canadian money one hundred dollars c-note

Image found here.

As I’ve said before, the thing I love about teaching on call is that you never know what your day is going to look like. Today, I got a much-needed lesson in financial planning. I was working at an alt program where they start each morning with a daily check-in. When it was my turn to share how I was feeling, I admitted that I was a bit overwhelmed with my current financial situation.

The teacher’s strike ended at the end of September, but because of the way TOCs are paid, I only received my first proper paycheque this past Friday. Until Friday, my day job hadn’t payed me since June (and even in June, I was working a forced reduced week and receiving a pay cut on my daily wage because I was “locked out” during my lunch break. But I’m not bitter…).

This summer, I took what work I could find without knowing whether I would be back in the schools come September. As labour day came and went and I was still on strike, I took on some field work to get by, but that’s all I was doing, and barely. I paid the bills that were absolutely necessary and delayed paying the rest. I made a stringent savings/repayment plan. And when I finally got paid, I went to Winners and bought some new tights and underwear. Which (depressingly) totally blew my budget.

I know I will be back in the black eventually if I stick to my plan, but it’s hard to be patient when you are receiving overdue notices. (I’m sorry, Federal Government, but my provincial government screwed me, so I can’t give you three months’ worth of student loan repayments all at once. Maybe our wealthy-beyond-my-wildest-imaginings premier can help me out with all the money she saved from cutting my wages and provoking a strike last spring.  Or maybe she can do us all a huge favour and take her entire cabinet on a permanent vacation somewhere far away and let someone else ru(i)n things for awhile. Ok, maybe I’m still a little bitter.)

Back to the story at hand…

Normally at this program, after the check-in, students spend the morning doing schoolwork. As we were making our way back to classroom, however, we noticed that a friendly-looking woman with a red briefcase and a box full of workbooks and laminated things was setting up shop. She explained that she was there to do one of her weekly financial literacy workshops with the kids. Occasionally, I can believe that you are given what you need when you need it. I definitely demonstrated a level of enthusiasm far beyond what this woman is probably used to seeing from her teenaged workshopees.

You see, I basically know what I need to do, financially, but it really helps to be reminded every once in awhile. Also, colourful workbooks help. Today, we talked about our values and our financial goals, and whether or not our actions reflect those values or contribute to reaching our goals. I have to say, it’s way easier to say no to that thing I don’t really need when I know the money will go instead to my Iceland fund (or my trad rack fund, or that new sleeping bag or the surf trip I want to do without relying on friends to pay my way).

It’s all about how you frame it. I was complaining to a friend recently that I’m going to have to buy another car soon because mine is dying. She suggested that instead of being bummed out about having to spend so much money on a thing that I find really unexciting (I need a car for work, but I’d WAY rather go to Costa Rica or something), I should think of it as my access fund. With a reliable car, I can get into the mountains whenever I want, which is way more exciting than getting to work every day.

The only way I survive budgeting is to make it fun. That’s where the values and goals come in.  It’s also where finding a way to pep it up comes in. There are some pretty fun finance-related blogs out there, which sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn’t. If you like to have adventures, financial planning is pretty important.

In case, like me, you hate budgeting but realize you have to, this is my favourite personal finance blog. What the author manages to save (money she uses to then create the life she wants, rather than eat all the coffee shop food she wants, which is what I do when I have a surplus) is pretty amazing.

Somehow, today went from worrying out loud to a group of teenagers about my financial woes to wanting to rush home and pay my bills. It just takes the right motivation.