Consumed is a series that features real people talking about the things they buy, and how those purchases make them feel.
Octavia Ramirez is the founder and CEO of PAPER & COIN, a financial literacy platform dedicated to helping Millennials take control of their finances through informative and inspiring resources, events, and workshop-style classes. Here we follow Octavia on her spending journey during a busy weekend spent with work and family.
Describe your relationship with money in one sentence: "Money is a tool that I use to live my dreams"
What type of spending are you most likely to regret?: "This isn't exactly intentional spending, but penalty charges like a parking ticket, flight rescheduling fees, bank charges, etc. The stuff that you get dinged with when you're not paying attention, or made a silly mistake on. I can't stand those kinds of charges!"
What are your top 3 used tags in Wellspent?: #coffee #worklunch #groceries
In order to gain a better understanding of how my purchases were making me feel, I used the Wellspent app during a very busy week and paid particular attention to how I was reflecting on my purchases leading up to a family-filled weekend. To say that September was busy would be an understatement. Between onboarding dozens of new financial coaching clients, trying to make tight editorial deadlines for PAPER & COIN Magazine, and planning for some exciting family milestones—the last thing on my mind was staying on track with my personal finances.
My mother was getting ready to host nearly 40 people, including ten overnight guests, at her house in Grimsby, Ontario, for my sister’s engagement party. In order for me to help my mother out and be fully engaged at this family event, I knew I would have to make some sacrifices. My plan was to power through my workload prior to leaving the city—and to go completely off the grid with zero access to technology. The only exception I planned to make was tracking my spending and reflecting upon it in the Wellspent app.
But things don’t always go according to plan.
The shame and guilt of being too busy to grocery shop haunt me on a daily basis. Each day feels like a battle with the refrigerator, and I often end up purchasing take-out for both lunch and dinner. I still had too many things to check off my to-do list before my sister's engagement party. So I once again missed out on grocery shopping and purchased lunch instead. Pumpernickel’s was having a lunch special, which helped ease my guilt a bit—but not enough.
I knew the days leading up to my departure for the engagement party were going to be hectic. But this day, in particular, was quite heavy for me as it marked 21 years since my Dad’s passing. I decided that in order to turn my mood around, I would make a point of grabbing some groceries on my way home and cook a healthy, homemade dinner.
Travel day had arrived, and it felt just as hectic as the days previous. Despite that, I made time to pay some bills and review expenses for the trip. My bills included paying our tithe, a donation to the church, and making sure our Turo rental car was booked for the next two days. Both of these expenses felt worth it, but that doesn’t mean that managing my budget is a stress-free process.
Even though I had just hit the wall of guilt and shame the day before about my lack of home-cooked meals, I continued to over-work myself to the point of missing a meal. I was racing against the clock to catch the GO Bus to Grimsby from Union Station and by the time I got there I was starving. I was now faced with less than healthy food options at the tourist centre of the city where you can’t purchase a snack, let alone a meal, for less than $10. Faced with my demons, I did the best I could for my health (and my sanity) by grabbing a turkey sandwich.
But it wasn’t enough.
My body was lacking nutrients, and so I decided to invest in a nourishing green smoothie—and boy did I need it! I immediately felt a surge of energy. Suddenly, I no longer cared that a drink had cost me nearly the same as my meal, and it was worth every penny. Feeling this specific way towards my food purchase made the process of reflection in Wellspent easier to manage.
Once the big day arrived, any work or money stress I was experiencing had automatically lifted. I spent the morning helping my mother set up for the party, while simultaneously spending time with my cousins from New Jersey. Getting in some cuddles with our family dog and some extra quality time with my mother and sisters was exactly what I needed. It’s a testament to how powerful the warmth and love of family can really be.
Unfortunately for us, though, my mother had nothing but instant coffee in her kitchen, and I wasn’t willing to compromise. My cousin and I did an emergency run to Tim Horton’s, and even though it wasn’t in my budget, it was worth an escape from the chaos at the house for a moment. Perhaps the most elaborate purchase during this trip was the cost of the lavish charcuterie spread I contributed to the party. This appetizer included several guilt-free purchases from Pusateri’s, our favourite fine foods store in Toronto. Of course, it was my husband who purchased the items for the charcuterie spread before arriving later that afternoon. I’m still working on making time for grocery shopping, no matter the occasion.
Identifying some areas of improvement in my life when it comes to my finances and my health has been really eye-opening. I don’t think I would have been able to pinpoint those areas so clearly without reflecting on my purchases in Wellspent. I am practicing being patient with myself by accepting that I may not always have time to cook at home. I am addressing some of that guilt by making healthy choices when it comes to take-out. Although this can be pricey, I see it as a meaningful investment in both my physical and mental well-being.
One thing I know I can’t put a price on is my ability to treat my loved ones. Budgeting the time and money to spend with my family will always be an important part of my life, and something I always look forward to. I’m learning how to seize the opportunity to use my money as a tool towards the things that bring me joy while bringing me closer to my goals.
Learn more about how Wellspent can help you manage your money, track spending and reflect on how your purchases are making you feel.
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.