I had these goals all written out and ready to publish over the holidays, but then with the excitement of getting engaged (and realizing that shifted a lot of our goals for the year), I decided to spend a couple of weeks thinking about how that would affect my own personal goals.
The feeling of getting married has been an interesting one for me. I love the idea of being with RD forever – I think we’re a great match and it’s pretty incredible that we were able to find each other (and all that mushy love stuff). But as this is a financial blog, the idea of financially binding myself to someone is scary. It’s scary!!! Not because I think he’s bad with money (he’s better with his money than me), but because my financial goals aren’t entirely mine anymore. They’re ours. So sure, I’m saving for my retirement, but I’m really saving for our retirement. And my desire to put down X amount on the mortgage might differ from how much he wants to put down, or maybe I want to pay the car insurance monthly but he prefers it annually. I know every couple goes through this, I’ve just been doing it my own way for so long that the loss of independence and control is a weird feeling. Not a bad feeling, just a different way of thinking about things. :)
In 2018 I’m going to work on the personal things that I’m not very good at – like taking care of my body and finishing what I start. I want to focus on my career, and I also want to make sure that I take the time to enjoy everything that comes along with getting married and having a wedding.
- Stay debt-free. This is obviously an important goal. :)
- Save at least $1,650/month into my RRSP/TFSA. Aside from staying debt-free, saving for retirement is my most important financial goal. I hope to be able to retire when I’m 50-52, and at the pace I’m going, I should hit that goal. If I get any sort of raise during 2018, I will increase my retirement contributions accordingly.
- Stay on budget with our wedding. A wedding is definitely a huge expense, but we have a fairly practical budget given that we’re having two receptions. That being said, I’d still like to stay within the budget we’ve set for ourselves. We’ve only been planning for a few weeks, and I can already see how easy it can be to get carried away thinking you have to have something, when you really just don’t.
- Make an extra lump sum mortgage payment. We are currently on an accelerated bi-weekly schedule, and put down an additional 12% for each payment. We’d like to put some money down as a lump sum payment towards the mortgage, we just don’t know how much that would be yet.
- Complete one home renovation project (on budget). We agreed that we’d do one home renovation each year, and I believe we’ve settled on putting down flooring on our balcony. This is something we can do ourselves, and aside from painting or putting together IKEA furniture, this will be the first home renovation I’ve ever been apart of. Well, if you can call balcony flooring an actual renovation, haha!
- Take care of my body. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at taking care of my body. I want to be better at the small things like: moisturizing more often, washing my face before bed, fixing my nail polish when it chips, or not trying to stretch my dry shampoo for the third day, etc. These might be normal habits for most people, but I tend to get lazy and stuff like this slides. And I find when I actually pay attention to the details, I feel so much better. But, I also want to maintain the big things – like eating right, exercising often, and managing my injuries properly. For example, for the first time in my life I’ve decided to go to a physio to help me with my hip issues (which I’ve had since October). I can see a lot of improvement, and I think I might come out of this without any permanent damage – which is more than I can say about my feet and ankles after years of abuse playing high-level sports.
- Continue bringing my own lunch to work. I’ve become pretty good at making sure we have lunches to take to work, and I want to continue this into 2018. I won’t be perfect all the time, but if I can limit buying lunches or coffees to just a couple times a month, that’s going to do wonders for my budget.
- Make the most of smaller trips. Because we have a wedding to pay for (and don’t want to reduce our additional mortgage payments or retirement contributions), we are postponing our honeymoon until next year (which also means no big vacation trip this year), so we’ll have to make sure our smaller getaways are super meaningful. We already have three trips booked – Tofino in March, Bowen Island in April, Seattle in August, and potentially (fingers crossed) a week in Haida Gwaii in early June.
- Finish what I start. I realize that sometimes I get super stoked on a project and go super hard on it, only to lose interest and move onto something else before it’s finished. Actually, RD was the one who made me aware of this. And as a result of this quirk of mine, I have a lot of half finished crafting projects sitting in my closet (like when I taught myself how to knit but didn’t even finish the scarf I started, or when I had grand ideas of making our own Christmas stockings and did so much stitching that my hand cramped up and I quit). So, my goal for the year is to finish things that I start. Or at least pace myself so that I don’t burn out. And maybe go back to some of my half finished projects and work on them a little. :)
- Start studying for the APMP Certification (Foundation). I’ve been in this industry for almost 4 years now, and I’m almost positive that something in this line of work is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my career. That being said, I’ve always wanted to further my education with a certification program – I just haven’t found something that really suited my career path – until now! Last year I heard about the Association of Proposal Management Professionals, and while certification through them isn’t a requirement for my job, I think it’ll be beneficial because I’d like to learn something new, and it’s just nice to add a designation after my name to set me apart for future career opportunities.
- Increased responsibility/exposure at work. I’m not really sure what this looks like yet, but I’d like to do more. Last year, I volunteered to take on some additional tasks which I found fun and fulfilling. Plus, my boss took an extended leave so I got to see more and interact with different people. Whether this goal results in increased responsibility or just increased exposure to other people within the company, I’m not sure. But learning more and growing is important to me – and even though there’s still lots more I can learn in my current role, I would definitely be interested expanding my knowledge.
- Blog more often. Honestly, I have so many half finished blog posts just waiting for some final touches. But over the last couple of years, I haven’t been posting as much. It all started when I was dating someone who wasn’t super supportive of my blog or freelancing, and that was difficult to manage. Because when it comes down to it, real life is more important than my blog life. So I made the choice. But that’s in the past, and RD couldn’t be more supportive of what I’m doing. I’m confident and interested in sharing my financial choices and lifestyle (and learning from everyone else too!), it’s just that for some reason getting back into the rhythm of putting those thoughts down on the blog has been difficult. I need to figure out why I have that block, and how to get past it. Maybe it’s just a matter of posting more often and getting used to it again.
2018 is going to be a super busy but fun year, and I’m really excited about it. What are your goals looking like for this year?
2017 is going to be a fun year full of travel and adventure. And normally I’d have quite a few goals that I want to achieve, but this year I really want to focus on intentional spending and living a balanced lifestyle.
I learned a lot about myself in 2016, and I feel lucky to be in the financial position that I’m in today. But I felt like I let my habit of intentional spending slide a little bit, and I want to get that back. I want to make sure that as much of my spending as possible is going towards purchases and experiences that will make my life better. And I want to feel that way every time I think about spending money – whether it’s grocery shopping, or at my favourite clothing store, or deciding where to stay and what to do when traveling.
So along with continuing to save for early retirement (my number one financial goal), intentional spending and balanced living are my themes to this year.
- Stay debt-free. This is obviously an important goal. :)
- Save at least $1,650/month into my RRSP/TFSA. For those of you curious, I use the Couch Potato method of investing, modified a little bit to suit my comfort level. But basically, I’ve got Option 2 in my RRSP and TFSA, and also am using Option 3 in my TFSA. Additionally I hold stock through Questrade and my SPP at work is in a TFSA.
- Create realistic monthly budgets. This means planning ahead and checking my progress on a weekly basis.
- Curb buying lunches, snacks, & coffees during work hours. I’ve gotten pretty good at bringing my lunch to work, but sometimes I just get lazy. Or I’ll forget to pack a snack, and end up going to the coffee shop for something sweet and unhealthy. This is going to be difficult now that I work right in downtown Vancouver. The exceptions to this (of course) are planned lunches/coffee dates with friends (very irregular), and on the days that RD works out of the downtown office and we feel like a Tacofino lunch date. :)
- Say yes when traveling. I actually almost always say yes to a trip, but I’m a natural planner, and I usually get a bit out of sorts if travel plans change for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s because I’m worried that my travel partner isn’t having a good time, or because a change in plans might mean more money spent or less time to see things … but sometimes change is good. And travel should have an element of spontaneity. So while I think I’ll be doing quite a bit of travel this year, I want to focus on living in the moment and not necessarily being worried about an itinerary.
- Curb impulse spending. Sometimes I just get it in my head that I need to have something immediately – a dress that I think will make me feel and seem a certain way, or a gadget that will make some obscure kitchen task a bit easier, or some sort of outdoor gear I’ve somehow decided is necessary (even though I’ve gone without it for years). Even if it wouldn’t really affect my budget, I need to just pause for a day (or two) and figure out if it’s something I actually need.
- Continue to be active. Last year I ended up losing the 10 pounds I gained from when RD and I first started dating and we didn’t want to do anything except hang out with each other. :) Losing weight wasn’t an intentional goal, it just happened naturally from changing my diet a little bit and increasing my exercising back to what it was before. I want to continue this trend by getting stronger this year, and being smart with injuries. I have a bad habit of just pushing through because that’s what I used to do when I was playing competitive sports, but now that I’m getting older, it’s not smart to play through pain anymore.
- Keep in better touch with friends. Most of my friends don’t live in Vancouver – they either live in my hometown or in some far away suburb. So even though I don’t get to see them that often, I could do a better job at keeping in touch with them – whether it’s a text, social media, email, or a phone call. They’re important to me, and I want to keep our relationships strong.
- Rebrand GMBMFB. I’m finally going to get off my butt and do this – and it’s my goal to get this done before I do a talk at a conference in April.
- Go to three marketing conferences/seminars this year. There are some really great opportunities to learn within my industry, and I want to take advantage of that.
With 2016 winding down, I thought I’d share how I did with my annual goals for the year. It has been a pretty crazy 12 months – completely different in almost every way from 2015. I have a new job, a new house, a new boyfriend, and a new future to look forward to.
My biggest achievement this year was being able to really, truly enjoy life and spend money on the things that I value – like being outdoors and traveling – all while saving over 50% of my income. I attribute this to staying on top of my monthly budgets, and working hard at increasing my income this year. I’ll be posting more about my final 2016 numbers in January. :)
Anyway here is how I did with my goals this year:
- Stay debt-free. CHECK! I took on zero debt this year.
- Save at least 50% of my income. CHECK! There’s still a few numbers I have to calculate, but it looks like I’ll end up saving about 55% of my net income this year.
- Save at least $1,300/month into my RRSP/TFSA. CHECK! Including my employer’s matching contributions, I was able to save $1,700/month towards my retirement.
- Create realistic monthly budgets. CHECK! I really tried hard this year to anticipate large expenses at least one month in advance. I also made sure to update my budgeting spreadsheet once a week with any purchases and/or transfers from my accounts.
- Live one month with a bare-bones budget. FAIL. Nope I didn’t even try. If I were smart, I would have done it while RD was away for work for 5 weeks, but I didn’t think it would be a true experiment if I didn’t include him and his expenses. So I stalled, and then felt bad for subjecting him to a bare-bones budget, and just ended up not doing it.
- Spend less than $500 on clothing and shoes this year. FAIL. Yep, this was a huge fail. I spent well over $2,000 on clothing and shoes this year. In my defense, most of the spending was in pursuit of athletic endeavors and investing in cold weather outdoor gear, which I’m okay with it. But I still failed this goal spectacularly.
- Make my body strong. CHECK! I finally gave up on the idea of becoming a runner, and didn’t run more than a 10km distance all year. Instead, I focused on hiking, rock climbing, yoga, spin class, field hockey, and lots of walking. As a result, I lost 10 pounds and two pant sizes (not my intention, but I’ll take it!), and feel so much stronger.
- Go on a multi-day hiking trip. CHECK! We went on a 3-day hike of the Sunshine Coast Trail in Powell River, and it was amazing.
- Bring lunch to work most days. PASS. I was horrendous at this earlier in the year, and am actually embarrassed at how many times I ended up buying lunch. But I’ve never been interested in spending the time to pack lunches or meal prep, and I was really frustrated with our cooking situation at home. We were still sharing cooking duties and grocery shopping, but those were two tasks that RD absolutely hated. So after work, we often found ourselves without a plan and too lazy to go grocery shopping. That led us to going out to eat often, and then not having anything for lunch the next morning – which was such a waste of money. So in the summer, I took over all cooking and grocery shopping duties. ALL OF IT. I now do all of the meal planning, prepping, cooking, and shopping. In exchange, RD does all of the household cleaning (and the dishes). This works perfectly for us because I honestly love cooking, and RD has a higher standard for a clean house than me. :) I’m really proud of how we were able to divide up the household tasks without argument, and came to an arrangement where we are both really satisfied.
- Stop going to coffee shops. CHECK! I started getting up earlier for work to make coffee in my french press. This eliminated any reason to stop at a coffee shop on my way to work. Of course, I still went out with my friends if I was socializing or traveling.
- Eat less dairy. CHECK! I made a lot of vegan recipes this year (we own 4 cookbooks and they’re all vegan), using a different variety of substitutes, or just leaving out dairy altogether. It was an interesting experiment, and I’ll definitely keep it up. But so far the only dairy products we’ve completely eliminated from the house is milk and butter.
- Read 12 books. CHECK! I read 18 books this year. Are we GoodReads friends yet?
- Bring more creativity to my life. PASS. I didn’t really do this. I had a few crafty projects on the go, and did a bit of colouring, but I don’t feel like I’ve really found my creative outlet yet. Someone told me that cooking could be my creative outlet, as I really love trying out new recipes and experimenting to make them better. Which I suppose is true.
- Rebrand GMBMFB. FAIL. I thought about it and started asking around for quotes, but didn’t actually end up going through with anything. It’ll be something I’ll be really thinking about for next year.
- Go to three marketing conferences/seminars this year. PASS. I registered for three events, but ended up being busy at the office one day, so ended up only getting to two of them.
I’ll be posting my annual spending recap and goals for 2017 soon. :) Hope you all have a great holiday break!