benecia's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Daily activités, metrics and goals

Post by benecia » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:02 am

I am where I am partially as a result of the metrics I have been tracking every day. I used to have a spreadsheet that I ticked off specific target activities and outcomes each day as I made progress towards each goal. Now they are mostly ingrained as habits; 5 serves of veggies/day, number of minutes exercised/day, amount of water drank, monthly saving rate, number of days without spending, number of books read/month, amount of time spent studying etc etc down the list of 43 daily, weekly and monthly activities.

As I review the past year and plan for this year and the next decade I question these old stalwarts, which ones do I keep, what new metrics and daily activities are needed to achieve my goals, knowing that as I add them daily like beads on a string they then become my habits which then shape my future.

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Re: benecia's journal

Post by wolf » Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:17 am

When I think about metrics and key-performance-indicators or year resolutions, I want to set them in a "bigger picture" and in context of mid- and long-term goals. What is your approach benecia? Do you derive/deduce (I am not 100% about the correct verb) you short-term goals and then your metrics from your missons in life or longer goals? And if so, what are they?

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Re: benecia's journal

Post by benecia » Sun Jan 07, 2018 2:49 am

MDFIRE2024 sounds like we have a similar approach, everything comes from the longer term goals;
longer term goals > mid > short-term > monthly/weekly/daily activities. I tend to plan in 18month - 3 year stints, with regular reviews.

the longer term goals haven't really changed for awhile but are a bit vague so I'm working through a process at the moment to make them more specific.
Until now they have been along the below lines, with mid term and short term steps broken out below them:
1. FI by 2032
1.1 NW > X by Y etc etc
1.1.1 B% of net worth to be held in Shares Invest in shares

1.2 Increase savings/investment rate to greater then 80% by Z
1.2.1 Aggressively pay down debt :
Pay out student debt by June 2018
Pay out lease by June 2018
Pay out mortgage by Z
1.2.2 Increase Wage Income and increase other sources of income
.... etc etc

1.3 Increase self-sufficency
1.3.1 Start experimenting with what will work and plant a Veggie garden and some fruit trees - June 2018
1.3.2 Install Solar panels - June 2018
1.3.3 Install rain water tank - June 2018

2. Be in top 5% in field by Y.
2.1 Complete Masters = DONE
2.2 lots of "Deliver X project by Y" type goals
2.3 as well as "Learn about Z" and then "do Z"
2.4 be Mentored by A

3. Maintain optimum health and fitness through life:
3.1 Achieve BMI less then 22 = done
3.2 Change to 95% plant based diet (5% animal products allowed in social situations where unavoidable) = Done
3.3 be able to run 10km in less then 50 min
3.3.1 Complete PC training plan by 31/03/18

4. Maintain close relationships with my family and friends.
5. Contribute in a meaningful way to Community through involvement in organisations that assist the homeless and disadvantaged youth,
5.1 Volunteer X hours/year
5.2 Give $B/year

As you can see all a little vague and in some areas still in the nascent phase. I'm still working through the detail and will share my financial goals here once I've finalised this cycle's iteration.

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Re: benecia's journal

Post by wolf » Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:22 am

Wow, thank you for the explanation! It looks very structured in long-mid-short-term goals. If you connect the main goals, such as
"1. FI by 2032
2. Be in top 5% in field by Y.
3. Maintain optimum health and fitness through life:
4. Maintain close relationships with my family and friends.
5. Contribute in a meaningful way to Community "
do you get a Web-of-Goals? I guess, goals are easier to reach, if they are interconnected very well and influence each other positively. What do you think about that interconnectness?

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Re: benecia's journal

Post by benecia » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:32 am

Good question, and absolutely. 1 and 2 are in that experts in my field are well remunerated, even average people are well remunerated.

3 and 1 are also connected, my food bill is very low compared to my peers as are my other expenses because of my lifestyle choices. It would be very easy for 3 and 4 to be counter to 1, but I don't spend money on fitness other then a new pair of running shoes when I need them. No gym memberships or PT necessary, just time, effort and energy.
4 could be expensive but that's within my control and I don't tend to have "spendy" friends any more and with family, if they want to do something expensive I opt out and no one gets offended, again it's about time and effort and the occasional home backed meal or coffee out. Interestingly 3 and 4 are connected, my siblings and I go running together a lot.

I think 3, 4 and 5 are important, for me there is no point in being wealthy and sick or with poor relationships with my parents and siblings or having no connection to or social capital within the wider community. I don't want the most meaningful thing in my life to be the cash I have accumulated, or what I have achieved in my career.

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January Update.

Post by benecia » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:54 am

*** Warning Extreme Expenses Ahead ***

January was the month the property settled and I had to pay for removalists, paid a month in advance on the mortgage, so just warning everyone it was an expensive month.

The January Numbers:
Food: 5.26%
Bills: 66.74%
Debt reduction: 44.13%
Removalists: 43.3%
Social 0.93%
Savings 11.20%

Bills included:
Last 3 weeks of board
Solicitor/Lawyer costs
Property Costs
Travel costs
New bed (previous bed was over 20 years old and needed replacing which was an easy decision once storage and moving costs were taken into account, so I got rid of it when I moved out of the old house knowing I would buy a new bed once it could be delivered to the new house).
Rates (property tax) and Utilities on the new property that the old owner had paid in advance.

Food Included:
Travel budget - stocked up food for road trip to minimise food which would need to be purchased (was successful, only had to spend $33 on the road trip In February, but will cover that in the Feb update).
Usual January food.

Food still seems high and I'm not sure why. I know that Feb food amounts will be high because I have bought a mop, bucket, camphor as well as re-stocking the pantry.

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Mid February Update

Post by benecia » Mon Feb 12, 2018 4:23 am

Extreme spending calls for extreme accountability ... It is easy during a transition phase for discipline to become lax as it's easy to write excess off as part of the cost of change so to counter that I just want to give a mid month update on my spending so far this month. There will be a more detailed update at the end of the month.

The February Numbers so far:
Food: 3.96% (Target 2.19%, YTD 4.62%)
Bills: 15.98%
Debt reduction: 0% (will make a payment at the end of this week, planning for it to be at least 49%)
Social 1.26%
Savings Forecast to be 19%

February Bills paid so far:
Locksmith - have changed all of the locks, and had to put a new deadlock on the garage door.
Fuel for the drive down to Sydney
Car Service prior to the trip (out of cycle so not covered by lease)
Trips to IKEA and Bunnings for DIY shelving, matts, shower fittings.
Bus fare (cheaper then driving and there is a bus that is almost door to door with a little bit of walking so covers the fitness goal as well as reduce costs goal).

I'm expecting the following bills:
Possible Water Invoice
Having to buy some sort of lawn mower unless I am going to get a goat or trim the grass with scissors. Aldi have mowers and trimmers in next week's catalogue so will compare that to the second hand options.
Conference related to work
Bus fare
Side fence needs some repairs, the neighbour is getting quotes at the moment so expect that invoice either this month or next.

Good news is that the pantry and cleaning goods/tool restock is almost complete, just need to buy some more beans and beets, as well as the weekly fruit shop.

At some point I am going to have to get an electrician in to look at some of the lights but will wait a little longer to make sure I know what all of the problems are so I only pay one call out fee.

EDIT: Forgot to mention Social spending so far this month has only included the $33 for road trip food and a couple of meals out in Sydney with family when I arrived. There will be an additional social expense in that a welcome to Sydney work lunch is planned in a couple of weeks.

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February Update

Post by benecia » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:43 am

February has been about getting settled; savings put aside for the move funded a lot of the spending. This set-up fund covered the pre-trip car service, fuel to get to Sydney, locksmith, shelving, clotheshorse, whipper snipper and grass/hedge trimmer

Food spending was high as I had to restock cleaning products and the pantry. I now have enough food so that I could go 3 months without needing to buy any food except for fresh fruit and veggies.

The February Numbers :
Food: 6.71% (Target 2.19%, YTD 6.33%)
Bills: 33.4% (Target 30%, YTD 52.4%)
Debt reduction: 49.88% (Target > 41.27%, YTD 46.97%)
Renovation/Maintenance 7.55% (Target 0%, YTD 7.55%)
Social 1.98% (Target 1%, YTD 2.27%)
Savings 17.16% (By May Target 22%, YTD 14.14%)

February Bills included:
Car Service prior to the trip (out of cycle so not covered by lease)
Trips to IKEA and Bunnings for DIY shelving, matts, shower fittings, indoor clothes line so can air dry when it rains.
Bus fare
Whipper snipper and lawn/hedge trimmer from Aldi
Insurance (monthly for House and Contents)
Road Tolls
Some books
Partial Electricity bill

I have set Annual budget targets for each category, initial calculations set Bills at 39.58% (In 2017 bills were 36.7%) but I have ambitiously set it at 30% to get my savings up to 2017 levels ASAP.

So what steps am I taking to meet this so far?
Take the bus to work instead of driving; this reduces cost of Tolls (will spend some money on tolls, not sure how much yet) and removes need to pay for parking at work. The bus is 30% of the cost of driving to work, so it really was a no brainer.

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Re: benecia's journal

Post by slowtraveler » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:48 am

That was a fun warning.

I too have realized the massive cost savings of buses vs driving, taxis, or planes.

It takes to settle in and optimize your expenses. Keep it up, you're making progress.

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March Update

Post by benecia » Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:45 pm

The March Numbers :
(as a percentage of after tax income, income this month included some interest as well a refund on packing boxes I returned in addition to my wage)
Food: 5.36% (Target 2.19%, YTD 5.77%)
Bills: 27.17% (Target 30%, YTD 43.64%)
Debt reduction: 43.55% (Target > 41.27%, YTD 45.85%)
Renovation/Maintenance 0% (Target 0%, YTD 2.51%)
Social 3.81% (Target 1.0%, YTD 2.22%)
Savings 17.42% (By May Target 22%, YTD 15.22%)

March Bills included:
Bus fare
Insurance (monthly for House and Contents)
Road Tolls
Some warm clothes (Aldi buy, so very cheap)
Foundation (high SPF and better then sun screen)
New drivers license (had to change it to a NSW license within 3 months of moving)
Hair cut
Skin Cancer appointment (suspicious mole got itchy and sore)

My food spending is still very high, I’m not getting enough sleep which means I’m eating more which has contributed to higher social (ie snacks on the run) and general grocery spending on things like fruit and nuts.

Social spending is extravagant and included books, one restaurant meal, and snacks on the run as well as Easter eggs for Sydney based family for tomorrow.

April goals are:
Food < 3%
Social < 2%
Bills < 25%
Savings > 20%
Debt reduction > 42%

April spending will include some shoes and clothes as well as a couple of books; these have been budgeted for under bills and social spending.
From April I'm going to start putting aside money for travel home as well as for work I need to do around the house (e.g. new fence and gardens in the spring).

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April Update

Post by benecia » Sat May 12, 2018 2:50 am

April goals were:
Food < 3% - almost
Social < 2% - nope
Bills < 25% - almost
Savings > 20% - yes
Debt reduction > 42% - yes

Food: 3.02% (Annual Target 2.19%, YTD 5.24%)
Bills: 25.96% (Annual Target 30%, YTD 39.2%)
Debt reduction: 42.26% (Annual Target > 41.27%, YTD 44.94%)
Renovation/Maintenance 0% (Annual Target 0%, YTD 1.88%)
Social 4.25% (Annual Target 1.0%, YTD 2.8%)
Savings 21.13% (By May Target 22%, YTD 16.71%)

April spending on bills included adhoc spending on work clothes and garden equipment as well regular spending on insurance, tolls, bus fares, petrol etc. Social included spending on books and birthday presents,

Planned spending for May:
Food < 3%
Social < 2%
Bills < 50%
Savings > 0%
Debt reduction > 42%

Yes, no planned savings this month. Social includes mother’s day and birthday presents for the family. Bills will include insurance, bus fares, the quarterly water and sewerage invoice, yearly vaccination for the dog plus 3 months worth of dog food, car registration, more winter clothes and a woollen underlay as well as putting money aside to travel home. My grandmother is unwell so I am half expecting to have to travel home at short notice. A lot of this expenditure is once off, eg fees to change states that my car is registered in, or once every 10 to 20 years eg good winter clothes and woollen underlays etc. I have budgeted for petrol and tolls however am on track to not have to spend money on petrol or tolls in May.

I’ve moved from the sub tropics to a city less then 100kms from the snow. So I am planning every month to expand my winter arsenal for the next couple of months. Planned expenditure this month is for thermals; woollen underlay blanket, down jacket, plus a snow jacket and hiking socks and clothes for early morning walks. My aunt has knitted me some beanies and scarves.

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Re: benecia's journal

Post by benecia » Sat Jun 02, 2018 3:43 am

May update.

Firstly the numbers;
Planned outcomings for May were:
Food < 3%
Bills < 50%
Debt reduction > 42%
Social < 2%
Savings > 0%

Actual spending for May was:
Food: 3.46% (Annual Target 2.19%, YTD 4.88%) - missed
Bills: 47.20% (Annual Target 30%, YTD 39.2%) - met
Debt reduction: 43.99% (Annual Target > 41.27%, YTD 44.73%)
Social 3.8% (Annual Target 1.0%, YTD 2.96%)
Savings 0% (By May Target 22%, YTD 13.41%)

Even though May was planned for, it is still disappointing that I missed the saving rate target I set for myself at the start of the year. This is because I underestimated the cost of getting re-established in a new city with a different climate etc etc.

Break down of spending:
Bills included; annual vaccinations for the dog, bulk purchase of dog food, quarterly electricity bill, haircut, clothes, three pairs of sneakers at 80% off (stocked up for the next 2 years ☺), and bedding.
I am now better equipped for winter; I got a duck down jacket for under $100, plus snow jacket and pants from the Aldi snow sale, stocked up on thermals and am the very comfortable owner of a woollen underlay blanket.
I am driving back home this month for a couple of days so Social included accommodation costs for the drive to and from as I will stop at the half way point rather then drive through.
What bills didn’t include was spending on tolls and petrol, which I am very happy about; May driving was less then 100kms, which is awesome.
Social included some books, mother's day present and birthday presents for family.

My debt reduction focus is paying off as my net worth excluding superannuation (retirement investments) has increased by 14.5% since the start of the year.

In June I plan on paying down a lot of debt as well some extra spending relating to the trip home. Social spending will be up as I plan to catch up with friends and family. Food will also be up in monetary terms as I will be bulk buying coffee and nuts when I go home. I can't find my favourite coffee in Sydney and the unit prices for things like nuts and dried fruit is a lot lower at home.

June Expectations:
Food < 2%
Bills < 30%
Debt Reduction > 60%
Social < 3%
Savings > 0%

The focus for the first half of the year has been on getting settled and reducing debt and I expect this focus to continue for the rest of the year which means I will continue to have a low long term saving/investment rate for the rest of the year.

OK for transparency and accountability my expected settling expenses for rest of the year are:
Couches: I threw the old one out when I moved, if I’m honest I would have thrown it out anyway and yes I have lived for 4 months without one, but as my social capital increases and I make more friends it will end up cheaper being able to invite people over for coffee then spending money on coffee.

Bookshelves: This is a move related cost, I had built ins in the old house, and before anyone says anything I have de-cluttered down to the bare essentials. I have only kept books which which I would have bought again, but at greater cost then the cost of keeping them or the money I would have received for selling, i.e. arbitrage would not have worked in my favour. I did get rid of a lot of stuff including books as volume is expensive especially when you are storing and moving.

Drawers: move related cost: had built in drawers in the old house - not essential as can continue to cycle winter and summer wardrobes between boxes.
Fruit trees
Fences - existing side fences are almost falling over since some really bad storms.
Plumbing – taps need replacing, I could continue as is but see this as a cost and waste avoidance measure in the long term is it will reduce water usage/waste.
Electrician – replace fans and lighting in bedrooms, replace lighting fixtures in kitchen and dining and outside, again this is an investment as will reduce electricity usage and allow change over to LED.
Odd jobs – shelving, new door jam, replace broken tiles, these aren't essential and may carry over into next year.

It’s very easy to plan more then I have the time and resources to complete, so I need to consider timeframes for everything I want to achieve and how to optimise use of my resources. Lots to think about, research and hunt for including how do I maximise the opportunity of being in Sydney and make sure I get a return on my investment. I do love this phase of a venture. The research, optimisation and set up phase. I also enjoy the accumulation phase which comes after set up.

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Re: benecia's journal

Post by benecia » Sat Jun 30, 2018 3:02 am

The plan for June was :
Food < 2%
Social < 3%
Bills < 30%
Debt Reduction > 60%

Actual allocation of resources in June was:
Food: 2.36% (Annual Target 2.19%, YTD 3.99%) - missed
Bills: 38.56% (Annual Target 30%, YTD 33.93%) - missed
Debt reduction: 62.63% (Annual Target > 41.27%, YTD 50.48%)
Renovation/Maintenance: 0% (Annual Target 0%, YTD 1.02%)
Social: 2.64% (Annual Target 1.0%, YTD 2.84%)
Savings: 0% (By May Target 22%, YTD 9.32%) - MISSED

Growth in Net worth since January 2018 is 13.9% not including retirement investments and 28.21% when retirement investments are included.

Spending in June included a leather couch at half price, which was unexpected, but something I was planning on getting in the next 6 months. On the bookshelf front haven't bought any yet but gave a couple of boxes of text books and other books to Charity.

The trip home was good, stocked up on some food I haven’t been able to find in Sydney yet and also bought some books. I have also pre-booked and paid the deposit for my travel home at the end of the year.

The big jump in net worth is mainly due to debt reduction which I digged into some savings to complete. The car lease is completely paid out, now I just have a mortgage and ~ $4500 in student debt. I will pay out the student in the next 4 to 6 months as well as continue to pay down the mortgage.
My bills included after tax giving, car registration, NBN connection fee, Tolls, bus fares, and petrol for the drive home.
I have been nominated for a national award at work and invited to a Gala dinner in a couple of months. It is a great honour, however at the moment all I am thinking is how expensive it could be once I have bought a dress and everything else ☹. On the new job front I’ve met with a couple of people to discuss different opportunities and am meeting with the head of my department this week to discuss what’s next. I would prefer to stay with the company but need a new challenge and want to maximize the return on my time etc etc.

The July plan:
Food < 3%
Social < 1%
Bills < 35%
Debt Reduction > 42%
Savings> 17% split between long term and for upcoming settling in/maintenance expenses.

Bills will include Car service, the dress for the gala if I find anything, bus fares, petrol, tolls, and insurance.

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