When I started tracking my expenses five years ago using the free spreadsheet from Squawkfox, I knew that it would make a huge impact to my personal finance.
It did. I was able to save a lot and later worked harder to increase my income with side hustle and constant learning.
This year, apart from clearing up my 2019 spreadsheet, I decided to create a financial review inspired by my favourite bloggers:
- Freedom 35 Blog – monthly fiscal update
- Tawcan – 2018 financial review
- Save Spend Splurge – 2018 final year end budget roundup
My version of financial review would be more similar to Tawcan’s review with less numerical figures. I still wouldn’t say my income and other fixed figures.
Instead, I’ll reveal the outcome of the decisions I made in terms of personal growth, finance, and other stuff. Did I succeed or will keep on trying another year?
2018 Financial Review
Some of the things I’ve done were planned except the first. When the opportunity was presented, I didn’t hesitate to welcome the changes.
1. I moved to a new place and sold my car. The public transportation is enough to take me to work and downtown where events (including free) are often happening. The rent is affordable; I don’t have to pay car insurance anymore which bump up my savings.
2. I bought a house in the Philippines. This is the reason why I have to lessen my ETF investment and save more cash for buying and repairing the house. Finding the right house that fits my budget took a long time but it’s all worth the wait. My parents and siblings can finally live in our own home.
3. My efforts in blogging showed a profitable outcome. I never regretted starting a blog years ago as a way to hone my creativity which started as a kid scribbling houses and plants on a hand-me-down notebook. What started as a side hustle is now a source of passive income.
4. The Modified Pag-IBIG II Program (MP2) became part of my investment portfolio (apart from Pag-IBIG I). It surprises me to know that many Filipinos especially OFWs are interested about it, although it can be challenging to pay the contribution.
5. Cropital was on my radar but I still can’t have crowdfunding as part of my portfolio. I will if it’s possible to fund the account online preferably through PayPal. I donate to Kiva through PayPal to help our kababayan in funding their business.
6. I simplified my portfolio on an online discount brokerage. Transferring my TD e-series to Questrade was easier than I thought. Sometimes it’s best not to ruminate an idea; get things done is my battlecry.
7. In early months of 2018, I invested in weed ETF (HMMJ:TO). I first tested my appetite for this volatile market with OGI, a cheap weed stock, which proved to be too volatile like a roller coaster ride.
I’m happy to report that HMMJ yields quarterly dividends that is also volatile, while OGI has none so far other than price appreciation or decline.
Those are the finance-related tasks that I’ve done so far. Some were put off for a long time. In general, I managed to do the important tasks.
And for a little less boring topic let’s move on to personal growth.
Self-improvement is just as important as personal finance. We need to try new things and follow our dreams as we work our way to financial independence.
1. I read less books but listen to many podcasts. It’s an accomplishment for me to finish listening to all the episodes of Afford Anything. I use Overcast (iOS) to listen on my devices. As much as I can, I recommend my favourite podcast and that includes you. Share what are your favourites so I’ll have more reason not to have a social life.
2. My friends and I went to hike more in Alberta Parks. The goal this year is to hike in USA. What about Yellowstone National Park? Any park will do especially if it means crossing the border; better not forget our Canadian passport. Oh and I did see a snake up close for the first time; we were closed at the border. The river is the only obstacle to reach Uncle Sam. We’ll make it this year. I hope.
3. I bought a mirrorless camera. Now I’m a professional ha ha. It took me a year to save for a brand new camera that I bought on Cyber Monday.
The staff was kind enough or was I just lucky to get a bag for free. Aside from the camera, I also bought a power bank and memory card. What makes the shopping experience fun was that I save for it but paid with credit card (Rogers Platinum Mastercard) to get points.
It’s been my dream to learn how to shoot in manual mode and contribute on Wikimedia Commons on which I downloaded free photographs for a website. It’s time to pay it forward.
4. I became a minimalist. Well at first I think I was a minimalist because I don’t like to shop and don’t own a lot of things. But I was wrong. I looked at my things and realized that I’ve been keeping stuff that I don’t use.
Some of my old clothes were in the small balikbayan box that I sent through Forex Cargo. Others were donated to a thrift store. My goal is to become intentional; I will buy things that I need and value.
The challenging part is digital minimalism; I cringe at the sight of files and software on my computer that I don’t need. The phrase just in case is killing me.
Fun Fact: The tasks that I did for personal development were part of my 18 Things for 2018 started by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a shame, I didn’t get around of writing it here on the blog. Well, I felt it’s too personal that I keep it as a note in my phone so I can review it anytime. A handy motivation.
How about I share something fun and informative like binge watching. No I haven’t watched any episodes of Game of Thrones. I’m always late to the party.
1. I started watching Downton Abbey. And I am now down to the last episode as I was writing this post. It’s been on my to-do list for a long time. I’m glad that I was able to watch the series before the movie release this year.
This show will teach manners, British accent (it’s an obsession), and personal finance (yes, it does). We better keep up with the changes and seize the opportunity that comes along with it. I wouldn’t give away the ending but do take my recommendation. Watch it on Netflix or other streaming service.
2. I watched Charlie Chaplin’s movies. As a child, he was a funny guy shown in black and white that I watched on a coloured TV. Then I became curious and wanted to know more of his films. So last year I watched (in order) City Lights, Modern Times, and The Great Dictator. The last is my favourite. This year I’ll see more of Charlie. Classic never goes out of style.
3. The New Central Library in Calgary opened in winter. By far, this is the best way to spend the taxes of the people. Since the opening, I noticed that people frequent the place to learn, eat, play (yes, there are gaming console and playground), and record a podcast or make a video.
One thing is missing though, an indoor garden. Or how about having indoor plants; I better suggest it on social media.
Do you remember Pag-asa, the first Philippine Eagle, bred and hatched in captivity. I watched a documentary at the library about the Philippine Eagle; I was soaring with happiness (pun intended) to learn the efforts of protecting their kind. The Canadians now know that we have a one of a kind bird in the Philippines.
I knew I have more to say but can’t remember; well, I’ll save it for another financial review at the end of the year.
What Will I Do Next? Any Suggestions
This year, I committed to the Reading Challenge of Goodreads. I will finish 12 books (excluding cookbook). So far I’ve read four books. I have more time to read after catching up podcasts episodes.
I highly recommend, Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki and Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. Their stories made me read at least one hour a day, morning and night.
When it comes to investing, I want to invest in a cooperative in the Philippines and crowdfunding like FarmOn. The minimal fund I’ll spend on this venture wouldn’t take up psychological concern in my brain; that’s the plan. Other PF bloggers’ reviews give me confidence and so are my relatives who have tested how deep the water is. So far they stay afloat.
Education is another thing that I’ll focus on this year. I bought courses that I haven’t finished. I’ll finish it this year and by doing so I hope to gain clarity on what path to take to increase my net and self-worth.
How about you, what were your favourites? What goals have you achieved last year?