Money Monday AKA – How We are Going to Get Out of Debt

*Vulnerable Post Ahead* So if you’ve been reading here for a while you know that it has been my goal over the past few years to get better with managing our money.

The first big shift happened around this time last year when I was on Maternity Leave. Matthias had been working a commercial job that wasn’t paying enough, my mat leave pay was a huge reduction to the income I was getting pre-baby and we just weren’t managing it well. We were spending more than we were making and using our Line of Credit and Credit Cards to make up the difference.

After a bit of a breakdown and a few glasses of wine and a hot bath I got my ish together and started tracking everything with Mint. It was super helpful to see where it was all going and to get a better understanding of where we could cut back to save. Matthias started a better paying job, I made a bit of a supplemental income through Beachbody, and we made it through the rest of my Maternity Leave at about the status quo – not going into more debt, not paying more than the minimum payments.

I went back to work and for a bit I was working full time (Cha-Ching), and when that stopped I started working about 5-7 shifts a pay period, which was a good amount more than my maternity leave due to being casual and having a paid out vacation % and not paying pension and benefits.

We watched the state of the economy continue to decline, and we were thankful Matthias had in-town work paying close to what he would make if he was out of town, but we were aware the job he was in would end in August. In this time we paid off our credit cards and began paying down our line of credit. I was feeling pretty good! And although Mint was still showing me that we were spending more than we were making, and we were living paycheck to paycheck, it still was rewarding to see our debts going down.

In June we decided to sell our house and move to Airdrie, something that was semi-planned, semi-spur of the moment. Hindsight is everything and it probably wasn’t the right time financially, but it had to happen in order to bring us to where we are today and where we are hopefully going. So we sold our house for what we needed to in order to have enough of a down payment for a bigger place and to cover (most) moving costs. Tucker passed away and with that came a $1000 vet bill. And then we moved. I had a brief period after moving where I didn’t work for two weeks, which set us back, and then we had an extra mortgage payment go through that we weren’t expecting (because when you pay your mortgage your paying for the 2 previous weeks, not the two coming weeks, something I didn’t know!), and then about 3 weeks after we moved Matthias’ job ended and he was laid off. So throw in a 2 week EI waiting period without pay and we were basically fucked.

Matthias was off work for 6 weeks and we ended up racking our credit cards back up, losing our headway on our Line Of Credit, and cashing in some of our RRSP’s (not usually advisable, I know, but times were desperate) to make it through. We didn’t have any emergency savings to get us through. I was picking up to full time, and it wasn’t enough. It totally sucked, and I was super stressed about it. I applied to probably close to 100 jobs for Matthias before he finally got one. Unfortunately it is out of town and he is back in Fort Mac for a 2 week on, 1 week off shift, but right now you take what you can get.

I started in a .53 line – so 9-10 shifts a month, which is great in the long run because I will have pension, benefits for all of us, banked vacation, and an RRSP match from work, but its also tough in the mean time because it means a cut in my paychecks because of the extra expenses coming out.

I vowed to change. No more living paycheck to paycheck and not having a buffer in case of emergency. No more spending mindlessly without having a plan. No more overdraft. No more credit cards.

I read Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey at the suggestion of some of my FB friends, and now I’m onto Debt-Free Forever by Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Total game changers. I’ve restructured our entire budget and started using YNAB (You Need A Budget) and although I definitely find it confusing, I am committed to giving it a few months try to see if it will be better for us. I now can see the valueΒ  of Mint vs the drawbacks – It is excellent to look at retrospectively to see where your money has gone but it does little to help you plan where your future money needs to go. We have started a Cash Budget for the Groceries, Gas, Pet Food, Personal Spending Money, and Quinn Supplies – another big adjustment, but I’m committed to it.

Here’s the curve ball to it all. Matthias doesn’t get paid for the time he is off over Christmas. Last year he was off for two and a half weeks, and I had enough foresight to save enough to make up for his lost income prior to him going off. This year he is off for an entire month, December 15 to either January 11 or 18 (fingers crossed its not the latter), and with him just being off for 6 weeks we haven’t had the time or income to save for future missed income. So now I’m scrambling to save as much as I can before he goes off without going deeper into the red or spending more than is coming in. It’s a tricky balance.

So that’s where we are right now! Having a varied income for both of us sucks and I am jealous of all you salaried folks out there who know exactly how much is coming and when, regardless of the time of year! I can’t be the only one out there who has struggled with budgeting and overspending, so I am planning on making this a semi-regular post topic because it’ll help keep me accountable and maybe it will inspire someone else. :)

Life Update

*tap* *tap* *tap* Is this thing on?

Hi! I can’t believe it has been since JUNE that I have posted. And now we are heading into NOVEMBER. Where have the last 5 months gone!?!?!

Oh I know. They went into selling our house, getting pregnant, packing our house, losing our Tucker, moving to a new city, starting a new job, getting a new puppy, and now trading in my vehicle for a minivan. #MomLife

So a quick update of where we are at over here!

We MOVED! We have been talking about moving for years but never really thought it would become a reality and then BAM we did it. We sold our house in 2 weeks, and only had to show it twice before we had an offer. *pats self on the back for job well done at cleaning* Then two days after we accepted an offer we had an offer accepted on a lovely and spacious 2 story house in Airdrie. Aka – The best home style for a family ever. We got all our ducks in a row and moved at the end of August.

Between June and September I was going through the ever lovely first trimester, feeling like complete shit and all that fun stuff. I don’t know how I managed to accomplish all that I did.

I started my new job a few weeks after moving. I’m working half time on an acute crisis stabilization/short stay mental health unit. It’s pretty much my dream line and the unit is amazing. After a few job disappointments in Red Deer I am happy to say everything worked out exactly as it should have and I am in the perfect position for our family right now!

Then Matthias got laid off. That AB economy though. So he spent 6 weeks being a house husband while I worked full time hours to try and make up some of the lost income because #EIPaySucks.

He recently started a new job out of town in Fort Mac. It has been an adjustment having him gone again after he was home for nearly 2 years, and Quinn and I are definitely missing him, but our bank account will hopefully be happy soon.

Quinn has been growing like cray. She talks a whole bunch now and is starting to copy more and more. We have been working on “Trick or Treat” lately. I doubt she will actually say it in front of strangers when we go out on Halloween to a few houses but its still super cute. Shes walking and trying to run and she is full of personality. Finding another day home proved to be a struggle, especially now that Matthias is out of town, but we found a very nice lady/family and I think Quinn is liking it there so far!

We also lost Tucker in August. That was really fucking hard. After a fall at the dog park and a broken leg, we found out he had Cancer in his bone and lungs and the prognosis was not good. It was a complete shock as he had been healthy and energetic right up until the fall. He was running out of the water after swimming.. that is how perfectly normal he seemed. He was only 7 years old, which seems way to early to lose someone we cared so much about. We had him cremated and he is in our living room. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think of him and the little things he used to do that I miss.

About 2 months after we lost Tucker we decided to start looking for another dog to add to our family. Not to replace Tucker, because that will obvi never happen, but to definitely fill a bit of the void that we still left behind. I wanted a pug. Matthias wanted a big dog. So we compromised and got a Great Dane/Mastiff (sarcasm). His name is Duke and he is a riot. He is going to be a big boy! He is 11 weeks old and 30lb.

Finally, let me update you on the pregnancy! We have a midwife in Calgary and if we can get our financial shit together I hope to be delivering at the Arbour Birth Center here. We also have our same doula from when we had Quinn. So hopefully all is well and the roads are dry when I go into labor because she will have to drive the hour and 20 minutes from Lacombe to get here and then we will have to drive the 40 minutes to the birth center…. Haha. I’m almost 19 weeks now and we find out the gender in one freaking week. How crazy is that?!!? I feel like I waited forever and a day to find out the gender with Quinn and BAM here we are and I’m already half way through and I have done nothing at all to prepare lol.

Amiright?

So I think that’s pretty much all that is worth mentioning! I’m hoping to become more active here again now that it feels like our life is settling down finally. Quinn just woke up and is saying No Way over and over so I better go in and see what all the fuss is about πŸ˜‰

Quinn – Our Breastfeeding Journey

IMG_7838 When I was in 2nd year of nursing school I took my Maternity Clinical. It was my first experience with breastfeeding education both for myself, and educating my patients. Prior to this, I was one of those silly 19 year old girls who thought breastfeeding was gross, and why don’t they cover up or leave to feed their kid or just stay home? Yep. That was me.

The summer between 3rd and 4th year is an important one for nursing students. It’s your opportunity to undergrad and work on a hospital unit with a healthcare team. Knowing I loved psych and wanted to preceptor there in my 4th year, I decided to apply to undergrad in postpartum. I had enjoyed my clinical there, and it was also an area I didn’t have very much confidence in, so I thought it would be a good learning opportunity.

I loved my undergrad experience in Postpartum. The women on the unit I work on are amazing. They are supportive, funny, empowering, and strong. They are super smart, and helpful and they provide excellent feedback. I work (and back then, worked) with an amazing team.

I remember my first DAS (Day Admission Surgery AKA Scheduled C-Section). It was her first baby. She was having the C-section because her baby was breech. They came up to the unit after the surgery and I asked that fateful question to the mother – “Would you like to try Breastfeeding?”

Now – a little context here – I was 20 years old. My experience to helping a woman latch a baby for the first time was minimal, I mostly had read about it in the textbooks and watched a few videos on it and played around with a knitted breast model and a baby doll. That poor new mother… if only she knew πŸ˜‰ lol.

Well .. together she got the baby latched and had a successful feed with all the things you look for as a nurse – good alignment, swallows, drawing suck pattern. I wanted to do a fist pump I was so proud of myself!

During that summer, and then over the year that I worked on postpartum I helped MANY women breastfeed. Women with small nipples, and large nipples, and flat nipples, and inverted nipples, and difficult nipples and “good” nipples. Women who had breastfeed 5 kids prior and who had never breastfed before. Women who weren’t women, they were actually teenage girls, and women who didn’t speak any english.

Going in to motherhood when my midwife asked – “Are you planning to breastfeed?” I thought:

Lady. I was born to breastfeed.

Labor? Scared the shit out of me. Didn’t know if I could handle it. Didn’t know if I could push a baby out of … there.

Breastfeeding? Piece of Cake.

I hate to sound snobby about it, that isn’t my intention at all. But it was the ONE thing about becoming a mother I felt confident about

So Quinn came, and then getting her latched was SUPER awkward the first few times. Lol! It is quite different latching a baby to YOUR nipples. You only have one hand! (The other one is supporting the baby) You can’t adjust the pillows or SEE the way you can when your the one standing at the side of the bed! TOTALLY NOT WHAT I WAS EXPECTING. She latched fairly quickly and went to town with eating. She was a natural.

And then she got transferred to the NICU. My first thought was “NO FORMULA.” Not because I’m against formula, but because there was no clinical reason for Quinn to have formula. Her blood sugars were stable, she was a good birth weight, she had peed and pooped. I wanted my milk to come in, and in order to do that you have to breast feed Q2-3H.

You know what was one of the most shocking parts of our NICU stay? The conflicting information I received regarding breastfeeding. I actually had a nurse tell me I was starving my baby. My baby who was above her birth weight by her 3rd day of life. ABOVE. My baby who peed and pooped round the clock. Had I NOT been a nurse, specifically a nurse with lots of training and experience with breastfeeding – this comment would have shattered me. It was completely inappropriate and insensitive and it’s sad that parents have to deal with these types of comments from health care professionals.

Anyways, it all worked out fine. I successfully busted Quinn out of the NICU on day 6 without supplementing with formula. We came home and then the realization sunk in that I had no idea how to parent lol. But I knew how to breastfeed so at least I could keep her nourished if all else failed! πŸ˜‰

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I was expecting a baby who ate every 3 – 4 hours like the books tell you. I ended up with a baby who ate every 2 hours from 6am – 6pm all day every day. Nights were a little easier on us thank goodness.

Breastfeeding made me feel like a good mother. Because Quinn had colic she was just so miserable all the time, it felt like if I could feed her she would calm down and be a bit more peaceful. It’s always been something Quinn has been good at – she rarely bites/gums me, she’s always seemed to be pretty quick at eating (probably why she needed to eat every 2 hours), and latching seemed to come naturally to her. She wasn’t tongue tied (hallelujah!). At this point in our journey we haven’t dealt with anything too hard besides some nipple soreness. *knock on wood*

I’m writing this now as Quinn will be starting her transition to Day Home a few days a week in just 2 weeks. I will be returning to work the week of February 8th, when Quinn is just 10.5 months old. It makes me sad to think that our special time together will be changing and coming to an end soon. While I don’t plan to wean her myself (I want that to be her initiation), I do know that it will look different when I go back to work and that she will need to be relying on other primary sources of nutrition very soon. Right now the plan is to hopefully provide 1 or 2 pumped bottles a day, supplement when needed with formula, and then breastfeed around when I work. I took a few days to mourn the idea of this transition, and I feel better about the whole process now. This is a topic for another day though. πŸ˜‰

I guess it just makes me feel sad that she already will be needing me less, you know? Like this is the first step and then I’m going to wake up tomorrow and she is going to be 18 and moving out and all that stuff.

So I guess that sums up our experience so far. It’s nothing too exciting. But its something that has been far more important to me (and hopefully to her) than I ever realized.

2015 in Review

IMG_75332015 felt Grand. Like not awesome-grand (which it was) but more so like vast-grand. If that makes sense? This post is going to be a thought dump, so hold on!

I stayed closer to home more this past year than I have in a long time, the farthest we traveled was Edmonton or Calgary. Seriously, I can’t think of a year in my entire adult life that I haven’t left the province. So that in itself is pretty impressive πŸ˜‰

Matthias was also closer to home this year – he took a job in town and has been home every night since February. It’s been a good adjustment. Quinn absolutely loves him and he loves her and him being home every night has definitely helped them bond.

I also feel more disconnected from my Nursing, but I guess that is to be expected as I went off work at the start of February. That means I will be going back to work at the start of February… when Quinn is only 10.5 months old. But we won’t talk about that right now because hello, *DENIAL*. I remained active with CARNA, but not as much as I had in previous years, and I definitely found it harder to make it to meetings. It will be bittersweet when my term is over in September 2016. While part of me wonders “What’s Next?” a bigger part of me says “NOTHING UNTIL YOUR DONE HAVING BABYS” haha.

I lost all that baby weight I gained and then some, which feels good, and I suppose is noteworthy, but in the grand scheme doesn’t really matter. My relationship with food is peaceful. I eat if I want to, I eat what I want to, and I no longer have an emotional connection to eating.all.the.things. That feels really, really, good. I’m no longer at a place where I feel controlled by my caloric intake. I don’t beat myself up if I eat a box of Kraft Dinner (that was today’s lunch in fact πŸ˜‰ and it was delish). I’m no longer tempted by the ice cream in my freezer. It’s just there. And when I really want some, I’ll have some, instead of obsessing about it.

I found a way to enjoy home workouts! That is also pretty rad. The connection of a Challenge Group has been pivotal to this one, and for that I’m grateful.

I’ve said it before but Beachbody Coaching has made a world of difference in my life. It’s given me that sense of “More Than Just a Mom” that I need.

I continued to teach spin until my 35th week of Pregnancy and then started again in September! I also stepped out of my comfort zone and started instructing yoga. It was both terrifying and humbling, and now its something I look forward to every week.

The pets are getting older, which makes me sad. Our oldest cat is 8 and our oldest dog is 6. How?! Tucker has been dealing with some health issues throughout the year – he’s been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder that attacks his nails so he has had multiple infections from that. It sucks. He’s hopefully on the mend now but will be on TID meds for the rest of his life. *cha ching*

I still really would like to buy a different house, but I’ve come to terms that it won’t happen for a while. I sure hope it happens before baby #2 though, because I might lose my mind if it doesn’t haha.

We’ve really worked hard at getting our expenses more under control. And while we are ending the year in more debt than we started it, I feel confident that 2016 will be the year we can make some large strides in turning that around.

The grandest part of the year has been Motherhood. It’s been a ride. It’s also the hardest and greatest journey I’ve ever embarked on. It’s been profoundly transformative. It’s hard for me to even articulate how motherhood has impacted me, but that might also be because I have a cold and its 10pm at night. πŸ˜‰

Did you make it this far? I know it doesn’t all seem that Grand, but my heart has never been bigger, or more overflowing with love, than it is right now. So cheers, 2015. You’ve been so good to me.