START TRACKING YOUR SPEND
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Let's stop pretending that being good at money means you need to be good at math. Instead, let's listen to our body and our mind.
It seems almost comical to look back on 2020 and analyze if the year panned out how any of us hoped. I think we can collectively answer that question with a big, fat NOPE. Nothing went as planned, resolutions went out the window, and just as you thought nothing could get crazier, the aliens have landed! (Just kidding, but would you have been surprised?)
You had to forget all expectations and enjoy the small wins this year. Time with family, zoom calls with friends, and the most walking I’ve done in my life. With this crazy year soon ending, as draining as it was, it taught me several things. I will never take the little things for granted, like the hug of a loved one, I’ve had to live more slowly, which I struggle with, and I’ve learned the importance of good financial wellness even more. Whether that’s an ample emergency fund, different forms of income, or stable investments. You truly never know what will happen, and a solid financial plan can be a serious comfort blanket.
Be easy on yourself when looking back at this year. Everyone deserves a 2020 participation ribbon, no, a gold medal, just for coming out the other end! Did I accomplish everything I’d hoped? Nope! But, these wins, no matter how small, deserve to be shared. Although this article will mostly be touching on my financial resolutions, I did have some personal wins this year that I’m grateful for. These included reaching my best health since 2017 (!!), finding a love of writing and financial education through this blog, and passing my one-year mark of learning the guitar. I’m so thankful for these accomplishments, and I’m excited to continue the momentum into the new year!
Although I’m the first person to be overly critical of myself, it’s a good practice to look back on the year and see how far you’ve come. After all, you can’t build financial freedom in a day! Looking back, some of my financial wins for the year were:
I opened up my first brokerage account, otherwise known as an investment account for individuals. I moved my Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) and Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) from a big bank to an online brokerage. This reduced my fees and will allow me to have full control over my investments.
Switched my investments from actively managed mutual funds and stocks into mostly passive, low-fee exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Because I prefer to sleep at night without stress, thank you! If you’re interested in investing in ETFs, see my article on how to analyze an index-fund.
Did my taxes for the first time at 24 years old. If that doesn’t scream *adulting* I don’t know what will. If you’re curious or a little scared about doing your taxes in the new year, see my article on how to file your taxes in Canada for beginners.
Increased my hours at work and secured a full-time position with an increased salary and my benefits starting in the new year. I’ve only been with my current employer a little over a year, and it was nice to receive positive feedback and for them to express an interest in having me on as a more permanent member of the team.
Learned about the importance of a high-yield savings account. If you’re still storing your emergency fund in your checking account, girl, you NEED to check out my article on what short-term investing strategies exist in Canada.
Perfection with personal finance is unreachable, and I think it’s important to share some financial woes or blunders from the year. By analyzing my mistakes, I’m able to learn and improve going forward. Maybe you have experienced similar mistakes this year:
Throughout a large portion of the year, I was holding WAY too much in my checking account. I’ve now learned about the importance of only saving money for day-to-day expenses in a checking account and am in the process of putting the rest of my money to work.
I’ve made a few bad investment calls – selling out at the wrong time or dropping to 50% of their original value. I’ll likely continue to invest in the occasional stock, but this was a large factor in deciding to invest most of my money passively. In other words, I make whatever the overall stock market is making and don’t have to worry about the ups and downs of individual stocks.
I fell prey to online shopping and bought some expensive items that I later regretted – a digital camera that I haven’t touched, the latest trending hair tools. I single-handedly kept my local Sephora in business over COVID.
I didn’t meet my savings goal for the year. The main reason being that I wasn’t a salaried employee and wasn’t taking home enough pay to cover my expenses. Rent is a big chunk of my income. With everything going on, I’m still grateful that I could put away a small amount of savings or break-even each month.
Despite many unknowns as we enter the new year, I’m going in with goals to improve my professional and financial life. If I don’t accomplish them, that’s ok. The old me (and some days still) would perform 8/9 tasks and feel discouraged. I’m working on being kinder to myself and showing more self-compassion; however, It’s a good practice to keep yourself accountable and dream big! Here are some of my goals for the new year at various levels of extravagance:
Receive a competitive salary and benefits from my job while also negotiating some work-from-home days each month. I know that I’ll be offered a full-time position in the new year, but I’m currently unaware of the terms. I’ve never had to negotiate a salary before, so I’m trying to educate myself beforehand.
Start a recurring monthly contribution to my investment accounts. Once I receive a raise in the new year, I’m hoping to put away at least 10% every month. If I can increase that to 20%, that would be amazing, but I’m starting with a realistic goal.
Look at ways to cut my transportation costs because damn, gas is expensive. When I worked from home and stayed put in April & May, I saved $600 in two months on transportation! That is a crazy amount. Although it’s not safest to use other forms of transportation right now, I’m hoping to negotiate some work-from-home days, as I mentioned, and if things ever get safer, look into carpooling options.
Incorporate some side hustle income. Currently, I’m only making one stream of income as my investment income gets reinvested. Maybe it will involve my writing or some other avenue. I’m not sure yet, but to have a little extra money during these uncertain times, primarily through something I love, would be amazing.
Take my Wealth Management Essentials Course (WME) through the Canadian Securities Institute (CSI). This is a professional goal of mine as it’s the next step for me to eventually become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or a Certified Investment Manager (CIM). These designations are similar in content and recognition. They give you the ability to provide financial advice, with a few variances. The WME is a two-part examination, and my goal is to complete them in 2021. Fingers crossed!
This year was a big year for me in my personal and financial life. It was my first full year in the corporate world, and my first year controlling my finances. Looking back, I’m so happy I did, and I’m grateful for the resources that made it possible. I’m excited to continue that momentum into 2021 while likely having a freak-out over being halfway to 50 (eep!). 2020 was undoubtedly one for the books and, despite our best efforts, we probably won’t be forgetting it anytime soon!
Oh no, you missed the live webinar! But, good news: Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a resource for anyone planning for a future child or family.
Mixed Up Money is pleased to share a free resource for anyone looking to cut back on non-essential spending. My most-requested product is these monthly calendars to share on your Instagram story, use as a phone background, or print off to track your spending habits.