The first three months of 2016 have been stressful, but mostly good. No, they’ve been great, actually.
I don’t normally blog about the details of my personal life on this blog, but I cannot believe how much different my life looks now, than it did last spring. I’m in a relationship with someone I can see myself with, well, for a really long time … and our little laneway is really starting to feel like home. :)
I’m also starting to feel comfortable with the direction that my career is going. Usually I’m unhappy with some aspect of my career (not enough responsibilities, not getting paid enough, or fretting over not making enough freelance income), but my full-time job is enjoyable (I even got a raise this month!), and freelancing has been steady. And I do find it funny that since I decided to stop caring about how much money I’m bringing in, I’m set to earn more than I ever have before.
Anyway, the main focus of this year is to feel strong both mentally and physically, and stay on top of my retirement contributions. I also want to create realistic budgets, and challenge myself to do more with the money that I make.
- Stay debt-free. CHECK! I have not incurred any debt in the first quarter of this year.
- Save at least 50% of my income. CHECK! This is a new goal I wanted to add as a target for the year, and for Q1 I’m averaging a savings rate of 65%.
- Save at least $1,300/month into my RRSP/TFSA. CHECK! After my 3-month probation was over in February, I became eligible for employer contributions which increased my retirement savings to $775 bi-weekly, which means my total contributions come in at just under $1,700/month when you factor in the 26 pay periods.
- Create realistic monthly budgets. CHECK! So far, so good. I haven’t stayed completely on budget, but I’ve been really diligent in tracking my monthly spending – and I think that’s more important. Everything feels a lot more organized this year, and that makes me happy.
- Live one month with a bare-bones budget. PENDING. I haven’t decided when the best time to do this would be. There’s a month where RD will be gone for work, so I’m potentially considering that time frame. But it’s not really an accurate picture, because living one month with a bare-bones budget would require his buy-in and participation to make it real.
- Spend less than $500 on clothing and shoes this year. CHECK! I’m on track so far, and haven’t purchased anything except for 2 pairs of TOMS. But, if I’m being really, really honest with myself, I’m not sure I’ll make this target.
- Make my body strong. ONGOING. I’ve been working out an average of 3-4x/week and have noticed massive improvements in my climbing ability. When I stopped climbing 4+ years ago, I was at the 5.11a-b level – well just a few months into climbing and we are at around the 5.10d and 5.11a level. It feels good. Now that field hockey season is over, I’m going to have come up with a new fitness activity for a few months. If it’s not running, I may go back to spin class or head to the gym and do a bit of elliptical and weight training. At least until hiking season. :)
- Go on a multi-day hiking trip. PENDING. We’ve had discussions about where we’d like to go hiking, and we are both interested in doing a multi-day hike on the Sunshine Coast Trail. But, I’m not sure if/when we can swing this trip in 2016 (ideally I’d love to do 4-5 days) … so we might have to squeeze in a long weekend hike sometime in the summer.
- Bring lunch to work most days. PASS. I’m trying really hard at this, and it’s a definite improvement from the past, but I could be doing better.
- Stop going to coffee shops. CHECK! I stopped going to Starbucks once they announced their new star rewards program. We make coffee every morning at home with a french press (and even take it traveling with us to save even more money).
- Eat less dairy. FAIL. I haven’t really tried to cut back. We eat a lot of cheese at home … although we have substituted butter and milk at home for vegan substitutes on a permanent basis.
- Read 12 books. PASS. According to GoodReads, I’m 1 book behind schedule. :)
- Bring more creativity to my life. PENDING. I’m looking into pottery classes, as well as taking on more cooking and baking. I’m also going to start experimenting with brewing my own kombucha and trying out new flavour combinations. Oh, and I’ve also gone back to editing in Photoshop. I wanted to stay away from pixels, but forgot how much fun it is to mess around in that program.
- Rebrand GMBMFB. PENDING. I’m currently trying to figure out what exactly I want, but I can’t nail it down. This will require more thinking, because I don’t want to spend the money if I’m just going to want to change things again a year later.
- Go to three marketing conferences/seminars this year. PENDING. I’ve signed up for one seminar already through work, and have expressed my interest in going to more. This goal will be attainable.
I’m really excited for 2016. Life changes so quickly, and I never thought I would be where I am right now. I finally feel a little settled. I have a great job with a company I can see myself with long-term, I’ve found what seems like a little niche with my freelance career, and I’m also really looking forward to creating a home with RD. These things really give me the focus and direction I’ve been craving since I got back from Germany a few years ago.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past trying to find a place where I felt like I belonged. I feel like I belong when I play field hockey, and I can create my own sense of belonging when I’m outside running or climbing or hiking. I want to feel strong both physically and mentally, and that’s going to be a big focus of mine for 2016.
As for travel, I anticipate local trips this year which will centre around outdoorsy activities. The only thing that is for sure is my annual family trip to Seattle. Other than that, I’m sure I’ll be in Toronto at least 2-3 times next year at some point. :)
My main financial goal remains early retirement. This is what the majority of my savings will go towards. I also want to create realistic budgets and challenge myself to do more with the money that I make.
- Stay debt-free. This is obviously an important goal. :)
- Save at least $1,300/month into my RRSP/TFSA. 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 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.
- Live one month with a bare-bones budget. I’ve done this experiment in the past, and it was really helpful to see how little I can live off of.
- Spend less than $500 on clothing and shoes this year. I actually don’t need anything that I can think of, but I know things will pop up – especially fitness-related. The $500 indicated does not include repairing or altering items I already own.
- Make my body strong. I’ve noticed my body changing a lot in the last couple of years. I’ve lost a bit of speed, it takes longer to recover between activities, I can’t eat like I used to without consequences, and I seem to be going down with a lot of injuries. This year I want to really focus on making my body stronger. There’s no shortage of physical activities I’m interested in. But I’m thinking a combination of rock climbing, yoga, field hockey, and hiking will be good for me. And perhaps it’s time I just give long distance running a rest for a while (as it seems like my body hates me when I run anything over 10-12 km).
- Go on a multi-day hiking trip. RD and I both want to do a lot of hiking this year, but I specifically want to do a multi-day hike/camp somewhere. I’m thinking of Cape Scott because I haven’t been there yet, but also really want to explore other areas besides southwest BC.
- Bring lunch to work most days. Now that I’m feeling more settled, I want to stop wasting money on going out for lunch. It’s cheaper and healthier to pack lunches every day, so I’m aiming to do this 4x/week.
- Stop going to coffee shops. I can make all the coffee I want to make at home, and we have free (really good) coffee at work, so there’s no reason to go to coffee shops anymore unless it’s for socializing. I’m not saying no to coffee dates – just to unnecessary trips to the coffee shop because I’m too lazy to make my own.
- Eat less dairy. I tried a 30-day vegan challenge last fall which really helped me see how much dairy I was consuming on a regular basis. I’m not going to go full vegan (yet), but I want to consume less dairy at home on a regular basis (which means saying no to cheese sometimes), and switching over to vegan butter, ice cream, and other household staples.
- Read 12 books. I have so many great books piling up, and want to get into a habit of reading a few pages a day if I can. This might mean less Netflix. :)
- Bring more creativity to my life. I love creating things, but most of the time I’m creating pixelated art on my computer. I’d like to explore more ways of being hands-on with my creativity – whether it’s a relaxing evening of colouring, cross stitching, knitting, pottery class, or taking up sketching again … I want a different creative outlet other than Photoshop and my blog.
- Rebrand GMBMFB. I want to somehow incorporate my blog with my professional website, and haven’t quite figured it out yet.
- 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.
What a year! I don’t think I’ve ever gone through more change in such a short period of time. I am in a completely different place than I was at this point last year, and it’s a really good feeling: new job, new home, and a relationship with someone who makes me so happy.
My goal in 2015 was to find balance and live with less. For the last few years I had a hard time finding balance in my life – I never felt settled, and I always felt like something was being neglected – whether it was my relationship, freelance work, or personal health. I rarely spent more than a couple nights each week at my house. My space felt abandoned, and I really disliked that feeling.
During 2015 I wanted to:
- Plan out each week as best I can.
- Start donating/selling/throwing away things I no longer use.
- Re-focus on saving on the little things.
I will admit that for the majority of the year, these things did not happen. I did not plan my weeks out very well, and because I didn’t plan, it was hard to focus on saving on the little things. I could have done a lot better. But I did do two massive purges and got rid of bags and bags of stuff I no longer needed or wanted.
- Stay debt-free (aside from my mortgage). CHECK! Not only did I stay debt-free, but I also got rid of my mortgage. :)
- Increase my income by 15%. CHECK! I increased my income by about 15% in 2015, and am set to increase it by another 15% in 2016, but this is no longer going to be a focus in my life or on this blog.
- Save at least $800/month into my RRSP/TFSA. CHECK! I am now saving $1,100/month, and in February that will increase to $1,300/month with employer contributions. For those of you curious, I use a modified Global Couch Potato investment plan.
- Stay on budget every month. FAIL. Not only did I not stay on budget, but I didn’t track my budget on this blog half of the time. I was not as organized as I should have been this year.
- Limit Starbucks trips to 2x/month. FAIL. I think I failed within the first month of the year. Not sure why I even bothered.
- Bring lunch to work most days. FAIL. This did not happen at all. For the majority of the year it was like I was living in two separate places (my home, and my BF’s home), so it was extremely hard to plan. Over the last month I’ve gotten a lot better and have been packing my lunch at least 4x/week.
- Shop for needs. CHECK! I didn’t buy much throughout the year, but when I started this new job, I refreshed my work wardrobe a little bit.
- Go on one big trip. CHECK! My sister and I went to Havana, Cuba for a week. I also went to Seattle with my family, and RD and I took a week off and headed down to Portland and the Oregon coast in November.
- Run in one half marathon. FAIL. I signed up for the Goodlife Half Marathon in October, but ended up not being able to run it. My training during the summer was going well, then my injury flared up again. I’ll have to re-evaluate whether running or field hockey is the priority for me, because it’s clear my body doesn’t want me to do both.
- Read 20 books. FAIL. No excuses, I just didn’t read as much as I wanted to.
- Enroll in Business Management program. PASS. I figured out exactly what program I wanted to take, and had it approved by my boss. The only issue is, I quit that job. And since then, I’ve re-evaluated where my career is going. I have clear direction now, and I don’t believe that further education is required to get me there. So this goal is on hold, at least for the next couple of years.