The Year of Possibilities: How Did I Do?

December 30, 2013


Hello, friends! How were your Christmases? My week at home was everything I could have asked for. I spent time with my family, made new memories with friends, surprised my 4-year-old “niece” with a gift Santa had accidentally left under my tree for her… (as well as a little piggy bank from her Auntie Caitlin, of course). I received everything on my Christmas wish list. And Dad’s ship even docked, so he was able to come home for Christmas! I left Victoria on Saturday feeling relaxed, which isn’t always easy to accomplish this time of year.

I still have a few more days off from work, and I don’t plan on doing much other than some writing. However, since there are only two days left in 2013, I did want to post a bit of a recap of my year. If you’ve been reading for a while now, you may remember this post; in it, I outlined the goals I wanted to achieve in different areas of my life this year. It’s interesting to look back and see what my priorities were at the beginning of the year, how they changed throughout and what I managed to accomplish.

Was it truly a year of possibilities? You tell me…

My one big financial goal for 2013 was to pay off the last of my debt, and I did just that. On May 21st, I made my final debt repayment, then wrote the post I’d been waiting to write since I started this blog. But my second goal – to save $5,000 in my Emergency Fund – proved to be a little more difficult. I moved a total of four times this year (home from Toronto, to New Westminster, to a second apartment in New Westminster and finally to a condo in Port Moody), which took a serious bite out of my budget. In the end, though, I still managed to save $2,300 in my Emergency Fund, as well as contribute $330/month to my RRSP; the girl who was once maxed out can’t really complain about that.

The only career goal I really set for myself was to make writing the most important thing I did all year and, again, I think I did just that. I actually stopped freelancing after February, so I could focus on learning more about Canadian mortgages for work, and our company blog is now full of content I’m proud to say I’ve either written or at least edited. What I didn’t anticipate at the beginning of the year is that I would ask my boss if I could move back to BC and work remotely… and that she would say yes. I’ve been working remotely for our Toronto-based company since April, and can honestly say I’ve never been happier in a job before. (It was also a great feeling to get my first “real”, non-public service granted raise this year!)

2013 has definitely been a year full of travel! There were bridal showers and weddings in Victoria, trips to Toronto for a work, a couple of personal finance blogging conferences (that took me to Toronto and St. Louis)… and, of course, I crossed San Francisco off my bucket list! Oh, and I can’t forget about my trip to Tofino in May. (Islanders take that stuff for granted, but it was amazing.) I never thought I’d be the person who could pack a suitcase in minutes, but this year I learned how to do just that. I have to admit, it wasn’t all “glamorous”. Some weeks, it felt as though I’d slept on a couch more than a bed this year. But I’m still grateful I was able to go everywhere I wanted to.

If there’s one area of my life where things took a drastic turn this year it was my health. My goals for 2013 were simple: meal plan more, enter a few road races and lose 17 lbs. After losing 24 lbs. in 2012, this seemed almost too easy. Everything was going according to plan (I’d lost 6 lbs. and even signed up for a half marathon), until I was in a car accident in late July. In a split second, one driver’s decision to run a stop sign changed everything, and I’m only slowly getting back into the swing of things now. Instead of losing weight, I regained the 6 lbs. I lost between January and June (so I’m back at the same weight I was at the end of 2012). I only started going to the gym again a few weeks ago, and it hurts but it’s finally at a level I’m comfortable trying to push through.

The one major decision I did make to improve my health this year was to give up alcohol. Some days, I feel as though I could write an entire blog about that subject, but journaling is good enough… for now.

Finally, this site; my little slice of the Internet. This year, I had a few simple goals for Blonde on a Budget: to stick to an editorial calendar (done), to write a series of posts that would help readers (eh) and to guest post more (I’m now a weekly contributor on Gail Vaz-Oxlade’s site). Then, a few months before I became debt-free, I toyed with the idea of shutting it down after I’d made my final payment. All I can say about BoaB now is that I am so freaking happy I still write here. In fact, I think I write more regularly now than I ever have before. Life after debt is so different; it truly is a life I’ve never lived before. But this space also just feels like a part of me now. I can’t imagine not sharing the happenings of my life here, even if only for the accountability of my monthly budgets and goals. And the friendships and relationships I’ve developed because of this blog only continue to grow, which is an outcome I never expected but appreciate so much.

Aside from the goals I’d set out to accomplish, a few other things happened this year that seem worth mentioning. First, I enrolled in the Canadian Securities Course. Second, I started volunteering again (I joined the Metro Vancouver YWCA’s High School Mentorship Program), and am still looking for other ways to give back. Finally, I started a little writing project on the side that, for now, is still a secret, but I hope I can tell you more about it next year.

So, that’s all for me. Which of your goals did you accomplish this year?

Flickr: christopherdale

  • Trista December 30, 2013 at 4:58 am

    I just wanted to wish you all the best for the new year. I know this past year has had its ups and downs but you seem to have handled it all very well. I look forward to continuing to follow you along on your journey, learn from you and perhaps offer some words of encouragement along the way. Happy New Year!

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Thank you, Trista! It’s been so nice chatting with you these past few months. Happy New Year to you as well!

  • Andrea December 30, 2013 at 5:32 am

    So happy you decided to continue this blog. I look forward to your posts each week. I hope you have a wonderful New Year and that all your goals in 2014 are achieved and exceed your expectations!!!

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

      Thanks, Andrea! Happy New Year!

  • Rob December 30, 2013 at 5:55 am

    It’s always a good idea to look back on yearly goals initially set and check on progress, accomplishments, and ones still needing attention. Whether it be ones related to finances or to other life oriented goals, it serves to reinforce one’s desire to be heading in the “right direction”, a direction only each of us can personally decide on. Your words, Cait, definitely indicate that you are one who is disciplined and determined to accomplish everything that you set your mind to doing. Oh sure, life may throw you a few curves (eg., health issues) and delay your original target dates from being met but, trust me lady, you definitely “will” accomplish every single goal that you set your mind to doing, all in good time.

    As for me, well all my outdoor home improvement projects for this past year got accomplished but now I’ll have a few new ones in 2014. Our big maple tree in our back yard is “toast” after our recent big ice storm here in TO so it’s coming down. My back yard right now is a forest of fallen broken branches, requiring cleanup. My indoor projects, some started this past year and completed, will continue into 2014 with lots of indoor house painting and some furniture / appliance purchases. Health issues (touch wood) are now under control (finally) and I was able to drop 30 lbs (of baby fat!) while completing my outdoor projects during the hot summer months just passed – now aren’t you envious? :-)

    Like you, this week will be a relaxing one and after New Years our daughter plans to treat “the old man” to a visit to a spa for a pedicure (of all things – lol!) along with lunch downtown. I’m looking forward to the father-daughter bonding experience.

    Enjoy your holidays!

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Dang, don’t remind me of your weight loss, haha. In all seriousness, that’s great for you.

      Sounds like you and your daughter will have fun! I meant to ask: did you get a Tims Card for Christmas? :)

    • Rob December 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Did I get a Tims Card for Christmas, you ask?
      Is the Pope Catholic? I sure did !!! :-)

      • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm

        Haha, that’s awesome.

  • Nadia December 30, 2013 at 7:31 am

    My goal this year is do a happiness project (Inspired by The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin). I sorta started in December but I’m hoping to be in full swing for January. I’m not sure that I’m going to do a whole year but I needed to do something!

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      Nice! I think that’s a great idea. :)

  • Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions December 30, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Congratulations! “Life after debt” — now, THAT is a concept I can’t wait to experience!

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      I’m certain you will. :)

  • Alicia @ Financial Diffraction December 30, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Those were great goals, and shows large changes in your life over the past year. All the best in the new year!

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks, Alicia! Same to you.

  • Girl Meets Debt December 30, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I’m so happy we became in real life friends this year Cait! There’s always so much going on in your life and I can’t wait until you can share your secret! ;) Happy new year my beautiful friend! xo

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Thank you, friend. Happy New Year!

  • Jaime December 30, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Happy New Year Cait! I think you did an amazing job on your goals. Can one of our goals for 2014 be to get together during one of your Victoria trips? :)

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      YES, PLEASE! I’ll let you know the next time I’m coming over.

  • Michelle December 30, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Sounds like a busy year for you! I’m glad that we were able to meet in 2013 as well :) I hope the next year (and future years), are great for you.

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks, Michelle! Right back at ya.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach December 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    It’s been quite the year for you. Every time I read your FB status updates I never knew what I was in for. Between you traveling, moving, and the accident, I felt tired READING your posts! :) I’m sure you felt the same way. But you seem much more settled than ever before, and congrats on your sobriety!

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm

      Bahaha, I can’t even imagine what it would’ve been like to read all my status updates this year… too funny. Here’s hoping 2014 is only filled with good food, workouts, travel and writing updates – for us both. And thanks :)

  • Bet Crooks December 30, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Congratulations on your many successes!

    Your courage shines through all your choices but to ask for and get a chance to work off-site is probably the one most people wish for but never have the bravery to try for.

    Best wishes for 2014!

    • Cait Flanders December 30, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Thank you for the kind words, Bet. Happy New Year!

  • Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild December 30, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    You’ve had an awesome year, Cait! And I’m glad I had the privilege of meeting you in person in 2013 :)

    • Cait Flanders December 31, 2013 at 6:38 am

      I’m happy I finally got to meet you too! See you in New Orleans!? Happy New Year, friend :)

  • Prosperousnotforprofit December 30, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    Thank you for this post and all of them over the years! I’m very thankful you decided to keep blogging after becoming debt free- it’s a really great motivation to read about people who are at the stage in their life that you yourself want to be at in just a little bit more time. Keep it up and best of luck in 2014!

    • Cait Flanders December 31, 2013 at 6:41 am

      Thanks for reading! Happy New Year :)

  • Michelle @fitisthenewpoor December 31, 2013 at 9:27 am

    Just wanted to wish you a happy new year! I’m a big fan of this blog and your guest posts.

    • Cait Flanders January 1, 2014 at 8:48 am

      Thanks for reading, Michelle! And Happy New Year to you, as well :)

  • Leanne January 3, 2014 at 2:49 am

    Happy New Year Cait! Can’t wait to finally (hopefully) meet you! x

    • Cait Flanders January 3, 2014 at 3:26 am

      Same to you, hun! And fingers crossed I can make it happen. :)