Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tipping Point (A Confession) - Part 1

*Heads up, I split this post into 2 parts. Rather than just hitting you at the end with a To Be Continued, I figured I'd tell you now.*

Well, I've been on here blogging for 6 months now, so I figure I should probably tell you how I got myself into this mess in the first place. This whole 20/20 hindsight bit is doing a good job of smacking me around right now. It was actually kind of stressful writing this, it's quite embarassing.

There were no dire emergencies, no unexpected job losses, no identity theft crises, nothing. Just good old fashion bad judgement. Lots of rash decisions coupled with serious fiscal mismanagement.

This is when I finally realized I had gone too far:

Those of you who follow fashion know exactly what this is a picture of, and know that it's not cheap. This was my wake up call. I'll start at the beginning.

September 2009

I had been working at a company that was a very poor fit for me, to the point that it was making me ill. By this point I had been suffering from severe insomnia for about 6 months, I was having anxiety related panic attacks at my desk at work, I was depressed, and my physical health was starting to deteriorate. I was getting chest pains from the anxiety. I began worrying about my heart health, as my grandmother started having heart attacks in her 30's. I didn't want to be the one who started in her 20's.

I demanded the company take me off the project where I was working, and bring me back to the office. It was either that or I quit. I was working a camp job a couple hours outside of Fort McMurray, working 21 days straight for 12-16 hours a day. It's a very intense work environment, which normally I like, but the company culture made it very difficult for me.

My salary at this job, including all of the perks, bonuses and RRSP contribution matching was just shy of $100,000 a year.

October 2009

Back at the office I told my supervisors what the issue was, and told them that I needed some stability for a little bit to get my health back under control. They agreed, and said this wouldn't be an issue. So, I started working my 40 hour work weeks, doing the best job I could while I was there, and doing my best to leave work behind when I got home.

At the same time at home, I had an unhealthy long distance personal relationship, and an unhealthy roommate relationship. I had originally planned to buy my first home by October 2010, but the living arrangement pushed me to start searching immediately. I found, and put an offer on, a foreclosed home in Edmonton's west end. It needed a bit of work, but I was looking forward to doing exactly that.

Toward the end of the month I noticed that my coworkers were making snide remarks about me. Leaving at 5:00 pm was called "Pulling a Cassie". They'd plan group get togethers and not invite me. It was an uncomfortable work environment to say the least.

My salary at this time was around $61,000 a year.

November 2009

Work asked me to help out with a project in another province, just to help them get over a rough patch. The first estimate was 1 week. Then by the end of the conversation it was 2 weeks. By the end of the day they had stretched it to 2 months, so I went up to the supervisor and said it's either 2 weeks or I don't go, because I had to be back here to sign my mortgage papers in 2 weeks. I went.

When I got there, my hours bumped back up to the 70-80 hours a week range. I couldn't take it anymore. I ordered a laptop online to replace my dying one so that I'd have something to assemble resumes and cover letters on. I started contacting everyone I knew for references; past managers, university professors, you name it. I sent out resume after resume, at this point, I'd do anything to get out of there. I bought a couple USB keys and put all of my work on them, so that when they tried to tell me my computer had to stay (so I'd come back after signing my mortgage) I'd tell them I didn't need to.

I signed the papers on my home and moved in at the end of the month.

December 2009

I got a reply from one of the resumes I sent out, and set up an interview that quite convieniently fell right after a doctor's appointment downtown. They offered me the job in the interview, and said they would get back to me with a salary offer in a couple days. It was lower than what I was currently making, though I calculated that I could still live on it even with my mortgage payments, though it would take a bit of overtime to make things comfortable. They said that wouldn't be an issue. I accepted over the phone, walked back inside, and quit my job... 2 weeks after I moved into my home.

I spent 2 weeks over Christmas renovating my home, living off the vacation pay I had accumulated from not going on vacation while working for my former employer. I spent several thousand dollars on housing materials, and several hundred dollars buying office appropriate clothing for work, as I was doing largely construction work before.

January 2010

I started my new job the beginning of this month. It's a much healthier work environment, though I still find myself struggling with anxiety. I spend my evenings and weekends going out with friends and doing things I never had time to do before. At this point I didn't really keep an eye on my finances. For that matter, my spending habits didn't really acknowledge the fact that my income had severely decreased over the last couple months.

My salary at this time was around $52,000 a year.

February 2010

Back in the summer of 2008 I submitted an application to volunteer for the Vancouver Winter Olympics. What do you know, I made the cut! I was assigned to be part of the course crew for the men's downhill ski races. That meant I spent the majority of the duration of the Olympics skiing and working on Whistler mountain. That also meant I had to take time off work. My new employer knew this in advance, and was completely cool with it. However, because I was still in my probationary period, I had to take my time off with no pay rather than take it out of my vacation time. So, 1 month into my new job, I took off to Whistler for 3 weeks with no pay. I stayed with friends of the family in Squamish, which brought my costs down considerably, but I still spent money on odds and ends while I was there. By odds and ends I mean I bought some ski clothes when I figured out that the clothing provided was inadequate for my volunteering position.

Adding to the cost was the fact that one of the medics spilled beer on my phone, and despite my best ricing efforts it was frazzled. Instead of waiting it out, or getting a cheap replacement, I went out and got the phone I had been planning on getting in a few years when my phone was supposed to die: an iPhone. Out came the plastic.

It was a very expensive month.

March 2010

I was quite aware that I had spent a good chunk of money the last couple months, so I decided I should start paying more attention to it. When I did up my net worth calculation I wasn't really happy about where I was sitting. I knew I was going to be getting a decent refund the next month, and I planned on using it to pay a bunch of the debts off, but I knew I should start keeping better track of my money. I started doing my month end balance checks this month.

To Be Continued


Anonymous said...

That is one beautiful Burberry trench. *cue le sigh*

Looking forward to part ii.

That's really cool that you got to be part of the Olympics!

Cassie said...

*sigh* indeed

It was something else! Definitely a once in a lifetime experience (unless I can save the money and get on the roster for Sochi too ;) )

Daisy said...

It's always interesting to hear other people's stories.
I love that jacket.

My friend worked in whistler for and around the Olympics!