As regular readers may know, I don’t really do calendar year end as I have said before. I measure everything on the tax year simply because it makes my life much easier – my pension statements come through and validate what I have put in, my ISAs allowances go for that period as well so why make life harder for myself.
I’ve also never been one for celebrating New Year – it is an arbitrary date with no real significance to me – in fact this year I was in bed on New Years Eve by 10:30pm – I slept through all the fireworks. It was bliss – it meant I could go for a nice walk on New Years Day at 8am, it was lovely and quiet with only dog walkers and parents with small children out and about, and not many of them!
A lovely refreshing walk, unlike a lot of people I know who didn’t surface until midday with a rather large hangover, meaning they wrote off the entire day – the last day off before the day job kicks in.
Having said all that, it is quite interesting to see how 2016 went, and I do track my annual expenditure on both calendar and tax years, just to keep me busy.
Looking back at 2017
So firstly I guess, what changed from 2016? Well, from my essential categories, my bills, food and alcohol for home and holidays all came down from 2016. The flip side is I spent more in 2017 on alcohol and eating out. Ooops. I guess it all balances out!
Overall however I decreased my total expenditure by approximately 15% meaning that my savings rate (excluding pensions, bonus etc.) was a shade under 33%. With some really good months tucked in there my rolling 12 month savings rate is starting to move up towards 40%. Happy days!
If I include my pension and bonus (which went into pension) in my income, my overall savings rate was just under 54%. My total pension provisions went up by almost the same as my gross salary. I can’t even describe how ecstatic I am at that! Even though a large chunk of this is in pensions which I can’t access for at least another 13 years, it puts me in a really strong position.
I am noting the difference in my mentality as well knowing that I have those funds in place, and is making me look at if I can drop some of my insurance now.
So what happened to my initial dry runs from last years thoughts?
Dry run 1 – savings. I managed to stick the GTP ISA income and not take anything out, and in addition later in the year I increased my rainy day fund monthly contributions, so forced myself to run things through. The downside is that my cash flow fund has not really gone up at all. I need to work harder on this.
Dry run 2 – alcohol expenses. Well… technically I did reduce the expenditure…. by just under 1% from 2016! I think I need to work harder on this!
Dry run 3 – other expenses. This was a bit more successful – I reduced them by approximately 10%. Not bad, but not enough as still a high expense, but then not a surprise given some work in the home.
The Christmas Break
So for me the Christmas break was in general good. I had a spell of being unwell leading me to not eat or drink for over 48 hours, and my other half considering calling an ambulance. I accept I wasn’t on great form but I don’t think it was quite that bad.
On Christmas Day, given that I was cooking and providing alcohol, I decided I wanted to see if I was well again or not. How could I tell how I would be after 48 hours with only 2 cups of mint tea?
Simple – a shot of beautifully chilled Zubrowka – a delicious vodka at 9am. The good news was that I held strong, which meant I could enjoy the majority of Christmas Day feast.
Needless to say then for the rest of the break I made up for the lost time. So much so I was actually rather embarrassed when I was putting the recycling out. This led me on to think about what do I want to do differently in 2018.
Firstly, I aim to reduce my alcohol consumption.
Secondly, I am aiming to lose weight. Taking myself from 15 stone down to 13 stone over the course of this year.
I won’t be tracking the first too closely, but for the second I will. In the first 3 weeks of this year I have so far done a very good run on this, with only drinking at the weekend (granted this is partly due to long working hours – 14/15 hour days and today is the first day since 2nd January I have done less than 5 hours work).
Have I noticed any difference? I really have, the mornings aren’t that different but are still different, slightly less lethargic (depending on exactly how much I have drunk) and a not quite falling asleep so early in the evenings.
The biggest difference I have seen however, is in my weight. Granted I have made some salads for lunch, however since the beginning of the year I have lost almost 3/4 stone. I am already the lightest now I have been in years and I am really happy. That’s the easier part though as that is simply from reducing empty calories from alcohol.
The next part is going to be harder, but let’s see. I look at it as I need to lose 1/2 stone each quarter so I am already well ahead.
In terms of savings it is going to be the same old same old. I want to push my net savings rate higher, I want it over 40%. If I am lucky enough to get a pay rise this year, I will add it into my GTP ISA monthly direct debit so that I build up even further.
To be honest, that is about it. Continue to track expenses and retirement funds. Grow them as much as possible, and continue to throw myself into my job that is helping to propel me to Financial Freedom. Oh and drink good coffee, wine and whisky!
Have you made any new years resolutions?