We have made it to the end of this mad, bad, sad year and here I am with the Year of Zero – End of Year Review. At least in Australia, things have returned more or less to “normal” with no community cases for COVID for X days. The US and Europe are in mid-winter and things are getting worse. (I wrote this piece in mid-December and since then Greater Sydney which now includes Wollongong, has been hit by another bout of COVID19 with partial lockdowns and borders re-closing. My return to normal prediction was a little early!)
End Of Year Review
Over the last three months, (October – December) I feel like I have taken my foot off the spending brake and not stuck to my plan well. I did reach my savings goal but I think I could have done better. I have made a few purchases in preparation for my Great Southern Road Trip and although I am putting those on next year’s balance sheet, it has led to a change in mindset. I have been less frugal and more ‘spendy’. I have succumbed to some unnecessary purchases and while for the most part, they were second-hand op shop finds they were still not essential. AND of course there was Christmas! Although I don’t need to buy many gifts there was some outlay.
On top of that, in late November I discovered that I have to do a very expensive plumbing job on my home as the roots from a large tree have cracked and blocked my stormwater pipes. The build-up of water is flooding my neighbours’ yards. It’s going to cost several thousand to fix. Thankfully, I can split the bill with the other strata owners and most will come from the Strata funds. However, I think it will be more than we have set aside.
My ultimate financial goal is to pay down my mortgage debt so I can retire by 2023. As a result, next year and the year after will need to be Close to Zero Years as well.
My self-report for the Year of Zero – End of Year Review follows.
1. No overseas travel
A stunning success! All year I have not stepped off the continent of Australia!
2. No extended travel within Australia
I did go to Broken Hill in late September which I included in the last quarter review. I also went to my Mum’s for Christmas. Only cost being the train fare so all good on this front too.
3. No New Stuff
My goal is to buy no new items and only replace things that have broken or worn out.
- My phone screen needed to be replaced. This was expensive – but the repair was ¼ the cost of a new phone so worth doing.
- The zip on my wallet broke so I had to replace that – 2nd hand.
Items not on the list
- A book “Designing Your Life” by Burnett and Evans
- I got my 2021 wall calendars printed but have sold enough to cover the cost so this does not really count.
- Gifts for family members including (too much) Lego for my Grandson.
- I spent a fair bit buying some unnecessary clothes from Op Shops this quarter. I justified it by clearing out some other stuff from my wardrobe but I really could have done without it. At least it was not new!
- Not “stuff” but I did pay for a subscription to Future Crunch and The Guardian.
4. Reduction in expenditure on groceries
This category is back on track. I have been making good savings on food and usually have some leftover cash at the end of each fortnight. I have been squirreling this away to use as a food kitty for the upcoming festive season. I also have been stocking up the freezer so will be able to have a few “free weeks”. For those of you who might say why don’t you cook less? Well, it’s a bit hard to make a single serve of spag bol!! I think next year I could investigate cutting back the allocated budget a bit more.
5. Side Hustle Happening
I actually made some progress here. As I said above I have sold enough of my calendars to break even and cover the cost and I sold some of my beeswax wraps. I’m not ready to list myself on the stock exchange yet but at least I made a bit of cash! (BTW there are still some calendars left if you’d like to buy one!)
6. Only sign up for free courses
I didn’t do any courses free or otherwise this quarter. I have been snowed under with the day job!
7. Sell some of my stuff
No, no action here
8. Concentrate on free activities.
I think I have done OK in this category. I went on a few adventures with my grandson which required only train fare and food. We got free tickets to the Australian Museum when it reopened. I did a long walk (31 km) with some friends in place of the Seven Bridges Walk, this was “free” although we did make a donation to the Cancer Council. I went out for dinner once with a friend and although I went to trivia several times, my expenditure was very low as I ate before I went and I stuck to one non-alcoholic beer.
I am still using more plastic-wrapped foods than I‘d like as I am having trouble finding suitable replacements. I made a one-off investment bought some salad vegies and herbs. I think I could grow those in summer at least. Apart from this, this goal is going well. It’s become ingrained, rather than special now.
10. Year of Zero Booze
The day before this post is published will be the 365th day of my Zero Alcohol challenge. I made it right through! It is no longer a challenge and it will be a big decision as to whether I start drinking again.
and the final score is…..
This quarter, my frugal-o-meter score is 76%. The highest so far, so despite feeling like I let the side down buying clothes I didn’t need, I have ended up OK!
Here end-eth the Year of Zero 2020. I’ll let you know at the end of 2021 if I have stuck to my savings target despite not having a declared Year of Zero. I intend to remain frugal but will be doing some extended travel! Stay tuned for the Great Southern Road Trip!