then I poured a bit of soap down there, in my case it was dish soap. I probably should have used a good household cleaner. After that, I poured a couple of gallons of fresh water down the toilet. 

The reason for all this was to have the tank about half or a little less than half full of clean and soapy water for that drive down to Waterton Lakes. The natural action of the bouncy drive would make that water sloshed around and in so doing “wash” the insides of the tank. 

I wanted to do this as for as long as I have had Wanda her gauge on how full the black water tank is has been woefully inaccurate, as in it always reads “Full” well, after that trick, which I will repeat again sometime, it now reads “half full.” So, it is progress.

This meant that I needed to dump Wanda right away, but after getting setup, I noticed the hookups were in an odd place. 

When I looked around to find where the sewer connection was, I found it in the stupidest place imaginable. 

Yep, that’s right, it was under Wanda’s Propane Tank. As in the sewer connection was up front in the middle of the parking spot and not in the back near the power and water, where these hookups are always clustered. 

I decided to turn around and see if that helped . . . nope, connection was in the same place. This is where I kicked myself for not doing one thing that I know that I should have. 

I have made sure to have at least 50 feet of power and water connection, just in case the hookups are in an odd place. With the power, I bought a proper extension cord, and have had to use it. I recently bought a 50 foot water hose, as in the past I have needed a bit of extra hose. 

The one thing that I haven’t done is to buy a second sewer hose, so as to have 50 feet of sewer connection. If I had done this, this wouldn’t have been a problem and I could have hooked the sewer connection up. 

What other campers were doing were parking their trailers up front and disconnecting. Since I don’t like to drive where I camp, I don’t disconnect if at all possible.

In the end I did the only thing I could do, pull forward so my truck was sticking out into the road, and dumped my tanks. I made sure to flush the tanks too. 

What you do is hookup the water hose up to the “Tank Flush” connection and turn the water on. Make sure that your dump valves are open. I have a straight, clear bit of tube that I connect up to the dump valve, I can see what is flowing out. 

Usually this lets me see exactly when the tanks are completely empty, but this time it let me see the colour of the water coming out, as in I kept flushing until the water coming out was clear and not brown. 

After that, I disconnected the sewer pipe, put it away and then backed up into place. Little old me doesn’t generate enough waste water to necessitate dumping after a few days. So, I repeated this process Monday morning, making sure to fill my fresh water tank and my two 5 gallon water jugs. 

The first night it was misty and socked in but that didn’t bother me, I made sure to go for a walk into town on Saturday morning. 

It is a quiet and quaint little town and despite the canopy shown here, there are many lovely local shops and businesses along this street.

My excuse for going for the walk was to get two things, one was a fridge magnet (for my range hood) and the other was a sticker for the back of Wanda.

I buy a sticker from the interesting places that I have driven with Wanda to and slap it on the back, like people used to do with their luggage in years gone by.

Sunday morning I was treated by a heard of deer walking through camp.

My guess is that they were gathering their strength for an odd and brutal form of boxing that the locals seem to like to participate in.

Finally, here are a collection of lovely shots that I took while down there. 

I plan to go down again in warmer weather so I can at least go for one hike in the area. All in all it was a good trip and not as far as I had first thought, so it is definitely some place that I can go again. 

Friday 20 May 2016

Waterton Awaits!

I have known for about a week now that the weather is going to be most likely wet and miserable for the long weekend. This is particularly frustrating when this is the weekend that I am finally going to go to Waterton Lakes National Park. 

I am from Vancouver and so I am no stranger to wet weather. Out on the wet coast we just put on our rain gear and go anyways. 

The same is true for Britain, where my mother is from, so yeah, while frolicking in the snow is not something I will do, venturing out in the rain is something that is, one might say, in my blood.

I could cancel the weekend but that is not something that I would do or recommend. Putting aside the whole “you’re not getting a refund” thing, I am going anyway because I’m stubborn that way.

The other reason, and the main reason for today’s blog, is the fact that the future is not set and there is an adventure to be had. I have been planning this weekend since January and I will not let a bit of uncertainty put me off. 

You never know what the future holds, so just boldly plod on ahead and deal with whatever may come. I will go to Waterton Lakes; I will go hiking and do what I have planned to do. It may sprinkle, it may rain or it may even snow but I will just adjust my plans accordingly, I will not cancel them (unless absolutely necessary).

Do not fear the future, just deal with the present and boldly stare the future down and dare it to challenge you, for you shall not yield to it.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Thursday 19 May 2016

The Cycle of Learning

It is never fun to learn to do something new, particularly if you are trying to figure it out by yourself.  I am starting a side-project and while I have had some experience in this area, this is a new slant on what I have done before. 

This leads to frustrated screams at my computer screen as I try to just intimidate it into compliance. As we all know, this does not work at all, but it is a great stress reliever. 

While there is the impulse to give up or pay someone else to do this, I caution against such things. If you chicken out and avoid doing something, you cheat yourself of the learning process. 

By learning to do something, anything, you increase what you are capable of doing. By increasing what you are capable of doing, you then can do more and greater things. This will then increase what you are capable of doing and so the cycle continues. 

The real fun comes after you start to get the hang of things. Once you know what does what and why, then you can start playing around with what used to frustrate you and make it do what you want it to do. I always like to make things do what they were never intended to do . . . but that’s me.

The point of today’s blog is that you just need to get out and learn something new. You may need to force yourself to stick with it, but it is worth it. For me, when I am frustrated, a quick Google Search gives me a nudge in the right direction. 

Another hint is that when you are really stuck, step back and ask yourself what you want to want to do, and question if there is a different way to do what you are trying to do. 

Don’t get so fixated on one course of action that you miss out the five other avenues to get to the same place. As long as you can do what you wanted to do in the first place, that’s a win!

I will update you all on the side-project when it is ready. Until then . . . 

Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Wednesday 18 May 2016

A Friendly Visit

A friend from out of town popped by last night for a visit, but don’t worry there won’t be any epic tales of a late night of drinking and carousing. It was a simple meal at a local restaurant, over which we caught up and chatted. 

It is always good to sit and visit with an old friend in whose company you are always relaxed and otherwise alarmingly disarmed. Last night was such a visit, yet it is always so when she drops by.

I had offered to BBQ for her on my grass by the roadside, just to show off and BBQ something, but apparently my cooking would have killed her.

Don’t worry it wasn’t my cooking, per say, just the fact that I am unaware of new dietary limitations which, when coupled with my tendency to throw little bits of everything in when I cook, would have been dangerous.

We chatted and visited regardless, and chose not to correct the wrong assumption of the waitress that we were on a date. It wasn’t our behaviour which prompted the inaccurate conclusion but societal norms, I suppose. We were talking like the old friend we were, we were not flirting. 

In any event, the evening of chatting and visiting was a welcome respite from my usual relaxing evening, listening to the radio. 

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Tuesday 17 May 2016

The Comfy Place

I approach this payday, which in reality for me won’t be until Tuesday Evening (a week from now) with trepidation. This delay is due to the fact that technically payday is on Sunday, but I am in Waterton Lakes. Sure I will be back in town on Monday evening, but it is a bank holiday. Thus, I will do my banking on the following evening . . . Tuesday.

I am anxious for this payday because it will allow me to get back to my comfy place. What this means is that I will finally get my finances back to the place where I have that feeling that I am doing okay, not great but okay. 

I have said that I want to have at least $1K in my Main Account at all times and $1K in my Mid-Term Savings Account. This payday, while being very tight, I will be able to get back up to that place. I can and will then build from there. 

I want to have at least $6K in my Mid-Term Savings with an eventual goal of 10K in there. This is for me to draw down on in case of unemployment or other eventualities. 

My Long Term Savings Account is still for me to save up for long term goals like paying off Wanda or a house. While I can draw on my Mid-Term Savings if I wish, I intend to leave the Long Term savings alone if at all possible. 

My RRSP is a hole into which I throw money, never to expect to see it again or for it to do anything (but that is another rant).

This anxiety is healthy as it means that I have successfully trained my mind to accept certain fiscal realities as “normal.” Once you have accepted something as “normal” your mind will work to achieve and maintain that “normal.” As was the case for me for so many years, my “normal” was living in the bottom of my overdraft. 

I do not say these things to brag but just to remind everyone that you have the capacity to change your reality.  Do not accept or be complacent about your life, fiscal or otherwise, set a goal for yourself, demand better of, and for, yourself, and go out and work towards it. 

The first step to improving your life is to decide to do so, next comes setting a measurable goal, after that (with determination and hard work) comes success. Success begets success, so set easy goals but don’t settle for mediocracy. 

In other words, get uncomfortable about your current situation and set your “comfy place” a bit further down the road. 

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Monday 16 May 2016

Good and Relaxing Weekend

I will say that overall I had a nice weekend that was peaceful and relaxing. I don’t have much to report, other than I did go for a bike ride each day on the weekend. Alas, I did not find a new place to park where I can put my slide -out out, though.

I do have something to look forward to, though, and that is that I can finally say that this weekend I will be in Waterton Lakes National Park! I am looking forward to this weekend and plan to do some hiking, biking and generally spend a great deal of time outside of Wanda.

I am still committed to somehow balancing my books and getting my finances back to a state that I want to see them at. I have goals and objectives set for myself and they are always higher, always better. 

I expect more of myself than I do from anyone else. I am constantly striving to do better, to improve my life. At this phase of my life, this means my finances, sometime later that will mean my living conditions, as I don’t want to live in a trailer for the rest of my life. For now, though, it is what I need.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!

Friday 13 May 2016

Ghosts and Threads

Yesterday’s blog entry has left me a bit pensive and so much of yesterday I was visited by two old acquaintances: Reflection and Regret. 

Despite the wise counsel of Logic and Reason to avoid such matters, sometimes I pause to look back on my life. It’s funny that when oft we do, rarely to we reminisce about our glories and victories, but rather our failures and missed opportunities. 

As we get older, we can find ourselves wishing if we had the chance to go back to high school and do “adulthood” over again, how different things would be, knowing what we know now yet with so much of our lives out ahead of us.

Therein lies the problem: you can’t go back, and you wouldn’t want to, even if you could. A middle-aged consciousness trapped in a teenager’s body wouldn’t last a week in high school before having a psychotic episode. 

We are the product of not only our successes, but our struggles and failures as well. If we pull at the loose threads of our lives, we, in turn begin to pull and unravel the very fabric of our lives. We need our failures to prepare us for the successes in the future: for we learn from them. 

I do not know what lies ahead of me, but I know that I can handle just about anything, for I have had to do as much already (famous last word, I know). Companionship on my journey would have been nice, but alas, that was not to be, at least not yet.

I have loved, been loved and had relationships (and relations) but all of the ladies that have been romantic interests in my life for one reason or another were not quite the right one. The same is true for me with regards to them, I was not quite right for them. It is this truth that I must make peace with the most. 

For one reason or another, romance just didn’t quite click, not long term anyways. Having someone just for the sake of having someone was never my style. For if I am with someone, I want to love them and be loved, not just tolerated to pay the bills: loved and made to feel special. Romance, for me is for the long haul as in lifelong: (or what’s left of it).

This lesson of today’s blog entry is another one in the “don’t do what I did” department. Leave your past in the past, and do not dwell too long on it. Look back to learn what lessons you can glean from it, but do so with a dispassionate eye. Do not pull at threads or spend time with ghosts. No good can come from this, take my word for it.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving (and looking) forward!

Thursday 12 May 2016

Run Your Own Race

I will admit that there was a time when I looked upon what others had with envy; in a way I still do. The one (or one particular) area of my life that I have been a dismal failure at has been the area of family and romance. 

I am after all: 45 years old, Single, Never Married, with no Kids. You can guess what I have always wanted, but I digress. I try not to dwell on this and other failures of the past, but rather look to the future.

I write this blog not to glorify myself, but rather the opposite; to offer up my life, or the lessons that I have learned (mostly through my failures) to others. It has always been done with the eye to “Don’t do what I did; learn from my mistakes so you don’t do the same.” Yet even then I do not see myself as the al- knowing oracle of wisdom.

Nor do I mention how I am doing to brag or be otherwise arrogant, that is not my style. I say how I am doing, simply to report how I am doing. If I can offer a bit of inspiration to someone who is thinking of following a similar path to mine in order to improve their lives, great. 

I also know that there are others that look upon my life with an eye of entertainment and snicker that I, and not them, are going through what I go through, particularly in winter. Once again, this does not bother me, laugh and point if you want, that’s okay.

I don’t compare myself to others, as their life, and their situation, is not mine. Each person has a unique set of circumstances to live with and challenges to overcome. I don’t belittle anyone, nor would I dare to say that my life is any harder or easier than anyone else’s; it is simply different.

The point of my daily blog is to offer up snippets of my life with an eye to give others a moment to pause and reflect on a lesson, however small, that I have learned so that it may better their lives. This I mix in with the other tangible and technical lessons that I have learned while living this lifestyle.

I have learned long ago not to compare my life to others; my life is mine, and theirs is theirs. Each life and circumstances are different; each one has their own set of challenges, perils and delights.

One life is not better than the other, just different. Often when looking at someone else’s life from the outside, we only see the good and enviable and not the bad and pitiful. 

It is for this reason that I say to you all today: live your own life, run your own race and do not compare and measure your life against others’.  To do so is not healthy and no good will come from this. 

If you look to someone else and get inspired on how and where to improve your life; great, that’s good. After that, stop comparing yourself to them and take ownership of that change you desire.

Move towards that new goal you have for yourself, make that goal, that change that you want to make, truly your own. Work towards that new goal in your own way, in your own time and at your own speed. 

Your life is your own, so make it a good one.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Determination Vs Delusion

Any time you set a goal for yourself, a bold goal there is the chance that you won’t achieve that goal. You don’t always hit everything you shoot for, and there is always a chance that when you pull that trigger, that you will miss.

For someone who has low self-confidence and is used to missing goals, this is not a problem; for someone who is used to achieving goals this is a problem.

I set out this month to get my finances back on track by pausing my Long-Term savings plan this month. I made a deal with myself to pay this month’s money back in future months, so far so good. 

Well, this month has been slower than usual at work and this means that the fluctuating part of my paycheque is down a bit more than usual. This means that this payday along with the next will be less than usual and certainly less than anticipated, which in turn puts greater pressure on my already tight budget. 

The logical and sensible thing to do would be just cut back on what I put into my Mid-Term Savings Account. As in don’t put that full $1K in there and top it up next month. Or, mayhaps just not quite make it out of my own personal overdraft this month.

Therein lies the problem, if I do either of these options it would mean missing my goal for this month . . .  and I don’t like missing a goal. I have cut back my budget to the absurd and have been able to make it work. 

If my paycheque looks any rosier than I can afford to fund things again, starting with my food budget . . . at all. My current plan is to just stretch out my food as much as I can and just put what essentials I need on a credit card (to be dutifully paid off next payday).

I know that this plan of action is ill-advised, but I like the challenge of seeing if I can do it (I’m sick that way). I also like finding a way, anyway, to achieve a goal that I have set for myself. Once again, I would never ask anyone else to go through this, but I demand it of myself. 

This highlights a conflict within me and anyone who is so dedicated to achieving a goal or carrying out a particular course of action: at what point does dedication and determination morph into delusion? 

At what point must you accept that you must give up on this course of action and just accept that you will miss a goal that you have set out for yourself? 

As yet I have not met that place yet, and I hope that I never will. Still, it is worth mentioning, and worth keeping in mind. I will do this, however, I will make it through, and I will be fine. 

As always, keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward.

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Dumping Dropbox

Okay, like a lot of people I have been using Dropbox for a few years now. It is a great little piece of software that lets you keep your files synced to an offsite storage place that you have access to across the web. 

I like having access to my documents wherever I go and know that if my computer suddenly implodes that I will have up an up to the minute backup of my key documents. Hardware, can be replaced and software can be reinstalled ; it is the documents, your data that cannot.

Since I bought my iPad I have been using the Dropbox app on it to access and tweak my budget spreadsheets on a regular basis. I will also: download, edit and upload them again when at work (before work). 

I was impressed with the Dropbox app when I found out that I could use Word and Excel apps for free with Dropbox. All I had to do was select the file that I wanted to edit, tap a “pencil” icon and voila the document was opened in Word or Excel.  

I could then edit to my heart’s content and then “send it back” to Dropbox, where it was updated. It was slick, handy and I was happy.  This past weekend I got this message when Excel opened . . . 

(Okay, technically it said “You have 5 edits left.”) 

I realized that this meant that Microsoft expected me to pay to use their app. This was not something that I was prepared to do when I have applications that came with my iPad that will let me edit Office docs. 

The next natural thing to do was just adjust the setting in the Dropbox app and tell it that I wanted another app, any other app than the Microsoft apps, to edit those documents. Guess what, you can’t, the two apps are married. 

I even went to the Apple store and talked to a “Genius” and they were no help and said that the limitation was within the Dropbox app itself. So, I contacted Dropbox and complained and they gave me a response full of corporate doublespeak, but no real answers. 

All along I knew that I could export the file from Dropbox to another app, edit it, then export it again and send it back. This is a clunky system and is essentially copying the file back and forth where there will be two copies of the same document, in two different apps. 

After much thought I decided to just export my two spreadsheets once and for all to the Numbers app that came with my iPad and store them on my iCloud drive. 

I can still login and edit them like I could with Dropbox but this time for free. I will see how I like this as I may well move away from Dropbox completely over this. 

I know that if I sign up for Office 360 that I get online storage and can use their apps on my: computer, phone and iPad. I am just not ready to do that yet, as I still have Office 2007 and it works just fine (that and I don’t like renting software).

This was something irking yet interesting that I found out, so I thought that I would pass it along, hope it helps to anyone in the same situation.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward! 

Monday 9 May 2016

Active and Productive Weekend

I did my running around and made sure to walk whenever I could, rather than move the truck and trailer the short distance from one store to another. This is also out of convenience for parking but also for fitness. 

I didn’t go for my bike ride in the river valley on Saturday afternoon as it was too hot for me to do so. I did go for a bike ride in the evening around the industrial park though, and that was something. 

I had a BBQ on both Friday night and Saturday night, just because I could. I was also able to do a bit of writing that I have wanted to get to. All in all it was a productive weekend that I balanced fitness and activity with work and errands. 

On the financial front, I did pause my Long Term Savings this month; or rather I have started to do so. I was able to pay my credit cards off and dip only slightly further into my personal overdraft. 

With my projected budget for next payday, however I should be able to not only get my hinny out of my personal overdraft but also fully fund my Mid-Term Savings as well. 

This payday will be a bit challenging as it is within this pay period cycle that I am going down to Waterton Lakes for the long weekend (Yay!). 

What this means for my budget is that I will need more money for fuel. I could have decided to put whatever it was on the credit card and pay for it when I get back, but that is not advised. What I have done is budgeted for a full fuel budget this time (as in a full tank of fuel). 

What this will get me is the half tank that I needed this time (due to my impromptu weekend in Banff last weekend) and one more half tank. I plan to spend another half tank on the next budget which is aptly timed to be the day after I come back.

The other thing that I have done is to give myself (technically my Long Term Savings) an IOU. I have posted a bright red notice on my bulletin board to remind me that I still owe this month’s money to my Long-Term Savings account.

I have goals to achieve this year and just giving this month a miss will not help me achieve them. True, I still believe that for my own peace of mind that it was the right thing to do, just letting it go though, is not something that I can stomach.

Okay, those papers along the top of the board are my goals for this year, they go from left to right. 

I have decided to use $2000.00 markers as smaller goals which work towards my overall goal of $18,000.00 in that account this year. This way with smaller, achievable goals this sets a pattern of success as I work towards my goal for the year. 

The three green papers on the lower left are my current status of my three accounts or rather will be once all bills are paid(Main, Mid-Term and Long-Term) That red paper beside the Long-Term is my IOU and that will stare me in the face until I have paid it off. 

I have decided that I will put aside what money I can salvage from my budget into my Mid-Term Savings and then once there is $1500.00 in there I will put $500.00 into the Long-Term Savings. All I have to do is do this three times and I have paid off that IOU and my Savings Plan will be back on track.

Being flexible with your financial plan is one thing, being reckless is another. I also don’t like the thought of not achieving a goal, so just skipping my Savings Plan this month doesn’t sit well with me. 

We shall see if I can pay this off before my Vacation to the coast this summer. Otherwise it will take longer to pay off, as I first want to have at least $1000.00 in that Mid-Term Savings account. 

Once my IOU is paid off I will continue to stuff extra cash in multiples of $50.00 into that Mid-Term Savings Account to build it up. This is supposed to be my emergency cash to live on in case I get suddenly unemployed or other life event arises which needs cash to resolve. 

That and it would be nice to save up for and buy a sparkling new laptop (fully tweaked out) with cash, rather than yet another credit card.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!

Friday 6 May 2016

Weekend of Motion

Even as I make this proclamation, the cynical side of me already ‘knows’ how this is going to go, but I will give it a go anyways. I plan to stay active this weekend, as in get out of Wanda.

I have my running around to do tomorrow, as it is payday. I hope to find a way to park near a park (not overnight, I know better) just so that I can actually go for a bike ride in the park. 

I want to find ways to mix doing what I need to do with staying active. There are a few park areas that I could possibly explore, the challenge is parking Trea and Wanda anywhere near them. 

I know that I need get out of Wanda and stay active, not only for my health and fitness but also for my mental health, I need to get out there and enjoy the warm weather, and nature, while I can. 

I also need to learn, to teach myself how to get around and enjoy what this city has to offer, while driving something that is the size of a bus. I do have some writing to get to, and other things that I need to do, but I also need to get out there. 

I will keep you all informed on how this went on Monday. 

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!

Thursday 5 May 2016

One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

Okay, I have always said that my savings plan (the putting of $1500.00 each month into high end Savings was untouchable). I have also said to be realistic and adaptable. 

I will admit that recent purchases (tires, keyboard and a few other things) have set me back. Again, this is my doing and I take responsibility for it. I seem to have an attitude of “Well, I’m screwed anyways, so why not . . .” Needless to say that this is not helpful and something I am working on.

What I have decided is to pause my savings plan this month and institute a couple of tight budgets. In so doing I will be able to not only get out of my own overdraft but also have my mid-term savings back to its target of $1000.00. 

Sure, this will put me back one full month in my savings plan, but even if I don’t make this month up, I will still be able to pay Wanda off in January 2018. 

My new plan is to resume my savings plan next month and then top up my long term savings in chunks of $500.00 at a time until I have made this month up. What I will do is stuff what cash I can save from each payday budget into my Mid-Term Savings.  

When I have $500.00 over my target of $1000.00 in there, then I will put that into my Long Term Savings until I have paid that debt back to myself.

In doing things this way, this will take a lot of pressure off of me, worrying if I will be able to save up enough for that trip before I go. 

I will get through this, but going forward I will be doing so from a position of strength and with my immediate resources fully funded. 

I never said that I was perfect, just adaptable and determined.

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward! 

Wednesday 4 May 2016

I’m Tumbleweed

I didn’t go to bed till late last night. I stayed up listening to the broadcasts of the massive fire in Fort McMurray, for some reason I had to, I was compelled to. 

I listened to story after story of people fleeing, leaving behind almost everything, and just trying to get out of the path of the wall of destruction and devastation that nobody saw coming.  

As I did this, two things hit me, one was that I could get out early and take everything I own with me, and two, that this was little comfort for me. 

I thought on what I would do if I was living in Fort McMurray yesterday and I drew little solace. I would have gone to the store, bought some food, an extra jerry can and probably an extra propane tank. 

After topping up with fuel, I would have driven to one of the evacuation centres and just pitched in to help out. I could do that as I am fairly self-sufficient and self-contained. At most I would ask for a place to plug Wanda in, otherwise I still have Jenny and plenty of fuel. 

As I go over this in my mind all I can think of is this . . . sure, I would be okay, but so what?  

Those stories of people clutching a few necessities and those mementos before fleeing hit me. I did a mental inventory and I, myself, have a sparse few mementos; most of what I own is functional and necessary.

What few mementos I have are all tucked away in storage areas either in Wanda or Trea. I haven’t seen them since I laid them down there two years ago. After all this time, are they still mementos or just dead weight? I’m not sure. 

One could argue that they are a connection to my own roots, and I do strive for the day when I do have a place to take them out and put them on some sort of display. That day is, as yet beyond the murky veil of the future.

What hits me most of all about this, apart from the senseless devastation is that even after all that the people of Fort McMurray have lost is that they still have so much more than I may ever have: family, community . . . roots.

I will continue, and I will persevere, that much I know, that much I swear. For now though, this tumbleweed existence is what I need, and it is fulfilling its stated objective: namely finally letting me get ahead financially. 

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Keep Moving Forward!

For some time now I have been signing off with the phrase “Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!” Today, I thought I would pause and explain what I mean by that. 

“Keep your head up” What this means is twofold. 

The first thing it means is that you should be proud and confident about yourself and your abilities. There are many people who will want to tear you down; they don’t need your help. 

The second thing this means is that you need to constantly be alert about what is going on around you. Just because you don’t want something to happen doesn’t mean that it won’t. You can’t go through life oblivious and not looking for possible trouble that may be coming your way.

“Your attitude positive” This means to always (at least try) to keep yourself in a positive frame of mind. 

I will be the first one to admit that I struggle with this one. Things that happen in our life are just that: events. Stuff happens, it is how you react to it which makes it good or bad. If you have a positive attitude it makes it much easier to take the bad stuff in stride. If you have a negative attitude, then even the slightest bump in the road can make you cry or just crumple.

“Keep moving forward!” This means that no matter what keep on keeping on. Don’t dwell on the past, but keep focussed on the future. Pause to reflect on what you have been through, learn what lessons you can from the past, but don’t linger on regret. The past is the past and you can’t change it, so just let it be. The future is not set and can be whatever you want it to be, so make it a good one!

So, with that . . . As always, Keep your head up, your attitude positive and keep moving forward!

Monday 2 May 2016

Warmth and Fitness

Okay, it is now May and three weeks from my Victoria Day Long Weekend in Waterton Lakes! I plan to go for at least one hike and at least one bike ride. In short I plan on getting out there and being active.

Considering that I have been hibernating all winter this means that I probably should get out there and be more active now. I therefor plan to get out and be more active on a regular basis. 

There is no excuse for not getting out and enjoying the weather on a bike ride or so on a much more regular basis. I will see how this goes, but I know that I could stand to get into better shape.

I will keep you all updated on how this latest effort in fitness goes. 

As always: Keep your head up, your attitude positive, and keep moving forward!