In 2020 we had found ourselves suddenly homeschooling and stuck at home. Like most people, we also found ourselves drinking a wee bit more alcohol than we usually did. By October it was clear that not only were we spending scads of coin on booze, we also felt like shit and the consumption of alcohol was severely affecting our mood. So on October 31, 2020 the last alcoholic beverage for the next 365 days was consumed.
I won’t lie and say that it was an easy year, there were many times where one or both of us wanted to celebrate with a glass of something stronger than club soda. But we stuck to it and found that not only did we lose some weight, we also saved a pile of cash. In October 31st, 2021 we went to a friend’s outdoor (belated) birthday party and toasted her with some spiked punch.
Since then, we haven’t really consumed alcohol like we used to. Aside from the fact that we are old and more prone to hangovers, alcohol also makes me incredibly spastic the next day. More and more we found that we don’t like losing the next day to recuperating so while we drank often we didn’t find ourselves going too crazy. We also discovered that we prefer more higher-end brands as well, so when we did drink alcohol it could often get really expensive. So when we mulled it over, alcohol consumption – while fun in the moment – was incongruent with our long term health and financial goals. So we decided that 2023 would be an alcohol-free year for us.
When I mentioned our sober year goals to a friend, I mentioned that one of the reasons was to help us pay off our house in 2023. She replied with, “It’s can’t make that much of a difference, can it?” So I ran the numbers and in Beer and Liquor store purchases alone (not cash, not bars/restaurants, not gifts) we spent $5500 on our credit card*. Of course, alcohol in this province is super expensive but actually running the numbers was pretty shocking to me because looking back it didn’t even seem like we drank that much last year. What an eye-opener!
Resolution #1 – a sober 2023
As mentioned above, our mortgage is up for renewal later this year and we want to just pay the entire thing off completely. We had already planned to do that before the prime rate had climbed to dizzying heights but now I am doubly glad that we had it in the hopper for 2023! We don’t have much further to go so if we tighten our belts we will be mortgage free by the end of the year.
Resolution #2 – pay off the mortgage on the house
We are also aiming to have an ultra frugal year. Generally speaking my budget style is to make categories and just try and spend within the categories. I don’t typically budget down to the cent or make an effort to track every penny. As long as we stay in the green, meet our goals and don’t carry debt, I generally just have an idea of where everything is going.
But as inflation increases and a recession looms as workers are getting laid off, it seemed like a good time to experiment with living off of one salary – my disability income. With Mr. Tucker’s work salary we plan to save it for retirement, use it to pay off the house, save for our road trips next fall and put some away to purchase local food. When the house is paid off, these last two things will then come out of my disability income, freeing up every cent he makes to put towards early retirement.
This is the one goal for 2023 that I am apprehensive about. Since we’ve always had low expenses, a good savings rate and still have been able to do the things we’ve wanted to do, having to check ourselves may be a steep learning curve. Still, 10 years ago we had an incredibly tight budget because I was a SAHM and we had a large child support payment when Mr. Tucker made about half of what he makes today. Of course, prices have gone up and two t(w)eens in the house make everything more expensive. But I am 100% sure that this will be achievable with some work. Much like 10 years ago, I am going to track our spending carefully and look for ways we could be more efficient with our money.
Resolution #3 – Live off of one salary and track all of our spending
If there is one regret I had about 2022 it’s that Mr. Tucker and I didn’t get out for walks as much as we would have liked to. Sure, I spent a ton of time swimming in the pool during the summer months but we always had planned to walk while the kids were in school and with his new job it never seemed to happen.
Worse, we actually purchased some cardio equipment last year on sale and while we started off strong, eventually the machines sat unused as life got busy in the spring between Puerto Rico and school drama.
I have no crazy exercise goals except: move. Any sort of movement is better than no movement so I am just going to try and get outside, get some fresh air and walk/trike. On days where it is too dangerous to go outside due to snow & ice, I can use the equipment. Mr. Tucker and I really need to prioritize any exercise over the nothing we’re doing now. Once we’ve made it a habit again, we can increase and add to our routine. Hopefully by the summer we will have some weight training and flexibility training incorporated into our routine.
Resolution #4 – Move more
A part of these goals is to start living in a way that supports our health and get us used to habits that Mr. Tucker can take with him into early retirement. We need to make space for ourselves over the next year and live our life as less focused around his job as we can. Of course, he still has to work and there will often be challenges to being life-focused vs. work-focused but after a year into his new gig he has a better handle on the job and its expectations.
I think overall 2023 will be characterized as a year where we make conscious decisions and really focus on the life we want to lead. Not just this year but going forward as well. The world is constantly chaotic and these past couple of years have felt so heavy between the pandemic, economic changes and war. Hopefully 2023 will be a little calmer, the kids will continue to thrive, we’ll see our friends and family a lot more than we have these past few years and if all goes well, we’ll meet our goals.
Happy New Year!
*we get extra Aeroplan points for using the card, which makes it also easier to track our spending on alcohol because we tend to always use the card
**Mr. Tucker will need to listen for alerts on his phone due to work but there is no reason it needs to be right beside him