youngandthrifty’s 2011 Personal Finance New Years Resolutions Review

Part of blogging about your goals and resolutions means trying (key word, trying!) to keep accountable with them.

So I thought I would share with you how I think I did this year.   As you know, I blogged about my personal finance goals for this year early in January, and also shared my personal goals. I will share how I’m doing for both.

  • Max out TFSA to $15000- In January, I’ll have $15,000 of TFSA space because I took out all of my TFSA’s for my down payment. I plan to sell some of my non-registered stocks in order to put money back into my Tax Free Trading Account and top it up with savings.

100% completed:  I ended up transferring in kind my non-registered dividend stocks.  I did receive capital gains or losses (net capital gain for this year is only about $120) because I moved them when the markets dipped to near the purchase value of what I bought them as.

  •  5 Personal Budgeting Myths Pictures, Images and PhotosMax out RRSP allowed contributions- I set out $200 a month automatically to an RRSP TD e-series and top up the rest before the year ends. I’ll need to make sure I have money for the extra contribution before the end of the year.

100% completed: I ended up contributing almost the maximum allowed RRSP contribution for my final tax deduction before next year’s tax return (2012) where I will start having to pay back my Home Buyers Plan withdrawal.

  • Replenish my Savings Account- Since my savings account was basically ameliorated from the down payment, I would like save at least 15% a month for this.

Goal wasn’t met: I had wanted to save up at least $5000 in my emergency fund, but I only have about $1700 now.

  • Save $2400 for Travel Fund- I plan to climb the highest peak in Africa in 2012 (before I turn the big 3-0… some people jump out of planes and sky dive…I hike) and will need some cashola for that (not to mention get in shape)…I will try and set aside $200 a month for this travel fund (automatically). I have an ING savings account for that

Goal has been delayed and only at 40% completion with new criteria: For some reason, I thought it would only cost $2400 to do this hike but it’s more in the tune of $4000 for this trip.  I currently have $2600 saved up (were I to use the old criteria, I would have completed this goal, but because this goal wasn’t “SMART” to begin with, I need to adjust the goal).  I think this should be achievable for this year since it wasn’t difficult this current year.  I have also been contributing $100 a month and not $200 a month.

  • Pay down the Mortgage extra $500/month ($1000 total)- BF and I are going to rent out the basement and plan to use that money to pay down the mortgage and attack the beast principle amount.

FAIL: We finally have tenants but are not paying an extra $500 a month.  We could technically do this, but after spending on the renovations etc. we would like to enjoy a bit more cash flow before we buckle down and pay down the mortgage more aggressively.  We are paying an extra $200 a month.  I am also a student now and it has changed the situation dramatically in terms of disposable income available.

  • Slowly change most of my equities into dividend paying equities- Currently I have some “play” money in my portfolio with which I invest in growth stocks, but I think I’m going to try and convert most of my portfolio to blue-chip dividend paying equities

Hard to measure this goal. I guess this goal wasn’t SMART ;) I think I have bought some more dividend paying equities this year so far, but I am unsure how many. I think most of the stocks I bought were in my TFSA portfolio.

  • Write down what I spend my money on daily- I’ve been terrible at remembering to do this last year. I think it’s because I have the Mint app now so I’ve been bad at recording my expenses. I feel like a big hypocrite because I advocate for people to write down what they spend their money on. So to fix this- because I am a visual person, I’m going to use one of those free calenders you get from banks etc. to write down what my expenses are day to day.

Ran out of Steam: I did well with this resolution until about September, when I got a new student planner.  It just wasn’t as easy to bring that out with me in my purse to write my expenses down.  I know I can put it in an iPhone app or something but I’m too lazy to do that and I find that I like seeing things on paper. 

Readers, how did you fare with your 2011 personal finance resolutions?

About

Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

31 Responses to youngandthrifty’s 2011 Personal Finance New Years Resolutions Review

  1. I’m jealous of your hiking trip! I’m going skydiving this spring!

    • young says:

      @Michelle- Accck skydiving?? My palms are getting sweating just reading that word! Would love to hear about how that goes. I don’t think I could do that unless I take some sort of anti anxiety medication before hand hah.

  2. Congratulation! You did great overall. Now you got me thinking about setting a FUN goal for my big 40. I’ll have to think about that one.

  3. Leigh says:

    I think you did pretty great this year! Considering that this was your first real year with the house and you were in school, you did pretty well with your goals :)

    • young says:

      @Leigh- I guess so! Thanks for bringing perspective for me. It will be interesting to see how next year pans out since next year I will have been in school all year long (instead of for 3 months of it in 2011).

  4. You did great! Life changes and it’s good that you’re changing your goals accordingly. And being realistic about where you are. Kudos!

    • young says:

      @femmefrugality- I hate that I have to be realistic about where I am lol. I wish I could live on cloud land and pretend I was still making the same income I was before. ;)

  5. Barwelle says:

    Y&T, may I make a suggestion about tracking your daily expenses? What I do is make sure I get a receipt from EVERY purchase. At the end of the day, I put them in a box. Then at the end of each month (or more often if I feel ambitious), input all my expenses (using the box of receipts) into the computer. I’ve been using an Excel spreadsheet, but it’s alot of work to make and change, so I’ll be trying out gnucash for 2012.

    That’s what I did to start, but I use my credit card quite a bit lately for the rewards points so I’ve been just using the credit card statement, then keeping the receipts just for cash transactions. Then there are fewer receipts to sort through.

    • young says:

      @Barwelle- Of course you may make a suggestion! And that’s a good one too :) I do like being ‘aware’ of my expenses as I go, because if not, it can surely add up at the end of the month (or even at the end of the year) and it will be a shocker.. then I won’t have the time to go and make amends because it will be too late. For me, I find the daily tracking (or perhaps at least weekly tracking) more helpful because it brings awareness to what I am spending on.

      I just had a look at Gnucash and it seems amazing!! And best of all its free! Thanks for the recommendation. I have tried Quicken (have a review of it coming up in the middle of January) but I find it difficult to use because I have a Mac.

  6. Well done on your TFSA and RRSP. Now that you are a home owner, you’ll constantly juggle between paying the mortgage faster or invest :) My recommendation is that in the first 5 years, the savings on the mortgage are immense due to the compound growth nature of the interest.

    • young says:

      @PIE- You hit the nail on the head PIE, I’m juggling like a madwoman, for sure! I would love to pay down the mortgage faster but I need to somehow convince the lovely co-owner of this home to do the same. Perhaps I could invest in my TFSA and with these investments I could pay a lump sum (as long as it doesn’t exceed 20% of the amount I borrowed of course). It’s a fine balance and difficult to decide…I’m sure it will be even worse once children roll around and there are RESPs! If only we all had enough money max out each of the TFSA/RRSP/RESP/Mortgage jars. :)

  7. Great work!

    The trip to Africa sounds awesome.

    PIE is right, now you’re a homemoaner, you will struggle with the RRSP, TFSA, EF and mortgage dance. I know for us, a bit of everything seems to be working. Some mortgage lump-sum payments, some RRSP contributions, trying to maximize the TFSAs every year and some EF for the “what ifs” in life.

    Oh yeah, don’t forget to spend a bit too and live life.

    My wife and I hope to go away somewhere fun for 2 weeks within the year. Not sure where, but Costa Rica for beaches, hiking and trying surfing sounds pretty damn nice :)

    Have a great weekend.

    • young says:

      @MOA- LOL homemoaner is so right. That’s how I approach it too- a little bit of everything. Though it’s hard not to feel “inferior” because its human nature to want to meet all the targets right.

      Costa Rica sounds amazing! I’ve always wanted to go. Sounds like a great trip and that definitely sounds like living life :)

  8. Congrats. I think you did well overall too. I’m sorry the hiking trip wasn’t the price that you had anticipated. Additionally, I’m sorry about the renovations being more than you had expected. However, it’s good that the basement is rented now and that you are enjoying increased cash flow! In the future, you can aggressively pay down the mortgage just like you had planned. Cheers!!!!

    • young says:

      @Roshawn- That’s alright. I think I was grandiose/ delusional anyways. This gives me more time to save money. I dream about paying down the mortgage and get excited about it. Once I’m done school and maybe a little bit while I am in school.

  9. Barwelle says:

    You’re welcome! I tried Quicken too but found it awkward and difficult to use… Gnucash seems much more user friendly and simple. Some people don’t like it because it’s open source, but as long as you don’t link your accounts to it, it would be fine.

    I can see how you would like to keep track of every day’s expenses (I’m just to lazy to bother with it myself!) It would be sweet if there existed a program where you could make a monthly or weekly budget, then input your expenses, and it would show you how much you have left to spend in the budget. Kind of like a virtual version of the money jars on Til Debt Do Us Part. Better if it could be had on a smartphone too! Someone must have made an app like this by now…

    • young says:

      @Barwelle- I tried downloading Gnucash but it seemed complicated to upload on a Mac. I think I need a personal IT person to help me with the computer stuff lol. The calender method for me is working well so far.

  10. Barwelle says:

    How silly of me… There are loads of budget apps for Android, and many of them free. Apple would have many too, of course. So if you have a smartphone or ipod touch, that could be an easier way than using pen and paper. Then you wouldn’t have to manually add up your expenses.

    Some of them say you can export the data from their apps into programs like Quicken and Gnucash!

    • young says:

      @Barwelle- Yeah, I have some of those apps on my iphone but I never use them- not sure why…! I guess I’m old fashioned. I like using Mint.com though becuase its so automatic.

  11. I have trouble with the recording my expenses thing as well. This year I was planning on tracking every tax I pay to figure out my real tax rate. It lasted about two days.

    • young says:

      @Shaun- LOL It’s a lot of work, for sure. File folders are handy in this case. I just stuff everything into the folder and review it in January.

  12. Congrats. You did awesome. We use Quicken to record our stuff and we love it. It makes reviewing transactions really easy and simplifies filing our taxes. You should give it a try.

    • young says:

      @Miss T- I have a review of Quicken coming up in a few weeks and I find it so cumbersome to use! It looks really helpful for tax and dividend purposes but my version of Quicken is on the “PC” side of my Mac and it’s annoying and slow to run on my laptop.

  13. I don’t think you did so bad at all! My main PF resolution was basically save 50% of net income, and I got most of the way there!

    • young says:

      @Invest it Wisely- That is SO amazing Kevin! I am not near 50% of my income at all. That’s great to hear. What are you doing with the 50% that you’re saving? Do I hear wedding planning? ;)

  14. I tried once writing down everything I spent on a daily basis. It was time consuming and depressing. Not because it was spending a lot (well, sometimes I was) but because I just found it somewhat upsetting. It is an odd thing to explain.
    I think you did great! You completed most of the stuff people try and fail to complete.

  15. I’m with everyone else, I don’t think you did too bad at all with your resolutions. Me, I did pretty poorly; my major PF resolutions were to pay down my credit card debt and develop some alternate income sources. While I was semi-successful on the latter (mainly by doing pretty well with my blog), the former was pretty unsuccessful; I’m more in debt than I was at this time last year, and I’ve added student loans on top of things. So, all the more reason to try harder this year!

    • young says:

      @Roger- Hi Roger! Nice to see you around :) Well, being in school is pretty difficult especially if you can’t work while you’re in school (heck if I quit work all together I would be in major debt). Good luck on your 2012- I know you’ll succeed. Having a successful blog is a major feat- many blogs don’t make it past 6 months so I think you should be really proud!

  16. I did awful with my 2011 Financial goals. :-( I only achieved 1 out of 5; I made progress on a couple, but never finished. I’ll do a lot better in 2012.

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