I'm on a train this time.
Last year, in December, I was strapped with debt, clutching a Starbucks in hand - dreaming about an escape out of the corporate conundrum and financial slavery.
As I'm busy penning this down, one year has passed and I'm on a train, on the way back home for a long-awaited year-end break.
This time, I'm officially debt-free. And I'm working towards something greater - financial freedom (some people actually giggle when they hear that term).
I'll save the self-effacement for another day and I'll take some pride in my accomplishments this year.
1) Clear off my debt (ACCOMPLISHED)
When I joined the corporate treadmill 2 years back, I lived paycheck-to-paycheck for one full year. How did an educated white-collar executive amass consumer debt you'd ask?
I was a victim of credit, materialism, false-belief (thinking that there will always be another paycheck next month, giving me the confidence to take on more debt), and the YOLO mentality (you only live once, and I thought it meant: spend like it's your last day on earth).
Until I realised that the spending the rest of my life on the corporate treadmill is as ridiculous as Kim Kardashian's derriere.
Then it all changed.
2) Build up an emergency fund which will last at least 2 months of unemployment. (ACCOMPLISHED)
I've severely underestimated myself when I set this target last year. Right now, I've set aside a good sum of liquid cash that will last me at least 6 months of unemployment.
And for the first time, I'm witnessing how useful an emergency bucket is as I'll be tapping into it next year for my wedding.
Did I mention that I am getting married?
3) Save 30% or $1000 of my monthly income, whichever is higher. (ACCOMPLISHED)
A huge part of my financial turnaround should be attributed to the accountability factor. By diligently recording every expense, every month, and sharing it here on this blog, I've become more conscious of my spending and it's only accurate to say that I've managed to save slightly more than 30% / $1000 each month on average.
4) Invest the difference in dividend stocks (basically to hedge against inflation) (ACCOMPLISHED)
2014 was also the year that I started throwing whatever extra I have (from the 30% savings each month) into dividend-growth stocks.
The 2 stocks that I own are net-positive so far.
5) Leverage on property investments in the longer term. (FAILED)
This was a slightly more ambitious target I set for myself last year. But the time just wasn't right, and I wasn't ready to shoulder a mortgage yet.
But if you're interested to read my take on Stocks vs. Real Estate, read it here.
6) Increase streams of income. (ACCOMPLISHED)
This is a tough one but I've managed to lock in a measly $200 in dividends. I know it's a measly figure but hey, that's an additional stream of income and I'm not complaining.
Targets for 2015
1) Increase savings rate to 50% or $1,500 per month (whichever is higher).
2) Generate $50 in dividends a month ($1000 a year).
3) Continue generating new income streams.
4) Combine finances with my spouse after we tie the knot.
5) Look for a better rat cage.
If you've been following White Collar Freedom from the start, I hope you're pleased to see that there is some hope after all.
Happy holidays & keep digging.
The best gift that you can give yourself is a CHOICE.