A year of thinking about money draws to a close!

A year ago, I started this blog, to take control of my finances and face up to not having enough saved for retirement. I’ve been setting monthly goals to improve my finances, so before I look back over the year, how did I do with December’s goals?

I had one aim for December, related to a new cat-sitting business I’m setting up:

  • Finish a marketing leaflet, and write some web content

Did I do it? It’s a work in progress still! I spent no time on the leaflet, but this was mostly because I’ve been waiting on someone else who is helping me out. I’ve written some web pages, but they need reviewing and the website is not yet live. So, one to continue over into next year….

A look back at the year

Mid-way through the year, I posted about what I’d achieved as at that point in time. I’ve updated it here to include a full year summary:

  • Set myself a specific goal to retire at age 55, and to save £200,000 by that date (13 years from now). To achieve this, I need to earn more, hopefully by setting up multiple income streams. I hope to cover a third of my expenses in this way 4 years from now (2020).
  • Started seeing which of the ideas I have for making money have ‘legs’. I discovered buying-to-let would be unaffordable and unprofitable in my local area, but am moving ahead with the cat-sitting business.
  • Increased my pension contributions from 8% to 12%.
  • Gathered documents from previous pension schemes.  
  • Received a state pension statement.
  • Set a target pension income of two-thirds of my current salary and calculated how much extra I need to be saving each month. This needs updating after the realisation that I’d like to retire at 55!
  • Chose an investment platform and opened my first stocks and shares ISA, invested in the Vanguard Lifestrategy 60% Equity fund.
  • Bought my car rather than re-financing it, or buying a new one on finance.
  • Decided on 6 months of expenses as an emergency fund.
  • Worked out how much to save each month for short term expenses (e.g. new specs, decorating), medium term savings (bigger items e.g. car), with everything else going to long-term savings (i.e. the BIG ONE – retirement).
  • Worked out how much of my savings I can spend, as there’s a long list of house renovations needed, and I’m going to go ahead and do it in 2017!
  • Opened a Santander 123 current account.
  • Transferred an old cash ISA into the Virgin 1 year fixed rate ISA.
  • Tracked in more detail my spending through my Spending Tracker app – this needs reviewing again, as it’s probably too complicated…!
  • Switched to a better tariff with my energy supplier, saving £600 a year, and receiving £30 cashback.
  • Switched to a lower rate on my mortgage.
  • Obtained £700 refund from Experian for unwanted CreditExpert credit report service.
  • Signed up for Barclays Rewards scheme to earn £48 over the course of the year.
  • Decluttered – I attempted the 30-day Minimalism Game, which although it failed did result in lots of items being decluttered.
  • Sold about £750 of items on eBay (it was £150 at the half-year mark, we just sold £500 of vinyl, and I’m estimating there was another £100 in addition to that)
  • Sold books via Ziffit and Zapper.
  • Got free Talk Talk upgrade.
  • £166.53 saved in the penny-a-day challenge – this was as at July, I’m not sure at what point this stopped, but it did!
  • Read lots of finance blogs and books – at the start of the year, I was completely unaware of the sheer volume of finance blogs out there!

Do I feel any differently about my finances compared to year ago?

Despite the long list above….well, no, not really! I’m in a better place now compared to a year ago, but I think the work I’ve done has been more about getting things in order, than making a difference to the end goal, which is to have enough to retire on.

I don’t think I’m much closer to that goal at present, even though I’ve increased my pension savings, and have finally started investing through my ISA. There are some obvious areas I need to focus on next year:

  • Improve my budgeting – it’s still not working for me as I’d like
  • Open new savings accounts for short- / medium-term goals
  • Get the cat-sitting business off the ground, and work on a few other business ideas I have
  • Work out how much extra I need to earn so I can start making progress towards my early retirement goal

I’m not sure I’m going to set monthly goals in the same way going into 2017, perhaps I’ll set longer-term goals instead, but I’ll flesh these out as I go into the new year. As my first year of blogging ends, another year of thinking about money begins for me. Thanks for reading in 2016, and I wish you a happy 2017!

Image: Pixabay

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2 Responses

  1. I love this post, might have to write one myself! It is great to see what progress you have made, just because you didn’t do some things you wanted to doesn’t make it a failure. You are better than 99% of people who did nothing

    • Sarah says:

      Thanks James, it does feel good looking back at a ‘done’ list, rather than fixating on my usual ‘to do’ list! Thanks for reading!

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