Ms ZiYou 2018

Review of 2018 – Lots of Travel, 汉语 and running

As I write the 2018 year already seems far away.  Which given it’s been twenty days is possibly factually correct. However, life has been busy and I’ve only just got round to my 2018 roundup. And by taking the time to step back and review the year I’m realising it’s been a fabulous year all round. I am so lucky and I need to really remember that.

Start with the fun things (To make my life seem exciting)

Travel Extravaganza

Ms ZiYou Travel

It’s no secret I love to travel. And 2018 has been a great year for travelling. I’ve made the most of my bank holidays and travelled lots both in the UK and in Europe. I’ve spent time in Northern Ireland appreciating nature and the Giants Causeway and in Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe. Easter brought an amazing snowy Baltic tour to Finland, Estonia and Latvia and I also fitted in short weekend breaks to Portugal, Germany, Ukraine and Italy.

As a travel geek I counted up how many nights I’ve been away each year over the few years – and my feeling that I’d been away more in 2018 was right.

  • 2011 – 23 nights
  • 2012 – 19 nights
  • 2013 – 17 nights
  • 2014 – 34 nights
  • 2015 – 29 nights
  • 2016 – 25 nights
  • 2017 – 31 nights
  • 2018 – 41 nights

However, I’m not a luxury traveller – far from it. My style could probably be defined as a refined backpacker. I stay in a mixture of hostels and AirBnB’s preferring a private bedroom when it’s not cost prohibitive.  I always do everything I want to do, but truth be told my wants are not that much. And they skew towards free or low-cost activities.

My spending on travel for the year was £1.5k. And that averages around £37 a night so not too bad at all.


As I ramble about often, I am studying Chinese and have been for a few years. It’s something I really enjoy and do for fun – there is no pressure or defined time when I need to get to a certain level. 2018 was the year I passed my HSK3 and HSKK Elementary exams, which I am chuffed about. Additionally, I started a full on Chinese course – which is great fun but demanding.


My principles matter to me. And I’m really happy to report that I have been using my energy for good. I’m been advocating for diversity and equality on both boards I am on with good results. Additionally, I believe in paying people fairly and I have ensured staff get above inflation pay rises in both non-profits as well. I do believe people should always be compensated fairly.


Another love of mine is running slowly. And this was my third year of running two marathons a year. I guess this makes it a habit now? In addition, I got to 100 Parkruns – a milestone I’ve been chasing for a while. I adore my new black parkrun 100 T-shirt and can’t wait till it’s warm enough to wear it to a Parkrun without the jumper on top!

Lots of theatre

Although I didn’t theatre as much as in previous years. so much good theatre was seen. My friends and I go a lot, and it’s difficult to choose a favourite. Most things I saw were worthwhile in at least one way – from the obscure to the novel I appreciated them all.

Blogging and Podcasting

2018 was the birth year for this blog! And I also tried my hand at podcasting with UK FI Pod.  As someone who loves learning new skills and technologies, this was so much fun. Additionally, I got to interview lots of other UK FI bloggers which was really fun and really challenged some of my beliefs.

And the good habits (the boring bits of life)

Keep working

Ms ZiYou working

Yep, in order to keep enjoying life, I need to keep working and keeping clients happy enough to retain me. For 2018 I’ve been in contract all year, and even manage to get a small inflationary increase.

As I mention occasionally, I actually quite like work nowadays. It’s can be really fun and interesting. I get to use my existing skills and learn the odd new thing.

Not to mention I get paid. And paid well.

Savings (Or the Inverse – spending)

And I don’t really feel I’ve got much to report here. As I was employed all year I kept to the savings plan. And I didn’t even fiddle the plan that much, although I do admit to fiddling my portfolio and asset allocation a bit. Even though the markets have been terrible in 2018 and ended up down, I have continued to drop money in each month.

Being British I calculate my real annual number with our tax years, but for 2018 my savings rate was around 79%.

Then the less good habits


It has not been a healthy year diet wise, and my weight is a bit above where I’d like it to be. And I have just been kind of blase about this all of 2018. I know the reason, it’s not for lack of exercise, it’s from eating too much yummy food. Like chocolate. And cake. Have I mentioned how I love cake?


I’ve just not been reading that much in book format. It’s something I want to do, but always seemed low down my priority list. And in 2019 I want to sort that and start reading more books. As I’m not commuting into the city every day, I won’t be able to get back to reading 100+ books a year. But 50 seems more than reasonable if I prioritise it.


I think I spend too much time aimless web browsing. And on twitter. Luckily I have not yet got addicted to other social media platforms. But of my bad habits, I think this is one I really need to get on top of and sort. There are better uses for my downtime I feel.

External Motivation

I used to be very internally motivated. And I still am for some things. But somehow as I’ve got older for some items I need external motivation or an external deadline. And that does not sit well with me. So I’m wanting to get more internal motivation mojo around here.

Zen-ness (Or why I don’t beat myself up about my failings)

At school, I was always the person that concentrated on the marks I lost, not the ones I got right. At work, I wanted the constructive criticism more than the things I was doing well. I’ve never been one to bask in achievements I wanted to improve and sort out the areas I wasn’t doing so well in.

I love reviewing the year and seeing how much fun I’ve had. And it’s also important to understand what didn’t go as well as expected and why. I feel that is such an important part of growth and self-development. However, I do nowadays practise much more zen-ness. I chill a bit more and don’t fret about my failings. Or items that are outside the locus of my control. I feel that results in increasing my overall happiness and make me a nicer person to be around.

The Cost

Ms ZiYou Pennies

So what have I spent in 2018? Looking at my records only £21.1k.

That includes everything that I personally have spent in the calendar year. Such as my house in outer London – mortgage / bills /repairs etc, maintenance and petrol for the car, food for the cat, chickens and I, commuting etc. As well as the more fun leisure costs of travel, theatre trips and other hobbies.

In summary

Life is awesome. At the grand old age of 37, I finally feel that I have worked some* things out.

You don’t need to spend lots of money to be happy; however you need to direct the cash to areas that make you happy.

* I do still have to sort out that dating thing. And learn how to spend more than a week with my family. But baby steps eh?

Over to you

  • What are your thoughts?
  • What was your year like
  • How would you rate 2018?

Thank you for reading – please leave a comment below and join in the conversation. You can also connect on Twitter or contact me privately.

18 comments on “Review of 2018 – Lots of Travel, 汉语 and running

  1. Congratulations on a year well lived Ms ZiYou.

    Sounds like you’ve arrived at a good balance of finding the happy and finding ways to pay for it!

    I’ve been living vicariously through your travelogues, and am stunned by the total bill. By way of contrast, I don’t get any change out of £5000 for the annual (school holiday season) trip taking my kids home to visit their grandparents and cousins… and like you, I start getting twitchy after about a week! Still it is a nice problem to have, and they get a lot of enjoyment from it.

    1. Hey indeedably – ouch at those numbers for your holidays. I do say one day I will visit down-under, but those sort of prices scare me!

      I am definitely more on the budget traveller end of the scale!

  2. 2018 turned out to be a good year for me. I changed jobs (but not companies), started a new sport/art form, improved my sleep, went part-time, passed the £500K net worth (minus house) mark, did my first overseas holiday in about a decade, studied a couple of courses and did more social activities. Also broadened my selection of podcasts – including enjoying yours. Overall, quite a bit happier and more fulfilled.

    Like you, I feel I waste too much time aimlessly browsing I hope to fill that with more books this year and perhaps more study this year.

      1. Learning wise, standouts were both of Barbara Oakley’s online courses – Learning how to learn & Mindshift. Otherwise work related stuff as I’ve shifted fields.

  3. I had an awesome 2018 – what a great year! The highlight for me would be travelling to North Korea – I’ll never forget it.
    I’m envious of all your travel. You’re so close to everything in the UK!

    1. Hi Frogdancer – yes Europe is so close here – I take that as my reason for travelling so much! I do think it must be much harder for you all in Australia – it’s just so far from everything……

      But I am so jealous of your trips to North Korea and China….one day I will get there as well!

  4. Sounds like a wonderful year filled with fun and fulfillment! I think we have similar travel styles – and am amazed that you’ve managed to keep the cost quite low. I will be doing much more travel in Europe this year so I’ll use your cost per night as a benchmark!

    1. Hi Mindy – I am always in awe of your Asian travels and how much of SE Asia you have seen and lived in!

      I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous time in Europe – if you keep east it is very reasonably priced!

  5. Kudos on maintaining such a high savings rate and still being able to travel and do everything you want, Ms ZiYou! I also traveled in Europe (mostly Spain) for about a month in 2018 and my costs are WAY higher than yours, ugh. Congrats and all my best wishes to you for 2019. Also, when you figure out the dating thing, please let me know – I definitely struggle with that as well 🙂

    1. Hi FF – I bet you had an awesome time in Spain – it can be really expensive there! Lots of my trips were eastern rather than western Europe, which helps a lot.

      And I wouldn’t hold your breath on the dating thing ….. I foresee lots of embarrassing and amusing mistakes forthcoming.

  6. Looks like you had an awesome year, Ms ZiYou.

    I’m very impressed and amazed at your budget travelling – all those countries and all those nights away – the total cost of all your trips is around the same as ONE of my HK trips (including spending) and I’m not even paying for accommodation since I stay with family!

    On the finance front, congratulations and well done on maintaining such a huge savings rate. You have shown how it is possible to lead an active London life filled with numerous social activities which does not have to break the bank and enables you to continue saving huge chunks of your salary.

    Another one here who needs to stop aimlessly browsing the web!

    All the best with your Chinese course and also the dating!

    1. Thanks weenie – indeed when you put it all together the year sounds great – and to be honest until I wrote it all down I forgot what I had managed to get done.

      Your HK trips sound much pricier – but it is much much further away. One day I will make it to Hong Kong and China…..hopefully my Chinese will have improved by then!

      And watch this space on the dating! It’s hard work!

  7. You are smashing it!

    A 79% savings rate is absolutely mint on top of all the travel.

    What a life you lead.

    Keep on living the dream : )

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