I’m giving myself 45 minutes to write this blog post. Then, I’m going to run for 15-20 minutes. I’ll give myself 10 minutes to cool down before my intern arrives to review footage from this weekend’s shoot. After we’re done, I’ll take a shower (I didn't) and then Leanne and I will head to a friend’s house for game night (we forgot the game). We’ll probably be home around 9:30 or so. Maybe enough time to watch a TV show (we watched "The 90's") or maybe we’ll just head to bed. Tomorrow provides another opportunity to complete tasks and advance in any number of areas. And so it goes. On and on.
I enjoy this type of lifestyle, but I also think it’s healthy to question it. I like to stay active and motivated, moving from project to project, but it seems like there’s never an end to the busy. And when I find myself nearing an end, I just create more work for myself. That could mean working on my business, working on my craft, working on my fitness, working on money stuff, working on a side hustle, working on relationships, or working on my inner self. There’s always lots to do and always ways to improve.
I’m still deciding if the frantic pace I’ve conditioned myself to live is healthy. I’m a chronic multi-tasker and I don’t know if I can train my brain to NOT WANDER. I like that it wanders, even if it leads me into work. The thing I need to get a better handle on is working on things that are truly fulfilling; work that brings me closer to my ultimate goals; work that brings me joy. Far too often, I’m working on things that are menial or processes that could be automated. And that’s something I have been trying to figure out for the last half of the year: How can I automate my business? How can I become more efficient? How can I cut through the endless sludge of responsibility to get nearer to the heart of purpose?
While we're on the topic of goals, lets take a moment to reflect.
2018 was a glorious year of education, challenges, setbacks, comebacks, adventure, love, and loss. It’s almost too much to summarize, but I’ll try. Below, are THE BIG MOMENTS:
Leanne and I got married in April in Costa Rica!
We honeymooned in August in Italy!
We attended an amazing conference for work in Cabo in December!
I biked nearly 700 miles!
I lost over 30 lbs!
I sold my car. We’ve been a one car family since March!
I volunteered 50 hours at a local non-profit!
We continued to invest and set up plans for Leanne’s 401K and Roth IRA as well as continued contributions to my 401K and Roth!
We started using credit cards to earn free travel!
We streamlined our personal and business expenses and restructured our price models!
We both replaced our business computers with sleek laptops!
We battled Hurricane Florence and helped neighbors and family members during the aftermath (no exclamation mark for this one)
We watched the stock market get slapped around, causing our investments to dip (no exclamation mark for this one either)
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. And, considering all the activity we had going on in 2018, I’m so glad we were on top of our finances the whole time. We never carried any debt. We continued to invest every month except December (which is frustrating). We really challenged ourselves to, not only stick to the course, but to, well, question everything that we know about money. Amazing things can happen when you do that.
I tabulated our year-end numbers (we’ve been tracking our spending every month since November 2017) and it is truly amazing to have all of this custom data. Numbers don’t lie and there are clear patterns and answers in our spending. These numbers are leading to even more challenges for 2019. We’ve made huge dents in our expenses (both personal and business), but there’s absolutely more we can do to become even more lean. And, just to make a quick note: Becoming financial lean (and mean!) doesn’t equal us living a life of deprivation. Far from it. Looking at the list above, I am #1: Incredibly grateful to live this life and, #2: Feeling anything but deprived!
There are so many ways to trim down your Cost Of Living without sacrificing the things that are important to you. If you love to travel, go travel! If you love to eat at amazing restaurants, you should go do that! If your passion is cars, by all means, drive, sucka, drive. The point is to identify the things in life that actually bring you joy and then start eliminating all the things that don’t. And you would be surprised how much money and time we spend on things that don’t make us happy. Furthermore, it is a life-time practice of examining yourself to figure this stuff out!
The good news is that it doesn’t take long to see results. I guarantee you that if you track your spending for 90 days, your life will start changing for the better. If you gain consciousness about where your money is ACTUALLY going and then CHALLENGE yourself to trim some of your cash fat, you will absolutely have more money. I'm also willing to bet you’ll start making a bit more money. And you will probably feel better too (because you may have cut out things like junk food, drinking, fast food, copious amounts of TV and instead filled your time with activities like biking, reading, finding creative activities to do with friends, starting a side hustle, etc).
I digress. Here are some of our 2018 numbers and goals for the next year:
23% went to our mortgage. And when I say mortgage, what I really mean is taxes, insurance, and interest. Yuck.
Groceries — $3,642 ($304/month) — not bad
Dining Out - $3,166 — yikes
I’m not even going to tell you the drinking total.
We spent $1,064 on household and housing related stuff. I think that’s pretty good. No major house issues this year. ::knocks on wood::
$105 on pets. Cats are cheap.
$5,699 on travel. To be expected with three international trips. This number will be MUCH lower this year. We still plan to travel, but we have amassed quite a horde of credit card points that will eliminate plenty of those expenses.
Phone — $303 since April. Compare that to the $963 I would’ve spent in the same amount of time if I would have stayed with AT&T and my iPhone.
A major boon to our personal spending this year, was to shift a large amount of our spending burden to our businesses. That means that both businesses cover our Health Insurance, Vehicle Costs, and portions of our Mortgage, Power, and Internet. (The businesses also pay our income taxes via estimated payments throughout the year.)
Honestly, the only numbers that jump out to me in a fairly negative way are what we spent dining out and drinking. 28% of our total spending went to those two categories and Groceries. That can absolutely be remedied.
Unfortunately, we did not reach our spending goal of $25,000. It’s still our goal for 2019 and I think that with continued challenges, both inside and out, we can reach it.
Specific Goals for 2019:
Bike 1,000 miles
Run 250 miles
$25K in overall personal spending
Max out both 401Ks and Roth IRAs (if eligible) and start contributing toward taxable brokerage account or HSAs
Travel to two countries that we've never visited
Eat healthier (I suck at this.)
Slash dining out/drinking spending
Spend more time volunteering and more non-restaurant/bar time with friends
Learn to camp (without a camper)
Read 15 books
Automate my business more and, perhaps, outsource some ‘technician’ work
Invest more time into our commercial production brand and Passively Managed
I’m sure I won’t conquer this whole list, but if I can at least improve a bit (or a bunch) in each direction, I’ll be that much closer to our long term goals.
My 45 minutes are up (though, if I'm being honest, I've probably spent another 30 minutes editing and formatting. #blogsarehard).