The Year I Couldn’t Have Planned For

December 30, 2015


Every year, I’ve used the same format for my review posts: there’s typically a theme, and then a list of highlights from my finances, career, health and travel. At the bottom, I’ll share the goals I’d set for myself, cross off the ones I achieved and include reasons for all the ones I didn’t. When I looked back at my list of goals for 2015, however, I immediately knew I couldn’t follow the same format, because I barely crossed any of them off. In fact, if 2015 taught me anything, it’s that a list of goals can only take you so far. I couldn’t have planned for the things that happened this year…


The year started like most others: not with a resolution, per se, but with a challenge. On top of the shopping ban, I attempted to go 31 days without watching television. It wasn’t entirely successful: I watched some TV when I was in Toronto for work (the only trip I took that month). But in those 31 days, I also managed to workout 15x, read 4.5 books and step up my freelance game – so it wasn’t a complete fail. In fact, if we tack on the fact that I also saved 56% of my income that month, I’d say it was a very successful start to the year.


In February, I took one of the first real vacations I’d had in a couple years, and spent 5 glorious days offline in New York City. I coordinated the dates with my friend Leanne, who lives in London, so we could finally meet-up and spend time together in our favourite city… and it serendipitously aligned with the same dates David was there, so I got to see him too. Despite the fact that it was one of the coldest weeks they had all winter (temps as low as -25ºC/-13ºF), I had an amazing time. And I still managed to save 53% of my income, despite the trip (and the exchange rate).


After years of budgeting, and spending/saving nearly the same amounts every month, I decided to switch up my strategy in March and… well, not budget at all. I trusted myself enough to spend within my limits (especially with the shopping ban in-place) and it worked – I lived on just 51% of my income and saved 34% (the rest went to taxes and travel). Unfortunately, despite the fact that my finances were perfectly on-track, March was a really tough month for me. I’d been growing increasingly unhappy at work, and cried what seemed like every day that month. When I wasn’t working, I was in bed crying…


In April, things got worse. Anything could set me off. A phone call, email, message… One sentence could result in me throwing a mini temper tantrum and then immediately bursting into tears (thank goodness I worked from home). And please know that it wasn’t the company’s fault. I had outgrown the position and was creatively unfulfilled. But I was so unhappy, and cried so often, that I eventually told two friends I was genuinely worried about my mental health. And it got worse, yet again, on April 22nd; that’s the day I found out my parents were getting divorced.

I never thought I’d write about that, because I want to protect and respect my family’s privacy – but I can’t recap this year without mentioning the most life-changing part of it. Just two days after I launched the Mindful Budgeting Program, I learned the news about my parents and was so distraught that I went MIA for a few weeks. On top of the sadness I was already experiencing, I had to grieve the loss of the family I’d known and all the plans I’d had for our future. Things have gotten better, and we’re all figuring out what this new normal looks like together… but I cried a lot in March and April.


I travelled for 90% of May, which was a good distraction from everything else that was happening in my life… but I had two panic attacks, before I left for all my trips. The first happened when I was driving down the Malahat – an extremely dangerous one-lane highway that has no shoulder to pullover onto (took 5 minutes to drive down, park and get out of my car). The second was in a parking lot. Both had me gasping for breath, with sweat dripping down my neck and back, and cold goosebumps racing from my feet up to my head. I took them as a sign that I really needed to get away from it all.

My first two trips were to Toronto for work, and then home to Victoria; if you think about the two areas of my life I was most unhappy in, you can imagine I wasn’t excited about either trip. After that, I took a full 11 days off work and went on an epic adventure with Sarah. We flew to NYC, took the train to Boston, went back to NYC, then rented a car and drove to Philadelphia and Washington, DC. We made random stops along the way, visited with Jay, the Frugalwoods and Amanda, and had a great time. I gained so much clarity on our trip, and came home knowing only one thing could make me happy…


On June 3rd, I quit my full-time job. Again, I’ve been scared to write about this, because I didn’t want anyone to think it was a reflection of the company. I genuinely miss working with my old boss, and am so grateful for everything I learned from her. She took a chance on me, without ever meeting me, and we tackled so many projects in the nearly 3 years I was there. But, ultimately, I knew that working for someone else meant making their dreams come true. And when you work for a startup, you don’t get a lot of extra hours to make your own dreams come true; that’s what was missing in my life.

My last day was June 26th. Rather than invest the money I saved in April (39% of income), May (24%) and June (42%), I added it to the buffer in my chequing account which largely serves as my emergency fund. All-in-all, I had about $14,000 in cash, two contracts lined up and confidence that I had enough work to get me through to the end of the year. It was a calculated risk, and one I never could’ve made if I’d still been in debt… but I knew that no paycheque was worth the amount of tears I was shedding every day, so I said goodbye to steady income and made the leap into the unknown.


July offered the exact change of pace I’d been needing, after feeling as though I was working two full-time jobs (work + the blog/freelance) for a couple years. Truthfully, I barely worked and went on not one but two vacations. First, Sarah and I drove down to Portland for WDS. Then I went to Salt Spring Island for a bachelorette weekend. In between those two trips, I moved back to Victoria, which I can now admit was largely based on what was happening within our family, but is still a move I’m glad I made. Island life has been the cure I didn’t know I needed, until I got here.

I also turned 30 in July, which was not only a huge milestone personally, it also marked the end of my first yearlong shopping ban – and the beginning of the second! Forbes did a feature piece recapping the first year, which resulted in an extraordinary amount of more press that kept me busy. I honestly don’t know how I would’ve kept up with it, if I’d still been at my full-time job. Of course, if I’d stayed at it, I probably would’ve saved a lot more than $0, which is what I saved in July… but I earned enough to live/travel and not touch my cash buffer, so I was happy.


August was relatively quiet, in comparison. After a fairly unproductive month in July, I was ready to get down to work – and that’s basically all I did. I didn’t even travel once (for the first time all year!?) although I did pay for my flight to Charlotte for FinCon. I basically just worked a lot and was a bridesmaid in my best friend Emma’s wedding, in August. (Oh, and I saved 25% of my income!)


In September, I put in even more hours than I had in August – and I had almost no social life to prove it. I managed to earn close to $7,000, and saved 27% of what I kept after setting aside money for taxes… but I was exhausted, by the end of it. I did take 5 full days off, when I flew to Charlotte for FinCon, and that was nice. But I knew by the end of September that I didn’t want to have to hustle that hard for $7,000 again. I quit my job so I could make some of my dreams come true, and that didn’t include giving all my time to my clients; this is when I got serious about the Mindful Budgeting 2016 Planner


By October, I realized I hadn’t been writing much about the shopping ban (which is still going great) so I decided to challenge myself + anyone who was interested to buy nothing new for 31 days. The challenge was a huge success! I did have a short list of toiletries I needed to buy on November 1st, but I went an entire month buying nothing but food. It helped that I was away for the second half of the month, first in Toronto for a conference and then Vancouver to see friends. But the travel didn’t help my productivity, which meant I couldn’t put in as many hours (and saved just 5% of my income).


In the first week of November, I flew back to Toronto for a Financial Literacy Month Event with Tangerine, then made a pit stop in Winnipeg on the way home. Aside from the event, I took almost that entire week off… and it was the first time I truly paused to realize how extraordinary that was. I didn’t have to ask for time off from a job, check my email or do anything else related to work. On the flights, I didn’t open up my laptop like I used to… I just watched movies and slept. And even with that week off, I still managed to earn enough that I could save 32% of my income.

Behind the scenes, I was finalizing, proofing and printing copies of the Mindful Budgeting 2016 Planner; this was truly a dream project that I’d had for a couple years and finally had the time/resources to bring to life. Once everything was done and ready, though, I was almost too scared to launch it; scared no one would want it, or would hate it; scared I’d have to pour more capital into it, or even take a loss. The planner is the biggest personal project I tackled this year, and it graduated Blonde on a Budget from just a blog to a real business. I had skin in the game… and it was worth every penny and risk.


The planner was my full-time job in December… I lived and breathed it, and I loved it. There were some stressful moments, like when I thought the print shop lost 150 copies… and I couldn’t have planned for that. I also couldn’t have planned to sell 350 copies. I truly thought I might sell 100-150. You guys basically made my dream come true almost threefold – and the positive comments from everyone who has received it, so far, are a constant source of inspiration. I couldn’t have asked for a better first run at this, and am so grateful to everyone who helped make it happen.

And in two days, I get to use the thing I’ve been wishing existed for years! I wouldn’t be able to say that, if I’d stayed at my day job…

I realize this probably sounds like all I’ve done since quitting my job is work and go on a few trips – and it should sound like that, because it’s true. I’ve worked, travelled and not achieved nearly as many of my original goals for 2015 as I would’ve liked. I didn’t put $15,000 away for retirement (needed some more cash before I could quit), I didn’t go to the UK or France, I didn’t take a pottery class or write a book (unless we count the planner?)… and I certainly didn’t put roots down in Vancouver. I couldn’t do it all, because the future held things I never could’ve planned for…

When I wrote my list of goals for 2015, I couldn’t have told you my parents were going to split up. I couldn’t have guessed that I’d spend two months in bed crying. And I definitely didn’t know I was going to quit my job… it wasn’t in the plans. Instead, this year, I learned that sometimes life will take your list of goals, crumple it up and force you to move forward on your own – with no guidance and no plan, but just your willpower and strength and the courage to take the first step.  Most of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing… but every day, I take another step forward.

And I don’t cry anymore, which means I’m on the right track.

A few other things I couldn’t have planned for, but which I’m extremely grateful I can say: I became more intentional about my media consumption. I discovered floating and finally started meditating on a weekly (not quite yet daily) basis. I went on some great trips. I was able to connect and build great new relationships with some wonderful bloggers, both in the personal finance and minimalism space. I got to team up with some of them to piece together another round of the Simple Year course, which I am so excited to take and learn alongside everyone. And for you number-loving bloggers: I doubled my traffic this year (from 180,000 unique visitors and 1.5 million pageviews in 2014 to 347,000 unique visitors and 3.15 million pageviews in 2015).

As you can probably imagine, I’ve decided to stop setting resolutions or goals for each new year ahead… it’s not that I think they are unnecessary or a waste of time – I just know that you can’t always plan for what’s ahead. (It also feels crappy to review a list of goals and see that you didn’t accomplish most of them.) Instead, I’m going to take one day off every quarter to map out what I want to accomplish in the next 90 days – both personally and professionally. I did this for the first time on Monday and it was a powerful experience. My first big goal for 2016 is to setup systems so I can make everything work and keep growing my business. There are dozens of mini goals underneath that umbrella, but that’s the goal and I think it’ll be the most important thing I do all year.

But we really can’t say that kind of thing, until we get to the end of December, right? So for now, that’s my plan… and we’ll see where life takes me.

How was your year, friend?


  • Reply mikhaila December 30, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Thank you for your honesty and transparency, Cait. I love the idea of breaking the reviews up into 90 day chunks rather than an overarching year long plan (and I’m happy to see five year plans go by the wayside in general too). Nothing is predictable, and things can change so quickly that it’s important just to be able to pick yourself up and move on afterward. I had a tumultuous 2015 and while I’m happy where I am now, I’m excited to see what 2016 brings (and hope it’s a little quieter!).

  • Reply Mike @ December 30, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Wow, this is an amazingly detailed year-end recap but also still done with great perspective! I suppose it helps to have all of your blog posts from the year.

    I love your idea of shifting New Year’s related planning and goal setting to a more granular 90 day cycle. That makes a lot of sense. I’d be really interested to follow along each of your 90-day periods.

    I started a company in 2015 (Tip Yourself) and as young as we are and how quickly tech moves, I’ve found it helpful to track Quarterly, Monthly, and Weekly Goals. I then re-visit all of those weekly. Things just change and move too fast. Something new comes up, or we learn something new from our user community… etc. It’s been a learning process; that’s for sure.

    So again, love your similar approach of shifting from a New Years Resolution to 90-days. Good Stuff!

    Here’s to a great 2016! Cheers Cait!

  • Reply Laura December 30, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Ditto to Mikhaila’s comment – I can feel your honesty and emotions in this post. I have to tell you again that I love my planner – I’ve been carrying it around all this week – scribbling (in pencil…. ;-) and erasing and planning/thinking like crazy.

    You had a very big year in 2015 and seem to be coming out of it stronger than ever! I’m so happy that you had such successes, amongst big changes in your personal life.

    I’m interested to see where 2016 will take me – do I plan and set goals, or take each quarter as it comes? 2015 was a bit of a bummer for a few reasons, so I’m torn between going gung-ho at 2016 goals or laying back a bit and working more on the fly…hard to say… I do hope there is a 2017 planner to buy though! ;-)

  • Reply Kate @ Cashville Skyline December 30, 2015 at 10:02 am

    What a year, Cait. It’s certainly had its ups and downs. But, overall, it sounds like you’re closing 2015 in a really positive place. I like your idea of setting goals once a quarter. It definitely makes me feel crappy to see the list of goals I didn’t accomplish at the end of a month, too. My New Year’s resolutions are a continuation of the ongoing intentions I’ve already set for myself. Cheers to an amazing 2016, friend! :)

  • Reply Julie December 30, 2015 at 10:09 am

    Great post Cait.

  • Reply Jen Ferris December 30, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Hi Cait:
    Oh my goodness! It has been quite an emotional year, for you!
    Thank you for being so raw with your emotions. So genuine about your life events. And incredibly authentic about how you dealt with it all. Among your lived torture, I found valuable lessons to apply in my own life. And among your soaring successes, I found inspiration and a burning desire to achieve my own milestones.

    I have only one big goal, this year. That is to firmly establish the website as the leading authority and online educational resource for parents and educators of blind and visually impaired children. I would welcome any assistance in achieving this goal. I’m going to take a page from your book and spend time every 90 days in mapping out the smaller objectives to achieving the bigger goal of establishing the website.

    Thank you for the inspiration. And thank you for sharing your challenges and successes.


  • Reply Amber December 30, 2015 at 10:15 am

    What a great recap, Cait! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. And I’m glad you made it down the Malahat during that panic attack…knowing personally how scary they are, that must have been a very looong 5 minutes. But, I truly believe that your body was trying to tell you that something was wrong, and you listened! When our brain is telling us that we need to get away from something (or someone), and we continue to ignore it, our body takes over to give us a “wake up call” that we can’t ignore.

    I discovered your blog just a few months ago and have read every post since; love the updates and insight you give! And I bought 1 of those 350 copies of your planner. :)

    Keep up the great work and I look forward to reading more in 2016!


  • Reply Shelly December 30, 2015 at 10:24 am

    When I read this post I didn’t know whether to give you a hug or a pat on the back. But I think you deserve both!! Life is never as simple as we want it to be. You’ve got to roll with the punches sometimes and see what happens. You took care of yourself and that’s what is most important. Wishing you a wonderfully fulfilling 2016 Cait.

  • Reply Angel December 30, 2015 at 10:29 am

    Pretty much everything that Amber said (with the exception of knowing personally about the Malahat (which does sound very alarming!).

    Also – thanks so so much for doing what you’re doing, for sharing you and your experiences with all of us.

    Cannot wait to start using my planner! I’ve already filled in some bits (in pen – ack! lol!) but am ready to really dig in… in 3, 2…. ;-)

    Here’s to 2016!

  • Reply Kate@GoodnightDebt December 30, 2015 at 10:45 am

    What a perfect ending that there was an earthquake while you wrote this post. Your life moved this year and you lived to tell the tale. Physically to Victoria, emotionally with your parents and spiritually as you learn to lead your own pack.
    On to 2016!

  • Reply Caitlin December 30, 2015 at 10:47 am

    What a year, Cait! The ups, downs, and plot twists. You’ve made it through as a stronger woman, and that’s no small feat! I hope you can raise a glass to the passing of a milestone year and look forward to the new adventures that face you in 2016.

    You’ve impacted MY life this year. Because of your writings, I’ve started to take a serious look at how I spend my money. The gift of mindfulness is huge!

    2015 was a year of establishing for me. New home, new boss, new direction in my career, and then..a new baby! There has been a lot of good, weighty things that happened this year. Life building. It’s been full of joy but it’s also been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I turned 30 today and woke up feeling light. It’s a new year – fresh – with no mistakes in it yet. 2016 is going to be the year of cultivation. Time will be my premium and I want to invest it wisely.

    • Reply Jenny from Germany December 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Happy birthday, Caitlin!

  • Reply Marie-Josée December 30, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Thank you for your honesty Cait. Bravo to you for the big and frightening step you took with respect to leaving your job. Wishing you a wonderful, experience-rich new year.

  • Reply Maggie @ Northern Expenditure December 30, 2015 at 11:04 am

    You have had an inspirational year. You’ve motivated me personally to get up and start doing things I had only been dreaming of doing. Because of you, I have done things that scared me and ended up in someplace I could not have predicted. I am excited for 2016. It’s a clean slate and I get to fill it.

  • Reply Kristen December 30, 2015 at 11:10 am

    I am sorry to hear the first half of the year, had so many personal challenges for you. I am glad you are on the other side of them now.
    I tried resolutions/goals last year, and failed for many reasons. This year, I am looking at adopting new healthy/happy habits. I started this in November and have added 2 new habits (drinking a green smoothie almost every morning – sometimes I run out of the greens!) and making sure I am employing perfect hand washing (we all get so sloppy with that). I have a few more things like this, that I will add one at a time, when one is routine.
    Overall, 2015 was a good year for me. I worked less, played more, got to turn 40 in Iceland. Am looking forward to the adventures of 2016.
    All the best.

  • Reply Erin December 30, 2015 at 11:22 am

    I am sorry to hear about your folks divorce, Cait. Wishing you a happy 2016 and continued acceptance and understanding of your ‘new’ family life.

  • Reply Rob December 30, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Hi Cait,

    Yes, it’s been quite an eventful year for you and your family (some of which I was previously aware of from regularly reading your blog and privately). It’s been quite an eventful year as well for our family (as you may know in part) but suffice it to say that we all, through the good times and rough times, in the grand scheme of things, ended the year on a high note and “didn’t sweat the small stuff in life” – right? Which is why your blog continues to be at the top of my extensive reading list.

    I must tell you this, Cait. No matter how busy you seem to be at most times, what I appreciate most about your blog (and why it has become so popular in readership over the years is that you are one of the few bloggers that I read that consistently takes a little time out of your busy day to individually reply to each of your reader’s comments that get posted here. That in itself, I believe, makes us all the more connected to you, even though most of us have never met you in person.

    So have a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2016 and I’m sure (knowing you) that you will! :-)

  • Reply Margie December 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm


    I enjoy your blog very much.I was excited to receive the planner a few days ago,and like how it is set up.It looks like a workable system.I agree that we never know what a year will bring.Happy 2016!

  • Reply Suzanne December 30, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Fantastic end of year wrap up. I look forward to your insights each year at this time. Will you be producing more planner books? I went to order one but it seems to be sold out. Please let me know! Happy New Year to you Cait! Can’t wait to see what evolves in 2016.

  • Reply Frugal in the Valley December 30, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    I think you should be very proud of your achievements. You’ve done an amazing job. I wish I had have had your focus when I was 30…it took me a little longer to get there (40).

    Happy New Year Cait!

  • Reply Jenny from Germany December 30, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    Love your detailed blog post and I am sorry to hear you had such rough times throughout the year, but I am happy to read you are doing ok now. Last year I didn’t make any resolutions knowing I won’t be able to keep them anyway. The only thing I wanted to get done this year is to become debt-free, which I did at the end of April. My next goal was to save up lots of money for my emergency fund. Well, life hit and I have been sick since mid-June, not being allowed to work, spending most of my days sick from the medications side effects on the couch. Other bad stuff happenend and one could say that this year has been quite f*cked up. But on a bright side my relationsship with my boyfriend is stronger than ever, I got to see my family more often, a chameleon joined our family (I am so in love!), I could actually be present and hold hands when a loved one passed away and I still managed to save like crazy even though being on sick leave pay. Thanks to your blog and your journey I discovered minimalism and shopping bans and have been more or less successful with those *lol* So overall one could say it wasn’t the year I hoped for but it had it good times for sure. Hope you have a great start in 2016 and Happy New Year!

  • Reply Kizzy December 30, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Wow what a year. I’ve set myself intentions for next year and will review them monthly. I hope 2016 continues to build on your successes of 2015.

  • Reply Kristy December 30, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Wow! What a year! I need to re-read this post 10x and then open each link. Thank you for doing this!!!!

  • Reply Alyssa @ Generation YRA December 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm


    Thank you so incredibly much for transparently sharing your real vulnerabilities & experiences. After reading your year in review all I could think of was the word “perseverance” and this line is what truly captured that for me: “Most of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing… but every day, I take another step forward.”

    Despite unplanned circumstances in life, you continue to grow & contribute so much to your community. Undoubtedly, emotions are a part of the human equation (and I can completely relate to the panic attacks & getting held up in bed with tears) – but the glorious aspect that you continue to provide is the creativity, strength and motivation that carries you forward. The fact that you can look at your goals that may not have been met in 2015, but recognize those that you have accomplished in an unplanned fashion is incredible! I hope you are so proud – because I am, along with the ever-growing community (congrats those numbers are amazing!) of Blonde on a Budget. :)

  • Reply Nadia December 30, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    What a year Cait! Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to toss that list out the window. Sometimes focusing too much on that thing can cause you to miss out on what life/fate/whatever is trying to open up for you. (Does that make sense?) This year was nothing like I expected but that’s okay.

    Also my planner arrived today! *so excited*

  • Reply Fervent Finance December 30, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Wow you’ve had quite the year! Glad it ended on a high note. 2015 was great for me, and I plan to use what I learned to make 2016 even better :)

  • Reply Psychsarah December 30, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    What an eventful year! Kudos to you for living the life you have dreamed of in spite of sadness, loss, and change. I’m keen to hear what 2016 holds for you!

  • Reply Jennifer December 30, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Wow! I got to the bottom of that post and was almost in tears. You have done so much and been so strong that it is truly an impressive thing to bare witness to. Congratulations girl!

  • Reply Sarah Noelle @ The Yachtless December 30, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Thanks for sharing all of this, Cait. 2015 does indeed sound like it involved a lot of unanticipated events, both exciting and difficult.

    Finding out that one’s parents are getting divorced when one is an adult is something I can relate to. (And my post in the community forum about helping a parent declutter a houseful of stuff is directly related to this issue.) I hope that the process of figuring out that new normal continues to evolve over the next few months.

    Regarding unexpected changes: I started a 5-year diary in the fall of 2013, which has really opened my eyes to the ways that things evolve over time, almost always in ways we don’t anticipate. Have you seen these diaries? You just write a couple sentences per day, and eventually the entries for Jan 1st (and the entries for August 25th or whatever) of each year all end up on the same page, so after a couple years when you write your entry for a given day you can look back and remember what you were doing 1 year ago that day, 2 years ago that day, and so on. It’s always incredible to read the earlier entries, and think, oh man, 1 year ago today was THAT day?? I’m always amazed at how much has changed, and often in unexpected ways.

    • Reply Sahar December 30, 2015 at 8:40 pm

      Wow, a 5 year diary sounds awesome!

  • Reply Kelly December 30, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    WOW!!!! A definite roller coaster of a year!!!
    I HOPE & I’m PLANNING on making 2016 a better budget year with my planner!! I’m VERY excited to get started on it!

  • Reply Jewel December 30, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    Oh Caitlin, no surprise you didn’t feel like Christmas this year, so many changes. I don’t know if there is an age where your parents divorce isn’t painful, and it certainly is life changing. It will get better.

    Now, I feel bad about commenting on your lack of Christmas cheer, I was trying to encourage you but I realize now I was completely off base.

    2016 sounds like it will be an amazing year!

  • Reply giulia December 31, 2015 at 4:48 am

    Sorry for divorce but your year is been good and I’m sure it will be the same or better the 2016

  • Reply Marrianna December 31, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Thank you, again, for an honest and thoughtful blog post. I’m sorry I didn’t order your budgeting book – because I had already purchased a somewhat expensive planner for 2016. However, I’m going to make a note-to-self to wait for you to announce the planner for 2017 and be first in line online to order one. In the meantime, I stopped by the link to the LIFE OF PRODUCTIVE blog and got some encouragement for my own 2016 plans. Keep up the great work.

  • Reply Tina December 31, 2015 at 9:29 am

    What a year! I wish you all the best for 2016 to become less troubled and even more fun than your 2015 was. I think you can really be proud of yourself for what you achieved this year. Your list may be full of planned things undone, but that’s not important. You have made a really huge step and obviously, you are a lot happier now. It takes a lot of courage to quit a secure job and leave into the unknown – you have done this and it is great.

    All the best for you! :)

  • Reply Adam @ December 31, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Fantastic year Cait. Your goal regarding systems is something I need to adopt as well. It’s a struggle to keep all the balls in the air.

    Here’s to a great 2016!

  • Reply Emilie December 31, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Wow, Cait, you’ve had a lot on your plate. Parents divorcing is hard no matter the age. My husband’s parents split when he was 26 and it was a heart wrench for him and his siblings. I wish you well as family life settles in to a new rhythm. I am awed, though, that as a 30 year old woman you know yourself well enough to call a halt to what isn’t working in your life, and to shift directions. No small thing, that. To take time to cry, to hear your inner self calling for a change, to actually make that change and to take time to nurture yourself through times of change is so healthy and mature. I was once told “the only constant in life is change” and how true that has proved to be. You have shown great resilience in responding to the changes in 2015, and in adapting to changes offering you fresh perspectives and prospects. Sending you many thoughts for peace and wellbeing in 2016.

  • Reply Emilie December 31, 2015 at 11:16 am

    PS – I’ve been preparing for 2 weeks to start a shopping ban on January 1. Your materials have been so helpful in getting this organized! So at the stroke of midnight ….. “the game is afoot”, or the challenge is afoot!!

  • Reply Jen @ KeenConsumer December 31, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    This is so insightful to see someone’s transformation from crying everyday to the unimaginable success at the end of the year. I love to hear stories about how people jump shipped to self-employment. Very admirable and even without 2016 goals, I wish you the best of luck!

  • Reply Amanda @ My Life, I Guess December 31, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Oh wow, I had no idea that you were going through such a hard time earlier in the year. Unfortunately, I know all to well what that must have been like for you! But I never would have guessed it. You always come across so optimistic and inspiring :)
    I am currently working on my own year in review post, but in short, 2015 wasn’t my favourite. Not by a long shot. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I sure hope that that’s true and that 2016 will be much better.

  • Reply Dave December 31, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    You should reward yourself. Go out and buy a brand new SUV

  • Reply Lauren @ Lauren, Etc. December 31, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Wow, you really had quite the year, Cait. Some not so good experiences and some fantastic experiences, both of which are essential for a full life. I have to say your recap was really inspiring. My year contained very few accomplishments or purposeful moments, and I’m thinking that’s because I went through a huge transition. It’s made me a little complacent, as if I really needed months to adjust to a move to a new state and becoming a stay-at-home mom. This year I became very good about appreciating moments in my life, but I have also significantly decreased doing anything of substance. I’ve really taken zero risks, and you have taught me that is really is important for my soul to work hard towards a goal and also find some time to really enjoy my life. I look forward to seeing all you accomplish and learn in 2015, in hopes that you will continue to provide inspiration to myself and your readers. Have a Happy New Year!

  • Reply Sophie @ The Ethical Wardrobe December 31, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Woah. I loved this post, Cait – thank you for your honesty. Sounds like a bloody tough year at times, but so great to hear that you’re ending it on such a high (the planner is gorgeous and you should be very proud!). I’ve done my fair share of spending months in bed crying this year too, and 2015 certainly doesn’t look anything like it did when I imagined it – I’ve left a job and a whole career behind, travelled more than ever before, had a long stretch of unemployment, had a year of much-needed therapy, and significantly shifted my philosophy on spending, consumption and fashion. Oh, and launched a blog of my own!! I’m so excited to see what Blonde on a Budget AND The Ethical Wardrobe has in store for 2016. May they not be anything like we imagined them to be, eh?! :-) xx

  • Reply Brendan @ January 1, 2016 at 12:54 am

    Hi Cait! I have been reading your amazing blog for the past few months and have finally decided to comment! You are a true inspiration and I must congratulate you on such an amazing year that you have had (albeit with some challenges along the way!). I can’t wait to keep following your blog and see what awesome things you achieve in 2016! All the best, Brendan

  • Reply Scott January 1, 2016 at 4:30 am

    Such an honest, moving post, Cait. I’ve only been reading your blog over the last few weeks but it already feels like I know you as well as anyone else I know.

    All the best and I look forward to reading your posts in 2016!

  • Reply Chris @ BeyondTheUsual January 1, 2016 at 10:42 am

    There is something about the island, it is a place of creative energy and freedom. Tap into it’s energy and let 2016 kick ass. I like your thought on letting life be organic and happen, over planning isn’t natural. I think its much better to define your boundaries or to use a fancy corporate mantra “mission Statement” and govern each day as it comes within that mindset. Keeps the anxiety in check, allows you to enjoy the moment and allows you to take the ups and downs in a year like you shared with us. So with that being said, Happy New Year #VanIsleTrue :)

  • Reply leah January 1, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Love your honesty Cait. I did not know you are from gorgeous Victoria, one of my favorite places! Your progress has been so great even with challenges. Wishing you the very best for 2016.

  • Reply Claudia @ Two Cup House January 2, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Cait, thank you for all of your openness and inspiration. This was also the year we couldn’t have planned for. I lost my dad and grandpa. We downsized our house. We completed a year of our clothes shopping ban. Without your inspiration, this year wouldn’t have been possible. I feel more confident about life than ever before. Thank you! :)

  • Reply Tyler January 3, 2016 at 5:16 am

    Cait, what a emotional year you had. My parents split up a few years ago right after celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary which was very difficult, I also had to take time off from work and even had to get help in order to cope. I’m sorry you had to go through that no matter the age (I was 19 and living on my own) it is very difficult.
    I love that you aren’t setting year long goals, I’m setting certain things that I feel should be done this year but I don’t know if I should call them “goals” I may do exactly what your doing with every 90 days. Also I love your mindful budgeting book, we are 3 days in to this year and I have already added it to my morning routine adding yesterdays expenses into it over a cup of coffee makes me evaluate how I spent yesterday and how I can make today even better thanks so much for this book.

  • Reply Emily January 3, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks for being so honest Caitlin. I always feel so much positive energy from reading your blog that I just assumed that all was sailing smoothly. I find it really inspiring that you are so courageous about opening up and talking about all the hard stuff. I guess we all have tough times going on in the background. It is nice to see how you manage to keep pushing ahead and being positive.
    I wish you a wonderful 2016,

  • Reply Our Next Life January 3, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    Wow, Cait — You’ve played this all off so well, I had no idea you had such a tough 2015 (in addition to all the awesome stuff, of course). But thank goodness for the good stuff to balance it all out — from the outside, you certainly seemed like you had an incredible year. All that media coverage, and podcast appearances, and the mindful budgeting program, and being part of Rockstar Finance, and crushing it as a freelancer… there is so much to be proud of! I hope you and your family can find a positive place even though it will be different, and I’m so glad to hear that you’re past the sad times of last spring. Here’s to lots of goodness in 2016! Thanks for continuing to be a source of inspiration and positivity for so many of us!

  • Reply Rebecca @ Stapler Confessions January 8, 2016 at 5:57 am

    Wow! What a year! I, too, have limited my media consumption and as a result haven’t been keeping up with all the bloggers I love to follow. So I’m glad that your recap crossed my feedly. I’m sorry it was such a hard start to the year, but it sounds like Cait 2.0 is going great! Good luck with the year to come!

  • Reply Leanne January 8, 2016 at 6:57 am

    What a year of ups and downs for you lovely! It was amazing to finally meet you last year and I hope to see you again this year, I know we’re both busy all the freaking time but I’m here for you if you need someone to talk to. Lots of Love x

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