Minimalism is a Privilege

I’m usually a big cheerleader of minimalism. But what if it’s the only realistic option?

Brandon and I have been paring down, spending less, and trying to minimize every part of our lives over the last few years. Although I still believe I can always get rid of more Stuff, I’ve hit the point where I have to stop. For now, anyway. Even though I have completed my student loan payments(more on that later in this post!), because I’m making very little income, it’s hard to truly appreciate the moment. I’ve started to wonder if I need to start selling things to continue experiencing my current lifestyle. Let me tell you, that lifestyle consists of having an apartment and occasionally buying bus tickets for temp work – I’m not extravagant, even when I can afford it. I’m understandably a bit concerned about my future, but mostly worried about when the hell I can get my hair cut again. Serves me right for getting an asymmetrical cut that I need to get trimmed once a month(I love it, but probably should have waited until my income was more stable).

Think about all the minimalism tips out there. Think about all the ways to “save” money. Go thrifting instead of buying new – yes, but you’re still shopping and spending money. I generally hit up the Goodwill once every season, but only if I need something specific. The Latte Factor only works if you are already spending $5 a day. That would be a luxury for me right now, and I find it wasteful even when I do have that extra cash(it’s…been a while since I’ve had extra cash). Clothing swaps are the best and, in my opinion, the most fun way to find clothes – but it’s a gamble if your friends aren’t all the same size(which isn’t realistic to most friend groups anyway).

While my current minimalism may be somewhat “enforced”, it’s not the end of the world. Even if I feel like I’m struggling, I know I’m not alone. Brandon and I are going through some tough times right now, but we’re going to make it to the other side together. Things will even out, mainly because I believe they have to, after all the drama we’ve been put through. (Seriously 2016, why are you so awful for everyone?)

My financial goals are small. I’d like to be making enough income to start saving again. Literally any amount would be acceptable – even $5 a month. I’d like to have a bit of money socked away by October, so Brandon and I can take 2 or 3 days off for our anniversary. A vacation isn’t realistic until next year(fingers crossed we have the time and money for a whole week off), so I’m keeping my expectations low. I’ll say I’m going to pay off my credit card by the end of the year, but I’ve been putting more money on it lately, so I will simply see how close to $0 I can get. Next year, I’d like to be able to pay it off every month. But we’ll get see what the next 6 months bring us, yeah?

***

Now for some good news! I PAID OFF MY STUDENT LOAN!!!


I want to thank everyone who left comments here, on Twitter, and Facebook. Writing about this kept me motivated, and I kept it a priority because of you. While I am not left with a lot of money now, it’s been a huge relief to get that debt off my proverbial plate.
Here’s hoping July and the last half of 2016 is better for all of us – financially and emotionally.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 090 // Whoops! It’s Angels.

In which we’ve fallen back onto or off of the wagon, depending on how you look at it.

It’s been a while, but we’re back with new episodes, and we’re still travelling on the River Song timeline. Which gets confusing. But we’re doing it. This week? It’s The Time of Angels from Series Five and nothing bad happens at all! Except for, you know, all the horrible things that happen. Then it’s straight onto pop culture, because we watch other things to, sometimes. When we’re not doing comic store stuff.

Alright awesome talking with you all love you byyyeeeeee.

Outro music is Just Fine (Sam & Cat theme)

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY.

Subscribe to Doctor Whooch on iTunes

Brandon Schatz // Twitter // Facebook 
Danica LeBlanc // Twitter

The Long Road

I’ve known I needed to get back into therapy for nearly two years now. This was at the same time as I was opening a business. I’ve been funnelling all of my money, time, energy, and mental bandwidth into the shop – with great results. Unfortunately, I have less and less to give. A big reason I’m working temporary contracts is the ability to save some money. Eventually, I’d like to have enough to start spending on myself again. And while nail polish is fun to purchase sometimes, I’m aiming for something that truly relaxes and reinvigorates me. I don’t mean to diminish anyone. If nail polish is your self-care, you do you. When I have time to sit down, and the world doesn’t feel too hopeless, painting my nails is one of my top choices for making myself feel a bit better.

I’ve tried a few different things that people seem to respond to during self-care, but so far, nothing works better than a few hours of Netflix and not thinking about my problems. Which I’m pretty sure is more avoidance, rather than taking care of the problem(whatever it may be that day). Whatever, I’m a long way from getting proper recovery, and this is what I can afford and have time for at the moment.

Pretty sure I worried some of you in my previous post. I’ve been dealing with depression all my life – you think I’d be able to handle it by now – and This Too Shall Pass. There are some things in my life I can’t control, and I’ve improved at not focusing solely on those factors and scenarios. Doesn’t mean the stress and horror of life doesn’t paralyze me occasionally, but I’m getting better at concentrating on that tiny little light at the end of the tunnel.

Yes, I desperately need someone to talk to, but we are all going through something right now, and my patchwork explanations must be focused at one person as soon as they comfortably can be. I’m going to try my best to write sometimes, and hopefully, the whole story can come out at some point(if you want to hear it).

Hey, remember when I used to write about organization and decluttering? That was fun.

Anyway, please leave your preferred type of self-care in the comments below. I’m curious what everyone does to get through the day.

A Long Time Gone

And then it all catches up to you.

Today is the first day that I’ve written something – anything – for a very long time. At first, this was part of a planned break that Danica had suggested. After watching me unspool as the spinning plates started to wobble with a worrying frequency, she grabbed a few of the plates and told me not to worry about them for a little while. If you’ve been keeping track of our lives through this blog, you’ll know that we’re both stretched pretty thin, and the fact that Danica has been using some of her emotional bandwidth to help take care of me means quite a bit. We’ve been leaning on each other quite a bit as one of us wobbles, and for the most part, we’re still standing, albeit with a few stumbles.

This past weekend, after a few discussions about how to take a more proactive footing in our lives, we helped initiate some changes that will hopefully make the future… not necessarily better in the short term, but healthier, with an eye towards some long term professional and personal goals.

A lot of our lives lately has been about sacrificing some short term happiness for long term ideas and clearly, this has taken its toll. With any luck, some of those long term plans will be coming home to roost, and we’ll start feeling a turn around in our personal lives. And if they don’t? Well, we’re prepared for that too. We’re prepared for almost anything because at the very least, we know what we want at the end of everything: we want to be together, and happy – or at least a close approximation of that. Everything else is just window dressing.

++ SOMETHING DIFFERENT

Despite what’s been happening inside our heads over the past few months, the shop has been doing extremely well – a result of some long term plans that were put in place quite early on in the business’ life. Do you sense a bit of a theme to this post?

Danica and I have fought tooth and nail to keep Variant Edition as a place where anyone can walk in and feel welcome – with one caveat: if someone comes in with regressive or intolerant ideas, we will challenge their assertions. Because of the culture that we’ve baked into the store’s DNA, we don’t have to deal with these people often, and when we do, it’s usually through social media, rather than in person – but it still happens. I can still remember very clearly an incident where someone attempted to voice their aversion to “the feminization of comics”. Danica asked this customer to explain what they meant, and proceeded to ask clarifying questions while I would often interject to refute outright factual errors in their arguments. Later that day, the customer complained that Danica had “attacked” him. This despite the fact that I was the combative one – and that his friend standing next to him was laughing and making fun of him during this entire exchange. Yet the woman who was asking him variations of “that’s an interesting stance, could you please expand on what you mean?” was attacking. That’s messed up.

Long story short, we dismissed that claim, explaining specifically why in no uncertain terms. That customer has not returned for various reasons. We do not miss him. Everyone definitely has a right to an opinion, but they don’t have the right to claim “attack” based off of clarifying statements – and honestly, the fact that he felt more attacked from Danica than anyone else who partook in the conversation definitely says more about him than anything else.

Now of course, that’s just my opinion, but I would be very interested in hearing any kind of clarification that could classify that interaction as anything other than misogynistic. Basically: I’m asking for clarification. If anyone is willing to provide such clarification, my e-mail is bschatz@submetropolitan.com. If anyone would like to accuse me of this request being an attack, whelp, the e-mail hasn’t changed since you read it a few seconds ago. I promise to publish the correspondence to this blog so that others can know where you’re coming from. I doubt I’ll get anything, but that’s the way, isn’t it? I can say whatever the hell I want with little to no consequence for some weird reason. Others can’t.

Wonder why that is.

++ WHAT ELSE

There’s a whole lot that I need to update you all on, but I figure setting that small fire should be enough for the day. Should be interesting to see where that goes. Again, I assume nowhere. I doubt anyone will have a stark epiphany from my words, nor will I be able to talk anyone else onto our side of the argument. But like hell if I’m just gonna be quiet about this stuff.

Keep an eye on this space over the coming days and weeks and months for more words and ideas and interesting news. While I’m not quite sure what the future holds, I do know that it’s going to be really interesting.

Let’s get to it.

Going Through The Motions

So….

I’m averaging a post once every two weeks or so, and that’s pretty much all I can give you right now. My depression and anxiety have kicked into high gear, and I’m going through way too much to properly deal with. This will not be a post about getting better, faking it til I make it, or any other mental health bullshit that I simply cannot handle at this time. All positivity has left the building.

Not sure what’s worse. All the triggers I’ve discovered lately, or the fact that a lot of days, I don’t want to get out of bed. I have created Store Danica for this purpose. She is functional, cheerful, and everything is Great! She is how I get by. If you’ve been in the store, that’s who you get. Not sure if I should keep her a secret, but since my face doesn’t hide emotions well, I’m pretty sure a lot of you know something’s been going on. Currently, I have no ways of coping with any of my mental issues, so a lot of Netflix is being watched. Reading is tough for me. I can’t concentrate, and I end of skimming most things – which means less enjoyment. I used to be able to immerse myself in stories. I could imagine a tiny movie in my head while I read. Now, the images are scattered and few. I’ve lost so much.

In addition to all this, my imposter syndrome strikes daily, and of course my problems aren’t important. Of course others have it worse, and what even are you complaining about, you stupid girl? You’re a bit sad. You’re not dying. You’re not being shot. Everyone else deserves self-care, a healthy body image, and fun. You, who are unworthy of relaxation and joy, must suffer through your days. I am trying SO hard to find that tiny light of goodness – you know, the one at the end of the tunnel that isn’t a train?

Pretty sure it’s worse now I have a support network of kind and caring women – that I am totally ignoring because they can’t know the real me. If I haven’t called or tweeted you in a while, it’s because I’m horrid and push away everyone good in my life when the depression hits. Even my goddamn cats. I say terrible things to them, and have a short fuse even when I’m home. I love my cats more than anything in this ugly, violent world, but that’s apparently not enough to be kind to them.

I have no more kindness to give, friends. I cannot bothered with your life problems because I am too busy not dealing with my own. I’d say I’m sorry, but I really don’t have the energy. My brain is full of depression, anxiety, thinking about how to make the store better, trying to get to sleep before midnight, loneliness, sadness, and trying to occasionally be a useful human adult person. It’s not going well.

My Shopping Ban: Is Done!!!

Welp, May was something else.

Reasons June will probably be better:

– I might get a day off work (more time for reading and Netflix!)

– my student loans are completely paid off (more on that in a moment)

– Time with friends (schedules TBD)

– more money coming in if I get a contract (savings? Currently unfamiliar with that term)

– maybe maybe maybe spending a little bit o’ money on my self (thinking pedicure)

Let’s start with the big news. My student loan. It’s done. Paid. Gonzo. The last automatic payment was transferred early this week, and I couldn’t wait to get rid of the rest. Made a payment for the last $88 yesterday, and look forward to receiving one of those nice letters congratulating me on paying off the loan. My next step? Paying off my credit card by the end of the year and saving money on top of all that.

May wasn’t a very spendy month. The Beyoncè concert (which was bloody cold, but amazing) resulted in a $55 tank top, which was lower than what I originally budgeted for merch. After buying a denim jacket for $8 (it fits my She-Hulk shoulders!!), I visited Winner’s (after Goodwill did not have all the items I was looking for – always try secondhand before buying new, friends) a knee-length dark denim pencil skirt and a navy blue knee-length knitted vest(with pockets!). Haven’t bought new clothes in a long time, but I’m happy to report I’ve been wearing both a couple times a week since the purchase. With that purchase of $52.48, my clothing expenses came in under my desired budget of $150.

I’m not going all out like I thought I could previously. Instead of spending $200 on myself in June, since I spent over $100 on myself in May, I’ll fold that into my “reward budget”. Which is why I’m going to attempt book a pedicure this month. That’s about all the self-care I can handle right now.

As of this posting, I’m hopefully relaxing and reading on my day off from work – but more likely cleaning the house because why would I ever stop doing things? Ugh, I need someone to fix my brain BUT AT LEAST MY STUDEN LOANS ARE PAID OFF.

Later, nerds. 🍷

Quick updates on life

Haven’t written in a while. Currently working two jobs, the second one ending at 10pm – not much time for writing. Or rest. But some money is coming in, so the next couple weeks should feel a bit better, financially.

My student loan is around $300. I put $15 in this morning, and have been pretty good about keeping that habit up. Another $200 will go out about 10 days from now, and then I’ll pay off what’s left with part of my latest paycheque. After that, I’m setting aside a bit of fun money (may be more like $100, rather then $200) and spend a bit on myself in June. Then back to crushing my credit card debt. I’m hoping to start saving a bit every month as well, because that would be smart and I should have been doing it all along, but whatever! Life sucks, but I will start saving money for when it gets better at some point. 

So, two jobs. My agency called me last week because a call centre had been set up to answer Fort McMurray fire related questions, so I’m there until the end of the month. Again, tired, but it’s not a bad job. People are nice, and I can read when the phones are slow. 

Speaking of reading! In the last week or so, I’ve finished “Black Widow: Forever Red” by Margaret Stohl, “Dead Girls Don’t” by Mags Storey – both amazing YA mysteries. Would highly recommend you seek them out. 

Shopping Ban: The End

Student Loan Owing, as of this writing: $347.14

My shopping ban is over, even if my student loan is not completely paid off. I don’t plan on spending a lot this month, though I have a few exceptions. I want to treat myself to some Beyoncé merchandise at her concert on the 20th, purchase Lemonade, and today Brandon and I will be going to Goodwill. We both need jeans, and I need a spring/summer jacket. I’ll be giving myself a budget of $150, mainly because I know the concert items will be over-priced. This all depends on if I actually want anything they have available, but it’s nice to know I have the money if needed.

Looking back at my spending habits over the last three months, I definitely spent a lot on food and experiences. Very minimal “stuff” purchases, and only when I needed something replaced. The clothing swap held at the store last month was good to me. I ended up with an armload of new clothes, and have been adding those in to circulation over the past few weeks. This gave me the added benefit of getting new things, for no money. Of course, I didn’t hold the swap just for me. A lot of people found things, and the rest went to charity.

When I began the shopping ban, my loan was at $1,180.94. This means I’ve been able to pay off $833.80 over the past three months!

Working this contract means I’ve been able to put that money towards my debt, and will be paying off the last bit over the next month. Even though the job wrapped up last week, I will continue to put $15 towards the debt every week. My next $200 automatic payment will be taken out by June 3, by which time I will be left with less than $100 to finish the whole thing off. $87.14 to be exact! I will make that final payment before Friday, June 10 AND THEN I WILL BE DONE.

Big thanks to everyone who has been supportive through this process. My next contract, I hope to start putting money towards savings(and my Mastercard), but at least I will have gotten this stress off my plate.

If you’ve been thinking about starting your own shopping ban, it’s a lot easier than you would think. I found that having one specific goal really helped. It kept me focused, knowing I was crushing my debt. It can be hard to see the mountain of debt getting smaller, and writing these posts was helpful when I needed to look back and see how I started. Removing temptation is a big one. For the last two months, I’ve been working beside a mall. The temptation to go and just “walk around” was big, but I only went when I needed something specific(ie. The leggings, because my former black pair had fallen apart). Otherwise, I ate lunch at my desk, and caught up on some books and podcasts I hadn’t had time for previously. It was nice, relaxing, and best of all, free.

My Shopping Ban: May 1st

Current amount owing, as of this writing: $575.73

Coming up on my deadline for this shopping ban, I can happily confirm that I mostly stayed within my guidelines. I did buy two new pairs of leggings, but my black pair were falling apart so I see them as a replacement piece. The wine-coloured ones, yes, were optional – but two pairs of leggings for $12 is hard to turn down. I skipped ModCloth’s “Stylish Surprise” sale when the app notified me last month, have not visited Goodwill since before the ban began, and no new nail polish. In fact, I’ve thrown out a couple colours. My comics are waiting for me in my file at the store, but I will get them at a later date, and buy only a few at a time.

Reading has been going well – when I have the time. I’m specifically picking books in the cubby Brandon and I set aside as our “To Read” pile. Currently, I’m reading two books. One borrowed from a friend, and the other borrowed from my mom. The clothing etc swap I hosted at VE went really well, and I personally managed to get three bags plus old bedsheets and towels out of the apartment.

One week from now, I’m going to look into my current owing total and reassess if the $15 weekly/$200 monthly payment is still working. The kicker will be how soon I nab my next contract, and am making some side money again. However, I’m really proud of myself for halving it over this shopping ban.

My Shopping Ban: 6 More Weeks

As of this writing, my loan is at $620.65.

Hard to believe this weight will be gone from my life in 6-7 weeks. I looked it up and I will have had this loan for 7 years and 7 months by the end. Silver lining? Shorter than I thought. I had always rounded up the time to 8 or 9 years. It really does feel like I’ve been paying it off so much longer. Now that I’m so close to the end, there’s a part of me that just wants to fall off the wagon. Who am I if I’m not paying student loans? Who am I when I don’t have debt one day? I’m weirdly uncomfortable with those thoughts.

My mixture of financial feelings are as follows:

1) The overwhelming sense of freedom. I’ll have $200 extra dollars a month! I can go places and do things with all the extra money!

2) The crushing realization that I still have to dig myself out of the hole I’ve put myself in. I have barely any savings after putting everything into the store, and haven’t been making a lot of money over the past year.

The happy medium? I’m going to keep getting contract work as often as I can. I’m going to continue paying my credit card off, but not as hard and fast as I am with the student loan. I am going to add to my savings and when I have reached a comfortable place, then I can hammer down my credit card debt.

In between all that, I want to have fun with my friends. Go out to dinner, see movies, go for small trips. Since I’ll be more relaxed about paying off my credit card(it’s not too bad, only about $1300 owing on it), I’ll create new goals to keep myself motivated. My next goal after June is too see if I can save $1000 by the end of September.

Do you have a summer financial goal? Leave a comment below, or find me on Twitter.