Twenty Twelve: The Year I Changed My Life

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Twenty twelve has been a year of big changes for me. On January 1st, I moved back out into my own apartment in Victoria. In September, I accepted a new job and moved to Toronto. But there were so many details, moments, and goals met in-between that got me from one place to the other. So, I’ve decided to take a look back and see just how much the various areas of my life have changed this year:

Finances
2012 was obviously the best year my finances have ever seen. First, I paid off more than $11,000 of debt, including all of my credit card debt. And second, I learned how to save – not much, but it was better than nothing. This year, I saved more than $1,600 in my RRSPs and have about the same in an Emergency Fund. I know, those numbers are small… but I’m the girl who used to pull from her savings on a weekly basis. In doing all of this, I’ve gone from having a negative net worth at the beginning of the year to finally reaching a positive net worth. Today, my net worth is about +$7,250. It can only go up from here, right?

Career
I spent the first six months of this year finishing my BA in Communications, while working full-time and interning at LearnVest. To say I was constantly working on a deadline would be the biggest understatement of the year. There were nights (and weeks) I barely slept, because I had so many papers and posts to write. But learning how to manage my time and priorities taught me so much about myself, including learning how to recognize what I wanted out of my career. Everything I did (school, work, and my internship) helped me see what I liked, what I didn’t like, and what I was good at. I wouldn’t trade a single sleepless night, for where it’s taken me today.

Travel
My three travel goals for this year were to visit Toronto and New York City, as well as travel to and attend #FinCon12. Toronto was a no-brainer for me – I knew I would go for at least a week, at some point. But New York City seemed like a bit of a fantasy… Well, you all know that those goals became realities. Although, instead of visiting Toronto, I ended up moving there. I changed the dates on my flight to Denver and went to #FinCon12 in September. And you’ve read all about my trip to New York City this Christmas. While I’m happy to have achieved all three goals, what I’m most proud of is that none of the trips put me into any amount of debt (even if I did go over budget in NYC).

Health
In February, after weighing in at an all-time high of 206.2 lbs., I decided to stop making excuses and I started working out. For the first six months, I was working out anywhere from 3-5x per week and losing weight and inches fast. Although my workout regime has become basically non-existant over the last few months, I’m still happy to say that I’m down 24 lbs. for the year. It’s been incredible to see how the numbers start to mean less and less, as fitting into smaller clothes means more and more. I’m currently down two pant sizes and one shirt size, which means I fit into something in every store again. And I’m so grateful that the #pfworkout crew has been with me along the way!

This Blog
If there was ever a year to document my life, this was it. Blonde on a Budget has not only been my personal diary, it has become a tool to help me with my career. In 2012, I was picked up by various media outlets, had my picture taken for a feature in the Toronto Star, got to write a post for Forbes, wrote a number of other guest posts and won the West Coast Social Media Award for Best Personal Blog. Writing about getting out of debt is the reason I have my new job in Toronto. And none of this would have been possible if I didn’t finally choose to stop writing anonymously. Telling my family and friends about my blog was one of the scariest decisions I made this year. But it was also the best.

It might sound corny to say this but I honestly can’t believe how different my life is today from January 1st of this year. Twelve months ago, I was still drowning in credit card debt, scared to move out and lose track of my debt repayment progress. I felt completely held back by my financial situation. I was also the heaviest I had ever been and I was paying little to no attention to my health. Over the year, in learning how to manage both my finances and my time, I discovered that it was possible to have the life I had always wanted; a life with less debt, better health, and more fun. And while I may not have saved as much as I had hoped, the experiences this year gave me were worth every penny.

Did you do anything to change your life this year? Tell me about it.

Image: Andrew Williamson