In light of the recent little bit of a dip the market did, I’ve seen a lot of incredible, witty bloggers writing a lot of clever things about sticking to your guns and either change your allocation strategy or just don’t look at your accounts for a while.
Inspired by this, I thought that maybe I should have a go at it too.
But even if I wanted to throw extra money at a dip in the market, I don’t really have extra money to throw. Not if we are sticking to our plan anyhow. And wasn’t that the whole point?
Stick to the plan, keep investing the same amount every month, and throw a lot of money at our emergency funds and mortgage savings accounts for that home we want some time in the future.
So instead, I’ve been staring at my screen. Living life, having visitors, working overtime, but not being quite sure what to write.
I’ll admit it, right now I am not sure if I will be able to keep up with the blog, but I’ll keep trying!
The semester has well and truly started at the university I am working at, and part of my contract includes 1600 hours of teaching as part of my four year employment/studies. At the moment, that looks like about 25 hours teaching laboratory techniques, 2-3 hours of prep. work and 6-10 hours correcting lab reports a week.
This will go on for about ten weeks, though I am happy to say I have already survived two of them.
Plus, of course, my supervisor also wants to make sure I keep up in the lab and with reading articles and writing.
So if my posting becomes a tad less frequent, I hope you will forgive me. This is a labour of love, after all. And I want this to keep being a positive outlet in my life, not yet another thing to tick off on the to-do list.
In other news, we had Mr. E’s sister up for a visit! She is only 3 years his junior and they’re close. So, in keeping up with our value-based spending, our bottom line looks very different this week, as we ate out not just once, but twice!
They went to the local chocolate museum/factory as well, and of course they had to buy some noms.
We even invited M. and her partner to join us at a local micro brewery for a pint. I surprised myself and everybody else by joining in, and even having a small beer of my own! Usually, the noise level in places like that kills me straight away, but this place was unusually quiet. No wonder M. recommended it.
Our cheap, frugal selves even surprised ourselves by both spending money on new clothes! Mr. E’s trousers have been falling apart for months now, and even as he has been mending them amiably, he really needed new ones. The charity shop was closed when we were in town, so… for once in a very long time, he bought some new ones.
I was no better than him either! After all my walking to work and associated weight loss, I had all but one single bra that somewhat fit me (not really). The rest were worn out, too big, or just plain uncomfortable to wear.
Let’s just say that with a chest area in my size, you need support. I had been putting it off for months, but we were in town anyway to show said sister around, so…
After parting with about $150 for 2 regular bras and a sports bra (at least it was a 3 for 2 deal), I can honestly say that it is the best money I have spent on myself in a long, long time.
They actually stay where they are supposed to! They don’t jump out and annoy me and demand adjustments throughout the day!
I did a count with Mr. E. after the fact, and we assessed that it has been at least 4 years since I bought a bra last. I suppose it was about time.
Now let’s hope I’m going to be staying this size for a while, and won’t have to part with that much money for another four years.
Anecdotal as this post may seem, the story above actually served to remind me of something important. And it all started with an episode from The Fairer Cents about mental health.
Back while I was doing my B.Sc. I was also getting assessed for (and diagnosed with) autism. Before I had to move to pursue my M.Sc. I had this most amazing doctor helping me fill out paperwork for the next doctor who was taking over after I moved.
She didn’t just fill out questionnaires though, she also dug deep into some of the deep-rooted issues I had stuck in my mind.
I had been talking about how one of my obsessive thoughts was that I had to be useful somehow, and if I wasn’t useful, I might as well not exists. Something I also mentioned briefly in this post.
Let me tell you, such obsessive thoughts are not healthy, and if you have them, I really encourage you to find someone you trust with whom you can share it with and hopefully work through it. Everyone has value as individuals, not just for the perceived “usefulness” we have.
But anyway, this woman listens to my ingrained and learned obsession with being useful, and then she looks me directly in the eye and says something I hope I will never forget:
You know, you are allowed to be happy too.
It seems ridiculous that such a small, innocuous sentence would have such an impact on me. But it did. At some-and-twenty years old, no one had ever said that to me before! No one had ever given me blanket permission to focus on myself and my own happiness, not just the happiness of others.
My mind was blown. In a corner of my mind, some of the less positive aspects of my upbringing were starting to crumble.
It had begun the moment I moved away from home to study at university, which is why I will not regret going, even if I never work a day in the field I studied. I learned so much and met so many new people. I have everyone of them to thank for growing into myself and starting to find who I was and who I wanted to be, deep inside that person I had been taught to be.
I had come so far that I could start to accept that therapist’s words, not just brush them aside. And those words sowed a seed that led me to start digging up old dreams from when I was a child, and realise that the little girl I used to be had been right all along.
And where am I going with this post, winding back and forth like a forest trail?
Well, what I think I am trying to say, is that even if Mr. E. and I can’t put that money we spent on new clothes towards our mortgage savings accounts and our future home, it was not wrong to spend that money.
It is easy to become blindsided by where we want to go, to the point where I was becoming perhaps too cheap in the present.
Misunderstand me right, I am enjoying our current frugal lifestyle, but I will not deny that I could probably do with loosening my purse strings a little more, if it provides more happiness or less stress.
Like allowing myself not just oats in my lunch shelf at work, but also crisp breads, peanut butter, trail mix and the occasional chocolate. Especially for those long days, or if it is Friday.
It is a frugal middle ground. I’m not ditching bringing lunch to work all together, or suddenly buying dinner in the cafeteria every time I’m working late.
It is allowing myself a little piece of happiness, so that these four years of forecast hell and toil perhaps need not be that bad.
And if all those other personal finance bloggers are right, these four years of safe money need not be the only money I earn. I can earn more. With a healthy emergency fund, I might even have the peace of mind to work on earning more, even after my contract ends.
Don’t you forget that.