Why $100 Left Me Speechless


Hello, hello friends. I’m sorry for the radio silence. I’ve been travelling since the middle of the month, and finally got to spend a few days at home this week. I tried to sit down and write this post multiple times, but couldn’t find the right words or analogies to express what’s been on my mind… when that happens, I know it’s time to stop trying to be perfect and just get it all out.

Last Friday, I took the ferry over to the mainland so I could spend a few days with friends in Greater Vancouver. Sarah and I went for a hike in Port Moody, Krystal and I went to a PechaKucha event, and a big group of us went to the Florence + the Machine concert. The weekend was filled with good food, great conversations and so much laughter, but I felt distracted the entire time.

See, when I first arrived, Sarah handed me a stack of mail she picked up from the PO Box we share. In that stack were three cards – thank you cards, to be specific – from three of you. The words in each card were so thoughtful and sweet… I kept my cool when reading them, while sitting across the table from Sarah, but was truly moved to tears. And the contents inside one left me speechless:

It was a $100 cheque, made out to me.

My first thought was, “I can’t cash this.”  Seriously, what did I do to deserve it? I’ve done nothing. I write a blog and reply to comments and emails. That’s it. Sarah talked me down, however, and reminded me that it was intended to be a gift. I’ve since read the card over and over and let the words sink in: “…to people who have had a profound impact on my life. You are one of them.”

I’m not sharing that to gloat or be smug. When you’re deep in a project, like I am with this blog, it can honestly be difficult to see/feel the impact you could be having on others. The words we’ve exchanged in the comments and via email always touch me. But opening these cards and finding a cheque inside felt like someone shook me over and over, and said, “wake up! It’s time to do something good.”

I still haven’t figured out exactly what that “something good” is – and I think that’s why I had so much trouble writing this post. Sometimes, I think writers are convinced their words need to be perfect and polished, and include all the answers to the questions that may follow, before we are willing to put them out there for all eyes to see. I’m going to wave my white flag and say I don’t have all the answers yet!

But I know that cheque was the beginning of what’s next for me.

Since quitting my job in June, I’ve struggled to give this blog the attention and focus I want to. I thought trading my full-time job for part-time freelance work would magically free up lots of hours I could use to make all my ideas for this space come to life. Unfortunately, “I have so much work to do,” continues to be an excuse for why I haven’t been able to make time for it all.

Earlier this week, Anthony asked me what my long-term goal was: freelance work or BoaB. I’m always going to freelance, but I want to feel like this blog is actually helping people – not just documenting my personal journey. There are more free resources I want to create, social media campaigns I want to launch and topics I want to discuss. Despite enjoying “life with less”, I want to do more here.

I don’t know where I’m going to start yet… but I do know I need to put this gift into action. If there’s anything you think is missing here or in the blogging community, that might cost me a little bit of money to create, please feel free to share your ideas. I do have a couple ideas myself, but I’d love to create something you really want and that would truly help you.

And LB – I cannot thank you enough. Your gesture came with the reminder that I want to serve others, and your gift will allow me to do that. You have had a profound impact on my life. xoxo

  • Cait,

    The radio silence has been difficult, there are a few blogs I check everyday to see if there is a new post (only 3 blogs do I do this with, Jason Fiebers Dividend Mantra, Pat Flynns Smart Passive Income, and this blog) but I do understand. I’m glad you had such a great time. Also how does one get this PO box to mail you I feel like I’m not in the club.
    I think it is so awesome that you are trying to find something to do for the community, I feel you do so much already and I’m sure will continue to do so. The simple year project you’re in for next year I think is a great way to help the community, you could also do like a week long cleanse of things, or a week long look at your budget. Something to help us have a guide for getting rid of stuff or helping us with our budget or a guide for getting out of debt. I know all of those things have been done and will be done again but I’m sure your unique twist to it will help others as it already has.
    No matter what you do keep up the good work, the fact that you are working for yourself in freelancing and this blog is a huge encouragement to me, It’s my goal to be able to do that in the not too distant future and the fact that you have laid out the path for me to follow for that is all the help I need.
    Thank you,

    • Tyler – you’ve put me in most excellent company, and I’m honoured you check for new posts so often! I will typically always just write once/week, but will try not to let it go 10 days again. :)
      I like the idea of writing out a week’s worth of tasks… I’ve thought about setting up some free email courses about both embracing minimalism and starting a shopping ban (and personalizing it so it makes sense for you). I think I’ll start by moving forward with those. Thank you for the push!
      And I can’t wait to cheer you on, when you are ready to go out on your own. :)
      Have a lovely weekend!

    • Oh, and the PO Box! It’s listed at the bottom of all my emails. If you subscribe, you’ll see the address in any/all emails that I send you after. (But I’m changing it tomorrow! So nobody send mail to my PO Box in Port Moody, hehe.)

  • Thanks for sharing this story, Cait, and I just want to add my voice to the many other voices who are letting you know what a positive impact your blog has had. It’s hard for me to even assess the degree to which it has changed my attitudes about money, simply because I know these changes have been so far-reaching. So thank you, and thank you also for continuing to post when you’re able to, even though you have a lot of other projects going on as well. :)

    • That is so cool to hear, Sarah! I hadn’t thought about it that way before – how what you learn/are inspired by someone could be so far-reaching – but I’ve certainly experienced that with others. I guess sometimes it’s just weird to recognize that you could be doing that too. :)
      And the break was good, but 10 days felt like far too long… I hope no one minds if they read more by me soon. :)

  • I remember when I first discovered you on Gail’s blog, Other Voices. I wasn’t sure about your blog at first because of our age difference, but some things just relate to all of us. I really enjoyed those quiet Sunday mornings reading your blog and drinking my cup of coffee. You always had kind words to say, and still do. You never know sometimes how something you say will affect someone else. Words are very powerful; and they can be used for good or evil. You are on the side of good. :) (Not sure where those last two sentences came from, LOL)

    • Ahhh, you painted such a nice picture, Shelly… I remember those Sunday mornings too! I loved making coffee, logging on and replying to everyone’s comments. :) (And I’m glad to be on the good side.)

  • I agree .. your blog has been quite helpful to me. It’s made me realize that .. I DON’T need to run to Starbucks .. daily $$! There ARE other coffee options out there for way less money. It’s not just the coffee advice .. it’s really looking at finances and getting back on track. I don’t NEED everything.

    The gift was incredibly thoughtful. Blogs cost money to run (hosting costs, your time, etc.) so I’m sure you’ll put the funds to good use.


    • We certainly don’t need everything! And it’s ok to want/get some things, if they really make you happy… but we could certainly all be a little more mindful about what those things are that will truly add value to our lives. :)

  • Agree with everything Tyler said! I enjoy your posts so much and you are always the first blog I click in my feedly. Also would love the po box to be able to send you some love <3

    • You are too sweet, Cassie! I’m getting a new PO Box tomorrow (closed the one in Port Moody, getting one in Victoria) and then the address will be listed at the bottom of all my emails. If you’re not subscribed, I can share it with you. :)

  • I’m in the same boat as Tyler & Cassie. Your blog is the first one I check when perusing my list of pf bloggers :) I’m sure you’re not posting for all the world to see, but I would love to be able to send you something as well! Happy Friday :)

  • Cait – You are such a wonderful inspiration that I hope you receive a daily reminder (in the sky, on a hike, by a passing animal, lyrics in a song) that your heartfelt words, work & dedication perpetually make a difference. Sometimes all it takes is one simple action to make a profound difference, and what’s amazing is that you take that as a spark to support others. The word that always comes to mind when I come visit BoaB is “selflessness,” and it positively influences me along with so many others. Thank you, Cait. For everything!

    • Your comment made me tear up, Alyssa. What beautiful examples of the simple moments that can mean so much to us. I just read your comment again and actually cried. So… now everyone knows I’m a big baby (full of love)! Huge hugs, girl. xo

  • I agree whole-heartedly with the thoughts expressed by the readers commenting before me. I also almost feel better when the blogs that I love most aren’t posting daily. I want to be able to live my life and not feel like I have to be constantly checking my Bloglovin’ feed so that I’m not missing out on the conversations. The happiest times in my life are normally the times that I forget to check my email or post photos on IG. And when my favorite bloggers aren’t as active online, I don’t think that they have forgotten about their readers, but that they are enjoying life and living up to the goals expressed on their blog. I honestly can’t think of anything that is missing from this community. When I check in to read your newest posts, I’m in need of inspiraton and motivation, and that is exactly what I get from BoaB.

    • Oh my gosh, thank you for sharing that insight with me, Lauren! It’s so cool to hear what people think when bloggers disappear for a week or two… I guess I’ve just never wanted anyone to think I was giving up or walking away. I love the conversations we have here, and feel sad when I’m busy or can’t find the inspiration to write something up. But I love the way you framed it: we’re all just living our lives, checking in with each other whenever possible. I’m going to remember that. :)

  • I know that there are certain posts that really motivate me, but also being able to receive genuine feedback and comments from people that you’ve been able to help is what I think really helps. I can’t imagine the feeling you must have had when you also received a gift from someone from helping them so much! It was a great story to read, and I’m sure you will find something great to use the money for.

    • Sarah can vouch… I was in pure shock. My jaw dropped and I looked like a deer in headlights. It still doesn’t feel real, even after depositing it into a savings account (currently named “Do Something Good”). I hope I can figure out what that is soon. :)

  • You really do have such an impact on readers! You’ve help me personally try to break the mold from what the world thinks is “normal” and realize what things I really want to spend time and money on!

    • That’s amazing, Heather – thank you so much for sharing that with me! May I ask: what do you really want to spend your time and money on? :)

  • You have made such a positive, lasting, and profound impact on the lives of so many. I’m honored to be one of those people! I know you will continue to fulfill your purpose and do very big, powerful things. Excited to see you receive such fabulous feedback from others and can’t wait to see where you take BoaB. xoxo!

    • Right back at you, girl – with every post you write. So grateful we connected in this little online world of ours! xoxo

  • I kinda got teary-eyed reading everyone’s compassion posts to you, because they are all true. I thought I already was a budgeter before finding your blog, but when I found you and addictively read post after post, I realized I can do so much more. I cleaned out 40% of my closet after reading your minimalist ways, and it is REFRESHING. The very rare times I now go shopping, are for things that bring me joy, which I realize is not many materialistic things. Thank you for your words of wisdom and transparency. This American southern gal is grateful of you!

    • Oh my gosh, I LOVE hearing decluttering + shopping ban stories, Meighan! 40% of your closet is HUGE. Isn’t it incredible to realize how few of our clothing items we ACTUALLY wear!? I’m working on a post about that (and my tiny wardrobe) right now… :)

  • Cait, you are an inspiration to so many and don’t ever think you are undeserving of any gift. You give of yourself all the time and are receiving back the positive good nature that you send out. :)

    • Thank you so much, Michelle. Sometimes, it’s hard to figure out what you’re “giving” as a writer… you know? But then I remember how many bloggers have changed/shaped my life, thoughts and decisions… so if I can be one of those bloggers for other people, that’s pretty amazing. :)

  • Cait this is such a lovely story, I have read so many of your posts, but this is the first time I have commented. You touch so many people and you have had such an impact on so many peoples lives. Keep going girl your doing great.

  • I think the best posts are the ones where you just let it all. Then the floodgates open and the words just naturally come pouring out :)

    I don’t think writing a blog and being so open and honest on the internet is nothing. It takes a lot of courage and fortitude to be honest about your finances, your financial setbacks and your progress. This is the stuff that most people hesitate to talk about in real life.

    It was really great meeting you at the conference and I’m so glad I got a chance to chat with you. Along with meeting everyone, listening to the panel discussion truly inspired me to work even harder, push even further and dream even bigger than before.

    • I want every post to feel like this one did, Karen. I’ve been holding onto so much stuff, this year… I just need to let it go and write what feels most natural again. So you can expect more of that – and thank you for the push. I’m so glad we got to connect at the conference! Hope to see you there again next year :)

  • Love this story. :-) And that check is just a drop in the bucket of all the gratitude that’s out there for all you do, and all the positivity you spread. How many people have started shopping bans or embarked on minimalism because of you? The number is not small, and I’m sure your survey didn’t capture even everyone. You’re such an honest voice in this overly curated world we’re all a part of, and we need that! So thank you!

  • I just wanted to chime in with your other readers and commenters to say I love your blog and your posts make me to stop to contemplate my own spending and the way I view material things and money. Your personal journey is a help to your readers, in addition to any other helpful resources you might create, so I hope you keep sharing it. :)

  • What an awesome moment Cait! There are times when I don’t feel like writing or putting the effort into social media promotion or something like that, and then someone emails me and explains how something I’ve done has really made a difference in their life. I’m sure it sounds ridiculously cheesy to folks that don’t have this weird need to develop projects like blogs, but I’m glad there is someone else out there that gets it!

  • I think I have been a long time casual reader that recently realized the true power of your posts, even though what was happening was almost subconscious. I’ve always considered myself pretty sustainable and environmentally conscious, yet every time I read your blog I would get up and actually implement more things that have had a lasting effect around these parts, because each of your posts was about intent and actual results- which is awesome. I haven’t been “shopping” since July 9, I only eat out for social events where the connection is more important than the food, and I have been meditating daily for over three weeks now. Oh and I always use my reusable bags and got a better water bottle that I take everywhere so I never waste a cup- at work, the gym, or casual restaurants that don’t have glasses. I don’t think I realized it till now but a lot of these positive changes have come around from just checking in on your blog even though I never comment! As for what to do with your C-note, I know you will show us the best idea yet. I like the forums so far and will continue to lurk there too. Congrats and well-deserved!

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