Last year today, I published an article that highlighted the lessons I learnt through the year 2017. As I went through 2018 I carried those lessons with me. My instincts became my best friend. I made a point of listening to them. I took each day in completely and lived it without holding back or focusing on the day after. Everyday became a new adventure. When I faced challenging situations I remembered to keep on breathing. I made an effort to keep most of those lessons in my mind each day. Because of it, 2018 was a very productive year for me.
In today’s article I choose to briefly revisit 2018 and to share a few highlights. I’m doing this not because I want to dwell in the past. I want to celebrate my wins and to demonstrate that with a little determination and intentionality, one is able to make tremendous strides towards their goals.
My four year Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree took me quite a while to complete. I started this program in September 2010 and graduated with a 3 year BBA in October 2014. I took a two year break where I concentrated on work and finally having a social life ha! I went back to the University of Winnipeg in September 2016. In February of this year I finally graduated with my four year BBA. It took me a while but I am done now and I could not be more proud.
My very first article on this blog was on December 10, 2012. It was titled Turning Over a New Leaf. In that article I talked about the biggest move of my life from a home where I was born and raised, to a country I knew nothing about. One of the things I found myself struggling with in Canada, even to date, is the issue of credit cards and loans. When growing up we used money that we actually had at hand.
I arrived in Winnipeg on June 2, 2010. I had no money to go to school so I applied for student loans. After the end of my first year of school I received a letter from student loans that showed me how much money I owed them from that first year. It was just shy of $5000. I panicked. That was just one year. How much was going to owe by the time I was done? I could not wrap my head around that.
That summer I found myself 2 jobs that paid minimal wage and one that paid about $5 more than the minimal wage at the time and worked my butt off until I had enough to pay for school. I kept one job after the end of that summer and continued to work and go to school at the same time. It prolonged my program took but on the bright side I did not accumulate any more student debt. That was important to me.
In May 2013 I decided I was in a good position to finance a vehicle. In hindsight I probably could have survived without the car. At the time I felt that I needed one and I had a permanent job so I went ahead. My car loan was about $25,000. I kept up with most of the payments and insurance payments too plus all my other bills and school fees. Occasionally I had to use my credit card to get through the months. Needless to say I also accumulated some credit card debt.
For a long time I worried about all this debt but I never allowed myself to sum it up or take a good look at it. In the fall of 2017 I started to read articles and books about personal finance and finding ways to eliminate debt. In my readings I came across a man called Dave Ramsey who talks endlessly about knocking off that debt asap and never looking back. I followed his podcast, his blog and bought one of his books. I had finally found someone who spoke my language. I made a promise to myself to get rid of all my debt in one year.
In March I got a second job. All my earnings from that job went towards my debt. I stopped contributing to RRSPS and TFSAs just so I could have more money to attack my debt with. In 2018 I paid off my car loan, then my student debt. Now I’m left with my credit card debt which I intend to pay off completely before my birthday this February.
Not having all that debt to worry about is such a relief. The weight on my shoulder is slowly lifting. I can’t wait to be able to say I am completely debt free.
First Book in the Works
All my life I have wanted to be an author. So far as a writer I have written for newspapers and blogs but nothing that actually pays. I’m still working on that. In 2018 after years of wishing and procrastinating, a mentor of mine whom I have written about here in the past put some sense into my mind. She asked me where my book is. “You’ve been talking about this book for years, write it.” she commanded. So I have started.
A Writers’ Community
As an introvert I tend to lean towards spending more time alone and in quiet spaces or with a few close friends than socializing in groups. The idea of spending time with strangers in particular, literally makes my heart start beating faster and my voice disappears. As you can imagine networking is therefore not something I enjoy or that I’m good at. From the lesson live each day as an adventure I decided it was time to start meeting more people in my field. So I joined Manitoba Writers’ Guild and went out to socials and coffee dates with members of the community. It was nerve-racking, it still is but I also enjoy it. I have met really awesome people who understand my life as a writer.
When I attended my first meeting with a group of writers I would write my email address and phone numbers in their notebooks as I did not have business cards. It wasn’t a great look and not many connections came out of that. I am happy to share that I am now a proud owner of business cards. This is a direct result of my networking endeavours. I made business cards to be more professional and also to better promote my work.
I Sold my Scarves
I have another hobby that I like to call an old-people-hobby. When watching TV I loom knit. It helps me exercise my wrists plus I end up with beautiful homemade scarves and headbands. This past fall I made and sold 14 scarves. That was another win for 2018.
As you can see, my year was intentional and as a result, productive. While there are a lot more things that I’d like to accomplish, I’m pretty happy with how 2018 turned out.