2015 Recap & Previewing 2016

I figured with the new year’s holiday it would be a good time to recap 2015 and look ahead to 2016.

2015 Recap

On October 2nd, 2015 (IndeBrendence Day) I paid off my student loans. I graduated in May 2012 with about $26,000 in debt. I am pretty please with the speed in which I paid it off. A lot of this was me putting most of my work bonus towards it. When I first started paying it off I was paying over $3 a day in interest or close to $100 a month. Once I saw that I knew that they had to go.

I signed up for a motorcycle course and got my license in the fall. I also purchased a small dual sport bike (Yamaha XT225 in case you were wondering). This was definitely a splurge. I only rode it a few times (including on Christmas Eve) but hope to put some miles on next summer. My dad and brother ride as do many of my extended family.

I bought a plane ticket to Rwanda to visit my brother who is a Peace Corp volunteer there. I haven’t seen him since fall 2014. I am leaving in about two weeks with my Dad and two family friends. The plan is to spend two weeks exploring the country. I am really excited!

I took a relaxing trip with my girlfriend to the Apostle Island area of Wisconsin. This was the second year in a row of vacationing around Lake Superior. The big water must have a hold on me. We stayed on Madeline Island and in Bayfield. We took a kayaking trip that was a lot of fun. We also went to Big Top Chautauqua for a concert. I highly recommend that if you are in the area.

Boat on Lake Superior from Madeline Island

Boat on Lake Superior from Madeline Island

I also took a road trip to Omaha Nebraska for a family wedding. My dad, two of my Aunts and myself jammed into a Honda Fit for the trip. It was a fun time and we stayed in downtown Omaha which was neat to see. I rented a bike and went across the Missouri into Iowa. The wedding and reception were great.

The Farmers Market in Omaha

The Farmers Market in Omaha

I hunted 8 out of 9 days of the 2015 Wisconsin gun deer season. This was the first time I didn’t go back to work during the season. I enjoyed it a lot even though I didn’t harvest a deer. Spending time with friends and family was good and the weather wasn’t atrocious.

2015 Challenges

I only posted 8 times in 2015 on the blog. I will try to post at least once per month in 2016.

Work was a struggle at times. I went through some points with very little motivation. I applied for a job transfer in July but didn’t get the position. That was tough to swallow but likely for the best. I will likely reassess where I am at some point later in 2016. What I am currently doing is financially rewarding but not what I want to do forever. I am keeping an eye out for other positions in the company as it is a great place to work.

I am trying to wrap up a designation at work that I earn by taking tests. I wanted to do one more last year but wasn’t allowed to by management. I have two more to do this year before I earn it. My goal is to finish before my birthday in April but I am not sure how feasible that is with the available testing dates but I am crossing my fingers that it works out.

Financially I did alright. I saved some money but not as much as I would like. The market didn’t really help so while the number of shares I own is up the value per share is down. Since I don’t plan on spending this money for a long time it doesn’t really matter but seeing bigger numbers in my retirement accounts is more fun than seeing smaller numbers. I spent about $3800 on food (groceries, eating out, bars etc) and my goal is $10 a day or $3,650 so I was a little high. I also put quite a bit into my car by buying new tires in December and a starter earlier in the year. If I lived in a more urban area (living and working downtown) I would consider selling the car. I only put on 1,000 per month on average but I have averaged over $300 a month in expenses. The benefits outweigh the costs but not by much.

2016 Plans

First and foremost is my trip to Rwanda that I mentioned above. I purchased the ticket in June and have been doing little things ever since including but not limited to: researching visa rules, getting a phrase book, reading about the Rwandan Genocide, getting vaccinated and other medications, saving money (lots of it), getting an international drivers permit, and other miscellaneous items to get ready. Now I have to pack!

I also have a trip to Greece coming up later in the year with my girlfriend. She is graduating grad school and wants to take a trip to Greece before she gets a job. This will be fun and will get me back to Europe for the first time since 2011.

I would like to ride my motorcycle on weekend trips around the region and try camping with it. Some possible places to explore would be the Upper Peninsula, northern Wisconsin and maybe some places in Minnesota as well.

I bought a step counter and want to increase my activity level. This is doubly important in the winter when I default to just staying home. Since I have bought it I have taken 3 walks that I wouldn’t have otherwise taken. I want to slim down a little.

Financially I want to bump my savings up a little bit. I don’t spend too much but some of what I do spend isn’t really worth it (vending machine at work and some snacks).

2016 will be a good year. I hope to share a little of that here on the blog if I can motivate myself to post.

How was your 2015? What are you looking forward too in 2016? Don’t forget it is a leap year so we get a bonus day.