My favourite thing about the end of the year are all the top ten lists. The top ten of everything is presented and even though most of the lists are just the highly subjective opinion of the author I still love to read and disagree. What follows is my top ten list. 5 smart moves and 5 missteps.
First The Missteps
1) Buying wiper blades for the car that I kinda sorta thought I wanted to replace and then 3 weeks later I did. Sure it was only $20 but wasting $20 is part of the reason I have so much debt.
2) Wasting so much money on fast food and junk food on 2013 that I could have lowered my debt by another $1,500. Being too lazy to cook cost me a bundle but I seem to have turned that around late in the year. Unfortunately it was too late in the year to notice any real change in my cash flow.
3) Being cheap instead of frugal and it has cost me money. I wore some tight shoes and messed up my toe earlier in the year. I was too cheap to admit the shoes did not fit properly and wore them a few more times when I should have donated them to someone with narrower feet. Now my toe is messed up and I am having to pay to have it fixed. 2 or 3 appointments with the chiropodist should fix it but that is not covered under the free government health care plan. Being cheap is expensive.
4) Not realizing how important my 2013 goal of maintaining a minimum balance of $1,000 in my chequing account was. Having $1,000 in my chequing account was one of my big goals for 2013 and I did nothing about it because I was so focused on debt. I have paid $148 in fees on that account this year and that is pretty darn wasteful.
5) Missing my debt repayment goal. I started 2013 with $21,000 in HELOC debt and wanted to get under $10,000. I am ending 2013 with $23,000 in debt so that is a pretty big fail. I was able to get my HELOC down under $12,000 but I added a $12,000 car loan to my debt. I could have got the HELOC under the $10,000 mark but I had to loan one of my sons $1,900. The HELOC will disappear in 2014 and the car loan is only $250 per month for 4 years so I will take my time paying it off.
Now Some Smart Moves
1) Snow tires on my new car. Snow tires keep me and my car safe and lower the chance that I will be in an accident. Many people say buying 2 sets of tires for a car is a waste but swapping the tires seasonally means that the summer tires last longer and don’t need to be replaced as frequently.
2) Buying my first shares of a Vanguard ETF. With a shout out to financial guru Suze Orman who has been preaching “buy Vanguard ETFs” for years I was happy to jump on the band wagon when they finally came to Canada. I am now the proud owner of 107 shares of the high yield Canadian dividend fund that trades under the Toronto Stock Exchange symbol VDY.
3) Making $14 on this blog during 2013. This is not a success as far as earnings go but it is enough to tell Revenue Canada that this little enterprise is a legitimate business and I can claim expenses (blog hosting, internet) for 2013 against future earnings – assuming that I have future earnings.
Finding 5 financial missteps was so easy. Thinking up 5 things I have done right is a very tough.
4) Not letting the mom guilt overtake me. All of the Christmas gifts I have bought are spread out on the dining room table and there is almost nothing there. I told my sons months ago that there wouldn’t be many presents for Christmas but when I see how little there actually is I want to rush out and buy them something to make Christmas exciting for them. I am putting my restraint in the successes column but with 9 days to go until Christmas this one may still have to be moved to the fail list. Being financially independent is a gift to my children in the future because they won’t have to worry about me – I need to concentrate on that.
5) Meeting my savings goal for 2013. My goal for 2013 was to have $10,000 in the bank and I will hit that near the end of December when I get my last pay cheque. I started the year with just under $5,000 split between stocks in a TFSA and a loser RRSP mutual fund. I dumped the mutual fund and I am finishing the year with $3,670 in stocks in my TFSA, $4,000 in an RRSP GIC and $2,340 in stocks in cash in my RRSP for a grand total of $10,010 in the bank.
Bring on 2014.