2014 Report – Another Year Over

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

2014 is over and, as always, I am thankful to get the opportunity to see the start of another year.

Today, I bring you the end of month report for December 2014 as well as a debt progress summary.

In December, I had zero money coming in and the Canadian dollar fell even further against the US dollar. At the same time, some of my expenses went up instead of down. For instance, I spent a bit more on dining out because of the holiday dinners and meetups with friends.

DINING EXPENSES

OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER
$172 $133 $201

I also spent about $240 on gifts.

Thankfully, my family is not big on Christmas gifts. However, a family member had a significant birthday, there are kids in my household and I also bought little holiday gifts for a few friends so that’s why the figure is $240. AND I also spent $1000 more on health (dental) expenses than I had been averaging the past few months.

Another thing to give thanks for is that my holiday spending was limited to eating out and gifts. I had no entertainment expense! The cold weather is not conducive to my going out. Yesterday, for instance, the weather was feeling like a positively depressing -30C/-22F. When winter hits in Canada I know I can look forward to spending much less on entertainment!

ENTERTAINMENT EXPENSES (TRAVEL, DRINKING/PARTYING, RECREATION)

SEP OCT NOV DEC
$0 $30 $13 $0

Also, since I had no incoming cash flow, I did not give my Mum money for the family this month. A bit of the dining expenses up above though was towards a couple family takeout/delivery meals (pizza and takeout).

Here is where things stood at the end of December:

NAME JULY 31, 2013 DECEMBER 31, 2014
Mastercard $6,123 CAD $0 CAD
Visa $8,653 CAD $38 CAD
B-school loan $96,800 USD
($109,142 CAD)
$79,667 USD
($89,936 CAD)
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan $20,931 CAD $18,260 CAD
Student Line of Credit (LOC) $9,678 CAD $0
TOTAL $154,527 CAD $108,196 CAD

November’s balance was $110,767. So that means that in December I paid off $2571, just meeting my minimum threshold of $2500 per month in debt reduction. A minor miracle considering I had no income!

At the end of December 2013, I was $139,881 in debt. So that means that in 2014 I paid off $31,685 or an average of $2640 per month. On a salary that ended up being quite a long ways below the six figures it would have hit had I been earning proper income the last 4 months of the year.

Overall, I have paid off $46,331 in 17 months! And that doesn’t include most of the interest payments!

I am currently on track to meet my goal of eliminating my debt in a total of 5 years and that is great! I may not be quite where I want to be right now financially, my savings are currently being depleted and my future is still quite uncertain. But I’ve begun to accept uncertainty as my permanent status in life anyways. And, more importantly, I am super thankful that I got good income for as long as I did and that I was able to pay off as much as I did! Many people’s entire gross income is the total I paid off this past year and many of those people work a helluva lot harder or at least expend a lot more physical energy working in their jobs than I ever will. So I AM thankful!

My financial wish for 2015 is that I, and any readers in a similar boat, will attain our debt reduction goals this year!

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Debt and Retirement

Hi all,

Today I woke up thinking about the future. The Canadian dollar keeps falling, my debt is going down but is still massive and I have not saved anything for retirement.

Ok, that last part is not entirely true. I have around $30K in assets. This contains cash, savings, TFSA savings and a $1,150 TFSA investment fund which I was proud to finally open a couple months ago. However, because of my current income situation, I am basically disregarding most of the amount I have saved, because I can easily see myself depleting the saved amount by a monthly average of $4K in the next 6 months, if things continue as is cash flow-wise.

Sad eeyore
Anyways, as I was saying, I have been thinking about my future. More specifically, I have been thinking about my lack of retirement savings.

Every time I think about retirement I think about finally starting to invest, to start that retirement savings train up. However, the thing that has always stopped me from turning the ignition is my debt. Even now, any gains made from my beginner investing in stocks and/or ETFs are likely to be less than the 8.13% interest rate on my high 5-figure US$ b-school loan. Also, the fees for a small-time novice investor like me are terrible.

However, I am 31 years old and self-employed. So, besides actually saving for a rainy month or few, I need to start saving for retirement. Properly. And that means dipping my toes in the investing water, in order to possibly pay off debt faster and mostly save more quickly for the future.

Unfortunately for me, one of the things business school confirmed was how much I dislike finance. I like accounting but hate finance. So my efforts in core finance classes were the bare minimum and I avoided finance electives like the plague. Well, unless they concerned venture capital and related topics. That I love! I am a techie after all so it would be bad to not care about venture capital. But besides VC stuff, most of what I learnt in finance classes has long since left my brain. Thus, whenever the thought strikes me to turn to investing to increase my net worth, I start regretting the fact that I don’t like finance at all. I usually then spend a ton of time reading investing sites and personal finance blogs to get tips for first time investors. This was the case today, and a couple months ago.

A couple months ago, I woke up with the same things on my mind as I did today. Two months ago, I decided to finally take the plunge. Or more like a little dip. I plopped $1,000 in a Tangerine TFSA Balanced Growth investment fund. The 3-year annualized return from it is 12.97%. I hope to pay off the remainder of my debt in 3 and a half years. If the fund continues as is or does better then I will come out ahead, even considering that investment money diverts from the b-school loan payments. If things end up a bit worse, I’m hoping it won’t be much worse than the 5-year fund return rate of 8.71%, which is still higher than my loan interest. And if things end up dismal, well you will understand my line of thinking about that in a couple sentences.

I also set up automatic monthly payments of $75 to the fund (today increased to $100).

In my mind, I could afford to risk losing the entire $1000 initial deposit and $100/mth is an amount I could also afford to lose if it ever came to it that I lost everything (Queen of Positive Thinking here, remember?). Today’s mind wandering into worrying-about-the-future got me thinking though that, instead of dumping 98% of my savings into savings accounts with no more than 1% interest, I should be putting more money in investing options. Even if I stick with a fund instead of doing my own thing, I am more likely to get a return greater than 1%.

At least 10% of my savings should go to investing!

So as a start, this upcoming year, if I ever start getting income again, I plan to put 10% of my savings into investing. I will start with the Tangerine Balanced Growth investment fund now and the Equity Growth one sometime in 2015, because they are tailor-built for lazy investors like me with assets under $50K. Then, maybe one day I will enter the world of self-managed investment portfolios.

EDIT: Thanks to reader ricodilello, I realized that it is better to put my money first into an RRSP, at least as it concerns paying off debt more quickly. As he highlighted in his comment on this post, if I put $5,500 in a TFSA fund and got a 10% return, I’d be looking at an extra $550/yr to pay down debt. However, if I put that same $5,500 in an RRSP savings account I would lower my taxes by over $1,500, which is basically the same as saying I’d get an extra $1,500 to pay toward debt. And if I went a step further and put that $5,500 in an RRSP investment fund then not only would I lower my taxes by $1,500 but I would also likely have a return, hopefully of at least $550 (10%).

Whatever the case though, all money invested will be untouchable. Separate and apart from an emergency fund. Once my money goes towards investing I will consider it dead to me, until retirement :).

sheepish smiling eeyore