The year 2020 is an unforgettable year. It made me feel a lot of emotions and rethink my values and goals.
Honestly, I didn’t think that an occurrence of a virus in several countries would led to pandemic. I had high hope that it will be contained; thus, avoiding catastrophic demise.
Yet, as I was writing this post, the government of Alberta has extended restrictions that started in December to avoid gathering on holidays.
In spite of what happened last year, I have good news in terms of personal finance and health.
2020 Financial Review
I’ve never been sick since I recovered from sickness before the lockdown in March.
And I continuously work with varying schedules which helped me achieved my financial goals.
1. I invested more than the TFSA limit ($6,000) in 2020. I am not paying any tax or go overboard because I have lots of room coming from years that I haven’t max out the annual contribution limit.
This is the first time that it happened and I will do my best to keep it going year after year.
2. I remained employed and continuously get the employee benefits. My dental benefits was slightly used (I cannot go in summer) and my Manulife RRSP contribution wasn’t affected in spite of my erratic work schedule.
The company that I am working at paid employees in some days that we didn’t work for a certain period.
3. For the first time, I invested in a sustainable ETF. I bought an international sector ETF (CWW)with high ESG score. The market price went up in less than a year making me wish that I should have bought more.
But I don’t want to rush things. I want to take my time in knowing ETFs that are doing good for the mother earth.
4. I made three savings account on Tangerine: travel, apartment, and gadget funds.
Travelling in 2020 was confined only in Alberta so I didn’t save for it. Whereas, I saved up for my apartment fund. I’ll use it for down payment or any expenses related to apartment.
For gadget funds, I used it to buy a new iPad Pro which I use in writing posts (like this one) and pretty much to everything.
My reliable phone kept me from spending. With the release of new iPhones, I thought of the cost of replacing my old phone.
Fortunately, I wasn’t tempted. The year of lockdown isn’t the best time to get a new phone that perfectly works well. I am keeping my iPhone 6 till it dies or I was able to save and pay in cash for a new phone.
Right now, I am saving for a laptop in case my almost a-decade-old laptop decided to retire without a notice.
5. Dining out has become a non-essential routine. At the start of the year, my friend and I decided to go to a new restaurant every month. We like to go to buffet restaurants.
We both love foods and a way for us to catch up and plan our future trips is over variety of food.
The two restaurants that we’ve been are worthy of four star ratings that we certainly want to go back again. Thereafter, we decided to resume our monthly gastronomic adventure this year when things get better.
I made a bit of progress in other aspects of my life in spite of being at home most of the time when I am not at work so keep on reading.
The pandemic further emphasized the importance of having a healthy lifestyle.
My co-workers started to go on a diet and reminded them that eating healthy food is a lifestyle and not a trend.
I often mention the documentary in Netflix What the Health. Because of this somebody decided to become a vegetarian. That’s a huge accomplishment for me.
Indeed, health is wealth.
That is the mantra that I’ll never get tired of repeating.
Another aspect that hit me hard was relying on my job.
A job is not a security. The pandemic urged me to work on my side hustle and my dream of becoming a digital nomad and having financial independence.
Those who have financial independence were able to quit jobs and pursue their passion. They live close to nature and study online.
Nothing is holding them back. That is the life that I want to achieve.
I told myself that I never want to feel this way again. To worry about paying bills and keeping a job. My future self wants a creative, healthy lifestyle with or without a pandemic.
Although, my favourite library was closed most of the time in 2020 and events such as Doors Open YYC were cancelled, I still get to do things I like at the comfort of my apartment.
1. I spent time watching Kdrama and Spanish series. If I have spare fund I will buy Netflix stock because everyone seems to turn to subscription-based entertainment.
K-dramas that I watched:
- Itaewon Class
- Rookie Historian (I love history and K-drama)
- Prison Playbook
- The School Nurse Files (this is weird, funny, and witty)
What K-drama can you recommend? I didn’t watch yet the famous Crash Landing on You and It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.
As for Spanish series, who could have missed Money Heist which has interesting comeback story.
2. A sustainable company reached out to me. In my post My Dental Care Routine, I mentioned the zero-waste products that I use. Through this review, The Other Straw asked if I am interested in trying their products.
Definitely! YES! They sent me a bamboo toothbrush and straws.
I like their toothbrush and would love to continue using it. But first, I should write an overdue review.
2. I started indoor gardening in summer. In summer, my friend and I finally visited Home Depot to buy indoor plants.
Who knew it could be a costly hobby at first. I spent more than $100 for plants, pots, saucers, and soil.
Tip: Don’t buy a terra cotta pot and saucer. Water can pass through such material.
Hear ye! Hear ye! My succulents and cacti are thriving. (A miracle, I must say.)
I like how their small size accommodate the small space by the window in my new apartment. Their slow growth is fascinating. It teaches me to have patience and keep nurturing just like with everything in life.
3. I binged watch Canadian finance vloggers on YouTube. Tim Nash is well known for his advocacy in sustainable investing. I followed his blog Sustainable Economist before discovering his YouTube videos which I already watched. All of it.
Next to binge watch is Canadian in a T-Shirt. I need to take down notes while watching his videos.
My investing strategy in 2021 will be highly influenced by the knowledge I will gleam on these channels.
4. I moved to a new place and increase my rent expenses. This is one of the things I’m happy to spend for. My apartment fund helps pay for the rent, deposit, and remaining rent for the old apartment since I broke the lease.
Lodging is a necessity. It’s a rule of thumb not to spend more than %25 for a living space.
I am glad and lucky that the rent is not exuberantly high thanks to my friend who referred me to my landlord who likes to have Filipino tenants. (Why is that? I should probably explain it on a post.)
I could get a cheaper place but it’s far from work and it seems a sketchy neighbourhood.
My priority is time, health, and safety.
But most of all independence is worth paying for. Adulting is expensive.
The Winners and The Lossers
This is the first time that I will include in a financial review the things that I bought within a year. Here, I’ll rate it as winners or lossers; these terms seem harsh though so I’ll think of something else for the next review.
The things I like to keep using:
- Dining table from Wayfair
- Tarendo table from IKEA
- Bamboo toothbrush from The Other Straw
- Air fryer
- Brita water filter
- IPad Pro 12.9
- My apartment without carpet (easy to clean)
- Plants (more succulents)
- TNA vegan puffer (first item in my capsule wardrobe)
- Masala Indian instant noodles
- Forex Alberta (they made it possible to send balikbayan boxes even in time of pandemic)
- Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II (my first vegan barefoot shoes)
- The Ordinary facial products (affordable)
- Natural Shampoo Bar with Rosemary (no more to bottled non-vegan shampoo)
- TNA sweater hoodie
The things I’ll never buy again:
1. Fennel and Charcoal Soap
This soap by Rocky Moutain Soap is good in cleansing my face but it leaves my face dry. And careful not to put sud in your eyes because it stings.
I used two bars and that’s it. For now, I’ll go back to using Dove soap on my face and body.
2. Tamanu oil and Jojoba oil
I love to use rosehip oil on my face at night yet I decided to look for an alternative. (Why did I even do that?)
The jojoba oil doesn’t seem watery for an oil unlike rosehip. And tamanu oil has thick consistency and unpleasant smell yet tolerable.
One morning when I woke up, I had a somewhat allergy or redness on my face. I remembered using only tamanu oil the night before. Because of that incident, I stopped using oil on my face for a few days.
Lesson of the story: keep using what works.
Right now I am using The Ordinary Serum. Later I’ll get their rosehip as well.
That’s it for the Winner and Lossers edition of 2020. I like that I have more winners than lossers last year. Many of the winners were a one-time purchase so that means I can enjoy these things for a long time.
I pray to not forget all the lessons I learned in 2020. The pandemic will go away at some point (who knows when).
I appreciate even more my introversion which help me deal with all the uncertainty, more time spent at home, and less human interaction.
For this year, I aim to be healthier (work my way to being vegan from vegetarian) and gradually shift my investment to sustainable companies.
Stay safe, healthy, and richer in every aspects of life.