My 2015 New Year’s resolutions

New Years Resolutions Concept

Every year most of us make at least a few New Year’s resolutions. Some of us are even rash (or brash) enough to post them publically on a blog. For example, several years ago on moneyville I committed to 10 ways to work smarter instead of working longer.

You can check out my 2013 New Year’s resolution for yourself, but I can tell you that I definitely didn’t manage to post my expenses daily, go out for lunch at least once a week or use my technology to the max. But I did reduce my cell phone bill by moving from Rogers to PC Mobile and I now regularly outsource transcribing interviews to a great online service called TranscribeTeam.

This year, as retirement gets closer we are working with a financial planner. Part of that exercise is preparing a statement of assets and expenses. Using the accounting program QuickBooks I have been combing through a year’s worth of credit card bills and bank statements to try and figure out where our money went last year and how much we need to retire comfortably.

So far I’ve entered 11 months of data. Not surprisingly, it’s been a real eye-opener. That’s why my commitments for 2015 are focused on getting our finances in order and preparing for a healthy retirement. And this year I’m only making five New Year’s resolutions to increase the odds that I will actually succeed in meeting most of the challenges I set for myself in the coming year.

  1.  Groceries: Our household includes my husband and I, and my son who moved back from Vancouver May 1st. On average we spent over $1,000/month for groceries and that doesn’t count eating out. We keep kosher at home so meat is more expensive, but that’s still a lot of money. I know that I can reduce that amount by shopping more carefully, less often and using a list.
  2. Restaurants/Entertainment: We love the theatre and have seasons’ tickets to the opera. We also buy tickets to Stratford, the Shaw Festival and numerous other concerts and shows. When we go to the theatre we typically go out for dinner first and the bill for the two of us is rarely under $100. Beginning next year we will eat at home more and substitute movies and less costly community events for theatre tickets that can easily cost $200 or more for a pair.
  3. Travel: Vacations eat up a huge chunk of our budget. We want to travel more when we retire, but we will have to find ways to travel more economically. We will take better advantage of low cost trades for our shared-ownership property and drive rather than fly to North American destinations. We will also travel off-season and rent apartments instead of staying in expensive hotels.
  4. Simplify our investments: We have worked with a full service investment broker for many years and have generally been satisfied with his advice and our investment returns. However with 2 RRSPs, 1 locked-in RRSP, 2 TFSAs, an RESP (for our granddaughter) and an unregistered investment account it is very difficult to understand what we are paying in fees, whether our accounts are tax-efficient and if our asset allocation makes sense. This is the year to sort all of that out and take more control of our financial future.
  5. Staying fit: We have been gym members for years and our goal is to work out three times a week. In the last year there have been many weekends away and meetings or other events that have played havoc with this schedule. Also, a back problem has meant that I have to modify my workout considerably. In 2015 I pledge to find ways to get back on track and optimize my fitness level. I have recently started wearing a Fitbit wristband so I am much more conscious of my daily activity and sleep levels. I hope it will continue to incent me to get up from my chair at regular intervals and walk more instead of driving.

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