2012 wasn’t one of the worst years of my life, but it certainly wasn’t one of my best.
There were good periods and successes, as described in some of my posts throughout that year – but often there was also underlying stress and tension.
Some of it stemmed from a trying year at work. Part of it stemmed from there being a lot of sudden change – also at work, where several former colleagues I’d known for years retired or were retrenched, and outside of work with my psychiatrist retiring.
In the latter half of the year, a long-time friend suffered from several months of medical problems. He is recovering, which is a huge relief, but at times it was very upsetting.
And especially during the first half of the year, there were money issues.
I suffered no major financial disasters during 2012-2013, and I only took on one new lifestyle expense during that year, but it was still a major period of transition where I had to make adjustments. At times, it was trying.
One issue was with grocery-buying.
I have always been a stockpiler or supply-dumper, in that when I buy groceries I almost always buy back-ups or spares of each item. That comes from a fear of running-out, and feeling relief whenever I see at home that I’m still well-supplied.
In early 2012 I also went to Costco for the first time. I thought (and still think) it was a marvellous place, and I quickly became a member and a regular visitor.
Unfortunately, for a while those two factors became a problem.
The worst example was after one payday when I made an especially big-spending visit to Costco, paid my rent and a bill or two, made other bulk purchases elsewhere…and discovered that three days later, I had barely $150 left until my next payday 10 days away.
I certainly didn’t starve or lack for anything for the next 10 days – but leaving myself that low cash-wise was very dangerous, and I had to cancel next week’s visit to my psychiatrist.
For a while, cancelling every second week’s appointment with my psychiatrist because I didn’t have the money to pay became a routine.
I had to start applying the brakes and stop my panic-buying attitude.
Another issue was with bills.
I don’t have many bills anymore, but by early 2012 my average monthly bill for my bundled landline ‘phone, smartphone and mobile broadband reached $250. Later, when I got an iPad on a monthly plan, that average went up to $300.
Every three months or so there was also my power bill, which ranged from $200-$300 but by year’s end was closer to $300. I wasn’t using any more power – in fact, as my bills showed, I was using less power than I had been 12 months before – but the cost of power increased greatly in Australia in 2012.
I always paid all my bills – but for almost all of my ‘phone bills throughout 2012 I rang for extra time to pay, and sometimes rang again. I was never turned down and I accepted having to sometimes pay a $15 late fee – but at first, I was very disappointed with myself.
It was another demonstration of why I had to learn how to live better from pay to pay, and also think about earning more in the future.
About this time last year there was a deluge of big bills all at once, and even with asking for extra time to pay them a period of struggle loomed.
There was one possible solution, but I spent 24 hours debating with myself whether I should do it or not and feeling ashamed that a 40-year-old man had to consider this.
The next morning, though, I decided that I had no other option left and the worst thing that could happen was to be told no.
So for the first time in many years, I rang my parents to ask if I could please borrow some money.
They not only said yes, but told me that I didn’t need to pay it back.
There would be two more occasions in 2012 when I asked my parents again for help.
On one occasion, I stressed that I was asking for a loan that I could pay them back in several days’ time, and I did.
The other occasion, I paid them back unasked in instalments until they discovered it and told me to stop because it wasn’t necessary.
Writing those two last sections of this post brought back a flood of emotions.
Eventually the second half of 2012 arrived and then slowly seemed to go by.
Work stayed a drag, my psychiatrist retired, my friend suffered and life was meh on a semi-regular basis.
But one area that did see achievement and improvement was my finances.
Over time, I found myself ending each fortnight with more and more money left over from my previous pay. Unlike infamous experiences like the longest day, I was no longer living right down to the wire.
I began saving through rediscovering and redeveloping old strategies like emptying any 5c, 10c and $2 coins from my wallet into a jar at the end of each day (20c and $1 coins are for the coin-op laundry in my building). In time, I developed a small ongoing fund that wasn’t big but every now and then helped with some expenses.
Overall, I found myself having to think less and less about money because gradually there was more and more of it around.
At the end of each year, I usually take my four weeks of annual leave.
At the end of 2012, I was especially relieved to go on leave and finally put that fucking year behind me.
Fortunately, 2013 thus far has been a lot better.
Work has improved, my friend is getting better, and although from time to time I still miss my psychiatrist’s counsel life keeps improving thanks to what I’ve learned since mid-2007.
My money situation also continues to get better.
During the next two days, there is another big life- challenge that I’m planning to finally confront, and I may soon write about it here.
Until next time, stay well and take care 🙂