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.

My Shopping Ban: Two Months In

Current amount owing, as of this writing: $634.84

I was looking back at my earlier posts for reference, and apparently, I’ve been attempting this ban for two months now. With the exception of Beyoncé tickets and the occasional lunch out with a friend, I’ve been sticking to my list. I haven’t bought new clothes, nail polish, or any comics. I have, however, seen a few friends for lunch or dinner, which is breaking a rule I made for myself.

I’ve been picking away at my reading pile when I have the time, but mainly have been keeping up with the weekly comics for the store. My excuse is my schedule. Having two jobs doesn’t leave a lot of time to clean the apartment or cook dinner for anyone (I do realize this stressor was another one of my rules).

Been sticking to my payment plan ($15 a week, on top of the $200 going out every month), and paying this off within two months seems very workable. I’ve even come up with a reward for myself. Because I can’t be that responsible. In June, after the loan has been paid off, I will give myself a budget of $200 of “fun money”. I don’t have to spend all of it, but I do have to have some fun with it. There are some places I’d like to go with friends, or perhaps I will buy myself new clothing, or take Brandon out for date night.

One thing I did change my mind on is a haircut. It’s been two months since I wrote I didn’t mind it too much, but I’ve gotten to the point where I need need need a haircut. I’m growing out my hair to my natural colour, so I’ll be saving money by not dyeing it – but I need to lose an inch or two and put some style back into it.

Doctor Whooch // Episode 089 // A Pterodactyl Wants A Sandwich

In which we end with Canadian Millennial Nightmare Fuel.

On this week’s show, it’s “The Wedding of River Song” as we continue to hop through the River Song timeline. Guess what? It’s complicated, and it’s only going to get more confusing as we go, because it’s about to loop in on itself. Funnnnnnnnnn. Also FUN FACT: did you know that this was the episode we watched when we first met each other? IT WAS. And so you get a sappy story alongside this one where Winston Churchill is Caesar. Yeah, shit gets bananas, and The Doctor ends up looking like a Hobo Matt Fraction.

Outro music is (to be experienced as a horrible nightmare)

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY.

Subscribe to Doctor Whooch on iTunes

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

Doctor Whooch // Episode 088 // Jerk Science

In which we forgot the title of the episode immediately after saying it.

On this week’s episode: we get afraid of wifi as we watch the series seven episode called… called… ugh. I think I lost the name of the title again already. Hmm. Well, whatever it is, there’s a heaping spoonful of misogyny in there because we can’t have nice things. Also, we talk about that. The part where we can’t have nice things, but we SHOULD, because sci-fi can be ANYTHING TO ANYBODY, so why not do that? And uh OH OH OH, it was called “The Bells of Saint John”. Ha. I KNEW I’d remember that.

Outro music is “Hey Girl” by Tacocat.

Podcast picture is by GIRL NAMED SHIRL PHOTOGRAPHY.

Subscribe to Doctor Whooch on iTunes

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

March Madness (or) A Prelude

Wow, so I guess March is over? That is ridiculous. This is ridiculous. Though regardless, I think it’s time for a general progress report on how things have gone over the past month.

++ SHOP TALK

March was a very energizing month at Variant Edition. Not only did we head out to our first comics-related show, but we had a table at this year’s Edmonton Cat Show, as put on by the Edmonton Cat Fanciers, and both were rousing successes. At the Pop Culture Fair, we connected with folks within the comics community who didn’t know about the shop, and at the cat show, we helped people discover a love of comics they never knew they had through the power of cats. Turns out, cats are amazing and they can do anything. Except listen to direct instructions, I think. Anyway.

We were also featured on CBC Radio One twice – first during Edmonton AM’s trip to the Telus World of Science last Thursday where Danica and I talked about the shop and it’s everyone-friendly environment – and then on Monday, the Calgary morning show broadcast my sweet, sweet voice talking about how Gundams were primed to destroy our fair city. That… was a little surreal, and resulted in another batch of people discovering our store (and in some cases, rediscovering the wonders of comics!)

All of that has us charged up for the next round of things, which begins shortly. I don’t want to be too much a shill in this post, so if you want to know what’s coming up next, you can head over to the store’s event page for more info.

++ THE DOUGLAS ADAMS PROJECT

After a strong start of blowing through The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Restaurant at the End of the Universe in two months, I stalled out at the start of the third book. I can’t remember why, exactly, because the second book ends on a bit of a dour cliffhanger, and I really want to see how that resolves itself. And yet.

When I was talking to a customer about this project a few weeks back, I had just finished up with book two, and he noted that I would definitely finish getting through all five books in the Adam’s penned Hitchhiker’s trilogy, but I warned him that my brain gets easily sidetracked – especially when amazing comics keep arriving at the shop each and every week, interrupting the reading flow. The trick will always be getting back on track. My aim is to get through book three by the end of April to give myself a good lead on the rest of the year.

Yes, I guess one of my problems right now is “having to read books that I know I will enjoy”. You probably feel absolutely terrible for me.

++ BUT UH… REALLY. HOW ARE YOU DOING

Of course I front loaded this with the good bits. Of course.

As many of you know, I have been dealing with some heavy lows as of late and I promised you all updates. So.

Things have been… a lot better. A lot better. There were another couple of really scary periods in the past month that hit me like a motherfucker. I think the worst of it is the fact that this all effects Danica too, who… while diligently making sure I remain all in one piece sometimes ends up neglecting herself. I know how that goes, because… well, we discovered a long time ago that we don’t think too highly of ourselves, but we’ll do absolutely anything for each other, and sometimes we end up being at odds in very strange ways. We’ve often had fights where we argue about which of us should be shouldering the burden of the other which is… far better than some of the alternatives. But we both recognize that we have to work to do internally, and we’re both trying. It’s hard, but we’re trying.

Posting here has helped. Hearing from all of you has been wonderful and uplifting. Without all of you, this road would be a lot harder to walk down and for helping us both move forward, we are forever grateful.

++ PROGRAMMING NOTE

Next week, I have a personal goal of getting up something on this site each and every weekday. If all goes well, you’ll be hearing about the comics activism project in next week’s posts. With any luck, it will piss some people off.

That’s how we’ll know we’re onto something.

Closer To Free

I didn’t think it was possible, but I’ve been even harder on myself lately. It took Brandon telling me how stretched thin I was to make me realize I couldn’t handle more right now. Every day is a rollercoaster. I’m both empowered and weak, close to financial freedom and so far away from any savings, confident and terrified – and I need to somehow come to terms with the fact that I am a bit of everything right now. Frankly, I’m sick of it, but realize this is a long, hard road I must walk down.

Oddly enough, a podcast has been helping. I discovered a show called “The Big Payoff” ( http://www.acast.com/bigpayoff ) the other week. They were doing a 4-episode series on women and their relationship with money, and I found the whole thing full of captivating and valuable information. Topics ranged from women being the breadwinner’s in their respective relationships to your money history and fantasies (dreams of a financial future come from somewhere). I know now I must have a closer relationship with money, so will be listening to more of their episodes in the future.

I spent the last decade thinking I would always be in debt. Very glad at least that’s progressing to a point where I can breathe a bit easier. Right now, I’m thankful to have that One Thing I can focus on completely obliterating from my life. One Thing that is under my control. Thank you for keeping me going. Thank you for giving me motivation when I was weak, and keeping my eye on the future when I have achieved this goal.

My Shopping Ban: Creating a Plan

Since I last wrote about my ban and student loans, I’ve since acquired a job, both dealt with and removed stress from different areas of my life, and am in a better place emotionally.

I spent some time one evening plotting out a payment plan to squash my student loan once and for all. Since I am being paid weekly, I will be taking out $15 of each paycheque and put it towards the debt. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is over and above the $200 I already have going out at the end of the month, so it adds up over time. My final $200 will be taken out of my account at the end of May, and I will pay the remainder (I’m estimating it to be around $100) that week. My personal deadline will be Friday, June 10, to send off my final payment.

It feels unreal to be this close. I grow impatient and want to pay it all LIKE RIGHT NOW, but I don’t have the money like right now. This way, I can pay it off and still grow the cushion back in my main bank account. I’m hoping with this job, I can put a bit into savings as well.

~~~

I’m getting time before the busy season to catch up on some reading in my lunch hours, which has been a nice treat. In the last week, I’ve read Letter 44 Vol 3, Astro City Vol 1, and am currently halfway through Civil War.

Letter 44 has been amazing, and I’m crushed we’re sold out of the single issues in store because I really really want to keep reading, but will *hmph* patiently wait for the next collection.

Astro City is kind of interesting. I may check out volume 2 to see if it’s enough to keep my reading.

And Civil War is making a bunch of stories I know make a bit more sense, so while it’s not great, it’s filling in a bit more of the timeline for me.

Otherwise, I’m reading Watchmen for book club, and it’s to be expected. I find it offensive, and boring, so congrats on doing that, writer dude.

Borrowed The Best Laid Plans (which won Canada Reads a few years back) from my dad, and I’m enjoying it enough.

Generation X is on the bottom of my bedside table book pile. Does that book make sense to anyone else? I’m thinking it didn’t age well.