2017 in Review: Financial Goals

Happy New Year!

As is the trend in the blogging world, the start of a new year is when we review the year before and make new plans or goals for the new year.  I am no different.  I reviewed my personal/miscellaneous goals already, but it is now time to review my financial goals for 2017.  I’ve been reviewing these every month all year long, so none of these results should come as a complete shock, but it is always good to review and reflect. Continue reading

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2017 in Review: Misc. Goals

Winter_Wonderland

As usual, I totally underestimated how busy I’d be over the holidays, so I haven’t finished up all my goals review posts ahead of time, like I thought I would, but here we are on New Year’s Eve, so I figured I’d quickly review my goals for 2017 and see how I did… Then next week I can go over what I want to accomplish in 2018.

For 2017 I gave myself 5 miscellaneous/personal goals.  I did a review back in September, and honestly, I don’t know that I have too much to add my review right now, but I’ll go over each one anyway… Continue reading

Tidying, Instead of Decluttering…

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!  I enjoyed a very relaxing day with family, and am now attempting to get myself organized for the new year… 

A couple weeks ago now, Anne Lene over at Minimalist Sometimes finished up a 7 day decluttering and blogging challenge.  I was inspired to declutter, until I went home and looked around my messy mid-renovation chaos of a house, and then sat down on the couch completely discouraged to pout…

But, instead of a decluttering challenge, I decided to just try and reign in some of the chaos of my house… Each day I would try to do at least 20 minutes of tidying.  Some sort of tidying…

I recently finished reading the book “Unf*ck your habitat : you’re better than your mess” by Rachel Hoffman.  It wasn’t anything ground breaking or mind blowing, but it was a funny read and it was refreshing because she understands that we are human and have lives and might not actually enjoy the act of cleaning… She also has a website.  The book and the website have all sorts of challenges to help get you going on the road to a nice clean home.  Maybe some day I’ll go through her challenges, but for now… 20 minutes…

One of the mainstays of Rachel’s method is the 20/10.  20 minutes of cleaning or tidying, then 10 minutes of rest.  The idea is that 20 minutes isn’t a very long commitment, so it should be easy enough to get enough motivation to get off the couch and *do something* for 20 minutes, and then you reward yourself with a full 10 minutes of rest or fun…

I decided that for the month of December, I would try my hardest to complete 1 x 20 minute tidy each day.  In a hopes that it will at least keep some of the renovation chaos at bay, and allow me to feel somewhat relaxed in my renovation-chaos-ridden house.

Well… How have I done, you ask?  We are currently 27 days in to December, and I’ve completed my daily 20 minute tidy only 12 times… Not exactly a resounding success… Especially when a lot of those tidying times were repeating something that was “tidied” the time before…  But I still have a few days in December to improve…

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my before and after shots of my 20 minute tidy sessions… Continue reading

My Christmas Giving Tradition

I’m not sure if I’ve written about this before or not… (I’ll go read my old blog posts later and find out…)  But in any case, a couple recent blog posts (like Cait’s list of traditions) and emails (like one from J$ at Rockstar Finance promoting their Community Fund) have got me thinking about it (plus the fact that this year’s event just happened this past weekend), and so I thought I would share my Christmas giving tradition.

It all started when I was 9 years old.  My mum always had this annual tradition of hosting a “Sherry and Shortbread” party for all of her friends and acquaintances.  The idea was that she would host an open-house-style-party, and provide all sorts of drinks and goodies, and she asked her friends to bring used clothing and toys to donate to the local women’s transition house (a shelter for women and children who needed temporary housing while they transitioned out of a bad situation).  The stack of donations would fill up the entire front hall and stairwell to the second level of our house.  It was amazing!  (She has since stopped doing this annual party, but I guess my tradition has sort of taken its place…)

Christmas Hamper 1991

At around this time, I had a club with a few of my friends that we called “the Fun Club”.  I think it was sort of our version of the Babysitters’ Club, except that we were a little too young for babysitting, so we just created a club.  One afternoon after school we were hanging around at our house (our normal “meeting” place was in the attic of our garage), and somehow my mum planted a seed in our minds about doing something like her friends do, and donate some of our old clothes, toys and books to someone less fortunate than us.  I’m not sure how it all happened, but eventually my mum asked a local church if they had a family that could use some extra gifts for Christmas, and they gave us a family with children about our age, which worked out perfectly.   We collected things from our own collections of toys that were still nice enough to be given as a gift, along with clothes and books and food stolen from our parents’ cupboards, and put together a pretty good hamper for a bunch of kids.  (I’m pretty sure our parents did a lot of helping, but it felt like it was us at the time.)

Christmas Hamper 1992

It’s a little vague in my memory now how exactly that idea was formed, but needless to say, that year, when we were 9 years old, a new tradition was formed among my friends.  And we have continued it every year ever since!  (Okay, I admit that there was 1 year that it didn’t happen – I was living in Sweden for a year after I graduated university, and didn’t come home for Christmas.  It wasn’t exactly something that I could easily organize from that far away.)

Christmas Hamper 1995

Over the years it has definitely changed and morphed, but every year in early December I get friends asking me if I am going to do my Christmas hamper again this year.  Some years we would a family of all boys that were older than us (at the time my friends were mostly girls).  I think we had to get creative for gifts on that one.  And some years we would get families so large (think multiple sets of multiples) that we started asking other friends to help out.  And the sources for our families has changed too.  Sometimes it’s a church, or a school, or a community organization.  Some years I contact the same source as the year before and they pass me on to someone else because there need isn’t as great (which is always nice to hear).

As we’ve gotten older, the gifts we give have changed too.  As teenagers and young adults, we didn’t have as many old toys, books and clothing for children just lying around our houses anymore, so we moved on to buying a few new toys and items.  It probably helped that our incomes were higher at that age, so we didn’t have to rely on donating our own items.  And while some of my friends’ parents still do contribute, we have moved away from relying on their contributions to make a big difference.  I feel like we may move towards being able to pull from our own homes in the near future, once the collection of babies and young kids grows up a little bit… But maybe some of them will start their own Christmas hamper tradition.

Christmas Hamper 2016
Christmas Hamper 2016

The event that I host has changed over the years too.  When we were kids, it was an afternoon of wrapping gifts and my mum would serve us some sort of lunch (probably Kraft Dinner).  There were probably only 5-10 of us.  Now, it is more an event similar to my mum’s old “Sherry and Shortbread” party.  I create a feast of food for my friends, and they stop by when they can (holidays are always busy), help with the sorting and wrapping of the gifts, and grab a bite to eat.  The total number of people that stop by is probably well over 30, maybe closer to 40 or 50 once you start counting the kids that are now around with my friends.  Needless to say, the amount of donations has increased as the number of participants has increased, so we typically do at least 2 families, sometimes 3.  And often we have so much extra that we can help supplement other hampers or donate some of the extras to other organizations.

It’s pretty amazing that my group of friends has done this for over 20 years.  I am not sharing this to look for praise or anything.  I am not a saint, nor do I do much donating to the hamper itself.  I just make food and host a party for my friends, and I am always looking for an excuse to host a party.  If anything, the only reason I keep this up is because my friends are all so generous and enthusiastic, they would be disappointed in me if I stopped.

Christmas Hamper 2017
Christmas Hamper 2017

But, hopefully by sharing how easy it is to get a group of people to do amazing things, I might be able to inspire someone else to start a similar giving tradition for themselves, or their kids.

Do you have any Christmas giving traditions?

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!

Oh Emails… You Multiply like Rabbits!

I have written about my emails a few times before… Back in 2015, I had grand ambitions of a weekly decluttering goal and one of the weeks was my email inboxes.  I made progress, but didn’t get the job completely done…

It was about this time last year that I felt the need to revisit my email clutter… I did pretty well, emptying out 4 of my 5 email inboxes.  But… I have let it all slide…

At the end of the last round of email decluttering my inbox totals were looking like this:

December 1, 2016 Total: 6452 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 6452

And today, my total is looking a bit more like this:

Current Inbox Total: 7487 + 8 + 22 + 7 + 3 = 7527

So, that’s actually not that bad… But what that doesn’t show is the emails that I have “sorted” in to my GTD folders (as I explained in that last post – and for those that aren’t following what GTD is, it stands for “Getting Things Done” and is the acronym for a methodology from David Allen’s book of the same name.) and haven’t done anything about… That’s not really the point of those GTD folders… They are supposed to help you “Get Things Done”…

Anyway, since I’m waiting for renovations to be completed before I can do any more traditional decluttering, I figured I could spend some time sorting through these email inboxes and GTD folders, and either do stuff, or delete stuff…

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December 2017 – Financial Update

I’m feeling a little like I’ll never catch up on my to-do list items, and so the blog seems to always be the things to get left behind… But it’s time for another financial update and review of our financial goals for 2017, so I have pulled together enough for at least this post… So here’ goes…

#1 – Emergency Fund

Another month of successfully avoiding pulling anything from the human emergency fund.  It is still sitting at the happy $10,000 mark.

November was another month of just regular pet expenses, so we were able to add a little to the pet emergency fund.  I’m not sure we will get to the $5000 before the end of the year, but it is still moving in the right direction, so I’ll count that as a positive.

Human Emergency Fund = $10,000

Pet Emergency Fund = $3720 (+$225) 

Continue reading

Maternity / Parental Leave Planning

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After my announcement that we are expecting a baby in March, I don’t want this blog to turn in to a mommy-blog (it may be a slight inevitability that things will move that direction, but I will resist as long as possible), but there are some financial things that should be worked out before the baby comes, and that is definitely something that I think fits in with this blog, so I will write about that…

In the ideal world, I would love to take a year (or more) off from my traditional job and take on the full time role of mum, but that’s probably not the best option for us.  (And please don’t take that the wrong way, I don’t think that being a stay-at-home mum is an easy job, it sounds quite tough, but from what I’ve heard it can be one of the most rewarding “jobs” there is.)

My income accounts for about 75-80% of our household income right now.  This hasn’t always been the case, but because my husband is currently doing some training to get the necessary certificates for the next step in his dream career, his income has definitely taken a hit lately.  I foresee his income eventually being equal to mine, or at least very close, but until then, we have to plan as if we are in the current income scenario.  I think that’s called worst case planning or something… Continue reading