You must make lots of money if you can afford to travel that much.

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Is what my cousin said to me last night. I was not initially angry, but I am angry, and annoyed, and frustrated.

Such statements come from willful ignorance because despite me being very clear about my goals and frugality this is still the mindset my entire family is in. They think I am either a miserly scrooge or that I must make lots of money to afford everything I do despite me telling them my actual income in numbers before and after tax. Spelling it out like ABC…It doesn’t seem to make a difference. It frustrates me because it makes me feel like my hard work is invalid, not good enough. I need to get out of that mindset and not be annoyed what others think about me or what I do.

I’ve told my cousin before that I save all the money I earn from cleaning cottages in the summer and use it for travel. I’ve told her before what I make and how hard it was to run my house and try to get ahead. So hearing something like that, after everything I do, sucks. It hurts when someone says that you obtained something not by hard work but luck.

I’ve explained to people how I travel hack and credit card hack to travel for free or cheap. And still; after explaining how to get five free hotel nights with Marriott, she said, yeah but I’ve never stayed at a hotel, why would I stay at a hotel? Only to continue in the same paragraph about wanting to travel to Europe and other places.

I… I am so confused! What is it called when you tell someone the earth is round and they say no, no it is flat! That’s what this feels like.

Similarly with my friend, whom I have laid out the math to that my house was NOT a good investment, she summarized to me yesterday that I wasn’t happy in my house and that’s why I sold it but it was still a good investment. No! Literally, NO! That’s not what I said! I said it wasn’t! I feel like when it comes to money people have blinders on and earplugs in. I tell them I saved and worked extra, they tell me I must make lots of money with my day job to afford to travel. I tell them how to get free aeroplan points, they tell me they don’t have time. I tell them I budget and try to be frugal, they call me a scrooge.

I’m so happy there is a big financial community online because my immediate and extended family don’t get it. It’s hard to save and contribute to an rsp, it’s even harder when people continue to make assumptions about you and say things that are really quite hurtful. It’s very hard when I do kind-of-crazy-things like pick 100 pounds of strawberries in July to freeze them so that all winter long I can eat like a king, and they look at me like I’m nuts… or sigh and tell me they don’t have time.

No time to waste on getting healthy, no time to waste on saving, no time to waste on the future.

/rantover

Finding a job, part 2: That time I applied to H&M and was groupinterviewed with ten 20 year olds!

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This is post #2, of a series of posts covering past and current job applications and the resulting anonymous emails telling me I suck. Er, yeah, that’s basically the gist of it. I dont not suck enough to get the job so therefore I suck. Here we go!

Nothing against 20 year olds or anything but I’m no longer in high school or university and every single one of them had the name Kayla. I think, thats how I remember it anyway. It was 2,5 months ago so there might have also been two Baileys which is hilarious because that’s the name of me and my ex’s cat and every time one of them would be called by name I’d think of this big fat orange tomcat… anyway, off on a tangent here.

someone-trouble

H&M opened a new location on Prince Edward Island this summer, our first one! I love this store and thought I would apply since they were hiring part-time sales advisors. I threw my resume in the ring on August 2 and had a phone interview that week. There were the generic questions;

“How would you deal with an unhappy customer?” (tell them to go away)*

“What is your availability?” (Tuesdays from 23:15 until 23:16!)*

“What do you know about h&m?” and;

“What do you think the responsibilities of a sales advisor are?” (this is where you read off their ad, but in your own words and hope you’ve selected the right answer)*

Surprisingly, the phone interview went well enough, I felt really good about it and I was invited to a “Meet & Greet” by robo-email, so refreshing, and rsvp’d, of course.

hmmandg

As I usually do, I did some research on the company. I read the wiki. I scoured the website and it really did seem like a cool place to work. Young and fresh and with opportunity for growth. This is something I really like in a company as in the past I’ve caught on quite quickly at entry level jobs in retail and have been promoted. I like a change, and I like moving up!

The meet and greet went errr, well it went alright. We all showed up to a closed retail location and were made to stand and wait for what seemed like an hour but was really only about 10 minutes. Surprisingly of the 30 young people they had invited a few didn’t actually show up. How does that even happen? Not showing up for a job interview? We were all given those nice rectangular stick-on name tags and invited in for a 15 minute orso peptalk by three H&M employees glorifying their diety, I mean talking about their employer. and the benefits of the working there. We heard from one HR person, another stores lacky and a store manager.**

We were then split up into three  (it may have been four) groups and had awkward group conversations with the other interviewees and the one awkward H&M person in front of us guiding the conversation. After ten minutes of struggle. (Keep your posture good! Smile! Be friendly! Prove you are awesome for the job!) we were hussled back into circles on folding chairs for a half hour long group interview session which followed the general format of:

Introduce yourself and answer generic questions about what the job is and how you would handle certain situations. Yay!

It is at this point that I realised this was just NOT going to happen. As much as I think I would have been quite good at the job, I was sitting in a room with people ten years younger; one girl who showed up late and several of whom just repeated the same type of answers over and over again… of which two were still in actual high school.

I lingered a minute after the interview but the H&M folks all said bye, opened the door and then congregated in their own huddle ignoring everyone going out the door.

Overall experience: mwah, 5/10. From what I had read on their website and hoped for the experience was really mediocre. I was full of hope but unsurprisingly, a full two weeks later the following robo-email landed in my inbox;

handmdecliiine

The frustrating thing with these companies is that they all seem to use do-not-reply emails and give 0 feedback after. I have no idea what I should have done differently.

And on we go, let’s see what this week brings!~ ^-^

*Obviously this is all sarcasm. I sat down, spent a few hours preparing, got in the right mindset, dressed up, put on a good face and gave it a serious go. **When I say “lacky” I mean part-time highschool student sales advisor from another store.

Link-Love #25

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The last link-love post I posted was back in March, 2014. Woah! I hadn’t realised I’d been absent so long, of course along the way I’ve read plenty of interesting things, start with;

This Battered Suitcase, Brenna Holeman, one of my favourite I-wish-I-was-this-chick-bloggers wrote a piece on being busy. You can find it here. 

To touch on being busy and feeling guilty for not being busy… Today I spent the entire day doing gloriously nothing. Work and travel has kept me busy enough and today I slept until 13:30… 1:30PM! And then did nothing. I have accomplished almost nothing today besides writing. I feel incredibly guilty and pushed to do things all the time but I need times of nothing. That shows that some nothing in my life is required to give me time to rest my brain, feel a little less overwhelmed and write. Anyway, go read the article, that’s just my personal touch on that today!

I also liked this post on a blog I just found today: Our Next LifeResist the pull of the echo chamber in retirement. Surrounding yourself with only like-minded people doesn’t allow for personal growth, in short. My recent experience with this is that recently a girl I know through internet forums abruptly deleted me from Facebook because she was so personally insulted by the article I shared (which I didn’t even write!) It reminds me to be more open, to continue to learn from opposing views and actions and to not burry myself in my own little cave with only things i agree with and like.

On to… election-y stuff. I’ll admit that on Tuesday night I stayed up, despite being absolutely exhausted. I kept refreshing twitter and the NYT elections page to see what was happening. I was on edge. I am not a Canadian Citizen (I may be in the future) but Canada is my home and what happens in the USA affects us over here + I like to travel to the US. I didn’t root for either candidate, they both badmouthed eachother so I was more watching to see what would happen. Trump or HIllary? My cousin posted this article the next day: It’s going to be okay. From Wait but Why, by Tim Urban.

And also, Finding Contentment in Well Enough by She Picks up Pennies. I have little to add. The PF atmosphere can be daunting and is glaringly different than any broke people in my immediate surroundings. I feel at times just fine and well enough, and other times absolutely falling short and failing at personal finance in general.

And that’s it, that’s a wrap. See you all next week with my next post on job hunting… HAAA 😀

 

Finding a job, part 1!: Customer service role at a bank that starts with S and ends in “bank”

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This will be post #1, of a series of posts covering past and current job applications and the resulting anonymous emails telling me I suck. Er, yeah, that’s basically the gist of it. I dont not suck enough to get the job so therefore I suck.

I cant figure out why… so… I have this blog, lets combine the two and maybe together we can figure it out, hmm?

I have been semi-seriously seeking full-time or part-time, really, anything-you’ll give me-employment since graduating with a business degree in 2013. I have edited and reedited and started from scratch on my resume since then. I make resumes for specific jobs, for specific hours, generic resumes, special resumes, with and without references, with and without certain jobs etc. I’ve had probably about ten interviews, no maybe 15 and in some instances have moved on to round #2 but have yet to succeed finding some kind of job to supplement my income.

In all fairness, I’m not hurting. I am self-employed and have been now for about ten years. I make my own hours, work when I want mostly, take time when I want – mostly and I am able to live comfortably on about half my income and save the rest, while still traveling more than anyone I know because I live like an ‘ole scrooge and scrimp and save where I can. Buuuuuut, I am only able to do these things BECAUSE I scrimp and save and scrooge and it’s tiring.

I have no cable, no internet (i’m using my neighbours for a small fee, with their agreement) drive a 12-year old car and credit-card hack to be able to afford the traveling life that I want. I rarely eat out. I have a $10k emergency fund, some small savings accounts for various purposes (car, travel) $35k set aside for a house downpayment and am working on increasing my retirement savings. I’m not doing that bad!

But… Its hard as hell making any headway with my retirement savings on an income of 30k. I see no way of actually being able to retire even when I’m 90 with enough income to live off. I need a new car next year so I wont be able to add much to my retirement this year, as I will be siphoning all my extra cash towards purchasing a new car with cash. If I buy another house i’ll need to continuously make enough to maintain it which proved to be exceedingly difficult on my current wages. So, I’ve been looking for more work! I can easily take on part-time employment while maintaining my current job(s).

I apply for jobs sporadically, half consistently, and have been doing so for the past three years. I receive daily emails with current postings and always apply when jobs suited to my qualifications come up. This is the case every few weeks orso. I live in a small province and jobs that aren’t the fastfood entry level type dont come up every day.

Im a 31year old single, capable, woman. I have a good resume with 10+ years of customer service experience. I have two excellent reference letters, I’ve had my resume looked at by others who say its great. I’ve redone it. I’ve had it marked in university. I’ve had it marked and edited by a friend. I have a business degree and a two year college diploma in tourism management. And I cant even find a parttime front desk job to supplement my income and boost my savings or investments so I wont have to live with my nonexistent children when im 80.

So, what gives?

This morning I applied for a customer service job at a bank. You can gueeesss which one. I am quite qualified, sufficiently accredited but within 3 hours I received this:

decline

Am I cursed?

**Apologies for sloppy highlighting there, I’ll get better, promise!

FIRE.

Some thoughts today:

Very recently I was unexpectedly offered employment with the Government of Canada. I was in the boonies, middle of nowhere – Costa Rica at the time and had a rickety phone connection that got cut off by a power failure. It took about an hour of frantic waiting to accept the job, and here we are, 3 months into a full-time term job of 6 months.

I love/hate it. I hate being an employee but I love the department I am in and what they stand for. I don’t like my supervisor, I like her personally, but not as my supervisor for the simple fact that as I’m sure is the case in many places, she has never done my job and has not and is not able to really train me on many of the things I’ve had to figure out. It’s frustrating!

I had been looking for “real” work for a very long time, years! I’ve also been selfemployed for many years. Was I not just blogging about the perils of finding actual employment? Did that not last for years, and now I’m 3 months into this cool opportunity? Haha. The grass is always greener on the other side right? I thought that finding work would offer me stability and more income and it has. It’s also a terrible time suck and having to report to someone else instead of making your own way and schedule… I’m not sure I like it.

What this job has given me however is a very nice boost in income that has helped me speed up my savings big time. Where before I’ve only been able to eke out a few hundred here and there to set aside every month, I’m making big steps now. Once upon a time I said I wanted to be a millionaire. I don’t want that anymore, in fact, more and more my focus is drifting to lean FIRE. (linkitylink) I have no visions of sitting on a beach sipping beer, but I want to work on things I enjoy and take on projects because I can because worrying about paying this month bill is no longer a worry. Volunteering and helping out with other people and community projects because I have actual time to do so.

I’m focusing on building my investments, my RSP and TFSA and in the next two months I will restart my Questrade portfolio

I am likely a few years away of any time of “retirement” and that absolutely does not include any real property as I currently rent. Aside from just saving like a squirrel, I have no concrete plans, I also don’t think of it as retirement… more so as a very lean version of financial independence.

If I quit today… What would I do?

 

How I spend only $15.75 on my (smart)phone bill every month :)

I have a loooooong history of cell phone use, having had a cellphone since I started out with what was technically my dads Nokia 3310 when I was 14. This baby right here.

Over time I’ve graduated from bricks to flip phones to my first smart phone, the Sony Xperia Arc, in March, 2011. Along with the smart phone by phone bill started creeping up fast.  From early 2011 until the end of 2015 when I finally cut the cord I have many many months with extra fees racked up from over use, using my phone out of the country (necessity – running a small business while on vacation isn’t really a choice) and just being generally stupid messaging boys. (Because dating is fun). I’ve also tried to be prudent, but my internet addiction has generally resulted in phone bills that were too high.

In 2013 I finally started doing something about it and started negotiating with Rogers to get a better plan after about a year of frustrations with my voicemail being out constantly, not having reception for calls and bogus billing issues. I should have told them off sooner but I didn’t.   My service was awful and despite contacting them again and again to fix this, as service on my line was poor no matter which device I was using, I had finally had enough. I found Rogers increasingly awful to deal with over the time I was with them. I kept a log of calls, items discussed and names. I found this chart in my email recently, the reason I thought to write this post today;

I especially like the section I titled “bogus fees”, anyway, after unsuccessful negotiations with Rogers to just get a better plan – I haven’t been locked into contracts for a long time because I buy my own phones for cheaper (Ill tell ya later) – I ended up switching to Koodo 6 months later.  Koodo was infinitely infinitely extraordinarily better to deal with than Rogers. I never had any crazy bills, crazy calls to deal with, voicemail worked consistently well and I didnt have dropped calls etc like I had with Rogers. I liked that Koodo was simple, and seemed more modern, switching things was easy online and I had no complaints about them whatsoever.

I was with Koodo for close to two years, where I reduced my plan gradually by switching when their plans were on sale to end up at a monthly fee of $45 a month near the end of 2015 when I switched to Public Mobile prepaid (Public mobile is a sub of Telus so reception remained the same). I switched purely to decrease my monthly costs. I got a Public Mobile sim card for free during a promo and switched to paying $75 every 90 days for 3gb and using voip for calls and messaging. I had help from my boyfriend setting this all up. I set up a voip account, bought a number, added credit to make calls and send messages and installed two apps on my phone to do this. One for calls and one for messaging. It was a little tricky figuring out the right settings for Voip but there are tons of resources online to help figure this one out.  If you’re still following along the math there is that by switching from Koodo to Public mobile  I got my bill down to $25 + tax every month. (30 days) by picking the 90/day/3gb plan, also using referrals saves a few dollars. 🙂

Buuuuuut, that wasn’t good enough either.  Because then Fido popped up with tablet sim cards and a great $3gb/month for $15 plan in the fall of 2016, again credit to boyfriend for finding this deal. I got a simcard for free and switched to an Alberta based simcard with a $15/3gb a month post-paid tablet plan, taking advantage of a waived activation fee as well. (credit to youknowho-again for being as persistent as a cat trying to get a mouse)

 

I dont actually live in Alberta but take advantage of a lower tax rate this way, yay Alberta! My monthly post-paid bill is now $15.75 including all taxes which I happily pay. I am still using the original $25 topup for voip – call credit needed to make actual calls – which I’ve had for over a year.  I thus spend $15.75 a month on the Fido plan and $1.66 a month on voip credit for calls and messages. My total annual cost, allowing $20 orso for overages is $230CAD.

The 3gb in data is tons for my use and I have only gone over once while in Amsterdam and accidentally connecting to data… which only cost me ten bucks. My phone is clearly not a tablet so I make this work again by using voip for calls and messages, everything else works like normal. (I use voip messenger and csipsimple for this) I had originally ported my number but ended up buying a new number because I was tired of marketing spam.

Voip is definitely different than just going to a cellphone service provider, getting a number and pushing a sim card in a phone and everything just works. It’s a bit more hassle to set up because you have to do it on your own and I’ll be honest, some of the tech settings are confusing and I don’t know what terms mean. On the other hand there are many benefits, there are tons of people and information online to help figure this out. I can dump the apps I use on any device; is my phone dead? I can use the online portal to send a text, in a foreign country? No problem… find wifi at a coffee shop and sync my messages, make a call, I have no extra costs… all I need is data or wifi. And let’s not forget; I’m saving a pile of money – close to $400 a year – which is going directly back into an rsp so I can get ahead.

Making calls using voip over data gives me the exact same quality as using a regular cell line (which, I’ll be honest, because most of my time is spent in the boonies or a big concrete building is absolute shit anyway). My family and friends and co workers think I am insane. There was an adjustment period where any call not answered by me was blamed on “not having a normal cellphone”, which is simply not true, especially my mother said this weekly for a good two months.

Do I care? No, my finances are doing better than they ever have in my entire life because I am making better financial decisions. 🙂

No shampoo – update. Summary: don’t do it, it sucks, maybe it won’t for you though.

13 months ago I wrote about the experiment-health-latest fad thing I had read about quite a bit online; that whole no-poo thing, not using shampoo on your hair. Just washing with water and I decided to give it a try then. I came across a link to that post about it, this one right here where I embarked on this experiment and never updated about it again because I completely abandoned the project after a few weeks.

Why? Because it’s gross. I can drivel on about it for a while but the summary of it is this: Not washing your hair is gross. I don’t care what all the other blogs say about it being fine after a while. It’s gross, to me. Yes, water and scrubbing also removes dirt but I LIKE SOAP. I like smelling pretty and clean, the end.

The positive thing that did come out of the experiment is that I no longer use conditioner and never feel the need to. I use a no silicone – paraben free yaddayadda shampoo (I can’t recall the name at all) and as someone who has always felt that I needed to use conditioner, and always did, this is huge! It has definitely simplified my routine and I don’t notice it anymore.

Another positive is that my hair doesn’t get greasy and heavy as fast between washings unless I’ve been working out. Previous I would wash and condition and have yucky hair again by the next morning. Lather-rinse-repeat, literally. So in short, the no shampoo thing? Not for me, it’s 2017, not 1817 and I think even in 1817 they had some basic soap, soaps been around for a while and I’ll keep using it, to wash my hair and bodyparts to smell pretty. Hayyy. 🙂