Cheers to Another Year!

I’m home. After touching down at 3:30 AM last night, and rolling into bed close to 4:30 AM I’m ready to be home and to get back into the life. I spent a week in Southern BC, vising family on Vancouver Island and meeting my boyfriend in Vancouver for a few days.

My days were spent stuffing my face, walking everywhere, picking up some clothes to round out my wardrobe (had to supplement my jeans), watching the fireplace channel with my 3 year old niece, holding hands with my boyfriend down sparkling city streets, being close to the ocean and eating more waffles than I should! I took a seaplane for the first time, watched some people freak out about a rat running around the closed Starbucks at the Vancouver airport. Aaah, good times.

My Christmas was merry and chill which is the only way I like to go. I’m not about the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. To me it’s a time to relax and spend some time with those I love. I’m really thankful I was able to do that this break, and I’m also thankful I was able to have two weeks off work to do so!

Since Thanksgiving in October (Canadian style) I gave it a great effort with a friend of mine to push ourselves at the gym. We also held off on beer for those 8 weeks and I really admire us for that. Nearing the end it was getting a little difficult for me. But looking back now, I’m impressed with our enthusiasm at wanting to make some life changes.

While on my trip I really wanted to enjoy the stuff I can’t get while at home so I went full out on sushi, Belgian waffles, poutine, all the goodness I could get my hands on. There’s no way I regret that, plus a lot of that was accompanied by oodles of walking around downtown Vancouver. I’m not going to get into sizes an weight but I want to go back to my passion before. I hit the gym today and took it easy. A girl can’t get fit in a single day, but I’m ready to put in the work this winter and see where I end up once spring rolls around.

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Added to that, I’ve been wondering what’s going to happen to this blog, where I want it to go. It has been a while since I posted last but I know I’ll miss the community, the lessons learned and passed on from this online readership. I love checking up on your guys’ newest posts and seeing what you guys are up to whether it’s with hair, life, fitness, finances or food. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I can give up this blog quite yet. I’ve had an amazing journey from my start back in May 2013 and look where I am now. I hope I can be a source of ideas and I am continually inspired by what I see from all of you.

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I have some goals for this year. I’m sure each of them will unfold in good time and I’ll do my best to share them with you.

Below are some pics of my eats and shenanigans this holiday season.

Happy New Year to each of you.

Much love,
Ndeshi

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My Money Goals

Now that I’ve achieved being consumer debt free I’ve adjusted my goals.

Saving

I’m fortunate to live at home, pay a minimal amount for rent and have access to vehicles. This has allowed me to commit 51% of my income to savings. As soon as I get my cheque, I transfer that money to my savings account and I forget about it. My plans are to buy a vehicle by the end of the year and because I’ve mapped out my savings I know I’m going to have a good amount of money to buy wheels. Earlier I was debating on whether that savings should also go to my student loans which would drastically cut down my loans. But I’ve seen the practicality of owning a car. Especially when my plan is to purchase used, and to pay for the whole thing up front. No financing or monthly payments, I want to drive that car off the lot and know I own it completely, preferably with a years insurance paid and winter tires all ready to go. After that I can reduce my savings amounts and increase my student loan payments.

Paying Down My Student Debt

Since beginning my job I’ve been able to pay my calculated student loan payment without a problem. Looking at the budget I decided to up my payments by 40%. So instead of paying $392 every month I’ve committed to putting $1000 on my loans every month. That’s 22% of my monthly income allowing me to shorten my pay period which means I’m paying less interest which is worth it.

The Other 26%

The rest of my cashflow goes to bills which basically includes my phone & rent. I no longer have a credit card ‘bill’ per se. Whenever I use my credit card I immediately transfer money from my debit to cover it. I mainly use my credit card for the AirMiles and since I only spend money on things I can afford I’m able to keep my balance at 0 and completely avoid interest charges.

One thing I need to sort out is my retirement savings plan. How much, where, how often? I need to get something going in that area sooner rather than later.

Some Other Things

I recently dropped $290 on new glasses which is so worth it. I picked them out and it was satisfying to pay for them in full. I’ve had my current glasses for a little over 7 years. My prescription has shown to be quite consistent over the years so I haven’t had a need to change my frames (and until now I haven’t had the money). So I’m quite excited to be able to change my look and update my glasses. I’ll make sure to add a pic of me with my new specs!

I have 2 trips planned this year. July I’m going to Haida Gwaii. My return trip ferry pass has been purchased, our campsite has been booked, we’re sitting pretty right now. I’m also planning to go to Toronto and visit some dear friends in October. I chose October because it’s a 3 paycheque month and I want to take advantage of not dipping into my planned savings/loan repayment. I’m excited because I’ll be able to pay for my return ticket with my vacation pay. And with the 3 paycheque month it doesn’t throw off my budgeting.

To be honest, I love budgeting, I like staying on track and watching my savings grow and watching my debt be reduced. I also like knowing I can take care of myself. Being independent is big for me. This is the first time in a long time I’ve been financially independent to the point where I do not have to choose between paying one bill vs another.

What’s the most difficult financial aspect right now? I can map out my savings and stick to it like a pro. It’s the buying of random stuff that gets me. I like my space uncluttered. I try not to purchase stuff that I won’t use or will eventually toss. But every once in a while a girl needs a new shade of Essie nail polish or a workout top yknow? I think it’s key to be aware of that. I don’t hold myself back from everything all the time but I try to be conscious of what I’m spending my money on because money is time and I spend enough of it at work, my money better be going to something fantastic.

What are my short term goals? To purchase a vehicle in full and pay down my student loans.

What are my long term goals? Completely pay off my student loans, have a good chunk of money in savings and to have a good retirement savings plan.

You turn!

What do you find most challenging about finances? 

What are some of your goals? Long or short term?

All that being said, cheers to smart finances and taking control of your money!

Cheers to smart money!

 

A Leap Towards Financial Freedom

I am so so so so happy to say as of May 2, 2014 I am (consumer) debt free!! I don’t have any money borrowed and collecting interest other than my student loans! Whoo!!

I got paid on Friday and working the stat holiday, Good Friday, gave me a great boost. I also got a nice tax return so what did I do? I tossed it onto my MasterCard and now I am at zero. This frees me up to put the money that went towards that card onto my student loans. I’m so happy it’s done with! I’m going to take some time to live without it for a bit. I rarely used it before because I was trying to pay it down but now that it’s at zero I just want it to sit at zero for a bit. In the future, anything I do put on it will be paid off in full at the end of the month. I don’t need to be carrying a balance from month to month. So here’s to rebuilding my credit!

And here’s to destroying my student loans. I am on a mission to pay off 75% of my student loans by December. Yeah. To achieve that I’m going to have to budge and be acutely aware of every dollar that goes in and out of my hands because I want to set myself up for a debt free future so my choices aren’t limited and I’m not held back by debt. This is an exciting time for me. I’m thankful that I have this great job, I’m thankful I live at home and pay reduced rent, I’m just really happy with my life situation right now.

Of course, it being life, I feel like if one thing is up then something has to be down… I’ve been finding myself battling how I feel about myself physically. I can honestly say I’m unhappy with my body. I enjoy running and biking, I love that it’s lighter and warmer out. I enjoy being active but it’s hard… when I’m home after 7 PM I just want to veg and relax and do nothing yknow? As soon as I’m home I pack my lunch for the next day, lay my stuff out, check my email, pay bills, watch a show and then it’s off to bed. I really don’t have a lot of time.

My friend goes to drop in soccer Tuesdays and Thursdays so I’m thinking I want to join him. I loved soccer and I love being outside and socializing while being active. I’m hoping that’s something I can be a part of.

That being said, today I went for a great 5.7 km hike with L. The uphill was a beast but the downhill we maintained a pretty good pace, skipping over roots and dodging dogs. It was really lovely, I’m glad we went. Then the local farmers market opened for the first day today which was amazing! It was sooo busy but we got our coveted Filipino food I’ve been missing since November. I was a happy camper!

I was doing really well in December when I was going to the gym regularly. I was starting to notice my body changing and I loved it. I don’t have the time for the gym so I need to do whatever I can to keep my body moving, especially after sitting for 12 hours a day.

I got an Essie nail polish today, I was feeling a little bummed out so I picked one up. I really like their polish, they’ve got a great colour selection. S and I went to the corner store afterwards and I got a slurpee and some 5 cent candy (yeah yeah) and the boy behind the counter gave me a free slurpee and only charge me for half of my candy! That made my night. S was all, dude, why didn’t you give me free stuff? I was like… oh S, it could be that giant rock on your left hand. Haha! Naw, he was cool, I thanked him and then laughed hysterically later.

Hair

I wore my hair loose all week this week. I did a rush twist job and it was not sitting so pretty so I wore it out. I’m going to do an overnight pre-poo tonight, really moisturize my strands/scalp and do an early wash day tomorrow. Better to get it out of the way so I can enjoy my day off.

That’s my update for the week. Nail polish, discount candy, work work work, and a great trail run. I hope tomorrow’s relaxing before the start of another week.

Oh! May long weekend (May 19) two friends and I are going to go for a shopping road trip! I’m really excited! I really haven’t built a solid wardrobe where I have a good number of clothes to wear for work and leisure. I just feel like I’ve been just getting by in the past since I didn’t have much to spend on anything other than rent, food and bills (oy). This is a little treat for myself.

Getting the Ball Rolling with Work, Life, Fitness

Hey!

Work

Work has been bananas and that’s not even the work itself. My days have gone from unstructured contract work of waking up when I want, doing work when I want, and the monthly board meeting I attend. Time was my friend. Now my work hours start at 7 AM and I have a 40 minute commute each way. Thankfully I have a shuttle I take and so I don’t have to be awake for the ride to work, I just show up. But that makes for 4:30 AM alarms, 5:30 ride to park and ride, and 7 AM at my desk. The shuttle leaves work at 6:15 PM and I’m not back in town until 7 PM. It’s cray. But it pays. So I will be sticking to this for the next little while. My main thing is since I am sitting for 90% of my day I need to pack foods that energize and fuel

Fitness

I now have about 2-3 hours a between arriving home from work and heading to bed so I try to make the most of it. I’m starting a half marathon training program with RunKeeper that begins Tuesday, April 1 and ends race day, July 19. It schedules runs on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. So during the week I have runs Tuesday, Thursday, Mondays now are free, Wednesdays, so far, are dedicated to washing my hair (I don’t want to spend my precious weekend washing my hair so this was my plan to get that out of the way mid-week). Oh and I went for a 5k run yesterday as it was actually gorgeous outside. The sun was out, the temperature was up, it was feeling spring-like and lovely. I had to take advantage of it.

Hey! If you have any fav workout songs let me know in the comments. I need to amp up my running tunes.

Update: went for a run today too! couldn’t convince anyone to go with me so I went solo and it was great 🙂

Life

One of my besties has been engaged for literally 2 years now. It’s kind of a joke between the three of us. Being named her bridesmaid, and being the only bridesmaid living in the same town as her, I’ve tried my darndest to try to get a date out of her but she’s just that girl that can’t be bothered yknow? She’s starting a business in September so finally feels that push to just get married before all hell breaks loose becoming a business owner. Friday I took her out to lunch and she told me her and her fiancé decided to just go away on their own and get married on the beach at sunset just the two of them. I totally support her. Her dating her fiancé has brought some tension in her family and I think the two of them eloping is, honestly, great. We will be here for a reception or get together after the fact and although I would love to see my best friend of 20 years walk down the aisle looking absolutely gorgeous (as she always does) I also absolutely know this is the best way to go forward. I’m so excited for her!

Yesterday I spent the day with my bf B, and it was so cute. We ran into a couple of his friends and his boss and he introduced me as his gf and it made me think aaaaaaw every time he said it. We’ve been dating for 3 months now but I just think it’s the cutest thing ever. He’s adorable.

I’m incredibly excited for spring and summer to get here. I am so invested in making the most of the area I live in. There are going to be so many adventures this season. Hiking, swimming, walking, running. I plan to run a half-marathon on Haida Gwaii this summer, I want to ocean kayak, and hike mountains, bike far, I want to stand under a waterfall and take a breathtaking photo on the top of a mountain. I so want to do it all because it’s all right there. I’m going to make the absolute most of this summer. And it’s so nice now that I have a job, I actually know I’m going to be staying in town, I won’t have to move and can actually make plans with my friends. I’m so excited!

I had a solid tequila night last weekend. My bestie, L had some peeps over and we planned to make tequila sunrises, and they were delicious, and I had many. It was a good night. Then this weekend she had peeps over again for games night and we ended up having this spontaneously amazing marshmallow fight. We never ended up making s’mores but we all had some great marshmallow victories. It was hilarious and so much fun 🙂

Money

I get to start posting about finances now! Yay! I have to say, I spent over $100 on running gear yesterday, I got an Under Armour top and leggings but I think I will be returning them because although they are great quality and look amazing I don’t need them. I want them. And that’s unnecessary, especially at that price. I can find items for less and I should spend the time to look for something in my budget. Just because I have money doesn’t mean I need to spend it. So I will be returning those today. I have two running leggings already that both cost a pretty penny and I’m only running 4x a week so 2 wears each and laundry day. With 3 pairs one will fall to the wayside so I’m happy with this decision.

I have 3 financial goals now that I’m employed.

1) Put a dent in my student loans.
It was perfect timing that my student loans payments started up again. My minimum monthly payments are $391/month *sob*. So I plan to drop more than that amount every month and get working on my principal amount.

2) Pay off my last credit card.
I put a good chunk on my card last pay cheque so I really want to get that out of the way in the next month or two so I don’t have to worry about interest and charges and my only debt will be my student loans.

3) Get some savings together.
I want to have a good amount put away for savings. I want to be able to take a trip, save for a car, I want to have options. I know that my living amount is incredibly low seeing as I don’t have a car, I live at home so rental is minimal, I don’t really buy groceries, so I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to squirrel away as much money as I can.

Every purchase needs to have a purpose. If I don’t need it, where could the money be better spent? I’m going to return my running gear and there’s now $100 I can put on my MasterCard. Now there’s a good use of my money. I also need to start living the cash life. If I don’t have the money in my wallet, it looks like I’m not spending. Impulse buying is no friend of mine.

Hair

I work administration on a construction site so it’s mandatory to be outside with a hard hat so that means no top buns for me. I’m really trying to save myself the hassle of loose hair and so I really want to be rocking mini-twists or a mini twist-out 100% of the time. It’s easy to maintain, it looks good, I can fit a hard hat over it. It’s a win-win-win. Weekend I may let my hair free but I honestly just want my hair protected and out of the way for the week. Right now my hair is loose so I’ll be twisting it up today before bed so I’m good until Wednesday wash day.

So that is my update for you all! I plan to post about topics individually so if it’s a finance post I’ll name it as such, hair, fitness, etc. Have a great day and you’ll be hearing from me sooner than later!

My One Week of Oil Pulling

From what I’ve read oil pulling is an Ayurvedic oral care treatment where you rinse your mouth with oil for 10-20 minutes on a regular basis. Oils that I’ve heard are used include sesame, sunflower, olive and coconut oil (I’m sure there are more).

Benefits can include; whiter teeth, fresher breath, healthier gums, less tooth sensitivity, helps flight plaque, general oral health. Read more here.

Day 1: Friday morning and I am putting a heaping teaspoon of solid coconut oil in my mouth. It took some convincing and as I am chewing it to dissolve I’m having a hard time trying not to gag. It’s suggested to do this for 10 – 20 minutes. I currently have my timer going for 5 minutes. If I can make it that long I may add another 5 and do a solid 10. I’m swishing it around in my mouth and it definitely feels a bit strange. It actually doesn’t taste like anything which is nice, it just feels like it’s heavier than water or saliva. I’ll be real with you, I have a garbage can sitting next to me in case I need to bail at any point.

Alright, 5 minutes is up. I set it for another 5 minutes. I think I can swing it.

It didn’t take too long to see I should not be swishing too hard. I can feel the muscles in my neck and jaw start to hate me.

Yay! Made it 10 minutes!

I’ll see how I feel after this week. Maybe it’s something I’ll incorporate every other day or maybe it doesn’t do anything for me and I nix this idea. I’ll let you know!

Day 2 and 3: I need to get wise and start melting this oil down before putting it in my mouth. This whole chew chew gag bit is not so fun. I made it to 15 minutes both days time. Yay! My teeth do feel smoother.

Day 4: I got wise and melted the coconut oil. Muuuuch better.

Day 5: Still good

Day 6: I made it 20 minutes! My chompers are feeling good. Fresher breath? I would say so.

Day 7: My teeth may not be glowing like a brand new car but they feel smoother all round. It’s just a nice. What’s nice about coconut oil is when it’s in your mouth you don’t really taste anything. It just feels like a liquid, heavier than water but not so thick. Once I spit it out I taste the coconut milkishness. It’s not bad. Oh and I only spit it out in the garbage. We all know coconut oil solidifies in colder temperatures so I don’t want to give it the opportunity to clog up the pipes, especially since I’m doing it regularly.

Why am I trying oil pulling? I discovered coconut oil about two years ago. At the time I had decided to cut my hair and start growing my curls naturally instead of chemically processing my coily hands to straighten them. Coconut oil was a huge benefit to my hair. About a month ago I apprehensively ditched all of my chemically laden face washes/creams and opted to cleanse with warm water and coconut oil and to finish each cleanse with cold water. My skin is generally pretty dry so I started using coconut oil to moisturize and I can say I like the simplicity of my regimen and my skin appears to enjoy it as well. So let’s see how this oil pulling goes.

Will I continue? I think I just might. I might maintain an every other day sort of routine just to give my mouth that health boost. But I like the option of having a nice, natural cleansing method.

Update: March 9. I think this whole routine has cleared out my sinuses like crazy. I didn’t have a cold but my sinuses felt stuffy. I felt like I may be getting a sore throat but it never developed into a cold. My sinuses just seemed off and then a day later they were good to go. I needed to blow my nose a lot and now… I feel really good. I did skip a day because my sinuses were off and I didn’t want to suffocate while oil-pulling but I’m back on now. I’m also able to make it the full 20 minutes. It’s easy when you go about your morning routine like normal (other than brushing your teeth). So I shower, moisturize, set up my hair stuff and moisturize my hair while swishing coconut oil around.

Have you tried oil pulling? How did it go? If you haven’t would you consider it?

My Year Without Facebook

I got rid of Facebook nearly a year ago. I would describe my use then as frequent, distracted, yet silent. I didn’t post much, I had a couple of photos albums and I checked it far too many times a day.

Why did I get rid of it? I was started to loathe its constant presence. I was becoming aware that my checking it, bringing it up on my phone and scrolling through old posts was now unconscious. Sort of the way I’ll look at my phone for the time, turn it off, put it down, and have to look at it again 15 seconds later because I didn’t actually register the time the first time.

Every once in a while I would go through my list and remove people I didn’t see as adding to my life. I think I got it down to just under 100 and still felt I had excess. I wasn’t happy with what I felt was artificial interaction that Facebook provided. I also didn’t like how it was making me feel.

I had just finished university in July and was job-hunting while working at a tourist trap chocolate store downtown. Looking at the successes of my peers kind of chipped away at my self-esteem. After a while I realized it wasn’t adding anything to my life and was in fact taking a little away.

I feel as though Facebook is a curated collection of moments, feelings and achievements. The general consensus being you post something you want to share with people, the exciting moments, trips, milestones all curated to a central spot. I’m not going to try to simplify Facebook because it’s a different form of communication. It’s the online version of the shopping mall, market, Roman bath house. But for me, it was becoming excessive and artificial.

I will admit I wanted to remove it earlier but I had been in school and it was handy for group meetings and planning. After school was done I felt more than willing to let it go.

I wanted to simplify my life and give myself a chance to feel good about the things I’ve accomplished and the direction I was headed in my life and what I was surrounding myself. I didn’t make a statement, I just deleted it. Some of my friends noticed right away and asked where I’d gone. Others took some time and I still get the occasional ‘do you not have Facebook anymore?’

Those I talk to I talk to. Those I don’t I don’t. It’s simple. I like it.

What do you think about Facebook? Have you ever deactivated your account and if so did you go back? Why? What’s your preferred form of social media?

My Words Are My Wings: My 250th Post!

I started this blog May 2012.

I’ve appreciated every comment, every like, every follow. At 150 followers (eeeee!!) I really enjoying putting something out there and I do my best to ensure what I’m placing on my blog has substance. My blog has evolved since my first posts and it has continued to grow and reflect my interests. I try to cover what’s important to me without being all over the map.

Natural hair was my first love and I still enjoy writing about Rocco, through trials, tribulations and success, I am still in love with my natural hair.

Fitness is also something I try and incorporate into my life and therefore my blog. I have been on both ends of the spectrum; slothful and sedentary and then insanely active. Both are easy when you’re into it. Not moving from the couch is so simple, yet getting up for a morning run can be equally as easy– once you’re into it. The hard part is the transition! Going from that couch to putting on those running shoes and hitting the road is brutal. I’m in that place now. But once you’re out there, tunes on, hair up, it’s a great feeling and your body thanks you. Biking and running, count me in.

Money stuff. Not so thrilling to chat about but it is part of every day of our lives. It influences our actions, decisions, and those decisions affect us. I want to be in control of my money and not at its mercy. That’s me.

Minimalism and simple living. I found myself diving into the world of minimalism, allowing the simple themes to influence my living. I removed a lot of stuff from my living space and felt a huge freedom in that action. I try and incorporate this simplistic ideal in other areas of my life and it has proven worthwhile.

Cooking. A little side addition, but I’ve shared some recipes that I’ve tried and liked. I plan to add more.

I also write the occasional poem and oftentimes I surprise myself.

So thank you for reading this blog. Whether you were there at the beginning or came across it recently, it’s great to know My Curly Potential has been enjoyed by others.

Ndeshimona