There are quite a few things that this year has brought me. 2016 has been pretty good to me. I have been able to accomplish quite a bit, and I am still continuing to work on those things moving into 2017. Here is 2016 in review…
This will be the last post of 2016 and in order to welcome in the new year, I will give you the highlights of this year, the last few things I was able to accomplish in December, and finally what new things will come in 2017.
What happened in 2016?
Let’s start at the beginning. January 1, 2016. I started the new year in New Jersey and rang in the new year at my best friend’s house. It was my last traveling opportunity of 2015 and I made sure to make the most of my holiday break from work.
We spent a few days between Christmas and New Year walking around New York City and heading into Hoboken. I got to cross off two of the states on my list. Overall I had such a great trip.
And later on that same day, I was back home in California.
What else happened?
In April I finally made the decision to begin my blog. Bay Area Budgeter was born and I started writing. It felt so wonderful to be able to share my knowledge with people. I have made friends through blogging and I have been able to host a #BABnospend which is a No Spend Weekend.
(This year, I will be hosting quite a few more of those! I have quite a big savings goal for this year which I’ll tell you about later.)
Being able to encourage others to put away the cash and enjoy the weekend is something I have really enjoyed.
If you consider that the weekend consists of 2 days, and there are about 4-5 weekends a month, that is about 8-10 days without spending. This can be about 30% of the month where you are not spending money. That’s such a great thing. Some people may decide to do a no spend month, but for my family and I, it’s not very realistic. I feel that the goals that are the most realistic are those that are easiest to accomplish.
June 25, 2016. I got married! I know I posted about that with the Wedding Series posts and some pictures after. Let me tell you though, one of the last things I did for this year (because I completed the project today!) was to make my wedding photo frame. This will be displayed in our home for everyone to see as they come in. I am absolutely in love with it! I had seen some ideas on Pinterest, but I was able to transform it into my own project and create the wedding photo of my dreams.
After 9 years together, we finally got married. I am so happy. Let me tell you the biggest surprise of all… being married isn’t any different, you know, except for the name change! Now we had the opportunity to bring our families together, and that was such a great day. Other than that, not much else has changed. That’s really the best part of all!
Yes, there’s more. I know you all haven’t heard from me in quite a few months. I had mentioned that I was going to be starting school. And I did. In August 2016 I started working on my Associate’s degree again. I had gone to college directly after high school and had received a promotion at work. Because I had moved up in the company, I was unable to dedicate as much time to school. And with all of the opportunities I had in the work force, I’m actually glad I made that decision. Without a degree I make almost $50k a year. The biggest issue being that I’m stuck in my position now. I don’t have a way to move up anymore.
(Although, after my review in November, it sounds like they may be creating a new position for me. We’ll see what happens… without anything in writing, it’s never guaranteed!)
So I started going back to school for the Fall semester, and I completed my classes with straight A’s. I have a 4.0 and I am on track to graduating with my Associate’s degree in the Summer of 2017 thanks to my previous credits from years and years ago.
Another traveling story:
I like to make it a point to travel at least once per year. If I can cross off at least one state from my list, I feel good. I was able to cross off 3 of them in 2015, and for this last year I was able to cross off one. I traveled to Seattle, Washington. Another friend of mine just recently moved to the Seattle area with his girlfriend within this past year. To celebrate our birthdays, I flew out to visit him and his girlfriend! The end of October, we went into Seattle to Pike’s Place Market, did some Zombie Paintballing in an old cornfield, and went thrifting.
The Zombie Paintballing, because I know you all are curious, was a bunch of paintball guns mounted to a trailer being pulled by a tractor and there were high school kids in very thick padding running around in the corn fields for a fundraiser. It was so much fun. It was also really dark so I don’t have many good pictures. Still have to post what I can though!
Ok, one last thing…
I had seen this hashtag on Instagram. @bayareabudgeter if you want to follow me on there! I did not create the hashtag, but I saw one of my Instagram buddies post their list of 17 things they would like to accomplish before 2017. Of course that meant that I had to make one too!
Here is a picture of the list:
I have 3 things I was not able to cross off the list, but honestly, I feel ok about that. I accomplished 14 things this month that I really wanted to get done.
A few highlights from the list:
I registered for the next two sessions at school to get most of my units completed. Also had to buy the textbooks. That’s all done too. And I wanted to pass the Fall semester classes with straight A’s… Nailed it!
Because it was December it was also the season of giving. I combined some of the donation items on the same line, but I prepared clothing, toys, and hygiene products for donation. The clothing went to the thrift stores. The toys went to two different programs. One donates to low income families, and the other donates to children in hospitals.
And finally I donated hygiene products to the church to help the homeless.
I do wish that there were more donation drives throughout the rest of the year. The homeless need these items all year round, not just in December.
And to continue on with the donations, I donated blood.
That same day I donated blood, I also applied for my passport. I have signed up for a Study Abroad program to Costa Rica. So long as there are enough sign ups I will be able to go to Costa Rica for a week in March. I’m really excited about that trip.
The furthest I’ve been out of the country is to Mexico, and it wasn’t even that far into Mexico. I may need to check this off for my traveling for this year instead of checking off a state. We’ll see!
I was able to pay down my credit cards. They had low balances. I’m not 100% on board with Dave Ramsey. I love his ideas of saving for emergency funds and 3 months living expenses and paying down your debt. But at the same time, I don’t own my own home, and my savings is not enough to purchase an $850k house.
I have some information in my About Me page that explains more about my goals for saving and housing, but at the same time, my credit score is important.
My credit card balances were only $140 and were only used because my debit card wasn’t working and that is linked to the same accounts anyway. I just paid it off right away. No harm, no foul. And I don’t make it a habit of doing that either.
Finally, I was able to declutter a little bit in the house. There is so much junk in the house. It’s amazing how much stuff we accumulate.
And for what?
In my case, I accumulate stuff so I can throw it away the next week. Odd concept, right? So I was able to go through my clothes hamper and donate quite a few pieces of clothing. I actually found about 5 articles of clothing that still had tags on them. That added up to about $100 worth of clothing that didn’t fit the way I thought it would, or didn’t work properly with the rest of the outfit as I imagined it from the mannequin, or clothes that no longer fit me. So what did I do? I donated them. No use holding onto them. I don’t plan on getting any bigger, and I don’t torture myself with my weight loss goals by keeping clothes that are 2 sizes too small. You know, just in case… It’s not healthy.
That means I decluttered. I was able to remove 24 articles of clothing to donate, 10 more to throw out because they were not in good enough condition to donate (We actually held onto some extra shirts to tear up for cleaning rags too.). And after going through a few stacks of paper, and I stopped counting after 194 pieces, I threw out 250+ paper items like receipts and junk mail. And the sad part is, my house is still cluttered!
Sometimes I look around the house and think, how is it even possible? It’s even more depressing to think that someone, usually myself, spent money on every single thing I’m looking at right now. I am surrounded by tens of thousands of dollars worth of stuff. And all I want to do is throw it all out. I guess that’s a story for another day though.
And now comes 2017!
Yes! Now that you know what I have been up to for 2016, let me share with you my 3 biggest goals of 2017.
1- Save $15,000 total
After all bills are accounted for, and we cut out some spending in other categories, we have enough money to save $15,000 for the whole year. This is our big savings goal. I don’t want to spend money. I want to SAVE it! We have spent time paying off credit cards, and paying for school, and wasting it on junk I don’t need. Now that the debts are paid, it’s time to start saving. I have the customary 3-6 months of expenses in my savings, but now… NOW I want to increase the savings.
I had to dip into our savings during Christmas. Not because of gifts! Because we had to call the plumber. We actually waited two days to call the plumber because the kitchen sink was completely clogged on Christmas Eve. We didn’t call that evening or the next day because we knew the cost would be too high, and we had leftovers, paper plates, and plastic utensils. You better believe we didn’t make any more dishes! When we called the plumber, the final cost was $350. Talk about a big hit right after Christmas.
But, my husband and I are on the same page that if we want to start working toward all of the things we want in a house, we need to start saving bigger than we have been. And that’s what this big goal will help us to accomplish.
2- Get my weight down to 150 pounds.
My weight has been something that I have struggled with for quite a few years. My husband and I have been talking about how unhappy I am with the way my clothes fit, and how I want to be healthier. These are conversations we have had for years. This year, I’m convinced I will make it happen.
I just recently saw a video of a girl who went to the gym 100 days in a row. I’m not someone who will spend money to get a gym membership, especially at this time of the year when it will be packed with New Year’s Resolution people. But I do have ways that I can incorporate exercise into my day.
30 minutes to an hour a day, depending on the weather outside. I have exercises I can complete outside and others I can finish in the living room. No excuses. I also bought myself a fitness planner so I can keep track of my eating and my workouts. It will also track my progress month-to-month. And to top it all off, it was on sale for 60% off at Michaels so I got it for $14. Not too bad considering the price was originally $35. I also bought an insert for it that has budget tracking too. My planner is extremely thick but it has everything I need to be successful this year.
3- Completing my Associate’s Degree
I started going to college 9 years ago. Right after high school I started at the community college and as I mentioned earlier, I got promoted at work and started working hard to move up within the companies I have worked at. Recently one of my coworkers had mentioned that he wanted to go back to school. He was in the same boat as me. He’s only two years older. I told him that I would go back to school with him so I could help motivate him through his program. After registering for my classes and getting myself set up for the Fall 2016 semester, I come to find that he never registered. I was a little bummed out, but I went anyway. Though he didn’t start right away, I was inspired to complete my degree.
The first degree is my Associate’s Degree. I had completed most of my general education requirements years ago. I was able to get them transferred over to my degree properly, and completed my general education requirements at the end of the Fall semester. Now I only need a few more classes to finish. I will be finishing my Associate’s Degree by the end of the Summer 2017 semester.
The second part of this last goal is to also begin my Bachelor’s Degree in the Fall of 2017. Years later I have finally found the degree I want to pursue. This was always something I was unsure of, and I think taking all of this time off from school was a great option for me. I needed to save the money to pay for it without student loans, and I needed to know what I actually wanted to study. I will be pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Data Analytics. The degree will have the most similarities to what I do already at work, and it will also help me to improve and streamline some of the processes we have.
Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
It’s only a few more hours until the ball drops for 2017. I wish you all the best of luck in your endeavours and I look forward to what 2017 will bring!
Happy New Year!