I’ve seen a meme going around lately that has an image of an ATM with words:
“Sometimes you just have to hit ‘no receipt’ at the ATM because you just don’t need that kind of negativity in your life”
My first reaction was to cringe. Ignoring it won’t solve anything. Better to tackle it now. Ever realize that you’re thinking/saying one thing, then realize they hypocrisy of your actions?
I had one of those moments this morning. I haven’t done a financial update in over six months because I’m afraid… Not to look at my bank account, but to face the reality of some cold hard numbers (results) on progress of this year’s goals.
2018 Financial Goals
I’m not a huge believer in sharing nitty gritty numbers on the interwebs. It’s to easy for negativity to creep in comparing your savings rates to others, income, etc. If we were closer to FI, living off investments or had a living situation that would offer insight by sharing numbers, I’d feel there would be value in sharing.
With that said, waiting over six months is a bit too long. I had set a few financial goals this year:
- Reduce spending on road trips compared to previous years
- 2018 savings target
- Maintain or lower travel budget from 2017
In the last financial update, we were tracking well towards those goals. Then the unexpected sabbatical happened. Though I had no financial worries, there was a mind shift change that affected my decision making, and obviously our savings momentum was affected.
Curious to see how bad it is? I’m discovering that as I write this…. Nothing else to say. So nothing left to do but plug my nose and jump in.
Yearly Savings Goal Update
I’m a fan of stretch goals. I think sub-consciously, I knew I had been feeling stressed and worried about burning out. I set a target that wasn’t guaranteed but not highly unlikely either. Somewhere between easily achievable and stretch. Since we got married in Sept 2017, all our focus was on that; it didn’t make sense to set a savings rate for 3 months. I set a goal for Oct 2017 to December 2018.
So how are we doing?
Not surprisingly, our savings are steadily rising until June, where they came to –mostly — a grinding halt. The unplanned sabbatical happened beginning of July. I’m bummed no progress was made but super happy we didn’t use a penny of it! There’s a few factors that helped:
- We live below our means. So monthly pay check could be stretched to cover expenses longer.
- I pay myself a lower income than I’m capable from the business. This helps create a cash cushion throughout the year for unexpected gaps in income. I continued to provide myself personal income, albeit at a lower rate.
Looking back, I could have put more towards a savings goal, but we also already had a few trips planned. Some expenses had already been paid, so we were committed. July and August were heavy on ‘remaining’ travel expenses. But hey, Iceland!
Had I been more conscientious, we could have beat the goal. On the bright side, we might still make it; unexpected income gap and all. I’ll take that potential win!
I very much value investing in experience rather than things. I’m a bit restless by nature. Until 3 years ago, I moved EVERY YEAR for the first decade I moved to Toronto. I simply would get bored of same job, same home, so I would move to explore a new neighbourhood. Needless to say, that gets costly and is financially wasteful.
Having stayed put (at home and job) for three years, travel and road trips became my outlet. Knowing my restless nature, I set myself a personal challenge to maintain or lower travel expenses compared to 2017.
At first glance, it looks like I’m tracking to achieving that. I could take that false win and run. But for transparencies sake, in 2017, part of the amount comprises paying for our wedding.
Digging into the numbers, more has been spent on experiences than last year. Not terrible. Better than material things. Still though, not meeting your goal doesn’t feel great. I did have fun though. Instead of one trip, we took three: Barbados, one week road trip visiting family and Iceland!
I’m undecided on whether the joy of the experiences outweighs the sting of failing to meet a goal.
Reducing Road Trip Spending
So with a win on yearly saving goal (so far anyway) and a loss on experiences goals, we’re at a net zero. Neither winning nor losing. With a bit of trepidation, I’m diving into road trip numbers. I suspect this will be a loss.
A quick look at the Year to Date column confirms it: goal was not met. In fact, we’re only into October, and road trip expenses already surpassed last year. We have travel plans in November and of course during the holidays. What can I learn?
- We did well in traveling less frequently in February, April and July.
- There will always be travel up north in March or April for Good Friday BBQ. This is a 20 year tradition and is super important to Mr Whymances.
- June road trip was for his fathers 70th birthday. While that wouldn’t have happened otherwise, no regrets there.
- Travel spiked in September and October. This is due to a wedding, visiting family before sabbatical was over and fulfilling another goal: learning to hunt. Call me crazy but that would be hard to do in the city! I’m investing in extra expenses to see family further north to get experience and learn from them.
A Tale Of Changing Circumstances
I’m bummed about failing to meet two financial goals I set back in late winter/early spring. But it’s not like it happened accidentally. This wasn’t caused by some curveball expense life sometimes throws at you. These were all active decisions I made. Even if I didn’t closely check in with the progression.
I was on track until August rolled around. With the sabbatical, my priorities changed. I didn’t realize at the time, but the absence of work dominating my thoughts (and time), gave me the space to re-examine and assess.
Becoming more connected to nature and learning various skills to be self sufficient has been a growing desire. Learning to hunt, and going out with my 90 something year old grand father has been something was slowly working towards for the past 3 years. This has been in a large part responsible for taking more road trips I wasn’t planning in the spring.
It’s very much feeling like a double edged sword. Disappointment at not reaching a goal, but doing my best to make peace with the idea that my priorities really did change. And surprisingly, I feel no guilt. I do suspect I’ll double down to achieve the savings goal though.
Have you fell short of some goals? How did you deal with it?