Ok folks. Here it is. The last entry of the 2018 Resolution series, and the last time (in 2018 anyway) that I will call you all folks. This was just a small part of the blog at this time last year, but is currently all I am posting as I have found myself wrapped up in other creative pursuits with my free time such as a renewed focus on photography and have been learning some graphic design skills through online training in the Adobe Creative Suite, which has led me to even trying my hand at art, such as this*:
It’s been a wild ride. I started out strong and ambitious, with goals of spending as little as $12,000 CAD for the year. It didn’t take long to realize that I needed to adjust that goal, and later I adjusted it again, ultimately settling on a goal of $18,000 spending for the year (less than $15,000 USD).
In the end I spent over $24,000, which by a strictly transactional measure was a huge failure. However, compared to most any other year in my life, as well as most other people I know, it was a resounding success. And, to boot, it was perhaps the most enjoyable and stress-free year of my adult life as well. If that doesn’t convince me that I don’t need to spend (and therefore earn) a lot to be happy, then I don’t know what will.
Going into the month, I was already a few thousand dollars behind on that goal, and December didn’t make things any better. I ended up spending $2,682.99, $1,182.99 over my goal of $1,500 and a total budget deficit of $6,450.87 for 2018, meaning I spent $24,450.87 (CAD), to be exact.
Despite my ongoing struggle to determine a reasonable spending goal for myself and meet it consistently, some of my income sources continue to meet or exceed expectations. I will try to provide a vacation rentals summary post for 2018 soon, but for now I’ll just say that December was a particularly good month – something that is to be expected with December through March being the high-season for vacation rentals in Mexico – for my home and rental suite in Baja California Sur, with a gross income for the month of $4,323 (CAD). After all expenses, including internet, strata fees, water and gas, cleaning, I netted about $3,325 for the month. This, of course, is on top of the savings from living without rent or a mortgage that this property provides.
Also, virtually every guest that I have had enjoys themselves immensely, leaving me with the satisfaction of providing a value-added service that benefits both parties – a business model too often overlooked in today’s ‘shareholder first’ business climate where companies often extract for more from markets than they ultimately offer them.
Something Bad – The Impact of Eating Out
I spent my time off in Canada in December – all 3 weeks of it – and so it is not surprising that my costs were higher. I spent a fair amount of that time in Victoria, BC, where there is a lot of great food and drinking establishments. I decided to get a little spendy and took advantage of the local cuisine perhaps more than I should have. In reviewing my spending for the month, I couldn’t believe how much I had spent simply on eating out – about $1000 in just a couple of weeks!!!
Eating out shouldn’t be vilified and we don’t want to get to the point where we’re too concerned with the money to enjoy it, but spending seems to work in snowballs and once you make an exception or two, it’s very easy to make more and more. What starts out as an occasional treat that falls within the budget can quickly become a ‘necessity’ that requires one to increase their budget unnecessarily to accommodate their frivolous new lifestyle.
I have friends – none of which read this blog so they won’t mind me sharing – who earn good money but never learned to cook or even properly stock their fridges in order to cut down on costs and thus eat probably 90% of their meals out. After living this way for myself again for a week in December, it is no surprise to me why they are renting and not saving or getting ahead financially at all, despite earning quite good money.
As with anything else in this world, and the premise of this blog in general, you don’t have to live poorly in order to save more and reach financial independence earlier (if at all). And as much as it’s nice to reward ourselves once in a while, if we’re not careful, we’ll very quickly become spoiled.
Something Learned – I spend $24,000 (CAD) a year
I’ll get into this more in an upcoming annual wrap-up post, but let’s just say that what I learned this year is that I spent about $24,000. More than my goal, yes, but not bad overall. Most importantly, this has given me some real data I can move forward with to guide my decision-making and medium to long-term financial plan.
Because after all, what doesn’t get measured, doesn’t get managed.
*I am well aware that this is closer to child’s play than a masterpiece but for someone who always struggle to find a tool to express his creative visions due to some inherent inability to translate these visions by hand, it has been a real revelation. Also, a whole new world of side-hustle and remote-working possibilities are created by these new skills as well.