2013 is almost over. I thought that 2012 was a great year, but I can officially say that 2013 was even better. I’ve been extremely busy try to tie up loose ends are work before the year flips over, and as a result the end of this year has totally crept up on me. I don’t even have my Christmas tree up or presents wrapped for crying out loud! Fortunately both of those problems are going to be remedied this weekend.
When 2013 began, I still had a lot of debt to pay off. I’d made significant progress in paying off my initial $38,000 debt load, but I still owed $20,368 on January 1st, 2013. $11,759 of that was student loans, and another $8,609 was my car loan. I had this crazy, sort of unbelievable goal that I’d be able to pay all of that off by my two year debt anniversary, November 30th, but I didn’t think it was actually possible.
Clearly, I underestimate myself.
The Tax Return
In March, I got a sizeable tax return of $4,662. I wasted no time putting that entire sum on my student loans, and wrote one of my most popular blog posts to date: The End is Officially In Sight, and it was. With that big payment I’d reduced my student loans to only $5k owing, and for the first time it really seemed like a realistic possibility that I could pay off all of my debt that year.
The Failed Half Marathon
After a lot of success in a 10k race last year, I started out this year with the intention of running in the Bluenose Half Marathon in Halifax on the May long weekend. In the Spring, I realized that my heart wasn’t in it, and I put that goal on the shelf. This also means that I never met my year-long goal of running 500km.
The Last Student Loan Payment
I achieved one of my 2013 goals when I paid off my student loans on June 6th, right before my wedding, and only 18 months after I started making payments on them. That’s so much shorter than the initial 10 year payback for the $26,720 of debt I’d accumulated while at school. It took so much work, so many small extra payments to get that debt paid off, I still can’t really believe that I did it. I didn’t stop though, I immediately turned my energy to eliminating my person car loan.
This summer, after a long engagement, I finally married my partner in crime of ten years. We planned the whole wedding ourselves and DIYed everything we possibly could. It was a perfect outdoor wedding with wonderful sunny weather and a great group of friends and family to celebrate with.
The cherry on top: At only $4,500, our wedding came in under budget and was totally paid for in cash. A big shout out goes to my friends and family for all of their help, we truly couldn’t have done it without them. You can read all about how we stayed under budget in Part 1 and Part 2 of one of my favourite blog series: How Much Does It Cost to Get Married.
While we were frugal with our wedding, we were anything but frugal with our honeymoon. We sprung for an all inclusive vacation in Cuba, and the five day break from reality was the perfect way to celebrate our new marriage. It was so much fun and totally worth the splurge.
The Career Move
In October, I did the scariest thing I’ve done in a long time: I quit my safe, familiar job at a local family business to work remotely for a company I’ve admired for a long time. It was around this time that I wrote another one of my most popular blog posts: Times They are a Changing, where I detailed the thought process behind this job change. I’ve been working for this company for almost three months now and I can say without a doubt that it has been the best three months of my professional life.
Five days after publishing that blog post, I was featured by the Globe and Mail for my debt repayment success, and I also got to go to the Canadian Personal Finance Conference in Toronto where I totally reeked out over all of the famous-to-me finance personalities who attended. (Rob Carrick anyone??)
The Side Hustle Success
I set a goal for 2013 to earn $4,000 in side hustle income. I’m really happy to report that I reached this goal in September and overall this year I’ve earned $6,600 – far more than I thought I would! I never imagined that this little blog could produce so much income, but I’m happy to see that almost two years of hard work can produce results like this.
The Debt Freedom
On November 1st, I paid off my personal car loan once and for all. I became debt free. It was an amazing moment and it gave me the kind of jubilation and excitement that I remember having when I first got engaged. I started out the year thinking that there was no way that I’d be able to pay off $20,000 of debt in a year, and I did it in 10 months. I borrowed money from myself to make the final payment, but it was totally worth it. While I don’t regret my decision to apply for a personal car loan when I totalled my husband’s car in July of 2011, I’m happy that I’ve paid it all off.
The ING Trip
In November, ING Direct flew me out to Toronto to witness to their ground breaking brand name change from ING Direct to Tangerine. It was an awesome experience that I got to share with Cait from Blonde on a Budget and Bridget from Money After Graduation. It was awesome and we even got to meet Macklemore!
I also got to spend some time at the office, which, as a remote worker is a special treat. Later in November, I got to return to Toronto for three weeks to get to know the team at work a little better. My husband even got to join me for the last week and it was super fun!
The Big Move
In December, we moved out of the cottage after deciding we’re not ready to be homeowners after our landlord offered to sell it to us. Instead, we’re now in a three bedroom house down the road, and so far I’m loving it. I even have my own desk! The extra space is great, but I’m not letting it affect my minimalism.
Bonus points to you for getting through that mammoth post. So much as happened to me this year, I couldn’t leave out any of those points! 2013 was an amazing year, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to wrap some presents and enjoy the last few days in the year.