Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, this blog was titled Blonde on a Budget. Do you remember those days? I used to share weekly spending reports, projected budgets and final numbers at the end of each month. I even shared my net worth a couple times! There is a long list of reasons for why I don’t publish those things on a regular basis anymore, but if you met me in person, you would see I’m still the same girl who tracks her spending and tries to save wherever she can. It’s been a long time since I’ve talked about money on the blog, but it’s been consuming my thoughts lately… so if it’s ok with you, that’s all we are going to talk about here this month!
In fact, because it’s been consuming my thoughts lately, I decided my second slow living experiment for the year would be “slow money”. If you search that term, you’ll find a lot of information about a non-profit that invests in small food enterprises. Actually, the work they are doing is pretty interesting, and certainly impacts local economies in a good way. But, of course, that’s not what I’m talking about. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m making a lot of things up as I go, with these experiments! As I mentioned last month, I’m not using the traditional definition of “slow” living (sustainable, local, organic and whole). I’m strictly focusing on the pace at which I live and breathe.
So, what do I mean by slow money?
Essentially, even though I track my spending and update my net worth every month, I recently realized that it’s been a long time since I’ve done a proper check-in with my finances. This has been somewhat of an issue ever since I became self-employed in June 2015. My income is different every single month, and the amount I save and invest changes just as frequently. I can tell you how much I earned, spent, invested and set aside for taxes in 2016, for the year as a whole! But becoming self-employed and earning irregular income meant my old budgeting and investing strategies had to go out the door, and I’m not entirely sure I’m happy with what I’ve replaced them with.
It sometimes feels as though all I’m doing is staying afloat. Not in the literal sense. I still have $10,000 sitting in my emergency fund that I haven’t touched, plus a large cash buffer ($5,000-$10,000) in my chequing account at all times. And my net worth grew substantially last year. So, I’m not worried about money, per se. But I have been feeling like I’m at a bit of a standstill. Money comes in, money goes out, money gets saved. Again, this isn’t a bad thing… in fact, it’s kind of a great thing. The problem is I don’t feel like I’m working towards anything. My system is (almost) on autopilot and things are happening. And yet, sometimes it feels like nothing is happening at all.
I’m beginning to see that my somewhat-nomadic lifestyle has been partially to blame. I’ve been paying rent while spending weeks, and even months, on the road. And while I don’t regret anything I’ve done in the past few years, I also have this sense that things are shifting for me. Honestly, at the end of last year, I thought I would spend most of 2017 experimenting with slow travel – going all over the world, and staying in one place for a month or two at a time. Now, I have this intense desire to settle in, find a community and build a life somewhere. This is something I haven’t experienced before, but the thought of what it could bring excites me on a whole new level.
So, things are shifting for me… which means my goals will shift, too. Since becoming self-employed, I feel like my only financial goals were to make enough money to live, pay my taxes, save for retirement and travel a bit. I’ve done that, felt good about it then and am happy to say I did it. But now that I see my life going in a bit of a different direction, my goals (and my money) need to follow. This month, I want to spend some time really honing in on what it is that I want to do in 2017, and figure out how I can make it happen. For me, slow money will include a lot of reflection, planning and implementing of new strategies. Here are my intentions for February…
Experiment #2: Slow Money
- set new financial goals for 2017
- track my spending / make sure it aligns with new goals
- change my budgeting strategy
- change my investing strategy
- analyze / find ways to reduce business expenses
- bonus: file my taxes (or at least input all the numbers)
While the goal of my slow morning experiment was to simply enjoy the first few minutes of each day, this experiment is a little more action-oriented. My hope is I’ll get to the end of the month and have a clear vision of what I want to do in 2017, as well as new systems in place to make it happen. And since I haven’t talked about numbers in a while, I’m going to get super specific and share those with you too.
Ultimately, this slow living experiment should serve as a reminder of how important it is to hit pause on whatever you’re doing and question if it’s still serving you. If it doesn’t align with your goals and values anymore, it’s important to figure out what actions will. After all, that’s the very definition of intentional living, my friends. It should be a great month!
Do you have any financial goals this year?