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!
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.