The Year of Possibilities: Q3 Update

September 24, 2013
get well soon card

I just wanted to take a minute to thank everyone for being so kind and supportive in the comments on my first post about sobriety. I have to admit that it wasn’t easy to hit “Schedule”, but your comments, emails, tweets, texts and shares made it all worth it.

Since we’re nearing the end of September (holy cow!), I figured it was time to check in on my goals for the year again and see how much has changed since June. Some of these won’t surprise you, especially if you’ve been reading all summer, but there might be a few little surprises… read through them all and tell me how you think I’m doing.

Back in January, the two financial goals I made for myself were to 1) pay off my debt and 2) save $5,000 in my Emergency Fund. You obviously all know that I’ve been debt-free since May; that could not have been possible without making a few sacrifices and receiving a $1,650 tax return. Unfortunately, there’s no way I’ll finish 2013 with $5K in my Emergency Fund.

I will, however, finish the year with at least $4K in total savings – spread across three separate accounts – and contribute at least $1,200 to my RRSPs (the grand total of which is not included in that $4K). The decision not to focus on my Emergency Fund didn’t come without a second thought, but back in August I decided I wanted to accomplish a few smaller savings goals before going all in. September was a great start, as you’ll see in my budget update next week, and I am confident I’ll be able to reach the $5K and $10K goals next year. (Bring on 2014!)

I started this year thinking that I wanted to freelance a lot, take on more blog projects, etc. and really build up some side income. What I didn’t expect was to burn out so quickly… but that’s what 14-hour days (and no social life) do to you, I guess! I got to the point where I had to decide what was more deserving of my time: my real job or my side jobs. My real job won – and that decision has paid off tenfold.

On top of being able to bring my job back with me to the West Coast, I also got to hire someone I see a huge amount of passion and talent in and I still get to visit Toronto from time-to-time. And being back in B.C. has opened up a number of doors for me. I’m excited to say that this fall I’ll be teaching a four-part personal finance course to high school students, as well as volunteering as a high school mentor with the YWCA. I can finally see my passion moving in the right direction. (I’m also working on a little writing project that’s too early to discuss… but it’s going to be fun!)

My three travel goals for 2013 were to 1) save up and pay for all the weddings I was in and/or attending, 2) go to San Francisco and 3) go to #FinCon13. I’m proud to say that I was able to save and pay for all of those things, as well as a trip to Tofino in May and multiple trips home to Victoria this summer. I was also considering driving down to Portland next month, but I don’t think my back will be able to handle 6-7 hours of driving by myself. (Maybe in the spring!?)

While that’s about the extent of the travelling I’ll be doing in 2013, I have to say that my solo trip to San Francisco sparked up some ideas of places I’d like to visit next year. Next summer, one of my best friends is going to Spain and, if she wants the company, I’m thinking of tagging along with her. I’d love to extend that trip and maybe go to France and Portugal as well… but we’ll have to see what’s in the budget, closer to the time! For now, I’ll keep daydreaming…

Oh, health goals… we’re so off track! My first goal was to get even better at meal planning. By that, I meant filling the cupboards and fridge with prepared meals and snacks, so I would stop grabbing takeout and eat only the healthiest of options (most of the time, anyway). What I didn’t know back in January was how much moving I would do in 2013! Moving and travelling a lot makes it tough to meal plan; not impossible, but tough. I’m doing better now, but this summer wasn’t great.

My other goal was to get back into running. Well, I attempted that and I even signed up for a half marathon. Partway through training, however, I was in a car accident. (Thank you for the get well soon card, ING!) So, I basically haven’t exercised since mid-July. I’m hoping I can start some sort of exercise soon… even just a relaxing yoga class, where I can get some flexibility back and slowly start strengthening my body again. We’ll see.

I had so many crazy ideas about what I would do with the blog this year. First, I wanted to write and stick to an editorial calendar each month, guest post more, start a new series, etc. And then I wanted to stop writing altogether. Since being debt-free, there’s barely been a day where I haven’t been able to come up with at least a handful of blog post ideas, so I’m happy to say that I’m here to stay.

What I want to focus on most now is increasing my own financial literacy; not only do I think this will make me a better saver and investor, I think it will make me a better writer. Next month, I’m going to enroll in the Canadian Securities Course for Investors – and I promise to share the most relevant things I learn with all of you! I’m also consuming as many personal finance books as I can get my hands on, and paying attention to the news more and more. You may see this seep into my writing, sooner or later.

So, I guess that’s it. For the most part, I’m on track to achieving many of my original goals by the end of this year. But a couple speed bumps made others change direction, and a few have been axed altogether. I can’t deny that what I was once calling “the year of possibilities” now feels more like “the year of I-hope-you-feel-better-soon’s”. Before the year is up, I’ll be happy so long as I finish teaching this class, make progress on my writing project and write some great content for work. Adding yoga and losing a few pounds would probably make me feel better too, but I won’t push my luck!

How have your goals changed throughout the year? What do you want to accomplish before 2014?

  • kelly @stayingonbudget September 24, 2013 at 4:28 am

    What a great year for you becoming debt free! That is a huge accomplishment and something I am sure you will always remember.
    2014 will be here before you know it! I am looking forward to next year, it would be awesome to be debt free next year but with any luck at least be half way there–it’s all in a plan!

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      Halfway there is better than not there at all! Bring on 2014, eh? :)

  • eemusings September 24, 2013 at 5:11 am

    I hear portugal is cheap (France, maybe not so much).

    I wouldn’t say my goals have changed, rather, I’ve confirmed that they’re what I want to achieve. Hoping for a smooth return and transition home and next, turning our eye to home ownership.

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Haha, yea I’m sure I couldn’t afford more than 2-3 nights in France… but I’d love to at least visit Nice, if I’m already in Spain.

      Homeownership! How exciting!

  • Liz@BrusselsandBeyond September 24, 2013 at 5:29 am

    What a nice update on your goals for this year :)

    I’m sorry that you have had some health issues – it sucks when you can’t exercise! Starting slowly to get back into things is the best way to go. There are 100s of really nice, relaxing yoga classes on YouTube if you don’t mind doing it at home.

    Portugal and Spain can both be very affordable. Portugal is one of the cheapest countries in Western Europe from what I’ve been told and I know that the smaller towns and W. spain are a lot cheaper than just staying in Madrid and Barcelona. I have yet to travel there yet but Portugal is on my top 5 list for next trips :) Good luck with that!

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm

      I always forget about free workouts on YouTube! Thanks for the reminder, Liz.

  • Budget and the Beach September 24, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Great job on your goals! As far as Portland, why not break the trip up into two days with a stop in Seattle, or drive down to where you can catch the Amtrak the rest of the way to Portland. I just took the train from Portland to Seattle and it was very relaxing, and this from someone who hasn’t enjoyed Amtrak in the past. Sorry about your health goals. I was just gone 6 days and it’s amazing how much that derails you, so I can imagine with all that moving and traveling, then the accident. Hope you get back on track with that soon!

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm

      I’ve already been to Seattle a few times, and the idea is to just drive to Portland to see some friends. I really want to go on the road trip! I just can’t imagine doing it right now, with my back the way it is. So, I’m just waiting for health reasons.

  • Romona@Monasez September 24, 2013 at 7:53 am

    I’ve always wanted to go to Spain and France.Theyre such beautiful countries filled with culture. I’m hoping to go next year as well.

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 3:18 pm


  • Girl Meets Debt September 24, 2013 at 9:08 am

    First of all I’m so happy you decided to stick with Blonde on a Budget because I for one would be one sad Girl if I didn’t have my daily dose of BOAB! :) Can I come to your 4 part personal finance course? I’ll pretend to be a high school student! Spain, France, and Portugal sound like so much fun. I know you will make it happen Cait!

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Haha, please do – I’m so scared to teach it! But I’m excited too… should be interesting!

  • A September 24, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I’m bummed you won’t make it to PDX this year, but excited we’ll get to meet you next month in Vancouver! Really looking forward to our trip. Our goals for the year are to finish our e-fund and start on our house fund. Almost there!

    Oh and pay cash for our trip to Vancouver of course :]

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Your Vancouver trip is SO SOON! :D

  • Sara Hamil @ They Call it Gumption September 24, 2013 at 11:16 am

    Wow, you’ve got a lot of great things coming up!

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 3:20 pm


  • Shannon-ReadyForZero September 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    You really have had quite the year – and you’ve accomplished so much! How great that you’ll be volunteering your time to teach financial literacy classes! You’re going to do an awesome job and it’s amazing that you’re finding time to give your skills to others along with everything else you have going on :).

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks, Shannon! When I think of bigger picture goals now, I know that financial literacy in the classroom is something I really want to see more of. If I can just have a small part in making that happen, I’ll be happy. :)

  • Steve September 24, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Awesome reading up on your update. I’m always peeking around to see if there is something new to read around here and always excited to see a new post!

    I don’t mean to sound weird (trust me I’m not trying to come off weird :D), but it’s super eerie how similar I find our paths. I’ll have to pm you sometime about it!

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm

      Do it! It’s not weird at all. Honestly, we try to organize PF blogger dinners sometimes… we should do coffee and chat!

  • E.M. September 24, 2013 at 7:59 pm

    You’ve accomplished a lot this year, and I have a feeling next year will be even more awesome for you. That’s so great you are teaching a class on personal finance in high school – those students need it the most. I am sure you will be a great guide to them. I imagine it’s amazing to have the opportunity to educate them on something so important but so neglected, and you’re so passionate about it!

    • Cait September 24, 2013 at 10:22 pm

      Thanks, E.M.! I’m really looking forward to it. It’s just a four-part course that is already setup by a national program, but I’m volunteering to teach it to students at my local high school. I can’t wait to see how it goes. :)

  • Jordann @ My Alternate Life September 25, 2013 at 7:46 am

    I think that considering all of the crazy stuff that has happened in 2013, you’ve done a pretty freaking awesome job at achieving your goals! This whole 99 days left in 2013 thing has really thrown me for a loop, I need to pick a few things to accomplish in these last few days of 2013!

    • Cait September 25, 2013 at 9:13 am

      That was a great post, eh? Do it, do it now!

  • Natalie September 29, 2013 at 10:17 am

    WOW! Congrats on taking the initiative to teach highschool students about personal finance. You will have such a tremendous impact on their lives! I only wish I was as lucky when I was in highschool. Hopefully would have avoided so many headaches… How will your course be structured?

    • Cait September 29, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Thanks, Natalie. It’s not actually my course – it was developed by an organization that has volunteers teaching the courses all over Canada. I’m just one of those volunteers :)