Every day, in every way, things are getting better and better. I have a good feel about 2017. So bring it on.
It is around the time of year when people post about how ghastly the year was that had just gone. And truly, a lot of bad things have happened in the world from terrorist attacks to the loss of loved ones, to work problems and financial issues.
I can’t say that 2016 was all fun and games, but I have a LOT to be proud about. I set out on 1 January with an ambitious (and I mean VERY ambitious – even my life coach Nicole Leddicoate agrees I ought to temper and focus a bit), list of goals. I was happy to have been able to cross of half of them, including several that seemed impossible.
- I began 2016 moaning about how, despite my single and separated status, that love was still possible. This realisation hit me after spending NYE with neighbours, with the two men talking about how lucky they were to have met their wives. Usually most of my FB posts about love are written by the women, so this was kind of special. Well, turned out I met my own Mr Special (aka Mr Red Sports Car) around six weeks later. We rang in 2017 together on top of a rooftop in Taipei, watching the fireworks at the home of someone we had just met. Lots of fun, a fabulous adventure, and new friends for life.
- I also managed to live my life as a renaissance woman, going to many new exhibitions, gallery openings and performances. I also began to see my writing as an art form of sorts; as a non fiction writer I had kind of imaged myself more as a typewriter than an artiste, but really any form of writing is creation. I also wrote some artistic reviews for The RiotACT, in addition to food reviews, and my first ever real estate piece. I actually like food reviewing a lot; perhaps it sounds inconsistent with my frugal purpose, but really when you are mindful with your money it gives you space to spend it on what you enjoy. And Mr Red Sports Car and I enjoy fine food – not all the time, but in moderation an when we do go out, we really enjoy it. It provides a lot of inspiration for my frugal food recipes.
- Then there was my crazy goal of paying off my mortgage. Seemed unobtainable at the time. Yet I managed to pay it off just before my birthday in early October. I was blessed with selling some investment properties at a good price. But I didn’t just rely on that; I made a conscious decision all year to pay off my mortgage whenever I could. Little things really do add up and my experience is proof of that. I feel honoured to know that I have motivated other people to focus on paying off their mortgages.
- I continued to follow The Richest Man in Babylon technique of saving 10% of all that I earned. Actually I saved more than that, paying consistently double my mortgage repayments every fortnight. After this was paid off, I made regular contributions to my Vanguard Exchange Traded Fund account. Little things add up, and savings goals are so important. I pay myself first before I pay anyone else.
- I survived for 16 weeks on a $50/week grocery challenge. Actually, I flourished on it. I started it in early spring as a way to spring clean my cupboards and get rid of clutter. During the first few weeks I probably only spent half of my allowance, and clung to my kitty worried about running out of money. Then I began to realise that actually for a family of three when the kids are with their Dad for several meals a week and I go out at least once a week, $50 a week is more than adequate. In fact, my cupboard and freezer are still quite full. And I managed to still do lots of Christmas gift baking on this budget, and also splurged on bubbly, cheeses, and flowers to celebrate my house sale. Plus a 2kg box of early season cherries. And $15/kg preservative mince to make a proper bolognaise for Mr Red Sports Car. What I liked about the challenge was that it forced me to think about what I had on hand and thereby reduce food waste. I also saved $1,600 when compared with the average food budget of $150 a week (money that I used to buy a new computer I really needed). I liked the challenge so much that I will continue it in 2017, thus saving $5,100 a year.
- I am now creating the life I want. Just before Christmas I sold my house and bought an inner city apartment. This will mean I will need to take on a small mortgage, which I will now aim to pay off by Christmas 2018. Say what? Didn’t Ms Frugal Ears want to pay off her mortgage, yet now she is getting a new one? I love my home, and my community, but I don’t like the commute. Sitting in the car for so long each day my bum is getting bigger and I am often too exhausted at the end of the day to spend meaningful time with my kids. And I was struggling to keep up with the garden and maintenance. So I am simplifying my life by moving closer to work and my kids’ new school, creating a lifestyle where we can walk and cycle more. I planned to do this sometime in 2017 or a bit later, but the opportunity just arose to do both so I took it. It won’t be a large mortgage, and the lifestyle change will be worth it.
- I haven’t yet published a book about Chinese post baby confinement (zuo yuezi), or any other book, but encouraged by my life coach Nicole Leddicoate this will be a priority. I have rewritten it a bit, but mostly it has stalled (although I did go and visit a confinement centre a few days ago when I was in Taipei). I couldn’t work out why it felt so hard until my friend and Canberra Secrets author and tour company entrepreneur Marg Wade told me I was holding myself back by fear. She is right; yes, I am scared to have a book published. I am scared that publishers will reject me, that people will think I am not a very good writer, or that I don’t understand the topic well enough, or that, well, that just won’t like what I have to say. 2017 will be the year when I conquer fear. Whenever I feel scared, I will just say to myself “fxxx it, just do it!” Oh, and I also want to write about frugal living – let me know what you think would be most interesting to hear about.
- And really, simplification is my theme for 2017. I want to create a mindful, simplified life based on my priorities for the life I want to live – a kind of zen living. This will require significant downsizing and rethinking about my life and space. The process has begun: I have a new home to move into, a new computer (a lovely ASUS Zenbook), new luggage, and even a new job. It is quite liberating to throw off the stuff that has been holding me back and to move forward in a spirit of growth and optimism. So look out for more posts this year from me about living the simple life – whether it is decluttering, sorting out finances or reducing food waste.
Thank you everyone for reading my posts in 2016, and I look forward to sharing more in 2017. Here’s to a great year!