As the year is drawing to a close, I've been reflecting on the past year and whether or not I've managed to achieve some of the aims I set myself back in January. My list wasn't a list of resolutions or any such thing, just goals I was loosely or not so loosely aiming to reach by the end of the year, if I could. Here's the list:
1 - Pay Off My £1250 Overdraft - For the last 10 years or so, I have been living with and utilising to the max, an overdraft kindly provided to me by my bank, ever since I was a student. It was at a very low rate, which is probably why I happily used it, but this year I decided it was time to pay it off and start living within my means. I did just about manage to achieve this aim, save for approximately £100. In all honesty, I didn't budget well enough, nor put any money aside for Christmas this year and this is where I went wrong. It always turns out to be more expensive than I anticipate, often due to unforeseen expenses at the last minute, so I wasn't able to totally meet this aim. Hopefully, by the end of January (or February at the latest, as it's Little Bird's birthday in January) it will be completely paid off.
2 - Continue to Pay Off My Credit Cards in Full Every Month - After striving all last year to pay off my credit card balances, which once again I'd carried for quite a while incurring interest charges on a regular basis, this year I was determined not to slip back into old habits of letting them build up and have to pay interest. I think I succeeded in this aim this year, as far as I can remember. There may have been one month where I didn't completely clear them and incurred a little interest, but for the most part I stuck to my guns and cleared them every month. My next challenge will be to use them less!
3 - Pay Back the £500 Loan I Made to My Small Business - When I originally started my small business, I needed a small amount of cash to buy some initial stock, stationery, etc. As well as initially using my business credit card for this purpose, I loaned the business £500 out of my savings, always with the intention of paying myself back at some point in the future. Last year, I paid off my business credit card and this year I decided to try to pay back this loan, so that the business was debt free. I almost achieved it. I managed to pay myself back approximately £400. I did leave it a little late and only really started paying the money back from November onwards, but considering this, I think I did pretty well here. At least once the final £100 or so is paid back next year, I can start to properly generate profit, which will be a positive. This was the a main reason why I was working so hard in the build up to Christmas on my business, with this aim in mind. It did pay off in the end.
4 - Read at Least a Book a Month - I decided on this aim before hearing of the Year in Books challenge devised by Laura at a Circle of Pine Trees. When I subsequently heard of Laura's challenge, it was a no brainer for me to join in to help to motivate me in achieving this aim. As well as having the benefit of encouraging me to read more, this challenge also helped me declutter the huge pile of books I had waiting to be read, as most of them were sent to the charity shop or Little Free Library once read. I have replaced them, however, with another huge pile to be read next year once I've finished reading the original pile.
5 - Re-organise My Wardrobe and Create a Capsule Wardrobe - I only started work on this challenge properly towards the end of the year, so I didn't finish creating a capsule wardrobe, as finances didn't allow in the lead up to Christmas. I will be concentrating on this more in the coming year. I have donated a large amount of clothes to the charity shop this year, that just weren't getting worn because they didn't fit well or I didn't enjoy wearing them or they were getting quite old and tired. I'm looking forward to enjoying a pared back wardrobe in 2015 and adding one quality item a month to it throughout the year. (More about this in another post).
6 - Declutter (Be Ruthless) - Which is exactly how this aim was worded. Although I'm not sure if I was exactly ruthless, if you've been reading my blog you will know that I've regularly been purging my possessions throughout the year and sending bags and bags of things to the charity shop. It does make me realise how much stuff I had when I think of all the bags I've taken out of the house. Scary thought indeed. I'll be continuing with this challenge in 2015, as there's still plenty of room for improvement in the clutter stakes.
7 - Continue to Save in My Building Society Account - I did continue to do this this year. This account is one I use to bank dividend cheques from some shares I own. For a couple of years now any cheques that drop through the letter box get put in this account and remain untouched. It's a small move towards saving regularly, but it's something as opposed to nothing. I would like to expand this and to save more money in the coming year, now that I am almost debt free (save for the mortgage).
8 - Save Loose Change in a Sealed Jar/Box - I also did manage to save some money in my sealed box this year. I had started this challenge back in October 2013, so I rolled over the £14 I put in up until January this year. By last week when I opened the box I had £45 in there which has been put towards the expense of Christmas. I must admit that I didn't religiously empty my change in there and if I continue with this next year I should really try a little harder.
The above are the aims that I did manage to achieve. There were several others that I didn't manage to meet, some of which I subsequently decided weren't really important and some which I will carry over into next year. I'm pretty happy with my progress this year and will continue to try to improve things, both financially and otherwise in the coming year if I can.
Did you have any aims for 2014? Did you meet them?