2017 is coming to an end and as we welcome the New Year, I thought it would be good to consolidate some of our thoughts for the year, and some of the key takeaways that we will bring with us to 2018.
In terms of my health, i went for a health checkup earlier this year and seems like everything is good. I took my very last IPPT this year and almost narrowly miss out on my gold award as work and family commitments seems to have taken a toll on my fitness regime. I guess I’m still lacking the time management skills to juggle all these different aspects of my life. I still try to run at least once a week to maintain my fitness but still managed to gain quite a bit of weight this year (have broken the record to now weigh the heaviest in my lifetime). There is a serious need to kick start a new fitness regime in order to regain back my fitness in 2018.
As for Kate, the health front hasn’t really quite work out for her this year. She was pregnant with Ashton for the most part of this year and in addition to that, she was also falling sick pretty often. She was prescribed antibiotics a few times (although she did try to avoid taking them) and was down with several bouts of cough during the year (which was extremely annoying because it takes a long time to recover from coughs). Just as she thought she was done, she caught another bout from Ally a few weeks ago during her confinement period. She had been sick for the most of last week and am glad that she is on route to recovery as I am typing this. Also, she had worked pretty long hours this year, despite being heavily pregnant and that might also had toyed with her immunity quite a bit. She had also tried to continue with her yoga regime but the busy work hours didn’t allow her to attend classes as often as she would like to. Also this time round, she was hit with pubic symphisis pain quite early on so she had to stopped practising yoga.
In addition, Ally has also been falling sick pretty often this year as well, which I think is inevitable since she’s attending daycare and it will probably take another year or two for her immunity to tough it out. Taking care of a sick kid is definitely quite tiring for adults as well, resulting in countless sleepless nights.
We have always been pretty health conscious people, and definitely for next year, Kate and I hope that we will be able to squeeze out some time for exercising and probably a less stressful year at work also. Hopefully 2018 will be better and we all stay healthy.
This is an exciting year for us with the addition of a new member of the family. Ashton joins our existing family of 3 and one of the most heartwarming things to watch is to see how readily Ally embraces her little brother into the family. Family dynamics will definitely shake up a little as we care for a newborn in the family, but at the same time, ensuring that we spend enough time with our toddler as well.
We are glad that we have a good family support system that helps us whenever we are in need. Such support is priceless and we thank our family for their help and support all this time. We have been organizing birthday celebrations and trips with our extended families thus i think we did not bad in this area. Nowadays, most of our activities are pretty family-centric thus we took a back seat in terms with meeting up with our friends.
I had known Kate for more than nine years, married for five years and the best thing about our relationship is that we always have open communications and we do not really bear grudges. We wish to keep this up!
As mentioned, work has been crazy on all fronts for both of us. Kate have been pulling quite a bit of overtime work this year and the load was quite insane. On a good note, it seems like management has finally realised and heard her call about how crazy her workload is and they had hired an additional headcount to alleviate some of her work (a few weeks before she went on maternity leave). That is some good news but at the same time, she was a little nervous and apprehensive as well. With an additional headcount, there will be new and higher expectations as well so she is also trying to manage that. As for now, she is going to just enjoy her maternity leave and not think about work until she is back a few months later.
We also have lesser time to spend with our girl on weekdays thus weekends were spent mostly chilling coupled with simple family activities. During this maternity leave period, she wants to take the time to reassess her career and might want to explore options of scaling down. I’m also quite bored down by the monotonous nature of my job industry and will also be exploring all possible options and ride through the next two years before we achieve FI.
For starters, we broke our very first budget this year mainly due to the arrival of Ashton but its like a one-off event which will not really affect our spending habits. I was also reviewing our spending habits and expenditure and certainly a majority part of our expenses goes to the two children and other related activities (aside from parents’ allowance and insurance). There were a couple of frivolous spending this year but on general, I think most of the spending were well accounted for, we try to live minimally and question our purchases so to ensure that we are only buying what we need and prevent impulse purchases etc.
We also re-finance our HDB loan to POSB bank loan and we are glad that we did that (and it helps that it came with a free Dyson vacuum cleaner as well!). We took the first 3 years fixed interest rate loan to seek interest rate protection as we want to accumulate enough CPF and cash to pay off our mortgage in year 4 should the interest rate spike. The main reason is we would like to maintain an arbitrage as our investment returns are higher than the home loan interest rate for now.
On the FI front, it seems like our portfolio and savings are still on track for now. If both of us stay gainfully employed for the next two to three years we should be able to hit our FI target in June 2020 as planned.
I think we are definitely on the right track as nowadays we dont really seek joy in consumer purchases and focus more on experiences. We pared down a lot of our personal stuff and are more conscientious about adding any new things into our lives. We also DIY some simple Christmas decorations with Ally to enhance the festive atmosphere in our minimalist home.
We are starting to embrace 3Rs (Reduce, Recycle and Reuse) into our lives after attending a Zero Waste Singapore talk by their founder Eugene Tay earlier this year. As a minimalist, we are doing quite well on the reduce area but we still need to work harder on the other two areas. For recycling, we have a designated home bin just for recyclables based on this list by NEA and trying to use more recycle bags for our groceries. For reuse area, we are still trying to explore more.
I am also glad that nowadays there are more bike-sharing and mobile libraries available in our neighborhood. This might open up more opportunities on resource sharing which will probably reduce wastage in our society.
Since we started our minimalism journey last year, we certainly had come a long way in terms of embracing “Less is more” into our lives. We hope to share more about our family’s simple lifestyle and hope that more people could also adopt it.
We had garner quite a number of new followers for the blog this year and have been encouraged by some of the comments and emails from readers. Granted that not everyone share the same thoughts as us, we totally respect all opinions and are grateful to have the chance to share some of our thoughts on minimalism and lifestyle choices as a family.
As we are quite busy at the moment with our new addition to our family and we hope to continue to build up on the momentum and enhance our platform.
Overall, I am pretty grateful that 2017 has been a pretty good year to us overall. The birth of Ashton definitely rounds up the year on a high note and I can forsee that most of the activities in 2018 will be centered around the kids. I would also hope to have more time to build up the blog and gain more readership.
Hope we could continue to share our simple family lifestyle with everyone. Wish all our readers a Happy New Year and have a great year ahead!