I have just returned from the land of midterm anxiety to write this blog. Even though I only had one midterm I still had difficulty studying with my crammed schedule. I took some tips from my last post on managing time, and yes, you should definitely read that too!
Two weeks ago I took on a new challenge. I created a budget for the year. This was a bit nerve wracking because it was my first budget ever (Grade 11 Planning does not count), and I wasn't on track to meet my financial needs for the season. I would relish the opportunity to be able to invest in the future, and run a 3-year deficit budget like the new Liberal government, but my hair Just Isn't Ready to handle that.
Once I knew I had a gap to fill it gave me motivation to find a permanent second job this winter, and I think I have found a good fit with lifeguarding. We will see!
Regardless of the downside of not balancing the books the first time I looked at a budget, it was nice to plan out how much money I will need this season, and when. I was able to factor in food, accommodation, and race entry costs as well, so there are no surprises.
Creating a budget is a bit like setting a huge goal; daunting to look at objectively, but it lays the foundation to reaching your desired outcome.
BHere's the breakdown of my projected and current expenses for this year:
Racing (Travel, Food, Accommodation,Entry Fees): $8930
Ski Camps: $1035
Skis: $2000(Generously paid for by my Brother, Aunt, and Uncle!)
Ski Equipment: $500
Team Fees: $900
Trail Pass: $150
School (Books and Tuition): $1900
Phone Replacement: $150
Total: $15 565
Amount Already Paid: $4485
Amount in Bank: $5500
Support From my Father: $1500 (but to be used in emergencies)
Gap: $4080 short!
It's too bad that for fifteen thousand dollars I can't even buy myself socks in this sport. But I had estimated this cost and prepared myself to meet it over the summer. In reflection I would love to be able to never travel and stay very fast, it would cut my year's expenses in half, but racing is the aspect of skiing that I love the most.
Unfortunately, a couple of bad things have arisen from creating this budget. First, I have let my $4000+ gap balloon in my mind to the point where I have even told people that I am $5000 short. I am still trying to relax from the amount of stress that this has needlessly put on me. I should have looked at the budget a few times over the course of a week and reassured myself that I would meet my targets. In fact, I designed my budget to be a high estimate so that I would meet my targets!
Then, because I let my fear of not meeting my needs get to me, I also started worrying that I wouldn't be able to balance this year like I had hoped. I contemplated quitting all my classes second semester and only working, which is not a terrible alternative, I could ski every day too! I had even contemplated what I would do if I burned out, fell out of love with skiing this year, and went into debt. That also wasn't a horrible outcome; I could join a team sport next year and enlist in the army if things really blew up in my face, or fight forest fires all next summer. Honestly, my doom-and-gloom mentality was just silly. It put a humongous amount amount of fear on my mind at once, and it led to some instances where I was very upset. To be fair, I made my budget at a crazy time in the fall for me, I was training long hours, preparing for my midterm, not getting enough sleep at night, participating in a 5-week life guarding course, and upset that I wasn't able to work at my second job. It should be no surprise that I had such a negative reaction to my budget, and I really would like to thank the people who supported me with "No, you are not going to screw this up", or "You can do it" and many more teenage words of wisdom. Thank you friends! And ironically, my process of considering all the ways I could fail this season really helped me let go of my fear and come up with solutions for finding balance.
Creating a budget turned out to be a great process for me. It was another step in this year's experiment. And while it made me face some tough questions, I feel like I will be able to deal with a lot of the challenges associated with money. I really wish I had asked a skier older than me how they paid for their year and how they budgeted before I went and created my own. I recommend to any reader yet to make their first budget not to sweat it if they come up a bit short. It's not worthwhile to worry if one is doing everything they can to cope.
Time is a fickle thing. In my case it likes to present itself in excess when completely unnecessary, but vanishes suddenly when I need it the most. Time is more valuable than money when I'm busy, and a useless commodity to be wasted on my cell phone when I am not. Managing my time has been one of the toughest challenges of balancing my lifestyle, and makes up for most of the stress associated with being a student athlete.
Sports by nature require huge investments of time to be pursued competitively. In skiing especially, travel time in the winter can reach a 1:1 ratio with time spent on the skis during a weekend of races. As a result, ski practice and racing takes the majority of my energy during the week. All my time spent ski training is time lovingly spent, but it is exhausting. I have to plan my entire day around training so that I can maximize my use of time outside skiing. For example, my training this past week included a rest day on Monday, 2.5 hours training on Tuesday, 1.5 hours Wednesday, 3 hours Thursday, 2 hours Friday, 2.5 hours Friday, 2.5 hours Saturday, and 3.5 hours Sunday.
While skiing alone is a smaller commitment than working two days a week, it starts to take a toll as soon as another activity is added. Skiing drains energy levels and makes focus tasks much harder right after a work out. Homework is a monumental effort after a night of training. Because of this, I have chosen to only take 2 courses at college this semester. My weekly school schedule is as follows:
At this rate, skiing is no big deal! With maybe 10 hours of homework and 6.5 hours of class time per week, it would seem that everyone should go to school part-time and ski!
But I work as well. Which means I am in the same situation as hundreds of college students and student athletes, the point at which their lives become a full-time job whether they are pursuing one large, monumental goal or whether they are splitting their time across several different things like myself. I have two different jobs: I work twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays 9 hours a day with a construction company. I am a labourer at my job, so when I get home at night from a 3 hour ski after work I am completely drained. In my "free" time I am working at my second job which is a landscaping project with my best friend. Finally, I am taking a few life guarding and swim instructor courses so that I can move on to a job with a pool in place of landscaping. My life is full, it bounces around from one project to the next, and it is tiring. Fortunately, I love what I do. Occasionally I go through "a week from hell", where things blow up in my face and I get incredibly stressed. But being busy has helped me develop strong skills for managing my time, and they are an interesting group of self-reflections:
Photo Credit: Cross Country Canada