I know I’ve said this more than once this year, but 2016 is flying by. I can’t believe the year is more than half over, I can’t believe RD and I are about to celebrate our one-year anniversary, and I can’t believe I’ve already been at my job for 8 months!
Q2 was good in that I was able to really focus on myself. I spent a lot of time practicing yoga, and hanging out in forest. But one of the biggest changes to my attitude in the last 3 months was taking a good look at who I’ve been surrounding myself with. I’ve realized that I’ve been hanging onto toxic friendships and spending time with people that made me feel bad about myself (or have a way of bringing down my mood) – just because it’s hard for me to let people go from my life. But I need to focus on the friendships that I value the most, and put more of my time towards making those relationships stronger … and just learn to let the rest of it go. Even though that seems to be an incredibly hard thing for me to do. :)
The last 3 months have also made me examine where I feel like I belong. I went through a bit of a tough time because my love affair with Vancouver seemed to be strained. Even though I love where I live, and I love living with RD, a big city can be an exhausting place to live for an introvert. :) So although we both know we’ll be living in the city for the foreseeable future, I can’t help but want to explore options for where we’ll end up later. Maybe that’ll be 5 years from now, or maybe 10. There is no timeline. But it’s interesting to really examine where in the province there are challenging jobs available, mountains and/or ocean to play in, and is small enough where there’s still the ability to have quiet. Maybe such a place doesn’t exist. And if it doesn’t, Vancouver is still a pretty good place to be for now, but not forever.
Anyway, here’s how I’ve been doing on my goals so far this year:
- Stay debt-free. CHECK! I have not gotten myself into any debt so far this year.
- Save at least 50% of my income. CHECK! As of the end of June, my savings rate sits at 65% of my net income. I don’t expect this savings rate to stay steady (the first few months of the year were really good for freelancing), but I am extremely satisfied with my progress so far.
- Save at least $1,300/month into my RRSP/TFSA. CHECK! I’m currently saving just under $1,700/month right now. For those of you curious, I am invested in TD e-series funds for my RRSP and TFSA, using a modified Global Couch Potato investment plan. I also hold stocks and ETFs through Questrade, and my SPP at work is in a TFSA.
- Create realistic monthly budgets. CHECK! I think I’m getting better at forecasting my spending, and checking in every couple of days to input numbers into a spreadsheet. So far, so good.
- Live one month with a bare-bones budget. PENDING. I haven’t done anything about this yet, and am not sure it’s possible to do while living with another person (who likely would not want to go through a month of bare-bones living with his crazy girlfriend). I might need to re-examine this goal and see if I can do something just for me, that wouldn’t affect RD.
- Spend less than $500 on clothing and shoes this year. FAIL. I’ve already failed at this goal, as I’ve replaced a few items that could not be repaired, as well as buy some hiking clothes that were needed (like waterproof hiking pants).
- Make my body strong. CHECK! I think I’ve been doing a really good job watching what I eat, as well as continuing to exercise on a regular basis. It’s been a fun mix of yoga, spin class, rock climbing, hiking, and the gym. I’ve been running short distances (around 5km) for the past few weeks, and have gotten down to my 10km race pace. I might not be able to run long distances again until I get surgery, but I’m going to enjoy the short runs while I can. :)
- Go on a multi-day hiking trip. CHECK! We did 3 days of the Sunshine Coast Trail.
- Bring lunch to work most days. PASS. I was doing really well in the first few months of the year, but haven’t been the best at this for the last two months. RD has been gone a lot for work, which means I’ve been lacking with my batch cooking, and making dinners like I used to. But now that he’s back for the rest of the year, I’m sure this will improve again.
- Stop going to coffee shops. PASS. Just like with bringing my lunch, I never go to coffee shops if RD is home (we make french press coffee every morning before work). But since he’s been gone, I just haven’t gotten myself as organized as I should be. So I have been buying coffees a few times a week – but just drip coffee, no fancy lattes at least. :)
- Eat less dairy. PASS. We still eat cheese, but have switched over to non-dairy butter, mayo, and milk.
- Read 12 books. PASS. I’ve read 5 books this year, and have been on the hunt for my next read. I’ve got some marked through Goodreads, so hopefully will catch up soon.
- Bring more creativity to my life. CHECK! I originally thought my creativity would come in the form of crafts. But instead, I’m finding a bit of creativity in the kitchen. Back in May I started brewing my own kombucha (and have been loving the process so far). We’ve also been experimenting with new recipes, and hope to continue that for the rest of the year.
- Rebrand GMBMFB. PASS. I’ve mapped out a little bit of what I’m looking for (and have even contacted a couple of designers), but am beginning to wonder if it’s the right move for me right now. I still need to give it some serious thought.
- Go to three marketing conferences/seminars this year. PASS. I’ve gone to two marketing seminars so far this year, and will likely get in at least one or two more in the fall when they start up again.
It’s full-on summer now, and I can’t wait to spend as much time as possible outside over the next two months. :) This month is going to be a low more low-key than June, with most of the month spent in the city. But city life = more entertainment expenses, especially during the summertime. And that’s reflected in this month’s budget.
I have some social commitments booked for this month already – including dinners out and at least one or two Vancouver Canadians games to attend – which is why my Entertainment and Travel categories are a little more than usual. RD’s brother is also coming into town, so we’ll be going for brunch with him, as well as going up to the Sunshine Coast for a short day trip.
Next month we’ve already booked a two-night getaway to Mayne Island. If you’re not from BC, you might not have heard of the camping outrage happening right now in this province. Basically it is near impossible to book any Provincial Park campsites within 2-3 hours of Vancouver. You can book up to 3 months in advance, but if you’re not booking the second it becomes available, you’re basically out of luck. So we ended up booking at a private campground that cost us 40% more than a Provincial Park.
Still though, costs will be kept quite low for our weekend away because camping is always cheaper than renting a cabin. Plus we’ll be taking our bicycles across on the ferry instead of a car! Thankfully the campground isn’t too far away from the ferry terminal, because I have a feeling we’ll be lugging a lot of food along with us in our backpacks – not to mention a bottle or two of wine. :)
I also budgeted $300 into Household because we desperately need a new couch. I had a great couch, but it was too big to fit up the stairs of our tiny little house. So we gave it away and bought a new (used) couch off Craigslist. This couch looks great, but we both agree that it has to go. So I’ve budgeted some cash for us to find another used couch off Craigslist – preferably the same brand and model as my old couch, but just a little bit smaller.
Here is my budget for the month:
July 2016 Goals:
- Exercise 2-3 times/week – Field hockey is just around the corner, and I need to be in shape so that I can stay healthy this season.
- Organize my computer files – This is a task I’ve been dreading for a while now. I have so many photos and documents that need to be filed, and I want to get it done now because when I eventually buy a new laptop this year, I want everything organized and ready to go.
- Do research for our 3-week Yukon road trip – we’ll need at least a bit of a timeline so we can book accommodation (when we aren’t camping) and make sure we hit all the spots we really want to see. So far on the list we have Liard River Hot Springs, hiking in Kluane National Park, and drinking sourtoe whisky. :)
This was such a fun month because it’s finally summer here in Vancouver, and that means hiking season! This month I tackled Elk & Thurston Mountain, the Sea to Summit trail, Skyline Ridge, and then RD and I went and hiked 3 days of the Sunshine Coast trail out in Powell River. :)
And because it’s the summer, I’ve been walking and biking more – and using my car less. Which is why you can see I only needed to fill up my tank once all month. :)
My full-time job has been relatively busy, but I’m actually quite happy to work a bit extra because it just means I’m accumulating more time off to use later. Plus, RD was only actually home for one week out of the month, so it was easy to work an extra few hours every week and not really notice it.
As for freelancing, I have been saying no to a few opportunities, but I did say yes to a few things that are more about networking than about making money. I’ve also committed to speaking at a workshop for writers in Northern BC next spring, which I’m nervous and excited about, but should actually be a great experience.
Now, let’s see how I did with my budget and goals for the month!
- Entertainment – a pricey drink during dinner out with my cousins pushed me over my budget this month. But it was worth it. :)
- Travel – I would have been under budget, but we took an impromptu day trip (yes, day trip) to Ucluelet which included lunch and a kayak rental.
- Fitness – I thought we’d buy a 1-month climbing membership, but it made more sense to buy a 10-pass drop-in pack until we can commit to going at least 2-3 times a week.
- Gifts – My sister and I took my parents to a baseball game when I was in town.
Income and Savings:
In June I saved 62.2% of my income, which is well above my 50% target. I only brought in $600 in freelance income this month, but was happy to see that all put into savings.
June 2016 Goals:
- Continue being active. CHECK! It was a diverse month for exercise this month. I went to yoga, spin class, the climbing gym, and got in a few hiking trips – including a multi-day hike of a portion of the Sunshine Coast.
- Go hiking somewhere new. CHECK! I actually did 4 hikes I’ve never done before, which I’m super pleased about. That includes a solo 20km hike up Skyline Ridge in Squamish. I usually don’t like doing new hikes by myself (prefer to stick to ones I know, just to be safe in the back country), but it was a great day out.
- Examine my retirement plan. CHECK! I’ve done a lot of thinking this month, and even blogged a bit about my early retirement savings strategy. Although no actual decisions have been made (I don’t think any drastic changes are necessary at the moment), I’m a lot more confident with my savings rate and retiring earlier than I initially anticipated. RD and I have also been discussing what a good life and a good retirement mean to us, and how we can potentially shape that into reality.