Wednesday, February 26, 2014

New Happiness Project

It is time to start a new project.

March: Positivity
April: Balance
Mai: Energy
June: Exercise/Motion
July: Listening/Awareness
August: Courage/Vulnerability
September: Clarity/Simplicity
October: Harmony/Home/Family
November: Passion
December: Consciousness/Mindfulness/Nutrition
January:Rest/Slowing Down
February: Back to Basics: Positivity.

To stay positive in March I will return to my gratitude journal, and meditate every day. I am also going to focus on my language, on being positive and proactive in the way I talk to myself and others:)


Friday, October 4, 2013

A year without lattes - October

3 months and my debt is now 8,926 usd.

I have continued to bring lunch to work, and I have completely skipped the lattes. But I still find it difficult to say NO to social events, so again I went out to dinner couple of times. This month I didn't buy any books or any clothes but I did buy couple of gifts for friends' birthdays.

According to the app on my phone "Debt Strategy," my expected debt free date has moved forward to April 2016;) Some days I can really be furious with myself for getting into this mess. But what's done is done. And it is time to move forward and learn from my mistakes.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

a year without lattes - September

It has been 2 months since I made the decision to get out of debt by July 2014. My debt is now down to 9,343 usd from 10,000.

I have been successful in cutting out the lattes and the lunches at work (I bring my own now from home). This alone should save me around 300 usd per month. I have also changed my mobile phone plan, so I now pay 10 usd per month instead of 40. And finally I decided to cut out one of the two charities I have been making monthly payments to (about 20 usd per month). All together this should make it possible for me to pay at least 350 usd towards my debt every month.

Although I have cut out most of the non-essentials, I have had my weak moments. I did buy two kindle books AND I have been out to dinner with friends a couple of times. I had already planned these dinners before I started this project, and I did buy the cheapest thing on the menu, but still....dinners can be expensive and those dollars count.

I also downloaded an app on my phone called "Debt Strategy" to help me keep track of my debts. According to the app I will pay off my debt by December 2016! This takes into account my monthly payments, but not the extra income that I anticipate in the beginning of 2014. While this date scares me, it is also nice to have this as a reference point. And it will be my goal to move this date forward each month, by paying as much extra as I can. Before I started my "year without lattes" my debt had almost stayed the same for about 3 years, so without this effort my debt free date would probably be close to NEVER. But now I am determined to become free asap.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

my way

While self help books tend to emphasize that it best to have just a couple of goals at any time, I tend to have gazillion goals and ideas floating around in my head any given moment. And I can see why that is not such a great idea. It makes it difficult to focus, and if you are constantly shifting between all your goals your progress is of course going to be way slower than if you have only one or two goals that you are working on.

But here is a thought. Maybe it is still okay. Maybe there is room for types A, who strategically achieve one goal after another, and types B, who chaotically make progress towards various goals, but are less likely to ever check anything completely of their list.

When my husband (type A) is tidying up, he will finish tidying up one area before moving to the next. I (type B) on the other hand, move randomly around tidying up a little bit here, and a little bit there. So if he gets interrupted while tidying up we may have one room that is tidy and nice, while if it was me, there would be still be mess everywhere, although less than there was before. So is one situation necessarily better than the other?

When I took a drawing class a few years back, my teacher explained that when doing composition drawings (e.g. fruits in a bowl) many people tend to start with one piece in the setting (say an apple) an completely finish it before they move to the next. However this means that they do not see the composition as whole, and usually they end up drawing things disproportionately. So in this case, my trait was actually an advantage, as it was natural to me to be working on all the pieces at the same time:)

That being said. It can be frustrating. And although I know that I have been making a lot of progress in the last year, it has been a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, rather than having completely mastered some area of my life. But I am hoping that at some point it all comes together, and I will realize that my whole drawing is done in a nice balanced way:)

Are you type A or B? Do you think one is better than the other???

Thursday, August 1, 2013

accept your feelings. good, bad, and ugly.

When I read The Secret some years back, I decided to experiment with the teachings of the book. For one week, I would not allow myself any negative thoughts. I would be positive, grateful and happy. After couple of days, I got the worst headache ever. It really felt that my head was going to explode, and this headache lasted 48 hours. I wondered weather the headache had anything to do with my experiment. Weather I had so many negative thoughts, that just needed to get out of my head!

Today I have no doubt, that the headache actually came from my experiment. And from not doing it right. In my experience, denial and resistance do not work. You need to accept you feelings: good, bad and ugly. Then you can let go of them, and replace them with something more beautiful and positive.

When I realize that I am on a negativity spiral, the first thing I do is to look at my negative thoughts and feelings. I try to observe what is going on in my head and my body without judging. I accept all those negative feelings. I love them. I am thankful for them, because I can learn from them. Then let go of them. Not forcing anything. But just tell those thoughts, thanks but you are not useful for me at the moment. You can go now;) When some of this negativity has left my body, I replace it by thinking of something positive or imagine positive and healing energy flowing into the space that was occupied by all those negative thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I write things down that I am thankful for. There is always something. It can be silly, and it can be trivial. But it can still get you off the negativity spiral and on the posirivity spiral.

While I feel happier on average since starting the happiness project, I also feel that the lower points have become more difficult. It is as if I've let go of some protective armour, and now the negative thoughts and bad feelings touch me at my innermost core. I think that part of it has to do with responsibility. Before, I was blaming people and situations for my unhappiness, probably more than I realized. Realizing that your happiness is 99% up to you and your attitude is empowering, but at the same time it can create a feeling of shame and blame. There is also added disappointment, when you are really working on your happiness, trying your best, but still fail at times...

But fortunately, I feel that I am also better equipped to deal with these low spirits today than I was before...

I am very curious to hear weather other people on the quest for a happier life have similar experiences with negative thoughts, and how they deal with them???

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

a year without lattes?

I love my lattes. And I love going to nice cafes, alone, with a book, newspaper or a magazine. On the other hand, I hate my credit card debt, which is almost 10,000 usd.

My bank is a bit like a leaky bucket. I put something in, and without spending anything the money is very soon gone. I am not blaming my debt entirely on the lattes, but they definitely contribute to this "leaky bucket" situation.

So, can I give my dear lattes up for a year?
And can I get rid of 10,000 usd debt (+ interests) within that year?

some fuzzy math.

I mostly got into this financial mess on my own, and I want to get rid of it on my own. I.e. I don't want the household budget to suffer for it. I also think it is healthy and necessary for me to take responsibility for getting myself into this trouble. While my husband and I mostly have joint finances, we have always kept some of our salary in our personal accounts. At this point, each of us keeps around 450 usd as our personal spending money each month. I use this money to buy the lattes, for food at work, train tickets, clothes, mobile phone, to pay the minimum on my credit card, and then some other miscellaneous things. As it is, this money is always gone before the end of the month.

Now, if I skip everything except the essentials, such as the train and the mobile phone, I should be able to use about 350 usd to pay down my debt each month. This requires no lattes, no clothes, no cinema tickets, and bringing my own lunch to work every day. This should give me about 4200 within the year. So not quite enough to wipe out the 10,000.

As I got inspired to get rid of this consumer debt asap I asked whether I could get some extra projects at work...and it looks like I will have some projects in the spring, that will pay about 4,500 usd.

So with no frivolous spending for a whole year, and by doing some extra work, I am almost there, but still missing some.

I need to figure out how to get these extra dollars, and will keep my eyes (and mind) open for opportunities to save, or earn, an extra buck. But I am determined that by 1st of July 2014, my consumer debt will be zero.

Friday, June 21, 2013

meditation on 2 dollars

As I walked out one morning earlier this week I found 10 krones on the pave walk. That is about 2 us dollars. I decided to take it as a signal. Abundance is coming, soon money will flow into my life, and all my financial worries will disappear...

As I walked to work, I caught myself thinking that now, with these 10 krones in my pocket, I could treat myself to a latte without feeling guilty...., and I realized how typcial this is for my relationship with money. As soon as it flows in, I find a way to throw it out. Everything I earn, is immediately spent. Actually, as I found out yesterday, it is even worse than that. In every dollar earned I find justification for spending a dollar and a half. In the case of the 10 krones and the latte....a latte costs anywhere between 20 and 40 krones. Finding 10 krones in the street does not equal a free latte.

So I took the 10 krones with me to work, put it on my desk, and it is still there, as a reminder that it is possible to have a different kind of relationship with money. A penny saved, is a penny earned.

I am going on vacation, so for the next two weeks I will not worry about weekly planners, and I will probably not blog much either....but I will be back:)

Have a great weekend! /D