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Finances mental health Sustainability Weight Loss

2020 goal setting

2019. What a year it’s been. There’s been a few ups and downs and I didn’t achieve as much as I had set out to when I did my last bout of goal setting. I didn’t write a book or release an app. I did however get a part time job with YOW! Conference, settle into a fufilling role (even though there was drama there), and spoke at 3 conferences.

One thing I realise, is I’m always trying to do too much. The theme for next years Mardi Gras is what matters. So, what matters to me? In terms of my personal well being I tend to view it accross 5 elements:

Health

Being healthy is the foundation to all elements of my well being. If I’m not looking after myself here, how can I grow in any other part of my well being? For me, this is physical health, mental health and sexual health.

Physical Health

The biggest thing I need to focus on for next year is beating the overweight category. I’ve beaten the obesity label once before but I’ve slipped back a little and I need to get on top of this. For my height, I need to be less than 65kg to beat the over weight label.

Mental Health

Next year will see me go through Schema Therapy. Here’s hoping it helps me correct an unhealthy mindset I have about myself.

Sexual Health

I’ve always been reluctant to put sexual content on my blog, hoping to keep it professional. However I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t acknowledge it wasn’t an important part of my well being. I’m getting back into the kink scene by attending a few munches. This also helps build up a sense of community. The kink community was the first community I turned to when I first moved to Sydney 6 years ago.

Community

This is one of my personal values too. This also covers family. Nearly everything I do is driven by some sense of community. Next year I’ll be focusing on more board games, the kink community and professional networking. My biggest goal here will be focusing on building and engaging an online community through twitch and podcasting.

Career

I still want to release that app and write a book, however these goals are a bit further down the priority list and I don’t mind if I don’t achieve the book next year. The app is going to help me grow as a software engineer and is more important for growing my side business.

Financial

I’m making progress here. I aim to pay off half my credit card debt by the end of the year. I’ll continue to chip away at it at least.

Spiritual

I’ve tried giving myself spirtual goals before (say establish a daily meditation habit), but that’s always felt more of a mental health thing. I think next year I’m going to explore pagan/magic/druidary by practicing atleast 4 ceremonies that align with each 3 month interval of the year. I read a book yesterday on Australian Druidary and it’s inspired me to try it next year.

Summary

So in summary; I have 5 goals that touch all 5 elements of my well being:

  1. Beat the overweight label
  2. Release a mobile app
  3. Start a podcast
  4. Pay off half of my credit card debt
  5. Practice 4 magic ceremonies

2020 should be a year of focus and vision (haha, get it?). What matters to you for the next year?

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Finances

Turning 30

I’m turning 30 next week and I’m actually looking forward to it. A lot of people say, “life is all downhill after 21” but I reckon the next decade of my life is going to be pretty awesome.

Age is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a measure of how many revolutions around the sun you’ve survived on this planet since exploding out of your mother’s womb. And you haven’t died yet. Now that’s worth celebrating.

Reflecting on my 20’s

My 20’s were a tumultuous time of my life. There was uni, going on exchange to Sweden, moving in with a partner, getting kicked out of home, partially failing uni & falling into bout of chronic depression. Scrapping through uni, moving to Sydney and struggling to find a community. Not to mention credit card debt, weight loss surgery and a broken ankle. My 20’s saw me go through 1 bout of chronic depression, 4 bouts of minor depression, 4 relationships, 12 jobs and moving 18 times. That’s a lot of change and disruption.

Finances (All balances in AUD)

My finances aren’t great but at least they are moving in a good direction. In the spirit of being transparent; it’s all here bear for you:

Super balance: 47k

My super (retirement fund) is growing nicely. I’m lucky to have had the one superfund since I was 14 and it’s over twice that compared to the average male’s super my age (reference). I’m with Verve Super, I transitioned from TasPlan Super who I had been with for 15 years. Verve are a super fund run by women for women and only invest in ethically run companies that have some diversity on their boards. They are a new kid on the block and I’d highly recommend checking them out.

Debt

Credit card debt: 30k; I paid for my weigh loss surgery on the credit card and a few other things (like a holiday and moving). I’m not proud of this but I feel like it’s a pretty common thing for people my age to go through. I’ve blogged about my struggles with credit card debt before.

HECS Debt (University fee’s): 39k

Salary

Salary (annual): 120k + super; I’m super proud of myself and how I’ve been able to grow my career & salary. When I started work at 14, I was on $7.42 an hour, that had doubled by the time I was 18. When I moved to Sydney 5.5 years ago, my graduate salary was 55k. I’ve now seen my salary double again since then and I’ve now been a software tester for 7 years. This salary also doesn’t include the extra 10-15k I can make in a year with the part time side business stuff I do, though I’m planning on investing most of this side cash in growing my business.

I currently spend a minimum of $1050 a month on debts (the credit card debt + a motorbike loan), I only have 1 year left before I finish paying off the motorbike.

Rent

$210 per week. I recently moved into my own 2 bedroom apartment in Crows Nest. The total rent is $460 per week and I’ve got a house mate in the big room that I charge $250 per week for. I recently spent a total of 4k furnishing the apartment (mostly second hand furniture) and I’m proud of my interior decorating skills: Here’s the Shared Photo Album if you want to check it out.

Summary

Why would I expect my 30’s to be worse? I don’t plan on changing anything about my existing job, relationship or living arrangements for the foreseeable future.

I’m looking forward to more stability in life, getting on top of my credit card debt, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and having less depression. What isn’t there to look forward to?

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Conferences Craft Beer Finances mental health Technology Weight Loss

Goal setting for 2019

I’m starting my goal setting early. I wrote this blog for goal setting for 2018. On reflection; I haven’t slipped back into obesity at least, which I was super concerned about as I spent the first six months of 2018 recovering from a broken ankle. Here’s my thinking behind my goal setting for 2019 and why I’m starting early.

Brainstorm everything I want to do

As an exercise, I listed everything I want to do and then asked myself, What do I have time to do? What is more important? What aligns the most with my personal values? I’ve had to eliminate a lot of extra curricular ideas and I still feel like I have a lot on my plate ­čÖü .

This is a handwritten note of me brainstorming everything I want to do. I have things like learning Australian sign language, Japanese, podcasting, a masters in statistics and live testing as things I'd love to do but don't have the time for.
I don’t have enough time to do all the things I’d like to do

I then came up with the following list of things that are really important to me. They are themed around personal, career, family and financial goals:

  • Beat the overweight label (personal)
  • Maintain a daily meditation practice
  • Write a book (career)
  • Teach my Nan digital marketing (career and family)
  • Launch an app
  • Pay off half of my credit card debt (financial)
  • Speak at one international conference and take my Mum
  • Brew two whole grain beers
  • Keep Sydney Testers going
  • Create enough content to run a 3 day workshop

Why start the goal setting early?

I’m going to focus on developing my morning habit for the rest of this year. I’m going to get up early, meditate and write before heading off to work. If I can do this for the rest of the year, I’ll be in a good place to expand it come 2019. The green in the following table is this minimum commitment:

My ideal morning starts at 5:30, followed by exercise from 6 for up to hour. Next will be a twenty minute meditation from 7 flowwed by half an hour of writing from 7:30. I'll have breakfast at some point and be ready for work from 8:30 AM

I’ve put together an idea of what my ideal morning and ideal week looks like. If I do not put aside time to do things that are important to me, it’ll never get done. I reflected on what I could squeeze in. Unfortunately things like studying Japanese just don’t fit in financially and time wise. So here’s my ideal week to work towards in 2019:

My ideal week taken from a screenshot of a spreadsheet, please excuse the lack of transcribing here as I think the main information here is also covered in my external accountability section

There are some goals that I haven’t put aside any weekly or morning time for but they can’t easily be chipped away with a daily/weekly habit.

Keep goals measurable but hard to achieve

Everyone seems to be talking about Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) for goal setting these days. One of the important things with OKRs is that they are hard to achieve. When you reflect back on your goals you should be able to say you hit up to 80% of your objective. If you hit 100% you actually set your goals to easy. For example, I’m going to work towards beating the overweight label but I’m not going to consider myself a failure if I only get halfway there. By listing up my ideal morning/week it gives me an ideal to work towards but by highlighting my minimum commitments I won’t beat myself up if I have a bad week or two.

External Accountability

There’s no point in setting vague goals that you don’t tell anyone about. To ensure external accountability with my goals I’m going to;

  • Pay for a personal trainer for a twice a week weight lifting session
  • Go climbing with my partner every Wednesday and Saturday
  • Pay for a publisher’s time to help keep me focused on writing

How will you go about goal setting for next year? What measures will you take to ensure accountability? Please let me know.

Categories
Finances Meetup Software Testing

Sydney Testers and Money

We have a Sydney Testers evening with James Bach coming up soon and you might be curious to know why we are charging $5 for it when it seems we have a sponsor for the event (Campaign Monitor). There are actually a few reasons to try this model that I will explain in detail.

Ongoing costs

prices from meetup

Meetup charges┬áUS$14.99/month for any big meetup and the organizing committee often foots the bill for this. There were times we were buying name badges and accessories for events. There’s been a few occasions when the organizing committee have footed the bill for food (I paid for the pizza for Michael Bolton’s talk expecting to be able to claim it back later but couldn’t). Sometimes we have sponsorship for food scrape through at the last minute. For example our bug bounty discussion panel at Prospa, Prospa did an awesome job of hosting us but didn’t have the budget for food and drinks. We had Bug Crowd confirm the day before the event that they were able to sponsor food and drinks. It would be nice to have some buffer of money/sponsorship so these moments aren’t as stressful. Our average meetup generally costs our sponsors anywhere from $200 to $500.

Meetup’s view of the money portal

Turn out rates

The meetup average drop out rate is around 50%, plus or minus 10% depending on things like the weather and location of the event. This can have an impact on food budgeting and moral. With a paid event the drop out rate is expected to be around the 20-30%. It makes it easier on organizers who are catering food to organize if the RSVP numbers match up to reality. We also get a better vibe. Imagine expecting to turn up to an event where 100 people RSVP’d and only 40 people turned up. You’d feel a little disappointment with the turn out. As an organizer it would suck your motivation for running future events too.

Lost funds

The previous committee had a paypal account set up and linked to Meetup but when the organizer left, the paypal account left with them and that means any previous funds we had raised (like when Michael Bolton came to Sydney and we charged $10 per person for) we actually never saw that. Which is a sucky situation to come to terms with but it’s the current situation. That’s why we haven’t charged for anything since then because we wanted to try and sort it out. This time we’ve just started from scratch with a write off for the previous balance.

Paypal setup

Paypal takes a 4.4% cut out of every transaction so for every $5 ticket sold we get $4.57. Currently I re-jigged an old business account I had set up for my tutoring services. The account has been shared with the committee so if one person leaves existing members still have access. You might see Sam’s Tutoring on your receipts until we update the details.

please don't be concerned if you see my details on the receipt
Example PayPal receipt

Free events

We will continue to run free events that benefit members, if you want to help organize any or have ideas for events that you’d like to attend hit us up. We are always open for ideas. The CV clinics we’ve been running this month came about from discussions in the pub. So please, suggest your ideas, we’d also appreciate if you helped with an event or two.

Any profits will be donated to charities

For James Bach event, Campaign Monitor has selected the drought appeal where profits will be contributed. You don’t need to worry about me profiteering from this event.

Investing in your education

Isn’t it worth spending a few dollars to support the community, your education and the drought appeal? These are just our first steps towards managing this meetup just a little better. We are always open to suggestions.

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Finances

Financial and debt update

End of financial tax year is a good time to reflect on finances. I wrote this blog post on my wealth worries when I had 14K in credit card debt. I was concerned about the impacts of that debt on my mental health. Even though my salary has grown since then I’ve had a few hiccups and my credit card debt got worse before it got better.

Estimated tax refund for 2018
2018 tax year refund estimates

The $77,527.00 taxable income was lower than I expected but I didn’t work for around 2 months of the year recovering from my broken ankle and being in between jobs. I got a decent Tax return because I’m getting better at keeping track of receipts for professional development purposes. I attended a few conferences in that year, my previous company couldn’t afford to help me get to one and it was all out of pocket expenses.

35K Credit Card Debt

My credit card debt grew to a max amount of $35,000 AUD before I started getting on top of it. Why did it grow from $14K when I blogged about it last? At the time I had just been approved for a $20,000 credit card and was going to do a 0% interest credit debt transfer. I was going to cancel all of my other cards. I was just about to cancel the big 12K card when I had a family member ask for a loan. Then I went on holiday. Then I paid for weight loss surgery on that $12K card. My application to use my super to pay for the weight loss surgery was declined. The surgery cost me around $7K and I couldn’t really put a value on extending the quality of my life in the future.

Personal loan

In March last year I took out a personal for $35,000 to pay off my credit card debt. I cancelled all of those pesky credit cards. I’m now down to about $27K owing on that personal loan. I’ve had a few hiccups, the broken ankle didn’t help but now I’m settling into a new role I’m looking forward to clearing out most of that debt next year. I have a monthly budget that I’m constantly looking at:

Monthly Budget
Not everything is included (food and transport aren’t in this list)

Goals for this financial year

I want to get better at keeping track of expenses. I’m trying to get better at taking photos of receipts and collecting them at the end of the month. I’m still terrible at this (this has taken me years to build up the discipline to care enough to try it). I don’t know why this is so hard but it is.

What are your financial goals? How are you going to achieve them?

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Finances mental health Weight Loss

The 5 elements of my health

I have 5 elements of health/well-being that are important to me and that have a huge impact on my overall well-being when just one is lacking. They all have cascading effects on my overall enjoyment of life.

First up is my physical health. To me this is what I eat, how well I poop, how much I exercise and how well I’m sleeping. One of the easiest ways for me to experience a minor relapse of depression is not getting enough sleep. My menstrual cycle creates natural high’s and lows that impact my physical health, e.g. some women get less sleep/irregular bowel movements during PMS or during menstration. It’s not generally a fun time. My bad ankle/sciatic nerve injury have contributed negatively to my physical health. I’ve caught a cold recently which is putting a little downer on this part of my health.

Next is mental health. This can be general satisfaction with life but is more often associated with depression. When I’m not going through a bout of depression I would say that I have good mental health. Mindfulness therapy has helped me develop my mental health but it’s something I can always work on improving this. My period is a good time for a mental health check, if I’m in a poor mental state I’m more likely to turn into a blubbering mess around that poor time of month.

I also have financial well being, social and sexual health in my list. I could classify sexual health as a sub component of physical health but I find it important enough to mention on it’s own. I feel really lucky to have a partner where I’m comfortable exploring this side of me, I will save you the details but it has been rare for me to find a partner that I can explore with ;). When I don’t have my financial well being under control I’m more stressed and can’t function as well. Social well being comes from friends and family. I have worked hard to develop my sense of community and I’m grateful for it.

Since my weight loss surgery I have generally felt more in control of my life and all elements of my health have improved. It’s pretty amazing. Now I’ve still had some hiccups and I’m working on some behaviour that I’d like to tweak but these hiccups haven’t caused any long term downward spirals yet and I hope that I continue to take life’s bumps and hiccups in my stride.

Some people might also consider spiritual health to be important but it’s not critical for me. What other elements of health are important for you?

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camping Finances mental health ridding motorbikes Road Tripping Travel

3 things that pissed me off while riding my motorbike from Sydney to Cairns

Let’s have a whinge about travel, I feel like everyone loves sharing the good bits but hardly share the annoying bits. Let’s celebrate all elements of travel.

I’ll tell you 3 things that have been pissing me off the most on my most recent motorbike road trip (I rode my motorbike from Sydney to Cairns and back):

1) having an itchy ear underneath a helmet and not being able to scratch it without stopping, sometimes it feels like a bug is crawling around in my helmet.

2) this heat. I’m just not use to this warm weather. Last night the air conditioning in the hostel automatically switched off at 10pm and switched back on at 7am, probably to save power but it meant I slept fitfully waking up constantly in my own sweat. Heat + fitful sleep make me a not so happy camper.

3) bugs; them hitting my helmet at 110km/hour sometimes shocking me like a bullet would and leaving smears of gunk on my helmet visor. I find myself flinching at butterflies because they are really loud when you hit them, they never seem to get out the way quick enough and you see them before you hit them. Most bugs you don’t see until you hear them smash against your helmet. And bugs hitting exposed skin, I don’t have much exposed skin but I’ve been hit on my neck just under my helmet and when I’ve had my visor up for airflow I’ve been hit on the checks and forehead. It stings like a {insert appropriate swear word} and makes me flinch something fierce, I can even feel the stings under my jacket and thick riding jeans

So it’s not all sunshine and lolly pops like my previous posts would lead you to believe.

Here are my other annoyances on this trip (in no particular order of annoyance) :
4) highways that aren’t the most fun to ride that seem to stretch forever

5) a noisy helmet that feels like I’m causing damage to me ears (fixed with a scarf or earplugs but the earplugs contribute to the itchy ear and have contributed to a mild ear infection)

6) a glaring sun that gives me a headache by the end of the day (I left my prescription sunglasses at home, I got a cheap pair of sunnys from a pharmacist that I’m wearing over my normal glasses)

7) feeling like I have to constantly go to the toilet because of keeping my fluids up

8) Feeling a little socially isolated but that comes with traveling alone and it’s by choice, I did want some me time

9) Getting sunburnt on the small of my back between my motorbike jacket and my jeans because of my sitting position on my bike

10) Shoulders aching from the days of riding (got a massage in cairns to help release some of the tension)

11) What felt like RSI developing in my right wrist from holding the accelerator on the bike (the 2 days rest in cairns helped)

12) Traffic because damn it, I’m on this trip to be on the open road

13) Road works because damn it, I want to feel the wind and not crawl to a stop in the sweltering heat with all of my motorbike gear

14) Not having enough time to do all of the exploring that I want to do

15)┬áLosing my motorbike key in the Gold Coast – grrr this was annoying and an expensive thing to fix

16) trucks; either getting stuck behind them or the shock of their tail winds as they rush past in the opposite direction

17) Camping and getting eaten alive by mosquitos

18) Not being as well rested as I thought I would be and having high expectations of travel

Despite all of these annoyances though this trip has still been totally worth it, I should write a post of what I’ve been grateful for after this

//end rant

On a side note, I can argue that all of things are both positive and negative because they are all related to the experience of traveling

When traveling, what has pissed you off the most?

Categories
Finances mental health

my wealth worries

I have a spending problem. I have been spending above my means for almost as long as I’ve had full time work. I hate how much my financial well-being impacts my mental well-being. Money is just so materialistic, I’d like to think that I’m above it’s impacts on me but unfortunately I’m not that zen. Most of the blame is with me but I can also blame our capitalist/consumerist society for taking advantage of the irrationality of human behaviour.

my wealth worries

My first goal to help address this issue is to audit my spendings for the month of January, I need to know where my money is going before I can make measures to save. I’m also going to use my employee assistance program benefits to book some counselling around my finances, I have access to 6 sessions a year and this should help me get some goals in place. I’m also thinking of doing a financial education “6 step money makeover” offered by 10 thousand girl in 2016. If you want to see how my audit progresses you can check out my spreadsheet here.

I’m not exactly a poor person, I have a pretty reasonable salary of $74,400 (before tax) a year. Which equates to $37.65 an hour if you prefer comparing hourly rates. This puts me in about the middle of the road in regards to the Australian demographic. *(The average full-time wage is $74,724┬ábefore tax.May 8, 2014,┬áSource: News Limited.)

My HECS debt is around $50,000, I have a loan for my motorbike and I’m currently paying off my dental work. I want to go on a 5 week holiday to Croatia in September and I want to get weight loss surgery. I think it will take me about 2 years to pay off my credit card debt if I chip away at it every month. I also want to save up for a deposit for some land in Tasmania.

You might be curious as to why I’m being so transparent, isn’t talking about salary a taboo subject? I reason that the more I share this the more support I can get and it’s obvious that I can’t do this on my own. Also I’ve already started talking about mental health which is also a taboo subject so the more I talk about these things, the easier it is to get support. I also don’t think I’m alone with my financial struggles (cool credit card in Australia infograph, credit card debt clock).

 

Anyway, what can you really do with this information? Judge me? You already are doing this. The risk is that I’m opening myself up to a social engineering security attack against┬ámy identity, the potential benefit is support working through my problems and maybe helping someone else.