Category: Saving

August 2021 Review


I hope you had a beautiful (and certainly warm) August! For my part, I sur did. I enjoyed the nice weather and had a great time with friends and family. What more could you ask for? Oh, and I blew out my thirtieth candle, and I’m doing great. After all, I’ve heard that the best is yet to come. 🙂

Also, it was a month full of changes on the financial side. I couldn’t wait to share the details with you! Basically, the changes are due to buying my mother’s house, as I had already mentioned in my last article. Although the purchase is not expected to be finalized until October, the process is underway and it has allowed me to get some things sorted out.

So, let’s see those changes!

Net Worth as of August 31, 2021

Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA:
Questrade LIRA:
Questrade RRSP:
Fondaction RRSP:
Total assets:$165,319
Line of credit:
Credit cards:
Total liabilities:-$1,199
Net Worth$166,518

First of all, I can’t pass up the absolutely mind-blowing returns of the last month. It seems to me that almost every day ended in the green. Considering this, we can’t help wondering when the next correction will be, right? But in the meantime, let’s appreciate the good results and not try to time the market!

The same can be said for crypto which continues its recovery. After spending about 2 months in the red on all my positions, I am starting to see substantial profit again!

Thus, my net worth increased by a whopping $10,198. Wow! A 5-digit increase, now we’re talking. 😉


Indeed, there are a few changes here and there on the asset front.

Indeed, I no longer have worker funds RRSPs (FTQ and Fondaction). Why is that? Because I used them for the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP). Since worker funds are very inflexible RRSPs for a FIRE goal, I thought that this was the best use I could make of it.

So, with the withdrawal of these RRSPs (totalling about $21,000), I was able to invest the majority of it in my TFSA. Yes, there is no obligation to use the entire HBP for a house down payment. This brings about a good change in the proportion of my TFSA in my total portfolio. See here the evolution of my different accounts over time:

Just last month, my TFSA represented 30% of my portfolio. Now it’s 40%. I love it!

Now I have about $14,000 left to receive from Questrade to use the HBP to its maximum of $35,000. Of that, I’ll take the minimum required for the down payment and closing costs for the house, and then the rest will also go into my TFSA.

In the end, I should have just under $9,000 left to contribute before my TFSA is maxed out. That shouldn’t take too long! Without the HBP, I had estimated that I would not have maxed it out before 2023! Hooray!


There are also some changes on the liability front. Yes, I gave in to temptation when I received the funds from my RRSPs for the HBP. I ended up paying off my car and my vision correction surgery! Good riddance!

Otherwise, I have a lot of credit on my credit cards due to the recent cancellation of my Hawaii trip. The current surge in Covid cases there forced my hand a bit. However, there are several other destinations where cases are better under control and sanitary measures are less severe. Stay tuned for the new destination!

In the end, my 5-digit net worth increase was actually a bit inflated by all these recent refunds. Still, it looks very nice. 😉


Here are the details of my August savings:

  • August 11: $575 out of $1,836.98 net
  • August 25: $1,200 out of $1,836.99 net
  • Total savings: $1,775 out of $3,673.97 in August or a 48% savings rate

Of the $1,775I saved, I contributed $1,400 to my TFSA and bought $375 worth of cryptocurrency outside a registered account.

Since I paid off my car entirely on August 17, there is a world of difference on my savings rate between the two pays I received this month. It averages out to 48% for the month, but I can expect to average 65% or more for the next few months!

Also, although I will have a mortgage to pay probably starting in November, but the payments should entirely be absorbed by my October pay raise. 🙂

In short, it’s looking good for the end of the year!

Expense Report

2021-08-05$44.90Car Insurance
2021-08-05$15.69Home Insurance
2021-08-13$403.85Car Payment
2021-08-17$2,539.08Car Payment
2021-08-25$7.48Hydro Québec
2021-08-28$68.99Costco Membership
2021-08-29$26.45Home Internet

In July, I spent $4,275.43, which is $51,305.10 annualized. If we take out my car loan payments, it comes down to $1,332.50, which is $15,989.94 annualized.

Just like that, it sure looks like a big month, considering my total car loan balance payment. However, without that, it was a pretty frugal month (even for me!). So even though it’s summer and the weather is nice, my activities are still pretty cheap. It costs almost nothing, after all, to enjoy the outdoors by hiking, biking, or visiting or entertaining friends. On the (rare) rainy days, we can always watch Star Trek on Netflix. 😉

Actually, there was originally more spending than that, but the cancellation of my trip changed that. It’s only a postponement in September, really!

Reading List

August was a month of slightly lighter reading. I allowed myself a little fiction and mindset refresh.

Here is my August reading list:

I decided to read Un pas à la fois after seeing a lecture by Sebastien Sasseville organized by my employer. I found him truly inspiring and his book did not disappoint. His adventures and exploits make us think about how much we can accomplish ourselves and we can learn a lot of lessons that can be applied to different areas of life. In short, I recommend. 🙂

I also allowed myself a little rereading of La retraite à 40 ans. Although the material has been well assimilated over time, it’s still excellent for staying motivated.

The next reread will probably be Liberté 45!


So that’s it for the month of August. We already have more months done than we have left in 2021. It’s amazing how fast time flies. However, now that I’m on vacation for three weeks, I wouldn’t mind if time slowed down a bit. Pretty please! 😉

In addition to my plan B for travel, I’m going to use my vacation time to practice being free. I’m so used to running one way, then the other, making lists and chasing the clock. It will be important to try to deprogram all of that for the next three weeks. I think I’m going to like it 😉

What about you, how does September look like for you? Back to the daily grind, or like me, you have a late vacation?

Either way, I wish you good weather and a great September, folks!

July 2021 Review

Another month, another review!

How is your summer going? I hope you are enjoying it as much as you want. Personally, since my vacation is only in September, I’d sure love to take a little more time off to enjoy the summer. No big deal, I’ll make it up in Hawaii. 🙂

Nevertheless, I still find time to hike, bike and even meet a few of this blog’s followers! It was nice to discuss personal finance with other people who don’t think I’m some sort of alien. I think the feeling was mutual. Let’s do it again!

My second dose of the vaccine, originally scheduled for September, is now a thing of the past. I’m very happy about it, and I can bow spend some quality time with friends, family and new acquaintances completely guilt-free.

Finally, I had a little scare one evening… A “critical error” made my blog inaccessible! I went to great lengths to try to solve the problem. In the end, I had to restore to an earlier date and lose a few things, but it was better than losing everything! Let’s just say that I had a few cold sweats that night. After all, I did invest a lot of time and energy in this blog. I’m glad it’s back on its feet, so I can once again present you a nice monthly review!

Net Worth as of July 31, 2021

Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA:
Questrade LIRA:
Questrade RRSP:
Fondaction RRSP:
Total assets:$160,823
Car loan:
Line of credit:
Credit cards:
Total liabilities:$4,503
Net Worth$156,320

Slow and steady wins the race, as they say. 🙂

It was another great month on the stock markets. However, it sometimes feels like we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop. It sure can’t stay in the green forever! But no matter the colour, I keep dollar-cost averaging every two weeks.

I have found that my net worth has increased by an average of over $5,000 per month since the beginning of the year. Considering my average savings of just over $2,000 and my debt repayments of about $800 per month, that leaves room for a substantial return. At this rate, I’ll have a very nice number at the end of the year.

In addition, you may have noticed that crypto is starting to pick up again. It’s comforting to see my purchases of the last few months bear fruit. Even if, ultimately, only the long term really matters. 🙂


Here are the details of my July savings:

  • July 14: $400 out of $1,835.89 net
  • July 28: $600 out of $1,836.99 net
  • Total savings: $1,000 out of $ in July or a 27% savings rate

Of the $1,000 I saved, I contributed $700 to my TFSA and bought $300 worth of cryptocurrency outside a registered account.

My savings rate is still pretty low this month and it’s likely to stay that way until November. It must be said that my debt repayments still take up 35% of my disposable income. Starting in November, my savings rate should explode. 🙂

It’s amazing how saving becomes an almost addictive habit. I have to talk myself into not feeling too bad about not saving more. Since I’m aiming for an average of 50%, I feel far from the goal! But I have to remind myself that 27% is still a very good savings rate! I can be very demanding of myself. Do you sometimes feel that way?

Expense Report

2021-07-01$257.94Rental Car
2021-07-02$403.85Car Payment
2021-07-05$45.00Car Insurance
2021-07-05$15.69Home Insurance
2021-07-16$403.85Car Payment
2021-07-22$87.94Driver's license
2021-07-29$27.02Home Internet
2021-07-30$403.85Car Payment

In July, I spent $2,677.24, which is $32,126.88 annualized. If we take out my car loan payments, it comes down to $1,842.52, which is $22,110.24 annualized.

It’s a bit better this month compared to June! I still had one other travel expense to make, which was booking a rental car. Fortunately, it’s not too expensive, having paid half of the bill with my Aeroplan points and having divided the rest with my sister. Of course, the points help a lot. However, even without the points, I found that renting a car through Aeroplan (as a member) was much cheaper than through other typical sites such as Expedia, Kayak, and so on. By much cheaper, I mean easily half the price. For those who are shopping for a rental car and are an Aeroplan member, go check it out!

Otherwise, as activities are starting to pick up, I bought myself a ticket for the first NSPW wrestling gala since the pandemic. I’ve missed it so much, so that’s going to be a lot of fun! Yes, another unconventional passion, in addition to Star Trek. Are there any other fans in the room? See you there?

Otherwise, there’s nothing particularly out of the ordinary in my spending. My life’s simple pleasures keep me satisfied on a daily basis, rain or shine. 🙂

Also, July 2021 concludes my first full 12 months of expense tracking! While every personal finance book I’ve read since 2017 encourages tracking expenses, I didn’t start until August 2020. I’m glad I did the exercise, which allows me to draw some interesting conclusions and see trends. This will be the topic of a future post, by the way. I’ll let you guess how much I spent in restaurants in the last 12 months. Starbucks included. 😉

Of course, I won’t stop tracking my expenses there, since my FI goal is closely linked to them. In fact, I expect a lot of changes in the next few years, both from an inflationary point of view, as from a personal choices point of view. So I want to continue to follow everything closely and adjust my goal accordingly.

That goes without saying that tracking each expense also allows me to think them through and make sure they’re really necessary. That’s a great way to avoid mindless spending!

Reading List

My reading list was much more finance-oriented this month! It was particularly interesting.

Here is my reading list for July :

I definitely fell in love with Victory Lap Retirement. The author describes the “Victory Lap” somewhat like Coast FI, or any other form of semi-retirement. For anyone who aspires to this kind of lifestyle, this is a must-read. I had this book on my list for a while, and I’m glad I waited until now to read it. It is very appropriate in this stage of my journey.

Also, Retirement Heaven or Hell is kind of a logical sequel and explains the nine principles needed for a great retirement. It definitely provides some food for thought on what we really want after the dreaded Rat Race. And no, it doesn’t just involve getting a cocktail and a tan on the beach.

Anyway, my everyday friends who stumble upon my Goodreads list must find my reading choices pretty peculiar for a 29-year-old woman.


So there you have it, I hope you have some nice numbers to update too after July. While saving money may not have been everyone’s top priority with the nice weather and doing all kinds of activities, there were some nice returns.

We are now into August, the last month before my vacation! I can’t remember the last time I took three weeks off, but I’m sure it’ll do me a world of good. Plus, I’ll be starting my new position (along with the new salary) once I get back from vacation. That’s a lot of good things to look forward to!

Until then, I will continue to work on my mindset with lots of reading and possibly more discussions with new FIRE friends. And let’s not forget that I’ll be blowing out my 30th candle this month. All the more reason to keep the fire burning. 😉

Have a great month of August, friends!

June 2021 Review


I can hardly believe that June is already over, let alone that we’re halfway through 2021!

I believe that anyone who aspires to reach FI has a special focus on the notion of time. Well, let me tell you, it sometimes feels to me like time is slipping away!

I don’t know about you, but this perception of time flying by is increased tenfold in the summer. The good weather is already very short-lived in Quebec, we don’t need for time to go to warp speed! Honestly, I can’t wait to enjoy it a bit more, without the dreaded 9 to 5! Getting 35 hours a week back is so appealing to me, especially after a short vacation week this month. I want more!

Anyway, during this short month, I took the opportunity to soak up some vitamin D, bike, run, hike, read and spend time with family and friends (now that it’s finally allowed!) and… I neglected my blog.

Don’t worry, I’m still very much invested in my goals. I just need to find the right balance for writing in a slightly busier schedule. 🙂

Net Worth as of June 30, 2021

Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA:
Questrade LIRA:
Questrade RRSP:
Fondaction RRSP:
Total assets:$156,378
Car loan:
Line of credit:
Credit cards:
Total liabilities:$5,941
Net Worth$150,437

That’s a substantial increase! Yes, a $9,974 more in net worth! You don’t see that every month. It’s also a $32,632 increase (or 28 %) for this first half of the year. I  just love how the snowball effect is getting bigger and bigger!

Let me also turn your attention to my total assets. I remembered that at this time last year, I was particularly proud to cross the $100,000 mark. Well, one year later, I’ve already crossed the $150,000 mark by increasing my assets by over $56,000! Out of my own pocket, I contributed about $28,650. How is that for spectacular returns? It won’t always be this way, of course, but it’s pretty nice to see.

The same can’t be said for crypto at the moment. Are we already in for a multi-year bear market again? Only time will tell. In the meantime, I continue my dollar-cost averaging, especially for projects with excellent long-term potential like VeChain.

Otherwise, I’m still doing my debt repayment (the never-ending car loan and my vision correction surgery) as planned. Can’t wait to be debt-free in November!


Here are the details of my June savings:

  • June 2: $650 out of $1,835.89 net
  • June 16: $475 out of $1,836.99 net
  • June 30: $300 out of $1,836.99 net
  • Total savings: $1,425 out of $5,510.96 in June or a 26% savings rate

Of the $1,425 I saved, I contributed $1,100 to my TFSA and bought $325 worth of cryptocurrency outside a registered account.

Granted, it certainly wasn’t my best month on the savings front, but that was to be expected. Fortunately, I’m still on track for my 2021 savings goal of $25,000. I’ve already reached 58% of my goal, so I’m still ahead of the game despite a slightly slower June.

Plus, I have good news for my future savings. I actually got (another) raise! Indeed, my former boss offered me a position I’d never thought I’d get in years within her team. Even though it’s at the same level as my current position, she offered me a 3% salary increase. I asked for 6%, which I got almost immediately. Clearly, I should have asked for more. 😉

Since I wasn’t expecting to change jobs anytime soon, let alone get a raise, it’s all very much welcome. This will bring my annual base salary to $83,596 once I start after my September vacation. In short, the end of the year looks promising for my savings rate!

Another side effect of a salary increase is an increase in my contributions to my DB pension. Since I plan on taking my pension’s commuted value once I resign, it’s one more step towards achieving my goals. Hooray!

Expense Report

2021-06-03$120.00American Express Annual Fee
2021-06-04$403.85Car Payment
2021-06-05$37.74Car Insurance
2021-06-18$403.85Car Payment
2021-06-30$27.02Home Internet

In June, I spent $2,913.42, which is $34,961.04 annualized. If we take out my car loan payments, it comes down to $2,105.72, which is $25,268.64 annualized.

Here’s why my savings rate is down this month: high expenses! Of course, with the summer and the getting back to a more normal life, it was to be expected. Also, I helped my mother with some renovations at home. It’s all nice and good to save, but you also have to help sometimes. 🙂

Additionally, I paid part of my Airbnb for my upcoming trip to Hawaii with my sister, and I went on a little frugal trip to Gaspésie with my boyfriend during my vacation week! Having the same money mindset makes things so much easier! 🙂

For your information, I was able to cut my travel expenses considerably thanks to my credit card points. In fact, I was able to cut about $380 from our Airbnb booking with my Cobalt American Express card and about $100 from my Gaspésie trip with my CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite card.

Finally, I am happy to note that I only spent $16,477 in the first half of the year. This includes $5,250 in car payments and $2,990 for my vision correction surgery. So, if you leave out those expenses that will definitely not be recurrent once I reach FI, that comes down to $8,237 in expenses in six months.

Let’s see what the rest of the year holds for me!

Reading List

Summer or winter, any month is a good month for a little reading. Although I didn’t read much about finances, some of my reading was still very relevant for developing my mindset. So, here’s my June reading list:

Digital Minimalism was an eye-opener on my (and our collective) addiction to technological devices. For those who’ve seen the Netflix documentary called The Social Dilemma, it’s in the same vein. I have since been trying to reduce my exposure to my smartphone. Needless to say, it’s not simple.

For crypto fans, the book Bitcoin Billionaires was particularly interesting. There aren’t tons of books on the subject yet, by the way, so it was nice to read something on the subject. We get to learn more about the early days of bitcoin and the Winklevoss twins’ early involvement. A must-read!


So there you go. Slow and steady wins the race, as they say. With the first half of the year already behind us, I can hardly believe how far I’ve come. Sometimes it can feel like not much is happening. You just need to take a step back and look at the big picture. Zoom out!

With any luck, I should have a slightly less busy July. So, I really want to meet some of you who are interested. Talking finances and FIRE would be especially invigorating! I’ll contact directly those who already came forward. 🙂

What about you? Have you made any observations about the beginning of your year? And how is the second half looking? Please let me know.

I look forward to hearing from you. 🙂

May 2021 Review


I hope you’ve all had a great month of May, despite the uncertainties of the stock markets. Personally, I’ve simply stayed the course. 😉

So, what happened in May? Well, despite the lack of motivation, things are going well at work. I had an excellent early midyear evaluation with my now-former boss. Yes, I’m talking about the manager who hired me last February on my current temporary position. Too bad, because I had never had such a decent and human manager before.

As a matter of fact, she asked me if I was concerned about a new manager handling my possible tenure. You know what? I hadn’t even thought about it.

Is that the power of F.U. Money (chaste ears, beware)? No matter what happens next, I know I am in a good enough position to put up only with what’s best for me.

Otherwise, I went on some delightful bike rides. Here’s a good example of life’s simple pleasures. 🙂

Plus, I got my first dose of the vaccine! My second dose is scheduled for September, but the latest news suggests that it’ll be much earlier than that. What great news!

You may have noticed that my articles are getting a little more scarce. What can I say. I don’t feel like staying in front of my computer when the weather is nice. Especially since I’m enjoying the nice weather with good company these days. Yes, you can really meet someone on Fire Dating. 😉

How should I refer to him on the blog, now? Mr. SLAP? I’m open to suggestions. 😂

Okay, let’s get down to business now.

Net Worth as of May 31, 2021

Checking Accounts:
Questrade TFSA:
Questrade LIRA:
Questrade RRSP:
Fondaction RRSP:
Total assets:$148,316
Car loan:
Line of credit:
Credit cards:
Total liabilities:$7,853
Net Worth$140,463

Yes, it has not been an easy month on the stock market, as well as for crypto. In fact, it’s especially not easy for new investors who are experiencing their first dips. For the regulars, we know what that means. It’s sales time!

Let’s remember Warren Buffett’s words, after all:

Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.

By the way, did you know that there are stock market and crypto indexes that monitor market sentiments? Fascinating what you can find on the internet. 😉

Anyway, despite all this, I continued my regular investments. And despite that, my assets barely moved! Thus, the +$2,326 change in my net worth is essentially due to my debt repayment.

Of note, I received $800 from my group insurance to pay off part of my vision correction surgery. I put in $500 myself, in addition to my two car payments. So while my assets have stagnated, my liabilities have decreased quite a bit. Yay!

Also, you may be wondering why I’m carrying a balance on my credit card? After all, it’s basic personal finance not to carry bad debt! Actually, I meant to transfer it all to my personal line of credit (5.45% interest with Tangerine). However, I found out that my BMO AIR MILES credit card has a 9-month promotional rate on balance transfers. The promotional rate is 1.99%, which is much lower than my line of credit. So that’s where I transferred it instead.

This way, I feel less of a need to pay it back quickly,  and I can keep investing. 😉


Here are the details of my May savings:

  • May 5: $825 out of $1,835.89 net
  • May 19: $975 out of $1,837.00 net
  • Total savings: $1,800 out of $3,672.89 in May or a 49% savings rate

Of the $1,800 I saved, I contributed $1,350 to my TFSA and bought $450 worth of cryptocurrency outside a registered account.

I’m quite happy I managed to save so much! As mentioned earlier, I still have my surgery to pay off, so I was anticipating that this would pull my savings rate down. However, I’ve been able to offset that a bit by selling a few things here and there, such as books and Blu-rays that I’ve been meaning to get rid of for a while.

In fact, I finally got rid of my old hybrid bike that I haven’t used since I bought my road bike in 2018. Considering I paid $120 for it, used, selling it for $200 in 2021 felt absolutely great! 😉

Expense Report

2021-05-01$11.50Sport Olympe
2021-05-05$37.74Car Insurance
2021-05-06$49.33Sport Clothes
2021-05-07$403.85Car Payment
2021-05-10$88.41Oil change
2021-05-21$403.85Car Payment
2021-05-29$28.75Home Internet

In May, I spent $2,142.71, which is $25,712.52 annualized.If we take out my car loan payments, it comes down to $1,335.01, which is $16,020.12 annualized.

Most of my expenses are the same as usual. I also bought some sports clothes at Decathlon. The prices there are really extraordinary. Needless to say, I will never go back to Sport Expert.

So it was pretty quiet on the spending front until I finally decided to use my United flight credit. So, yeah, my Hawaii trip is finally booked, come what may. My first dose of the vaccine finally convinced me to do it. 😉

Of course, prices having increased since then, I still had to pay $221. I will have other expenses to do in the next few months in preparation for this trip. So there is a good chance that the savings rate will continue to take a hit. 😉

Finally, still on the topic of expenses, a reader recently wrote to me for tips on how to buy groceries at a lower cost. Since this is usually one of the biggest expense items, it’s worth looking into. Since I’ve been tracking my expenses, I see that the average I pay for groceries per month is $206.

So, I’m not forgetting you, dear reader. Although I’ve touched on the subject here, it could definitely be the subject of a future article. Stay tuned!

Reading List

Curiously, I have done a little less reading this month. Maybe for lack of time or lack of interest? The nice weather and Mr. Slap make reading somewhat less frequent and appealing. 😉

Despite that, my May reading list looked like this:

Predictably Irrational was particularly interesting! It was actually a suggestion from one of my Facebook page subscriber. Thanks for the recommendation, it was right up my alley!

I think Think Like a Monk is worth a special mention. I have often joked that I live like a monk. I can confirm that many of the concepts detailed in the book resonated with me.

Finally, I reread I Will Teach You to Be Rich. I realize that many of my good financial habits today took shape from reading this book in 2017. Now, it’s a little less relevant to me, as most of the content is now perfectly implemented. However, it was a nice change to read about the wealth and abundance mindset, compared to frugality and the FIRE movement in general.

Of course, I’m perfectly happy with my frugal lifestyle, but it’s always interesting and rewarding to see things from a different perspective. One thing is certain. Ramit Sethi certainly wouldn’t tell me to cut back on my Starbucks coffees. 😉


So here we are, another month gone and it’s already June. How time flies!

This month, I have a week of vacation planned for the first time in almost a year. I didn’t see the point in taking a lot vacation in 2020, oddly enough. After that, my real vacation time (three weeks, two of them in Hawaii) will be in September. The week in June will only serve as an appetizer. 😉

Spending will most likely be more frequent in the months to come. However, no worries, I’m already ahead on my savings goal for 2021. 😉

If any of you are interested in a little meet up in a park or something in the Quebec City area, don’t hesitate to let me know. It’d be nice to talk in person with other FIRE and personal finance enthusiasts!

Hope to see you there. 🙂

2020 Review

I’m not gonna lie. I’m not at all mad 2020 is over! A year that felt like ten, but also sort of flew by, in retrospect. A year that made history, for sure.

I like to think that this year will also have made my history. It was truly the year that allowed me to take the reins of my financial life. And now that this unique year is behind us, it’s time to do a full review! I’ll be true to myself and I’ll present a lot of numbers. 🙂

My FIRE number

As you already know, I am aiming to reach financial independence by building a nest egg of $375,000 that would generate $15,000 in passive income, according to the 4% rule.

So where do I stand exactly with regards to my goal?

I had $125,500 in personal investments at the end of the year. To this, I add the estimated commuted value of my DB pension of $26,000. I can therefore say that my nest egg reached $151,500. Therefore, I’m at about 40% of my goal.

Another way to put things into perspective is to apply 4% to what I already have. Right now, my nest egg would provide me with an annual passive income of $6,060. I am $8,940 of passive income away from my goal.

If we take a closer look, we can also conclude that at $6,060 per year, it would currently pay my rent. In fact, that would give me $505 per month in passive income and my rent costs me $497.50 per month. 🙂

In comparison, I had $73,000 in personal investments and $14,000 in my DB pension plan, for a total of $87,000 as of December 31, 2019. That’s an increase of $64,500 (or 74%) in twelve months! I am extremely pleased with those results!

Now, I have to be realistic and adjust my target with inflation. So I’ll add 2% to my goal. That means $15,300 in annual expenses or a FIRE number of $382,500 in 2021 dollars. 🙂

Net Worth

You’re already quite familiar with this part, thanks to My Net Worth page, in addition to my December 2020 monthly review.

All the same, I am proud and happy to repeat that in 2020, I reached a net worth of $117,805.

By comparison, my net worth as of December 31, 2019, was $55,444. This is an increase of 112%.

What a year!


The year 2020 will certainly have been full of twists and turns in the stock markets. Let’s just take a look at the S&P 500 or the S&P/TSX 60 over the last twelve months. Since I only invest in index ETFs, this has had a direct (and positive) impact on my returns.

Indeed, Passiv allows me to see the (relatively minimal) impact that the stock market jolts have had on my portfolio over the last twelve months:

The top line represents the value of my portfolio while the bottom line represents my total contributions.

This clearly shows the importance of staying the course. Just keep saving and investing on a regular basis, regardless of the ups and downs.

For all of my personal investments, I have earned the following returns according to Questrade :

If only it could always be like this. 🙂

Switching Strategies

I have to say that I have had some strokes of luck during the year. At the time of the March 2020 drop, I had a sort of hybrid portfolio that combined the old Canadian Couch Potato portfolio model and Ray Dalio’s All Weather Portfolio. While I most certainly felt the drop, it wasn’t as bad as if I had been 100 % stocks.

On top of that, I had a lot of money coming in at the time, including a large tax refund, a bonus and refunds for a cancelled trip. I invested all of it at the right time and clearly benefited from that afterwards.

Also, I later decided to make some changes to my portfolio after hearing about the all-in-one ETFs. I changed most of my portfolio for XEQT. By doing so, I took advantage of another happy coincidence. Indeed, I sold a considerable amount of MNT (gold) while it was at its peak during the summer.

In the end, my portfolio will have increased by $20,544 in return alone. I still find it a little hard to believe that this amount accumulated on its own! I’m starting to see the benefits of making my money work for me, rather than working for it.


Although my investment style is not focused on dividends, some of the ETFs I held, or still hold, do pay dividends. It’s no big deal, but I received $1,200 in dividends in 2020. By comparison, I received $1,056 in 2019. The difference is rather small, considering the difference in value of my portfolio over the last twelve months. This is mostly due to the changes in ETFs I’ve made in the past year.

One thing is certain: I’m not going to say no to money that’s deposited in my account. Also, all of it has been reinvested.


Although every personal finance book in the world explains how important it is to track your expenses, I only started doing so this past August. So I don’t have the information for the whole year, but here is the detail from August to December regarding my expenses :

This amounts to a monthly average of $2,138, or an annualized total of $25,654.

Also, I would like to do the same exercise, but without accounting for my car loan repayments. Since this loan will not follow me into retirement, I wanted to get an idea of my current spending level without this cumbersome (and unrepresentative) expense.

  • August: $1,090
  • September: $1,761
  • October: $1,042
  • November: $1,599
  • December: $1,396

That’s much better, isn’t it? This means an average monthly amount of $1,377, or an annualized total of $16,529.

Considering that I estimated $15,000 in annual retirement expenses (in 2020 dollars) and that my current expenses are not yet completely optimized (notably through geographic arbitrage), I find that I’m not that far off the mark. 🙂


My final pay stub confirms I earned a gross amount of $78,050 in employment income. In comparison, I earned $63,288 in 2019. That’s a 24% increase! I did have 27 pays in 2020 instead of 26 and a nice raise. That helps. 🙂

Worth mentioning, although nothing major : I got $340 in Amazon gift cards through Swagbucks and $260 by doing jobs through Field Agent (mostly before the pandemic and during the summer). By the way, thanks to everyone who signed up for Swagbucks using my referral link!


I am more than happy with my savings rate in 2020, which is 50%!

As I explained here, I prefer to use a very simple formula:

(Amount saved / net income) * 100

Indeed, I saved a whopping $27,055 on a net employment income of $49,371, to which I also add my $5,000 tax refund, for a total of $54,371. I want to make it clear that this is my personal savings only. It does not include contributions to my DB pension plan, or any other form of forced savings.

I wasn’t tracking every cent at the time, but I estimate my savings rate in 2019 to have been around 27%, based on the same formula. At that time I was not yet aiming for FI, so I wasn’t saving as aggressively as I am now. It was still a good savings rate compared to the average person. With 50% in 2020, now we’re talking! 😉

Travel Hacking

I started looking into Travel Hacking this year after reading Quit Like a Millionaire, which praised its benefits in lowering travel expenses.

I started simply with the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite back in March (for 30,000 Aeroplan bonus points). I later took the CIBC Visa Infinite Aeroplan in July (for 20,000 Aeroplan bonus points).

I studied more about travel hacking (thanks to Milesopedia), and in November, I applied for three more: American Express AIR MILES Platinum (for 3,000 bonus Air Miles), American Express Prestige Aeroplan (for 20,000 Aeroplan bonus points + a Buddy Pass) and BMO AIR MILES Mastercard (for 950 bonus Air Miles).

On top of all the sign-up bonuses, points are also earned based on expenses.

So, in just about 10 months, I managed to pile up the following points and miles for future trips :

  • Aeroplan: 72,212
  • Air Miles: 1,182

What I Can Buy With My Points

I still don’t have enough Air Miles to buy much of anything. Since I started collecting them pretty recently, I haven’t unlocked any sign-up bonuses yet.

On the other hand, I am starting to have an interesting number of Aeroplan points. You can take a look at this page for an idea of a flight’s cost in points. For example, I could currently pay for five short round-trip flights in North America (ex: Toronto, New York, Washington, DC) or three longer round-trip flights (ex: Mexico or California) with my points. I would only have to pay the taxes.

More specifically, my first travel destination post-COVID will be Hawaii (which I had to cancel this past April). Currently, a round trip (ex: YQB-KOA) with randomly picked dates would cost me 34,100 Aeroplan points and $189.66 in taxes. Once I get my Buddy Pass, I’ll even be able to bring someone with me (my sister, in this case) for the same number of points. Only the taxes would then be payable in double.

If I do the same search on Google Flights for the same random dates, I find that the cheapest tickets are $635.00 per person. By using my points, we’d be saving $445.34 per person!

Long story short, not taking advantage of Travel Hacking is leaving money on the table. 🙂


Finally, I wanted to mention that in only 3 months of blogging, I wrote (and translated) 14 articles. I must have something interesting to tell because I have had 3,741 visitors in 2020. My Facebook page is also now over 600 likes! Wow!

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting any real success. I just wanted to have a place where I could put my ideas in place and have some structure. Based on the positive feedback I get, I think people relate to me and I’m really thankful for that. It’s been a very rewarding experience to talk to some of you. I also love the complicity that comes naturally between FIRE bloggers.

All in all, it has been a very positive experience and I will do my best to continue bringing quality content. 🙂

Managing Your Personal Finances Like a Business

I know I may seem a little intense by doing such a detailed review, but I think you’re getting to know me a little bit. What can I say? I like numbers. It’s my Vulcan brain’s fault. By the way, I see that you like numbers too, judging by the traffic trend on the blog. 😉

Also, the fact that I put hard numbers on all this allows me to see my progression. That’s very encouraging.

I can’t help but think about Jean-Sébastien Pilotte’s (Jeune Retraité) book La retraite à 40 ans. The first chapter is called Devenir le PDG de sa vie (Becoming the CEO of Your Life). Here’s my rough translation of my favourite part:

The first step towards financial independence is the most decisive one to succeed. It is about having the will to take control of one’s finances. It’s time to go from being a janitor to becoming CEO. Take off your blue rubber gloves and put on your best tie. You are promoted! No one else applied for the job.

To begin your new position, you will need to understand and analyze your current financial situation. Where is your money going? What are your main expenses? What are your assets? So many questions that are essential to your financial health and, ultimately, to your quality of life. Like a CEO, you will have to peel the onion, layer by layer. And most of all, don’t cry! You will certainly have to get out of your comfort zone and make some unpleasant observations, but it’s time to get to the bottom of this.

I particularly liked this part. It’s really in synch with the way I see things. How can we hope to improve and move forward if we have no idea where we stand exactly?

Gratitude and Thanks

To say the least, 2020 has been a very special year. No matter how unpleasant the year has been, there is always a way to find something positive. I think this review shows that.

Financial review aside, I am also filled with gratitude for this blog and all that it brings me. In addition to discovering a certain talent for writing, my articles allow me to reach out to people and interact with them. I am so grateful for the opportunity to discuss with equally passionate people.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for commenting (it’s sort of my pay!). I like to know what resonates with you in my writing. I love it when you share your own calculations or suggestions. Sincerely, don’t hesitate to contact me. I love discussing personal finances and FIRE.

I am ready to face whatever 2021 has in store for me. As you already know, I have already set goals for this year. Undoubtedly, I have a lot of work to do!

Perhaps the fact that it’s not easy is what makes it worthwhile.

– Odo (Star Trek Deep Space Nine)

Let’s stay the course. The best is yet to come.


Save the Balance

Finally, we’re getting down to business.

It’s good to have lowered our expenses and increased our income, but what do we do with the balance at the end of the month?

While it is almost shameful to save money in Quebec, it is essential to talk about it (and do it) if we’re hoping to reach financial independence someday. No more saving shaming, to use Pierre-Yves McSween’s dramatic expression.

You Gotta Treat Yourself!

If you’re like most people around me, then you’re having a hard time leaving a single dollar in your wallet without spending it. These people constantly justify these expenses on behalf of a “treat” or a “small gift” they make for themselves (a latte, anyone?).

I don’t know about you, but unnecessary expenses that come back every week (or even every day) are no longer treats, but rather a (bad) habit.

We have to break this pattern. It’s that kind of mindset that renders people dependent of a job until age 65 (and beyond), with QPP/CPP and OAS as sole retirement income.

You have to understand that only a few percentages of savings can represent years of hard work!

Do you know Mr. Money Mustache? I can’t really talk about financial independence and early retirement without mentioning him. He managed to retire at 30, and became one of the first prominent bloggers on the subject.

If there is one of his articles worth mentioning here, it’s The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement.

In this article, he presents a (shockingly) simple table that predicts the time left before financial independence based on different savings rates.

The table is based on:

  • An after-inflation return of 5% during the accumulative phase;
  • A 4 % withdrawal rate.

You can also play around with this online calculator, which Mr. Money Mustache based his chart on.

Go ahead, see how much time you need to work before reaching FI.

The Calculation Method

Perhaps you are wondering how to calculate your savings rate?

Let’s keep it simple. First, consider how much you manage to set aside from each paycheck.

If the amount is zero, then the savings rate is obviously 0 %. Unless you have a pension plan offered by your employer, it means you’ll have to work forever, or settle for the QPP/CPP and OAS as sole retirement income.

Then we’ll use your net pay (after tax). Take the amount deposited into your account every week or two weeks by your employer. Of course, for the self-employed, it can be more complicated. In this case, the best would be to estimate.

Then you apply the simple mathematical rule:

(Amount saved / net income) * 100

Some people like to think of debt repayment as (forced) savings and include it in the calculation. As a result, the savings rate is inflated (and it possibly helps people sleep at night). However, it is not relevant in our calculation. While it does increase your net worth, it will not give you passive income in retirement.

So, if we keep it simple with the previously mentioned formula, someone who receives $1,500 and sets $300 aside has a 20% savings rate. There is $1,200 left to cover expenses until the next pay.

According to the calculator mentioned above (or Mr. Money Mustache’s table), someone with zero net worth who starts saving 20% of their net income will have to work for 37 years before they reach financial independence. For example, if that person is 18, they can expect to retire at age 55. That’s already considered early retirement!

On the other hand, if that same person managed to save 30%, or $150 more per pay, they would only have to work for 28 years, or 9 years less!

9 years!

This person would be financially free at 46.

It might just be worth changing mobile phone plan after all.

The Power of Saving

While striving for financial independence, your best ally will be your savings rate.

Before you read this post, you might have thought that what mattered was investment returns. Although not insignificant, we unfortunately do not feel the effects straight off the bat. It is later in the process that return has an essential role.

Keep in mind that return doesn’t matter when you’re only just starting to save. Making 10% return on $0 is still $0. So we have to focus elsewhere. That elsewhere being our savings rate.

For example, my sister only started to save and invest seriously this year (I like to think I have some influence!). Although she’s getting close to $30,000 in savings already, she sees very little return. Indeed, even if she were to make a 10% return, it would still only amount to $3,000 in gain. While it’s nice to realize you made $3,000 without even working, it’s not what really makes your portfolio grow fast.

In her case, what really makes the difference is the 60% she saves on each pay. By the end of the year, her investments will have increased by $20,000-30,000 only from saving.

On the other hand, when my sister reaches $200,000 in investment and her 10% return gives her $20,000 in gain, then we’ll talk about the power of investments returns. 🙂

Savings in Québec

In November 2019, we were told that Quebecers’ savings rate was at its highest level in 23 years. We were proud to see that Quebecers had never put so much money aside. (French source)

Wow! Quebecers are getting their personal finances on track! And what would this incredible savings rate be?

6,2 %.

Someone starting from scratch, saving this little, can expect to work more than 60 years before reaching financial independence.


On the other hand, 2020 has given us many twists and turns. Against all odds, the savings rate recorded by L’institut de la statistique du Québec from April to June 2020 was at its highest levels for the past 40 years. Indeed, Quebecers managed to save nearly 35% of their net income in the midst of the crisis.

Now we’re talking! A 35% savings rate equals 25 years of work. Imagine if that became common? Early retirement would then be the new norm. 😉

However, this record savings rate is mainly due to mortgage and other debt deferrals. Thus, when normal debt repayment resumes, the savings rate will fall back to the pre-pandemic rates.

Let’s just hope that Quebecers have taken a liking to saving.

My Savings Rate

I have not always been a very conscientious saver. Prior to 2017, my voluntary savings rate (i.e. excluding employer pension/RRSP contributions) was 0%. I didn’t have an individual RRSP. The TFSA I had, I was making withdrawals as I went along.

After that, I started saving little by little. I didn’t record everything from the get-go, so the best I can do is estimate. I can estimate my 2019 savings rate to be around 27%. In 2020, I estimate I’ll reach 51%. Now I record everything (and I mean everything), so I should be able to give you accurate numbers in my future annual reviews. 🙂

For someone starting from a zero net worth, a 51% savings rate amounts to about 17 years of work. For someone saving that much at a young age, early retirement is inevitable. 😉

In my case, with more than $100,000 invested already, we’re talking about 10 years of work before reaching my goal. Leaving the corporate world at 39 wouldn’t be so bad!

However, my savings rate calculation does not include my (non-negligible) Defined Benefit Pension Plan (DBPP). Currently, my DBPP contributions are about 8-9% of my gross salary, without counting my employer’s contribution.

After quitting, I plan to take the commuted value and invest it in a Locked-in retirement account (LIRA). My pension’s minimum commuted value is 175% of the employee’s salary contributions plus interest. These “forced” savings substantially brings me even closer to my goal.

Finally, I estimate that I’ll be able to save at least 60% of my income in the coming years, once my car is fully reimbursed. Plus my salary should continue to increase every year!

So, considering the investments I already have, my DBPP and a future savings rate of 60%, I actually estimate 6 years before financial independence. We are talking about an early retirement at the ripe old age of 35! 😉

Financial Independence Is on the Horizon

Do you understand the power of saving now? Financial independence awaits you! With each additional percentage of savings, you reduce the time you have left in the workplace! The phrase “Time is money” makes perfect sense now, doesn’t it? When $150 every two weeks means nine years of work, it’s worth making changes.

The best way to painlessly increase your savings rate is to automate. On payday, set up pre-authorized transfers for the savings rate you’re aiming for. Then you only spend what’s left. This is called paying yourself first.

So, did you do some calculation? Are you closer to your goal than you thought? Financial independence is possible. Don’t doubt it.

Things are only impossible until they’re not.

– Captain Jean-Luc Picard

What’s Next?

My next post will be about investing. You can save all the money you want, but if you just hide it under the mattress (almost the equivalent of putting it in a GIC, really), then early retirement will not be possible. Without a decent return, your savings would be wiped out long before you die, and we don’t want that. Once we stop working, our money has to work for us for as long as we live.

I know that investing in the stock market can be terrifying. Therefore, I will try to make the subject as accessible as possible. Anyone who neglects to invest their savings leaves (huge!) money on the table.

And I don’t like leaving money on the table.