Best and Worst of 2017

2017 has been an eventful year for me. I ran my first 10k, started this blog, traveled 8 times and attended my grandfather’s funeral. On the last day of 2017, Let me share my best and worst experiences of 2017 with you.

MONEY

BEST Money Decision: Did not buy a house.

My parents, especially my mother, were on my case about buying a property earlier this year. No doubt fueled by witnessing the insanity of Toronto housing market.

I was hesitant because I think renting trumps owning for my current lifestyle. Luckily I didn’t pull the trigger. The local real estate market remained relatively flat this year while equity market surged.

If I had sold my investments for the down payment this year, I would’ve missed out on some nice market gains.

WORST Money Decision: Lost track of my spending.

I stopped tracking my spending about 2 years go. Since then, some of my expenses in the eating out, entertainment and travel categories have crept up. Thanks to the stock market and working lots of overtime, 2017 is still my best year with the highest net worth increase.

I will start tracking my money and sticking to a budget again, because a high saving rate is the most powerful tool to fast-track to financial independence.

Decreasing spending is the most effective in my scenario. Achieving above average investment gains and making more money are both less realistic for me.

WORK

BEST Work Decision: Stepped down from a Leadership position.

Stepped down from a Team Lead position when my term was up. My manager asked me to stay on but the position was causing me so much stress with not enough monetary compensation nor actual power to make a difference. It was just about putting out fires and delivering directives I don’t agree with.

I don’t regret this decision for a single minute. It’s nice to be able to mostly focus on only my own work.

WORSE: Work environment.

This year marks a significant toxic turn in the corporate culture at the Company. They have taken many steps to increase efficiency that have significantly damaged the morale and demotivated staff.

The irony is that I don’t think productivity has increased at all, but I believe the cost cutting measures were effective.

PERSONAL

BEST accomplishment: Ran my first 10k.

The first time I ran 10k + during training was most exhilarating. This was huge for me because I’ve never been a runner.

I hated running. Unlike activity such as badminton, bouldering, dancing & yoga, I have never ever liked running. Not when I was a child, not when I had to for Phys. Ed in school, and certainly not when I had a choice as an adult.

Thanks to the impulsive sign up for a Disneyland 10k, I had to train. Goes to show that sometimes it’s good to venture into unfamiliar/uncomfortable territory, you’ll reap unexpected benefits.

BEST entertainment:

Musical: Dear Evan Hansen. Amazing, emotional, heartbreaking and healing. The only cast album CD I’m set on buying, the soundtrack is amazing.

My biggest mistake was not bringing tissue, I was a mess with tears and snot streaming down my face by Act 1. So Amazing.

Play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. To HP fans everywhere, you MUST GO. Reading the script/book was not the same at all. This play was the closure I wanted the HP epilogue to be. The special effects were just like Magic.

Movies: No favorites this year. I really enjoyed Star Wars: the Last Jedi. I love movies with character development arcs. The Baywatch movie made me laugh the hardest. It was ridiculous, but self aware. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Books: I need to read more. I know I’ve read a handful of books this year, but nothing stood out.

 

WORST: My grandfather passed away.

My grandfather passed away this August. I flew to China to attend his funeral. Both of my grandmothers passed away either before I was born or when I was a child.  As an adult, I’m picking up some more family relationship nuances. I’ve came to the sad realization that I’m not close to my extended family. Also, that I am OK with that right now.

MOST CHILLING: Visiting Sachsenhausen concentration camp outside of Berlin.

I thought I was prepared for this experience. I wasn’t. Sachsenhausen was not a death camp, but the death, torture, experiments and human despair it has witness somehow lingers in the air. I don’t have the words to describe it. It was a bone chilling reminder of what human cruelty is capable of. I’m already getting uncomfortable here just recalling that day.

 

Conclusion

Looking back at 2017, my most memorable moments have very little to do with money.

I won’t remember this year’s net worth gains or saving rate in 10 years. Money is security, it is a tool to give us more choices in any given situation. Thanks to money, I didn’t have to hesitate to purchase a last minute plane ticket to go attend my grandfather’s funeral. So as I buckle down to tighten my finances next year, it’s important for me to remember that money is ultimately only the means to an end, not the end goal itself.

So that’s the Ups and Downs of 2017 for me.

How about you? What were you best and worst moments in 2017?