Happy New Year, friends! I have to start 2016 by thanking you all for leaving such sweet and thoughtful comments on last week’s post. I had wanted to write about so many of those things all year, but couldn’t do it until I’d gotten some distance from everything. On New Year’s Eve, I took an idea from Elizabeth Gilbert, grabbed a piece of paper, wrote down all the events in 2015 that I needed to let go of and threw it in the fire. It’s more symbolic than anything, but it felt good to see some of those things disappear. I’m ready for – no, I need – a simpler year in 2016…
Before it can truly begin, though, I still have a few things to wrap-up so I can put 2015 behind me – and it starts with the numbers.
As I mentioned last week, the planners were my full-time job in December. I also told you I sold 350 copies. In doing the math, you probably won’t be surprised to see that means I earned ~$17,500 from the planners alone… but I also had massive expenses. Printing 350 copies of a book isn’t cheap, nor is shipping them all over the world. In the end, I was almost surprised to see that I still managed to profit ~$5,700 from the whole thing; I was guessing I’d get ~$4,000, when it was all said and done. Anyway, that’s a full month’s salary for me, and it was a month of work I loved doing.
On top of the $5,700 I profited, I did manage to do some freelance work and send out final invoices for the year. Altogether, I profited $9,475 in December and set aside $2,843 (30%) for taxes. Here’s what I did with the leftover $6,632…
Life Expenses – $3,845 (58%)
While November was one of the cheapest months I had all year, December was quite literally the most expensive. Before you assume I went on a shopping spree (I actually bought nothing in December), the largest chunk of my spending was under one category of my budget: charitable donations. When I launched the planners, I committed to donating 5% ($2 USD) of all sales up to Christmas Day to Joshua Becker’s new non-profit, The Hope Effect. My goal was to donate $700 USD, which is enough to provide a child with education for one year. In the end, I sold exactly 350 planners, so was able to donate the full amount (which worked out to $1,016 CAD or 18% of my profits). I made a few donations to other charities, as well, which brought my total up to $1,322.
The leftover $2,523 was spent on “life”, so rent, groceries, gas, entertainment, etc. I can usually keep this around $2,000, but had to pay for Christmas ($455) and massage therapy ($100).
Travel – $209 (3%)
The only trip I went on last month was an overnight adventure to Vancouver to see my doctors re: the car accident and upcoming surgery. From the time I left to the time I got home, I was gone for all of 36 hours. I managed to scoop up one of the cheaper trips BC Ferries was offering during certain days/hours in December, so lowered that cost slightly… but I also drove to 4 cities in the Lower Mainland, while I was there, had to pay a few tolls and used a full tank of gas.
Savings – $2,578 (39%)
Finally, because my income was irregularly high last month, I obviously managed to save a lot more than usual… but I’m not ready to invest it all for retirement just yet. Even though I “profited” $9,475 last month, I technically earned over $21,000 (whoa). If I wanted to set aside 30% of that for taxes, I should’ve saved $6,383, which is $3,540 more than I set aside last week. However, because of all the business expenses I had in the latter half of the year, I’m guessing I won’t need to give the government the full 30% I’ve been saving for taxes all year… but just to be safe, I’m going to hold onto this money until after I file my taxes and invest what’s leftover. Since I’m currently focused on maxing out my TFSA, there are no dates/deadlines for when I can make contributions (as I’m nowhere near the limit).
And now that you know how complicated my finances have gotten (ha!), you’ll understand where my goals for the first 90 days of 2016 came from…
Goals for Q1 2016
As I mentioned last week, I’m done with setting big goals for the year, because I’ve learned that a lot can change in a single moment… and I hate getting to the end of a year and seeing how many goals I did not achieve. Instead, I’ve decided to set goals for 90 days at a time. Last week, I took a day off to map out everything I want to accomplish in the first 90 days of 2016 and separated it all into 4 categories: business, money, health and personal. As you’ll see, there’s a general theme for the first quarter of the year: to create routine + simple systems. Here are my goals:
Business: Create/use/maintain weekly and monthly task sheets for all clients and blogs.
Money (2): Separate my business and personal finances, and file my taxes.
Health: Schedule workouts so I’m active 4x/week, with a focus on strengthening my lower back/hip before surgery.
Personal (2): Take a pottery class (make some new mugs!) and read 12 books. (I’ll be sharing a weekly book review every Sunday on Instagram, where I’m documenting a #simpleyear.)
The other thing I’m going to do is share my numbers quarterly, not monthly… so maybe one of my other goals is to not share my numbers again until after the first 90 days of 2016. The main reason I want to try this is because I know the next few months are going to be very irregular – with not much income coming in January, a good amount coming in February and no idea what will be happening in March. I’ll still be writing and maintaining a monthly budget in my new planner, but don’t think I’ll be sharing numbers again until early April.
Now, I’m dying to hear what some of your immediate goals are for 2016… :)
PS – Carrie Smith and I are launching our brand new podcast, Budgets and Cents… TOMORROW! If you want to be notified when we release new episodes, you can sign up on our site. I am SO excited about this project!
PPS – I’m publishing a free guide on how to start and complete a successful shopping ban next week! If you’re one of the many people who have told me you started one on January 1st, I’ll be including a downloadable version of the post for you to keep – and a little something you can print off and keep in your wallet, to help you stay on track!