categoryMonthly Review

March 2021 Review

Hello!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a pretty busy month.

Among other things, the new job is keeping me very busy. Compared to my previous job, it’s the complete opposite. I need to justify that raise increase, huh? After every workday, my brain is just mush, and I still feel like I need to learn a million things. Thankfully, I see a progression. Until then, fake it ’til you make it, they say.

I also participated in the Quebec podcast 20 ans, pas l’temps?, as my Facebook page subscribers may have noticed. I actually participated in three different parts. Although I was apprehensive, as any introvert would have been, I absolutely loved the experience! 🙂

On top of all that, spring has arrived and with it, sunshine and warmth! I’m not mad about it. I feel like I’m slowly coming out of hibernation.

In short, I’ve had a little less time and energy to write, but I’m not giving up on this blog. The frequency of publication may slow down a bit, but don’t worry. My motivation towards my FIRE goal is still very much alive! 🙂

Now, let’s see if the numbers are also motivating.

Net Worth as of March 31, 2021

Assets
Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA:
Questrade LIRA:
Questrade RRSP:
FTQ RRSP:
Fondaction RRSP:
Non-registered:
$1,109
$38,978
$45,376
$35,456
$5,752
$13,427
$2,053
Total assets:$142,151
Liabilities
Car loan:
Line of credit:
Credit cards:
$6,577
$0
$56
Total liabilities:$6,578
Net Worth$135,518
Difference+$9,432

We can see a very nice progression this month! This increase is mostly due to an exceptional savings rate, which will be detailed below. Also, the car loan continues its slow descent, which increases my net worth at the same rate.

My crypto portfolio is growing rapidly, as much due to the rapid increase in value of the various cryptos I hold, as well as due to the $30 bonuses I received thanks to my Shakepay referral link. Thanks again to everyone who used it. 🙂

You may have noticed my crypto portfolio value has already surpassed 1% of my overall portfolio. While I’ve invested $1,400, the value is already quite a bit higher. In fact, I must admit that I am already very tempted to increase my “psychological limit” of 1%. The next big correction might convince me to put in more. Stay tuned. 😉

However, as far as the stock markets are concerned, it was an up and down kind of month. I’m glad I was able to put so much money into the market this month, while it was kind of at a standstill. The next big leg up will be all the more appreciated. 🙂

Savings

Here are the details of my March savings:

  • March 11: $975.00 out of $1,789.71
  • March 25: $4,103.45 out of $5,077.03 net
  • March 26: $331.83 out of $331.83
  • March 29: $964.72 out of $964.72
  • Total savings: $6,375.00 out of $8,163.29 in March or a 78% savings rate

Of the $6,375 I saved, I contributed $5,700 to my TFSA and bought $675 worth of cryptocurrency outside a registered account.

As I mentioned earlier, this was truly an exceptional month in terms of savings, thanks to so much money coming in! Indeed, in addition to my two regular paychecks, I received my annual bonus and both tax refunds.

In addition, I’m happy to see that I’m in a good position to reach my savings goal of $25,000 in 2021. I’ve already saved and invested $9,700 this year, or 39% of my goal, in just 3 months. That leaves me with $15,300 to save to reach my goal at the end of the year. That means I’ll need to save an average of $765 per pay until the end of the year to reach it.

Considering my annual raise next month (3.5%), the maxing out of QPP before the end of the year and my car loan paid in full in November, I should be able to do it. 🙂

Expense Report

DateAmountDescription
2021-03-01$497.50Rent
2021-03-02$26.43UFile
2021-03-04$11.60Pharmacy
2021-03-05$48.04Car Insurance
2021-03-07$3.40Starbucks
2021-03-07$3.76Amazon
2021-03-09$29.50Hydro-Québec
2021-03-10$112.42Groceries
2021-03-10$23.07Gas
2021-03-10$18.53Mondou
2021-03-12$403.85Car Payment
2021-03-13$3.40Starbucks
2021-03-17$64.45Indiegogo
2021-03-21$3.40Starbucks
2021-03-25$6.89Pharmacy
2021-03-25$23.22Gas
2021-03-26$403.85Car Payment
2021-03-27$102.47Groceries
2021-03-29$27.02Home internet
2021-03-29$64,38Mondou
Total:$1,877.18

In March, I spent $1,877.18, which is $22,526.16 annualized. If we take out my car loan payments, it comes down to $1,069.48, which is $12,833.76 annualized.

I had very few expenses this month, and I’m very happy about it! This has actually been one of my best months since I started tracking my expenses! One of the reasons for this is that I did some expenses in advance in February in order to unlock bonus points on my credit cards.

Also, I’ve noticed another benefit to very low spending. It’s much less time-consuming for me to track and prepare the tables for this blog. 😉

Other than the usual stuff, the one out of the ordinary expense was on Indiegogo. I helped fund the upcoming Star Trek Voyager documentary, while also getting a nice T-shirt of my favourite Captain. 😉

Next month, I already know about an out of the ordinary expense. I had the nice surprise of a speeding ticket in the mail. Long live those photo radars.

Reading List

Despite a busy month, I’m still reading as much as I can! It’s really important to me, both for learning and entertainment purposes. 🙂

I would like to thank my Facebook subscribers who share their book suggestions with me every weekend. You really give me great book ideas!

So, my March reading list goes like this:

Beat the Bank is truly a must-read. Contrary to my expectations, it was not just theoretical and educational about the questionable practices of the big banks. There are also many concrete examples, such as portfolio models that you can build yourself, etc. Really an excellent Canadian resource!

I also really enjoyed 5 years to freedom. Although a bit of a typical FIRE book, the simple fact that it is a Canadian book is a huge bonus! Also, unlike books like Quit Like a Milionnaire and La retraite à 40 ans, it really shows how it’s possible to reach financial independence in a frugal way, even with children. Without hesitation, I added it to my recommendation page in the Canadian books section.

Otherwise, I want to make a special mention of The Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway, just because. I actually took advantage of the audiobooks.com free trial period to listen to Kate Mulgrew, herself, read it. What a treat! 🖖

Conclusion

I love this moment of reflection these monthly reviews give me. It’s a great exercise to see my progress, see where I am in relation to my goals and to start planning the month ahead.

By the way, I scheduled my appointment on April 30th for my corrective eye surgery. Another 2021 goal I want to get done! 🙂

The company seems to offer financing up to 24 months at 0% interest. I might go for that, if they don’t boost the price to make up for the 0% interest, of course. That way I wouldn’t be slashing too much of my immediate cash flow.

I’ll have the exact figure on that day, but I’ve been told it should be between $3,200 and $4,200. Of that amount, my workplace health account will cover $800.

Therefore, it’s possible that the April monthly review will come out a little late, while my eyes recover. 😉

Finally, I am already working on my next article about travel hacking and how I intend to travel at low cost. Although it is still impossible to predict when we will be able to travel again, it also doesn’t hurt to dream (and plan)!

See you next time and enjoy that spring!

February 2021 Review

Hello!

I just knew February was going to go by very fast. 🙂

Seriously, between finalizing my old job’s last few files, starting my new position and writing my withdrawal strategy article, time just flew by! It’s quite a good thing for someone who doesn’t like winter too much. During a lockdown, on top of it! I’m also quite glad to see that we’re gaining a few more minutes of daylight every week. That’s a very positive thing in my book. 🙂

I’m also happy to report that things are going really well in my new role. I have a lot to learn, since I’m far from my usual field of expertise. So that usually means my brain is mush at the end of the day, but I’m confident I’ll handle the work fairly quickly.

Now let’s get down to business.

Net Worth as of February 28, 2021

Assets
Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA:
Questrade LIRA:
Questrade RRSP:
FTQ RRSP:
Fondaction RRSP:
Non-registered:
$1,228
$34,983
$44,969
$35,135
$5,752
$13,427
$976
Total assets:$136,470
Liabilities
Car Loan:
Line of Credit:
Tangerine Master Card:
Amex Air Miles:
BMO Air Miles:
Amex Aeroplan:
$7,384
$3,000
$0
$0
$0
$0
Total liabilities:$10,384
Net Worth$126,086
Difference+$4,968

What a weird month in the markets! Seriously, how many days in a row were the markets green at the beginning of February? It was not rare to see clickbait articles predicting an imminent crash almost every day. Reaching all-time highs every day, week (and even month) was obviously cause for concern. So it wasn’t too surprising to see the second half of the month rebalancing things.

However, I would like to emphasize that the recent decline has not completely erased the bullish rise that preceded it. In fact, both the S&P 500 and the S&P/TSX show an overall increase in February. 🙂

Personally, I try to remove all emotion from my transactions. Mr. Spock would be proud of me. 🖖

My plan is to save as much as I can on every paycheck I get. I invest on every second Thursday, whether it’s green or red. It doesn’t matter. I invest, no matter what happens in the short term. Anyway, what matters is long-term.

Bonus

Good news! My employer confirmed our annual bonus. It will be paid out on March 25th. Knowing the amount in advance ($6,000 gross), I have decided to take the net amount ($3,000) out of my personal LOC and invest it right away while the markets were down.

I was already planning to save and invest my entire bonus anyway. So I just got ahead of the curve.

Once I receive my bonus on March 25, I will simply pay off my LOC. For your information, it’s a personal LOC offered by Tangerine with a 5.45% interest rate.

Cryptocurrency

Contrary to my very boring index investments in the stock markets, I allow myself to speculate a bit more with crypto. Actually, I only allocate a small portion (1%) of my portfolio that I intend to hold for the long term. I am looking into the mechanics of cryptocurrency and the blockchain, and I place my pawns as I go along. It is a very wild ride. Faint of hearts beware. 😉

I also got three $30 bonuses on Shakepay this month. Thanks to the readers of this blog who used my reference code. 🙂

Also, thanks to Shakepay’s feature that allows me to stack Satoshis (a subunit of Bitcoin) every day by shaking my phone, I have now accumulated 0.0004352 BTC for a series of 47 consecutive days. At the price of the BTC as it is now, it means about $26 only for shaking my phone. I have also deposited all my BTC in BlockFI which allows me to earn 6% interest on it.

Savings

Here are the details of my February savings:

  • February 11: $700 out of $1,710.66 (41% savings)
  • February 25: $840 out of $2,017.17 net (42% savings)
  • Total savings: $1,540 in February or 41% savings

Of the $1,540 I saved, I contributed $1,050 to my TFSA and purchased $490 worth of cryptography outside a registered account.

It could definitely be better on the savings rate front, but I had some spending to do to unlock my credit card bonuses. I’ve made some expenses ahead of time by buying Spotify, Netflix and SAQ gift cards. I also made my annual donation all at once, rather than spreading it out on a monthly basis. Since these are already paid for, I should be able to save a little more in the next following weeks and months.

These expenses have allowed me to get my bonuses of 3,950 Air Miles and 10,000 Aeroplan points (as well as the Buddy Pass). Now, I just have to wait to actually travel. 😉

With my promotion, my March bonus and my yearly raise in April (3.5%), I expect a slight increase in my average savings rate. I should be on track to reach my savings goal!

Expense Report

DateAmountDescription
2021-02-01$497.50Rent
2021-02-01$89.15Groceries
2021-02-01$25.00SAQ
2021-02-02$7.15Spotify
2021-02-02$10.00Donation
2021-02-03$160.00Passport
2021-02-04$62.38Mondou
2021-02-04$29.50Hydro-Québec
2021-02-04$13.33Pharmacy
2021-02-04$100.00Donation
2021-02-04$25.00Netflix
2021-02-04$30.00Spotify
2021-02-05$48.04Car Insurance
2021-02-06$3.40Starbucks
2021-02-11$168.94Amazon
2021-02-12$403.85Car Payment
2021-02-14$3.40Starbucks
2021-02-14$8.04Groceries
2021-02-18$102.93Groceries
2021-02-20$20.83Gas
2021-02-20$3.40Starbucks
2021-02-23$6.14Subway
2021-02-26$403.85Car Payment
2021-02-27$3,86Starbucks
2021-02-28$27.02Home Internet
Total:$2,315,94

In February, I spent $2,315,94, which means $27,791,22 annualized. Excluding my car loan payments, it comes down to $1,508.24 or $18,098,82 annualized.

In addition to my travel hacking expenses, I had to renew my passport and I bought a Valentine’s Day gift for my mother and my grandmother.

I also had a somewhat big expense on Amazon for a treadmill that I had been looking to buy for a while. Luckily, my employer reimburses a fair amount for sports activities. That means I only had to pay $168 out of my own pocket. Considering that the treadmill should be good for a couple of years, that’s much cheaper than a gym membership. 😉

Finally, I still don’t have a mobile phone bill to pay this month. Thanks to everyone who used my Fizz promo code (N5MMB)! As things are right now, I won’t have to pay anything until June. That’s very much appreciated!

Reading List

February was another great month to read. I’m not at all a winter sports fan, so I’ll be found more often cuddled in a blanket with a book, rather than out playing in the snow.

At the same time, although I’m outside much more often in the summer, you’d probably still find me with a book in my hands. Once a nerd, always a nerd.

You can see that it would be totally unprofitable for me to buy every book I read! There’s a reason why I love the public library so much. 🙂

So, my reading list for February looked like this:

From this list, I highly recommend the book on Elon Musk. Whether you like him or not, he is undeniably a genius and human beings will benefit from his long-term vision.

I also liked Courage, Vision, Passion after I stole this reading idea from L’investisseur caféiné. I don’t necessarily plan to invest in real estate, but it was still a fascinating read. The focus on the millionaire mindset, the importance of thinking big and controlling our fears were the highlights for me. That goes to show that a success starts in the mind!

My Favourite Season

Of course, with March comes tax season. 😉

Seriously, I can’t wait to get started. I already have my T4 and Relevé 1 in hand, but I won’t have the form for remote work (detailed method) until mid-March. Only then I’ll be able to do my tax return, plus my sister’s and my brother’s. At the very least, I want to send my sister’s tax return as early as possible. She boosted her RRSP and she’d like to avoid paying interest on her loan for too long. 🙂

For my part, despite the fact that I filled out the T1213 form for my employer to withhold less tax in 2020, I still expect a tax refund of about $1,500. Guess what I’m going to do with it?

For future articles on this blog, I’m thinking of writing an article on my worst financial mistake (I’ll let you guess which) and the associated opportunity cost. I’m also planning an article on the emergency fund, or my lack thereof. If you have any specific topics to suggest for a future article, please feel free to let me know in the comments section.

I look forward to hearing from you!

January 2021 Review

Hello!

Already one month behind us! Even though it’s a rather boring time of the year, even without a pandemic, I feel like time went by pretty fast. My blog and Facebook page keep me pretty busy, on top of the overtime I did at work and the time I’ve spent preparing for a job interview!

It just goes to show that the best way to survive this never-ending pandemic is to stay busy. 🙂

So here we are, already starting a new month. Let’s see how my net worth has grown in this past month!

Net Worth as of January 31, 2021

Assets
Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA:
Questrade LIRA:
Questrade RRSP:
FTQ RRSP:
Fondaction RRSP:
Non-registered:
$1,369
$32,176
$43,405
$33,916
$5,752
$13,427
$307
Total assets:$130,352
Liabilities
Car Loan:
Line of Credit:
Tangerine Master Card:
Amex Air Miles:
BMO Air Miles:
Amex Aeroplan:
$8,192
$1,000
$0
$0
$31
$11
Total liabilities:$9,234
Net Worth$121,118
Difference+$3,313

My net worth is now $121,118! That’s a $3,313 increase since December 31, 2020. It had been a good month for the stock market, right up until last week, when everything went haywire. It doesn’t matter much, since I continue following my savings and investment plan and as a result, my investments slowly but surely keep going up. 🙂

As a matter of fact, a reader wrote to me recently and wondered if the monthly portfolio value was the best way to track one’s net worth. She thought that it fluctuates excessively from one month to another, and it could be discouraging during periods of decline.

I have to agree that tracking my net worth so closely involves a lot of fluctuations. However, I am aware that this is part of the game and I have an excellent risk tolerance. Since I already track my net worth in my spreadsheets on a monthly basis, I decided to include it on my blog on the same basis, along with my expense reports.

However, I realize that I will eventually have to compress the data on the graph (due to lack of space) on my net worth page, possibly to three-month intervals. This should smoothen the curve a bit. 😉

Portfolio Changes

I decided to start the year with a few small changes to my portfolio. As I mentioned in previous articles, my main investments are with Questrade, split between a LIRA, an RRSP and a TFSA. In all three accounts, I held only XEQT, an all-in-one ETF by iShares made up of 100% equities, 22% of which are Canadian.

Reducing Home Country Bias

After doing some reading, notably Ed Rempel‘s blog, I decided to reevaluate my home country bias, i.e. being too widely exposed to one’s own country’s stocks. Indeed, Canada represents about 3% of the world economy and is primarily based on resources and banks. Knowing this, how is it good diversification to hold 22% of my portfolio in Canadian stocks?

Especially since I have (unfortunately) about 15% of my portfolio in labour-sponsored funds that invest only in local companies. That means my home country bias is actually quite high. It actually amounts to about 33% of my total portfolio in Canadian equities.

After some thought, I chose ZGQ (graciously brought to my attention by one of this blog’s reader) to reduce my home country bias a bit, in addition to getting a bit more exposure to emerging countries. This ETF actually seeks to replicate the performance of the MSCI All Country World High Quality.

However, I only made the change in my TFSA, where I want to get the maximum return. I still hold XEQT in my LIRA and RRSP. This will gradually reduce my portfolio’s total exposure to Canadian stocks as I continue contributing to my TFSA.

A Healthy Dose of FOMO

Yes, I joined the Bitcoin train (or rocket?). It finally went down after its all-time high in early January. So I took the opportunity to learn a bit more about Bitcoin, then invested a small amount of money. Initially, I decided to do this by buying a few units of the new Bitcoin ETF QBTC. This way, I can take advantage of the possible gains of Bitcoin in my TFSA, which cannot be done by the traditional method.

Afterwards, I continued to read up on Bitcoin and learned about the Montreal application called Shakepay and decided to actually buy Bitcoin this way. In fact, by using a referral link, I was getting $30 by buying $100 worth of cryptography. So why not? An instant return of 30%. 😉

More seriously, I prefer to set myself a limit of 1% of my portfolio with regard to cryptocurrency. I think setting a limit will prevent me from going overboard on this. What’s more, it’s an amount I’m willing to lose. And if I ever make a  sizeable profit, even better! I just don’t intend to speculate, but to buy and hold it like with my other holdings.

Savings

Here are the details of my January savings:

  • January 14: $750 out of $1,710.67 (44% savings)
  • January 28: $1,035 out of $2,005.17 net (52% savings)
  • Total savings: $1,785 in January or 48% savings

Of the $1,785 I saved, I contributed $1,550 to my TFSA and added $235 to Shakepay.

The higher pay is justified by a few extra overtime hours in January.

Also, starting at the end of February, I’ll start getting bigger pays because I got a promotion! Before the holidays, I had applied to a higher-level position within another team. I didn’t necessarily have a lot of hope to get a call, as I didn’t know anyone on that team. You know it: it’s better to know someone than to know something. Luckily, I got the call and a few days after the interview, I was offered the job. 🙂

So, I will go from a base annual salary of $71,180 to $76,600, which is a 7.6% increase. There will also be a yearly increase in April, which should be around 3%, which would bring my salary to $78,898.

I’m not just talking about increasing income. Trying to walk the talk!

Finally, my $25,000 savings goal for 2021 will be slightly easier to achieve than I thought. You know me well enough to know I plan to save 100% of my raise. 🙂

Expense Report

DateAmountDescription
2021-01-01$120.00American Express Annual Fees
2021-01-01$6.79Starbucks
2021-01-02$7.15Spotify
2021-01-02$10.00Donation
2021-01-02$18.39Mondou
2021-01-02$13.41Gas
2021-01-03$96.42Groceries
2021-01-04$497.50Rent
2021-01-04$403.85Car Payment
2021-01-05$14.39Home Insurance
2021-01-05$48.04Car Insurance
2021-01-07$14.23Subway
2021-01-07$12.50SAQ
2021-01-09$7.70Netflix
2021-01-09$3.40Starbucks
2021-01-13$29.50Hydro-Québec
2021-01-13$71.95Home Insurance
2021-01-15$403.85Car Payment
2021-01-17$3.40Starbucks
2021-01-17$101.00Groceries
2021-01-21$25.21Pharmacy
2021-01-23$3.40Starbucks
2021-01-25$11.09Pharmacy
2021-01-28$20.82Gas
2021-01-28$15.29Groceries
2021-01-28$2.70Starbucks
2021-01-29$403.85Car Payment
2021-01-30$27.60Home Internet
2021-01-31$3.40Starbucks
Total:$2,396.83

In January, I had $2,396.83 in total expenses, or $28,761.96 annualized. Excluding my car loan payments, it comes down to $1,185.28 or $14,223.36 annualized. The big difference between the two is explained by three car payments I had this month, instead of the usual two.

Otherwise, one month look like the next! I should be ashamed: $23.09 in Starbucks coffee. Just think about it! That’s $277.08 a year! It would take $6,927 invested to generate enough passive income to pay for this bad habit! I just can’t wait to do anything other than car rides. 😉

Also, there are some transactions related to travel hacking, such as the $120 annual fee on my Prestige Aeroplan American Express. I also paid my home insurance policy balance in full to help me reach the required spending on my BMO AIR MILES Mastercard to unlock the 850 bonus miles. Once again, I didn’t spend more to earn points, I spent money I was going to spend in the future. 🙂

It’s ironic, really. My biggest challenge with Travel Hacking right now is to find a way to reach the spending thresholds necessary to unlock my bonuses. Luckily, Milesopedia gives good tips on how to do this.

Reading List

My Facebook page followers may have noticed: I am an avid reader. I often read several books in parallel, in addition to the occasional audiobook. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll reach Warren Buffett’s level:

Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.

In addition to reading, I also like to share about the latest books I’ve read and know what others are reading. In that vein, I thought adding this section to my monthly reviews could be interesting to my readers. 🙂

So, my January reading list looked like this:

I have to admit it: I’m a Self-Help junkie. I still try to balance a bit between fiction and non-fiction. By the way, don’t be surprised to see a Star Trek novel in it from time to time.

Of this list, the one I recommend the most is definitely The Psychology of Money. For me, it was a perfect mix of two subjects I love.  Also, anyone who is struggling to make lasting changes in their lives would also benefit from reading The Power of Discipline.

February Is Going to Fly By!

February only has 28 days, after all.

Next Monday’s article will focus on job interviews and how to prepare for it, especially when you’re an introvert like me. The following week, I’m going to take a little break. I’ll start working on my new position then, and I want to be able to focus mostly on that. 🙂

So I’ll still have two weeks to put together an article on my withdrawal strategy once I’ve reached FIRE. Many of you are asking me to do an article on this, so I’ll try not to disappoint.

I will also have access to my T4 & RL-1 on February 16. This nerd will be very happy to get started on doing tax returns ! In addition to mine, I always do my sister’s and brother’s tax returns. 🙂

I’m especially looking forward to doing my sister’s tax return to apply the method to boost her RRSP contributions as perfectly as possible before March 1st.

As a matter of fact, do you have any suggestions for a good software to do multiple tax returns? I’ve been using UFile since 2014 without looking too closely at what others offer. I’m open to suggestions!

See you next time!

 

December 2020 Review

Hello there!

Finally, a new year has begun!

To all my readers, I wish you a very happy new year, full of wealth and prosperity, of course, but also happiness and, above all, good health. I hope that we’ll have as much fun learning and supporting each other on the road to financial independence.

Also, I hope that this ugly pandemic will fade away and that we’ll find a semblance of normalcy in our respective lives. And I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t say no to a trip or two. 😉

Before completely turning the page, I want to do my usual monthly review of December 2020. In fact, these monthly reviews have helped track exactly where my money is going and assess how realistic my FIRE goals are.

I’ll keep doing those very enlightening reviews in the new year, as previously mentioned in my 2021 Goals article.

So without further ado, let’s get down to the juicy details.

Net Worth as of December 31, 2020

Assets
Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA
Questrade LIRA
Questrade RRSP
FTQ RRSP
Fondaction RRSP
$1,624
$29,608
$43,118
$33,679
$5,752
$13,427
Total assets:$127,208
Liabilities
Car Loan:
Line of Credit:
CIBC Aeroplan:
Tangerine Master Card:
Amex Air Miles:
BMO Air Miles:
Amex Aeroplan:
$9,403
$0
$0
$0
$0
$0
$0
Total liabilities:$9,403
Net Worth$117,805
Difference+$7,692

Full disclosure: I never dared hope to reach such a high net worth at the end of the year. I’m so grateful that I have been able to save so much throughout the year, in good times and bad. By following my automatic and regular savings plan (every two weeks on payday), I have been able to get exposure to different market prices throughout the year. This is what we call taking advantage of dollar-cost averaging.

I must admit I also made an effort to invest a little more than normal whenever the markets were down, too. 🙂

It wasn’t that long ago that I was hoping to end the year with $100,000 in net worth. I certainly wasn’t expecting to end with $117,805, which is 17.8% more than expected. Needless to say, I am extremely pleased with such results after a year like we had. I’d never have expected that back in March! So, there is something positive to come out of 2020. 🙂

I am ready to tackle a new month and a new year with those very motivating numbers!

Debt repayment

Finally, I also reached a new milestone on the debt front. My car loan went below $10,000! I can’t wait to see it disappear forever from my calculations.

In fact, some may wonder why I don’t pay off the balance in full and get rid of it once and for all. After all, I do have the money in my TFSA.

Ultimately, it’s a question of opportunity cost. If I take almost $10,000 out of my TFSA to pay off my balance, I’m turning my back on the return I could have earned on that investment. Of course, the return I could earn is hypothetical and cannot be predicted or guaranteed. However, I believe there is a good chance that the return will be higher than the interest rate on my car loan.

Believe it or not, the interest rate on my loan is 0.04%.

See the dilemma, here?

So while being debt-free is very appealing, I can’t possibly give up on the return I’d get on my TFSA to pay down a debt that costs me next to nothing in interest.

Nevertheless, I believe I made a compromise between the emotional side (being debt-free) and the rational side (getting a return on my TFSA) by increasing my regular payments to the maximum. I reduced the amortization by more than two years. The maturity date will be November 2021 instead of December 2023.

Additionally, I don’t rule out the possibility of making additional payments throughout the year. For example, I expect a tax refund in the spring, as well as a hypothetical bonus at work. If I use these to repay my loan, I’ll reduce the amortization even further.

However, selling investments to pay off my debt is the last thing I want to do.

Savings

Here are the details of my December savings:

  • December 3: $1,200 out of $2,148.84 net (56% savings)
  • December 17: $1,000 out of $1,892.52 (53% savings)
  • December 31: $1,000 out of $1,897.52 net (53% savings)
  • Total savings: $3,200 in December or 54% savings

Of the $3,200 I saved, I invested all of it in my TFSA. That leaves me with about $44,000 of unused contributions, in addition to the new $6,000 contribution limit for 2021.

I still managed to save a large portion of every pay, considering (yes, again) this never-ending lockdown and the low expenses associated with it. The fact that I was paid three times instead of two in December and that I did some overtime also helps a lot. I had 27 pays in 2020, instead of 26. Apparently, it happens once every 11 years!

Expense Report

DateAmountDescription
2020-12-01$497.50Rent
2020-12-01$99.84Groceries
2020-12-01$19.72Gas
2020-12-01$18.63SAQ
2020-12-02$7.15Spotify
2020-12-02$10.00Donation
2020-12-04$403.85Car Payment
2020-12-04$27.36Yarn
2020-12-05$6.79Starbucks
2020-12-07$14.39Home Insurance
2020-12-07$48.04Car Insurance
2020-12-09$7.70Netflix
2020-12-09$29.50Hydro-Québec
2020-12-12$4.37Dollarama
2020-12-14$109.33Groceries
2020-12-14$13.90Gas
2020-12-18$403,85Car Payment
2020-12-19$6.79Starbucks
2020-12-21$230.43Registration
2020-12-23$206.55Airbnb
2020-12-23$6.93Groceries
2020-12-25$3.40Starbucks
2020-12-29$27.60Home Internet
Total:$2,203.62

In December, I had $2,203.62 in total expenses, or $26,443.38 annualized. If we take out the car loan payments, it amounts to $1,395.92, or $16,750.98 annualized. I consider this very reasonable.

There is little difference from the past months again. There aren’t many opportunities to go splurge, after all! I spent the holidays with only my sister at our place, out of concern for the sanitary measures. For Christmas, we had already planned not to give each other presents. In fact, we both consider that we don’t need anything, and we really didn’t want to buy a useless thing just for the sake of it. Actually, we much prefer to offer each other experiences (tickets for shows, activities, travel) and these are rather limited nowadays. That was definitely the least expensive holiday season I’ve ever had! 🙂

My slightly more outlandish expenses are generally related to keeping me sane during the lockdown. So you’ll notice a few Starbucks coffee here and there, again, and even a visit to SAQ. I also used my travel account to book a small cottage for a few nights in January with my sister. After the last few months, we feel like seeing something other than our 2-bedroom apartment (and our noisy neighbours).

Finally, I still don’t have any charges on my cell phone plan this month. By the way, a huge thank you to those (two) who used my Fizz code (N5MMB) so far! I’m not going to say no to $50 applicable on my cellphone bill. That’s a great way to reduce both our expenses. 🙂

Here’s to 2021!

That’s it, that was my December monthly review. All in all, an unusually uneventful month, but also very beneficial for my savings goals. I’m sure we’ll get to celebrate with family and friends soon.

My next article will officially be the last one regarding 2020, as I will make a full review of the whole year, regarding various financial aspects. As you know, I love numbers and statistics, and I will have plenty to give you.

So, did you start tracking your expenses like I do, after reading my monthly reviews? Were you surprised to see where your money is really going? Have you noticed that simply tracking every expense makes you spend more consciously?

For me, it’s been more than beneficial! I hope it is for you as well, or that you will try it out soon. 🙂

See you next week!

November 2020 Review

Hello there!

It’s already time to do the November monthly review! It’s fascinating how relative the perception of time is, especially this year. On one hand, I can’t believe that the year is nearly over. On the other, I have the impression that this pandemic is never ending and that each day of lockdown goes by at an indescribably slow pace.

But we’re not here to talk about that. It’s time for numbers! Nice numbers, by the way. 🙂

Net Worth as of November 30, 2020

Assets:

Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA
Questrade LIRA
Questrade RRSP
FTQ RRSP
Fondaction RRSP

Total assets:


$1,237
$25,950
$42,414
$33,063
$5,182
$12,015

$120,448
Liabilities:

Car Loan:
Line of Credit:
CIBC VISA:
Tangerine Master Card:
Amex:

Total liabilities:


$10,210
$0
$0
$0
$125

$10,335
Net Worth$110,113
Difference+ $11,697

Remember that $100K I didn’t quite officially reach at the end of October? Well, here it is, and then some! After two rather slow months in September and October, the stock markets went wild for most of November. This is partly due to a nice mix of good news about promising vaccines and a presidential election that seems to be making Wall Street happy!

Thus, between October 31 and November 30, there was a variation of + $11,697! Unbelievable, isn’t it? That’s 11. 8% in a single month! If every month was like that, it would be too easy, wouldn’t it? 🙂

Also, I realized by doing this review that I doubled my net worth in the last twelve months. Indeed, my net worth as of November 30, 2019, was $53,184. While I know I saved and invested a lot in the past year, I never expected such an impressive result! I am more than grateful for that. 🙂

Savings

Here are the details of my November savings:

  • November 5: $1,000 out of $1,892.51 net (52% savings)
  • November 10: $100 out of $110.82 (90% savings)
  • November 19: $1,000 out of $1,892.52 net (52% savings)
  • Total savings: $2,100 in November or 54% savings

November was another great month for savings. Lockdown keeps making it even easier to lower expenses, which has a direct impact on my savings rate. We can say whatever we want, but this pandemic has really boosted my savings. That is considering I was lucky enough to have no loss of income whatsoever throughout the year. It will allow me, in the long run, to reach my goal considerably faster!

The small amount I got on November 10th came from a small translation contract that sort of fell on my lap. While I don’t usually do this professionally, I do have a bachelor’s degree in translation. I couldn’t say no! 😉

Out of the $2,100 I saved, I invested $1,900 in my TFSA and $200 was added to my travel account.

As a matter of fact, some may be surprised to know I’m saving to travel while on the path to FI. It’s certainly quite expensive to travel after all. However, I absolutely want to do it. I love it, it makes me happy and it ironically helps me stay on track with my goals as well. Since I want to travel once I reach financial independence, I have to practise. Right? 😉

Expense Report

DateAmountDescription
2020-11-02$497.50Rent
2020-11-02$7.15Spotify
2020-11-02$10.00Donation
2020-11-04$96.22Groceries
2020-11-04$16.10Mondou
2020-11-06$403.85Car Payment
2020-11-08$14.39Home Insurance
2020-11-08$48.04Car Insurance
2020-11-09$2.78Amazon
2020-11-09$7.70Netflix
2020-11-11$31.46Fiverr
2020-11-14$1.09Amazon
2020-11-15$5.41Starbucks
2020-11-19$95.24Groceries
2020-11-20$403.85Car Payment
2020-11-21$27.36Yarn
2020-11-22$5.40Starbucks
2020-11-23$30.78Google Drive
2020-11-23$120.00American Express Annual Fees
2020-11-23$29.50Hydro-Québec
2020-11-28$468.99Air Canada
2020-11-29$27.60Fizz Home Internet
2020-11-30$55.94Mondou
Total$2,406.35

So in November, we are talking about $2,406.35 in total expenses, or $28,876.20 annualized.

That’s a large amount, even pretty far from what I’m aiming for, but it’s exceptional. I wanted to take advantage of Air Canada’s Black Friday offers! While it may seem like a big expense, the money was actually coming out of my travel account and would have been used for that at some point or another. I just decided to spend that amount in advance, in order to earn more Aeroplan points.

Otherwise, there is not much difference compared to previous months, outside fixed expenses. There are a few Starbucks coffee here and there, more out of a need to keep me sane and get out of my apartment, than anything else.  You gotta do what you gotta do to survive this lockdown (or to avoid noisy neighbours). 🙂

Also, I had no cell phone expenses this month, thanks to Fizz‘s referral bonuses. I had gotten $40 by subscribing with someone’s code and then $40 when my sister subscribed with my code. Since I took the $27/month plan, that’s three months covered. 🙂

If you are interested in subscribing, please enter my referral code N5MMB and we will both get $50. That’s right, they raised the bonus! This is valid for mobile plans as well as Home Internet plans.

Little Travel Hacking Lesson

Let me share my strategy when taking advantage of Air Canada’s Black Friday offers. The golden rule of Travel Hacking is not to spend more than normal to get points, otherwise it’s counterproductive. In my case, I was already accumulating money in my travel account for eventual plane ticket fees or other.

Air Canada had several Black Friday offers. The more offers you combined, the more points you got:

  • 2 offers = 500 bonus points
  • 3 offers = 1,000 bonus points
  • 4 offers = 5,000 bonus points

So I took advantage of a first offer by purchasing a gift card:

  • By buying an Air Canada gift card, I could accumulate 2 points per dollar spent.
  • By purchasing the gift card with my CIBC Visa Infinite Aeroplan credit card, I could accumulate 1.5 points per dollar spent.

I purchased a $400 gift card, and I was able to earn 1,400 Aeroplan points for this first offer.

Then I took advantage of a second offer by buying points:

  • The promotion offered a 50% bonus on the points purchased. The minimum possible was $60 for 2000 points + 1000 bonus points.
  • By purchasing the points again with my CIBC Aeroplan credit card, I could accumulate 1.5 points per dollar spent.

I paid the minimum possible of $60 to get 3,090 Aeroplan points.

Finally, I took advantage of a third offer by buying a product from a partner via the Aeroplan eBoutique :

  • Purchases at Amazon gave 2 points for every dollar spent.

I was already planning on buying running shoes in the near future. I actually had enough Amazon gift cards accumulated (thanks Swagbucks!) to get them for free. The shoes cost about $50, so that’s 100 Aeroplan points.

Since I used three offers, I get the 1,000 bonus points.

Result: 5,590 Aeroplan points.

The awesome part is that I get all those points for expenses I had already planned. It’s all a matter of timing.

Is Paying Annual Fees an Investment?

Additionally, you may have noticed in my expense report the $120 annual fee for my American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card. Does it seem counterproductive to you to pay an annual fee?

The idea behind it is that I only signed up for this card to get the 3,000 Air Miles bonus, which can be worth up to about $600, if you play your cards right. I plan on cancelling the card before I am charged the annual fee again next year. So despite the annual fee, I’ll have made a profit. 🙂

I’m still a Travel Hacking beginner, but I’m already starting to accumulate nice amounts of points and miles. In a possible future where travelling will be more accessible, I’ll be more ready than ever to go at very low cost. 🙂

For those interested in the various Travel Hacking strategies, check out Milesopedia. It’s a real gold mine!

2020 is almost over!

I can’t wait to see what the stock markets have in store for us before the end of the year. Everything that goes up inevitably ends up going down, so who knows. One thing’s for sure, the markets have fully recovered from last March’s historic crash, and then some.

As far as I’m concerned, I think my income will be pretty good in December. In addition to being paid three times instead of two in December, I will also receive paid overtime. As for expenses, there is very little risk of splurging, except perhaps for food and drinks. My family and I had already agreed that we wouldn’t give each other Christmas presents, so no worries about that.

I’m already looking forward to my next monthly review. 🙂

See you next time!

October 2020 Review

Hello!

I’m still in the process of writing my next post about the importance of investing our savings, and how to go about it. There is a lot to talk about and I had underestimated the task a bit! In order to deliver quality content, let me take a little break from our programming. It’s a good thing, we’re ready for the October monthly review!

Net Worth as of October 31, 2020

Assets:

Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA
Questrade LIRA
Questrade RRSP
FTQ RRSP
Fondaction RRSP

Total assets:


$1,625.62
$21,760.97
$38,907.15
$29,979.45
$5,182.00
$12,090.86

$109,546.05
Liabilities:

Car Loan:
Line of Credit:
CIBC VISA:
Tangerine Master Card:

Total liabilities:


$11,017.66
$0.00
$111.74
$0.00

$11,129.40
Net Worth$98,416.65
Difference+ $622.00

 

October started strong, but ended in a disaster. 🙂 After a slow September, October had initially regained its footing… until its last week. Stock markets sustained their worst week since March! It was to be expected, with the second wave of the pandemic in full swing in Canada and creeping up on the U.S., not to mention next week’s U.S. presidential election. A nice little mix that should make waves in the stock markets!

Despite all these ups and downs, we’re staying the course! We continue to invest on a regular basis. At the end of the day, if you can unlock funds to invest more, even better! We like sales, especially on the stock market. 🙂

Thus, despite putting $800 towards debt repayment, investing $1,600 and saving $500, my net worth increased only by $622. On the other hand, if you look only at my investments, I’m down $595. It’s a case of drawing back in order to leap better.

Also, I am happy to report that my net worth actually reached the $100,000 milestone on October 7, while the markets were in full force! I knew it wasn’t going to last, but I enjoyed the moment. It’s important to appreciate the milestones. Especially since I read plenty of times that the hardest part of the journey is to reach the first $100,000. 🙂

Savings

Here are the details of my October savings, per pay:

  • October 8: $1,100 out of $1,892.51 net (58% savings)
  • October 22: $1,000 out of $1,892.52 net (53% savings)
  • Total savings: $2,100 

This is an excellent savings rate in October with 54%, which is 9% more than in September. This is mostly attributable to living in a red zone in Québec. I couldn’t do much of anything costly during the whole month anyway. There’s an upside to being in lockdown, I guess! In addition, my income slightly increased compared to September, since I have reached the maximum QPP contribution.

Out of that $2,100, I invested $1,600 and set aside $500 in the hope of a future trip.

Before all hell broke loose last March, I had planned a two-week trip in Hawaii for April. After my plans fell through, I invested all my savings while the market was down. I (naively, perhaps) hope that I will be able to go in April 2021. So I have to rebuild my travel fund. 🙂

However, if the markets keep going down until the end of the year, I may sacrifice my travel fund again in order to buy more ETF on sale. Only time will tell!

Expense Report

DateAmountDescription
2020-10-01$ 497.50Rent
2020-10-02$ 7.15Spotify
2020-10-03$ 10.00Donation
2020-10-04$ 35.69Hosting
2020-10-05$ 14.39Home Insurance
2020-10-05$ 48.04Car Insurance
2020-10-08$ 106.97Groceries
2020-10-09$ 7.70Netflix
2020-10-09$ 403.85Car Payment
2020-10-19$ 15.23Logo
2020-10-21$ 99.01Groceries
2020-10-22$ 11.50Bike Shop
2020-10-22$ 31.57Cellphone
2020-10-23$ 44.93Gas
2020-10-23$ 403.85Car Payment
2020-10-23$ 29.50Hydro-Québec
2020-10-26$ 54.73Tire Change
2020-10-29$ 28.17Home Internet
Total$ 1 849.78

 

As I mentioned earlier, I had very little expenses this month mostly because of the second wave of COVID-19. So with $1,849.78 in total expenses for October, that translates to annualized expenses of $22,197.36. More than acceptable for me, considering that $10,500 of it is meant for my car loan repayment. Can’t wait for it all to be repaid!

That’s it for my October Review. I can’t wait to see what the stock markets have in store for us before the end of the year! It’s nice to have a high risk tolerance. I am always optimistic, regardless of the state of the markets. Bull market? Great, I’m getting wealthier! Bear market? Great, I get to buy at a discount!

There’s a positive side to everything. It just takes a positive mind to see it.

See you!

September 2020 Review

Hello!

Here is my first monthly review. A promise is a promise: you will already have access to my numbers, including my net worth, my savings, my income and my expenses for September 2020. By publishing my monthly review, I will be able to track my progress and give a concrete example of what a month can look like in my pursuit of financial independence. I don’t pretend to have THE best method. On the other hand, if I can bring other people to reflect on their own financial situation, it will be a start.

I will not go into the smallest detail of the previous months, but, for FYI, here is my net worth at the end of each month of 2020:

Month Net Worth Difference
January 2020 $58,798 $3,354
February 2020 $61,111 $2,313
March 2020 $66,795 $5,684
April 2020 $76,419 $9,624
May 2020 $80,802 $4,383
June 2020 $84,824 $4,022
July 2020 $90,635 $5,811
August 2020 $97,378 $6,743

We quickly notice that despite the stock market crash of March 2020 because of COVID-19, my Net Worth has the wind in its sails! This can be explained particularly by a significant decrease in my spending, massive investing, a stable income despite precarious times and the stock market bouncing back.

Now, here’s the breakdown of my Net Worth as of September 30, 2020:

Assets:
Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA
Questrade LIRA
Questrade RRSP
FTQ RRSP
Fondaction RRSP

Total assets:

$1,250.31
$20 744.70
$39,764.49
$30,733.07
$5,182.00
$12,090.86

$109,765.43
Liabilities:
Car Loan:
Line of Credit:
CIBC VISA:
Tangerine Master Card:

Total liabilities:

$11,825.00
$0.00
$57.49
$88.35

$11,970.84
Net Worth $97,794.59
Difference $417.53

I want to specify that I will not include my car’s value as an asset for my Net Worth calculation. Like Robert T. Kiyosaki explains in Rich Dad Poor Dad: “An asset puts money in your pocket.” My car, although of some value, will never be a source of passive income and will never, in and of itself, add money in my pockts. Adding it to my Net Worth would be an illusion. 🙂

So, we notice that September was less generous than the previous months. Indeed, there has been a decline in the stock market. Actually, I theoretically lost money this month! Let’s compare the difference in my Net Worth between August and September with my savings:

Sept 10, 2020 Paycheck: $800 out of $1722.04 after-tax (46% savings)
Sept 24, 2020 Paycheck: $800 out of $1854.61 after-tax (43% savings)
Total savings: $1,600 for September

In addition, my Net Worth also directly benefits from repaying my only large debt that is my car loan. Car I had bought new… I had clearly not yet read Do you really need it? by Pierre-Yves McSween at the time. 😉 Payments on my car loan for September 2020 totalled $753.85.

Thus, without market fluctuations, my net worth should, theoretically, have increased by $2,353.85, while it actually increased by $416.53 only. The positive side of it? Staying the course on my regular scheduled investments, despite the slight decline in the market, and taking advantage of investing at a discount. 🙂

I would also like to share my expenses for the month. That way, knowing that I give you this kind of information at the end of each month, I might think twice before making frivolous expenses! So here’s the breakdown:

Date Amount Description
2020-09-01 $497.50 Rent
2020-09-01 $4.03 McDonald’s
2020-09-01 $98.80 Oil Change
2020-09-02 $7.15 Spotify
2020-09-02 $68.99 Groceries
2020-09-03 $10.00 Donation
2020-09-08 $14.39 Home Insurance
2020-09-08 $48.04 Car Insurance
2020-09-08 $545.46 Brake repairs
2020-09-08 $10.01 Gas
2020-09-09 $7.70 Netflix
2020-09-09 $97.93 Groceries
2020-09-11 $35.04 Home Internet (Videotron)
2020-09-11 $350.00 Car Payment
2020-09-13 $13.66 Michael’s
2020-09-15 $19.41 Cellphone (last month with Fido)
2020-09-17 $58.63 Mondou
2020-09-17 $11.50 Decathlon
2020-09-19 $63.24 Home Internet at my mom’s
2020-09-21 $8.00 Gift for a colleague
2020-09-22 $11.50 Fizz SIM card
2020-09-23 $29.50 Hydro‑Québec
2020-09-23 $31.57 Cellphone (1st month at Fizz)
2020-09-23 $37.50 Groceries
2020-09-25 $403.85 Car Payment
2020-09-28 $28.75 Home Internet (1st month at Fizz)
2020-09-29 $14.30 Amazon
Total $2,526,45  

We notice from my expenses that most are related to my car. Fortunately, this is not a typical month. It’s not like I need my brakes repaired every month! Still, it’s striking that 57% of my September expenses are related to my car. Fortunately, my sister offered to pay for gas! If I spent that much each month, we would be talking about annual expenses of $30,317.40.

In comparison, my expenses for August were $1,714.62, which is much more reasonable and on target. That amount means annual expenses in the amount of $20,575.44.

You probably noticed that my car payments have increased along the way. Indeed, I decided to repay that debt faster. $403.85 is actually the maximum amount that my bank allows me to repay every two weeks. This is double the original payment I was making when I took out the loan. The deadline was originally scheduled for December 2023. With the maximum payments, we are now talking about November 2021. Yippee!

The thing to consider here is that once my car loan is fully repaid, it means that my annual expenses will decrease by $10,500! I will go into more detail in a future post about my current level of spending and my projections on my future level of spending and how this will bring me drastically closer to my goal of financial independence!

So that was my first monthly review. It remains to be seen if the idea of making these reviews every month on this blog will help me stay on track! How about you? How did your personal finances go in September? Have you made any progress towards your goals? Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment!

Above all, don’t forget: Save Long and Prosper. 😉