April Showers, May Flowers and the Art of Asking for Help

May 4, 2015


Sorry for the disappearing act, friends. Email subscribers know that I received some pretty tough news not even 36 hours after launching the Mindful Budgeting Program, and I haven’t found the time (or inspiration) to write since. But now that it’s been a couple weeks, and I’ve gotten some distance from it, I’m starting to get back into the groove of things… and what better way to get back into writing than by sharing some numbers with you? :)

April 2015 Budget

All things considered, April was a pretty good month. I launched my first print product, worked out 14x and read a couple books. First, I finished Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. Then I read Creative, Inc. and started The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. As for my budget, I had a couple financial hiccups.

Life Expenses: 58%

Despite earning more in April than I think I have in any other month before, I also “lived” on more than usual, but that’s mostly because of one giant expense: a trip to my surgeon’s private clinic. In BC, the waitlists for anything surgical-related are ridiculous. My sports medicine doctor put in a request for me to see my surgeon at his public clinic more than 3 months ago and they still couldn’t give me an appointment date. I finally decided to eat the cost and book an appointment at his private clinic, because it meant that I would get on the surgical waitlist right away – and now I’m on it! The wait is 9-12 months, so I’m mapping out a plan to lose some weight and get in better shape beforehand, to help with my recovery. Anyway, despite that one big expense, my usual costs were fairly average.

Travel: 3%

I went home to Victoria for a week, so this 3% was just the cost of taking the ferry there and back.

Planned Spending: 1%

I put $250 into my Shopping Ban account last month, but then had to take out $195 to replace my iPhone 4S, which finally bit the dust. I knew it was going to happen, at some point. Over a year ago, it stopped connecting to WiFi… and it loved turning itself off all the time. I’ll share more details about the purchase later, but I really want to express one thing now: if everyone you know is upgrading to the newest technology and you’re feeling left out, stop. The iPhone 6 is literally the exact same phone as the 4S, only slightly bigger and with a better camera. But it’s still just a phone! If it makes calls, sends texts and lets you connect with people, it doesn’t matter how old it is – a phone is doing its job.

Long-Term Savings: 38%

Finally, despite that one huge expense, I still managed to save 38% of my income in April and I feel really good about that. As the end of the shopping ban approaches (only two more months to go!), I can’t help but marvel at how much money I’ve saved, since making this attempt to live on half of my income… it has truly set me up for a better life.

May 2015 Budget

Now, May is going to look totally different than April, as I’m travelling for 90% of the month. I’m in Toronto right now, and my full travel schedule looks something like this:

  • May 1: Vancouver*
  • May 2-8: Toronto
  • May 9-14: Victoria
  • May 15-18: Tofino
  • May 19: Vancouver*
  • May 20-30: Boston/NYC/Philly/DC
  • May 31: Vancouver*

*I’m literally only home for 3 days all month. And I’m not complaining about that; it’s one of the best things about working remotely (although I’m taking time off for that big trip to the east coast at the end of the month!). It’ll just be tough on my finances. Here’s how I think the numbers are going to work out:

  • Life Expenses – Goal: 40%
  • Travel – Goal: 38%
  • Planned Spending – Goal: 5%
  • Long-Term Savings – Goal: 17%

It could be worse, I guess. And remember, this is just based on guaranteed income (not freelance or sales). Whatever extra money I make always goes into savings or helps fund my trips, so this actually doesn’t look too bad, in the grand scheme of things. I will just hope I can earn a little extra money, so I can boost my long-term savings.

Asking for Help

With everything that’s still going on in my personal life (coupled with all these trips), I’ve decided to take a little more time away from the blog… and as any blogger knows, that idea sent me into a panic. I’ve already felt bad enough about being M.I.A. for the past two weeks, but I just can’t seem to concentrate long enough to get anything good down on paper (so to speak).

When it comes to teamwork, I’m always comfortable asking for help. I seek input on projects at work, I love to collaborate with partners on side projects, and I even asked friends to review and give me feedback on Mindful Budgeting. However, I’ve never really considered asking for help with my blog before, until now.

For the first time ever, I’ve asked a couple of my favourite bloggers to guest post here. Next Monday, Sarah is going to share something that came up in one of our many conversations. She even told me to take her idea and turn it into a blog post of my own, but that didn’t seem right; it has to be in her words, and I can’t wait for you guys to read it! And the following week, Mrs. Frugalwoods is going to share some thoughts on how (not) to handle change (something I could use a little help with right now).

I don’t know why asking for help with anything personal seems so difficult, but I’m so grateful that I finally decided to reach out to these girls. Their enthusiastic “yeses” proved that friends will always help you out, in a time of need, and I’m so grateful they agreed to step in and keep the conversation going here. I can’t wait to share their words with all of you. Until next time, friends. xo

How did April finish up for you? What are your goals in May?


  • Trista May 4, 2015 at 4:22 am

    I’m sending positive vibes your way Cait! I also hope all your traveling goes well.

    My April was good. It went really fast as I have been working so much. I expect May will go fast as well. I’m starting to feel a lot better these days and have been making some positive changes. I’m hoping to continue this in May. Money wise, I’ve been enjoying seeing my savings accounts continue to grow. I’m on the fence again about my second job but I think the drop in my savings would hurt tremendously. But at the same time I need more work/life balance, especially if I’m going to add a workout plan to my already busy schedule. I’ve let my health take a back seat for far too long. I’m sure I’ll figure it all out.

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks, Trista! And I’m glad to hear things are going well for you, right now. Yes, it takes time to figure out what balance works for you. If you can’t seem to workout just yet, I’m a firm believer that most of our health can be linked to the food we put in our mouths… so start with that and just eat healthy. :)

  • Cari @ $3.75 A Day May 4, 2015 at 4:48 am

    Hi Cait – April was overall a pretty rough month and I’ve learned a lot about my relationship with money, my health and the changes I need to make. Unfortunately I feel a step behind today as I’m sick and missing work, but I know that tomorrow’s a new day! Thanks for the comment on the phones, I was gifted an iPhone 5 over the weekend from a family member who upgraded to the 6. It’s got a few scratches but the power button works compared to my 4s and it’s lighter so I’ll take it. Plus, it’s $0 for me. :) Thinking of you and hope you enjoy your visit to my coast (I’m an hour from Boston). All the best, Cari.

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      A free phone is great! Nice how that worked out for you, Cari. And try not to stress about today. One day at a time. :)

  • Rob May 4, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Ya know Cait, despite your event-filled (and, in some ways, expensive) April, I must say that I am very impressed on how you still managed to save 38% of your income. Those are awesome stats, lady! I have to say that over my entire life (so far) I’ve never been able to come anywhere that close in saving that much in any one month. What I have done as often as possible is to at least save some amount and try hard not to overspend (unless it was $$$ saved up and planned for). With your rate of savings, your next big challenge is to grow that savings through careful investing (and with it, cumulative compounding). Then you’ll really begin to see your net worth take off over time.

    Being on your email list, I had read in general about your tough news and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and hope that you get through these private tough times.

    April (and now also May) are my big spending months for this year. Right now the budget for savings is totally out the window! But it’s been planned for. My itemized regular monthly spending continues to meet my item budget numbers. I’m tapping into some long term investment profits and buying all new home appliances, as well as resurfacing the roof (which I’ll never ever have to do in future). That will then complete my home improvement projects for this year. Expensive but quality trumps frugality in this case.

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Sounds like a busy (and yes, expensive) month for you guys, Rob! Too bad that cash back isn’t being applied to your statement this month, eh? ;) Thanks for your support!

  • AshleyNL May 4, 2015 at 6:10 am

    Whatever is troubling your heart and mind, thoughts and prayers to you Cait! Your positive attitude continues to inspire me throughout my journey to becoming debt free and decreasing my feelings of anxiety. April, being a three payday month helped my husband and I get down another $925 and make it over halfway towards getting our debt paid off! Hopefully May we can continue to larger downward trend – always unpredictable since I am a substitute teacher! I look forward to your guest posts and reading your posts again soon :)

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      Congrats on the extra payday and debt repayment! More than halfway – I hope you celebrated that milestone somehow. :)

  • L May 4, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Sorry to hear you are having some trouble Caiti. Enjoy your down time from the blog and soak up all the memories you make while travelling!

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      Thanks, L! I absolutely will. :)

  • Travis @enemyofdebt May 4, 2015 at 8:37 am

    One of my favorite blog posts ever (by Meadow Devor) had this great quote in it: “Asking for help doesn’t make us weak, it makes us strong.” Asking for help is hard because we have to admit we can’t do it all…..but it feels so good once we get the question out there, and someone comes to our aid. :)

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 6:57 pm

      Yes, it really does, friend! Thanks for sharing the quote. :)

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach May 4, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Not sure what happened but I’m so sorry. :( Just emailed you! How did you like The Art of Work? I’m considering that book since I heard him on a podcast and several people have mentioned it in the last couple of days.

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      I’m only about 30 pages in but am enjoying it so far!

  • Our Next Life May 4, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Cait — Sorry that it’s a tough time for you! Know that we’re all rooting for you and sending lots of good vibes your way. Look forward to reading your guest bloggers’ posts — take care of yourself!

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      Thanks, guys! I really appreciate that. The time away has actually sparked a few new post ideas, so hopefully I come back better than ever. ;)

  • Nadia May 4, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Sorry that you’re having a rough time Cait *hugs*

    My April and May have/are up and down. Down because I’ve done the adult thing and gotten my crowns under way. First part was done last Monday and next Monday I get the permanent ones put on. Not cheap even with some insurance. On the upside I got a really nice tax return to help cover them (plus savings so yay). The other happy thing is going out to the Okanagan for 2 weeks in the middle of May. I’m so ready for a vacation!

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks, Nadia! And ouch (pun intended) about your crowns. Sorry to hear you have to deal with that now, but good it’ll be over and done within another week. The Okanagan should be beautiful in May! What are you going to do for 2 weeks? :)

  • allroundbetterme May 4, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Hugs to you Cait. I hope that you are able to overcome or work through whatever tough news you have received. My April was okay, and my May will also involve some traveling, but not nearly as much as you. Soak in as much as you can from your adventures! Look forward to reading the guest posts and hearing from you again whenever you are inspired and able.

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks for all your support! It means a lot. Where are you going this month? :)

      • allroundbetterme May 5, 2015 at 7:37 pm

        I am typically just in various places around the province. My work takes me to pretty remote and beautiful places in the province that I probably wouldn’t ever visit otherwise. It’s pretty cool.

  • Meghan May 4, 2015 at 7:47 pm

    First, sorry you are going through a rough patch . :(
    Second, OMG yes I agree with you on Gretchen Rubin’s books 100%. I can’t do it.

    • Cait Flanders May 4, 2015 at 8:11 pm

      Right!? It makes me feel so bad, Meghan, but I just can’t get into her style of writing… it’s like no thought is ever complete, or I just can’t stay on track, anyhow. Bummer! Because maybe there’s some good stuff in them. But I can’t get to it.

  • Dayle May 5, 2015 at 5:07 am

    Hey there… sending positive vibes your way.
    Looking forward to reading your guests posts and even more forward to seeing you back here soon!

    • Cait Flanders May 5, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Sending them right back to you, Dayle! Just need another week or two to myself. The time off has definitely given me lots to think about (especially about what to write next). Talk soon :)

  • Alyssa @ Generation YRA May 5, 2015 at 7:08 am


    Sending such positive vibes your way! Wishing a month of travel will leave you feeling refreshed. :) I wanted to pass on something my family taught me growing up. My family taught me that asking for help doesn’t mean you’re helpless – it just means that you are taking consideration to verify, validate, or evaluate. I am incredibly happy to hear that you have wonderful friends who are providing you with support when you have reached out to them!


    • Cait Flanders May 5, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      Thanks, Alyssa! I’ll have to keep that in mind, as I think about what to write next: I’m just verifying, validating and/or evaluating right now. Yep, I like that. :)

  • Mrs. Frugalwoods May 6, 2015 at 4:27 am

    I’m so glad you did ask for help–I think it’s a sign of strength and of knowing yourself. I’m delighted and honored to write for you! I’m sending you good thoughts and hoping you’re doing well. Take care and enjoy your travels!

    • Cait Flanders May 7, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Thanks, lady! And I’ll be seeing you soon. :)

  • Krysten May 6, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Don’t worry about taking time to yourself or asking for help EVERYONE needs to once in awhile, I know it can be hard but it will be worth it! Enjoy your time off.

    • Cait Flanders May 7, 2015 at 10:10 am

      I haven’t tried that book, but I had to skim through Happiness Project (so I guess I didn’t really finish that one either). Eek. :(

      And thanks, Krysten. Will be back more soon. :)

  • Kathleen May 7, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    xoxoxo friend.

  • sunny May 8, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Hope you have a good blogging break :) We’ll be here when you get back!

    I am about to start reading Do Over by Jon Acuff (http://www.amazon.com/Do-Over-Rescue-Monday-Reinvent/dp/1591847613) A friend just started it and called it life changing.

  • Zina at Debt Free After Three May 10, 2015 at 9:50 am

    Asking for help is so hard! It’s so easy as entrepreneurs to feel like we have to do everything ourselves. But sometimes you need to step back and admit that you need some help. Usually people are happy to do it! Your savings is amazing. Even with a couple big expenses, you still saved 38% of your income. Have fun on all your upcoming travels!

  • Tre May 12, 2015 at 5:29 am

    Sounds like May is going to be a busy month! The waitlist at the private clinic is still over 9 months?