Frugality and efficiency go hand in hand. Us frugal folk – we’re weird, you see. We overbuy discounted things in bulk to save money and time in the future. We frequently talk the shortest route walking anywhere because any additional step would be inefficient. We are minimalists with little clutter (or at least we aspire to to be).
But one area where efficiency is simply difficult to achieve is when we shop elsewhere – specifically in other currencies. Left and right, the ability to transact in a currency other than the Canadian dollar is provided at sometimes ridiculous premiums of up to 10%.
My sister confided in me how difficult her life is to keep financially afloat. A kid in daycare. Car payments. A mortgage. Flat income growth. This was a woman who was living the life not less than 5 years ago, living rent-free at home, making almost six-figures and saving close to 95% of her take home pay. Now? Not so much.
Sometime in April 2015, I logged into my bank account and saw the CRA had deposited over $7,200 into my checking account. My tax refund had come through. I did a little jig and then slapped myself across the face for putting myself in that position.
I watched a flawed, but nonetheless captivating movie last night called The Company Men. It had Ben Affleck (meh), Kevin Coster (meh), Tommy Lee Jones (yay) and Chris Cooper (yay) star as men navigating the crippling recession of 2008, experiencing everything from job loss to family pressures to renewed optimism, Hollywood style.
10 years ago, I entered theatre school, all doe-eyed. I was planning to be Gregory Peck. I was the drama class rock star in high school, so success was guaranteed, right?
Wrong. While I certainly had some talent, I realized that being a professional thespian wasn’t quite for me. Instead, I shifted my academic focus from onstage to backstage, finishing my four year degree as the top production student in my graduating year. Again, I was a “rock star”. Professors and peers alike would reinforce an unhealthy cocky attitude: “You’ll be fine!”, “You’re going to do great things in theatre!” I believed them.
I naturally once again thought success was guaranteed. But the world doesn’t work that way.
July. November. December. Three dates marked on many a shoppers’ calendar. And why not? There is honestly so much bold and CAPS happening. On mailed flyers. In emails. On websites. In storefronts. It’s like retailers collectively decide to work together to tell you: “GO SHOPPING. PLEASE.”
It was pay day and I had received my meagre $800 paycheck for two weeks of full time work. I had no benefits, no vacation time, no overtime pay – nothing but a small suitcase of stuff and my fellow broke colleagues. I’m pretty sure we ate Kraft Dinner.
This was my reality that I lived in for a year working in the arts. But that $20,000 salary experience was invaluable. It taught me frugality and gave me the ambition and drive to generate a higher income.
*Note: This post focuses on strictly my career after graduation. But if you’d like to know – I worked in retail for about 4 years throughout my Bachelor’s degree renting out DVDs (Gasp!). Yes. I am a dinosaur. I also had a job one summer where I temporarily paused my retail job to dress up as a character at a tourism place and made an insane $29 an hour. That’s another story, though.