Give Me Back My Five Bucks

December 2015 Goals: Recap

December was an expensive month, but I think I did a decent job at staying on budget. I thought I’d have to pay both mortgage payments during the month, but it turns out with the way the house sale went, I only had to make one payment. I’m also really glad that I buffered in $700 for household expenses, because we ended up having to buy a new couch when mine wouldn’t fit in the house! We found a new one relatively quickly on Craigslist for $400 … and while it’s definitely not as nice as my old one, it’ll do for now. :)

12 - December 2015 Recap

Over Budget:

  • Maintenance/Strata – I made an error and didn’t calculate the right amount for my budget.
  • Cell Phone – Same as above. My cell phone plan dropped in price (for some reason), and I didn’t calculate the discount properly.
  • Entertainment – RD and I went out for a fancy dinner with my cousin.
  • Clothing – I repaired a pair of boots ($15.75) and bought a t-shirt.
  • Personal Care – I got my hair cut!
  • Miscellaneous – Went a little over budget on the gift giving. My sister and I bought my parents a short getaway to Tofino for Christmas, and it ended up being a little more expensive than we thought.

December 2015 Goals:

  • Stay on budget with household expenses. CHECK! The $690.95 I spent includes my share of a new kitchen island, a used couch on Craiglist, the cost of a moving van, as well as a few odds and ends like coat racks, storage baskets, etc. I’m extremely pleased that we were able to stay on budget even factoring in that couch (which we didn’t think we’d have to buy).
  • Look at gym options. CHECK! I’m going to just go to the rec centre just a 10 min. walk from our house. It just makes sense to buy a punch card and not actually join a gym. With field hockey and rock climbing on the go, I won’t be able to go to the gym more than once or twice a week anyway.
  • Figure out my house sale. CHECK! I’m going to put most of it into my TFSA, while keeping enough room for my 2016 investment contributions.
  • Look into increasing my RRSP/TFSA contributions. CHECK! I’ve increased my automatic contributions to $1,050/month. Once my employer contributions start in 90 days, that amount will be increased to about $1,300/month.

There’s more to life than just money

Note: Sorry in advance, this is a long and rambling post. :)

Balancing actGMBMFB was one of the first personal finance blogs in Canada. Back in 2007, you could count the number of PF bloggers on one hand. I had a lot to work on financially, and this tiny community helped me out enormously. My life has changed a lot in the last 9 years, but this blog has remained constant. I love that I’ve been able to make friends with other bloggers and readers, as well as create a freelance career that I never thought was possible.

About a year ago I couldn’t help but realize that my life had become easy – I was making a comfortable salary, I was on track to retire early, and I was able to travel a lot. This was what I had been working on for years – ever since I started this blog. So I didn’t feel like I needed more. And because I didn’t need more, I had a hard time writing about all of the things I used to write about – like increasing my networth or finding new ways to earn and save money. Life was on autopilot and my finances didn’t motivate me like they used to. So I took a step back from this blog and stopped writing – promising myself that once I figured out what I wanted to write about, I’d come back. But one month turned into six months, and before I knew it, I had stopped writing consistently for more than a year.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been thinking about personal finance and blogging again, but from a different perspective. Even though I don’t make a lot of money compared to others, I feel really good about where I am and I know my financial situation is solid. My income is enough to keep me on track to achieve all of the goals that I’ve set out for myself. There are still so many paths that my life could take me, so I’m trying to be flexible and open to everything. Maybe one day I’ll be married. Maybe one day I’ll have kids. Maybe one day I’ll own a home again. Or maybe none of that will happen, and 20 years from now I’ll be happily renting a tiny home and living my life just as it is. Whatever happens, I feel like my current salary could support it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have it all figured out yet, but that’s what makes life fun. I’ve stopped comparing my life to others, and have learned to enjoy what I have. Earning more money isn’t a priority anymore… which is a weird feeling. And the thought has definitely crossed my mind that perhaps I’ve become lazy, or I’m just not ambitious enough anymore, or I’m not acknowledging my full potential by not pursuing the highest possible income every year. But there’s more to life than just money, and it’s taken me a long time to get here financially as well as emotionally.

Almost all of us have heard about that study by Princeton University researchers where they found the salary sweet spot was $75,000. I’ve been earning around $75,000 since 2011, but I’m a lot happier now than I was back then. In 2011, I had to really fight for that money. I often found myself working 70+ hour weeks, and was constantly stressed out with deadlines on top of my full-time job. Life was messy. Sure, I had the income sweet spot, but where was my quality of life?

After I came back from Germany, I told myself I was never going back to working crazy hours, even if it meant taking a pay cut. And I’ve stayed true to that goal. As I enter into 2016, I find myself working 45 hours/week at the very most, and I predict my salary will be around $80-90k for the year. This is a significant change in the quality of my life, and it’s what I’ve been working towards for years – an income level that is comfortable and sustainable.

There are still a lot of financial goals I’d like to achieve (like becoming a more savvy investor). I’ll still write my monthly budgets for this blog, and I’m still going to make financial goals for myself every year. I aspire to do well at my full-time job, and I’ll pursue freelance opportunities (with a work smarter/not harder attitude). The difference now is that my motivation isn’t driven by making more money anymore. As long as I’m achieving all of my financial goals, my only other goals are to be comfortable and happy.

TL;DR – My new financial goals don’t involve increasing my income anymore. :)

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you and your family lots of love and happiness today. :)

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