Today is 28th December and we are in that strange final week of the year – the week between Christmas and New Year. It can seem like no-man’s land and even has some rather creative names, including Twixtmas, Witching Week and Chrimbo Limbo.
Depending on your personal preferences and circumstances, the lead-up to Christmas may have been lived at a frenetic pace. Even those of us who have made a conscious decision to aim for a more low-key Christmas may find that most of our activity in the past month has been geared towards those few days centred on Christmas Day.
Therefore, it is hardly surprising that post-Christmas can be a bit of an anti-climax. When you combine this with the fact that many people have some sort of holiday break and another celebration a few days away it is no wonder that we are are feeling a bit topsy-turvy.
Additionally, the New Year is the moment when we tend to choose to rule a line under the past year and really look forward to the year ahead with gusto.
So, this Chrimbo Limbo (my personal favourite) what are you doing?
I am choosing to use the time to reflect, re-arrange, plan and prepare for the year ahead. I do not know what 2022 will bring but I do know that I want to use my time wisely and live my best life without dwelling on the past or wishing my life away.
I have noticed that it is 8 days since my last blog post and of course, it is only 4 more sleeps until Christmas.
The focus of the occasion certainly changes as families grow and change. This year will be somewhat poignant for me as it will be the first since my mother died earlier this year. We are all holding our breath and hoping that everything will go according to plan and our Melbourne-based daughter will be able to join us. She is due to arrive on Thursday. Meanwhile, our grandchildren are growing up (12 and 14) and will be spending the day with their father.
Our celebrations will be fairly modest and spread over 3 days to include various members of our family.
I put up the Christmas tree on Sunday and our small dog was mildly interested. So far she has not been tempted to attack the tree.
Of course, the regular shopping, cooking and housework continues unabated.
2021 has been a trying year in many respects. Whatever your circumstances, I wish you and your family a safe and peaceful festive season.
I know that I am a few days late but this is my first post for the New Year.
I posted a similar image at the beginning of 2016 at which time I wrote:
I was searching for a photo that really portrayed my feelings for the end of one year and beginning of the next. I did not want images of alcohol or fireworks. As 2015 is washed away by the incoming tide it is time to write a fresh new date in the sand and move on.
I cannot remember a year that was so universally wished to end as the most recently completed one.
Well, 2020 is now over and in some respects 2021 may not be a great deal different in terms of what is dealt up to us, particularly as COVID19 is definitely still part of our lives and seems likely to be for some time yet.
However, we can decide on how we respond to outside factors which we cannot necessarily control.
For me, it is going to be more of the same. I will continue to simplify my life and focus on what is truly important to me and my family while doing whatever I can to care for our planet and all life on earth.
The 2 weeks since my last blog post have slipped by quickly. Our 2 granddaughters came to visit for a week and then we spent a week at the beach with them and our daughter. Christmas was a fairly low-key affair as we, like many others, simply needed to relax at the end of what has been a challenging year.
Anyway, this post is about looking forward. I know that COVID19 will not disappear at the stroke of midnight on 31st December. Much of what we have endured in 2020 will remain with us as we enter 2021.
Six years ago, at the end of 2014 I decided to record all of our spending for the year. Since then, I have continued to do it each year and have refined the methods I use in the process. I use an Excel spreadsheet, however, you could use a notebook if you prefer.
When I was setting up the spreadsheets for 2021 I noticed that I now have 6 years of records of our spending. During that time we have both retired from full-time work and had major home renovations done as well as travelling overseas on 5 different occasions. There won’t be anymore of that in the foreseeable future, though.
It is interesting to see how some categories of spending have altered dramatically in the wake of our retirement. The most significant is the category ‘Transport’. During the first 4 years of recording our spending, we were both working fulltime and our total transport costs were about $6000 per annum. We had a long rail commute from our home to offices in the city. In 2020 our transport costs were less than $300. Not everyone will have the same costs but if you are considering retirement it is wise to take changes in circumstances and spending into account.
Grocery spending was interesting for a different reason. In 2015 my average weekly spending for 2 adults was $93.88. Unsurprisingly, by 2020 this had increased. However, the margin was very modest with the weekly average being $97.11. In five years my grocery bill for 2 adults increased by a mere $3.23 per week on average. We eat good quality but relatively simple meals with an increasing number of vegetarian meals and are working on growing more of our own food. Minimising food waste is also important from both an environmental and financial perspective.
Clothing was another category where there was a substantial change in our spending during the six years of recording data. Our total spending on this category in 2020 was less than 30% of what we had spent in both 2015 and 2016. Since our retirements were planned, we made a conscious decision to limit our expenditure on work attire over the final couple of years. Additionally, I now have time to source some excellent pre-loved items.
For anyone who is interested I have provided a sample of what my spreadsheet looks like. I use a new sheet in the workbook for each month.
These are the categories that I use. The final column ‘Description’ is for extra details – as much or as little as you want.
(public transport, taxis and Uber)
(food, toiletries and cleaning products at home and on holidays)
(buying and repairs for clothes, shoes, jewellery and fabric for dressmaking)
(fuel, tyres, servicing and repairs including when travelling in our car)
(all equipment, repairs and renovations to house and garden including chicken feed)
(vet bills, toys, medications, equipment and dog food)
(dental, medical, allied health and chemist expenses)
(meals, shows, movies and events attended jointly)
(beer, wine, spirits and home brew supplies)
(any subscriptions not listed in fixed expenses)
(Christmas, birthdays, cards and postage, memorial donations)
(flights, accommodation, tours and entrance fees)
(gym fees, individual socialising, hobbies and books)
(gym fees, individual socialising, cosmetics, hobbies and books)
I have only addressed our variable spending in this post but I also have a spreadsheet set up for our fixed expenses each month. This helps us to easily see what bills are coming up and predict when we are going to need extra funds. Some months are less than $200 in fixed expenses, whereas, there are other months which are much more than that. This is because we choose to pay some of our bills on an annual basis.
Do you have a plan for keeping track of your finances for the new year?
I am happy to answer any questions you may have regarding tracking your spending.