1. a firm decision to do or not to do something
2. the quality of being determined or resolute.
A “New Year’s” Resolution is just one way of making resolve
It takes resolve to see something through. A “New Year’s” resolution is simply a pledge to take something on at the start of a New Year that you intend to maintain throughout the year (or beyond). But we take make all sorts of resolutions of all shapes and sizes at any time we like. The turning of a New Year is simply a convenient tracking marker.
This year, I plan to focus much less on updating my blog with monthly spending updates, as they became the crux of the blog by the end of the year. The intention of The Resolution, of course, was simply to find out how much I really spend, on everything, which I have more or less done.* I will try to get back to writing about my journey to financial freedom and the meaningful adventures I make and things I learn along the way, while applying resolve in many other important aspects of my life and financial journey.
The power of tracking/data
Although it is important for us to never forget that correlation and causation are not one in the same, there is no denying that during 2018 my spending was much better in the months where I was blogging more. If one were to jump to conclusions on this – and I am – one might suggest that the consistent awareness of my goals and values, as well as the impacts my actions have on my ability to fulfill these, allowed me to avoid needless spending and consuming. That is, by using real-world data to find out how I am doing in relation to my desired outcomes, I was better able to achieve those outcomes.
On the other hand, during the months where I was blogging less and thus paying a little less attention to my goals and short, medium and long-term intentions and resolutions, I drifted. The mind is a powerful being and if left to its own devices can convince you of almost anything – like that you’re not spending more than you know you should be or want to be. But by re-visiting your goals on a regular (daily if necessary) basis and reviewing exactly where your spending is occurring, one is much more likely to succeed.
So Data is Power after all. Fancy that.
Having spent $24,450.87 CAD in 2018, my sustained spending tracking efforts has now set me up for a real number I can use to base my 2019 goal on. And although I would like to push to keep it under $18,000 again (and still might in the end), I am going to use REAL data to inform my policies and set my goal at $24,000 CAD spending for 2019.** Like I said at this time last year, it is better to set yourself up for success than for failure, and I may even spend less by having this larger goal, as it will be harder for that defeatist attitude to creep in if the first few months don’t go so well.
I’ve also made some improvements to my tracking spreadsheet for 2019, and am going to work out a version that I can share with you soon so you can at least see how I’ve organized myself and see if that works for you or not.
Poco a Poco
Here’s my monthly budget for 2019:
At $1,230, I’ve reduced this by $145 since the start of 2018. I eliminated my motorbike storage costs finally ($50/month), and my Life Insurance ($30/month) as well as some bank account maintenance fees (from $30/month to $4/month).
I recently re-added my Audible subscription after taking up the not-so-bad habit again and wanting to purchase a few books that would cost me more than several months’ subscription would have. Coupled with the recent increase in rates by Netflix, this now-called ‘Media’ (formerly ‘Luxuries’) portion of my budget has increased for 2019 from $21 to $39.
2019 Goals (The Resolution 2.0?)
By the end of 2019 I will have hopefully also eliminated my storage unit, in which only a few things remain. This will remove a further $83 from my monthly costs. Between now and when I turn 65, that could represent an additional $128,784 in savings and investment earnings.
Now that my budget is even more simplified, my debt is all-but-eliminated and my spending is minimal, it will be even easier to improve the sync-ing of my Mint.com budget and spending tracker with my personal budget and spending tracker which I keep in a Google Sheet. Because it is simple, the google sheet isn’t too onerous, and while in Mexico I use a fair amount of cash so it is difficult to track that with the mint app, beyond just calling it a ‘cash withdrawal’, for which I may buy a number of things such as food and chelas. However, I would still like to make improvements and further automate this in the future. Otherwise, it is likely that my spending tracking may eventually ‘peter-out’, as I adopt the habits its data has brought me and move on to new goals, just as I have done in the past with my caloric intake, output and weight after
Of course, some form of tracking will always continue, but it may just become a little less item specific and day-to-day once I am confident that I have gleaned from that practice the information what I can and naturally move on to new areas of improvement in my life.
There was a lot more learned in 2018, but it’s time for this ‘blogger’ to not kick this horse anymore and move onto more meaningful and interesting posts again.
And that is my latest item of resolve.
*like any form of measurement, a reasonable margin of error must be assumed. I chose to track my spending primarily ‘by hand’, but also used Mint.com as a supplement as well.
**I know, this is a novel concept – real data informing policy – in today’s landscape.