Setting New Financial Goals and Still Enjoying the Journey

Setting New Financial Goals and Still Enjoying the Journey

When I started this blog in 2011, I had only one goal: to get out of debt. For the first time in my life, I started tracking my spending, so I could see where my money was going. After a few months, I taught myself how to budget, so I could have a better understanding of what my overall spending added up to. As time went on, I naturally became more frugal and put every extra penny I could towards my debt. In the end, I paid off close to $30,000 and reached my goal in two years. That was nearly four years ago, and I haven’t had any big financial goals since. I repeat: I haven’t had any big financial goals in four years.

Of course, I have set some goals here and there. I did a two-year shopping ban to prove I could save more money and discovered I could live on half my income. I also saved a $10,000 emergency fund before I quit my job, and have maintained that savings + built up a large buffer in my chequing account since then. So, it’s not like I’ve been doing terrible things with my money or throwing it all away. I’m still debt-free, my net worth is currently $110,000 CAD (~$84,000 USD today) and I’m happy! But I haven’t been working towards anything for a while…

Part of the problem is that I haven’t had many of the traditional goals you “should” have at this stage in life. Homeownership is extremely expensive where I live, so I used to assume I would never buy (or at least wouldn’t buy until I had a partner to share that cost with) and therefore didn’t stress about saving for a down payment right away. I already own a car outright, so didn’t need to save for that either. And I have no desire to ever have/pay for a big wedding. Be with someone for life – sure. Have a big wedding – no, thank you. (And I would prioritize buying a home over having a wedding any day of the week.)

Another part of the problem is that I didn’t get to do the one thing I really wanted (travel) until I was in my late twenties. Before that, I had always been in debt. I have no one to blame except myself, for that. But once I became debt-free, I wanted to go wherever my budget allowed. Yet another part of the problem is that becoming self-employed changed all my strategies, and especially changed how I felt about money. Yes, whether we like to admit it or not, money is super emotional. And even though I’ve made a good income every year, I haven’t felt great about money (and will talk more about why below).

But one of the biggest underlying problems I have personally been dealing with has been the blasé attitude I’ve had about money since embracing minimalism. The first year of the shopping ban taught me so many lessons, one of which was that I didn’t need to earn as much money as I thought I did. I will forever be grateful for this lesson, as it helped me escape the rat race of thinking I needed to earn more money simply so I could buy more stuff and live a “bigger and better” life. It turns out, when you want less stuff, you need less money. This statement rang true for me then and is still true for me today.

However, there are also a lot of posts in the minimalism space that reflect another statement: money doesn’t matter. This message is at the core of posts that discuss why money shouldn’t be the focus of people’s lives, and why we shouldn’t tie our happiness to how much we earn or how much is in our bank accounts. Again, I agree with some of the sentiments in that statement: life is certainly about more than money, and there are far greater priorities and purposes than chasing dollars. But money DOES matter, friends. And it’s important to understand the role it plays in your life.

In the past few years, I feel as though I lost sight of this fact. I stopped budgeting, and instead only tracked my spending monthly. And because I was still able to have all the things I wanted, I thought this was ok. What I have realized is that the only people who don’t have to budget are people who have a lot of money. And it may look like I’m “living the dream” sometimes, but I am self-employed – not retired at 31. If I want to live and eat and have any fun, I have to work. And if I want to retire comfortably one day, I have to set financial goals and work towards those too. It’s not an option, it’s a fact.

So, while I still don’t have grand plans to buy a home or another car or pay for a big wedding, there are two financial goals I want to work on this year. Both will allow me to live the life I want today, while saving for the life I want in the future.

Goal #1: Cut Back on Expenses and Run a Lean Business

At the end of every month, I have a calendar event pop-up that reminds me to update my invoices and expenses in FreshBooks. Throughout the year, I also review various invoice and expense reports, and check my profit and loss statement to make sure things look ok. In 2016, I felt good about my numbers each month, until I got to the end of year and looked at the total amount I had spent on my business. My expenses added up to exactly $14,000 – that’s $1,166/month (which is more than my rent). The number shocked me, but it also didn’t surprise me…

The largest expenses were: printing and shipping of Mindful Budgeting 2017 Planners, hiring freelancers, travel and a long list of monthly services. I also discovered that the same way friends who love to shop will happily convince you to shop with them, business owners who believe every dollar spent on your business is an investment will help you justify expenses. I don’t necessarily regret any of the money I spent last year, but that also doesn’t mean I want to spend that amount every year going forward. Yes, expenses can be written off on your taxes, but you still need to spend that money first!

My goal for 2017 is to cut my business expenses in half. I’m not entirely sure it’s doable, because I don’t know what the second half of the year is going to look like yet. But I’m going to start by auditing my expenses and cutting out anything I don’t absolutely need. My travel budget is being slashed (only going to FinCon). I have also cancelled subscriptions to a few monthly services. And I’m not buying any online courses, until I complete all the ones I have paid for in the past. You could say my business is on a shopping ban. If I need something, I will pay for it. If I don’t, it’s cut.

The “why” behind this goal isn’t just about the numbers (though cutting back and saving more is always great) – it’s to press pause and make sure I’m spending money for the right reasons. I don’t want to buy anything if I don’t know when I’ll actually use it. I also want to push myself to do more work, rather than assign it out or assume an online service can take care of everything. If it really can help me create a better system, great. And if I spend more than $7,000 on my business, that’s ok. I simply want to get to the end of the year and feel good about how every dollar was allocated.

Goal #2: Recommit to Budgeting and Saving for Retirement

I think I’ve made it pretty clear already that I’m ready for budgeting to be part of my life again. In 2016, I added up numbers at the end of each month and tracked my net worth, but it just wasn’t the same as setting targets and monitoring my progress. There are some mental hurdles for me to work through, as I still don’t find it easy to budget with irregular income, but that’s a topic for another post. For now, just know that I’m back to tracking my spending every day (for both personal and business expenses) and adding up my numbers every week, and I plan to do this all year.

As part of my budgeting strategy, perhaps the greatest mental hurdle I’ve been trying to work through has been how much to save for retirement. When I had a full-time job, it was so easy. I brought home $4,000/month, invested $800-$1,000 for retirement, then spent/saved/travelled with the rest. Now that I’m self-employed, my income is all over the place. Some months, I collect as little as $1,500. One month last year, I collected over $20,000. When it’s so irregular, how do you project your income and decide how much to invest!? This is something I’ve been battling with since I quit my job in June 2015.

It’s not as simple as coming up with a goal of saving 10% of your gross income. To show you why, I created a spreadsheet with three scenarios, so you can see how much of a difference earning extra money makes. After setting aside 30% of my income for taxes, paying for business stuff, paying for living expenses and travelling (the only number I “inflate” with my income), the amounts leftover that I could invest for retirement change drastically. If I earned $52,000, I could only invest $2,400 – or 4.62% of my income. But if I earned $75,000, I could potentially invest $14,500 – or 19.33% of my income.

Projected Retirement Savings

Side note: I made $75,000 in 2016 and did not invest $14,500. Remember those big business expenses? Cut the $7,000 I want to save this year and that’s what I invested last year ($7,500 or 10% of gross income).

The biggest problem isn’t just projecting and coming up with the magic number, but feeling comfortable investing when you don’t know how much you’re going to earn in future months. I used to think this was just an issue for me right before tax time, because I often find I hoard money in case I owe more than I expected. But it’s actually an issue for me year-round. I’ve found I’m reluctant to setup automatic savings programs, because I’m always worried I’ll run out of money and will need what I invested. This means I have only been making a few lump sum deposits each year, and I don’t like it.

The obstacle is that I’m stuck in this scarcity mindset of feeling like I’m going to run out of money. It has never happened before. I’ve made $65,000-$75,000/year for the past few years. If history repeats itself, I’ll stay in this income bracket for a while and should be able to save at least 10% of my gross income for retirement, if not more. My goal for this month is to do some projections and run numbers through various retirement calculators. And my goal for the year is to setup an automatic savings program I’m comfortable with, and consistently check-in with it to see if/when I can invest more.

So, the “why” behind this goal isn’t just about the numbers either (though I do want to save a bit more than I have been) – it’s to push past this huge mental block and hopefully embrace an abundance mindset, so I can stop acting out of fear and start believing I’m in control of my future.

Now, I realize setting financial goals doesn’t sound like it lines up with the often peaceful messages of being more present and living an intentional life, but I would argue that being mindful with your money is an important part of the puzzle. That doesn’t mean chasing a higher income or buying bigger homes or better cars or more stuff. But money does matter. It puts a roof over your head, shoes on your feet and food in your stomach. If you earn enough, it also allows you to budget for a few of the things you want. And if you earn more, it gives you the opportunity to set yourself up for a comfortable future.

This month’s slow living experiment is simply meant to serve as another reminder of how important it is to hit pause on what you’re doing and question if it still serves you. If it doesn’t, it’s important to figure out what action will. I won’t attach my self-worth to my salary or my net worth. I refuse to set income goals that serve as vanity metrics, the same way I refuse to perform whatever tactics will get me the most followers on social media. Life is about more than any of those numbers. But money does matter, and I believe there’s a way to set financial goals and still enjoy the journey.

Extra Reading

  • I hope to see you at FinCon! It’s my first one so I’m a little nervous about how it’ll go.

    I think these are fantastic goals! Being self-employed is scarier in many ways than keeping a traditional 9 to 5, though. Would you say you’re happier running your own business? I think that’s the route I’d prefer, but it’s a long and tough road to get there, too!

    • Oh, I’m way happier running my own business than I ever was working for someone else. It’s funny, I didn’t actually realize that I would be happier UNTIL I was self-employed… but my struggles at day jobs were always having to work at someone else’s pace, not being able to take full control of projects, etc. That’s clearly not an issue, anymore. :) And please please please say hi at FinCon!

  • I’m pretty envious that you get to pay less than $1,166 on rent in your super cool looking ski town! Is that typical? :)

    Man, those tax rates seem super duper high to me at your income level. Best of luck pursuing your 2017 money goals. =)

    • Ahhh, I don’t technically live in Squamish right now, haha. Just subletting. My rent will likely be $1,300/mo when I move there. And 30% is just a target savings rate for most people who are self-employed. I typically pay 20% (after business expenses are deducted) but would rather have more saved than get a huge tax bill and not have enough.

  • I’m curious if you’ve tried saying my savings account should have $X in it and then I will invest anything that goes above that for retirement. Does your scarcity mindset kick in with that and tell you you can neve have enough in savings? That’s my plan at the moment. I have no near term financial goals since my husband took over the mortgage payments, so I plan to keep a year’s expenses in savings and then invest anything further for retirement.

    I’ve been really struggling with the scarcity mindset you describe while I’ve been in grad school this year. I go back and forth between being worried I will run out of money, that grad school is a waste of my money, and that I won’t find a job when I’m done and I’ll be unemployed forever.

    One point I would question about your car is how long do you expect to keep it for? Will you be prepared when it is time to acquire a new (to you) car? Or is that far enough in the future that you don’t worry about it? I know my strategy is that I would sell some of my taxable investments to buy my next car whenever the time comes. I wouldn’t take out a loan again – the lien was too annoying to get removed.

    • That’s pretty much what I have been doing: keeping $10K in savings and another $5-10K in chequing. The problem is that I can’t always project what I will make in future months, so I worry I’ll have to dip into that (which I don’t want to – I hate the idea of those numbers going down). Typically, I’ll invest a lump sum for retirement whenever my chequing account goes over $9-10K. Again, there’s no rhyme or reason to that… it just seems to be the cutoff for when the scarcity mindset thinks I have enough money. But I really want to get comfortable with setting aside even a small amount every week and trusting I’m not going to all of a sudden run out of money. Then move that number up and up, as time goes on… and do lump sum investments whenever I’m feeling flush. As for the car, mine is 8 years old and only has 100,000km on it (62,000 miles). She’s a baby, I rarely drive, and am pretty sure I’ll have her until I’m 40 lol.

      • My car is 6.5 years old and has almost 28,000 miles on it (45,000 km). I’m going to have it for a while yet hopefully! It sounds like you’ve been having the same scarcity mindset problem I’ve been having lately. It is SO hard to get past! Good luck!

      • Cait

        Not sure if you will see this post, as it’s now a month-old thread. Investing in shares achieves much better results if it’s done steadily and regularly. You’re in the market longer with at least some of your cash, and sometimes you’re monthly investment sum will be buying into the market at a premium (boo hiss) and sometimes at a bargain level.

        Lump sums just go in”whenever” they arrive.

        Might I suggest that you consider, now that you have your emergency fund, that you put an initially-comfortable (to you, psychologically) amount into your illiquid retirement savings vehicle(s) and some into a liquid, no strings attached index tracker fund? I suggest this because you will still be getting more money into the markets overall, but the tracker can, if you really need that money, be liquidated in whole or in part , with just broker’s fees to pay.

        After six months or so, maybe longer – whatever works for you – you might wish to consider moving your entire monthly investment into the tax-efficient pensions wrapper (I’m English, so I don’t know how your system works). But at that time, I’d recommend leaving what you’ve already built up in that index tracker exactly where it is. You retain a liquid asset, and get peace of mind, from it, while still invested in the markets.

        Hope this helps (if you even see it!).

        Best wishes


  • “business owners who believe every dollar spent on your business is an investment will help you justify expenses.”

    This reminds me of Maslow’s hammer: “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

    It’s not that this is the ONLY tool they have, but rather that it’s the most obvious tool that has paid dividends, and we tend to keep going back to the same well when something works for us. That’s natural but not always best. Heck, we tend to go back to the same well even when something DOESN’T work for us. It’s important to do exactly what you’re doing – step back and evaluate the possible tool on its own merit.

    I did the same thing about cutting off expenses for the blog a few years ago. I still pay for hosting but I bought one course that I haven’t made the most of yet, and until I do, I clearly don’t have the bandwidth to take on more. It keeps me from falling into the mindset that I just need another better course to make money. My goal is to use the tools that I’ve acquired to their fullest before moving to the next shiny thing.

    Best of luck, know that I’m thinking of you and doing the same thing! <3

    • I also want to say those business owners aren’t wrong, in the sense that a lot of expenses are complete write-offs… so it does help at tax time. BUT it’s still money you have to spend upfront. And if you’re not even sure when you’re going to use it, it’s not an investment, it’s just another impulse purchase!

  • I am totally agree with your idea of big wedding no thanks and yes every single cent you’ve spent on your business is a GOOD INVESTMENT, but I’m sure tha tif you fixed these 2 goals there is a good reason and I’m sure you’ll achieve both!

  • I’ve been freelancing just slightly longer than you have (left my job at the end of March 2015). Although I have the benefit of a working husband, we couldn’t live on his income alone. Have you looked into YNAB (you need a budget)? I found it last July and it has saved my sanity when it comes to budgeting variable income. They suggest living on what you earn the month before, so you never have to worry if this month will be lean or in excess because you’re budgeting exactly the amount you earned the previous month. They also have an 8-part series on their blog discussing budgeting with variable income ( and they talk about creating a budget category to put excess money into to use during tighter months (but I can’t remember if that’s in that series or not.)

    Regardless, I know you’ll slay your financial challenges in a way that makes sense for you. :)

    • See, I have never been able to wrap my mind around the YNAB model of living on last month’s income. But I will definitely go through that series. This post wasn’t meant to make it sound like I don’t have a handle on the budgeting, per se, or that I have lean months (I don’t). The large buffer in my chequing account gives me peace of mind to go about my daily life. It’s just that I started feeling less aware of what my money could do because I suck at projecting, and the mindset around investing has been the toughest part to work through.

      • So that large current account (or checking account? Same thing!) balance, Cait: that IS living on last month’s income!! YNAB:I have v4, which I don’t think you can buy anymore. It was a one-off payment. The new version is by annual subscription. Don’t know if you read Trent Hamm on “The Simple Dollar” site, but he’s pretty cool and he hasn’t switched from v4. I still think it’s a great tool- if I didn’t have v4, I would pay the annual fee for the new version.

  • An interesting post from you today, Cait. Many thoughts came to mind as I read it.

    Of course, unlike yourself, before retirement I was always steadily employed, earning a steady monthly income so of course I’ve always budgeted on a monthly basis, even still now while in retirement. You however, being self-employed, earn a variable income so that makes budgeting more difficult.

    A few suggestions:
    1. You might consider setting up a budget not on a monthly basis but perhaps, let’s say, on a quarterly basis so as to smooth out the up-and-down flow in which you receive your income.
    2. Rather than taking it upon yourself to try to find ways to handle a variable income, you might also reach out to others who have been self employed much longer than yourself and seek some ideas (as to what does and doesn’t work) from them. Leverage their past experience to help you choose solutions to help you set up your own custom approach.

    And speaking of leverage,
    you write: ” I also want to push myself to do more work, rather than assign it out or assume an online service can take care of everything”
    which is fine but consider this:
    if you can develop a business case where your Return on Investment will mean that your profit will exceed the cost of outsourcing your labour costs then I’d still outsource rather than try to save more by doing everything yourself. Your free time is an important asset (just like money) that you must accumulate as well in order to be happy and stay healthy, not getting overloaded. Remember, Warren Buffet made his money by leveraging the work of others (just like investing),not by trying to do everything himself.

    If you can increase your free time, while still earning a profit on your projects then you then can do other stuff – like go on vacations, attend seminars, network your services, attend courses, brainstorm with others to create new ideas to increase your brand. All that requires free time, not only money.

    As to goals to save for, yes by all means save for retirement, save to have enough to live on, save to have emergency savings. But also save for future purchases. For example, today you have a fully paid up car but what if that car got stolen. If you needed a car for your business, would you (after theft insurance) have enough money to go out and pay cash immediately to fully pay for a replacement car? I mention this example only because it happened to us. We had a fully paid up new car within a short time after having our old car stolen right after Christmas. Yes, it was a bummer but I “didn’t sweat the small stuff”.

    Another thing of course to save for is to increase your investing in a reasonable diversified balanced approach whenever you can. This I’m sure you are doing and this in itself adds to your feelings of financial security over time, regardless of how well your business may be doing. This is your best form of leveraging – working smarter, rather than harder.

    Just my opinions, my friend. Thanks for taking the time to read them.

    • And thank you for taking the time to write them, Rob! I am certainly taking in lots of ideas from recent conversations with other self-employed friends. One thing that has come up is many of them feel the same re: being nervous to invest regularly, and also seem to do more lump sum deposits. I’m still determined to make that switch, even if it starts small.

  • Damn Cait, this post is like you’ve looked at all my career/income related thoughts over the past year and come up with sensible ways of responding to them. All the concerns you mentioned here — budgeting and retirement savings on irregular income, ballooning travel and business expenses, and just the general disorientation caused by an entrepreneur-style income — are exactly what I’m thinking about these days, and aside from you, I don’t know anyone who has these problems and can offer ideas. So I really appreciate the thinking you’ve done on dealing with these problems! I feel much less confused about what to do. I’m going to print this out and make a plan based on your insights here.

    • I’m so glad it was helpful, friend! And it’s actually really comforting to hear I’m not alone in these thoughts. I’m going to write a bit more about how I plan to change my strategies this year, in next week’s posts. Maybe that will give you some more ideas, too. :)

  • I definitely feel your pain with the variable income. Thankfully, I have a steady income, but my husband does not. We have set it up so that we can cover all of our living expenses on my salary alone, and save quite a big chunk. So whenever he brings in money, we invest it all. We do, however, have the house with the mortgage (hopefully not for too much longer) and a child, not to mention we’re a tad older,too ;)

    We spent our cash on home improvements over a big flashy wedding and we plan each day on the possibility of his income not being what we expect it to be. Although, after a few years of having a consistent income, I think it’s fairly safe to count on it. It sounds like you’re doing the same (and more) than you’ve done in past years. Hence, it sounds like you’d be perfectly fine to set up revolving monthly contributions to meet your future goals.

    I’m enjoying being able to follow your journey :) Thanks so much for sharing.


    • Thanks so much for sharing some of your experience here, Lisa! And you’re right, I’m at the stage where I’m comfortable setting up regular contributions again. I’m going to share more about this next week, but I’m excited to get started and hopefully find my mindset shifts quickly.

  • I like the goals and esp. the way success on the first can help the second.

    One thing to consider for your biz would be a zero-based budget. Rather than looking at what you’re spending and cut it down, take a blank sheet of paper and start identifying things from a base of zero. It’s an interesting exercise and can complement a more traditional view of just cutting things at the margin, and it can also lead to creative ways to fulfill “must-haves” with perhaps newer / cheaper / better solutions by forcing you to evaluate every item.

    Good luck!

  • Cutting back on business expenses is a tough one for us.

    On one hand, having great equipment and services helps us run a better business and make more money.
    On the other hand, it’s so important to remember that every dollar your business spends is a dollar *you* will never see.

    When you work for yourself, your business money IS your personal money. The idea of money you spend on your business as being a “write off” is true…. Kiss that money good bye, write it off, never see it again! ;)

    Also, I fell in love with this…

    “I will forever be grateful for this lesson, as it helped me escape the rat race of thinking I needed to earn more money simply so I could buy more stuff and live a “bigger and better” life. It turns out, when you want less stuff, you need less money. This statement rang true for me then and is still true for me today.”


    • Haha, well you’ll never see it again… but it also reduces your taxable income. So I see how/why people make the argument to spend! I just don’t want to spend that same amount every year. My business does not need to be more expensive than the roof I put over my head, lol.

  • Cait, insightful read for me and the timing is important as it appears a work exit plan is occurring right now. I will have to step up the more minimal approach to living and at the same time focus on my self employed income. I myself don’t budget or set goals too often in the money arena but careful track expenses and spending. I enjoy the challenge and seeing the results from finding efficiencies . Your perspective of having to build your retirement savings in the place your are at in life right now will be intriguing for your followers and peers alike. Thank-you as always Cait for the terrific post.

  • Budgeting on an income that varies as much as yours ($1500 to $20000!) must be tough. I do have a steady income, but I was intrigued to find that in some ways I invest the way you do – and I don’t plan to change it any time soon. My 401k and HSA deductions are automatic and I don’t think about them. For everything else though, I invest manually. I make sure that I have $10k on hand and then every $ above that $10k gets invested.

  • As someone who’s happy with less, I can definitely relate to this. Where does money fit in? It’s empowering and it gives you options but, obviously, it isn’t everything. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately (and thank you for the link!): the balance between not caring about money and not making it too important. I think goals are crucial for this. For one, they help give you an idea of what your “enough” is. But also, for me at least, goals help me focus on something outside of money. When I don’t have a specific goal to strive for, I just chase money and spend it. Nothing wrong with either of those things, there’s just more I want to do, you know? Anyway, thanks again for the link :) I really enjoyed reading your perspective on this topic!

    • “When I don’t have a specific goal to strive for, I just chase money and spend it.” YES and YES. And if I don’t spend it, I sit on cash for a long time and wonder what to do with it.

  • You should look at Mr Money Mustache again and the Cruncher chap. I think they both advocate ZERO taxes in the USA. Can it be done in Canada ? I am retired and living partially on my Portfolio in the TSX stock market which is up very much at the moment. If I am careful there will be some for my Children ?

    • I don’t want to say “no, it can’t be done here” but I can’t imagine it would be possible.

      • Hey Cait, Not sure if you’ll check this comment this late in the game, but I want to piggyback on Robert’s comment (I’m also a MMM devotee). Does Canada provide any pretax investment/retirement vehicles? In the U.S., we have a few pretax savings methods.

        For example, we can save $18K (US) PRETAX in our 401(k) (called other things if you’re in public or non profit sector – 457b), and, that’s what WE can contribute. Usually, an employer matches up to a certain %; we also have HSA (Health Savings Account), which, given your healthcare system, is probably unnecessary. We are allowed to deposit $3750 pretax annually for individuals, and $6800 for families. We also have traditional IRAs, which allow $5500 per person annually to be deducted at tax time (this ability to write off does phase out in higher income brackets).

  • I have been self employed for nearly 10 years now and I invested in a property I rent out as holiday let. I outsource the cleaning to a local lady , who has several cleaners work for her. I choose to do that because I earn more doing my job than if I took the time out to do the change over myself. I rent out the property though an agency (am based in the UK so some things could be different for you) again because in time factor, I earn more at my job, and the agency let my property out more weeks a year then when I took the bookings myself.
    Property income exceeds mortgage and running costs. The cottage is my pension.
    A friend of mine took a different approach and bought a flat she shared with tenants, who covered her mortgage. Just ideas to show you don’t have to do all the work yourself, or postpone until actual retirement.
    I asked myself what I wanted to do in retirement, how I saw it. One of my answers was low expenses, meaning no rent.
    Like Rob suggested, it is worth asking other self employed how things work for them, or what they wished they had done. Best wishes.

    • Wow, thanks for sharing those two stories, Cathy! I am certainly considering the investment property route, these days. It’s not something I can do until after June (must be self-employed for two years before you can buy real estate in Canada) but I am certainly exploring my options. :)

  • I agree with your comment that “the only people who don’t have to budget are those with a lot of money”. Perhaps those who have less money don’t HAVE to budget, but it is the way (the only way?) to get to a more secure place. Tracking spending and saving allows people to align the two with their own values and priorities.

    I’m not self-employed, but my husband is, and I can attest to how tempting it is to spend more in the quest to grow the business. I’m going to share your post with him!

  • Wow Cait. It is amazing that you are able to go out of the norms of society when it comes to homeownership. While I try to live a relatively minimalist lifestyle, this is something that I struggle with. It is because I still want to have a home for my future family and it can be extremely expensive.

    • Oh, I still like the idea of owning something… but it’s never been an option before, because I didn’t have the money and housing costs keep going up up up here.

    • It will be great! My suggestion would be to not schedule yourself too thin (you can watch sessions online later) and instead enjoy any conversations you find yourself in. Don’t cut them short. The best part of FinCon is always the people. :)

  • Try to use YNAB, it’s budgeting but works excellently with unpredictable income.

    I your shoes I would put aside 20% of every paycheque for investment, but only actually invest at the end of the year once you know how your income panned out. You have a lot of buffers in place, feel confident in that and be more proactive with saving.

  • It’s not good to revolve your life around money, but money does buy us the most precious commodity – our time. It was difficult for us balancing how much to spend and how much to save. One year we didn’t travel at all, but we missed it too much, and the next year we had to make up for it with extra travel. In the end we found that targeted and meaningful spending worked best for us. We never feel deprived, but we always strive to get the most happiness for out dollars.

    You’ve got great goals and are in a great position to crush them. You’ll find the right balance of saving while still living well :)

    • Thanks friend, I appreciate that! And appreciate you sharing the struggle re: finding balance with how much to spend on what you love.

  • It’s so interesting that you bring up the implications of the minimalist “money doesn’t matter” mindset. It does seem that in trying to convince people that their bank accounts shouldn’t determine their self-worth, we might have gone a little too far in the other direction. I’m not self-employed but like you, I often fall into the trap of thinking that because I’m able to pay my bills and spend a little here and there without overdrawing my bank account every month, then I don’t really need to budget. One thing I always have to remind myself is that life and circumstances are always changing, and if I continue with the current mindset I could be in for a very rude awakening and a harsh adjustment one day. I suppose then that a little dash of “doomsday” mindset can occasionally be in my best interests!

    • I guess that’s also true, Hanna. Perhaps it just means we need to run scenarios/calculations from time-to-time and be aware of what could happen, while still carrying on with our regular routines. Nothing wrong with a little more awareness!

  • Mindset definitely plays a massive part in how we deal with our finances. I love the message you conveyed in this article Cait, because you’re totally right. Money definitely matters, and perhaps sometimes ignorance is bliss but it’s important to at least be aware of where your money is going. I know so many people who don’t budget, and most of them live paycheck to paycheck or they’re in massive debt. Partly because they are used to a certain lifestyle and live above their means. I think trying to adopt (slowly but surely) a minimalist mindset is really beneficial and can teach people how to manage their money better.
    Mind you, life shouldn’t all be about money, but enjoying yourself and the journey, that doesn’t mean though you have to spend a lot of money.

  • My income is steady, but my expenses are not, so what I have to save each month fluctuates. What I do is save everything above my budgeted spending for that month. A few months of the year that means I save nothing, but most months I save a different amount. I, too, have a healthy savings account, so if something came up I could handle it without touching my investments. That works for me. It’s about figuring out what you’re comfortable with.

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