This was our view. My view for 2 and a half years, Gary's for 9. We could look out the 23rd story window and see the mountains, the river, the city.
I could not be happier. We did our final move-out walk-thru this morning. We handed over the keys, the scan card, signed the papers. It's done. We don't live there anymore.
No more ridiculously hot, sleepless nights. No more 3am train horns. No more shouting across the street, no more pidgeons on the balcony, no more weirdos in the elevator.
It was a nice enough place. But by the end of this month, it felt like a real dump. I hated driving past it. I hated having to go back there to finish up cleaning or moving. I wanted to be done with it.
I hate talking about money. Seriously. I hate it. I loathe the idea, it makes me nervous. My heart races, my stomach hurts. I lose sleep. I would rather go to the Gyno than talk about money.
But here I am. Talking about money. Willingly.
When Gary decided that it was time to be serious about purchasing a home, I freaked out. A lot. I freaked out because that meant I had to be serious, take control of my finances, and get my gear (and bank account) in order.
I have a commerce degree. A COMMERCE degree. I'm smart. But so stupid with money.
I am embarrassed to admit that I frequently had NO IDEA what my bank balance was - and was in a constant state of fear that I was one latte away from an overdraft charge. It was way easier to stick my head in the sand and forget about it. And buy some more shoes.
So we sat down, together. There were some tears (mine). There were some confessions (ours). And there were lots of hugs, and promises that hey - we can do this, together.
And now, a few short months later, here we are. We bought a home. I have grasped control of my finances. I might be a bit shaky, but at least I know, to the cent, how much money is in my bank account. I know what the password is to my RRSP account. Today, I negotiated our insurance rates down by $30 a month - which, for the record, is one extra dinner at our favourite Vietnamese restaurant.
And most importantly, I know that I have X number of bills to pay before I get paid again.
So canned chili for lunch and no starbucks today it is.
Gary definitely helped me get my self back on track, and without his support, and love, and the fact that he never doubted or judged me, who knows how bad things could have gotten?
Another huge help was a book that I read recently. Moolala, by Bruce Sellery, is hilarious. It's written for smart people, like me, who do dumb things with their money, like me. Never once did I feel talked down to, or embarrassed. In fact, I felt empowered. And entertained.
When is the last time a personal finance book entertained you? Seriously?
It's written for Canadians (BONUS) but I'm sure his advice is applicable no matter what currency you use and if you call it a 401K or an RRSP. (I think those things are the same, right? Anyone? Bueller?) It's not just about saving for retirement, either. It's about creating context for your money, which in turn, helps you reach your savings goals - and your life goals.
I heartily recommend it. I bought it at Chapters. If you know me you can borrow mine. But I think you'll like it enough to go out and buy it yourself.
*obviously I wasn't paid for this. Bruce Sellery answered my email about RSS feeds for his blog almost instantly and I happen to have met his partner through a string of random work situations, but he doesn't know me nor had any personal influence over this post. Aside from the fact that the book is awesome.*
I came to a really uneasy conclusion a few weeks ago.
I love doling out I Told You So's. When under extreme stress, I am the jerk who wanders around pointing out errors or potential problems, but offering little in the form of solutions.
I take great satisfaction in being proven right in unfortunate circumstances.
In short, I am the jerk in your workplace. Or, uh, at home. If you're unfortunate enough to live with me full-time.
Obviously, you can understand that this does not sit well with me. It's hard when things that are otherwise advantages, or strengths - like being able to see past step one and two, down the road to step six where - OOPS! - there be dragons and problems and issues - become weaknesses, or negative attributes.
But when pressured, when other stress comes into play, when I'm not my Best Self, the way that manifests is really icky. And really awful to deal with.
So I'm trying. I'm trying to point out the potential problems that lay ahead along WITH the solution. Or at least, more than a smug "I told you that would happen and you didn't listen" retort.
I used to get really bad growing pains in my shins when I was a child. I'm 5'9. A lot of that height came quickly, and suddenly, and I used to cry out at night for my dad to come and rub my legs to make it stop hurting.
So opening up here, by saying that I recognize that I exhibit douche behaviours...that's me calling out in the middle of the night. Growing up can suck sometimes. But maybe someone out there will come help me deal with some of that pain?
Does anyone out there have any suggestions? Things I could read? Exercises I could try? Thoughts to ponder?
Or at least maybe someone could provide me with a stronger metaphor?
My wallet was stolen out of my purse on Monday afternoon.
I've never had my wallet stolen. I've left it on a bus once, several years ago, but I got it back with every single cent in it.
I was out for coffee with a friend, my giant handbag hung over the chair rail as usual, my coat slung over it. I felt someone bumping my chair a few times, but the cafe was crowded. I reached around to check that my bag was still there and thought nothing else of it - until I went to pay for groceries about 3 hours later and found that my wallet had disappeared.
I searched the car. I emptied my purse. I went back to our rented apartment, where I had stopped to clean out the fridge. I checked over, under and around boxes in our new home - but nothing.
I called to cancel my credit card and it was confirmed - several charges had already been made at gas stations across the city. (OMG, the price of gas is already killing me filling up my own car, never mind a caravan of thieves!)
I'm lucky that I don't carry cash, that credit cards are insured for this sort of thing, that I was going to have to go get a new license anyway.
But it still sucks. My plans for an extra day off - shopping, a pedicure, some various errands - all evaporated because I don't carry cash, and now I have to wait until my new cards arrive.
We painted for days. A full week, actually. We packed for weeks. We loaded two moving trucks with the help of three amazing friends. We have about nine million boxes to unpack - all of which we carried down 23 floors, into said trucks, and then back up a floor. So many elevators. So many bruises.
And finally, we've settled into our new condo, and it is amazing. I can't wait to have you all over - well, those of you that aren't serial killers or stalkers or weird rapists or people I went to junior high school with who were real jerks to me. Particularly those of you who frequently removed my snap-up track pants and threw them into the boys' washroom.
You know who you are.
You are not invited over.
But I digress. The past few weeks have been a flurry of sleep-deprivation and hard work. But now it's almost over! I've even hung a flowering basket up on the balcony.
It doesn't quite feel like home yet, but it sure is sweet.
On Friday Gary and I took posession of our new home. We got the keys at 2:30, ate a quick celebratory linner at 3:30 and were at the Home Depot not even two hours after officially becoming homeowners.
16 gallons of paint, a trunkload of painting supplies, one bottle of Mr Clean and a new mophead and several hours later, we were in business.
We painted all day, all weekend. I woke up earlier on Saturday and Sunday than I EVER do on a workday. It was thrilling. It was exhilarating. It was fun, for the first, oh, let's say four hours. By the time our mid-afternoon Frappucino break hit on Saturday afternoon I was good and sick of painting. But we perservered because we still have so much to do. And I am so, so tired.
But hey! We didn't even argue once. The wedding is still on! This bodes well for our future, yes?
Gary is...how shall we say...a little type A about the whole packing process. On Friday he spent most of the afternoon driving to god knows where to buy the best grade bankers boxes at the best price he could find. No, the ones they sell at Staples aren't good enough for him, sir.
We had a busy weekend, so by the time Sunday rolled around I was exhausted. While I slept in, Gary hauled nine hundred small appliances out of the storage room. Then he took the shelves out of the storage room. And finally, after brunch and a grocery run, we got down to work. He instructed me on bankers box assembly and proper filling of the bankers boxes and we started packing.
There is a stack of boxes filled strictly with DVDs and Blurays that is about 6 high and three deep in our closet. Beside it is a slightly smaller - but not by much - stack of boxes filled with books. The books are not stacked on top of the dvds, though. Because that would be BEDLAM.
Also, it would apparently make it more difficult to load the boxes onto a dolly, but what do I know?
All afternoon Gary and I built boxes and filled them.
And frankly - thank god for Gary, because after box number three I got really, really, really bored.
I'm pretty sure Gary packed nine boxes for every one that I packed. And I'm sure he didn't appreciate my frequent diet coke and cheese breaks, or that I sat on the floor and idly flipped through my old history notes for about twenty minutes.
But hey. The boxes are packed. One major to-do checked off the list.