Friday, January 2, 2009

December update; 2008 in review

Happy New Year! I don't know about you, but I'm happy to see the end of 2008, and I certainly hope that 2009 has a little more sunshine to offer.

This is the my second New Year's post, and the end of my first complete year of blogging, so let's take a look at how I did with my 2008 goals:
  • Propose to Ms. Loonie - I did this in November, and we are now engaged to be married in 2010. We couldn't be happier; this was probably my most important goal for the year, and the only reason it took so long was that I really wanted to pay cash for the ring. Long story short, I now have a beautiful fiancée with a paid-for ring, a tentative wedding date, and a whole lot of planning to do.

  • Reduce my revolving debt to $14,000 - Not quite. I ended the year with $15,204.77 in revolving debt, a drop of $8,192.94 that put me at 87.2% of my debt reduction goal for the year. I would have liked to hit this target, but 87% is a lot better than the 75% of progress I made last year. The good news regarding my debt reduction is that I managed to have my second cash-only Christmas, thanks to my Freedom Account. It's amazing how good it feels to start the year without a holiday debt hangover.

  • Grow my Emergency Fund to $1,500 - My Emergency Fund is meant to be small for the time being, until I pay off my revolving debt. However, I'm still looking to make continuous, small contributions to this cushion, just to keep the saving-for-saving's-sake habit alive and well. I closed the year with $1,588.90 in emergency savings, an increase of $425.94 that put me at 126.4% of my savings goal for the year. This is the net increase in my Emergency Fund, after taking out a few hundred dollars toward the end of the year to top-up Ms. Loonie's engagement ring fund and some car repairs.

  • Give $2,000 to charity - I don't buy into the notion of a religious tithe, but I definitely believe that it's important to give. I contribute to a number of United Way charities through bi-weekly payroll deductions, and also make monthly donations to a local listener-supported radio station. On top of this, we sponsored a few friends in fundraising activities, and bought into casual Fridays at work. All told, we made $2,002.00 in charitable donations this year, which nails my goal for the year, and is a big improvement over the $1,300 we gave in 2007.

  • Grow the readership of Loonies And Sense to 100 RSS subscribers - At this point, it starts to look as if I simply stopped reading my list of goals. I currently have 54 RSS subscribers, which is a far cry from 100. That's really my fault, however, because my posting schedule really fell off in the second half of the year.

  • Lose 25 pounds - Things looked so promising, as I started running and playing squash on a regular basis, as well as walking consistently to and from work and eating a healthier diet. However, I got laid up with some really bad heel blisters just before the holidays, and coupled with a bounty of Christmas treats I'm back to square one. All is not lost, however; I received a digital scale as a prize through work, and I'm well-equipped to get back into the saddle in January. Let's see those pounds disappear!

  • Adopt and maintain a version of Getting Things Done - D'oh! I'm well shy of having this system in place. I have made some improvements in my organizational system at work, including using more folders to manage my paper, but I still struggle with staying on top of my to-do list. This really needs attention in 2009.
A few significant misses on this list, but my finances made significant progress in the right direction, and I've taken my relationship with Ms. Loonie to the next level, so I'm happy with what I got accomplished (especially considering how much bad news was flying around throughout the year).

Now, on to my month-end update:

Online Savings - $1,887.35
Self-Directed RSP - $31,092.25
Employer Group RSP - $7,169.25

Revolving Debt - $15,204.77
Student Loans - $22,889.27

Net Investable Assets: $2,054.81
Net Liquid Assets: ($36,206.69)

Holiday shopping and car repairs put a $1,661.98 dent in my liquid savings this month. However, my retirement savings finally had a flat month, growing by $2.57 after three straight months of multi-thousand-dollar drops. Combined with debt reduction, my net investable and net liquid assets decreased by $415.59 and $418.16, respectively. My NetworthIQ profile has also been updated (including loose cash, home, car and mortgage).

2008 in review

Besides the financial progress detailed above, here are the rest of my 2008 milestones:
  • I knocked off 35% of my revolving debt from the beginning of the year. This leaves me with only 55.1% of the $27,610.74 in debt I had in April of 2007. That's a significant chunk of cash, averaging $682.75 per month.

  • We've paid off $9,646 in mortgage principal, and $7,209 in student loans. This is all due to our automatic bi-weekly payments, with no lump-sum prepayments.

  • My retirement savings have dropped by $3,732, in spite of over $11,000 in RRSP contributions. This rather sizable black cloud has two silver linings: 1) I'm getting my first taste of a serious bear market, and a chance to see how I react to a period of horrible market performance; and 2) I've spent a good chunk of the year buying stock and mutual funds at a deep discount, holding up the "buy-low" side of the investor's mantra. Since I have no need of these investments for at least two decades, I'm content to sit back and enjoy the ride. Besides, it's hard to imagine 2009 being any worse in terms of market performance.

  • My net worth has increased by $21,396 (72%), while my net investable and net liquid assets have increased by $11,750 (124%) and $15,482 (30%), respectively.


I'm getting back on top of posting my monthly goals. Over the next couple of days, I'll be posting my goals for January, as well as my year-long goals for 2009. Stay tuned!

No comments: